ABC News Live Update: Over 40 countries ban UK travel due to COVID-19 variant

Plus, frontline healthcare workers receive the first doses of Moderna’s vaccine as the U.S. hits a new high in hospitalizations, and the NBA season kicks off after the shortest offseason ever.
20:25 | 12/22/20

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Transcript for ABC News Live Update: Over 40 countries ban UK travel due to COVID-19 variant
Good morning I'm Diana stayed on thanks for streaming webcast at today's update more than forty countries are now banning travel to and from the UK. Over concerns the new mutation of Coleman nineteen is spreading. Health officials now warn it could make its way to the US if it's not here already. You really need to assume that it's here already admitting that and certainly is not the dominant strains but I would not be surprised at all if that is already here. Hospitalizations from cold in nineteen had an all time highest health care workers are starting to get the first dose of them and they're not vaccines. An overnight congress officially passed that 900 billion dollar relief package. We'll have more on what's in the bill and when people we'll see there's 600 dollar check. And 72 days after LeBron and the lakers won the NBA title a new season is already tipping off. We have all the details on what's next for the NBA after the shortest offseason in history. But we begin with new restrictions on travel and concerns over the new mutation of -- nineteen. New York governor Andrew Paul moll is urging the US to implement more restrictions and enforce testing when coming into the state. RA BC news transportation correspondent she'll Benitez has more. This morning one state taking action following that new variant of the Covert nineteen virus in the UK. New York governor Andrew Cuomo requesting that major airlines. Require passengers to test negative for Covert nineteen before boarding flights from the UK to New York. British Airways delta and Virgin Atlantic already agree and will begin implementing on Christmas C. The authorities say. They haven't found the strain here are yet. I believe in two would've really it's already. Here. The governor noting that a 120. Countries require pre boarding testing but not the United States. We have been victimized. By federal and competence in federal negligence that is safe. And we're not going to be victimized again. Doctor proud she speaking this morning with the Ceglia about the new mutation of the coping nineteen virus taking aim at much of Europe. Could you see a travel ban needing to be ends in place because of this new bear this new variant. Well I think one of the important things that we need to do Cecilia is is to actually do surveillance here and find out it might already be here I doubt if it's the prevalent strain here. But as I as the governors said it is it is entirely conceivable that it's already here. And while some states are calling for a federal travel ban from the UK doctor felt he telling us this morning that actually may be less effective than mandatory testing before boarding flights to America. Diane. GM Benitez thanks for that and today Frontline workers are starting to get injections of the Madeira vaccine while some are also getting their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Having two vaccines being distributed is now bringing hope to so many on the front lines. Still working tirelessly. Through this pandemic this says the United States at a new high with more than 1151000. Americans. In the hospital with covic nineteen kidney heart tying is that hard hit hospital in Los Angeles with more. This morning a second shot of much needed hope. Health care workers getting the first doses of the men dared a vaccine. This critical care doctoring Houston hasn't had a day off in nearly 300 days. Now getting his first of two doses. What I opened the boxes like opening a present. I'm it was clear early bird like like having a baby. President elect Biden proceeding Pfizer's vaccine with cameras rolling. Aiming to reassure the public that the shot safe. Doing this to demonstrate that. People should be prepared ones available to take the vaccine. There's nothing to worry about. With the holidays fast approaching the pandemic continues to devastate coast to coast California now in crisis. As we have a search upon a surge of people. Interact with other people over the upcoming Christmas holiday in the New Year's holiday than we really risk getting into a place where the hospital systems are completely over. The situation in Los Angeles county dire. Ellie reporting over 111000 new cases and more than 5700 hospitalized the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic. Right now my eyes he looks like an absolute war zone YE icu was over capacity with hope that patience right now. And we just dogs there's don't know went inside. Doctor Theresa cannon runs the icu at Providence saint John's she got the vaccine this week but warns there's still a long road ahead. The vaccine will eventually get us out of this pandemic. But it's not gonna get us out of this cycle of death. Social justice who works you know trying to stay home as much as possible works we've got to. The spread first and then let the vaccine to. Press. And doctor Hammond tells me it is getting worse and worse and her icu every single day she fears if people don't act responsibly over the holidays we could get to the worst case scenario which would mean they run out of resources and staff. To help people. Hayley hearts on ABC news Los Angeles. Any thank you and I want to bring an epidemiologist ABC news medical contributor doctor John Brownstein for more on this new mutation and the latest. On the vaccine. Doctor browsing dozens of countries are banning flights to and from. The UK right now in your medical opinion should the US be doing the same. Hi Dan. Immediate concern is of course that this new Berry is rapidly replacing other parents we've seen this rapid rise of the last three weeks of ST increasing teachers across parts of England landed of course we see through these solution and cheeses but the reality is this your he's been around for weeks if not months and England captain David pre spin on the identified as Jerry but it probably that we missed it in other parts of the globe is well you see this rock guitar pandemic where their appearance at emerge and are your view answers hasn't been good enough so you think you might try banish that's a real recent year implementation of intervention. And Robinson the basic things like testing pre boarding testing when you arrive we could be implementing forced quarantine where people get here