Today’s In Crisis headlines


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

Over 700,000 new unemployment claims filed last week; new COVID-19 stimulus bill developments
At least 712,000 new unemployment claims were filed in the week ending November 28, according to data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor.  That’s a decrease of 75,000 from the previous week’s numbers, which were revised up by 9,000, from 778,000 to 787,000.  Thursday’s number is lower than expected and the first time in two weeks that the numbers have come down, yet is still higher than any pre-pandemic record.  

According to a recent General Accounting Office report, the Labor Department unemployment claims numbers are not an accurate estimate of the number of individuals claiming benefits during the pandemic because of backlogs in processing a historic volume of claims, among other data issues.  Even so, the numbers remain the best weekly estimate available.

Many of the benefits being recorded in the unemployment claims numbers will expire at the end of the month unless Congress passes a new stimulus bill.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that they’re backing a new $908 billion pandemic relief bill introduced this week by a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers, a sign of movement in a stalemate that has dogged Congress for months.  The bill is still almost a trillion dollars less than what Pelosi and Democrats had been calling for, and more than what Republican leaders have said they’re willing to sign off on.  It currently remains unclear when the proposal will be ready for a vote on the House or Senate floors, or if Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would permit it to reach the Senate floor for a vote.

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: 64,648,033
Global deaths: 1,495,919.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 273,847.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 41,625,856

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 13,925,990 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 273,847.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 34,718.
U.S. total patients recovered: 5,322,128
U.S. total people tested: 195,601,815

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in Texas, with 1,268,946 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.  This ranks third in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,832,176 reported cases, and England, which has 1,426,733 reported cases.  California is fourth, with 1,268,765 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.

A day of grim COVID-19 milestones with record hospitalizations, cases; over 3,000 deaths Wednesday
The U.S. set new single-day records Wednesday for COVID-19 reported cases and hospitalizations.  The Covid Tracking Project reports there were 195,695 new cases reported Wednesday and 100,226 reported hospitalizations, the first time daily hospitalizations have exceeded 100,000. 

The Covid Tracking Project also reports 2,733 deaths Wednesday, which they say is the second-highest U.S. daily death count since May 2.  However, overnight data posted by Johns Hopkins University shows there were at least 3,157 deaths from COVID-19 over a 24-hour period on December 2 — 180 more than the 2,977 victims who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks.  Johns Hopkins further notes Wednesday’s number of fatalities exceed the previous highest total, set on April 15, when the U.S. saw 2,607 deaths.  The U.S. daily death count remains greater than one death every minute of every day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated their forecast to estimate there will be from 303,000 to 329,000 COVID-19 deaths reported in the U.S. by the week ending December 26.  The previous forecast was for between 294,000 to 321,000 coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. by the week ending December 19.  CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a livestreamed interview on Wednesday that he anticipates the death toll to climb another 150,000 to 200,000 deaths by next February.

As of Wednesday morning, there were at least 13,925,990 reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and 273,847 reported deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, accounting for 21.5% and 18.3% of global cases and fatalities, respectively.  

“We are in a very dangerous place”: White House COVID-19 task force memo issues stark warnings
Declaring that the “COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high,” this week’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing for governors warns that everyone over the age of 65 or with significant health conditions “should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked.”  It further declares that all Americans under 40 should “assume you became infected” if Thanksgiving involved anyone outside immediate family, with the blunt statement, “[Y]ou are dangerous to others and you must isolate away from anyone at increased risk for severe disease and get tested immediately.”

The document and its stark warnings, obtained by ABC News, was only shared with governors — not with the American people — and contradicts the White House’s continuing public stance of largely downplaying the COVID-19 risk to Americans.

“The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high,” the document states.  “We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall.”

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