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US Presidential Election & covid-19: Trump, Biden & transition | December 4, Summary news

Keep up to date with the latest news and reaction related to the political situation in the United States as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

News summary:

Electoral college votes (270 needed to win) 

Joe Biden: 306
Donald Trump: 232

US covid-19 cases: 14.37 million

US covid-19 deaths: 278,932 (Source: JHU)

- Bureau of Labor Statistics: at current rate US job market will not return to pre-pandemic levels until March 2024

- The CDC pushes for a universal indoors mask mandate in US

- Trump has raised over $200 million in donations since Election Day

- Biden addresses LGBTQ leaders at virtual summit 

- The US reports record numbers of daily cases (213,830) and daily deaths (2,861) on Thursday

- Trump and Pence to appear in Georgia this weekend ahead of Senate runoff races

- Dr. Anthony Fauci accepts Joe Biden's offer to serve as Chief Medical Advisor

- Over 100,000 covid-19 patients are currently in hospital, a new record

- Former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to receive covid vaccine on TV

- UK has approvedPfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use, first in the world

Browse some of our latest related stories:


US health sec takes swipe at China, WHO in UN speech

US Health Secretary Alex Azar has hit China with a veiled attack over its response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, accusing the nation of failing to share information on covid-19 “in a timely and transparent way” after its emergence in Wuhan.

Azar complained that the country - which he did not mention by name - was guilty of a "dereliction of duty".

"The key issue is not where the virus first appeared - it is whether information about the virus was shared in a timely and transparent way," Azar told a speech given to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

"Sadly, the necessary information sharing did not happen, and this dereliction of duty has been absolutely devastating for the entire globe."

Azar also pointed the finger at the World Health Organization (WHO), criticising what he described as an "unacceptable timeframe" on the anticipated release of the body's report on the virus' beginnings.

"Unfortunately, we are not much closer today to the transparent information sharing that we need. The World Health Assembly directed WHO to undertake an investigation into the origins of the virus, but the results are not expected until next year - an unacceptable timeframe.

"Even worse, international experts will be expected just to review the conclusions of one country’s experts - far from the kind of collaborative spirit we need to get to the truth."

(Photo: REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo)

As Americans make Christmas plans, Thanksgiving spike yet to hit - CNN analyst

Amid record coronavirus case numbers and deaths in the US, CNN medical analyst Dr Esther Choo says the country is still to see the effects of Thanksgiving gatherings on its covid-19 figures, warning that this expected surge will only be exacerbated by Christmas celebrations.

We’re just waiting for that to hit and as we wait people are making the next round of holiday plans,” Choo told CNN. “We’ve seen that that whenever there’s a holiday where people gathered, there’s a surge.”

Dr Choo’s comments echo those of Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert, who told CNN on Friday that a twin holiday-related spike could contribute to another half a million Americans dying of coronavirus by April.

"That may peak two to three weeks from now, and they will cusp at the Christmas holiday," Dr Fauci told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "We are really very concerned if you take the Thanksgiving surge, the Christmas surge - by the time you get to December and the beginning of January, we very well could see the numbers you just mentioned."

US covid

Doctor Joseph Varon smiles and waves to Gloria Garcia's family as she video calls them from the covid-19 ward at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on Friday.

Varon, a doctor treating coronavirus patients, was working his 252nd day in a row when he spotted a distraught elderly man in the covid-19 intensive care unit. His comforting embrace of the man on Thanksgiving Day was captured by a photographer for Getty Images and has gone viral around the world.

(Photo by Mark Felix / AFP)

Supreme Court asked to block Biden's victory in Pennsylvania

US Election 2020

Supreme Court asked to block Biden's victory in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania election fraud case goes to SCOTUS

One of Donald Trump’s many failing election lawsuits cases has again made its way to an appeal in the United States Supreme Court.

Can it succeed?

Donald Trump losing Twitter followers for the first time

Journalist Yashar Ali tracks Trump's waning popularity on Twitter.

Trump currently has 88.7 million followers on the social network.

75 Pennsylvania Republicans Ask State to Dispute 2020 Elections in Congress

Newsweek: Dozens of Pennsylvania state legislators sent a letter Friday asking the state's congressional leaders to dispute Pennsylvania's 2020 election results before the U.S. Congress meets to count electoral votes on January 6.

Two other letters—one addressed to the state attorney general requesting the assignment of an independent prosecutor to review election proceedings and another addressed to the state inspector general asking for a full review of the Pennsylvania Department of State's handling of the election—were also signed by dozens of state lawmakers.

