Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 50,268,561 (50,164,035)
Total U.S. deaths: 801,078 (799,090)
Total global cases: 271,827,830 (271,173,538)
Total global deaths: 5,326,198 (5,317,639)
U.S. death toll exceeds 800,000
The U.S. passed another COVID-19 milestone in the last 24 hours. The U.S. death toll since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 reached and exceeded 800,000, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project at Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S., by far, has recorded more cases and deaths than any other country. The number of cases and deaths has taken some medical experts by surprise.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NPR that the role of various variants of the virus has prolonged the pandemic. “I think the variant issue right now continues to be the 210-mile-an-hour curve ball that we don't really yet understand completely," he said.
Google reportedly gets aggressive on employee vaccinations
Google is putting some teeth into its vaccination policy. According to an internal memo, employees who don’t get vaccinated will lose some pay and will probably lose their jobs eventually.
CNBC reports that it has viewed the memo that warns Google employees that they will be placed on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days if they haven’t complied with the vaccination rules by the Jan. 18 deadline. If they remain unvaccinated, the company says employees will go on “unpaid personal leave” for up to six months, followed by termination.
“Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite,” the memo stated. It also stated that “frequent testing is not a valid alternative to vaccination.”
NFL grapples with COVID-19 outbreak
The National Football League is suddenly dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. Individual players on various teams have tested positive this season and entered COVID-19 protocols. This week, the league was presented with multiple cases on multiple teams.
“After a record 37 positive COVID tests Monday, results still are being finalized but more than 25 additional positives are expected today, per source,” NFL insider Adam Schefter tweeted Tuesday.
ESPN’s Keven Seifert reports that at least 62 NFL players tested positive in the last two days. He says 110 NFL players tested positive for the virus between September 5 and November 27.
Around the nation
Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards celebrated the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 vaccine availability in his state by renewing his call for everyone to take advantage of it. “One year ago, I was proud and hopeful as I witnessed Nurse Deborah Ford receive the first COVID-19 vaccine dose in the state of Louisiana. Since that day, I am proud to see that more than 2.29 million Louisianans have gone sleeves up and are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Maryland: Hospitalizations are surging, but official data on COVID-19 has not been updated in nearly two weeks. The Maryland Health Department says it is still recovering from a "network security incident." A number of state agencies are working with federal and state law enforcement offices "to address the incident and to gather additional information," a spokesperson said.
Oregon: While surrounding states are dealing with a rising number of severe cases, Oregon reports that its infection rate dropped sharply in the last week. Statewide, the number of new cases is down more than 20%. Cases in Lane County fell by more than 46%.
Tennessee: Several former Tennessee Titans players joined doctors and nurses at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Tuesday for a public vaccination event. Nine-year-old Witt Scott got more than a shot – one of the former players let him try on his two Super Bowl rings.
Maine: Members of the Maine National Guard have been deployed to 10 health care facilities around the state to assist with a surge in COVID-19 cases. The move comes as hospitals are reaching capacity limits. Gov. Janet Mills estimates that the Guard’s mobile clinics will provide 80 additional beds.