Today’s In Crisis headlines

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

Georgia to announce ballot audit results today; Trump challenges dwindle
Election officials in Georgia are expected to reveal today the results of their hand audit of the ballots cast in the general election, following Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline to complete the audit.  Officials there have repeatedly said they don’t expect the audit to change President-elect Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia over President Trump.  The audit was not the result of any campaign request or suspected irregularities, but rather was automatically triggered by a new state law.  The state has until Friday to certify the vote.  The Trump campaign has scheduled a press conference for this morning at about the same time Georgia officials are expected to announce the audit results.

As President Trump continues his refusal to concede defeat to Biden, his campaign’s legal team has either lost or withdrawn from 14 separate legal challenges to the election outcome in several states. In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign has decided not to request a statewide recount, for which they would have to pay $7.9 million, but instead has paid for a recount in two mostly Democratic counties. There is no suggestion that it would do anything to change the vote outcome in the state, which Biden won.  The Trump campaign also continues to challenge Biden’s ballot victory in Pennsylvania, where they so far have had no luck in court.

President-elect Biden currently has 306 electoral votes to President Trump’s 232, with 270 needed to win the presidency.   Check for the latest vote counts and other election updates.

Unemployment ticks up as 742,000 claims filed last week
Unemployment ticked up last week as 742,000 new unemployment claims were filed, according to numbers released this morning by the U.S. Labor Department. That number is a bit worse than expectations and is an increase of 31,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 711,000.  While vaccine news has been positive in recent days, there is for now no stimulus help available for millions businesses and jobs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  As the pandemic continues to surge across the nation, with states posting record numbers of cases, many officials are instituting new or additional business closures and limitations that could further negatively affect the economy and unemployment.  There are currently a total of 20,319,615 people claiming unemployment benefits from government programs.

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

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 56,394,215
Global deaths: 1,352,188.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 250,548.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 36,277,416

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 11,531,451 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 250,548.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 34,156.
U.S. total patients recovered: 4,350,789
U.S. total people tested: 171,908,902

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in Texas, with 1,091,558 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.  This ranks fourth in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,757,520 reported cases; England, which has 1,229,140 reported cases; and Sao Paulo, Brazil, which has 1,184,496 reported cases.

Oxford-Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine phase 2 results released; phase 3 results expected within weeks
Oxford University says phase 2 trial results of the COVID-19 vaccine they’re developing with pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca show that “the vaccine causes few side effects, and induces immune responses in both parts of the immune system in all age groups,” meaning it appears to work just as well for both younger and older patients.  The report, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, also says phase 3 trial results are expected within weeks. 

Oxford-Astra Zeneca was an early COVID-19 vaccine development frontrunner but it has since been outpaced by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, both of which announced their phase 3 trial results in the last two weeks and say they will seek FDA emergency use authorization very soon, with planned widespread distribution in the coming months.  Oxford says they plan to produce and distribute three billion doses of their vaccine, three times more than any other manufacturer to date, and will also offer it to developing countries at no profit in perpetuity.

US COVID-19 single-day deaths the highest in six months
On the same day the U.S. surpassed 250,000 total reported deaths from COVID-19, the nation on Wednesday also experienced the highest single-day fatality numbers in six months.  A reported 1,869 people died of the virus Wednesday, according to the Covid Tacking Project, the highest single-day death count since May 7.  There were also 78,410 people hospitalized with COVID-19, a new single-day record.  New cases in the U.S. are now averaging over 150,000 daily, with 163,975 reported Wednesday.  The U.S. has 11,531,451 reported coronavirus cases and 250,548 total fatalities as of Thursday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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