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For the first time, more than 3,000 Covid-19-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Wednesday. More than 290,000 people have died from the coronavirus across the country since the beginning of the pandemic this spring.
As at least 15 U.S. states step up their own efforts to encourage people to take a Covid-19 vaccine, countries across the world are hurtling ahead with unprecedented plans to vaccinate millions of vulnerable adults and frontline healthcare workers.
- 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.
The U.S. counts 222,211 Covid infections Tuesday, a new record
The U.S. hit a new peak in daily Covid-19 infections Tuesday, counting 222,211 diagnoses of the disease, according to an NBC News tally. Driven by more than 20,000 new cases in California and Ohio, and another 10,000-plus in Texas and Arizona. This is the fifth day in the last week that case counts have been above 200,000.
The U.S. reported 2,271 deaths, and as of Wednesday morning, the Covid-19 death count was at 287,506.
In the past week, the U.S. has averaged 205,601 cases per day and 2,260 deaths per day. That's up from 158,396 cases and 1,176 deaths per day four weeks ago.
These states set single-day records:
- Arizona, 12,314 cases
- Ohio, 25,721 cases
- Oregon, 35 deaths
- Tennessee, 100 deaths
- Washington, 7,621 cases
'Cruise to nowhere' halted after elderly woman tests positive for Covid
SINGAPORE — An elderly passenger on board a Royal Caribbean “cruise to nowhere” has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, prompting the voyage to be cut short as the vessel returned to Singapore on Wednesday.
The 83-year-old guest onboard the Quantum of the Seas tested positive for Covid-19 after reporting to the ship’s medical center with diarrhea, said Annie Chang, director of cruise at Singapore’s Tourism Board.
The passenger had tested negative prior to boarding, Chang said.
“The passenger was immediately isolated and his initial close contacts were identified and isolated,” she said in a statement, adding that the close contacts have since tested negative.
Chang said all leisure activities onboard the Quantum of the Seas had ceased immediately and passengers and crew were asked to stay in their cabins until contact tracing is completed. She said all onboard will undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing before leaving the terminal.
Pelosi, Schumer blast $916B White House coronavirus relief proposal
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer late Tuesday rejected a Trump-backed $916 billion coronavirus relief proposal that was offered by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said the plan proposes a $600 direct payment for individuals and $1,200 for couples, which is half the payment delivered by the March pandemic relief bill, the Associated Press reported.
In a joint statement, Schumer and Pelosi described it as progress that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., endorsed the cost of the package, but they signaled that the proposal was obstructing bipartisan negotiations already underway among lawmakers. The Democratic leaders also made clear that the reduction in unemployment benefits from what's on the table is something they could never support.
As coronavirus surges, countries spend more on economic aid. But not the U.S.
The U.S. is facing a new wave of Covid-19 outbreaks straining hospitals, workers, businesses, and schools.
In this, the country is not alone: Wealthy nations across Europe are facing a major surge in new infections too, as is Canada. But unlike their economic peers, elected leaders in the U.S. have left citizens to face the current crisis without any additional financial cushion from their government.
In the United Kingdom, the conservative government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson has extended relief to workers that had been set to expire — a lifeline for millions contending with new lockdowns across the country. In Germany, officials approved more funding to compensate businesses affected by health restrictions. And in Canada, a new budget plan lays out more aid to businesses in hard-hit sectors to complement ongoing subsidies for workers, including $2,000 a month for those who have lost jobs or income due to the pandemic.
The U.S. has gone the opposite direction, letting benefits for workers and businesses expire with no agreement yet in Washington on a new aid package.
Merkel's Christmas warning as Germany posts record death toll
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the country may not be able to have a traditional Christmas, as the national death toll reached a record daily high of 590 on Wednesday.
"As hard as it is — and I know how much love has gone into setting up the Glühwein [mulled wine] stands and waffle stalls — this is not compatible with the agreement we made to only take food away to eat at home.
"I'm sorry. I am really am, from the bottom of my heart. But if the price we pay is 590 deaths a day then that is unacceptable in my view."
Shops and hotels are closed in Germany until Jan 10. Almost 20,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Germany so far.
U.S. forces in South Korea apologize for rule-breaking events
American armed forces in South Korea apologized Wednesday for holding parties that "displayed poor judgment and actions" and were in violation of Covid-19 health measures.
In a statement, U.S. Forces Korea said that two events, one at United States Army Garrison — Humphreys and one at Osan Air Base, "do not reflect USFK’s commitment to mitigating the spread of Covid-19." Both facilities are closed until further notice.
The statement didn't provide details of how the rules were broken but the Korean Yonhap news agency reported that some party-goers did not wear masks or follow social distancing rules.
U.K. investigates possible allergic reactions to Covid shot
LONDON — U.K. regulators say people who have a “significant history’’ of allergic reactions shouldn’t receive the new Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine while they investigate two adverse reactions that occurred on the first day of the country’s mass vaccination program.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the National Health Service in England, said health authorities were acting on a recommendation from the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the nation’s medicines regulator.
“As is common with new vaccines, the MHRA has advised, on a precautionary basis, that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday,’’ Powis said in a statement. “Both are recovering well.”
Netanyahu says he intends to be first person vaccinated in Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the arrival of the first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine in Israel Wednesday and said he intended to be the first person in the country to be vaccinated.
“I want the citizens of Israel to be vaccinated, and to do so I want to set an example for them,” he said at a ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport.
Netanyahu said he believed in the vaccine and that he expected to receive approval for it in coming days.
“This is a holiday for Israel,” he added.