Coronavirus updates: US death toll tops 350,000


By ROSA SANCHEZ, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA, EMILY SHAPIRO and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 83.3 million people worldwide and killed over 1.8 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

Jan 03, 2:25 pm

California reaches new record-high hospitalizations

California health officials announced Sunday that there are over 21,510 people hospitalized with COVID-19, a new record high.

The state recorded 45,352 new coronavirus cases and 181 new deaths Sunday, bringing the totals to 2,391,261 million cases and 26,538 deaths, health officials said.

-ABC News’ Matthew Fuhrman

Jan 03, 11:54 am

UK death toll more than 75,000

British health authorities reported 54,990 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 454 deaths, bringing the respective totals to 2,654,779 and 75,024.

“What we’re doing clearly is grappling with a new variant of the virus which is surging particularly in London and the south east” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

Johnson said he felt it was important to stress that the threat to kids, young people and (school) staff “is really very very very small indeed” and that parents should send their children to primary school on Monday as long as they are open. But he warned they may need to impose tougher measures in many parts of the country.

“I’m fully fully reconciled to that,” he said.

On Saturday the U.K.’s National Education Union said in a statement they have made the “difficult decision” to advise members in primary schools that it is unsafe for them to be in school due to “crowded buildings with no social distancing, no PPE and inadequate ventilation,” and move to remote learning.

“If Government does not act to follow the science, we must,” the NEU said.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Jan 03, 10:32 am

Over 1 million people screened by TSA Saturday

There were 1,192,881 people screened by TSA on Saturday, the agency reported.

Sunday is expected to be the biggest travel day since the start of the pandemic.

-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

Jan 03, 6:25 am

US reports nearly 300,000 new cases in all-time high

There were a staggering 299,087 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Saturday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the highest tally of newly diagnosed COVID-19 infections that a country has recorded in a 24-hour reporting period since the start of the pandemic.

An additional 2,398 deaths from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Saturday, down from a peak of 3,750 on Dec. 30, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.

A total of 20,430,088 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 350,214 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.

Jan 03, 5:09 am

French authorities issue over 1,600 fines following illegal New Year’s Eve rave

More than 1,600 fines have been issued and several people have been arrested following a days-long, illegal New Year’s Eve party in northwestern France, authorities said.

Despite a national nighttime curfew and other strict measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 2,500 people attended the rave on Thursday night in an empty warehouse located in the small village of Lieuron in France’s scenic Brittany region, a popular vacation spot. Some partygoers clashed with local police when they tried to shut down the illegal rave, injuring several officers and damaging their vehicles, according to authorities.

The violence prompted officers to await reinforcements from the National Gendarmerie before moving in and putting an end to the party Saturday morning, as revellers finally began to disperse, authorities said.

At least five people, including the two organizers of the rave, have since been taken into custody. Trucks, various sound equipment, narcotics and large sums of cash have also been seized from the site, according to authorities.

Jan 03, 3:30 am

2 cases of new, more contagious COVID-19 strain found in California’s San Bernardino County

The new, more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus, which is sweeping rapidly across London and other parts of southeast England, has been detected in California’s San Bernardino County, officials said.

The latest variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 was found in two members of the same household in the Big Bear area who were tested on Dec. 20, according to a press release from the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. One of them had contact with a traveler who returned from the United Kingdom on Dec. 11 and began showing symptoms three days later.

Four other cases of the fast-moving strain, known as B117, have been detected in San Diego County.

“Based on the information currently available, we know that the B117 variant strain seems to spread more easily and quickly,” Dr. Michael Sequira, San Bernardino County public’s health officer, said in a statement Friday. “Therefore, following all safe practices is more important than ever.”

Experts say there’s currently no evidence that the variant is deadlier or causes more severe illness, or that existing vaccines are less effective against it.

The new strain was announced in England in late December and then confirmed in the United States for the first time on Tuesday, after a case was detected in Colorado.

Jan 03, 3:04 am

US has administered over 4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, CDC says

More than 4 million people in the United States have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, 13,071,925 vaccine doses had been distributed nationwide and 4,225,756 doses had been administered, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker.

