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January 22: Biden Covid plan pledges 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days

President Joe Biden will sign two more executive orders Friday, designed to alleviate economic pressures across the U.S.
Image: A member of medical staff reacts as a health worker inoculates her with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a government hospital in Hyderabad
A member of medical staff reacts as a health worker inoculates her with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a government hospital in Hyderabad, India on Friday.Noah Seelam / AFP - Getty Images

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

President Joe Biden will again step up his response to the pandemic with two more executive orders Friday morning, both designed to alleviate economic pressures across the nation.

Elsewhere, countries across the world have welcomed the United States' intention to rejoin global efforts to support vaccine rollouts, as plans to supercharge vaccine delivery nationally get underway.

738d ago / 4:05 PM UTC

Michigan to allow indoor dining starting Feb. 1 at 25 percent capacity

Michigan will allow indoor dining at restaurants and bars to resume on Feb. 1, state officials announced Friday. 

Indoor dining will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity, with up to 100 people, and tables must be spaced six feet apart, health officials said in a news release.

“The pause has worked," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, referring to the pause on indoor dining that has been in effect since Nov. 18, around the time the state saw a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases.

"The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives. Now, we are confident that starting February 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place,” Whitmer said.

The state will also permit concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums starting Feb. 1, health officials said.

738d ago / 4:02 PM UTC
738d ago / 4:00 PM UTC

Internet services company Cloudflare offers help for vaccination registration websites

Vaccination registration websites have struggled to keep up with the demand of people trying to make appointments. Internet services company Cloudflare is offering help.

"There are challenges around communicating who is eligible to be vaccinated, registering those who are eligible for appointments, ensuring they show up for their appointments, transporting the vaccine under the required handling conditions, ensuring that there are trained personnel to administer the vaccine, and then doing it all over again as most of the vaccines require two doses," Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post on Friday.

"Cloudflare can't help with most of that problem, but there is one key part that we realized we could help facilitate: ensuring that registration websites don't crash under load when they first begin scheduling vaccine appointments," he continued.

Cloudflare usually offers websites protection from attacks that flood websites with fake traffic. But real web traffic can also cause problems. The company's offering will be "free for any government, municipality, hospital, pharmacy, or other organization responsible for distributing COVID-19 vaccines" and include a "Virtual Waiting Room" to keep people in order as they wait to sign up.

738d ago / 3:51 PM UTC

Biden's Covid advisory board that helped create pandemic response plan has been disbanded

The Covid advisory board that President Joe Biden set up during the transition to help him develop a plan to respond to the pandemic has been disbanded as of Wednesday, said people involved with the group.

The panel of outside experts was designed to give Biden advice about how to respond to the pandemic during the transition when he couldn’t communicate with federal health experts at the CDC and NIH. Now that he has the full resources of the federal government, the outside group isn’t needed, one of the people said.

Only the co-chairs of the panel, David Kessler, Vivek Murthy, and Marcella Nunez-Smith, have taken on administration positions. Former advisory board member Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he is still advising the Biden administration informally.

Biden released a 198-page pandemic response plan on Thursday that the group helped develop.

738d ago / 3:33 PM UTC

Texas doctor accused of stealing vial of Covid-19 vaccine

A Texas doctor was charged Thursday with stealing a vial of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to prosecutors.

Dr. Hasan Gokal faces a charge of theft by a public servant after authorities said he stole a vial containing nine doses, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. The alleged incident occurred Dec. 29, when he worked at a vaccination site in Humble, about 20 miles north of Houston.

Gokal was fired after a coworker he confided in reported him to supervisors, according to the office.

Prosecutors said Gokal “disregarded county protocols in place to ensure vaccine is not wasted but administered to vulnerable populations and front-line workers on a waiting list.”

Click here to read the full story.

738d ago / 1:35 PM UTC
738d ago / 1:28 PM UTC

Hoda Kotb and Al Roker share why they're getting the Covid vaccination

The decision by Hoda Kotb and Al Roker to get the Covid-19 vaccination is about much more than just their own health.

The "TODAY" co-anchor and weatherman share their reasons for getting vaccinated in the upcoming issue of People magazine.

Roker, 66, already received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccination live on "TODAY" on Tuesday because he is in the eligible age group of over 65 in New York. Hoda, 56, is awaiting her chance once she is eligible.

"Why am I getting vaccinated? Well, I want to make sure I stay healthy, because I want to make sure I protect my family and my friends and my co-workers," he told People. "Because we're all in this together. If we don't take care of each other, there's no point in going on." 

Kotb's immediate motivation for getting the vaccination is to protect her family, but it's also about more than just them.

"This is who I'm getting vaccinated for when it's my turn: First, for my mother, who's in her 80s; for my fiancé, Joel; for my two children," she told People. "And for every single person who I pass by, who I walk by and who I see. So I am getting vaccinated not only for my family, but for yours too."

Click here to read the full story.

738d ago / 1:22 PM UTC

Health care workers among 22,000 fans to attend Super Bowl

Health care workers will be among the 22,000 fans in attendance next month when Super Bowl 55 is played in Tampa, Florida, the NFL announced Friday. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell surprised staff at Sarasota Memorial Hospital that they are part of the 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who will be able to witness the nation's biggest sporting event. 

