Coronavirus live updates: Pfizer shipments reach US health care facilities as first doses expected to be administered Monday – USA TODAY

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Ryan W. Miller

Jordan Culver
 
| USA TODAY

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Cheers as first COVID-19 vaccine doses leave Michigan

There were cheers from workers as the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments left the Michigan facility.

As the United States approaches 300,000 deaths from COVID-19, the first vaccine approved in the country to combat the coronavirus is arriving at health care facilities across the U.S.

Vaccinations were likely to begin Monday across the nation. Health care workers and nursing home residents are first in line to receive the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech. 

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Monday he would be among those getting a vaccine. «People will believe much more in the vaccine if the CEO is getting vaccinated,» he said Monday on CNN.

Despite the positive news on the vaccine front, the U.S. is still battling overcrowded hospitals and record-breaking daily case count as the nation nears another sad milestone, 300,000 deaths, the most of any country.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 16.2 million cases and 299,192 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 72.1 million cases and 1.61 million deaths.

📰 What we’re reading: We’re answering your questions about the vaccine, like: What are the side effects? Can you still get sick? Is it safe during pregnancy? Get the answers here.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

Jessica Ross, a 23-year-old Black woman in Atlanta, said she — and many other Black women in her circle — are nervous to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

From the Tuskegee Syphilis Study on Black men that did not provide them with treatment to cure the disease, to Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman whose cancer cells were used for research without her or her family’s permission, many have cultivated distrust in public health systems. «A lot of them are nervous about, is this going to be … tested out on minority groups,» Ross said about her friends and family.

Several polls have shown the ambivalence surrounding the vaccine among people of color, and a recent survey has found Black women like Ross and Latino women, more than men, are most reluctant to take the vaccine.

Experts and members of these communities aren’t surprised. The country’s history of unethical testing and experimentation on Black men and women colors the community’s lack of trust. But as the coronavirus continues to threaten people of color most, medical experts say dispelling skepticism is essential, and women of color could be the key.

– Nada Hassanein

NYC indoor dining ban takes effect

A renewed ban on indoor dining took effect in New York City on Monday as officials try to slow the spread of the virus in what was once the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the restriction last week as New York City and the surrounding area have seen a steady uptick in new cases over the fall.

The ban limits the already beleaguered restaurant industry to take out and outdoor dining only.

Hospitals and medical centers spent Sunday preparing for the first COVID-19 vaccine to arrive Monday morning, a massive undertaking that began when a caravan of semis guarded by unmarked police cars pulled out of the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan, just after dawn. 

Providers spent the weekend running through every possible contingency that could get in the way, from earthquakes to power outages. The run-throughs and tabletop exercises and hours and hours of Zoom calls are necessary because dealing with the Pfizer vaccine takes training and great organization.

«We did our final run-through exercise today,» said Dr. Nasim Afsar, chief operating officer for UCI Health in Orange, California. The team role-played the entire process, from vaccine arriving at the loading dock to an injection being given.

«One person would say, ‘I’ve got the vaccine, I’m walking to the clinic. This is the path I’m going to take.’ And then another would be a sample patient and someone would bring them into the room and we’d walk through the entire process of getting them vaccinated,» she said.

– Elizabeth Weise

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Monday that, like many others, he was planning to get his company’s groundbreaking vaccine. «People will believe much more in the vaccine if the CEO is getting vaccinated,» he told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta.

By the end of the year, the company will have manufactured 50 million doses, half of which will go to U.S. sites with the remaining doses given out globally. By the end of the first quarter of 2021, 100 million doses will have been distributed across the nation, he said. The federal government has already requested an additional 100 million doses, he said.

«This year, we will have around 50 million doses available. Most of them have already been manufactured, so they are already there. Next year, we will do 1.3 billion doses,» Bourla said, but noted that not all those vaccinations were destined to the United States. «We are working very diligently to increase this number as we understand the demand is very high.»

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will be among the top office-holders offered coronavirus vaccines in the next week to 10 days to guard against an outbreak that could cripple the functions of government, officials said Sunday.

However, Trump said in a tweet Sunday night that those working in the White House should be immunized later in the program «unless specifically necessary.» He noted he was not «scheduled» to take the vaccine but indicated he would be inoculated at some point. The president was diagnosed with and recovered from the virus in October.

The shots will be offered to officials across all three branches of government, including leaders at the White House, in Congress and on the Supreme Court. White House staff members who work in close proximity to Trump are also expected to get early vaccines. The White House has been the site of several outbreaks during the pandemic, with Trump, his chief of staff and several aides among those infected. 

– David Jackson

With zero percent hospital capacity left, Providence St. Mary Medical Center officials are now pleading with local residents to follow coronavirus protocol. 

The situation at the California hospital isn’t unique. Across the country, health centers are reaching their breaking points, crammed with coronavirus patients and running out of resources, including staff. But Providence St. Mary directors and front-line healthcare workers are asking for the support of citizens to help slow the spread locally.

“In the last three, four weeks we’ve been a case study for what happens when people don’t social distance, when people don’t wear masks,» said Bryan Kawasaki, the hospital’s spokesman. «We hope that people will learn and help alleviate the stress off the hospital systems in the High Desert.”

– Martin Estacio and Matthew Cabe, Victorville Daily Press

Some of Florida’s top hospitals, including those expected to soon get the first shipments of vaccines to prevent COVID-19, won’t require medical and support staff to get the shots even though they require inoculations against the far-less-deadly flu virus.

Five Florida hospitals are slated to get the initial distribution of 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine between Monday and next Sunday, according to state Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz. Those hospitals are in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami and Hollywood.

The state’s vaccine distribution plan calls for health care workers, other “essential personnel,” the elderly and those with health problems putting them at high risk for COVID-19 complications to receive priority in getting access to the vaccine.But not even all of the Florida hospitals getting the first doses will require their staff to be immunized. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that the federal government will provide the state with 179,400 doses of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.

– Frank Gluck, Fort Myers News-Press

Contributing: Associated Press

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