The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finalizing plans to shorten the recommended length of quarantine for those exposed to Covid-19.
Meanwhile, doctors are facing daunting decisions around which patients should be first in line for the two authorized Covid-19 antibody treatments that may help keep high-risk patients out of the hospital. Both are in short supply.
- 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.
Wyoming governor tests positive for coronavirus
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday as the state confronts surging caseloads and record-high hospitalizations, his office said in a statement.
Gordon, a Republican former state treasurer who has been governor since last year, has minor symptoms and will continue working remotely, the statement said.
The announcement came nearly a week after Gordon announced new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. Those measures did not include a statewide mask mandate, despite pleas from all but one of the state's county health officials, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
During a news conference announcing the measures, Gordon repeatedly called people who have dismissed the seriousness of the pandemic "knuckleheads," the newspaper reported.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Wyoming's sharp rise in coronavirus cases over the last month reflects the surge occurring across much of the United States. According to the Johns Hopkins data, the positivity rate in the state over the last two weeks is 57 percent — the highest in the country.
The World Health Organization says that positivity rates should remain below 5 percent.
80 nursing home patients in West Virginia facility, nearly every resident, test positive for Covid-19
All but five of the 85 residents of a West Virginia nursing home have tested positive for Covid-19, the facility reported on its website Wednesday.
The Stonerise Moundsville facility, which is located in the city of Moundsville, was ordered closed to all visitors by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the local NBC News affiliate WTOV reported.
Members of the West Virginia National Guard have been “on hand to help” with the mass outbreak, the affiliate reported.
West Virginia has recorded more than 43,000 Covid-19 infections and nearly 700 deaths due to the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest NBC News data.
Covid-19 surge triggered by Thanksgiving could further weaken economic recovery
Americans might be gearing up for the holidays, but economists are looking ahead to January, trying to parse a bevy of new data points for clarity on what lies beyond 2020.
The picture is, at best, murky — and there is growing trepidation that an uncontrolled Covid-19 surge triggered by the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend could further weaken a slowing recovery.
“What we’re looking for at the moment is signs of cracks in what has been reasonably good economic growth,” said Gary Schlossberg, global strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
The economic data coming out is vexing even the experts: Some figures indicate continued, albeit more modest, recovery, but others are flashing red. One of the warning signs is weekly jobless claims, which jumped to a higher-than-expected 778,000 last week — the second weekly increase in a row.
Pennsylvanians receive emergency alert to stay home or at least mask up, keep distance
The state of Pennsylvania sent an emergency phone alert on Wednesday afternoon, urging everyone to stay home or at least adhere to coronavirus protocols this Thanksgiving weekend.
While phone alerts are normally used to warn about severe weather or a missing child, this late afternoon bulletin pleaded with Keystone State residents to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It was sent to everyone with a cell phone with wireless alerts on in Pennsylvania," health department spokesman Nate Wardle told NBC News. "So yes, (it went to) millions."
Air Force nurses spend Thanksgiving fighting war against Covid-19
BISMARCK, N.D. — About 60 Air Force nurses are spending Thanksgiving at short-staffed hospitals across North Dakota as the coronavirus ravages the largely rural state.
Capt. Ronald Golemboski said he never expected to end up here fighting an unseen enemy after serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It's always hard,” he said. “But as members of the Department of Defense, we’re tasked to fight all enemies, and that's whoever and wherever they may be -- including this virus.”
As South Dakota takes hands-off approach to coronavirus, Native Americans feel vulnerable
In the early weeks of the pandemic, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota enacted drastic measures to fend off the spread of the coronavirus across its stark and sprawling prairie land.
The tribe installed checkpoints in April on roadways cutting through the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation to limit drivers without official business — part of a robust contact tracing program.
"We are doing this to save our residents, their lives," tribal Chairman Harold Frazier told NPR in May, when there was just one case of Covid-19 on the reservation, where about 12,000 people reside.
Even as case numbers stayed low, tribal officials imposed a mask mandate over the summer and rolled out mass testing events. And after South Dakota logged a record number of infections this month, Frazier on Monday began a 10-day lockdown of Eagle Butte, the remote town where the tribe's headquarters are located.
