It took about 100 days for the United States to record its first 1 million coronavirus cases, and 44 more passed before the country topped 2 million. But now, in the middle of the most severe surge yet, it has taken just five days to record one million infections, and on Tuesday, the country surpassed 15 million, more than anywhere else in the world by a wide margin.
Here are some significant developments:
President-elect Joe Biden laid out a three-point plan to begin defeating the coronavirus pandemic during his first 100 days in office.
White House officials are asking the Senate Republican leadership to include stimulus checks worth $600 in the emergency economic relief package.
American Airlines is expanding its coronavirus testing program to offer at-home testing kits to customers traveling to any U.S. city that has travel restrictions in place.
Beginning Wednesday, American Airlines customers can order test kits that will enable them to collect their own samples and send them to a lab. The kits will cost $129 and will provide results within 48 hours after the sample is received. The results can be used for flights on or after Dec. 12.
“We’ve made great strides to help open international travel with our testing partners, and we recognize the need for similar domestic travel solutions,” Alison Taylor, the airline’s chief customer officer, said in a statement that accompanied Tuesday’s announcement.
LONDON — Scientists at AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford on Tuesday became the first vaccine developers to publish their full data in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, confirming earlier claims that the vaccine is 70 percent effective overall.
The study results, published in the British medical journal Lancet, answered many questions — but not all — about the AstraZeneca vaccine. It remains unproven how well the vaccine works in those over 55 years of age, a crucial group because most serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from covid-19 occur among the oldest patients. Researchers also are still studying which dose regimen can produce the greatest protection.
Still, the results show a safe, well-tolerated and effective vaccine, and one that is cheaper — at $2 or $3 a dose — and easier to manufacture, transport and store than its competitors, wrote Maria Deloria Knoll of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in a commentary accompanying the article in Lancet.
As MLS prepares to complete a fractured season this weekend, Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday that leaguewide revenue is down close to $1 billion compared to last year and unexpected expenses in restarting the season during a pandemic were “enormous.”
The biggest blow, one person close to the situation said, was game-day revenue, which was down by 95 percent. Most of the league’s 26 teams were not allowed to host fans amid restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, and those that were able to do so welcomed only small percentages of stadium capacity.
With a modest national TV contract worth about $90 million per season, MLS relies more heavily on game-day revenue than most other U.S. sports leagues. About 1,500 spectators are expected for MLS Cup on Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio, between the Crew and Seattle Sounders. Seating capacity is close to 20,000.
Morocco will begin vaccinating its citizens against the coronavirus this month as part of a nationwide campaign to immunize the vast majority of adults in the North African kingdom. The first injections could come within days, a Health Ministry official told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
The program, however, will depend on a Chinese vaccine that has not yet completed efficacy trials. The company has not published any safety data, worrying global health experts. But the manufacturer, the state-run Sinopharm, applied for regulatory approval for market use of the vaccine in China last month.
The company tested the vaccine — which uses inactivated virus to stimulate an immune response — in several Middle Eastern countries last summer and fall. The injection uses different technology than the vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.
The United Arab Emirates was one of the first countries to approve the Chinese-made vaccine, which requires two doses, for emergency use to immunize health-care workers. And in Morocco, 600 people participated in Sinopharm’s clinical trials. The government said it ordered 10 million doses, enough to inoculate about 5 million of the country’s 36 million people.
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White House pushes Senate GOP to include $600 stimulus payment in relief package
White House officials are asking Senate Republican leadership to include stimulus checks worth $600 in the emergency economic relief package currently being debated in Congress, according to two people granted anonymity to share details of private deliberations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not include a second round of stimulus payments in the relief proposal he released last week. Senior Republican leadership in Congress are listening to White House officials push for the inclusion of the stimulus checks, the two people said, a provision also broadly supported by congressional Democrats.
President Trump has privately indicated a willingness to send another round of stimulus checks of as much as $2,000, according to one person in direct communication with the president. Congress in March approved a round of $1,200 stimulus checks that the Treasury Department disbursed to more than 100 million American families in a matter of weeks.
A witness who attracted national attention after testifying at the side of Rudolph W. Giuliani about alleged voter fraud in Michigan says she is not quarantining and has not been tested for the coronavirus in the wake of Giuliani’s positive test and hospitalization.
Mellissa Carone testified before state lawmakers on Dec. 2 for about 30 minutes while sitting beside the president’s personal attorney in Lansing, according to a video of the hearing. Neither wore masks. She also posed for photos with Giuliani, who health officials later said was “extremely likely” to have been contagious with the virus at the time.
