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Today’s In Crisis headlines

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

Talks in Congress continue over COVID-19 relief bill, will extend into the weekend
Amid a late Friday deadline to fund the government to avoid a shutdown, talks continue on a relief package for the millions of Americans struggling financially through the pandemic.  The holdups mean a weekend session now appears virtually certain for Congress.  The deal on the table would provide $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits and likely $600 in direct payments to most Americans.  But Democrats and Republicans are still haggling over the details, including the amount of those checks and a pool of disaster aid that Republicans fear governors could redirect to other priorities.  The House must first vote on the bill, after which the Senate will weigh in.  Lawmakers were told to expect to be in session and voting this weekend, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declaring on the Senate floor Thursday evening: “The Senate is not going anywhere until we have COVID relief out the door.”

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: 75,084,964
Global deaths: 1,665,008.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 310,792.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 42,464,023

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 17,214,177 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 310,792.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 36,052.
U.S. total patients recovered: 6,298,082 (no update available)
U.S. total people tested: 224,523,929

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 1,759,823 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks second in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,886,807 reported cases.  England, which has 1,664,511 reported cases, ranks third in the world, while Texas is fourth, with 1,552,039 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

Advisory panel recommends FDA grant Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Emergency Use Authorization
Following a meeting Thursday, federal advisers voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the Food and Drug Administration grant Moderna’s request for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccine.  Despite a tweet from President Trump declaring that the Moderna vaccine was “overwhelmingly approved” and that “Distribution to start immediately,” the advisory panel’s vote is only a recommendation that the FDA approve the EUA.  The FDA granted Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine EUA request last week, about 24 hours after a similar advisory panel met December 10 to consider it and recommended authorization.  Immunizations with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are underway now.  If the FDA approves the Moderna EUA, immediate nationwide distribution of that vaccine is expected to begin, making it the nation’s second vaccine against the coronavirus.

Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams all received Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations on live on television Friday morning at the White House.  Pence said during the event that authorization of the Moderna vaccine could come “perhaps within hours … we expect later today.”  President-elect Joe Biden will be vaccinated next week.

Although some states are publicly complaining that next week, they won’t be receiving the amounts of Pfizer vaccine that they had anticipated, the Department of Health and Human Services and Operation Warp Speed officials say they’re still on track to meet their stated goal of 20 million first-dose deliveries by the end of the year.  That includes almost 5.9 million doses of the Moderna vaccine once it’s authorized. 

More than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths for third straight day; California situation dire
The United States on Thursday reported more than 3,000 deaths from COVID-19 for the third consecutive day.  The Covid Tracking Project reported 3,438 coronavirus fatalities Thursday, with 241,620 reported new cases, the latter a new single-day record.  The U.S. also set a new hospitalization record Thursday, with 114,237 new COVID-19 admissions — the 12th straight day that the nation has hit a record high of current hospitalizations.

The situation is especially grim in California, which currently posts the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation, with well over 1.7 million, as infections, hospitalizations and fatalities there continue to skyrocket.  California hospitals report being at zero-percent capacity, prompting Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to declare the situation “an emergency.”  Garcetti added that a hospital administrator told him that if there’s another COVID-19 spike after Christmas,” we will go under.”  Garcetti and his wife are currently in isolation at home after their daughter tested positive for the virus.

Seventeen days into December, the month is already the second-deadliest of the pandemic in the U.S.  After officially passing 300,000 total reported COVID-19 fatalities Monday, the U.S. as of Friday morning had 310,792 reported deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  That accounts for 18.6% of the reported 1.665 million global fatalities.

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