The Rundown for December 16, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 16,716,777 and the nation’s death toll stands at 303,771, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 200,035 new cases and 2,981 deaths… Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that the vaccine manufactured by biotech firm Moderna is safe and effective enough for emergency use in the U.S. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets tomorrow to advise FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on whether to approve emergency use authorization. The same committee and the FDA took the same action last Friday to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

BIDEN CABINET COMING TOGETHER… President-elect Joe Biden continued to fill out his cabinet by naming former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. Buttigieg would be the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary if his nomination is approved. Biden is expected to name former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to lead the Department of Energy. Granholm was considered to be a top candidate for Energy secretary if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency in 2016.

TRUMP ORG MUST TURN OVER MORE RECORDS… A New York state judge ruled yesterday that the Trump Organization must turn over records related to a property under civil investigation by the New York attorney general’s office. The documents are related to a conservation easement that was granted to the Seven Springs estate in New York’s Westchester County, which the Trump Organization used for a $21 million tax deduction. President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testified last year that Trump routinely inflated the value of assets to obtain favorable loan rates and undervalued property for tax benefits. The testimony prompted James’ office to open an investigation.

PROGRESS ON RELIEF BILL… Congressional leaders signaled progress last night after a second meeting negotiating a coronavirus relief bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led talks that included the top officials on Capitol Hill. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joined the group by telephone. McConnell said yesterday morning that he hoped a fresh package of coronavirus relief could be attached to a government funding measure that faces a deadline of midnight on Friday.

STORM TO STRIKE EAST COAST… More than 60 million Americans from New England to northern Georgia are under winter storm advisories, watches and warnings as a powerful nor’easter approaches the East Coast. The storm is forecast to arrive today with heavy snow and ice. Boston and New York could see as much as a foot of snow, while parts of the tri-state area could see up to 16 inches. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed a disaster emergency proclamation. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that residents need to prepared for what could be the biggest storm in several years.

ENTERTAINMENT
TOM CRUISE ANGRY OVER PROTOCOL LAPSES
… Audio released yesterday captured Tom Cruise unloading on the crew of “Mission: Impossible 7” for not following Covid-19 protocols that were put in place to resume production during the pandemic. Cruise directed his tirade at the London crew after noticing lapses in social distancing protocols. Cruise stressed the importance of following the protocols as a means of bringing the movie industry back to work.

FOX ORDERS ‘FANTASY ISLAND’ REBOOT… Fox announced yesterday that it has ordered a reboot of “Fantasy Island.” The original fantasy drama ran from 1977 to 1984 on ABC. The new series is a semi-anthology that explores the “what if” questions that keep us awake at night. It is expected to premiere in summer 2021.

SPORTS
TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES

No. 1 TENNESSEE 79, Appalachian State 38…
No. 12 WISCONSIN 77, Loyola Chicago 63…
No. 13 ILLINOIS 92, Minnesota 65…
No. 15 FLORIDA STATE 74, Georgia Tech 61…
VIRGINIA TECH 66, No. 24 Clemson 60

NBA PRESEASON SCORES
PHILADELPHIA 108, Boston 99…
HOUSTON 112, San Antonio 98…
SACRAMENTO 114, Golden State 113

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS… The top five teams remain unchanged in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. Alabama retains its hold on No. 1 and is followed in the top five by Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State and Texas A&M. Iowa State, Florida, Georgia, Cincinnati and Oklahoma complete the top 10.

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