$15K fine for NYC synagogue with 7,000 person capacity after massive secret wedding
A Brooklyn synagogue was fined $15,000 for violating coronavirus restrictions after a video surfaced showing people standing shoulder-to-shoulder and apparently without masks at a massive, secret Hasidic wedding.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the fine at a news conference on Tuesday and condemned the large event as "unacceptable."
The wedding was held on Nov. 8 at Yetev Lev D’Satmar synagogue in the Williamsburg neighborhood, according to the New York Post, which published a video that showed the crowd jumping, dancing and singing during the event. The video does not show people wearing masks.
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Dozens of college basketball games scheduled for season opener cancelled over coronavirus
At least 30 Division I men's basketball games scheduled to be played Wednesday, the day of the season's opener, have been either cancelled or postponed over coronavirus concerns.
Wednesday, the first day of scheduled college basketball since the season was abruptly cancelled in March without the annual NCAA national championship tournament, was supposed to be a bevy of more than 100 games.
But while some of them are underway, nearly a third of those have been cancelled or postponed, including ranked matchups like #2 Baylor vs #18 Arizona State.
Holiday crowds are good for business — but not for retail workers
This year’s holiday shopping season is expected to bring in record sales — forcing many retail workers to the front lines of the pandemic, often without hazard pay, despite another surge of coronavirus infections.
“Retail workers experience heightened stress and pressure during the holiday season, even in normal times. However, this year, that stress is exponentially increased because of the serious health and safety risks resulting from the pandemic,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in a statement.
“Workers are in public-facing jobs; and they interact with larger numbers of customers during the holiday season, risking their own exposure to Covid-19 as well as possibly bringing it home to their families," he said.
Global Covid cases top 60 million
The global number of Covid-19 cases is now more than 60 million and a fifth of them are in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 60,101,887 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world and 12,662,851 of those were in the U.S., the most of any country, the data showed.
India, with 9.2 million cases, and Brazil, with 6.1 million cases, had the next highest amounts of reported infections.
By contrast China, where the first Covid-19 cases were detected, has reported just 92,211 cases, according to the latest NBC News data.
The U.S. also leads the world in the number of Covid-19 deaths with more than 261,000, the NBC News data showed.
Texas nurse recalls patient in Covid ICU who continued to deny pandemic severity
A Texas nurse said she saw first-hard the damage that President Donald Trump and his political allies did by falsely claiming the false claiming that Covid-19 no more dangerous than the flu.
Ashley Bartholomew, who worked in hard-hit El Paso, described to MSNBC’s Craig Melvin what happened when she encountered a patient in the intensive care unit who was infected with the coronavirus but was still insisting that the pandemic was fake news.
“I was so shocked in the moment when he was saying this to me,” she said. “He's in a Covid ICU, and he's still kind of denying the severity of the situation.”
Bartholomew says this moment “showed me the power of denial and how misinformation and disinformation is killing us.”
“And it made me, you know, nervous for not only this one patient,” she said. “If he's thinking like this, there's potentially thousands or millions more and we're in trouble if that's the case.”
Bartholomew said she didn’t blame the patient. “It's hard though, when we have these mixed messages from a national level, down to a state level, and then even here in El Paso, at the local level,” she said.
Trump last month was branded the world’s biggest spreader of coronavirus misinformation by Cornell University researchers after they compiled a lengthy list of false claims the president made about Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Video recreates dying patient's view as ICU doctor urges people to take Covid seriously
A St. Louis ICU doctor shared a video showing what Covid-19 patients see as they are being intubated in an attempt to urge people to take the virus seriously.
In the video, Kenneth Remy, a critical care physician at Washington University Medical Center, stares down at a camera as he holds a laryngoscope and an endotracheal tube — tools used in the intubation process.
"I hope the last moments of your life don't look like this because this is what you'll see at the end of your life if we don't start wearing masks when we're out in public. When we don't practice social distancing. When we don't wash our hands frequently," he says.
"Because I promise you, this will be what you see. I promise you this is what your mother or your father or your children when they get Covid disease will see at the end of their life. This is serious."
NFL Thanksgiving game between Steelers and Ravens postponed after Baltimore outbreak
A marquee Thanksgiving Day game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens has been pulled off the schedule with hopes it can be played on Sunday.
