2 million Americans have been vaccinated; House passes bill for $2K stimulus checks — 6 COVID-19 updates

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The U.S. reported 121,235 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 22,592 people in critical care Dec. 29 — the highest figures seen during the pandemic, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project. 

Holiday reporting slowdowns will cause reporting gaps and backlogs for COVID-19 data on cases, deaths and testing figures that are unlikely to stabilize until the second week of January at the earliest, the Tracking Project said.

As such, hospitalization figures remain the most reliable statistic and offer "a much better reflection of reality than the other metrics through the holiday reporting bumpiness," the group said in a Dec. 28 tweet.

Five more updates:

1. The House approved a measure Dec. 28 that would increase individual stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 for some Americans, reports The New York Times. On Dec. 29, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked consideration of the bill, reports The Washington Post.

2. More than 2 million Americans have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to The Washington Post. Over the next week, another 7.7 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine and 8 million doses of Moderna's are set to be distributed in the U.S., according to the CDC. This supply is enough to vaccinate about three-fourths of healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff, according to a Post analysis.

3. Following holiday travel, the pandemic will likely worsen in January, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. The U.S. is experiencing a surge that has gotten "out of control," Dr. Fauci said, adding that those who traveled for the holidays should try not to gather with large groups.

4. Novavax has started a phase 3 clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S., the drugmaker said Dec. 28. Novavax is the fifth drugmaker to enter phase 3 trials in the U.S. Its vaccine uses more traditional technology than Pfizer's and Moderna's, and doesn't require ultra-cold storage, reports The Hill. 

5. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is set to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 29, a spokesperson from President-elect Joe Biden's transition team told CNN. Ms. Harris will receive the vaccine live on camera one week after President-elect Biden received his. The two politicians staggered their vaccinations at the recommendation of medical experts, a spokesperson told CNN.  

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 19,313,314
Deaths: 335,051 

Counts reflect data available as of 8:45 a.m. CST Dec. 29.

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state
US flu activity still unusually low: 6 notes from CDC's FluView report
Number of people willing to get COVID-19 vaccine rising, surveys find

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 19,313,314
Deaths: 335,051

Counts reflect data available as of 8:45 a.m. CST Dec. 29.



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