The Rundown for December 31, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 19,740,471 and the nation’s death toll stands at 342,312, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said yesterday that he foresees America regaining “some semblance of normality” by autumn 2021, despite early setbacks in the vaccine rollout. During an online discussion that included California Governor Gavin Newsom, Fauci said it will take until next fall to achieve enough collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations. Newsom, meanwhile, announced that the more infectious coronavirus variant originally found in the United Kingdom has been detected in his state. Newsom said the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 had been confirmed earlier in the day in a Southern California patient.

BIDEN NOMINATIONS… President-elect Joe Biden added two more nominations to the
Pentagon staff yesterday. Biden’s transition team announced that Kathleen Hicks has been nominated for deputy secretary of defense and Colin Kahl as undersecretary of defense for policy. If confirmed, Hicks would be the first woman to hold the position. She is currently a senior vice president and director of the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

UN EXPERTS SAY TRUMP PARDONS VIOLATED LAW… A panel of independent United Nations experts yesterday concluded that President Trump’s pardon last week of four former Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries violates U.S. obligations under international law and urged member states to condemn the action. The four men were convicted of killing 14 Iraqis and injuring 17 others during an attack on Nisour Square in 2007. Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder and Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted of voluntary and attempted manslaughter. Slatten was sentenced to life while the other three received at least 12-year-imprisonment orders.

MICHIGAN APPROVES FLINT TRUST FUND… The creation of a trust fund to distribute a $641 million settlement to residents affected by the Flint water crisis was approved yesterday by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The governor signed a pair of bills that authorize the state to issue bonds to cover the settlement. The state agreed to settle in August. The crisis began in 2014 when Flint changed its water source in a cost-cutting move and high levels of lead started showing up in people’s drinking water. An investigation revealed officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors leading to aging pipes leaching lead into the water supply, exposing residents to toxic contamination.

CENSUS BUREAU STRUGGLES AT DEADLINE… The U.S. Census Bureau acknowledged yesterday that it does not expect to meet today’s deadline to produce population counts used to allocate seats in Congress. The bureau said in a statement yesterday that it will continue to process the data it has collected since October and plans to “deliver a complete and accurate state population count for apportionment” in early 2021. The Census Bureau didn’t specify a date but vowed to deliver the data “as close to the statutory deadline as possible.”

… Actress Dawn Wells, who was best known for playing Mary Ann in the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died died in Los Angeles of causes related to COVID-19. She was 82. After “Gilligan’s Island” completed its three-season run in 1967. Wells continued her role in three made-for-TV sequel movies that aired between 1978 and 1982. The former Miss Nevada who competed in the 1959 Miss America pageant also had television roles in “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “The Joey Bishop Show,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “The Wild Wild West” and “ALF.”

BIDENS TO RING IN NEW YEAR… President-elect Joe Biden and incoming First Lady Jill Biden are planning to ring in the new year tonight as part of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” on ABC. The Bidens will sit down with Seacrest for their final interview of 2020 before transitioning into the White House next month. The event will be hosted by Ryan Seacrest will feature performances by Jennifer Lopez, Megan Thee Stallion, Miley Cyrus, Brandy and Billy Porter.


BOSTON 126 – Memphis 107… Jaylen Brown poured in a career-high 42 points and the
Celtics made it 10 straight wins over the Grizzlies. Brown was 7-of-10 from beyond the arc.

BROOKLYN 145 – Atlanta 141… Kyrie Irving scored 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets surged past the Hawks. Kevin Durant had 33 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Harris tossed in 23 points. Jarrett Allen delivered 15 points and 13 boards off the bench.

MIAMI 119 – Milwaukee 108… The Heat topped the Bucks just 24 hours after losing to them by 47 points. Goran Dragic came off the bench and scored 26 points. Bam Adebayo dropped in 22 points. Tyler Herro finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Charlotte 118 – DALLAS 99… Rookie LaMelo Ball scored 22 points to lead the Hornets in their rout of the Mavericks. Miles Bridges racked up 20 points and 16 boards.

L.A. Lakers 121 – SAN ANTONIO 107… The Lakers used an 11-0 first-quarter run to shake off an early deficit and take the lead for good in their win over the Spurs. LeBron James led the way with 26 points on his 36th birthday. Dennis Schroder added 21 points and Anthony Davis tossed in 20. Spurs’ assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first woman to direct an NBA team when she took over for Gregg Popovich following his second-quarter ejection.

L.A. CLIPPERS 128 – Portland 105… Kawhi Leonard returned from a two-game absence and scored 28 points in leading the Clippers in their romp over the Trail Blazers. Paul George added 23 points.

Cleveland is at Indiana…
Washington hosts Chicago…
Philadelphia is at Orlando…
Houston hosts Sacramento…
New York is at Toronto…
Oklahoma City hosts New Orleans…
Phoenix is at Utah

Wisconsin 42, Wake Forest 28 in the Mayo Bowl…
No. 6 Oklahoma 55, No. 7 Florida 20 in the Cotton Bowl

No. 2 BAYLOR 105, Alcorn State 76…
No. 7 Tennessee 73, No. 12 MISSOURI 53…
No. 23 Virginia 66, NOTRE DAME 57…
No. 25 OHIO STATE 90, Nebraska 54

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