Coronavirus Pandemic

Virus Updates: Momentum Growing for COVID Relief; CVS Shares Vaccine Rollout Plan

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The United States reported more than 205,000 coronavirus cases on Thursday, the most in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to NBC News.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield warned the next few months of the COVID-19 pandemic will be among "the most difficult in the public health history of this nation" while signing off on a CDC panel's decision to vaccinate health workers and nursing homes first. The Pfizer vaccine could be approved by Dec. 10 or 11, Operation Warp Speed chief science adviser Moncef Slaoui said.

Meanwhile, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said Thursday they would get vaccinated on camera to help build confidence in the U.S. that the treatment is safe.

The U.S. has recorded more than 14 million coronavirus cases and 276,000 deaths during the pandemic, according to a tally by NBC News.

NJ Gov. Murphy Bans Fla. Rep. Gaetz From Garden State Over Maskless Party

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy had strong words Friday for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and a group of New York City Young Republicans who held a gala event in Jersey City in violation of social distancing rules, NBC New York reports.

The event was held Thursday night, and photos on social media show a tightly packed crowd -- with no masks -- surrounding Gaetz, who represents part of the Florida Panhandle and who was apparently a guest of honor at the event.

"That guy in the middle, the tall, handsome fella in the gray suit, that is Representative Matt Putz - oh sorry, Matt Gaetz, and based upon his past performances, it is obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him," Murphy said at a news conference. "He was actually Sarah Palin's backup act for this event."

Calling the outspoken Republican a "fool," Murphy then addressed him directly.

"I hope you're watching Matt -- you are not welcome in New Jersey, and frankly I don't ever want you back in this state," the governor said.

Read the full story here.

NFL Further Limits Player Access to Facilities Amid Virus

The NFL is further limiting player access to team facilities as it attempts to enhance safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a memo sent to the 32 clubs and obtained by The Associated Press, teams must close their facilities for two days after games, with some exceptions.

Beginning Monday, that all teams playing on a Sunday must close those facilities the next two days — except for clubs playing on the subsequent Thursday. Only players needing medical attention for injuries or in rehab programs may enter the team complex.

Coaches can access the facility but must work in their own offices and can't conduct meetings except virtually.

Teams playing on Monday nights can next have players in their facilities on Thursday, and teams with Thursday night games must close the complex to players until Sunday.

Pelosi Optimistic, Says 'Momentum Growing' for COVID-19 Relief

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said "there is momentum" toward a COVID-19 relief after new labor data Friday showed signs of a sluggish economic recovery. Pelosi said the House would do what it takes to get a bi-partisan bill done before the holiday recess.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is optimistic about the prospects for a mid-sized COVID-19 relief bill and a separate $1.4 trillion governmentwide spending bill. She told reporters Friday to expect a successful burst of legislative action to reverse months of frustration on pandemic relief.

Pelosi says she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are in sync on a plan to pair COVID-19 relief with a massive omnibus spending bill. Pelosi said a bipartisan, middle-of-the-road plan by a diverse group of senators is a good effort, even though it’s a significant retreat from where Democrats stood before the election.

Read the full story here.

Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine at CVS Will Be 'Easy and Seamless,' CEO Says

Fauci: ‘We Have Not Yet Seen the Post-Thanksgiving Peak’

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the surge in coronavirus cases related to gatherings and travel over the Thanksgiving holiday may not be felt for weeks, alarming news for a country already grappling with a record number of daily cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

"May be a little bit of blip (right now), but we don't expect to see the full brunt of it between two and three weeks following Thanksgiving, so I think we have not yet seen the post-Thanksgiving peak," Fauci told Savannah Guthrie on the "TODAY" show Friday. "That's the concerning thing because the numbers in and of themselves are alarming, and then you realize that it is likely we'll see more of a surge as we get two to three weeks past the Thanksgiving holiday."

Fauci fears it could only get worse as we hit the upcoming Christmas season and issued a plead to the American people: "Please, as best as you can, uniform wearing of masks, keep distances to the best possible way you can, avoid crowds in congregate settings, particularly indoors, and if you are indoors in that circumstance, always wear your mask."

America’s top infectious disease expert also apologized for suggesting U.K. authorities rushed their authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine when it became the first Western country to grant emergency authorization to Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, saying the Brits "are good, they know what they're doing."

Asked why the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the vaccine in America, Fauci said the U.S. agency has a different process that requires them to scrutinize "every single bit of the data themselves" and not just take the word of the company that "this is correct."

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN Thursday that he asked Fauci to be his chief medical advisor and part of his COVID response team. Fauci told TODAY, “I said yes right on the spot.”

After First Round of Vaccine Distributions, Bulk of Planning Remains Unfinished

A panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week announced its guidelines for the first phase of the most ambitious national vaccination campaign in modern history, NBC News reports.

Yet beyond the guidelines advising states about how to deploy their vaccines — and a large Defense Department operation to deliver them — the Trump administration hasn't prepared for a major federal role, a lack of planning that is causing significant anxiety among state and local health officials.

The significant checklist of unmet federal responsibilities underscores the challenges ahead for President-elect Joe Biden, who inherits most of the burden for executing a successful nationwide campaign to vaccinate all Americans, potentially without the billions of dollars in additional funding that will be needed.

The warning signs have been evident even though authorities have had nine months to prepare for mass distribution of different vaccines. For example, the federal government is still trying to fine-tune a system to track critical medical supplies, like syringes, and to facilitate regular communication between administrators and providers.

Peter J. Pitts, a former Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner, and current president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest joined NBCLX and debunked many of the fears people have expressed about taking a COVID-19 vaccine.

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US Reported More Than 2,800 COVID Deaths Thursday

The United States set another daily record for coronavirus-related deaths Thursday.

Across the country, 2,802 people died from the virus, according to a tally by NBC News. The previous single-day record was recorded the day before on December 2nd, when the U.S. reported 2,777 deaths.

This is the 3rd day in a row that the U.S. has reported more than 2,000 cases in a day.

Dec. 2 marked COVID-19’s deadliest day in the United States so far. The virus claimed at least 2,777 lives in a single day nationwide, with 100,000 people hospitalized and twice that many testing positive in a single day, breaking a grim record for all three measures.

Dallas-Fort Worth Businesses Roll Back Business Capacity

For at least the next week, many North Texas businesses are now subject immediately to greater restrictions after seven straight days where the percentage of COVID-19 patients in area hospitals has topped 15%, NBC DFW reports.

That 7-day mark is the threshold at which Gov. Greg Abbott outlined in executive order GA-32 where counties in Texas' 22 TSAs must rollback reopening restrictions to help alleviate the strain on the healthcare system.

To that end, all non-essential businesses, such as restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities, museums and libraries, must immediately reduce occupancy levels from 75% to 50%. Bars in those TSAs, defined as establishments whose sales are 51% or more derived from alcohol, must also immediately close. Licensed hospitals are required to discontinue elective surgeries.

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Navajo Nation Headed for Lockdown Amid 'Major Health Care Crisis'

A stay-at-home lockdown was announced Thursday in the Navajo Nation as officials there say its hospitals are grappling with a "major health care crisis," NBC News reports.

In a statement, the office of the president and vice president ordered residents in the nation, which has a population of roughly 172,000 people and is spread across 27,000 square miles in three southwestern states, to stay at home for non-essential activities beginning Monday.

Weekend curfews will begin Dec. 11 and continue through the end of the month.

“We have been in a state of emergency since the pandemic began here on the Navajo Nation, but that has now elevated to a major health care crisis,” said Dr. Loretta Christensen, Chief Medical Officer for Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

Read the full story here

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