Covid-19 & US election summary 07/12: vaccine, Trump, Biden, results, cases, stimulus, latest news

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

US live updates:

News summary:

US coronavirus cases: 14.88 million
US coronavirus deaths: 283,326 (Source: JHU

Electoral college votes (270 needed to win) 

Joe Biden: 306
Donald Trump: 232

- Biden names health team picks, nominating Xavier Becerra as secretary of health 

- Georgia recertifies Biden win, Sidney Powell lawsuit thrown out

- Amid resistance, California imposes strict stay-at-home orders

- Rudy Guliani tests positive for coronavirus

- US records 1 million infections in 5 days

Browse some of our latest related stories:

FLOTUS Melania Trump tweets about "history" being made at White House

With reference to a tennis court. 

The choice of the first lady to highlight gratitude for a tennis pavilion when the US is on its knees with the economic and coronavirus crises, is truly bizarre. 

1 million new covid-19 infections were recorded in the last five days in America.

Will a second stimulus check arrive before new year?

No, and here's why:

Millions of hungry Americans turn to food banks for first time

Millions of hungry Americans turn to food banks for first time

AP: The deadly pandemic that tore through the nation’s heartland struck just as Aaron Crawford was in a moment of crisis. He was looking for work, his wife needed surgery, then the virus began eating away at her work hours and her paycheck.

The Crawfords had no savings, mounting bills and a growing dread: What if they ran out of food? The couple had two boys, 5 and 10, and boxes of macaroni and cheese from the dollar store could go only so far.

A 37-year-old Navy vet, Crawford saw himself as self-reliant. Asking for food made him uncomfortable. “I felt like I was a failure,” he says. “It’s this whole stigma ... this mindset that you’re this guy who can’t provide for his family, that you’re a deadbeat.”

Hunger is a harsh reality in the richest country in the world. Even during times of prosperity, schools hand out millions of hot meals a day to children, and desperate elderly Americans are sometimes forced to choose between medicine and food.

Now, in the pandemic of 2020, with illness, job loss and business closures, millions more Americans are worried about empty refrigerators and barren cupboards. Food banks are doling out meals at a rapid pace and an Associated Press data analysis found a sharp rise in the amount of food distributed compared with last year. Meanwhile, some folks are skipping meals so their children can eat and others are depending on cheap food that lacks nutrition.

Those fighting hunger say they’ve never seen anything like this in America, even during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

The first place many Americans are finding relief is a neighborhood food pantry, most connected to vast networks of nonprofits. Tons of food move each day from grocery store discards and government handouts to warehouse distribution centers, and then to the neighborhood charity.

Latest update on covid-19 stimulus bill talks

What's happening with talks on two potential stimulus bills? Do they include provisions for $1,200 checks and when could either one be passed into law?

Read the full story:

Biden taps retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defence secretary

Biden taps retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defence secretary

Austin would be the first Black Pentagon chief if confirmed, report the AP.

Xavier Becerra tapped for Biden's top health czar

Joe Biden makes a surprise pick for the nation’s next top health official. Xavier Becerra will be central to how the administration handles the pandemic.

Read the full story:

Senator Ted Cruz offers his legal talents 

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has offered to do the oral arguments for the side of two Pennsylvania Congressmen if the case goes before the Supreme Court. Republican Representative Mike Kelly and congressional candidate Sean Parnell are seeking to invalidate the mail-in votes in Pennsylvania. They argue that no excuse mail-in voting is unconstitutional and want the Supreme Court to hear their appeal after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected their challenge. Joe Biden won the absentee ballots by an overwhelming margin of nearly 75 percent. 

Walter Reed doctor who criticized Trump fired 

CBS News is reporting that the ER physician who publicly criticized President Trump's decision to go out for a drive with Secret Service agents to greet supporters while he was hospitalized with covid-19 has been removed. Dr. James Phillips is chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University and worked as an attending physician on a contract basis for Walter Reed. Walter Reed officials deny they made the decision to remove him telling CBS that contractors make the decision of who to schedule at the medical facility. 
 

Debunking disinformation Monday

Georgia Elections official Gabriel Sterling gave a press conference Monday where he had another session of whack-a-mole debunking claims of election fraud. What is being claimed as proof of election fraud, had Trump's lawyers tried to enter it as evidence in court they would face sanctions for making clearly false claims.

