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Coronavirus update: U.S. buys more vaccines, Congress deadlocks on stimulus payments

Tyson Foods is beefing up medical support at processing plants

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 4,496,737 (4,447,648)

Total U.S. deaths: 152,074 (151,077)

Total global cases: 17,334,539 (17,084,446)

Total global deaths: 674,038 (668,250)

U.S. paying another $2.1 billion for vaccine doses

The U.S. government is writing another big check to drug companies for a potential coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will receive $2.1 billion for 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine they are developing.

Much of the money will be used to continue development of the vaccine, including clinical trials. The rest will pay for manufacturing and delivery of the 100 million doses. After that, the government has the option to order 500 million more doses.

“The global need for a vaccine to help prevent COVID-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi’s vaccine division.

No agreement to extend $600 a week jobless benefit

With the clock running out, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have failed to reach agreement on legislation to extend the extra $600 a week jobless benefit that expires at midnight tonight.

The two parties are mostly in agreement on the major bullet points of a new aid package, but the additional unemployment benefit most out-of-work Americans have been receiving since April has emerged as the major sticking point.

Democrats support extending the bonus payments through January, arguing that the generous payments have kept the economic collapse caused by the pandemic from being even worse. Republicans argue that many benefit recipients are getting more money than when they were working and have no incentive to look for a job.

Tyson Foods beefs up medical support at meat plants

Tyson Foods has announced that it plans to hire a chief medical officer, as well as 200 nurses, and implement stringent coronavirus testing for employees at 140 meat production facilities. The move came as the Food & Environment Reporting Network reports that more than 10,000 Tyson employees had tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The COVID-19 monitoring strategy was designed with the assistance of outside medical experts and includes ongoing, data driven COVID-19 testing of workers without symptoms. It also addresses those who exhibit certain symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus.

“While the protective measures we’ve implemented in our facilities are working well, we remain vigilant about keeping our team members safe and are always evaluating ways to do more,” said Donnie King, Tyson Foods group president and chief administrative officer. 

The pandemic has fanned retirement worries

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a big monkey wrench into the financial plans of millions of Americans, especially when it comes to retirement plans. About 38 percent of Americans in a survey by Nationwide report that there has been some detrimental effect.

Nearly 20 percent of respondents say the financial disruption caused by the coronavirus means they’ll have to keep working longer. About 10 percent express doubts about ever retiring at all.

"Americans are facing complex retirement scenarios as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and market volatility," said Tina Ambrozy, senior vice president of Strategic Customer Solutions at Nationwide. "On top of this, adults across generations lack a basic understanding of Social Security benefits and ways to maximize those benefits."

The NBA tries to salvage its season

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the second major sports league to try to salvage what’s left of its season after it was suspended in late February by the coronavirus. 

The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers got things started last night in a mostly empty arena, with the Lakers winning 103-101. More games are scheduled for tonight.

Games are being played amid stringent safety protocols, but Major League Baseball (MLB) has already found that doesn’t always work. The baseball season got off to a rocky start when 14 players on the Miami Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus during the first week.

Around the nation

  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a number of positive statistics. Hospitalizations dropped to 586 Thursday, a new low since March 17. The number of patients in intensive care units fell to 142, the lowest number since mid-March.

  • Washington: The state has placed new limits on restaurants and bars as cases of the coronavirus move higher. Alcohol can’t be served after 10 p.m., and restaurants can’t seat more than five people at a table.

  • Virginia: Tourist spots in the state, including Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, will take an economic hit because several states have added Virginia to quarantine lists. After being under control for weeks, Virginia coronavirus cases have moved sharply higher.

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