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Dec. 8 Coronavirus updates: British woman first to receive approved vaccine

December 8 news about the coronavirus pandemic. A 90-year-old British grandmother became the world's first person to receive the approved coronavirus vaccine.
Image: Nurse May Parsons administers the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine to Margaret Keenan, 90, at University Hospital in Coventry, central England
Nurse May Parsons administers a Covid-19 vaccine to Margaret Keenan, 90, at University Hospital in Coventry on Tuesday.Jacob King / AFP - Getty Images

Live coverage has ended, please click here for NBC News' latest coverage of Covid-19On Tuesday, 334 days after the first reported coronavirus death in China, the U.K. became the first country to roll out a clinically approved vaccine.

For many, seeing these shots injected into Britons' shoulder muscles will come as a much-needed morale boost at the end of a hellish year — one that's seen 1.5 million people killed, 65 million others sickened, and countless more subjected to economic hardship.

Netanyahu says he intends to be first person vaccinated in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the arrival of the first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine in Israel Wednesday and said he intended to be the first person in the country to be vaccinated. 

“I want the citizens of Israel to be vaccinated, and to do so I want to set an example for them,” he said at a ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport. 

Netanyahu said he believed in the vaccine and that he expected to receive approval for it in coming days. 

“This is a holiday for Israel,” he added.

Haley says sister-in-law died of Covid

COLUMBIA S.C. — Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says her sister-in-law has died after contracting the coronavirus.

Haley tweeted Tuesday evening that Rhonda Lee Nelson, sister of her husband Michael, “passed the day before Thanksgiving of Covid.” 

Haley said her sister-in-law “loved God, her family & all who knew her. She will be missed.”

According to an online obituary, Nelson, 53, lived in West Milton, Ohio, and died November 25. 

Haley provided no further details on Nelson’s death, which came as coronavirus numbers rise across the country and in states including Ohio. 

Miami residents wait hours in line for grocery gift cards

Colorado's first gentleman released from hospital

DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ longtime partner was discharged from a hospital Tuesday after undergoing treatment for the new coronavirus.

First gentleman Marlon Reis was hospitalized over the weekend as a precaution after experiencing shortness of breath and a worsening cough after he was diagnosed on Nov. 28.

The Democratic governor also was diagnosed with Covid-19 but has not experienced severe symptoms. He has been working from home in quarantine.

Polis’ office said in a statement that Reis’ doctors at UCHealth at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have advised him to take steroids for two days as he recovers. Reis did not require supplemental oxygen during his hospital stay.

Judge sides with LA restaurants over closures

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County’s health director acted “arbitrarily” and didn’t prove the danger to the public when she banned outdoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus cases surged last month, a judge ruled Tuesday in a case other businesses may use to try to overturn closures and restrictions.

The county failed to show that health benefits outweigh the negative economic effects before issuing the ban, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant wrote. He also said the county did not offer evidence that outdoor dining presented a greater risk of spreading the virus.

“By failing to weigh the benefits of an outdoor dining restriction against its costs, the county acted arbitrarily and its decision lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate end,″ the judge wrote.

Chalfant limited the outdoor dining ban to three weeks and said once it expires Dec. 16 the Department of Public Health must conduct a risk-benefit analysis before trying to extend it.

It was the first victory for California restaurants challenging health orders that have crippled their industry. But there was no immediate relief for LA county restaurant owners because a more sweeping shutdown ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom now is in effect.

Ravens' Dez Bryant says he tested positive, scratched from Cowboys game

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Dez Bryant announced Tuesday that he tested positive for Covid-19 and was scratched by the team from that night's game against his former team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowler and former star receiver for the Cowboys, tweeted the news with some apparent surprise, writing "I tested positive for Covid WTF" and that his routine had not changed.

A number of Ravens players had tested positive for Covid-19 in recent weeks, and the situation disrupted the schedule. The Ravens-Steelers game, originally scheduled for Thanksgiving, was rescheduled three times before being played last Wednesday. Ravens President Dick Cass on Saturday said the team experienced an outbreak with multiple players, staff and families.

