Chicago Sun-Times: Nearly half a million in state will lose unemployment benefits without new federal aid package by Manny Ramos
April Ibanez didn’t expect to be out of work for long when she was furloughed from her Downtown restaurant job at the start of the pandemic.
The single mother thought it would be temporary, just until the curve was flattened, and she would be back serving people with her gracious smile. Then the call came: She’d been laid off.
Like many, she filed for unemployment. That also would be temporary, she thought. She’d find work.
Eight months later, she still hasn’t.
Now, she is at risk of losing the $260 biweekly unemployment check she has depended on to help with rent, groceries and other essentials for herself and her 3-year-old daughter, Ruby.
That money runs out the day after Christmas.
She isn’t alone. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, over 447,000 Illinoisans will lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas if a new federal relief package with safeguards for the unemployed isn’t passed by then. An additional 40,000 workers will likely exhaust their aid by the end of January.
Detroit Free Press: Michigan football cancels Ohio State game as COVID-19 cases increase by Orion Sang and David Jesse
For the first time in more than 100 years, "The Game" will not be played.
Michigan football canceled Saturday's rivalry game with Ohio State because of "an increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases and student-athletes in quarantine over the past week," the program announced Tuesday.
At least 40 players were expected to miss the game because of either a COVID-19 positive test, contact tracing or an unrelated injury, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told the Free Press on Tuesday. The program received multiple positive COVID-19 test results on Monday, one of the sources said, and the program is expecting the number to rise.
“The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel in a released statement. “We have not been cleared to participate in practice at this time. Unfortunately, we will not be able to field a team due to COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantining required of close-contact individuals. This decision is disappointing for our team and coaches but their health and safety is paramount, and it will always come first in our decision-making.”
The Wolverines and Buckeyes had played in each of the past 102 seasons, dating back to 1918.
San Jose Mercury News: California shatters more coronavirus records as officials warn rapidly filling hospitals ‘may be overwhelmed’ by Nico Savidge and Evan Webeck
One day into a sweeping new shutdown, an explosion of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations signaled California could be entering the darkest chapter yet of the state’s public health crisis with no quick end in sight.
Wielding a litany of alarming data points — California recorded more than 30,000 new infections on Monday and again Tuesday, the first state ever to hit that threshold — state Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly implored Californians to stay home as much as possible. Whereas local health officials tied earlier outbreaks to certain higher-risk gatherings or workplaces, Ghaly said Tuesday, the rampant spread of the virus throughout communities these days has ratcheted up the risk even from less-dangerous aspects of daily life.
“Activities that were lower-risk a month ago today are higher-risk,” he said. “It is so ubiquitous, so around our communities, that many activities are causing this transmission.”
Still, critics have questioned whether the latest restrictions are being targeted appropriately, since they allow some riskier indoor activities like shopping in stores and malls, while shutting down outdoor dining and playgrounds. Public health officials also acknowledged that after almost nine months of restrictions meant to contain the virus that have taxed their mental health and sent many businesses into a tailspin with little government help, Californians are growing increasingly restless at perhaps the most dangerous point of COVID-19’s grip on our lives.
Washington Post: Defense bill clears House with veto-proof majority, despite Trump threats by Karoun Demirjian
The House on Tuesday passed a bipartisan, $741 billion defense authorization bill by a sizable veto-proof majority, throwing down the first of two expected gauntlets before President Trump, who has escalated his threat to scuttle the legislation.
The 335-to-78 vote represents a much bigger margin of victory for the bill than the House mustered for an earlier version of the legislation this summer. It is also a sharp rebuke to Trump’s exhortations to Republicans to vote against the measure: Fewer than half of the GOP lawmakers who opposed the initial defense bill over the summer voted against the bipartisan compromise Tuesday.
House leaders credit the increased support to changes that were made during a months-long negotiation between the Senate and the House, despite last-minute efforts from some of Trump’s allies to undermine the legislation.
Reuters: With vaccine drawing closer, U.S. tops 15 million coronavirus cases by Maria Caspani and Daniel Trotta
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. coronavirus cases crossed the 15 million mark on Tuesday as regulators moved a step closer to approving a COVID-19 vaccine and Britain started inoculating people, offering hope of slowing a pandemic that killed 15,000 Americans in the last week alone.
Record cases in at least three states - Arizona, Alabama and Ohio - pushed the cumulative case load to over 15 million, according to a Reuters tally of state and county data. With the virus showing no sign of abating, leading health officials are once again sounding the alarm of further spread when people gather for the year-end holidays.
“We’re in for a very challenging period,” top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told a virtual summit on Tuesday.
In a bit of welcome news, Pfizer Inc cleared another hurdle on Tuesday when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released documents that raised no new red flags over the safety or efficacy of the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE.
DW: Coronavirus: Lions at Barcelona zoo contract COVID-19
Four lions at the Barcelona Zoo were infected with the coronavirus, the zoo announced on Tuesday.
Three female lions named Zala, Nima and Run Run, and a male lion named Kiumbe were tested after their keepers noticed they showed slight symptoms of coronavirus.
Zookeepers administered antigen detection tests and all of them tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The result and diagnosis were confirmed by subsequent PCR tests.
Two staff also tested positive, who are believed to have given the lions the virus.
The Veterinary Service of Barcelona then contacted the Bronx Zoo in New York for advice. Four tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19 in April, in the only other known case where large felines were infected. They all recovered.
"The Zoo has contacted and collaborated with international experts such as the Veterinary Service of the Bronx Zoo, the only one that has documented cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in felines," the Barcelona zoo said in a statement.
AlJazeera: Ethiopian forces fire at UN team as aid groups seek Tigray access
Ethiopia’s government has admitted federal troops fired at and detained United Nations workers in the conflict-hit Tigray region, blaming the team for trying to reach areas where “they were not supposed to go.”
The comments by Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the Ethiopian government’s task force for Tigray, came as humanitarian agencies on Tuesday reiterated urgent calls for immediate access to the northern region, warning of an “increasingly critical” situation more than a week after the UN announced a deal with the government to allow in desperately needed food and other aid.
Redwan told reporters the UN staffers “broke” two checkpoints and were trying to go through a third when they were fired upon. He said the staffers have since been released.
In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said there were four people in the convoy. “They were trying to kind of do an assessment of of roads before, obviously, and this needs to be done before a larger UN aid convoys go in.”
South China Morning Post: New powers allow Hong Kong government to lock down coronavirus hotspots
A new law has empowered Hong Kong authorities to lock down parts of the city hit by Covid-19 for up to seven days, while restaurants will stop offering dine-in services at night and gyms and beauty parlours will close from Thursday to combat a worsening fourth wave of the pandemic.
The city confirmed 100 new infections on Tuesday as Chief Executive Carrie Lam
Cheng Yuet-ngor said it was time for tougher measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, citing more than 600 cases recorded over the past week – the majority of which were contracted locally.
Of the new confirmed cases, 95 were locally transmitted and 27 were untraceable. About 70 preliminary cases were also recorded.
“There used to be a thinking that youngsters who got infected would be fine. But this time, the perception has to be changed too. The situation is very worrying,” Lam said.
“All citizens, unless it’s necessary otherwise, should stay home, even for work. Whether it’s for yourself, your family or society, it is necessary to stay home during this period of time to stop all the social activities.”
Don’t forget that Meteor Blades is hosting a Tuesday night owls thread tonight
Everyone have a good evening!