Trump asks Georgia to re-run election or override elector process

Trump asks Georgia to re-run election or override elector process

In a last-ditch effort to overturn President Donald Trump’s loss in a key state, the Trump campaign’s legal team filed a new petition Friday seeking to have a court invalidate the results of Georgia’s presidential election and either run the race again or have the state’s GOP-controlled legislature appoint electors.

Via Forbes.

First U.S. delivery of covid-19 vaccine will leave out many high-risk workers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government’s first shipment of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses to be divided among states and federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, will fall far short of protecting high priority groups such as healthcare workers, a Reuters analysis has found.

Across the country, state health departments are preparing local hospitals for the first shipments of Pfizer Inc’s covid-19 vaccine if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorises it, possibly as early as mid-December.

The first shipment is expected to cover inoculations of 3.2 million people, nowhere near enough for the 21 million U.S. healthcare workers. And government officials said initial shipments would also go to five government agencies including the Departments of Defense, State and the Veterans Health Administration.

US Election: what will Trump do when he leaves the White House?

US Election 2020

US Election: what will Trump do when he leaves the White House?

How will Trump fill his days when he isn't the president?

Donald J. Trump: leader and politician, entrepreneur, reality TV personality and potential prisoner.

What does his future look like after the White House?

Bernie Sanders opposes middle-ground stimulus bill

The Washington Post: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Friday announced his opposition to the bipartisan coronavirus relief package gaining momentum in the U.S. Senate, as jockeying intensified among lawmakers eager to cut a deal to provide relief amid renewed signs of economic weakness.

Sanders said he would vote against the $908 billion relief framework that has attracted a flurry of interest from Democrats and Republicans since it was introduced earlier this week. Sanders said he would consider backing it only if it is “significantlyrevised. That package, broadly embraced this week by both senior congressional Democrats and more than a half-dozen Republican senators, leaves out some priorities among liberals such as another round of $1,200 stimulus payments.

Georgia Senate runoff election January to also decide USPS board

There are three spaces to be filled on the US Post Office's board of governors and Biden can only fill them with control of the Senate. 

CDC advises 'universal' masks indoors as US covid deaths again break records

CDC advises 'universal' masks indoors as US covid deaths again break records

The Centers for Disease Control has issued new coronavirus guidelines, including requesting “universal face mask use” by Americans, as the US again set a record for the highest daily number of coronavirus deaths, according to The Guardian's report.

On Thursday, 2,879 people died from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, while there were 217,664 new cases, which is also a record.

In another grim marker for the US, the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid exceeded 100,000 for the second day in a row, as the top infectious disease official, Dr Anthony Fauci, warned: “January is going to be terrible.”

Amid the spiraling cases, the CDC issued fresh public health guidance on Friday, in a weekly report that recommends public health strategies.

Joe Biden addresses employment and economy 

Watch president-elect's speech and Q&A in its entirety as he speaks on his new cabinet and coronavirus vaccine as well as jobs crisis as coronavirus cases surge across the US.

Why has the White House communications director Alyssa Farah resigned?

US News

Why has the White House communications director Alyssa Farah resigned?

What's really behind Alyssa Farah's resignation from Trump's White House?

After over three years in government, the White House communications director Alyssa Farah has resigned. What’s the real reason behind her sudden move?

Read the full story:

Burnt-out California Doctor shares harrowing coronavirus experience

In this powerful thread describing a gravely sick covid-19 patient before intubation to help his breathing, Dr Taylor Nichols of Mercy San Juan Medical Center describes a moment when he and his diverse team realise that the patient they're treating has or does hold racist and hateful world views.

"my empathic core wanes...maybe I'm not ok." writes Nichols.

Biden calls for coronavirus relief bill ahead of "dark winter"

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday's "grim" jobs report shows the economic recovery is stalling and warned the "dark winter" ahead would exacerbate the pain unless the US Congress passes a coronavirus relief bill soon. 

"The situation requires urgent action," Biden said in a statement. "Americans need help and they need it now."

Biden, the Democratic former vice president, offered support for an emerging bipartisan package of around $908 billion that has drawn tentative support from members of both parties in Congress.

But he said the bill would be "just the start" and vowed to press for additional relief once he takes office in January. The president-elect has focused heavily on the pandemic and economy during the transition, after a campaign in which he made President Donald Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus a central theme.