The doses include both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Jan 02, 8:24 pmUS sets record for cases, even as reporting lags due to holidaysThe U.S. set another record for most daily cases, despite some states not even reporting totals due to the New Year’s holiday.There were a record 275,897 cases reported Saturday, even though seven states did not relay any data, according to The COVID Tracking Project.”Some states are reporting normally, some are reporting multiple days of data, and almost all are dealing with at least some holiday backlogs,” the project said.The seven-day average for hospitalizations stands at a record 123,689 despite incomplete data. There were 2,367 deaths reported on Saturday, too.Officials expect numbers to spike after the holidays as people return home from gatherings with family and friends.

Jan 02, 6:19 pmLarry King hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19Legendary talk show host Larry King, 87, has been hospitalized in Los Angeles for COVID-19, a source close to the King family confirms to ABC News.”Larry has fought so many health issues in the last few years and he is fighting this one hard too, he’s a champ,” the source close to the family told ABC News.King, who hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN for 25 years, revealed in 2017 he had been treated for lung cancer. He suffered a major heart attack in 1987 and the tumor was discovered during an annual checkup. He had an angioplasty in April 2019 and suffered a stroke in 2019 as well.The host went through unbearable tragedy last year when two of his children died less than a month apart. His son, Andy, died of a heart attack in July and his daughter, Chaia, died of lung cancer in August.King is hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA.ABC News’ Alondra Vale and Josh Hoyos contributed to this report.Jan 02, 4:06 pmHouston vaccine call center overwhelmed with 250,000 calls by 7:30 a.m.After authorizing the Houston Health Department to open the city’s first free COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Jan. 2, the call center to make vaccination appointments is already overwhelmed, said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Twitter Saturday.Turner said at a press conference later in the day that the call center received 250,000 calls by 7:30 a.m. when they only planned to provide 750 vaccinations. They turned to on-site registration to handle all the demand.Turner plans to open “mega-sites” to provide vaccines in the near future, he said. Staff planned to stay late on Saturday and vaccinate about 1,000 people, the mayor said.Houston reported 2,334 more cases and eight new deaths on Saturday.ABC News’ Matthew Fuhrman and Abby Shalawylo contributed to this report.

Jan 02, 3:29 pmNew York states crosses 1 million casesNew York has become the fourth state to cross 1 million COVID-19 cases, the governor announced Saturday.New York joined California, Texas and Florida to hit that mark. Illinois, at over 975,000 cases, is likely to join those four in the coming days. California has already crossed 2 million cases.”With 2020 now behind us, we can see brighter days ahead, but to get there quickly, it’s going to take all New Yorkers staying smart and staying united,” Gov. Andre Cuomo said in a statement. “We have the vaccine, and that is good news, but it will be months before we’ve reached critical mass, making it as important as ever that we do not let COVID fatigue get the best of us.”The state reported just over 15,000 new cases on Saturday and a percent-positivity rate that has grown to 7.45%. That number was around 1% for much of the summer after being the epicenter for the pandemic in the spring.There was some good news on Saturday as Cuomo reported there were 72 fewer people hospitalized due to the virus in the state.Officials continue to fear growing cases in the new year after Christmas and New Year’s travel in recent weeks. New York crossed 30,000 deaths earlier this week.

Jan 02, 2:08 pmUNC Health acquires 725 COVID-19 vaccines meant for Orange County health departmentUNC Health of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, confirmed it acquired 725 COVID vaccines origanally intended for the Orange County health department on Thursday night, WTVD reported.In an emailed statement, the Orange County health department said, “UNC Health was notified that Orange County had a number of vaccine vials available for immediate use.”UNC Health worked closely with Orange County to ensure that all of the vaccines would be used with zero waste and that all of these shots would go to either Phase 1-A personnel or staff who work with COVID-19 patients in some capacity.”This cooperation was a success, and all of the available stock was used appropriately.”-ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos

Jan 02, 10:24 am

Call center to make vaccination appointments already overwhelmed: Houston mayor

After authorizing the Houston Health Department to open the city’s first free COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Jan. 2, the call center to make vaccination appointments is already overwhelmed, said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Twitter Saturday.

Jan 02, 6:19 am

Florida mayors reportedly frustrated over inability to mandate masks

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won’t allow local governments to enforce their mask mandates, causing frustration among some mayors, reported WPLG-TV.

“We can give out citations and we can urge people and we can give out masks, and we’ve given out thousands, but we don’t have the ability to mandate it in any way that’s effective,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told WPLG.

