VIRUS TODAY: Nearly 200,000 cases a day; a pick to lead HHS

Here’s what’s happening Monday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

— The race to complete a COVID-19 vaccine has occurred at breathtaking speed, the culmination of years of research.

— President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services will inherit an agency in the midst of a mass vaccination program all while dealing with soaring deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19.

— President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is in the hospital with the virus, but the president says he’s doing well. The former New York mayor has been traveling the country — often without a mask — in trying to subvert the president’s loss.

THE NUMBERS: The nation is approaching the point where it is averaging 200,000 new confirmed cases per day. As of Sunday, the seven-day average for cases was more than 196,000.

QUOTABLE: “We kept trying to find a way. But eventually we realized there wasn’t one.” – preschool operator Mary De La Rosa on the struggles to keep her school open amid the pandemic.

ICYMI: In an illustration of rampant staff shortages in rural America, a Kansas hospital has been running dangerously short of medical workers. A doctor and physician’s assistant contracted the virus in November, and an X-ray technician was living out of an RV in the parking lot so he could be on site with co-workers out sick.

ON THE HORIZON: Can a sharply divided Congress come together and pass a virus relief package? Congressional leaders are in the midst of talks and a key sticking point is how much the government should give to Americans in the form of direct payments.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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