Day: November 21, 2020

Michigan GOP legislators appear at Trump Hotel after White House meeting

Michigan’s top GOP legislators made an appearance at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Friday after attending a meeting at the White House with President Trump that sparked widespread scrutiny.



a large clock mounted to the side of Union Station: Michigan GOP legislators appear at Trump Hotel after White House meeting


© Trump International Hotel D.C.
Michigan GOP legislators appear at Trump Hotel after White House meeting

Photos obtained by the Detroit Free Press show Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) and other state GOP members gathered inside the hotel on Friday.

CNN reported that Chatfield and Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) both stayed Friday night at the hotel, which is located just blocks from the White House, following their meeting with Trump earlier in the day.

Images of the GOP legislators were also projected on the outside of the hotel building Friday night, along with the messages “The world is watching” and “voters decided.” It wasn’t clear who was behind the images, according to The New York Times.

Trump invited the legislators to visit the White House amid a broad effort by the president and his legal team to challenge Michigan’s election results. Biden leads Trump by about 154,000 votes in Michigan.

After the meeting, Shirley and Chatfield said in a statement that they had not been “made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan” and said “as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election.”

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday and stepped on the pair’s message, claiming without offering evidence that “massive voter fraud will be shown.” Both of his tweets were labeled as “disputed.”

The state lawmakers said they were joined by their colleagues at the White House and delivered a letter to Trump laying out their support for congressional aid to assist the state amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the meeting was thrust into the spotlight due to Michigan’s presidential election results

Continue reading

As U.S. coronavirus cases soar, Thanksgiving travel surge amps up

As Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, put it recently on MSNBC: “It’s almost exponential when you compare the curves in the spring and the curves in the summer with the inflection of the curve where we are right now.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Thursday against traveling and congregating for Thanksgiving, using its first news briefing in months to sound alarms over the massive case rise reported in the past week. The United States has surpassed a quarter-million deaths related to covid-19.

But more than 1 million people still passed through the country’s airports Friday in the second-highest single-day rush of travelers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, even as air travel has dropped dramatically over this time last year. On the same date in 2019, more than 2.5 million people traveled through U.S. airports.

The data on Transportation Security Administration screenings shows that many Americans are heeding calls for caution. But the fallout from this week is expected to amp up pressure on hospitals and health care workers at a critical time in the pandemic. Hospitalizations have soared to all-time highs, pushing state after state to enact new restrictions such as mask mandates, curfews and renewed business shutdowns.

“The scary news is that this week will probably have the highest amount of travel we have seen since the pandemic began,” said Christopher Worsham, a critical care physician and research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

He said he is more worried about what will happen when travelers get to their destinations — and as people from different households gather indoors, where the virus can spread more easily, often with more vulnerable older family members. Worsham said he has been hearing about people being treated as “the bad guy” for trying to keep their relatives and communities safe.

“We have to remember that the virus does not care that it is the holidays, that you are family, and that you have already gone a long time without seeing one another — if given opportunities to spread, the virus will spread,” he said.

Some passengers are facing crowded terminals as they wait to board flights. Video of busy seating areas at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport made the rounds on social media Friday, as travelers said that the CDC’s guidance a day earlier had either not registered or not made a difference in their decision-making.

“I have a life to live and things to do, so we take necessary precautions,” Curt Vurpillat, who was heading to Chicago, told news outlet AZFamily.

Brandi McRae, an IT asset and capacity manager from South Florida, told The Washington Post she was alarmed to see long security lines and tightly packed clusters of people in the corridors of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Saturday morning.

“It was a bit overwhelming,” said McRae, 31. “It was less crowded as I walked to my gate, but all I could think was that there would be very little way for so many

Continue reading

Minnesota grants $4 million to proposed Jacob Wetterling Recreation Center

St. Joseph

$4 million in aid goes to Wetterling Center

The state of Minnesota has made a $4 million grant to the city of St. Joseph toward the design and construction of a community center to be known as the Jacob Wetterling Recreation Center.

The money, contained in the $1.9 billion bonding bill passed last month by the Legislature, would cover about one-fourth of the project’s estimated $16 million cost. City officials have been working on the project for years.

