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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.
Biden asks Fauci to stay on, will call on Americans to wear masks for 100 days
President-elect Biden said Thursday that he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay in his current role, and to also serve as a chief medical adviser.
Fauci had told NBC News on Thursday he would stay in his current role and work closely with the new administration.
Biden, in an interview with CNN, said that he’d be “happy” to get publicly vaccinated conditional on Fauci saying that it is safe. He also said that when inaugurated he will ask Americans to wear a mask for 100 days.
"It is important that we in fact, the president and the vice president, we set the pattern by wearing masks but beyond that, where the federal government has authority I'm gonna issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked," he said.
He added, "Just 100 days to mask. Not forever. 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction ... if that occurs, with vaccinations and masking, to drive down the numbers considerably."
Hundreds protest closing of Staten Island bar that refused Covid-19 measures
Hundreds of protesters gathered on Wednesday night outside a Staten Island bar that shut down after refusing to follow Covid-19 measures, authorities said.
The large demonstration came a day after Mac’s Public House, a bar in an area where the city prohibits indoor dining, was forced to close its doors after it violated multiple health and liquor laws, the New York City Sheriff’s Office said.
The protesters, some of whom weren’t wearing masks, blocked traffic and demanded the business reopen as deputies stood outside the tavern. The bar had operated without a liquor license and served patrons food and alcohol indoors past the city’s 10 p.m. curfew, NBC New York reported.
The crowd also took aim at Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for enforcing Covid-19 restrictions on indoor dining services, according to the station.
'A matter of days': Pence on start of vaccine distribution
At a roundtable in Memphis, Tennessee this afternoon focused on the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, Vice President Mike Pence said that we are “within a matter of days of distributing tens of millions of Covid vaccinations to the American people.”
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been submitted for approval by the Food and Drug Association. If approved, Pence said that they will be made available to Americans within 24 hours, beginning with frontline health care workers, first responders and long-term care residents and staff.
Pence also noted that pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens should start administering the vaccine “literally 48 hours” after FDA approval as part of this public-private partnership, and stressed that the vaccine would first go to those at long-term care facilities.
Also present at the roundtable were Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and FedEx Chairman Frederick Smith, among other local leaders.
Raj Subramaniam, CEO and President of FedEx Corporation said that because of the company’s international footprint, they will be able to help facilitate the transfer of both vaccine doses and personal protective equipment around the world, “in a matter of days.”
Speaking about administering the vaccine to long term health facilities, Azar said, “We've paid for the vaccines. We paid for the shipping costs, and the administration costs for these private sector partners will be covered,” adding that this includes those without insurance.
Adding to this, Redfield called the vaccine a “game changer,” detailing how states will begin to place orders for the vaccine by the end of this week. He asked those at the roundtable to help create a culture of “vaccine confidence” through promoting the use of the vaccine and engaging communities to build trust.
Rebecca Hankins contributed to this report.
Fauci meets with Biden transition team
Dr. Anthony Fauci formally met with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team for the first time on Thursday to discuss the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci told NBC News he participated in a “very productive Zoom meeting," which lasted for an hour, with Biden’s team. Fauci said they discussed “a variety of Covid-related topics.” A senior transition official said Jeff Zients, who’s expected to be the incoming administration’s Covid-19 czar, led the discussion for the Biden team.
In an interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" ahead of the virtual meeting, Fauci said he has talked informally with members of Biden's team, including Zients, to coordinate the response to the pandemic.
Former President Jimmy Carter urges Americans to get Covid vaccine
Jimmy Carter, the nation's longest-lived former president, is urging Americans to get coronavirus vaccines as soon as they are able to.
A spokesperson for Carter, 96, and his wife Rosalynn, 93, said the former first couple "are in full support of Covid-19 vaccine efforts and encourage everyone who is eligible to get immunized as soon as it becomes available in their communities."
The couple did not volunteer to take the vaccine on camera, as former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did earlier Thursday, but their statement did note the couple has long been pro-immunization.
"Rosalynn Carter became a staunch advocate for vaccines as First Lady of Georgia and subsequently cofounded Vaccinate Your Family in 1991 to ensure equitable access to vaccines for people of all ages and to remove barriers to immunization," the statement said.
