Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 65.2 million people and killed over 1.5 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:Dec 04, 7:31 amCOVID-19 vaccinations will be free of charge in FranceFrench Prime Minister Jean Castex said COVID-19 vaccinations will not be made compulsory but “will be free for all” in the country’s social security system.“Getting a vaccine is also about protecting others. It is a choice of trust, we must be as numerous as possible to get a vaccine,” Castex said at a press conference Thursday evening, while unveiling the country’s vaccination strategy.France will launch a COVID-19 vaccination campaign within weeks, pending regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency. The program will run throughout 2021, staggered over three categories of people.The first phase is slated to begin in January, with vaccines administered to nursing home residents and staff, representing one million people. A second phase starting in February will see 14 million people inoculated, based on age and medical criteria. The third and final phase, beginning in March, will target the remainder of the population who wish to be vaccinated.Through deals clinched by the European Union, France has secured some 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from several pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms that developed them and have applied for temporary authorization. Castex said that’s enough doses to inoculate 100 million people — more than France’s entire population.As of Friday afternoon, France’s health ministry had confirmed a total of 2,257,331 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 54,140 deaths.Dec 04, 5:18 amItaly reports nearly 1,000 new deaths in all-time highAn additional 993 deaths from COVID-19 were registered in Italy on Thursday, marking a new all-time high, according to data from the country’s civil protection agency.Italy’s previous single-day record of 969 new fatalities from the disease was set in late March, when the country was the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe.The Italian civil protection agency also reported 23,225 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 31,772 patients currently hospitalized with the disease, including 3,597 in intensive care.Since the start of the pandemic, Italy has confirmed more than 1,664,829 million cases, including at least 58,038 deaths, according to the civil protection agency.The country has the eighth highest case load in the world, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Dec 04, 4:17 amUS has worst day yet with record number of new cases and deathsThere were 217,664 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,879 additional deaths from the disease registered in the United States on Thursday, both numbers which shattered the country’s previous daily records, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.It’s the most new cases and deaths the U.S. has recorded in a single day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the 31st straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections, and the third time since the pandemic began that the daily figure has topped 200,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.A total of 14,143,801 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 276,366 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
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