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Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Record 3,700 people die in a single day from COVID as new high 124,000 are hospitalized and mutant strain is found in Colorado

 The US has reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths with more than 3,700 in a single day as hospitalizations reached a pandemic high of 124,000 on Tuesday.

Deaths nearly doubled from Monday with 3,725 deaths reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That number brings the US total of deaths to 338,544. 

According to The COVID Tracking Project, the US recorded an additional 247,000 cases - the second highest recorded since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total infections to 19.5 million. 


Hospitalizations stood at 124,686 as of Tuesday evening, up more than 3,000 from the day before. In the last six days, hospitalizations were as follows: 119,463 on December 23, 120,151 on December 24, 118,948 on Christmas Day, 117,344 on December 26, 118,720 on December 27 and 121,235 on December 28.  

The spike in cases, deaths and hospitalizations likely stems from holiday reporting delays that are still markedly affecting testing, case, and deaths figures. 

Meanwhile, Colorado officials are dealing with the discovery of a 'mutant strain' of the virus in the state and at least one Los Angeles funeral home has put in requests for bigger freezer trucks to store bodies. 

Vaccinations are also not taking place fast enough, with data compiled by the CDC showing that it could take up to 10 years to vaccinate all Americans at the current rate, with just 2.1 million doses being administered so far. 


The US has reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths with more than 3,700 in a single day as hospitalizations (pictured in Houston, Texas on Tuesday) reached a pandemic high of 124,000 patients admitted to health centers across the US on Tuesday

The US has reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths with more than 3,700 in a single day as hospitalizations (pictured in Houston, Texas on Tuesday) reached a pandemic high of 124,000 patients admitted to health centers across the US on Tuesday

Hospitalizations stood at 124,686 as of Tuesday evening, up more than 3,000 from the day before

Hospitalizations stood at 124,686 as of Tuesday evening, up more than 3,000 from the day before

The spike in cases, deaths and hospitalizations likely stems from holiday reporting delays that are still markedly affecting testing, case, and deaths figures
Hospitalizations have spiked in the past few days

The spike in cases, deaths (left) and hospitalizations (right) likely stems from holiday reporting delays that are still markedly affecting testing, case, and deaths figures

The number of daily recorded infections rose to more than 247,000

The number of daily recorded infections rose to more than 247,000 

The number of daily recorded deaths rose to 3,725 - the highest since the start of the pandemic

The number of daily recorded deaths rose to 3,725 - the highest since the start of the pandemic

Health officials have warned of a continued increase in infections and deaths amid Americans traveling for the holiday season, prompting some states to prepare for 'crisis care'. 

California has once again emerged as a top hotspot in the country and just last week the state became the first to surpass 2 million cases alone. 

Dr Mark Ghaly in hard-hit Los Angeles County said health officials are turning to 'crisis care' and bracing for the coronavirus surge to worsen in the new year, as he extended strict stay-home orders Tuesday in areas where intensive care units have few beds.

Ghaly said that Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley still have what is considered no ICU capacity to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus and that the state's restrictions would continue in those regions. Much of the state is under orders to stay home. 

Ghaly implored the state's 40 million residents to do just that, and to continue social distancing and wearing masks if they must go out for the New Year holiday weekend. 

He said that while hospital and positivity rates appear to be stabilizing from a Thanksgiving-related surge, that isn't the case in the southern part of the state, including Los Angeles County.

'We have not heard yet that any hospital is at the point where they need to make a decision between two patients who both need a ventilator, and they only have one ventilator,' he said, but some overwhelmed hospitals don't have space to unload ambulances or get oxygen to patients who can't breathe.

'We certainly know that Southern California hospitals are in crisis, and some have begun to implement parts of crisis care,' he said.

