CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 17,840,080 and the nation’s death toll stands at 316,667, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 183,223 new cases and 1,414 deaths… Initial shipments of the Moderna vaccine shipped out of a Memphis-area factory yesterday and will be administered beginning today. The Food and Drug Administration (authorized their emergency rollout on Friday… President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday that the Trump administration’s timeline for COVID-19 vaccinations may be unrealistic and that many Americans may not get the shot until summer or fall.
SENATE AGREES ON STIMULUS PACKAGE… The Senate reached agreement yesterday on a long-awaited second stimulus package, with votes expected today. The $900 billion bill includes a $600 per-person stimulus check. The bill will also include $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits, as well as several billion dollars to be allocated for schools, transportation, and rental and hunger relief, the Washington Post reported. The package would be the second-largest economic stimulus in U.S. history, following a $2.3 trillion aid bill passed in March.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN PETITIONS SUPREME COURT… The Trump campaign plans to try again to get the Supreme Court to overturn results from the November 3 election. Despite mounting criticism for its effort to subvert the electoral process and sow doubt over the legitimacy of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, the campaign had filed a petition asking the high court to reverse three rulings by a Pennsylvania state court interpreting the state’s rules for mail-in ballots. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the filing sought all “appropriate remedies,” including an order allowing Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature to award the state’s 20 electoral votes to Trump. Biden’s victory margin in the state surpassed 80,000 votes.
50 COMPANIES ‘IMPACTED’ BY HACK… The cyber-security firm that identified the large-scale hacking of U.S. government agencies says it “genuinely impacted” around 50 companies. Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye, said that some 18,000 companies had the malicious code in their networks, but only a fraction of them suffered major breaches. The Treasury, Homeland Security, State and Defense departments are known to have been targeted. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with the chairs of the Senate and House of Representatives’ intelligence committees, has blamed Russia for the hack.
ROCKETS TARGETED BAGHDAD GREEN ZONE… Iraq’s military and Iraqi officials reported last night that eight rockets targeted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. An Iraqi military statement said an “an outlawed group” launched the rockets, which injured an Iraqi security person and caused material damage to a residential complex and some cars. The U.S. Embassy’s C-RAM defense system, which is used to destroy missiles in mid-air, was activated to deflect the attack, the embassy said in a statement.
TAYLOR SWIFT HAS 2 ALBUMS IN CHART’S TOP FIVE… Taylor Swift’s “Evermore” sold 329,000 copies to give her an eighth No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Her previous release, “Folklore,” jumped into third place on sales of 133,000 units. Kid Cudi’s “Man on the Moon III: The Chosen” debuted in second place with 144,000 copies sold. Michael Bublé’s “Christmas” remained in fourth place after selling 58,000 units. Jack Harlow’s “Thats What They All Say” capped the top five with 51,000 copies sold.
L.A. FILM CRITICS PICK WINNERS… The Los Angeles Film Critics Association yesterday unveiled their picks for the year’s best in film. The association selected “Small Axe” as best picture. Chloe Zhao was named best director for “Nomadland.” Chadwick Boseman was chosen best actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” with Carey Mulligan winning best actress for “Promising Young Women.” Glynn Turman was selected best supporting actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Youn Yuh-jung was named best supporting actress for “Minari.”
Tampa Bay 31 – ATLANTA 27… The Buccaneers (5-9) overcame a pair of 17-point deficits to upend the Falcons (4-10). Tom Brady led five straight scoring drives in the second half and hit Antonio Brown with a go-ahead 46-yard touchdown pass with 6:19 remaining. Leonard Fournette scored on two touchdown runs.
DALLAS 41 – San Francisco 33… The Cowboys (5-9) scored four times off of turnovers to get past the 49ers (5-9). With Ezekiel Elliott sidelined with a calf injury, Tony Pollard ran for a pair of touchdowns. Andy Dalton threw two scoring passes.
TENNESSEE 46 – Detroit 25… Ryan Tannehill ran for two scores and threw touchdown passes to three different receivers in leading the Titans (10-4) past the Lions (5-9). Derrick Henry rushed for 147 yards and a TD.
INDIANAPOLIS 27 – Houston 20… Philip Rivers hit Zach Pascal with a tie-breaking 5-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 remaining as the Colts (10-4) topped the Texans (4-10). Indianapolis’ defense recovered a fumble in their own end zone with 19 seconds left to seal the victory.
MIAMI 22 – New England 12… Tua Tagovailoa scored on two short fourth-quarter runs as the Dolphins (9-5) pulled away from the Patriots (6-8). Salvon Ahmed rushed for 122 yards and a score.
Chicago 33 – MINNESOTA 27… David Montgomery ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears (7-7) held off the Vikings (6-8). Cairo Santos booted four field goals to 48 yards.
Seattle 20 – WASHINGTON 15… The Seahawks (10-4) turned away a late rally to down Washington (6-8) and clinch a playoff spot. Seattle took a 20-3 lead into the fourth quarter after Carlos Hyde’s 50-yard touchdown run. Russell Wilson found Jacob Hollister with a 10-yard scoring strike in the second quarter.
BALTIMORE 40 – Jacksonville 14… The Ravens (9-5) built a 26-0 halftime lead and never looked back in their rout of the Jaguars (1-13). Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score.
N.Y. Jets 23 – L.A. RAMS 20… The Jets (1-13) held off the Rams (9-5) to notch their first victory of the season. Sam Darnold passed for 207 yards and a score.
ARIZONA 33 – Philadelphia 26… Kyler Murray’s 20-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 7:17 remaining proved to be the difference as the Cardinals (8-6) topped the Eagles (4-9-1). Murray threw for 406 yards and three scores on the day. Hopkins finished with nine catches for 169 yards.
Kansas City 32 – NEW ORLEANS 29… The Chiefs (13-1) fought off the Saints (10-4) for their ninth straight win. Patrick Mahomes threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
Cleveland 20 – N.Y. GIANTS 6… The Browns (10-4) took one step closer to a playoff berth in grinding out a win over the Giants (5-9). Baker Mayfield led two 95-yard scoring drives and threw second-quarter touchdown passes to Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL…
Pittsburgh (11-2) is at Cincinnati (2-10-1)
TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES…
NORTHWESTERN 79, No. 4 Michigan State 65…
No. 6 HOUSTON 88, Alcorn State 55…
No. 9 Creighton 76, CONNECTICUT 74…
No. 11 Texas 77, Oklahoma State 74…
No. 19 RUTGERS 91, No. 13 Illinois 88
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS… Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame secured the top four spots in the final College Football Playoffs poll yesterday and will vie for the national championship. The semifinals are scheduled for January 1, with No. 1 Alabama battling No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, followed by No. 2 Clemson taking on No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The winners advance to the January 11 title game in Miami.