Coronavirus live updates: Pfizer gets the OK from the U.K. for its vaccine.

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:

• 1,243,385 cases in Texas, including 21,975 deaths.

• 268,269 in the Houston region, including 4,053 deaths.

• More than 13.7 million in the U.S., including 270,532 deaths. Click here to see a U.S. map with state-by-state death tolls and the latest coronavirus case counts.

• More than 63.7 million in the world, with more than 1.4 million deaths. More than 40.9 million people have recovered. You can view the worldwide totals here.

Latest updates from today:

9:27 a.m. The rising number of post-Thanksgiving cases has forced Humble ISD to change its finals process, our Savannah Mehrtens reports:

Instead of high-stakes finals, high school students will take tests that will replace their lowest grade for the semester. Middle school students, however, will still go through the finals process, the district said.

9:19 a.m. While Britain has given the nod to the Pfizer vaccine, a U.S. government panel that issues immunization guidelines says health care workers and nursing home residents should be the first to get the shots in this country.

The Food and Drug Administration estimates that, once the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved for emergency U.S. use, only 20 million doses of  each will be available before the end of 2020, and they’ll need to be rationed.  From the AP story:

“The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet again at some point to decide who should be next in line. Among the possibilities: teachers, police, firefighters and workers in other essential fields such as food production and transportation; the elderly; and people with underlying medical conditions.”

9:03 a.m. Four Houston firefighters have returned from a 36-day stint helping working as paramedics in El Paso to help with the huge number of COVID-19 cases there. They were among seven who worked 12-hour shifts to help get the raging outbreak there under control.

From reporter Anna Bauman’s story:

“‘It’s kind of like you’re Daniel in the lion’s den — you’re walking through and you know these people are positive,’ said Capt. Beau Moreno of HFD Station 42. ‘We still go in there and do the job that we were assigned to do.’

“During the course of the HFD deployment, El Paso’s coronavirus case count more than doubled with hundreds of new cases reported each day. The total case count reached 86,752 as of Tuesday. By this weekend, however, the city’s rolling positivity rate had dipped — though still high at nearly 13% — and hospital capacity was opening up.”

8:51 a.m. Researchers say the novel coronavirus was present in the United States earlier than believed. The virus was found in blood samples collected from donors between Dec. 13, 2019, and Jan. 17, 2020.

The first known U.S. case was previously reported on Jan. 19, with the the virus first identified in Wuhan, China, in late December of last year.

8:40 a.m. The United Kingdom has given emergency approval for use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. The first shots could be administered with days, according to the Associated Press. Trials from the vaccine show it is 95 percent effective.

The emergency approval process is still ongoing in the United States and other countries for the Pfizer vaccine, as well as one from Moderna.

7:34 a.m. Texas saw another 15,950 COVID-19 cases for a total of 1,243,385 statewide Tuesday, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of state data.

Another 193 newly reported deaths makes a total of 21,975 statewide.

The statewide seven-day average for new cases is 16,768 today, up from Friday’s 16,296.

The Houston region’s case count is 268,269, up 3,020 from Monday. Harris County reported 614 new cases today and is now at 192,127 cases total. There were 11 newly reported deaths in the Houston region Tuesday, making the death toll 4,053.

The positive test rate statewide is now at 12.72 percent, up from Monday’s 11.33 percent.

Statewide, there were 9,047 patients hospitalized for lab-confirmed COVID-19, up from Monday’s 8,900.

– Stephanie Lamm 

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