VIRUS TODAY: Congress prepares to vote on relief package

VIRUS TODAY: Congress prepares to vote on relief package


Here's what's happening Monday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:


—Congress is preparing to vote on a long-awaited $900 billion pandemic relief package, delivering long-sought cash to businesses and individuals as well as resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. The package would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans.

—California’s overwhelmed hospitals are setting up makeshift extra beds for coronavirus patients, and a handful of facilities in hard-hit Los Angeles County are drawing up emergency plans in case they have to limit how many people receive life-saving care.

—President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe. The president-elect took a dose of Pfizer's vaccine at a hospital not far from his Delaware home.

THE NUMBERS: The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. increased over the pasts two weeks from 2,190 on Dec. 6 to 2,625 on Dec. 20, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

DEATH TOLL: The U.S. death toll stands at 317,858 people, about 5,000 more than the population of Stockton, California.

QUOTABLE: “The prisoners feel so helpless because they can’t control it and they can’t stop it. They feel like they’re sitting ducks — and they are.” — Matt Tjapkes of Humanity for Prisoners, a nonprofit dedicated to inmates’ medical rights in Michigan. A survey conducted by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press found that most states have lifted restrictions on transferring prisoners that were imposed earlier...

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