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Jan. 11 Coronavirus updates: San Diego Zoo gorillas test positive for the coronavirus

Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. near 375,000 with close to 22.5 million total cases.
Image: President-Elect Biden And Vice President-Elect Harris Receive Second Round Of COVID-19 Vaccination
President-elect Joe Biden receives the second dose of a Covid-19 Vaccination from Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital on Jan. 11, 2021 in Newark, Del.Alex Wong / Getty Images

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

House members may have been exposed to Covid-19 when they went into hiding during the riots at the U.S. Capitol, Congress' attending physician wrote in a letter to members and staffers Sunday.

Meanwhile, experts are warning that the much-criticized rollout of the vaccine has laid the groundwork for a scenario in which the rich and the politically connected use their money and power to cut in line and get vaccinated before everyone else.

689d ago / 8:51 PM UTC

Gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park test positive for Covid-19

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park said Monday that some of its gorillas have tested positive for Covid-19.

Two of the gorillas started coughing last Wednesday, so the zoo began testing fecal samples for the coronavirus, the zoo said in a statement. The preliminary tests detected the coronavirus on Friday, and the positive results were confirmed Monday.

“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”

The zoo said it suspected the gorillas got the infections from an asymptomatic staff member, despite following all recommended precautions — including COVID-19 safety protocols from the CDC and San Diego County Public Health, as well as wearing PPE when they were near the gorillas.

689d ago / 8:31 PM UTC

Biden receives second dose of Covid-19 vaccine


President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, setting an example as part of his incoming administration's message that eligible Americans should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"My No. 1 priority is getting vaccine into peoples' arms like we just did today as rapidly as we can," Biden told reporters after getting a shot in Newark, Delaware.

Biden, who at 78 will become the oldest president in the nation's history, received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last month live on national television.

Biden has vowed to meet a goal of 100 million vaccine doses administered in his first 100 days in office, a target that has grown increasingly complicated as states struggle to adequately distribute their doses and gain public trust in a fast enough clip.

"It's not gonna be easy," he added, "but we can get it done."

689d ago / 7:16 PM UTC

New York City police start receiving Covid vaccine

689d ago / 6:39 PM UTC

Two NBA games called off due safety protocols

Two more NBA games were postponed and will have to be made up later, due to potential coronavirus outbreaks, officials said Monday.

A contest between the visiting New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks will not be played as scheduled on Monday night while Tuesday night's matchup between the Boston Celtics and host Chicago Bulls was also postponed, the league announced. 

The Celtics also lost out on a highly anticipated game on Sunday night against the Miami Heat due to Covid-19 concerns, the league said in a statement.

The Orlando Magic and the Dallas Mavericks play in an otherwise empty American Airlines Center during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Jan. 9, 2021, in Dallas.Jeffrey McWhorter / AP
689d ago / 6:38 PM UTC
689d ago / 6:13 PM UTC

Democratic rep. says she contracted Covid-19 while sheltering in place during riot

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., received a positive rapid Covid-19 test Monday after what she said might have been her exposure to the coronavirus while sheltering in place with lawmakers who did not wear masks during the rioting at the Capitol last Wednesday, her office announced. 

“I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time. While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents," Watson Coleman said in a statement. 

The congresswoman is isolating and waiting for the results of a PCR test, which is known to be more accurate than rapid tests. 

This comes a day after the Capitol physician warned members and congressional staff that they could have have been exposed to someone infected with the virus when they were sheltering in place. A video circulated last week that showed a House Democrat in a secure room offering face masks to a group of her fellow Republicans, who were seen turning them down. 

689d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

Teachers, police, transit workers eligible for vaccines in N.Y.

New York on Monday authorized doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to a new category of people, including teachers, police officers and firefighters, as the state edges closer to meeting its weekly vaccination goal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that New York had administered 259,000 doses of the vaccine last week — the first time since the start of the vaccine roll out in December that the number of doses given out surpassed 200,000. The state receives about 300,000 vaccine doses each week.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that New York has only administered about 36 percent of the 1.2 million doses it has gotten, highlighting an ongoing struggle between the state and local municipalities to agree on distribution plans.

Also eligible for the vaccine this week are public transit and safety workers and people over 75. Appointments are required. The ability for more people to get shots comes as New York City expands vaccination sites in Brooklyn and the Bronx to operate 24 hours, seven days a week, with other boroughs to follow suit.

689d ago / 3:54 PM UTC
689d ago / 3:20 PM UTC

George H.W. Bush's sister, Nancy Ellis, dies of Covid complications at 94

Nancy Bush Ellis, the younger sister of former President George H.W. Bush and aunt of former President George W. Bush, died Sunday at 94 of complications from Covid-19, the family said.

