COVID-19 hospitalizations triple September numbers; Pfizer vaccine vials contain extra doses, FDA says — 9 updates

The U.S. reported a record 3,448 new COVID-19 deaths Dec. 16, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in many areas of the U.S., testing the limits of local health systems as the pandemic continues to serve "surge upon a surge," Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNBC's Meg Tirrell during a Dec. 16 interview.  

Hospitalizations have exceeded 110,000 since Dec. 14 and hit a record 113,090 Dec. 16, COVID Tracking Project data shows. This figure is more than three times the number of hospitalizations seen in September and nearly double that seen during this spring's virus peak, reports The Washington Post. 

Eight more updates:

1. An FDA advisory panel will meet today to decide whether to recommend Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency approval. If the panel votes in favor of a recommendation, the vaccine could receive emergency use authorization from the FDA as early as Dec. 18, reports The Washington Post.

2. Two healthcare workers at Juneau, Alaska-based Bartlett Regional Hospital suffered allergic reactions after receiving Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, reports The New York Times. One employee was hospitalized after developing an anaphylactic reaction about 10 minutes after receiving the vaccine Dec. 15, a hospital official said. The second worker reported eye puffiness, lightheadedness and a scratchy throat. After receiving epinephrine, Pepcid and Benadryl at the hospital emergency room, he was back to normal within an hour.

3. Some glass vials that are supposed to contain five doses of Pfizer's vaccine actually contain six or seven doses, the FDA confirmed Dec. 16. The agency said it's acceptable for hospitals to use every full dose leftover in the vials, according to The New York Times.

4. West Virginia and Ohio are among the first states to administer COVID-19 vaccines to nursing home residents this week, reports The New York Times. The vaccinations precede a wide scale federal vaccination effort that will launch at nursing homes Dec. 21.

5. Nearly 12,000 excess deaths occurred among adults ages 25 to 44 between March and July, a study published Dec. 16 in JAMA found. Only 38 percent of deaths in this age group were attributed to COVID-19. The findings suggest COVID-19 mortality may have been underdetected among younger adults this spring and summer.

6. Congress is nearing a deal on a $900 billion relief package, leaders said Dec. 16, according to The Washington Post. The package is set to include another round of stimulus checks and may be complete by the end of the week.

7. Vice President Mike Pence is set to publicly receive a COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 18 at the White House, NPR reports. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, and second lady Karen Pence are also expected to receive the vaccine.  

8. A Kansas mayor resigned Dec. 15 after receiving threats tied to her COVID-19 mask policies. Former Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw cited personal safety concerns as the main reason behind her resignation, saying she was hopeful the "anger, accusations and abuse" wouldn't fall on anyone else. Ms. Warshaw faced backlash after supporting a universal mask mandate in a recent USA Today article, and after voting in favor of a local mandatory mask mandate, reports The Dodge City Globe.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 16,985,170
Deaths: 307,543 

Counts reflect data available as of 8:40 a.m. CST Dec. 17.

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Dec. 17
21 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Dec. 17
Georgia Santa tests positive for COVID-19, exposed dozens of children to virus


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