December 29 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Harry Clarke-Ezzidio and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 30, 2020
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7:10 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Texas sets new Covid-19 hospitalization record

From CNN's Raja Razek 

Dr. Joseph Varon and other medical staff members perform a procedure for hypothermia treatment on a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit on Christmas Eve at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.
Dr. Joseph Varon and other medical staff members perform a procedure for hypothermia treatment on a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit on Christmas Eve at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Texas reported Tuesday a record number of coronavirus patient hospitalizations; 11,775 people across the state, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard. 

The state's last record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations was Monday with 11,351 people.

According to the Texas Covid-19 dashboard, there are 653 available intensive care unit beds; 7,601 ventilators available, and 12,320 available hospital beds. 

Note: These numbers were released by the Texas Department of Health Services and may not line up exactly in real-time with CNN's database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

6:48 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Moderna plans to immunize its workforce with new Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Nurse Leonida Lipshy gives Dr. Nadav Fields a shot of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on December 23, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Nurse Leonida Lipshy gives Dr. Nadav Fields a shot of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on December 23, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Biotech company Moderna announced plans Tuesday to immunize its workforce with its new vaccine.

The company issued a statement explaining that it is making the shot available to its workers in the United States “to provide an additional layer of Covid-19 protection” because Moderna workers are conducting essential services in developing, manufacturing and delivering the vaccine.

“The program will extend to adult household members of our team to reduce the risk of absenteeism and disruption due to a Covid-19 infection in an adult household member,” Moderna said. 

The company is also making vaccines available to board members.

“Participation in the program is confidential and entirely voluntary," the company added. 

The company is paying for the program, including the vaccine and the administration.

The vaccine that will be used is separate from the supply committed to the US government, Moderna said.

Some context: The US Food and Drug Administration granted the company an emergency use authorization for its shot just over a week ago, making it the second Covid-19 vaccine to receive authorization in the US.

6:00 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

US treasury secretary says direct payments may start as early as tonight

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said direct payments to Americans may begin to be deposited as early as tonight.

These would be the $600 payments included in the Covid-19 relief package President Trump signed on Sunday evening.

Read Mnuchin's tweet:

4:59 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Colorado identifies first known case of UK Covid-19 variant in the US

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Colorado health officials announced the nation’s first known case of the Covid-19 variant originally discovered in the United Kingdom Tuesday. 

The Covid-19 variant B.1.1.7 was identified in a Colorado man in his 20s, with no travel history, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Tuesday. Polis said the man is in isolation in Elbert County, and will remain in isolation until cleared by health officials.

No close contacts of the man have been identified yet, but health officials are working on contact tracing, he added.

“There is a lot we don’t know about this new Covid-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious,” Polis said. “The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all Covid-19 indicators, very closely.”
4:33 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

More than 2 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 in the US

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

A boy receives a free Covid-19 test at a St. John’s Well Child & Family Center mobile clinic set up outside Walker Temple AME Church in South Los Angeles amid the coronavirus pandemic on July 15, in Los Angeles.
A boy receives a free Covid-19 test at a St. John’s Well Child & Family Center mobile clinic set up outside Walker Temple AME Church in South Los Angeles amid the coronavirus pandemic on July 15, in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Getty Images

There were 178,935 new cases of Covid-19 reported among children in the week ending Dec. 24, the American Academy of Pediatrics said Tuesday. 

According to the AAP, this number of cases brings the cumulative total to 2,000,681 positive Covid-19 cases among children since the start of the pandemic. As of Dec. 24, children represented 12.4% of all cases of Covid-19 in the US.

The AAP also noted, that since Nov. 12, there has been an increase of 1 million Covid-19 cases in children, and over the last two weeks, from Dec. 10 - Dec. 24, there was a 22% increase in child cases. 

This puts the overall rate at "2,658 cases per 100,000 children in the population," the AAP said.

"At this time, it appears that severe illness due to Covid-19 is rare among children. However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects," the AAP's data report said. 

3:36 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

HHS says it has allocated more than 19 million Covid-19 vaccine doses

From CNN's Kristen Holmes and John Bonifield

 

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at Rady Children's Hospital before it's placed back in the refrigerator in San Diego, California on December 15.
Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at Rady Children's Hospital before it's placed back in the refrigerator in San Diego, California on December 15. Ariana Drehsler/AFP/Getty Images

As of Tuesday, 19.88 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been allocated to states, according to a tweet from the Health and Human Services Public Affairs Office.

HHS said it reached that number by allocating 4.2 million doses that will be delivered in the first week of 2021.

Last week, Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said the US planned to allocate 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year. An allocation of vaccine is not a confirmed shipment. Instead, it is vaccine that has been allocated for states to be able to order, according to a senior administration official. 

Despite the allocations, the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that just over 11 million doses have been distributed, and only 2.1 million have actually been administered to people.

3:28 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

There is currently no evidence UK coronavirus variant is linked to a higher risk of hospitalization

From CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, Nada Bashir and Michael Nedelman

Ambulances outside the Royal London Hospital, in London on Tuesday, December 29.
Ambulances outside the Royal London Hospital, in London on Tuesday, December 29. Dominic Lipinski/PA/AP

Preliminary analysis from Public Health England (PHE) on the new variant of coronavirus first detected in the UK has revealed that, while the variant appears to be more transmissible, there is no evidence it’s linked to a higher risk of hospital admission or death.

“Preliminary results from the cohort study found no statistically significant difference in hospitalization and 28-day case fatality” between people infected with the new variant versus a different strain of the virus, according to the report released Dec. 28. 

The report supports statements from health authorities around the world who have said there is no reason to believe the variant causes more severe disease.

The British health authority notes that “there was also no significant difference in the likelihood of reinfection” between both groups. However, this was based on a relatively small number of suspected reinfections.

Some context: The report comes as coronavirus cases in the UK continue to surge, with further confirmed cases of the new variant in more than two dozen countries across the globe.

3:12 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Chile records first case of Covid-19 variant  

From CNN’s Cristopher Ulloa and Claudia Dominguez

Chile has recorded its first case of the new Covid-19 variant — first detected in England — in a passenger who returned to the country recently after visiting London, a senior Chilean health ministry official announced on Tuesday.  

The country's Undersecretary of Public Health Paula Daza said a Chilean woman who arrived on a flight from Madrid on Dec. 22 tested positive for the variant. The woman spent a week in London visiting relatives before flying to Chile from Madrid.  

“All emergency measures have been taken and the person has already been transferred to a local hospital to be monitored by health personnel,” Daza said.  

Daza assured that the woman is in good health and that contract tracing is being carried out.  

Health authorities have since announced a mandatory 10-day quarantine for all people arriving in Chile from abroad, beginning Thursday.   

2:50 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

New York reports more than 11,000 new Covid-19 cases

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Tuesday Covid-19 hospitalizations in the state are at 7,814.

The statewide positivity rate stands at 7.14% with 11,438 new cases.

There were 124 new deaths reported, according to Cuomo.

 

Note: These numbers were released New York Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.