Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving
Americans returning from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.
Los Angeles County imposed a stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents, and Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, banned high school, college and professional sports and decreed a quarantine for those who have traveled more than 150 miles outside the county.
In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii County said trans-Pacific travelers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who have tested virus-free may be randomly selected for another test upon arrival. New Jersey is suspending all youth sports.
“The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action.”
Health experts had pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving and not gather with anyone who didn't live with them. Nevertheless, almost 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the most since the pandemic gripped the country in March, and others took to the highways to be with family and friends.
Wisconsin, Arizona certify Biden wins in presidential vote
Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results Monday in favor of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.
Biden’s victory in Wisconsin was certified following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.
“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”
The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.
Top secret: Biden gets access to President's Daily Brief
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joe Biden on Monday got his first look as president-elect at the President's Daily Brief, a top secret summary of U.S. intelligence and world events — a document former first lady Michelle Obama has called “The Death, Destruction, and Horrible Things Book."
Biden has already had eyes on different iterations of the so-called PDB, which is tailored to the way each president likes to absorb information.
More than a decade ago, Biden read President George W. Bush's PDB during Biden's transition into the vice presidency. After that, he read President Barack Obama's PDB for eight years. Now, after a four-year break, he's reading President Donald Trump's PDB.
“The briefers almost certainly will be asking Biden what he prefers in terms of format and style,” said David Priess, author of “The President’s Book of Secrets,” a history of the PDB. “At a minimum, they’re seeing what seems to resonate most with him so that when they make the book his book, they can tailor it to him.”
Obama’s PDB was a 10- to 15-page document tucked in a leather binder, which he found waiting for him on the breakfast table. Later in his presidency, he liked reading the ultra-secret intelligence brief on a secured iPad.
Biden names liberal econ team as pandemic threatens workers
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — With unemployment still high and the pandemic threatening yet another economic slump, President-elect Joe Biden is assembling a team of liberal advisers who have long focused on the nation’s workers and government efforts to address economic inequality.
Janet Yellen, announced Monday as Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, when she placed a greater emphasis than previous Fed chairs on maximizing employment and less focus on price inflation. Biden also named Cecilia Rouse as chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, and Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein as members of the council.
All are outspoken supporters of more government stimulus spending to boost growth, a major issue with the coronavirus pandemic cramping the U.S. economy.
Those choices “signal the desire of the Biden administration to take the CEA in a direction that really centers on working people and raising wages,” said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and former Labor Department chief economist during the Obama administration.
Biden’s nominees are also a more personally diverse group than those of previous presidents.
At tiny rural hospitals, weary doctors treat friends, family
MEMPHIS, Mo. (AP) — As Dr. Shane Wilson makes the rounds at the tiny, 25-bed hospital in rural northeastern Missouri, many of his movements are familiar in an age of coronavirus. Masks and gloves. Zippered plastic walls between hallways. Hand sanitizer as he enters and exits each room.
But one thing is starkly different. Born and raised in the town of just 1,800, Wilson knows most of his patients by their first names.
He visits a woman who used to be a gym teacher at his school, and later laughingly recalls a day she caught him smoking at school and made him and a friend pick up cigarette butts as punishment. Another man was in the middle of his soybean harvest when he fell ill and couldn’t finish.
In November, Wilson treated his own father, who along with his wife used to work at the same hospital. The 74-year-old elder Wilson recovered from the virus.
The coronavirus pandemic largely hit urban areas first, but the autumn surge is devastating rural America, too. The U.S. is now averaging more than 170,000 new cases each day, and it’s taking a toll from the biggest hospitals down to the little ones, like Scotland County Hospital.
'Mercenary' donor sold access for millions in foreign money
LOS ANGELES (AP) — As an elite political fundraiser, Imaad Zuberi had the ear of top Democrats and Republicans alike — a reach that included private meetings with then-Vice President Joe Biden and VIP access at Donald Trump’s inauguration.
