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Jan. 5 Coronavirus updates: Supreme Court justices will receive vaccine

Fauci on Biden vaccination plan of 100M doses in first 100 days: "It can be done."
Image: A person sits alone while commuting on the Staten Island Ferry amid the coronavirus pandemic
A person sits alone while commuting on the Staten Island Ferry amid the coronavirus pandemic on Monday in New York.Angela Weiss / AFP - Getty Images

Live coverage has ended, please click here for NBC News' latest reporting on Covid-19.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown in England to slow down the spiral in new cases of Covid-19 on the same day the U.K. started the rollout of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

The increase in cases is likely fueled by a new and more transmissible variant of the virus that was first detected in England in November.

Loss of smell and taste can linger after Covid or come back different

Before the pandemic, Dr. Jennifer Spicer used to savor waking up early. In those quiet morning hours, she'd get precious alone time with her dog and brew up a mug of her favorite coffee, using beans from an Atlanta roaster.

Now, she can barely take a sip without spitting the coffee out. 

"I cannot even go in a coffee shop. It smells so bad," said Spicer, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. "It's really awful."

The abrupt change in Spicer's senses has, by now, an all-too-common culprit: Covid-19

A study published Wednesday in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that 86 percent of patients with mild forms of Covid-19 developed loss of sense of taste and smell, compared with 4 percent to 7 percent of those with moderate to severe cases.

Read the full story here.

China says still working on details of WHO Covid visit after criticism over delays

China said Wednesday it was still negotiating with the World Health Organization the dates and itinerary for a visit by international experts looking into origins of Covid-19, after the head of the agency criticized Beijing for not finalizing permissions for the mission.

The dates and itinerary need to be finalized, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

An international team of experts had been due to visit the central city of Wuhan in January, where the pandemic first appeared a year ago. China has strongly opposed calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, saying such calls are anti-China, but has said it's open to a WHO-led investigation.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that members of the international scientific team began departing from their home countries as part of an arrangement between WHO and the Chinese government. China however, didn't authorize their entry into the country.

A healthcare worker receives the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination center in Veghel, Netherlands. Wednesday marked the start of Holland's inoculation program, which began nearly two weeks after most other European countries.Piroschka van de Wouw / AP

NFL encouraging teams to offer stadiums as vaccination sites

The National Football League is encouraging teams to offer up stadiums and other facilities as vaccination sites for the general public against the coronavirus illness Covid-19.

The NFL said in a statement that more information would be released in the coming weeks, but that teams are being encouraged to offer the facilities if practical. 

"We have encouraged clubs to contact their state and local health departments to offer stadiums and practice facilities if practical to serve as site for vaccinating the general public," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "These will be decisions between the clubs and their local officials based on need, location and availability."

Vaccinations are being given to front-line workers and vulnerable populations, but health experts have said vaccinating the general public is likely months away. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommendations on who should be vaccinated first.

Your stimulus check might be delayed if you filed your taxes with an online tax preparer

Stimulus checks may be delayed for some customers, the IRS and major tax prep software companies warned this week.

The lag could affect as many as 14 million people, a banking industry source told NBC News.

The second round of economic impact payments, which provide for $600 per adult and qualifying dependent child, started going out at the end of December.

“These payments may begin to arrive in some accounts by direct deposit as early as tonight and will continue into next week,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted on Dec. 29.

Click here to read the full story. 

Israel leads world in Covid vaccinations

'There was no plan': Private health care workers shafted over vaccine distribution

A San Diego anesthesiologist whose job puts her at high risk of catching Covid-19 says the difference between herself and a hospital administrator is this — the administrator probably got the coronavirus vaccine before she did.

Dr. Jessica Hollingsworth contends the wording of the federal and state guidelines for distributing the vaccine has enabled big hospital chains to inoculate their employees “regardless of role” while private or contracted health care workers like herself who work with coronavirus patients are stuck at the back of the vaccination line.

Specifically, Hollingsworth cited the guideline which states that if the vaccine is scarce, which has been the case ever since the rollout began last month, then health departments can reallocate the shots based on “type of facility” — as well as the role the recipient plays in the pandemic fight.

“In San Diego, vaccine has been given to IT workers, billing administration, tele-workers, PR staff, engineering department, etc. that are affiliated with a hospital conglomerate but do not have and never will have responsibilities that involve direct patient care contact with COVID+ or otherwise ill patients,” Hollingsworth said in a letter she sent on New Year’s Eve to the California Department of Public Health that she shared with NBC News.

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Three states have worst Covid infection rates of anywhere in the world

Arizona, California and Rhode Island are among the hardest-hit places in the world at this stage of the pandemic, with the highest rates of Covid-19 infections per capita, according to a data analysis by NBC News.

The sobering figures, reflected as rolling seven-day averages of new reported cases, highlight just how dire the situation is in the U.S., particularly as a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus has emerged in several states.

Arizona currently has the highest per-capita rate of new Covid-19 infections, with 785 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. That rate not only leads the U.S., but is the highest in the world, according to NBC News data. For comparison, the Czech Republic, the country with the highest per-capita rate of infection, has reported 653 cases per 100,000 over the past seven days.

Rhode Island and California also have higher per-capita rates of infection than any other country. Over the past seven days, Rhode Island reported 671 new cases per 100,000, and California had 658 per 100,000.

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California college installs Covid-19 test vending machines throughout campus

As students return to campus for the spring semester, University of California San Diego is providing a new way for the campus community to complete its required Covid-19 testing. 

The university has installed vending machines in nearly a dozen locations on campus that distribute self-administered Covid-19 tests free of charge for students and faculty.

“I'm a big fan of the testing especially with everyone coming back from winter break, there's definitely inherently a lot more risk with all the students that kind of traveled and are coming back now, so having the testing requirements increase will definitely help keep everyone safe,” first year medical student Bryan Diggs, who was using one of the vending machines Monday, told NBC San Diego

Students must return the completed test to drop boxes located next to the vending machines within 72 hours of administering the test. According to the university’s Covid-19 testing dashboard, results are returned, on average, within 30 hours. 

“While UC San Diego is one of the few colleges in the nation with low rates of infection and a large student body on campus, the university remains vigilant to reduce transmission of virus in our community to the greatest extent possible,” the university’s Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said in a press release.

The vending machines are part of the university’s “Return to Learn” program that requires students living or coming to campus to get tested for the virus on a weekly basis

Soccer pro Alex Morgan tests positive for Covid-19

Soccer star Alex Morgan revealed Tuesday that she is recovering from Covid-19.

The 31-year-old, who has won the FIFA Women’s World Cup twice as part of the United States women’s national soccer team, said she and her family were infected with the virus while in California over the holidays.

“We are in good spirits and recovering well,” she tweeted. “After our isolation is completed, I will follow US Soccer's return to play guidelines to ensure my body is fully recovered and I can join my teammates back on the field soon. Be safe and happy new year.”

Grammy Awards postponed due to 'deteriorating' coronavirus situation in Los Angeles

The 2021 Grammy Awards will no longer take place this month in Los Angeles and will broadcast in March due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.

The Recording Academy announced that the annual show would shift from its original Jan. 31 broadcast to March 14.

"The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do," the academy said in a statement to NBC News.

The Grammys will be held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the crisis in California, has surpassed 10,000 Covid-19 deaths and has had 40% of the deaths in California. It is the third state to reach the 25,000 death count.

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