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COVID-19 live updates: US sees highest single-day death toll since pandemic began



(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 104.9 million people worldwide and killed over 2.28 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 Friday. All times Eastern:

Feb 05, 11:33 am
8% of US population has received 1 or more vaccine doses: HHS

So far, 8% of the U.S. population has received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to official figures released Friday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In total, 35,203,710 vaccine doses have been administered nationwide. About 27.9 million people — 8% of the population — have received one or more doses, while 6.9 million people — 2% of the population — have received two doses.

Feb 05, 11:17 am
US announces deployment of over 1,000 troops to help with vaccinations

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced Friday that more than 1,000 active-duty military personnel will be deployed across the country to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations.

The announcement was made during a press briefing held by members of the White House COVID-19 response team in Washington, D.C.

Feb 05, 10:51 am
US Senate approves budget resolution to pass $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package

The U.S. Senate approved a budget resolution early Friday morning that would allow for the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package without the threat of a filibuster from Republican lawmakers who oppose it.

Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate by casting a vote in favor of the Democratic measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The resolution now goes back to the House for final approval.

Biden has said he hopes to garner Republicans’ support for his sweeping COVID-19 relief package, billed as the American Rescue Plan, though Democrats are working to push it through Congress with or without the GOP.

Feb 05, 9:41 am
Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine effective against UK variant, researchers say

University of Oxford researchers said Friday that the COVID-19 vaccine they developed with British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca remains effective against a new, more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus currently circulating in the United Kingdom.

A preprint of ongoing work to assess effectiveness of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine shows that the existing version has similar efficacy against the so-called B117 variant to previously circulating variants. The preprint also describes recent analysis showing that the vaccination “results in a reduction in the duration of shedding and viral load, which may translate into a reduced transmission of the disease,” according to a press release from the university.

“Data from our trials of the ChAdOx1 vaccine in the United Kingdom indicate that the vaccine not only protects against the original pandemic virus, but also protects against the novel variant, B117, which caused the surge in disease from the end of 2020 across the UK,” Andrew Pollard, professor of pediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said in a statement.

The B117 variant was first identified last September in Kent, England, and has since spread to dozens of other countries.

“We are working with AstraZeneca to optimize the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary,” Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said in a statement. “This is the same issue that is faced by all of the vaccine developers, and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in readiness for a future strain change.”

Feb 05, 8:11 am
Ghana’s Parliament reduces sessions amid COVID-19 outbreak

The Parliament of Ghana will reduce its sessions to twice a week after dozens of lawmakers and legislative staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Addressing lawmakers on the floor Thursday, Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin said at least 15 members of Parliament and 56 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 so far. They have been asked to self-isolate while steps are being taken to have members of their household tested as well.

There are still 48 members of Parliament who have yet to be tested, according to Bagbin.

Starting next week, Ghana’s Parliament will only sit on Tuesdays and Thursdays in an effort to control the spread of the virus. Only the lawmakers and staffers who are needed on those days will be allowed inside the building, Bagbin said.

Schools reopened across the West African nation in January, following a 10-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. But as COVID-19 infections rise again, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday reimposed a ban on social gatherings.

Ghana has confirmed at least 63,883 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 390 deaths, according to the latest data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Feb 05, 7:24 am
New vaccine helpline in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County gets over 15,000 calls per second

The Allegheny County Health Department in Pennsylvania said 750 residents made appointments to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Thursday through a new phone registration offered by the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 211 helpline.

The call center began receiving calls well before the official start time at noon on Thursday. In the first five minutes following the announcement of the phone registration, there were 653 calls into the helpline. More than 15,000 calls were coming in per second throughout the day, attempting to reach the center, according to a press release from the Allegheny County Health Department.

“We have known for a while that the demand for vaccines far outweighs the supply, and today’s phone registration only underscores that,” Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said in a statement Thursday. “While we realize that there were many, many people who were frustrated because they did not receive an appointment, we also were able to serve 750 individuals who may not have had the opportunity to schedule otherwise.”

The 211 helpline is for only scheduling vaccination appointments for Allegheny County residents who are 65 and older. Appointments are for the Allegheny County Health Department’s Point of Dispensing inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Monroevile, about 10 miles east of Pittsburgh. Other vaccine providers in the county have separate registration systems, the health department said.

Feb 05, 5:49 am
US reports over 5,000 new deaths for first time

A staggering 5,078 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered in the United States on Thursday, marking a new single-day record, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that the U.S. has recorded more than 5,000 deaths from the disease in a single day. Thursday’s tally far exceeds the country’s previous all-time high of 4,466 new deaths registered on Jan. 12, Johns Hopkins data shows.

There were also 122,473 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed nationwide on Thursday, down from a peak of 300,282 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend last month.

A total of 26,679,554 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began and at least 455,869 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 the 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, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.

So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. More than 35 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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