VIRUS TODAY: Make-or-break in California, Midwest reprieve

California’s deadly Christmas was marked by pleas to avoid holiday gatherings outside the home and indoor church services

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

— California’s deadly Christmas was marked by pleas to avoid holiday gatherings outside the home and indoor church services in what could be a make-or-break effort to curb a coronavirus surge that already has filled some hospitals well beyond normal capacity.

— U.S. factories have been cranking out goods during much of the pandemic at rates that are remarkably close to normal. However, manufacturers are concerned they may not be able to keep pace until most of the country is vaccinated because the coronavirus continues to surge in areas where many plants are based.

— As much of the country experiences spiking virus rates, a reprieve from a devastating surge of the coronavirus in the Upper Midwest has given cautious relief to health officials, though they worry that infections remain rampant and holiday gatherings could reignite the worst outbreaks of the pandemic.

THE NUMBERS: The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 2,270.9 on Dec. 10 to 2604.9 on December 24, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

DEATH TOLL: The U.S. death toll stands at 329,124 people, roughly the same as the population of Riverside, California.

QUOTABLE: “The cozy comfort business continues to thrive because we’ve now worn slippers every day” since the pandemic hit, said Marshall Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group.

ICYMI: Hard-hit California eclipsed 2 million coronavirus cases on Christmas Eve as the U.S. headed into a holiday season of travel and family gatherings that threaten to fuel the deadly outbreak across the nation.

ON THE HORIZON: President Trump’s refusal of the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, which is linked to a $1.4 trillion government funds bill, could spark a federal shutdown at midnight Monday. Trump is in Florida, where the president has been spending the holidays golfing and tweeting.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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