California has once again emerged as a top hotspot in the country and just last week the state became the first to surpass 2 million cases alone

California has once again emerged as a top hotspot in the country and just last week the state became the first to surpass 2 million cases alone

Dr Mark Ghaly in hard-hit Los Angeles County (pictured) said health officials are turning to 'crisis care' and bracing for the coronavirus surge to worsen in the new year, as he extended strict stay-home orders Tuesday in areas where intensive care units have few beds

Dr Mark Ghaly in hard-hit Los Angeles County (pictured) said health officials are turning to 'crisis care' and bracing for the coronavirus surge to worsen in the new year, as he extended strict stay-home orders Tuesday in areas where intensive care units have few beds

Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed its highest number of hospitalizations reported in a day, at more than 7,000 people, with one in five in ICU. A respiratory therapist works on suctioning an endotracheal tube in the COVID-19 ICU on Tuesday in Bakersfield, California

Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed its highest number of hospitalizations reported in a day, at more than 7,000 people, with one in five in ICU. A respiratory therapist works on suctioning an endotracheal tube in the COVID-19 ICU on Tuesday in Bakersfield, California 

Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed its highest number of hospitalizations reported in a day, at more than 7,000 people, with one in five in ICU. 

The daily figure was nearly a 1,000 per cent increase from two months ago and more than three times the peak of a July surge, according to the county Department of Public Health.

The county also reported 227 new deaths, which included a backlog from delays in holiday reporting.

Funeral homes in Los Angeles also reported becoming so crowded with COVID-19 victims that they are struggling to find storage space, with one even renting out a 52-foot refrigerated truck to cope with the influx of bodies.

Magda Maldonado had the large trailer delivered to the Continental Funeral Homes in East Los Angeles on Saturday. 


It was parked next to a 20ft trailer that Maldonado had rented in the summer, but it is no longer big enough to accommodate the number of bodies coming in each day.

State officials notified hospitals late Monday they should prepare for the possibility that they will have to resort to 'crisis care' guidelines established earlier in the pandemic, which allow for rationing treatment when staff, medicine and supplies are in short supply.

Decisions about medical care cannot be made based on factors such as income, age or gender, instead being grounded primarily 'in the likelihood of surviving in the near term,' said Kim McCoy Wade, director of the California Department of Aging.

California reported more than 31,000 new cases Tuesday and 242 deaths, but the numbers are likely to increase this week as labs and counties catch up their reporting from the Christmas week. 

More than 2 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in California and nearly 25,000 people have died from the virus. 

Also on Tuesday, New York City hit another grim milestone as officials announced that deaths linked to COVID have now surpassed 25,000. Medics in Yonkers, New York, are seen transporting a woman with COVID to a local hospital

Also on Tuesday, New York City hit another grim milestone as officials announced that deaths linked to COVID have now surpassed 25,000. Medics in Yonkers, New York, are seen transporting a woman with COVID to a local hospital 

The city's health department confirmed that there have now been 25,055 fatalities from confirmed or likely cases of COVID-19 in the Big Apple (pictured)

The city's health department confirmed that there have now been 25,055 fatalities from confirmed or likely cases of COVID-19 in the Big Apple (pictured)

In Georgia, the state is reactivating the alternative hospital bed capacity facility at the Georgia World Congress Center  as cases in the state continue to spike

In Georgia, the state is reactivating the alternative hospital bed capacity facility at the Georgia World Congress Center  as cases in the state continue to spike 

Fresno County in central California has also been struggling to manage hospital cases, urging people not to call 911 unless their situation is truly a medical emergency. Asked Tuesday when the county's coronavirus situation might improve, interim health officer Dr Rais Vohra responded 'at this point it just seems so remote that it almost seems like a laughable question'.

'It's going to be at least weeks, if not months,' Vohra said.

Los Angeles County, which is home to a quarter of California's 40 million residents and has about 40% of its deaths, has struggled with a surge that has led to repeated record-breaking cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide. 

Gov Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state is setting up hospital beds in arenas, schools and tents there, though it's struggling to staff them.

He said 96% of hospitals in the county were unable to accept patients by ambulance at some point over the weekend, compared with 33% in pre-surge times. And Ghaly on Tuesday said the state is assessing issues such as the availability and delivery of oxygen as well as how to administer it to patients struggling to breathe.

County officials said Monday that Moderna vaccines were delivered to 59 nursing home facilities with plans to deploy 69,000 vaccines to staff and residents in more than 300 skilled nursing homes by the end of the year.

Nursing facilities account for only 5 per cent of the state's COVID-19 cases, but 35 per cent of its deaths, said Dr Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director.

