Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with the pandemic in the U.S.:
THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
— January is beginning as a grim month as the coronavirus resurges and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California. It’s filling hospitals anew and shutting down livelihoods as governments impose new lockdowns to keep people apart.
Mexico City hospitals hold more virus patients than they ever have. Germany reported one of its highest daily death tolls to date Tuesday. Even virus success story Thailand is fighting an unexpected wave of infections. Doctors are facing or bracing for rising numbers of COVID-19 patients after end-of-year holiday gatherings. And more and more countries are reporting cases of a new, more contagious variant of the virus that has already rampaged across Britain.
— Distribution hiccups and logistical challenges have in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the pace is “not good enough." Only about 1% of California’s 40 million residents have been vaccinated. About 454,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered — just a quarter of the 1.3 million doses the state has received so far. The state’s death toll on Monday topped 26,500 and confirmed cases neared 2.4 million since the pandemic began. California’s hospitals are swamped with more than 22,000 COVID-19 patients.
— Rhode Island emerged as a last month, briefly posting the highest rate of new cases in the country. The nation’s smallest state has not experienced the number of deaths seen in more populous states. But experts say Rhode Island’s experience offers lessons for other states wrestling with the same factors, including high population density, an aging population and many nursing homes, plus poverty and an economy that relies on low-wage workers who cannot work from home.
THE NUMBERS: According to data through Jan. 4 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 2,655.3 on Dec. 21 to 2,664.9 on Jan. 4.
DEATH TOLL: The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. stands at 353,628.
QUOTABLE: “We are in a race to prevent infections, bring cases down, protect health systems and save lives while rolling out two highly effective and safe vaccines to high-risk populations. This is not easy. These are the hard miles.” — World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
ICYMI: If you’ve already had the coronavirus, it’s possible but such cases seem to be rare. Some reinfections have been confirmed, but two new studies suggest that would be unusual for at least several months and maybe longer. In one study of people in the U.S., only 0.3% of people who had been infected tested positive for the virus over the next several months. A similarly low rate of reinfections was found in a study of health workers in the U.K. The findings bode well for current COVID-19 vaccines, which trigger the kind of immune responses that the studies found protective.
ON THE HORIZON: Dozens of residents in an impoverished are staying fed thanks to the efforts of a woman whose generous acts have sparked widespread giving. Since August, Sherina Jones has been feeding the hungry through free community refrigerators. When word got out that one of the refrigerators was stolen just before Thanksgiving, donations began flooding in. Residents in a neighborhood where people can barely pay their rent came forward to all give a little something that ended up being quite a lot. A former classmate of Jones' bought two fridges, and a local pastor donated another. Other people contributed enough money so that Jones was able to give Christmas presents to 400 families.
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