USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as a pair of vaccines join the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 350,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates surrounding the coronavirus, including who is getting the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as other top news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.
In the headlines:
► “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, who died in November of pancreatic cancer, taped a message for what turned out to be his final week of shows urging support for victims of the coronavirus epidemic. “We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society and if we all pitch in just a little bit, we’re going to get there,” he said in a message that aired Monday.
►Gov. Kate Brown is ramping up vaccinations, ordering the Oregon Health Authority to administer 12,000 daily by Jan. 15. “All states are grappling with the same logistical challenges, and while we are making steady progress, we must move even more quickly when every vaccination has the potential to save someone’s life,” Brown said.
► Public health officials on Monday said Los Angeles County may soon reach 1,000 COVID-19 deaths a week as one in five residents are testing positive for the coronavirus. Officials said new COVID-19 cases has increased by 905% since Nov. 1.
► Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is under fire after his oldest son posted a video on social media at a party among dozens of people who are maskless. Ducey has been criticized for not enforcing stricter coronavirus measures requested by major hospital and health systems across the state, including a statewide mask mandate. According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, Arizona has the highest rate of new cases in the U.S. as of Monday afternoon.
► The Philippines added the United States to its current list of 20 countries with travel restrictions due to the rising cases of the new coronavirus variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 20.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 353,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 85.6 million cases and 1.8 million deaths.
It’s possible to test positive for the coronavirus even after getting vaccinated. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses per patient to be fully effective. The first Pfizer-BioNTech dose is more than 50% effective in preventing COVID-19, and the second dose increases that protection to about 95%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it can take weeks for a person’s body to build up immunity after getting vaccinated.
“That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick,” the agency said. “This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.” Read more.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Ambulance crews in Los Angeles County have been advised to cut back on oxygen use and not to bring patients who have virtually no chance of survival to hospitals.
Officials cited an “acute need to conserve oxygen” and told the Los Angeles Times that medical personnel need to focus on patients with a greater chance of surviving. Officials remain concerned that daily coronavirus infections, already at all-time highs that are overwhelming hospitals and healthcare workers, will surge more over the next week as people who were infected over the holidays become ill.
“We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “That’s hard to imagine.”
Schools and colleges across England shut their doors Tuesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson grappled with a surge in COVID cases and deaths fueled by an extremely contagious variant sweeping the nation. A blanket lockdown expected to last until mid-February calls for Britons to leave home only for necessities such as essential work, grocery shopping or to escape domestic abuse. Johnson revealed an ambitious vaccination schedule calling for all care home residents and their carers, everyone aged 70 and over, all frontline health and social care workers, and the extremely vulnerable will be offered one dose of a vaccine by mid-February.
A power failure for the freezer holding Moderna vaccines forced emergency distribution of 850 doses at a California hospital on Monday. Nursing home workers, clinicians and the general public in Mendocino County lined up at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center for an initial dose on a first-come-first-serve basis, the Mendocino Voice reported. By 2 p.m., all the doses had been administered and those left in line were sent home. Chief medical officer Bessant Parker dismissed concerns that friends and family of hospital workers were among those who were vaccinated.
“We needed to get vaccines in the arms of people by 2 p.m.,” Parker told The Press Democrat. “If anybody is looking to make opinions and throw stones, that would be ridiculous.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday said there is no adequate scientific evidence that supports changing the authorized COVID-19 vaccine schedule or dosing, calling the request “premature.”
The FDA said it has been following discussions and reports about reducing the number of doses, extending the length of time between doses, cutting the dosage in half or mixing and matching vaccines to help get more people vaccinated.
“Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19,” the FDA said in a statement.
Anti-mask protests and videos of altercations over face mask requirements at businesses across the country continue to go viral even as coronavirus cases surge. On Saturday, “Burn the Mask” protesters blocked the entrance of a Fresno, California, Trader Joe’s, causing the grocer to close in the afternoon, the Fresno Bee reported.
In Los Angeles County, where nearly 1 in 5 people are testing positive, a group of protestors stormed a Ralphs grocery store Sunday, argued with customers over masks with one protester calling a fellow shopper a “mask Nazi,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, outside a Houston café, protesters waved American flags over the weekend after some customers were upset over having to wear face masks. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted in response and support of the restaurant, saying he heard Miller’s Cafe has “pretty good burgers. I will patronize them Monday and I hope you patronize them this week.”
– Kelly Tyko
A more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom continues to crop up across the U.S. and around the globe, threatening to further strain overburdened health care systems just as vaccines are rolling out worldwide.
At least four U.S. states and 33 countries have identified the new variant, known as B.1.1.7. Several nations have also identified an additional variant, first identified in South Africa, that also appears to infect people more easily. Here’s what we know about B.1.1.7.
– Grace Hauck
Contributing: The Associated Press