IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

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

Paul Goldman

Paul Goldman and Saphora Smith

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

The Associated Press

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

The Associated Press

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

The Associated Press

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

Akshay Syal

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."

Click here to read the full story. 

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

Image: Rosa Felipe
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

Michigan governor lowers flags to honor 10,000 lives lost to coronavirus

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered Tuesday that U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol Complex and all public buildings and grounds be lowered to half-staff for 10 days to honor the 10,000 lives in the state claimed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Our nation is grieving alongside each of the families who have an empty seat at the dinner table each night or who will be missing family members during the holiday season,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Right now, we need to listen to our scientists and medical professionals who are asking us to double down on wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing to prevent an unnecessarily greater loss of life.”

“With a vaccine on the horizon, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we each need to do our part until then. We will get through this together,” she added.

The statement said more than one out of every 1,000 Michiganders have lost their lives to the virus, which has infected more than 410,000 people in the state and killed 10,138.

Four lions at Spanish zoo test positive for Covid-19


BARCELONA — Four lions at Barcelona Zoo have tested positive for Covid-19, veterinary authorities said on Tuesday, in only the second known case in which large felines have contracted coronavirus.

Three females named Zala, Nima and Run Run and Kiumbe, a male, were tested after keepers noticed they showed slight symptoms of coronavirus.

Two staff at the zoo also tested positive for coronavirus, the authorities said, after the outbreak was first detected last month.

Click here to read the full story.

Washington state announces three-week extension of coronavirus restrictions

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the state’s broad coronavirus restrictions around restaurants, gyms and indoor gatherings will be extended another three weeks through the new year.

Inslee said during a news conference Tuesday that state restrictions put in place in mid-November will be extended to Jan. 4. They were set to expire Dec. 14.

“We are seeing some signs the current restrictions are working. But our hospitals are still on the brink. Therefore, I am extending existing restrictions for three weeks – ending January 4th,” Inslee said in a post on Twitter. “It is a dangerous time in Washington. We need to buckle down through the holidays.”

Inslee added he was also making an additional $50 million in business grants available for businesses impacted by the restrictions.

In November, Inslee announced the sweeping restrictions, including shutting down indoor dining at restaurants and bars and limiting outdoor service to parties of five, closing gyms, fitness centers and movie theaters, and prohibiting indoor gatherings with people outside your household unless the participants have quarantined and tested negative.

100M shots in the first 100 days: Biden unveils Covid priorities, introduces health team

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday promised that his administration would oversee the injection of 100 million shots into the arms of Americans within his first 100 days as president and vowed to reopen a “majority” of schools across the nation in the same timeframe.

Biden, who spoke from Wilmington, Del., at an event in which he also announced the top members of his health care team, promised that educators, along with health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, would be among the targets for the first round of Covid-19 vaccinations.

Biden again said he would call on Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration.

"Masking, vaccinations, opening schools,” Biden said. “These are the three key goals of my first 100 days.”

Click here to read the full story.

Wyoming governor signs statewide mask mandate

Kanwal Syed

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed an executive order Monday mandating mask use in certain situations statewide. The order requires residents to wear a face covering while inside businesses or government buildings, when visiting health care facilities and when using public transportation.

The mandate goes into effect Wednesday until Jan. 8th, 2021, unless extended.

Read NBC News' article about mask mandates across the country.

Michigan-Ohio State football game canceled

The weekend's football game between longtime rivals, the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, was canceled after the visiting Wolverines said Tuesday they've been hit by a spike of coronavirus cases.

The game had been slated for a noon kickoff Saturday in Columbus.

"This decision is disappointing for our team and coaches but their health and safety is paramount, and it will always come first in our decision-making," according to a statement by Michigan

Blair House employee tests positive ahead of State Dept. parties

Josh Lederman

An individual working in Blair House has tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of several State Department holiday parties set to occur in the presidential guest house in the coming days.

An email sent to State Department employees on Monday and obtained by NBC News says that the individual had been working on the first, second and fourth floors of Blair House, and also in a State Department annex facility. The individual who tested positive was last in the space last Thursday. The email said that "the spaces have been cleaned in accordance with CDC guidelines." The email was sent by Dr. Deborah Schneider, managing director for the Bureau of Administration's Office of Operations, and was marked "Sensitive but unclassified."

A separate email obtained by NBC News and sent to staffers by Chief of Protocol Cam Henderson shows photographs of Blair House being "decorated for Christmas," including staffers and chefs preparing "edible decorations," multiple Christmas trees and other adornments. It's unclear if the individual who tested positive was involved in those preparations.

