1/ The U.S. reported more than 1 million new Covid-19 infections – a single-day record for new cases for any country in the world. The seven-day average of cases climbed to 485,363 on Monday, more than doubling in the span of a week. The U.S. is reporting a seven-day average of about 1,200 Covid-19 deaths – well below last year’s holiday season when the January 2021 daily average was above 3,000 – and about 98,000 daily hospitalizations, a figure that’s approaching September’s peak Delta wave levels of about 103,000. The CDC estimates that the Omicron variant now accounts for up to 95% of all U.S. Covid-19 cases – up from 77% in the previous week. (CNBC / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The U.S. doubled its order of Pfizer’s coronavirus antiviral pills, bringing the government’s total order of the drug to 20 million treatment courses. Monthly deliveries of Paxlovid, however, are not expected to ramp up into the millions until April and the combined order is not due to be filled until the end of September. Doctors, meanwhile, say the limited initial supply of the pills means they’re unlikely to alleviate the current strain on hospitals due to the Omicron surge. (Washington Post / New York Times)
3/ A record 4.5 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in November – up from the 4.2 million who left or changed jobs in October, and surpassing the previous record of 4.4 million in September. The Labor Department also reported that employers posted 10.6 million job openings in November, down from 11.1 million in October but well above pre-pandemic levels. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, has fallen to 4.2%, close to what’s considered full employment. (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
4/ Joe Manchin told reporters he’s had “no negotiations” with Democrats about reviving Biden’s $1.75 trillion social and climate spending bill. Last month, Manchin said he opposed the House-passed version of the bill, ending his party’s hopes of passing the package before the end of 2021. “I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better because I think I’ve been very clear on that,” Manchin said outside his office today, adding that he feels “as strongly today” as he did in December about his concerns that the plan could exacerbate high inflation. When asked about possible rule changes to the filibuster, Manchin called it a “heavy lift” and indicated that his “absolute preference” is to do it with Republican support. Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, warned that Manchin will have to vote on Biden’s signature spending bill at some point, saying “I intend to hold a vote in the Senate on BBB and we’ll keep voting until we get a bill passed. The stakes are high for us to find common ground.” (Politico / NBC News / The Hill / Bloomberg / CNBC)
5/ Trump endorsed Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orban for reelection, pledging his “complete support” to the far-right populist who has championed turning Hungary into an “illiberal state.” In his endorsement, Trump called Orban a “strong leader” who has “done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming election.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Business Insider)
6/ The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is running out of time as Trump and his allies block or slow down the committee’s subpoenas and document demands. The panel is facing a litany of lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies seeking to run out the clock ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans are expected to regain control of the House, which would give them the power to shut down the investigation. Though the committee has interviewed hundreds of witnesses, some of the most important have yet to cooperate with the inquiry at Trump’s direction. “We’re moving as swiftly as I think any congressional committee ever has,” Adam Schiff said. “Some witnesses are far more important than others, and I think that some really important witnesses are attempting to deprive the committee and American people of what they know. There’s still some very significant witnesses and very significant documents we haven’t obtained.” The committee is also waiting on 800 pages of Trump’s official records and communications related to Jan. 6. Whether those records will be turned over is being litigated in the courts, where the U.S. district court and the U.S. appeals court have already ruled that Biden has the final say over which White House documents are subject to executive privilege. Last month, however, Trump asked the Supreme Court to block the release of those records, arguing that the documents are subject to executive privilege Biden, however, has declined to assert privilege on Trump’s behalf. (The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post)
7/ The Jan. 6 select committee will reportedly ask Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity for his voluntary cooperation with its investigation. Hannity texted then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the riot, urging him to get Trump to stop his supporters. (Axios)
poll/ 29% of Republicans say the Jan. 6 attack by Trump supporters was not violent, while 61% say it was very or somewhat violent. Overall, 86% of adults describe the attack on the Capitol as extremely or very violent. (Associated Press)
poll/ 56% of voters disapprove of the job Biden is doing – the worst job approval rating of his presidency. Biden’s approval rating stands at 44%, down from 46% in September and 51% in April. (CNBC)
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