CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 11,036,935 and the nation’s death toll stands at 246,214, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… A second coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. has shown to have a high success rate. Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine was 94.5 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection, according to interim data from a late-stage trial published yesterday. Last week, Pfizer announced that early data showed its vaccine is more than 90 percent effective… California governor Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that his state is “pulling the emergency brake” in moving 28 counties accounting for 94 percent of the state’s population back into the most restrictive purple tier. The move comes after the number of cases doubled over the past 10 days. Total hospitalizations and cases in intensive care units have shot up 48 and 39 percent, respectively, over the past two weeks.
TRUMP, ALLIES DROP SUITS… Voters in four states who had filed suit challenging Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election dropped their cases yesterday morning. Suits filed in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania federal courts were all backed by the law firm of a nationally known conservative attorney, James Bopp Jr. On Friday, a federal appellate court ruled that voters couldn’t bring some constitutional claims. Trump has refused to concede the election and continues to make false claims of widespread voter fraud with no evidence. His campaign and GOP allies have posted just a minor win in Pennsylvania among the 25 post-election lawsuits they have filed. The Trump campaign will be back in court today trying to overturn Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania. The campaign unsuccessfully argued to delay the trial yesterday after three of four attorneys on the team quit. Two previous sets of Trump lawyers stepped away from the case over the past week.
GEORGIA SEC OF STATE SAYS REPUBLICANS APPLIED PRESSURE OVER VOTING… Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told the Washington Post that Republican lawmakers have pressured him to discredit absentee ballot votes in the state following Joe Biden’s victory there. Raffensperger said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was among those applying pressure. Graham allegedly questioned Georgia’s signature-matching law and suggested that Raffensperger find a way to toss out legal ballots.
BIDEN, HARRIS TALK ECONOMIC RECOVERY… President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met with business and labor leaders yesterday before before publicly presenting their plans for managing the economy. During a speech in Delaware, Biden stressed the importance of harnessing the coronavirus pandemic, developing a fair tax structure and buying U.S.-made products. He warned of dire consequences if the Trump administration continues its refusal to coordinate with Biden’s transition team on the coronavirus pandemic and block briefings on national security, policy issues and vaccine plans. Harris stressed the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
HATE-CRIME MURDERS SPIKE… Annual data released yesterday by the FBI showed that hate-crime murders surged to a record high in 2019 and overall hate crime incidents also rose. Studies found 51 people were the victims of murder or non-negligent manslaughter motivated by hate in 2019, far surpassing the 24 people killed the year before. 2018 had already been the deadliest year on record for victims of hate crimes since the FBI began tracking the data in the early 1990s, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
CREW DOCKS AT SPACE STATION… The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft delivered four astronauts to the International Space Station last night. The spacecraft docked at approximately 11:15 p.m. Eastern after launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center 27 hours earlier. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker arrived on the mission, as did Soichi Noguchi from Japan’s space agency. The crew is expected to spend about six months working on a variety of science experiments and conducting space walks to continue updates and repairs on the space station’s exterior.
SINBAD RECOVERING FROM STOKE… Comedian and actor Sinbad is recovering from a recent stroke, family members revealed yesterday. The condition of the 64-year-old entertainer was not disclosed. Sinbad is best known for his stand-up comedy specials, as well as his work on the TV sitcom “A Different World” and in films that include “Houseguest.”
2 DANCERS ELIMINATED… Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir and actress Skai Jackson were eliminated during last night’s “Dancing with the Stars” semi-finals. Weir had been partnered with pro dancer Britt Stewart for Season 29 of the competition series. Jackson danced with Alan Bersten. Actress Justina Machado, reality TV stars Nev Schulman and Kaitlyn Bristowe, and rapper Nelly have advance to next week’s finals.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL…
Minnesota 19 – CHICAGO 13… Kirk Cousins’ second touchdown pass to Adam Thielan came from 4 yards out and broke a fourth-quarter tie in carrying the Vikings (4-5) past the Bears (5-5). Cousins found Thielan with a 17-yard scoring toss in the first quarter. Justin Jefferson had eight receptions for 135 yards. Chicago led most of the third quarter after Cordarrelle Patterson returned the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a TD.
NFL NEWS… The New Orleans Saints are expected to be without quarterback Drew Brees indefinitely as he recovers from multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung. Brees suffered two fractured ribs and the collapsed lung on his right side in Sunday’s win over the San Francisco 49ers and sustained three fractured left ribs in the previous week’s defeat of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
NBA NEWS… The Phoenix Suns have acquired All-Star guard Chris Paul in a blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The deal brings Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix in exchange for Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick. The 35-year-old Paul will be reunited with Suns coach Monty Williams, who coached the point guard for one season in New Orleans… ESPN reported that the New Orleans Pelicans were nearing completion of a deal to send guard Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and “significant” draft compensation.
MLB NEWS… The San Diego Padres announced yesterday that pitcher Mike Clevinger is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery today and will miss the 2021 season. The announcement came after the team reached agreement with the righthander on a two-year, $11.5 million contract extension. San Diego acquired Clevinger from Cleveland on August 31, but he left with a sore elbow in his final start of the regular season and was not available for the playoffs.