By ROSA SANCHEZ and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 77.2 million people worldwide and killed over 1.6 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 developed Monday. All times Eastern:
Dec 21, 10:43 pm
Top military officials receive COVID-19 vaccine
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and other top military officials received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Monday, according to a Joint Staff spokesman.
Milley’s team tweeted photos of him, Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten, and Senior Enlisted Advisor Ramón Colón-López Monday, each with a needle in his arm.
“Today I, along with the Vice Chairman and the SEAC, received the #COVID19 vaccine. It’s my distinct honor to represent the Joint Force in this capacity. This vaccine is safe and effective and will protect our force as we work to protect American citizens,” Milley was quoted as saying in the official tweet.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday also tweeted a photo of himself receiving the vaccine on Monday.
“By maximizing vaccination among our force and maintaining our mitigation measures of physical distancing, mask-wearing, and handwashing, we will begin the return to normal. Safe and healthy is the goal for 2021! Together, we will make this happen,” the tweet read.
Dec 21, 8:07 pm
US hospitalizations reach new record
The U.S. broke another record for coronavirus hospitalizations Monday, the COVID Tracking Project reported.
There were 115,351 people hospitalized across the nation on Dec. 21, according to the health data.
The country recorded 178,191 new cases and 1,485 new deaths, the tracking project reported.
The seven-day average of hospitalizations, 113,912, and deaths, 2,631, broke records, according to the health data.
“COVID-19 deaths are rising in 19 states,” the tracking project tweeted.
Dec 21, 6:55 pm
US deaths, cases continue to rise: HHS
The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths jumped over the last seven days, according to an internal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News.
In the last week, the country recorded 1,677,232 new cases, which was a 13.6% increase from the previous seven-day period, according to the memo.
There were 18,578 deaths recorded during the last seven days, marking a 9.2% jump from the previous week, according to HHS.
Nearly 30% of hospitals across the country have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled, the memo said.
Several states recorded large jumps in hospitalizations last week, according to HHS.
On Dec 18, Louisiana state officials reported its 30-day increase in hospitalization was 82% and there were only 19.1% of ICU beds were available, according to the memo.
Nevada’s COVID-19 deaths increased by 21% in the week ending Dec. 15, compared to the prior week, HHS said.
ABC News’ Josh Margolin contributed to this report
Dec 21, 6:00 pm
LA County reaches record level of hospitalizations
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer updated residents on the jump in coronavirus cases and said that hospitals have seen a huge jump in numbers.
There are currently 5,709 currently hospitalized for COVID-19, which is the highest number of patients since the pandemic began, according to the health data. Roughly 21% of patients are in the Intensive Care Unit and 15% are on ventilators, Ferrer said.
She added that from Nov. 9 to Dec. 17, the average daily hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 increased by 481%.
“If we don’t change how we’re going to celebrate the winter holidays, we’ll experience a surge, on top of a surge, on top of a surge,” Ferrer said.
The county recorded 56 new deaths, 11,271 new cases and has a 14% cumulative positivity rate.
ABC News’ Cammeron Parrish contributed to this report.
Dec 21, 5:51 pm
Virgin Atlantic says it will require UK travelers to test negative before departure
A representative from Virgin Atlantic told ABC News it will implement a new protocol for United Kingdom travelers that mandates a COVID-19 test before boarding flights to the U.S.
“With the health and safety of our customers and people always our number one priority, we will require all travelers to present evidence of a negative LAMP or PCR COVID-19 test, taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, including on-site at the airport,” the representative said in a statement.
The new requirement goes into effect on Dec. 24.
The change comes after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on international airlines to test passengers for the coronavirus before getting on a plane to the U.S. A variant of the virus has been discovered in Britain and prompted several countries to suspend travel from the U.K.
ABC News’ Nate Luna contributed to this report.
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