VIRUS TODAY: State legislatures to convene amid pandemic

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


— State lawmakers across the country will convene in 2021 with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic rippling through much of their work — even affecting the way they work. After 10 months of emergency orders and restrictions from governors and local executive officials, some lawmakers are eager to reassert their power over decisions that shape the way people shop, work, worship and attend school. They also will face virus-induced budget pressures, with rising demand for spending on public health and social services colliding with uncertain tax revenue in an economy that is still not fully recovered from the pandemic.

— Coronavirus hospitalizations are stabilizing in parts of California, but patients are still overwhelming hospitals in a large swath of the state, leading Gov. Gavin Newsom to warn Californians to brace for the effect of a “surge on top of a surge” from recent holiday travel. Intensive care units in Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley have no capacity remaining, according to state figures. Newsom extended its strict stay-at-home orders in areas where ICUs are running out of beds.

— To play through a pandemic, college football players had to sacrifice much of their lives away from the game and endure the constant stress of knowing that the next coronavirus test could be the one that derails a season. To reach the playoff, No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Notre Dame had to go a combined 37-2 on the field and keep the virus at bay. Doing so required lots of COVID-19 testing and little time spent with anyone outside the team. And even when the players were together, there were obstacles — both literal and figurative — to bonding with teammates.

THE NUMBERS: The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. decreased in the last two weeks from 2,430.6 on December 14 to 2,210.3 on December 28, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

DEATH TOLL: The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. stands at more than 335,000.

QUOTABLE: “COVID will frame everything,” Tim Storey, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said about state legislatures across the country that will convene in 2021.

ICYMI: A huge U.S. study of another COVID-19 vaccine candidate got underway Monday as states continue to roll out scarce supplies of the first shots to a nation anxiously awaiting relief from the catastrophic outbreak. The candidate made by Novavax Inc. is the fifth to reach final-stage testing in the United States. Some 30,000 volunteers are needed to prove if the shot — a different kind than its Pfizer and Moderna competitors — really works and is safe.

ON THE HORIZON: It was a year like no other, and Americans shambled through it under circumstances that were uneven and sometimes downright punishing — and took photos with their phones along the way. Associated Press reporters went back to some of the people they interviewed during the news events of the past year and asked a straightforward question: What image on your phone’s camera roll tells YOUR story of 2020?


Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at

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