Also on Tuesday, New York City hit another grim milestone as officials announced that deaths linked to COVID have now surpassed 25,000.

The city's health department confirmed that there have now been 25,055 fatalities from confirmed or likely cases of COVID-19 in the Big Apple.

It came as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is updating its quarantine guidelines for those exposed to the virus, decreasing the required quarantine period from 14 days to 10.

Cuomo relaxed the rules despite the statewide positivity rate reaching 7.14 per cent as of Tuesday. 

'It's incredibly painful. These are people who were part of our families, part of communities,' NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio said of the shocking milestone in deaths during his Tuesday press briefing.

'It's shocking still.'

He added that he hoped the vaccine will help life return to normal in 2021.

'We're going to turn the page on this godforsaken year. Next year will be the year of recovery, rebirth,' de Blasio said.


According to the city's figures, which differ from those recorded by the state, New Yorkers are testing positive at a rate of 7.45 percent after the holidays.

The city recorded 3,390 new cases and 182 new hospitalizations on Tuesday.

In Arizona, the state's largest hospital chain says some hospitals have stopped accepting patients brought to them by ambulance runs and transfers as they scramble to address a backlog of sick people amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Banner Health says 10 hospitals diverted ambulances and transfers to other medical facilities late Monday and six were still doing so early Tuesday.

Arizona has the second highest coronavirus infection rate in the nation. California has the highest.

State officials announced Tuesday that Arizona will include people aged 75 and older in the second phase of vaccinations against the coronavirus in a move to keep hospitals from getting further overwhelmed.

Alabama, long one of the unhealthiest and most impoverished states in America, has emerged as an alarming coronavirus hot spot.

Its hospitals are in crisis in a region with high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and other conditions that can make COVID-19 even more dangerous. Access to health care was limited even before the outbreak. And public resistance to masks and other precautions is stubborn.

While ICUs nationwide were at 78 per cent capacity during the week of December 18-24, Alabama's were 91 per cent full, according to the US Health and Human Services Department.  

Meanwhile, Colorado Gov Jared Polis said Tuesday that the state has recorded the first reported US case of the coronavirus variant that has been seen in the United Kingdom

Meanwhile, Colorado Gov Jared Polis said Tuesday that the state has recorded the first reported US case of the coronavirus variant that has been seen in the United Kingdom 

Governor Jared Polis released this statement saying the person infected is a man in his 20s who had not been traveling

Governor Jared Polis released this statement saying the person infected is a man in his 20s who had not been traveling

Georgia has more than 4,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and officials say hospital admissions are increasing at a pace that raises questions about the health system's ability to handle demand.

The state has moved into the top 20 for most new cases per capita in the last 14 days as infection rates have declined in the Midwest and risen in the South.

Northeast Georgia Health System is a four-hospital system based in Gainesville that continues to see increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients.

It has put beds in a gym to care for people with milder cases, but Dr John Delzell says they 'are essentially at capacity' and surgeries are being delayed.

Georgia is also reactivating its alternative hospital bed capacity facility at the Georgia World Congress Center as hospitals become overwhelmed. 

On Monday, there were 2,800 people in Alabama hospitals with COVID-19, the highest total since the start of the pandemic.

The virus has killed more than 4,700 people in Alabama. Tennessee and California have been hit especially hard in recent weeks.  

Meanwhile, Colorado Gov Jared Polis said Tuesday that the state has recorded the first reported US case of the coronavirus variant that has been seen in the United Kingdom. 

Polis revealed the worrying news in a tweet, writing: 'Today we discovered Colorado's first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely.'

An attached statement said the Colorado State Laboratory confirmed the case and notified the CDC.

The strain - which is thought to be 70 per cent more infectious - was detected in a man in his 20s who is 'currently in isolation in Elbert County and has no travel history.' 

It is not believed that B.1.1.7 leads to more severe cases, and higher mortality rates have not been reported.

'At this time, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death,' the CDC stated on their website.  

Health officials have said the vaccines being given now are thought to be effective against the variant.

