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France's Macron tests positive for Covid-19, U.S. sees deadliest day and a snow day in the Northeast

After months of stalemate, Congress appears to be close to a deal on a new coronavirus relief bill.
Image: People walk through Manhattan in a snow storm on Dec. 16, 2020 in New York City
People walk through Manhattan during New York City's snow storm on Wednesday evening. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The U.S. experienced the deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic yet on Wednesday as Congressional leaders and the White House inch closer to a deal on a relief package before the holidays. And today will be a snow day for much of the Northeast as the region faces its first big winter storm this year.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.

France's President Macron tests positive for Covid-19, U.S. sees deadliest day yet

French President Emmanuel Macron became the latest world leader to contract coronavirus Thursday, as countries across Europe struggle to suppress a spike in infections in the run-up to Christmas.

The news comes as the United States is battling its own surge. On Wednesday, the U.S. set new records for both the number of new Covid-19 cases and deaths.

Across the country, 232,086 new Covid-19 cases were reported, along with 3,293 deaths, according to NBC News' count. The previous single-day records for both reported cases and reported deaths was just last week on Dec. 10.

As the pandemic rages on, Congressional leaders and the White House are getting closer to an agreement on a roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief deal that will likely include a new round of direct payments, three sources familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.

A deal would break months of stalemate and partisan sniping, and bring fresh hope for a relief package ahead of the holidays.

Leaders of both parties sounded more hopeful Wednesday than they have in months.

"It's not a done deal yet. But we are very close," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

Meantime, Vice President Mike Pence will publicly receive a Covid-19 vaccine on Friday while President-elect Joe Biden is expected to get a shot as soon as next week.

Both leaders said they are taking it publicly in order to bolster confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine among the American people.

They have an uphill battle in some quarters as anti-vaccination voices grow louder.

NBC News' Brandy Zadrozny takes a closer look at one aspect of public life that has helped amplify the anti-vaccine message: Local news.

From California to Maine, local news stations have been covering their protests and giving anti-vaccination activists a microphone to spread misinformation.

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

Storm blasts East Coast, dumping more snow than some saw all last winter

Large parts of the East Coast will wake up to snow from a major winter storm that dumped more than a foot in parts of Pennsylvania, led to hundreds of car crashes and is suspected in the deaths of at least three people.

More than 6 inches of snow and sleet covered New York's Central Park at midnight, surpassing the 4.8 inches that fell all last winter, the National Weather Service said.

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THINK about it

The Covid-19 vaccine is safe — and scarce. That makes it ripe for the black market, security expert Roderick Jones writes in an opinion piece.


Who doesn’t need a little pick-me-up this year? Try these expert tips for lifting your spirits and enjoying a healthier holiday season.

Listen Up

Black-owned small businesses have been especially hard hit during the pandemic, closing at twice the rate of white-owned businesses.

But this week on our Into America podcast, Trymaine Lee reports on a collective of small businesses in Milwaukee, called Sherman Phoenix, that’s defying the odds and not only surviving these tough times – but thriving.


It's cold out there! Ladies, if you haven't sorted out your winter coat yet, here's our guide to the best ones out there.

Quote of the day

"This is the problem of information laundering. If you make a harmful position sound reasonable, then more people who would otherwise not be inclined to believe it, might be willing to look at it as an issue with two sides."

Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communication studies at Syracuse University, on local media giving anti-vaccination groups excessive air time.

One fun thing

When his Washington, D.C. school went remote, science teacher Jonte Lee brought his lessons to life in a unique way.

He turned his kitchen into a lab and bought supplies for his 35 students to follow along. Now his online lessons have gone viral and are reaching thousands of students across the country.

Lee, known as the "Kitchen Chemist," is thrilled his lessons have brought some joy in the midst of the pandemic.

"That's what teachers do. We find a way. We can make something out of nothing," he said.

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Thanks, Petra