Today’s In Crisis headlines

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

States urge Supreme Court to reject Texas suit to overturn presidential election result
Four states sued by Texas in a bid to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to swiftly reject the case and avoid legitimizing “a cacophony of bogus claims” that would upend the will of millions of American voters. In court filings Thursday afternoon, the attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia were scathing in their rebuttal to Texas’ suit, with 23 states and territories voicing support with a friend-of-the-court brief.  Some 106 House Republicans on Thursday signed onto a court filing in support of the Texas lawsuit, although Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says he’s struggling “to understand the legal theory” behind the lawsuit, and fellow GOP Sen. Mitt Romney calls the effort “simply madness.”  Since the November general election, the Trump campaign or its surrogates have lost some 50 court challenges to the general election, most claiming widespread voter fraud without presenting evidence to support the claims.

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: 69,728,763
Global deaths: 1,584,788.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 292,190.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 44,997,168

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 15,618,438 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 292,190.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 35,266.
U.S. total patients recovered: 5,985,047
U.S. total people tested: 213,015,816

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 1,487,917 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks third in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,868,172 reported cases, and England, which has 1,521,761 reported cases.  Texas is fourth, with 1,374,256 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

FDA could grant Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Emergency Use Authorization today
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could grant Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine Emergency Use Authorization as early as today, following Thursday’s meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.  The FDA issued a statement Friday morning declaring that they will “rapidly work toward finalization” of the COVID-19 vaccine in what is the agency’s first public acknowledgement of the advisory panel’s vote in favor of authorization.  Once the EUA is granted, vials of the vaccine will begin shipping to all 50 states as early as Monday, with vaccinations to begin within days.  

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s Good Morning America Friday that “the FDA informed Pfizer that they do intend to proceed towards an authorization for their vaccine,” and that the government “will work with Pfizer to get that shipped out and so we could be seeing people getting vaccinated Monday, Tuesday of next week.”  Azar also reiterated the timeline that 20 million Americans will be vaccinated this month, with that total expected to hit 50 million in January. 

Pfizer-BioNTech at last word is making 6.4 million vaccine doses available for the first wave of shipments, though only about half of that number, around 2.9 million doses, will be distributed immediately upon FDA authorization. The second course of 2.9 million doses will follow close behind, within 21 days, with 500,000 held in reserve.

The FDA is scheduled to meet Thursday, December 17 to consider a similar vaccine EUA request from Moderna.  That approval is also expected.  Full approval for widespread distribution of both vaccines will likely come in March or April, which would allow large-scale national immunization to be underway by June.

New COVID-19 hospitalization record, another day of 3,000+ deaths as toll approaches 300,000
Thursday saw an all-time record for COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S., with 107,248, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  Thursday also saw another day of more than 3,000 deaths, with 3,067 reported fatalities — a death rate in excess of one COVID-19 fatality every 30 seconds in America.  Further, the seven-day average of reported deaths per day surpassed 2,000 this week for the first time since the spring.

As of Friday morning, Johns Hopkins University reported a total of 292,190 total reported coronavirus deaths in the U.S.  At the current daily death rate, the nation is on track to exceed 300,000 total COVID-19 fatalities before the weekend is over.  The latest forecast by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates the U.S. will see a total of 332,000 to 362,000 COVID-19 deaths by the week ending January 2.  The previous forecast was 303,000 to 329,000 total COVID-19 deaths by the week ending December 26.

An internal Department of Health and Human Services memo, obtained by ABC News, says 37 states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new cases.  Thirty percent of hospitals across the country have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled, while 21% of hospital inpatients have COVID-19, and 31% of ventilators in use are being used by coronavirus patients.

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