US Election & covid-19: news summary for 5 December 2020

US Presidential Election & covid-19 updates: Trump, Biden, transition, results, cases, latest news

US latest news: Saturday 5 December

News summary:

US coronavirus cases: 14.58 million
US coronavirus deaths: 281,186 (Source: JHU

Electoral college votes (270 needed to win) 

Joe Biden: 306
Donald Trump: 232

- US registers 213,875 new coronavirus cases and 2,254 covid-19 deaths on Saturday, according to JHU

- Fourth consecutive day that US has seen more than 200,000 fresh infections

- Trump and Pence appear in Georgia ahead of the Senate runoff election in January

- Trump uses speech in Valdosta, Georgia, to falsely claim he was "cheated" in presidential election and that he won the state

- 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

Browse some of our latest related stories:

Stimulus check for covid-19 vaccine: what's the proposal?

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US

Battling to prevent hunger in US amid economic crisis

People carry food donated by volunteers from the Baltimore Hunger Project outside of Padonia International Elementary school on Friday in Cockeysville, Maryland.

More and more children are going hungry in the US as it weathers the world's worst coronavirus outbreak, which has killed around 280,000 people and caused a once-in-a-generation economic crisis.

Nearly 12% of adults said they did not not have enough to eat 'sometimes' or 'often' last month, according to the Commerce Department, while 10% of mothers reported their children under the age of five went hungry to some degree in October and November, a Brookings Institution survey found.

(Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

"JUST WEAR THE MASK"

Amid surging coronavirus case numbers in the US, the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pleaded with Americans to take measures to avoid spreading the virus, tweeting the block-capitals message: "JUST WEAR THE MASK".

On Friday, the CDC issued its strongest recommendation so far on mask-use in the US, urging state and local agencies to introduce "universal" measures making it mandatory to wear a face covering both indoors and outdoors in public spaces.

Trump

Trump uses Georgia speech to again baselessly claim he was "cheated" in election

In the photo above, President Donald Trump campaigns for Republican candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Valdosta, Georgia, on Saturday, ahead of a crucial Senate runoff vote on 5 January.

Trump used his speech to again offer baseless allegations that he was “cheated” out of November’s presidential election, claiming that he in fact won in Georgia.

He also cast doubt on the integrity of the upcoming Senate votes in the state.

"They cheated and they rigged our presidential election," Trump told the rally, “but we will still win it. And they’re going to try and right his election too.”

You'll find the full story on Trump's Georgia appearance in the post below.

(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Trump holds first post-election rally

Trump went to Georgia to support the two Republican Senators up for reelection in what was another episode of him railing against the election results.

Read more:

Minnesota struggling to keep in-person learning 

As Minnesotan schools near the halfway point of this school year in the pandemic nearly all public schools are now distance or hybrid learning due to soaring case numbers and high staff absentee rates. The factors vary for why a school goes online while a nearby school stays open. The state uses virus case data as one of the key metrics with all but one county above the threshold, in addition to staff availability, virus spread at the school and the number of staff and students showing symptoms. As a result, mainly rural schools remain open despite the high case numbers. At the beginning of the school year 25 percent of districts were in person, and another 63 percent were operating under a hybrid model. Less than 10 percent of districts are fully in person, and only 6 percent were offering hybrid learning three months later. 

Need to repair US infrastructure will drive important Biden picks 

US infrastructure has been in need of repair for some time and getting a far-reaching bill passed is second only to covid-19 relief for Biden in the eyes of Democrats. Such a plan could be a way for Biden to meet many campaign promises and get Americans back to work. It is one area where Biden might be able to get Republicans on board to make a deal. 

Biden’s transition team is considering a number of big names in the party for the posts that will need to work together to enact just such a plan. They include Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang for Commerce, Rahm Emanuel and Eric Garcetti for Transportation and Keisha Lance Bottoms for Small Business Administration according to CNN sources.

NBA

NBA to limit players off the court 

ESPN has obtained a health and safety memo from the NBA to the teams outlining new coronavirus health and safety guidelines this season starting later this month. The NBA has warned teams that protocol violations that lead to coronavirus spread impacting opposing teams and causing schedule derailments could result in "fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices and game forfeitures,"  

For players and staff there are possible disciplinary actions for going to bars and other places of entertainment, as well as attending large gatherings. Violations could result in reduced paychecks and in-season quarantine, however the length of any quarantine isn’t specified. 

