Samara Heisz/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, IVAN PEREIRA and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 60.2 million people and killed over 1.4 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Here's how the news developed Wednesday. All times Eastern:
Nov 25, 8:41 pm
Senior Trump administration official tests positive
John Barsa, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday.
"The Acting Deputy Administrator has been isolating since he began exhibiting symptoms late Monday, Nov. 23, and will continue to until a retest is conclusive," spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said in a statement.
Barsa is acting deputy administrator and served as acting administrator for a term under the Vacancies Act, before President Donald Trump fired the deputy administrator to keep Barsa as the highest ranking official at the top U.S. aid agency.
Nov 25, 8:11 pm
Nearly 90,000 hospitalized across country
The U.S. reached a new record high for hospitalizations for the 16th consecutive day, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
There are 89,954 Americans currently in the hospital with symptoms of the virus, according to the project.
The country recorded 182,537 new cases and 2,284 new deaths Wednesday, according to the data.
The death daily total is the highest since May 7, and the seventh-highest daily death total to date, The COVID Tracking Project tweeted.
Nov 25, 7:48 pm
US deaths up by 35% from last week: HHS
The country saw a large jump in coronavirus-related fatalities over the last week, according to an internal memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services obtained by ABC News.
The 11,171 deaths recorded between Nov. 18 and Nov. 24 marked a 35.5% increase compared to the previous week, according to the memo.
Several states saw sharp jumps in their death tolls during the seven-day period, according to HHS. Alabama's seven-day death total increased by 27% going from 166 to 211, while Mississippi saw a 32% increase in deaths for the week ending Nov 22.
During that same seven-day period, the U.S. saw 1,198,099 new cases, which was a 9.4% jump from the previous week, the memo said.
Nov 25, 6:52 pm
Wyoming governor tests positive
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday, a representative for his office told ABC News.
"He only has minor symptoms at this time and plans to continue working on behalf of Wyoming remotely," the representative said in a statement.
The news was first reported by the Casper Star Tribune earlier in the evening.
Gordon is at least the fifth governor to contract the coronavirus since the pandemic began. His diagnosis comes as Wyoming has seen a rise in cases over the last month.
The seven-day average of new cases has risen from around 284 at the beginning of November to 687 this week, according to the state's health department.
Nov 25, 1:11 pm
Ravens-Steelers game on Thanksgiving moved to Sunday
The NFL has postponed the game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, which was scheduled to be played on Thursday night.
The game has been rescheduled to Sunday afternoon.
Multiple players on the Ravens were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday following positive tests, the team announced at the time.
Nov 25, 11:34 am
UPS making dry ice, supplying portable freezers for vaccines
The United Parcel Service (UPS) said it will start making dry ice in its U.S. facilities and will provide portable freezers to aid in the massive distribution efforts for COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months.
The Atlanta-based global shipping and logistics company said it can now produce up to 1,200 lbs of dry ice per hour in its U.S. facilities to support the storage and transportation of cold chain products, such as frozen vaccines, in accordance with manufacturer storage requirements. The increased production also allows UPS to make dry ice available for American and Canadian hospitals, clinics and other points of care requiring dry ice to store vaccines locally.
"Enhancing our dry ice production capabilities increases our supply chain agility and reliability immensely when it comes to handling complex vaccines for our customers," Wes Wheeler, president of UPS's new healthcare logistics unit, said in a statement Tuesday. "Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas and Ontario will ensure we have the capability to produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective."
In addition to dry ice production, UPS is teaming up with Stirling Ultracold, a division of Global Cooling, Inc., to supply portable ultra-low temperature freezers to thermally protect critical vaccines requiring temperatures ranging from -20 to -80 degrees Celsius. The portable freezers will be distributed and used in smaller facilities that need a more permanent solution for longer-term freezer storage.
"This program will help ensure vaccines remain effective next year, and for years to come, as future vaccines and biologics are developed to keep the world healthy and safe," Stirling Ultracold CEO Dusty Tenney said in a statement Tuesday.
Nov 25, 9:22 am
Weekly unemployment filings surge to 778,000 last week as virus cases rise
Some 778,000 workers lost their jobs and filed for unemployment insurance last week, the Department of Labor said Wednesday.
This is an uptick of 30,000 compared to the previous week, and the second consecutive week that the weekly tally has risen after it was on the decline for months.
The DOL also said Wednesday that more than 20 million people were still receiving some form of unemployment benefits through all programs as of the week ending Nov. 7. For the comparable week in 2019, that figure was 1.5 million.
The latest economic data from the DOL comes as new virus cases surge across the country, and highlight a slow economic recovery. It also comes, however, as Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new milestone of trading above 30,000 on Tuesday -- a further indication that the stock market remains divorced from the economic pain millions of Americans still face as the coronavirus crisis rages on.
ABC News’ Catherine Thorbecke contributed to this report.
