A version of this story appeared in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.
Inoculations are happening, but more than 3,500 new Covid deaths were reported in the US on Wednesday, a single-day record.
Americans still very much in danger certainly are not getting cues or public leadership from President Donald Trump, who judging by his Twitter feed remains focused almost exclusively on his election loss rather than on the deaths occurring on his watch – or the tortured effort on Capitol Hill to give aid to Americans hurt by the pandemic.
Read this passage from CNN’s wrap of Covid news:
But as vaccinations begin, recorded cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising to levels not previously seen, as hospital staff around the country warn they’re running out of space and energy to provide sufficient care:
- Average cases: The country’s average number of daily cases across a week was 215,729 on Wednesday – a record high, Johns Hopkins University data show. That’s more than three times what the daily case average was during a summer peak in July.
- Cases in one day: The US recorded 247,403 cases on Wednesday, a record for one day.
- Deaths: The nation averaged 2,569 deaths daily across the last week – the highest average yet. The total reported Wednesday – 3,656 – is a one-day high.
- Hospitalizations: 113,090 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals Wednesday – the most recorded on a given day, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Where are the most cases? Rhode Island this week is the state with the most new cases per population, followed by Ohio, North Dakota, Indiana, Tennessee, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota and Kansas in the top 10.
Where are the most deaths? Iowa had the most deaths per population, followed by North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Wyoming, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Colorado in the top 10.
Americans, the reports said, should understand “the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household indoors without masks.” That behavior has not been modeled by the White House, however, amid dozens of indoor holiday parties over the past two weeks.
The machinery is working. Just because Trump his hyper-focused on the election doesn’t mean the government isn’t functioning. It’s just not doing so in a public way. The White House coronavirus task force sent reports to US states – but CNN had to obtain them, rather than see them released publicly to raise awareness.
Anyway, the task force argued there is stabilization in some rural areas that had seen a fall surge, but now there is growth in populated areas. The surges are cascading, according to their report to states.
Here’s what 7 days in the ICU teaches you. Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and Trump adviser, says in a new ad that he was wrong to take off his mask at the White House – something he learned during seven days isolated in the ICU.
“This message isn’t for everyone. It’s for all those people who refuse to wear a mask. You know lying in isolation in ICU for seven days I thought about how wrong I was to remove my mask at the White House,” Christie says in the ad. “Today, I think about how wrong it is to let mask wearing divide us, especially as we now know you’re twice as likely to get Covid-19 if you don’t wear a mask. Because if you don’t do the right thing, we could all end up on the wrong side of history. Please wear a mask.”
Frustrated by ‘selfishness.’ Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, told reporters the vaccine wouldn’t be curing “selfishness” in people’s actions.
From CNN’s report: On Wednesday, the state reported 11,410 new cases, a new record high since the start of the pandemic.
Decisions people made over the Thanksgiving holiday are having a severe reality on the hospital system across the state, Lee said.
“One thing this vaccine will not solve, or cure is selfishness or indifference to what is happening to our neighbors around us,” he said.
But, separately, the governor’s office was quick to shoot down for the Tennesseean a rumor that he would enact a school shutdown as the state tries to deal with the outbreak, although many school districts in the state are going all virtual in January.
How critical is your job?
Here’s a fascinating rundown from CNN and Kaiser Health News of how different states will prioritize the vaccine after this first phase of health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
Farmworkers? Firefighters? Teachers? How much emphasis should be put on helping to keep society running? From the report:
Tough choices lie ahead, such as: Is it more important to prioritize teachers who come into contact with many people each day, or farmworkers, who can’t work remotely and provide the country’s food?
California’s initial round of 1 million doses won’t cover all of its health care workers. What about dentists and pharmacists?
Unions, interest groups and companies are lobbying state governments and health boards.
Moderna vs. Pfizer: Which vaccine is better?
Moderna’s vaccine is on the cusp of authorization and, once it gets the greenlight, will join Pfizer’s going into the arms of Americans in the near future.
But they’re not exactly the same.
-75 degrees Celsius or -20? The big key difference is storage, according to CNN’s comparison:
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at about minus 75 degrees Celsius, about 50 degrees colder than any vaccine currently used in the US. The vaccine can be put in the refrigerator for only up to five days before it expires.
To accommodate that, the CDC created a complex set of handling and storage requirements known as the “cold chain” that included expensive ultra-cold freezers and lots of dry ice. …
These differences suggest that Pfizer’s vaccine may be used more for major institutions with established infrastructure like hospitals, while Moderna’s may be more useful to smaller facilities like a local chain or pharmacist.