This Week in Coronavirus: December 11 to December 17

Here’s our recap of the past week in the coronavirus pandemic from our tracking, policy analysis, polling, and journalism.

The U.S. surpassed 17.2 million total cases this week, and set records on three days this week for the highest number of new cases and deaths daily during the pandemic. This is all as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine began distribution across the country and an independent advisory panel recommended that the Food and Drug Administration move forward with emergency authorization for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

This week at KFF, we launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor to track the public’s confidence in the vaccine and experiences for the duration of the pandemic. The first data from the project shows Americans’ enthusiasm for getting a COVID-19 vaccination varies substantially across groups, with Republicans and Black Americans among those most hesitant.

KFF President Drew Altman reviewed the new data to assess where the country stands. He finds reasons for optimism in his latest column.

Meanwhile, this month’s health tracking poll finds large majorities now say they wear masks every time they leave the house and can continue social distancing for at least six months if needed, with differences by partisan affiliation.

KFF analysts’ review of the latest releases and statements from state officials finds most states are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendations for who qualifies as the highest priority group (health care workers and long-term care residents). Some states, though, are choosing to start with one of the populations in the first weeks as they await more supply. Most states are still developing plans for their later priorities, but according to our review several already differ from what the CDC is likely to recommend.

In a new brief KFF experts highlight the laws and regulations that are in place to ensure access to free COVID-19 vaccines for individuals regardless of their insurance status and explain how vaccine administration costs will be covered in private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and for the uninsured.

As the year winds down, KHN and Politifact’s Health Check on the collection of claims downplaying and denying of the coronavirus was chosen as the lie of the year. This comes as the nation has posted new daily records in cases and deaths and available hospital intensive care unit beds are in short supply.

Here are the latest coronavirus stats from KFF’s tracking resources:

Global Cases and Deaths: Total cases worldwide reached 75 million this week – with an increase of nearly 4.5 million new confirmed cases in the past seven days. There were approximately 80,100 new confirmed deaths worldwide, bringing the total for confirmed deaths to nearly 1.7 million.

U.S. Cases and Deaths: Total confirmed cases in the U.S. passed 17.2 million this week. There was an increase of over 1.5 million confirmed cases between Dec. 11 and 17. Approximately 18,400 confirmed deaths in the past week brought the total in the United States to 310,700.

State Reports of Long-Term Care Facility Cases and Deaths Related to COVID-19 (Includes Washington D.C.) as of 12/15

  • Data Reporting Status: 49 states and DC are reporting COVID-19 data in long-term care facilities
  • Long-term care facilities with known cases: 29,024 (across 48 states and DC)
  • Cases in long-term care facilities: 905,994 (across 49 states and DC)
  • Deaths in long-term care facilities: 113,891 (in 50 states and DC)
  • Long-term care facility cases as a share of total state cases: 6% (across 49 states and DC)
  • Long-term care facility deaths as a share of total state deaths: 39% (across 50 states and DC)

The latest KFF COVID-19 resources:

  • KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: December 2020 (News Release, Report)
  • How are States Prioritizing Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine First? (News Release, Policy Watch Post)
  • Real Progress Is Possible On Vaccine Hesitancy (Full Column, Axios Column)
  • Who Didn’t Get a Second Shingrix Shot? Implications for Multidose COVID-19 Vaccines (Issue Brief)
  • Delivering HIV Care and Prevention in the COVID Era: A National Survey of Ryan White Providers (Issue Brief)
  • How Might Internet Connectivity Affect Health Care Access? (Chart Collection)
  • Updated: Coronavirus Puts a Spotlight on Paid Leave Policies (Issue Brief)
  • KFF Health Tracking Poll – December 2020: COVID-19 and Biden’s Health Care Agenda (News Release, Poll Findings)
  • Gaps in Cost Sharing Protections for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Could Spark Public Concerns About COVID-19 Vaccine Costs (News Release, Issue Brief)
  • Updated: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker – Updated as of December 18 (Interactive)
  • Updated: State Data and Policy Actions to Address Coronavirus (Interactive)
  • U.N. SG Guterres Warns Against ‘Vaccinationalism,’ Spread Of Misinformation On COVID-19 In Address, Remarks In Germany (KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report)

The latest KHN COVID-19 stories:

  • Pandemic Backlash Jeopardizes Public Health Powers, Leaders (KHN, AP)
  • Lie of the Year: The Downplay and Denial of the Coronavirus (KHN, PolitiFact)
  • Hospitals Scramble to Prioritize Which Workers Are First for COVID Shots (KHN, NBC)
  • Pediatricians Want Kids to Be Part of COVID Vaccine Trials (KHN)
  • Behind Each of More Than 300,000 Lives Lost: A Name, a Caregiver, a Family, a Story (KHN, NPR)
  • High-Poverty Neighborhoods Bear the Brunt of COVID’s Scourge (KHN)
  • In COVID Hot Zones, Firefighters Now ‘Pump More Oxygen Than Water’ (KHN, The Guardian)
  • Update: Lost on the Frontline: Explore the Database (KHN, The Guardian)
  • How to Pull Off a COVID-Era Music Festival (KHN)
  • Trump’s Wrong. 15% ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Not on Par With Strength of a Vaccine (KHN)
  • With Vaccine Delivery Imminent, Nursing Homes Must Make a Strong Pitch to Residents (KHN)
  • No More ICU Beds at the Main Public Hospital in the Nation’s Largest County (KHN)
  • Trusted Messengers May Help Disenfranchised Communities Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy (KHN, MinnPost)
  • Pandemic-Related Paid Sick Days and Leave to Expire Dec. 31 — With No Extension in Sight (KHN, Fortune)
  • More Americans — Of All Political Persuasions — Are Donning Masks (KHN)
  • KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: All I Want for Christmas Is a COVID Relief Bill (KHN)
  • As Congress Bickers Over Pandemic Relief, Flight Attendant’s Life Is in a Holding Pattern (KHN, Daily Beast)
  • Ski Resorts Work to Stay Open as COVID Cases Snowball (KHN, Men’s Health)
  • Readers and Tweeters Defend Front-Line Nurses and Blind Us With Science (KHN)

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