COVID Live Updates: US sets records for deaths with 3,656, also cases, hospitalizations

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

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Friday, December 18, 2020
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An FDA panel voted on Thursday to recommend the emergency use authorization of the Moderna Vaccine. Sandra Bookman has when it's expected to be distributed and more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The United States continues to set grim records as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the nation, with a staggering 3,656 Americans dying of coronavirus Wednesday, according to new data from Johns Hopkins University.

It's also the first time the country has reported more than 3,000 deaths on successive days.

The U.S. also set records with 247,403 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins, and hospitalizations with 113,090, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Still, there is cause for hope and optimism with a second vaccine on the horizon.

What to know about coronavirus:

Where to get tested in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

Coronavirus by zip code - New York City

How coronavirus changed the New York region

Do you have coronavirus symptoms?

Here are more of today's headlines:

Johnson & Johnson says late-stage COVID vaccine trial fully enrolled

Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it has fully enrolled participants for the first late-stage trial of its COVID-19 single-dose vaccine candidate. The study, named Ensemble, has enrolled about 45,000 participants and is being conducted by its unit Janssen, J&J said here in a statement, adding that it expects interim data from the trial by the end of January 2021. J&J also said it plans to submit an emergency use authorization application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February if the data from the study is safe and effective.

25-year Suffolk County Sheriff's Office veteran dies from COVID-19

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday that a 25-year veteran of the force had died of COVID-19.

"It is with heavy hearts that the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office announces the passing of Investigator Sergeant Keith Allison," the department said. "Inv. Sgt. Allison was hospitalized with serious COVID-19 complications last week and succumbed to the illness on Thursday, December 17, 2020."

Dr. Birx urges 'vigilance' until millions get vaccinated but sees hope for normal summer

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, made a trip to North Carolina on Wednesday to meet with the governor and state officials about the COVID-19 Pandemic and its furious third wave of infections.

"It's a matter of vaccine and vigilance," Dr. Birx said. "We can do this for a matter of weeks while we get our population immunized. We don't need to have parties this year. We can have parties in July, we can have parties in August. We can have a party next year at this time. We are so close. We have this great beacon of hope but we need to get everybody to that place and to be vaccinated."

During the visit, she said she made clear that hospitals now have access to the same kind of therapeutics used to treat President Trump after his diagnosis.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine poised for US greenlight after panel endorsement

A government advisory panel endorsed a second COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, paving the way for the shot to be added to the U.S. vaccination campaign.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow the recommendation for the vaccine from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. The FDA advisers, in a 20-0 vote, agreed the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks for those 18 years old and up.

NYC reveals elective surgeries have been postponed

New York City's public hospital system quietly suspended elective surgeries Tuesday to meet the state's directive to increase bed capacity 25% amid rising coronavirus cases.

"We've made it clear that the only surgeries that we will be doing are those surgeries that come in urgently, such as a car accident or surgeries where somebody's health is directly affected," Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz said. "It's already happened. We worked on the procedures over the weekend, and they were cancelled as of Tuesday this week."

Storm disrupts vaccine deliveries in NJ

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the snowstorm disrupted some deliveries of the COVID-19 vaccine, but it will still get to hospitals. "I think it is fair to say this storm did disrupt some amount of the delivery of the vaccine, but I believe that is a disruption that will be measured as a delay in getting there, rather than a binary, 'it was going to get there and now it is not,'" Murphy said. Murphy said he was "not aware of any place that was expecting it that won't get it" because of the storm. "It just may be a little later than otherwise expected," Murphy said.

Giants offensive coordinator tests positive

Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has tested positive for COVID-19, and while the team says there are no high-risk close contacts, they are awaiting confirmation by the NFL. Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens, who was previously head coach of the Cleveland Browns, will take over as the offensive play-caller for Sunday's game, coincidentally against the Browns. Garrett, who was previously the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, continues to work remotely. The Giants will meet remotely and will not practice Thursday.

COVID-19 likely leading cause of death in US, preliminary stats show

In January 2020, Americans learned about a new coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Not even one year later, the disease caused by the virus may be the leading cause of death in the United States, researchers say. Based on a preliminary look at death statistics, COVID-19 may be accountable for more daily deaths than heart disease and cancer, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The official death statistics will not be available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention until next year.

Lawmakers close to stimulus deal that includes $600 checks

Congressional negotiators on the long-delayed $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package worked through a handful of remaining holdups Thursday as they labored to seal a final agreement for more help to businesses and the unemployed and new stimulus payments to most Americans. The central elements of the hard-fought compromise appeared in place: More than $300 billion in aid to businesses; a $300-per-week bonus federal jobless benefit and renewal of soon-to-expire state benefits; $600 direct payments to individuals; vaccine distribution funds and money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people needing food aid. But hang-ups involving Federal Reserve powers, state and local government matching requirements for disaster grants, and myriad smaller disagreements over non-pandemic add-ons have slowed progress, aides involved in the negotiations said.

President of France tests positive

French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, the presidential Elysee Palace announced on Thursday. It said the president took a test "as soon as the first symptoms appeared." The brief statement did not say what symptoms Macron experienced. It said he would isolate himself for seven days. "He will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance," it added.

FDA panel meets to discuss greenlighting Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration are meeting Thursday to discuss the second coronavirus vaccine aimed at the US market, this one made by biotechnology company Moderna. The FDA has already telegraphed that a quick emergency use authorization can be expected and this one could go through even faster than the EUA for Pfizer last week -- itself a speedy process. The Moderna vaccine is very similar to Pfizer's and BioNTech's vaccine. Both use a new approach involving genetic material known as messenger RNA or mRNA.

Mike Pence to publicly receive COVID-19 vaccine Friday; Joe Biden to get it soon

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Mike Pence are set to receive the COVID-19 vaccine soon. According to two transition officials familiar with the matter, Biden will receive the vaccine publicly as early as next week. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss it publicly. The White House says Pence and his wife, Karen, will receive the vaccine publicly on Friday along with Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

Should pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues across the nation, questions still remain about how safe it is for pregnant women. Having a baby during COVID can be especially daunting. One doctor isn't able to recommend the vaccine per se, she is able to provide pertinent information to her patients.

7 On Your Side Investigates small businesses struggling this holiday season

Holiday shopping isn't the same this year, especially for businesses in New York City that are sandwiched in between many empty storefronts. Businesses in New York City received more than $18 billion worth of PPP loans, and thousands of small retail stores received $115 million of that money. But the owners we spoke with say that money and benefits were used up months ago. Now, the city and state are calling for more help in the form of federal stimulus funds. But many businesses can't afford to wait.

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