COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Germany to go into national lockdown over Christmas to stem surge in Covid-19 cases
As of next Wednesday, all non-essential shops, services and schools will close until January 10, and Christmas Day gatherings will be reduced from 10 people to only five from two different households.

This week, Merkel made an impassioned plea for Germans to limit their social contacts ahead of the holidays: despite the country's respected health system and early success in containing the virus, a recent partial lockdown has failed to stop the second-wave surge. Germany reported record daily deaths on Friday, with 598 fatalities tallied in a span of 24 hours.

The new measures take aim at traditional festivities: Christmas church services will be subject to prior registration with no singing allowed, alcohol is to be banned from all public spaces and an annual New Year's Eve fireworks display will be canceled. Some states are also implementing additional measures, such as Bavaria, which will have a 9 p.m. curfew.

Actress Carol Sutton dies of Covid-19 complications
The New Orleans native built an extensive list of credits, including "Steel Magnolias," "Queen Sugar," and "Lovecraft Country," according to her IMDb page.

Cantrell praised Sutton, saying she "was practically the Queen of New Orleans theater, having graced the stages across the city for decades."

"The world may recognize her from her performances in movies and on TV -- whether it's 'Treme' or 'Claws,' or 'Runaway Jury' or 'Queen Sugar' -- but we will always remember her commanding stage presence, her richly portrayed characters, and the warm heart she shared with her fellow cast and crew in productions such as '4000 Miles' and 'A Raisin in the Sun.' May she rest in God's perfect peace," Cantrell said.

Prime Minister of Eswatini has died weeks after contracting Covid-19
The Prime Minister of the Southern African country of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has died, according to a government statement on Sunday. This comes just weeks after the government announced he contracted Covid-19.

A Nov. 23 government statement announced that Dlamini had developed “mild symptoms of the coronavirus” and would be monitored from the hospital.

In a Dec. 1 government statement, the deputy prime minister said Dlamini was “responding well to treatment after contracting COVID-19 and remains stable,” adding that in order to fast track his recovery, he would be transferred to a South African hospital.

Eswatini, bordering South Africa, had its name changed by its king in 2018, to mark the 50th anniversary of independence.

Lewis Hamilton says he's still feeling the after-effects of Covid-19 ahead of season finale
The seven-time world champion missed last weekend's race in Bahrain after testing positive for the virus but has returned in time for the season finale.

On Saturday, Hamilton qualified in third position for the race, behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. But he says he's still not "100% fit."

"I still have some feeling within my lungs," he said, per Reuters. "Normally, I would drive even if one of my arms was hanging off. That's what we do as racing drivers and luckily that's not the case.

"It definitely won't be the easiest of races physically," he said, "but I will manage and give it absolutely everything I've got."

... The 35-year-old says he's been trying to sleep as much as possible but continues to feel drained of energy.

Ashanti tests positive for Covid-19, leading Verzuz to postpone her battle with Keyshia Cole
Ashanti announced Saturday on Instagram she tested positive for Covid-19.

"Hey y'all I can't believe I'm saying this but I tested positive for COVID-19. I'm ok and not in any pain. I'm actually down to do the verzuz from my house... we're trying to figure it all out!!!" the singer posted.

She later posted a video saying "never in a million years did I think I would get Covid."

The Trump administration turned down more vaccine doses 'as recently as November,' former FDA commissioner says
  • The Trump administration once again rejected an offer from Pfizer for more COVID-19 vaccines "as recently as November," according to former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
  • "There were multiple conversations with the U.S. government about taking more supply in the second quarter," Gottlieb, who is a Pfizer board member, told CNBC on Monday.
  • This comes on the heels of the Trump administration reportedly rejecting 100 million doses of Pfizer's recently approved COVID-19 vaccine over the summer, according to The New York Times.
"This is an American company, we want to work with the U.S. government," he said. "But this has been a challenging process because there have been multiple conversations happening as recently as November, and now they're coming back and wanting to restart those conversations when other commitments have been made in the interim."