10 things you need to know today: December 5, 2020

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1.

The U.S. has seen more than 275,000 people die of COVID-19 as of Friday, with cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from the virus all reaching record highs across the country. This week alone, 12 states and Puerto Rico hit daily death records, and states that saw surges early in the pandemic are on the rise again. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned Thursday that the U.S. hasn't seen its expected post-Thanksgiving case surge yet. While vaccine developments could bring an end to the pandemic next year, researchers predict at least 470,000 people will die of COVID-19 in the U.S. by March 1. Anywhere from 9,500 to 19,500 people are projected to die of the virus the week of Christmas alone. [Axios, The New York Times]

2.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis on Friday directed the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which was designed during the Obama administration to protect younger undocumented immigrants from deportation. The order requires the Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice by Monday that it will accept new DACA applicants for the first time since 2017. Under Garaufis' ruling, the government must also extend benefits — including permits to work — back to two years after they had been limited to one year, find a way to contact all immigrants eligible for the program, and produce a status report by Jan. 4. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf issued a memorandum over the summer restricting DACA to people who were already enrolled, but Garaufis ruled in November that was invalid because Wolf had been unlawfully appointed to his position. [The New York Times, Bloomberg]

3.

President Trump is scheduled head to Georgia on Saturday to stump for Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), both of whom are gearing up for runoff elections against Democratic challengers on Jan. 5 that will determine which party controls the upper chamber during the early stages of the Biden administration. Per Reuters, Trump's unfounded allegations of voter fraud in Georgia after the presidential election has some Republicans in the state worried that he will incidentally discourage people from going to the polls in January during his rally. If he focuses on Loeffler and Perdue instead of himself, however, they think he could provide them a significant boost. Vice President Mike Pence hosted a rally for the senators in Savannah, Georgia, on Friday, where he encouraged voters to head to the polls regardless of their "doubts about the last election" and promised the process would be secure. [Reuters, USA Today]

4.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a Friday press conference that Congress "cannot leave" for the year without passing a coronavirus stimulus package. Pelosi had held out for a more-than $2 trillion deal, but said Wednesday she'd support bipartisan senators' $908 billion pandemic relief proposal. Pelosi added Friday that President-elect Joe Biden's win and promising vaccine developments had changed her mind. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) still hasn't said he'll support the bipartisan deal yet, and President Trump has only said he'll back McConnell's proposed $500 billion package. Biden meanwhile declined to say Friday if he had talked with McConnell about the stimulus, but added that he "believes" Democrats will get "cooperation" on the bill. [The Week, CNN]

5.

The Pentagon announced Friday that it will remove all troops from Somalia by Jan. 15, five days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Virtually all of the 700 troops, largely Special Operations forces on training and counterterrorism missions against Islamist insurgents, will leave. Many will be "repositioned" to nearby Kenya, a Pentagon official told The New York Times. It's unclear if diplomats and the U.S. ambassador in Somalia will be leaving as well. President Trump has reportedly been rushing to withdraw American troops from around the world in his last weeks in office, including from Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump campaigned in 2016 on a promise of leaving Afghanistan, and reportedly has at least a draft order circulating that would cut troop deployment there in half. [The New York Times]

6.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday said the U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November. The number fell short of expectations after economists anticipated the addition of 440,000 jobs. This was also "by far the lowest monthly total since the economy started its halting recovery," NBC News reports. In October, the economy added 610,000 jobs. The unemployment rate in November declined from 6.9 percent to 6.7 percent, which was in line with expectations. This comes as new COVID-19 cases spike in the United States, and Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said Friday that "even with a vaccine on the horizon," the November report offers "a firm reminder that we’re not out of the woods yet." [NBC News, CNBC]

7.

Courts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin ruled against President Trump and his allies in several lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election Friday, the latest in a string of legal defeats for the commander-in-chief. In Wisconsin, state Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn said a lawsuit filed by a conservative group that the court elected not to hear said "the relief being sought by the petitioners is the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen." In Arizona and Nevada, judges threw out full-scale election challenges filed by the Republican Party and the Trump campaign, respectively, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to provide evidence supporting their claims of widespread voter fraud. [The Washington Post, Politico]

8.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged Americans to always wear masks indoors when they're not in their homes. It's the first time the CDC has made this recommendation, insisting in a report that "consistent and correct" use of face masks is essential as the United States enters a "phase of high-level transmission" in the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing face masks is "most important in indoor spaces and outdoors when physical distance of ≥6 feet cannot be maintained," the CDC said, also recommending officials "issue policies or directives mandating universal use of face masks in indoor (nonhousehold) settings." President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office, but cannot mandate they do so except on federal property. [The Washington Post, The Hill]

9.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will speak over the phone Saturday in the hopes of reaching a breakthrough in stalled EU-U.K. trade talks and avoiding a no-deal Brexit by the end of the year. The U.K. has already left the bloc, but the transition period — during which governing rules have remained unchanged — ends Dec. 31. Fisheries, fair competition guarantees, and ways to solve future disputes are the three major sticking points holding up an agreement. The hope is that Johnson and von der Leyen will move the two sides closer together on those issues, but U.K. government sources told The Guardian the chances of a deal are no higher than 50 percent. [Reuters, The Guardian]

10.

Russia launched its nationwide coronavirus immunization effort Saturday in Moscow, where thousands of workers in the city's health and education systems have signed up to receive the Sputnik V vaccine at 70 vaccinations facilities throughout the capital. Producers are only expected to make 2 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year, so the Moscow rollout is considered a primary step. The two-shot vaccine has been the subject of international scrutiny since it was registered in Russia while still undergoing mass testing, but developers say it causes no serious side effects and is more than 90 percent effective, a rate similar to Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccine candidates. The Russian government says that more than 100,000 people have already received the vaccine, including top officials and military personnel. [The Associated Press, BBC]

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