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President Trump called on members of Congress to amend the COVID stimulus bill they passed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning; Trump wants lawmakers to increase the amount of each stimulus check from $600 per person to $2,000. (CNN)
In the meantime, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the purchase of an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and also announced an agreement in conjunction with the Department of Defense to give Merck $356 million to continue developing its COVID-19 treatment MK-7110.
Hospitals are facing a shortage of doctors and nurses due to the pandemic, and California is reaching out to foreign countries to help fill the gap. (AP)
As of 8:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the unofficial COVID-19 toll in the U.S. reached 18,238,233 cases and 322,849 deaths — up 194,409 and 3,383, respectively, since this time a day ago.
COVID-19 “long haulers” are turning to experimental drugs for relief. (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. government won’t require negative COVID-19 tests for passengers coming in from Britain, despite the emergence of a new virus strain that is reportedly much more transmissible. (Reuters)
The CEO of BioNTech, the company that co-developed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, is optimistic that the vaccine will work against this newly identified COVID-19 variant. (The Hill)
The number of Americans willing to get a coronavirus vaccine is rising, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll found. (USA Today)
Pulse oximeters provide misleading results more often in Black patients compared with white patients, researchers found. (New York Times)
No continent is safe: Antarctica has reported its first coronavirus cases, among 36 people at a Chilean research station. (Newsweek)
Deborah Birx, MD, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, said she will retire because of criticism she and her family received over their travel during the Thanksgiving holiday; Birx said she was willing to help the Biden administration during the transition, however. (Mediaite)
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms. (NPR)
A 69-year-old man who died after experiencing a medical emergency on a United Airlines flight — which forced the Orlando-bound plane to divert to New Orleans — had coronavirus, according to a Louisiana coroner. (Washington Post)
The San Joaquin Valley in California has become a coronavirus hotspot and an epicenter of denial, James Ross Gardner reports in the New Yorker.
The Georgia college student who received a 4-month prison sentence for breaking quarantine rules in the Cayman Islands had her sentence cut in half following an appeal. (CNN)
The COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed funeral home owner Andrew Cleckley, eventually causing him to lose his funeral director’s license because bodies of the deceased were not properly stored or cared for. (New York Times)
In other news:
- FDA sent a warning letter to Whole Foods Market about the grocery store chain’s high number of product recalls, saying that they “demonstrate that your corporation engaged in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale misbranded food products.”
- The agency also slapped a warning on several companies illegally selling cannabidiol (CBD) products marketed as treatments for medical conditions.
- The Justice Department sued Walmart, alleging that the retailer contributed to the opioid crisis by pressuring its pharmacies to fill suspicious prescriptions for the painkillers. (AP)
- The FDA has approved Sobi’s anakinra (Kineret) for the treatment of deficiency of IL-1 receptor antagonist (DIRS), the company announced.
- Voyager Therapeutics said the FDA had placed a clinical hold on the RESTORE-1 trial of NBIb-1817, an intracerebral AAV-based investigational gene therapy in development for Parkinson’s disease.