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As some hospitals near 90% capacity due to COVID-19, this map can tell you if your local hospital is almost full

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This week, the Department of Health and Human Services 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, the HHS only released state and national hospital-bed data.

In California, hospital admissions have risen 70% over the last two weeks, leaving just 1,700 intensive-care unit beds available out of 7,800 in the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democratic, has 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 100,000 patients, and the number of people with the virus in ICUs has surpassed 20,000, as hospitals await a post-Thanksgiving in admissions, and brace for more after Christmas and Hanukkah.

A new tool can help people assess the situation in their area. Using 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,the HHS said. “Yet a different federal COVID-19 data system painted a much more dire picture (91%) for the same day,” it said.

As of Wednesday, 68.3 million people worldwide had contracted COVID-19 and 1.5 million people had died. The U.S. had 15.1 million cases and 286,325 fatalities, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations held below 60,000 during the first wave of the pandemic.

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,
+1.02%

 with family, aside from his wife of 35 years. For those who must travel long distances by plane or automobile, here is advice to you 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. ÕBioNTech SE
BNTX,
+1.92%

and Pfizer
PFE,
+3.18%

said a final analysis of their vaccine candidate showed 95% rather than 90% efficacy. Meanwhile, Moderna
MRNA,
+6.48%

 said its vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective.  

AstraZeneca
AZN,
+0.85%

 and the University of Oxford said their coronavirus vaccine is up to 90% effective when administered as a half-dose and a full dose one month later. Effectiveness falls to 62% when two full doses are given a month apart.

It was later revealed that the initial half-dose, deemed as the more effective option, was given accidentally to some participants who happened to be 55 or under. That was not initially disclosed. The company defended these errors and rebutted those saying it had lacked of transparency.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.35%
,
the S&P 500 Index
SPX,
+0.28%

 and the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
+0.50%

 closed higher Tuesday, buoyed by reports of a compromise between lawmakers on a new COVID-19–related stimulus bill, and progress with vaccines.



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These money and investing tips are timed for a bull market that looks short on time

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Don’t miss these top money and investing features:

These money and investing stories, popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week, can help you prepare your portfolio as stock buyers become more skittish and financial markets grapple with a less-friendly Federal Reserve — which savvy investors know not to fight.

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Why women investors are like Warren Buffett

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These money and investing tips can help you with stock and bond strategies to whip inflation

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These money and investing stories, popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week, can help you prepare your portfolio for a period of higher inflation — transitory or not.

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These money and investing tips can shine some light through the stock market’s ‘June gloom’

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Don’t miss these top money and investing features:

These money and investing stories, popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week, can help your decision-making if the market outlook becomes cloudier and momentum starts to fade — even as the outlook for the post-pandemic economy gets clearer.

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