Biden

Biden preparing to name secretary of state, attorney general picks

President-elect Joe Biden has said he expects to name his nominations for secretary of state and attorney general later this week.

I’ll have an announcement for you on Wednesday and Friday," Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday, per CNN.

Biden announced his picks for his health team on Monday, nominating Xavier Becerra as secretary of health.

The 78-year-old also opted for Vivek Murthy as surgeon general - a post he also occupied during the Barack Obama administration - and Rochelle Walensky as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Biden pick for CDC chief ready to "combat this virus with science and facts"

Dr Rochelle Walensky, who has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to head up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says she is ready to fight the coronavirus “with science and facts” under the new administration.

“I began my medical career at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and I've spent my life ever since working to research, treat, and combat infectious diseases,” Walensky tweeted earlier today.

“I’m honored to be called to lead the brilliant team at the CDC. We are ready to combat this virus with science and facts.”

Walensky is the chief of infectious diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Medicine in Boston.

Fauci: I'm willing to receive coronavirus vaccine publicly

The United States’ top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, says he’d be willing to take a coronavirus vaccine publicly to help prove it’s safe.

Amid high levels of vaccine skepticism in the US, a recent poll carried out by the Pew Research Center showed that only 29% of Americans would definitely accept a covid-19 shot.

"I'd be more than happy to do it publicly," Fauci told CBS' Norah O'Donnell on Monday. "When I see the FDA with their career scientists say that a vaccine is safe and effective, I will take it myself when my time comes."

“And I will recommend it to all people, including my friends President [Bill] Clinton, [Barack] Obama, [George W] Bush and others to take the vaccine because I would feel comfortable."

Former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have all said they’d be prepared to receive a vaccine publicly, as has President-elect Joe Biden.

“I’d be happy to do that,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday. “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.”

California

"DO NOT GATHER"

A woman stretches near a warning sign on the beach as new stay-at-home orders begin in Southern California amid surging covid-19 figures in the US state.

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)

California becomes biggest US state to launch virus contact-tracing app

California on Monday announced an app to help people track their exposure to the coronavirus, becoming the biggest US state to take advantage of new technology from smartphone software makers Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google.

Beginning on Thursday, people in California can activate the exposure notifications tool from the settings menu on iPhones or by downloading the CA Notify App in the Google Play store on Android devices.

The apps enable Bluetooth signals between devices to determine when they are in close proximity, and the apps then anonymously alert users when a recent contact later tests positive.

At least six million people in the US have tried the system in recent months across the 21 states and two territories that made apps available before California. Colorado and New York are among other states with apps.

Public health experts say adoption has lagged because of technical shortcomings in the earliest apps, privacy concerns and dismissive attitudes toward taking precautions to avoid the virus. But California officials hope the app will be adopted quickly in a state that is home to many tech workers.

The state's two most densely inhabited regions and its agricultural breadbasket went under stay-at-home orders in the last couple of days as the pandemic strains hospitals in the most populous US state.

CA Notify had been tested on state university campuses since September. The University of California San Diego will continue to oversee the system and staff a user support phone hotline.

(Reuters)

"Middle of January could be really dark time" - Fauci

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert, has warned that the country faces a "really dark time" in mid-January, after a festive period that threatens to exacerbate an expected post-Thanksgiving surge in coronavirus cases.

"The middle of January could be a really dark time for us," Fauci said during an appearance at a covid-19 press briefing by New York governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday.

"You’d expect that the effect of the Thanksgiving surge would be probably another week and week and a half from now, because it’s usually two and a half weeks from the time of the event," he said.

"The problem is, that’s going to come right up to the beginning of the Christmas, Hannukah potential surge."

Georgia recertifies Biden win, Sidney Powell lawsuit thrown out

Secretary of state Brad Raffensberger says Georgia is to recertify Joe Biden’s presidential election win in the state after a second recount.

“It’s been a long 34 days since the election on 3 November,” Raffensperger told a news conference on Monday. “We have now counted legally-cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged.”

The Trump campaign had asked for the second recount, after the first upheld Biden's narrow victory.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit brought by ex-Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell looking to overturn Biden’s win in Georgia has been thrown out.

“They want this court to substitute its judgment for that of 2.5 million Georgia voters who voted for Joe Biden, and this I am unwilling to do,” district judge Timothy Batten said.

