The Guardian reports that the US “set three grim coronavirus records on Thursday, as it recorded the highest daily number of coronavirus deaths, the highest number of new cases, and the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid exceeded 100,000 for the second day in a row. Some 2,879 people died from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, while there were 217,664 new cases, as the top infectious disease official, Dr Anthony Fauci, warned “January is going to be terrible”… California is fast becoming one of the most severely hit states in the country, and its governor, Gavin Newsom, announced a series of new restrictions on Thursday. Stricter stay-at-home orders will be implemented in areas in the state where intensive care units are expected to fall below a capacity of 15% – with the vast majority of the state expected to meet that criterion within the next few days. “The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said. “If we don’t act now, our death rate will continue to climb.” The new stay-at-home order, the most far-reaching since the pandemic began in March, will include restrictions on business and gathering spaces – no salons, no gyms, no indoor worship, no playgrounds. Restaurants will be allowed to offer only takeout or delivery.”
NPR reports that millions of Americans who need support for rent and protection from eviction, paid family leave, unemployment, mortgage and student loan relief, and other forms of assistance face a cut-off after Christmas unless Congress passes a new relief package.
A new study connects evictions to COVID-19 cases and deaths: “The CDC eviction ban isn't automatic and doesn't cover everyone. Thousands of people are still being kicked out of their homes. Still, the federal order has been protecting many — and it is set to expire at the end of December. Now, a newly published study makes the case that evictions are tied to an increase in coronavirus cases and deaths. The research, which has not yet been peer reviewed, compared numbers in the 27 states where state-level moratoriums ended with the 17 that have kept them in place. After controlling for factors such as stay-at-home orders, school closures and mask mandates, the researchers estimated that the lifting of moratoriums could have resulted in between 365,200 and 502,200 excess coronavirus cases and between 8,900 and 12,500 excess deaths — an average of 433,700 cases and 10,700 deaths. "I think whenever you see numbers like 430,000 cases, 10,000 deaths, it's surprising and it's troubling, and these are deaths that could have been prevented had the states maintained their moratoriums," says one of the study's lead researchers, Kathryn Leifheit of UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health.”
A bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill is gaining support on Capitol Hill. The bill would invest $908 billion in aid for state and local governments, federal unemployment benefits, food assistance, childcare, vaccine distribution, and support for small businesses.
The Associated Press reports on how school closings and remote schooling threaten to set back children with disabilities. “The same frustrations are shared by many of the nation’s 7 million students with disabilities — a group representing 14% of American schoolchildren. Advocates for these students say the extended months of learning from home and erratic attempts to reopen schools are deepening a crisis that began with the switch to distance learning in March… Alarmed by their children’s setbacks in skills and behaviors, parents are pursuing legal challenges and requesting makeup services. Many worry that the ground lost will be impossible to recover.”