“He continues to say that we don’t want the federal government to tell us what to do, states are better because it should be local controlled,” said Broward County Mayor Steve Geller. “But when we here in Broward are asking for local control, we’re not getting it.”

-ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway

Jan 02, 6:17 am

U.S. hospitalizations over 100,000 for 31 straight days

Since U.S. hospitalizations surpassed 100,000 back on Dec. 2, the nation has had 31 straight days of patients hospitalized with coronavirus over that figure — according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

And from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, hospitalizations have been at record highs with more than 125,000 current hospitalizations each day.

-ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway

Jan 01, 10:01 pm

Virginia state senator dies of COVID-19

A Virginia state senator has died of the coronavirus, officials announced.

State Sen. Ben Chafin, 60, was hospitalized for the last two weeks with the virus, according to a press release. The Republican lawmaker had served in the state Senate since 2014. He is survived by his wife and three children, according to his office.

Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the Virginia state flag to be lowered immediately over the state Capitol and remain at half staff until Chafin’s internment.

“This is sad news to begin a new year with the loss of a kind and gracious man. May we all recommit to taking extra steps to care for one another,” the governor said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Greg Bradbury contributed to this report.

Jan 01, 9:51 pm

WV group gets vaccine after mistakenly getting antibody treatment

About 41 West Virginian patients who earlier received the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment instead of the Moderna vaccine ultimately got their first shot of a vaccine Thursday, the West Virginia National Guard told ABC News.

The patients were among the 44 people who were identified on Dec. 31 as receiving the wrong treatment at a vaccination clinic hosted by staff at the Boone County Health Department.

The National Guard did not say which vaccine those patients received when they got the correct shot.

Their first shots come despite recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that patients who receive monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma should defer vaccinations for at least 90 days.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report

Jan 01, 5:17 pm

Pfizer, BioNTech to accelerate offer of COVID vaccine to placebo volunteers

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have plans to begin offering their COVID-19 vaccine to clinical trial volunteers who received placebo by March 1, several months earlier than initially planned, STAT reported.

The FDA and its advisers had pushed hard for volunteers to remain on placebo as long as possible to gather more safety and efficacy data about the vaccines, while the companies argued that volunteers should receive the vaccines sooner for both ethical and practical reasons.

-ABC News’ Eric M. Strauss

Jan 01, 4:46 pm

NY reports most COVID deaths since May

New York state saw 166 deaths Thursday — the highest number of deaths in a single day since May 12.

On Thursday, 219,523 test results were reported to New York state, and 7.52% were positive, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office reported.

There were 7,886 patient hospitalizations statewide, 1,292 patients in intensive care units and 776 intubated.

-ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos

Jan 01, 4:39 pm

340,000 people have been vaccinated, to date, in Texas

340,000 people have been vaccinated to date in Texas, out of the state’s received allotment of 786,000 vaccination doses, according to data from Texas Health and Human Services.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also authorized the Houston Health Department to open the city’s first free COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Jan. 2. The clinic will expand vaccine access to the general public at high risk of severe illness and death from coronavirus disease, according to a statement from Texas health officials.

Texas’ health department received its first allotment of 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and started administering it on December 28.

The Houston Health Department will announce additional free vaccination opportunities as supply increases.

-ABC News’ Gina Sunseri

Jan 01, 4:22 pm

NYC sheriff deputies shut down 2 New Year’s Eve parties with hundreds of attendees

Two New Year’s Eve parties in New York City, one in Manhattan with more than 145 people and another in Queens with more than 300 people, were shut down by city sheriff deputies, according to a Tweet posted by the NYC Sheriff’s Twitter account on Friday.

The charges in connection with the shutdowns included violating emergency orders, lacking a liquor license and health code violations.

-ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

Jan 01, 4:10 pm

14.3 million airline passengers traveled over Christmas and New Year’s weeks: TSA

Despite repeated warnings not to travel for the holidays from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14,388,562 people passed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints between Dec. 18 and Dec. 31.

Still, that number pales in comparison to previous years. In 2019, 33,242,050 people were screened by the TSA at U.S. checkpoints during the same period.

-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

Jan 01, 3:36 pm

More cases of new COVID-19 variant detected in California

Three new cases of the new COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. were reported by health officials in San Diego Thursday, leading them to believe there’s community-wide transmission of the new variant in the area.