Nov 25, 8:03 am
Fauci's 'final plea' before Thanksgiving: 'A sacrifice now could save lives'
America's top infectious disease expert is urging the nation to keep indoor gatherings as small as possible over Thanksgiving to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.
"We all know how difficult that is because this is such a beautiful, traditional holiday. But by making that sacrifice, you're going to prevent people from getting infected," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on Good Morning America.
"A sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this," he continued. "We're going to get through this. Vaccines are right on the horizon. If we can just hang in there a bit longer and continue to do the simple mitigation things that we're talking about all the time -- the masks, the distancing, the avoiding crowds, particularly indoor. If we do those things, we're going to get through it. So that's my final plea before the holiday."
Fauci, a leading member of the current White House coronavirus task force, warned of "yet another surge" of COVID-19 infections if people don't heed his advice over the holiday.
Although he acknowledged that the country's current surge in cases is driven by larger indoor gatherings such as bars, Fauci noted that "there still is transmission among gatherings that appear to be relatively innocent."
"Now, I don't mean two, three, four people in a room. We're talking about when people might have a modest size and let their guard down," he added. "When you stay away from the bars, when you stay away from the big, congregate settings, there still is a danger if you bring people into the home who are not part of the immediate household. There is a risk there."
Fauci also said he is "greatly" concerned by the number of people who are already showing hesitancy to taking a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. He noted that "independent bodies of people who, in fact, have no allegiance to an administration or to a company" will be charged with deciding whether the vaccine is both safe and effective for the public.
"The process by which the vaccines were made were a standard process that was rapid because of exquisite scientific advances and the investment of an extraordinary amount money. It did not compromise safety and it did not compromise scientific integrity," he said. "That's what the public needs to understand, that the process is transparent and its independent."
The solution to the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci said, will be "a combination of public health measures and a safe and effective vaccine."
"It would really be terrible if we have, which we do, three now and maybe more highly efficacious vaccines and people don't take it," he added. "We could crush this outbreak exactly the way we did years ago with smallpox, with polio and with measles. It is doable."
Nov 25, 7:29 am
Europe remains the largest contributor to new cases, deaths
The global acceleration in COVID-19 cases has slowed down over the past week, with around four million new cases and over 67,000 additional deaths from the disease reported worldwide. However, Europe remains the largest contributor to those cases and deaths, according to the latest weekly epidemiological report from the World Health Organization.
The report, released Tuesday evening, said the number of new cases in the European region declined by 6% in the last week, after a decline of 10% in the previous week, "in a sign that the reintroduction of stricter public health and social measures in a number of countries over the last few weeks is beginning to slow down transmission."
The European region still accounts for 44% of global new cases and 49% of global new deaths. While new cases have declined, new deaths in the region have continued to rise, according to the report.
Italy reported the highest number of new cases in the European region and the third-highest globally, but the country still saw a slight decline of 3% in the last week. The number of new deaths in Italy increased by 26%.
"The northern Italy provinces of Valle d’Aosta, Bolzano and Piemonte report the highest number of cases," the report said. "Media reports have highlighted concerns of the large number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and the growing number of health worker infections, straining local healthcare capacities."
The number of new cases in the United Kingdom fell by 13% from last week, the first weekly decline since late August. But the number of new deaths in the country remained similar to the previous week.
"The United Kingdom currently has the fifth- highest number of new cases in the European Region, and the eighth highest number worldwide," the report said, "however, per capita case incidence remains lower than many other countries in the Region.
Nov 25, 5:38 am
Russia reports over 500 new deaths for first time
Russia registered a record 507 new fatalities from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to the country's coronavirus response headquarters.
It's the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that Russia has reported more than 500 deaths from the disease in a single day.
Russia also confirmed 23,675 new cases of COVID-19 over the past day. The cumulative total now stands at 2,162,503 confirmed cases, including 37,538 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.
The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Russian authorities have repeatedly said they have no plans to impose another nationwide lockdown.
Nov 25, 5:10 am
Rite Aid says it will offer vaccine at no cost
American drugstore chain Rite Aid said it will offer COVID-19 vaccines at no cost.
In an email to customers on Tuesday, Rite Aid chief pharmacy officer Jocelyn Konrad said that through their partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an official COVID-19 vaccination program provider, "we are staged and ready to make this lifesaving vaccine available in all of the communities we serve when it becomes available to Rite Aid."
"This means you will be able to receive the vaccine from your neighborhood Rite Aid pharmacist, whom you know and trust," Konrad said. "Better yet, the COVID-19 vaccines will be available at no cost."
Rite Aid customers will be able to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine once one is approved and becomes available in the United States, according to Konrad.
Nov 25, 4:17 am
US reports over 172,000 new cases
There were 172,935 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It's the 22nd straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Tuesday's count is down from a peak of 196,004 new cases on Nov. 20.
An additional 2,146 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Tuesday, the country's highest single-day death toll from the disease since May 6 but just under the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.
A total of 12,597,330 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 259,962 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.