Coronavirus live updates: US surpasses 120,000 hospitalizations

BY ROSA SANCHEZ, EMILY SHAPIRO, IVAN PEREIRA, STEPHANIE EBBS, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — There are currently more than 120,000 patients hospitalized with coronavirus in the United States, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

In an evening update on Christmas Eve, the project said there were a record 120,151 coronavirus patients currently hospitalized.

This marks the 20th straight day the nation has hit a record high of current hospitalizations.

US to require negative test for air travelers from UK

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will now require a negative COVID-19 test for all air travelers coming to the United States from the United Kingdom in the wake of news about new strains of the virus being detected in the U.K.

Everyone arriving in the U.S. must have a negative PCR or antigen test from within 72 hours of departure, according to a statement from the CDC.

“The public health authorities in the United Kingdom recently announced the discovery of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC wrote in its announcement. “Viruses constantly change through mutation, and preliminary analysis in the U.K. suggests that this new variant may be up to 70% more transmissible than previously circulating variants.”

Passengers will have to provide written documentation of the negative test and airlines will be required to confirm the information, the CDC said. Airlines will have to refuse anyone without a negative test.

While the strain appears to be more transmissible, there’s no evidence it is more deadly, or that the vaccines currently being rolled out won’t be effective against it.

President Donald Trump, who is spending the Christmas holiday in Florida, will sign the executive order on Friday and it will go into effect on Monday.

Dozens of countries have largely banned travelers from the U.K., at least temporarily, including Canada, Mexico, Russia, China and India. The U.S. is one of a handful of countries that will require negative tests, including Greece and Spain.

LA County has record death toll 2nd day in a row

Los Angeles County reported its highest number of new COVID-19 deaths for the second consecutive day Thursday.

The county reported 148 new deaths, surpassing Wednesday’s record of 145.

“A person now dies every 10 minutes in LA County from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as she urged people to follow public health directives.

There were 13,678 new cases reported, and nearly 6,500 people are currently hospitalized — a record 20% of whom are in the intensive care unit, officials said.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county has increased by more than 1,600 people in the past week, officials said.

Fauci asks Americans to ‘tone things down’ for Christmas

Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Washington Post that his message for Christmas is to “tone things down,” including gathering outdoors when possible, wearing a mask when not eating or drinking, and keeping gatherings to as few people as possible and within your household.

Fauci is not only celebrating Christmas on Thursday, but also his 80th birthday. And for the first time, Fauci won’t be with his daughters for the big day.

“This is the first time since the birth of my daughters, and they are now in their late 20s and early 30s, that we have not been together on Christmas Eve,” Fauci said. “I’m not alone in this feeling that kind of pain of separation from our loved ones.”

His milestone birthday was marked with a surprise Zoom party organized by his wife.

“I want to practice what I preach. I don’t want to tell the country to do something that I’m not willing to do myself,” Fauci said. “I was just on a Zoom call with the girls … I think I lost about a liter of fluid in tears, to be honest, with hearing their expressions of love and concern to me. But we ended it on a happy note because we know that sooner or later, very likely sooner, as we get into 2021 and things get better and vaccines help us, that this time next year we’ll be back again with the Fauci family celebrating.”

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