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Outdoor NFL stadiums and Major League Baseball ballparks across the country are being repurposed as states work to administer the Covid-19 vaccine en masse.
The move comes as members of Operation Warp Speed recommended that states should expand access to Covid-19 vaccines to everyone 65 and older, as well as any adult with an underlying health condition that might raise the risk for complications of Covid-19.
- 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.
California to begin offering Covid vaccine to residents 65 years and older
California will begin offering the coronavirus vaccine to residents who are 65 years and older, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.
The state's announcement comes one day after members of Operation Warp Speed recommended expanding access to the vaccine for anyone in this age group.
"There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitable distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences," he said. "To those not yet eligible to start receiving vaccines, your turn is coming."
California has been particularly hard hit by a monthslong surge that had brought the state's coronavirus tally to more than 2.7 million cases and 31,000 deaths as of Wednesday.
U.S. counts 23 million Covid-19 cases
The United States has recorded over 23 million Covid-19 cases, crossing the threshold Wednesday afternoon after a relentless winter surge in states across the country.
According to a NBC News analysis, Covid cases have ticked up over the past two weeks in more than 30 states. Only three states — Tennessee, Idaho and South Dakota — are experiencing slight declines in case rates.
Texas also became the second state, after California, to report over 2 million cases.
Pharmacies say they could do more to distribute vaccines. States are listening.
Retail pharmacies are stepping in to help speed up Covid-19 vaccinations much earlier than anticipated after calls for states to take more advantage of their networks and experience.
Independent and chain drug stores weren't supposed to take a large role in distributing the vaccines until later stages, when doses will be much more widely available. But the halting rollout so far has sent governors scrambling for alternatives to hospital systems and local health departments, which have been handling most vaccinations so far.
New York this week is expanding distribution to hundreds of pharmacies throughout the state so health care workers or people ages 75 and older have more options to get vaccinated.
"They know how to do this," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said at a briefing Friday. He said 1,200 pharmacies had committed to help speed distribution, in addition to other health care providers.
The United States logged another 4,000 Covid-19 deaths Tuesday
The U.S. crossed the 4,000-person Covid-19 death mark for the second time Tuesday as the pandemic continues to rage across the country.
A total of 4,052 people died from Covid-19 Tuesday, according to NBC News' tally. The country surpassed 4,000 deaths for the first time on January 7, when 4,110 people died. New daily deaths have risen 21 percent over the last two weeks.
The country also recorded 225,618 new cases. New cases have risen almost 19 percent in the last two weeks.
Overall, 22,959,377 cases and 381,773 deaths have been recorded in America since the start of the pandemic.
The following states set single-day case or deaths records Tuesday:
- Alabama: 226 dead
- Arizona: 335 dead
- Mississippi: 98 dead
- Missouri: 258 dead
- New York: 19,679 cases
- Oregon: 54 dead
- Wyoming: 33 dead (tie)
China evacuates some villages in an effort to contain coronavirus outbreak
Around 20,000 people from about a dozen villages in China have been moved to centralized isolation sites on Wednesday, according to China’s state-controlled CCTN news.
The residents of the villages in the Hebei province, where there is currently an outbreak, were taken by bus to hotels, schools and other sites to quarantine, according to the report.
China posted its biggest daily jump in Covid-19 cases in more than five months on Wednesday. It has as a result stepped up containment measures that have seen four cities put under lockdown. The National Health Commission reported a total of 115 new confirmed cases on the mainland, compared with 55 on Tuesday, the highest daily increase since July 30.
'An error in judgment': Bruce Willis spotted maskless in LA pharmacy
Actor Bruce Willis is speaking out after he was photographed entering and exiting a Los Angeles Rite Aid without a mask.
"It was an error in judgment," Willis told People magazine in a statement. "Be safe out there everyone and let's continue to mask up."
After weeks of spiking Covid-19 rates, California is now experiencing a plateau in its rate of new infections, according to an analysis by NBC News.
However, Covid-19 rates remain stubbornly high across southern California.
Full lockdown in Lebanon sparks panic buying in supermarkets
Lebanon is set to enter an 11-day, 24-hour curfew on Thursday morning amid a sharp surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. Authorities on Monday announced the tightened restrictions that will prevent residents from going outside to buy groceries.
The announcement prompted panicked supermarket buying with scenes from images on social media showing packed stores, empty shelves and lines through the parking lot.
Hospitals meanwhile, are at maximum capacity, reporting a shortage of respirators and medical supplies.
U.K. variant spreading in France
PARIS — France’s government scientific adviser is expressing strong concern over the variant of the coronavirus that is circulating widely in the U.K. and is now spreading in France.
Dr. Jean-François Delfraissy, president of the scientific council that advises the French government on the virus, said on news broadcaster France Info that a two-day study based on 100,000 positive tests showed that about 1% of people were infected with the more contagious variant that has been discovered in the U.K.
“In any case, we’ll see an extension (of the variant), but we’re going to try to slow it down,” he said.
France is engaged in a “speed race” to vaccinate the most vulnerable people, he added.
South Korean religious leader acquitted over virus cases
SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean court has acquitted a religious sect leader of charges that he deliberately disrupted the government’s anti-virus response early last year after thousands of his worshippers were infected with the coronavirus.
However, the Suwon District Court on Wednesday found the 89-year-old Lee Man-hee guilty of separate charges that he embezzled more than $5 million in church funds and organized unauthorized worship services in public spaces. His three-year prison term will be suspended for four years.
Lee’s church, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, issued a statement denying his wrongdoings and confirming plans to appeal. Kang Susana, a prosecutor in Suwon, said her office would decide whether to appeal after analyzing the ruling.
Prosecutors had sought a five-year prison term for Lee, who was arrested in August before his release on bail in November. They accused Lee and his church of violating the country’s infectious disease law by deliberately hiding some of the church’s membership and under-reporting its gatherings to avoid broader quarantines following the outbreak around the southeastern city of Daegu in February and March last year.
But the court said it was unclear whether the church’s failure to provide a full list of its membership was a crime. The collection of such basic information isn’t part of the specific boundaries of contact tracing spelled out by the law, the court said.
More than 5,000 of South Korea’s 70,212 coronavirus cases were linked to Lee’s church.