COVID Live Updates: US daily death toll highest since start of pandemic

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- More than 2,800 COVID-19 deaths were reported Wednesday in the United States -- the most the country has ever reported in a single day -- as health care officials say their staff and facilities are struggling to support burgeoning numbers of patients.

The number of COVID-19 patients in US hospitals Wednesday -- 100,226, according to the COVID Tracking Project -- also is the highest reported on a given day during the pandemic.

One-day death totals can draw from delayed reports across several days. Still, recently soaring daily rates of infections and hospitalizations has various experts predicting the daily death count could regularly surpass 2,000 or 3,000, and perhaps approach 4,000.

The country's daily average of COVID-19 deaths across a week is 1,654 -- above its summer high of around 1,130 but lower than the pandemic peak above 2,240 in late April.

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Here are more of today's headlines:



Biden to call for 100 days of mask-wearing among first acts amid COVID-19 pandemic
Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he's pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That's made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.

The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a "patriotic duty" and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce.

Delaware governor announces stay-at-home advisory, universal mask mandate
Delaware Governor John Carney announced a new stay-at-home advisory on Thursday, urging all residents to avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside their household to combat the rising COVID-19 cases. The order goes into effect from December 14 and lasts through January 11.

The advisory does not apply to Delawareans in workplaces and traveling to and from their places of work.

Carney is also issuing a universal statewide mask mandate requiring Delawareans to wear a cloth face covering anytime they are indoors with anyone outside their immediate household. A similar mask mandate, which required people to wear masks in public settings where social distancing was not possible, is already in effect. Children under 2 years old are not required to wear masks.

Cuomo shows off the 'weapon that's going to win the war'
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unpacked a sample box of coronavirus vaccine, demonstrating the packaging and shipment required for ultra-cold storage.

All travel discouraged as NJ daily COVID-19 positivity rate climbs
The daily coronavirus positivity rate has jumped to 13.6% in New Jersey, and Governor Phil Murphy is urging residents who are planning to travel now or during the holidays to think again. He's also asking anyone does to self quarantine for 14-days and get tested. Frontline workers, members of law enforcement, and active duty military on orders or directives to come to New Jersey are among those exempt from the travel advisory.

Nurse's entire family infected after mom 'let down her guard'
A nurse in New Jersey is speaking out from her hospital bed, after COVID spread through her family. Nurse Sofia Burke lost her father to the virus last week. She says her family became infected after her mother "let her guard down for one moment" and gave a friend a ride home. Burke says everyone needs to take the virus seriously.

"My mother is home with oxygen unable to breathe on her own after being in the hospital for six days," Burke said. "My child, my two year old with diabetes, contracted the virus. She had to endure high fever and now has COVID."

NYC releases vaccination plan for COVID-19
The city of New York is laying out its plan to vaccinate residents from COVID-19, beginning with high-risk health care workers and nursing home residents and staff. The Pfizer vaccine will arrive in the city on December 15, and the Moderna vaccine will arrive on December 22. The city says they are working closely with the state of New York and the federal government on the vaccine distribution plan. As for distributing it to all New Yorkers, "It will obviously take months," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. He did note, more doses will be arriving in the city weekly.

Teacher from New Jersey wins new Mazda for 3-D printing thousands of PPE
A middle school shop teacher from New Jersey was one of three winners of the "Mazda Heroes: Honoring the Human Spirit" program. The winners were announced on "Good Morning America" and given a Mazda MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition as a "thank you" for their efforts. Jason Erdreich of Randolph gathered a team of people with 3-D printers to help make more than 12,000 pieces of PPE and other cost-effective equipment needed for shifting to back-to-school teaching environments. While students were remote learning, Jason designed STEM classes for the online format and offered them at little or no charge, in addition to reworking his own typical classes.

