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Nov. 29: Global deaths inch towards 1.5 million as U.S. cities increase restrictions

Nov. 29: Global deaths inch towards 1.5 million as U.S. cities increase restrictions
Image: T-shirts with slogans are shown for sale in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
T-shirts with slogans relating to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the year 2020 are shown for sale in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Saturday.JOSHUA ROBERTS / Reuters

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As the world inches towards 1.5 million Covid-19 deaths, the U.S. continues to lead the toll, passing 13 million confirmed cases on Saturday.

Public health officials in Santa Clara County, California, followed San Francisco and Los Angeles on Saturday in announcing stricter stay-at-home rules.

Meanwhile, the first doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine are on the move to the U.S. from Belgium, a source familiar with the planning told NBC News. That comes as a panel of U.S. advisers are set to meet early next week to vote on how scarce, initial supplies of the vaccine will be allocated.

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year comes as no surprise

If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?

Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.

“That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.

“Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said.

The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.

On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said.

By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806 percent higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year.

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Virus will worsen malaria death toll in sub-Saharan Africa, WHO says

LONDON — Deaths from malaria due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by Covid-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization warned on Monday.

More than 409,000 people globally — most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa — were killed by malaria last year, the WHO said in its latest global malaria report, and Covid-19 will almost certainly make that toll higher in 2020.

"Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to Covid-19) ... there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them in young children," Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO's malaria programme, told reporters.

"It's very likely that excess malaria mortality is larger than the direct Covid mortality."

Virus hospitalizations hit record in California

LOS ANGELES — More than 7,400 people are hospitalized for the coronavirus in California, the state’s highest number yet.

The state reported 7,415 coronavirus hospitalizations on Sunday, citing the most recently available data from the previous day. More than 1,700 of those patients were in intensive care units. California’s previous record was 7,170 in July.

As of Sunday, California has had nearly 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 19,000 deaths since the pandemic began. The state reported around 15,600 new cases on Saturday.

Counties statewide are preparing for stricter COVID-19 restrictions that will take effect Monday amid surging cases and Thanksgiving travel. Health officials are preparing for a wave of cases in the next two or three weeks that could be tied to holiday gatherings.

Hawaii selling itself as appealing place to work remotely

HONOLULU — A group of Hawaii leaders launched a campaign Sunday to promote the islands as an appealing location for a remote office with a view.

Now that many companies, especially in the tech industry, allow employees to work from anywhere during the pandemic, they hope Hawaii will be alluring.

They’re also throwing in roundtrip tickets to Honolulu for the first 50 approved applicants. Some say high-paid workers will bolster an economy decimated by dramatically fewer tourists.

Others worry what those with Silicon Valley money will mean for housing, especially when there’s already a crunch for affordable places to live.

Native American small business owners struggle to stay afloat amid COVID

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine arrived at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

The very first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on a United Airlines flight from Brussels, Belgium, NBC News has learned.

As reported Saturday, a source said "United Airlines has already flown its first chartered cargo flight to the United States from Brussels to Chicago with the vaccine on board."

However, it remained unclear how many doses were on board or when exactly the cargo shipment arrived at O'Hare.

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NFL fines Saints and Patriots hundreds of thousands of dollars for Covid-19 violations

The New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots have been ordered to pay major fines for violating the NFL’s Covid-19 protocols, the official NFL website said Sunday.

The Patriots have to pay a $350,000 fine after quarterback Cam Newton’s Covid-19 diagnosis made the league push back a Week 4 game between the Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, reported.

The Saints face a steeper fine of $500,000 for a “maskless locker room celebration” that followed their Week 9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to the league’s site. The team, which reportedly also held a maskless meeting, was also docked a seventh round draft pick in addition to the fine.

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Nearly 400 people at illegal club party busted in New York City, officials say

Approximately 400 people were busted for gathering at an illegal club party early Saturday morning in New York City's Midtown neighborhood, according to NBC New York.

The party, held as Covid-19 cases surge across the country, was in violation of city and state orders against holding mass gatherings. Additionally, the party was operating without a liquor license, according to a tweet from the New York City Sheriff's Department.

The NYC Sheriff also tweeted an image of what appear to be dozens of bottles confiscated at the party.

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