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Today’s In Crisis headlines

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

Electoral College meets today to formally cast votes for president
Today is the day the 538 members of the Electoral College meet in each state to cast their votes for president and vice-president.  The vote, which by federal law comes the “Monday after the second Wednesday in December of presidential election years,” is generally little more than a formality, with the designated electors from each state officially delivering their electoral votes, based on their state’s ballot results in the general election.  If there are no surprises, President-elect Joe Biden will receive 306 electoral votes to President Trump’s 232, with 270 needed to secure the presidency. 

Since the November 3 general election, the Trump campaign, its surrogates and others have filed nearly 60 court challenges to the presidential election outcome in various states, mostly claiming voter fraud, which have been rejected for lack of evidence.  The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday denied a lawsuit by the state of Texas seeking to set aside the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – all of which Biden won – saying the state lacked legal standing to bring the suit.

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: 72,352,258
Global deaths: 1,614,290.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 299,191.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 47,334,449

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 16,257,915 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 299,191.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 35,557.
U.S. total patients recovered: 6,298,082
U.S. total people tested: 217,114,386

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 1,586,978 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks third in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,880,416 reported cases, and England, which has 1,586,976 reported cases.  Texas is fourth, with 1,409,523 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech 1st COVID-19 vaccine; vaccinations underway now
The Food and Drug Administration late Friday approved the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) request for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people age 16 and over, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S.  In a statement, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn called the authorization “a significant milestone in battling this devastating pandemic that has affected so many families in the United States and around the world.”  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday said people who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but should discuss the risks with their doctors and be monitored for 30 minutes afterward.

Friday’s EUA triggered the first shipment of 2.9 million doses to potentially 636 sites across the country within 24 hours, primarily to hospitals where front-line healthcare workers are already being vaccinated as of Monday morning.  According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sandra Lindsay, RN, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is the first person to be vaccinated in New York and perhaps in the country.

The FDA meets this Thursday to consider a similar EUA request from pharmaceutical company Moderna.  If granted, which it is expected to be, millions of doses of their COVID-19 vaccine will immediately be distributed nationwide.  After healthcare workers, first responders, the elderly and others at high risk are vaccinated, the general population will have access to both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.  Current estimates are that widespread inoculation could be underway by late spring 2021.

US to cross 300k COVID-19 deaths today; now over 16 million cases nationwide
The U.S. is on track today to surpass 300,000 total deaths from COVID-19.  Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of Monday morning reported 299,191 total coronavirus fatalities, with the Covid Tracking Project on Sunday reporting a seven-day average of 2,427 deaths — a new record, and 300 deaths more per day than at the peak of the spring wave.   The latest 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.

Also Sunday, the Covid Tracking Project reported a new single-day record for COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S., with 109,331, and a new record-high seven-day average of new reported cases, with 211,484.  Over the weekend, the U.S. crossed the 16 million cases threshold, with at least 16,257,915 reported cases Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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