US sees 1M cases in 5 days; emergency approval for Moderna vaccine expected today — 8 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. surpassed 17 million COVID-19 cases Dec. 17,  five days after crossing the 16 million mark, reports The New York Times.

On Dec. 17, the country also reported 241,620 new infections — a record daily increase, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project. Hospitalizations also ticked up to another record-high of 114,237 Dec. 17.

Seven more updates:

1. Vice President Mike Pence received a COVID-19 vaccine on live TV this morning at the White House, reports The New York Times. His wife, Karen Pence, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, also received the vaccine.

2. The FDA's vaccine advisory committee on Dec. 17 voted in favor of granting emergency approval to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA is expected to grant the vaccine emergency use authorization today, according to The New York Times.

3. More than 80,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending in May, up 18 percent from a year prior, according to a CDC alert published Dec. 17. This increase was largely driven by a 38 percent jump in synthetic opioid deaths, which saw its highest rates between this March and May. The CDC said it expects this figure to rise as the pandemic continues.

4. U.S. adults' concern about contracting COVID-19 is at its highest point since February, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest Health Tracking Poll published Dec. 18. Of the more than 1,600 adults surveyed, 68 percent said they are worried that they or someone in their family will contract the virus. 

5. Some governors say the federal government told them to expect fewer doses of Pfizer's vaccine in shipments next week. "CDC has informed us that WA's vaccine allocation will be cut by 40 percent next week — and that all states are seeing similar cuts," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a Dec. 17 tweet.

6. New York City public hospitals canceled elective surgeries Dec. 15 to preserve hospital capacity and resources for COVID-19 patients, Mitchell Katz, MD, president of NYC Health + Hospitals, said at a Dec. 17 news conference, according to The New York Times.

7. California reported more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases in 48 hours this week, solidifying its spot as the new epicenter of the nation's COVID-19 outbreak, reports The Washington Post. The state also saw a record 379 new deaths Dec. 17, surpassing the previous day's record of 298 fatalities.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 17,215,067

Deaths: 310,806

Counts reflect data available as of 8:50 a.m. CST Dec. 18.

Gabrielle Masson contributed to this report.

More articles on public health:

COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Dec. 1
Racial bias in pulse oximeters may put Black patients at risk
Scientists will visit China next month to study COVID-19's origin, WHO says



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