Newsy - U.S. The Latest Videos From Newsy.com http://www.newsy.com/ <![CDATA[Iran's Supreme Leader Vows Vengeance For Killing Of Nuclear Scientist]]> Sat, 28 Nov 2020 12:22:30 -0600
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Iran's supreme leader is threatening revenge after the ambush killing of a scientist who headed the country's former nuclear program.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says there will be "definitive punishment" for whomever is responsible for the death of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who died after gunmen opened fire on his car in an apparent assassination.

And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed Israel, which has been blamed in past killings of Iranian nuclear scientists. An Israeli cabinet member said Saturday he had "no clue" who was responsible.

The scientist's death has renewed fears of another attack against the U.S, Israel's closest ally in the region. The U.S. killed an Iranian general earlier this year in a drone attack, prompting a missile strike on an American base in Iraq.

The attack comes in the last weeks of the Trump administration, which pulled out a 2016 deal intended to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Friday's killing will likely complicate any efforts by President-elect Joe Biden's to restart nuclear talks with Iran.

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<![CDATA[U.S. Postal Service: Send Holiday Mail Early]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2020 10:54:46 -0600
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The U.S. Postal Service recommends mailing your holiday gifts early this year. 

USPS expects the week between December 14th and 21st will to be the busiest.

It is expanding its Sunday delivery operations this year in populated some areas to prepare handle for a the expected large increase in online orders.

If you procrastinate, USPS says you can ship items in time using priority mail express by December 23rd.

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<![CDATA[COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach Record High]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2020 08:54:24 -0600
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COVID-19 hospitalizations have hit a record high: More than 90,000 Americans nationwide are in hospitals infected with the virus — this according to the COVID Tracking Project. 

"My concern is that it's going to get worse, it's going to get extremely worse," says Dr. Carl Mitchell, an emergency room physician in Phoenix.

The number of Americans currently in ICUs because of COVID also broke a record at more than 17,800 people. Dr. Mitchell is warning things could get worse. 

"To be honest with you I'm a little concerned we're going to hit rates we haven't even seen, we're going to be overwhelmed," he says.

In San Diego, emergency room nurse Rochielle Jocson says her hospital is adequately staffed for now.

"Resources are limited. We don't know when the supplies are going to last," says Jocson.

Around the country — on Thanksgiving Day Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Arkansas saw a record number of new infections. This is also the 23rd day in a row with more than 100,000 new cases. Although there is a slight decrease in numbers this Thanksgiving, experts say the holidays often mean a delay in testing and reporting of cases and deaths. Since March, about 260,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus. And for frontline health care workers who are exhausted, Jockson says, "It's heartbreaking to just see people not follow safety precautions. It's like a punch in the gut."

Additional reporting by our sister stations: KNXV and KGTV. 

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<![CDATA[Disney To Lay Off 32,000 Employees]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2020 12:14:00 -0600
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The Walt Disney Company plans to lay off 32,000 employees as a result of the pandemic. The majority of these layoffs will be at occur within its theme parks.

This is it's an increase from the 28-thousand number layoffs the company said it expected back in September.

It's the Disney Land theme park in California has been closed since march and ticket sales for its Disney's other parks that are open have drastically dropped.

The announced layoffs are in addition to the 37,000 employees who have been furloughed placed on furlough.

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<![CDATA[What's The Risk of Volunteering Around the Holidays?]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2020 09:22:00 -0600
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As the holiday season begins, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19 as you make plans to celebrate. 

We asked the experts, what’s the risk of volunteering around the holidays?

Their take: volunteering is medium risk.

"If you are volunteering at an indoor facility where there is not a capacity to social distance, that risk is going to be higher than if you're volunteering in a capacity where everyone is masked and you have more distance. Or, even better, if you're able to volunteer by doing things that are outside or not in as large of a group," Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine, said.

"If you volunteer maybe in a food line, what are the precautions that are going to be taken to keep you and the users of that service safe? Are masks going to be required? Is social distancing going to be something that is thought of and planned? Or will there be other precautions as well?" Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said.  

 

"If the organization that you're volunteering with is taking some precautions, making sure everyone is masking. Hand sanitizer, hand washing availability. I think that goes a long way. And also, just configuring how you're doing it. Volunteering is probably going to help if they have separate stations, whether it's a food pantry or a food packing or distribution thing. As long as you can separate people out a little bit, I think that can be done," Dr. Irfan Hafiz, infectious disease physician and Northwest Region chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine, said. 

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit newsy.com/whatstherisk.

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<![CDATA[Pandemic Turns Internships Virtual]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:42:00 -0600
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College senior Winnie Quach was offered an in-person summer internship at Boeing, but COVID-19 changed that. 

"It was switched to the virtual format pretty suddenly after the virus started getting really bad." says Quach.

The Ohio State University student communicated with her mentor, manager, and fellow interns online. And instead of hands-on lab work, she handled technical paperwork and documentation virtually. Quach improved her technical writing skills, networked online and, she said, "We got to do these virtual live tours as interns. And those were really fun because we couldn't be there in person." 

Internships help students gain experience in their field of study. For employers, it's also a way to recruit. But since the pandemic, internship numbers have dropped — much like job openings. Career site Glassdoor found the number of internships this past May were 49% lower than a year ago. At Boeing, they on-boarded about 500 fewer interns because of the pandemic—a majority of them virtual.  

Peggie Tobias Vice President of Talent at United Healthcare says, "It just doesn't make sense to bring people into what might be an unsafe environment or just not the most optimal engaging environment." 

United Healthcare pivoted to virtual internships as well. 

"There is a time like no other for an intern to be part of this company and learn what we're actually doing to help solve the pandemic, to help make health care better for all of our members anyway. So let's give them that experience," says Tobias.

The DeBruce Foundation has been an early adopter of virtual internships. It has financed them and lately has created panels to help companies rethink virtual internships because they may be here to stay even after the pandemic.

The foundation's executive director Leigh Anne Taylor Knight says, "you have to put some energy and time into rethinking the technology access that individuals are going to have to have as interns. You have to rethink how you're going to recruit and you have to rethink how you are going to orient on board and then serve them and manage them." 

She says one huge misconception companies have is that students will be less productive because they are working from home. 

"We have heard over and over again from all types of businesses that they have found the interns to be highly productive during this time. And they have found that the interns have actually even been a benefit to some of their other remote workers," Knight said.

Quach will graduate this December, without a job offer from Boeing. 

"I would love to join the Boeing Company, but right now it's not a super great time," says Quach. "My team really did want to extend an offer for me, but due to the current situation with layoffs and downsizing, they couldn't. So it's always open for the future, especially when things get better. "

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<![CDATA[How One City In Hard-Hit South Dakota Is Handling COVID]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 14:20:07 -0600
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<![CDATA[Metal Monolith Discovered In Utah Desert]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 13:34:45 -0600
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Officials in Utah say they are facing a mystery unlike any they've seen before, following the discovery of a metal monolith in the state's red-rock desert.

"I've heard everything from, did this fall from the sky, you know, did it kind of implant itself there? Is it otherworldly," Lt. Nick Street, Utah Highway Patrol said.

The roughly 10-foot-tall, three-sided structure was discovered by the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau and the Division of Wildlife Resources during a helicopter survey on November 18.

"Without looking at it close and seeing that there are, in fact, human-made rivets that put this thing together, you could definitely let your imagination run wild," Street said.

Officials say they are working to determine how the sci-fi looking structure ended up in such a remote part of the desert — the nearest town, Moab, is 20 miles away. Many say it looks like the monolith from the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It's not clear how long it's been there in the Utah desert.

"For all we know, this has been there 40, 50 years, maybe more, It's the type of material that doesn't degrade with the elements and it may only be a few years old. Who knows? Like I said, it's tough to say at this time. There's no real way to know based on the material that it's made out of how long it's actually been there," Street said.

Officials aren't saying exactly where it's located. They don't want the public to try to venture to such a remote section of the desert. They are also asking that no one make any plans to place their own installation on public land regardless of "what planet you are from."

"Obviously, we don't want people going out there and digging into our Red Rock on public land and placing stainless steel objects, We take it very serious when things are defaced or, you know, painted out in our public lands and this would be taken as seriously," Street said.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press. 

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<![CDATA[U.S. Health Officials, State Leaders Send Warnings]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 11:42:00 -0600
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Health officials and state leaders are giving one last warning to reconsider your travel plans and stay home.The worry here, another wave of COVID-19 cases across the country caused by the holiday weekend. 

"Really, it shouldn't be about just Thanksgiving. Really, we're saying: This holiday season we have to be smarter and different than we've handled past holiday seasons because it's not a normal holiday season."

Governor Andrew Cuomo also unveiled a new mask that read, "Don't be a turkey and wear a mask", to promote guidelines in place. 

If you live in New York, make sure you follow this. A state rule only allows 10 people in the household.

Restrictions have been placed in a majority of states in response to rising COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations. 

The U.S. reported its highest daily death count in more than six months, with more than 2,000 on Tuesday. 

According to the Washington Post, nine states reported record deaths. It's the highest number in one day since early May. 

To put that in perspective, that's nearly four deaths every three minutes.

Wisconsin was one of those states to set a new record of daily deaths.

Governor Tony Evers joined other leaders urging people to make the difficult choice and stay home for the Holiday 

"We all most must make short term sacrifices for our long term health. None of us wants to be the one to unwittingly spread this virus to somebody we love, or host the next super spreader event we hear about in the news."

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Wisconsin is sixth in the country for new cases per capita.

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<![CDATA[U.S. To Initially Release 6.4M Vaccine Doses]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 11:26:00 -0600
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The U.S. plans to release 6.4 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine within 24 hours of it being cleared for emergency use.

Representatives from Operation Warp Speed say they've notified states and territories about the estimated number of doses they'll receive. 

Officials say they expect to distribute 40 million doses before the end of the year. 

Pfizer filed for emergency use authorization for its vaccine last week. 

The FDA is expected to rule on that after it meets on December 10th.

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<![CDATA[Seattle To Cut Police Budget By 17%]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 11:18:00 -0600
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Seattle is moving forward with a 17% cut to the city's police department budget. 

The city council approved a spending plan that allocates $340 million dollars to police. That's down from this year's budget of $409 million. 

The plan follows months of protests over racial injustice in Seattle, which led to the takeover of a police precinct and the city's police chief retiring.

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<![CDATA[Los Angeles County Bans Outdoor Dining]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 09:16:00 -0600
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Let's move to Los Angeles County, where a ban on outdoor dining at restaurants goes into effect today.

The California Restaurant Association asked to block this order, but it was denied by a judge. 

Under the new restrictions, bars and restaurants must move to take-out only for at least three weeks or until COVID cases start going down.

One restaurant owner says the new rules are concerning, especially ahead of the holiday season.

"I mean when you can't feed your family, if you lost your job you would think that was cruel if you couldn't provide food for your family at Christmas or a Christmas tree, I mean these things, it's cruel." 

California is seeing some of its highest case counts since the beginning of the pandemic. L.A. County saw the highest number of COVID deaths yesterday in more than two months.

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<![CDATA[Food Pantries See Surge In Need Before Holiday]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2020 06:43:00 -0600
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Food banks are drawing millions of Americans destabilized by this pandemic. 

A football stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this was a line for another food line in Dallas, Texas. The pantry gave out around 600,000 pounds of food to nearly 25,000 people. 

And as millions of unemployed and under-employed Americans struggle to make ends meet, there's been newfound hope that President-Elect Joe Biden can help grease the wheels with top members of congress to get some relief passed.

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<![CDATA[No Spectators Allowed At Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 20:22:00 -0600
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Macy's showed off some of its new balloons for its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Some of the new balloons include are the Boss Baby and Red Titan from "Ryan's World."

New floats also include a tribute to women in stem fields — science, technology, engineering and math.

And this year, there will be no spectators on the parade route.

"We'll be working very closely with the New York City agencies, NYPD and the mayor's office to ensure that the area where we will be filming will be locked down. So we're encouraging everybody to please stay at home. It's the safest way to view this parade and watch it from your televisions, like the rest of the country."

This will be the 94th year for the parade and it will take place on Thursday, Thanksgiving morning. 

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<![CDATA[White House Moving Forward With Holiday Events]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 20:09:00 -0600
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The White House is moving ahead with plans for a holiday season full of parties and events, despite warnings from health experts to cancel in-person gatherings this year. 

First Lady Melania Trump received the official White House Christmas tree yesterday.

Besides Christmas, the White House traditionally holds a series of parties leading up to Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, too. 

The first lady's spokeswoman and chief of staff said this year's events will still take place at least partly indoors.

The guest lists will be smaller, and everyone who attends will be required to wear a face mask. 

Additionally, hand sanitizer stations will also be set up throughout the party space.

