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America's chaotic vaccine rollout, Dems ready to go it alone on Covid relief and what's behind the GameStop frenzy

“It's like a competition between the virus and science," one health expert said about the race to vaccinate people before the coronavirus mutates.
Image: A nurse administers the Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in the parking lot of Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., on Jan. 22, 2021.
A nurse administers the Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in the parking lot of Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., last week. Jae C. Hong / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

This morning we take a look inside America's chaotic vaccine rollout, the timeline that led to the GameStop-Robinhood-WSB explosion and the legacy Cicely Tyson leaves behind.

How delayed doses, unfulfilled requests and last-minute allocations slowed vaccine rollout

Since the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine started last month, every week has been a test of patience for Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert.

"We don't know how many doses we'll get, so we don't know how to organize staffing or how many volunteers we need," said Ruppert, health commissioner in Rockland County, New York.

Ruppert is not alone. Health clinics across the country have been left in the dark about how many doses they’ll receive, forcing them to scramble at the last minute to schedule appointments — making the distribution of the life-saving vaccine a logistical nightmare.

"Think of it this way: We are the last in line to get information, but we're the first in line for the public," said Lori Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

It all comes as scientists warn that the U.S. is in a race against time to vaccinate as many people as possible before other potentially more worrisome variants of the coronavirus emerge.

The first U.S. cases of the South African variant were found in South Carolina on Thursday, health officials announced.

In other developments:

A look at how GameStop-Robinhood-WSB reached this boiling point

The stock market frenzy around GameStop has been years in the making, NBC News' technology reporters David Ingram and Jason Abbruzzese report.

The seemingly sudden explosion actually reflects the parallel growth of two extreme online communities: users of the stock trading app Robinhood and members of a Reddit message board.

Check out a timeline of how r/wallstreetbets, also known as WSB, and Robinhood came to be.

On Thursday, online brokers restricted GameStop trading in an effort to protect users, but ended up infuriating them instead.

MSNBC anchor and NBC News Senior Business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle digs into how a Reddit chat room "gamed" the stock market in her latest podcast.

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THINK about it

Trump's rise and fall unified the two most pernicious, racist myths about America, Phillip Gorski, a professor of sociology and religious studies at Yale University, writes in an opinion piece.


Can I travel after I get a Covid-19 vaccine?


Godiva has announced it will close all its North American stores. One frequent visitor describes how she'll miss the simple, sweet break from life it always delivered.

RIP Cicely Tyson

We lost another legendary actress yesterday with the death of Cicely Tyson.

The groundbreaking film, television and stage actress known for "Sounder" and other roles, died Thursday at the age of 96, her family said.

Tyson, who was born and raised in Harlem, was first discovered as a model for Ebony Magazine. She gained fame in the early 1970s when Black women were finally starting to get starring roles.

In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

"Cicely made a conscious decision not just to say lines but to speak out," Obama said as he presented Tyson with the honor.

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Thanks, Petra