Despite the optimism surrounding the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the US is still not even close to being out of the woods when it comes to containing the virus. The nation recorded 112,816 hospitalizations attributed to COVID-19 on Tuesday. According to the COVID Tracking Project (CTP), this sets a brand new record. It is also the 14th consecutive day that the US has been over 100,000 hospitalizations, sending a strong signal that this pandemic is still raging.
Congress Nearing Final Deal for New COVID-19 Stimulus Package: Congress was meeting late Tuesday to try to hammer out the final details for a long-awaited COVID-19 stimulus package. Both parties are painting a positive picture regarding the latest developments, affirming their commitment to get the bill passed prior to Congress breaking for the holidays.Read More »
While both parties have been largely silent on the exact details, the bill is sure to contain assistance for additional unemployment benefits, loans for small businesses, and funding to aid in the vaccine rollout. Some lawmakers are also pushing Congress to extend the moratorium on federal eviction while also deferring student loan payments. The bill is not likely to contain any personal stimulus checks, similar to the money that was provided to the majority of Americans when the first stimulus package was passed last March.
CDC to Offer Additional Funding for State Vaccination Programs: While Congress is still working out the details of the latest round of COVID-19 stimulus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide over $222 million in aid for all 50 states in order to assist with the COVID-19 vaccination programs.
Of this money, $140 million will go toward vaccine preparedness. The rest will help with tracking and testing. The new round of assistance was announced by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar.
California Forced to Activate Mass Fatality Program: As cases continue to soar in the Golden State, government officials in California have been forced to activate the state’s mass fatality program. The activation of the program was revealed during a Tuesday news conference with Gov. Gavin Newsom.
This program is designed to help facilitate communication and aid between state and local officials during times of great crisis. As part of the activation, the state has ordered the purchase of 5,000 body bags and 60 refrigerated storage units to use as morgues. The need for the activation is the result of the state’s inability to keep the COVID-19 fatality numbers from growing.
Tuesday marked the fifth consecutive day of over 30,000 new confirmed cases of the virus in the state.
Southern California Being Hit Particularly Hard: It is hard to argue with Newsom’s decision to activate the mass fatality program when looking at the numbers in Southern California alone. As of late Monday, Los Angeles County is reporting fewer than 100 intensive care unit beds remaining. Health officials are issuing a dire warning to residents that the hospitals may soon be at top capacity.
There are slightly over 4,400 people hospitalized with complications from the virus in the county. Of this number, approximately 205 are in intensive care. On a nationwide level, hospitalizations have increased four-fold since the middle of November.
New Vaccine on the Way? Now that the Pfizer vaccine is finally going into the arms of millions of Americans, all eyes are on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet this Thursday to review the data from Moderna’s clinical trials in the hope of also offering it its emergency use authorization (EUA).
If granted, this EUA will start the process of getting this additional vaccine distributed. While made by different pharmaceutical companies, both versions of the vaccine use the last mRNA technology to offer generally the same amount of protection.
New information submitted by Moderna to the FDA on Tuesday provides hope that the vaccine may also help to prevent infection. The Pfizer counterpart was only able to prove that it prevents symptomatic infection. A vaccine that would also potentially prevent infection overall would go a long way in helping to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus.
Mike Pence Reveals He Will Get Vaccine Within Days: On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence revealed that he is planning to get the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the week. Pence has been in close contact with multiple people in the last few months that have contracted the virus, including the president himself and Pence’s own chief of staff and press secretary.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has also urged President-elect Joe Bide and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to get the vaccine as soon as possible. The 76-year-old Biden is at an elevated risk of suffering serious complications from the virus because of his age alone. Fauci also confirmed that he himself will get the vaccine within the next few days.
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