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Dec. 14 Coronavirus updates: First federally approved vaccine administered

An estimated 2.9 million doses will be distributed within the first week.

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

The first federally approved coronavirus vaccine was set to arrive at 145 locations across all 50 states Monday, a landmark moment as the nation struggles to contain a virus that's killed 300,000 Americans.

The vaccine, developed by German company BioNTech and its United States partner Pfizer, was given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday night.

Trucks departed Pfizer's plant in Portage, Michigan, on Sunday and the company expects to deliver 2.9 million doses to 636 locations by the end of this week.

Still, the vaccine will not be given to the vast majority of Americans until well into next year. And it will take some time to make even a dent in a pandemic that is killing thousands of people across the U.S. every day — more than ever before.


Georgia man who lied to employer about having Covid pleads guilty

An Atlanta man who earlier this year falsely claimed to his employer that he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge Monday, federal prosecutors said.

The claim cost the company about $100,000 because the company had temporarily close its facility and have four co-workers quarantine, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia said.

Santwon Antonio Davis, 35, who was charged in May, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Davis "caused unnecessary economic loss to his employer and distress to his coworkers and their families," Byung J. “BJay” Pak, U.S. attorney for the district, said in a statement.

Read the full story here. 

Inside Tennessee's only children's Covid ICU ward

A 'moral and ethical struggle': California nurses threaten strike

A nurses strike scheduled to begin on Christmas Eve threatens operations at three Southern California hospitals as the nurses allege that work conditions put staff safety at risk.

The Hospital Corporation of America on Monday received a 10-day notice of the intent to strike by about 2,450 registered nurses and licensed professionals across three of its hospitals, according to the SEIU Local 121 union chapter, which represents them. The strike would begin Dec. 24 and continue through Jan. 3 at Riverside Community Hospital, Los Robles Regional Medical Center, and West Hills Hospital & Medical Center.

Registered nurses have taken issue with “dangerously low staffing levels” and lack of adequate personal protective equipment that have put them at risk for infection as the coronavirus pandemic continues to overwhelm frontline workers, according to the union.

The Hospital Corporation of America said it a statement that it has bargained in "good faith" to secure a new labor agreement and that the union's push to have nurses "abandon the beside" was "unconscionable."

Read the full story here.

Gov. Gavin Newsom: California received as many Covid vaccines as new cases recorded

A 'constant flow' of vaccine: Pfizer's Covid-19 shots begin massive rollout

As the first Covid-19 vaccines were given in the United States on Monday, millions more doses entered the queue for nationwide distribution.

An additional 581 shipments are scheduled for delivery later this week, Army Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said during a media briefing Monday. Those deliveries will follow a previously announced 636 shipments, set to arrive by Wednesday. Each shipment contains about 1,000 doses.

And Operation Warp Speed officials have already planned for the widespread distribution of a second vaccine, made by Moderna, though it has not yet been granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

"It is a constant flow of available vaccines," Perna said. His team is expected to update the nation on the number of available shots each Friday moving forward.

Click here to read the full story.

Acting Secretary Defense Chris Miller gets vaccine at Walter Reed

'The Netherlands is closing down': Dutch prime minister announces new lockdown for holidays

The Dutch government is shutting down the country for the holidays, the country’s prime minister announced Monday.

“We have to bite through this very sour apple before things get better,” Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a televised address to his countrymen. 

The pandemic is spreading “even faster that we counted on last week.” So, Rutte said, “the Netherlands is closing down.”

As Rutte spoke, protesters outside could be heard outside his office in The Hague banging on pots to register their displeasure.

“There's no more leeway and the flu season hasn't even started yet,” Rutte said. “And the reality is also that we are not dealing with an innocent flu, which some people, such as the demonstrators outside still think, but with a virus that can hit anyone hard."

So starting Tuesday, all non-essential stores are closed until Jan. 19 along with hair salons, museums and theaters. All schools have to switch to remote learning by Wednesday. And most child care centers will be closed.

Rutte also urged his countrymen to limit the number of guests over age 13 to just three from Dec. 24-26. “We realize as a Cabinet how intense and drastic the measure we are taking today are,” Rutte said. “Especially so close to Christmas.”

Nearly 633,000 people in the Netherlands, which has a population of about 17 million, have tested positive for Covid-19 and more than 10,000 people have died due to the coronavirus since the pandemic started, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

The Netherlands, which has already had a partial lockdown in place since October, has seen a sharp increase in new cases in recent weeks, various news outlets have reported.

 

VA to start vaccinating health-care workers, veterans in New Orleans, Massachusetts

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said Monday that its New Orleans and Bedford, Mass., medical centers are the first VA facilities to begin Covid-19 vaccinations for front-line health-care workers and veterans who live in long-term care Community Living and Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder centers.

Both facilities are part of the initial group of 37 VA medical centers across the U.S. that started receiving and administering the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine this week.

The sites were chosen for their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures.

There will be an initial limited-supply phase of vaccinations followed by a general implementation phase, when large supplies of the vaccine become available.

Veterans who need additional information can use the VA's Covid-19 Vaccine Keep Me Informed tool, visit the VA Coronavirus Vaccine FAQs webpage, contact their care team or visit their facility website.

National Guard distributing Covid vaccine in 26 states and territories

National Guard members in 26 states and territories are assisting in the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, officials said Monday.

In Ohio, about 30 soldiers and airmen are based at the state Department of Health’s warehouse facility, working to break down batches of the Pfizer vaccine into smaller doses. Other Ohio National Guard members will deliver the doses, in vans and other non-military vehicles, to select locations throughout the state, said Maj. Gen. John Harris, the state’s adjutant general.

Brig. Gen. Gene Holt, assistant adjutant general of West Virginia, said the state has a similar mission, with about 100 licensed healthcare professionals at five different locations separating the doses into smaller packages and then distributing them around the state.

Some 120 members of the Oklahoma National Guard are involved in the effort to move the vaccine from five prepositioned locations to satellite sites throughout the state, said Brig. Gen. Cynthia Tinkham, the assistant adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard.

National Guard members are not being used for security in any of these three states, according to the officials. State highway patrol, local law enforcement and first responders are supporting with security where needed.

Pac-12 takes University of Washington out of football title game after some players sidelined by coronavirus protocols

The Pacific-12 Conference removed the University of Washington from league's championship football game after coronavirus testing left the Huskies short-handed, officials said Monday.

North Division-champion Washington had been set to play South winner USC on Friday but  "a number of positive football student-athlete Covid-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols" meant the Huskies couldn't suit up the minimum number of players mandated under league guidelines, the Pac-12 said.

North runner-up Oregon will now take on Southern Cal in the league championship game Friday night in Los Angeles.

Southern California Trojans celebrate in the second half of their game against the UCLA Bruins in Pasadena, Calif., on Dec. 12, 2020. USC defeated UCLA 43-38.Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports via Reuters