Today’s In Crisis headlines


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

Historic winter storms and cold cause at least 30 deaths; Texas remains hard-hit
At least 30 deaths are blamed on this week’s storm and historic cold, with Texas remaining among the hardest-hit states.  At least 515,000 customers there still have no power – down from more than two million 24 hours earlier – with thousands also without heat or water.  Nearly seven million Texans are being advised by officials to boil drinking water for safety – a challenge for those who remain without power.  Some 1.2 million customers in eight states remain without power.

Finger-pointing for the massive Texas power outage continues.  The state has its own independent power grid, operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, that provides 90% of the state’s power mostly via natural gas and some coal.  Texas Gov. Greg Abbot said because of the atypical freezing weather, “coal and natural gas power generating facilities either froze up or had mechanical failure, and we’re incapable of adding power to the power grid.”  Abbot said Texas lawmakers will begin investigations next week into ERCOT decisions related to the outage, and called on its board members to resign.  Meanwhile, the names of ERCOT’s board of directors have been removed from its websiteKTRK TV in Houston reports a spokesperson said the names were removed because board and senior leaders were receiving threats because of the anger over the widespread power outages.

Unemployment claims increase, with 861,000 filed
After three weeks of reported decreasing unemployment claims, new claims increased to 861,000 for the week ending February 13, according to figures released Thursday morning by the U.S. Labor Department.  That number is about 100,000 more than experts expected.  Further, the previous week’s claims were higher than initially reported, revised up from 793,000 to 848,000, meaning the three-week decline in claims was actually two weeks.  Some 812,000 claims were filed for the week ending January 30, and 914,000 for the week ending January 23.  The weekly unemployment claims continue to represent highs not seen before the pandemic.  According to Thursday’s numbers, 18,340,161 people are currently claiming unemployment through all government programs.

COVID-19 numbers
Here’s the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections, deaths and vaccinations.

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 110,002,089
Global deaths: 2,432,607.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 490,717.
Number of countries/regions: at least 192
Total patients recovered globally: 61,957,524

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 27,827,801 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 490,717.  California has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 47,936.
U.S. total people tested: 334,986,156

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 3,506,402 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks second in the world after England, which has 3,566,965 cases.  Texas is third, with 2,576,409 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

Latest reported COVID-19 vaccination numbers in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a total of 72,423,125 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S.  Of those, 56,281,827 doses have been administered, with 40,268,009 people receiving one or more doses, and 15,471,536 people receiving two doses. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, which are the two most prevalent in the U.S., each require two doses to be effective.

Global COVID-19 cases top 110 million; US passes 490,000 deaths; life expectancy declines
The number of COVID-19 cases in the world has passed 110 million, with 110,002,089 reported as of Thursday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  There are at least 27,827,801 reported cases in the U.S., which continues to be more than in any other country, accounting for just over 25% of global infections.  The U.S. as of Thursday morning reported 490,717 total COVID-19 deaths, also more than in any other country.  Given a current seven-day average of 2,176 deaths per day, according to the Covid Tracking Project, the U.S. could exceed 500,000 total COVID-19 fatalities by the weekend.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently estimating a total 530,000 to 559,000 reported COVID-19 fatalities by the week ending March 13.

The pandemic also shaved an entire year off of the average American’s life expectancy during the first half of 2020, according to preliminary estimates published Thursday by the CDC.  For Americans overall, it was 77.8 years in the first half of the year, down from 78.8 years in 2019.  Breaking it down by gender, male life expectancy is 75.1 years and women 80.5.  Minorities were hit especially hard, with Black Americans losing nearly three years off of their life expectancy and Hispanics nearly two.

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