Since November began, more than 1 million Americans have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Officials from coast to coast are pleading with people to wear masks, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now concludes protect the wearer as well as others from infection. In one of the hardest-hit states, the Mayo Clinic Health System in northwestern Wisconsin warns that its hospitals are full as nationwide hospitalizations for COVID-19 have reached pandemic records — and continue to climb. While the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been proven effective, and others are also generating positive results, it will be months before any can stem the viral tide.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden yesterday appointed longtime confidant Ron Klain to be his chief of staff. Klain first worked for Biden in 1989, and brings pandemic credentials, having headed America’s effort to contain the Ebola virus under President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, President Trump continued to pressure Republicans to support his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, like a tweet showing Los Angeles County election workers collecting a ballot drop box after Election Day, which did in fact happen, but boxes were locked at the end of Nov. 3. Trump aides reportedly say there is no plan that could overturn the results.
3. US Threatens New China Sanctions Over Hong Kong
Only “patriots” need apply. That’s the standard set by Beijing for Hong Kong’s once-autonomous territorial legislature. Yesterday, the chamber purged four pro-democracy members, prompting 15 like-minded colleagues to quit. China tightened its grip even more Wednesday when national legislators approved a new law prohibiting Hong Kong’s elected officials from opposing China’s control of the territory. In short, only Beijing-friendly lawmakers are allowed. U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien accused China of having “flagrantly violated” its international commitments and threatened new sanctions, while Sen. Marco Rubio lamented that Hong Kong democracy was “gasping for air.”
It doesn’t look good. Shortly after Pfizer’s share price surged Monday on news that its coronavirus vaccine was 90 percent effective, CEO Albert Bourla sold $5.6 million in company shares, amounting to 60 percent of his holdings. And he’s not alone: Execs at Moderna and Novavax did the same thing after positive news broke about their vaccines. The companies, and even savvy investors, say it’s not unusual. Such executives often keep their shares in programs that unload company stock on predetermined dates or when prices hit certain targets. Nonetheless, some experts say it could erode confidence in the vaccines, which most Americans are already skeptical of.
Election update: Because Joe Biden leads by a razor-thin margin of 14,000 votes, Georgia’s secretary of state said yesterday that presidential ballots will be recounted by hand, which will “help build confidence” but is unlikely to change the result.
Listen up: Voting may be the cornerstone of our democracy, but the reality of how voting works in America is not as fair or clear-cut as we like to tell ourselves. In a new limited-series podcast, Turnout, award-winning journalist and KCM co-founder Katie Couric explores America’s voting record with the help of activists, historians, politicians and luminaries. On this week’s episode, she shares her hopes for the next administration and the need for open-mindedness as the transition begins. Listen now.
In times like these, no one wants to spend time picking an outfit for a 30-minute Zoom meeting or deciding if grocery stores require “real pants.” Our friends at Outerknown found a solution that solves all these problems: the Station Jumpsuit. This best-selling jumpsuit has long sleeves to keep you warm through fall and winter, and with just one zip you’ll have a complete, fashionable outfit. An effortless, go-to outfit so comfortable that you’ll never want to take it off … could it get any better? With code OKOZY, you can get Outerknown’s Station Jumpsuit with an extra 20 percent off!
Commuters, meet the vertiport. It’s a conceptual flying taxi stand where experimental air taxis will come and go from a planned smart city near Orlando, Florida. It’s futuristic, and yet was predicted by the Jetsons TV series in the 1960s. The hub, slated to open in 2025, will host German five-seater Lilium Jets, designed to go 186 mph and hover in for a helicopter-like vertical landing anywhere — on battery power. But the future is a cruel mistress, so we’ll see if the dream of urban mobility will actually fly.
While it’s not uncommon for people to grab coffee or check Facebook while bored with meetings and the camera’s off, New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin crossed a red line. After 27 years with the highbrow publication, he was fired Wednesday for doing a sex chat and masturbating last month during a work teleconference, for which his only defense was that he believed he wasn’t on that camera. He’s also taking leave from doing legal analysis at CNN. The magazine’s parent company, Condé Nast, assured staff that “we take workplace matters seriously” — even if one employee didn’t.
Considering the financial hardships of COVID-19, it’s understandable that 78 percent of Americans crave financial advice. And even if it’s too late to save for the pandemic, parents want their children to be financially literate, OZY reports. They’re clamoring to join programs like Detroit’s Financial Garden, which teaches socioeconomically disadvantaged kids about banking, budgeting and investing. They’re also using apps like Denver-based Mini Money Management, which helps parents pay kids for chores and dock them for misbehavior. Even if they don’t pay the bills, such initiatives may give parents the comfort of knowing their kids will be ready for the next crisis.
4. Panda Fans Blast K-Pop Stars for Unsafe Petting
More like pan … duh! In their final reality series episode, members of K-pop girl group Blackpink visit with Fu Bao, the first giant panda born in South Korea. While that seems undeniably cute, Chinese fans became disenchanted with Jennie, Lisa, Rosé and Jisoo when they saw the episode’s trailer. The “Kill This Love” singers pet the panda without gloves, which netizens noted could transmit such contagion as canine distemper, the virus responsible for killing four giant pandas in China in 2015. Now the episode’s airing has been put off, and Chinese animal authorities have admonished the Everland Zoo for breaching panda protocols.
5. Ohio Pitchers Bieber and Bauer Capture Cy Young Awards
He’s unbeliebable. Baseball writers unanimously chose Shane Bieber for the American League’s Cy Young Award yesterday. With a looping curveball and wipeout sliding pitch, the Cleveland Indians ace has a winning 8-1 record, allowing an average of only 1.63 runs. Down Interstate 71 in Cincinnati, Reds hurler Trevor Bauer won the National League Cy Young, striking out 100 batters with a 1.73 ERA. The winners were teammates until Bauer was traded to the Reds last year. With Las Vegas giving both equal odds at the season’s start, Bieber texted Bauer, saying, “why don’t we go 2-for-2?”
Being stuck at home doesn’t mean your life gets put on hold. Luckily, you don’t have to wait any longer to start planning your family. Modern Fertility’s hormone test measures the same hormones they would at a fertility clinic for only a fraction of the cost. Get the test now for $15 off and find out everything you need to know about your fertility.