US cases up 51% in 1 month; surges slow in some Midwest states — 6 COVID-19 updates

New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have increased by 51 percent over the last month, reports The New York Times.  

Five more updates:

1. The White House and Pfizer are negotiating a deal for 100 million more COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, PhD, told CNBC. This summer, Pfizer and partner BioNTech initially agreed to provide the first 100 million doses to the U.S. by the end of March, enough to vaccinate 50 million people. Pfizer recently indicated that it could manufacture more doses if the White House has the company's suppliers prioritize its purchase requests. Under the new contract, Pfizer would provide 100 million more doses from April through June 2021.  

2. The FDA issued emergency approval Dec. 15 for the first fully at-home COVID-19 test. The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is a rapid, over-the-counter antigen test that can detect the virus from a nasal swab sample for individuals ages 2 or older. 

3. Anthony Fauci, MD, is urging Americans to scale back their Christmas celebrations and avoid interactions with people outside their household as much as possible, as holiday gatherings could create an even greater surge of COVID-19 cases than Thanksgiving, reports The Washington Post. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who turns 80 on Christmas eve, said he will be celebrating with his wife. "This cannot be business as usual this Christmas ... we're going to make it worse, if we don't do something about it," Dr. Fauci told the Post. 

4. New COVID-19 cases have fallen in some Midwestern states over the past few weeks, including Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. While the decline is a promising sign, deaths and hospitalizations are still rising on the heels of this fall's surge in cases. 

5. California ordered 5,000 body bags and put 60 refrigerated storage units on standby amid what could be the state's "most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of this pandemic," Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a Dec. 15 media briefing. As of Dec. 14, California was averaging 141 virus deaths daily, up from 41.9 on Nov. 14, according to state data.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 16,725,039
Deaths: 303,872

Counts reflect data available as of 8:15 a.m. CST Dec. 16.

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Dec. 16
1st pediatric flu death of season reported: 5 notes from CDC's FluView report
23 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Dec. 16


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