Jacob Wetterling was 11 when he was abducted near his Stearns County home in 1989. In 2016, Danny Heinrich confessed to kidnapping and killing Jacob. In a plea agreement, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on child pornography charges but was not charged in Jacob’s abduction and death.

john Reinan

Ely

New mayor-elect turns down the job

Eric Urbas, who won Ely’s mayoral election after dropping out of the race, told city officials Wednesday that he would not accept the position.

The 32-year-old defeated three-term incumbent Mayor Chuck Novak by 125 votes. Urbas halted his campaign in August, citing health problems, but his name remained on the November ballot.

Ely will hold a special mayoral election, the timing of which will be discussed at the City Council’s Dec. 1 meeting.

Katie Galioto

NEW ULM

County hires 2 nurses for COVID-19 cases

Brown County is set to hire two nurses to deal with COVID-19 cases. At its meeting this week, the County Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the hiring of the nurses to handle COVID-19 case investigations and contact tracing. One nurse will fill a permanent position while the other is slated to work through February.

As with many Minnesota counties, Brown County has seen a rapid increase in positive tests for the illness caused by the coronavirus. The county’s most recent rate of positive test results was 5.2%, below the statewide average of 7%, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health.

JOHN REINAN

East Grand Forks

Board nixes COVID stimulus requests

The Economic Development Authority rejected two businesses’ requests for reimbursement under COVID-19 stimulus programs. Anytime Fitness sought $1,100 for a pressure toilet and the CherryBerry yogurt bar sought $5,600 for a safe.

john Reinan

Continue reading

U.S. hits 12 million COVID-19 cases as many Americans defy Thanksgiving travel guidance

By Gabriella Borter



a group of people standing in front of a building: People wearing protective masks are seen at Rockefeller Center as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City


© Reuters/JEENAH MOON
People wearing protective masks are seen at Rockefeller Center as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City

(Reuters) – The United States recorded its 12th million COVID-19 case on Saturday, even as millions of Americans were expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring warnings from health officials about furthering the spread of the infectious disease.

More than 12,010,000 cases of the coronavirus were reported, according to a Reuters tally of public health data, capping a series of days with record-breaking infections, with the Midwest experiencing one of the most dramatic increases in cases per capita.



a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings: People wearing protective masks take a selfie in front of Rockefeller Center as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City


© Reuters/JEENAH MOON
People wearing protective masks take a selfie in front of Rockefeller Center as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City

The COVID-19 epidemic has claimed more than 255,000 lives in the United States – more than in any other nation – according to the Reuters tally – and the recent escalation has prompted more than 20 states to impose sweeping new restrictions this month to curb the virus.

Reuters data shows the pace of new U.S. infections has quickened, with nearly one million more cases recorded in just the last 6 days before the latest record. This compares with the 8 days it took to get from 10 million cases to 11 million, and the 10 days it took to get from 9 million to 10 million.

More than 1 million people flew through U.S. airports on Friday, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration, fueling fears of even greater spread of the virus. It was the second-heaviest domestic air traffic day since the start of the pandemic, despite pleas from health officials for Americans to stay home.



a group of people standing in a room: FILE PHOTO: Volunteers hand out Thanksgiving turkeys and bags of free holiday food to those in need at the Central Family Life Center in Staten Island, New York


© Reuters/BRENDAN MCDERMID
FILE PHOTO: Volunteers hand out Thanksgiving turkeys and bags of free holiday food to those in need at the Central Family Life Center in Staten Island, New York

“This is the 2nd time since the pandemic passenger volume has surpassed 1 million,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Friday marked another milestone in the United States as the highest number of new COVID-19 cases was reported – 196,815 infections in a day.

Health officials have warned that the burgeoning wave of infections could soon overwhelm the healthcare system if people do not follow public health guidance, particularly around not traveling and mingling with other households for Thursday’s traditional Thanksgiving celebration.

Still, video footage on Twitter showed more than a hundred people, wearing masks, crowding departure gates at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday. Lines for TSA checkpoints and kiosks at Chicago O’Hare airport were also long on Friday and “reminiscent of pre-pandemic times,” local TV station WGN reported.



a person riding a skate board: People wearing a protective masks skate t the skating rink at Rockefeller Center as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City


© Reuters/JEENAH MOON
People wearing a protective masks skate t the skating rink at Rockefeller Center as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City

The number of Thanksgiving air travelers was

Continue reading

Israel welcomes end to convicted U.S. spy Pollard’s travel ban

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli leaders on Saturday welcomed the U.S. decision to end parole restrictions on Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer who served 30 years in prison after being convicted of spying for Israel.



