COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
US surpasses 17 million Covid-19 cases
The United States on Wednesday broke records for the highest daily number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations reported since the pandemic began. It was also the single deadliest day.

New infections hit 247,357, hospitalizations were put at 113,069 and there were 3,656 newly recorded deaths -- catapulting the country into dire terrain.

On Dec. 12, the US hit 16 million cases. Five days later, on Dec. 17, the US hit 17 million cases.

The devastating numbers prove the pandemic is still running rampant within many American communities, denting the sense of hope that the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine brought to the nation this week.

France's Emmanuel Macron tests positive for Covid-19, sending other European leaders into quarantine
The Elysee Palace said Macron, 42, was diagnosed after he was tested "at the onset of the first symptoms."

"In accordance with current health regulations applicable to all, the President of the Republic will isolate himself for 7 days. He continues to work and carry out his activities remotely," the statement added.

French first lady Brigitte Macron, 67, has protectively gone into quarantine but has "presented no symptoms," her office told French media.

Prime Minister Jean Castex has gone into quarantine, despite testing negative on Thursday morning. President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand is also quarantining for seven days.

Macron's planned trip to Lebanon next week has been canceled.

The French President had meetings with a number of other top European leaders in recent days, several of whom announced they would quarantine in the wake of Macron's diagnosis.

Parents charged after renting party bus for child's birthday with 60 mask-less kids inside
Parents from Ohio are facing charges after they rented a party bus for their child's 14th birthday and 60 maskless kids crammed onto the vehicle.

Twitter will start removing false or misleading tweets about the coronavirus vaccine
Tweets subject to removal include those suggesting vaccines "are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations" as well as "false claims which have been widely debunked about the adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations" and claims that vaccines are unnecessary because "Covid-19 is not real or not serious," Twitter said in a blog post.

The new rules are an expansion of Twitter's existing policies against misinformation about the coronavirus — the company began removing tweets that could cause a "direct risk to people's health or well being" in March and started applying warning labels to other misleading coronavirus tweets in May.

Twitter will also add labels or warnings to tweets that spread "unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines" starting early next year, it said.

Trump is conspicuously absent from the list of public figures getting a coronavirus vaccine soon
  • Donald Trump is yet to set a date for his coronavirus vaccination, as other politicians are booking their slots.
  • Vice president Mike Pence, his wife Karen, and US surgeon general Jerome Adams will be vaccinated on TV on Friday and President-elect Joe Biden will reportedly be vaccinated early next week.
  • Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush have all committed to getting the vaccine live on TV to boost public confidence in the shot.
  • Though Trump has said he is keen to get a vaccine, he has not set any date to do it or said whether he will do it on TV.
  • On Sunday, Trump abruptly cancelled a mass-vaccination plan for White House officials.

Married couple, both teachers, die of Covid-19 while holding hands with their children
Paul Blackwell, 62, and Rose Mary Blackwell, 65, passed away on Sunday after two weeks in intensive care and several days on ventilators at Harris Methodist Hospital, their son Shawn Blackwell told CNN..

They were both teachers in the Grand Prairie Independent School District in Grand Prairie, Texas. Rose Mary was a second grade teacher and had just reached her 20th year at Travis World Language Academy. Paul was a PE teacher and football coach at Fannin Middle school..

Blackwell said his parents worked up until they became sick in December. The family made the difficult decision after several days to take them off life support after doctors confirmed there was no chance of recovery, according to Blackwell.

"Doctors said they hadn't seen any progression at all, and they were slowly declining in their overall vital functions," said Blackwell. "It got to the point where it was very far gone and that there was nothing else they could do.".

"Me and my brother came to the conclusion to let them go at peace together. They were together and holding hands. My brother and I were both holding my parent's hands as well, so all four of us were holding each other's hands as they were both removed from the ventilator."

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tests positive for Covid-19
"Secretary Bernhardt did test positive for COVID-19 today. He is currently asymptomatic and will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine," said Nicholas Goodwin, a spokesman for the Interior Department, in an email to CNN. Bernhardt's positive test was first reported by The Washington Post.

Bernhardt is the latest member of the President's Cabinet to test positive for the virus, joining Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who was hospitalized last month. The interior secretary was not present at a Cabinet meeting with Trump on Wednesday.