5 things to know for December 18: Covid-19, cyberattack, economy, Nigeria, Taliban

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has blocked local governments from enforcing their own measures to protect residents from the coronavirus, and sidelined health experts even as he promoted questionable science, according to CNN interviews with more than a dozen Florida officials and experts. Drew Griffin reports.

Posted: Dec 20, 2020 12:00 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2020 12:00 AM

There's traffic, and then there's TRAFFIC. About 1,000 motorists in Japan were caught in the latter when a snowstorm blew in, stranding them overnight in a nine-mile backup.

Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

The FDA is on its way to granting emergency use authorization to Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine after the agency's advisers voted yesterday to recommend it. If it's authorized, officials expect nearly 8 million more vaccine doses will reach US states by next week. Vice President Mike Pence is set to get a first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine today, making him the highest-ranking US official to be vaccinated against the virus. Other countries are getting ready for their own vaccine rollouts: India is preparing task forces in anticipation of an emergency use authorization for at least one vaccine candidate. South Korea plans to vaccinate more than 80% of its population -- about 44 million people -- by next November. Meanwhile, Germany and Japan have reported new record case numbers, and in the US, Covid-19 deaths have already topped 40,000 this month.

2. US cyberattack

The Department of Homeland Security's cyber arm has warned that the recent cyberattack affecting government agencies is far broader than officials had thought. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the compromised software program, SolarWinds, isn't the only way hackers infiltrated networks, and those responsible may have used "tactics, techniques and procedures that have not yet been discovered." This news just escalates already growing concern about the scale and scope of the breach, which the agency says "poses a grave risk" to the federal government and other areas of the public and private sectors. Questions are also lingering about how long the breach went undetected by the US government and when President Trump, who has stayed silent on the matter, may address it.

3. Economy 

There's more bad news on the job front. Another 885,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, marking an increase in claims far above what economists expected. Unemployment numbers have been increasing for weeks now, and about 14 million people are relying on government coronavirus aid programs that are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts. To make matters worse, it looks like Congress may not get any sort of bill done by the end of the week, meaning there could be a brief government shutdown this weekend, one GOP senator said. Remember, government funding and pandemic stimulus measures are tied together because Congress hopes the combination will get two critical tasks done at once and increase bipartisan support. So far ... it really hasn't.

4. Nigeria

More than 300 boys kidnapped during an attack on a Nigerian school last week have been freed, the country's government said. Hundreds of students were feared missing after the attack, and the Nigerian army says it's been able to rescue 344 of them. Some suspected the abductions were carried out by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, but the governor of Nigeria's Katsina state says it was actually bandits masquerading as members of the terrorist organization. Cases of kidnapping for ransom have increased in Katsina state, but never at this scale. With hundreds of children involved, the incident recalls the brutal kidnapping of 276 girls from Chibok in 2014. More than 100 of those girls never returned home.

5. Taliban

America's top military officer met with representatives of the Taliban in Qatar this week during an unannounced trip to the Middle East. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley discussed the need for a reduction of violence in the area, which was a major condition of the agreement struck between the US and the Taliban in February that could pave the way to ending America's longest-fought war. Still, the insurgent group's attacks against the Afghan government have continued, and US officials say it hasn't broken with al Qaeda either -- another big condition of the deal. All this comes amid an ongoing reduction of US military forces in Afghanistan ordered by the Trump administration following the President's election defeat.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

'The Masked Singer' has crowned a new winner

No spoilers, but this celebrity reveal definitely makes sense.

Atlantic City is blowing up an abandoned Trump casino, and for the right price, you could be the one to push the button 

Truly a gift for the person who has everything.

A small town in North Carolina is installing a cannon to get rid of vultures

To be clear, it will not SHOOT the vultures. That would be ... overkill. It's just supposed to scare them.

The NFL plans to honor health care workers by inviting some who've been vaccinated to Super Bowl LV

They deserve it. 

Papa John's brings stuffed crust to the pizza wars

Pizza: The unofficial food of quarantine. 

TODAY'S NUMBER

10

That's how many people the US government has executed this year, more than all 50 states combined. It's the highest number of federal executions since 1896.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"We need your actions to show that you are different than those who pay lip-service to our losses while doing nothing to show that our loved ones' lives mattered."

Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, in an open letter to President-elect Joe Biden. Taylor was killed by police during a botched raid in March, and Palmer is calling on Biden to keep his promises of holding police accountable for their actions.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

I'm weary with my former toil, here I will sit and rest awhile 

Let's close the week out with a carol -- but not just any carol! This version of "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree," performed by Seraphic Fire, was composed by British musician and writer Elizabeth Poston. Poston was an all-around Renaissance woman who's said to have worked as a secret agent during WWII. It's a lovely listen, no matter where you find yourself this December morning. (Click here to view.)

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A windy and chilly day is expected. Tonight could be the coldest night of the season so far.
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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

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