(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 83.3 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 Friday. All times Eastern:

Jan 01, 12:02 pm
Sen. Romney criticizes Trump administration over slow vaccine rollout, offers own plan

Sen. Mitt Romney criticized the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout in a statement he released Friday, writing: “when something isn’t working, you need to acknowledge reality and develop a plan—particularly when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.”

Relying on states in lieu of developing a federal vaccination plan is “as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable,” Romney wrote, and offered up his own suggestions as examples of the brainstorming he said ought to be happening in Washington.

The government should enlist every medical professional not currently delivering care, such as retired veterinarians, combat medics and corpsmen and medical students, to administer vaccines, Romney suggested, noting that they could be paid using the funding Congress has appropriated for states. Additionally, schools could serve as vaccine sites and vaccinations could be scheduled for specific days according to a person’s priority category and birthdate.

While public health professionals will easily point out errors in his plan, he said, the nation needs new strategies based on “experience, modeling and trial,” especially as the U.S. begins vaccinating more complex populations.

“We are already behind,” Romney added. “Urgent action now can help us catch up.”

Jan 01, 10:37 am
Emergency field hospital being built in North Carolina

Construction on a 30-bed emergency field hospital is slated to start in western North Carolina Friday, as COVID-19 cases in the state continue to rise.

The facility, which is being built next to Caldwell Memorial Hospital, will treat COVID patients who aren’t sick enough to need a ventilator and is meant to relieve pressure on five health systems in the region.

As of Thursday, 3,472 people were hospitalized because of the virus, according to the state health department.

Jan 01, 8:59 am
More people without underlying conditions dying from COVID-19 in LA

Early in the pandemic, 10% of patients who died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County did not have underlying conditions, according to health officials. Today, that number has risen to 14% of patient deaths.

“This indicates, that in fact, that more people than ever are not only passing away, but passing away without any underlying health conditions,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County department of public health, said during a New Year’s Eve news conference.

Hospitals in Los Angeles are currently overwhelmed to the point that ambulances are waiting hours in emergency bays with patients inside, which prevents medics from responding to additional emergency calls. The death toll in Los Angeles County stands at 10,345.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.