Coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 450,000 on Thursday, and daily deaths remain stubbornly high at more than 3,000 a day, despite falling infections and the arrival of multiple vaccines.
Infectious disease specialists expect deaths to start dropping soon, after new cases hit a peak right around the beginning of the year. New COVID-19 deaths could ebb as early as next week, said the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But there's also the risk that improving trends in infections and hospitalizations could be offset by people relaxing and coming together – including this Sunday, to watch football, she added.
“I'm worried about Super Bowl Sunday, quite honestly,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.
The effect on deaths is delayed. The daily toll amounts to 50,000 new fatalities in the last two weeks alone.
The nation reported 3,912 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, down from the pandemic peak of 4,466 deaths on Jan. 12.
J&J asking for OK on new vaccine
Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators Thursday to clear the world's first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies.
J&J's vaccine was safe and offered strong protection against moderate to severe COVID-19, according to preliminary results from a massive international study.
But the Food and Drug Administration is asking its independent advisers to publicly debate all the data behind the single-dose shot – just like its competitors were put under the microscope – before it decides whether to green light a third vaccine option in the U.S.
The panel will meet Feb. 26.
Evers issues mask decree after vote
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued a new statewide mask order on Thursday, an hour after the Republican-controlled Legislature voted to repeal his previous mandate saying he didn't have authority to make such a decree.
Evers and the Legislature have been at odds throughout the pandemic but the latest moves created an unprecedented level of whiplash.
As the Legislature moved to repeal the order, many cities and counties rushed to enact or extend local mask ordinances. Milwaukee and Dane County, where Madison is located, are among those with orders in place.
Car carrying vaccine stolen
Florida police are investigating the theft of a car that was carrying $10,000 worth of COVID-19 vaccine.
The Plant City Police Department said Thursday that it is searching for a man suspected of having stolen the vehicle with 30 vials inside that had parked near a vaccination site in the city where Florida's winter strawberries are harvested.
The police incident report says the gray Hyundai Accent had been left with the engine running and unlocked by a driver who worked for CDR Maguire, a contractor hired for vaccination scheduling and logistical support, including taking vaccines from county health departments to specific sites.