Coronavirus live updates: Joe Biden to ask Americans for 100 days of wearing masks

The Houston Chronicle’s Live Updates blog documents the latest events in the coronavirus outbreak in the Houston area, the state of Texas and across the U.S. with a focus on health and economic impacts.

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Resources on COVID-19 and Texas’ reopening: Use our interactive page to track the spread of cases through Harris County and the rest of Texas. For a detailed look at our state, check out the Chronicle’s Texas Coronavirus Map. To get regular updates on our coverage, sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.

Total coronavirus cases:

• 1,258,011 cases in Texas, including 22,191 deaths.

• 270,574 in the Houston region, including 4,070 deaths.

• More than 13.9 million in the U.S., including 273,300 deaths. Click here to see a U.S. map with state-by-state death tolls and the latest coronavirus case counts.

• More than 64.4 million in the world, with more than 1.4 million deaths. More than 41.4 million people have recovered. You can view the worldwide totals here.

Latest updates from today:

10:35 a.m. For many people with loved ones in nursing homes, the news of a recently authorized COVID-19 vaccine means a renewed hope — for visits, for holding hands once again.

Two vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are in the midst of a federal approval process with the Food and Drug Administration after clinical trials demonstrated their effectiveness in preventing viral infection.

If approved, Texas is poised to become one of the first states to receive doses of the vaccines, with nursing home residents and staff at the front of the line, reports Chronicle writer Nick Powell.

The news couldn’t be more timely. As of Thursday, there were nearly 5,500 COVID-19 deaths from Texas nursing homes, making up roughly one-quarter of virus deaths statewide. Of Texas’ more than 1,200 nursing homes and long-term care facilities, 98 percent have reported virus cases.

9:40 a.m. The UH Charter School will close due to financial issues and added challenges the institution has faced while educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Brittany Britto.

University of Houston System’s charter school board of regents voted Thursday on the closure. With too few staff, the complications of online learning and budgeting issues fueled by lower enrollment, charter school staff and the board reasoned that it would be too difficult to financially sustain the school.

The school receives $268,000 from the UH System each year and is chartered by the State Board of Education. Enrollment, typically capped at 138 students, has also been low, with only 89 students, according to the resolution.

9 a.m. President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, the Associated Press reports.

His plea for mask wearing would stop short of the nationwide mandate he pushed earlier, writes Alexandra Jaffe. The move is still a shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of wearing masks has helped politicize the issue. Public health experts say masks are one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic.

7:48 a.m. Harris County reported its third-highest case increase since the start of the pandemic  Thursday with 1,890 new infections, 76 of which were more than 14 days old, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of state data.

The county now has 194,899 total cases.

Statewide, the case total increased by 20,996 for a total of 1,279,007. Another 238 deaths brings the fatality count to 22,429.

The statewide 7-day average for new cases is 12,228.86 today.

The Houston region’s case count is 273,431, up 2,857 from Wednesday. There were 17 newly reported deaths in the Houston region Thursday, making the death toll 4,087.

The positive test rate statewide is now at 15.02 percent, up from Wednesday’s 14.19 percent. This is the highest it’s been since August 3.

Statewide, there were 9,151 patients hospitalized for lab-confirmed COVID-19, up from Wednesday’s 9,109. This is the sixth straight day with an increase in hospitalizations and the highest it’s been since July 31.


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