Blair House will be used both on Tuesday and Wednesday for State Department-sponsored "Holiday Cheer" events for the Diplomatic Corps, as NBC News has reported. Additional Holiday Open Houses are planned at Blair House for Thursday and Friday, according to emails obtained by NBC News.

Los Angeles County public health director tells people to stay home as much as possible

The director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Tuesday as coronavirus cases surge in California, the focus is on getting community transmission rates to go down in order to not overwhelm hospitals. 

Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday on MSNBC that there is a health order for Southern California, telling people to stay home as much as possible.

“You should really be only out and about if you’re an essential worker or you need to go and get essential services,” she said, adding they are also telling people it is very important for the next three weeks not to mingle with people outside of their household.  

“Again, you may need to go to work, you may need to do some essential grocery shopping, but all other activities really need, should be on pause right now,” she said. “That’s the way we protect our health care workers and our health care system.”

Ferrer said last week they had 1,700 new cases among health care workers. 

“That’s the highest number of positive cases we’ve ever reported, ever, in a week among our health care workers, and that too threatens to overwhelm the health care system,” she said. “You can have beds, but they need to be staffed.”

Pennsylvania governor says hospitalizations are reaching critical level

Oxford-AstraZeneca announces first peer review Covid vaccine study — but questions remain

LONDON — After one historic Covid-19 first, a second more subtle pandemic milestone was reached in Britain on Tuesday.

A vaccine front-runner developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca became the first to have its Phase 3 trial published in a peer-reviewed paper, the Lancet medical journal, which confirmed its shots have an average efficacy of 70.4 percent.

There were no hospitalizations or cases of severe Covid-19 three weeks after the first dose taken by around 11,600 volunteers in the U.K. and Brazil, it said.

Peer-reviewed data is something that experts have been desperate to see, given most of the positive Covid-19 vaccine news has been communicated in press releases.

Click here to read the full story.

Trump administration passed up chance to lock in more Pfizer vaccine doses

The Associated Press

The Associated Press and Denise Chow

A former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and a member of Pfizer’s board of directors said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration declined to secure millions of additional doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine when it had the chance.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that the White House declined “multiple” offers from Pfizer to strike a deal on more vaccines for the second quarter of 2021. Gottlieb’s statements came after The New York Times and The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration months ago did not lock in the chance to purchase millions of additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which has shown to be highly effective against Covid-19.

That decision could delay the delivery of a second batch of doses until Pfizer fulfills other international contracts.

“Pfizer has gone ahead and entered into agreement with other countries to sell them some of that vaccine in the second quarter of 2021,” Gottlieb told CNBC.

Click here to read the full story.

Oklahoma school district apologizes for controversial football picture

Jenks Public Schools
Jenks Public Schools in Oklahoma apologized on Dec 6, 2020, after posting this photo on Facebook of a crowded, mostly maskless student section at the high school football team's state championship game.Jenks Public Schools

An apologetic Oklahoma school district said it “acknowledges and accepts” harsh criticism sparked by a viral photo showing mask-less, shoulder-to-shoulder students celebrating a big football win.

Jenks High School, from an affluent suburb of Tulsa, won the state football title over the weekend and a widely circulated picture showed players, cheerleaders, students and fans celebrating in the stands with hardly anyone wearing a mask.

"The photo of the Jenks High School student section included in a post on Saturday from the state championship football game has been widely criticized. Jenks Public Schools acknowledges and accepts this criticism," Jenks Public Schools said in a lengthy apology. "There were too many high school students without masks and too many high school students in close contact with one another. This is not the kind of safe environment JPS seeks to create for students and staff members. JPS understands the importance of social distancing."

The district added: "At future secondary events, Jenks Public Schools pledges to do more to maintain stricter safety protocols. This was not up to the standard that is expected. Jenks Public Schools and Jenks High School sincerely apologizes for this mistake." 

Like much of America, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, has been struggling to contain coronavirus. There were 4,994 active cases there as of Tuesday morning with 289 deaths during this pandemic, according to county records

FDA: Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine safe and effective after one dose

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine candidate offers protection after the first dose, according to documents released by the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday morning.

The information was made public ahead of a Thursday meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC — an advisory group to the FDA, which will vote on whether to advise the agency to grant emergency use authorization of the vaccine in the U.S.

The 53-page document contains analysis from both federal regulators and Pfizer on the latest data from the company's Phase 3 clinical trial on its Covid-19 vaccine. It will be used to help guide the advisory group in its decision making.

Click here to read the full story.

