Here's what's happening Wednesday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:
— Millions of Americans despite warnings from health officials that family gatherings could make a bad situation worse.
— More people are applying for unemployment benefits as the economy remains burdened by the coronavirus. About 778,000 people last week, the second straight week the number has risen.
— Authorities are desperately pleading with people to stay home for the holidays and dramatically increasing fines for businesses that break the rules. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont says he will fine businesses $10,000 for violating virus restrictions.
THE NUMBERS: COVID-19 deaths have been shooting up all week. The average number per day is now over 1,600. The country is averaging 174,000 new cases of the virus per day.
QUOTABLE: “I don’t want to be South Dakota." — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in saying he would not follow the lead of other Republican governors who resist mask mandates. He cited the grim statistics in South Dakota and the governor's refusal to require masks.
ICYMI: The virus has scuttled a in the tiny Kansas town of Norcatur. In a decades-old tradition that evokes Norman Rockwell nostalgia, the whole town gathers for a potluck dinner at Christmastime and conducts a prize drawing for a plethora of donated meats, crafts and goodies. This year, it's off.
ON THE HORIZON: President-elect Joe Biden is ramping up his response to the pandemic. He i in an attempt to unify the country in the face of the resurgent virus, and congressional leaders are waiting for his strategy for fighting the pandemic.
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