The Food and Drug Administration authorized a second coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna on Friday, clearing the way for about 5.9 million more doses to become available in the United States to front-line health care workers. Pfizer, the company behind the first vaccine to be approved, says it shipped 2.9 million doses this past week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told the New York Times, “never before has anybody even imagined you would get vaccines to people in less than a year from the time that the sequence was made known.”
That’s the good news. But the United States passed several new milestones this week. Pandemic fatigue, mask denial, and the holidays have helped fuel the skyrocketing rates of new cases.
The numbers vary slightly because of different methodologies but all the COVID trackers reported new all-time records for a single day of COVID cases: The New York Times says there were more than 250,000 new cases recorded in a single day. According to the NYT tracker there were 1 million new cases in just five days this week. Data from Johns Hopkins University and CNN reported 249,709 new coronavirus cases, while the Covid Tracking Project by the Atlantic found 228,825 new cases, a 9.5 percent increase in a day.
There are now more than 305,000 who have died in the United States. That number will continue to rise as cases climb. According to the NYT: “Three hundred thousand is more than the number of Americans who died fighting in World War II. It is roughly half the number of total cancer deaths expected this year. It is the population of Pittsburgh.”
As the pandemic’s toll grows worse, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of color have been hit the hardest.
Meanwhile, Congress’ talks over a relief package have extended into the weekend as unemployment benefits expire for 12 million Americans over the holidays. The president doesn’t appear to be concerned. Based on a Mother Jones analysis as of December 16, out of the 729 tweets Trump sent since Election Day, not a single one acknowledged the death toll of the coronavirus pandemic or encouraged Americans to take any precautions. Just 2 percent of his tweets mentioned the coronavirus at all.