The undefeated Steelers and visiting 6-4 Ravens had been set to kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC, in the nightcap of three NFL games on Thursday. It's now hoped to be played on Sunday afternoon.
The Ravens have been hit this week with several positive Covid-19 tests.
Mink farm in Poland detects Covid cases among the herd
Covid-19 has been detected on a mink farm in northern Poland, the latest European country to report the virus in the animals prized for their fur, Forbes reported.
Now Poland, a major producer of mink fur, faces the prospect of having to do what breeders in Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Ireland did and cull the herds to prevent the virus from spreading to humans.
Covid-19 has also decimated the mink herds on farms in Wisconsin and Utah as well.
Minks have been found to be especially susceptible to catching the virus.
Alabama coach Nick Saban tests positive for Covid-19, feeling very 'mild symptoms'
Alabama coach Nick Saban has tested positive for Covid-19, school officials said Wednesday, just days before his team's annual grudge match against Auburn.
“He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a potential false positive,” according to a joint statement from team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson and head trainer Jeff Allen. “He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”
His Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, is set to play Auburn on Saturday.
Saban, 69 previously tested positive ahead of the Oct. 17 Georgia game, but didn’t have any symptoms. He was cleared to coach after subsequent tests came back negative.
California church petitions Supreme Court over governor's restrictions
A Los Angeles-area church has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction that would block California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order restricting the number of people who can gather in a house of worship during the pandemic.
The Harvest Rock Church, which is based in Pasadena and has campuses in other Southern California communities, contends that Newsom’s “tyrannical” order is unconstitutional, the City News Service reported.
There was no immediate response from Newsom, but the church has repeatedly challenged the state’s pandemic restriction orders in court. Last month a local federal appeals court denied the church’s bid to overturn Newsom’s ban on indoor singing and chanting in a place of worship.
Studies have shown that singing indoors poses a high risk of spreading Covid-19.
U.S. sees 15 days of record Covid hospitalizations
More than 88,000 people were hospitalized in the U.S. on Tuesday, shattering all previous highs and marking the fifteenth consecutive day of record-breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
The news comes as hospitals around the country report being overwhelmed with cases, and the country braces for a possible post-Thanksgiving surge.
In Oklahoma, the department of health said more than 1,550 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the state on Tuesday, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
In Ohio, where hospitalizations are surging, officials say the health care system is at a breaking point.
“At the Cleveland Clinic, we have 970 caregivers out because they are either in quarantine or they have active Covid infections,” Dr. Robert Wyllie said Monday.
Hospitalization hit a record high in Oregon, too, where more than 450 people are hospitalized with the virus. ICU beds in the state are at 82% capacity, and 90% in metro areas, according to The Oregonian.
Rishi Sunak, U.K. finance minister, wins praise for staying calm during pandemic
LONDON — It's been a tough year for front-line politicians in Britain. Few have impressed as the country battles a rampant coronavirus outbreak and continues its never-ending Brexit saga.
Except, that is, for Rishi Sunak.
The young, well-dressed finance minister was little known until recently, and only entered Parliament in 2015. On Wednesday, he again made headlines outlining his updated economic forecast for the coronavirus-battered country.
But the relatively inexperienced former banker, who has Indian roots, has been thrust into the spotlight as one of the country's most powerful politicians.
Trump adviser Epshteyn tests positive for Covid-19
Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn tested positive for Covid-19, he said in a statement on Wednesday.
Epshteyn was at a crowded press conference at the Republican National Committee with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Nov. 19. He was also with Giuliani earlier this week at a radio interview taping.
He said in his statement that he is quarantining and complying with contract tracing.
Curfew starts tonight in El Paso, as Covid deaths continue to spike
Another 28 El Paso residents have died from Covid-19, authorities said Wednesday, as the west Texas community prepares to enforce a curfew aimed at slowing the deadly scourge.
El Paso County's Covid-19 death toll reached 905 on Wednesday morning, up 28 from Tuesday and marking the fifth day this month that the total has spiked by at least 22.
The county, with clearance from Gov. Gregg Abbott, will begin a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew on Wednesday against any social or recreational activity, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said.
Late last month, Samaniego ordered the shutdown of all non-essential businesses. But an appeals court ruled that El Paso's decree overstepped state guidelines, even as the county had to import 14 mobile morgues to store and transport the overload of bodies.
