Calif. Sees Small Bright Spot in Surge; Texas Is 2nd State to Top 2M Cases – NBC Chicago

The Trump administration is helping states to speed up delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to all people 65 and older and to others at high risk by no longer holding back the second dose of the two-dose shots, officials said Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced all travelers flying to the United States will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival.

Meanwhile, three House representatives have tested positive for COVID-19, which they believe they contracted while sheltering at an undisclosed location during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. There were reports that some of their GOP colleagues refused to wear masks, even when asked.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from the U.S. and elsewhere:

California Sees Bright Spot in ‘Most Intense Surge’ of Virus

California has lifted a stay-at-home order for 13 northern counties with improving hospital conditions, but most of the state’s population remains under tight restrictions in the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The state on Tuesday lifted the order in the Sacramento region — a rare turn of good news as the state pushes through what Gov. Gavin Newsom called its “most intense surge” of the coronavirus.

California has seen an enormous surge of cases, hospitalizations and deaths since Thanksgiving.

The order imposed Dec. 10 banned gatherings outside a household and restricted many businesses. With virus cases and hospitalizations more stable, the region can resume outdoor dining and worship services, reopen hair and nail salons and other businesses, and increase capacity at retailers. Gatherings up to three households are allowed.

Three of five state regions — the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California — remain under the stay-at-home order because their hospitals’ intensive care capacity is severely limited.

Texas Becomes 2nd State to Surpass 2 Million Coronavirus Cases

Texas has reported more than 2 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, according to NBC News.

On Wednesday, the Lone Star State became the second to reach the grim milestone, following California, which topped 2 million cases back in December.

Texas is the second-most populous U.S. state. California is the first.

Nationwide, the U.S. has seen nearly 23 million cases and 380,000 virus-related deaths, according to a tally by NBC News.

The Texas city of El Paso, which sits on the border with Mexico, has become one of the worst COVID-19 hotspots in the nation, with over 81,000 positive cases. NBCLX talked to locals battling the crisis, including El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and Dr. Zeinab Mohammad, about what they’re experiencing on the ground.

Operation Warp Speed Chief Will Reportedly Leave After Transition

Operation Warp Speed Chief Adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui has submitted his resignation at the request of the incoming Biden team, under a plan that would see him stay in the role for a month to help with the transition, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Slaoui’s role leading vaccine development for the unprecedented government effort is expected to be diminished after Jan. 20, said the people, who declined to be named because the plan isn’t yet public. It would end by Feb. 12.

It’s not clear who will take the scientific lead for the Biden team focused on Covid vaccines after that, or if someone will be appointed into that role. There are already two vaccines authorized in the U.S., with three more in late-stage clinical trials. Jeff Zients is Biden’s coordinator of the Covid-19 response, while Bechara Choucair will be Covid-19 vaccine coordinator, focused on speeding vaccine delivery.

Read the full story here.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced on Tuesday that the White House coronavirus task force would be advising states to begin to vaccinate the next tier of priority recipients, including anyone over the age of 65 and anyone with a documented comorbidity.

With Season Set to Start, 27 NHL Players Have Tested Positive for COVID

Twenty-seven players in the National Hockey League have tested positive for COVID-19, the league said Tuesday — with 17 of those on the Dallas Stars.

The NHL said in a statement that most of the Stars players are asymptomatic and “are currently recovering without complication.” The 27 players who are positive for the illness are across nine teams.

The NHL season starts Wednesday, but it will be a condensed 56-game regular season that ends May 8. Normally, there are 82 regular-season games.

The Stars had been set to open their season Thursday in Florida against the Panthers, but the first three games have been postponed and the next one on their schedule is Jan. 19. The NHL made the announcement Jan. 8 after six Stars players and two staff members had tested positive.

Rick Bowness, the Stars head coach, told reporters Tuesday that they knew with COVID-19 there could be some uncertainty with the roster. “We work with the players that we have,” he said, adding that decisions would be made as players return.

Stadiums to Serve as Vaccination Super Centers

Outdoor NFL stadiums and Major League Baseball ballparks across the country are being repurposed as states work to administer the COVID-19 vaccine en masse, NBC News reports.

While decisions about how to distribute the vaccine are being left to state and local health officials, as of Tuesday morning the CDC reported that more than 9.3 million people had received the first of the two needed doses of the vaccine. In total, more than 27.7 million doses have been administered.

The move to use large venues like stadiums comes as many states are increasing distribution to groups beyond health care workers and nursing home residents, to include senior citizens, teachers, first responders and essential workers.

Read the full story here

Pharmacies will soon begin administering shots as hospitals are pushed to the brink.

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