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Jan. 19, 2021, 2:51 p.m. EST

U.S. climbs above 400,000 COVID-19 fatalities as California becomes first state with 3 million confirmed cases

L.A. County air quality regulator lifts limit on how many cremations can be performed to help clear backlog of bodies

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By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch

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Read: How to get a vaccine for someone who is homebound

“My job as governor of New York is to pursue every avenue, and that’s what I’m doing,” the Democratic governor said at a virtual news conference as he released a letter he’d written to New York-based Pfizer about his idea. He told the company it “could help us save lives right here in New York.”

In other news:

• A California state epidemiologist is urging a halt to more than 300,000 coronavirus vaccinations using a Moderna vaccine version because some people received medical treatment for possible severe allergic reactions, the AP reported. Dr. Erica S. Pan recommended providers stop using lot 41L20A of the Moderna vaccine pending completion of an investigation by state officials, Moderna, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal Food and Drug Administration. “Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory,” Pan said in a statement. Moderna said the company “is unaware of comparable adverse events from other vaccination centers which may have administered vaccines from the same lot.”

Don’t miss: Fear of new virus variant pushes U.S. toward more genomic sequencing

• A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that the majority of Americans of all political backgrounds think the deadly virus is only partly under control or not at all controlled. On Trump’s final day in office, the poll found just over 1 in 10 people surveyed said the pandemic is mostly under control, as Trump has repeatedly insisted. Almost six in 10 said they disapprove of Trump’s handling of the crisis, the Washington Post reported.

For more, see: Pfizer temporarily reduces European deliveries of vaccine while upgrading production capacity

• China is building a massive COVID-19 quarantine center on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang city, the site of a recent resurgence in cases that has led to lockdowns and restrictions on movement, AFP reported. The facility is expected to have capacity to hold more than 4,000 people once it’s completed, the news agency reported, citing local broadcaster CCTV. Work was started Jan. 13 as cities in northern China ordered millions to be locked down after hundred of new infections were recorded.

See now: West Virginia is vaccinating people faster than California — here’s why

• German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reached agreement with state leaders to extend coronavirus restrictions until Feb. 14 and to mandate the wearing of face masks on public transports and in shops, Reuters reported. Germany has had 2.0 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Johns Hopkins data shows, and at least 47,958 people have died.

See: These COVID-19 tax relief measures just got extended

Click to Play

The Month Coronavirus Unraveled American Business - A WSJ Documentary

When the coronavirus tore through industry, commerce and society in March 2020, the U.S. economy came to a screeching halt. Top executives relive the tough decisions they made as they scrambled to weather the storm. Photo Illustration: Adele Morgan/The Wall Street Journal

Latest tallies

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide climbed above 95.9 million on Tuesday, the Johns Hopkins data shows, and the death toll rose above 2.0 million. About 53 million people have recovered from COVID-19.

Brazil has the second highest death toll after the U.S. at 210,299 and is third by cases at 8.5 million.

India is second worldwide in cases with 10.6 million, and third in deaths at 152,556.

Read: Netflix may struggle for a successful sequel to early pandemic subscriber rush

Mexico has the fourth highest death toll at 141,248 and 13th highest case tally at 1.6 million.

The U.K. has 3.5 million cases and 91,643 deaths, the highest in Europe and fifth highest in the world.

See also: The coronavirus pandemic in the U.K. has never been worse. But Brits are moving around more than in March lockdown.

China, where the virus was first discovered late last year, has had 98,266 confirmed cases and 4,799 deaths, according to its official numbers.

Ciara Linnane is MarketWatch's investing- and corporate-news editor. She is based in New York.

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