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Jan. 27 Coronavirus updates: Oklahoma to return $2 million worth of hydroxychloroquine

The U.S. remains the leader in recorded cases with more than 25.5 million infections.
Image: People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk through a subway station in Beijing
People in Beijing walk through a subway station on Wednesday. China has given more than 22 million Covid-19 vaccine shots to date as it carries out a drive ahead of next month's Lunar New Year holiday, health authorities said Wednesday.Mark Schiefelbein / AP

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

Global Covid-19 cases topped 100 million as virus mutations continue to create new concerns, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

The milestone comes less than three months after the world hit 50 million cases, and just over a year after the first case was diagnosed in the U.S., which remains the leader in recorded cases with more than 25.5 million infections.

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Biden to reopen Obamacare enrollment for those affected by Covid

President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order on Thursday to re-open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act markets for people who need medical care because of the pandemic, Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, confirmed.

Boushey said the move was in the works in an interview with MSNBC's Hallie Jackson on Wednesday, adding, "I cannot stress how important this is."

"Opening this up for Americans right now in the middle of a health crisis is a way to ensure more people can get access to the health insurance they need," she said. "People need access to health care." 

The Associated Press first reported the expected action. Former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly tried to repeal "Obamacare," had resisted calls to allow such a special enrollment period.

It's unclear when Biden's order would take effect. The AP reported the details were still being hashed out.

Cuomo: If supply weren't an issue, all of New York state could be vaccinated in a month

With an adequate supply of Covid-19 vaccines, everyone in New York state could be vaccinated within one month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

"That's the real shame," Cuomo told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle. "One month, we could get the state done. We have 3,000 providers who are now online. We have mass distribution sites that could do hundreds of thousands [of doses]. This is purely a supply issue."

Speaking a day after President Joe Biden announced his administration is working to buy 200 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccines — enough to inoculate nearly everyone in the United States by the end of the summer — Cuomo slammed the Trump administration for not buying more earlier.

"What was shocking about President Biden's announcement yesterday was that the United States government hadn't even ordered enough medicine. How do you treat a pandemic? First, order the medicine necessary," he said. 

The purchase from the Biden administration comes in addition to the 400 million doses pharmaceutical companies have already promised to the U.S., for a total of 600 million doses — enough for 2 doses for 300 million Americans.

"The president said honestly, which is always refreshing, it's going to take six months to get that number of doses," Cuomo said. "I wish the previous administration had done that."

White House task force introduces plan to increase number of vaccinators

White House officials announced on Wednesday a plan to speed up the administration of vaccines and avoid bottlenecks from resource constraints.

Jeff Zients, head of the President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 task force, said the Department of Health and Human Services will introduce changes to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to allow retired doctors and nurses to administer shots and to enable licensed doctors and nurses to help out with vaccinations across state lines. 

The PREP Act is designed to provide immunity from liability, but amendments are often introduced to address public health emergencies and enforce countermeasures to fight infectious diseases.

Peru sees second Covid wave, orders total lockdown of capital and 9 other regions

LIMA, Peru - President Francisco Sagasti of Peru on Tuesday night announced a total lockdown of the capital and nine other regions following a significant increase in Covid-19 cases, which he said had pushed hospitals close to collapse.

Sagasti said the new measures covering central Peru would remain in effect until at least Feb. 14. They include instructions to work from home, the closure of all nonessential shops, the suspension of interregional land and air travel, and the extension of a ban on flights coming from Europe to flights from Brazil in a bid to curb new, more contagious strains of the virus.

On Tuesday, Peru reported 4,444 new cases of the coronavirus, taking its total to 1,107,239, and 40,107 deaths. According to Reuters data here, Peru's cases are at 57 percent of an Aug. 22 peak, when more than 9,000 new cases were confirmed.

Sagasti said Covid-19 vaccines were the way out of the crisis and pledged to be among the first to receive the shot.

Click here to read the full story.

