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The United States has set three grim records, recording the highest number of daily deaths, new infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
According to an NBC News tally, the U.S. reported 2,777 coronavirus-related deaths and nearly 205,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, more people than ever are hospitalized. The Covid Tracking Project reported that 100,000 people were hospitalized across the country.
- 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.
Racial disparities create obstacles for Covid-19 vaccine rollout
Despite the potential for a vaccine within weeks, distrust of the medical community by Black andLatino people, who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, remains high as elected leaders and public health professionals work to prioritize its distribution.
Fueled by a dark history of medical experimentation and unequal access to care, people in Black and Latino communities struggling with high Covid-19 rates are among those least likely to get vaccinated, health advocates say. Overcoming systemic racism and the collective trauma associated with it will be paramount as officials rush to distribute vaccines to hard-hit communities, they warn.
"The people who need it the most are the same who don't trust it," said Sernah Essien of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, an international advocacy group working to ensure equitable vaccine access. "Without considering racial equity, we deepen the cracks that systemic racism has already created in our health care system."
The message is being heard at the highest levels.
After first round of vaccine distributions, bulk of planning remains unfinished
A panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week announced its guidelines for the first phase of the most ambitious national vaccination campaign in modern history.
Yet beyond the guidelines advising states about how to deploy their vaccines — and a large Defense Department operation to deliver them — the Trump administration hasn't prepared for a major federal role, a lack of planning that is causing significant anxiety among state and local health officials.
The significant checklist of unmet federal responsibilities underscores the challenges ahead for President-elect Joe Biden, who inherits most of the burden for executing a successful nationwide campaign to vaccinate all Americans, potentially without the billions of dollars in additional funding that will be needed.
More than 2,800 in U.S. reported dead Thursday
The U.S. on Thursday again surpassed its record for coronavirus-related deaths when more than 2,800 people were confirmed dead from Covid-19, according to an NBC News tally.
The previous record came just one day earlier when the county also saw the highest number of new infections and hospitalizations.
Thursday was the third straight day the U.S. reported more than 2,000 deaths in a day. More than 276,700 people in the U.S. have died from the virus since the pandemic began.
Navajo Nation headed for lockdown amid 'major health care crisis'
A stay-at-home lockdown was announced Thursday in the Navajo Nation as officials there say its hospitals are grappling with a "major health care crisis."
In a statement, the office of the president and vice president ordered residents in the nation, which has a population of roughly 172,000 people and is spread across 27,000 square miles in three southwestern states, to stay at home for non-essential activities beginning Monday.
Weekend curfews will begin Dec. 11 and continue through the end of the month.
“We have been in a state of emergency since the pandemic began here on the Navajo Nation, but that has now elevated to a major health care crisis,” said Dr. Loretta Christensen, Chief Medical Officer for Navajo Area Indian Health Service.
“Our health care experts are now saying that the current wave or surge is far more severe and troublesome than the wave that we saw in April and May, perhaps four or five times larger according to projections,” she said.
Christensen said there is already a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen supplies and medical personnel.
More than 17,000 Navajo have been infected, or nearly 10 percent of the population. Six hundred and sixty-three people have died.
Dallas-Fort Worth businesses roll back business capacity
North Texas, including the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, is rolling back occupancy allowances for businesses as the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations has risen, a top government executive said.
Restaurants, gyms, retail stores, offices and other places are now limited to 50 percent capacity, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Thursday. Since October, that limit had been 75 percent.
The reductions were triggered under the governor's executive order because the number of Covid-19 patients in regional hospitals has been greater than 15 percent of hospital beds for seven straight days, Jenkins said.
Jenkins and the judge Tarrant County, where Fort Worth is located, told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth the rollback would happen immediately. In Texas, the elected official who is the chief executive for county government is called the county judge.
Ohio firefighter dies from Covid complications
A 30-year veteran of the Washington Township, Ohio, Fire Department died Thursday from complications from Covid-19, the town announced in a Facebook post.
Lieutenant Jeff Guernsey worked with the department since the beginning of his career in 1990.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Guernsey family," Township Administrator Jesse Lightle said. "Their grief is unimaginable and our hearts go out to them.”
Guernsey was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, serving in the Navy. He was also part of the Washington Township honor guard. He is survived by his wife and four children.
“Washington Township has lost a truly remarkable person," Fire Chief Scott Kujawa said. "Jeff could make any of us smile."
Pray and fast for people affected by COVID-19, Oklahoma governor says
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt called on residents to pray Thursday for people affected by Covid-19 as new coronavirus cases continue to rise across the state.
In a statewide declaration of “prayer and fasting,” Stitt said “we must continue to ask God to heal those who are sick, comfort those who are hurting and provide renewed strength and wisdom to all who are managing the effects of COVID-19.”
He added that it is “important to find safe ways to gather” and that churches and faith communities “have an incredible opportunity during this season to provide hope to Oklahomans who are struggling.”
Some Christian doctors implored worshippers to observe the day safely, and health officials have called on Stitt to implement more robust measures to prevent the spread of the virus, like a statewide mask mandate.
The state has seen a 21 percent rise in cases over the last two weeks and a 35 percent increase in deaths, according to an NBC News analysis. Nearly 2,000 people have died from the virus since March, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Delaware to temporarily halt in-person learning at schools
Delaware Gov. John Carney said Thursday that state schools will halt in-person learning later this month and move to virtual and “hybrid” models in January amid a dangerous surge in coronavirus infections.
The order takes effect Dec. 14, Carney’s office said in a joint statement with the state Division of Public Health. Students will attend school virtually through Jan. 8. A combination of in-person and remote learning will begin three days later, the statement said.
While schools have remained relatively safe environments through the pandemic, Carney said, administrators and teachers “face significant operational challenges as we see more community spread.”
“If we pull together and follow the public health advice, we can get more children in classrooms, and get through this difficult winter,” he said.
What parents should know about vaccine trials for children
Lubbock, Texas, reports that it has no more hospital beds
The city of Lubbock, Texas, has reported that it's out of hospital beds as the nation faces a record number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
There were 22 patients in need of the final 17 open beds, according to the city's Covid-19 dashboard. The news of negative beds in Texas comes on the same day California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a new regional stay-at-home based on dwindling intensive care unit availability.
Newsom's order requires non-essential businesses to close for three weeks when the region's ICU bed capacity falls under 15 percent.
Texas is not currently under any stay-at-home orders. More than 22,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Texas, with confirmed cases just shy of 1.3 million by a few thousand as of Thursday afternoon.