Home Health News Coronavirus live updates: December now deadliest month for COVID, hitting dark milestone on Christmas Day; virus ripping through California – USA TODAY

Coronavirus live updates: December now deadliest month for COVID, hitting dark milestone on Christmas Day; virus ripping through California – USA TODAY

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Jessica Flores

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How antibodies in recovered COVID-19 patients could treat coronavirus

The secret to fighting COVID-19 could be in recovered patients. Here’s how antibodies could lead to a treatment for those fighting coronavirus.

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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 330,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who is getting the shots and where, as well as other COVID-19 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:

►President Donald Trump on Sunday signed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, days after calling the bipartisan legislation a “disgrace.” The relief package provides up to $600 in direct stimulus checks, extends unemployment benefits and provides aid to small businesses reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

►A strain of the coronavirus spreading fast in Britain is being looked at “very intensely” but likely will not make those infected any sicker than the virus scientists have been tackling since the outbreak began. Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the mutation does not appear to be resistant to the vaccines that are in the process of being distributed. He did endorse the requirement that travelers from Britain be required to have a negative COVID test before entering the U.S.

►New York officials are investigating whether a health care provider has fraudulently obtained and distributed a COVID-19 vaccine to the public in violation of state guidelines. “Anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement Saturday. 

►State officials are expected to extend stay-at-home orders for central and southern California that are set to expire Monday. The extension would come as hospitals run out of ICU beds ahead of an expected surge in cases after Christmas. California was the first state to reach 2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases last week.

►Australian authorities have banned people from congregating in Sydney’s downtown harborside to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks show in an effort to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Sydney reported five new cases Monday, bringing the total to 126 infections since Dec. 10. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 19 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 333,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 80.7 million cases and 1.76 million deaths. 

Here’s a closer look at today’s top stories:

Johns Hopkins University data show Dec. 25 is when reported deaths from the coronavirus passed the April’s death toll of 60,738 people. With several days remaining in December, the record is now 64,953 people through Sunday. On average, that’s equivalent to someone in the United States dying every 36 seconds.

December has already been a record month for new cases, even though November was more than twice as bad as any other month. The U.S. broke November’s record of 4.4 million cases back on Dec. 22, and now stands at 5,533,230 cases reported in December so far. From earlier surges the record number of cases was the whole month of July, at 1.9 million; we blew past that mark in just 10 days.

More than 1.1 million people traveled through airports around the United States on Saturday, nearing Wednesday’s pandemic travel record – despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay at home

– Mike Stucka and Hannah Yasharoff

California ranked No. 2 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data showed.

In the latest week, the United States added 1,327,043 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of 12.3% from the previous week. Across the country, six states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

California added 50,141 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing its total to 2,122,806 cases to date. The death toll rose by 237, bringing the total to 24,220.

Officials with the California Department of Public Health noted that Sunday’s reported tally of new cases was inflated because Los Angeles data was not included in Saturday’s updates due to a glitch; Sunday’s report included data from two days from L.A. County.

– Julie Makinen, Palm Springs Desert Sun, and Mike Stucka, USA TODAY

Kroger Health, a health care division of the Kroger Co., has said it will provide coronavirus vaccines nationwide through its pharmacy and clinic locations. The Cincinnati-based national grocery chain will hire nearly 1,000 people for jobs that include pharmacy technicians and other positions to support operations and the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a company news release.

Kroger did not specify when COVID-19 vaccines might become available, pointing to partnerships with federal and state health departments “to administer the vaccine in accordance with the rollout plan,” according to the release.

Kroger Health has more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics in 35 states, according to the release. Kroger Health employs about 22,000 health care practitioners including pharmacists, nurse practitioners, dietitians and technicians, according to the release.

– Chris Mayhew, Cincinnati Enquirer

Contributing: The Associated Press

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