Trump admin has yet to launch promised effort to get Americans to trust Covid-19 vaccines

WASHINGTON — In late July, officials with the administration’s Operation Warp Speed said when Covid-19 vaccines were imminent there would be a tightly targeted four to six week national campaign to encourage Americans to get the shots. Now, with multiple vaccines finally on the horizon, state health officials tell NBC News they have not yet seen materials from the federal government.

Data shows there’s reason to be concerned about the American public’s willingness to sign up for shots. While recent polls indicate an increasing number of Americans willing to take the vaccine, the latest STAT/Harris poll shows at least 42 percent are still reluctant.

The federal government recently shifted its public health education strategy, amid media and congressional scrutiny related to alleged politicization of the message. Following a review ordered by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the department canceled a $15.1 million contract that included work with members of the entertainment industry.

Click here to read the full story.

California reports its 20,000th Covid death

California reported its 20,000th Covid-19 death Tuesday morning, part of a surge across the state that has set record case numbers and seen an uptick in deaths.

While California's 20,057 deaths is the third-highest among any state, its per-capita deaths are among the lowest in the country. More than 1.4 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the state. In the U.S., more than 15 million have had the disease.

Monday, Tennessee reported its 5,000th Covid-19 death. More than 400,000 have been diagnosed there.

Several states reported Covid-19 records Monday:

  • Connecticut, 8,129 cases. The state had reported zero the previous two days.
  • Iowa, 215 deaths
  • Nevada, 4,959 cases
  • New Hampshire, 1,045 cases
  • New Jersey, 6,944 cases
  • Rhode Island, 3,681 cases. The state had reported zero the previous two days.
  • Tennessee, 8,136 cases

Operation Warp Speed chief says he doesn't know what Trump's order on vaccines is about

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The Trump administration's adviser overseeing Operation Warp Speed, which is tasked with developing and distributing a Covid-19 vaccine, said Tuesday that he doesn't know the purpose of President Donald Trump's expected executive order on the vaccines. 

"Frankly, I don't know, and frankly, I'm staying out of this. I can't comment," said chief science adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." 

Pressed further, Slaoui said, "Our work is rolling. We have plans. We feel that we can deliver the vaccines as needed, so I don't know exactly what this order is about."

A senior administration official told reporters Monday that Trump is "going to be signing an executive order on ensuring access to U.S. government Covid-19 vaccines. This is a reaffirmation of the president's commitment to America first, to ensure the health and safety of our citizens, the viability of our economy, the security of our nation, and ensure that Americans are able to resume normal life. That's the first and most directive thing the executive order does."

William Shakespeare becomes second person to receive approved Covid-19 vaccine

In a turn of events that's already spawned a thousand Twitter puns, the second person to receive the clinically approved Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday was a man named William Shakespeare.

Bill, 81, as he's known to friends, got the shot at a hospital in the English city of Coventry, as the United Kingdom kicks off its largest public vaccination campaign in its history.

For a country recently accused of turning its world-first vaccinations into nationalistic point-scoring opportunities, it was a detail that might have been tossed from a writers' room for being too on-the-nose.

"William Shakespeare" quickly became the number one trending topic on British Twitter, where people responded with wordplays such as "The Taming of the Flu," "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "a plague on none of your houses."

The U.S. tops 15 million Covid cases, its second million-milestone in December

The United States surpassed 15 million Covid-19 cases Monday only a few days after setting its first million-milestone this month, according to an NBC News tally.

The U.S. recorded 1,789 deaths related to coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total death count close to 285,000 people, according to the tally. The country logged nearly 187,000 new cases of Covid-19 on the same day.

The country also registered more hospitalizations on Monday since the pandemic began, with almost 102,000 people who were hospitalized across the country, according to The Covid Tracking Project.

British woman becomes world's first to receive approved Covid-19 vaccine

A woman in the English city of Coventry has become the first person to get a clinically approved Covid-19 vaccine. Margaret Keenan, 90, received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot Tuesday after the British government became the first to give it regulatory approval last week.

"I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19," the grandmother of four, who turns 91 next week, told reporters. "It's the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year."

Keenan's inoculation kicks off what's been described as the largest vaccination campaign ever attempted by Britain's publicly funded National Health Service. The United States Food and Drug Administration is expected to discuss regulatory approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week.

Click here to read the full article.

Western Australia opens up to air travel after easing of coronavirus restrictions

Image: A passenger is greeted after arriving from Sydney at Perth Domestic Airport following the state of Western Australia's loosening of borders on Tuesday
A passenger is greeted after arriving from Sydney at Perth Domestic Airport following the state of Western Australia's loosening of borders on TuesdayAAP Image/Richard Wainwright / Reuters