Jonathan Pollard wearing a suit and tie: FILE PHOTO: Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, exits following a hearing at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York


© Reuters/BRENDAN MCDERMID
FILE PHOTO: Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, exits following a hearing at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York

The U.S. Justice Department’s parole commission decided on Friday to allow a travel ban on Pollard to expire. The move was seen by some as a parting gift from the Trump administration to its ally Israel.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the lifting of the restrictions on Jonathan Pollard,” a statement from the Israeli leader’s office said.

“The Prime Minister thanked Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer for responsibly and sensitively leading the contacts with the administration. The Prime Minister hopes to see Jonathan Pollard in Israel soon,” the statement said.

Pollard pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage in connection with providing Israeli contacts with hundreds of classified documents he had obtained as a naval intelligence specialist in exchange for thousands of dollars.

He was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison. After serving 30 years, which included time in custody following his 1985 arrest, he was released on parole in 2015 under terms which dictated he remain in the U.S. for five years.

Pollard, 66, has sought to move to Israel, which granted him citizenship while in prison and had long pushed for his release. The espionage affair strained U.S.-Israel relations for decades.

Netanyahu’s statement was echoed by other Israeli ministers and by President Ruvi Rivlin.

“Over the years we have shared in Jonathan Pollard’s pain, and felt a responsibility and commitment to bring about his release. Now we will be able to welcome him and his family home,” Rivlin said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Mike Harrison)

Continue Reading

Source Article

Continue reading

Many Americans defy Thanksgiving travel guidance as U.S. nears 12 million COVID-19 cases

By Gabriella Borter



a car parked in a parking lot: A healthcare worker holds a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) informational pamphlet for a resident at a drive-thru testing location in Houston


© Reuters/ADREES LATIF
A healthcare worker holds a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) informational pamphlet for a resident at a drive-thru testing location in Houston

(Reuters) – Millions of people in the United States were expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring warnings from health officials about furthering the spread of COVID-19 as the nation was on the verge of recording its 12 millionth case on Saturday.

More than 1 million people flew through U.S. airports on Friday, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. That made it the second-heaviest domestic air traffic day since the start of the pandemic, despite pleas from health officials for Americans to stay home and stop the spread of the virus.

Many Americans defy Thanksgiving travel guidance as U.S. nears 12 million COVID-19 cases

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

“This is the 2nd time since the pandemic passenger volume has surpassed 1 million,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Friday marked another milestone in the United States as the highest number of new COVID-19 cases was reported – 196,815 infections in a day.

Health officials have warned that the burgeoning wave of infections could soon overwhelm the healthcare system if people do not follow public health guidance, particularly around not traveling and mingling with other households for Thursday’s traditional Thanksgiving celebration.

Still, video footage on Twitter showed more than a hundred people, wearing masks, crowding departure gates at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday. Lines for TSA checkpoints and kiosks at Chicago O’Hare airport were also long on Friday and “reminiscent of pre-pandemic times,” local TV station WGN reported.

The number of Thanksgiving air travelers was expected to decline by 47.5% from 2019, but 2.4 million people were forecast to take to the skies, according to a report earlier this month from the American Automobile Association. It said the number traveling by car was expected to fall by only about 4%.

“For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure,” AAA Senior Vice President Paula Twidale said in a statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a “strong recommendation” to Americans to refrain from all kinds of travel over Thanksgiving.

“We’re alarmed with the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” CDC official Henry Walke told reporters on Thursday.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States was on track to surpass 12 million on Saturday, with the Midwest experiencing one of the most dramatic increases in cases per capita.

The COVID-19 epidemic has claimed nearly 255,000 lives in the United States – more than in any other nation – according to a Reuters tally of public health data, and the recent escalation has prompted more than 20 states to impose sweeping new restrictions this month to curb the virus.

Reuters data shows the pace of new U.S. infections has quickened,

Continue reading

Portugal to ban domestic travel, close schools around national holidays

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal is to ban domestic travel and close schools around two upcoming holidays in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus ahead of Christmas, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective mask speaks with a driver of a tram during the coronavirus outbreak in downtown Lisbon, Portugal, October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 2, and then again from 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 9, to prevent movement around national holidays on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8.

