US daily death toll highest since May; Pfizer's vaccine 95% effective — 7 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. hit 77,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations Nov. 17, a single-day record, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.  

Twenty states also reported the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for their state Nov. 17, reports The COVID Tracking Project.  

Six more updates:

1. COVID-19 deaths are rising in all four major U.S. regions — the Northeast, Midwest, South and West — according to The COVID Tracking Project. The number of U.S. virus deaths recorded Nov. 17 was higher than any day since May 14, The COVID Tracking Project said in a tweet Nov. 17.  

2. Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective beginning 28 days after the first dose, the companies said Nov. 18. Phase 3 clinical trial data showed the vaccine's efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics. The companies plan to apply for FDA emergency use authorization within days, and expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

3. About 1 in 5 U.S. hospitals expect to face staffing shortages amid the latest COVID-19 surge, according to HHS data obtained by The Atlantic. In addition, 19 percent of hospitals said they've already struggled with a staffing shortage this month.  

4. The FDA on Nov. 17 issued emergency use authorization to the first at-home COVID-19 test. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a molecular single use test that produces results within 30 minutes. A prescription is required to obtain the test.

5. COVID-19 immunity may last years, according to a small study published Nov. 16 on the preprint server bioRxiv. Researchers analyzed immune system antibodies from 185 adult COVID-19 survivors and found their T cells showed only a slight decay, while the number of B cells surprisingly rose among participants. "That amount of memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years," study author Shane Crotty, PhD, a virologist at La Jolla (Calif.) Institute of Immunology, told The New York Times.

6. Less costly interventions like promoting social distancing and food assistance programs may be as effective, or more, than lockdowns at controlling the pandemic, according to a study published in Nature Human Behavior. The finding is based on an analysis of 6,068 non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented in 79 territories worldwide this spring.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 11,361,394
Deaths: 248,707
Recovered: 4,293,640

Counts reflect data available as of 8:30 a.m. CST Nov. 18.

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Nov. 18
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27 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Nov. 18

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