Latest news on Covid vaccine distribution and CDC guidelines

NBC News

Emily Pandise

18m ago / 5:23 PM UTC

Walmart gives another round of employee bonuses, bringing 2020 total over $2.8B

Walmart will give another round of cash bonuses to full- and part-time hourly employees, the company said Thursday. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, will distribute up to $700 million in bonuses for this round alone, bringing the 2020 total up to over $2.8 billion. This payout will be the fourth since the pandemic began, following bonus distribution in April, June and August. 

In addition to cash bonuses, Walmart provided early bonus payouts to employees this spring. Other essential retailers and grocers, such as Kroger and Target, have given their frontline workers hazard pay or temporary wage increases to supplement their income during the pandemic.

Several large companies, including Walmart, have recently come under fire for not resuming those payments as coronavirus cases and holiday demand surge. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union recently signed a letter to the nation’s top grocery retailers demanding reinstated hazard pay and paid sick leave, among other safety measures. 

The Associated Press

57m ago / 4:44 PM UTC

Lon Adams, Slim Jim jerky recipe creator, dies of Covid

RALEIGH, N.C. — Alonzo “Lon” T. Adams II, the man who created the formula for Slim Jim beef jerky sticks, has died from complications of Covid-19. He was 95.

Lynn Barrow of Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, confirmed Wednesday that Adams died on Nov. 28. A graveside funeral service was held Wednesday, Barrow said.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Adams was a World War II veteran who survived the Battle of the Bulge despite being shot in the head.

While Slim Jims were first created in 1928, the current formula is Adams’ work. It was described by The New York Times in 1996 as a lengthy process that calls for processed ground beef, chicken meat and other parts, along with a range of spices and chemicals. Adams worked on the jerky recipe for more than 20 years at GoodMark Foods in Garner, North Carolina, from 1968 until his retirement in 1991.

Food processor Conagra Brands bought GoodMark Foods in 1998.

Adams is survived by two children and three grandchildren.

Corky Siemaszko

1h ago / 4:34 PM UTC

Covid vaccine could be available in NYC in less than 2 weeks

The new Covid-19 vaccine is expected to make its New York City debut in less than two weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

“The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here,” de Blasio said in a radio interview on New York 1010WINS.

The first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine (254,250 doses) are due to arrive as early as Dec. 15 and the Moderna vaccine (211,275 doses) are expected to land in the city on or around Dec. 22, de Blasio said. 

High-risk health care workers, nursing home staffers and residents will get the first shots, the mayor said.

“It’s absolutely crucial to protect those who protect all of us,” de Blasio said. “And we know from a painful experience how much we have to focus on our nursing home residents and the good people who work in our nursing homes.”


Abigail Williams

1h ago / 4:35 PM UTC

State Dept. employees told to avoid holiday parties as Pompeo invites hundreds to indoor gatherings

State Department leadership is instructing employees to avoid hosting non-mission-critical events in person and “opt for virtual events,” even as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invites hundreds to celebrate the holidays at large indoor parties.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will bring some changes to this year’s holiday season,” according to a notice dated November 25.  “With much of our team working remotely and in light of rising cases across the country, the Bureau of Administration wants to reiterate the Department’s commitment to responsible physical distancing and mission-critical only gatherings.”

While the holiday parties at the State Department will offer guests festive alcoholic drinks and traditional holiday fare, the notice also made clear employees would not have the same privilege warning “[Management] will not be approving alcohol waivers for gatherings in Department facilities during this time.”

Instead, the State Department suggested employees try virtual alternatives including, “photo contests of door decorations, virtual holiday mask or sweater competitions and virtual hangouts.”

The note from leadership was first reported by the Washington Post.

Kevin Collier

2h ago / 4:02 PM UTC

Criminals offering fake coronavirus vaccines, Interpol warns

Interpol has issued a global alert that warns that criminals “have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines,” particularly online.

The alert comes in the wake of news that the U.K. has approved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, to be first administered this month, and the U.S. is likely to follow suit soon.

Approved vaccines in the U.S. will be administered in person by healthcare professionals.

“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” Inerpol’s secretary general, Jürgen Stock, said a statement.

Pete Williams

2h ago / 3:47 PM UTC

SCOTUS tosses out ruling on California Covid restrictions against religious institutions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has vacated a federal court ruling in California in a dispute over the effect on churches of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pandemic restrictions.

 The ruling that was tossed out had rejected a claim by a group of churches, which said the restrictions on public gatherings treated churches less favorably than businesses and other organizations.

 The Supreme Court on Thursday sent the case back to the district judge, with instructions to reconsider it in light of the court’s ruling last week that blocked Covid restrictions on religious institutions in New York. 

Rebecca Shabad

3h ago / 3:07 PM UTC

Fauci to speak to Biden transition team for the first time Thursday

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, will be speaking to members of Biden’s presidential transition team Thursday for the first time. 

“I’m going to be meeting with them today, by Zoom,” Fauci said in an interview on CBS News’ “The Takeout” podcast.

“So today will be the first day where there will be substantive discussions about the transition between me and the Biden team,” Fauci said. “I’m very pleased that today we’re having the first discussion about a number of things, vaccinations and things like that.”


3h ago / 3:05 PM UTC

Facebook bans false claims about Covid-19 vaccines

Facebook on Thursday said it would remove false claims about Covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, following a similar announcement by Alphabet’s YouTube in October.

The move expands Facebook’s current rules against falsehoods and conspiracy theories about the pandemic. The social media company says it takes down coronavirus misinformation that poses a risk of “imminent” harm, while labeling and reducing distribution of other false claims that fail to reach that threshold.

Facebook said in a blog post that the global policy change came in response to news that Covid-19 vaccines will soon be rolling out around the world.

Read the full story here.

Wilson Wong

3h ago / 2:20 PM UTC

California sheriff tests positive after refusing to enforce Covid measures

A California deputy tested positive for the coronavirus after refusing to enforce the governor’s Covid-19 orders, authorities said.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said Sheriff Scott Jones reported mild symptoms last week after being exposed to another employee who later tested positive, KRON-TV reported. His symptoms included a fever, congestion and a headache, according to the station.

On Nov. 24, Jones said he refused to enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order amid a rise in Covid-19 cases in the state, the station reported.

“I have a tremendous amount of faith in folks to make those assessments relative to Covid,” Jones said at the time.

Officials said Wednesday the sheriff was expected to recover and is under quarantine with his family, the station reported. It was unclear whether his family members tested positive. 

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