VIRUS TODAY: Lag in vaccinations underscores lack of support

National News

FILE – In this July 7, 2020, file photo, hospital staff members enter an elevator with the body of a COVID-19 victim on a gurney at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif. California health authorities reported on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, a record high of 695 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. The state Department of Public Health says the number raises the state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 29,233. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Here’s what’s happening Sunday with the pandemic in the U.S.:

— Public health officials have complained for months that they do not have enough support or money to get COVID-19 vaccines quickly into arms. Now the slower-than-expected start to the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history is proving them right. As they work to ramp up the shots, state and local public health departments across the U.S. cite a variety of obstacles, most notably a lack of leadership from the federal government. Many officials worry that they are losing precious time at the height of the pandemic, and the delays could cost lives.

— House lawmakers may have been exposedto someone who tested positive for COVID-19 while they sheltered at an undisclosed location during the Capitol siege by a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump. The Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers Sunday of the virus exposure and urged them to be tested. The infected individual was not named.

— In a growing consensus, religious leaders at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement in the United States are telling followers that the leading vaccines available to combat COVID-19 are acceptable to take, given their remote and indirect connection to lines of cells derived from aborted fetuses.

THE NUMBERS: According to data through Jan. 9 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 2,243.3 on Dec. 26 to 3,174 on Jan. 9.

DEATH TOLL: The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. stands at 372,522.

QUOTABLE: “To ask God for help but then refuse the vaccine makes no more sense than calling 911 when your house is on fire, but refusing to allow the firemen in. There is no legitimate faith-based reason for refusing to take the vaccine.” — Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who has called the vaccines a “present from God.”

ICYMI: Ten months into America’s viral outbreak, low-income workers are still bearing the brunt of job losses. Layoffs remain heavily concentrated in the industries that have suffered most because they involve the kind of face-to-face contact that’s now nearly impossible: restaurants, bars and hotels, theaters, sports arenas and concert halls. With the virus transforming consumer spending habits, economists believe some portion of these service jobs won’t return even after the economy has regained its footing.

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