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<![CDATA[Millions Shun Warnings For Holiday Travel: 'We Can't Just Stop Living']]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 19:16:00 -0600
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AAA expects the biggest single-year drop in holiday travel this year since the Great Recession, but it's still too much in the eyes of public health experts worried an out-of-control pandemic will get magnitudes worse when Thanksgiving gatherings become "super spreader events."

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<![CDATA[Pope Francis Welcomes NBA Players To The Vatican]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 18:01:00 -0600
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Pope Francis welcomed five NBA players to the Vatican on Monday. 

ESPN reported the pope wanted to talk about the players championing social justice causes. Pope Francis praised the players for their advocacy against police brutality and economic inequality. 

The leader of the Catholic Church has previously praised the Black Lives Matter movement and other nonviolent anti-racism protests.

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<![CDATA[New York City's First African American Mayor Dies at 93]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 16:06:00 -0600
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New York City's first African American mayor has died at the age of 93.

David Dinkins beat out Rudy Guiliani in 1989, serving one term as mayor.

He then lost to Guiliani in 1993.

After Dinkins left office, he became a professor at Columbia University.

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<![CDATA[Grocery, Retail Workers Demand Protections Amid COVID-19]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 14:06:00 -0600
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Workers rights groups are demanding companies re-instate hazard pay and other protections for grocery and retail workers ahead of the holiday season.

Organizations like United for Respect are calling for employers to provide paid and unpaid leave options and be transparent with employees about their decisions.

According to the Washington Post, at least 131 grocery workers have died from COVID-19 and it's very likely that that number is higher.

The president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union told reporters: "With more than 1 million new COVID-19 cases in the past week, and deaths spiking to unprecedented levels, we are entering what could be the deadliest phase of this pandemic for millions of America's essential front-line workers."

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<![CDATA[American Medical Association Calls Racism A Public Health Threat]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 13:45:00 -0600
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The American Medical Association now recognizes racism as a public health threat. 

The nation's largest association of doctors adopted new policies acknowledging the effects of racism in health care and supporting programs to combat that.

The nation's largest medical association says Black and Hispanic communities are disproportionately impacted by diseases such as heart disease and diabetes because of poor health care and other discriminations.

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<![CDATA[Millions Travel For Holiday Despite Surge In Virus Cases]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 11:41:00 -0600
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Concerns over a worsening pandemic are not enough to convince many Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving break. 

Though numbers are down compared to last year, millions of people still arrived at TSA checkpoints in the past few days. 

AAA expects tens of millions to hit the road to celebrate the holiday. But the auto association also predicts at least a 10 percent decline in Thanksgiving travel.

Public health experts have warned about the risk of large gatherings with people outside your own bubble. 

A record of more than 85,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. This as more states tighten restrictions to combat the spread of the virus.

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<![CDATA[What's The Risk Of Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner?]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:11:00 -0600
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As the holiday season begins, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19 as you make plans to celebrate. 

We asked the experts, what’s the risk of hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving this year? How can I serve a meal and limit risk?

Their take: The risk of contracting COVID-19 from hosting Thanksgiving is high.

"The risk is actually quite high to have any indoor gatherings with people that are not in your immediate family that you live with every single day," Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine said.

"You may want to rethink that gathering and move to a virtual mechanism instead," Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said. 

"How well is the area set up to allow for distancing between family members and guests? And how good is the ventilation? If you are inside and you can't have windows open and you're forced to sit close together, it would be optimal to have people being masked while you're serving," Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, Infectious Disease Specialist at Nebraska Medicine said.

"And when they're not eating or drinking as much as possible. But again, as you take that mask off and talk and eat or drink at the same time, there will still be risk that will occur during that period for the spray of aerosols or droplets," Cawcutt said.

"The use of fans in the area can also help reduce your risk. You want to make sure that you've got really good ventilation and good circulation in the room where you're hosting your dinner. The best thing you can do is have a couple of box fans — one drawn into into the room, one exhausting air out of the room, making sure that that fan that's blowing into the room isn't blowing directly on anybody," Gonsenhauser said.

"Probably the safest is not to have other people over right now. Most parts of the country, you couldn't do this, say, in the backyard or, you know, at a picnic table in the backyard or something like that over the summer. That was definitely a good option to have. But now it's going to be tough," Dr. Irfan Hafiz, infectious disease physician and Northwest Region chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine, said. 

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit newsy.com/whatstherisk.

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<![CDATA[Rethinking Public Health Funding When A Pandemic Is Our Biggest Threat]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:00:00 -0600
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In 2020, the greatest threat to Americans' safety has been the public health crisis known as COVID-19 — killing more Americans than every war since the Korean War combined. 

Newsy explored how many lives could be saved, and what would the impact be, if the nation's budget treated public health like national security. 

This video includes data from Trust for America's HealthCanadian Institute for Health InformationCongressional Research ServiceCato Institute and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

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<![CDATA[New York Tightens Restrictions As COVID Hospitalizations Spike]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 18:00:00 -0600
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New York state is tightening restrictions as COVID hospitalizations spike. This includes limitations on the size of gatherings, including some parts of New York City.

COVID hospitalizations more than doubled in the past three weeks to 2,700 now. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo predicts the Thanksgiving break will lead to an increase in the state's positivity rate.

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<![CDATA[What If Multiple COVID-19 Vaccines Are Approved?]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 16:32:00 -0600
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As COVID-19 spreads across much of the US, there’s a sign of hope: a third promising vaccine. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford’s candidate appears to work in an average of 70 percent of people who get it, with no major side effects. 

"These results show that we have a vaccine that is highly effective, better than the flu vaccine is in most years in being able to prevent coronavirus infection," said Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine trial. 

The vaccine may work in up to 90 percent of people, with tweaks in the dosage. Even more promising: unlike vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, AstraZeneca’s does not require super cold storage temperatures, making it easier to get to poorer parts of the world.

Sarah Gilbert, Oxford University/AstraZeneca's vaccine architect said, "No one is safe until we're all safe. So we need to think about the best use of the vaccine and we need a lot of vaccine."

But all three are proving to be effective, raising hopes regulators may approve more than one.

Dr. Jesse Goodman of Georgetown University, former chief of the FDA's vaccine division said, "We never know that any particular vaccine is going to succeed and how effective and safe it's going to be. So the more chances the better, the more shots on goal the better."

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Monday. They’ll be deciding the order Americans will get an approved COVID vaccine. First, the 21 million health care workers. The best guess for most healthy Americans? April to June of next year. Health officials know, the shots aren’t any good if people refuse to roll up their sleeves to get it. Some people who participated in the trials are now trying to motivate the rest of us. 

"The big things like there's not going to be people in intensive care anymore and small things like people can have their relatives with them in hospital again. And then even smaller things like I can get the train and see my parents and not worry about it. I think it's going to change everything," said Lois-Clay Baker, an Oxford vaccine trial participant. 

"I have faith and science. I have faith in medicine. Without people stepping up we’re never gonna find a solution," Michael Rouse, a Moderna vaccine trial participant, said. 

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<![CDATA[U.S. Health Officials Continue To Warn Against Holiday Travel]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 13:53:37 -0600
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Just a few days out from Thanksgiving and maybe you were hoping to be packing your bags right now...getting ready to travel for the holiday. 

While you may be itching to get on that flight, the CDC is still urging people not to travel this year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says these gatherings will put loved ones at risk.

"As we're getting into the colder season, particularly the situation with the holiday season where you see people traveling, you see the clips on TV, people at airports — I mean, those are the things that we've got to realize are going to get us in even more trouble than we're in right now," he said.

Fauci, along with the CDC, worry traveling and indoor gatherings will cause another rise in COVID-19 cases ahead of Christmas. Even with vaccine candidates in late stages of its trials. A vaccine isn't expected to be approved for another few weeks.

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<![CDATA[TSA Expects Millions More To Travel Thanksgiving Week]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 12:30:32 -0600
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Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, but you wouldn’t think that looking at America’s biggest airports. The TSA tells Newsy it’s expecting one million passengers to be screened on Wednesday, and another million the following Sunday. This, after over three million travelers went through checkpoints this past weekend — despite guidance from the CDC to stay home. 

"You don't know who you're sharing air with on the airplane. And even though you're trying to disinfect seats or handles, it's really what's happening in the flight in the air," said Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, an infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine. 

A forecast from AAA predicts at least a 10 percent drop in holiday travel this year. But experts acknowledge that estimates are less reliable than before. 

"The typical factors that we look at in determining if we’re going to travel are just out the window this year," said AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee.

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases have topped 12 million, with the daily rate growing to almost 200,000 last week. 

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<![CDATA[Trump Campaign Cuts Ties With Lawyer Sidney Powell]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:35:40 -0600
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The Trump campaign cut ties with one of its lawyers after she made numerous baseless claims about voter fraud. 

The campaign said attorney Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own and is not a part of the campaign’s legal team. 

Powell claimed, without evidence, that millions of votes were switched to favor Joe Biden.

She also accused Georgia Republicans of conspiring against the president.

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<![CDATA[Historic Pick of Cardinal-Designate Gregory May Have Political Impact]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 09:13:36 -0600
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This Saturday, Archbishop Wilton Gregory will become Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the first African-American in church history to obtain that rank. 

Those in and around the church say his appointment could be impactful. Not only for the 3 million Black American Catholics but for marginalized groups, religious and non. 

“Not to speak up for him. But I know he wants to create equality, create healing, and create opportunities for those that are the voiceless are those on the peripheries, as Pope Francis says, to have their voices heard," said Ansel Augustine Executive Director of Cultural Diversity and Outreach for the Archdiocese of Washington. 

Ansel Augustine of the Archdiocese of Washington says Gregory’s appointment is also a step toward the church addressing its own issues with race. 

Something he tackles in the documentary Black Faith Matters. 

“I do feel at times that the church adds to the problem by not discussing the problem and wants to put a fake band-aid on it,” said Augustine.  

“Well into the 20th century, the Catholic Church systematically denied Black men and women from entering a religious life, subjecting them to racial segregation and exclusion,” Shannen Williams, Historian of the Black Catholic Experience at Villanova University told Newsy. 

The hope for Black Catholics, like Black Catholic historian Shannen Williams, is that Gregory will be impactful there as well as in other controversial areas. 

“We bishops will always have the deepest regret for those who were abused and must live with that pain all of their lives,” Gregory stated in 2002.  

As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” — the church’s zero-tolerance policy on sex abuse, removing priests found guilty of the crime but stopping short of defrocking them. 

He has political opinions. 

“He publicly voiced his disappointment and greater unease with President Trump's visit to the national Pope John Paul, the second shrine in Washington, DC,” said Williams. 

He also weighed in on the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy calling it "deeply disturbing." He opposed a Georgia gun law that would’ve allowed guns inside the church.  

And spoke out on the church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community writing, “These men and women are the sons and daughters of the church, and yet in too many cases they have not felt welcomed or respected.”

Amber Strong, Newsy, Northern, Virginia. 

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<![CDATA[What's The Risk Of Flying to Visit Others?]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 08:00:00 -0600
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As the holiday season begins, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19 as you make plans to celebrate. 

We asked the experts, what’s the risk of flying to visit family or friends?

Their take: The risk of contracting COVID-19 from flying to visit others is high.

" It's not what you do, it's how you do it. That really matters," said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. 

"Airlines do have quite a bit of airflow and circulation in the cabins. So it's probably a little bit more riskier than private car travel, but it's still really what the destination is, really the bigger issue," Dr. Irfan Hafiz, infectious disease physician and Northwest Region chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine, said. 

"You don't know who you're sharing air with on the airplane. And even though you're trying to disinfect seats or handles, it's really what's happening in the flight in the air. And when people still stop and take their masks off to eat or drink or someone coughs or sneezes and they remove their mask, it still carries a potential risk," Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine, said.

"Some folks may be using ride sharing or public transport to get to the airport. Once you're there, although you're going to be socially distancing, you're going to be wearing masks and engaging and hand hygiene. You're still waiting in a lot of lines. There are still crowds," Gonsenhauser added.

"You need to be very cautious to have hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with you. And I would really advise wearing a mask and truly considering a face shield for the time you are in the airport when you can't socially distance. And for the duration of your flight, if at all possible," Cawcutt said.

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit newsy.com/whatstherisk.

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<![CDATA[Federal Judge Tosses Out Trump Campaign Lawsuit In Pennsylvania]]> Sun, 22 Nov 2020 11:13:00 -0600
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A federal judge threw out a Trump campaign lawsuit — attempting to prevent Pennsylvania's election results from being certified.

At the request of Pennsylvania's Secretary of State, U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann dismissed the lawsuit, saying it was "stitched together" like "Frankenstein's monster."

The campaign claimed voters in some Democratic-majority counties allowed voters to correct minor errors in their ballots, which disadvantaged Republicans.

Brann criticized the Trump campaign for using “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” to try to invalidate millions of votes in Pennsylvania.

