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Dec. 7 Coronavirus updates: Countries are preparing to distribute Covid-19 vaccines

December 7 news about the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people in the U.S. and across the world could be vaccinated this month.
Image: Workers spray disinfectant over a container containing experimental coronavirus vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinovac, upon arrival at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia,
Workers spray disinfectant over a container containing experimental coronavirus vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinovac, upon arrival at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia, late Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.Indonesian Presidential Palace / AP

Live coverage here has ended, please click here for NBC News' latest coverage of Covid-19.

Countries across the world are preparing to begin giving citizens Covid-19 vaccines, as cases continue to rise across the United States. California, which reported over 30,000 new coronavirus cases in one day, stay-at-home orders were set to go into effect for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley after both regions fell under the 15 percent intensive-care unit capacity benchmark.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers negotiating a $908 billion Covid-19 relief bill is unlikely to meet a self-imposed Monday deadline to release the bill's text, sources told NBC News. Instead, the group is aiming to release a more detailed outline Monday and is working to complete bill text for Tuesday, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.

British woman becomes world's first to receive approved Covid-19 vaccine

A woman in the English city of Coventry has become the first person to get a clinically approved Covid-19 vaccine. Margaret Keenan, 90, received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot Tuesday after the British government became the first to give it regulatory approval last week.

"I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19," the grandmother of four, who turns 91 next week, told reporters. "It's the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year."

Keenan's inoculation kicks off what's been described as the largest vaccination campaign ever attempted by Britain's publicly funded National Health Service. The United States Food and Drug Administration is expected to discuss regulatory approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week.

Click here to read the full article.

Western Australia opens up to air travel after easing of coronavirus restrictions

Image: A passenger is greeted after arriving from Sydney at Perth Domestic Airport following the state of Western Australia's loosening of borders on Tuesday
A passenger is greeted after arriving from Sydney at Perth Domestic Airport following the state of Western Australia's loosening of borders on TuesdayAAP Image/Richard Wainwright / Reuters

Pelosi references dead in Pearl Harbor, WWII in letter on Covid fight

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter to colleagues Monday referred to those killed in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and the Americans killed in combat in World War II in calling for unity in the fight against the coronavirus.

Pelosi's letter to colleagues notes the more than 2,400 killed on Dec. 7, 1941, in the Japanese attack, which occurred 79 years ago Monday, and the nearly 300,000 U.S. combat deaths in World War II.

"Today, our country is under a different but deadly assault — this time, from the coronavirus," Pelosi wrote. "Tragically, now, our country is on a path to exceed the number of American deaths recorded during World War II."

She said a bipartisan coronavirus relief package is part of omnibus legislation and that progress is being made. A number of pandemic emergency relief benefits expire this month.

As of Monday night, there have been more than 284,000 Covid-19 deaths in the United States, according to NBC News' count. For most days in December, there have been more than 2,000 deaths reported, with several days with more deaths than those killed in the Pearl Harbor attack, according to that count.

How to protect yourself as the pandemic gets worse

Kentucky honors the more than 2,000 in state who have died

The more than 2,000 residents in Kentucky who have died from Covid-19 were honored in a ceremony Monday in front of the State Capitol Building in Frankfort.

As of Monday, there have been 2,082 deaths and more than 202,500 cases in the state, according to the state health department.

"These are our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, our grandparents and our neighbors," Gov. Andy Beshear said at the service. He called on those in Kentucky to help protect their neighbors and communities. 

Image: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and his wife, Britainy Beshear
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and his wife, Britainy Beshear, honor the more than 2,000 Kentuckians lost to COVID-19 during a ceremony in front of the State Capitol Building on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.Kentucky Governor's Office

D.C. to give $1,200 payments to some

Washington D.C.'s mayor on Monday announced $1,200 payments available to people who are about to run out of pandemic unemployment relief, which is set to expire at the end of the month.

About 20,000 district residents will benefit from the program, which applies to those who are eligible for and applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Mayor Muriel Bowser said. The PUA program affects the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and others who don't qualify for traditional unemployment benefits.

The money for the one-time $1,200 program will be funded through part of the district's CARES Act funding, which was passed by Congress in March, Bowser said.

A number of emergency relief benefits surrounding the pandemic are set to expire at the end of the month. Congress is trying to negotiate another round of Covid-19 relief, which could include unemployment benefits.

Husband of Colorado governor in hospital

Marlon Reis, the husband of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, was in a hospital Monday being treated for Covid-19, Polis' office said in a statement.

