COVID-19 hospitalizations up 85% in 1 month; CDC calls for universal masking — 5 updates

The U.S. reported a record 224,831 new COVID-19 cases Dec. 4, exactly 30 days after the nation first crossed the 100,000-case threshold, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.  

COVID-19 hospitalizations also hit 101,487 on Dec. 6, marking an 85 percent jump from a month prior.

Four more updates:

1. The U.K. will start vaccinating healthcare workers against COVID-19 this week, reports Bloomberg. Fifty hospitals will receive Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, with the first shots expected to be administered Dec. 8, according to the report. The U.K. plans to distribute the vaccine to more than 1,000 healthcare centers over the coming weeks. 

2. The CDC is calling for universal mask-wearing for the first time since the pandemic started. The agency issued the recommendation in a Dec. 4 report, saying wearing masks in all indoor settings — except for one's own home — will help save lives.

3. COVID-19 deaths should drop by the end of January after high-risk populations are vaccinated, Moncef Slaoui, PhD, chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, said Dec. 6 on CBS' Face the Nation. Dr. Slaoui said he expects independent advisers to the FDA to recommend emergency authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine Dec. 10. The FDA is predicted to issue the authorization soon after.   

4. World Health Organization officials warned of COVID-19 reinfection risk during a Dec. 4 news briefing. While reinfection is rare, recent data suggest someone infected with COVID-19 may not have lifelong protection against the virus, said Mike Ryan, MD, executive director of WHO's emergencies program. Emerging research indicates an immune response may last six months or longer, said Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, head of the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 14,761,730
Deaths: 282,348
Recovered: 5,624,444

Counts reflect data available as of 8:35 a.m. CST Dec. 7.

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Dec. 7
5 states with most flu activity, per CDC's Fluview report
25 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Dec. 7


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