He said: “In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state.”

President Trump tweeted his campaign "WILL APPEAL" the decision by the judge, who is a former state GOP official appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama.

The president trails President-Elect Joe Biden in Pennsylvania by over 80,000 votes. Counties are slated to file their official election results by Monday.

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<![CDATA[Eight Injured In Shooting At Wisconsin Mall; Suspect Still At Large]]> Sat, 21 Nov 2020 10:37:00 -0600
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Eight people were injured Friday night in a shooting at a Wisconsin shopping mall and a suspect remained at large Saturday morning.

Police said the seven adults and one teenager were taken to a local hospital and all are expected to survive.

The shooting took place at the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Authorities are working to identify the suspect — who fled the scene by the time officers arrived. Witnesses describe him as a white male in his 20s or 30s.

Police said in a Facebook post the shooting resulted from an "altercation" and wasn't a random act.

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<![CDATA[Is The U.S. Ready For A National Lockdown?]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 15:47:00 -0600
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With record-breaking numbers — more than 250,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 — is it time to consider a national lockdown? After all, countries in Europe have done it, and it appears to have helped. Same with China.

 "I think a national lockdown where we lock everything down would ultimately be a last resort," said Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director,  American Public Health Association.

But what defines a "lockdown"? To some it can mean closing non-essential businesses, but what is considered essential in one state may not necessarily be essential in others. It could also include stay-at-home orders. And then there's a question of schools. This inconsistency can create confusion.

"The term lockdown really is a terrible term and we should talk about restricting exposure. So, for example, we know that anything where there's a large, large crowd creates a greater risk," said Benjamin.

And it's about reducing that risk. But even if we define what a national lockdown is, enforcement could be a problem. In Berlin, German police used water cannons to disperse demonstrators protesting restrictions. 

"Convincing people to do that will be a challenge. ... As you know, we cannot convince every American to wear a simple cotton mask," said Benjamin.   

"We saw what happened in China. They did an extreme lockdown scenario and they got really significant control over the epidemic. ... because of the authoritarian government and the differences in human rights," said Dr. Mark Dworkin Associate Director of Epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "In this country, we would have a great deal of trouble with such enforcement. I don't even know if it's completely legal."

COVID-19 advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, Dr. Michael Osterholm, initially said a national lockdown for a few weeks could help curb the spread of COVID-19 but he backtracked because he said it would be hard to get a national consensus. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed for public health measures instead.

He said,"Public health measures, not lockdown of the country, but public health measures that are rather simple and easy to understand — the universal wearing of masks, the physical distancing, the avoiding congregate in crowded places, outdoors better than indoors, washing hands."

Dr. Georges Benjamin agrees and he says targeted restrictions instead of a national lockdown can help. 

"We can have both a reasonable economy and protect our health if we do it thoughtfully. And so the idea of having targeted closures at particular times for particular businesses and other activities allows us the ability to in some ways have it both ways."

But targeted restrictions aren't perfect. In New York City, different neighborhoods have different restrictions.

"We're in New York City. People are going to travel, they're gonna go between ZIP codes and neighborhoods," says John, a Brooklyn resident. 

 And it's not just between neighborhoods, some travel in between states, which can have varying degrees of restrictions.

"All of it is part of a strategy to reduce our risk," said Benjamin. "That does not mean that someone will not get infected. It does not mean that someone will not violate the standards that we're setting with these lockdowns."

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<![CDATA[DOD Leaders Won't Quarantine After Contact With COVID-Positive Person]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 15:21:13 -0600
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Concern is rising here at the Pentagon. Senior leaders are not quarantining even after coming in contact with the Lithuanian defense minister, who tested positive. 

Newsy has confirmed the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy were in contact with Minister Raimundas Karoblis this week. Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller was, too. But again, none of them are quarantining.

According to Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman, “senior leaders have been tested since the meeting” on Nov. 13. 

He added, “Additionally, DOD personnel who had contact with the delegation have received or are receiving at this time rapid COVID tests as deemed necessary based on CDC protocols.”

That’s in question, though, because with this type of exposure, the CDC recommends quarantining for 14 days. Instead, the department claims testing and mitigation measures were in place. 

At least one senior official, Anthony Tata, has tested positive. He is in isolation.

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<![CDATA[How A COVID Vaccine Approval Process Works And Why It Will Take Weeks]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 15:05:00 -0600
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FDA officials have said the review will take weeks. Here’s what we know about the process that will take place.

Right now, the FDA’s painstakingly going through lots of data. That’s in addition to the research and manufacturing plans and other information that both Pfizer and BioNtech previously submitted.  The FDA will release its own internal analysis.

Pfizer will also have to present their findings to an advisory committee made up of outside medical experts that make recommendations to the FDA. That’s going to be the public’s first chance to see the data. It’s been reported that it will be in early December. 

"When I'm sitting there, listening to those data presented to us at the FDA's vaccine advisory committee meeting, I will be looking to answer the question, would I take this myself? Dr. Paul Offit, FDA Vaccine and Related Products Advisory Committee member, said.

A few days following any FDA emergency approval, a CDC committee will then meet to make official recommendations about who will get the vaccine first.  

"We're interested in complete transparency. These meetings are open to the public on your computer," Dr. William Schaffner, member of CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice,s said. 

The CDC’s interim playbook says in the first phase, vaccines would go to paid and unpaid persons in healthcare settings who have contact with infectious patients or materials.  Lindsey Theis, Newsy, Denver. 

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<![CDATA[California Curfew in Place as COVID Cases Rise]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 14:35:00 -0600
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In California a temporary curfew takes effect across most of the state tomorrow.

The order bans gatherings and non-essential work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

State health officials say if the curfew doesn't slow the spread, they will have to look at other options.

"In looking at that, If we do see trends that are more concerning, if we don't 

see the impact and effects of the actions today, there are other tools in the toolbox." 

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<![CDATA[Murderer Eighth Person Executed by Federal Government Since July]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 12:24:00 -0600
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The U.S. government executed a convicted rapist and murderer last night.

Orlando Hall is the eighth person put to death since the Trump administration reinstated federal capital punishment in July.

Hall was convicted for his role in the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 16-year old girl in Texas in 1994.

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<![CDATA[NYC Parents Protest Switch to Remote Learning]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 10:32:00 -0600
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"Schools are safe! Schools are safe!" shout parents in New York City protesting the decision to close schools.

The decision to switch to remote learning is an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Students went back to classrooms this fall at one of the largest public school systems in the country.

Parents are now calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen them and instead close other establishments first.

"That is outrageous, and I am ashamed," said Reshma Saujani, whose child attends an NYC public school. "Shut the bars down, close the restaurants, close the gyms, ban indoor dining, but do not close the school," she said.

The city has said it would close schools if 3% of all COVID tests across the city came back positive over a seven-day period.

It hit that mark this week.

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<![CDATA[More Than 50 Protestors Sue Chicago Police]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 09:55:00 -0600
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More than 50 protesters in Chicago are suing the city's police chief — and officers.

They are accusing them of violent attacks and wrongful arrests during demonstrations this summer. 

The lawsuit says officers used tactics including tackling and beating protesters and used chemical agents against them. 

Some of those demonstrations turned violent — with people destroying property and stealing from stores. 

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<![CDATA[What's The Risk Of Driving to Visit Others?]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 08:03:00 -0600
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As the holiday season begins, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19 as you make plans to celebrate. 

We asked the experts, what’s the risk of driving to visit family or friends?

Their take: The risk of contracting COVID-19 from driving to visit others is high.

"It's not what you do, it's how you do it. That really matters," Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said. "Driving in a car with your household contacts, that's no riskier than being at home with those folks. 

"The things where you may pick up some additional risk: if you have to stop and fill up for gas or use a restroom or use a restaurant along the way. Or if you have to stop in a hotel. Those are the activities where you really want to be careful about what precautions are in place and how you're limiting your exposure."

"Obviously, by wearing masks yourselves and using great hand hygiene and having hand sanitizer readily available with you while you travel, all will help decrease your risk," Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine said.

"It's really the risk of what's going to happen once you get there. I mean, we've seen several clusters of cases in families where they've gotten together either for a wedding or some other gathering, and several members have gotten sick," said Dr. Irfan Hafiz, infectious disease physician and Northwest Region chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine. 

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit newsy.com/whatstherisk.

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<![CDATA[Feds Say Men in Mich. Gov. Kidnap Scheme Had Backup Plans]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 18:32:00 -0600
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There are new disturbing details on the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

Filings show the backup plan was for 200 people to take over the Michigan capitol building — and to televise executions of public officials throughout the week. 

The 14 men charged in connection with the scheme also reportedly considered burning down the state house — with lawmakers inside.

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<![CDATA[How El Paso Is Confronting One Of The U.S.' Worst COVID Outbreaks]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:20:34 -0600
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<![CDATA[COVID-19 Slows Adoption Process But Sparks More Interest]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:36:42 -0600
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In just a few weeks, Daniel and Jessica Unseth will finalize the adoption of their 16-year-old daughter Aliya and become a family of four.

"That's supposed to take place right before Christmas. So that'll be one heck of a Christmas present," Daniel Unseth said.

For this Texas family, their journey to adopting their eldest daughter began in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The first time that we met her everybody was all masked up and everything. It was an interesting first experience. Lots of isolated talks and meetings and what not. And the adoption process has been much, much slower because of paperwork," Unseth said.

Masked meetings and delayed paperwork are just two of the many hurdles adoption officials say prospective families are having to navigate as a result of COVID-19.

"COVID had an immediate impact on adoptions internationally and domestically," Chuck Johnson, the president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption said. "You had travel restrictions and quarantines and courts were closed, government offices were closed. So it really stranded a lot of families in the beginning."

Chuck Johnson is the president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption, a nonprofit that works with adoption agencies and child welfare authorities to place children and teens with prospective families. Johnson says travel restrictions and social distancing measures have forced everyone to get creative to move adoptions forward.

"Courts and other places are moving toward a virtual process, which is not a permanent solution. But it's just responding to the immediate need of trying to help these families and these children complete their adoptions," Johnson said.

"We actually get to meet our judge and finalize everything over zoom. So we don't have to really even go anywhere or anything," Unseth said.

But while the virus has slowed the finalizing of paperwork and placements, officials say they are seeing a dramatic surge in families wanting to start the adoption process.

"We have been told that because it's such a lengthy process, a lot of families did begin, at least the paperwork side, of beginning an international adoption," Johnson said.

Rebecca Gruenspan, the founder of RG Adoption Consulting, says the same can be said for the domestic adoptions of infants.

"What we're seeing is that there has been an influx of hopeful adoptive parents starting the process," Gruenspan said. "In March and April, when the pandemic first hit, I was swamped. Like families were coming out of the woodwork." 

"That's happening, because people for the first time in so long, have time to spend with each other and have some of these hard conversations and have time to move forward on some of their dreams that many have put on hold for so long," Gruenspan said.

But regardless of where you stand in the adoption process, officials are urging patience for the months ahead as efforts are made to end the virus.

"I think we all understand it's frustrating. You want your child, we get that. But be prepared for the challenges that lay ahead, don't go in expecting that you can kind of push your way through, Let's respect the system, let's work together," Johnson said.

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<![CDATA[CDC Says College Students Going Home For Thanksgiving Raise Risks]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:23:22 -0600
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After months away from home, Thanksgiving break is the reprieve, when students get to spend time with their families, reconnect. But the surge in COVID-19 cases has health officials concerned. 

Thursday, the CDC updated its guidelines, with its strongest warning yet, avoid travel for Thanksgiving, however for those students who do head home...

“Be careful when you're traveling, make sure you're wearing your face mask. When you're traveling make sure you're being conscious of hand hygiene. Ideally, try to quarantine, self-quarantine before the gathering and encourage other people to do the same,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Newsy.  

Schools like Indiana University are trying to get ahead of the virus by ramping up testing.  

“We have a symptomatic testing operation. But we are also offering sort of a voluntary mitigation testing for those people who don't have symptoms who want to know their COVID status before they travel home,” explained  Dr. Erika Cheng of the Indiana University COVID-19 Medical Response Team.

IU students won’t return to campus until February, a growing trend for universities across the country.

“We're trying to quiet things down in town so that people don't get sick between the time they take the test and the time they go home,” Kevin O'Kelley, chair of the University of South Dakota COVID-19 Task Force told Newsy. 

In South Dakota, where COVID-19 hospitalizations have sharply risen, officials from the University of South Dakota launched the Know Before You Go Program, a combination of testing and social distancing before the break. 

“We want students who are positive to stay here, stay in Vermillion, don't take that positive COVID-19 to your hometown,” said O'Kelley. 

Surgeon General Adams tells Newsy he supports the use of tests, but they don’t eliminate the risk. 