He lived a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle, staying at fine hotels and hosting lawmakers and diplomats at four-star restaurants. Foreign ambassadors turned to Zuberi to get face time in Congress. A CIA officer called him the “best connected person I know,” marveling at the depth of his Rolodex.
He was a charming networker and an inveterate namedropper. His Facebook account was filled with pictures of him next to the powerful and famous: having dinner with Hillary Clinton and Robert De Niro and rubbing shoulders with Trump’s then-chief of staff Reince Priebus outside Mar-A-Lago. Zuberi raised huge amounts for Clinton in the 2016 election before becoming a top donor to the Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.
But federal prosecutors say Zuberi’s life was built on a series of lies and the lucrative enterprise of funding American political campaigns and profiting from the resulting influence.
“Everyone wants to come to Washington to meet people,” Zuberi said in a 2015 email obtained by The Associated Press, seeking a meet-and-greet between the president of Guinea and a powerful congressman. “We get request(s) for meeting(s) from all scumbag of the world, warlords, kings, queens, presidents for life, military dictators, clan chiefs, tribal chiefs and etc.”
Trump science adviser Scott Atlas leaving White House job
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post.
A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment. Atlas confirmed the news in a Monday evening tweet.
Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 Americans.
Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to criticize efforts to encourage face covering to slow the spread of the virus. Just weeks ago on Twitter he responded to Michigan's latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state's policies.
His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Atlas "has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic."
This holiday season, everyone is shopping from home
NEW YORK (AP) — The viral pandemic is accelerating a transformation of America's holiday shopping season.
Few people showed up at the mall this weekend, with millions of pandemic-wary shoppers staying home to shop online.
The result? Overall holiday sales are projected to rise a slight 0.9% in November and December — and even that modest gain will be due to an explosion in online shopping, according to the research firm eMarketer. It expects online sales to jump nearly 36%, while sales at physical stores fall 4.7%.
The online rush was on fully display Monday, known as Cyber Monday, a day of sales promoted by retailers back in 2005. Once the final numbers are tallied up, this year's Cyber Monday is projected to become the biggest online shopping day in American history.
Here’s how this holiday shopping season is shaping up:
Trump headed to Georgia as turnout driver, but also a threat
ATLANTA (AP) — Some establishment Republicans are sounding alarms that President Donald Trump’s conspiratorial denials of his own defeat could threaten the party’s ability to win a Senate majority and counter President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.
The concerns come ahead of Trump’s planned Saturday visit to Georgia to campaign alongside Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who face strong Democratic challengers in Jan. 5 runoffs that will determine which party controls the Senate at the outset of Biden’s presidency.
Republicans acknowledge Trump as the GOP’s biggest turnout driver, including in Georgia, where Biden won by fewer than 13,000 votes out of about 5 million cast. That means every bit of enthusiasm from one of Trump’s signature rallies could matter. But some Republicans worry Trump will use the platform to amplify his baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud — arguments roundly rejected in state and federal courts across the country. That could make it harder for Perdue and Loeffler to keep a clear focus on the stakes in January and could even discourage Republicans from voting.
“The president has basically taken hostage this race,” said Brendan Buck, once a top adviser to former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Especially fraught are Trump’s continued attacks on Georgia’s Republican state officials and the state’s election system, potentially taking away from his public praise of Loeffler and Perdue.
Metcalf, Wilson lead Seahawks over Eagles 23-17
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — DK Metcalf again made the Philadelphia Eagles regret passing him up in the draft.
Metcalf caught 10 passes for 177 yards, Russell Wilson threw for 230 yards and a touchdown and the Seattle Seahawks beat the Eagles 23-17 on Monday night.
The Seahawks (8-3) moved one game ahead of the Rams in the NFC West. The Eagles (3-7-1) fell a half-game behind the Giants and Washington in the woeful NFC East.
Carson Wentz didn't cede many snaps to backup Jalen Hurts but had another rough game. He was 25 of 45 for 215 yards, two TDs and one interception.
Seattle’s defense entered the game allowing the most yards in the NFL and most yards passing but held Philadelphia’s inept offense to 250 yards.