The league has informed teams that officials may "conduct unannounced in-person inspections of team facilities" to keep track of whether teams are following covid-19 safety protocols according to ESPN. 

French nursing home allows physical contact with loved ones again 

The “hug bubble” allows care home residents, isolated from the outside world to protect them the virus, to hold hands and embrace visiting relatives, because at all times they are separated by a hermetically-sealed plastic film. Before the bubble was installed at the home residents would see their relatives through a window or through a camera.  

French health authorities on Friday reported 11,221 new confirmed covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 12,696 on Thursday and 12,459 last Friday. The total number of infections rose to 2.29 million. France also reported 627 new deaths from coronavirus, with 345 new deaths in retirement homes over a three-day period. 

DACA immigration program salvaged by federal court

On Friday a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must reopen the DACA, or so-called “Dreamers” program to first-time applicants.

Will Americans be forced to take the vaccine or wear masks?

Americans may be required to get vaccinated for covid-19 but it is unlikely and any requirement will not be coming from the federal government.

Trump has ‘No credible evidence’ proving voter fraud, Nevada court rules

Trump has ‘No credible evidence’ proving voter fraud, Nevada court rules

Forbes: A state judge in Nevada dismissed with prejudice the Trump campaign’s lawsuit trying to overturn the state’s election results Friday, ruling the campaign had no evidence to prove its allegations of voter fraud and thwarting the Trump campaign’s attempt to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Some harrowing context on the coronavirus in America

More Americans have died in the past two months than in the entire Vietnam War.

 

26 of 249 Republicans in Congress willing to say Trump lost

26 of 249 Republicans in Congress willing to say Trump lost

Only 26 of 249 Republicans in Congress are willing to admit Joe Biden won the presidential election, a survey found on Saturday.

The election was called for Biden on 7 November, four days after election day. The Democrat won the electoral college by 306-232 and leads in the popular vote by more than 7m ballots.

But Trump has refused to concede, baselessly claiming large-scale voter fraud in battleground states.

The survey of Republicans in the House and Senate was carried out by the Washington Post, a paper Trump promptly claimed to read “as little as possible”.

Via the Guardian.

Trump calls Georgia gov. to pressure him for help overturning Biden’s win 

The Washington Post have reported that President Trump called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Saturday morning to urge him to persuade the state legislature to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state and asked the governor to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures, the latest brazen effort by the president to interfere in the 2020 election.

Hours before he was scheduled to hold a rally in Georgia on behalf of the state’s two GOP senators, Trump pressed Kemp to call a special session of the state legislature for lawmakers to override the results and appoint electors who would back the president at the electoral college, according to two people familiar with the conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private call.

Trump also asked the governor to demand an audit of signatures on mail ballots, something Kemp has previously noted he has no power to do. Kemp declined the president’s entreaty, according to the people.

Biden urges for billions more in covid-19 stimulus relief

He's not yet in the White House but the President-elect Joe Biden is already pushing to get the suitable, and long-awaited, financial support to the American people.

Gregory Meeks: who is he?

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Coronavirus surpasses heart disease as leading cause of death in US

Coronavirus surpasses heart disease as leading cause of death in US

Covid-19 has surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death in the US over the last week, as the soaring number of infections overwhelms many of the nation's hospitals and forces new containment restrictions.

A new stimulus deal is brewing: what could that mean for unemployment benefits?

With major federal jobless aid programs slated to expire by year-end, the question is what could replace them as high unemployment continues to afflict the U.S. economy and millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet.

In Washington, D.C., two competing proposals have been introduced this week, although each offers markedly different levels of support for jobless workers. The first is a $908 billion bipartisan congressional plan that prioritizes aid for people who are out of work, businesses, and state and local governments. The second is a smaller Republican initiative that focuses on helping businesses stay afloat while limiting their legal exposure to coronavirus-related lawsuits, according to CBS.

The larger stimulus package appears to be gaining traction, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying the proposal should form the basis for any further negotiations. The plan also has received support from several Republican senators. Pelosi on Friday said she would like to attach new coronavirus relief legislation to a government funding omnibus bill that must pass within the next week to avoid a government shutdown.

US vaccines may start Friday amid covid’s worst

Bloomberg: Vaccinations in the U.S. could begin as early as Friday, with the Food and Drug Administration set to vote on emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer Inc./BioNtech SE shot the day before, an FDA adviser told NBC News.

California set another record for infections. New York City’s outbreak continued to worsen, as North Carolina again recorded its highest infections and hospitalizations. Fatalities across the U.S. are rising sharply.

