Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 24,475,210 (24,273,831)
Total U.S. deaths: 407,111 (402,400)
Total global cases: 97,116,661 (96,396,565)
Total global deaths: 2,080,009 (2,063,594)
Biden plans extensive use of Defense Production Act
The incoming Biden administration says it has found an acute shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) nearly a year into the pandemic. Officials say the president is likely to make extensive use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to alleviate that issue.
Biden today issued executive orders and directed government agencies to use wartime powers to require U.S. companies to produce more N95 masks, swabs, and other equipment to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Defense Production Act gives the president the power to require U.S.l companies to prioritize manufacturing supplies that are necessary to meet an emergency situation. It was devised to meet wartime requirements but has already been used to deal with the pandemic.
CDC expects 100,000 more deaths in a month
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is out with a new, and even more grim, forecast. The health agency says the U.S. could record an additional 100,000 deaths in the next 30 days.
The U.S. death toll went over 400,000 this week, so the new forecast would be a 25 percent increase in the number of people who die in just a month’s time.
“Truly heartbreaking,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the CDC. But putting a more optimistic spin on it, she predicted that “healthier days lie ahead.”
National plan for schools
The Biden administration has signaled it will take more of a national approach to combat the pandemic, and that will also extend to policies on school reopenings. Until now, each state -- and sometimes even individual school districts -- have devised their own plans.
The Biden plan includes an increase in testing, stepping up the pace of vaccinations, and providing more funding for schools. Disaster relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could be used to pay for those measures.
The White House has called for schools to get more personal protective equipment, sanitation, improved ventilation, reconfigured classrooms, and upgraded technology. It has set the goal of having all kids back in the classroom within 100 days.
Experts say former COVID-19 patients still need a vaccination
Millions of Americans have had the coronavirus and recovered. But if they think they can skip the COVID-19 vaccine, health experts say they’re wrong. They may have some immunity against the virus, but it is probably temporary.
“People shouldn’t have a false sense of security that they’re immune to COVID-19 just because they’ve recovered from the disease,” said Dr. Thomas Bader, vice president of medical quality at Hackensack Meridian Health.
Bader said it isn’t known how long any COVID-19 antibodies that are in your system may protect you from the virus. There have been a few reports of recovered patients being reinfected with COVID-19, suggesting the natural immunity wears off over time.
How the pandemic will impact 2021 travel
There’s no doubt that the pandemic drastically affected travel last year. Just ask the nation’s airlines and hotels, which have seen business crater. But according to Tripadvisor, 2021 is a new year, and consumers have a different attitude.
The company analyzed first-party search data and sampled traveler sentiment across six major markets. It identified consumers' increasing confidence that they will travel abroad in 2021, particularly in the second half of the year. It found a lot of people are making travel plans.
Not only are consumers thinking about foreign travel this year, but domestic travel also has a prominent place on the agenda. The report concludes that the widespread rollout of vaccines won't just impact travelers' confidence to travel, it will have a major influence on where leisure travelers are prepared to go.
Around the nation
Minnesota: Department of Health employees were questioned at a state Senate hearing about a somewhat bumpy rollout of a new vaccination program aimed at teachers and seniors. Lawmakers reported that many people said they got error messages or that their calls didn't connect when they tried to make appointments.
North Carolina: Two state lawmakers, Rep. Brian Turner, a Democrat from Asheville, and Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Winnabow, say they have tested positive for COVID-19. The two officials were on a duck hunting trip over the weekend with other legislators.
Connecticut: Since supplies are limited, Gov. Ned Lamont has announced a new "tiered approach" to the state’s distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. People 75 and older may be vaccinated now. Those 65 and older can start getting the vaccine early next month.