The George and Barbara Bush Foundation shared the news in a tweet on Sunday afternoon, writing, "We are sad to share that President Bush’s beloved sister, Nancy Bush Ellis, has passed away. Our condolences and prayers are with the Ellis and Bush families as we remember a remarkable woman who brought joy and light to the world."

Ellis was hospitalized on Dec. 30 with a fever and tested positive for the coronavirus, her family said in a statement. Her symptoms resolved in a few days, but her health was already failing, they said.

Click here to read the full story.

690d ago / 2:23 PM UTC

Biden adviser tamps down expectation of 100M shots in 100 days

A member of President-Elect Joe Biden's coronavirus advisory board suggested Monday that his vow to get 100 million Covid-19 vaccinations administered within his first 100 days in office is not a given.

Biden "is very committed to trying to make that work," Dr. Celine Gounder said on CNN of the aggressive pace. "That said, we really do have our work cut out for us."

"I think there is still a glimmer of hope that we may still be able to accomplish this," she added. "But it's really going to require everybody working together, not squabbling over partisan issues to get the job done."

Gounder said Congress must step up with the new administration and ensure funding and commitment to distributing the vaccines as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to climb across the U.S. daily.

Millions of doses have gone unused as states and local health agencies struggle to administer the vaccine because of crashing computer systems and long lines. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said 22 million doses were distributed so far, there have been fewer than 7 million shots actually administered.

690d ago / 1:52 PM UTC

U.S. tallies 2,100 deaths, 214,000 cases

The U.S. counted 214,764 Covid-19 cases and 2,105 reported deaths Sunday. 

The 2.4 million cases logged so far in January is more than any other month except November's 4.3 million and December's 6.4 million. In all, more than 22.4 million have been infected and 374,000-plus have died of the disease, according to NBC News' tally. 

The country has averaged 3,200 deaths per day and 256,000 cases per day the past seven days. Four weeks ago that number was an average 2,600 deaths and 225,000 cases per day.

Among states Sunday, New York set a record with 19,518 cases.

690d ago / 1:28 PM UTC
690d ago / 1:08 PM UTC

Pope Francis says he is ready and waiting for the Covid vaccine

Pope Francis said that he plans to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and urged others to get the shot, in an interview with Italy’s Canale 5 TV station on Sunday.

“I think that ethically we should all receive a vaccine,” said the pope, 84. “It’s an ethical choice because you are playing with your health, your life, but also the lives of others.”

The Vatican gave no exact date for the pope’s vaccination but it could be as early as next week.

The pope also struck out against anti-vaccine attitudes, reiterating that they are “not dangerous,” and recalling the introduction of the polio vaccine when he was a child.

690d ago / 12:24 PM UTC

Richard Branson's mother dies of Covid-19

Richard Branson, the British billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group, said Monday his mother, Eve Branson, has died from Covid-19. She was 96.

"Like a lot of people’s mums and dads right now in these days of Covid, my mum Eve has also passed away," he announced via Twitter.

"She held on for one last victory, managing to fight off the virus, but had expended all of her energy in the process," he wrote in a post on his company's website on a page honoring her memory.

"When we started Virgin Galactic, mum was so honoured that we named our mothership, VMS Eve. She will always be my mothership, but she is also the proud grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of 10, all of whom love her dearly and miss her greatly."

690d ago / 11:34 AM UTC
690d ago / 11:33 AM UTC

South Korea to offer free vaccinations for all its residents

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president says the country will offer free Covid-19 vaccinations to all its people in phases.

President Moon Jae-in made the comment in his New Year’s address on Monday. The government earlier announced that inoculations will start in February.

South Korean officials have said they’ll have vaccines for 56 million people, an amount seemingly enough for the country’s 52 million people.

After surging for weeks, South Korea’s virus caseload has gradually slowed amid tough social distancing rules that include a ban on gatherings of five or more people. Earlier Monday, South Korea reported 451 new virus cases, the first time its daily tally has fallen below 500 in 41 days. The country’s total stands at 69,114, including 1,140 deaths.

Moon said that “the end of the dark tunnel is finally coming into sight.” He said the government will make its best effort to further curb the ongoing outbreak.

690d ago / 11:29 AM UTC

U.K. opens seven vaccination sites to boost rollout

The United Kingdom opened seven mass vaccination centers across the country to bolster its vaccine rollout on Monday. Approximately 1.5 million Britons have received the shot already, according to the U.K.’s Department of Health and Social Care.

Amid rising infections largely due to a more contagious Covid-19 mutant that sparked stricter lockdown rules enforced during the holiday period, the U.K. aims to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February, focusing on people over 70, people with pre-existing conditions and health care workers. Currently, the U.K. is immunizing 200,000 people per day, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Sunday. 

Image: Members of the public wait for an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination center at Epsom racecourse in Epsom, southern England
Members of the public wait for an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination center at Epsom racecourse in Epsom, southern England on Jan. 11, 2021.Dominic Lipinski / AFP - Getty Images