USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as a pair of vaccines join the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 392,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates surrounding the coronavirus, including who is getting the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as other top news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.
In the headlines:
► Global COVID-19 deaths reached the horrific milestone of 2 million, which is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Nebraska. Of those deaths, more than 390,000 have been in the United States.
► Institute for Health Metrics now predicts that by May, the U.S. will have more than 566,000 deaths from COVID-19
► President-elect Joe Biden said Friday his administration will add clinics, bolster the public health workforce and invoke a wartime production law to ensure adequate vaccine supplies in order for Americans to get 100 million COVID-19 shots in the first 100 days of his administration.
► Beginning Monday, the United Kingdom will require all incoming travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine. Children under 11, essential workers and people traveling for urgent medical treatment are exempt.
► The coronavirus pandemic is projected to lower Americans’ life expectancy at birth by over a year, according to a study out of University of Southern California and Princeton University. Life expectancy for Black and Latino populations is expected to reduce 30% to 40% more than white populations.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 23.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 392,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals exceed 94 million cases and a stark 2 million deaths have been recorded.
📘 What we’re reading: Scientists are convinced that COVID-19 came from a thumb-sized bat tucked inside a remote Chinese cave one year ago. But where did this virus truly come from? Read more on its mysterious origin.
The Institute for Health Metrics is now predicting that by May, more than 566,000 people in the U.S. will die of COVID-19, with the peak likely coming at the beginning of February. The organization says “daily deaths are expected to decline steadily after the peak, reaching below 500 a day sometime in April due to seasonality and the scale-up of vaccination.” They predict that by May 1, some states could be close to herd immunity.
But if the more transmissible variant, which has been detected in multiple states already, takes hold, the peak could be “delayed by weeks and the death toll substantially increased.” Meanwhile, IHME warned that hospitals will be under “severe stress in the next four weeks,” as the costal states experience a significant rise in cases. The Midwest, recently a hotspot, is trending down.
In his first detailed discussion of his vaccination plans a day after unveiling his $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, President-elect Joe Biden said swift action is essential to reverse the “dismal failure” of the nation’s vaccine rollout that’s left millions of doses in storage during the deadliest stretch of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s team has identified suppliers who could be tapped under the federal Defense Production Act to prevent potential shortages of glass vials, stoppers, syringes and needles that could delay getting shots in arms.
He reiterated an earlier pledge to open vaccines beyond health workers and nursing home residents to adults over 65 and frontline workers such as teachers, first responders and grocery clerks.
Biden will instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up mass vaccination sites at places such as schools gyms, community centers and sports stadiums. He pledged these new clinics, as well as temporary mobile clinics, will be available in underserved communities hard hit by coronavirus.
– Ken Alltucker
“Masks and social distancing will need to continue into the foreseeable future — until we have some level of herd immunity,” said Dr. Preeti Malani, chief health officer at the University of Michigan. “Masks and distancing are here to stay.”
Malani and other health experts explained several reasons Americans should hold on to their masks: No vaccine is 100% effective; it takes awhile for protection to be activated; and being vaccinated won’t prevent you from spreading the virus. Read more here.
– Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News
The highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus that’s wreaking havoc in the United Kingdom could become predominant in the United States by March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned.
A model published Friday in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed the variant, B.1.1.7, spreading rapidly, threatening to strain health care resources and increase the population immunity needed to control the pandemic.
About 76 cases of the new variant had been detected in 10 states as of Jan. 13, the CDC said, with Illinois announcing its first case Friday in Chicago.
The CDC said it’s collaborating with other federal agencies to coordinate and enhance genomic surveillance to better understand local epidemiology in the face of this new variant. The agency also underscored the importance of public health strategies to reduce transmission, which will buy “critical time to increase vaccination coverage.”
The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million on Friday as vaccines developed at breakneck speed are being rolled out around the world in an all-out campaign to vanquish the threat.
The milestone was reached just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It took eight months to hit 1 million dead. It took less than four months after that to reach the next million.
While the count is based on figures supplied by government agencies around the world, the real toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of inadequate testing and the many fatalities that were inaccurately attributed to other causes, especially early in the outbreak.
“Behind this terrible number are names and faces — the smile that will now only be a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table, the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He said the toll “has been made worse by the absence of a global coordinated effort.”
“Science has succeeded, but solidarity has failed,” he said.
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; Associated Press