VIRUS TODAY: General apologizes; AP finds states spend $7B

Here’s what’s happening Saturday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

— The Army general in charge of getting COVID-19 vaccines distributed across the United States apologized after many governors said they had been shorted on anticipated shipments. Gen. Gustave Perna said he made mistakes by citing numbers of doses that he believed would be ready for delivery. Perna said the government now is on track to get approximately 20 million doses to states by the first week of January.

— The Associated Press tallied more than $7 billion in purchases by states in the spring for personal protective equipment and high-demand medical devices such as ventilators and infrared thermometers. It’s the most comprehensive accounting to date of how much states were buying, what they were spending and whom they were paying during a chaotic time when inadequate national stockpiles left them scrambling.

— The pandemic might be helping a little-known corner of the seafood market: seaweed. Atlantic Sea Farms in Maine says it nearly doubled its harvest this year to 450,000 pounds (204 kilograms). The seaweed is processed into products such as seaweed sauerkraut and frozen kelp cubes for smoothies.

THE NUMBERS: The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 2,001 on Dec. 4 to 2,576 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

DEATH TOLL: The U.S. death toll stands at more than 315,000 people, up from about 300,000 when the week began.

QUOTABLE: “I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication. I know that’s not done much these days. But I am responsible. … This is a Herculean effort and we are not perfect.” — Gen. Gustave Perna, in charge of distributing coronavirus vaccines, in response to criticism about smaller allocations so far to states.

ICYMI: A publisher’s arrest has led to changes in access to courts in a North Carolina county. Reporters must seek permission, but up to five will be allowed to watch proceedings in Alamance County. Court staff had cited the virus for keeping journalists out. Tom Boney Jr. of The Alamance News was handcuffed when he objected on Dec. 8.

ON THE HORIZON: Negotiators in Congress appear close to nailing down an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package. House members stood by for a vote that will come no earlier than Sunday. The proposed package includes $600 payments to individuals.

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

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