Jimmy Carter, who was the country's 39th president, has lived longer than any other former commander-in-chief in U.S. history. The couple has made fewer public appearances in recent years as the former president has dealt with a variety of health issues.
California governor introduces new stay-at-home order amid Covid-19 surge
California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a new regional stay-at-home order on Thursday, days after he said that most of the state’s intensive care beds could be over capacity within weeks amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The order, which will be applied by region, will require bars, wineries, hair salons and other nonessential businesses across five areas to close for three weeks once the region’s intensive care capacity falls below 15 percent, he said.
Statewide travel will also be temporarily halted, Newsom said, but schools will remain open and he encouraged people to visit parks and exercise. Restaurants can continue to serve takeout and delivery, he said.
Four of the five regions are expected to fall below the 15 percent threshold within days, he said. Only one — the San Francisco Bay area — will likely come later.
Austin mayor apologizes for taking Mexico vacation while urging residents to stay home
The mayor of Austin, Texas, has apologized for traveling to Mexico during the pandemic.
Responding to a story first reported Wednesday in The Austin American-Statesman, the mayor, Steve Adler, admitted he traveled in early November to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — and while abroad, he even recorded a message urging Austinites to stay home to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
In a video posted online Wednesday, Adler said, "I need to set a clearer example so that my message is unambiguous, and for the failure to do that I sincerely apologize."
Airbnb restricts New Year's Eve reservations to prevent partying and Covid spread
Airbnb announced new restrictions on one-night reservations to prevent New Year's Eve partying, an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Guests without a positive review history will be subjected to a two-night minimum stay for New Year's Eve, the company said Thursday. All customers will be required to attest that they will not throw an unauthorized party, and risk legal action from the company if they break the rules.
"We believe this plan will help prevent large gatherings while supporting the type of safe, responsible travel that benefits guests, hosts and the neighborhoods they call home," Airbnb said.
Kentucky religious school defies Covid mandate, court ruling by continuing in-person class
A Kentucky religious school has defied state order to close in-person learning amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, despite a recent court ruling affirming the mandate.
Classes at the Maryville Independent Christian Academy of Hope reportedly remained in session on Tuesday even after the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed an order to close schools from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. Maryville Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Jack Roberts, who is also the school’s administrator, told NBC affiliate WHAS that the governor’s mandates “aren’t really law.”
Roberts told WHAS Tuesday that he intends to continue in-person education, even if the case is eventually lost at the Supreme Court.
“We'll have to give account to the supreme God of heaven as to how we do things,” Roberts said. “That’s the conviction we have as to why we are still here and why we're still open.”
Solid majority of Americans now say they'd take a Covid-19 vaccine, new survey finds
A majority of Americans said they would “definitely or probably” get a Covid-19 vaccine if one were available today and the number is climbing, according to the latest Pew Research Center poll.
The 60 percent affirmative on getting a coronavirus vaccine figure in the newest poll is up from the 51 percent in September who said they were ready to get the shot, the poll showed.
“Public confidence has grown that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19,” the Pew researchers concluded.
The survey of 12,648 U.S. adults was conducted online from Nov. 18 through Nov. 29 as the Covid-19 crisis was accelerating across the country at a record pace.
WWII veteran released from Alabama hospital after recovering from Covid
A World War II veteran was discharged from an Alabama hospital days before his 104th birthday after spending nearly a week in the hospital battling Covid-19.
Major Lee Wooten, who was stationed in Paris rebuilding railroads that were bombed by U.S. troops during the war, was first diagnosed with Covid-19 on November 23, his granddaughter Holly McDonald told NBC News. After his symptoms worsened, Wooten was rushed to the emergency room and hospitalized on November 25.
McDonald said she was worried for her grandfather as her sister had been on a ventilator after contracting the virus in August.
But after a six-day stay at Madison Hospital in Madison, Alabama, Wooten recovered and was released on Tuesday.
In a video posted on Madison Hospital’s Facebook page, masked healthcare workers line the atrium of the hospital with congratulatory signs and balloons singing “Happy Birthday” as Wooten is wheeled out of the hospital.
“We feel very blessed and overwhelmed with relief,” McDonald told NBC News about his discharge from the hospital. “He just really loves to live life and be out there. That’s the secret to his longevity.”