Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, January 10, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
Vaccination efforts continue across the globe as health authorities scramble to catch up with a more contagious coronavirus variant, now present in at least 45 countries.
UK ramps up vaccine rollout, targets every adult by autumn
Britain’s health secretary said Sunday that every adult in the country will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine by the autumn as the U.K. ramps up its mass vaccination program amid a huge surge of infections and hospital admissions.
More than 600,000 people age 80 and over will begin receiving invitations this week to get the coronavirus shot at new large-scale vaccine centers around England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that officials were “on track” to reach its target of inoculating about 15 million people in the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.
The vaccination drive comes as the U.K. sees a steep increase in infections and record numbers of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized, with many experts warning that the situation is more dire than it was when the country went into its first lockdown last spring. The Office of National Statistics estimated that 1 in 50 people in England had the virus in the most recent week.
Daily reported deaths hit a record high Friday, at 1,325, and in total around 81,000 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19. That’s the highest in Europe and comes just behind the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico.
Africa exceeds 3 million COVID-19 cases, 30% in South Africa
Africa passed the milestone of 3 million confirmed cases COVID-19 on Sunday, including more than 72,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
South Africa, with more than 1.2 million reported cases, including 32,824 deaths, accounts for more than 30% of the total for the continent of 54 countries and 1.3 billion people. The high proportion of cases in South Africa, could be because the country carries out more tests than many other African countries.
South Africa is battling a resurgence of the disease, driven by a variant of the virus that is more contagious and spreading quickly. Many hospitals are reaching capacity, yet the numbers of those infected are expected to continue rising, according to health experts.
South Africa’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 19.86 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 26 to 30.18 new cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 9, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Vaccine rollout confirms public health officials’ warnings
Public health officials sounded the alarm for months, complaining that they did not have enough support or money to get COVID-19 vaccines quickly into arms. Now the slower-than-expected start to the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history is proving them right.
As they work to ramp up the shots, state and local public health departments across the U.S. cite a variety of obstacles, most notably a lack of leadership from the federal government. Many officials worry that they are losing precious time at the height of the pandemic, and the delays could cost lives.
States lament a lack of clarity on how many doses they will receive and when. They say more resources should have been devoted to education campaigns to ease concerns among people leery of getting the shots. And although the federal government recently approved $8.7 billion for the vaccine effort, it will take time to reach places that could have used the money months ago to prepare to deliver shots more efficiently.
Such complaints have become a common refrain in a nation where public health officials have been left largely on their own to solve complex problems.
Battered by COVID-19 surge, LA County hospitals are admitting patients faster than they can discharge them
The patient needed a ventilator or she would die. The hospital wanted to discharge her, but there was no place she could go.
As the surge of coronavirus infections created a terrifying shortage of hospital beds across Southern California, discharge planner Erika Gomez faced a dilemma. She needed to move the woman — a neurology patient — as safely as possible, while also freeing up a critical bed at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.
Over the next two weeks, Gomez reached out to 126 subacute care and congregative living health facilities in Los Angeles County, searching for a bed and a ventilator. Though some considered caring for the woman, they all ultimately said no. Her insurance wouldn’t pay enough.
Finally, a residential home with which Gomez had a good relationship agreed to help. It would take the woman in and lend her a ventilator.
Days earlier, Rancho Los Amigos — which is taking in patients from the other three county public hospitals to help lighten their load — had nearly reached its capacity. Even with discharges, it was like trying to save the Titanic from sinking with a teacup.
The work of discharge planners has never been more critical than in this moment, as they try to free up beds in dangerously full hospitals confronting a deluge of COVID-19 patients.
Federal courts move to release Western Washington inmates vulnerable to COVID-19
Forty-two convicted federal felons in the Western District of Washington have been granted compassionate release from custody since March, when U.S. District Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez canceled jury trials as the dangers of the pandemic became clear. More than 200 petitions from prisoners seeking compassionate release have been filed, the judge said Wednesday, with more being brought almost every day.
“There has been a huge uptick,” Martinez said in an interview. “And I don’t blame a single one of those people. If I was locked in a facility where everyone around me is sick, I’d want out, too.”
The numbers of inmates seeking early release, in Washington and elsewhere, is only expected to increase, said Martinez. In an order issued Dec. 30, the judge extended courthouse closures and postponed all jury trials through March 31 — almost a full year since he first halted in-person hearings.
Read the full story here.
Lawmakers sheltering from mob may have been exposed to COVID-19
House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone testing positive for COVID-19 while they sheltered at an undisclosed location during the Capitol siege by a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump.
The Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers Sunday of the virus exposure and urged them to be tested. The infected individual was not named.
Dr. Brian Moynihan wrote that “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in the large room — some for several hours” on Wednesday. He said “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
Read the whole story here.
Inside the slow rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Washington state
More than three weeks after the first vials of coronavirus vaccine arrived in Washington, the state has struggled to quickly vaccinate the most vulnerable people: long-term care residents and health care workers.
Some assisted-living facilities still don’t have vaccine appointments. Hospitals have scrambled to transfer vaccine to other hospitals that are short on doses. Many health care workers can’t find a site to get vaccinated. And the state Department of Health (DOH) can’t answer basic questions, like how many long-term care residents have been vaccinated or how much vaccine has been wasted.
The health department on Friday reported that 466,775 doses had been distributed throughout Washington state, and 151,856 of them had been administered. That appears to be slightly faster than the national average, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Officials have said some of the gap between delivery and administration can be explained by a lag in reporting.
Amid the delays, the state has extended the timeline for vaccinating essential workers into April, and the general population after that.
Read the full story here.
Puget Sound residents' video streaming surged during coronavirus
No surprise here: as the region locked down during the early days of the pandemic, people around the Puget Sound passed the time with video streaming services.
Nielsen market-research data shows Puget Sound region viewership of Netflix, Amazon Primve Video and Hulu increased 41% to 53% during the February-September period, compared to the same eight months of 2019. (Viewership in this survey was counted as the number of households in which a streaming service was viewed at least once in the last seven days.)
Will the trend continue? According a national Morning Consult survey conducted in April, more half of U.S. adults who had recently signed up for TV-streaming services predicted that they would watch the same amount or more of them once life returns to normal.
Read more about it here.
Catch up on the last 24 hours
Here's a recap of some local, national and international coronavirus headlines from the last 24 hours.
--Amazon is preparing to administer on-site coronavirus vaccinations to nearly 20,000 of its workers in Washington, according to a letter from the company to Gov. Jay Inslee in which the company urged the state to prioritize its workers for vaccination.
--In December, the U.S. shed jobs for the first time since April. Once again, the layoffs were heavily concentrated in the industries that have suffered most because they involve the kind of face-to-face contact that is now nearly impossible: Restaurants, bars and hotels, theaters, sports arenas and concert halls.
--Health officials in Anchorage said appointments for residents to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine have filled up in a matter of hours this week, leading to frustration for people still trying to sign up as vaccination clinics are planned throughout the weekend and early next week.
--California desperately needs more medical workers at facilities swamped by coronavirus patients, but almost no help is coming from a volunteer program that Gov. Gavin Newsom created at the start of the pandemic. An army of 95,000 initially raised their hands, and just 14 are now working in the field.
--Chinese authorities have asked residents in two cities south of Beijing to stay home for seven days as they try to stamp out a COVID-19 outbreak in which more than 300 people have tested positive in the past week.
--Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, received initial coronavirus vaccine doses on Saturday.
--How has Singapore, a semi-authoritarian city-state of almost 6 million people, kept coronavirus at bay?
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