VIRUS TODAY: Unemployment claims in US rise to 965,000
Here’s what’s happening Thursday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:
THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
— The number of people seeking unemployment aid soared last week to 965,000, the most since late August, offering evidence that the resurgent virus has caused a spike in layoffs. The Labor Department issued the latest figures for jobless claims, which remain at levels never seen until the virus struck in March. Before the pandemic, weekly applications typically numbered around 225,000. Last spring, after nationwide shutdowns took effect, applications for jobless benefits spiked to nearly 7 million — 10 times the previous record high.
— President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus action plan aims to bring new urgency to the nation’s vaccination campaign coupled with another round of economic relief. The Biden plan being unveiled Thursday comes as a divided nation remains caught in the grip of the pandemic’s deadliest wave yet. More than 385,000 people have died in the U.S. Biden hopes his strategy puts the country on the path to recovery by the end of his administration’s first 100 days.
— The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots. Until the past few days, health care workers and nursing home patients had been given priority in most of the U.S. But amid frustration over the slow rollout, states have thrown open the line to many of the nation’s senior citizens with the blessing of the Trump administration. The minimum age varies from place to place — 65, 70 or higher.
THE NUMBERS: The U.S. is averaging about 246,000 new cases and more than 3,300 deaths each day. The nation's death toll since the start of the pandemic now stands at more than 385,000.