California

California bids to curb spiking covid-19 figures

A barber shop is seen closed as new stay-at-home orders begin in Southern California amid surging coronavirus numbers in the state.

On Sunday, California registered more than 30,000 new covid-19 cases in a single day for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake)

World Economic Forum to be held in Singapore in May - WEF president in email

The World Economic Forum (WEF) will be held in Singapore instead of Switzerland next year as the COVID-19 pandemic would make it difficult to ensure the health and safety of participants in Europe, WEF president Borge Brende said in an email on Monday.

"The Managing Board took a very important decision today to move the Special Annual Meeting 2021 to Singapore (13-16  May)," Brende said in the email obtained by Reuters.

"We had foreseen to organize our Annual Meeting 2021 in Lucerne-Burgenstock this spring. Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 situation in Europe makes it unlikely that we would be able to create the necessary conditions to ensure the health and safety of our staff, participants and the broader community," Brende said. 

"Singapore has been successful in dealing with the pandemic," he concluded.

NYC

Back to school for NYC kids

The rate of positive covid-19 tests is now over 5%, according to the city’s figures, but de mayor Bill de Blasio has said it’s safe to reopen schools with beefed-up testing protocols — in part because few infections have been linked to the schools

 

U.S. HHS Secretary Alex Azar: "Any adult In the US will be able to get a covid vaccine by mid-2021"

As UK prepares to roll out covid-19 vaccines, scepticism remains

A sizeable minority of people believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and covid-19 vaccines, some experts have warned, just as countries prepare to launch mass inoculations to get the pandemic under control.

Britain begins its vaccine programme this week and others are likely to follow soon, so governments are seeking to reassure people of vaccines' safety and efficacy in order to get a critical mass to take them.

 US president elect Joe Biden would have a coronavirus vaccine publicly to demonstrate its safety, and referred to people losing faith in the vaccine's ability to work.

"What we're finding is, in the wake of the pandemic, that conspiracy beliefs may have gone mainstream, that they're no longer confined to the fringes," Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University, told Reuters.

"Around a quarter (of Britain's population) are entertaining such thoughts. Another quarter are consistently thinking in terms of conspiracy beliefs, and around one in 10 people seem to have a very high rate of endorsement of conspiracy beliefs."

Amid resistance, California imposes strict stay-at-home orders

California compelled much of the state to close shop and stay at home on Monday, when some of the harshest coronavirus restrictions in the United States came into effect one day after the state set a record with more than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases. 

Governor Gavin Newsom's order was triggered in areas where fewer than 15 percent of intensive care hospital beds were available, affecting more than 23 million people in Southern California. In addition five counties in Northern California surrounding the San Francisco Bay area have voluntarily imposed the restrictions even before reaching the ICU threshold. 

California has been under a stay-at-home order for all but essential services since March. The new order, which will last at least three weeks, bans private gatherings of any size, shuts all but critical infrastructure and retail operations, and requires everyone to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing. 

Newsom, a first-term Democrat, has threatened to withhold funds from local governments that refuse to comply. Even so, the sheriffs of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties have said they will refuse to enforce the order, emboldening non-essential businesses to remain open. (Reuters)

Biden picks Becerra as health secretary as he builds team to battle COVID-19

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for secretary of health and human services as soon as Monday, a source familiar with the decision said, as he builds up his team to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The choice of Becerra, 62, a Latino former congressman, comes as Biden faces more pressure to add diversity to his cabinet appointments, including complaints from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about the number of Latinos.

Becerra will lead the health agency as officials struggle to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus, including record infections and a daily death toll that has exceeded 2,000 in recent days, and to prepare for a mammoth effort to vaccinate Americans against the virus. (Reuters)

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, in Washington, U.S., July 28, 2020. Chip Somodevilla/Pool via REUTERS

Attorney General considering leaving post before Trump leaves office

Attorney General William Barr is considering giving up his position before President Donald Trump leaves office on 20 January, a close source has told CNN.

The source revealed hat Barr is not happy with Trump, writing that the Attorney General "is not someone who takes bullying and turns the other cheek!"

However the source confirmed that he has yet to make a final decision. Trump was reportedly angry with Barr last week after the Attorney General had said that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread election fraud.

(Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

In pictures: Fabian Acuna, 2, is held while wearing a face shield following the traditional procession and Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at San Gabriel Mission on December 6, 2020 in San Gabriel, California.

