Coronavirus live updates: Hospital employee fired for intentionally removing vaccine from fridge

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By ROSA SANCHEZ, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 82.8 million people worldwide and killed over 1.8 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:

Dec 31, 1:18 pm

US death toll is 114 times the total lives lost on Sept. 11

At least 342,734 lives have been lost to COVID-19 in the U.S., representing approximately 18.9% of the total global death toll of 1.8 million people.

One in every 965 Americans has now died from the virus, according to ABC News’ of data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.

The U.S. death toll is 114 times the total lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and just over half the total number of deaths that were recorded in U.S. during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

At least 19.7 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 345 days since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first U.S. case on Jan. 21.

That means about 1 in every 16 Americans has contracted the virus.

Dec 31, 11:18 am

112-year-old woman, Massachusetts’ oldest resident, gets vaccine

The oldest resident of Massachusetts, 112-year-old Hazel Plummer, received her first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday.

Plummer was among the 49 residents and 50 employees at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley, a nursing home in Littleton, Massachusetts, to do so.

The Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley suffered from the coronavirus outbreak in the spring but “was free of COVID-19 by the end of May,” the facility said.

Dec 31, 11:09 am

Wuhan rings in the new year

In Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019, small crowds gathered to take in a fireworks display and ring in 2021.

Wuhan was the first epicenter of the pandemic, but the central Chinese metropolis of 11 million emerged out of lockdown in mid-April and has not had a reported case since May.

In New York City, no New Year’s revelers will be gathering in Times Square to watch the ball drop this year.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said this is "the most moving New Year's Eve," but urged New Yorkers to "watch on TV. Don't go down there."

Dec 31, 10:20 am

787,000 unemployment claims filed in last week

There were 787,000 new unemployment claims filed in one week, according to the Labor Department. This number is slightly lower than last week's, but still higher than anything seen before the pandemic.

There are currently 19,563,905 total claims being filed for unemployment through different government programs.

Dec 31, 9:46 am

US sees record high death toll for 2nd day in a row

The U.S. has seen a record high daily death toll for the second day in a row, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

There were 3,744 COVID-19 deaths reported Wednesday, the highest since start of the pandemic, surpassing the previous record of 3,725 deaths reported Tuesday.

Dec 31, 8:28 am

Surgeon general responds to vaccinations falling short of administration’s goal

In the wake of the Trump administration falling short on its vaccination goal, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told ABC News' Good Morning America Thursday, “We always knew that this was going to take a while to ramp up."

"The curve is rapidly increasing, in terms of number of people being vaccinated," Adams said. "So we shouldn't extrapolate from what happened yesterday to what's going to happen six months from now. What we should do is make sure that curve continues to go up and continue to support our state and public health departments, which is what we are doing."

The Trump administration had promised that 20 million people would be vaccinated by the end of the year.

As of Wednesday morning, 2,794,588 Americans had received vaccine doses and 12.4 million doses had been distributed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There's vaccines manufactured. There's vaccines allocated. There’s vaccines delivered. And then there's vaccines put in arms,” Adams said. “From a federal perspective, we are on track to have 20 million people able to be vaccinated, doses on the ground, by the end of next week.”

 

Adams also urged Americans to celebrate New Year's Eve virtually.

“This has been a marathon, but we don't want to trip at the finish line,” Adams said. “We want to have a normal New Year’s next year, we want as many of our loved ones and family and friends as possible to be able to enjoy that New Year’s in 2021. The way we do that is by pulling together and sacrificing one more time so that we can ramp up these vaccinations and put this virus away for good.”

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