US recommends immediate vaccination for those 65+; herd immunity unlikely in 2021 — 6 COVID-19 updates

COVID-19 cases per capita in the West are rapidly nearing the Midwest's peak from the fall, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

Virus cases in the Midwest, with a total population of 68 million, surpassed 900 cases per million people this fall, according to The COVID Tracking Project's seven-day case averages. Currently, the West, with a total population of 78 million, is reporting 847 cases per million people. 

Five more updates:

1. The Trump administration shared new guidelines Jan. 12 that expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older. The new guidelines will also expand the venues where people can get vaccinated and get all available doses distributed now instead of stockpiling doses for the second shot. Learn more about the new guidelines here

2. The world will not achieve COVID-19 herd immunity this year, the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan, MD, said during a Jan. 11 media briefing. "Even as vaccines start protecting the most vulnerable, we're not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021," she said. "Even if it happens in a couple of pockets — in a few countries — it's not going to protect people across the world."

3. Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina are the five hardest-hit states as of Jan. 11, averaging the most daily new cases per capita, according to a New York Times analysis. Arizona has the highest rate of new infections per capita, while the state's hospitalizations and deaths have far exceeded the surge this summer, according to a Jan. 11 tweet from The COVID Tracking Project. 

4. Japan officials have identified a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, reports CNBC. Read more about the Japanese variant here

5. President-elect Joe Biden received his second and final vaccine dose Jan. 11, reports The New York Times. 

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 22,620,333

Deaths: 376,295

Counts reflect data available as of 8:55 a.m. CST Jan. 12.

Editor's note: This article was updated Jan. 12 at 11:48 a.m. CST.

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