USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as a pair of vaccines join the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 360,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates surrounding the coronavirus, including who is getting the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as other top news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.
In the headlines:
► A late-stage Brazilian trial determined a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech was 78% effective, according to Reuters, improving chances of regulator approval. Sinovac has sold more than 300 million doses of the vaccine, called CoronaVac, to mostly low-and middle-income countries, The New York Times reports.
► U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.) announced early Thursday morning he tested positive for COVID-19 overnight, hours after participating in a failed effort to block Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. According to a tweet, he’s not experiencing any symptoms and will not return to the House floor until he’s cleared.
► Sen. Rick Scott is calling for a Congressional investigation into reports of improper vaccine distribution after a Washington Post investigation found a Florida assisted-living company may have been doling out scarce coronavirus vaccines to board members and affluent friends who made generous donations to the West Palm Beach facility.
► California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday proposed to extend a moratorium on evictions and $600 state stimulus checks for millions of low-income residents, including undocumented immigrants who file taxes with the state, under a budget proposal. “Californians who have been impacted by this pandemic will get help to provide for their families and keep a roof over their heads,” Newsom said in a statement. The Golden State has reported more than 2.4 million confirmed cases and 27,400 deaths, according to state data.
► Amazon is now selling COVID-19 tests for customers to use at home. The DxTerity COVID-19 Saliva at-Home Collection Kit detects the presence of the virus but does not confirm immunity or detect antibodies. A single COVID-19 testing kit is listed for $110, and a 10-pack bundle is available for $1,000.
► Both CVS and Walgreens said they expect to finish delivering the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine doses at nursing homes on schedule by Jan. 25. As of Tuesday, CVS has administered 351,231 vaccines in nursing homes, including nearly 30,000 in big states like California and Florida.
► Tommy John, the former baseball pitching great, is hospitalized with COVID-19 near his home in Indio, California. John is not currently on oxygen, he said, but did receive oxygen when he had a bout of pneumonia. He rebutted reports that he is a COVID-19 denier, saying, “I’m not a denier. I’ve had it, baby.”
► Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said he will eliminate a Sunday lockdown, shorten a curfew that has been in place since the pandemic began and reopen beaches, marinas and pools. The new curfew will run from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and will be in effect for 30 days starting Thursday.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 21.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 361,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 87.1 million cases and 1.88 million deaths.
The United States reported a record 3,865 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, blowing far past a record set just a day before, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data shows. At that pace, an American is reported dead about every 22 seconds.
The U.S. also reported another record with 1,558,568 new cases in the latest week. At that pace, 155 people in the United States are reported positive every minute.
Those national records come as individual states struggle with coronavirus. Texas, Florida and New York reported record numbers of cases in the week ending Wednesday. The country’s most populated state, California, reported a record number of deaths in the week ending Wednesday: 2,592 people.
Among the other states reporting records Wednesday: Louisiana reported a record number of cases per week in the fall surge. Massachusetts, one of the worst-hit states in the spring, also reported a record number of cases. And Arizona, which faced a horrifying summer surge, reported record numbers of both cases and deaths in the latest week. Daily numbers may be higher than reported due to lags in data collection throughout the holidays.
– Michael Stucka
A Florida doctor has died several weeks after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, although it’s not yet clear whether his death Monday was related to the shot he received on Dec. 18. Dr. Gregory Michael, 56, an OB-GYN at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, died after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke apparently resulting from a lack of platelets.
Miami medical examiners are investigating his death, according the Florida Department of Health. In a Facebook post, his wife, Heidi Neckelmann, said he sought emergency care three days after the shot because he had dots on his skin that indicated internal bleeding.
Pfizer, which along with its partner BioNTech made the vaccine the man received, said in a statement it is aware of the death. “We are actively investigating this case, but we don’t believe at this time that there is any direct connection to the vaccine,” the statement said.
– Karen Weintraub
The anger building up among some taxpayers who want to know when they’ll receive their second stimulus payment drove the Internal Revenue Service to release more guidance late Tuesday. The bottom line: Some taxpayers won’t see their second round of stimulus payments soon and they could have to wait to fix the problem when they file their 2020 tax returns.
The IRS has taken a beating this year at the handling of the rollout of stimulus payments. After a lengthy guessing game, President Donald Trump signed into law the second stimulus package addressing the COVID-19 crisis on Dec. 27.
The IRS began sending out some checks Dec. 30 and money arrived in some bank accounts as of Jan. 4. But many taxpayers began complaining online and wondering why they didn’t get their money. Here are some answers for frustrated taxpayers, according to the IRS.
– Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press
Princess Cruises has announced it will cancel all cruises from U.S. ports through May 14 — more than a year after the industry came to a standstill in the middle of March last year. Princess itself was impacted by the pandemic early on: two of its ships, the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess, were among the first vessels to quarantine passengers because of coronavirus infections.
Previously, Princess Cruises had canceled all itineraries through March 31. The additional cancellations come as the cruise line works on restart plans that will meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Framework For Conditional Sailing” announced in October.
The further suspension also applies to European cruises scheduled prior to May 15, Negin Kamali, spokesperson for Princess Cruises, told USA TODAY.
– Morgan Hines
Contributing: The Associated Press