CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 13,382,681 and the nation’s death toll stands at 266,847, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… The number of new cases in the U.S. yesterday topped 100,000 for the 27th consecutive day. Hospitalizations reached a record high of 93,238 for the second straight day yesterday… The nation’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned yesterday that the U.S. may see a “surge upon a surge” of cases in the weeks following Thanksgiving. Fauci said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that vaccines for the virus offered a “light at the end of the tunnel,” with the first inoculations likely to be given to healthcare workers next month… New York City public elementary schools will begin reopening on December 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday. The nation’s largest public school system closed on November 19 when the city reached a seven-day COVID-19 testing positivity average of 3 percent, but de Blasio said that metric will no longer be used. Middle and high schools will remain closed.
SCHUMER PUTS VACCINE-DISTRIBUTION COST AT $30B… Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a brief press conference yesterday that it will cost $30 billion in federal funds to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. He offered the figure while legislative negotiations over an economic relief bill remain stalled. “This should be a moment of clarity for everyone,” Schumer said. “This is a huge crisis and we need big relief.”
WISCONSIN CONFIRMS BIDEN WIN… Wisconsin’s recount has confirmed Joe Biden’s defeat of President Trump in the presidential election. Dane County reported a 45-vote gain for Trump. Milwaukee County announced a 132-vote gain for Biden in results released on Friday. Biden won Wisconsin by approximately 20,000 votes. President Trump’s requested recount in Georgia came to a temporary halt last night when a server in Fulton County crashed.
BIDEN NAMES COMMUNICATIONS STAFF… President-elect Joe Biden has filled out his senior communications staff with an all-woman team. Jen Psaki has been named White House Press Secretary; Kate Bedingfield was named White House Communications director; Symone D. Sanders has been named Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s spokesperson; Karine Jean-Pierre was named Deputy Press Secretary; Pili Tobar has been named Deputy White House Communications Director; Ashley Etienne was named Harris’s communication director; and Elizabeth Alexander has been named communications director for the First Lady, Jill Biden. Meanwhile, Biden is expected to spend the next several weeks walking in a boot after suffering a minor fracture in his foot. The injury reportedly occurred Saturday while Biden was playing with “Major,” the younger of his two dogs.
UTAH ‘MONOLITH’ DISAPPEARS… Officials confirmed yesterday that the mysterious object dubbed the “monolith” has disappeared from the southern Utah desert. The 12-foot-long tri-cornered beam was sighted two weeks ago by wildlife biologists counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter. The object’s discovery garnered national and international attention and theories as to how it ended up on federal land in the middle of nowhere.
DARTH VADER ACTOR DIES… David “Dave” Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died after a short illness, his agent confirmed yesterday. He was 85. Before becoming a character actor in the mid-1960s, Prowse had been a bodybuilder and weightlifter. His first role in a major film was as Frankenstein’s Monster in the 1967’s “Casino Royale.” He also made appearances in “A Clockwork Orange” and a variety of horror films.
BTS TOPS ALBUM CHART… BTS’ “Be” sold 242,000 copies to give the K-pop group its fifth No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Megan Thee Stallion’s “Good News” finished in second place with 100,500 units sold. Ariana Grande’s “Positions” jumped into third place on sales of 61,000 copies. Pop Smoke’s “Stars Aim for the Moon” rose to No. 4 with 52,000 units sold. Future and Lil Uzi Vert’s “Pluto x Baby Pluto” dropped to fifth place after selling 46,000 copies.
ATLANTA 43 – Las Vegas 6… The Falcons (4-7) forced five turnovers in their dismantling of the Raiders (6-5). Deion Jones returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown. Matt Ryan threw two short scoring passes.
BUFFALO 27 – L.A. Chargers 17… The Bills (8-3) overcame sloppy play offensively to hold of the Chargers (3-8). Josh Allen threw 2 yards for a touchdown and ran 3 yards for another. Wide receiver Cole Beasley hit Gabriel Davis with a 20-yard scoring toss.
N.Y. Giants 19 – CINCINNATI 17… The Giants (4-7) fought off the Bengals (2-8-1) after losing quarterback Daniel Jones to a hamstring injury in the second quarter. Wayne Gallman Jr. ran 1 yard for touchdown on fourth-and-goal in the first quarter. Graham Gano booted four field goals to 49 yards.