Bryant was released by the Cowboys in 2018. The Ravens signed him to its practice squad in October, and his first game with them was against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 8.

North Carolina issues overnight stay-at-home order

North Carolina officials on Tuesday issued a modified stay-at-home order from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., citing record-breaking Covid-19 cases in the state over the past week.

Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order takes effect Friday and runs through at least Jan. 8. It also orders that bars and some other businesses close during those time periods. The sale of alcohol for on-site consumption must end at 9 p.m.

The state has broken single-day case records three times in the past week, Cooper said.

There have been more than 404,000 Covid-19 cases in the state, with 5,605 deaths, according to the state health department. "We have to act now to save lives," Cooper said.

"The virus is upon us with a rapid viciousness like we haven't seen before," Cooper said, adding "it's more important than ever to take this virus seriously."

Wearing masks could save 66,000 Americans lives by April, expert says

President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday that "masking, vaccinations, opening schools” are the top three goals of the first 100 days of his administration. 

One researcher called Biden's mask commitment a "very wise and smart decision," but urged Americans to not wait until the Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. 

If, starting now, 95 percent of Americans wore masks in public, at least 66,000 lives could be saved by April, said Ali Mokdad, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Mokdad has been tracking the impact of the virus based on mask mandates around the country. 

Biden said he planned to sign an executive order to mandate mask use in places such as federal buildings and during interstate travel on planes, trains and buses.

Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health, is skeptical how well Biden's plea for Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days he's in office — until April 30 — will land in parts of the country that have resisted them.

But, “if there's very consistent messaging, if Biden can work very closely with the governors of all 50 states and if we can get people on board, then I think it can be an extraordinarily powerful way to help limit spread,” Mina said. 

McConnell urges Congress to 'pass the things that we agree on' for Covid relief

Maine teen dies by suicide after struggling to cope with pandemic, father says

A father in Maine wants to shed some light on how the coronavirus pandemic may be affecting the mental health of young people after his 16-year-old son died by suicide on Friday.

Jay Smith, of Brunswick, said his son, Spencer Smith, was having trouble coping with how much life has changed over the past several months.

"We knew he was upset because he was no longer able to participate in his school activities, football. We never guessed it was this bad," Smith said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "Looking back now we could see little things that we should have caught but we didn't realize his mental health was deteriorating as bad."

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Florida health care worker discharged after nine months in hospital battling Covid-19

South Florida healthcare worker Rosa Felipe was discharged today after spending nine months in the hospital battling Covid-19.Jackson Health System

A health care worker was released from a South Florida hospital on Tuesday after battling Covid-19 for nine months. 

Rosa Felipe, 41, contracted the coronavirus in March, Jackson Health System told NBC News. Due to underlying health conditions such as asthma and diabetes, Felipe was hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where she has been an electroencephalograph technician for 15 years.

She became very sick and was intubated, spending two months in the intensive care unit. Felipe also underwent dialysis and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a treatment that replaces the function of the heart and lungs. Her fingertips on her right hand turned black due to lack of oxygenation and she will likely lose those them, the hospital said. 

Felipe was briefly discharged in June to a rehabilitation facility, but was rushed back to the emergency room after becoming septic from a bleeding ulcer. After recovering from this setback, the mother of two boys spent six difficult months undergoing various therapies to relearn everyday tasks like dressing herself and walking. 

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Felipe thanked her caregivers and reminded the public of the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"The only thing I can tell you is that this is real. Coronavirus is real. The effects are real. But what's more real is the love that I have received here,” Felipe said. “I don't think I would have gotten this far if it wasn't for this rehabilitation center."

As of Tuesday, Florida has reported more than 1 million cases and more than 19,000 deaths from Covid-19. It is just one of three U.S. states that has reported more than 1 million cases, according to the CDC