By MORGAN WINSOR, EMILY SHAPIRO, ERIN SCHUMAKER and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 73.9 million people and killed over 1.6 million worldwide, 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:
Dec 17, 6:09 am
Alaska health care worker suffers ‘serious’ allergic reaction to Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
An Alaska health care worker was hospitalized Wednesday, shortly after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The unnamed staff member at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska, “showed signs of an anaphylactic reaction” 10 minutes after inoculation, “with increased heartbeat, shortness of breath and skin rash and redness,” according to a press release.
“She was given epinephrine and Benadryl, admitted to the hospital, and put on an intravenous epinephrine drip,” Bartlett Regional Hospital said in a statement Wednesday night. “Her reaction was serious but not life threatening.”
The staff member, who had no known previous allergies or adverse reactions to vaccines, “is recovering and will remain another night in the hospital under observation,” according to the press release.
“She is still encouraging her colleagues to get the vaccine,” the hospital said.
It’s the first known adverse allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which was granted emergency-use authorization in the United States last Friday.
A second staff member at Bartlett Regional Hospital “experienced eye puffiness, light headedness, and scratchy throat” 10 minutes after being injected with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, according to the press release.
“His reaction was not considered anaphylaxis,” Bartlett Regional Hospital said in the statement Wednesday night. “He was taken to the Emergency Department and administered epinephrine, Pepcid and Benadryl. He felt completely back to normal within an hour and was released.”
“He too does not want his experience to have a negative impact on his colleagues lining up for the vaccine,” the hospital added.
Both incidents were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which Bartlett Regional Hospital said “is providing guidance and support.” The symptoms in each case were discovered during the 15-minute observation period after inoculation recommended by the CDC.
“We were expecting these things and we had all the right systems in place,” Charlee Gribbon, an infection control practitioner at Bartlett Regional Hospital, who is overseeing a mass operation to vaccinate as many staff as possible, said in a statement Wednesday night.
Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said there are “no plans to change our vaccine schedule, dosing or regimen.”
Dec 17, 5:16 am
French President Emmanuel Macron tests positive
French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Elysee Palace, the official residence of the president of France, announced Macron’s diagnosis in a statement Thursday morning.
“This diagnosis was established following an RTPCR test performed at the onset of the first symptoms,” the palace said.
Macron will self-isolate for seven days in accordance with public health instructions.
“He will continue to work and carry out his activities remotely,” the palace said.
With more than 2.4 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19, France has the fifth-highest tally in the world, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Dec 17, 4:30 am
A record 113,069 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19
There were 113,069 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across the United States on Wednesday, according to data compiled by The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the U.S. outbreak.
It’s the highest number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations that the U.S. has logged since the start of the pandemic.
Dec 17, 4:08 am
US hits fresh record highs of 247,403 new cases and 3,656 deaths
There were 247,403 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Wednesday, marking a fresh record high, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the 44th straight day that the U.S. has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Wednesday’s tally shatters the country’s previous all-time high of 231,775 new cases confirmed on Dec. 11, according to Johns Hopkins data.
An additional 3,656 deaths from the disease were also registered nationwide on Wednesday, setting yet another record. It’s only the fourth time since the pandemic began that the country has reported more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths in a single day. The country’s previous peak of 3,300 fatalities was recorded on Dec. 11, according to Johns Hopkins data.
A total of 16,979,777 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 307,501 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 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.
Dec 17, 12:06 am
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tests positive for COVID-19
Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt has tested positive for COVID-19. The department spokesman, Nicholas Goodwin, confirmed the news Wednesday, after an inquiry from The Washington Post.
Bernhardt received his test results prior to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet meeting Wednesday and did not attend the session.
“He is currently asymptomatic and will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine,” Goodwin said in an email.
As a result of Bernhardt’s diagnosis, various high-ranking department officials who were in close contact with him this week are now getting tested.
He is the third top official at the department known to have tested positive for the virus since November. Interior’s top attorney, Daniel Jorjani, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith also tested positive.
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