Schools will close on the Mondays before both holidays, while businesses must close early. Employers are being encouraged to give workers the day off in order to minimise travel activity.

“We continue to have a very high number of cases which is a threat to our health,” Costa told a press conference. “We must persist to not only halt that growth rate but invert it.”

Masks, already mandatory in public and enclosed commercial spaces, are now also mandatory in the workplace, Costa said. Checks will increase to ensure that those who can are working remotely.

A night-time curfew and weekend lockdown after 1 p.m. in 191 municipalities since Nov. 9 will continue in 174 municipalities with particularly high infection rates for a further two weeks.

Portugal reported 62 deaths and 6,472 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, mostly in the north of the country, bringing the total infections to 255,970 cases, with 3,824 deaths.

The number of cases has increased significantly since late September, with average daily rates rising from around 300 in the summer to 6,000 in recent weeks despite testing only increasing approximately three-fold, health ministry data shows.

The country, with around 10 million people, ranks seventh in Europe for the number of cumulative cases per 100,000 people and 14th for the number of new deaths, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures.

(This story fixes incorrect advisory line to conform with final paragraph, making clear that Portugal ranks seventh in Europe for cases and 14th for deaths)

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Source Article

Continue reading

Michigan GOP Speaker Chatfield drinks at Trump Hotel; Carson was ‘desperately ill’ from COVID

USA TODAY’S coverage of the 2020 election continues this week as states prepare to finish certifying their vote counts after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the hard-fought presidential race. President Donald Trump has yet to concede the race as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris prepare to take office in January.

Clyburn to Trump: ‘The campaign is over’

UP NEXT

UP NEXT



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump gives thumbs up after stepping off Air Force One as he arrives at Detroit Metro Airport, behind him are Kurt Heise, left, Supervisor of Plymouth Township, Mich., and Speaker Lee Chatfield, of the Michigan House of Representatives, May 21, 2020, in Detroit.


© Alex Brandon, AP
President Donald Trump gives thumbs up after stepping off Air Force One as he arrives at Detroit Metro Airport, behind him are Kurt Heise, left, Supervisor of Plymouth Township, Mich., and Speaker Lee Chatfield, of the Michigan House of Representatives, May 21, 2020, in Detroit.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.

Loading...

Load Error

Michigan GOP House Speaker Chatfield enjoys drinks at Trump Hotel 

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Public skepticism that Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders focused on COVID-19 assistance when they met with President Donald Trump was amplified Saturday as state House Speaker Lee Chatfield was seen socializing at the Trump Hotel in Washington and the president posted tweets that implied the election was also a topic of discussion. 

Chatfield and Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey met with Trump Friday afternoon at the White House. After the meeting, the pair issued a statement that said, the meeting focused on COVID-19 assistance and that “we have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan.”

But critics of the meeting were already dubious that the president did not try to persuade the lawmakers in his ongoing efforts to subvert the election results before photographs surfaced of Chatfield drinking and sitting, unmasked, with others at the Trump International Hotel. Their concerns were amplified when the lawmakers did not elaborate on what, if anything, the president asked about Michigan election results

Trump hopes the state’s Republican-controlled state legislature will flip Michigan’s 16 Electoral Colleges vote to him even though President-elect Joe Biden earned approximately 154,000 more votes in the state than Trump. 

Trump tweeted twice Saturday, responding to both lawmakers with more unfounded allegations of fraud and misconduct in Michigan. 

“We will show massive and unprecedented fraud!” Trump tweeted in response to Shirkey tweeting out his statement. 

In response to a Chatfield tweet, Trump tweeted, “Massive voter fraud will be shown!”

– Dave BoucherClara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press

Ben Carson says he is ‘out of the woods’ after being ‘desperately ill’ from COVID

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, was “extremely sick” and “desperately ill,” according to a post on his Facebook page Friday morning.

“Thank you everyone for your support and

Continue reading

‘Travel Bubble’ Between Hong Kong And Singapore Is Delayed Amid COVID-19 Spike : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

In this Oct. 9, 2020, photo, people walk down a street in Hong Kong. Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.

