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U.S. COVID-19 cases again under 200,000, but deaths spike nationwide

By
Don Jacobson
A worker is seen Tuesday bagging blocks of dry ice that will keep the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the necessary 84 degrees Fahrenheit below zero during shipment, at Cee Kay Supply in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
A worker is seen Tuesday bagging blocks of dry ice that will keep the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the necessary 84 degrees Fahrenheit below zero during shipment, at Cee Kay Supply in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- For the third straight day, there were fewer than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases in the United States on Tuesday -- but coronavirus deaths reached the 3,000 mark for just the third time to date.

According to updated data from Johns Hopkins University, there were about 198,400 new cases on Tuesday, a relatively small increase over Monday and Sunday. Before that, there were five straight days of at least 219,000 new cases.

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The Johns Hopkins data shows a little more than 3,000 deaths on Tuesday, about twice the previous day's toll and the most since Friday.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 16.96 million coronavirus cases and about 307,340 deaths nationwide, according to the data.

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Over the past week, there have been about 17,000 total deaths, an 11.4% weekly increase, according to a Department of Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News.

The U.S. average over the past week is 211,000 cases per day, according to Stat. The 30-day average is up 90%.

Hospitalizations nationwide rose by 2,300 to 113,000 on Tuesday, the largest one-day increase in more than a week, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

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The project said hospitalizations in the Midwest, however, appear now to be on the decline after seeing an explosive growth in cases last month.

In other COVID-19 developments Wednesday:

  • The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval for a "breakthrough" over-the-counter, home diagnostic COVID-19 test. Developed by Australian diagnostics company Ellume, the test correctly identifies 91% of positive samples and 96% of negative samples in people with no symptoms -- and 96% of positives and 100% of negatives in those with symptoms.
  • United Airlines announced it will begin a COVID-19 contact tracing program to collect key health information from passengers on all domestic and international flights. The initiative is believed to be the airline industry's most comprehensive public health contact information collection program to date.
  • The NFL says teams will not be allowed to have mandatory local "bubbles" or require players and staffers to stay at hotels during the playoffs. The league said earlier this week it does not expect to vaccinate players and staff before the playoffs and Super Bowl LV in February.

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