NYT: Economic recovery stalls

Roughly nine months after the pandemic first took hold in the US, the economy is still struggling to recover the millions of jobs lost to covid-19. The solid gains made during the summer months are falling away as covid-19 cases continue to rise and some states and counties look to impose additional restrictions. 

US employers added 245,000 jobs in November, however this was 224,000 fewer than experts had predicted. It was the fifth month of slowing job growth, and if progress continues at this rate the job market will not return to February 2020 levels until March 2024. 

Pelosi may be willing to accept smaller covid-19 relief package

There may have been a breakthrough in negotiations in Congress to see another coronavirus stimulus bill agreed before the end of the year. Not only has there been no further major support since the CARES Act was agreed in March, but that legislation's unemployment benefits provision expires on 26 December. 

After attempting to pass a $3 trillion package known as the HEROES Act, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have backed a bipartisan $908 billion stimulus package. This does not include anothe wave of stimulus checks, but it appears Pelosi is hopeful of securing more direct payments to Americans under the next administration. 

Biden addresses virtual meeting of the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference

President-elect Joe Biden is taking part in an online meeting of LGBTQ leader to mark ten years since the abolishion of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule. The now-defunct Defense Directive 1304.26, issued by the Clinton Administration in 1993, banned military applicants from talking about their sexual orientation. 

Biden was serving as Vice President during the Obama administration when the directive was appealed. 


Latest employment figures make grim reading

A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the US economy added 245,000 jobs in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, however this was 224,000 fewer than economists had expected.

The figures confirm fears that the American job recovery is continuing to slow as covid-19 cases rise dramatically. When compared to pre-pandemic levels, the US economy is 9.8 million jobs down, more than were lost to the Great Recession. 

The latest data published shows that the unemployment rate dropped from 6.9% to 6.7% in October. At that pace the job market would not return to its February 2020 peak until March 2024. 


Trump scoops $207 million in post-election donations

President Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee have raised $207.5 million since Election Day, according to a statement on Thursday, ostensibly gathered to pay for challenges to Democrat Joe Biden's victory

The post-election fundraising haul brought the combined fundraising of Trump committees between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23 to $495 million, the Trump campaign said.

However much of the money does not have to be used toward Trump's legal battle. According to Trump’s “Official Election Defense Fund”, 60% of donations of less than $8,333 is routed to a new PAC started this week by the president that can pay for a wide range of activities.

The remaining 40% goes to the Republican National Committee, which is allowed — but not required to — spend on the recount. In short, donors contributing less than $8,333 to Trump's “Official Election Defense Fund” may have none of their money spent on election recounts. 


Fauci to serve as Chief Medical Advisor under Biden

Dr Anthony Fauci, who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, will serve as Chief Medical Advisor for the Biden administration. He will also continue in his former role and is expected to be given great say in government policy that he was during Trump's time in office. 

Speaking on CNN he explains that he had no hesitation about accepting the offer, and offers his support to President-elect Biden's proposed "100 days to mask" at the start of his presidency. 

Covid-19 response will be the main focus of Biden's early months in the White House with America hitting record numbers of daily cases (213,830) and daily deaths (2,861) on Thursday. Experts predict that the US will soon be recording over 3,000 deaths per day.  

Biden to call for "100 days to mask" from Inauguration Day

US leaders urgently called on Americans to wear masks and threatened even more drastic stay-at-home orders after deaths from the coronavirus set a single-day record, with two people dying every minute. More than 213,830 new cases and 2,861 deaths were reported on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally of official data, with several experts projecting the death toll will soon surpass 3,000 per day.

President-elect Joe Biden promised a new national strategy that will impose mask mandates where he will have authority, such as federal buildings and for interstate travel, once he takes over for departing President Donald Trump on 20 January.

"On the first day I'm inaugurated ... I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask, just 100 days to mask, not forever, 100 days," Biden told CNN in an interview Thursday. "And I think we'll see a significant reduction if we incur that - if that occurs, with vaccinations and masking, to drive down the numbers considerably."


FDA chief Hahn hopes to make vaccine decision in December

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn said on Friday the agency will move quickly to review a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and hopes it will make a decision this month.

Hahn declined to give a specific timeline of how long an approval of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine would take, saying only that the FDA would move 'very quickly' after a vaccine advisory committee meets on Dec. 10. Many federal officials are expecting a vaccine approval within days of that meeting, though one FDA official recently said an approval decision could take up to weeks. (Reuters)

Fauci accepts Biden's offer to serve as Chief Medical Officer

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has told NBC that he has accepted president-elect Joe Biden's offer to serve as his administration's chief medical officer. 

