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Coronavirus live updates: US marks deadliest day since pandemic began

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(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 87.1 million people worldwide and killed over 1.8 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 Thursday. All times Eastern:

Jan 07, 9:13 am
1 in every 4 or 5 people testing positive in LA

Los Angeles County reported 258 new deaths and 11,841 new cases on Wednesday.

County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday, “Today, I am more troubled than ever before.”

During the summer, 1 in every 10 people tested were positive; now, 1 in every 4 or 5 people are testing positive, she said.

The rate of transmission this month is almost double that of December and Los Angeles County hospitals are admitting more patients than they can discharge, she said.

Some paramedics told ABC News they’ve seen as many as 22 ambulances stacked up in hospital parking lots this week. They said they felt helpless waiting.

“They signed up to take care of people, not wait with people in agony,” EMT Bill Weston told ABC News.

“This is by far the worst disaster I’ve ever been involved in,” he said.

Jan 07, 8:43 am
787,000 workers filed for unemployment insurance last week

About 787,000 workers lost their jobs and filed for unemployment insurance last week, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

This is a decrease of 3,000 compared to last week’s figure — but the weekly tally still remains highly elevated by historical standards.

The DOL also said that more than 19 million people were still receiving some form of government unemployment benefits as of the week ending Dec. 19. For the comparable week in 2019, that figure was 1.8 million.  

The latest data shows the ongoing pain to the labor market brought on by the pandemic-induced recession. It also comes some nine months since the virus arrived in the U.S., but as cases and hospitalizations continue to reach record highs across the country.

Thursday’s initial unemployment claims data also comes a day ahead of Friday’s highly anticipated job’s report from the DOL, which is set to provide more details on the economy and the road towards a recovery.

Jan 07, 5:58 am
Japan declares state of emergency in greater Tokyo area

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures on Thursday, amid soaring COVID-19 infections and a growing death toll.

A state of emergency declaration gives the governors of those respective regions the authority to ask residents for cooperation in efforts to curb the spread of the virus. There are currently no legal ramifications for non-compliance.

“This global infection has surpassed our imagination and it has turned into a harsh struggle,” Suga said Thursday evening in televised remarks. “However, I believe that we can overcome the situation. In order to do so, once again, we ask people to have a limited lifestyle.”

Under the state of emergency, which takes immediate effect and will last for one month, Suga said governors will ask residents to refrain from dining out and to stay home after 8 p.m. unless for essential reasons. They will also ask companies to decrease the number of employees commuting to work by 70%.

Suga said bars and restaurants will be asked to stop serving alcohol by 7 p.m. and to close by 8 p.m. Governors may disclose the name of the businesses that don’t comply, while those that do will be given 1.8 million Japanese yen ($17,000) per month.

Spectator events will be limited to an audience of 5,000 people. Schools will not be asked to close, according to Suga.

“If we do that, I believe we can overcome the COVID crisis,” he said.

Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, declared a nationwide state of emergency relatively early in the pandemic in April, which lasted for a month. At that time, residents were asked to reduce person-to-person contact by 80% and to practice “jishuku,” or “self-restraint,” by staying at home and closing non-essential businesses.

The move comes after days of record-high numbers of newly confirmed COVID-19 infections. The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare confirmed 5,946 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 257,196 confirmed cases with at least 3,790 deaths.

Jan 07, 4:39 am
US sees record number of COVID-19 deaths for second straight day

There were a record 3,865 new deaths from COVID-19 registered in the United States on Wednesday, marking the deadliest day since the start of the pandemic, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the second straight day that the country has logged a record number of fatalities from the disease within a 24-hour reporting period. Wednesday’s count tops the previous day’s peak of 3,775 deaths, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Meanwhile, 253,145 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed nationwide on Wednesday, marking the second consecutive day that the country has reported more than 200,000 newly confirmed infections. Wednesday’s tally is less than the all-time high of 297,491 new cases, which the country logged the previous day, 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 21,305,026 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 361,279 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 07, 12:46 am
US could see 438,000 total deaths from COVID-19 by end of month, CDC says

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest ensemble forecast projects a total of up to 438,000 deaths from COVID-19 could be reported nationwide by Jan. 30.

At least 361,072 deaths from the disease have been reported since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The CDC predicts that 12,900 to 24,900 new deaths will likely be reported in the last week of the month.

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