“A test today is a test today. You could test negative today and be positive tomorrow. So it doesn't mean that you are absolutely free from having to practice some of these safety measures. It just means that you're not at that moment actively spreading infection,” Adams warned.  

Infectious disease experts say that’s particularly important for students from minority communities, who have been hardest hit by the virus.  

“I cannot in good conscience come before you and tout that [testing] ... [is] the way forward when it's not a universal strategy. What most people can do, though, is mask. What everyone can do, though, is wash their hands,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease physician with the Washington University School of Medicine. 

One thing to note, many universities are considering requiring a COVID test either when students return to campus or in some cases before they are even allowed to return to campus. Amber Strong, Newsy, Northern, Virginia. 

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<![CDATA[Former President Obama's New Memoir Breaks Record]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:58:00 -0600
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President Barack Obama's new book, "A Promised Land," is breaking records.

The book sold more than 880,000 copies on its first day.

Now, that's the most for any book published by Penguin Random House.

It is on track to be the best-selling presidential memoir.

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<![CDATA[Pilots Watch Closely As FAA Lifts Grounding On Embattled 737 Max]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 20:55:00 -0600
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More than two years after the first 737 Max crash, and 20 months after the FAA first ordered the plane grounded in the U.S., it's finally lifting the order. Boeing has spent those months making changes to the plane's software and training, and fielding endless investigations, review boards, and lawsuits. But for a plane with a deadly record, are the changes going to be enough to get passengers on board? Only time has the answer.

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<![CDATA[Nursing Home Virus Infections At All-Time High]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:46:00 -0600
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Infections are at an all-time high in nursing homes. 

The most recent available federal data is only from the first week of November. It shows more than 10,000 positive cases, which is higher than the peak in July. 

Florida alone reported over 1,300 new cases among nursing home residents last week.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted visiting restrictions at nursing homes a little over two months ago. And there aren't plans to go back.

On Wednesday, a group of mayors across the state urged DeSantis to act. 

DeSantis has been clear about his unwillingness to shut down again. 

The state — once the epicenter of the virus — entered phase 3 of its reopening plan in September.

And local governments are banned from imposing their own restrictions or closures. 

The COVID Tracking Project says while less than 1% of Americans live in nursing homes, these care facilities account for 40% of deaths.

 

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<![CDATA[What's Next For A COVID-19 Vaccine?]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:32:00 -0600
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It’s been nine months since Jennifer Haller, the first COVID vaccine tester, got a shot during Moderna’s Phase 1 trial. Now, Moderna and Pfizer's vaccine candidates are at the head of the race, each reportedly working in about 95% of those studied.

"That is way more than expected and it's wonderful news," Haller said.

Pfizer has said it plans to submit a request for FDA emergency approval in the coming days. Moderna will likely follow in a few weeks. But don’t expect the FDA to green light any COVID vaccine quickly. Officials have said it will take weeks at the minimum. 

"The decision will ultimately be determined by the scientists when we get the data set. This is new for FDA. It's new for the country, new for the world. But all of the candidate vaccines will go through the same process," Steven Hahn, FDA Commissioner, said recently. 

The application process is rolling, meaning vaccine makers have already had to submit things like manufacturing plans, and initial analysis. They’ll also have to publicly present their final findings to an advisory board of medical and science experts. That board provides recommendations to the FDA and is set to meet next in early December. 

"What really is happening is this independent process that is looked at by people with no skin in the game, financially or otherwise. I see the data. I get reported the data to me, the FDA sees the data soon it will be published with the entire community, will see the data," Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID director, said.

“We're at a point where we're really seeing the promise, where we're seeing that even these new technologies may produce vaccines that are going to help us meet this need. But we're waiting for more data, more follow up. And then, even as that becomes available, hopefully in the next couple of months and for other candidates, we also have the issue of having enough vaccine to really make an impact on the pandemic," Dr. Jesse Goodman, former chief of the FDA's vaccine division said.

Distribution will definitely pose some challenges. Health officials say if a vaccine is approved, vaccinations could start in December, but supply will be limited at first. 

"Probably the first month or two is really focusing on those high risk, essential workers with limited supply of maybe two vaccines," Dr. Mark McClellan Director, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy said. 

Drugmakers Novavax, Astra Zeneca, and Johnson and Johnson are also in the late stage, large scale phase 3 clinical trials for their potential COVID vaccines.  Not everyone will get the same vaccine if multiples get emergency approvals. Federal health officials say widespread vaccination won’t be until April to June of next year. 

Meanwhile, during the hopeful news, health officials say the best thing we can all do is follow public health advice. Neal Browing, another one of the very first human vaccine testers, put it this way:

"I'm taking every precaution that is recommended by every other person. I don't treat this like I'm invulnerable and I'm going to go out and risk it. It's just not worth it," he said.

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<![CDATA[El Paso Jail Inmates Paid $2 Per Hour To Assist With COVID]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 16:07:00 -0600
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El Paso County has requested the Texas National Guard mobilize to assist with the growing coronavirus crisis, including moving bodies to mobile morgues. But there’s one problem: There's no timetable for when help will arrive. 

The county sheriff’s office told Newsy that inmates are helping out in the interim. Those inmates are being paid $2 an hour. 

While officials wouldn't disclose all the work these inmates are doing, this is exclusive video of those inmates loading bodies into "mobile morgue" trailers. 

Krish Gundu is the executive director and co-founder of the inmate advocacy group Texas Jail Project.

"We have a callous disregard for human life. ... We think it's OK to put them in these risky situations, while at the same time denying them access to testing and medical care and free phone calls with their families," Krish Gundu said. 

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office told Newsy in an email this program is "100% voluntary" and that the $2 per hour figure is "simply the higher end of average pay per jail trustee across the country."

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, average pay for inmates across the country ranges from 14 cents to $1.41 per hour, depending on the state and the nature of the job. 

During the pandemic, we've seen other examples of incarcerated workers playing crucial roles in completing government tasks. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used state prison labor to produce hand sanitizer while paying those prisoners well below $2 per hour.

"Is this what you would pay an essential worker who would be doing the job if you didn't have an inmate to do the job?" said Gundu. "I mean, why the difference? If you're treating them as if you're making them do essential work, are they going to have access to the vaccines when they come on? Are they going to be one of the first people to get those vaccines? There is no equity in that conversation."

And while some El Paso County commissioners voiced objections to the $2 wage, a motion to pay the workers more money failed to gain traction.  

"It just seems illogical for them to pay $12 an hour for folks who are in the jail as inmates when folks outside the jail are gonna want that opportunity," said El Paso County Precinct 3 Commissioner Vincent Perez. 

At the moment, El Paso is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in Texas. More than 1,100 people are hospitalized in the county, and one in six COVID hospitalizations in the state are in El Paso. 

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<![CDATA[President Trump Orders A Drawdown Of 3K Troops From Afghanistan & Iraq]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 19:50:00 -0600
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Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced a drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq that will be complete just before the inauguration.

This comes 8 days after Defense Secretary Mark Esper was fired. 

Esper had opposed a drawdown at this point in Afghanistan saying conditions there are too unstable.

Miller says this move comes close to fulfilling a Trump campaign promise to remove all troops from what he has called “endless wars.”

Miller stressed that the withdrawal of 3,000 troops “does not equate change” to U.S. policies or objectives.

"This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with this national security cabinet over the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government," Miller said. 

The decision is causing waves even among some Republicans on Capitol Hill....like Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas who said in a statement:

“I believe that these additional reductions of American troops from terrorist areas are a mistake. Further reductions in Afghanistan will also undercut negotiations there; the Taliban has done nothing – met no condition – that would justify this cut.”

Democrats have also spoken out since the announcement. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia stated,

“We need to bring our troops home, but we must do so as part of a strategy that does not jeopardize the safety of Americans in the U.S. and abroad. There was no doubt the final days of this administration would be tumultuous, but the haphazard nature of President Trump’s decision will harm our national security and jeopardize countless American, Afghan, and Iraqi lives.”

The drawdown of 3,000 troops is expected to be completed by January 15th. The Pentagon would not elaborate on which units will be returning home. 

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<![CDATA[Thousands Line Up At Dallas Food Bank For Thanksgiving Meals]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:19:00 -0600
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Take a look at these pictures out of Dallas. Over the weekend more than 6,000 cars lined up to receive food ahead of Thanksgiving. 

The North Dallas Food Bank gave away more than 7,000 turkeys and over 600,000 pounds of food. 

The group said it was its largest food giveaway to date.

And a food bank called “Feeding South Florida” is asking the public for donations. It went from accepting 160 trailers of food a week to just 14. 

The program says it’s facing a so-called commodity cliff, where food distribution could be cut by 50 percent after the holidays. 

Executive Vice President Sari Vatske said: "Now we are receiving inbound food from USDA in a few streams and come December 31st, that’s going away. This has to come from a stimulus bill. There has to be additional resources, food, funds coming from USDA."

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<![CDATA[Biden Announces Key White House Team]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 15:16:00 -0600
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President-elect Joe Biden moved forward with the transition process as he announced who will be filling several key White House positions on Tuesday.

Biden has drawn from the senior ranks of his campaign and some of his closest confidants to fill out an increasingly diverse White House leadership team. This latest round includes four people of color and five women.

The president-elect's former campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon will be his deputy chief of staff. Meanwhile, Biden's campaign co-chair, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, will leave Congress to oversee public outreach in the White House. 

Also joining the Biden administration is Mike Donilon who will serve as senior advisor, Dana Remus who will serve as counsel and Julie Rodriguez who has been named director of the White House office of intergovernmental affairs. 

Biden's current traveling chief of staff, Annie Tomasini, will serve as the director of Oval Office operations and his campaign adviser, Steve Ricchetti, will play senior roles in the new administration as well.

Late last week, Biden tapped former senior campaign adviser Ron Klain to serve as his chief of staff.

The new hires represent an initial wave of what will ultimately be hundreds of new White House aides hired in the coming weeks as Biden builds out an administration to execute his governing vision. 

The Democrat will be inaugurated Jan. 20.

Additional reporting by Steve Peoples, Bill Barrow and Alexandra Jaffe of The Associated Press.

Contains footage from CNN.  

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<![CDATA[Experts: Households Only, Virtual Thanksgiving Gatherings Are Best]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 13:28:40 -0600
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First, the bad news. If you were planning to quarantine before traveling for Thanksgiving, you’ve missed that 14-day mark. The good news, doctors say there are still ways to keep holiday traditions alive from home. 

“As we approach the Thanksgiving holidays, we are all thinking about how we can get together and try to feel normal,” said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhause of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

When it comes to Thanksgiving, the experts say celebrating virtually or with your immediate household is best — bottom line.However, the CDC has put together guidelines for those who do choose to gather in-person including: hosting the gathering outdoors, avoiding potlucks, encouraging guests to bring food for themselves, avoiding shared items like condiment bottles, and requiring masks for all attendees.

Infectious disease experts say the guidelines don’t eliminate the risk.

“As you take that mask off and talk and eat or drink at the same time, there will still be risk that will occur during that period for the spray of aerosols or droplets,” said Dr. Kelly Cawcutt an Infectious Disease Physician at The University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Ultimately social-distancing this holiday is the safest measure. 

“The next best bet after a virtual gathering is to do the kind of drive by front yard gathering that we did earlier in the pandemic...You can see one another. Exchange those pleasantries. Keep it at a distance with masks on,” suggested Gonsenhaus.

For those who choose a virtual feast, online meeting platform Zoom is waiving its 40 minute limit on free accounts on Thanksgiving Day and expanding the time families can gather safely. 

“It’s not a normal Thanksgiving, it wasn’t a normal Halloween, it won’t be a normal Hannukah or Christmas and 2020 won’t be normal period,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Across the country, COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise.   Local officials in Michigan, California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, are among the list of states with newly implemented restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather indoors. 

President-elect Joe Biden is encouraging people to follow the guidelines of small gatherings and masks.  

“I just want to make sure we’re able to get together next Thanksgiving, next Christmas,” said Biden. 

Keep in mind, if you do decide to travel out of state for Thanksgiving, check the local guidelines. A number of states require visitors to quarantine upon arrival. Amber Strong, Newsy.

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<![CDATA[Boy Scouts Of America Faces Over 90,000 Sex Abuse Claims]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 06:43:00 -0600
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Nearly 90,000 sexual abuse claims have been filed against the Boy Scouts of America.

The deadline to submit a claim was Monday as the organization faces bankruptcy.

The Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year after the organization faced hundreds of lawsuits accusing scout leaders of sex abuse.

Some of these cases we're talking about are decades old.

The bankruptcy case will determine the compensation fund to pay out settlements for claims that are upheld.

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<![CDATA['They Die In The Same Way': Nurse Begs For Buy-in As COVID Surges]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 20:58:00 -0600
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The Dakotas are recording the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country. But a surge has started all over the map, and the biggest cities and states are reimposing restrictions to stop the spread.

