THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ATLANTA — U.S. health officials closely tracking possible side effects of the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine say they have seen six cases of severe allergic reaction out of more than a quarter million shots given.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 272,000 shots of the Pfizer vaccine were given nationwide as of Saturday morning. The half-dozen cases of allergic reaction were reported as of Friday night, and included one person with a history of vaccination reactions.
Health officials are keeping close watch for such side effects.
U.S. vaccine recipients are supposed to hang around after their injections in case signs of an allergy appear. The CDC says all cases occurred within the recommended observation window and were promptly treated.
The numbers were discussed at a meeting of a committee that advises the CDC on vaccines. The group on Saturday endorsed Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was granted emergency authorization on Friday.
Less severe side effects have also been rare. Among the first 215,000 people to get vaccinated in the U.S., fewer than 1.5% of them had problems that left them unable to perform their normal activities or required medical care.
Many vaccines can cause temporary discomfort, such as a sore arm or certain flu-like symptoms. COVID-19 vaccines tend to cause more of those reactions than a flu shot, and some hospitals are staggering the times their employees get vaccinated to avoid staffing problems.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
The United States reached a record of nearly a quarter million coronavirus cases reported in 24 hours. An additional 2,814 people died nationwide, pushing the death toll to more than 313,000. Some areas of California are “just right at that cusp of getting overrun,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
The Army general in charge of getting COVID-19 vaccines out across the U.S. apologized for “miscommunication” with states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages.
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MONROE, La. -- Louisiana’s newest member of Congress was admitted to a hospital for monitoring on Saturday, one day after announcing that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Republican Rep.-elect Luke Letlow was admitted as a precaution, spokesman Andrew Bautsch told The News-Star. Bautsch also is fighting the disease, the newspaper said.
Letlow, who is from the northeast Louisiana town of Start, was elected earlier this month to the 5th District seat representing northeast and central Louisiana. He is scheduled to be sworn in next month.
He had announced Friday that he had been infected by the coronavirus and was quarantining at home.
Letlow was the third high-profile Louisiana politician in two days to say he had been infected. Democratic U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is leaving to become a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s White House staff, and Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser both said Thursday that they had tested positive for the virus.
Two Republicans in Louisiana’s congressional delegation — U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson — have publicly said they’ve recovered from the disease.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The United States added a record of nearly a quarter million coronavirus cases in the past day.
Health experts says the record could increase as cases surge in various parts of the country and health care systems struggle to keep up.
Along with 249,709 new cases, there were an additional 2,814 reported deaths nationwide in the past 24 hours. That pushed the confirmed U.S. death toll past 313,000, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
California led the case surge with 48,221 more infections. Almost 17,000 people are hospitalized in California and health officials are scrambling to find enough beds for patients. Texas, Florida, New York and Tennessee all registered more than 10,400 new cases.
The seven-day rolling average for new cases in the U.S. rose in the past two weeks from 183,787 to 219,324 on Friday, an increase of nearly 20%.
Health officials are concerned about future cases brought on by travel and gatherings during the holidays and New Year’s.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State health officials say 2,711 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered so far in Tennessee, the worst state in the country for new cases per capita.
The Tennessee Department of Health on Friday unveiled its online vaccination dashboard, which will be updated on Tuesdays and Fridays. Tennessee frontline hospital health care workers on Thursday began receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
There were 1,640 new cases per 100,000 people in Tennessee in the past two weeks, which ranks first in the nation, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths rose from 50 on Dec. 4 to 74 on Friday.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee has declined to require a mask order. Only a dozen other states lack a statewide mask requirement.
PHOENIX – Arizona residents are being told to “shrink their circles” of personal contacts and gatherings to help the state’s health care system handle coronavirus cases.
Arizona reported a record 4,104 COVID-19 related hospitalizations. It also added more than 5,500 coronavirus cases on Friday.
State and local governments need to do more to reduce the coronavirus’ spread, because one of Banner Health’s hospitals is using a refrigerated truck trailer to augment its now full morgue, says Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the hospital chain’s chief clinical officer.
Only 8% of all beds and intensive care unit beds were available, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.
The Department of Health Services reported 118 more deaths, increasing the statewide totals to 448,231 confirmed cases and 7,937 confirmed deaths.
WASHINGTON — With coronavirus numbers setting new daily records, the nation’s capital is temporarily suspending all indoor dining in restaurants over the holidays.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an executive order Friday night banning indoor dining for three weeks, starting Wednesday at 10 p.m. and extending through Jan. 15.
The District of Columbia will remain in phase two of its reopening plan, and the government described the move as a “holiday pause.”
The order also extends Washington’s public health emergency through March 31 and orders all museums to close. The entire Smithsonian network of museums, which includes the National Zoo, already shut down voluntarily in late November.
WASHINGTON — An Army general in charge of COVID-19 vaccines apologized Saturday for “miscommunication” with states on the number of early doses delivered.
Gen. Gustave Perna’s remarks came a day after a second vaccine was added in the fight against the coronavirus. Governors in more than a dozen states says the federal government has told them next week’s shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be less than originally projected.
“I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication,” he said. “I know that’s not done much these days. But I am responsible. ... This is a herculean effort and we are not perfect.”
Perna says the government now is on track to get approximately 20 million doses to states by the first week of January, a combination of the newly approved Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He says 2.9 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses have been delivered so far.
The coronavirus has killed more than 313,000 people in the U.S., the highest death toll in the world.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Christmas gatherings can’t go ahead and non-essential shops must close in London and much of southern England.
Johnson announced the capital and other areas in southern England currently under Tier 3 will move to a stricter Tier 4 that requires non-essential shops, hairdressers and indoor leisure venues to close after the end of business hours Saturday.
Johnson says a planned five-day easing of socializing rules allowing up to three households to meet in “Christmas bubbles” will be canceled for Tier 4 areas. No mixing of households will be allowed except under limited conditions outside in public places.
For the rest of England, people can meet in Christmas bubbles for just one day instead of Dec. 23-27.
U.K. officials reported another 28,507 confirmed cases on Friday and 489 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
The U.K. has reported 1.9 million coronavirus cases. It has Europe’s second-highest confirmed COVID-19 death toll at 66,600 and sixth-highest overall.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An Associated Press analysis shows states spent more than $7 billion this spring buying personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators.
California spent the most during the pandemic’s initial months, at least $1.5 billion in the AP’s data, followed by Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington. New York also spent several hundred million dollars on PPE and ventilators through November.
The data was obtained from states through open-records requests. State governments were scrambling for supplies at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Some states paid as much as $11 for individual N95 masks, which previously cost around 50 cents before the pandemic.
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