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Coronavirus updates: U.S. sets single-day death record, and new variants emerge

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/14/2021 Lateshia Beachum, Meryl Kornfield
a person sitting on a bed: Registered nurses Robin Gooding, left, and Johanna Ortiz treat a covid-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Dec. 22. Coronavirus deaths in the United States hit another one-day high Tuesday. (Jae C. Hong/AP) © Jae C. Hong/AP Registered nurses Robin Gooding, left, and Johanna Ortiz treat a covid-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Dec. 22. Coronavirus deaths in the United States hit another one-day high Tuesday. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

The United States reported more than 4,200 deaths Tuesday, bringing the nation’s total to more than 381,000 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, according to Washington Post data.

The single-day death total, which is a record, and peak levels of new infections and hospitalizations are grim milestones for a country still reeling from the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.

President Trump has announced sweeping changes to coronavirus vaccine rollouts, quickly making all vaccine supplies accessible, encouraging states to provide shots to residents 65 and older and cautioning states with slow vaccine rollouts that they could lose some of their supply to faster-moving states.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Scientists at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine have discovered a new variant of the virus that is similar to the mutation found in the United Kingdom but probably originated in the United States, researchers announced Wednesday. The new mutations challenge scientists to determine whether they will cause vaccines and therapeutic approaches to be less effective, according to one of the lead researchers.
  • Texas became the second state to record 2 million coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic, the Houston Chronicle reported. California reached that figure in December.
  • New, more transmissible variations of the coronavirus have popped up in Britain, South Africa and Brazil, prompting scientists to learn more about how those variants might be causing a worldwide increase in infections, the New York Times reported. On Sunday, Japan announced that it had discovered a new variant in four travelers arriving from Brazil.
  • New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) confirmed Wednesday that 15 cases of the U.K. variant have been detected in his state. New Mexico also announced its first case of the variant.
  • A one-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is safe and generates an immune response to the coronavirus in nearly all people who received the vaccine in a trial, according to data published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More than 92 million people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus since it emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and more than 1.9 million have died, according to Post data.


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Increasing infections, deaths and virus mutations are pushing world leaders to implement new approaches to quell the impact of the virus.

Switzerland on Wednesday announced firmer restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus and its mutations, banning events and closing restaurants and nightlife establishments while avoiding a full lockdown, Reuters reported.

“Infection rates are stagnating at a very high level and with the new, much more infectious virus variants, there is a threat of a rapid resurgence,” the government said in a statement to the news outlet.

Switzerland, which has had less stern coronavirus measures compared with other countries, has reported more than 487,000 coronavirus infections and more than 8,400 related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Entertainment, sports and leisure establishments will remain closed until the end of February.

In addition, Switzerland, which was the first country in continental Europe to start immunizing its citizens with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, will require companies to allow its employees to work from home when feasible, according to Reuters.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin ordered mass vaccinations beginning next week, Reuters reported. Russia has recorded more than 3.4 million infections and nearly 62,000 deaths.

The country was hit with a second wave of infections starting in September but refrained from imposing a nationwide lockdown, opting for focused restrictions, according to the news outlet.

The threat of the variants emerging from the U.K. and South Africa has erased the possibility for German and Danish residents to see eased restrictions. Health measures were set to relax in Germany on Feb. 1, but Health Minister Jens Spahn said the risk the U.K. variant could pose could extend them for two or three months, Deutsche Welle reported.

Germany will also require travelers from other countries with high case counts to be tested upon entering the nation, according to Reuters.

Concerns about infection rates grew among Danish lawmakers as more than 200 cases of the new variant had been verified in the country, triggering leaders to extend its business and gathering restrictions by three weeks, according to the Local.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told Parliament on Wednesday that the extension of the restrictions was needed to prevent the spread of the U.K. mutation.

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