NY Young Republican Club holds gala amid Covid restrictions

At least 65 guests reportedly attended the New York Young Republican Club's108th annual gala in Jersey City on Thursday evening, despite restrictions on indoor gatherings in the state of New Jersey..


Romney: “Russia and China have to be laughing, smiling from ear to ear”

Mitt Romney told CNN that President Donald Trump's refusal to concede the elections and his baseless allegations of widespread fraud will have China and Russia "laughing [and] smiling from ear to ear”.

"For the president or anyone else to go out and alledge widespread fraud and say the election is rigged and that the election was rigged strikes at the very foundation of democracy here and around the world."

Could Covid spell the end of cash?

There has been a sharp fall in the use of cash during the pandemic over tne risk of contamination. Could coronavirus finally spell the end for cash? This CNBC reports looks into this and asks if the US could function without a physical currency...

Pfizer CEO talks to NBC

CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Albert Bourla, told NBC News on Thursday that his company did not accept any of the $12 billion the US government offered to vaccine developers, with the company instead investing $2 billion of its own capital into the vaccine.

He later discussed the "incredible moment" when he learned that Pfizer’s vaccine was 95% effective.

“The next day, when I went home with my wife and kids and I sat on the couch with a glass of wine, I realized what does this mean for the world," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump responds to a question from a reporter after a medal ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. December 3, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Trump unveils $207 mln fundraising haul since election as he tries to overturn results

President Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee have raised a combined $207.5 million since Election Day, according to a statement on Thursday, as Trump has sought donations to fund his efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's win in the 3 November poll. The post-election fundraising haul brought the combined fundraising of Trump committees between 15 October and 23 November to $495 million, the Trump campaign said.

Biden has not released figures for the period, but was consistently raising more than Trump in the final months of the campaign. Trump has refused to concede defeat and alleged without evidence that Biden's victory came thanks to widespread voter fraud. Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said in the statement that the fundraising haul "positions President Trump to continue leading the fight to clean up our corrupt elections process in so many areas around the country."

Trump and his allies have filed numerous lawsuits in battleground states but have failed to present proof of widespread fraud or problems that could have affected the results. Soon after the election, Trump's campaign began sending solicitations to supporters by email and text making pleas for donations to an 'Official Election Defense Fund' to 'protect the results and keep fighting even after Election Day.' The fine print made clear most of the money would go to other priorities, including retiring the debts of Trump's campaign. (Reuters)

Giuliani and Trump's "star" wtiness draws ridicule following hearing

Donald Trump's "star" witness, Melissa Carone, an IT contractor for Dominion Voting Systems, has been ridiculed on social media following this exchange.

At one point, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani reaches over to try to tell her to calm down as she interupts Republican Senator Steven Johnson. Check out the video below..

Russia reports 27,403 new coronavirus cases

Russia has reported 27,403 new coronavirus cases, including 6,868 in Moscow, according to Reuters, taking the country's total to 2,402,949 since the pandemic began.

Authorities also confirmed 569 deaths related to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the official national death toll to 42,176.

Biden calls for people to use masks for 100 more days

In an interview with CNN, president-elect Joe Biden urged the US public to follow mask-wearing guidelines for 100 more days in order to stop the surge in coronavirus cases. 

"Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction," said Biden, who also confirmed that he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on as his administration's infectious disease expert.

"I asked him to stay on the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team," he said.

On the topic of approving a coronavirus vaccine, Biden said he will follow the advice of Dr. Fauci: "When Dr. Fauci says we have a vaccine that is safe, that's the moment in which I will stand before the public and say that."

Michigan will use national guard to distribute vaccine

Michigan will turn to the Michigan National Guard to help distribute Covid-19 vaccines when they become available, according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

“The Michigan National Guard continues to be a crucial part of our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. I want to thank our men and women in uniform for their dedication and round-the-clock work to protect the people of our state by expanding testing in our communities and ensuring they have what they need to get through this crisis,” Whitmer said. 

US could see see 200,000 deaths in next 3 months, warns CDC boss

The head of the US CDC, Robert R. Redfield, has warned that the US could witness another 200,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the next three months if people don't follow measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing seriously, The Hill reported. 

"The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," he said.


Hello and welcome

Good morning and welcome to our live blog this Friday, 4 December. We'll be bringing you the latest political and coronavirus-related news from the US, as well as the major pandemic-related developments from around the world throughout the day. 


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