CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 16,251,716 and the nation’s death toll stands at 299,163, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 187,901 new cases and 1,379 deaths… The first shipments of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine are en route. 184,275 vials of the vaccine were trucked out of Pfizer’s facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, yesterday. A combined 189 boxes of the vaccine is set to be distributed among all 50 states today. The shipments began immediately after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield gave his approval.
TREASURY, COMMERCE DEPARTMENTS HACKED… The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments were hacked by Russian government-backed spies, Reuters and the Washington Post reported yesterday. The hack was serious enough that analysts briefed the National Security Council. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is in charge of advising the president on telecommunications issues, was reportedly targeted. Cybersecurity experts say the group behind the hacks – APT29 or Cozy Bear — works with Russia’s foreign intelligence agency. APT29 was blame early last week for a hack on a top U.S. cybersecurity firm.
TRUMP CONTINUES DEFENSE BILL VETO THREAT… President Trump yesterday offered China as the reason he remains determined to veto an annual defense policy bill that passed by a veto-proof majority in the Senate last week. “The biggest winner of our new defense bill is China!” Trump tweeted. “I will veto!” Lawmakers from both parties insist the bill, which covers the military’s budget for equipment and pay raises for service members, would be tough on China and must become law as soon as possible. The president has previously threatened to veto the bill over a requirement that military bases honoring Confederate leaders eventually be renamed. He also threatened a veto to try to force lawmakers to include provisions that punish social media companies he claims were biased against him during the election.
33 ARRESTED IN D.C. AFTER VIOLENT CLASHES… Police in Washington, D.C., arrested 33 people amid violent protests over the weekend. Protesters clashed with police and there were confrontations between supporters of President Trump and counter-protesters. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, charges ranged from assaulting a cop to general assault, illegal weapons possession and resisting arrest. Eight police officers were hurt. Four people also suffered non-life-threatening stab wounds in one confrontation. Vandals tore down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historic Black churches and set the banner ablaze. Police are investigating the incidents at the Asbury United Methodist Church and Metropolitan A.M.E. Church as potential hate crimes.
NEW RELIEF BILL TO BE INTRODUCED… Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said yesterday that a bipartisan group of lawmakers plans to introduce a $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill today. During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin said the bill would serve as an emergency measure to help the nation survive the first fiscal quarter of 2021. The bill calls for $288 billion in small-business support and $180 billion for extended unemployment insurance.
JOHN leCARRÉ DIES… Best-selling spy novelist John le Carre died at his home in England on Saturday. He was 89 and had been battling pneumonia. The author’s classics include “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “The Honourable Schoolboy.” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” published in 1974 was adapted into a 2011 film starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.
EDDIE VAN HALEN DIED OF A STROKE… Eddie Van Halen’s cause of death was a stroke, according to his death certificate obtained by TMZ. The certificate lists underlying causes, including pneumonia, the bone marrow disorder myelodysplastic syndrome and lung cancer. The certificate also listed a number of “other significant conditions”, including skin cancer on his head and neck and an irregular heart rate. Van Halen’s body was cremated 22 days after his death and his ashes were given to his son Wolfgang.
CHICAGO 36 – Houston 7… The Bears (6-7) cruised past the Texans (4-9) to snap their six-game skid. Mitchell Trubisky passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Allen Robinson had nine catches for 123 yards and a score. David Montgomery rushed for 113 yards and a TD.
Dallas 30 – CINCINNATI 7… Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes in his return to Cincinnati and the Cowboys (4-9) cruised past the Bengals (2-10-1). Aldon Smith returned a fumble 78 yards for a score.
Kansas City 33 – MIAMI 27… The Chiefs (12-1) held off the Dolphins (8-5) to clinch their fifth straight AFC West title. Patrick Mahomes threw for 393 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted three times. Travis Kelce had eight receptions for 136 yards and a score.
Arizona 26 – N.Y. GIANTS 7… The Cardinals (7-6) turned it up defensively in downing the Giants (5-8). Heason Reddick recorded five sacks and three forced fumbles. Kyler Murray passed for 244 yards and a touchdown. Deandre Hopkins had nine catches for 136 yards.
TAMPA BAY 26 – Minnesota 14… Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Buccaneers (8-5) handled the Vikings (6-7). Defensively, Tampa Bay recorded six sacks.
Denver 32 – CAROLINA 27… Drew Lock passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns as the Broncos (5-8) held off the Panthers (4-9). K.J. Hamler had two TD catches. Diontae Spenser returned a punt 83 yards for a score.
Tennessee 31 – JACKSONVILLE 10… Derrick Henry ran for 215 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans (9-4) dealt the Jaguars (1-12) their 12th straight loss. Ryan Tannehill threw for 212 yards and two scores. A.J. Brown had seven receptions for 112 yards and a TD.
Indianapolis 44 – LAS VEGAS 27… Philip Rivers threw for 244 yards and hit T.Y. Hilton with a pair of touchdown passes as the Colts (9-4) topped the Raiders (7-6). Jonathan Taylor rushed for 150 yards and two scores.
SEATTLE 40 – N.Y. Jets 3… Russell Wilson threw touchdown passes to four different receivers before sitting out the fourth quarter and the Seahawks (9-4) dismantled the Jets (0-13).
Green Bay 31 – DETROIT 24… Aaron Rodgers ran for a tie-breaking touchdown in the third quarter and threw touchdown passes in leading the Packers (10-3) past the Lions (5-8). Devante Adams had seven catches for 115 yards and a score.
PHILADELPHIA 24 – New Orleans 21… The Eagles (4-8-1) built a 17-0 halftime lead and held off the Saints (10-3). Miles Sanders rushed for 115 yards and two scores. Jalen Hurts got the stars at quarterback and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in the first quarter.
L.A. CHARGERS 20 – Atlanta 17… Michael Badgley booted a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Chargers (4-9) over the Falcons (4-9). Justin Herbert passed for 243 yards and two scores.
Washington 23 – SAN FRANCISCO 15… Washington (6-7) dominated the 49ers (5-8) defensively in a hard-fought win. Chase Young returned a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown. Kamren Curl added a 76-yard interception return for a score.
BUFFALO 26 – Pittsburgh 15… Taron Johnson returned an interception 51 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the first quarter and the Bills (10-3) never looked back in their win over the Steelers (11-2). Josh Allen threw touchdown passes to Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis in the third quarter.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL…
Baltimore (7-5) is at Cleveland (9-3)
TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES…
No. 3 IOWA 103, Northern Illinois 53…
No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE 109, Oakland 91…
No. 11 WEST VIRGINIA 87, No. 19 Richmond 71…
No. 22 OHIO STATE 67, Cleveland State 61…
No. 23 Arizona State 71, GRAND CANYON 70…
MLB NEWS… The Cleveland Indians plan to change their nickname after 108 years. They become the latest professional sports franchise to remove Native American imagery amid accusations that its use is racist. Cleveland has not settled on a new nickname.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS… Auburn has fired head football coach Gus Malzahn after eight seasons. The Tigers went 68-34 under Malzahn and reached the BCS National Championship in his first season in 2013… Lovie Smith is out as head football coach at Illinois after five seasons. The Illini went 17-39 (10-33 in the Big Ten) under. Smith, who guided the NFL’s Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006.