Chicago Sun-Times: Cook County Jail was one of the nation’s largest COVID-19 hot spots last spring. It’s worse now by Matthew Hendrickson
The number of detainees testing positive for the coronavirus at the Cook County Jail has soared to levels not seen since cases there last peaked in the spring, when it saw one of the largest outbreaks of confirmed cases of any location in the country.
Twenty-three detainees at the jail tested positive for the virus on Nov. 1, according to data from the sheriff’s office. Just over a month later, the jail set a new record for cases on Dec. 7, with 370.
That’s even higher than the previous peak, 307, on April 10.
The drastic increase in little more than a month illustrates just how difficult a task it is to control the virus’ spread inside correctional facilities and how quickly cases can rise.
It’s the situation Sheriff Tom Dart — who himself tested positive last month — warned about recently as he stood outside the jail and urged the public to take measures including wearing masks, socially distancing and remaining home as much as possible.
Detroit Free Press: Extradition granted then stalled for Wisconsin man charged in Gretchen Whitmer kidnap plot by Darice Moran and Joe Guillen
A Wisconsin man charged in the plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lost a court battle on Tuesday to challenge his extradition to Michigan, but the decision was immediately put on hold pending an appeal.
Brian Higgins, 52, of Wisconsin Dells, wants to invalidate his extradition paperwork, claiming that Whitmer, as the reported victim of the kidnap plot, shouldn't have signed the paperwork because she has a conflict of interest.
Columbia Circuit Court Judge Todd Hepler rejected that argument, pointing out that Whitmer was not involved in approving the charge Higgins faces, nor is she involved in his legal proceedings.
“Mr. Higgins is not being deported to some third-world kangaroo court,” Hepler said. “He will enjoy all of the constitutional rights guaranteed to every American citizen, including due process of law.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Nearly 50 Georgia children exposed to COVID-19 after ‘Santa,’ ‘Mrs. Claus’ test positive by Stephanie Toone
Long County officials have informed residents that individuals performing as “Santa” and “Mrs. Claus” at a recent tree-lighting event tested positive for COVID-19, which potentially exposed dozens of children to the virus.
The parade and tree lighting were Dec. 10 in Ludowici, which is about 46 miles south of Savannah, according to a Long County Board of Commissioners news release. After the event, about 50 children took their picture with Santa, who was accompanied by Mrs. Claus. Long County Commissioners Chair Robert Parker said he was later informed that both received positive test results after the festivities.
“They were not displaying any symptoms at the time of the event,” Parker said in a statement. “While this is cause for concern, I feel that it is important to note that exposures happen every day as we go about our day to day lives, often without any knowledge. Children are in close contact with both other children and adults daily at school, rec functions, and church. Proper CDC exposure guidelines should be followed if your child was exposed, however I do not feel this incident is cause for panic.”
New York Times: New Restaurant Offerings Amid the Pandemic by Florence Fabricant
The suspension of indoor dining in New York City ordered by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is a blow to the restaurants struggling to stay afloat and keep their workers employed. Since the pandemic started, many have tried creative solutions like sharing kitchen space or offering meal kits. Some restaurants, like Avena Downtown, have turned their premises into pop-up shops, or opened markets adjacent to their spaces. Others are joining forces to sell food from their menus, or to become restaurants within restaurants; Osteria Morini, Lafayette and Frenchette have spun-off bakeries.
Here are a few of the latest initiatives.
The owners of Sushi Noz have opened this market around the corner from the restaurant. Sushi is prepared to order by chefs trained at the restaurant for takeaway, and there is sashimi, nigiri, chirashi assortments and various maki rolls. Sauces and condiments are sold. The store also has a large fresh seafood selection, including Tasmanian salmon, Arctic char, several kinds of tuna, clams, shrimp, caviar and uni. But you’ll have to reckon with fairly steep prices.
Reuters: U.S. COVID-19 immunization rollout expands as officials avow vaccine's safety by Eduardo Muñoz
NEWARK, N.J. (Reuters) - The United States expanded its rollout of the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine to hundreds of additional distribution centers on Tuesday, inoculating thousands more healthcare workers in a mass immunization expected to reach the general public in the coming months.
Distribution of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE began on Monday, three days after it won U.S. emergency-use authorization, opening a new front in the battle against a pandemic claiming more than 2,400 U.S. lives a day.
Political leaders and medical authorities have launched a two-pronged media blitz avowing the safety of the vaccines while urging Americans to remain diligent about social distancing and mask-wearing until inoculations become widely available.
