👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ The FDA confirmed that Moderna’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine was “highly effective” and safe for adults, setting it up for an emergency authorization later this week to become the country’s second authorized COVID-19 shot. The FDA said the vaccine is 94.5% effective at preventing COVID-19 cases at least 14 days after vaccination and that there were no significant safety concerns. An FDA document also shows that asymptomatic infection was reduced by 63% after the first shot. Between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the U.S. has acquired 300 million doses in the first quarter of 2021 – enough doses for 150 million people. (ABC News / Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~73,271,000; deaths: ~1,631,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~16,652,000; deaths: ~303,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
2/ The FDA authorized the first home test for COVID-19 that doesn’t require a prescription. The test will cost about $30 and be available by January. The antigen test takes about five minutes to collect the sample and produces results within 15 minutes. (NPR / Politico / CBS News)
- Pence will likely get the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the week. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, said that Trump is open to taking the coronavirus vaccine, but would not commit to the timing or Trump being inoculated in public to inspire confidence in its efficacy. (CNN)
3/ Mitch McConnell acknowledged Biden as president-elect for the first time – six weeks after the November election. McConnell also urged Senate Republicans not to join House members in contesting the state electoral results during the Jan. 6 joint session. “Many of us hoped that the presidential election would yield a different result, but our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “The Electoral College has spoken. So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer later took the floor, saying, “For the sake of the country President Trump should take his cue from leader McConnell that it’s time to end his term with a modicum of grace and dignity,” adding, “enough is enough.” (New York Times / ABC News / Politico / NPR / CNN / CBS News / Axios / CNBC)
4/ The White House refused to follow Mitch McConnell in acknowledging Trump’s election defeat. When asked about the electoral college vote, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election. Yesterday’s vote is one step in the constitutional process. So I will leave that to him and refer you to the campaign for more on that litigation.” When asked whether Trump plans to invite Biden to the White House, McEnany declined to say. (The Guardian / Washington Post)
5/ Biden will nominate Pete Buttigieg to be his secretary of transportation. Buttigieg would be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary should his nomination make it through the chamber. The transportation secretary is expected to play a central role in Biden’s push for a bipartisan infrastructure package. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Reuters)
6/ Trump is diverting 75% of most donations for the Georgia Senate runoff elections to his new Save America political action committee, which he plans to use to fund his future political activities. The other 25% is going to the Republican National Committee. (Politico / Business Insider)
7/ A New York judge rejected Trump’s claim of attorney-client privilege to shield documents from the New York Attorney General’s office. The Trump Organization has until Friday to turn over documents related to its Seven Springs Estate and its $21.1 million tax break. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of Seven Springs as part of the conservation easement on the property. (ABC News)
8/ Russian hackers breached at least five federal agencies as part of a months-long global espionage campaign. Hackers compromised the Treasury and Commerce departments, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, and parts of the Pentagon. About 18,000 private and government users downloaded a software update from SolarWinds, a widely used network-management software, that was manipulated by Russian hackers. Among those who use SolarWinds software include the CDC, the State Department, the Justice Department, parts of the Pentagon, and numerous utility companies. (Washington Post / New York Times)
poll/ 71% of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine – up from 63% in August. (NPR)
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