New York deputies to enforce quarantine; COVID-19 antibodies likely protect against reinfection, studies show; 325 thousand deaths in the USA

USA TODAY is following the news around COVID-19 when a pair of vaccines joins the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 325,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep updating this page to get the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who is getting the vaccines and where, as well as other USA TODAY COVID-19 news. Subscribe to our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates right in your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll our detailed answers to readers’ questions for everything you need to know about coronavirus.

In the headlines:

►Pfizer and BioNTech announced an agreement with the United States government to provide an additional 100 million doses of the vaccine for companies. That deal brings the total number of doses to be delivered to the United States by July 31 to 200 million. Here’s what the experts have to say about the vaccine’s distribution.

► AFC East champion Buffalo Bills is exploring a plan that would allow up to 6,700 fans to attend the remaining home games, including at least one in the playoffs. The plan, still to be approved, foresees the use of COVID-19 rapid tests and contact tracking.

►Luke Letlow, a Louisiana Republican who was elected US Representative in November, was transferred to the intensive care unit of a Shreveport hospital to continue treatment for COVID-19. Letlow, 40, is in a stable condition.

► Canada authorized Moderna’s vaccine and said that shipments must enter the country within 48 hours. Health officials approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 9. Canada is expected to receive 40 million doses of the Modern vaccine in 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, or about two-thirds of the country’s adult population.

►The number of Americans seeking unemployment insurance fell by 89,000 last week, to a still high 803,000, evidence that the job market remains under stress. Before the virus attacked, unemployment insurance claims totaled about 225,000 a week.

►House Democrats said they plan to offer legislation by increasing stimulus checks from $ 600 to $ 2,000 as proposed by President Donald Trump. The president’s own party, however, was retreating, and the fate of the increase remained in doubt on Wednesday.

►Other 3,401 deaths in the United States were recorded on Wednesday, the second highest total ever recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It is the fifth time that the death toll exceeds 3,000 in one day, and all five times have been this month. The USA reported more than 19,000 COVID-19 deaths in a seven-day period for the first time.

►Germany, with about a quarter of the United States population, reported a one-day record of 962 deaths, despite recent restrictions that have closed most stores, tightened rules on social contacts and recommended people not to visit relatives at Christmas.

📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 18.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 325,500 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: More than 78.5 million cases and 1.72 million deaths.

Here is a more detailed look at today’s top stories:

NYC orders the quarantine of foreign visitors; UK expands restrictions to combat new variant

On Wednesday, New York City began demanding that foreign visitors be quarantined to avoid the new coronavirus variant found in the UK. The order comes with the threat of a $ 1,000 fine for offenders and the possibility of receiving a knock on the sheriff’s deputy door.

“There will be a direct follow-up home visit or visit to the deputy sheriff’s hotel to confirm that they are following the quarantine,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Or if they don’t, they will be penalized.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the discovery of the new strain has prompted British authorities to extend Level 4 restrictions – the most stringent – to six million more people in eastern and south-eastern England as of Saturday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said that another South African variant has been found in the UK, where several areas have moved to Tier 2 or 3 restriction levels.

Having COVID likely protects against reinfection, studies show

People with antibodies when contracting the coronavirus develop protection against reinfection for up to six months or more, which is similar to receiving a vaccine, two new studies show. The results are not only a good omen for the new COVID-19 vaccines, but they are also good news for those recovering from the disease.

The researchers found that people with antibodies to natural infections “were at a much lower risk” of getting the virus again, said Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the United States National Cancer Institute, adding that “it is very, very rare” be reinfected.

The National Cancer Institute study involved more than 3 million people who had been tested for antibodies in two private laboratories in the United States, while the other screened more than 12,500 health professionals in hospitals at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Both showed that people who produced antibodies were 10 times less likely to have a second infection.

The CDC calls on Americans to “stay home” while millions flock to airports

Millions of Americans are traveling before Christmas and the New Year, despite calls from public health experts to stay home and prevent the pandemic from escalating. An average of more than 1 million people a day passed through the country’s airports in the past five days, almost the same number that filled the airports on Thanksgiving.

“Stay home to better protect yourself and others from # COVID19 this holiday season,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweeted on Wednesday. “Organize a virtual holiday meal with friends and family, get together for a virtual gift exchange, decorate your home or make festive crafts.”

Jennifer Brownlee, 34, a fisherwoman from Bayou La Batre, Alabama, was flying from Tampa airport to Oregon to see her mother, who just lost a leg.

“My mom is worth it. She needs my help, ”said Brownlee. “I know that God caught me. He won’t let me get sick. “

Buying the vaccine should provide enough for “all Americans who want it by June”

The federal government agreed to pay $ 1.95 billion for a second round of 100 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and partner BioNTech. The agreement raised the total number of doses of this vaccine to be delivered to the United States to 200 million by July 31. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that the latest agreement can give people confidence “that we will have enough supplies to vaccinate all Americans who want it by June 2021.”

The Pfizer vaccine was the first to obtain authorization for emergency use from the Food and Drug Administration, and healthcare professionals are already being vaccinated. A second vaccine developed by Moderna in cooperation with scientists at the National Institutes of Health is also in use.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article was originally published in USA TODAY: COVID vaccine update: over 100 million doses from Pfizer; stimulus deal in the air