Health officials in Ingham County, which includes Lansing, on Monday ordered anyone who had been in contact with Giuliani at close range and for more than 15 minutes to quarantine after President Trump tweeted that his personal attorney had tested positive for the coronavirus. The county officials said they cannot enforce the directive outside their borders.
About 100 days passed from the first publicly announced case of the coronavirus in the United States until infection No. 1 million. It took another 44 days for the country to surpass 2 million. And 27 more to reach 3 million.
But now, with the country deep in the midst of the virus’s third major surge, it has taken just five days to record 1 million cases, according to data tracked and analyzed by The Washington Post. On Tuesday, total U.S. infections topped 15 million, more than anywhere else in the world by a wide margin.
That the country is reaching new milestones faster now than in the pandemic’s early days is in part because of the virus’s potential for exponential spread and the wider availability of testing. However, experts say, recent weeks have indeed marked the most severe proliferation of the virus yet.
A report prepared by the White House coronavirus task force says the speed, breadth and duration of the current coronavirus surge are unprecedented.
“The current fall to winter surge continues to spread to every corner of the US, from small towns to large cities, from farms to beach communities,” warns the report, part of a weekly rundown sent to governors and obtained by The Post. The digests regularly issue starker warnings than President Trump does.
And even with hospitals filling up, the report notes that “many state and local governments are not implementing the same mitigation policies that stemmed the tide of the summer surge; that must happen now.”
This week, for the first time, U.S. facilities began averaging more than 100,000 coronavirus patients hospitalized every day. Virus deaths have also begun to climb rapidly, with the average number of fatalities per day doubling in less than a month.
As of Tuesday, more than 2,200 people had died per day in the past week in the United States. The national death count exceeds 285,000.
In Michigan, leaders honored the more than 10,000 people who make up their state’s unthinkable toll: Flags were to be lowered to half-staff.
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In competing events, Trump and Biden offer conflicting messages on the pandemic
The nation’s top infectious-disease expert was a notable no-show at President Trump’s coronavirus vaccine summit at the White House on Tuesday. Anthony S. Fauci told colleagues that he had a scheduling conflict, so he wasn’t seated among the government health officials in the Southcourt Auditorium.
Which made it all the more jarring when he popped up via video message on the jumbo screen at a health-related event with President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., at the same time.
His appearance was another stark illustration of the discomforting split screen taking place as Trump seeks to maintain power by leveling baseless accusations of voter fraud while Biden works to assemble his administration — all against the backdrop of a global health and economic crisis.
In an interview with New York’s TalkRadio 77 WABC Tuesday, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, said his views of the coronavirus pandemic and on mask-wearing have not changed in the days since he contracted the virus.
Giuliani’s response to testing positive stands in contrast to that of former New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R), who said in October that he was “wrong” not to wear a mask at an event in the White House Rose Garden where the virus spread among several attendees.
“No. I have exactly the same view," Giuliani said during a phone interview from his hospital room in Washington when asked whether, like Christie, his views of the virus had changed. “You know, I’ve also been through cancer, a couple of other things -- very serious, very serious, emergency knee operation. Things happen in life, and you have to go with them. You can’t overreact to them. Otherwise, you let the fear of illness drive your entire life."
Asked about whether his perspective on masks in particular has changed, Giuliani responded, “No. It does not. I think you can overdo the masks."
Giuliani said he has been given two medications -- remdesivir and dexamethasone -- that Trump was also given during his bout with covid-19 in October. But one of the radio hosts pointed out that those drugs are “not something that the normal American is going to be able to get, because it’s quite expensive,” Giuliani said he wasn’t aware that the treatment isn’t widely available.
“I, well, I didn’t know that," he said. "I mean, they give it to us here at this hospital. ... I’m not sure. I’m not sure about that.”
Giuliani also made some statements about the virus that are not true for all Americans.
“This is a curable disease at this point,” Giuliani said, even though most Americans are not able to get treatment at the level that he received. "This is in the category now of a curable disease. The mortality rates are nothing like they were five, six months ago.”
And he claimed that being admitted to a hospital as quickly as possible can eliminate one’s chances of dying from the disease -- making no mention of most Americans’ lack of access to the best care.
“My advice to people is, get early treatment. ... If you get early treatment, nothing’s going to happen to you," he said. "The earlier you get treated for this, number one, you totally eliminate the chance of dying, and number two, you probably eliminate the chance of getting, you know, a more complicated illness.”