Reis had normal oxygen saturation and was in good spirits, Polis' office said Monday. He was taken to a hospital Sunday night with shortness of breath and a worsening cough.

Polis and Reis tested positive for Covid-19 on Nov. 28. Reis has received dexamethasone, which is a steroid, and the antiviral remdesivir but has not needed supplemental oxygen, Polis's office said. The governor was not experiencing any symptoms Monday, his office said. Polis tweeted that Colorado's first gentleman was looking forward to returning home soon.

Nursing homes are a top priority for Covid vaccines. But vaccinating everyone won't be simple.

Nursing home residents and staff members will be among the first people in the United States to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

But there are significant challenges to overcome before the vaccine is broadly administered to this high-risk population, which has been hit harder than any other by the pandemic.

The federal government has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to distribute the vaccine to long-term care facilities and open on-site clinics to vaccinate residents. That’s no small logistical feat, but it’s far from the only hurdle this mass vaccination effort faces.

Click here to read the full article.

U.K. to give first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine within hours

Here are all the pandemic emergency benefits that expire this month

A slew of emergency relief benefits enacted to protect everyday Americans from financial hardship and health risks from the coronavirus pandemic are set to expire at the end of the month.

A bipartisan group of senators has said it will introduce new legislation, potentially as early as Monday, for a new round of stimulus support up to $908 billion. But its fate is uncertain. Democrats have favored a broad, comprehensive relief package, while Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., support more narrowly defined support.

As the glimmers of progress emerge, it remains to be seen whether it will again be blocked before it can make it to President Donald Trump's desk, leaving millions of families and individuals desperate for action, with their hopes fading as quickly as their emergency assistance.

Click here to read the full story. 

Ohio club cited for Covid violations after 500 people attend indoor Trey Songz concert

An Ohio bar was cited after 500 people attended a concert at the venue on Saturday.
An Ohio bar was cited after 500 people attended a concert at the venue on Saturday.Courtesy Ohio Investigative Unit

An Ohio nightclub was cited for violating Covid-19 health orders after hundreds of people attended an indoor Trey Songz concert at the venue on Saturday night.

Aftermath in Columbus received a citation for improper conduct and disorderly activities after the approximately 500 patrons were observed sharing alcoholic beverages and making no attempts to maintain social distancing, the Ohio Investigative Unit told NBC News in a statement.

The venue also had no physical barriers in place to encourage social distancing and most employees and patrons were not wearing masks, the statement continued.

Click here to read the full story. 

What's happening in US is 'shocking,' says senior WHO official

Kelsie Sandoval

Record-setting Covid-19 cases, rising hospitalization rates and alarming death tolls in the United States are “shocking,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization of health emergencies program at a briefing Monday. 

With the U.S. averaging over 190,000 new daily in the last week, the country is accounting for a one-third of the world total cases over the last few weeks, Ryan said. 

"The epidemic in the U.S. is punishing. It's widespread. It's, quite frankly, shocking to see one to two persons a minute die in the U.S., a country with a wonderful, strong health system,” he said. 

The United States has reached record levels of Covid-19 cases in the past few months and deaths and have topped over 282,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins university data. Hospitalizations are also at an all-time high, according to the Covid-19 Tracking Project

During the WHO briefing, Ryan also said while vaccine news has provided a glimmer of hope, he recommends avoiding close contact with people where outbreaks are high, especially in the U.S.

“Getting that close to people in a situation with intense community transmission can be so tragically dangerous,” he said. 

Michigan House postpones Tuesday votes after Giuliani’s Covid-19 diagnosis

Dartunorro Clark

Michigan's House of Representatives postponed votes Tuesday following the news that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani had tested positive for Covid-19 days after speaking at a hearing in Lansing. 

"I have decided the House will still be in session on Tuesday, but no voting will take place and attendance will not be taken," House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Republican, said in a statement. "Voting will resume on Wednesday and Thursday."

Chatfield said that "out of an abundance of caution," several lawmakers had requested time to get results from recent Covid-19 tests back before returning to session. 

"With the recent spike in COVID cases nationwide, this makes sense," he said.

Giuliani spoke at an hours-long legislative hearing last Wednesday as part of the president's sputtering legal effort to contest the results of the 2020 election. 

Trump expected to sign executive order to prioritize vaccine distribution for Americans

Dartunorro Clark

Hallie Jackson

Dartunorro Clark and Hallie Jackson

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday to prioritize Covid-19 vaccines for Americans before helping other countries, a senior administration official said.

