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COVID-19 memorial will mark 400K US deaths; fired Florida data scientist-turned-whistleblower arrested

COVID-19 has killed nearly 400,000 Americans in less than a year and infections have continued to mount across the country despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines late in 2020. USA TODAY is tracking the news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates on the coronavirus, including who is getting the vaccines from Pfizer- BioNTech and Moderna, as well as other top 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 to learn more about the virus.

In the headlines:

► Rebekah Jones, the fired Florida Department of Health data scientist-turned-whistleblower, turned herself in to police Sunday night to face a felony charge. The arrest warrant affidavit mentioned suggested bond conditions of “no computer access, no internet access, and no contact with the witnesses or those people whose personal information was acquired through the download.” ► The majority of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic is out of control, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds. Only about 1 in 10 Americans say the pandemic is mostly under control, the poll found. “The nationwide survey shows that large majorities of people of all political affiliations say they think the deadly virus, which arrived in the country nearly a year ago, is only somewhat under control or not at all controlled,” the Washington Post said.

► More than 31 million vaccine doses have been distributed to states, but less than half of them have been used thus far. Acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is rising, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll finds, but so is pessimism about getting back to normal.

► As states continue to struggle with the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster threatened hospitals with an executive order to speed up vaccinations asking for a “Chick-Fil-A type assembly line” in a press conference Monday.

Story continues

► Officials on the Navajo Nation reported 65 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths. The latest figures released late Sunday bring the total reported coronavirus cases on the reservation to 26,448, including 922 deaths.

► President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is lifting pandemic travel restrictions for Europe and Brazil. Incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, however, tweeted that President-elect Joe Biden “does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.”

► Several California counties are pausing administration of more than 300,000 Moderna coronavirus vaccine doses after state health officials received reports of “possible allergic reactions” from one clinic.

► North Dakota reported zero coronavirus deaths Monday for the fifth time this month, although the fatality rate by population continues to be among the worst in the country.

► The U.K. government plans to offer a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every adult by September, while in Brazil, top officials approved the urgent use of coronavirus vaccines made by Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 24 million confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 400,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 95.5 million cases and 2 million deaths.

📘 What we’re reading: On Jan. 20,2020, the United States’ first known case of the novel coronavirus was discovered in Snohomish County, Washington. In the year since, COVID-19 has crept into every county in the nation, killing nearly 400,000 people, and infecting 1 in every 14 Americans. This is how the outbreak unfolded in that very first community.

Nationwide COVID-19 memorial scheduled Tuesday in Washington

A nationwide memorial to honor the lives lost to COVID-19 is scheduled for Tuesday evening, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Even though Washington, D.C., is at a heightened level of security following the Jan. 6 riots, the memorial “will feature a lighting around the the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool,” the PIC said in a statement on Monday.

President-elect Joe Biden – along with Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff – will participate in the event to light the reflecting pool with 400 lights to honor lives lost to COVID-19. This is the first-ever lighting around the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial.

Iconic buildings like the Empire State Building in New York to the Space Needle in Seattle are also scheduled to be illuminated. In addition, hundreds of towns, cities, tribes, landmarks and communities all across the country have also committed to joining the tribute in a national moment of unity.

Starbucks partners with Washington state on vaccine distribution logistics

The state of Washington is teaming with Starbucks to streamline vaccine rollout, setting a new goal to dole out 45,000 doses a day, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday.

“It is that type of total mobilization of our community we’re going to need to see, to meet these very, very ambitious targets,” he told NBC. “We did in World War II, we can do it now.”

The state has a population of 7.6 million, but only 31,500 people have been inoculated with both doses of the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

“We just did the math and figured out at this rate of vaccinations, it’s going to take 6,7,8 years for this country to get vaccinated,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said to NBC. “And we can’t think that’s an acceptable pace.”

Biden administration to take ‘more active role’ in COVID-19 response

The U.S. early Tuesday stood on the brink of 400,000 reported coronavirus deaths, almost double the total of the next most severely hit nation, Brazil.

The Trump administration set unrealistic expectations by saying 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of December, said Jason Schwartz, assistant professor of public health at Yale University. As of the last update Friday, 31.2 million doses had been distributed and 12.3 million vaccine shots had been applied, according to the CDC.

“The design so far of this vaccination rollout was so decentralized that it was basically, ship vaccines to each state, you tell us where to ship them, give us the mailing addresses and you take it from there,” Schwartz said. But “one thing we’ve seen already from the incoming Biden administration is they intend to have a far more active and engaged role in supporting this vaccination effort, coordinating it, leading it.”

Biden has assembled a COVID-19 response team and vowed to have 100 million doses of vaccine administered in his first 100 days in office. On Thursday, he proposed a $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief package that includes $70 billion for virus testing and a national vaccination program.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID update: US nears 400,000 deaths; Rebekah Jones arrested

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