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January 8 Covid updates: U.K. approves Moderna vaccine, U.S. records over 4,000 deaths in a day

A new record was set Thursday for both deaths and new cases of Covid-19 across the U.S. on Thursday.
Image: A man crosses a road next to a billboard calling for people to wear masks during a nationwide lockdown following the government's measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in Tel Aviv, Israel,
A billboard calling for people to wear masks during a nationwide lockdown in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Friday.Oded Balilty / AP

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

The U.S. recorded more than 4,000 daily Covid-19 deaths for the first time Thursday, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

There was also a record number of cases, 268,883, showing that the national outlook is worsening by the day.

That news came as a new mutant variant of the disease first identified in the U.K., which has been shown to be more infectious, has been detected across the country including in Pennsylvania, Texas and Connecticut.

Nearly 270,000 new Covid cases reported in U.S. on Friday

The U.S. has reported yet another record-breaking day of new coronavirus cases with 269,420 Covid-19 infections, according to an NBC News count.

The previous record was reported Thursday with 268,883 new cases and 4,110 deaths.

On Friday, 3,543 deaths Covid-related deaths were also reported.

Los Angeles County reports record number of deaths

Public health officials say Los Angeles County it set a one-day record for coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday: 318.

It came as the U.S. set a single-day record Thursday of 4,110 cases, according to an NBC News tally.

California also posted a one-day record Thursday with 604 deaths.

The U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force are deploying 150 medical personnel to four L.A.-area hospitals to help overburdened staff address the Covid-19 surge.

County health officials said there were 18,313 new daily cases Thursday. Since the start of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has recorded 889,405 cases and 11,863 deaths.

Biden to get second vaccination Monday

President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to receive a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine Monday, a transition official said Friday.

The completed vaccinations for Biden and later for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, would be done in front of cameras, said Jen Psaki, incoming White House press secretary, during a news conference.

"They’ll both do it publicly to continue to instill confidence in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy," she said.

Biden received his first shot Dec. 21 and Harris on Dec. 29. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the Pfizer shots be administered 21 days apart. As many as 35 other members of the incoming Biden administration will be vaccinated before or near the inauguration, Psaki said. 

Symptoms can linger at least six months, Wuhan study finds

Symptoms of Covid-19 may linger for up to six months, according to research published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet, which looked at some of the first people to be hospitalized with the disease.

The study focused on 1,733 people who were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Wuhan, China — where the coronavirus was first detected — from last January to May. Many were hospitalized before the illness even had a name.

Roughly three-quarters of the patients reported lingering symptoms six months after their initial diagnosis. Sixty-three percent said they still had fatigue or muscle weakness, 23 percent cited anxiety or depression, and 26 percent reported trouble sleeping.

Read the full story here. 

150 military medical personnel deploy to help Los Angeles-area hospitals

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force are deploying 150 medical personnel to four Southern California hospitals to help overburdened staff address the Covid-19 surge, which has infected more than 825,000 people in Los Angeles County alone. 

Another 40 U.S. Army Reserve medical personnel will be deployed to Arizona, and about 25 health care professionals will aid Navajo Nation relief efforts in New Mexico and Arizona.

The added support comes as public health officials across the country warn that the United States has not seen the full effects of holiday gatherings.

CDC has not seen emergence of a highly contagious U.S. variant of coronavirus

A White House coronavirus task force report said the explosive surge of coronavirus cases in the United States in recent months might be caused by a more contagious U.S. variant of the virus. But a separate statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its researchers had not seen the emergence of a U.S. variant.

“This fall/winter surge has been at nearly twice the rate of rise of cases as the spring and summer surges,” according to the White House task force document, which was sent to the states. “This acceleration suggests there may be a USA variant that has evolved here, in addition to the U.K. variant that is already spreading in our communities and may be 50 percent more transmissible.”

The CDC statement, however, was far more skeptical about that possibility. It is likely that there are many variants of the coronavirus across the globe, the statement said, but "to date, neither researchers nor analysts at CDC have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States as has been seen with the emergence" of variants in the United Kingdom or South Africa.

Read the full story.

Florida launches new vaccination program at Publix Supermarkets

Twenty-two Publix Supermarkets in Florida began administering coronavirus vaccines on Friday, marking the start of a pilot program that aims to ease some of the state’s bottlenecks in distributing the shots.

People aged 65 and older were able to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine by appointment at select Publix locations in Citrus County, Hernando County and Marion County.

Carmen Frongillo, a 65-year-old Florida resident who recovered from what he called a mild case of Covid-19, said he was eager to get the vaccine so that his life can return to normal. “I haven’t spent a holiday with my daughter since this whole pandemic came about,” he said Friday while receiving his shot in Brooksville, Florida. “I want to get my life back going. And I want to see my family.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the partnership with Publix on Jan. 5, saying that 15,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine would be distributed among the 22 supermarket locations. If successful, the program could expand to include all of Publix’s 764 locations across the state. 

The orderly flow on the first day of the pilot program stands in contrast to the chaos and confusion that have dogged Florida’s vaccine implementation program. Elsewhere in the state, people have been frustrated by long lines and crashed registration websites.

Sylvia Baker, 66, said her attempts to register for a vaccine through websites set up by the state. “I couldn’t get into the sites they were all crashed,” she said, adding that she was able to register for a shot at Publix in Brooksville “within a short period of time of trying.”

CDC director says Capitol riots likely a 'surge event'

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield on Friday described the Capitol riots as a "surge event" that would lead to "significant spreading" of Covid-19.

Redfield, speaking to the McClatchy news organization, said the mob scene Wednesday when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed Congress, is likely to spread coronavirus across the nation anew.

"I do think you have to anticipate this this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol," he said. "Then these individuals all are going in cars and trains and planes going home all across the country right now."

The U.S. has reported more than 21 million cases and over 350,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

The White House coronavirus task force this week warned of "significant continued deterioration" and "aggressive community spread" from an unprecedented surge linked to holiday gatherings and travel.

“We haven’t hit the peak of the current surge,” Redfield told McClatchy.

White House task force warns states of 'aggressive community spread'

The White House coronavirus task force warned states Friday of worsening pandemic conditions.

The latest report to states issued Sunday and obtained Friday by NBC News warned of "significant continued deterioration" and "aggressive community spread" from an unprecedented surge linked to holiday gatherings and travel.

The spike in cases "from California across the Sunbelt and up into the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, despite low testing rates during the holidays" is nearly twice the rate of spring and summer surges, the report said, calling for "aggressive mitigation."

As the federal government has struggled to get Americans vaccinated, the task force urged haste: "Do not delay the rapid immunization of those over 65 and vulnerable to severe disease." 

On Sunday, Trump called the number of U.S. deaths related to Covid-19 "exaggerated."

New York diverts Covid-19 vaccine doses after local plan to vaccinate teachers

The New York Department of Health said Friday it was reallocating Covid-19 vaccine doses from a hospital in New Rochelle after a local plan sought to vaccinate teachers and city workers, which would violate state guidelines. 

The state health department “is investigating this egregious violation of the state’s clearly defined guidelines for the COVID-19 vaccine,” department spokesperson Jonah Bruno said in an email. “The facility is facing potential sanctions and penalties for these violations and its vaccine supply will be reallocated to the County Health Department.” 

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson told a local news outlet, The Journal News, that Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital had “misinterpreted the state guidelines” with a plan to vaccinate school and city employees. The guidelines from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, limit vaccine eligibility to certain groups including health care workers and seniors in nursing homes. 

Bramson and Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.