By MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 69 million people and killed over 1.5 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 10, 12:12 pm
HHS officials acknowledge staffing struggle
Jonathan Greene, deputy assistant secretary for operations and resources at the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledged in a briefing call that the agency is not able to provide the number of health care workers states are requesting.
HHS and FEMA have been “very judicious” in using and moving health care workers, providing 300 to 400 nationwide, which matches the number deployed during the first surge in the spring, Greene said. Fewer were deployed over the summer, mimicking the case curve.
About 3,100 can be deployed nationally, but Greene admitted the system is designed more for situations like hurricanes than for pandemics.
“It works less well when we’re talking about a pandemic where everyone needs all of these providers all at once. And certainly when we activate and deploy these people and take them out of their full-time jobs and put them somewhere else, it reduces the capacity in the places where they come from,” he said.
Greene emphasized that local health systems ought to look to nontraditional health care providers and locations for back-up before looking to the federal government for staffing resources.
ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.
Dec 10, 12:07 pm
Ellen DeGeneres tests positive
Ellen DeGeneres said Thursday that she’s tested positive for COVID-19 and is “feeling fine.”
“Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper guidelines,” the talk show host said.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 10, 2020
Dec 10, 11:13 am
NYC schools aim to close ‘COVID achievement gap’
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his 2021 student achievement plan, which will focus on getting students caught up after, for some, 18 months of remote learning.
“Clearly there will be a COVID achievement gap and we have to close that COVID achievement gap,” the mayor said.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said the plan is to: get a baseline of what ground was lost; increase the high-quality digital curriculum available for every single school; launch a one-stop digital learning hub; deepen professional development; expand Parent University (the “online learning and empowerment platform” for families); and confront the trauma and mental health crisis within schools.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.
Dec 10, 9:02 am
Seoul reporting bed shortages
In South Korea, more than 3,000 COVID-19 patients were identified in the last week, and in the Seoul area, as of Wednesday, 506 were unable to be taken to hospitals this week due to bed shortages, Yonhap reported.
South Korea reported 682 new cases and eight more deaths on Thursday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported.
The nation now has over 40,000 confirmed cases.
Dec 10, 8:25 am
FDA Commissioner: ‘We intend to’ act quickly on vaccine review
The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, an independent panel of infectious disease experts, doctors and scientists, is meeting Thursday to recommend if the Pfizer vaccine should be considered safe and effective in the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn told ABC News’ Good Morning America Thursday that he wouldn’t “prejudge” what the advisory committee would vote, but said the FDA will act “quickly” afterward.
“FDA’s reviewers are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. We totally understand the urgency of this situation, and we are working around the clock on behalf of America,” Hahn said. “FDA scientists are known around the world for their expertise. We are a regulatory gold standard for the authorization or approval of medical products, including vaccines. We intend to do and we have done a very thorough review to get this right, to get all the answers we possibly can from the data.”
Hahn also said the FDA was “working very closely with our U.K. partners” after two people who received the vaccine in the U.K. had severe allergic reactions.
Hahn told NBC that it was “possible” that the FDA could advise people with significant allergies to not get the vaccine. Hahn said the allergy issue would be discussed at Thursday’s meeting but added that the FDA stands by “our initial assessment” that Pfizer’s vaccine “does meet our criteria.”
Dec 10, 4:31 am
US on verge of grim milestone: 290,000 deaths from COVID
Just as the U.S. surpassed 280,000 deaths from coronavirus on Saturday, Dec. 5, the country is likely to pass 290,000 deaths later today.
The current death toll stands at 289,373, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
This comes on the heels of new records reported yesterday in highest single-day total and seven-day average of new daily deaths — 3,054 and 2,276 respectively — according to The COVID Tracking Project.
Dec 10, 1:16 am
Four incoming Georgia sheriffs test positive for COVID-19, others await results
Four Georgia sheriffs just elected to their counties have tested positive for COVID-19.
In a joint statement sent out Wednesday night, Fulton County Sheriff-elect Pat Labat and Cobb County Sheriff-elect Craig Owens said they tested positive after attending a sheriff’s school in Pine Mountain, Georgia.
Gwinnett Sheriff-elect Keybo Taylor and Henry County Sheriff-elect Reginald Scandrett also said they tested positive for COVID-19. Others who attended the conference are quarantining in their homes as they await their COVID-19 test results.
“We urge all Georgians to follow the advice of our dedicated health care workers and to wear masks and socially distance,” the sheriffs said in a joint statement. “While the vaccine is forthcoming, the pandemic is not over yet, and we must all remain diligent to ensure the safety of our communities.”
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