Two thousand seven hundred Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday — a single-day record — as the United States reported nearly 200,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 deaths. In Los Angeles, ambulance crews have been ordered to ration oxygen, with EMTs told not to transport patients who show little chance of survival. ICUs in many Southern California hospitals are effectively full, with COVID patients spilling into hallways. COVID-19 is now a leading cause of death in the U.S., with one person dying of the disease every 33 seconds.
Amid the post-holiday surge, President Trump accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of greatly exaggerating the U.S. death toll — which now stands at over 353,000. Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci fired back on ABC News.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “The deaths are real deaths. I mean, all you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the healthcare workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations. In many areas of the country, the hospital beds are stretched. People are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel, who are exhausted right now. That’s real. That’s not fake.”
California reported more cases of a new coronavirus variant that many public health experts believe is even more contagious. It was also detected in New York for the first time, adding to fears it has already spread far and wide across the U.S.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday he would fine hospitals that fail to quickly administer their allotted doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The federal government has distributed more than 15 million doses, but so far only about 4.5 million people have received a shot.
This comes as the Food and Drug Administration recommended Monday against a proposal to cut doses of COVID-19 vaccines in half for younger people in order to stretch the U.S. vaccine supply. FDA officials also rejected mixing and matching vaccines, something officials in the U.K. are planning.
In the United States, polls have opened across Georgia for the two runoff races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. Over 3 million Georgia residents have already cast their ballots, in a record turnout for runoff elections.
On Monday, President Trump rallied thousands of unmasked supporters in a packed campaign event for Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, promoting baseless conspiracy theories about a stolen presidential election. During the event, Senator Loeffler promised to join a Republican effort to contest the Electoral College result during a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden headlined a drive-in rally in downtown Atlanta for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. We’ll have more on today’s historic Senate runoff in Georgia after headlines.
House Republicans are rushing to Donald Trump’s defense after the president was recorded pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election in the state. House Democrats are preparing a resolution to censure Trump over the call. New York Congressmember Alexanadria Ocasio-Cortez has gone further, saying Trump should be impeached.
Meanwhile, a top Georgia elections official on Monday debunked Trump’s baseless claims point by point. Gabriel Sterling is Georgia’s Republican voting implementation manager.
Gabriel Sterling: “This is all easily provably false. Yet the president persists.”
On Sunday, all 10 living former U.S. defense secretaries signed a Washington Post op-ed declaring that the time for questioning the results of the election has passed. They also said the U.S. military should not intervene in the presidential election. They wrote, “Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory.”
The Pentagon has approved a request by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser to call out the National Guard ahead of planned anti-democracy protests by Trump supporters. Wednesday’s rally is scheduled to coincide with a joint session of Congress, when lawmakers must vote to certify the results of the presidential election. During a similar protest in December, four people were stabbed and 33 arrested amid violent confrontations between far-right groups and anti-fascist counterprotesters.
Iran says it has resumed enriching uranium to 20% purity — a level barred under the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. President Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the landmark deal in 2018. Iran has long maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
This comes as foreign policy experts fear President Trump could be plotting an attack on Iran as one of his final acts before Joe Biden takes office on January 20.
In Nevada, Indigenous leader, land rights activist and water protector Carrie Dann has died at the age of 88. Beginning in the 1970s, Carrie Dann and her sister Mary refused to pay grazing fees to the federal government over its repeated violations of the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, which defined Western Shoshone territory. In the 1990s, armed federal marshals rounded up the Dann sisters’ horses and cattle in a series of sometimes violent raids, setting up a legal fight that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and the United Nations.
The Dann sisters also fought to restore Western Shoshone land poisoned by atomic bomb tests and cyanide used in gold mining operations. Carrie Dann spoke to Democracy Now! in 2008 about the fight against Barrick Gold and other mining companies.
Carrie Dann: “They pump water from these gold mines in order to get to that microscopic gold, which is under the water table. They pump anywhere from 20,000 gallons to 70,000 gallons per minute, 365 days out of the year. … They are pumping life, in my opinion, the life of the future generations, not only of the human life, but all life.”