Kin Cheung/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Kin Cheung/AP

In this Oct. 9, 2020, photo, people walk down a street in Hong Kong. Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.

Kin Cheung/AP

An arrangement to allow air travelers between Hong Kong and Singapore to forgo quarantine has been delayed after Hong Kong reported a spike in coronavirus cases.

Hong Kong announced Saturday a delay of at least two weeks to the air travel bubble as the city confirmed 43 new cases — including 13 cases that officials have not been able to trace.

The bubble, which was originally slated to start Sunday, would allow a limited number of air travelers to avoid quarantine. To qualify, passengers would have to pass two coronavirus tests — both before departure and upon arrival — and fly on one of a select number of flights.

Both cities currently require most travelers to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said the postponement was the “responsible way” forward, the Associated Press reported.

“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said.

Yau said enacting the air travel bubble would be revisited early next month, Reuters reported.

Singapore ‘s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us.”

“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint,” he wrote.

The South China Morning Post reported that the plan would have allowed up to 200 people to fly each day without a quarantine period.

As part of the arrangement, both Hong Kong and Singapore had agreed to suspend the program for two weeks if the number of local untraceable cases exceeded five on a rolling seven-day average. As of Saturday, Hong Kong was at nearly four, according to the AP.

Hong Kong, alongside Singapore, was lauded by public health officials for its response early into the pandemic. In recent days, however, the city has seen a spike in new infections.

At least one health official has warned of an upcoming “fourth wave” of coronavirus cases, Bloomberg News reports, adding that more social restrictions were planned to help contain outbreaks.

In total, Hong Kong has confirmed more than 5,500 cases of the coronavirus according to Johns Hopkins University. Singapore has confirmed more than 58,100 cases.

Source Article

Continue reading

Covington native rises through ranks to lead Newton Parks and Recreation

COVINGTON, Ga. — Dwayne Mask says he never thought of working anywhere but his hometown during a four-decade career with the Newton County Parks and Recreation Department.

Now, Mask has worked his way up to lead the 17-employee department after 33 years.

County Manager Lloyd Kerr promoted him recently after Mask served twice in three years as interim director.

Mask said his promotion to the director’s job “worked out for me” after all the years in the department.

“I’m very appreciative for the opportunity,” he said.

Kerr said he selected Mask “because his experience, knowledge, job skills and professionalism stood out.”

“He was twice the county’s interim recreation director and both times guided the department through difficult times,” he said. “I know Dwayne will continue his terrific work for Newton County in leading our Parks and Recreation Department.”

Kerr said he did not consider any of the other five or six applicants for the job. Mask’s familiarity with the department’s operations and staff separated him from other applicants — most of who were from outside Newton County, he said.

“I don’t believe they would have fit in Newton County real well,” Kerr said.

“There was no one else who knew the department top to bottom,” he said. “(Mask) has done everything from cutting the grass to handling administrative details.

“The personnel have a lot of respect for him,” Kerr said. “It was just a really good fit.”

Homegrown leader

Mask, 55, is a Newton County native who was fresh off playing baseball on scholarship for Brewton-Parker College in south Georgia when a maintenance position opened in the department in 1987.

He worked his way up to become maintenance supervisor before moving to a department administrative role in 2010 and assistant director in 2015.

Mask served as the interim director but decided not to apply for the permanent position following the Newton County Recreation Commission’s termination of Anthony Avery in December 2017.

Avery later filed a wrongful termination lawsuit after his firing and the county reportedly settled it with him for $500,000. 

The recreation commission formed in 1999 to take over the department’s operations after the county and Covington had jointly operated it.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners asked the Georgia General Assembly to dissolve the commission earlier this year amid a dispute over employee bonuses, and the department became an arm of the county government under Kerr’s direction in July.

In late July, former director Ternard Turner announced the department was canceling all fall sports, including baseball and softball, because of the rapid spread of COVID-19 — a move which drew some heavy criticism on social media.

Turner then abruptly resigned on Aug. 7 and Mask again served as interim director until his promotion.

Mask said the department is offering youth basketball this year but at a much smaller participation level than the usual 500 players and 60 teams because of safety concerns around COVID-19.

The department limited basketball to 17 teams in four age groups; limited the number

Continue reading