The historic procession, the oldest in Los Angeles, is usually attended by around 40,000 people in the streets but was held in a small car caravan this year amid COVID-19 safety protocols.

Under state order, the Southern California region, including Los Angeles County, will enter into a regional shutdown at the end of the day in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Outdoor religious services and protests will remain authorized under the order. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

Kremlin sees no need to impose broad lockdown

The Kremlin said on Monday there was no need to impose lockdown restrictions to curb the sharp rise in coronavirus cases since September and that the current set of measures in place were widely seen by authorities as enough.

Infections have surged to record highs in recent weeks. Earlier on Monday authorities confirmed 28,142 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 7,279 in Moscow. (Reuters)

"Behavior and cold weather" are behind Covid-19 surge, says Azar

As the US recorded 1 million coronavirus cases in just five days, Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, has said that "behavior and cold weather" are behind the surge. 

"People are going indoors, they're not minding the three W's," Azar, told Fox News on Sunday. "Our advice is always the same. Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear face coverings."

"We're worried about people and the behaviors coming up with Christmas," he added. "We want to make sure everyone's loved ones are there next Christmas, especially when we have so much hope of vaccines."

Biden's 100-day mask plan "a good idea," Trump's vaccine chief says

Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed plan to speed up development of the coronavirus vaccine, has said that he believes Joe Biden's 100-day mask plan is a "a good idea". 

"I think it's a good idea," Slaoui said in an interview on CNN. "It's never too late."

"We all need to take our precaution, have our masks, wash our hands, and keep our distance, remain aware that this virus is a killer."

Biden expected to nominate Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Dr. Vivek Murthy as US Surgeon General, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN.

Murthy served in the role under the Obama administration from 2014 to 2017 and has been a top health adviser to Biden since the start of his presidential campaign, serving as a co-chair of the president-elect's Covid-19 advisory board during the transition.

Russia reports 28,142 new coronavirus cases, 456 deaths

Russia confirmed 28,142 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours on Monday, including 7,279 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 2,488,912 since the pandemic began. Authorities said 456 people had died overnight, taking the official death toll to 43,597.

Russia approves clinical trials for Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Ad5-Ncov - Ifax

Russia has granted approval for clinical trials to be held for the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Ad5-Ncov involving 8,000 volunteers, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday. Ad5-nCoV is a vaccine candidate co-developed by CanSino Biologics and a Chinese military-backed research unit.

Over 30,000 covid cases in California Sunday

More than 30,000 new covid-19 cases were reported in California Sunday, the highest number of new daily cases ever recorded in the state. 

The 30,075 new cases reported Sunday bring the statewide total to 1,341,700 cases since the pandemic began, according to the California Public Health Department Covid-19 dashboard.

The state also reported 85 new deaths Sunday for a total of 19,876 deaths. 

Hospitalizations are also at an all time high, with 10,624 Covid-19 patients, which is an increase of 338 patients since yesterday, the website showed.

There are 1,567 intensive care unit beds that remain available, according to the website. 

Several regions have reported low ICU bed availability, with the San Joaquin Valley region only having 6.6% of beds available and the Southern California region having 10.3% available, the state's stay at home order website said.

 In this file photo taken on July 01, 2020 Rudy Giuliani, attorney for US President Donald Trump, speaks at the White House in Washington, DC. - Donald Trump on December 6, 2020 tweeted that his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has led the president's effort to undo his election loss, tested positive for Covid-19. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

Rudy Giuliani could have affected 100s of people

Yesterday, Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was confirmed positive for coronavirus, with the president himself breaking the news on Twitter. 

And accourding to Dr. Megan Ranney, Giuliani could have potentially exposed "hundreds and hundreds" of people to the virus during a recent trip to Atlanta.

"We know that the two days before someone develops symptoms, before they test positive, is the time when they are most infectious," Dr. Ranney told CNN.

"So Guliani has not just exposed himself and caught Covid, but he has potentially exposed hundreds and hundreds of Trump supporters to the virus during his most infectious phase."

 

Hello and welcome

Hello and welcome as we begin our live blog this Monday morning, 7 December 2020. We'll be bringing you all of the news and reaction following the US elections as Joe Biden and his team prepare to enter office in January. We'll also keep you up to date with all the latest coronavirus-related developments from the US and around the globe. 

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