Today’s In Crisis headlines


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

McConnell blocks Senate vote on $2,000 pandemic relief checks
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday effectively ended any chance of the Senate voting on a bill that would boost pandemic relief checks from $600 to $2,000, as requested by President Trump.  McConnell said he won’t split the $2,000 relief payment bill from a larger bill that also includes language to create an election fraud commission, and a provision to revoke broad immunity for internet businesses regarding user content published on their platforms.  McConnell also attacked House Democrats on the Senate floor Wednesday, declaring they wanted to send a “boatload of cash” to Americans who haven’t lost income due to the pandemic.  Republicans like McConnell have previously said they’re concerned about the half-trillion-dollar price tag of the $2,000 payments adding to the national debt. 

Unemployment claims down slightly as 787,000 file for benefits
Unemployment claims fell slightly last week, with 787,000 new claims filed in the week ending December 26, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the U.S. Labor Department.  That’s down from the previous week’s level, which itself was revised upward from 803,000 to 806,000 claims.  That remains higher than anything seen before the pandemic.  The news comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday refused to allow a proposal to increase COVID-19 relief checks from $600 to $2,000 to come to the Senate floor for a vote, separate from any unrelated provisions. 

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: 82,843,750
Global deaths: 1,807,866.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 342,414.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 46,853,056

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 19,745,888 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 342,414.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 37,840.
U.S. total people tested: 246,574,904

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 2,265,300 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks first in the world.  England is second in the world, with 2,090,246 cases.  Maharashtra, India, which has 1,928,603 cases, ranks third, while Texas is fourth, with 1,750,773 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

US sets yet another single-day COVID-19 fatality record as total cases near 20 million
The U.S. on Wednesday set yet another single-day record high for COVID-19 fatalities for the second consecutive day, and for the third time this month.  There were at least 3,744 deaths reported December 30, the highest number since the start of the pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  That surpasses the 3,725 deaths reported Tuesday, which itself exceeded the record 3,656 single-day fatalities reported for December 16.  With fewer than 24 hours remaining in the month, and the year, the current fatality rate should push the December death toll well above 70,000, making it the deadliest month of 2020 for COVID-19 fatalities.

Also Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 deaths forecast.  The agency is now estimating a total of 383,000 to 424,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by the week ending January 23.  The previous CDC forecast was for as many as 419,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths by the week ending January 16.

The U.S. is set to begin 2021 by surpassing yet another grim milestone.  As of Thursday morning, there were 19,745,888 reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S.  With more than 229,000 new cases confirmed over the past 24 hours, the nation is on track to exceed 20 million total COVID-19 cases before the weekend is over.

Friday marks one-year anniversary of first announced COVID-19 cases
One year ago Friday, December 31, the Municipal Health Commission in the central Chinese city of Wuhan publicly announced that experts were investigating an outbreak of a viral pneumonia-like respiratory illness that had infected 27 people, seven of whom were in serious condition.  The announcement came thirty days after the first known case of what came to be known as COVID-19 was reported December 1 in an elderly Chinese man.  The first known case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was reported in Washington state on January 20, in a man who had recently returned from Wuhan.  Ten days later, on January 30, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health emergency.  On March 11, the WHO officially declared the virus a global pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout falls far short of promised schedule
So far the federal government has distributed more than 14 million COVID-19 vaccine doses nationwide, but only about 2.5 million immunizations have been reported.  That’s far short of the 20 million that Operation Warp Speed promised by the New Year.  ABC News has learned there are distribution issues at the state and local level, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s complex storage requirements, as well as uncertainty over the supply of doses, and the strain placed on local health agencies already struggling to keep pace with the surging pandemic.  Holidays and snowstorms haven’t helped, and a federally run partnership with major pharmacies to deliver vaccines in nursing homes only just got started.  Also, states participating in that program were required to hold some doses in reserve, limiting the immediately available supply.

Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams defended the federal vaccine rollout, saying the federal government is on track to have 20 million doses “on the ground” by the end of next week.  But Adams added that state and local entities need help getting the vaccines “into bodies and arms,” and he pointed to long underfunded public health departments as needing assistance to get the job done.  He also declared that officials were always aware it would take time to ramp up national vaccinations, but insisted that efforts are heading in the right direction, and increasing.

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