Coronavirus updates: Stimulus checks delayed until next week?; California will likely extend stay-at-home orders; Spain tops 50K deaths – USA TODAY

Jessica Flores
 
| USA TODAY

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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 nearly 335,000 Americans since the first reported fatality in February. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who is getting the shots and where, as well as other COVID-19 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:

► The House on Monday voted to increase COVID-19 relief stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, as President Donald Trump demanded when he signed the relief package into law Sunday. The measure will now head to the GOP-controlled Senate where its future remains highly uncertain.

► Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, are scheduled to receive their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, transition officials said. Harris’ vaccination is expected to be done live on camera, CNN reported.

► Coronavirus hospitalizations are increasing rapidly in Georgia, with health officials reporting more than 4,000 people hospitalized Monday. Georgia is now in the top 20 for most new cases per capita in the last 14 days as infection rates have declined in the Midwest and risen in the South.

►Spain surpassed 50,000 deaths while the country’s 14-day case rate per 100,000 residents has declined. Health Minister Salvador Illa on Monday announced the country plans to collect and share information of residents who decide not to get a COVID-19 vaccine with other European Union nations, the New York Times reported.

►California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly on Tuesday will likely announce that the stay-at-home order will be extended for another three weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

►Nolan Mettetal, a longtime former Georgia state senator and representative, died Monday due to COVID-19. Mettetal swapped parties from Democrat to Republican in 2008 and served in public since 1996.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 19.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 334,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 81.2 million cases and 1.77 million deaths. 

Here’s a closer look at today’s top stories:

When to expect stimulus checks

The Trump administration is trying to send stimulus payments to Americans this week. President Donald Trump signed the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government funding bill into law Sunday night, after calling the package a “disgrace” and delaying it for days.

The timeline came from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who last week said the department could begin dispatching stimulus checks this week. Mnuchin’s comments were made prior to Trump’s refusal to sign the bill.

It is unclear, as of Monday, if Treasury will be able to meet Mnuchin’s timeline given that Friday is a federal holiday. The House on Monday voted to increase the COVID-19 stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, sending the measure to the GOP-controlled Senate where its future remains highly unclear.

US stocks hit records after Trump signs $900B aid package

Stocks began the final week of 2020 with more gains Monday, nudging the major U.S. indexes to record highs.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.9%, powered by gains in technology, communication services and consumer discretionary stocks. Companies that were hit the hardest by the pandemic, including restaurants, airlines and cruise operators, were among the biggest gainers. Treasury yields were mixed.

The broad rally came as investors welcomed the decision by President Donald Trump to sign a $900 billion coronavirus economic aid package. The package also includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies, averting a federal government shutdown that otherwise would have started Tuesday.

The latest gains add to what has been a strong, record-shattering run for the stock market in recent weeks amid cautious optimism that coronavirus vaccinations will pave the way in coming months for the economy to escape from the grip of the pandemic.

December already the deadliest month for COVID-19

Johns Hopkins University data shows Dec. 25 is when reported deaths from the coronavirus passed the April’s death toll of 60,738 people. With several days remaining in December, the record is now 64,953 people through Sunday. On average, that’s equivalent to someone in the United States dying every 36 seconds.

December has already been a record month for new cases, even though November was more than twice as bad as any other month. The U.S. broke November’s record of 4.4 million cases back on Dec. 22, and now stands at 5,533,230 cases reported in December so far. From earlier surges the record number of cases was the whole month of July, at 1.9 million; the U.S. blew past that mark in just 10 days.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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