While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for December 23

Coronavirus

President asks for more money for Americans. President Donald Trump called on Congress to amend the COVID-19 relief bill, saying he wants $600 stimulus checks to be increased to $2,000.

“The bill they are now planning to send back to my desk is much different than anticipated,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter Tuesday. “It really is a disgrace.”

U.S. government operations are being funded on a temporary basis through Dec. 28, waiting for the $1.4 trillion in federal spending for fiscal 2021 that is also part of the bill.Trump pardons 15, including Russia probe figure George Papadopoulos and former GOP lawmakers 

Failure to either pass another stopgap bill or override a possible Trump veto of the legislation could result in a partial government shutdown.

Congress passed the legislation overwhelmingly on Monday night, and lawmakers have since left the Capitol for the holidays.

“This comes as quite a surprise,” Rep Adam Schiff (D-Calif) told NewsNation. “This is the problem when you have president who claims to be a dealmaker but is essentially missing in action.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seemed to respond to Trump’s video on Twitter saying: “The #COVID19 package, while imperfect, will save jobs and lives. The sooner the bill becomes law – the better. It will allow millions of businesses to avoid bankruptcy, deliver vaccines even faster, help those unemployed and provide money for families who are struggling.”javascript:false

Trump said he wants Congress to increase the amount in the stimulus checks to $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for couples, instead of the “ridiculously low” $600 for individuals currently in the bill.

Another grim record on the horizon. December is on pace to be the deadliest month for COVID-19 in Indiana. November holds that grim record right now.

As of December 21, 1,469 Hoosiers have died of coronavirus this month. The virus killed 982 people during the first 21 days of November.

According to data posted Tuesday on the state’s dashboard, 1,592 people died of COVID-19 last month.

“We thought the worse was in the spring,” said Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health Network.

Doctors are seeing patients die of COVID-19 more often now than ever before.

COVID-19 reaches Antarctica. The pandemic has finally reached every continent on Earth.

Chilean authorities announced that at least 58 people that were at two military bases in Antarctica or on a navy ship that went to the continent tested positive for the new coronavirus.

So far no other country with a presence in Antarctica has publicly reported any other cases.

Chile’s army announced Monday that 36 people at the Gen. Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Antarctic base have tested positive, and on Tuesday the health minister for the Biobio region in Chile said there are 21 infections involving people aboard the Chilean navy’s Sergeant Aldea supply vessel.

One more case was reported in Las Estrellas’ village, where civilian personnel working at the Lieutenant Rodolfo Marsh Martin Air Force Base live, said Eduardo Castillo, regional health secretary for the Magallanes area, which oversee Chilean operations in the Antarctic. The Sargento Aldea ship docked at that village, he added.

Birx announces retirement plans. Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, said Tuesday she plans to retire, but is willing to first help President-elect Joe Biden’s team with its coronavirus response as needed.

Birx, in an interview with the news site Newsy, did not give a specific timetable on her plans.

“I will be helpful in any role that people think I can be helpful in, and then I will retire,” Birx told the news outlet.

Birx and White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Her comments came just days after The Associated Press reported that she traveled out of state for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was urging Americans to forgo holiday travel.

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