USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as a pair of vaccines join the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 347,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates surrounding the coronavirus, including who is getting the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as other top news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.
In the headlines:
► The Senate adjourned Friday night without securing $2,000 stimulus checks, leaving hopes for another round of payments in the hands of the next Congress. Senate Democrats, some Republicans and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders unsuccessfully pushed for a Senate vote on $2,000 stimulus checks as the clock wound down.
► As hospitals are pushed to the brink, scrambling to provide oxygen to patients, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced the state will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to upgrade outdated oxygen delivery systems at six hospitals in Los Angeles. The news comes as California reported a record 585 coronavirus deaths in one day.
► The Navajo Nation laid off more than 1,100 casino workers Friday because of prolonged closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The tribe operates four casinos in Arizona and New Mexico. “The Nation’s vision took years to build but the Nation has been successful,” Navajo Gaming Board Chairman Quincy Natay said. “If it allows its gaming industry to fail, a permanent closure will cause a long-term setback for Navajo economic development, even if it eventually reopens.”
► U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, slammed the U.S. vaccine rollout in a statement Friday, saying the nation is “falling behind” and calling for urgent action to develop a comprehensive vaccination plan at the federal level. “I know that when something isn’t working, you need to acknowledge reality and develop a plan,” he said.
► Britain is allowing people to mix and match vaccines in certain circumstances, despite no evidence supporting the interchangeability of vaccines. In an update to their vaccination guidelines, health officials said another vaccine may be substituted if the original is not available or is unknown, particularly in situations where the person is “at immediate high risk or is considered unlikely to attend again.”
► India tested its COVID-19 vaccine delivery system Saturday with a nationwide trial, a day after authorizing the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use.
► The World Health Organization authorized the vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech for emergency use Thursday, making it easier for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes and allowing UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to procure the vaccine.
► Texas set a new record Friday for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. The state reported 12,481 hospitalizations on New Year’s Day after setting new high records for five straight days.
► The Japanese capital, Tokyo, and three nearby prefectures have asked the national government to declare a state of emergency to curtail the surging spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Japan has seen a recent rise in reported cases of COVID-19, especially in urban areas. Tokyo saw a daily record of 1,337 cases on New Year’s Eve.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 347,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 84 million cases and 1.8 million deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: Teachers should be next COVID-19 vaccine schedule, CDC says. Can a shot reopen schools?
$2,000 checks? They will have to wait for new Congress
The Senate on Friday did not take up whether to increase the $600 stimulus check payments that President Donald Trump demanded be raised to $2,000. Now, Congress will not reconvene until Sunday to end the 116th Congress.
Democrats vowed to swiftly revive the $2,000 checks after the new Congress is sworn in Sunday.
“President-elect Joe Biden has made clear that the pandemic relief bill that Congress passed is simply a down payment on the work that needs to continue,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the chair of the House Democratic caucus. “We’re going to continue to fight for a $2,000 direct payment check.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was the one of the few GOP senators pushing for a standalone vote on the $2,000 stimulus checks, saying that in “the new Congress, you could get a vote.”
“I’d like a standalone vote in the new Congress on the $2,000 check” he said during an interview on Fox and Friends. “We have seven Republicans who have already said they’d vote for it. We need five more. I think if we had the vote, we would get there.” Read more here.
– Savannah Behrmann
Heart failure in children is another rare COVID-19 complication
Heart failure — often caused by myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle — is a rare condition for teens and young adults. It’s more common in older people, often the result of heart function declining over a period of years. Yet, since the beginning of the pandemic, a very small subset of young people infected with COVID-19 have developed heart failure.
This summer, doctors in New York reported a 2-month-old boy diagnosed with COVID-19 later suffered from heart failure, signaling yet another COVID-19 complication for kids.
Twenty-six athletes from Ohio State University with confirmed COVID-19 — who were mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic — underwent heart testing. Nearly 50% showed heart abnormalities, and 15% met the criteria for myocarditis, according to a study from OSU in September.
– Elinor Aspegren
Curfew-busting New Year party-goers attack French police
Ravers at an underground, curfew-busting New Year’s Eve party that drew at least 2,500 people in western France attacked the police sent to shut them down, torching one police vehicle and injuring officers with volleys of bottles and stones, officials said Friday. Ravers started converging on a hangar in Lieuron, Brittany, on Thursday night to party into the New Year, the regional government said Friday.
Police were attacked when they tried to stop ravers from installing their party gear, the regional government said.
On Friday morning, 2,500 ravers from France and abroad were still partying, circled by a reinforced police presence, the regional government said. Prosecutors are looking at an array of possible criminal charges. The party also took place despite France’s 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. nationwide curfew aimed at dissuading public gatherings during the pandemic.
– The Associated Press
Black grandparent caregivers face unique struggles amid COVID-19
The pandemic has heightened challenges for grandparents and other senior residents, vulnerable to the virus while taking care of children. One in four children living with grandparents are Black, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation KidsCount data using U.S. Census figures. The data was central to a report from Generations United, a nonprofit for multigenerational families.
Black children are also disproportionately represented in foster care, and their kinship caretakers are essential as they fill gaps in child welfare systems, and face a lack of culturally literate family support, GU explains.
Along with a COVID-19 guide for multigenerational families, the group has created a racial equity toolkit to help health and social services providers become more culturally competent regarding family makeup. As the pandemic causes isolation, grandparents — and resources for them and the children they’re raising — have become even more important than before.
– Nada Hassanein
Contributing: Associated Press