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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported this morning: 246,217.
The situation in the U.S. surrounding the novel coronavirus continued to worsen over the weekend as the nation eclipsed 11 million infections and added 1 million new cases in only six days, with governors imposing new restrictions in an attempt to slow the virus’s spread.
The latest numbers show that the virus is spreading at a rate previously unseen since the first case was diagnosed on Jan. 20 in Washington state. On Friday through Sunday, the U.S. reported at least 481,000 new infections — including a single-day high of 177,000 on Friday — with questions surrounding if there will be any new steps from the government and what will happen at the state level (The Associated Press).
Governors issued new measures in an attempt to reduce the daily figures as hospitals become stretched thin in parts of the country, with many of the last two weeks’ worth of cases having yet to figure into the rising hospitalization totals due to a lag.
In Michigan, Gov. (D) and state health officials announced a new round of restrictions, limiting bars and restaurants to outdoor dining, carryout and delivery. Casinos and movie theaters will be closed. While gyms may stay open, group classes are prohibited. The order also says that high schools and colleges must conduct all classes remotely.
The new restrictions also limit indoor gatherings in residences to 10 people from two households. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people as long as they can practice social distancing. The order will go into effect on Wednesday and last for at least three weeks (The Hill).
Across the country, Washington Gov. (D) also rolled out broad new limits that will last for four weeks. Included in them are the closures of gyms, theaters and museums. Gatherings with people outside a single household are prohibited unless those involved have quarantined for a week and have tested negative for COVID-19.
“Today, Sunday, November 15, 2020, is the most dangerous public health day in the last 100 years of our state’s history,” Inslee said. “A pandemic is raging in our state. Left unchecked, it will assuredly result in grossly overburdened hospitals and morgues; and keep people from obtaining routine but necessary medical treatment for non-COVID conditions” (The Hill).
As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan writes, governors across the country are grappling with the surge in cases and hospitalizations but have put forward a fractured response, with those who have imposed restrictions taking modest actions. For example, most states still allow major sources of spread (such as bars and indoor restaurants) to remain open.
The Wall Street Journal: New COVID-19 surge engulfs U.S., bringing fresh restrictions.
The Associated Press: Biden advisers to meet vaccine firms as Trump stalls handoff.
Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan, The Wall Street Journal: It’s now up to governors to slow the spread.
On the economic side, the recent case spike poses a major threat to the ongoing economic recovery the U.S. is experiencing and is raising the prospect of a double-dip recession, as Niv Elis writes. Economists have roundly cautioned that sustained growth is solely dependent on getting COVID-19 under control, with many now viewing the rise in infections with heightened concern.
“It’s alarming, to put it mildly,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global. “If this spreads and governments are forced to go back to lockdown measures, this very fragile recovery is sure to fail.”
The Hill: : ‘We’re not going to get a national lockdown’
The Sunday Shows: Coronavirus, election results, dominate headlines.
Reuters: Biden advisers call for urgent COVID-19 action, including financial relief.
Adding to the issues, the response from the White House has fallen off in recent weeks as remains focused on his legal fights in a number of states he lost to President-elect . As Brett Samuels reports, the administration’s outreach to governors on the coronavirus pandemic has dropped off in recent weeks, with the weekly conference call the White House held throughout the summer and into October going dormant in the past two weeks and Vice President Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, being absent from discussions for multiple weeks.
Unlike earlier in the year when the vast majority of cases circulated in large cities, much of the transmission is taking part in rural regions, with those areas under a greater threat of having hospital systems become overwhelmed (Axios).
The Hill: White House task force physician ‘not concerned’ that Trump doesn’t attend COVID-19 meetings
The New York Times: Did it hit 3 percent? Why parents and teachers are fixated on one number.
The Washington Post: Back in school buildings: One school district’s experience in 10 weeks.
The Associated Press: Poll workers contract virus, but Election Day link unclear.
The Hill: Biden COVID-19 adviser: We can get pandemic under control without another national lockdown.
