Nearly 1.3M Traveled Through US Airports Sunday
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Nearly 1.3 million people went through U.S. airports on Sunday, the highest level of air travel in more than nine months, despite fear that travel will lead to more cases of COVID-19.
The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1,284,599 on Sunday, the highest total since March 15. More than 10 million people have traveled by air since Dec. 18, including six days with at least 1 million people getting screened.
Figures on road trips aren’t available, but AAA predicted that about 85 million Americans would travel during the Christmas holiday season, most of them by car.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top expert on infectious disease, said that level of travel could lead to a further increase in COVID-19 cases. Fauci said crowded airports make it difficult to maintain social distance, and holiday gatherings combine people from different households.
“As much as we advise against it, nonetheless, it happens,” he said on CNN. “And that’s one of the reasons why we’re concerned about that being a real risk situation for the spread of infection.”
New cases of COVID-19 have been surging for about two months. There have been more than 330,000 reported deaths from the virus.
WASHINGTON – A huge study of another COVID-19 vaccine candidate is getting underway Monday as states in the U.S. continue to roll out scarce supplies of the nation’s first shot options.
The U.S. has authorized emergency use of two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and BioNTech and the other by Moderna, but doses will be rationed for months.
The candidate made by Novavax Inc. is the fifth to reach final-stage testing in the U.S. Some 30,000 volunteers are needed to prove if this vaccine – a different kind than its Pfizer and Moderna competitors – really works and is safe.
“If you want to have enough vaccine to vaccinate all the people in the U.S. who you’d like to vaccinate – up to 85% or more of the population – you’re going to need more than two companies,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press.
The study, which is funded by the U.S. government, is open to all adults but will focus on high-risk older adults and volunteers from Black and Hispanic communities who have been hard-hit by the virus. Two-thirds of volunteers will receive the vaccine and the rest will get dummy shots.
The Novavax candidate uses lab-grown harmless copies of the spike protein that coats the coronavirus to train the body to recognize if the real virus comes along. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines instead use a newer technology, injecting the genetic code for that protein.
In the U.S., Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca also have vaccine candidates in late-stage testing.
BEIJING – A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a former lawyer who reported on the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison on charges of “picking fights and provoking trouble,” one of her lawyers said.
The Pudong New Area People’s Court in the financial hub of Shanghai gave the sentence to Zhang Zhan following accusations she spread false information, gave interviews to foreign media, disrupted public order and “maliciously manipulated” the outbreak.
Zhang, 37, traveled to Wuhan in February and posted on various social media platforms about the outbreak that is believed to have emerged in the central Chinese city late last year.
She was arrested in May amid tough nationwide measures aimed at curbing the outbreak and heavy censorship to deflect criticism of the government’s initial response. Zhang reportedly went on a prolonged hunger strike while in detention, prompting authorities to forcibly feed her, and is said to be in poor health.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – President Donald Trump has signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package, ending days of drama over his refusal to accept the bipartisan deal that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal government shutdown.
The massive bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as an increase in food stamp benefits.
The signing Sunday, at his private club in Florida came amid escalating criticism over his eleventh-hour demands for larger, $2,000 relief checks and scaled-back spending even though the bill had already passed the House and Senate by wide margins.
His foot-dragging resulted in a lapse in unemployment benefits for millions struggling to make ends meet and threatened a government shutdown in the midst of a pandemic.
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12/28/2020 10:35:15 AM (GMT -6:00)