The White House is set to host a Covid-19 summit Tuesday ahead of the president signing the order, which is intended to reaffirm the president’s "America First" agenda and will address getting the vaccine to foreign recipients, the official said.

The timing of any foreign aid will be determined by when “supply and demand are meeting up,” which they anticipate happening around summertime, the official added. 

The news comes as Trump seeks to take sole credit for the vaccine development process ahead of the incoming administration even as he has downplayed the severity of the pandemic in this country.

While Pfizer and Moderna were invited to Tuesday's summit, a senior administration official said, representatives from those companies will not be participating in panels at the event.

Michigan extends Covid restrictions for 12 more days

Michigan extended restrictions against some indoor gatherings for another 12 days as the state braces for a spike in coronavirus cases following Thanksgiving, officials said Monday.

“Hope is on the horizon, but we need an additional 12 days to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

High schools and college are barred from in-person instruction, while indoor dining, movie theaters, stadiums, arenas, bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls must also remain closed.

Even under these restrictions, schools with students up to the eighth grade, hair salons and outdoor restaurants remain open. As many as 25 Michiganders can still gather outdoors, while funerals with no more than 25 mourners are also OK.

Trudeau says first batch of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine to arrive in Canada by end of year

The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines could arrive in Canada as early as next week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

Long-term care home residents and their staffers are expected to receive the initial 249,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine before the end of this year, Trudeau said. Shipments of millions more are expected to arrive next year, according to Trudeau.

Trudeau said government and public health agencies were finalizing distribution and training preparations at 14 locations across Canada to roll out the Pfizer vaccines this month.

Massachusetts to curtail elective surgeries to free up hospital space

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced Monday that his state will be curtailing elective surgeries as hospitals fill up with Covid-19 patients.

"This action will free up both necessary staffing and beds," said Baker, whose state has now seen more than 250,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.

Baker, a Republican, said the new policy will go into effect Friday as an effort to combat Massachusetts' recent spike in cases. He also announced a plan to expand free Covid-19 testing throughout the Bay State.

Former Alabama senator dies of Covid at age 78, and in his last words warns, 'We messed up'

A former Alabama state senator died of Covid-19 last week at age 78, officials said.

Former Sen. Larry Dixon, a Republican who also served as the executive director of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, died from Covid-19 on Dec. 4, the board said in a statement on Friday.

Dr. David Thrasher, a close friend of Dixon and a pulmonologist in Montgomery, told NBC News that Dixon's wife, Gaynell Dixon, told Thrasher that his last words to her were a prescient warning to the people of Alabama.

“We messed up, we let our guard down,” Dixon said, according to Thrasher. “Please tell everybody to be careful. This is real, and if you get diagnosed, get help immediately.”

Thrasher said his friend was exposed to the virus at a social gathering “with a couple of guys” that was hosted outside about two weeks ago.

As of Monday, the state has recorded almost 270,000 Covid-19 infections and 3,889 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

According to the dashboard, state residents have tested positive at a rate of 34.7 percent over the past seven days — one of the highest in the nation.

Thrasher added that Dixon was the “finest human being” whose last wish was to prevent more Alabamians from following his fate.

“He wanted to encourage people to be careful, wear a mask, don’t socially gather,” Thrasher said. “He said, ‘Let’s save some lives.’”

Read the full story.

Vancouver Canucks cut ties with popular anthem singer, anti-mask activist, Mark Donnelly

The Vancouver Canucks cut ties with popular anthem singer Mark Donnelly after the opera-trained performer took part in an anti-mask rally, team officials said Monday.

“Mark Donnelly is acting independently and we hope the public understands he is not representing the Vancouver Canucks," Canucks chief operating officer Trent Carroll said in a statement. "We encourage everyone to wear a mask and to follow the provincial health orders. They are in place to help everyone in BC to stop Covid-19 from spreading in our province.”

Donnelly might be the most famous anthem singer in the NHL with his distinct, stirring rendition of "O Canada."  He goes silent in the middle third of the song, allowing fans at Rogers Arena to joyously take over the tune.

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
Mark Donnelly sings the national anthem during the NHL game between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 9, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.Jeff Vinnick / NHLI via Getty Images

California to launch phone app for Covid-19 exposure notifications

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state was launching an app, named CA Notify, to tell residents of possible Covid-19 exposures. 

