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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.
Los Angeles mayor quarantines after daughter, 9, tests positive
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti said he and other family members will quarantine after his 9-year-old daughter, Maya, tested positive for Covid-19 this week.
"Maya's doing fine, and her symptoms are mild," Garcetti said, adding that he and his wife were both tested and the results were negative. But Maya will isolate, and they will quarantine as the mayor works remotely.
Garcetti said his family is going through what many others have around the U.S. and the world. He said he did not know how Maya, who turned 9 over the weekend, contracted the illness and that the family has been strict on coronavirus safety.
Los Angeles County has seen a large increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths, and officials have warned that hospitals could be overwhelmed. Intensive care units in Southern California were at 0 percent capacity on Thursday, public health officials said. The county health department reported 14,418 new cases and 102 new deaths on Thursday. Garcetti pleaded with residents to cancel plans, to wear masks and to take other steps to slow the virus spread.
FDA advisers recommend Moderna's vaccine
An independent panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration overwhelmingly recommended that the agency authorize Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Thursday.
The recommendation brings the United States one step closer to adding a second vaccine to its toolkit in fighting the pandemic.
The FDA is expected to agree with the committee's recommendation, and an emergency use authorization could come as soon as Thursday evening or Friday.
Mitch McConnell says he will get Covid vaccine in coming days
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Thursday that he will get the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days.
“As a polio survivor, I know both the fear of a disease and the extraordinary promise of hope that vaccines bring," McConnell said. "I truly hope all Kentuckians and Americans will heed this advice and accept this safe and effective vaccine."
McConnell said he was dismayed to find polls showing a concerning number of America expressing skepticism about receiving the vaccine.
“The only way to beat this pandemic is for us to follow the advice of our nation’s health care professionals: get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines," McConnell said.
McConnell is the latest high-profile lawmaker to express their intention to get vaccinated. Vice President Mike Pence is slated to get publicly vaccinated on Friday morning and President-elect Biden is expected to get a shot as soon as next week. All of the living former presidents have also said they would get vaccinated.
Some states say Pfizer vaccine allotments cut for next week
O'FALLON, Mo. — Several states say they have been told to expect far fewer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in its second week of distribution, prompting worries about potential delays in shots for health care workers and long-term care residents.
But senior Trump administration officials on Thursday downplayed the risk of delays, citing a confusion over semantics, while Pfizer said its production levels have not changed.
The first U.S. doses were administered Monday, and already this week, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly health care workers, have been vaccinated. The pace is expected to increase next week, assuming Moderna gets federal authorization for its vaccine.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, incoming senior advisor for Biden White House, tests positive for Covid
The Biden transition team announced in a statement Thursday that Rep. Cedric Richmond tested positive for Covid-19.
Richmond, a Biden ally, is slated to be an incoming White House senior advisor and Director of the Office of Public Engagement. Biden's team said the Louisiana lawmaker was not in close contact with the President-elect, took a PCR test which came back negative on Thursday.
This news comes as Biden is expected to publicly take the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week.
Richmond traveled to Georgia on Tuesday for a campaign event for the Democratic candidates running for Senate. Richmond developed symptoms on Wednesday and took a rapid test, which came back positive. On Thursday, he took a PCR test, which was also positive, the team said.
Richmond was not in close contact with the candidates, the campaign said, and he interacted with the President-elect in the open air while wearing a mask and totaled less than 15 consecutive minutes. The transition teams said it conducted contact tracing protocols "immediately" and found two individuals — both drivers during the event in Georgia — who were in close contact with Richmond. Both will quarantine.
Richmond will quarantine for 14 days and take two PCR tests before returning to in-person work in Congress and with the transition team, the statement said.
Microsoft to give $110 million to Washington state’s recovery effort
Microsoft Corp. will spend $110 million to help support Washington state’s Covid-19 recovery, president Brad Smith said Thursday.
In a blog post, Smith said Microsoft Corp., based in Redmond, Washington, will help fund nonprofits across the state and continue to pay hourly workers on its corporate campuses.
The software giant also urged an accelerated opening of elementary schools and will donate personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and technology to track and report Covid-19 data to help schools reopen safely.
“While this week with high infection rates is clearly not the right moment to restart in-person learning, the science now tells us that it is the right time to accelerate the planning for kindergarten through 5th Grade classes to reopen in February if the correct safety measures are put in place," Smith said in the post.
Southern California ICU beds at 0 percent capacity
Intensive care unit bed capacity is down to 0 percent in Southern California, the state's most populous region, public health officials warned Thursday.
ICU capacity in the San Joaquin Valley is also down to dangerously low levels - 0.7 percent as of Thursday. In Northern California, about 25 percent of ICU beds are open. In the Bay Area, where capacity is at 13 percent.
State public health officials also announced that California is steadily creeping towards 2 million cases as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the state. It currently has 1,723,362 confirmed cases.
Coca-Cola slashes U.S. workforce 12%
The Coca-Cola Co. is cutting 2,200 jobs globally, including 1,200 in the U.S and 500 in their home state of Georgia, a spokesperson confirmed to NBC News.
The Atlanta-based company which began the year with over 86,000 employees also expects to reduce nearly 50 percent of its brands.
