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First U.S. Covid-19 vaccines set to arrive, Russian hackers and SNL portrays Dr. Fauci as a sex symbol

The first federally approved coronavirus vaccine is set to arrive at 145 locations across all 50 states Monday.
Image: A plane of FedEx Express carrying a first batch of Pfizer/BioNTEch COVID-19 vaccine is seen at LAX Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Los Angeles
A plane of FedEx Express carrying a first batch of Pfizer/BioNTEch COVID-19 vaccine is seen at LAX Airport in Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 2020.Los Angeles World Airports / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

We may finally be turning a corner in the battle against the coronavirus. The first batch of the Covid-19 vaccines are set to begin rolling out in the United States today.

Here is what's happening this Monday morning.


Covid 'D-Day' arrives as vaccine set to arrive in all 50 states

Nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday for emergency use are expected to arrive at 145 locations across all 50 states today, marking the start of a massive logistical effort to halt the spread of the devastating virus.

Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, likened the colossal logistical challenge to the 1944 Normandy Landings, the Allied invasion that began the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe.

"D-Day was a pivotal turning point in World War II. It was the beginning of the end — and that's where we are today," Perna told a briefing Saturday. "But make no mistake it was not the end. Months and months of hard-fought battles occurred and it took diligence, courage and strength to eventually achieve victory."

Hospitals across the country have been grappling with how to distribute the first scarce shots.

While an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that top priority go to long-term care facilities and front-line health care workers, the initial allocation will still fall far short of the need and will require selective screening even among critical hospital workers.

The vaccine will not reach the vast majority of Americans until well into next year.

Still, it can't come soon enough as the nation struggles to contain the virus that's killed nearly 300,00 Americans. Infections topped 16 million over the weekend.

Meantime, Congress is facing a make-or-break week on a coronavirus relief package.

Congressional leaders have set a deadline of midnight Friday to pass legislation, but it's not clear that they can reach a deal in time.

Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.


Russian hackers breach U.S. government, targeting agencies, private companies

Hackers who targeted the federal government appear to be part of a Russian intelligence campaign aimed at multiple U.S. agencies and companies, including the cybersecurity company FireEye, officials said Sunday.

A Commerce Department spokesman confirmed a breach, saying it occurred at an unidentified bureau.

FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia said the hackers' primary goal appeared to be to steal information from the company's government clients.


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Quote of the day

"This is really the first time that there's genuine hope that we can turn the corner on this."

Dr. Taison Bell, a critical care physician who is scheduled to be one of the first health care workers at the University of Virginia Health System to get the Covid-19 vaccine.


One fun thing

While it’s hard to find any humor in the battle against the coronavirus, "Saturday Night Live" managed to do so this weekend.

The show presented Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as a sex symbol.

Fauci, played by Kate McKinnon, fended off fans who believe he has sex appeal as they threw bras at him.

"Throughout this whole thing," he said, "I've been the only one saying facts, so some people got a crush on me."

He also put a positive spin on Britain approving the Pfizer vaccine before the United States did.

"We’re doing this vaccine World War II style," he said. "We made England go in first, see what’s what. And then we swoop in at the end and steal the spotlight."

We apologize, this video has expired.

Thanks for reading. And thank you to Rachel Elbaum and Patrick Smith for filling in for me last week while I spent some time with my family.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra