CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 7,852,022, and the nation’s death toll stands at 215,818, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… Drug maker Eli Lilly has halted a clinical trial for a coronavirus antibody treatment due to a “potential safety concern,” the New York Times reported yesterday. The government-sponsored trial was tested on hundreds of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. On Monday, Johnson & Johnson paused its coronavirus vaccine trial because of an illness in a patient. Last month, AstraZeneca halted its vaccine trial after two participants had adverse side effects.
BARRETT HEARING… Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett maintained she was agenda-free yesterday during a second day questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She declined to preview how she would rule on such issues as Roe v. Wade or Obamacare and did not commit to recusing herself from a potential Trump v. Biden case that might emerge from the presidential election. California Senator and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris criticized Republicans for rushing to confirm Barrett rather than passing additional legislation to address the coronavirus pandemic portrayed Barrett as a threat to the Affordable Care Act. Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse asked no questions but used a chart to identify the use of dark money in politics.
NO CHARGES IN DOJ UNMASKING INVESTIGATION… The Justice Department has ended its investigation into whether former Obama administration officials improperly sought to uncover the identities of individuals described in national security documents without finding any evidence of wrongdoing, according to a report yesterday in the Washington Post. President Trump had used the practice of “unmasking” to support his claims that his political opponents and critics should be arrested. Right-wing media portrayed the practice as political conspiracy. Former U.S. Attorney John Bash, who conducted the investigation launched by Attorney General William Barr, resigned from the Justice Department last week.
HIGH COURT DECISION ENDS CENSUS COUNTING… The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Trump administration can immediately end counting for the 2020 U.S. census a month earlier than originally scheduled. The decision put on hold a lower court ruling that ordered the once-in-a-decade population count to continue until October 31. The Trump administration argued in its appeal that the count must be finished immediately to allow the Census Bureau enough time to meet the congressionally mandated December 31 deadline. The nationwide population tabulation, conducted once every 10 years, determines how many seats in the House of Representatives and Electoral College each state receives. Civil rights groups had argued that ending the counting early will produce an undercount.
VIRGINIA GOVERNOR TARGETED IN ANTI-GOVERNMENT PLOT… Anti-government gangmembers accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also discussed kidnapping Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, according to an FBI agent’s testimony at yesterday’s court hearing. Special Agent Richard Trask said the plot to kidnap Northam was discussed during a June meeting in Ohio that drew members of anti-government groups from “four or five” states. Trask also discussed methods used in the investigation leading to charges against six men last week.
ACTRESS CONCHATA FERRELL DIES… Actress Conchata Ferrell died yesterday of complications following a cardiac arrest. She was 77. Ferrell earned Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy nominations in 2005 and 2007 for her portrayal of housekeeper Berta on “Two and a Half Men.” She also received an Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series nomination in 1992 for her role as Susan Bloom on “L.A. Law.” Her television credits included ”Good Times,” “E/R,” “Grace and Frankie,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “BJ and The Bear.” Her more recent credits included Netflix’s “The Ranch.”
NEW ALLEGATIONS AGAINST ‘CHEER’ STAR… In a new court filing yesterday, federal prosecutors say “Cheer” star Jerry Harris “exploited and violated” at least 10 boys. The new allegations were part of the government’s motion for pretrial detention. The 21-year-old Harris rose to fame earlier this year in the Netflix docuseries chronicling the cheerleading team at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. He was arrested and charged last month with one count of producing child pornography for allegedly soliciting nude photos from minors. Harris is currently being held in a Chicago jail.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCORE…
Tampa Bay 5 – HOUSTON 2 (in San Diego)… The Rays downed the Astros to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series. Joey Wendle stroked a two-run single and Hunter Renfroe added a two-run double as the Rays scored all five runs in the top of the sixth inning. Starter Ryan Yarbrough allowed two runs on three hits over five innings and four relievers shut the door. Tampa Bay sends Tyler Glasnow to the mound today as seeks to complete a series sweep. Zack Greinke gets the start for Houston in a matchup of righthanders. Gametime is 8:40 p.m. Eastern.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCORE…
Atlanta 8 – L.A. DODGERS 7 (in Arlington)… The Braves withstood a four-run Dodger rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to escape with the victory and open a 2-0 lead in the series. Freddie Freeman homered with a runner aboard and knocked in a run with an infield single. Ozzie Albies went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and sacrifice fly. Atlanta sends righthander Kyle Wright to the mound for today’s Game 3. He’ll be opposed by L.A. lefty Julio Urias. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. Eastern.
TENNESSEE 42 – Buffalo 16… Ryan Tannehill found Jonnu Smith with two of his three touchdown passes as the Titans (4-0) rolled past the Bills (4-1) in a matchup of teams entering the contest unbeaten. Derrick Henry rushed for a pair of scores.
NFL NEWS… The New York Jets have released two-time All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell after less than two seasons with the team. Bell signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Jets that included $27 million guaranteed during the 2019 offseason. Now, the former All-Pro running back will be subject to waivers, and if he is not claimed, he will be free to sign with another team.