Coverage on this blog has ended, please click here for NBC News' continuing coverage of Covid-19
The United States has set three grim records, recording the highest number of daily deaths, new infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
According to an NBC News tally, the U.S. reported 2,777 coronavirus-related deaths and nearly 205,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, more people than ever are hospitalized. The Covid Tracking Project reported that 100,000 people were hospitalized across the country.
- 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.
Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton volunteer to get coronavirus vaccine on camera
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton volunteered to help build public trust in a coronavirus vaccine by taking a shot on camera.
Aide Freddy Ford said Bush would "do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated." Angel Ureña, a spokesperson for Clinton, echoed Bush's statement, saying the 42nd president would also take the shot in a "public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same."
Obama told SiriusXM Radio that he would also follow suit.
"I will be taking it, and I may end up taking it on TV or having a film just so people know that I trust this science," Obama said. "What I don't trust is getting Covid."
Russia sets new daily record in cases
MOSCOW — Coronavirus infections in Russia hit a new record on Thursday, as the country’s authorities reported 28,145 new confirmed cases — the highest daily spike in the pandemic and an increase of 2,800 cases from those registered the previous day.
Russia’s total number of Covid-19 cases — nearly 2.4 million — remains the world’s fourth-highest. The government coronavirus task force has reported 41,607 deaths in the pandemic.
The country has been swept by a rapid resurgence of the outbreak this fall, with numbers of confirmed infections and deaths regularly hitting new highs and significantly exceeding those reported in the spring. The country’s authorities have resisted imposing a second nationwide lockdown or a widespread closure of businesses. Virus-related restrictions vary from region to region but are largely mild.
Africa needs Covid vaccine for 60% in 2-3 years, official says
NAIROBI, Kenya — Africa’s top public health official says 60% of the continent’s population needs to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in the next two to three years.
The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, told reporters on Thursday that if it takes four to five years, “the virus will be endemic in our communities.”
African health officials are taking heart in vaccine progress, but concerns are growing that the continent of 1.3 billion people will be near the end of the line in obtaining doses. Nkengasong isn’t sure whether vaccines will be available in Africa before the second quarter of next year.
When will Americans actually get the Covid vaccine? Officials offer different timelines.
Health officials and public health experts have offered conflicting answers in recent days about when the first Americans will finally get Covid-19 vaccine shots.
An advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration will meet on Deccember 10 to consider whether to grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer for its vaccine candidate. After the vote, the decision moves to the FDA itself.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group recommended Tuesday that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first in line for the vaccines. The CDC is expected to accept the recommendation.
FDA scientists are reviewing data on two vaccine candidates, made by Pfizer and Moderna. There are expected to be enough doses to immunize 20 million people by the end of the month, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday at a briefing for Operation Warp Speed, the government's effort to fast-track a vaccine.
But even if the FDA's group of independent vaccine experts votes to advise authorizing the Pfizer vaccine, it's still unclear how soon after the Dec. 10 meeting the agency will make the final decision whether to authorize it for emergency use, a necessary step before any shots are administered.
Let government employees work from home after the pandemic, former cyber leaders say
Former cybersecurity chiefs from five U.S. agencies are calling for the government to let more government employees work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic is over.
The group, comprised of former Chief Information Officers at agencies like the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development, jointly argued for the shift in an online pamphlet released Thursday.
"Senior government managers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the changes brought about by the pandemic," the former CIOs wrote, saying allowing the practice can improve morale and save taxpayers money.
Many federal employees rapidly shifted to working from home in the early days of the pandemic, initially prompting cybersecurity concerns that they were creating opportunities for hackers, though they have since settled into some accepted best practices.