Coronavirus updates: CDC warns UK strain may already be in US; Pfizer nears deal with feds for 70M more vaccine doses; 322K US deaths
USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as a pair of vaccines join the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 320,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who is getting the shots and where, as well as other COVID-19 news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.
In the headlines:
►New York is conducting tests to ascertain whether the new coronavirus strain that's spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom has reached the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. All of the approximately 4,000 tests performed so far have come out negative, but the CDC acknowledges the strain might have found its way to America. "Given the small fraction of US infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected,'' the agency wrote on its website.
►Antarctica is no longer the only continent without a coronavirus case, as passengers on a military boat from the Antarctic Peninsula to Chile tested positive for COVID-19.
►Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, told the news outlet Newsy that she intends to retire but is first willing to help the incoming Biden administration combat the pandemic.
►South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has tested positive for COVID-19, days after his wife, Peggy, was confirmed infected. Both tested negative eight days ago before attending a White House party. Gov. McMaster, 73, has mild symptoms with a cough and slight fatigue and will isolate for 10 days and be monitored for additional symptoms.
►Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave two thumbs-up after being vaccinated Tuesday. "I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we can have a veil of protection over this country that will end this pandemic," Fauci said.
►The COVID-19 relief package was designed to throw a financial lifeline to Americans struggling because of the pandemic, but a break for CEOs is drawing scrutiny: business meal deductions. President Donald Trump says it will help struggling restaurants.
►2020 has been the deadliest year in U.S. history, and deaths are expected to top 3 million for the first time, mainly because of the pandemic. Preliminary numbers show the country will have more than 3.2 million deaths, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019.
📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 18.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 322,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. It was only eight days ago the country reached 300,000 COVID fatalities. The global totals: More than 77.9 million cases and 1.71 million deaths.
Here's a closer look at today's top stories:
The U.S. government and Pfizer could announce as soon as Wednesday an agreement for the pharmaceutical giant to provide another 70 million or more coronavirus vaccine doses in the second quarter of next year, according to multiple reports..
The sides have been at odds over access to manufacturing supplies but appear to have struck a deal that would involve the government invoking the Defense Production Act to make the components needed for the vaccine more readily available.
The U.S. has contracts in place for a total of 200 million doses with the two currently approved vaccine makers, Pfizer and Moderna, with a pledge from the latter for another 100 million. But because both require two doses, the current negotiated supply would still fall far short of immunizing the approximately 260 million Americans of eligible age for the shots.
The use of full-dose blood thinners has not proven effective in treating COVID-19 patients in critical condition during clinical trials, prompting the National Institutes of Health to halt one of them. There was also a potential for harmful effects from the treatment, including increased bleeding.
The agency will continue to explore using anti-coagulants on people who have contracted the coronavirus and have been hospitalized with moderate symptoms.
The NIH has been looking into the therapeutic value of blood thinners for COVID-19 because the disease is linked to significant inflammation and clotting throughout the body, which can lead to strokes, heart attacks and lung failure.
Nine months after COVID-19 changed everything, parents are asking the same question they asked at the start: Will my children be OK? To answer that, USA TODAY spoke with more than a dozen experts. What we heard was children need what they have always needed: caregivers who are present and emotionally available. They also need people to help them make sense of uncertainty and loss, who can help them navigate fear and change.
"Children can go through divorce, they can go through death, they can go through just an amazing array of things and come out looking pretty good, if they've got somebody who can support them," said Mary Dozier, a psychology professor at the University of Delaware who studies children who have experienced adversity. Read more here.
– Alia E. Dastagir and Alia Wong
As health care workers and nursing home residents await the first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is in high demand, few realize the exact timing of their vaccination depends largely on what state they live in. That’s because the vaccine is being allocated according to the number of adults in each state, which doesn’t correlate to the number of high-risk people living or working there. In some places, medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be exposed to the coronavirus for weeks or months longer, and they’ll be more vulnerable to sickness and death.
Nevada will be able to vaccinate all front-line health workers and nursing home residents once the federal government distributes 13.6 million doses nationwide. But Massachusetts, which has a high number of medical workers, won’t hit that threshold until 25.5 million doses have been distributed across the country – potentially weeks into the new year.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has touted the per-person formula as fair. “We wanted to keep this simple,” he said. Read more here.
– Dennis Wagner, Donovan Slack and Aleszu Bajak
Americans' willingness to take the coronavirus vaccine has jumped since the first two vaccines were authorized by the FDA and health care workers and nursing home residents began to receive the shots. That growing acceptance is a reassuring sign for public health experts who call distribution of the vaccine crucial to controlling a pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 people in the U.S.
In a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll Wednesday through Sunday, 46% said they will take the vaccine as soon as they can. That's close to double the 26% in a USA TODAY poll in late October. In the new poll, 32% said they will wait for others to get the shots before they do so themselves.
"From what I've read, it's going to take about 75% of the nation taking the vaccine in order to create herd immunity," says Lisa McAlister, 48, a registered nurse from Grove, Oklahoma, "and quite frankly, I don't want to live in a pandemic the rest of my life." Read more here.
– Susan Page and Sarah Elbeshbishi
Contributing: The Associated Press