Maryland activates National Guard to help with vaccine distribution
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan reactivated the state National Guard on Tuesday to help officials distribute the Covid-19 vaccine.
The guard will help provide logistical support as more inoculations become available to create mobile clinics, the governor’s office said. Maryland has been given an initial allocation of 155,000 doses of vaccines, which will be dedicated to health care workers in hospitals and nursing home residents and staff.
“I want to assure the people of Maryland that we will get through this together and that every single day, as we vaccinate more and more people and we continue to fight this virus with everything we’ve got, will bring us that much closer to victory over this deadly virus,” Hogan said.
Watch: National Cathedral tolls bell 300 times for 300,000 Covid victims
State Department to receive first Covid vaccines this week
WASHINGTON — The State Department will be receiving its first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine this week, according to internal agency communications obtained by NBC News.
The “very limited number,” of the vaccines received by the department in the first tranche will be administered to a small prioritized group of staff undertaking “mission critical” work, according to an email sent to employees Tuesday by Under Secretary of State Brian Bulatao. He did not say how many doses would be immediately available to diplomats, but noted more would arrive “incrementally over the next several months.”
Frontline medical personnel are among those first to receive the vaccine as well as State Department employees serving on the frontlines in Kabul, Afghanistan; Baghdad, Iraq and Mogadishu, Somalia, where poor healthcare systems put them even more at risk. Diplomatic Security agents in Washington, D.C. performing critical operations and coming into close contact with the Secretary of State will also be a priority for vaccinations.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says father, who is a doctor in FL, received Covid-19 vaccination
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, shared a photo Tuesday of her father, a doctor, receiving his Covid-19 vaccination at his Florida hospital.
Sandberg shared her father’s post, in which he said he had tears in his eyes when he walked in for his appointment as he hoped for “the beginning of the end of this pandemic.” Her father is a doctor with Florida’s Memorial Hospital System.
The Facebook executive shared her own emotional response to the moment.
“As my father writes, vaccinations are the only hope to protect all of us,” Sandberg wrote. “I hope and pray that people will understand this and take the steps they need — including vaccination — to protect themselves and everyone else so this pandemic will come to an end.”
Pelosi says masks mandatory while in US House chamber
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is vowing to muzzle any member who isn’t wearing a mask.
“Members will not be recognized if they are not wearing a mask and recognition will be withdrawn if they remove the mask when speaking,” the House Press Gallery reported Tuesday on its Twitter account.
Pelosi mandated in July that all Members don masks while on the floor after Rep. Louie Gohmert, an outspoken conservative Republican who refused to wear one, tested positive for Covid 19.
While President Donald Trump politicized the wearing of masks by mostly refusing to wear one in public, the California Democrat has amassed a collection of brightly-colored masks and has turned them into both a silent rebuttal of the commander in chief as well as a fashion accessory.
McConnell says Senate will not leave until Covid aid is passed
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that the Senate would not leave Washington for the holidays until a coronavirus aid package is passed, adding he supports waiting until next year to tackle the most divisive components in order to reach a deal.
McConnell’s comments come as lawmakers are trying to hammer out an agreement by Friday when Congress hits the deadline to pass legislation to keep the government funded. Leaders from both parties hope to attach the Covid-19 aid package to the government funding bill.
“We’re not leaving, I assure you, we’re not leaving until we finish this package,” McConnell promised on Tuesday.
Washington town hosts large anti-mask rally
Hundreds of people came to the city of Mossyrock, Washington last weekend to protest against coronavirus public health restrictions, according to NBC affiliate KING.
The city of 820 people and its mayor, Randall Sasser, have attracted attention for defying state health orders designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Mayor Sasser told radio station KIRO that he believes some of these measures are designed to “get us accustomed to always following what they say” for, he believes, “something bigger that they have planned to keep us under their thumb,” referencing gun control and monetary policy.
The Saturday gathering was organized by Patriot Prayer, a far-right group that has hosted pro-President Donald Trump and pro-gun rallies.
Pence likely to get vaccinated by end of week
Vice President Mike Pence is likely to receive a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the week, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Both sources say it is possible Pence, who is the head of the coronavirus task force, will get the vaccine on-camera but nothing has been finalized.
Pence signaled he would get the vaccine soon during a roundtable in Indiana earlier Tuesday: “I look forward in the days ahead to receiving the vaccine myself, and [I’ll] do so without hesitation.”
As for President Trump, the timing is still unclear. During Tuesday’s briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president “is absolutely open to taking the vaccine. He’s been emphatic about that to me privately, and to you all publicly. But he did recently recover from Covid, he has the continued protective effects of the monoclonal antibody cocktail.”
FDA authorizes first at-home, over-the-counter Covid test
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the first test for Covid-19 that can be purchased at drug stores without a prescription and taken at home.
The test, developed by the Australian digital diagnostics company Ellume, received emergency use authorization from the FDA. The test does not require sending samples to a lab, similar to how at-home pregnancy tests work.
The Ellume Covid-19 Home Test is an antigen test, which is designed to detect fragments of viral proteins that trigger an immune response in the body. Results are delivered via a smartphone app in as little as 20 minutes, according to the company.
The test involves collecting a sample with a nasal swab that users then place into a Bluetooth-connected analyzer that syncs with a smartphone app. Results are delivered through the app and can be shared with health care professionals, according to Ellume.
Ellume said it expects to produce more than 3 million of the tests in January with a likely cost of $30 or less. They will be available in pharmacies, drug stores and online, the company told NBC News in an email.