CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 14,949,299 and the nation’s death toll stands at 283,703, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 198,792 new cases and 1,508 deaths yesterday… New data released by the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday offers a stark picture of the stress facing hospitals. The dataset on hospital capacity and bed use at hospitals in 2,200 U.S. counties identifies areas where hospitals are getting dangerously full. In 126 counties, the average hospital is at least 90 percent occupied. The states with the most counties above this threshold are Kentucky, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas.
BIDEN FILLS OUT HEALTH PICKS… President-elect Joe Biden confirmed his selection of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of the Department Health and Human Services yesterday and named other members of his health team. Vivek Murthy, who heads Biden’s COVID-19 advisory task force, will return for a second round as surgeon general. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease expert at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, will head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anthony Fauci will remain as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Biden has is expected to announce Army General Lloyd Austin as his pick for secretary of defense. Austin is the former commander of U.S. Central Command.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RESTORES DACA… The Trump administration said yesterday that it has fully restored the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in compliance with a judge’s order. The DACA program shields hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation of they came to the U.S. as children. The Trump administration has argued that DACA is unconstitutional and stopped taking applications in September 2017. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the administration violated federal law in its ending of the program.
FLORIDA HOME OF FORMER COVID DATA SCIENTIST RAIDED… Florida state police yesterday morning raided the home of a former Florida Department of Health data scientist who was fired from her job running the state’s COVID-19 data dashboard. Rebekah Jones maintains her firing came after she refused to manipulate data. Jones has since created her own COVID-19 data platform and the data and backups used to run it were among items taken during the raid. Jones used social media to post video of the raid from a home surveillance camera. The Department of Health filed a complaint alleging the Jones had breached an emergency messaging alert system and had “illegally accessed the system.” She denies knowing how to do that. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies have been accused of engaging in a widespread campaign to downplay and misinterpret information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
CHUCK YEAGER DIES… Pioneering Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager, who became the first person to break the sound barrier in 1947 and was the first pilot in history to fly faster than the speed of sound in level flight, died last night at age 97. After enlisting in the Army Air Corpos in 1941, Yeager advanced from a mechanic to pilot. He shot down 13 German planes on 64 missions during World War II, including five on a single mission. He was once shot down over German-held France but escaped with the help of French partisans. Yeager became a test pilot after World War II at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He flew more than 200 types of military aircraft and also trained many of the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo astronauts at the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilots School. The native West Virginian’s exploits were told in Tom Wolfe’s book “The Right Stuff,” and the 1983 film of the same name.
ACTRESS NATALIE DESSELLE REID DIES… Actress Natalie Desselle Reid, who was perhaps best known for her sidekick role opposite Halle Berry in the 1997 comedy film “BAP*S,” died yesterday after a battle with colon cancer. She was 53. Reid also had starring roles in the 2003-2006 sitcom “Eve” and the 2010 film “Madea’s Big Happy Family.” Her Hollywood career began in 1996 when she appeared in a single episode of the sitcom “Family Matters.” Her last acting credit came in 2017 for a role in the Comedy Central series “Ya Killin’ Me.”
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN OPPOSES WARNER BROS. DECISION… Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has taken a strong stand against Warner Bros.’ decision to release its films on HBO Max and in theaters in 2021. The “Tenet” filmmaker called it a bad business decision and criticized how the company handled it. “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” said Nolan, whose working relationship with Warners began with the 2002 film “Insomnia.” Nolan’s most recent film, “Tenet,” was the first and only major blockbuster to open in theaters in early September following pandemic-related closures.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL..
Washington 23 – PITTSBURGH 17… Washington (5-7) erased a 14-point deficit to rally past the Steelers (11-1) and hand them their first loss. Dustin Hopkins booted a go-ahead 45-yard field goal with 2:09 remaining and added a 45-yarder with 17 seconds left. Alex Smith sparked the rally with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Logan Thomas.
Buffalo 34 – SAN FRANCISCO 24… Josh Allen passed for 375 yards and hit four different receivers with touchdown passes as the Bills (9-3) rolled past the 49ers (5-7) to remain in sole possession of first place atop the AFC East. The game was played in Glendale, Arizona. Cole Beasley had nine catches for 130 yards and a score.
TOP 25 MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES…
No. 19 RICHMOND 77, Wofford 72
MLB NEWS… The Los Angeles Angels and Cincinnati Reds exchanged right-handed relievers yesterday, with Cincinnati sending closer Raisel Iglesias and cash considerations to L.A. for Noe Ramirez and a player to be named later. The 30-year-old Iglesias has recorded 72 saves over the past three seasons. The 31-year-old Ramirez had a 4.13 ERA during that time.