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<![CDATA[President-elect Joe Biden May Select A Woman To Lead The Pentagon]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 19:23:00 -0600
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President-elect Joe Biden could make history by choosing a woman to lead the Pentagon. This would be in line with his pledge to define his administration with a diverse Cabinet. 

“Having a woman as secretary of defense would be important because it would show that a woman could do it and could do it successfully,” Women in Defense Executive Director Rachel McCaffrey said. 

Michèle Flournoy was a contender for the top job at the Pentagon when Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016, and her name is coming up again as Biden plans his Cabinet.

“She's very well respected and well known Pentagon. It's not the first time that she's had her name floated as somebody to be in a leadership position,” Robin Minor told Newsy. 

The 59-year-old is co-founder and managing partner of Westexec Advisors,  a Washington consulting firm that helps companies navigate government bureaucracy.

Flournoy has years of experience working with the Defense Department.

In the '90s, she served in two roles at the Pentagon — as principal deputy assistant secretary for strategy and threat reduction, and deputy assistant secretary for strategy.

During President Obama’s terms in office, Flournoy co-led the transition team at the Defense Department and also served as the undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009-2012.

“The military has been a male-dominated, male leadership, forever. And when you change that dynamic and put a woman in place, it kind of shatters barriers, but also gives other people something to aspire to. It kind of changes the narrative of: women can't be, a woman can't do, a women shouldn't or she's done it,” Minor said. 

Across the military community, many have taken to social media to express their thoughts on nominating a woman for secretary of defense. Comments vary from “about time” to “as long as she’s qualified.” 

Out of the 28 men who have held the position since 1947, a majority were veterans, raising concerns among some in the military community that she may not have the experience needed to hold the position. 

“i believe that if the Biden administration chooses Michele Flournoy, it will be because they've examined the candidates and they've decided that Michele Flournoy is not the best woman for the secretary of defense job for their administration. Michele Flournoy is the best person for the job,” Mccaffrey said. 

Janelle Mendez, CEO of the Military Sexual Trauma Movement, says having a woman in that position is instrumental for combating an issue the military has not been able to get a handle on: sexual assaults among its ranks.

“Even when we look at leadership at the highest levels in the military, it's all White males. And having homogeneous thinking at the highest levels of leadership is what keeps disenfranchising minority females and why military sexual trauma is so prevalent. So we need to have more diverse leadership," Janelle Mendez said. 

Others see her as a potential role model for younger generations.

Biden has not confirmed whether Flournoy is his top pick, and she has made no public comments. Coworkers and former colleagues describe her as a highly credentialed strategist who has dedicated her career to advancing the nation’s national security mission. Others are concerned about the influence consulting companies like hers may have on a Biden administration.

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<![CDATA[Teleworking From Another State Can Lead To Surprise Taxes]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 16:21:00 -0600
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When the pandemic broke, work-from-home orders meant you were free to work from just about anywhere. But if you were one of those who packed up your laptop and phone for another state … well, you could be in for a surprise this tax season.

"Normally you're taxed in your residence state -- where you live. But also you could be taxed wherever you're in a state where you're working," says Eileen Sherr, spokeswoman for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Sherr says currently, 15 states and D.C. don't tax temporary teleworkers from out of state because of the pandemic. But outside of those, you may have to file returns and pay taxes outside your home state. 

Different states have different tax rules for remote work. Factors include how long a worker works out of state — in some states, it could be as little as one day — how much income is earned, and where the home state is. 

SEE MORE: CDC Promotes Telework To Reduce COVID-19 Exposure

"You can also talk to your CPA and go to a tax practitioner and try to help it, see if they can help you with figuring out which states you owe in," says Sherr.

A recent AICPA and the Harris Poll found that about four in 10 Americans worked remotely because of the pandemic. About 30% said they worked in a state away from their primary residence. And of the remote workers surveyed, 71% didn't know teleworking in another state could impact their taxes. 

"You need to always make sure that where you're living and where you're working, both those states stay in sync and agree," says Sherr.

AICPA is backing federal legislation to help simplify taxes during the pandemic. 

"It would allow, again, that you would just keep your withholding the same during the pandemic as it was before the pandemic and for state purposes, and also that the employer could elect to change it to an actual place where the person's remote working," says Sherr. 

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<![CDATA[Early Data: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine 94.5% Effective]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 16:16:00 -0600
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More promising news in the COVID vaccine race. Early findings show Moderna’s experimental vaccine has worked in nearly 95 percent of patients. 

This vaccine candidate uses a new gene technology called messenger RNA. When injected, the RNA enters healthy cells where it makes coronavirus spike proteins and that prompts an immune response. Patients get two shots - an initial vaccine and a booster a few weeks later. 

These early findings show that of the 30 thousand clinical trial vaccine volunteers, only 95 people have gotten COVID symptoms so far and 90 of them had the placebo. 

"Given the rate at which we're acquiring cases, we do expect that we'll have probably 150 or 151 cases at the final analysis," said Dr. Stephen Hoge, the president of Moderna.

We’re getting these results quickly because there are more COVID cases as the coronavirus rapidly spreads in the US. It’s good for scientific research, troubling for those at risk of getting severely ill. In about a week, there have been a million new cases. ICU beds and staff to care for sick patients are running thin. 

"We're increasing the number of beds needed for COVID patients on a day to day basis," Dr. Jean Kutner, Chief Medical Officer, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital said.

“We’re seeing the hospital rates go up in the last two weeks ..number of patients in ICU has quadrupled," said Dr. Pavel Gozenput, an ER doctor in Long Island, New York.

"We're tired of seeing the fear on the faces. We're tired of seeing people who are passing away who were in their normal state of health just a few days prior," said Dr. Helen K. Koselka, TriHealth Regional Chief Medical Officer in Ohio. 

The country’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recommends people not abandon all public health measures, even after a vaccine is available.

"Even though for the general population, it might be 90 to ninety five percent effective, you don't necessarily know for you how effective it is," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. 

Researchers and regulators must wait for more complete safety data from the study. That’s expected later in November. Moderna then plans to ask the FDA for emergency vaccine approval in early December. Manufacturing, the drugmaker’s president says, will be a 24/7 operation. 

"We hope to have about 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year, by the end of the calendar year, and we're looking forward to making about 500 million to a billion doses next year," Hodge said.

There is one big hurdle-getting people to take an approved Covid vaccine. Surveys show about half of Americans aren’t sure they want to, yet. Fauci says vaccinations should begin in December, with widespread vaccination around the second quarter of 2021.

Additional footage from CNN. 

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<![CDATA[Immigration Advocates Cheer Judge's DACA Ruling]]> Sun, 15 Nov 2020 11:58:00 -0600
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A federal judge ruled Saturday that Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf assumed his position unlawfully — and couldn't end the DACA program for young immigrants as a result.

The District Judge in New York said DHS, quote, "failed to follow the order of succession as it was lawfully designated.” 

The judge added that, because Wolf was not properly in his role, any actions he took as Acting Secretary lacked "legal authority."

Wolf assumed his acting secretary position in November 2019. In July, he effectively suspended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The Obama-era policy prevents the deportation of young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

National Immigration Law Center attorney Trudy S. Rebert said, “This is a victory for our courageous plaintiffs, DACA-eligible youth across the country, and all of our communities. We remain steadfast in our commitment [that] immigrant youth remain safe and have the freedom to thrive here at home.”

Neither Wolf nor DHS have commented on the ruling. Despite Wolf's official confirmation still pending a year later — the agency has maintained he is lawfully holding the position without the Senate's approval.

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<![CDATA[Former Trump Official Criticizes President For Blocking Transition]]> Sat, 14 Nov 2020 15:11:00 -0600
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Former White House chief of staff John Kelly criticized President Trump Friday — blasting him for refusing to initiate the government transition process for president-elect Joe Biden.

Kelly said the president doesn't have to concede the election. He called on him to transfer information to Biden's camp "just in case" he loses, calling that "what is best for our people."

He told CNN: "The delay in transitioning is an increasing national security and health crisis. It costs the current administration nothing to start to brief Mr. Biden ... the downside to not doing so could be catastrophic to our people regardless of who they voted for."

President Trump has refused to concede the election. He is continuing to pedal unfounded accusations of voter fraud in several key states he lost, with Biden holding a commanding lead in the Electoral College and popular vote.

Kelly served as the president's chief of staff before his contentious departure in 2019. He told Politico, regarding the president's concession: "I know Mr. Trump better than most people do. I know that he’ll never accept defeat."

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<![CDATA[Martha McSally Concedes Defeat To Mark Kelly In Arizona Senate Race]]> Sat, 14 Nov 2020 11:42:00 -0600
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Sen. Martha McSally has officially conceded in the Arizona Senate race.

The incumbent Republican senator said in a statement Friday she has called Senator-elect Mark Kelly to congratulate him on winning. She added that she would assist her Democratic rival in the transition process before he takes the senate seat in early December.

She said: “It has been an absolute honor to fight for and serve Arizona in the U.S. Senate, especially during these unprecedented times."

“I will always be inspired by the strength, resilience, innovation, and compassion that I witnessed from Arizonans as I traveled throughout our great state. I will never forget what I learned from all of you.”

McSally was appointed to the Senate seat in 2019 — which was left vacant following the death of Sen. John McCain.

She was given the seat after campaigning to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake in 2018, but lost to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

McSally waited for nearly a week to concede after media outlets called the race in Kelly's favor, as President Trump has also refused to admit defeat to Democratic rival Joe Biden.

McSally made no announcement about her future career plans. Kelly will serve the remainder of the late-McCain's term — which ends in 2022.

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<![CDATA[President-elect Biden Names Transgender Veteran To DOD Transition Team]]> Fri, 13 Nov 2020 18:00:00 -0600
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President-elect Joe Biden has appointed veteran Shawn Skelly as a member of the Department of Defense transition team in what appears to be part of his administration’s push to reverse President Trump’s transgender military ban.

Skelly, vice president of Out in National Security, served as a flight officer for two decades in the Navy and was the first transgender presidential appointee under the Obama administration in 2013.

“One thing we're really looking forward to with Joe back, after Joe Biden's inauguration, would be the reversal of the ban against transgender people serving and joining the military. So that that is going to be one almost immediate change or effect of the new administration. That's going to really, you know, change dramatically for our community, and we're really looking forward to that,” Modern Military Association of America Legal and Policy Director Peter Perkowski said. 

In 2017, President Trump announced the U.S. government “will not accept or allow … transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” 

The latest guidance from the Pentagon says that new applicants or current military members who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria after April 2019 "will be subject to the standard, requirement, or policy associated with their biological sex."

Meaning if someone identifies as male but was assigned female at birth, they will be held to all standards for women, not men.

The current policies make it difficult for transgender people to enlist or serve. current members and applicants can apply for a waiver to serve as their "preferred gender," but those waivers are rare.

“To be frank, our relationship with the DOJ over the past four years has not been a strong one. Our advocacy and policy efforts have focused mostly on Congress over the past four years. So simply getting ... new people in the Pentagon who do have our interests at heart will be an improvement,” Perkowski said.

Peter Perkowski is a part of the Modern Military Association of America, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ military members and their families and military members living with HIV.

“I think that we're more likely to have access and be listened to in a new administration, a Joe Biden administration, just because Joe Biden has made clear that that diversity and inclusion, including in the military, are important issues that need to be addressed,” Perkowski said.

Biden has promised to undo what he calls "the Trump administration’s discriminatory policies and redouble efforts with state officials to ensure that LGBTQ military spouses have the support they need to pursue successful careers."

“I can't speak as if our community is a monolith. I believe that the vast majority of members of the LGBTQ community will be very excited to see a Joe Biden presidency.”

So far, we have seen numerous tweets congratulating Skelly for her appointment, but we've yet to hear from her in response to her new role.

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<![CDATA[Suspects In Ahmaud Arbery Murder Case Denied Bond]]> Fri, 13 Nov 2020 16:13:00 -0600
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A judge has denied bond for the father and son charged in the killing of  Ahmaud Arbery.

The two-day hearing just wrapped up.

Gregory and Travis McMichael have been in custody since May after being caught on camera fatally shooting Arbery in February.

Prosecutors argued the McMichaels should be denied bond and read racist text messages from Travis McMichael, the man who shot and killed Arbery.

They also argued Gregory McMichael tried to obstruct justice and shared a voicemail he left the district attorney saying "I need some advice".

The defense reiterated its argument that the McMichaels were acting in self-defense and that bond should be granted because they're not flight risks.

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<![CDATA[Residents Of New York COVID Hot Spot React To Severe Restrictions]]> Fri, 13 Nov 2020 15:21:57 -0600
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<![CDATA[Small Gatherings Are Driving The Coronavirus' Spread]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2020 19:52:00 -0600
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Sixty-five thousand Americans are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus.

