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Today’s In Crisis headlines

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(NEW YORK) — Here are today’s In Crisis headlines:

Supreme Court denies Trump campaign challenge to Pennsylvania election outcome
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused an 11th-hour attempt to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results by blocking the state’s slate of certified electors and tossing out 2.5 million mail-in ballots that mostly favored President-elect Joe Biden.  The one-sentence decision, issued by Justice Samuel Alito on behalf of the court, read, “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.”  There were no noted dissents nor a breakdown of how the individual justices voted.  The case was brought by Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Mike Kelly, who alleged that the state legislature did not legally pass the law that expanded mail-in voting during the pandemic.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision brings to about 50 the number of challenges the Trump campaign or its surrogates have lost in the five weeks since the November general election.  Judges in at least eight states have rejected claims of voter fraud, alleged inconsistencies, voting machine hacking and multinational conspiracies, all of which Trump supporters claim robbed the president of re-election.  No verifiable evidence of the various claims has yet been produced.

COVID-19 numbers
Here’s the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections and deaths.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 68,367,895
Global deaths: 1,559,873.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 286,338.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 44,095,453

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 15,173,851 reported cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 286,338.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 35,118.
U.S. total patients recovered: 5,786,915
U.S. total people tested: 207,572,528

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 1,422,187 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks third in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,859,367 reported cases, and England, which has 1,501,179 reported cases.  Texas is fourth, with 1,347,045 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

UK health officials issue COVID-19 vaccine warning for people with history of allergies
People with previous history of significant allergic reactions will not be given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the U.K. for now, after two healthcare workers had reactions after receiving the vaccine Tuesday.  A statement from Professor Stephen Powis, national Medical Director for the U.K.’s National Health Service, said: “As is common with new vaccines the MHRA have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday. Both are recovering well.”  The MHRA is the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the U.K. agency that regulates medicines.  The two affected individuals had a past history of allergic reactions such that they routinely carried auto-injectors in the event they experienced anaphylactic shock.  The U.K. began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. 

President Trump signs vaccine executive order; Biden promises “100 million shots in the first 100 days”
President Trump on Tuesday held an event at the White House largely to tout U.S. progress on vaccine production.  The president also signed an executive order aimed at ensuring that the U.S. government obtains enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate Americans who choose to get vaccinated before sharing any of the supply with other countries or international entities.  Officials from President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, which will oversee the bulk of the largest vaccination program in the nation’s history once he takes office January 20, were not invited to the event.  Also not in attendance were representatives from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the vaccines most likely to be distributed first.  The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider Pfizer-BioNTech’s Emergency Use Authorization request, which the FDA is expected to approve, clearing the way for the vaccine to begin U.S. distribution.

Speaking at his own event in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday, President-elect Biden promised to distribute “100 million shots in the first 100 days” of his administration, which is roughly on pace with President Trump’s projections for vaccination.  Biden also introduced his pandemic response team on Tuesday as he laid out his priorities for the start of his new administration. He repeated his previous calls for all Americans to wear masks for 100 days to help prevent the spread of the virus and said he’d mandate doing so in federal buildings and on public transportation. 

Any vaccine won’t substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19 until the spring, according to the White House coronavirus task force’s weekly briefing for governors, the report of which was obtained by ABC News. The briefing said it will take at least 100 million Americans to be immunized before viral spread, hospitalizations or fatalities can be reduced.  The report also emphasized that “Behavioral change and aggressive mitigation policies are the only widespread prevention tools that we have to address this winter surge.” The task force noted that state and local governments aren’t implementing the same mitigation policies that curbed cases back in the summer.

Over 104,000 people in U.S. hospitalized with COVID-19; US passes 15 million cases
The latest data reported by the Covid Tracking Project shows at least 104,600 people in the U.S. were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, yet another daily record.  That same day, 2,622 people died of the virus, a daily number that continues to increase.  There are now an average of 2,225 people dying of COVID-19 every day in the U.S., or about 1.5 people every minute. 

The number of reported COVID-19 cases has now surpassed 15 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  The total number of reported cases as of Wednesday morning was 15,173,851, with 286,338 reported deaths.  Those numbers continue to be the highest in the world, and account for 22% and 18% of global cases and deaths, respectively.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently forecasting between 303,000 to 329,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by the week ending December 26.

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