The UK plans to begin vaccinations in the week of Dec. 14, as authorities worldwide move to a new stage in tackling the pandemic. Moscow began jabs on Saturday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the nation can maintain high spending next year to help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Another reason to wear a mask: covid-19 may cause erectile dysfunction

Although covid-19 treatments have improved and a vaccine is on the way, even a mild case of the virus can cause long-term complications — including the possibility of erectile dysfunction.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson joined LX News with a warning not to let our guards down as we wait for a vaccine.

Biden officially secures enough electors to become president

California certified its presidential election Friday and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s formal approval of Biden’s win in the state brought his tally of pledged electors so far to 279, according to a tally by The Associated Press. That’s just over the 270 threshold for victory.

These steps in the election are often ignored formalities. But the hidden mechanics of electing a U.S. president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Biden’s victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalized.

Shocking covid-19 US spread statistics

This simple breakdown from Johns Hopkins shows the cumulative effect of this highly contagious virus. 

From 96 days to reach the first million in America, and now adding a 14th million to the tally is the work of less than a week.

U.S. government ordered to reinstate protections for 'Dreamers'

U.S. government ordered to reinstate protections for 'Dreamers'

(Reuters) - In a rebuke to President Donald Trump’s administration, a judge on Friday ordered the U.S. government to reopen to first-time applicants a program that protects from deportation and grants work permits to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who live in the United States unlawfully after arriving as children.

The action by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn centered on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama in 2012. The Supreme Court in June blocked Trump’s 2017 bid to end DACA. His administration, however, continued its policy of not accepting new applications for the program.

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has said he plans to revitalize DACA.

Garaufis directed the Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice “displayed prominently” on its websites by Monday announcing that it is accepting new DACA applications. The judge also ordered that the notice make clear that employment authorization under DACA would last for two years rather than one.

The Supreme Court decided that the administration’s attempt to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated federal law. Following the ruling, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf in July issued a memo that continued to block new applications to the program while he subjected it to a “full reconsideration.” The memo also limited employment authorization to one year and curtailed recipients’ ability to travel outside the United States.

Garaufis found in November that Wolf had been unlawfully appointed to his post, meaning he did not have the authority to issue the July DACA memorandum.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s administration had argued that Obama exceeded his constitutional powers when he created DACA by executive action, bypassing Congress. Obama created DACA after Congress failed to pass bipartisan legislation to overhaul U.S. immigration policy. DACA recipients often are called “Dreamers” based on the name of legislation considered but never passed in Congress.

Covid-19 kills seven family members of Timberwolves star Towns

Covid-19 kills seven family members of Timberwolves star Towns

Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns revealed he had lost seven family members to coronavirus, including his mother and uncle.

Read the full story.

China, US need to proceed together with 'good will'

China and the United States need to proceed together with "good will" to improve relations, the Chinese ambassador to Washington said on Saturday, as ties remained fraught between the world's two biggest economic powers.

Sino-US relations have fallen to their lowest point in decades over issues from trade and security to human rights and covid-19. On Friday, a Chinese state media editorial said ties are being shifted to "a dangerous path".

"In order to put the relations on the right track, to have real improvement of the relations, both sides have to proceed with good will and good faith," Ambassador Cui Tiankai told the Annual Conference of the Institute for China-America Studies via video link.

"I don't think that China should just do something to please anybody here," he said, according to a transcript posted on his embassy's website. 

Tensions between the two countries dramatically escalated in July when China closed the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu in retaliation for Beijing's ouster from its consulate in Houston, Texas.

Earlier in the year, Washington cut the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work at the US offices of major Chinese state media. Beijing then expelled US journalists in the China bureaus of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

sputnik

Moscow rolls out Sputnik V vaccine to most exposed groups

Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V covid-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday to the most exposed groups, marking Russia's first large-scale vaccination against the disease, the city's coronavirus task force said.

The Russian-made vaccine will first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers because they run the highest risk of exposure to the disease.

"You are working at an educational institution and have top-priority for the covid-19 vaccine, free of charge," read a phone text message received by one Muscovite, an elementary school teacher, early on Saturday and seen by Reuters.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nationwide voluntary vaccination programme to begin next week. He said Russia will have produced 2 million vaccine doses within the next few days.

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev, said in an interview with the BBC on Friday that Russia expects to give the vaccine to about 2 million people this month.