Samaniego on Tuesday begged constituents to avoid big dinners Thursday and in-store Black Friday sales: "All of this will give us so many more people that might die if we avoid this. Those individuals will have many, many more Thanksgivings, many, many more Black Fridays, many more opportunities to be with their family."
U.S. Covid deaths nearing 2,000 per day, the most in months
With the number of Covid-19 cases skyrocketing, the United States was once again perilously close to eclipsing a heartbreaking pandemic benchmark -- 2,000 deaths per day from the coronavirus, the latest NBC News data showed Wednesday.
A total of 1,925 fatalities from the virus were reported on Tuesday, 20 less than last Thursday when 1,945 were logged, the numbers showed.
That, according to the data, was the most deaths reported since July 28 when 2,217 were recorded.
The rising death toll came as Thanksgiving loomed and as lawmakers and public health experts have been pleading with Americans to shun large indoor gatherings where the virus can be easily spread and to wear masks and practice social distancing to slow the spread of a virus that has already killed more than 261,000 people in the U.S. -- the most in the world.
“Let's not look back and say, if we'd only done Thanksgiving differently, thousands upon thousands of people would still be with us,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday on MSNBC.
New York continues to lead all the states with 35,113 Covid-19 deaths, according to the NBC News tally.
Texas is next with 21,329 coronavirus fatalities, the data shows. In the last seven days, Texas has reported 974 deaths while New York has logged 261, the data shows. The Lone Star state also leads the nation with more than 1.2 million Covid-19 infections.
Turkey Trot: Thanksgiving for the troops switches to grab-and-go meals
American troops around the world will have their annual home-cooked Thanksgiving meal this week, but it will look a little different this year, said the Defense Logistics Agency. Traditionally large group gatherings in dining facilities, this year the Thanksgiving meals have been switched to grab-and-go style takeout.
The DLA coordinated the shipment of Thanksgiving meals, including more than 131 tons of trimmings this year, to troops stationed from the U.S. to the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Korea, Japan, Qatar, and Honduras. Most of the food arrived in October and November. The agency has been providing Thanksgiving meals for troops for more than 50 years.
“Food is emotional, and this year more than ever, it’s so important that DLA Troop Support got the turkeys, hams and all the trimmings to our troops wherever they are stationed,” said Army Col. Eric McCoy, director of troop support subsistence for the DLA. “Our supply chain takes the holidays very seriously. Our troops are far away from home, and they definitely look forward to this meal. Disappointing them is not an option.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touts new Covid therapies
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took to Twitter on Wednesday to tout the emergency use authorizations recently issued to several experimental treatments for Covid-19 as well as the pending FDA meeting to consider an emergency use authorization for Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine candidate in mid-December.
He said that the recent emergency use authorization granted by the FDA to Regeneron's monoclonal antibody doubles the supply because another similar treatment from Eli Lilly was given EUA last week.
DeSantis said the new drug is "now on its way to hospitals throughout the state."
He said that thousands of long-term senior care facilities in the state are signed up to distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible if it is authorized and that seniors and front line workers will be prioritized.
"If we can redouble our efforts to protect the most vulnerable until the vaccine is deployed, we'll help safeguard the lives of thousands of Floridians," DeSantis said.
Biden to deliver Thanksgiving address amid steep rise in Covid cases
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is expected to deliver a Thanksgiving address on Wednesday from Wilmington, Del.
Biden's White House transition team said in a press release that the president-elect's speech would touch on "shared sacrifices Americans are making this holiday season" while delivering a message "that we can and will get through the current crisis together."
Biden's speech comes as the coronavirus cases continue to increase around the country, raising alarm among some health officials that holiday travel and indoor gatherings could lead to more outbreaks. The country is also facing a surge in food insecurity due to the impact of the virus, with food banks around the country reporting long lines ahead of the holiday.
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'Don't be like my family': Fifteen relatives got Covid-19 after a small gathering
The Aragonez family feels that they’re just like other families navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. They strictly followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention precautions, but after eight months, they ignored one rule and gathered in someone’s house. Now, they’re sharing their story in the hopes that others won’t make the same mistake.