“The pandemic was not a cause for these changes, but is has been a catalyst for the company to move faster,” a Coca-Cola spokesperson told NBC News.
The reductions affect both corporate and operating unit positions, but not employees of its bottlers.
Washington state Covid-19 vaccine allocation will be cut by 40 percent next week, governor says
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that the state's Covid-19 vaccine allocation will be cut by 40 percent next week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed Washington officials of the downsize in coronavirus vaccines without any explanation, according to Inslee who called it "disruptive and frustrating."
"Our state remains committed to getting all doses we are allocated out to healthcare providers and into the arms of Washingtonians. While we push for answers, that commitment will not change," Inslee said on Twitter.
Front-line workers in Phoenix receive Covid-19 vaccine at drive-thru location
Health care workers and first responders started to receive Covid-19 vaccines at a drive-thru location in Phoenix on Thursday. HonorHealth Medical, a nonprofit hospital system, is organizing the rollout and has the capacity to vaccinate 1,000 people a day. In 21 days, the front-line workers will return to the site to receive their second dose.
“This is quite a collaboration among healthcare organizations and state and local health agencies to identify the right health care workers and first responders, and get thousands of people signed up,” said Dr. Richard Gray, CEO of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Empty stores in New Jersey to be used as vaccination centers
Empty Kmart and Sears stores in New Jersey will be converted into vaccination centers when the vaccine arrives in the state, according to the Essex County Executive office.
A vacant Sears store at the Livingston Mall and A Kmart store in West Orange are among five sites in Essex County that have been designated as vaccine distribution centers.
The Sears store at Livingston Mall, which is owned by Simon Property, closed earlier this year. The West Orange Kmart closed in February. Transformco, which owns both Sears and Kmart, did not respond to an NBC News request for comment.
Amazon asks CDC to prioritize vaccines for many of its workers
Amazon, the country’s second largest employer, is pushing for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize its workers for receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
The e-commerce giant requested its fulfillment center, data center and Whole Foods Markets workers receive the vaccine “at the earliest appropriate time,” according to a letter sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.
Amazon is one of dozens of companies, including DoorDash and Uber, who are lobbying for their employee ranks to be among the first to receive the vaccine.
Lord Speaker of U.K. House of Lords gets vaccinated
Giants offensive coordinator sidelined by positive Covid-19 test
New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the team's next game, the football club announced on Thursday.
The team also said it is contract tracing and will not practice on Thursday: "At this point, there appear to be no high risk close contacts. We are awaiting confirmation from the league. Out of an abundance of caution, the Giants will meet remotely and will not practice today."
Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens will call plays Sunday when the Giants host the Cleveland Browns in a prime time game televised by NBC.
The CDC banned evictions for those affected by Covid. Why are tenants being thrown out on the street?
The day before Thanksgiving, Steve Cowley, a beverage salesman, was at home in Pensacola, Florida, when someone started pounding on the front door. It was the county sheriff serving an eviction notice.
Cowley, 36, had nowhere to go. Out of work because of Covid-19 and behind on his rent, he was doing his best to survive on $275-a-week unemployment checks. His car had been repossessed, he said, so he could not live in it, a common refuge for evicted tenants.
The sheriff's visit surprised Cowley because he'd provided the county court with documentation required under the federal eviction moratorium issued in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ban aimed to let renters affected by Covid stay in their homes, even if they couldn’t pay their landlords.
But Patricia Kinsey, the only judge hearing eviction cases in Escambia County, where Pensacola sits, ordered Cowley out of his home, documents show. Kinsey sided with a lawyer for Cowley's landlord, a big Canadian company that owns 19,000 rental units in North America, who’d argued that the CDC order was unconstitutional. Agreeing with the landlord’s lawyer, Kinsey ruled that the CDC moratorium represented an "unlawful taking" by the U.S. government of landlords’ private property — rental income.
Covid job losses devastate domestic workers, who are largely unseen
Judith Bautista found out she was out of a job in June when a moving truck pulled into the home of the family she worked for during the past eight years.
“They tell me they buy a mansion in another state,” Bautista said, “and from one day to another one, they say ‘that's it, you don't have a job.'"
Bautista, 36, the family's nanny, has been a domestic worker in New York City ever since she immigrated from Puebla, Mexico, at the age of 17. She specializes in caring for children and teens with special needs.
Like many other domestic workers, her job came to an end when her employer decided to move out of the city due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Poland to enter national quarantine on Dec. 28
Poland will enter a nationwide quarantine at the end of the month to help halt the spread of the coronavirus, according to Polish officials. The lockdown be in place from Dec. 28 to Jan. 17, and all hotels, ski slopes, and shopping malls will be closed.
"I call on every Pole to be responsible for themselves and their loved ones. But I know that calls won't help," Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said at a news conference on Thursday.
Pfizer vaccine vials hold some extra doses — experts say that's normal
The small glass vials used to transport Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine hold more than the expected five doses — and that's OK.
The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday night that it was aware of reports that vials were yielding six and sometimes seven doses, and that it was acceptable to use all full doses from each vial.
"At this time, given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of the issue," the agency said in a tweet.
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