The Rundown for December 30, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 19,556,927 and the nation’s death toll stands at 338,561, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… A more infectious strain of the coronavirus that prompted an uptick of cases in the United Kingdom has officially arrived in the U.S. Colorado Governor Jared Polis revealed yesterday that state health officials found a case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 in a male patient in his 20s who had no travel history. There is no evidence yet that B.1.1.7 is deadlier or vaccine-resistant… NBC News has reported that the coronavirus vaccination effort in the U.S. is seriously behind schedule. At the current rate, it would take nearly 10 years for enough Americans to be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus, the network says. The slightly more than 2 million people who have received the first dose of the vaccine in the U.S. so far is well below the 20 million that the Trump administration promised to have done by the end of the year.

McCONNELL BLOCKS RAISED STIMULUS PAYMENTS… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday blocked a bipartisan effort to quickly pass a measure to increase direct stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sought to pass the change to the omnibus spending bill through a unanimous consent request on the Senate floor, but McConnell objected. The House passed the increase to stimulus payments on Monday. The measure could be scheduled for another vote in the Senate at a later date. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service would begin delivering the $600 payments as early as last night through direct deposit, with paper checks being mailed out today.

CONGRESSMAN-ELECT DIES OF COVID… Louisiana congressman-elect Luke Letlow died yesterday after a short battle with Covid-19. The 41-year-old Letlow had announced his diagnosis on his Facebook page on December 18. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered that flags in the state be flown at half-staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral. A new representative for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District will be determined by special election.

SAUDI ARABIA ARMS SALE APPROVED… The Trump administration yesterday approved a possible $300 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The State Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency gave its okay on the sale of 3,000 Boeing-made GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I Munitions and related equipment to the ally Middle Eastern country for $290 million. The State Department said the munitions will increase Saudi Arabia’s stock of long-range, precision air-to-ground munitions that will improve the nation’s “capability to meet current and future threats.”

DOJ CLOSES TAMIR RICE INVESTIGATION… The Justice Department announced yesterday that it has closed its civil rights investigation into the fatal 2014 shooting by Cleveland police of Tamir Rice and that no federal criminal charges would be brought in the case. The announcement came five years after an Ohio grand jury cleared two Cleveland officers of state charges in the death of Rice, a 12-year-old youth who was shot in a playground while holding a pellet gun. Both officers are white.

ENTERTAINMENT
CHRISTMAS SONGS DOMINATE HOT 100 CHART
… A total of 39 holiday songs dominate this week’s Billboard Hot 100 chart, including nine holiday tunes in the Top 10. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” holds the top spot for the fifth time. Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” follows in second place. Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” are also in the top five.

‘DANCING’ CHAMP BATTLING COVID… Recently crowned “Dancing with the Stars” champion Kaitlyn Bristowe is battling Covid-19, she announced on social media yesterday. Bristowe, an alum of “The Bachelor” franchise, said she and her her boyfriend Jason Tartick had been quarantining before the holidays but the one person they allowed to come visit was carrying the virus. Tartick was a contestant on “The Bachelorette.”

SPORTS
NBA SCORES

New York 95 – CLEVELAND 86
… The Knicks built an early double-digit lead and held off the Cavaliers. Julius Randle racked up 28 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

Golden State 116 – Detroit 106… Stephen Curry pumped in 31 points and Andrew Wiggins scored 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors put away the Pistons.

Boston 116 – INDIANA 111… The Celtics rallied from 17 points down in the third quarter to take down the Pacers. Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 11 boards.

PHILADELPHIA 100 – Toronto 93… Joel Embiid had game-highs with 29 points and 15 rebounds in leading the 76ers past the Raptors. Tobias Harris added 26 points and 11 boards.

Chicago 115 – WASHINGTON 107… Zach ZaVine scored nine straight points during a third-quarter surge and the Bulls dealt the Wizards their fourth straight loss. Wendell Carter Jr. had 12 rebounds to go with his 10 points.

Milwaukee 144 – MIAMI 97… The Bucks made an NBA-record 29 3-pointers in their bombing of the Heat. Kris Middleton led the way with 25 points. Jrue Holiday added 24 points.

Orlando 118 – Oklahoma City 107… The Magic handled the Thunder to win their fourth straight at the start of the season. Nikola Vucevic scored 28 points and pulled down 10 boards.

PHOENIX 111 – New Orleans 86… The Suns took over with a big second quarter and built a 39-point lead through three quarters in their thrashing of the Pelicans. Jae Crowder scored 21 points to lead six players in double figures.

L.A. CLIPPERS 124 – Minnesota 101… Lou Williams came off the bench to score 20 points and lead seven players in double figures as the Clippers cruised past the Timberwolves.

SACRAMENTO 125 – Denver 115… The Kings used a big fourth quarter to rally past the Nuggets. They got points from De’Aaron Fox and 20 from Richaun Holmes. Five other players scored in double figures.

TODAY’S NBA SCHEDULE
Memphis is at Boston…
Brooklyn hosts Atlanta…
Milwaukee is at Miami…
Dallas hosts Charlotte…
the L.A. Lakers are at San Antonio…
the L.A. Clippers host Portland

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL SCORES
No. 21 Oklahoma State 37, No. 18 Miami 34 in the Cheez-It Bowl…
No. 20 Texas 55, Colorado 23 in the Alamo Bowl

TODAY’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL SCHEDULE
Wisconsin plays Wake Forest in the Mayo Bowl…
No. 6 Oklahoma plays No. 7 Florida in the Cotton Bowl

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
No. 1 GONZAGA 112, Dixie State 67…
No. 2 BAYLOR 93, Central Arkansas 56…
TULSA 65, No. 5 Houston 64…
No. 9 WEST VIRGINIA 73, Northeastern 51…
No. 10 IOWA 87, No. 19 Northwestern 73…
No. 14 RUTGERS 81, Purdue 76…
CLEMSON 77, No. 18 Florida State 67…
No. 23 TEXAS TECH 79, Incarnate Word 51…
No. 24 VIRGINIA TECH 80, Miami 78

COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS… The University of Arizona announced yesterday that it is self-imposing a one-year postseason ban on its men’s basketball program. The decision follows the NCAA investigation stemming from the 2017 federal investigation into corruption in college basketball and college basketball recruiting. Former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery after being accused of accepting $20,000 to steer Arizona players to aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins and financial advisers close to Dawkins.

MLB NEWS… The San Diego Padres made it official yesterday in announcing the acquisitions of pitchers Blake Snell from Tampa Bay and Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs. San Diego also announced the signing of infielder Ha-seong Kim from the Korea Baseball Organization. The deals follow the Padres’ first postseason appearance in 14 years.

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