Moderna confirms talks with federal government to deliver another 100 million doses

Moderna confirmed Wednesday it was in discussions with the federal government to deliver another 100 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine later this year.

“To date, the U.S. government has agreed to purchase 200 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine,” the drugmaker said in a statement. “This new purchase would bring the U.S. government’s confirmed order commitment to 300 million doses.”

President Joe Biden revealed Tuesday the government was working to buy 200 million more vaccine doses, which would be enough to inoculate every American by the end of the summer.

Biden to sit out Covid briefing as part of a new plan to talk to Americans

WASHINGTON — When the Biden administration holds its first coronavirus briefing Wednesday, there will be no cameo from the president, no speakers behind the White House podium jousting with reporters, and no data coming from outside the federal agencies involved in the pandemic response.

And in a sign of the awareness of the risks of putting people in a room together, the briefing won't even be held in person.

It will be a different scene from the coronavirus news briefings of the Trump administration, which often became freewheeling televised spectacles with the president jockeying with journalists. It's one of the clearest signs yet of how President Joe Biden is taking a vastly different approach when it comes to talking to the American people.

From the start of the pandemic, public health officials have been making the case that combating the virus requires a communal effort.

Biden and his pandemic advisers argue that changing the way information gets to the public will be one of the primary ways to turn around the trajectory of the pandemic.

Click here to read the full story.

Japan's PM apologizes after politicians break rules and visit nightclubs

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologized Wednesday after lawmakers from his ruling coalition visited nightclubs, despite his government's call for people to avoid unnecessary outings to stop the spread of Covid-19.

"I'm terribly sorry that this happened when we are asking people not to eat out after 8 p.m. and to avoid nonessential, nonurgent outings," Suga told Parliament. 

Japan this month issued a state of emergency in Tokyo to curb a sharp rise in cases. Japanese people vented on Twitter at the double standards of politicians. "I want them to quit! " one user wrote. Another said they were "unqualified to represent the public." 

Sanofi to lend rival Pfizer-BioNTech a hand with vaccines in Europe

French drugmaker Sanofi will help rivals Pfizer and BioNTech manufacture 125 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for the European Union, the company announced Wednesday.

The news comes as the E.U. struggles with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, falling behind other parts of the world, including the U.S. and the neighboring U.K.

Sanofi will manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in its Frankfurt facility this summer.

“We are very conscious that the earlier vaccine doses are available, the more lives can potentially be saved,”  Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said. “We have made the decision to support BioNTech and Pfizer in manufacturing their Covid-19 vaccine in order to help address global needs, given that we have the technology and facilities to do so.”

January now the deadliest month of the pandemic

The U.S. has counted 80,677 reported Covid-19 deaths in January as of Wednesday morning, more than December's 77,124 dead and the the most in any month of pandemic, according to an NBC News tally. 

On Tuesday, the country counted 169,687 cases and 3,718 reported deaths, bringing the totals to 25.5 million cases and 426,586 deaths as of Wednesday morning.

The U.S. has averaged 3,367 deaths and 169,687 cases per day in the last week. Four weeks ago, that number was 2,615 deaths and 224,938 cases.

These states set single-day records:

  • Alabama, 234 dead
  • Hawaii, 59 dead
  • Tennessee, 192 dead

At-home Covid tests offer promises — and challenges

Three new completely at-home Covid-19 tests are hitting the market soon, promising to deliver results within minutes.

The BinaxNowLucira and Ellume tests all offer slight variations on a similar approach: swab, insert and get results without even leaving your kitchen table, in 30 minutes or less.

The tests offer promising accessibility: No visits to a doctor or clinic, or scheduling a drive-through at a pharmacy. And, since patients don’t have to leave home, it's easier for them to take the test, decreasing the risk they might infect others.

“If millions of Americans tested themselves at home twice a week we would start to see dramatic reductions in cases within a month or two,” said Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Read the story here.