VIRUS TODAY: Nursing homes start shots; Congress nears deal

  • Patricia Wasseman, holds Hermina Levin's hands as nurse Eva Diaz administers the Pfizer vaccine at John Knox Village, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. Nursing home residents and health care workers in Florida began receiving the Pfizer vaccine this week.

    Patricia Wasseman, holds Hermina Levin's hands as nurse Eva Diaz administers the Pfizer vaccine at John Knox Village, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. Nursing home residents and health care workers in Florida began receiving the Pfizer vaccine this week. Associated Press

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asks Vera Leip, 88, how she feels after nurse Christine Philips, left, administered the Pfizer vaccine at John Knox Village, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. Nursing home residents and health care workers in Florida began receiving the Pfizer vaccine this week.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asks Vera Leip, 88, how she feels after nurse Christine Philips, left, administered the Pfizer vaccine at John Knox Village, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. Nursing home residents and health care workers in Florida began receiving the Pfizer vaccine this week. Associated Press

  • Medical personnel work inside the COVID-19 unit at University Hospital in Augusta, Ga., Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. COVID-19 cases nationwide have been increasing in recent weeks. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)

    Medical personnel work inside the COVID-19 unit at University Hospital in Augusta, Ga., Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. COVID-19 cases nationwide have been increasing in recent weeks. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/16/2020 9:30 PM

Here's what's happening Wednesday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

 

- The first COVID-19 vaccinations are underway at U.S. nursing homes, where the coronavirus has killed more than 110,000 people - about a third of American fatalities from the disease.

- Top congressional leaders are getting closer to an agreement on a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package, hoping to seal a deal as early as Wednesday that would extend aid to individuals and businesses and help ship vaccines to millions.

- Dozens of children who attended a Christmas tree-lighting event in Georgia may have been exposed to COVID-19 after a pair performing as Santa and Mrs. Claus tested positive for the virus, officials said.

THE NUMBERS: The seven-day rolling positivity rate for testing in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 10.1% on Dec. 1 to 11.1% on Tuesday, according to data through from Johns Hopkins University.

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DEATH TOLL: Deaths in the U.S. stand at 304,000, or about the population of Cincinnati.

QUOTABLE: 'Our theme today ought to be, 'If it's not one thing, it's another." - New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking during a news conference on a major snowstorm that was unfolding as delivery trucks distribute COVID-19 vaccine across the state.

ICYMI: A pandemic atlas: How COVID-19 took over the world in 2020.

ON THE HORIZON: On Thursday, a government advisory panel will consider whether to endorse emergency use of a second vaccine, this one made by Moderna.

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Find AP's full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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