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U.S. sets records for Covid deaths, cases and hospitalization as CDC director delivers grim warning

"They're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said about the winter months.
Image: Covid drive testing
Drivers with appointments wait in line to get a free COVID-19 self-test at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, on Tuesday. Damian Dovarganes / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

In the grips of another Covid-19 surge, the United States set new records for deaths, cases and hospitalizations Wednesday. President Donald Trump looms large over Georgia's high-stakes Senate races. And we talk to one of the most fashionable octogenarians around: Tina Turner.

Here is what we're watching this Thursday morning.

U.S. sets new record for Covid deaths, cases and hospitalizations as virus runs rampant

In a year of grim Covid-19 records, the United States set three on Wednesday: 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 Projectreported that 100,000 people were hospitalized across the country.

Health experts are bracing for a possible surge in travel-related cases following Thanksgiving. Cases stemming from the holiday are likely to be apparent about a week to 10 days afterward.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield had a dire prediction for the winter months.

"I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," he said, warning that the U.S. could see 450,00 Covid-19 deaths by February.

The CDC is urging people not to travel over the Christmas holidays. But if you must, get coronavirus tests before and after, experts said.

The agency on Wednesday also shortened the 14-day quarantine recommendation to seven to 10 days.

With the virus surging across the country, see a map showing where the hot spots are.

When will Americans actually get the Covid vaccine? Officials offer different timelines. Here's what we know so far.

And tune into a special edition of Dateline NBC, "Race for a Vaccine," tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Ahead of the potential emergency authorization approvals from the FDA, NBC News' Lester Holt talks to the heads of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in their first joint interview about the plans for vaccine distribution and efforts to overcome public mistrust.

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

Trump looms over Georgia's high-stakes Senate races, worrying Republicans

President Donald Trump is ending his time in the White House as his bid for it began: waging a scorched-earth crusade against members of his own party, writes NBC News' Allen Smith.

With party control of the Senate hinging on a pair of runoff races in Georgia, Trump has spent the last few weeks trying to undermine confidence in an election he lost and attacking Republican officials whom he once endorsed.

Now Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the state Saturday and some Republicans fearthe president's rhetoric could keep some voters home during the Jan. 5 runoff election — exactly when they need them most.

"This is by far the toughest race we will ever navigate," said a Republican operative familiar with Sen. David Perdue's re-election campaign. "It's the most important, and it is the toughest."

Meantime, Trump has not ruled out the possibility of firing Attorney General William Barr, according to an administration official and two people familiar with the matter who also said a sudden departure is not seen as imminent.

Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that "we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election" — comments that appeared to fly in the face of Trump's baseless and false claims that the election he lost was rigged or that it involved voter fraud.

Trump is displeased with Barr for appearing to break with him over the claims of voter fraud, the NBC News' sources said.

Michael Flynn's firing: A lie, a leak, and then a liability

Now, after twice pleading guilty to making false statements to federal agents, Michael Flynn is a free man — thanks to a president who says his former national security adviser was targeted by an overzealous FBI in a set up orchestrated by political foes.

On Thanksgiving eve, Trump short-circuited the judicial process to grant Flynn a full pardon.

But a comprehensive examination of his time as Trump’s national security adviser, including interviews with more than 20 people who were directly involved in uncovering or covering up his actions, suggests that Flynn knowingly misled investigators and the president’s inner circle repeatedly.

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THINK about it

Trump and Bill Clinton both abused this presidential power. And it's gone on long enough, Jeffrey Crouch, author of "The Presidential Pardon Power," writes in an opinion piece.


Butternut squash is in season, here are the 14 best recipes for the autumnal veg.


We have two new podcast episodes from Modern Ruhles and Into America.

With covid cases on the rise again, MSNBC anchor and NBC News Senior Business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle discusses sex and dating amid the coronavirus pandemic with MSNBC Columnist Liz Plank.

And in the latest episode of Into Americahost Trymaine Lee explores the lives of two men: Malcolm X and the journalist who spent nearly 30 years chronicling him, the late Les Payne.


The best indoor plants ask little and give a lot, especially during the pandemic as temperatures drop.

A life well lived

Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan in 1968, died Wednesday. He was 86.

Johnson was among the world’s greatest athletes from 1955 through his Olympic triumph in 1960, when he was the U.S. team's flag bearer, the first Black America to hold that honor. His later career was marked by his humanitarian work, he co-founded the California Special Olympics in 1969 and lead it for a decade. He lit the Olympic flame for the 1984 Los Angeles Games, had a role in a Bond film and was married to his wife for 49 years.

"Rafer really paved the path for many of us to understand the responsibilities that come with being a successful athlete and the number of lives you can impact and change," said Olympic champion swimmer Janet Evans.

One fun thing

Speaking of lives well lived, Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, recently became an octogenarian — and she’s celebrating in style.

With the release of her pictorial autobiography, "That’s My Life," she explores how her sense of swagger and spirituality are reflected through the fashions and artistic expressions that span her decadeslong career.

NBCBLK caught up with Turner about her new book and how the legendary performer’s iconic flair for fashion has long reflected her inner world.

"Buddhism has taught me that inner beauty, the beauty that comes from loving and accepting yourself, imperfections and all, radiates to the outside," she said. "Whether I’m wearing a designer dress or a pair of old jeans, I’m still the same Tina. It’s happiness that becomes me."

Image: Tina Turner performs during her Private Dancer tour in 1985; Turner during her Break Every Rule tour in 1987; and Turner sings during a performance in 1997.
"I enjoyed looking good in a way that was joyous and celebrated my femininity without exploiting it," says Turner. Getty Images file

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Thanks, Petra