That number breaks the record set just one day earlier.

And public health experts say outbreak clusters aren't linked to nursing homes and crowded spaces like we saw before. 

Instead, they're surfacing after casual occasions that may seem innocent,  like dinner parties, sleepovers and carpools. 

"People who are asymptomatic can spread the virus. So if you go to a gathering like that you see that unfortunately more than a few times that people come back they end up being positive. When we ask them their history, they were at some sort of social gathering."

And be careful how you ring in the holidays.

The CDC recommends you don't celebrate with anyone outside of your home this year. 

But if you must, health experts say wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, wash your hands and use single-serve options whenever possible.

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<![CDATA[Appeals Court Rules In Harvard's Favor In Racial Bias Lawsuit]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2020 17:27:00 -0600
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A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Harvard is not violating civil rights laws and does not discriminate against Asian Americans in its admissions process. 

"It's one small measure in policy that allows for the diversity of our human experiences and our human dignity to be acknowledged," says OiYan Poon, associate professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and Colorado State University. 

The university's limited consideration of race in its admissions practice sparked a long legal battle between Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions, a group that alleges Asian Americans were being penalized for their race and unfairly rejected at higher rates. 

Edward Blum, the president of the organization, has been trying to overturn affirmative action in the college admissions process for years. While disappointed in the court's recent decision, Blum wrote in a statement: "Our hope is not lost. … This lawsuit is now on track to go up to the U.S. Supreme Court." And Blum has been there before -- he lost a 2013 affirmative action case against the University of Texas.

"They keep asserting that they think race is the only factor used in decisions and admissions, that that is absolutely not the case," says Poon, who researches affirmative action and college access policies.

Students for Fair Admissions is also taking legal action against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Texas at Austin over their admissions offices' consideration of race. 

While the spotlight is on affirmative action, it's worth highlighting that "legacy" applicants have an acceptance rate of 33% compared to Harvard's overall acceptance of under 6%. Critics say this practice gives preference to wealthy White students. 

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<![CDATA[Father, Son Accused Of Killing Ahmaud Arbery Seek Bond]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2020 16:48:00 -0600
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A father and son accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery are in court today asking for a judge to consider their bond requests.

Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael are also asking the judge to dismiss  two of the counts against them, including malice murder.

The two have been in custody since May.

Arbery — who was Black — was killed in February as he went for a jog in Georgia.

A third man has also been charged in the killing.

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<![CDATA[Appeals Court: Harvard Doesn't Discriminate Against Asian Applicants]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2020 15:00:00 -0600
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A federal court has upheld a ruling that clears Harvard of discrimination against Asian Americans. 

Two judges rejected an anti-affirmative action group's claims the Ivy League university penalizes Asian American applicants. 

It brings the case closer to being reviewed by the Supreme Court. The high court has ruled in a series of decisions that colleges can consider race as a limited factor to promote campus diversity.

Harvard denies any discrimination and says it only considers applicants' race in the way approved by the Supreme Court. 

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<![CDATA[Jeffrey Toobin Fired By The New Yorker]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2020 08:46:29 -0600
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The New Yorker Magazine has fired writer Jeffrey Toobin. He was suspended last month after he exposed himself on a staff video call.

A representative from the magazine's owner said an investigation into his behavior was complete, but it didn't detail what it found.

Toobin is also employed by CNN. The network has not said if his employment status has changed.

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<![CDATA[Insurance Industry Could Lose $8B In Wildfires]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2020 08:03:00 -0600
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We've seen the devastation caused by the wildfires in states like California, Colorado and Oregon.

But now we're getting an idea of how much recovery could cost.

According to a report by the insurance broker, Aon, the insurance industry could lose around $8 billion  because of wildfires. And economic losses could be more than $13 billion.

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<![CDATA[UPS Ends Ban On Natural Hairstyles, Beards]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2020 20:31:00 -0600
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UPS announced Wednesday it's ending its ban on Black employees wearing natural hairstyles such as afros, locs or braids, as well as its strict limits on beards and other facial hair.  

The company is also dropping its gender-specific standards, which applied to uniforms among other things.

For the most part, UPS' old appearance guidelines affected delivery drivers and other public-facing employees, but not behind-the-scenes workers like package sorters. The company said the new move is a way to "celebrate diversity rather than corporate restrictions." 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company's first woman CEO said the policies are being updated following feedback from employees. She also recently announced that UPS is training employees on unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion "to ensure our actions match our values."

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<![CDATA[President Makes First Official Appearance Since Election Was Called]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2020 19:43:00 -0600
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President Trump made his first public appearance since Thursday, other than personal outings this weekend.

He visited Arlington National Cemetery this morning, along with first lady Melania Trump.

They participated in a Veterans Day observance.

The president was last seen golfing in Virginia this weekend.

He made his last public address Thursday in the White House briefing room, where he repeated baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

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<![CDATA[Can A Shakeup At The Pentagon Negatively Impact National Security?]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2020 17:00:00 -0600
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On Monday, President Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Now, three key Pentagon officials with years of experience have handed in their resignations, raising concerns from critics that national security could be in jeopardy. 

“The president ... has left the Pentagon without the institutional knowledge and the ability that it should have in this in any situation. So there is that threat of, is the Pentagon going to be able to function, given the number of people who have been removed and the lack of experience that is currently in key positions? It's a concern,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith told Newsy. 

The three defense leaders submitted their resignations one day after President Trump tweeted that Esper had been “terminated” and Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, would be his replacement “effective immediately.”

James Anderson, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, submitted his resignation Tuesday morning. Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security, submitted one as well, although his separation had been in the works for months. And Jen Stewart, chief of staff to the defense secretary, submitted her resignation.

They were replaced with people described as loyal to the president, including Anthony Tata, the new acting undersecretary of defense for policy, who has been linked to sharing conspiracy theories in tweets in 2018. In August, Tata had his nomination for a Pentagon position withdrawn due to bipartisan opposition. 

“Whether you're talking about what Iran is up to, terrorist threats from overseas, there's a lot of things the Pentagon does to try to make sure that they protect us. Looking after the nuclear stockpile, a whole bunch of responsibilities, and the secretary of defense is very important,” Smith said.

Smith says the transition from the Obama administration was a lot smoother than what’s happening right now.

“A transition team from the incoming Trump administration was led into the building, was given classified information and met with all of the key agencies and said, OK, what's going on? How do we make the transition that was happening by this point? None of it is happening now. The president is refusing to allow ... Joe Biden's transition team to get that type of information,” Smith said.  

Even with these concerns, Smith says the new acting defense secretary has “a decent background,” just not as much experience as those who have held the position in the past. 

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<![CDATA[How Will The Biden Administration Shape America's Workforce?]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2020 15:51:00 -0600
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How will the new administration impact working Americans? We spoke with labor professors to get a sense of how the U.S. workforce could change under President-elect Joe Biden. 

Robert Bruno, director of the labor education program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says,"the American labor movement was the essential institution to the development of a middle class economy. And so Biden comes from that time frame. He comes from that era. You'll see a President Biden make a stronger commitment … more so than any president that we've seen in decades." 

During his campaign, Biden told the Pennsylvania union workers: "I’m going to be the strongest labor president we’ve ever had."  

Biden was born in a coal town in Pennsylvania and grew up middle class. He has a long history of supporting unions and blue-collar workers.  And he’s gotten some big endorsements from them, like the AFL-CIO, and they’ve helped raise millions of dollars in political donations for him. But—what Biden can accomplish as president could be limited if Republicans retain the majority in the Senate after the runoff elections in Georgia. Still—Labor leaders are seeing this as a union revival. 

"He has always been very closely tied with labor," says Kate Bronfenbrenner, Director of Labor Education Research at Cornell University. "He has many friends in labor and he already has labor people on his transition team and has made a much stronger commitment to labor than any of the previous Democratic candidates that we've seen."

Biden wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. Currently at $7.25, it hasn't been increased since 2009. Biden also wants to get rid of tipped wages, which pay workers less than minimum wage. 

"You can't just do that by executive order and he's going to have a fight on his hands for that," says Bronfenbrenner.

SEE MORE: Heavy Casualties For Filipino Nurses In COVID Fight

Another fight for Biden is passing legislation to strengthen workers' right to organize and collectively bargain.

"Issues impacting the collective bargaining rights of workers are going to be a high priority and aren't going to be pushed back into the second half of his term," says Bruno.

Many labor advocates say OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has been too lenient on companies, particularly in enforcing COVID safety protocols. Biden plans to enact federal guidelines to protect employees from COVID-19, add stricter penalties for violations and double the number of OSHA investigators.

"By Biden, telling the agency to do its job, it would be a step forward," says Bronfenbrenner.

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<![CDATA[Chaotic Transition Leaves Pres.-Elect Biden Without Intel Briefings]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2020 11:24:10 -0600
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National security experts say that in 2000, a delayed transition for George W. Bush affected the 9/11 response.  

"If you look back at the 9/11 Commission report, one of the criticisms they found was that the Bush administration was not well-prepared and they blamed a shortened transition for that," says Larry Pfeiffer, the CIA's former chief of staff, now a director at the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security.

These same people now say President-elect Joe Biden could be playing catch up the day he becomes president on January 20th. Because President Trump is denying him intelligence in the transition.

"There's no logical reason to be doing this," former daily CIA briefer David Priess says.

It’s a tradition and courtesy the president is upending, as he refuses to concede the election.

"Access to classified information is useful but I’m not in a position to make any decisions on these issues anyway... It would be nice to have it but it’s not critical," Biden told reporters.

But every day that goes by matters.

"Every delay decreases the amount of time they have to deal with everything that's going on in the world," Pfeiffer says.

"I would become overly worried if we get to Thanksgiving or after and without any logical path to victory, Trump and the administration continue to deny an avenue into things like intelligence and the president's daily brief," says Priess, author of “The President's Book of Secrets.”

A spokesperson with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence tells Newsy they won’t contact the transition team until notified by the General Services Administration, an agency led by a Trump political appointee. The country’s top diplomat had his own response:

"There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration. We're ready," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A member of the Trump administration who resigned in April says the task ahead for the president-elect is daunting.

"There's going to just be a backlog of policy decisions that should have been addressed in the last few years that didn't get addressed. And I think, sadly, that the administration is probably going to be a little surprised at the workload that they have to deal with in the next few years," says Elizabeth Neumann, former assistant secretary for counterterrorism & threat prevention at the Department of Homeland Security.

Security experts are also asking whether President Trump is a security risk amid the transition. 

"Clearly, we haven't had anybody with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt walking, walking freely with the classified information in their head that this president has and the president who may leave office with a grudge against the government," Pfeiffer says.

They say Biden’s national security officials may need to consider the possibility that a foreign leader could offer to alleviate the president’s debt. But first, there’s about 70 days remaining, when President Trump can declassify any secrets.

"What's more dangerous, clearly the situation now is, because the president of the United States can get any information he wants from the U.S. government at any moment. All he has to do is request it and it will be provided to him. That's different January 20th and onward, because then he has to rely on what he remembers," says Priess.

The White House didn’t respond to Newsy’s request for comment on the transition. But calls for intelligence-sharing have become bipartisan

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<![CDATA[Veterans Get Free Lifetime Access To National Parks]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2020 07:35:00 -0600
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U.S. military veterans and Gold Star families now have free lifetime access to all national parks and lands.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will grant veterans and Gold Star families free year-round access to all national parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior.  

And in honor of Veterans Day, everyone can access any national park or forest for free.

"I’m super excited that the Parks Service is able to offer this," said Army veteran Chelsey Darrow. "It’s going to get a lot of veterans out seeing some of the amazing places we have."

To get the free pass, veterans must provide some form of identification showing they were enlisted in the Armed Forces or the U.S. National Guard and reserves. 

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<![CDATA[Eta Could Hit Florida Again]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2020 07:13:00 -0600
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Florida could get hit by Tropical Storm Eta for a second time.

Eta is expected to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday on Florida's west coast.

Forecasters say it could strengthen into a hurricane as it approaches and then weaken before landfall.

Meanwhile, no watches or warnings are in place for a different storm, Tropical Storm Theta. It formed in the Atlantic Monday night. It's the 29th storm of this historic hurricane season.

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<![CDATA[Indianapolis Officer Not Indicted In Dreasjon Reed's Death]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 20:39:00 -0600
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A grand jury decided to not indict the Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer who fatally shot Dreasjon Reed in May. A special prosecutor appointed to the case in June made the announcement on Tuesday.

"I don't know how Mr. Reed's mother feels, but I am a mother of two black boys," Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury said. "I'm also very empathetic toward Officer Mercer. I know that had to be a difficult position to be in. Like I said, no one wins."

The shooting was not recorded by any police camera because the department only began using them in August. However, Reed did livestream an earlier car chase and part of the foot chase on Facebook though the officer cannot be seen.