"We hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings," Goodell said in a statement. 

There will be an additional 14,500 fans in attendance, the league said.

738d ago / 12:38 PM UTC

More than 4,000 reported dead for second day in a row, California counts a record 753 deaths

The country counted 4,104 Covid-19 deaths and 199,907 new cases Thursday, the second day in a row where more than 4,000 people were reported dead of the disease, according to NBC News' tally.

California accounted for nearly one out of every five of those deaths, reporting a record 753 dead. Utah reported a record 30 deaths.

This is the fourth day in a row of case counts lower than 200,000, the first time the country has had a streak like that since November.

738d ago / 12:32 PM UTC

Japan denies as 'categorically untrue' report Tokyo Olympics could be canceled


TOKYO — Japanese officials on Friday vehemently denied a newspaper report suggesting that the Olympic Games, due to be held in the country this summer, could be canceled.

The Tokyo Olympics originally planned for 2020 were delayed 10 months ago following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The local Olympics organizing committee said in a statement that the games would go forward as planned and had the support of Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Another statement from the Cabinet Secretariat on behalf of Japan's government also dismissed the report.

"Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will have to be canceled. This is categorically untrue," the statement said.

Click here to read the full story.

738d ago / 12:22 PM UTC

British health secretary welcomes U.S. rejoining WHO's global vaccine effort

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock was happy to learn that the United States rejoined the World Health Organization and their global vaccination effort, in a tweet he shared Friday. 

"This is how we beat Covid, by working together towards our common goal," the tweet read. 

President Joe Biden's top medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to Geneva's WHO executive board via video conference on Thursday, saying he was "honored" to remain working with United Nations agency to fight the pandemic and confirmed the U.S. would fulfill its financial obligations. Fauci's comments come after former President Donald Trump had begun the process of withdrawing from the organization. 

He added that the U.S would sign up to the WHO's program to “advance multilateral efforts” to curb the spread of the virus The program's aim is to provide 1 billion vaccine shots to low-income countries next year. In December, the program had already raised $2 billion from dozens of developed countries and international organizations. 

738d ago / 11:36 AM UTC
738d ago / 11:33 AM UTC

New James Bond film release postponed again due to Covid

James Bond fans will have to wait another six months for the latest film in the British spy series after producers pushed the release date of "No Time to Die" to Oct. 8. 

The film's debut was set to take place in April, after the film was already postponed due to the pandemic. The new release date was shared on the James Bond twitter feed. The news comes as another blow to the movie theater industry, which has struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. 

The film will mark Daniel Craig's final appearance as Bond, after making his debut in Casino Royale, 2006.

738d ago / 10:32 AM UTC

Dave Chappelle tests positive for Covid-19

LOS ANGELES — Dave Chappelle has tested positive for Covid-19 in the midst of a residency in Austin, Texas, a rep for the comedian confirmed to Variety on Thursday.

Chappelle performed the first of a planned five shows on Wednesday night at the Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater, and was scheduled to perform subsequent sets on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The remaining shows have been canceled, and a statement from Chappelle's rep says "ticket holders should contact their point of purchase for refunds."

"Chappelle has safely conducted socially distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter," the statement reads. "Chappelle implemented Covid-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus."

The statement adds that Chappelle is quarantining and asymptomatic. TMZ first reported the news.

738d ago / 10:16 AM UTC

A Covid-19 peak? Variants muddy forecasts for coming months

Hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States are falling after having hit record levels this month — a welcome sign that the winter surge may finally be leveling off. But as new, potentially more contagious variants of the virus circulate, coronavirus modelers warn that the U.S. is by no means out of the woods yet.

The emergence of new variants isn't altogether surprising, but experts say that without a better understanding of how these strains affect things like transmissibility and the effectiveness of existing vaccines, it's difficult to know how the pandemic may play out.

"There's so much up in the air, and the new variants have thrown a huge monkey wrench into our ability to model things," said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, a professor of medicine and director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "All of those things make the crystal ball very cloudy."

Read the full story here.

738d ago / 10:13 AM UTC

Biden to sign two executive orders on Covid economic relief, worker protections

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to sign two executive orders Friday to address the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, including expanding food stamps and beginning the process to require that everyone working for the federal government get a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said the orders, which add to a slew Biden has already approved, are "not a substitute" for the massive $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill that Biden hopes Congress will pass, but rather a "critical lifeline" for millions of Americans who need assistance now.

"The American people can't afford to wait. So many are hanging on by a thread," he said.

Read full article here.

738d ago / 10:12 AM UTC

As national death toll tops 50,000, Germany vows to vaccinate entire population by summer


Germany passed 50,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Friday, according to the country’s disease control center.

Despite infection beginning to decline in the country of 83 million people, 859 deaths in the last 24 hours were reported by the Robert Koch Institute, pushing the death toll to 50,642.

This past week, the German government enforced stricter social distancing measures to tackle its second wave of the coronavirus. The government extended its national lockdown and mandated medical-grade masks in public.

The new record in deaths comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to vaccinate “every German” by the end of summer in a news conference on Thursday.