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Coronavirus update: U.S. deaths pass 250,000, a week of encouraging vaccine news

There was a big jump in unemployment claims last week

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 11,558,241 (11,419,204)

Total U.S. deaths: 250,898 (249,430)

Total global cases: 56,435,244 (55,997,737)

Total global deaths: 1,354,205 (1,344,557)

U.S. deaths exceed 250,000

Just weeks after cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) exploded in the U.S., the number of deaths from the virus has also risen sharply, moving past the 250,000 mark. The U.S. has moved from recording fewer than 1,000 deaths per day to seeing nearly 2,000 people a day succumb to the virus.

One expert told CNN that the increase in cases of the virus is directly connected to the rising death toll, which he said is only going to get worse in the weeks ahead.

“If you're alarmed at the 1,700 deaths today, two to three weeks from now, we're going to see 3,000 deaths a day," said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine.

More good vaccine news

This week has brought a wave of good news about the various COVID-19 vaccines being developed around the world. Here’s some more: The vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is safe, and it triggers a similar immune response among all adults.

The promising results from early-stage trials were published today in the British medical journal, The Lancet. It showed that not only is the vaccine safe, but it produced the same immune response in subjects, regardless of their age.

The news follows Pfizer’s completion of its Phase 3 clinical trial with a 95 percent success rate. Moderna’s preliminary results showed that its vaccine protected 94 percent of the people getting it.

Unemployed claims jumped last week

The labor market is struggling to get back to normal and appears to have hit a roadblock. The Labor Department reports that initial claims for unemployment benefits increased last week to 742,000 -- 30,000 more than the previous week.

Since August, the trend has been towards a lower number of claims each week. Last week’s number, while higher, is significantly less than the 1 million claims the government reported through most of the spring and summer.

To put the numbers in perspective, Americans typically filed around 200,000 new claims each week before March, when the pandemic began to shut down businesses.

Macy’s may close more stores

Macy’s, a struggling retailer before the pandemic hit, says it may temporarily close more stores in the coming weeks. It recently closed a store in a mall in El Paso, where cases of the coronavirus have ballooned in recent weeks.

In a conference call with analysts, CEO Jeff Gennette said the nationwide surge in cases of the virus has impeded the company’s recovery. Supply chains have improved, he said, but problems remain.

Unlike Target, Macy’s has seen a significant drop in foot traffic at its brick-and-mortar locations. The flagship store in New York’s Herald Square has been particularly hard-hit, Gennette said, because of a decline in tourism and the closure of offices.

Stricter protocols on the gridiron

The Hill reports that the NFL is imposing stricter coronavirus protocols starting Saturday. The new rules will require all 32 teams to strictly follow protocols to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Hill said it obtained a memo from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that told teams they must all follow intensive protocols to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among players and other employees. 

The new protocols require masks to be worn in all team facilities, including during practice and in the weight rooms. Group meals are prohibited, and meetings must be held virtually unless they are held outdoors or in an approved large indoor space. 

Around the nation

  • Illinois: Like other Midwestern states Illinois has seen its case numbers surge. But Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says the people in her state getting the virus most are not the ones dying from it. She said the disease is spreading fastest among people in their 20s.

  • Ohio: Three of the state’s four largest cities have issued stay-at-home orders for residents. The orders come one day after Gov. Mike DeWine announced a statewide curfew starting today to slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • New Mexico: During the shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic, most big box stores were considered “essential” and stayed open. But as New Mexico reacts to a surge in cases, some big box stores, such as Ross Dress For Less and Hobby Lobby, have been ordered to close.

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