The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday

              Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC



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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 256,783; Tuesday, 257,707; Wednesday, 259,962.

Americans have gone ahead with plans to travel and gather with family for the Thanksgiving holiday despite repeated warnings from the government as officials air concerns about the rise of COVID-19 case numbers and a troublesome period for the country.


Nearly 4 million packed airports and planes from Friday through Monday, marking the heaviest travel days since the pandemic took hold of the country in early March. Making matters even more troublesome, the crowds are set to get worse as Sunday is likely to be the busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (The Associated Press). 


Overall, travel is down compared to Thanksgiving 2019, with roughly 50 million heading out to see family members compared to 55 million last year. According to Dynata, a global data-and-survey firm, around 27 percent of Americans plan to dine with people outside their household (The New York Times).


The timing comes at a perilous stretch for the U.S., which recorded another 171,000 infections on Tuesday — the fifth highest single-day total of the pandemic. 


“We had a great Thanksgiving last year and we’re looking forward to a great Thanksgiving next year, but today we’re going to call a timeout,” Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSlew of Biden orders on COVID to include resuming WHO membership Biden to sign flurry of executive actions in first hours of presidency COVID-19 is a precursor for infectious disease outbreaks on a warming planet MORE, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA Today in a recent interview.


The Washington Post: Head home or hunker down? The Thanksgiving coronavirus dilemma. 


Phoenix Business Journal: Holiday travel down this year, but millions still hit roads, airports.


Reuters: “We’re drowning”: COVID-19 cases flood hospitals in America’s heartland.


As Americans look beyond the holiday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on the verge of lowering the recommended quarantine period for individuals who are exposed to the virus in an effort to persuade more people to follow the agency’s guidelines. 


The CDC’s new rules would shorten the quarantine period from 14 days to seven to 10 days. Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said the agency would recommend that someone quarantining for the shorter period of time also receive a negative test. 


“We do think that the work that we’ve done, and some of the studies we have and the modeling data that we have, shows that we can, with testing, shorten quarantine[s],” Walke said (The Wall Street Journal).


Despite the expected change, the lion’s share of attention remains focused on a vaccine and how the incoming Biden administration will distribute the remedy to the masses. As President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia MORE’s team faces a herculean task from the get-go: Persuading a skeptical public to take a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available. 


According to Fauci and other experts, at least 70 percent of the population will need to take the vaccine to keep the virus under control and return to normal. Only weeks before the first round of doses are expected to be distributed, surveys show that a slim majority of Americans trust a vaccine, with reasons varying from distrust of the Trump administration's politicization of the development process to existing vaccine misinformation.


The Hill: 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses expected to be shipped to states by mid-December.


CNBC: Doctors say CDC should warn people the side effects from COVID-19 vaccine shots won’t be “a walk in the park.” 


STAT News: The health care industry’s essential workers are to receive COVID-19 vaccines first.


The Associated Press: World Health Organization says virus cases in Europe are slowing down. 


> Punishments: New York City officials say they will fine organizers of a large Nov. 8 wedding $15,000 for knowingly flouting public health restrictions that limit crowd sizes and large events because of COVID-19. The efforts to try to hide from authorities a wedding organized by leaders of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood and captured on video were described as “absolutely unacceptable” by Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care: US passes 400,000 coronavirus deaths | How Biden HHS pick could make history | De Blasio says NYC will run out of COVID-19 vaccine this week De Blasio: New York City will run out of COVID-19 vaccine this week without resupply The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? MORE on Monday (The New York Times). … Ahead of Thanksgiving, Maryland is stepping up enforcement of the state’s coronavirus restrictions with help from State Police and has advertised its hotline and website to receive reports of alleged violators (Baltimore Sun).


Bloomberg News: New York City will have COVID-19 checkpoints at key bridges and crossings.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Governors, mayors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions.


The Associated Press: Restaurant workers are jobless again as the coronavirus surges anew.


The Hill: Rep. Rick AllenRichard (Rick) Wayne AllenGeorgia elections chief refutes election claims in letter to Congress READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results South Carolina Republican tests positive for coronavirus hours after speaking on House floor MORE (R-Ga.) tests positive for COVID-19.





NEW ADMINISTRATION: Reacting to headlines that a presidential transition is finally underway and that Biden’s likely choice to be Treasury secretary is former Federal Reserve Chair Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenOn The Money: Yellen champions big spending at confirmation hearing | Republicans express concerns, but little opposition | Debt cloud hangs over Trump post-presidency Yellen champions big spending at confirmation hearing Majority say Biden's top priorities should be coronavirus vaccine rollout, stimulus: poll MORE, investors sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average past 30,000 for the first time on Tuesday.


