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Covid live updates and vaccine news: Latest CDC guidelines and state restrictions

As the world prepares for vaccines to arrive, testing capacity has reached critical levels in the U.S. as cases continue to rise.
Image: TOPSHOT-US-HEALTH-VIRUS
Healthcare worker Demetra Ransom comforts a patient in the Covid-19 ward at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on Friday.MARK FELIX / AFP - Getty Images

Coronavirus testing facilities across the U.S. face being overwhelmed by demand, as states continue to introduce new social restrictions to combat rising infections. Some 32 states, plus Washington D.C., have seen a rise in cases in the last two weeks.

A CDC panel this week agreed how Covid-19 vaccines should be distributed — but meanwhile cases continue to rise amid economic uncertainty and personal tragedy.



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Covid now leading cause of death in U.S., researchers say

Covid-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States, researchers at the University of Washington said Friday.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in a briefing that the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the last week, 11,820, "makes COVID-19 the No. 1 cause of death in the United States of America this week."

The virus topped the nation's perennial No. 1 killer, ischemic heart disease, which was said to be responsible for 10,724 deaths in the last week, according to the Washington team.

For the year, Covid-19 was projected to end up in second place, behind ischemic heart disease, researchers said. Tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer was in third place.

The institute said it estimates 15 percent of Americans have been infected. The United States recorded 2,802 virus-related deaths Thursday and 279,224 since the pandemic began, according to an NBC News tally.

"Our model projects 539,000 cumulative deaths on April 1, 2021," the briefing states. "Daily deaths will peak at 3,000 in mid-January."