The new variant, known as B. 1.1.7., has also been detected in Colorado and Florida, and is believed to be more transmissible than the old variant, but not thought to be more deadly.

“We believe that many more cases of the B. 1.1.7. strain will be confirmed in the coming days and weeks,” Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of epidemiology and immunizations services at the country health department, said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Jenna Harrison contributed to this report.

Jan 01, 3:15 pm

ICU capacity in Southern California at 0%

California reported 585 COVID-19 deaths over 24 hours on Friday, the highest one-day death toll that the state has reported thus far. Since some counties, such as hard-hit Los Angeles, are still confirming deaths from the virus not counted over the holidays, it’s not yet known whether Friday’s death report is an anomaly.

Intensive care unit capacity in the state remains extremely strained, particularly in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, each of which had 0% ICU capacity as of Friday, according to the California Department of Health.

-ABC News’ Jenna Harrison contributed to this report.

Jan 01, 2:53 pm

Battle over holiday weekend restaurant curfew heats up in Texas

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton waded into a battle between the city of Austin and Gov. Greg Abbott Friday over whether the city’s four-day late-night indoor dining shutdown should be allowed.

Austin’s ban, which was set to run between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Dec. 31 until Jan. 3, was upheld by a judge on Thursday. Hours later, at 7:39 p.m. local time on New Year’s Eve, the governor released a statement on Twitter telling restaurants to stay open.

Paxton backed the governor on Friday and called for the Texas Supreme Court to halt enforcement of the ban. “We cannot have local declarations conflicting with Gov. Abbott’s clear order,” he said in a statement. “I will continue to fight for Texans, small businesses and for an open economy.”

-ABC News’ Jenna Harrison contributed to this report.

Jan 01, 1:26 pmUS surpasses 20 million infections on New Year’s Day The United States surpassed 20 million coronavirus cases on New Year’s Day, with 20,007,149 infections, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In different terms, 1 out of every 16 Americans has tested positive for COVID-19.As the nation’s third COVID wave continues, California has emerged as a major epicenter of the U.S. outbreak and at least three states have reported cases of the new COVID variant, which originated in the U.K. Health experts believe it to be more transmissible than the old variant, although it is not thought to be more deadly.According to JHU, 346,408 Americans had died of the virus as of Friday.

Jan 01, 12:02 pmSen. Romney criticizes Trump administration over slow vaccine rollout, offers own planSen. Mitt Romney criticized the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout in a statement he released Friday, writing: “when something isn’t working, you need to acknowledge reality and develop a plan—particularly when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.”Relying on states in lieu of developing a federal vaccination plan is “as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable,” Romney wrote, and offered up his own suggestions as examples of the brainstorming he said ought to be happening in Washington.The government should enlist every medical professional not currently delivering care, such as retired veterinarians, combat medics and corpsmen and medical students, to administer vaccines, Romney suggested, noting that they could be paid using the funding Congress has appropriated for states. Additionally, schools could serve as vaccine sites and vaccinations could be scheduled for specific days according to a person’s priority category and birthdate.While public health professionals will easily point out errors in his plan, he said, the nation needs new strategies based on “experience, modeling and trial,” especially as the U.S. begins vaccinating more complex populations.”We are already behind,” Romney added. “Urgent action now can help us catch up.”

Jan 01, 10:37 amEmergency field hospital being built in North CarolinaConstruction on a 30-bed emergency field hospital is slated to start in western North Carolina Friday, as COVID-19 cases in the state continue to rise.The facility, which is being built next to Caldwell Memorial Hospital, will treat COVID patients who aren’t sick enough to need a ventilator and is meant to relieve pressure on five health systems in the region.As of Thursday, 3,472 people were hospitalized because of the virus, according to the state health department.Jan 01, 8:59 amMore people without underlying conditions dying from COVID-19 in LAEarly in the pandemic, 10% of patients who died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County did not have underlying conditions, according to health officials. Today, that number has risen to 14% of patient deaths.”This indicates, that in fact, that more people than ever are not only passing away, but passing away without any underlying health conditions,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County department of public health, said during a New Year’s Eve news conference.

Hospitals in Los Angeles are currently overwhelmed to the point that ambulances are waiting hours in emergency bays with patients inside, which prevents medics from responding to additional emergency calls. The death toll in Los Angeles County stands at 10,345.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.