“My family has taken every single precaution with the exception of one and that exception has cost us so much,” Alexa Aragonez, 26, of Arlington, Texas, told TODAY. “We’re not some family that is outside of the norm. Unfortunately, we are the norm. Families gather together because we’re tired. We want to return back to normal life. But we just can’t do that yet because the pandemic is not over.”
After an impromptu birthday party, 15 members of the Aragonez family tested positive for COVID-19, with Aragonez’s mother spending seven days in the hospital.
California counts a record number of Covid-19 cases, it's not alone
California counted a record 20,536 new Covid-19 cases Tuesday, breaking its previous record of 17,496, according to NBC News' tally.
Across the country 173,429 cases and 1,925 deaths were recorded.
The U.S. has averaged 173,766 cases of the coronavirus per day the last seven days, up from an average 87,340 cases per day four weeks ago.
Tuesday 10 states in all set single-day records, part of a surge of cases across the country:
- 13 reported deaths in Alaska
- 20,536 cases reported in California
- 12 reported deaths in Maine
- In Massachusetts, 5,998 cases
- 189 dead in Missouri
- 2,853 cases in Nevada
- 37 Covid-19 deaths in North Dakota
- 21 dead in Oregon
- 6,206 new cases in Washington
- 114 reported dead in Wisconsin
Latest weekly total for initial jobless benefit claims rose sharply to 778,000
The latest weekly total for initial jobless benefit claims ticked sharply up to 778,000 last week from 742,000 one week earlier, amid a further rise in coronavirus infections that is clearly dampening the labor market's rebound.
Economists had predicted the total would be around 730,000.
The weekly data was released one day early by the Department of Labor, in view of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
While the new weekly total is far lower than the March peak of nearly 7 million claimants, it is still elevated when compared to pre-pandemic levels, which averaged 200,000 a week.
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27 Covid deaths at Illinois vets nursing home prompts probe
LASALLE, Ill. — State officials have launched investigations into a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans nursing home in Illinois that has infected nearly 200 residents and staff members, and killed 27 veterans.
News outlets reported Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the state’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs are attempting to determine what caused the outbreak at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home. The department on Tuesday requested an independent probe into the facility, which was the focus of a state Senate committee virtual hearing on the outbreak.
The current outbreak was identified in late October when a staff member and a resident tested positive for the virus, the Chicago Tribune reported. The home was not largely impacted by the pandemic until then. In fact, two-thirds of residents and employees tested positive since the beginning of this month, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Travelers wear face coverings amid rush to see family for Thanksgiving
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WHO says Covid-19 cases in Europe are slowing down
The World Health Organization says the coronavirus pandemic has “slowed down” in the past week although death rates continued to rise, with more than 67,000 new deaths reported.
The U.N. health agency said in its latest epidemiological update Wednesday that even though there was a “downward trend” in the number of cases in Europe, the region still has the biggest proportion of new cases and deaths globally. WHO noted that Africa reported the highest increase in new cases and deaths, driven by South Africa, Algeria and Kenya.
In the past week, WHO said, the number of new cases reported in Europe dropped by about 6% after a 10% decline the previous week, suggesting that lockdowns across the continent are effectively slowing transmission. Still, the region accounts for about half of new global deaths.
Britain’s caseload fell by about 13%, its first weekly decline since late August. There were about 1,600 people hospitalized every day in mid-November, but that remains far lower than the more than 3,000 patients admitted daily in early April.
In Asia, WHO noted that Japan reported the largest number of daily cases since the beginning of the outbreak, with more than 2,000 reported every day for five consecutive days, a 41% increase from the previous week. Myanmar reported a 74% jump in cases last week, with more than 11,000 new cases and a 36% increase in deaths, at 188.
Live entertainment starting to return to Atlantic City casinos
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s casinos are slowly resuming live entertainment, bringing back a staple of the casino experience as they comply with government-mandated restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Hard Rock on Tuesday announced a series of Motown-themed Christmas shows from Dec. 11-30, saying its customers are getting antsy with months of coronavirus restrictions.
“Public demand is looking for activities, especially with outdoor temperatures keeping everyone inside,” said Hard Rock president Joe Lupo. “The large showrooms, with better air circulation and spacious seating, and less than 10 percent of normal (occupancy) can provide that safe and fun night out.”
Tickets will be sold as individual tables of two and four seats to ensure social distancing.