Jaclyn Diaz

From coast to coast, New Year's Eve celebrations in the U.S. looked very different Thursday evening from past years — as the pandemic that defined 2020 extended its reach into 2021.

The thousands of people that usually flock to major cities, like New York City, Las Vegas and Miami, for various events and local traditions largely stayed home.

Snowstorms, holidays and general inexperience in handling a pandemic response is to blame for a "lag" in the number of Americans so far vaccinated for the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials.

The federal government previously estimated that 20 million Americans would receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine by the end of the year. But as 2020, a year defined by the coronavirus pandemic, comes to a close on Thursday, the government appears set to fall well short of that goal.

Samuel Little, a convicted murderer who the FBI says is the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, died Wednesday at age 80.

Little was serving three consecutive life-without-parole sentences for the deaths of three women in the late 1980s in Los Angeles, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in its announcement of his death.

Health officials in the U.K. authorized the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, giving the nation a second option for inoculation against the coronavirus.

The government will begin rolling out the inexpensive and easy-to-store vaccine beginning Monday. It has ordered 100 million doses — enough to vaccinate 50 million residents, or three-quarters of the country's population.

The government has already given first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to more than 600,000 Britons.

Updated at 6:30 a.m. ET

Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who won a runoff earlier this month to represent Louisiana's northeastern 5th District, died Tuesday from complications of COVID-19.

Letlow was set to be sworn in as U.S. representative on Jan. 3.

The New York Legislature approved a sweeping eviction ban for tenants living in the state, giving residents fearful of losing their homes during the pandemic some relief at least until May.

Federal regulators have issued new guidelines allowing drones to operate at night and over people — a change in the rules that could expand the use of the machines for commercial deliveries.

The new rules from the Federal Aviation Administration will also require remote identification technology so that the machines can be identifiable from the ground. The FAA said this standard will address security concerns and make drones easier to track.

Chinese regulators have ordered Ant Group, the mobile payments company run by billionaire Jack Ma, to overhaul major aspects of its business — a move that follows a scuttled IPO and comes just days after regulators announced an investigation of affiliate Alibaba.

Regulators announced Sunday that it had found major problems in Ant Group's business practices in China.

The Chinese billionaire CEO of video game developer Yoozoo Group died on Christmas Day following a suspected colleague's alleged poisoning plot.

Lin Qi died at the age of 39, according to Shanghai police. Lin's company, Yoozoo, is best known for its Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming game.

Native American civil rights advocate Hank Adams died at the age of 77 this week.

Once referred to as the "most important Indian" by Native American rights advocate and author Vine Deloria Jr., Adams was central to the fight to uphold tribal treaty rights during the 1960s and 1970s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that all travelers coming from the United Kingdom must present a negative coronavirus test no more than 72 hours before taking a flight to the U.S.

China's market regulator announced Thursday that it had opened an investigation into the country's e-commerce giant, Alibaba, for alleged anti-competitive activities.

In a short statement issued Thursday, China's State Administration for Market Regulation said that the probe is focusing on allegations that the company forces merchants on its website to sign exclusive cooperation agreements, preventing them from selling products on rival platforms.

Updated at 3:30 a.m. ET

A U.S. cybersecurity agency said Wednesday that the far-reaching attack into the IT management company SolarWinds discovered earlier this month has infected more systems than previously thought.

France has reopened its borders to travelers and truck drivers from the United Kingdom who show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the previous 72 hours.

The two countries reached the deal Tuesday after France closed the route on Sunday following news of an outbreak in southeast England of a new strain of the coronavirus. The shutdown caused chaos for the crucial freight route between France and the U.K., with thousands of truck drivers stranded in the port of Dover and drivers unable to return to the continent.

A police officer in Columbus, Ohio, was temporarily removed from duty pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations following the fatal shooting of an apparently unarmed Black man early Tuesday.

Mayor Andrew Ginther demanded that the unidentified officer who fired the shot be removed following news that the officer's body camera was switched off in the moments leading up to the shooting.

Black members of the U.S. Air Force are treated differently than their white counterparts in a wide range of areas, including promotions and military justice, a new internal investigation reveals.

