The Department of Health and Human Services this week released data on the number of beds available at individual hospitals for the first time, and said it would continue to do so on a weekly basis. Previously, HHS had only released state and national hospital-bed data.

In California, hospital admissions rose 70% in two weeks, leaving intensive-care units with less than 10% availability in the state, and 4.2% in Southern Californian hospitals. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, issued stay-at-home orders in regions where ICU beds fell below 15% capacity.

The U.S. set a record for COVID-19-related hospitalizations this month with more than 109,000 patients, and the number of people with the virus in ICUs has surpassed 21,200, as hospitals await a post-Thanksgiving surge in admissions and brace for more after Christmas and Hanukkah.

The New York Times COVID-19 Tracking Project calculated that hospitals serving more than 100 million Americans currently have just 15% of ICU beds still available. There has been 186,884 new cases over the last 24 hours, and infections have risen by over 10% in the last week.

A new tool can help people assess the situation in their area. Using the University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project, NPR created a map for people to find out how many COVID-19 hospitalizations there are in their county as a percentage of the total number of beds.

See NPR’s hospital map here.

One note of caution: Science Magazine said there may be discrepancies in the HHS hospital-bed numbers. On Nov. 16, 71% of Wisconsin’s hospital beds were filled, HHS said. “Yet a different federal COVID-19 data system painted a much more dire picture (91%) for the same day,” according to the magazine.

As of Monday, 72.3 million people worldwide had contracted COVID-19 and 1.6 million people had died. The U.S. had 16.2 million cases and 299,191 fatalities, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations held below 60,000 during the early wave of the pandemic in the spring.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the past three decades, has said that people should avoid travel this month. “For the first time in more than 30 years, I’m not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters,” he said.

Fauci had said much the same in October, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, about gathering only on Zoom
ZM,
-0.26%

 with family, aside from his wife of 35 years. For those who must travel long distances by plane or automobile, here is advice on how to stay safe.

Dispatches From a Pandemic:It’s 2:30 a.m. in Wyoming: ‘You’re holding a smartphone to let a husband say goodbye to his wife via FaceTime after 60 years of marriage’

There has been progress on vaccines. BioNTech SE
BNTX,
-14.95%

and Pfizer
PFE,
-4.64%

said a final analysis of their vaccine candidate showed 95% rather than 90% efficacy. Meanwhile, Moderna
MRNA,
-1.19%

 said its vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective.  

A vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca
AZN,
-7.81%

 and the University of Oxford is safe and effective and showed an average efficacy of 70% in a pooled analysis of interim data, according to a peer-reviewed study published Tuesday.

Efficacy was 62% for trial participants who received two full doses of the experimental vaccine, but increased to 90% among a subgroup of volunteers who received a half dose, then a full dose, according to the full late-stage clinical trial data published in The Lancet.

Shares of Sanofi
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-2.38%

 fell Friday after the French drug company said the COVID-19 vaccine treatment it is developing with U.K. pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline
GSK,
-2.02%

 has been delayed due to insufficient immune response in the elderly.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
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-0.62%
,
S&P 500 Index
SPX,
-0.44%

 and Nasdaq Composite
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+0.50%

rose Monday. Reports of a compromise between lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle on a new COVID-related stimulus bill, and progress with vaccines have helped stocks make gains in recent weeks.



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