Tennessee 45 – INDIANAPOLIS 26… Derrick Henry rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Titans (8-3) to a romp over the Colts (7-4). Ryan Tannehill connected with A.J. Brown on a 69-yard scoring toss and ran for a T.D. Brown returned an onside kick 42 yards for a score.
MINNESOTA 28 – Carolina 27… Kirk Cousins’ 10-yard touchdown pass to Chad Beebe with 40 seconds remaining lifted the Vikings (5-6) over the Panthers (4-8). Carolina kicker Joey Slye missed a 54-yard field goal try with 1 second left. Cousins went 34 for 45 for 307 yards and three scores.
NEW ENGLAND 20 – Arizona 17.. Nick Folk kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired to send the Patriots (5-6) past the Cardinals (6-5). James White ran for a pair of touchdowns.
Miami 20 – N.Y. JETS 3… Ryan Fitzpatrick got the start at quarterback in place of the injured Tua Tagovailoa and threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Dolphins (7-4) topped the Jets (0-11).
Cleveland 27 – JACKSONVILLE 25… The Browns (8-3) remained in the playoff picture by holding off the Jaguars (1-10). Baker Mayield passed for 258 yards and found Jarvis Landry with a touchdown pass. Landry had eight receptions for 143 yards. Nick Chubb rushed for 144 yards and a score.
New Orleans 31 – DENVER 3… The Saints (9-2) cruised past a Broncos (4-7) team that was without all four quarterbacks due to Covid. Latavius Murray ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Taysom Hill also had two scoring runs. Defensively, New Orleans held Denver to just 112 total yards.
San Francisco 23 – L.A. RAMS 20… Robbie Gould’s 42-yard field goal as time expired gave the 49ers (5-6) a hard-fought win over the Rams (7-4). Raheem Mostert ran 8 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. Javon Kinlaw returned an interception 27 yards for a second-quarter score.
Kansas City 27 – TAMPA BAY 24… Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill were unstoppable in leading the Chiefs (10-1) past the Buccaneers (7-5). Mahomes passed for 462 yards and hit Hill with three of his four touchdown passes. Hill had 13 receptions for 269 yards.
GREEN BAY 41 – Chicago 25… Aaron Rodgers passed for 211 yards and hit four different receivers with touchdown passes as the Packers (5-6) topped the Bears (8-3). Rodgers’ final touchdown throw of the night made him the 11th player in NFL history with at least 50,000 career yards passing.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL…
Seattle (7-3) is at Philadelphia (3-6-1)
TOMORROW’S NFL SCHEDULE…
Baltimore (6-4) is at Pittsburgh (10-0)
AP TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS… Alabama received all 62 first-place votes to remain No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll for the second consecutive week. Notre Dame, Ohio State, Clemson and Texas A&M were also in the top five. The top eight teams in the rankings were unchanged for the fourth straight week.
No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Notre Dame
No. 3 Ohio State
No. 4 Clemson
No. 5 Texas A&M
No. 6 Florida
No. 7 Cincinnati
No. 8 BYU
No. 9 Miami
No. 10 Indiana
No. 11 Georgia
No. 12 Iowa State
No. 13 Oklahoma
No. 14 Coastal Carolina
No. 15 Marshall
No. 16 Northwestern
No. 17 USC
No. 18 Wisconsin
No. 19 Oklahoma State
No. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette
No. 21 Oregon
No. 22 Tulsa
No. 23 Washington
No. 24 Iowa
No. 25 Liberty
TOP 25 MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES…
No. 2 Baylor 86, Washington 52 (Las Vegas)…
Richmond 76, No. 10 KENTUCKY 64…
No. 11 CREIGHTON 69, North Dakota State 58…
No. 17 Houston 64, No. 14 Texas Tech 53 (Southwest Showcase)…
No. 18 ARIZONA STATE 100, Houston Baptist 77…
No. 23 OHIO STATE 74, Massachusetts-Lowell 64…
No. 24 RUTGERS 70, Hofstra 56…
No. 25 MICHIGAN 81, Oakland 71