Coronavirus updates: NYC deputies to enforce quarantine; COVID-19 antibodies likely protect from reinfection, studies show; 325K US deaths

USA TODAY follows the news of COVID-19 as two vaccines join the U.S. fight against a virus that has killed more than 325,000 Americans since the first reported death in February. Keep this page updated for the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who is getting the footage and where, as well as other COVID-19 news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter to get updates straight to your inbox, join our Facebook group, or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions to find out everything you need to know about the coronavirus.
In the headlines:
►Pfizer and BioNTech announced an agreement with the US government to provide an additional 100 million doses of the companies' vaccine. This agreement brings the total number of cans to be shipped to the US by July 31 to 200 million. Here's what experts say about vaccine distribution.
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►AFC East Champion Buffalo Bills is investigating a plan that will allow up to 6,700 fans to play their remaining home games, including at least one in the playoffs. The plan, which has yet to be approved, provides for the use of rapid COVID-19 tests and contact tracing.
►Luke Letlow, a Republican from Louisiana who was elected U.S. Representative in November, has been transferred to intensive care at a Shreveport hospital to continue treatment for COVID-19. Letlow, 40, is in stable condition.
►Canada approved Moderna's vaccine, saying the shipments should enter the country within 48 hours. Health officials approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on December 9th. Canada should receive 40 million doses of Moderna's vaccine in 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, or about two-thirds of the country's adult population.
►The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits fell by 89,000 last week to still 803,000, proof that the job market remains under stress. Typically around 225,000 unemployed per week were reported before the virus emerged.
► House Democrats said they plan to offer legislation that will increase President Donald Trump's proposed $ 600 stimulus check to $ 2,000. The president's own party flinched, however, and the fate of the surge remained in doubt on Wednesday.
► Another 3,401 deaths in the US were recorded on Wednesday. This is the second highest number in history, according to Johns Hopkins University. It is the fifth time the death toll has exceeded 3,000 in one day, and all five times this month. The U.S. reported more than 19,000 deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in seven days.
►Germany, with roughly a quarter of the U.S. population, reported a daily record of 962 deaths despite recent restrictions that shut most stores down, tightened social rules and urged people not to visit relatives over Christmas.
? Today's Numbers: More than 18.4 million coronavirus cases and 325,500 deaths have been confirmed in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: More than 78.5 million cases and 1.72 million deaths.
Here's a closer look at today's top stories:
NYC Orders Foreign Visitors To Quarantine; Britain is expanding restrictions to fend off new variants
New York City began quarantining visitors from abroad on Wednesday to protect against the new variant of coronavirus in the UK. The order comes with a threat of a $ 1,000 fine for violations and the possibility of a sheriff's deputy knocking on the door.
"There will be a direct home or hotel visit from the sheriff's deputy to confirm they are following the quarantine," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Or if they don't, they will be punished."
Across the Atlantic, the discovery of the new strain has led UK authorities to extend the toughest Tier 4 restrictions to six million people in the east and south-east of England as of Saturday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said another variant from South Africa was found in the UK, where several areas have moved up to Tier 2 or 3 levels of restrictions.
Studies show that COVID is likely to protect against re-infection
People with antibodies to contracting the coronavirus develop protection against re-infection for up to six months or more, much like a vaccine, two new studies show. Not only do the results bode well for the new COVID-19 vaccines, but they are also good news for those recovering from the disease.
The researchers found that people with antibodies to natural infections were "much less likely" to get re-infected with the virus, said Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the US National Cancer Institute, adding that "it's very, very rare" to get infected again.
The National Cancer Institute study enrolled more than 3 million people who had antibody tests from two private laboratories in the US while the other examined more than 12,500 health workers at Oxford University Hospitals in the UK. Both showed that people who produced antibodies were 10 times less likely to have a second infection.
CDC urges Americans to stay home as millions flock to airports
Millions of Americans travel before Christmas and New Years even though public health experts have asked to stay home and avoid fueling the pandemic. An average of more than 1 million people a day have flown through the country's airports in the past five days, roughly as many as the airports for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Stay at home to best protect yourself and others from # COVID19 this holiday season," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweeted on Wednesday. "Organize a virtual Christmas dinner with friends and family, meet for a virtual exchange of gifts, decorate your home or do some festive handicrafts."
Jennifer Brownlee, 34, a fisherwoman from Bayou La Batre, Alabama, flew to Oregon from the Tampa Airport to see her mother, who had just lost a leg.
"My mother is worth it. She needs my help," Brownlee said. "I know God has me. He won't make me sick. "
The vaccine purchase should provide enough for "any American who wants it by June".
The federal government has agreed to pay $ 1.95 billion for a second round of 100 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and partner BioNTech. The deal brought the total number of doses of this vaccine to be shipped to the United States by July 31 to 200 million. Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said in a statement that the latest deal can give people confidence “that we will have enough supplies to vaccinate any American who wants by June 2021. "
Pfizer's vaccine was the first to receive emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and healthcare workers are already being vaccinated. A second vaccine, developed by Moderna in collaboration with scientists from the National Institutes of Health, is also currently in use.
Contributor: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: COVID Vaccine Update: 100 Million More Pfizer Doses; Stimulus in the air

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