CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 10,110,922 and the nation’s death toll stands at 238,235, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… Drug maker Pfizer announced yesterday that the coronavirus vaccine it developed with the German drugmaker BioNTech appears to be able to prevent more than 90 percent of people from getting COVID-19. No serious safety concerns have been observed during tests on 43,500 people in six countries, Pfizer added. The company plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization and hopes to manufacture enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people by the end of the year.
TRUMP FIRES DEFENSE CHIEF, CLIMATE SCIENTIST… President Trump announced yesterday that he fired Mark Esper as his defense secretary. Insiders say the move was the result of Trump questioning the Pentagon’s loyalty following his loss in the presidential election. Traditionally, losing presidents have kept their Pentagon chiefs in place until Inauguration Day to preserve stability in the name of national security. Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christopher Miller has been named acting Defense Department secretary. In another departure, Michael Kuperberg has been removed as director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Kuperberg oversaw the 2018 National Climate Assessment, which made it clear that climate change is a devastating threat to the U.S. and warned of its destructive economic impact.
BARR ALLOWS DOJ TO EXAMINE VOTING ALLEGATIONS… Attorney General William Barr is allowing federal prosecutors to examine allegations of voting irregularities before states move to certify results in the coming weeks. However, Barr urged investigators not to pursue “fanciful or far fetched claims.” Despite a lack of evidence, President Trump blames voting irregularities for his loss in last Tuesday’s election and has refused to concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. Barr’s memo authorizing an investigation prompted the resignation of Richard Pilger, who directs the Election Crimes Branch at the Department of Justice.
GEORGIA SENATORS ATTACK SECRETARY OF STATE… Georgia’s Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have called on the state’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign. The two senators cited failures in Georgia’s election process without citing specific examples. Raffensperger vowed the he would not resign and declared Georgia’s election a “resounding success,” citing low wait times and high turnout. Loeffler and Perdue will go into January 5 runoff elections against their respective Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
ETA FLOODS SOUTH FLORIDA… Tropical Storm Eta brought torrential rain to South Florida yesterday before moving into the Gulf of Mexico, where it is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane. There was widespread flooding amid a forecast of up to 18 inches of rain around Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Forecasters say the storm could make a second landfall along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida late Friday into early Saturday.
NETFLIX ANNOUNCES KEVIN HART SPECIAL… Netflix announced plans to air a new Kevin Hart comedy special. “Kevin Hart: Zero [Expletive] Given” is scheduled to premiere on November 17. Hart filmed the show on September 20 in Los Angeles. Hart’s last standup special on Netflix, “Kevin Hart: Irresponsible,” premiered April 2. Hart also starred in the Netflix docuseries “Kevin Hart: Don’t [Expletive] This Up” last year.
TYLER HUBBARD TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID… Florida Georgia Line lead singer Tyler Hubbard announced on social media yesterday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Hubbard said he has been quarantining on his tour bus outside of his home in Nashville. He noted that he’s not experiencing any symptoms of the virus. Hubbard has been removed as a performer at tomorrow’s 2020 Country Music Association Awards. Florida Georgia Line is nominated for vocal duo of the year. Hubbard is the second singer to pull out of the show due to COVID-19, following Lee Brice.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL…
New England 30 – N.Y. JETS 27… The Patriots (3-5) scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to rally past the Jets (0-9). Nick Folk booted a game-winning 51-yard field goal as time expired. Cam Newton had a pair of short touchdown runs.
MLB NEWS… Seattle Mariners center fielder Kyle Lewis was named the American League Rookie of the Year last night. The 25-year-old Lewis received all 30 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He batted .262 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs in 58 games.