Coronavirus updates: Feds expand vaccine eligibility to speed up rollout; negative test required to fly into US; Rep. Jayapal infected

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USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as a pair of vaccines join the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 376,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates surrounding the coronavirus, including who is getting the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as other top news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.

In the headlines:

►Travelers flying into the United States from international destinations will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could issue the order as soon as Tuesday, and the new testing requirement reportedly goes into effect Jan. 26, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

►New York, the early epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., became the first state to record 40,000 COVID deaths. Texas and California are next with 30,000-plus.

►The celebration was on in Tuscaloosa after Alabama football’s national championship victory Monday night, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the celebrants screaming and cheering as they pressed against each other in the streets didn’t wear face masks. The scene was exactly what officials feared before the game as they urged people to watch at home and celebrate privately, the Associated Press said. 

►The U.S. government is asking states to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations to people over 65 and others at risk instead of holding back vaccines for a second dose.

► Disneyland Resort in Anaheim will soon be transformed into a mass coronavirus vaccination site for Southern California residents, Orange County officials announced Monday.

►1 million California health care workers, nursing home residents and staff will receive the COVID-19 vaccine by week’s end, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised Monday. The state is struggling with a surge that is overwhelming hospitals and forcing them to ration care and beds, leading to the latest grim marker of 30,000 deaths.

► Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus in what is believed to be the first cases among such primates in captivity. The park’s executive director, Lisa Peterson, said Monday that eight gorillas that live together at the park are believed to have the virus and several have been coughing. 

► Indiana is the latest state to report its first case of a more contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, bumping the total of states that have identified the strain to 10.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 22.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 379,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 91.3 million cases and 1.95 million deaths.

📘 What we’re reading:  

Trump administration asks states to speed up vaccinations, expand early eligibility 

The Trump administration unveiled new guidelines Tuesday that aim to speed up vaccine rollout to people over 65 and others at risk instead of holding back vaccines for a second dose. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said it was now time to move “to the next phase on the vaccine program” and expand the pool of those eligible to get the first dose, which initially included only health care workers on those in long-term care facilities. There will also be an expansion of the number of places where people can be vaccinated by adding community health centers and additional drug stores.

“States should not be waiting to complete 1a priorities before proceeding to broader categories of eligibility,” Azar said.

After a frustratingly slow initial phase, states are moving on to the next stage before the first one is complete, making COVID-19 shots available to such groups as senior citizens, teachers, bus drivers, police officers and firefighters. Large facilities like stadiums, fairgrounds and convention centers will be used to inoculate a bigger and more diverse pool of people.

More lawmakers testing positive for coronavirus after Capitol riot

Multiple lawmakers have said they tested positive for the coronavirus after Wednesday’s riot in the Capitol. The latest is Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

“I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” Jayapal wrote Tuesday on Twitter. 

On Sunday, the attending physician for Congress said elected officials and their staff  were potentially exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 while the Capitol was locked down during an armed incursion by pro-Trump rioters. Dozens of lawmakers have been infected with the virus.

Hospitals face COVID-19 surge, staff shortages and rising deaths

During the past week, a record 22,676 people died from COVID-19, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. That’s more Americans dying every day than the 2,977 victims on Sept. 11, 2001.

Four states with the largest share of hospital beds occupied with COVID-19 patients – California, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia – are struggling to keep pace with the unprecedented surge. 

In Los Angeles, public hospitals are preparing to shift to crisis mode, and the county has instructed ambulances to not send patients to overburdened hospitals if they can’t be revived in the field. More than two dozen Georgia hospitals have no available beds in intensive care units, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

While public health officials are optimistic widespread vaccination will provide a glimmer of hope this spring, there’s no respite now for doctors and nurses in overburdened emergency rooms and intensive care units. 

– Ken Alltucker

More than 75% of patients still had symptoms 6 months later, study finds

A Chinese study published Friday in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet found that more than 75% of COVID-19 patients reported symptoms six months after hospital discharge.

In what the British journal said was the largest study so far of so-called “COVID-19 long-haulers,” researchers looked at 1,733 patients from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus originated last year.

More than 60% of patients reported fatigue and muscle weakness, about 25% reported sleep difficulties and hair loss, and 23% reported anxiety and depression.

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