The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by UAE - US records 1 million COVID-19 cases in a week; governors crack down

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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. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerMichigan to end remote work after reaching 55 percent vaccination rate Detroit police chief planning GOP gubernatorial run against Whitmer More than half of Michigan adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose MORE (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. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington state to provide free menstrual hygiene products in school bathrooms Cuomo signs legislation restoring voting rights to felons upon release from prison Colorado legislature passes bill to allow human composting MORE (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: Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Average US daily COVID-19 cases below 40K for first time since September Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins MORE: '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 President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE remains focused on his legal fights in a number of states he lost to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE. 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.





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 Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Moniz: Texas blackouts show need to protect infrastructure against climate change The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran MORE 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 Gayle KingGayle KingMichelle Obama: 'You wanna hang out with us? Get your vaccine' The Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Michelle Obama praises BLM, says she fears for daughters MORE that he will remain outside the administration, quipping that former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama on coping with low-grade depression: 'Nobody rides life on a high' Sarah Silverman urges Congress to pass voting bill: 'What kind of politician wants to keep people from voting?' Michelle Obama: 'You wanna hang out with us? Get your vaccine' MORE “would leave me” (The Hill).


Politico: The hard-knock political education of Ron Klain.


The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel MORE (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.


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. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Loeffler asks Georgia attorney general to investigate Raffensperger over 2020 election Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (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. David PerdueDavid PerdueGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Georgia's top election official looks to shake political drama MORE (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. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsPoll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor The Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (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. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez hits Yang over scrapped Eid event: 'Utterly shameful' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez hits Yang over scrapped Eid event: 'Utterly shameful' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel MORE (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. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyKabul attack spurs fears over fate of Afghan women as US exits Sen. Murphy calls for Yemen's Houthis to accept ceasefire following trip to Middle East US, Iran signal possible breakthroughs in nuke talks MORE (D-Conn.).


The Hill: GOP shows limited appetite for pursuing Biden probes.

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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. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenBottom line Bottom line Democrats elect Meeks as first Black Foreign Affairs chairman MORE (R-Fla.) and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, opinion contributors, The New York Times.  https://nyti.ms/36znPHg 


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 Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublican Sean Parnell jumps into Pennsylvania Senate race Biden sees Trump rematch as real possibility Ode to Mother's Day MORE 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 Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE is in Paris and will meet with French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronThousands protest in French cities in fight against climate change Biden to record video message for 'Vax Live' concert EU leaders criticize Biden push to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents: Not a 'magic bullet' MORE 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 Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech Trump's Navy secretary spent over M on travel during pandemic: report Court declines to dismiss Amazon challenge against JEDI decision MORE 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 Karen PenceKaren Sue PencePences announce birth of first grandchild Can a common bond of service unite our nation? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - House boots Greene from committees; Senate plows ahead on budget MORE 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 … Dustin JohnsonDustin (Dusty) JohnsonTiger's crash trumps the news cycle, but is his career over? PGA star Phil Mickelson donates 0K to HBCU ahead of The Match Masters ratings plunge to lowest in decades MORE 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: