USA TODAY keeps track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as a pair of vaccines join the US fight against a virus that has killed more than 325,000 Americans since the first reported death in February. Keep updating this page for the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who gets shots and where, as well as other COVID-19 news from across the U.S. 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 coronavirus.
In the headlines:
►Pfizer and BioNTech announced an agreement with the US government to supply an additional 100 million doses of the companies’ vaccine. This agreement brings the total number of doses to be delivered to the United States by July 31 to 200 million. Here’s what experts have to say about vaccine distribution.
► AFC East champion Buffalo Bills is exploring a plan that allows up to 6,700 fans to participate in their remaining home game, including at least one in the playoffs. The plan, which has not yet been approved, requires the use of rapid COVID-19 tests and contact tracking.
►Luke Letlow, a Republican from Louisiana who was elected as a U.S. representative in November, was transferred to the intensive care unit of a Shreveport hospital to continue treatment with COVID-19. Letlow, 40, is in stable condition.
►Canada approved Moderna’s vaccine and said the shipments should arrive in the country within 48 hours. Health officials approved the December 9 Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Canada should receive 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine by 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people or approx. two-thirds of the country’s adult population.
►The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 89,000 last week to still rising 803,000, which is proof that the labor market is still under stress. Before the virus hit, unemployment claims were typically around 225,000 a week.
►House Democrats said they plan to offer legislation that increases $ 600 stimulus control to $ 2,000 as proposed by President Donald Trump. However, the president’s own party was difficult, and the fate of the rise remained in doubt on Wednesday.
►Another 3,401 U.S. deaths were recorded Wednesday, the second-highest number recorded, according to Johns Hopkins University data. This is the fifth time that the number of deaths exceeds 3,000 in one day, and all five times were this month. The United States reported for the first time over 19,000 deaths from COVID-19 in a seven-day period.
►Germany, with about a quarter of the U.S. population, reported a record 962 deaths in one day despite recent restrictions closing most stores, tightening social contact rules and urging people not to visit family during Christmas.
📈 Today’s figures: The United States has more than 18.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 325,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Total sums: More than 78.5 million cases and 1.72 million deaths.
Here’s a closer look at today’s top stories:
NYC orders foreign visitors to quarantine; UK expands restrictions to combat new variant
New York City on Wednesday began demanding quarantine visitors from abroad to ward off the new coronavirus variant found in the UK. The order comes with the threat of a $ 1,000 fine for offenders and the possibility of getting a knock on the door from a sheriff’s deputy.
“There will be a follow-up direct home visit or hotel visit from the sheriff’s deputy to confirm that they are following quarantine,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Or if they do not, they will be punished.”
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the discovery of the new tribe has prompted British authorities to extend Tier 4 restrictions – the strictest – to six million more people in the east and south-east of England as of Saturday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said another variant has been found from South Africa in the UK where several areas moved up to level 2 or 3 restriction levels.
Having COVID likely protects against re-infection, studies show
People with antibodies from getting coronavirus develop protection against reinfection for up to six months or longer, which is akin to getting a vaccine, two new studies show. The results not only show good results for the new COVID-19 vaccines, but also represent good news for those recovering from the disease.
Researchers found that people with antibodies from natural infections had a “much lower risk” of catching the virus again, Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the US National Cancer Institute, added that “it is very, very rare” to be reinfected.
The National Cancer Institute study involved more than 3 million people who had antibody tests from two private laboratories in the United States, while the other tracked more than 12,500 health workers at Oxford University Hospitals in the United Kingdom. Both showed that individuals who had produced antibodies were 10 times less likely to get another infection.
The CDC urges Americans to ‘stay home’ when millions flock to airports
Millions of Americans travel ahead of Christmas and New Year despite prayers from public health experts to stay home and avoid feeding the pandemic. An average of more than 1 million people a day have rolled through the country’s airports over the past five days, around the same number that crowded airports for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Stay home to best protect yourself and others from # COVID19 this holiday season,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweeted Wednesday. “Have a virtual holiday meal with friends and family, gather for a virtual gift exchange, decorate your home or make festive crafts.”
Jennifer Brownlee, 34, a fisherman from Bayou La Batre, Alabama, flew from Tampa Airport to Oregon to see her mother, who just lost a leg.
“My mother is worth it. She needs my help, ”Brownlee said. “I know God made me. He will not let me get sick. ”
Vaccine purchases should deliver enough to ‘any American who wants it by June’
The federal government has agreed to pay $ 1.95 billion for a second round of 100 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and partner BioNTech. The agreement brought the total number of doses of the vaccine to be delivered to the United States to 200 million by 31 July. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that the latest agreement can give people confidence “that we will have enough supplies to vaccinate any American who wants it by June 2021.”
Pfizer’s vaccine was the first to be approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, and health professionals are already being vaccinated. Another vaccine developed by Moderna in collaboration with researchers from the National Institutes of Health is also in use.
Contribution: Associated Press
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: COVID vaccine update: 100 million more Pfizer doses; stimulus acts up in the air