The Black police officer, Dejoure Mercer, was chasing Reed, a 21-year-old Black man, and tried to use a stun gun on Reed twice. Then, Mercer said Reed shot at him twice.

Attorneys for Reed’s family say he did not fire at Mercer before the officer shot him. The family does not trust the police department and believe it is trying to conceal information. 

Reed’s mother filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit in June against the city of Indianapolis, its police department and four officers, including Mercer. A federal judge later removed the city of Indianapolis as a defendant in that lawsuit, saying city agencies are protected from certain lawsuits.

The lawsuit alleges that the police department failed to adequately train, screen and supervise officers, including Mercer, to prevent them from engaging in excessive or deadly force. 

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<![CDATA[Defense Spending Under Pres.-Elect Biden: What Will It Look Like?]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 17:35:00 -0600
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President-elect Joe Biden's defense policy is expected to be defined mostly by four issues: COVID-19 — at least initially — as well as China, Russia and technology.

"It's really going to be how do we maintain our ability to stay ahead of the adversaries or potential adversaries with respect to technology innovation, fielding capability of the warfighters and prevent strategic surprise from something that potential adversaries have developed," retired Gen. Herbert Carlisle said. 

The Department of Defense allocates money in three different buckets: manpower, readiness and future modernization.

"The costs of maintaining a very high-tech and excellent all-volunteer military continue to grow, usually faster than inflation. And of course, Russia and China had become much more challenging over the last half dozen years or so ... and those threats haven't changed because of COVID or the election of Joe Biden or the riots of last spring and summer or anything else, those threats are still there," senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution Michael O'Hanlon said.

Biden has stated he does not see major reductions in the defense budget, especially as the military's focus turns to China and Russia. He also has said the Pentagon needs to prioritize investing in emerging technologies.

"We're going to have to do that without pretending that the world has somehow gotten safe and that we can afford to lower our guard," O'Hanlon said.

But some analyst believe defense spending may be under severe pressure for the next couple years following four years of increased spending under Trump. 

"At best, they were looking at a flat-top line. And at worst, because of the pandemic and the economic dislocation and the social unrest, there is talk about a large decrease, you know, perhaps 10 or 15 percent, from the defense budget," retired Army Major General John Ferrari said.

The president-elect also "backs a small footprint for U.S. troops in the Middle East," stating these "forever wars have to end."

"In many ways we resemble a yo-yo approach to the Middle East. We go in, we come out, we go in and come out. ... The Middle East is a very difficult situation, and it can't boil down to are you in or are you out?" Ferrari said.

President Trump's recent decision to draw down the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 in each country could present a challenge for President-elect Biden.

"Can we protect the bases where our people live well enough that the Taliban don't feel like they have an opportunity to try to override some of them? That would be a true tragedy if that were the case," O'Hanlon said.

Biden will have the power to reverse the drawdown decision once in office.

"He doesn't have to build them up a lot. I think the number we're at now, of around 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, is more or less the right number," O'Hanlon said.

At the end of the day, the Defense Department's main mission is to protect the U.S. from hostile countries like North Korea or Iran. But in the age of COVID, it could also entail responding to congressional challenges regarding defense spending.

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<![CDATA[FDA Grants Emergency Authorization To Eli Lilly's COVID Treatment]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 16:43:00 -0600
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Bamlanivimab the first FDA emergency-approved drug for mild to moderate COVID-19 patients, is meant to stop this from happening. 

The drug imitates the immune system’s response to the virus. Antibodies are made in a lab and given to COVID patients via IV early in the illness. It takes an hour to administer it, and another hour for health workers to monitor a patient for side effects. 

The FDA authorized Bamlanivimab for coronavirus patients who are at high risk of severe disease or hospitalization. Factors like being older than 65, diabetes, obesity, a suppressed immune system, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure all make someone eligible to receive the drug.

But now comes the daunting task of making the drug — and getting it to people who need it. 

"People often think finding a drug is the most important thing. It's super important. Developing it is super important, but manufacturing and distributing it is equally important," Dr. Jeremy Levin, chairman of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, said.

Right now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has 80,000 doses to give out by week’s end. Its contract with Eli Lilly includes 300,000 more doses by December. But in the past week, the U.S. has seen over 700,000 new COVID cases. 

Even though the drug is meant to keep COVID patients out of the hospital, HHS says at first, only hospitals will have it. In the coming weeks, outpatient sites like IV infusion centers will, too.

"One of the concerns about infusion centers, the way they're set up now is they often have cancer patients or patients who are immunosuppressed. And the last thing you want to do is have people with active COVID infection around people who are immunosuppressed," said Dr. Manu Jain, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Medicine.

Federal officials will look at two things each week to decide where additional doses go: state and local confirmed hospitalizations over the prior seven days, and total confirmed cases. Doses will be distributed each Wednesday, similar to what is done now with the COVID treatment remdesivir.

HHS says no one will be charged for the drug itself. But Medicare patients without supplemental coverage and individuals with private insurance could be charged for services associated with getting Bamlanivimab,

Lindsey Theis, Newsy, Denver.

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<![CDATA[Supreme Court Seems Favorable To Keeping Parts Of Obamacare]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 13:28:32 -0600
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The Supreme Court once again heard challenges that could affect the fate of the Affordable Care Act and the health care coverage of an estimated 20 million people. On Tuesday, many of the justices seemed ready to keep the law in place, in some form. 

Outside of the courthouse, protesters gathered to make their opinions known. Meanwhile, over the phone, the justices grappled for nearly two hours with the question of whether a lower court’s ruling that Obamacare’s individual mandate — which requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty — was unconstitutional since Congress zeroed out the tax penalty in 2017.  

The justices seemed more concerned about severability: the notion that if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional, the rest of the law may fall along with it. Meaning: Can we get rid of one part of the law but keep popular portions, like protections for people with pre-existing conditions? 

During oral arguments, many of the justices, including Republican appointees, seemed fixed on the notion that the individual mandate is, indeed, severable from the rest of the law. 

“On the severance question, I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended for the entire act to fall if the mandate were struck down, when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero, did not even try to repeal the rest of the act. I think frankly that they wanted the court to do that, but that’s not our job,” said Chief Justice John Roberts. 

Perhaps, one of the most telling points came from Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

“I tend to agree with you that with the argument that this is severability under our precedents, meaning that we would excise the mandate and leave the rest of the act in place,” said Kavanaugh. 

The Trump administration originally backed Republican state attorneys general's push to get rid of the entire law, but changed its mind during an appeal, saying “the declaratory judgment should only reach ACA provisions that injure the plaintiffs.”

A ruling should come down in late spring or early summer. Amber Strong, Newsy, Northern Virginia. 

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<![CDATA[Football Celebration Forces COVID Testing for Notre Dame Students]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 13:05:00 -0600
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The University of Notre Dame is mandating COVID testing for students after fans stormed the football field Saturday when the team beat Clemson. 

The university's president said all students must receive a test before they leave for an extended winter break. 

If students don't complete the test or leave before getting their results, they'll be prevented from registering for classes. 

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<![CDATA[Health Experts Advise Caution This Thanksgiving]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 12:18:00 -0600
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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and for anyone wondering if it's safe to gather with friends and family amid the pandemic, there may be some good news. Emphasis on "some."

By and large, health experts say it's best to stay home this year, especially with coronavirus cases surging nationwide.

Updated safety guidelines published by the CDC on Monday note that small gatherings are "an important contributor" to the spike in infection rates. The agency recommends that older adults and others at heightened risk of severe illness avoid being around people outside their households.

That said, if it is necessary to travel for the holiday, experts suggest gathering outdoors. They also advise planning ahead to reduce the risks associated with the virus. This includes quarantining for two weeks — starting Thursday — and getting tested for the disease with enough time to receive the results.

A recent survey by the travel site Tripadvisor found that around 56% of people in the U.S. are planning to travel for Thanksgiving.

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<![CDATA[Vatican Report Blames Pope John Paul II, Others For McCarrick's Rise]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 09:34:00 -0600
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A new report found that Pope John Paul II promoted a former bishop despite knowing about sexual abuse allegations against him.

The Vatican said the former pope knew about the rumors regarding Theodore McCarrick's misconduct.

But McCarrick denied the allegations and the pope chose to promote him as Washington's archbishop anyway.

McCarrick was defrocked last year after a church trial found him guilty of sexually abusing minors.

The Vatican also said several U.S. bishops were not honest about what they knew regarding McCarrick.

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<![CDATA[The Affordable Care Act, Once Again, Has Its Day In Court]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 09:09:59 -0600
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The Supreme Court is once again set to decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act. Known as Obamacare, the law supplied health insurance for an estimated 20 million people. The ACA has been in place for a decade now. 

In 2017, the individual mandate portion of the law that required most Americans to obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty was zeroed out by Congress. In 2018, Republican attorneys general argued that with the mandate gone the entire law was unconstitutional. A federal court of appeals found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional but failed to rule on the law in its entirety. 

Now in Texas v. California, the justices must decide if the individual mandate is unconstitutional and if so, is that part severable from the rest of the law, including popular portions, like protections for people with preexisting conditions. Meaning, can we get rid of one part but keep the rest?

All eyes will be on Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett, the newest associate justice, brings the high court to a 6-3 conservative majority. Here’s what she said during her confirmation hearing about severability. 

“If you picture severability being like a Jenga game, it’s sort of, if you pull one out, can you pull one out while it all stands? Or if you pull two out will it still stand?” stated Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.  

Now, each side, California backed by the US House of Representatives and Texas backed by the US Federal government, will have 40 minutes to present their case. We will keep you updated as to what is said inside the courtroom later today. 

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<![CDATA[Eta Churning In Gulf Of Mexico]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2020 08:17:00 -0600
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Tropical Storm Eta was squatting off western Cuba on Tuesday after drifting away from South Florida, where it unleashed a deluge that flooded entire neighborhoods and filled some homes with rising water.

The 28th named storm of a record hurricane season was the first this year to make landfall in Florida. 

After striking Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane and killing more than 100 people from Mexico to Panama, Eta delivered torrential rains to Cuba and South Florida before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. With no powerful steering winds to guide its way, the storm drifted west again in an unusual reverse S-curve pattern.

By Tuesday morning, it was lingering just north of the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico, with top winds of 50 mph. Forecasters said it would remain nearly stationary through the day before moving north later in the week, but they had little confidence on where it might land again.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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<![CDATA[President Trump Fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper Via Twitter]]> Mon, 09 Nov 2020 17:00:00 -0600
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President Trump has fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper after a relationship that became more and more troubled, and named Christopher Miller, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the acting secretary "effective immediately."

Secretary Esper’s firing was announced on Twitter two days after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were projected the winners of the 2020 election. Trump’s tweet simply said Esper had been “terminated.”

Esper had publicly pushed back in June on using active-duty troops to quell widespread demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. The president had threatened to use the Insurrection Act, which would have cleared the way to use the military.

 

Esper’s comments came after the National Guard had been used to intimidate protesters near the White House, making it possible for President Trump to stage a photo shoot at St. John’s Church across Lafayette Square.  

The defense secretary said military forces should only be used to assist law enforcement as a last resort.

In August, the president stated, "I consider firing everybody. at some point, that's what happens," when asked if he was considering getting rid of Esper, whom he had nicknamed “Mr. Yesper.” 

There were reports last week that Esper had prepared a resignation letter but Pentagon official Jonathan Hoffman and another source told Newsy Esper had not written a resignation letter nor had any plans to step down at the time.

Historically President Trump has fired people he feels are not loyal. However he has not specifically stated why he fired his second Secretary of Defense. Newsy asked the Pentagon for comment on the firing but was told to reach out to the White House.

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<![CDATA[Twitter Suspends MAGA Rally Group, QAnon-Linked Founder]]> Mon, 09 Nov 2020 16:53:23 -0600
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Twitter has suspended multiple accounts associated with MAGA Drag the Interstate, a group of self-described "patriots" that organized nationwide rolling rallies leading up to the election.

The group disavows bigotry and violence on its website. A Newsy investigation in October found that the group's co-founder, Keith Lee, had deputized himself as a "digital warrior" for the QAnon conspiracy theory and used the hashtag "qarmy". 

Lee also promoted the pre-election rallies with militant language in online forums, including one online show that uses the tagline, "The Battle Has Begun." 

"We're to the point now. We're on that precipice," said Lee in an appearance on the show to talk about MAGA Drag the Interstate. "This is our last attempt to unite the country peacefully, because we're tired of it. We are tired of the Marxist stuff that’s embedded in our government, and I agree totally with what Rampage is saying."  

Experts in extremism expressed heightened concern about what that could mean during the post-election period, which is now upon us. 

"Look, QAnon has been declared by the FBI as contributing to domestic terrorism," said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. "If we have weeks of contest over different voting places, lawsuits and whatnot, these groups are going to be in the streets. They're going to think that the election is being stolen from them."

