Home Health US tops 17M coronavirus cases as FDA panel weighs Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

US tops 17M coronavirus cases as FDA panel weighs Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. exceeded 17 million coronavirus infections Thursday as the nation continues to set daily highs in cases and deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The news comes as an independent advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to vote on Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate Thursday. Upon approval, Americans could see an initial 6 million doses distributed next week. Approval would mark the second jab authorized for emergency use in the U.S., following one developed by Pfizer.

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Nurse Kayla Mitchell of Maine Medical Center’s COVID ICU unit in Portland, Maine, becomes the first person in the state to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Charlie Berg/Maine Medical Center via AP)

The U.S. saw a high of 247,403 daily new cases reported Dec. 17, with a record-setting daily death toll at 3,656. The nation’s positivity rate is exceeding 11%, and Southern California in particular is distinguishing itself as a hard-hit area of new case spread, per data from Johns Hopkins University.

According to figures from the COVID Tracking Project, some 113,000 Americans are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

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ICU nurse Heidi Kukla was the first person vaccinated for COVID-19 Tuesday morning in New Hampshire. (Elliot Hospital and Health System)

ICU nurse Heidi Kukla was the first person vaccinated for COVID-19 Tuesday morning in New Hampshire. (Elliot Hospital and Health System)

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Following the U.S. in terms of the highest total reported infections worldwide is India, with cases approaching the 10 million mark and Brazil next down the line with over 7 million cases of the novel virus.

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Vulnerable health care workers who have been manning the front lines in the U.S. for about 10 months continue to line up for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations, and elderly residents in nursing homes began to receive vaccinations in the last two days. 

Officials have said the recent Pfizer authorization and rollout marks the beginning of the end to the pandemic, but the fight is not over yet. Health leaders urge the public to continue wearing masks, practice proper distance, avoid crowds and maintain hand hygiene to slow virus spread.