Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with the pandemic in the U.S.:
THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
— Some of the nation’s governors are growing impatient for hospitals and other health care organizations to vaccine their front-line workers. New York’s governor is threatening to fine hospitals that don’t use their allotment of COVID-19 vaccine fast enough. His counterpart in South Carolina says hospitals and health care workers have until Jan. 15 to get a shot or move to the back of the line. California’s governor wants to use dentists to dispense shots. With frustration rising over the slow rollout of the vaccine, state leaders and other politicians are turning up the pressure, improvising and seeking to bend the rules to get shots in arms more quickly.
— It’s more like bumper-to-bumper than the usual shoulder-to-shoulder business for members of the New Hampshire House, who are convening in their cars instead of the Statehouse. Since the pandemic began, the 400-member House has met indoors in an ice arena and outside on an athletic field. But after House Speaker Dick Hinch died of COVID-19 a week after being sworn in during the Dec. 2 outdoor gathering, Republican House leaders scheduled a drive-in-movie-style session to elect his replacement and adopt rules for the next two years. Democrats have unsuccessfully pushed for fully remote sessions.
— U.S. health officials say at least 29 people developed severe allergic reactions to coronavirus vaccines, but they stress that the risk for most people is low. The CDC says 29 of the more than 5.3 million people who have been vaccinated suffered anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can be controlled through an epinephrine injection. That’s a rate of about 5.5 cases per million people, which is roughly four times higher than the rate seen in a study of people who got flu shots.
THE NUMBERS: According to data through Jan. 5 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. did not increase significantly over the past two weeks, going from 2,714.9 on December 22 to 2,670 on Jan. 5.
DEATH TOLL: The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. stands at 357,422.
QUOTABLE: “When the Office for National Statistics reports that more than 2% of the population is now infected, and when the number of patients in hospitals in England is now 40% higher than the first peak in April, it is inescapable that the facts are changing, and we must change our response.” — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson
ICYMI: The Tennessee Supreme Court hit pause again on a death row inmate’s scheduled execution because of COVID-19. In an order Tuesday, the court’s justices wrote that Oscar Smith’s Feb. 4 execution will be stayed again “because of the multiple issues” caused by the pandemic. Smith had been scheduled to die last June for the 1989 slayings of his estranged wife and her two sons from a previous marriage in Nashville. But because of the coronavirus, the court ordered a delay until next month.
ON THE HORIZON: China says it is negotiating with the World Health Organization on the dates and itinerary for a visit by international experts looking into origins of COVID-19, after the head of the WHO criticized Beijing for not finalizing permissions for the mission. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson says China’s position on the hunt for the origins of the pandemic has always been open and responsible. She says China’s disease experts are currently busy with multiple small-scale clusters and outbreaks. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday he was disappointed at the lack of permission for experts to travel to Wuhan, where the virus first appeared a year ago.
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