This summer, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter started banning content and suspending accounts associated with QAnon.

MAGA Drag's website complained about "Big Tech censorship" before the nationwide rally. Now, Lee's Twitter account shows it has been suspended for violating Twitter's rules. 

Twitter also suspended an account linked to Lee's podcast, along with MAGA Drag the Interstate's main Twitter account. Accounts for some regional offshoots of the group remained active.

Twitter did not say which rule the suspended accounts violated but pointed Newsy to a prior thread initially posted by the social media firm in July. 

It said: "We will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. In line with this approach ... we are taking further action on so-called 'QAnon' activity across the service."

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<![CDATA[Pfizer: COVID Vaccine 90 Percent Effective]]> Mon, 09 Nov 2020 16:21:00 -0600
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Early data from drugmaker Pfizer’s late stage COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial shows it worked in about 90% of patients. That’s much higher than the 60 to 70% health experts had predicted.

 

"Ninety percent is a game-changer. Now we're hoping to have a tool in your war against this pandemic that would be significantly effective," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. 

The shot works by using messenger RNA — a new technology that uses a coronavirus protein to trigger an immune response. Pfizer’s vaccine is administered via an initial shot and then a booster three weeks later. So far, over 43,000 volunteers, some as young as 12 years old, have gotten either the vaccine or placebo. Pfizer says the first 94 coronavirus infections among the group were mostly in people who had been given a dummy shot.

FDA rules say companies can’t file for an emergency use authorization to distribute the vaccine until half of the patients in their study have been observed for any safety issues for at least two months following their second dose.

 Pfizer expects that will come by the third week of November. Its CEO says so far, the vaccine has shown no safety problems and manufacturing is underway. They plan to make up to 50 million doses globally this year, promising the vaccine will be available for free to American citizens.

But vaccine researchers and public health experts say a vaccine approval doesn’t save us immediately from COVID. Many Americans aren’t sure if they’d get an approved vaccine. And distribution of any vaccine would be rationed at first.

Contains footage from CNN.

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<![CDATA[U.S. Reports New Sunday Record Of Nearly 106,000 New COVID-19 Cases]]> Mon, 09 Nov 2020 11:39:00 -0600
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The U.S. is reporting nearly 106,000 new cases yesterday and more than 450 deaths.

That is the most new cases reported on a Sunday on record. The U.S. now has more than 9.9 million cases and 237,000 deaths.

Worldwide there have been more than 50 million cases of COVID-19 and 1.2 million deaths reported.

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<![CDATA[Virgin Hyperloop Conducts First Test With Passengers]]> Mon, 09 Nov 2020 09:36:00 -0600
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Do you ever wish you could get somewhere faster? Well you're going to want to hear this. 

The Virgin Hyperloop hit an important milestone Sunday, carrying its first two passengers at its Nevada test site.

The Hyperloop is an experimental transportation system that uses magnets in a vacuum tube.

The vehicle accelerated in the airless, 500-meter-long tube to 100 miles an hour before coming to a stop.

Companies like Virgin envision the Hyperloop tubes connecting cities, allowing travelers to reach their destinations at a projected 600 miles an hour.

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<![CDATA[Former President George W. Bush Congratulates Biden On Victory]]> Sun, 08 Nov 2020 15:30:00 -0600
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George W. Bush — the only living, former Republican President — has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his election win.

In a statement, Bush also praised Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for her historic win — becoming the first woman, first Black person and first South Asian to be selected vice president.

"The challenges that face our country will demand the best of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris – and the best of us all," the president said. "We must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future. "

"We urge all Americans to join us in wishing our next President and Vice President well."

Bush has said he did not vote for President Trump in 2016 and the Bush family has clashed with him over the years.

On Sunday though, Bush congratulated President Trump for his "hard-fought campaign" and called the high voter turnout a "positive sign of the health of our democracy."

President Bush added the election was "fundamentally fair" and "its outcome is clear" but supported President Trump's campaign pursuing recounts if they felt it was necessary.

President Trump has yet to concede the election — making a number of unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud in key states like Pennsylvania and Georgia.

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<![CDATA[Alex Trebek Dead At 80 After Battle With Pancreatic Cancer]]> Sun, 08 Nov 2020 14:35:00 -0600
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Longtime "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek has died. He was 80 years old. 

Trebek died Sunday from complications of pancreatic cancer. Back in March 2019, he announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Despite the grim prognosis, Trebek pledged to continue hosting "Jeopardy!" throughout the remainder of his contract.

In September 2019, Trebek announced he was undergoing chemotherapy. That same October, he said he knew he was nearing the end of his life, but would continue hosting the show as long as his skills didn't diminish.

The Canadian native has hosted the popular quiz show since its revival in 1984. Over the course of his "Jeopardy!" tenure, he hosted a staggering 8,173 episodes – even with the challenges of filming during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In 2014, he earned a Guinness World Record for "most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter." Trebek has won numerous awards, including five Daytime Emmys, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Peabody. He was also inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and was named an officer of the Order of Canada – the highest honor a civilian can earn in the country.

Ken Jennings, considered the game's greatest player with 74 straight wins, tweeted:

"Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him."

Trebek is survived by his wife and two children.

Contains footage from CNN.

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<![CDATA[Biden Reportedly Plans To Undo Several Trump Administration Policies]]> Sun, 08 Nov 2020 11:57:00 -0600
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President-elect Joe Biden is planning a slew of executive orders when he takes office in January — reversing several Trump administration policies.

According to The Washington Post, Biden has committed in the past months to rejoining the Paris climate accords and reversing the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

He also plans on reinstating the "Dreamers" program for people bought to the U.S. illegally as children, and end a travel ban on 13 Muslim-majority and African nations.

Biden isn't waiting for the White House keys before tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The president-elect is reportedly planning on setting up a task force that could meet within the next few days.

To reach his agenda, Biden will likely have to use executive orders to circumvent Congress. While Democrats are projected to hold a narrow majority in the House, the Senate still leans Republican.

Right now, the tally count on the next Senate is 48 Republicans and 48 Democrats after Tuesday's election. Two seats in Georgia are headed to runoffs on Jan. 5. And seats in North Carolina and Alaska are still too close to call.

If Democrats manage to equal it up in the Senate, ties would be broken by Kamala Harris as vice president.

If not...look for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to wield his power to put a check on Joe Biden and the Democrats.

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<![CDATA[President-Elect Joe Biden Addresses Nation]]> Sat, 07 Nov 2020 19:25:37 -0600
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Speaking before a crowd of hundreds of supporters gathered in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, Joe Biden delivered his victory speech as the 46th president of the United States.

"I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify. Who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States," President-elect Joe Biden said.

Reflecting on promises made during his campaign, Biden said his presidency will tackle issues that have plagued the country in recent months, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic.   

"We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life's most precious moments," Biden said, "until we get it under control."

However, at the heart of his speech was a request for all Americans to join him in restoring national unity.

"It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again," Biden said.

A message that was echoed by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

"Joe is a healer. A uniter. A tested and steady hand. A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us as a nation reclaim our own sense of purpose," Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said.

Biden's speech came after an eventful day which saw celebrations erupt in cities across the U.S. Supporters took to the streets in Wilmington; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago.

"This is the type of person he is. He doesn't see race, color, creed, economic status, any of that. And that is what we need in this country," Carol Reilly, a Biden campaign supporter, said.

"He's a good man. He's a family man, he loves everybody," Faith Green, another Biden campaign supporter, said.

Congratulations from around the world have been pouring in from the leaders of foreign countries, including Argentina, Ireland and Italy. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the alliance between his country and the U.S., saying he's looking forward to working together. 

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama posted a statement saying, "We are fortunate that Joe has what it takes to be president and already behaves that way."

Hillary Clinton, who faced President Donald Trump in 2016, hailed "a new page for America" and a "history-making ticket."

Messages applauding the president-elect have also come in from across the aisle, with the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee, Sen. Mitt Romney, congratulating Biden and Harris on Twitter, saying both are "people of good will and admirable character."

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois posted a similar message, writing, "Our nation deserves two competing parties who can work together when possible, and compete honorably when not."

"Let us be the nation we know we can be. A nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed," Biden said.

So far President Trump is refusing to concede and has promised to bring a legal challenge over the election to the Supreme Court, arguing unsubstantiated claims that fraud has occurred in the vote-counting process. As for what's next, Dec. 8 marks the deadline for resolving election disputes at the state level. Biden has asked that the country have patience as final ballots are tallied and legal disputes are addressed. 

Reporter Alex Arger contributed to this story. 

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<![CDATA[Jacob Blake Pleads Guilty In Abuse Case Unrelated To Police Shooting]]> Sat, 07 Nov 2020 13:57:00 -0600
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Jacob Blake, the man shot by Kenosha police which sparked widespread protests, has reached a plea deal stemming from an unrelated domestic assault incident.

Blake made his court appearance via video call from a rehabilitation center where he's being treated for paralysis resulting from August shooting. He plead guilty to lesser charges of disorderly conduct and domestic abuse while a third-degree sexual assault charge was thrown out by prosecutors.

He had been accused of illegally entering a home in May and sexually assaulting a woman. The judge withheld sentencing and instead placed him under two years of probation.

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<![CDATA[U.S. Continues Breaking COVID-19 Case Records]]> Fri, 06 Nov 2020 17:10:00 -0600
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Another day, another record high of COVID-19 cases. The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, and the spread is getting worse.

"Well, the upper Midwest is getting hit extremely hard. North Dakota and South Dakota have some of the highest rates of coronavirus right now in the world. Montana getting hit very hard. Wisconsin, huge increases in Michigan,” Dr. Josh Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at Johns Hopkins University, said.

At least seven states have dialed up their restrictions, setting curfews or lowering capacity of certain businesses like bars and restaurants. The strain is already being felt in hospitals across the country. In every region, from Utah to Minnesota, Colorado to Kentucky, hospital beds and health care workers are running low.

“There are very few hospital beds for patients left in some parts of the country where they are actually having to build new emergency hospitals or airlift patients to other parts of the country. That's a sign that the health care system is buckling,” Sharfstein said.

There are several reasons for this spike — including the fact that there’s more than one way to get COVID. Experts say small household gatherings and college gatherings this fall have contributed, as well as people going out more in public spaces like restaurants, bars and gyms. 

There’s also something being called COVID fatigue, where some are just over dealing with the pandemic, so precautions like mask-wearing have become less of a priority. Weather is a big part too: It’s cooling off and we’re indoors more, where the virus spreads much easier than outside. 

“People may have become a little complacent wearing their masks, maintaining social distancing," Dr. Michael White, chief medical officer at Valleywise Health, said.  

As far as how the surge could go, the latest CDC models predict an additional 4,600 to 11,000 new COVID deaths by Nov. 28. That could bring the total COVID death count in the U.S. to more than 250,000. Doctors are pleading with the public and their patients to be safe. 

"I tell them that, look, it's not over yet. Hang in there, keep the precautions in place, keep wearing your masks, because it ain't over yet. Even if you've had COVID," Dr. Anthony Harris, medical director at WorkCare, said.

The NIH says more than 130,000 COVID-19 deaths could be prevented this winter if everyone wore a mask.

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<![CDATA[Ex-cops Charged in George Floyd's Killing Face Single Trial]]> Fri, 06 Nov 2020 16:19:00 -0600
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The four ex-cops charged in George Floyd's killing will be tried in a single trial in Minneapolis.

A county judge rejected a defense request for a change of venue and also ruled that all four men will be tried at the same time for charges related to the death of Floyd.

Former officer Derek Chauvin's charges are second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly 8 minutes, despite Floyd telling the officers that he couldn't breathe. The death spurred a movement against police brutality across the world.

The judge did grant a request to allow cameras in the courtroom, the trial is scheduled for March 8.

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<![CDATA[Report: U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops To 6.9%]]> Fri, 06 Nov 2020 11:45:00 -0600
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The Labor Department says the U.S. gained 638,000 jobs in October. 

That's about 34,000 jobs fewer than were added in September. 

The gains last month brought down the nation's official unemployment rate to 6.9%. 

The construction and retail sectors showed particularly strong growth, but the U.S. still has roughly 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic ramped up in March.

For Newsy, I'm Adam Elrashidi.

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<![CDATA[Nevada Voters Overwhelmingly Pass Same-Sex Marriage Protection]]> Fri, 06 Nov 2020 09:52:00 -0600
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Many in the LGBTQ community are on edge about the conservative-leaning Supreme Court and recent comments from two justices criticizing the 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, Nevada voters took action to protect the law.

They overwhelmingly voted in favor of protecting same-sex marriage in the state Constitution. 

Nevada is the first state to do so.

Its constitution will be changed to define marriage as "between couples regardless of gender."

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