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Covid live updates: Fauci pushes back on Trump claims, first Oxford-AstraZeneca shots given in U.K.

"The numbers are real," Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts, said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Image: Kenyan school children wear face masks while walking to school as they resume in-class learning after a nine-month disruption caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, in Nairobi
Children wear masks in Nairobi on Monday as they resume in-class learning after a nine-month disruption caused by the pandemic.Simon Maina / AFP - Getty Images

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

Dr. Anthony Fauci has pushed back on President Donald Trump's false claims that the U.S. coronavirus death toll is "exaggerated."

"The numbers are real," Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts, said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "We have well over 300,000 deaths. We are averaging two to three thousand deaths per day."



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Flights delayed in Dallas after controller tests positive

Airspace around the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, one of the nation's busiest, was closed Monday after a controller tested positive for Covid-19.

The airport's Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility was cleaned after a controller tested positive, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The center handles inbound and outbound air traffic at the airport and others, and controllers there were working out of DFW's center tower, the agency said.

The FAA's website had listed a ground stop around 6:30 p.m., and it was lifted about an hour and a half later, the airport said.

Earlier Monday, flights were delayed at some Florida airports after an FAA facility near Jacksonville needed to be cleaned after an employee tested positive for Covid, an agency spokesperson said.

Read the full story here. 

'Health care system will collapse' with another surge, LA doctor warns

Health officials remind people to get their second vaccine doses

Two top American health officials reminded people Monday to get the second dose of their coronavirus vaccines, a message that comes days after Britain announced it was delaying the second round of shots to make them more widely available.

“We have been following the discussions and news reports about reducing the number of doses, extending the length of time between doses, changing the dose (half-dose), or mixing and matching vaccines in order to immunize more people against COVID-19,” two top officials at the Food and Drug Administration said. “These are all reasonable questions to consider and evaluate in clinical trials.”

But changing doses and schedules was a move “not rooted solidly in the available evidence,” said the officials, department Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

The vaccines have been shown to prevent Covid-19 infection in roughly 95 percent of adults. The one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech requires 21 days between doses, while Moderna's requires 28 days.

“Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19,” they said.

Dozens of cases linked to Christmas Eve services at Massachusetts church

Authorities say dozens of positive coronavirus cases have been traced back to Christmas services at a Massachusetts church.

The Woburn Board of Health has been working with the state to notify people who attended one of four services Dec. 23 and 24 at Genesis Community Church in Woburn, Mayor Scott Galvin told The Boston Globe. Officials say at least 44 cases have been traced to the church.

Genesis in a statement said it is encouraging anyone who attended to get tested. Services are now being held online.

The church statement says: “We are deeply saddened to learn that people within Genesis tested positive for COVID-19 and we are doing all we can to make sure this does not spread any further.”

Under state guidelines, houses of worship are limited to 25 percent of capacity. The church said it took proper precautions, including preregistration to attend and requiring masks and social distancing.

States across the country brace for post-holiday surge

Authorities bust large New Year's Eve parties as coronavirus cases rise across U.S.

Authorities busted massive New Year's Eve parties in multiple cities and the Transportation Security Administration announced a record for air travel even as coronavirus case counts have soared across the U.S.

Local law enforcement authorities in New York and Los Angeles reported breaking up large crowds of people gathered at New Year's Eve parties to ring in 2021.

An hour after the ball dropped over a deserted Times Square, the New York City Sheriff raided an "illegal bottle club" in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, ejecting 145 attendees and charging four, and an hour later, they shut down another in Queens, where over 300 people were found gathered in apparent violation of emergency orders, charging five people with multiple offenses.

The Los Angeles Sheriff said in a Facebook post that 90 people were arrested and over 900 people were warned for breaking California's coronavirus rules at large gatherings they shut down in Hawthorne, LA, Malibu and Pomona on the last night of 2020.

The sheriff said his office would "seek out and take law enforcement action against all super spreader events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County."

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Wisconsin pharmacist who tried to destroy Covid vaccine is 'conspiracy theorist,' authorities say

pharmacist accused of trying to destroy hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine is allegedly a conspiracy theorist who believed the medication wasn't safe, Wisconsin authorities said Monday.

Steven Brandenburg, 46, was ordered held in lieu of $10,000 bond by Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy during a brief appearance.

Police in Grafton, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, arrested the Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist on Thursday after 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine were apparently spoiled. Brandenburg took the vaccine doses from a refrigerator and left them out for 12 hours, possibly rendering them useless, police said.

Each vial contained 10 doses and was all together worth between $8,550 to $11,400, according to a probable cause statement by Grafton Police Det.-Sgt. Eric Sutherland.

Brandenburg is an "admitted conspiracy theorist" and he "told investigators that he believed that Covid-19 vaccine was not safe for people and could harm them and change their DNA," Sutherland wrote.

"He admitted this was an intentional act," the probable cause statement added.

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9 nuns died of Covid-19 at a New York convent in December

Coronavirus tore through an upstate New York convent in December, with dozens testing positive and at least nine nuns dying of Covid-19.

The outbreak occurred at St. Joseph's Provincial House — a convent for retired and infirm nuns run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet — in Latham, New York, just outside of Albany.

A spokesperson for the order confirmed that 47 sisters tested positive and at least nine have died of Covid-19 in the final month of 2020, saying the convent had largely been spared throughout the year.

"At this time, three of our sisters living at the Provincial House are receiving treatment for the virus, and are under the care of their personal physicians," Sr. Mary Rose Noonan wrote in an email to NBC News, adding that most of the nuns who tested positive have recovered. Twenty-one convent employees tested positive and recovered, while five remain in isolation, Noonan said.

"Like all members of our global community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have been struggling with the tragic consequences of COVID-19," Noonan wrote, saying that they have been following all CDC and New York state safety guidelines.

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N.Y. reports first known case of U.K. variant of the coronavirus

The first known case in New York state of someone infected with the coronavirus variant spreading in the United Kingdom was confirmed in a man from Saratoga County, north of Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The man, who is in his 60s and works in a jewelry store, had not recently traveled outside of the country, Cuomo said during a conference call. Three other people in the store also have Covid-19, and they are being checked for the same strain, the governor added.

The new variant of the coronavirus has been found in more than a dozen countries and at least three other states: California, Colorado and Florida. Scientists have said the variant appears to spread more easily, but does not make people sicker.

Still, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday moved to curb the spread of Covid-19, and announced a new national lockdown in England, including the most stringent level of restrictions since the start of the pandemic.