The Washington Post: Yellen, Biden’s pick to lead Treasury, is known for handling crises and breaking glass ceilings.


The exultant market reaction ahead of a holiday signaled a sigh of relief during a prolonged period of turmoil, including a coronavirus crisis, economic uncertainty and President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE’s delay in beginning an orderly transfer of power (The Associated Press).


Trump, largely unseen by the public for weeks, made a surprise, one-minute appearance at the White House to celebrate the “sacred number” 30,000, and what he said were 48 other financial market records broken during his presidency. He congratulated personnel in his administration who “worked so hard” and praised the American people. He took no questions from reporters and he did not concede his loss to Biden (The Hill).





Minutes later, the president-elect steamrolled ahead with transition preparations. He introduced six Cabinet appointments to lead the departments of State and Homeland Security, to direct national intelligence and represent the United States at the United Nations. All of those posts require Senate confirmation (The Hill). He also named his longtime “friend,” former Secretary of State and former Massachusetts Sen. John KerryJohn KerryFor Joe Biden, an experienced foreign policy team Biden's trade policy needs effective commercial diplomacy Biden taps ex-Obama aide Anita Dunn as senior adviser MORE to be a special envoy for climate policy and member of the White House National Security Council. 


The Hill: Biden’s Cabinet choices have largely unified Democrats – so far.


Missing Tuesday from the lineup of international and foreign policy appointees in Wilmington, Del., was Biden’s choice to lead the Pentagon. Because of the president-elect’s desire to meld experience with gender and racial diversity in the Cabinet, analysts anticipated that Michèle Flournoy would be his choice to become the first female secretary of Defense. But it now appears that the president-elect is thinking anew about his options. Progressives see Flournoy, former President Obama’s policy chief at the Pentagon, as experienced, but perhaps too cozy with the defense industry (Politico and DefenseNews).


“It’s a team that reflects that America is back,” Biden said during his afternoon event, implicitly rejecting Trump’s “America first” policies. “Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. They embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies. Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — made possible through decades of experience working with our partners,” he added.


NBC News: During an exclusive interview, Biden said the information sharing from the Trump administration, approved by the president and authorized by the General Services Administration on Monday, was proceeding smoothly. "Immediately, we've gotten outreach from the national security shop to just across the board," he told Lester Holt. "And they're already working out my ability to get presidential daily briefs, we're already working out meeting with the COVID team in the White House and how to not only distribute but get from a vaccine being distributed to a person able to get vaccinated, so I think we're gonna not be so far behind the curve as we thought might be in the past."


NBC News interview video HERE and HERE. 


The Hill: Trump signed off on sharing the classified President’s Daily Brief with the president-elect.


The Hill: Biden says “of course” he’d meet with Trump, “if he asked.”


The Hill: An immigration bill and executive action top Biden’s preview of his administration’s first 100 days. Biden talks to NBC News about his 100-day plans HERE.


Florida Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioJustice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges Author Ryan Girdusky: Ivanka Trump to face challenges in potential Senate run against Rubio Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing MORE, acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Republican who may again seek the presidency in 2024, dismissed Biden’s evolving Cabinet team as well educated, well qualified and well mannered — but weak on China. “Biden’s cabinet picks went to Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend all the right conferences & will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline I support American greatness And I have no interest in returning to the `normal’ that left us dependent on China,” he tweeted.


The Tampa Bay Times: Rubio clashed over Cuba policy in the past with Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice to be secretary of State. (Rubio was one of 38 Senate Republicans who voted against Blinken’s confirmation in 2014 as deputy secretary of State).


The Daily Beast: Biden is considering Michael Morrell, former acting director of CIA, for the top job, an idea that has attracted some blowback.


> Regulatory policy: One possible Biden candidate to oversee the incoming administration’s regulatory review process deep inside the Office of Management and Budget is a George Washington University professor from the Koch-funded Regulatory Studies Center. Progressives eager to roll back Trump’s deregulatory and pro-industry policies are sharing their concerns (The Hill).


The Washington Post editorial board: Here’s a change: A national security team with integrity, experience and skill.





POLITICS & CONGRESS: Pennsylvania certified the commonwealth’s election results on Tuesday, confirming that Biden won the presidential election in the state as the president continues his legal effort and falsely maintains he won reelection. 


