VIRUS TODAY: Record US deaths come on day of Capitol attack

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FILE – In this Dec. 21, 2020, file photo, registered nurse Lydia Mauney works in a COVID-19 unit at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Calif. The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the same day as a mob attack on the nation’s capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

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

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

— The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the very day the mob attack on the Capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic. The virus is surging in virtually every state. California is particularly hard hit, with skyrocketing deaths and infections threatening to force hospitals to ration care. The same day that supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, the nation recorded nearly 3,900 deaths. Trump and his followers have resisted efforts to social distance or wear masks to slow the spread.

— California hospitals struggling with a skyrocketing coronavirus surge are trying to preparefor the possibility that they may have to ration care for lack of staff and beds. The state avoided surging cases for months, but now the virus is raging out of control there in the wake of Thanksgiving holiday gatherings. Only Arizona tops California in cases per resident — a fact that is drawing renewed scrutinyto Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who has resisted instituting restrictive measures.

— The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell slightly last week to 787,000, a historically high number that points to a weak job market held back by the pandemic. Thursday’s figure from the Labor Department shows that even with the pandemic recession in its 10th month, many businesses are still laying off workers. Before the recession, weekly jobless claims typically numbered around 225,000.

THE NUMBERS: According to data through Jan. 6 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 2,668.7 on Dec. 23 to 2,686.4 on Jan. 6.

DEATH TOLL: The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. stands at 361,453.

QUOTABLE: “Folks are gasping for breath. Folks look like they’re drowning when they are in bed right in front of us. I’m begging everyone to help us out because we aren’t the front line. We’re the last line.” — Dr. Jeffrey Chien, an emergency room physician at Santa Clara Valley Regional Medical Center

ICYMI: A subdued Carnival season began in New Orleans after the virus put an end to the crowd-heavy balls and street parades that draw thousands of people to the city every year. The Mardi Gras season always starts on Jan. 6 and ends on Fat Tuesday, which this year falls on Feb. 16. The season is usually marked by extravagant balls and parades where costumed riders throw trinkets to the mobs of people packed along the parade routes. The pandemic has put an end to those large events.

ON THE HORIZON: Mexico says it has been trying to get help from nonprofit groups or the U.S. government to get vaccines for Mexican migrantsworking in the United States. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Mexico would keep trying “because it is a universal right.” Migrants without documents often have trouble accessing health services in the U.S.

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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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