COVID Live Updates: US reports highest single-day total of nearly 300K coronavirus cases

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The U.S. reported a staggering 299,087 confirmed coronavirus cases on January 2, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

This as the nation also surpassed 350,000 deaths from coronavirus late Saturday.

At least 350,214 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic, per Johns Hopkins University.
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Here are more of today's headlines:



Fauci: Vaccinations are ramping up in a glimmer of hope'
The U.S. ramped up COVID-19 vaccinations in the past few days after a slower-than-expected start, bringing the number of shots dispensed to about 4 million, government health officials said Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, also said on ABC's "This Week" that President-elect Joe Biden's pledge to administer 100 million shots of the vaccine within his first 100 days in office is achievable.

And he rejected President Donald Trump's false claim on Twitter that coronavirus deaths and cases in the U.S. have been greatly exaggerated.

Pharmacist awaiting charges for deliberately spoiling COVID-19 vaccine, officials say
The Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally sabotaging more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine remained in a county jail over the weekend, awaiting formal charges, as questions remain about his motive and access to the vaccine.

"It's become clear this was a situation involving a bad actor instead of a bad process," said Dr. Jeff Bahr, president of the Aurora Healthcare Medical Group.

It's unclear what if any changes healthcare systems like Advocate Aurora will make, but officials say both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are thoroughly documented.

New York indicators
New York reported a statewide positivity rate of 7.98% on Sunday, as well as 11,368 positive cases and 138 deaths. Hospitalizations also increased to 7,963, marking an increase of 149.

New Jersey indicators
On Sunday, New Jersey reported an additional 3,676 COVID-19 cases and 21 additional deaths across the state.

Cuomo: Won't take vaccine until available for NY's minority groups
In a pre-recorded video at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Manhattan, Cuomo said "I will not take the vaccine until the vaccine is available for my group in Black, Hispanic and poor communities around the state." During the remarks, the governor also said that it's a community obligation to take the vaccine, citing that 70-90% of New Yorkers have to be vaccinated in order for it to be effective.

US virus death toll hits 350,000; surge feared
The COVID-19 death toll in the United States has surpassed 350,000 as experts anticipate another surge in coronavirus cases and deaths stemming from holiday gatherings over Christmas and New Year's.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the U.S. passed the threshold early Sunday morning. More than 20 million people in the country have been infected. The U.S. has begun using two coronavirus vaccines to protect health care workers and nursing home residents and staff but the rollout of the inoculation program has been criticized as being slow and chaotic.

Busiest travel day of pandemic expected as COVID cases rise
The busiest travel day since the start of the pandemic is expected Sunday, as COVID cases continue to rise across the Tri-State.

Before the Christmas holiday, TSA was screening an average of about 1 million people a day nationwide. They are expecting about the same on Sunday. That's the most we've seen since this pandemic started and all of those who are traveling are expected to be heading home.

New York's airports, LaGuardia, JFK and Newark, are anticipating a very busy travel day.

More restrictions loom in UK
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Sunday that more onerous lockdown restrictions in England are likely as the country reels from a new coronavirus variant that has pushed infection rates to their highest recorded levels.

Johnson, though, insisted he has "no doubt" that schools are safe and urged parents to send their children back into the classroom in areas of England where they can. Unions representing teachers have called for schools to turn to remote learning for at least a couple of weeks more due to the new variant, which scientists have said is up to 70% more contagious.

The U.K. is in the midst of an acute outbreak, recording more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections a day over the past five days. On Saturday, it notched a daily record of 57,725 new cases. The country has seen nearly 75,000 virus-related deaths.

India authorizes vaccines
India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world's second-most populous country.

India's drugs regulator gave an emergency authorization for the vaccines developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

Drugs Controller General Dr. Venugopal G Somani said both would require two doses and the decision was made after "careful examination" by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, India's pharmaceutical regulator. Both vaccines are cheaper and easier to use than ones by Pfizer and Moderna since they do not require ultra-cold storage facilities.

Zimbabwe returns to restrictions amid rise in virus cases
In response to rising COVID-19 numbers, Zimbabwe has reintroduced a night curfew, banned public gatherings, and indefinitely suspended the opening of schools.

"We are being overwhelmed and overrun," Information Minister Nick Mangwana warned, saying the country's hospitals are rapidly reaching capacity with COVID-19 patients.

Zimbabwe recorded 1,342 cases and 29 deaths in the past week, "the highest number recorded so far," Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said, announcing the strict measures.

4 million+ people receive 1st dose of vaccine
In their first update of the New Year, the CDC now says over four million people have received a first dose of COVID vaccine. The total number of people initiating vaccination is 4,225,756. The total number doses distributed is 13,071,925.

New York tops 1 million positive COVID-19 tests
New York state has recorded more than 1 million positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, according to figures released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday. New York is the fourth state to report more than 1 million positive COVID-19 tests after California, Texas and Florida. New York reported 128 COVID-19 deaths on Friday.

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