By MORGAN WINSOR, IVAN PERERIA and ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 72.8 million people and killed over 1.6 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:
Dec 15, 5:51 am
London to move to tightest COVID-19 restrictions
London and other parts of England will move into the country’s highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions amid rising infections, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Monday.
The British capital, along with most of Essex and parts of Hertfordshire, will be moved from England’s “high alert” Tier 2 to the “very high” Tier 3 on Wednesday morning at 12 a.m.
“Over the last three weeks we’ve seen very sharp exponential rises in the virus across London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire,” Hancock said while announcing the decision in Parliament.
Under the Tier 3 level of local restrictions, all hospitality venues including bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants must close except for takeout and delivery services. Sports fans also can’t attend events in stadiums. Indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, cinemas and theaters, must also remain shut. However, retail shops, gyms and hair salons can stay open.
Londoners, who are already unable to mix indoors with people from other households under Tier 2, will now not be able to meet in private gardens or at most outdoor venues except with those within their household or bubble. They may meet up to six people in other outdoor spaces such as beaches, parks, public gardens and sports facilities.
Hancock said a new variant of the novel coronavirus has been identified and “may be associated” with the rapid spread in southern England. London’s weekly case rate at 225 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people is currently the highest regional rate in the country.
“We do not know the extent to which this is because of the new variant, but no matter its cause, we have to take swift and decisive action, which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccines roll out,” he said.
Although London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the decision was “incredibly disappointing for businesses who have suffered so much already,” he also acknowledged that “the virus is accelerating.”
“It would be such a tragedy to lose even more people to this disease when the vaccine is now being rolled out across our city,” Khan said in a statement Monday evening. “We know from bitter experience that when cases start to rise quickly, it’s much better to act early, rather than too late. This is how we can avoid even tougher restrictions, for longer, further down the road.”
Dec 15, 4:13 am
US reports over 193,000 new cases
There were 193,454 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the 42nd straight day that the U.S. has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Monday’s tally is less than the country’s all-time high of 231,775 new cases confirmed on Dec. 11, according to Johns Hopkins data.
An additional 1,441 deaths from the disease were also registered nationwide on Monday, bringing the cumulative count past the 300,000 mark. Monday’s death toll is down from a peak of 3,300 fatalities on Dec. 11, according to Johns Hopkins data.
A total of 16,519,628 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 300,482 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.
The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.
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