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Coronavirus live updates: Congresswoman tests positive following US Capitol siege

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(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 90.9 million people worldwide and killed over 1.9 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:

Jan 12, 9:45 am
US will not hold back second vaccine doses, HHS secretary says

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government will no longer hold back COVID-19 vaccine doses and is now recommending states inoculate anyone 65 and older as well as those under the age of 65 who have two or more conditions or illnesses.

“This is just a staging and moving to the next phase on the vaccine program. We’ve had so much success with quality and predictable manufacturing and almost flawless distribution of the vaccine, but we have seen now that the administration in the states has been too narrowly focused,” Azar told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

“So, what are we doing? Three things. First, We have already made available every dose of vaccine,” he said. “So we had been holding back second doses as a safety stock. We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production. So everything is now available to our states and our health care providers.”

“Second, we are calling on our governors to now vaccinate people age 65 and over and under age 65 with a comorbidity, because we have got to expand the group,” he continued. “We’ve already distributed more vaccine than we have health care workers and people in nursing homes.”

“Third, we’ve got to get more channels of administration,” he added. “We’ve got to get it to pharmacies, get it to community health centers, and we are here and we will deploy teams to support states doing mass vaccination efforts if they wish to do so. It has been overly hospitalized so far in too many states.”

As of 9 a.m. ET on Monday, more than 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide but fewer than nine million people have received their first dose, according to data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jan 12, 6:46 am
European Medicines Agency receives Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine application

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Tuesday that it has received an application for conditional marketing authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by England’s University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Conditional marketing authorization is the process used to speed up the approval of treatments and vaccines amid public health emergencies. The EMA said the assessment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine “will proceed under an accelerated timeline,” and that an opinion on whether to issue an authorization could be announced by Jan. 29.

“If EMA concludes that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks in protecting against COVID‑19, it will recommend granting a conditional marketing authorisation,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “The European Commission will then fast-track its decision-making process with a view to granting a conditional marketing authorisation valid in all EU and EEA Member States within days.”

Jan 12, 5:19 am
Russia extends UK flight ban through Feb. 1

Russia has extended its suspension of air travel with the United Kingdom through Feb. 1 amid growing concerns over a new, more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus.

“For the purpose of protecting public health, the restrictions have been extended through 11:59 p.m. on February 1, 2021,” Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters said in a statement Tuesday.

The ban was first imposed in late December.

The move comes after Russia confirmed its first cases of a new, highly infectious strain that is thought to have emerged in England late last year. The variant, called B117, is currently prevalent in London and other parts of southeastern England, and has since spread to more than a dozen other countries.

With more than 3.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, Russia has the fourth-highest tally of diagnosed infections in the world, followed by the U.K., according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters confirmed 22,934 new cases and 531 additional deaths from the disease on Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 3,448,203 cases with 62,804 deaths.

Jan 12, 4:26 am
182 arrested during underground ‘super-spreader’ parties in Los Angeles County, authorities say

Authorities arrested 182 people in Southern California’s Los Angeles County on Saturday during a crackdown on underground “super-spreader” parties in the area.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the arrests, which were cited out, occurred at two commercial buildings.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva “has made it clear he will seek out & take law enforcement action against ALL underground party events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County, who fall under the Health Orders of the County’s Department of Public Health,” the department tweeted.

“The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of #COVID19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations,” the department tweeted.

Jan 12, 4:12 am
US reports over 204,000 new cases

There were 204,652 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the seventh straight day that the country has reported more than 200,000 newly confirmed infections. Monday’s tally is less than the all-time high of 302,506 new cases, which the country logged on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 1,731 new deaths from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide Monday, down from the country’s peak of 4,194 fatalities on Jan. 7, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.

A total of 22,429,685 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 376,280 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.

Jan 12, 1:49 am
Rep. Pramila Jayapal tests positive following US Capitol siege

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who was inside the U.S. Capitol last week as a pro-President Donald Trump mob temporarily took over the building, has tested positive for COVID-19, the Washington state congresswoman announced on Twitter.

“I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” Jayapal tweeted.

Jayapal and her colleagues were in the middle of certifying the electoral votes when the rioters breached the Capitol. Congress was forced to evacuate and shelter in place while authorities worked to secure the building.

“Only hours after Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she tweeted Monday night.

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy. I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms,” she continued.

Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician of the Congress, advised representatives and congressional staff on Sunday that those in the secured room could have, “been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection,” according to a statement from Jayapal.

Prior to her positive test, fearing she was exposed during the potential “superspreader event,” Jayapal has been quarantining since last Thursday.

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