The nation’s most populous state would become the 19th state or U.S. territory to make such technology widely available, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The Bluetooth-enabled apps haven’t been popular so far, with about one in 14 people in those regions using them, but experts have said that the apps may be effective at slowing the pandemic even with little uptake

Newsom, a Democrat, said in a tweet that the optional app would be available in California starting Thursday. “This is 100% private & secure,” he said

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, whose company developed the underlying technology along with Apple this year, said the app “will be a helpful tool as we work together to slow the spread.”

Doctor critical of vaccine mandates to testify before Senate on Covid treatments

WASHINGTON — Democrats are objecting to a doctor who has previously opposed vaccine requirements being featured as the lead witness at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Tuesday on COVID-19 treatment.

Dr. Jane M. Orient is the executive director of a group of conservative doctors that have fought against government-backed healthcare and staked out controversial positions in the medical community on vaccines, abortion and AIDs. Called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the group previously described federal vaccine mandates as “a serious intrusion to individual liberty.”

Orient, whose testimony was first reported by The New York Times, is scheduled to appear before the committee remotely.

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Los Angeles Unified School District halts all in-person teaching for semester

Los Angeles Unified School District announced that all in-person school and childcare services are suspended for the rest of the semester due to spiking coronavirus infection rates, according to NBC News Los Angeles

Superintendent Austin Beutner announced the changes Monday after a series of increasingly strict lockdown measures had already gone into effect for shuttered non-essential businesses and services across California for three weeks as intensive care hospital capacity runs critically low across the state.

Prince William and Kate begin U.K. tour to thank workers for Covid efforts


LONDON — Prince William and his wife Kate arrived in Edinburgh on Monday at the start of a nationwide train tour of Britain to meet and thank frontline workers, nursing home staff and teachers for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

William, Queen Elizabeth's grandson and second-in-line to the throne, and Kate are travelling 1,250 miles across England, Scotland and Wales on board the Royal Train as part of their three-day trip.

They kicked off the tour at London's Euston Station on Sunday evening where they were serenaded by Welsh pop star Shakin' Stevens singing his 1980s hit "Merry Christmas Everyone" before leaving for Scotland.

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NJ Governor Phil Murphy says GOP “jerks” flouted his Covid rules

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he is investigating the New York Young Republicans who held an indoor gala in Jersey City last week and appeared to violate state Covid-19 guidelines.

“These jerks just came in,” the governor said on MSNBC. “It’s under investigation, including the venue, and it’s unfathomable. The pictures, nobody’s wearing a mask, they're inside. They're on top of each other. It’s ridiculous.”

Murphy doubled down on his criticism of Republican Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, who attended the gala, saying his behavior represents the “height of irresponsibility.”

The governor also said that while he is investigation what happened, its demonstrative of the difficulty on enforcing Covid-19 rules.

“It’s impossible to enforce somebody taking the Lincoln Tunnel from New York City into Hudson County,” he said.

While gatherings like the gala last week worry him, Murphy is worrying most about gatherings inside private homes.

“A private setting, where no amount of enforcement could get into every living room or private setting in our state,” he said, “That, to me, is where our biggest challenge is.”

Demand for Covid vaccines expected to get heated — and fast

JoNel Aleccia, Kaiser Health News

Americans have made no secret of their skepticism about Covid-19 vaccines, with fears of political interference and a "warp speed" timeline blunting confidence in the shots. As recently as September, nearly half of U.S. adults said they didn't intend to be inoculated.

But with two promising vaccines primed for release, likely within weeks, experts in ethics and immunization behavior say they expect attitudes to shift quickly from widespread hesitancy to urgent, even heated demand.

"People talk about the anti-vaccine people being able to kind of squelch uptake. I don't see that happening," Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccinologist with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told viewers of a recent JAMA Network webinar. "This, to me, is more like the Beanie Baby phenomenon — the attractiveness of a limited edition."

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MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle announces she is recovering from Covid-19

MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle has revealed that she tested positive for Covid-19. Ruhle, who is also NBC News’ senior business correspondent, made the announcement Monday on her show.

“After testing positive for Covid-19, I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks in bed, isolating and taking all the precautions needed to protect myself, my family and my community,” she said.

Ruhle added that her husband and kids were also infected and are recovering.

“We still don’t know how we got it,” she said. “But we’re getting better and we are very, very lucky.”

Ruhle said she is hosting her show from home, where she will remain until she is no longer contagious. The MSNBC anchor pleaded with Americans to heed public health precautions to curb the virus’ spread.

“We don’t have a vaccine today,” she said. “We have a virus that is ravaging our country and we need do a whole lot more to stop it. And as a person who is sick and scared, I am begging you. Please take this seriously. It is not over.”

