Coronavirus updates: Pence to get vaccine Friday, Biden possibly next week; second home test gets OK; fewer births because of pandemic – USA TODAY

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USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as vaccines begin to roll out nationwide. Just this week, the U.S. marked the stark milestone of more than 300,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who is getting the shots and where, as well as other COVID-19 news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.

In the headlines:

►Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, will receive the new COVID-19 vaccine at the White House on Friday, in a public inoculation aimed at building trust among Americans about its safety. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to get the shot next week. There’s no word yet on whether President Donald Trump will get it.

►For the second day in a row, the FDA authorized a rapid home test for the coronavirus. As opposed to the kit from the Australian company Ellume, which received clearance Tuesday, the BinaxNow test from Abbott Laboratories will require the presence of COVID-19 symptoms and going through a health provider. It will cost $25.

►Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is quarantining after coming in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, the State Department said Wednesday, adding that Pompeo has tested negative and “is being closely monitored by the department’s medical team.”

►Tyson Foods said Wednesday it’s firing seven managers at its pork-processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, after an investigation into allegations that they made bets on the number of workers who would be sickened by the coronavirus. About 1,000 of the 2,800 workers in the plant tested positive in early May. 

►Lawmakers are closing in on a roughly $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus deal that may include another round of stimulus checks and other much-needed benefits, according to a source familiar with negotiations not authorized to speak on the record. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 16.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 306,000 deaths. The global totals: Nearly 74 million cases and 1.64 million deaths.

📰 Where’s the COVID-19 vaccine? Who’s been vaccinated? Data on patients and vaccine shipments will flow through a complex network of state and federal data systems. We visualize the process here.

Here’s a closer look at today’s top stories:

Alaska health worker has strong allergic reaction to vaccine

An Alaska health care worker had a severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine within 10 minutes of receiving a shot, state health officials said. As opposed to the few vaccine recipients in England who had a similar experience, the female worker in the capital city of Juneau did not have a history of allergic reactions. 

The woman started feeling shortness of breath and was treated with epinephrine and other medicines for what officials determined was anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. She was kept overnight but has recovered. U.S. health authorities have warned about rare allergic reactions during the vaccine rollout.

Baby bust: Pandemic may result in 500,000 fewer US births

The coronavirus pandemic has not only claimed the lives of more than 300,000 Americans, but it may result in at least that many fewer babies being born. Experts say the economic and societal upheaval caused by the pandemic has led to a decline in both planned and unplanned pregnancies.

Though some expected the widespread stay-at-home orders issued to control the virus would usher in a baby boom, a Brookings Institute report projects 300,000 to 500,000 fewer U.S. births in 2021.

The upcoming baby bust could have “lasting implications for society,” said Phillip Levine, an economics professor at Wellesley College and co-author of the Brookings report.

– Wyatte Grantham-Philips

Pandemic taking heavy toll on LGBTQ community

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on U.S. Black and Latino populations is commonly known. The extensive harm caused by the coronavirus on members of the LGBTQ community has garnered less attention. A report Wednesday underscores the extent of the damage:

  • 64% of LGBTQ households have experienced job losses vs. 45% of non-LGBTQ households.
  • 38% of LGBTQ households have been unable to get medical care or delayed going to a doctor for a serious problem vs. 19% of non-LGBTQ households.

“What you are seeing is a reflection of disparities that existed prior to COVID being exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Logan Casey, policy researcher for the Movement Advancement Project, which produced the report based on a national poll from July and August.

– Susan Miller

Pfizer facing vaccine manufacturing problems; Feds defend not contracting earlier for more

The leaders of Operation Warp Speed on Wednesday addressed a report in the New York Times that the Trump administration didn’t secure more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine when the option was available.

“It wouldn’t make sense whatsoever to preorder more from one vaccine manufacturer than any other one before we knew a vaccine works,” said Moncef Slaoui, who leads Operation Warp Speed.

Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Pfizer has come up about half short of what the company expected to produce this year. Azar said Pfizer is working at “maximum capacity” to deliver the 100 million doses it is contracted to supply to the U.S., and that the government is looking to expand the contract in the second quarter. 

The government’s relationship with Pfizer is contractually different than to the ones with the other vaccine makers, Azar said.

“On the other five (vaccine makers), we are more intimately engaged in the support of the development and manufacturing of their product on an ongoing basis, whereas the relationship Pfizer wanted with Operation Warp Speed was the guaranteed purchase of vaccine if approved by the FDA,” Azar said.

886 more vaccine deliveries Thursday with 2M doses next week, officials say

The rollout of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine has gone smoothly and 2 million more are set to be delivered next week, the leaders of the government’s Operation Warp Speed said in an update Wednesday.

On Thursday, 886 more deliveries will be made to locations across the United States as the country continues “a steady drumbeat cadence of deliveries of vaccine out to the American people,” said Gen. Gus Perna, who is heading the logistics of the vaccine distribution efforts.

Starting as soon as Friday in Ohio and Connecticut, residents of long-term care facilities will begin to get vaccinated, Perna said. The efforts in long-term care centers, which house some of the most vulnerable Americans, will expand to more than 1,100 facilities by Monday and then increase by thousands a day from there, he added.

Perna also described the efforts to increase distribution of the vaccine at pharmacies around the country, with 19 chains partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Through those partnerships, Perna said he expects a gradual rollout starting in mid-January that will cover 37,000 facilities.

Perna said there were four trays of vaccine, two in California and two in Alabama, that dropped below the required storage temperatures when being transported. Perna said officials at the command center identified those trays and they never left the trucks. The doses were sent back to Pfizer, which along with the FDA will determine whether they are still safe and effective.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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