Giuliani did, however, acknowledge that his “celebrity” status contributed to the care he has received.
“I think if it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have been put in the hospital," he said. "Sometimes, when you’re -- you know, when you’re a celebrity, they’re worried if something happens to you, they’re going to examine it more carefully, and they do everything right.”
The cost of child care was already astronomical. In the pandemic, it’s ‘terrifying.’
Once a month, after the kids are in bed, Margie Yeager and her husband convene at the dining room table. She opens her computer and pulls up the spreadsheet where she tracks the family budget. There is one column that’s caused far more stress this year than any other: child care.
Yeager and her husband have three kids — ages 3, 6 and 7 — and child care has always been expensive. But with schools and many day cares closed during the pandemic, the cost has skyrocketed: from $1,850 per month before the coronavirus hit to $5,300 in December.
Nine months into the pandemic, many kids haven’t returned to the schools or day-care centers they attended before the coronavirus, kept out of classrooms and nursery rooms by prolonged closures or parents who don’t yet feel comfortable sending them back. Parents have been left to devise their own solutions. These options are inevitably more expensive than pre-coronavirus child care — which, in the United States, was already astronomical.
A handful of states have extended coronavirus restrictions to curtail the spread of the virus as case numbers climb and strain health systems.
Here are the states with limitations that extend for the rest of the year and into 2021:
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced Tuesday that he will be extending the state’s restrictions for an additional three weeks, as coronavirus patients use 80 percent of the state’s ICU capacity. The limitations on social gatherings and the closing of indoor dining and gym activity will remain with Washington state residents until Jan. 4. “We remain concerned about covid activity, and … we still do not have a clear picture of the situation following the Thanksgiving weekend,” he said. Washington reported more than 6,900 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, another high for the state that now has recorded more than 184,400 since early March, according to Washington Post data.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced a modified stay-at-home order that will require people to remain at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and businesses to be shut during those hours. More than 80 percent of the counties in the state are in the red or orange categories, and a record number of people have been hospitalized because of the virus, Cooper said.
Michiganders will also be under an extension of rules put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said citizens will be under a statewide pause until Dec. 20, which includes closures of indoor learning for high schools and universities and indoor dining at restaurants. “Hope is on the horizon, but right now we have to stay focused on protecting our families and our frontline workers so we can eradicate this virus once and for all,” she tweeted. Michigan reported more than 6,600 new infections Monday, increasing the state’s total to more than 443,000, according to Post data.
The White House declined to buy more of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Here’s where it could go instead.
Striking images of British people older than 80 getting vaccinated, the first mass vaccination effort in the West, captured attention around the world a day after news broke that the Trump administration turned down the chance to secure more of the Pfizer vaccine and will probably need to wait until June or July to procure doses beyond their initial order of 100 million because other countries have snapped up limited supply.
Trump administration officials defended the decision, noting that the United States is at the front of the line for the promising Moderna vaccine, which is expected to be approved in coming weeks. But both vaccines require two doses, meaning the 100 million doses purchased of each will cover two sets of 50 million people, or 100 million total — far short of the entire population.
Given the Trump administration’s big promises on vaccines, the prospect of limited supply and long waits in the United States will lead to questions about where those doses are going. Here is what we know about some of the major orders that have been placed by other countries — and how they plan to roll out the Pfizer vaccine.
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday laid out a three-point plan to begin defeating the coronavirus pandemic during his first 100 days in office, saying he will sign an executive order the day he is sworn in to require Americans to wear masks on buses and trains crossing state lines, as well as in federal buildings.
Biden also pledged to distribute at least 100 million vaccines during that time, singling out educators, who he said should get shots “as soon as possible” after they are given first, under current plans, to health workers and people who live and work in long-term care facilities. He did not specify whether he meant 100 million doses or vaccinating that many people. The two vaccines nearing approval both require two doses.
The other goal of his 100-day plan, Biden said, is to enable “the majority of our schools” to reopen within that time horizon and to remain open. He called on Congress to devote the funding needed to make it safe to students and teachers to return to classrooms.
Back in June, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page published a now pretty infamous op-ed from Vice President Pence. The thrust: There was no “second wave” of the coronavirus, and the U.S. government had the problem well in hand. The claim was highly suspect at the time, and it has proved even more dubious since then as the pandemic situation has spiraled out of control. Olivia Troye, once a Pence aide, who says she participated in drafting it, has called the claim “ludicrous.”
But when it comes to all-is-well op-eds in the Journal, South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) is giving Pence a run for his money.