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has uncovered details of his own poisoning by duping one of the Kremlin agents involved into revealing how it was done.

The research group Bellingcat revealed details Monday of a 45-minute phone call between Navalny, who posed as an agent for Russia's National Security Council, and the alleged Kremlin agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev. Navalny coaxed details of the attack from Kudryavtsev, who said the nerve agent Novichok was applied to the politician's underwear.

Kilauea volcano erupted overnight for the first time in more than two years, placing Hawaii's Big Island on a red alert Monday morning.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the situation is "rapidly evolving." It's unclear what, if any, damage has occurred so far.

The eruption began late Sunday within the volcano's Halemaumau crater, at the summit of Kilauea. The HVO said it detected a "glow" within the crater at about 9:30 p.m. local time.

The lead attorney for the city of Chicago resigned Sunday amid continuing fallout from a botched and mistaken police raid nearly a year ago at the home of a Black woman.

Attorney Mark Flessner said in a concise email to staff that he had resigned as Corporation Counsel for the city of Chicago. He said simply that he would work on a transition plan in the next few days.

Rocket attacks by "Iran-backed militias" into an area housing the U.S. Embassy in Iraq killed at least one local civilian and damaged the embassy compound, according to U.S. diplomatic sources.

Eight small rockets launched by Iranian forces specifically targeted the International Zone in Baghdad, also called the "Green Zone," according to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. He strongly condemned the attack in a statement released Sunday.

No embassy personnel were injured, but the rocket did damage some residential property surrounding the Green Zone, according to Pompeo.

Microsoft President Brad Smith has called the ever-growing hacking campaign into a U.S. tech firm that was discovered this week "a moment of reckoning."

"This is not 'espionage as usual,' even in the digital age. Instead, it represents an act of recklessness that created a serious technological vulnerability for the United States and the world," he wrote in a blog post Thursday.

After 23 days and some 230,000 miles traveled, China's Chang'e-5 lunar capsule returned to Earth during Thursday's predawn hours. It carried cargo of more than four pounds of the first fresh samples of moon rocks and other debris in more than 40 years.

China's space agency said Thursday it intends to share its findings with the global scientific community.

The capsule for the Chang'e 5 probe landed in the Siziwang district of the Inner Mongolia region, the China National Space Administration reported. It first set off for the moon on Nov. 24.

Updated at 5:50 a.m. ET

French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus and will quarantine for a week, his official residence announced Thursday.

Macron was tested for the virus following the onset of symptoms, though the Élysée Palace didn't immediately explain what those symptoms might include. He will isolate himself for seven days and will continue to work remotely, his residence said.

The U.S. on Wednesday reported the highest number of new cases of the coronavirus and the most COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

As of 1:30 a.m. Thursday, more than 3,600 Americans died Wednesday from complications of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking coronavirus infection data.

New Zealand has advance purchased two new coronavirus vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, giving the small island country the ability to vaccinate its 5 million residents.

Government officials also announced Thursday they will go a step further and provide free doses to its population as well as neighboring nations Tokelau, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, should they want them.

Updated 8:30 a.m. ET

Kremlin agents followed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny for years and were nearby just before an attack with a deadly nerve agent almost killed him in August, according to a new report by the research group Bellingcat.

An ex-captain in the Houston Police Department was arrested Tuesday for allegedly running a man off the road and assaulting him in an attempt to prove a bizarre voter-fraud conspiracy pushed by a right-wing organization.

A Japanese court sentenced a convicted murderer dubbed the "Twitter Killer" to death early Tuesday.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, was found guilty by the Tokyo District Court for the murder of eight women and one man, according to reports. Shiraishi also robbed and sexually assaulted the eight women he murdered, some of whom were minors.

Updated Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. ET

The Federal Trade Commission is demanding that nine social media and tech companies share details on how they harness users' data and what they do with the information.

Cleveland's Major League Baseball team is the latest professional sports franchise to announce it will abandon its longtime name, which is widely seen as racist or culturally offensive.

The baseball club, known since 1915 as the Cleveland Indians, announced in a statement Monday that it will "begin the process of changing the name," according to a letter to fans from owner Paul Dolan.

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