Today’s In Crisis headlines


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

Unemployment claims jump to 853,000, over 100k more than previous week
At least 853,000 Americans filed unemployment claims in the week ending December 5, according to new figures released this morning by the U.S. Department of Labor.  That’s an increase of 137,000 from the previous week’s level, which itself was revised upward by 4,000, to 716,000.  Thursday’s numbers are the highest number of first-time jobless claims filed since early October and reflect the increasing labor force struggles amid the ongoing pandemic, as infections surge and cities impose or re-impose restrictions on businesses.

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: 69,027,093
Global deaths: 1,572,162.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 289,450.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 44,518,736

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 15,392,979 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 289,450.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 35,183.
U.S. total patients recovered: 5,889,896
U.S. total people tested: 209,372,157

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 1,454,124 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks third in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,864,348 reported cases, and England, which has 1,514,139 reported cases.  Texas is fourth, with 1,359,951 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

FDA to meet today to consider Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization
The Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet today to consider whether to recommend that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine receives Emergency Use Authorization.  While the EUA is not guaranteed, the FDA is widely expected to approve it, which will allow the vaccine to immediately be administered to individuals judged to be at high risk of infection, such as healthcare workers, first responders, the elderly and others. 

Pfizer-BioNTech is making 6.4 million vaccine doses available for the first wave of shipments, though only about half of that number, around 2.9 million doses, will be distributed immediately upon FDA authorization. The second course of 2.9 million doses will follow close behind, within 21 days, with 500,000 held in reserve.

The FDA is scheduled to meet Thursday, December 17 to consider a similar vaccine EUA from Moderna.  That approval is also expected.  Full approval for widespread distribution of both vaccines will likely come in March or April, which would allow large-scale national immunization to be underway by June.

The U.K., Bahrain and Canada have already authorized distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.  After two incidences of allergic reactions in vaccination recipients there, U.K. officials are warning that people with a history of allergies should not get the Pfizer vaccine for now.

US sets new single-day COVID-19 deaths record; total to exceed 290,000 today
More than 3,000 people died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the largest number of deaths on a single day since the pandemic began.  Data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project shows at least 3,054 people were reported Wednesday to have died of the virus in the U.S., a death rate of more than one person every 30 seconds.  Johns Hopkins University reported 289,450 deaths as of Thursday morning; that number will exceed 290,000 before the day is over.

The latest updated forecast by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates the U.S. will see a total of 332,000 to 362,000 COVID-19 deaths by the week ending January 2.  The previous forecast was 303,000 to 329,000 total COVID-19 deaths by the week ending December 26.

Public health officials continue to express concern about a post-Thanksgiving infection surge, as unknown numbers of Americans ignored isolation advisories and gathered for the holiday.  The U.S. is now averaging more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases every day, three times more than the country’s summer peak in July and more than six times higher than the country’s spring peak in April. There hasn’t been a single day with fewer than 100,000 daily cases for the last five straight weeks.

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