After weeks of closures, NYC reopens some schools again

The Associated Press

It's back to school again for some New York City schoolchildren, weeks after the schools were closed to in-person learning because of rising COVID-19 infections.

The city's public school system, which shut down in-person learning last month, on Monday brought back preschool students and children in kindergarten through fifth grade whose parents chose a mix of in-school and remote learning.

“We’ve proven that we can do it safely, and parents want that for their children,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told cable news station NY1 in a call-in interview.

Special education students in all grades who have particularly complex needs will be welcomed back starting Thursday. Middle school and high school will remain all remote at least until after the holiday break, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said.

Pompeo hosting daylong indoor summit for foreign policy experts despite CDC guidance

Josh Lederman

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is hosting a daylong indoor summit for foreign policy experts despite local Covid regulations and CDC guidance urging against indoor gatherings.

Pompeo will host the Foreign Affairs Policy Board at the State Department on Monday. Internal planning documents seen by NBC News show the members will spend roughly five hours with Pompeo, including working sessions where snacks and refreshments will be provided, and a “working lunch” in the James Madison Room.

The State Department said only four board members were attending in-person and would be joined by State Department officials, bringing the total at the lunch portion to nine -- just under the District of Columbia’s 10-person cap on indoor gatherings. In a statement, a spokesperson said all in-person attendees would be Covid-tested and would be split during the working sessions into two conference rooms for social distancing. 

The CDC is recommending universal mask use in all indoor settings except an individual's home. The State Department said that attendees will be “required to wear a mask throughout the building at all times, with the exception of when eating or drinking.”

Pompeo has come under criticism for inviting hundreds to holiday parties this season despite the nationwide Covid-19 surge. That’s despite the fact State Department leadership has told employees that only “mission-critical” gatherings are permissible and that other events should go virtual.

The board comprises former ambassadors, business moguls and retired military experts who offer advice to the secretary of State. A notice posted in the Federal Register says it’s closed to the public because classified matters will be discussed.

California counts 30,000-plus Covid cases in a day while U.S. count dips below 200,000

California counted 34,699 Covid-19 cases Sunday, breaking the record it set Wednesday Dec. 2 of 28,000 cases.

More than 100 were reported dead of the disease in the state, while across the country deaths and case counts dipped below the week's average. The U.S. registered 184,541 cases and 1,251 dead according to NBC News' count, bringing its tally to 14.8 million cases and 282,925 deaths as of Sunday night.

The country has averaged 196,414 cases per day and 2,208 deaths per day the past week, up from an average 148,860 cases and 1,128 deaths four weeks ago.

Several other states set or tied single-day records:

  • Maine, 504 cases
  • North Carolina, 9,792 cases
  • Oregon, 3,059 cases. Its 30 dead tied the state's Friday record.
  • Puerto Rico, 2,506 cases
  • Virginia, 3,880 cases
  • West Virginia, 1,425 cases

Rudy Giuliani at D.C.-area hospital after Covid diagnosis

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rudy Giuliani, one of President Donald Trump's lawyers, is being treated for Covid-19 at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in northwest Washington, D.C., feeling mild symptoms so far, a source familiar with Giuliani’s diagnosis told NBC News. 

The hospital has not returned a request for comment. 

Giuliani tweeted Sunday night, "Thank you to all my friends and followers for all the prayers and kind wishes. I’m getting great care and feeling good. Recovering quickly and keeping up with everything."

Germany prepares to start vaccines after Jan. 1

The Associated Press

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff says he expects coronavirus vaccinations to start in Germany “in the very first days” of the new year. The trained doctor says he’s prepared to help vaccinate people himself.

European Union authorities are expected to make a decision by Dec. 29 on approving the first vaccine for use. Germany is getting special vaccination centers ready. The news comes as Britain gears up to start coronavirus vaccinations on Tuesday.

Biden picks California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead Health and Human Services


Heidi Przybyla

Ali Vitali

Heidi Przybyla, Ali Vitali and Kristen Welker

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

He also created new senior White House positions intended to signal a more aggressive response to Covid-19, including addressing its disproportionate impact on Black people and Latinos.

Becerra, 62, served 12 terms in the House of Representatives and was a vigorous defender of the Affordable Care Act who led the defense of the law in the Supreme Court last month.

If he is confirmed, he would be the first Latino to lead the massive department as the incoming administration tries to elevate more diverse candidates to front-line positions. Biden offered Becerra the position in a phone call Friday.

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