"Over the first five hours, 5,000 people signed up for the jab - teachers, doctors, social workers, those who are today risking their health and lives the most," Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his personal website on Friday.

Russia has already vaccinated more than 100,000 high-risk people, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said earlier this week during a separate presentation to the United Nations about Sputnik V.

 Photo: EFE/EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

Georgia lawsuit seeks to "restore confidence in the integrity of our election", claims Georgia GOP chair

David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, has claimed that the lawsuit filed by Donald Trump in the state is crucial to reviving "confidence in the integrity of our election".

The Trump campaign said on Friday it had lodged a lawsuit in Georgia seeking to invalidate the November election result in the state, which was carried by President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump's camp said the lawsuit would include sworn statements from Georgia residents alleging fraud.

It is one of a slew of suits filed by the current president - almost all of which have been rejected by the courts - amid baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

The only way we’re going to restore confidence in the integrity of our election is by not pretending they were conducted perfectly, “ Shafer told CNN on Saturday morning.

He added: “We will continue to fight to make sure that every lawful vote is counted and to make sure that every unlawful vote is rejected.”

However, Shafer also conceded that "the certifications would suggest" that Biden is the winner of the election.

(Reuters contributed to this post)

Second stimulus check: how could a new stimulus affect unemployment benefits?

Two new stimulus bills are competing to be voted on before the end of the year as Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jerome Powell push for a resolution.

Full story:

Trump

Trump campaigns for Georgia's Republican senators - but will that help or hurt?

President Donald Trump will stump on Saturday for Republican US senators in Georgia facing January runoffs, but some in his party worry he may do more harm than good if he stays focused on personal grievances over his loss in the November 3 election.

Trump has repeatedly and without evidence asserted widespread fraud in the election, a claim rejected by state and federal officials, including in Georgia, which Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry in a generation.

The outgoing president has also attacked Republicans who have refused to endorse his claims, such as Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Statewide recounts, including a painstaking review by hand of some five million ballots, turned up no significant irregularities.

Trump's penchant for making his political rallies all about him - and now, about his claims the US electoral system is rigged - has raised concerns among some Republicans that his appearance in southern Georgia could end up turning voters away.

"If he spends most of his time talking about the two candidates, how wonderful they are, what they've achieved," he could help, said Matt Towery, a former Georgia Republican legislator who is now a political analyst and pollster.

"If he talks about them for 10 minutes and spends the rest of the time telling everyone how terrible Brian Kemp is, then it will only exacerbate things."

The January 5 runoffs pitting the two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will determine which party controls the US Senate.

Democrats would need to win both seats to deny Republicans a majority they could use to block large parts of Biden's legislative agenda.

(Reuters; photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Breed San Francisco restrictions

San Francisco mayor announces stay-at-home order, business restrictions

The mayor of San Francisco on Friday said she and political leaders across the Bay Area were imposing new lockdown orders and business restrictions in the face of a surge in covid-19 infections.

Mayor London Breed, a first-term Democrat, said she was unwilling to wait for a statewide clamp-down announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom, set to be triggered region-by-region based on hospital intensive-care unit admissions.

What we’re seeing now is a spike unlike anything we’ve seen so far in the pandemic,” Breed said in announcing the restrictions during a live-streamed news conference.

The new rules apply across five Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara and San Francisco, as well as the city of Berkeley.

Breed said that 16,208 infections have been documented in San Francisco since the pandemic began. The city has recorded 162 deaths.

(Reuters; photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo)

CDC calls for "universal" indoor mask use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday issued new coronavirus guidelines, including requesting "universal face mask use" indoors by Americans, as the US continues to set records for the highest daily number of coronavirus deaths.

The US registered a record 227,885 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University, with 2,607 people losing their lives during the 24-hour period.

Amid the spiraling cases, the CDC used a weekly report on public-health strategies to release its strongest recommendations yet on mask-wearing, calling for "policies or directives mandating universal use of face masks in indoor (nonhousehold) settings".

Read the CDC's report in full.

Tents

Restaurant patrons sit inside plastic tents while being served outside of the Lupo Verde restaurant in Washington, DC amid the coronavirus disease on Friday.

(REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

Supreme Court asked to block Biden's victory in Pennsylvania

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?

Full story:

US covid-19

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)

Azar

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), criticizing 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 latest news live feed: welcome

Hello and welcome to our daily rolling feed bringing you the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic and the political situation in the US, where current President Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede to President-elect Joe Biden.

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