The US coronavirus death toll in January could far surpass that of December, Dr Anthony Fauci warned on Tuesday

The US coronavirus death toll in January could far surpass that of December, Dr Anthony Fauci warned on Tuesday

Travelers wait for their luggage in a terminal at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on December 23

Travelers wait for their luggage in a terminal at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on December 23 

Crowds gather at NC airport as people go home for the holidays
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The fact the man has not traveled tells officials he caught the strain from someone else in the US.  

The man will remain in isolation until he is cleared by health officials. 

The statement adds: 'The individual has no close contacts identified so far, but public health officials are working to identify other potential cases and contacts through thorough contact tracing interviews.'

Polis said: '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.  

'The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor the case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels.' 

The new variant of the coronavirus was first identified in September and has been spreading rapidly in Britain, with huge swathes of England being placed under its strictest COVID-19 restrictions.

Britain's Chief Science Adviser, Patrick Vallance, said the strain first appeared in a virus isolated on September 20. 

Dr Anthony Fauci has predicted that the US coronavirus death toll in January could far surpass that of December.

Speaking to CNN, Fauci warned that Americans' failure to heed experts' advice against travel and gatherings over the Christmas holiday will have dire consequences. 

'Once you get to large numbers of people at a dinner, inside, poor air ventilation and circulation, that's when you get in trouble,' he said. 

'We're going to have an increase super-imposed on [the current] surge that could make January even worse than December.'

Another 1.1 million Americans were screened by the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) on Monday, according to agency data. 

That makes a week straight that more than a million people few a day in the U.S. More than 11.3 million Americans have boarded flights for the holidays, compared to 26.7 million who traveled between between December 18 and December 28 of last year. 

President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, saying it is 'falling far behind'. Biden says 'it's gonna take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people' at the current pace

President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, saying it is 'falling far behind'. Biden says 'it's gonna take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people' at the current pace

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her Covid-19 vaccine live on television on Tuesday

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her Covid-19 vaccine live on television on Tuesday

Biden renewed his promise to administer 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office and confirmed he would invoke a Korean War-era law to force private industry to step up production. An Air Force veteran is seen getting a temperature check before getting a vaccine

Biden renewed his promise to administer 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office and confirmed he would invoke a Korean War-era law to force private industry to step up production. An Air Force veteran is seen getting a temperature check before getting a vaccine 

President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, saying it is 'falling far behind'.

Biden says 'it's gonna take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people' at the current pace.

He warned that the dire COVID situation may not ease up until 'well into March'.

'The next few weeks and months are going to be very tough -- a very tough period for our nation, maybe the toughest during this entire pandemic,' Biden said. 

Biden also vowed to ramp up the current speed of vaccinations five to six times to 1 million shots a day, but acknowledges it 'will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated' in the new year. 

Biden, who takes office January 20, says he has directed his team to prepare a 'much more aggressive effort to get things back on track'. 

He called mass vaccination the 'greatest operational challenge we've ever faced as a nation' - and promised the US would do better after he replaces defeated President Donald Trump next month.

'The Trump administration's plan to distribute vaccines is falling far behind,' Biden said, promising: 'I'm going to move Heaven and Earth to get us going in the right direction.'

The Trump administration had predicted that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of December.

With days left, some 2.1 million have received the first shot of the vaccine, according to the CDC.

The Trump administration also had the goal to vaccinate the majority of the US population in the first half of next year but that has been thwarted by the slow rollout of the program, which at the current rate may take nearly 10 years to complete, according to a new report. 

Operation Warp Speed officials had promised over the last several months that 80 per cent of the total population would be vaccinated by late June. 

However, data released by the CDC shows vaccination efforts are moving at a slower pace than needed.

At this rate, it means more than 3million people will need to get vaccinated daily in order to meet the government's June deadline, according to an NBC News analysis of the data on Tuesday. 

Alternatively, if vaccination efforts continue at their current rate, it will take nearly a decade to adequately vaccinate 80 per cent of the country's 330.7 million residents by then, the report shows.    

Biden renewed his promise to administer 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office and confirmed he would invoke a Korean War-era law to force private industry to step up production.

'We're planning a whole-of-government effort and we're going to work to set up vaccination sites and send mobile units to hard-to-reach communities,' Biden said.

With health workers desperately waiting, politicians have been among first to be vaccinated in a stated goal of setting an example, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris taking her first dose Tuesday before cameras in Washington.

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