Live coverage has ended here, please click here for NBC News' latest coverage of Covid-19.
Congressional leaders and the White House are nearing agreement on a roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief deal that will likely include a new round of direct payments.
It comes as the U.S. experienced the deadliest day of the pandemic yet, with nearly 3,300 deaths. The country also set a record for the highest number of recorded cases in one day with 232,086 Covid-19 cases recorded.
Early Thursday, the total number of cases reported in the U.S. topped 17 million, according to NBC News' count. More than 308,000 people have died.
- 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.
U.S. sets records in Covid cases, deaths; infection count surpasses 17 million
The U.S. set Covid-19 records for cases and reported deaths Wednesday, counting 3,293 dead and 232,086 cases.
According to NBC News' tally, six states registered more than 10,000 cases apiece Wednesday: California, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, New York and Pennsylvania.
The case count in the country surpassed 17 million Thursday morning.
These states set single-day records:
- California, 51,437 cases
- Kansas, 144 dead
- Maine, 551 cases
- Nevada, 57 dead
- New Hampshire, 21 dead
- Tennessee, 11,410 cases
- Vermont, 5 dead
Jobless claims rise to 885,000
Weekly initial jobless claims rose to 885,000, defying economists predictions they would fall to 790,000.
The number, a measure of how many workers are filing for unemployment benefits for the first time, reflects renewed business closures and lockdowns, a pullback in retail spending, and the impending cutoff for federal support for borrowers and unemployed.
The surprise bad news will likely add pressure to stimulus talks inching forward in Washington.
Wales fails to report 11,000 coronavirus infections after computer error
Wales in the United Kingdom failed to report 11,000 positive coronavirus cases in its public health figures, its public health body said Thursday.
According to Public Health Wales, the error happened between Friday and Saturday as the laboratory computer systems went through scheduled maintenance.
The missed cases in the reported numbers will be released from Thursday, and will send Wales’ coronavirus numbers up significantly. The public health body said the error did not affect people receiving positive test results.
Wales, one of the four countries that makes up the United Kingdom, has had a total of 103,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic and nearly 3,000 deaths.
WHO investigators to go to China, unclear if Wuhan visit allowed
SINGAPORE — Beijing will welcome an international team of Covid-19 investigators due to travel to China in January, said the World Health Organization, which is leading the mission.
China has strongly opposed calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, saying such calls are anti-China, but has been open to a WHO-led investigation.
However, it was unclear whether the WHO investigators will travel to the city of Wuhan where the virus was first detected, with discussions on the itinerary ongoing.
"WHO continues to contact China and to discuss the international team and the places they visit," Babatunde Olowokure, the WHO's regional emergencies director in the Western Pacific, told a news conference on Thursday.
Italy to begin Covid vaccinations on Dec. 27, health officials say
ROME — Italy will begin Covid-19 vaccinations on Dec. 27, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, provided both European and national drug authorities give their approval to the Pfizer shot according to schedule.
Italy is set to receive an initial 1.83 million shots from Pfizer. The first inoculations will be administered to health workers, a statement said.
On Tuesday, Germany, France, Italy and five other European states announced they would coordinate the start of their vaccinations.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to give its green light to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 21.
FDA panel set to vote on Moderna vaccine as hospitals turn desperateDec. 17, 202002:52
Anti-vaccination groups target local media after social media crackdowns
With online platforms such as Facebook and YouTube cracking down on misinformation around Covid-19 vaccines, some anti-vaccination activists are pivoting to sparsely-attended real-world events and looking to local news outlets to amplify their message and give them a chance to raise money through donations. That tactic, known to experts as information laundering, appears to be gaining some traction.
From California to Maine, local news stations that had largely stopped covering childhood immunization opponents have been highlighting the anti-vaccination movement’s response to Covid-19 restrictions and solutions by covering their protests and giving activists a microphone to spread misinformation.
Experts have warned that credulous coverage of fringe and misleading anti-vaccine misinformation — coverage that doesn’t explicitly state that the information is false — can cause real-world harm, including a hesitancy among some people to get vaccinated that threatens to undermine the pandemic response. Local television news is a particularly important source of information about the pandemic, as it’s consistently the most popular source Americans turn to for news, according to the Pew Research Center.
Local media coverage is all part of the plan, said Joshua Coleman, a California anti-vaccine activist who has spent the last couple of years organizing and documenting anti-vaccine events. Coleman confirmed what social media data suggests — that the pandemic has led to a growth in anti-vaccine communities, and said that anti-lockdown protests offered a way to introduce the cause to a new audience. But he’s also felt the sting from efforts by online platforms to reduce the spread of misinformation about vaccines.
The United States tops 17 million Covid cases after setting two records
The United States surpassed 17 million Covid-19 cases early Thursday as the country set two records, the highest number of daily deaths and new infections since the pandemic began.
The U.S. recorded nearly 3,300 deaths related to coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total death count to more than 308,000 people, according to NBC News' tally. The country logged nearly 232,086 new cases of Covid-19 on the same day.
Meanwhile, the country has recorded its highest number of current hospitalizations with more than 113,000 people, according to The Covid Tracking Project.
Will children be able to get Covid vaccines?
Not until there’s enough data from studies in different age groups, which will stretch well into next year.
The Pfizer vaccine authorized in the U.S. this month is for people 16 and older. Testing began in October in children as young as 12 and is expected to take several more months. The Food and Drug Administration will have to decide when there’s enough data to allow emergency use in this age group.
Depending on the results, younger children may be enrolled for study as well.
Moderna, which is expected to become the second Covid-19 vaccine greenlit in the U.S., began enrolling study participants ages 12 to 17 this month and will track them for a year. Testing in children younger than 12 is expected to start in early 2021.
It is uncertain if the results on younger children will come in time for vaccinations to begin before the next school year.
Positive outcomes in adult studies are reassuring and suggest it is safe to proceed in testing kids, said Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University and director of its vaccine research program.
Kansas mayor 'embarrassed' by GOP, resigns over mask backlashDec. 17, 202004:22
France's Macron tests positive for coronavirus
French President Emmanuel Macron became the latest world leader to contract coronavirus Thursday, as countries across Europe struggle to suppress a spike in infections in the run-up to Christmas.
The Élysée Palace, Macron's official residence, confirmed the news in a statement that said he was tested as soon as his symptoms appeared. All his planned trips have been cancelled, including a trip to Lebanon.