Covid live updates and vaccine news: Latest vaccine plans and state restrictions
Millions of people in the U.S. and across the world could be vaccinated this month.
San Diego Ballet School students wear protective masks backstage during a performance of “The Nutcracker” on Saturday.BING GUAN / Reuters
Updated Dec. 6, 2020, 9:44 PM +06
Countries across the world are preparing to begin giving citizens Covid-19 vaccines, as cases continue to rise across the United States amid social restrictions.
Southern California came under stricter pandemic safety measures Saturday after its intensive care unit capacity dropped to dangerous levels because of the national spike in coronavirus cases, state health officials said.
A CDC panel this week agreed how Covid-19 vaccines should be distributed but it is unclear when they will be available in the U.S. There are expected to be enough doses to immunize 20 million people by the end of the month, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday at a briefing for Operation Warp Speed, the government’s effort to fast-track a vaccine.
- Map of U.S. hot spots and worldwide Covid-19 cases.
- Tracking surges in states across the country this winter.
- Map of travel restrictions and which states have a mask mandate.
- Click here for more of NBC News’ Covid-19 coverage.
Biden to meet with Operation Warp Speed chief vaccine adviser this week
Operation Warp Speed’s top scientist Moncef Slaoui will meet with President-elect Joe Biden this week about the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, the researcher said Sunday.
“We haven’t had any meetings yet. I know we have a meeting this coming week and we really look forward to it because actually things have been really very appropriately planned,” Slaoui said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
White House task force doctor says health officials still fighting ‘myths’ about pandemic
DEC. 6, 202001:42
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, sounded a dire alarm on Sunday amid spiking Covid-19 cases across America as she expressed frustration with government officials who ignore public health guidance as caseloads and deaths rise.
Speaking during an exclusive interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Birx said that it’s especially frustrating to see governors and local officials refuse to enact the same mitigation strategies they used to successfully curb the virus’ spread in the summer.
“Right now, across the Sunbelt, we have governors and mayors who have cases equivalent to what they had in the summertime, yet aren’t putting in the same policies and mitigations that they put in the summer that they know changed the course of this pandemic,” Birx said.
Pope Francis says Christmas is a ‘sign of hope’ during pandemic
Pope Francis said the Christmas season provides a “sign of hope” in this “difficult time” at his Sunday blessing, referring to the struggles associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Pointing to the Vatican’s Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square, Francis urged his followers to remember the meaning of the holiday and to reach out to those in need. “There’s no pandemic, there’s no crisis that can extinguish this light,” he said.
The Vatican hasn’t yet released the pope’s Christmas schedule, although he usually celebrates a Christmas Eve Mass and then offers a blessing on Christmas Day. The Vatican’s liturgical services are being held without the general public present because of Covid-19 restrictions.
2h ago / 8:01 PM +06
Schools in southwest Ohio kept out Covid. But they couldn’t keep the buses running.
Driscoll Elementary third-grade teacher Kelly Gartz prepares her classroom on ct. 14, in Ohio’s Centerville school districtCenterville School District
CENTERVILLE, Ohio — Like many public school districts around the country, Centerville City Schools near Dayton started the year off remotely for the 8,000 kids it serves. Based on recommendations from local public health officials, the district didn’t resume in-person classes until mid-October.
It didn’t last. By late October, Superintendent Tom Henderson said the district was scrambling every day to find teachers for 90 to 115 classrooms, competing with other districts for substitutes. At one point, Henderson and his team were filling in teacher gaps hour by hour when substitutes and full-time teachers had planning periods. Crucial support staff members were also tough to find. Some days, they didn’t have enough school bus drivers.
Too many people had either caught Covid-19 or had recently come into contact with someone who had it.
2h ago / 7:47 PM +06
Alaska, New Jersey, Virginia, D.C. set daily Covid case records; U.S. records more than 200,000 infections
The U.S. recorded more than 200,000 Covid-19 cases Saturday, for the fourth day in a row, reporting 206,491 new infections and 2,261 deaths according to NBC News’ count.
More than 280,000 have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. since the pandemic began.
In the past week the U.S. has averaged 189,882 cases per day and 2,144 deaths per day, up from an average 145,381 cases and 1,128 deaths per day four weeks ago.
Several places set single-day records for Covid cases and deaths:
- Alaska, 945 cases
- D.C., 392 cases
- New Jersey, 5,605 cases
- South Carolina, 3,222 cases
- Virginia, 3,793 cases
- West Virginia, 1,400 cases and 30 deaths
Daily virus infections in Russia hit record high
Russia hit its highest daily spike of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic on Sunday, as 29,039 new cases were confirmed by the country’s health authorities.
Russia has so far reported over 2 million infections, behind only the United States, India and Brazil. Russia also reported 43,141 virus-related deaths as of Sunday. The country is now facing a resurgence of the virus with daily infections and deaths significantly exceeding those reported in the spring. Even so, Russian authorities have rejected the idea of another nationwide lockdown, according to the Associated Press.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin ordered the start of a “large-scale” Covid-19 inoculation of the domestically-developed Sputnik V vaccine. While it has yet to complete advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety, doctors and teachers will be first in line to receive the shots, Putin said.
Australian state prepares for ‘Covid safe summer’
Australia’s Victoria state eased Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday for the holiday season, after the country’s pandemic hotspot has recorded no new coronavirus infections for more than a month.
“Our new ‘COVID Safe Summer’ will be in place until at least the end of January, giving Victorians a bit more certainty about what the next couple of months will look like,” Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement.
From midnight on Sunday, indoor household gatherings of up to 30 and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted, while 50 percent of office workers will be able to return to workplaces, Andrews said. While the country has all but eliminated the virus through strict quarantine measures — particularly in Victoria — mask-wearing will still be required in certain retail and public transport settings.
China prepares vaccine rollout, as India seeks emergency approval
Provincial governments across China are placing orders for experimental, domestically made Covid-19 vaccines, as developers ramp up final testing, the Chinese foreign minister said during a U.N. meeting last week.
This comes as Britain recently approved emergency use of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine candidate, although Chinese health officials have yet to say how well the vaccines work or how they will be distributed to the country’s 1.4 billion people.
Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. has applied for emergency use authorization of its vaccine in India, local media reported on Sunday according to Reuters. India has the world’s second-highest number of infections, behind only the United States.
South Korea to consider new curbs as cases hit nine-month high
SEOUL — South Korea on Sunday reported 631 new coronavirus cases, the highest in nine months, ahead of an expected government decision on whether to further tighten social distancing curbs as health authorities struggle to contain a third wave of outbreaks.
After implementing tighter restrictions on Saturday, the government is to decide on Sunday whether to impose new measures in a country that had seen initial success through aggressive contact tracing and other steps.
The new cases bring the country’s tally to 37,546, with 545 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported.
Many of the recent cases have been centered in the capital city of Seoul, which on Saturday launched unprecedented curfews, shuttering most establishments and shops at 9 p.m. for two weeks and cutting back public transportation operations by 30 percent in the evenings.