“As a polio survivor, I am a huge supporter of vaccinations. Whenever my turn comes, I will absolutely take the vaccine and do my part to reassure anyone who’s doubtful. It’s the right thing to do for yourself, for your family, and for the country,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Twitter.
Washington Post: Congressional leaders meet, cite progress in spending and stimulus talks by Mike DeBonis, Seung Min Kim and Jeff Stein
Congressional negotiations on spending and economic relief legislation picked up speed on Tuesday, as top lawmakers met for an hour in the afternoon and then again in the evening, a sign that talks are reaching a critical stage.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hosted the three other most senior congressional leaders — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — in her office.
“We’re still talking to each other, and I think there’s an agreement that we’re not going to leave here without the [spending bill] and the covid package,” McConnell said after leaving the meeting. “We’ll get an agreement as soon as we can agree.”
Schumer added, “No comment. No comment. No comment. Keep trying. I’ll just say it was a good meeting, that’s all.”
CNN: First came news of a vaccine. Now come the scams. By Giulia Heyward and AJ Willingham
(CNN)The newly-approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is slowly making its way across the US. But those eagerly waiting their turn need to beware of dangerous scams and misinformation about the vaccine's distribution.
Several government organizations have warned against scammers promising access to the vaccine in exchange for sensitive personal information, as well as companies selling bogus treatments promising to cure or prevent Covid-19.
"The FBI has received complaints of scammers using the public's interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information and monies through various schemes," the FBI wrote in a statement to CNN.
The bureau told CNN it plans to remain vigilant as "scammers continue to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for personal gain."
Washington Post: The U.S. government spent billions on a system for detecting hacks. The Russians outsmarted it. By Greg Timberg and Ellen Nakashima
When Russian hackers first slipped their digital Trojan horses into federal government computer systems, probably sometime in the spring, they sat dormant for days, doing nothing but hiding. Then the malicious code sprang into action and began communicating with the outside world.
At that moment — when the Russian malware began sending transmissions from federal servers to command-and-control computers operated by the hackers — an opportunity for detection arose, much as human spies behind enemy lines are particularly vulnerable when they radio home to report what they’ve found.
Why then, when computer networks at the State Department and other federal agencies started signaling to Russian servers, did nobody in the U.S. government notice that something odd was afoot?
The answer is part Russian skill, part federal government blind spot.
Euronews: Dayton Agreement 25 years on: How is the peace deal viewed today in Serbia? By Milijove Pantovic
It's 25 years on from pen being formally put to paper to end a war that killed around 100,000 people and saw Europe's first genocide since World War II.
The 1992-95 conflict in Bosnia saw three main ethnic factions fight for control after the break-up of Yugoslavia.
The peace deal that ended it was initialled at a US airbase near Dayton, Ohio, before being signed in Paris on December 14, 1995
The Dayton Agreement saw Bosnia's ethnic factions - Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Christian Serbs - agree to divide up the country.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina became home to the Muslim-majority Bosniaks and Croats. Then there is Republika Srpska, for the Serb population, which includes the part of Bosnia that borders Serbia.
The war saw around 100,000 people killed, most of them Bosniaks, and upward of 2 million, or in excess of half of Bosnia's population, driven from their homes.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Rafael da Silva, 56, a hospital security guard, had been battling with COVID-19 symptoms for just more than a week when they began to intensify. But when his family rushed him to hospital, he was sent home.
“All the doctor did was offer him treatment as if it were a cold,” his son, Rafael da Silva Jr told Al Jazeera.
After deteriorating for four days, he was again taken to a COVID-19 hospital with shortness of breath and put on oxygen. The doctors said da Silva Sr should be on a ventilator.
“But there are no intensive care beds left,” his son said. “They are trying to find a bed in the only field hospital in the city but they’re all full.”
Da Silva is one of the hundreds of patients in Rio de Janeiro in desperate need of an intensive care bed as health officials warn the medical system is on the verge of collapse.
BBC News: Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: About 2.3 million children cut off from aid, UN says
About 2.3 million children in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region are cut off from humanitarian assistance as violence continues, the UN has warned.
"Protecting these children, many of whom are refugees and internally displaced... must be a priority", said the UN's children's agency Unicef.
Despite deals with the Ethiopian government, humanitarian agencies say they are being denied access to Tigray.
Government forces have been battling Tigray fighters since 4 November.
The government says it is in control of the region and the conflict is over. But Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) says it is still fighting on various fronts.
Hundreds, even thousands, of people are thought to have been killed in the conflict, while about 50,000 have fled to neighbouring Sudan.
Everyone have a good evening!