Drive-thru COVID-19 rapid tests giving Long Island patients results in minutes
ProHEALTH launched its drive-thru COVID-19 rapid testing at six locations throughout Long Island and NYC on Thursday. The health care organization held a demonstration on how it all works at its Jericho location. ProHEALTH is the first health care system in the region to offer drive-thru rapid tests. Patients register electronically in their cars and then get tested by rolling down their car window. Results are ready in minutes. Drive-thru rapid testing for COVID-19 is now available at all of ProHEALTH's drive-thru locations in Fort Hamilton, Gramercy Park, Jericho, Little Neck, Riverhead, and Yorkville.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree now lit, how to view
Thursday marks your first chance to get a safe, socially distanced, up-close view of the world famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Viewing began at 6 a.m., with safety precautions in place. The magic of the 88th annual tree lighting ceremony went off as scheduled Wednesday evening, including the usual lights and music but with no public audience. Rockefeller Plaza itself was empty - closed to crowds - and the program was streamed online and televised to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But still some gathered outside barricades, hoping to catch a glimpse of the traditional Christmas magic.

House Democrats promise some COVID relief before holidays
The No. 2 House Democrat told colleagues Thursday morning that the chamber won't adjourn for the year without delivering at least some measure of COVID-19 relief, as Democrats show greater flexibility after absorbing losses in last month's elections. But Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also told lawmakers on a virtual caucus gathering that leaders are shooting to adjourn for the holidays a week from now, an optimistic timetable given the welter of difficult, unresolved issues dogging the long-stalled relief effort. With COVID-19 caseloads spiraling and the daily death toll equaling records, the momentum for finally passing a second major relief bill is undeniably building, especially after President-elect Joe Biden and Capitol Hill's top Democrats endorsed a $908 billion bipartisan framework to build an agreement.

Alabama woman raising 12 kids after her sister, brother-in-law die of COVID-19
Francesca McCall and her younger sister Chantale had always promised to take care of each other's kids if anything ever happened to either. When Chantale died in September from COVID-19, her sister, who was already raising seven kids of her own, didn't hesitate to welcome Chantale's five children into her Birmingham, Alabama, home. The 12 children range in age from 1 to 17, and McCall, who's a single mother, said living together has been a challenge.

"We always said that we didn't want our kids to be separated. We wanted our kids to stay together," McCall, 40, told CNN.

Vaccination cards will be issued to everyone getting COVID-19 vaccine, health officials say
The Department of Defense released the first images of a COVID-19 vaccination record card and vaccination kits Wednesday. Vaccination cards will be used as the "simplest" way to keep track of Covid-19 shots, said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition, which is supporting frontline workers who will administer Covid-19 vaccinations.

"Everyone will be issued a written card that they can put in their wallet that will tell them what they had and when their next dose is due," Moore said. "Let's do the simple, easy thing first. Everyone's going to get that."

Phishing emails tried to collect vital information on COVID-19 vaccine distribution: IBM
IBM security researchers say they have detected a cyberespionage effort using targeted phishing emails to try to collect vital information on the World Health Organization's initiative for distributing COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries. The researchers said they could not be sure who was behind the campaign, which began in September, or if it was successful. But the precision targeting and careful efforts to leave no tracks bore "the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft," they said in a blog post Thursday. The campaign's targets, in countries including Germany, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan, are likely associated with the development of the "cold chain" needed to ensure coronavirus vaccines get the nonstop sterile refrigeration they need to be effective for the nearly 3 billion people who live where temperature-controlled storage is insufficient, IBM said.

UN meets to discuss COVID Response
After months of delay, the United Nations is meeting over the new two days to talk about how countries can work together. Much of this session will happen virtually, with leaders from the UK, France, Germany, and Japan among the richest nations delivering speeches as they try to coordinate efforts to distribute a vaccine and rescue the global economy. The United States will also participate, but unlike other rich nations, we are not sending our president, rather Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is slated to speak.

Know your NYC COVID Zone
You can find your COVID zone at NYC.gov/covidzone.



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