LEADING THE DAY
TRANSITION: While much of the country awaits an official presidential concession, Trump offered a hint of things to come on Sunday, saying in a tweet that “he won,” before backtracking shortly thereafter.
“He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!” Trump initially tweeted in response to a clip from Fox News.
Later in the morning, Trump reversed course and maintained that he was not conceding that Biden won the election.
“He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!” Trump wrote (The Hill).
The Hill: Heads roll as Trump launches post-election purge.
The New York Times: Trump, trying to cling to power, fans unrest and conspiracies.
Axios: Trump plans last-minute China crackdown.
Despite the president’s back-and-forth with himself on Sunday morning, Biden continues to motor ahead with transition plans as he prepares to take over the White House in 65 days. The impending Biden regime is expected to include many alumni of the Obama administration, with some potentially even reprising their roles.
As The Hill’s Rachel Frazin writes, former Energy Secretary could be in for a second spell atop the department, having served in the position for most of former President Obama’s second term. Moniz, 75, is seen as a prime contender for the post, while his former deputy, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, has also been floated.
Moniz, a nuclear physicist who helped secure the Iran nuclear deal, worked to implement what he’s described as an “all of the above” energy strategy that backed both fossil fuels and renewable energy. After leaving the department in 2017, he founded the Energy Futures Initiative, a nonprofit focused on energy innovation.
One person who will not be joining the administration is Obama. The 44th president told CBS’s that he will remain outside the administration, quipping that former first lady “would leave me” (The Hill).
Politico: The hard-knock political education of Ron Klain.
The Hill: Sen. (I-Vt.) mum on spot in Biden Cabinet.
The Hill: Biden presents new challenge for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Obama also appeared on “60 Minutes” Sunday night to promote his memoir that is set for release on Tuesday. During the interview, Obama detailed the former first lady’s aversion to his 2008 bid for the White House. At the time, she told her husband, then an Illinois senator: “I do not want you running for president. God, Barack, when is it going to be enough?”
The former president noted that he was fresh off of multiple campaigns, including his 2004 Senate bid and an ill-fated 2002 run for Congress.
“We’ve got two young kids. Michelle’s still working, and I ask myself in the book: How much of this is just megalomania, how much of this is vanity, how much of this is me trying to prove something to myself?”
Obama said that she eventually “made a conclusion that, ‘I shouldn’t stand in the way of this.’”
“And she did so grudgingly. And the fact that I ended up winning didn’t necessarily alleviate her frustration because the toll it takes on families is real,” he added (The Hill).
Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic: Why Obama fears for our democracy.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CONGRESS/POLITICS: The battle for Senate supremacy is escalating in Georgia as Republicans throw the kitchen sink at Democrat Raphael Warnock in a push to keep hold of the majority in the upper chamber.
As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, the GOP is making its play against Warnock now, releasing months of opposition research that went unreleased before Election Day and putting big money behind it. Sen. (R-Ga.) has already put more than $1 million behind two new attack ads that seek to tie Warnock to the so-called “radical left” and accuse him of advancing “anti-American hatred.”
Other Senate Republicans have joined in on the attacks, hyperaware that the Loeffler-Warnock race, along with the contest between Sen. (R-Ga.) and Democrat Jon Ossoff, will determine the fate of the Senate, with a number of high-profile lawmakers descending on Georgia to campaign with the two senators.
Republicans did not train their fire on Warnock pre-Election Day as Loeffler and GOP groups were more concerned about topping Rep. (R-Ga.) in a battle of who had more Trump bona fides to appeal to a GOP base. With Collins now out of the running, Warnock has become the target.
James Arkin, Politico: Democrats pin Senate hopes on breaking Georgia runoff jinx.
The Hill: Democrats regroup after Texas eludes them — again.
With he battle heating up in Georgia, the internal fight over the future of the Democratic Party is well underway in Washington as centrists and progressives direct missives at one another after a down-ballot disaster saw them lose seats in the House and potentially blow a third straight chance to retake the Senate majority.
As Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo, the fight has centered on multiple centrists being unseated, with Democrats on high warning about messages the left has pushed for months. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that the slogan “defund the police” was “killing our party.” Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), a centrist who has now won three races in a competitive district over the past three years, added that his constituents were “extremely frustrated by the message of defunding the police and banning fracking.” Multiple progressives, including Reps. (D-N.Y.) and (D-Mich.), both disputed those takes.
However, the battle is about to explode as Biden prepares nominations for his Cabinet and policy priorities, with progressives keeping a close eye on how he operates and who will be controlling the levers of the administration. It also comes at a perilous time, with the country mired in a pandemic and many people worried about that rather than the Democratic Party squabbling.
The Associated Press: What mandate? Biden’s agenda faces a divided Congress.
In the Senate, Democrats are also putting their messaging under the microscope, though the concerns have not led to the blow-up akin within the House Democratic ranks.
As Jordain Carney reports, members have done some soul searching as they dread two more years in the minority. However, while most concerns have stayed in-house and haven’t sparked many spats, senators recognize that their message is getting lost in translation or overshadowed by GOP attacks, with voters they should be winning.
“We should be paying attention to what Joe Biden did. Joe Biden’s message won in the kind of states we need to win in order to capture the Senate, so we should sort of be looking at the issues that Biden focused on … and think of that as a template,” said Sen. (D-Conn.).
The Hill: GOP shows limited appetite for pursuing Biden probes.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: [email protected] and [email protected] We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
How Biden and Xi can keep the new Cold War from turning hot, by Niall Ferguson, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/2UvDLVy
Where is the Smithsonian museum for American Latinos? By former Rep. (R-Fla.) and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, opinion contributors, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/36znPHg
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 2 p.m.
The Senate will meet at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Kristi Johnson to be a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.
The president has lunch with the vice president at 12:30 p.m.
The vice president will lead a video teleconference with the nation’s governors on the COVID-19 response. He will then depart to take part in a dignified transfer of remains at Dover Air Force Base at 5:05 p.m.
Biden and Vice President-elect will receive a briefing on the economy and are set to deliver remarks on the same topic in the afternoon from Wilmington, Del.
Secretary of State is in Paris and will meet with French President at 12:15 p.m. Central European Time.
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➔ DEFENSE: It is a coup, a push to withdraw from Afghanistan or just some petty score settling? That’s the question that has swirled in defense circles amid a wave of firings and resignations at the Pentagon that saw the ouster of Defense Secretary and the installation of several Trump loyalists. The shakeup has led Trump’s critics to sound the alarm, with Democratic lawmakers and others fearful of what the Pentagon’s new leadership will try to push through in Trump’s remaining two months in office. But others say the Pentagon’s vast bureaucracy and the military chain of command make any radical changes in less than 70 days difficult (The Hill).
➔ SPACE: SpaceX on Monday launched a rocket carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday night in what is the first fully-privately funded mission for NASA. The Falcon rocket shot three U.S. astronauts and one Japanese astronaut into space at Cape Canaveral, Fla., with the Dragon capsule carrying the four individuals into orbit — the second manned-mission launched by SpaceX. The rocket is expected to reach the ISS later tonight and will remain there until spring. Pence and second lady attended the launch (The Associated Press).
➔ SPORTS: International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Monday that participants in this summer’s Olympic games in Tokyo may need to receive COVID-19 vaccinated in order to take part and to protect the Japanese public from the virus. Bach’s comments came after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in his first trip to the 2020 Olympics host nation since the games were postponed a year due to the pandemic. The quadrennial event is set to open on July 23, 2021 (The Associated Press).
And finally … took home his first green jacket after shooting 20 under par, topping the field by four shots at the Masters Tournament over the weekend.
However (and more notably), the annual tournament at Augusta National Golf Club was held in the fall after the annual April event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The place best known for all things green, especially the scenery, had an orange and brown hue this year. Here are some sights of Augusta National in November:
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