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The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first country to formally approve the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, a huge symbolic milestone in the fight against the pandemic.
The vaccine has been authorized far quicker than any other in history, its lightning development outpacing the 15-20 years it usually takes to develop these types of medicines.
The first inoculations are set to be rolled out next week, the government said.
- Map of U.S. hot spots and worldwide Covid-19 cases.
- Tracking surges in states across the country this winter.
- Map of travel restrictions and which states have a mask mandate.
- Click here for more of NBC News' Covid-19 coverage.
Let government employees work from home after the pandemic, former cyber leaders say
Former cybersecurity chiefs from five U.S. agencies are calling for the government to let more government employees work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic is over.
The group, comprised of former Chief Information Officers at agencies like the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development, jointly argued for the shift in an online pamphlet released Thursday.
"Senior government managers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the changes brought about by the pandemic," the former CIOs wrote, saying allowing the practice can improve morale and save taxpayers money.
Many federal employees rapidly shifted to working from home in the early days of the pandemic, initially prompting cybersecurity concerns that they were creating opportunities for hackers, though they have since settled into some accepted best practices.
The United States set three grim records on Wednesday, recording the highest number of daily deaths, new infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
The U.S. reported 2,777 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday alone, according to an NBC News tally. The country registered nearly 205,000 new cases of Covid-19 on the same day, a figure that comes just a month after the U.S. single-day record topped 100,000 cases for the first time.
Meanwhile, more people than ever are hospitalized. The Covid Tracking Project reported that 100,000 people were hospitalized across the country.
Much of the United States has seen a rise in cases over the last month. In the last two weeks that surge has been most acute In New Mexico, Arizona and California, where the percentage of new cases has risen by 109 percent, 90 percent and 75 percent, respectively, according to NBC News data.
“Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing, deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said during a briefing.
'Cancel everything,' LA mayor says as he issues 'safer at home' order
The Los Angeles mayor on Wednesday night issued a "safer at home" order.
The order, which modifies an existing one, means the city rules now mirror restrictions put in place by Los Angeles County, the mayor's office said. Those, among other things, bar most gatherings with people from different households. People are urged to stay at home as much as possible.
"My message couldn't be simpler: It's time to hunker down," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "It's time to cancel everything. And if it isn't essential, don't do it."
Wednesday saw the highest daily number yet of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Los Angeles County, with 2,439, the county department of health said.
The department announced nearly 6,000 more cases and 40 new deaths Wednesday. More than 7,700 people have died in the county overall in the pandemic.
Health experts warn: We're in really big trouble
More than 204,000 new cases reported Wednesday
The United States surpassed another grim milestone Wednesday, with nearly 205,000 new cases of Covid-19 reported in a single day, according to an NBC News tally.
That figure comes just a month after the U.S. single-day record topped 100,000 cases for the first time.
More than 2,700 people died Wednesday, according to the data.
And more people than ever are hospitalized with the coronavirus. The COVID Tracking Project reported that 100,000 people were hospitalized across the country on Wednesday.
Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing dies at 94
PARIS — Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France from 1974 to 1981 who became a champion of European integration, died on Wednesday. He was 94.
Giscard d’Estaing’s office said he passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region, in central France, after contracting COVID-19.
“In accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in strict privacy,” his office said.
Giscard d’Estaing was hospitalized last month with heart problems, but remained vigorous deep into old age.
Correctional facilities suffer from Covid hotspots as cases surge
Austin mayor told residents to stay home, but he was on vacation in Mexico
AUSTIN, Texas — The mayor of Austin, Texas, is apologizing for taking a family vacation to Mexico in November at the same time he was telling residents to stay home because of a worsening surge in coronavirus cases.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Wednesday that his trip to Cabo San Lucas “set a bad example.” The apology came hours after the Austin American-Statesman published a story revealing the vacation, which Adler had previously never mentioned publicly.
At one point during the trip to Mexico, Adler even posted a video on Facebook telling people in Austin that now was “not the time to relax” and urging them to stay home.
Texas this week surpassed 9,000 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 for the first time since summer.
The mayor has been among the state’s most vocal politicians in pleading for vigilance during the pandemic.
Obama will 'absolutely' get vaccine, may do so on video
Former President Barack Obama said he will "absolutely" get a Covid-19 vaccine — and that he may do so on television or otherwise recorded in an effort to help convince people it is safe.
He made the comments on SiriusXM's "The Joe Madison Show,” which will air Thursday, during a discussion that touched on possible skepticism in the Black community. The former president said he trusts completely National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci.
"If Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely, I'm going to take it," Obama said, according to a transcript released SiriusXM.
"And I understand, historically, everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth, why the African-American community would have some skepticism," Obama said.
"But the fact of the matter is, is that vaccines are why we don't have polio anymore," the former president said, also noting the higher rate of death from Covid-19 in the Black and other communities.
FDA to hold public hearings next week to discuss vaccine
More than 100,000 in U.S. hospitalized with Covid
The U.S. has hit a record number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, surpassing the number of people who were admitted during the country's first peak months ago.
More than 100,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Surges in new positive cases and hospitalization have been reported across the country as officials hope vaccines will be approved for distribution by the end of the month.