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Cabinet resignations as low-key video address accepts there will be a ‘orderly’ transition

11.32am GMT

Clayton Dalton, a Harvard-trained emergency physician who lives and works in New Mexico, has written for us today on the topic of coronavirus, saying that this Covid wave has trapped healthcare workers in a nightmare:

“Hope is here,” reads a flashing road sign on the highway in New Mexico, where my wife and I live. We now have two coronavirus vaccines available in the United States that are safe and effective. I received my first dose just five days after the FDA issued an emergency approval for its use, a logistical miracle. Nearly 5 million Americans have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. If all goes well, enough people may be vaccinated to enable a return to something like normal by the end of the summer. It’s tempting to focus our attention on the future, as the end of the pandemic begins to come just barely into view.

After “Hope is here,” the next message that cycles through on the highway road sign says “Keep wearing your mask.” Even as the vaccine rolls out, the virus’s most frightening surge yet continues to gather astonishing power and momentum. All across the country, hospitals are beyond capacity and ICU beds are full. Hospital gift shops are being turned into makeshift patient rooms. But making room for new beds isn’t enough; you need nurses, environmental service workers, physicians and techs to staff those beds. And right now, all of those people are bone-tired and stretched thin. You can buy new beds, but training personnel takes time. We’re edging up to a hard limit on the number of patients we can take care of nationwide, and the virus is still finding thousands upon thousands of new hosts every day.

Related: This Covid wave has trapped healthcare workers in a nightmare. I see it every day | Clayton Dalton

11.15am GMT

One of the most pressing items on the agenda for the Biden administration will be dealing with the coronavirus pandemic that Donald Trump and his team have allowed to run out of control.

According to the Johns Hopkins university figures, yesterday the US recorded its highest ever tally of daily Covid deaths – 4,085. It is the first time the university’s tracker has recorded a number over 4,000. The US has now seen 365,321 deaths in total.

The pandemic is not yet showing any signs of slowing down. Rather, across the country, states are reporting an increase in numbers. California reported more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths in just two days and hospitalizations are at record-high levels, with nearly 23,000 patients admitted with the virus. In Los Angeles County, one person now dies of Covid-19 every eight minutes.

Arizona’s top health official said Thursday that “coming out of the Christmas holiday,” the state’s Covid-19 numbers are inching upward. “Cases and percent positivity are rising, as are inpatient and intensive care unit beds occupied by those with Covid-19. Regrettably, deaths from Covid-19 follow these trends,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state’s Department of Health Services.

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