VIRUS TODAY: Unemployment claims in US rise to 965,000

The closed sign of a former restaurant is displayed at a shopping center Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Houston. The latest figures for jobless claims, issued Thursday, Jan. 14, by the Labor Department, remain at levels never seen until the virus struck. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Here’s what’s happening Thursday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

— The number of people seeking unemployment aid soared last week to 965,000, the most since late August, offering evidence that the resurgent virus has caused a spike in layoffs. The Labor Department issued the latest figures for jobless claims, which remain at levels never seen until the virus struck in March. Before the pandemic, weekly applications typically numbered around 225,000. Last spring, after nationwide shutdowns took effect, applications for jobless benefits spiked to nearly 7 million — 10 times the previous record high.

— President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus action planaims to bring new urgency to the nation’s vaccination campaign coupled with another round of economic relief. The Biden plan being unveiled Thursday comes as a divided nation remains caught in the grip of the pandemic’s deadliest wave yet. More than 385,000 people have died in the U.S. Biden hopes his strategy puts the country on the path to recovery by the end of his administration’s first 100 days.

— The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots. Until the past few days, health care workers and nursing home patients had been given priority in most of the U.S. But amid frustration over the slow rollout, states have thrown open the line to many of the nation’s senior citizens with the blessing of the Trump administration. The minimum age varies from place to place — 65, 70 or higher.

THE NUMBERS: The U.S. is averaging about 246,000 new cases and more than 3,300 deaths each day. The nation’s death toll since the start of the pandemic now stands at more than 385,000.

QUOTABLE: “I’ve been in a house since March. I’m 81 years old. There’s a few things on my bucket list I’d like to accomplish yet.” — Gary Dohman of California after his son made an appointment for him to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Disneyland.

ICYMI: President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club’s failure to enforce Palm Beach County’s mask ordinance at its New Year’s Eve bash resulted in a warning but no fine or other punishment. The county sent a letter to the club’s manager on Wednesday telling him that future violations of the ordinance could result in fines of up to $15,000 for each violation. Video of the party shows that few of the 500 guests wore masks. The club did not respond to a call seeking comment.

ON THE HORIZON: California aims to administer 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines by Friday. Counties sought more doses after the state made up to 4 million more people eligible to be inoculated, including those 65 and older.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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