The Pennsylvania Department of State said that Secretary of State Kathy Bookvar (D) certified the results after receiving certifications from all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties certified on Monday. The final vote total showed Biden ahead of Trump by 80,555 in the commonwealth (The Hill). Along with the Keystone State, Nevada, Minnesota and North Carolina also certified their election results (The Hill). 


“It’s readily apparent to everyone besides Donald Trump, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSore loser politics: A Mexican lesson about Trump Pardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office The Hill's Morning Report - An inauguration like no other MORE, and Jenna Ellis that this election is over and that Joe Biden won resoundingly,” Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to Biden, said in a statement.


Tim Alberta, Politico Magazine: The inside story of Michigan’s fake voter fraud scandal.


The New York Times: As their D.C. days dwindle, Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpTrump expected to pardon Bannon: reports Author Ryan Girdusky: Ivanka Trump to face challenges in potential Senate run against Rubio Mary Trump: All of Trump's adult children 'need to be shut out' of politics MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Pardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office Trump preparing another 100 pardons, commutations before leaving office: reports MORE look for a new beginning.


> Senate jockeying: Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinMcConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 ranked Senate Democrat, is facing some headwinds in his push to replace Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinJustice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Barrett hears climate case against her father's ex-employer Shell MORE (Calif.) as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, Durbin noted on Monday that he has served on the panel for 22 years and is its most senior member who doesn’t currently serve atop another committee. However, he is already facing issues within the Senate Democratic Conference as some members are concerned that he could be accruing too much power given his leadership position. 


“There’s a lot of concern about anyone in the top two positions in leadership chairing a committee,” a Democratic senator told The Hill. “I know there’s a lot of caucus about that.” 


The senator said that the Illinois Democrat “would have to decide” between the two spots.


The Hill: Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats seize on GOP donor fallout Senior Democrat says Hawley, Cruz should step down from Judiciary Hawley, Cruz face rising anger, possible censure MORE (D-R.I.) says the Democratic caucus will decide on its representation on the Judiciary Committee.


The Associated Press: Obama memoir sells a record 1.7 million copies in the first week since its release.


Axios: Trump tells confidants he plans to pardon former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.




The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


What's ahead in a post-pandemic world? by Krzysztof Garbarz, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3nS7C75


Congress needs more muscle, by Andrew Lautz, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2UVFR0W


The House meets on Friday at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session and returns to legislative work next week.


The Senate will resume legislative business at 3 p.m. on Monday.


The president and Vice President Pence have no public events, but CNN reports that Trump might join his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, today in Gettysburg, Pa., related to the Trump campaign’s ongoing election challenges.


Biden will deliver a Thanksgiving address about “shared sacrifices” from his transition base in Wilmington, Del. Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisScalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag Howard University's marching band to escort Harris at inauguration MORE will meet with transition advisers.


Economic indicators: The government reports this morning on durable goods and U.S. consumer spending, both in October, as well as jobless claims filed during the week ending Nov. 21.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube


OPIOIDS: OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty Tuesday in New Jersey to three criminal charges, formally taking responsibility for its part in an opioid epidemic that has contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths (The Associated Press). 


ART OR ALIENS? Officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety's Aero Bureau were flying by helicopter to assist the Division of Wildlife Resources count bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah last week when they spotted a mysterious silver metal monolith rising out of the desert. Theories focused on an unauthorized art installation, but alien jokes abound (CNN). 


TURKEY PARDON: The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpHere's how presidents move into the White House in just hours on Inauguration Day Ashley Biden says Melania Trump has not reached out to Jill Biden CNN poll: Melania Trump leaving office as least popular first lady ever MORE took part in the time-honored tradition of the annual turkey pardoning at the White House. The recipient of this year’s pardon? Corn, who received the nod over Cob, with both turkey’s hailing from Iowa. “Corn, I hereby grant you a full pardon,” Trump said in the Rose Garden, raising his hand over the white bird (The Hill).





And finally … As Americans make Thanksgiving adjustments (or perhaps not enough adjustments), what do they say they are grateful for?


Friendship amid grief (The New York Times).


Health care among contagion (Home Healthcare News and Newsweek).


Generosity for those in need (Axios and The Baltimore Sun).


Vaccine scientists (The Guardian).


A sense of history and optimism for the future (The New York Times and The Washington Post).


Simple pleasures, even the mundane (The Washington Post).