the BC public health strategy is showing how. Credit national scale we're seeing your implementing some of those British he died I nationals got to this point and and we need really miss tomorrow. And I notice you saying very and we've also heard strain and mutation is there a difference between these words and which one are we dealing with here yeah. It's complicated and it's offensive in new warrants in genomic. Epidemiology you look at. These trees to shows her differences in genetic change across different viruses and the bars accumulate enough change sort of creeps and we called lineage and lineage can lead to new strains in this case it's likely new strain there's more work that's being done across my colleagues in the use of genomics surveillance. And this is where it gets a little bit nuance but I think we ET start to call this strain -- one be careful not to think that this is one that will essentially beaten dominated version of what will happen the US. More surveillance is really needed to flee her uncovered what is going garnish and clearly our surveillance it just hasn't been as good as it could be at this point so is variant kind of a more mild termed an award strain. Exactly Sudbury district abroad to return that you know explains how these viruses are changing over time that they. These changes and in our asses this particular area has. Seventeen changes which is a lot and this is why would likely were restarted it following its own string. OK got it and mutations sort of covers it all and that that he's not that we know that we're safe Bledsoe. A so we've heard that this very end is in any more deadly but that it is more transmit a bowl. Then the originals so do we have to take any extra steps to protect ourselves from this version of it. Right the reason why we're concerned of course is the sum these changes and how. Happened are actually related to its like protein which we know. Oh lead she didn't virus infecting cells. And this is why do you think it's more transmissible. But it's important to note that were still trapped carbon data how much more ash. And we're not quite sure but. The evidence currently says that the virus is not more lethal doesn't. Cause more serious severe illness so it doesn't really change much in terms our strategy we have so much virus circulating in the country already that it be public tough you know that he's you know I've been speaking about for months now and watching social distancing Macs crash that the scene interventions regardless of whichever Daryn we're talking about. And scientists say that the vaccines that have already been created that are already out there invade. Should cover this how can they be sure of that. Yes it's. It's great question of course as scientists really concerned about this but the view is that it Peekskill months years for the arts community. Should accumulate enough new teachings for just sort of misty about. I've seen rain this vaccine has about 12100 amino acids only about nine of them have really changed according Disney garnish that's not a lot and our body can mount a response that. Essentially covers these changes in the artists the bigger issue that we think is what we can't. Attention addressed I know that's a complicated term but what it means is the bar so eventually evolving to the point where the vaccine doesn't work that is what happens with the flu vaccine where we have to change it every year so the longer term concern is wall we have to think about teacher coal rich vaccines that mutual all eyes this virus evolves that's. The big question but I don't think it really impacts any change in the short term over the coming months as we try to get this sort of mass immunization. Underwent right well that sounds like good news the use and I want you with some viewer questions if I can that I got on Twitter. One person wants to know now that both vaccines are in circulation who determines which one you get. Fred it's a great great question a lot of people wondering Italy even have a choice that the the root them the reality is people not how. How tourists -- when it's your turn in line you'll just wanted to get that vaccine whichever one is available to you the good news is between science and Madeira they're so similar right they're both Emory vaccine that both have about 94%. Efficacy the very similar safety profile and minimal risk so that the reality is and also this are seeing is is certain works cost gender or race so you know the reality it's you you won't get the vaccine that is available to you wish Andy they're both incredible a vaccine incredible option taxes and tariffs. And then how do you know when it's your turn to get vaccinated. If you are underlying condition qualifies as an underlying condition and then how do you prove. That you fall is that group. This is a big question and frankly. I don't think that all states are quite figured this out we know that the CDC is mean he's recommendations. Around certain vulnerable populations getting there the first you know there was one do you want CUR vaccine. It's an Chongqing. DC and how. To put being you know campaign's media social media to explain to people who is eligible points this he's he's putting up some trolls explain that. And then it'll be sort of a testy activities in Forbes who or how. How dare I they have these conditions the probably have to work with their providers to provide them with information hinge certain documentation can conditions but it's gonna. Going to be very complicated and I think it's going to be tough for people who fully understand herself she Jamal. Communication is really going to be needed to its laser you're you're you're you're part in the warrant for this are seen over the coming months and coming. Else I gotta ask what you need and prescription for it. If you have to work with your provider errors is still something you're just a minute go to the pharmacy in get directly. You're gonna still be able to just go to the pharmacy and and get this taxiing. You may have to provide. Some of your insurance information but the vaccine is even the trees first for everyone that's ten have been made very clear whom are either prescription you'll need to verify some some basic information about yourself but. The vaccine will be made available to every. Right back to John Brownstein thank you as always for answering all our questions and doctor Brown's who would back again. At the 10 o'clock hour we expect to see doctor Anthony fancy getting his first dose of the mid Daryn a vaccine to actor Brownstein thanks we'll talk to soon. Thanks youth. And we're a little under a month now from inauguration day and a half his departure tomorrow current attorney general bill Barr is breaking with president trump. Barr is refusing to appoint a special counsel to investigate the president's false claims of election fraud chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl has the latest. Attorney general bill Barr has been a staunch defender of the president has just about anybody as he prepares to leave office he is flatly denying the president's most outlandish request he won't appoint a special counsel to investigate trumps unfounded claims of a rigged election if I sort of special counsel at this stage was the right tool. And was appropriate. I would do I would name on but I haven't and I'm not going too far also refused something else on the president's wish list have a special counsel looking to Hunter Biden leading an ongoing investigation into the president elect's son. Two attorneys within the Department of Justice I think that it's being handled. Responsibly and professionally. With one of his most loyal cabinet members turning his back. Trump is looking elsewhere. Sydney Powell a lawyer who some trump allies flatly say it's crazy has been at the White House twice in the past two days. Urging the president to use the full power of his office to investigate a conspiracy theory about rigged voting machines. And to make her a special counsel a movie even Rudy Giuliani opposes the president also met with a group of hard line Republicans. A meeting Monday that lasted several hours they offer to mount a futile challenge. To contest the Electoral College vote winner has presented to congress on January 6. Senator Mitt Romney is saying publicly what many other Republicans are saying privately. The president's refusal to admit losing has become an embarrassment. Embarrassing. You have the president believes. These matters is already people who are both president because it was last chapter talking about great success on the scene Bruce yeah yeah. One Republican leader in congress who was been quite close to the president. Told me that the president is hurting himself and hurting his party would his behavior this Republican leader added quote. I am counting the days until he is. Won't Bryant. Bryant Jonathan Karl from DC thanks John. And it's been estranged few months for prevent professional basketball the NBA finished its pandemic shortened season in a bubble just a couple of months ago. With LeBron and the lakers taking home the title. But the new season is already beginning today. And things are going to look a lot different on the court this time around TJ Holmes has that story. The NBA is set to kick off of 20/20 one season tonight it's going to look a little different. For the last time we saw NBA basketball. Similar to what Les Paul did for their regular season similar where the NFL is doing now. There's going to be living at home. This historic one each wanting NBA championship belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers. The lakers can conquer the bubble and better numbers seventeen will Sloan granular raptors. It was less than three months ago when LeBron James in the lakers were crowned champions after one of the most unusual seasons in the NBA history. We came may wait to get back to. They'll. Stake to celebrate so after suspending the season because of the pandemic the season resumed in the bubble. Where players were moved into rooms at Walt Disney World resort here is neighboring. Moon and receive the daily Covert tests. And some superstars like Jimmy Butler. Even picked up a side also he sold coffee but now after the shortest offseason in history NBA commissioner Adam silver theaters this year won't have any of that. Basketball is out of the bubble teams are back on their home courts. We're we re news and in. And it's mutual it's the root races different issues by virtue of being indoors we're so far. Our protocol seem to be holding up. What did you learn from MLB and BN FL. We learned a lot from both police particularly around testing protocol. Testing isn't designed so that we do. Have a positive case player can quickly be isolated from his teammates to avoid constant what would be terrible amount is spread among the entire team. Where's the NBA bombed the vaccine meaning are you just in line you know you're lying and when someone delegates available back major players. As original. In terms of vaccine are we goes I think we really never jumped the line anyway. As far as I know we're not even in line yet it didn't no chance to read we jump the line and anywhere. And silver said the NBA players will be tested once and sometimes twice today. If a star player goes down has to be in quarantine for fourteen days the game will not be canceled or suspended. Our thanks to TJ Holmes for that report. And a few things to know before you go we may have to social distance this Christmas but not so for the solar system. Jupiter and Saturn formed the great conjunction last night. Unlike a double planet because of the way they lined up some are calling it the Christmas dart. It's the first time this has happened at night in nearly eight centuries. A baby outfit a hit by a motorcycle was rescued by CPR. The elephant was hit while crossing a road in Thailand when an off duty emergency responders started giving its CPI. To his surprise it works. The elephant stood up after about ten minutes and was reunited with its mother. The rescue worker monster but says he has made dozens of resuscitation attempts but never read floor. On an elephant. And a Florida woman got an early Christmas surprise in her tree but this one probably did not come from Santa take a look. I don't know how has this just happened as the titans are my Christmas tree this weird not done any in my glass ornaments cats. Sometimes yeah. This world don't old poets of raccoon. Yeah okay this is Altria it was Elliott had a raccoon in her Chris this strain. The quicker and leaking out. I love me and then on Tuesday. On either the Christmas goes down. Ornaments go over all over the place. Here's some of the aftermath Audrey is showing us. But she then followed up. With the raccoon it's a runner what happened to have the answer was it was springing from her chandelier. She did finally get it safely out of the house but I do not recommend that you announcing his predicament. Just call animal control. And that does it for this ABC news live update I'm Diane Maceo thanks for joining us and remember ABC news live is here for you all day with the latest news context and analysis. We'll see right back here at 10 AM eastern with a new I think.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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