Today’s In Crisis headlines

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(NEW YORK) — Here are today’s In Crisis headlines:

Trump fires top cybersecurity official who disputed election fraud claims
President Trump on Tuesday fired Chris Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), less than a day after Krebs again publicly denied there was any evidence of widespread fraud in the recent presidential election.  As part of the Department of Homeland Security, CISA is responsible for helping to keep national elections secure, and has been debunking election fraud rumors on its official website.  Last week, CISA issued an official statement calling this year’s election “the most secure in American history,” with “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”  Krebs’ firing comes fewer than 24 hours after he tweeted Tuesday, “On allegations that election systems were manipulated, 59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’”

Georgia vote audit nears completion as time to challenge votes elsewhere running out
In Georgia, all of the state’s 159 counties are on track to complete their full hand-count audit of presidential ballots by today’s midnight deadline.  Though uncounted votes have been found in three counties, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office continues to refute unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and told ABC News Tuesday that he didn’t expect the results to change significantly once the audit was completed, and that President-elect Joe Biden would still win the state. 

Elsewhere, time is running out for the Trump campaign – which continues to refuse to concede that Biden won the election – to legally challenge election results.  The campaign has until 6 p.m. ET today to formally request a recount in Wisconsin, which comes with a $7.9 million price tag.  Georgia must certify its election results by Friday, after which the Trump campaign would have until the following Tuesday to formally request a recount. 

Last night in Wayne County, Michigan, where Detroit is located, the Board of Canvasses initially deadlocked in a 2-2 partisan vote over certifying its election results, the board’s two Republicans voting against.  That vote was quickly reversed and the results unanimously certified in the face of immediate criticism from the public and poll volunteers, including accusations of racism regarding Detroit’s predominantly Black population.  Biden won Wayne County 68% to 31% over Trump, and won Michigan by a three-point margin.

President-elect Biden currently has 306 electoral votes to President Trump’s 232, with 270 needed to win the presidency. 

Check for the latest vote counts and other election updates.

COVID-19 numbers
Here’s the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections and deaths.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 55,736,846
Global deaths: 1,340,900.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 248,707.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 35,889,616

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 11,361,395 reported cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 248,707.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 34,156.
U.S. total patients recovered: 4,293,640
U.S. total people tested: 165,828,419

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in Texas, with 1,078,875 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.  This ranks fourth in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,752,509 reported cases; England, which has 1,211,951 reported cases; and Sao Paulo, Brazil, which has 1,178,075 reported cases.

Pfizer will request FDA emergency use vaccine approval “within days”; now claims 95% efficacy
Pfizer and BioNTech, which last week announced that their COVID-19 vaccine was better than 90% effective in preventing infection, announced Wednesday that they now have enough data to conclude their Phase 3 trial and will request an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration “within days.”  The companies also now says the vaccine is “95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose,” and “expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.”  If the FDA grants the EUA, the vaccine will likely first be administered to health care workers, first responders, the elderly and others who are most at-risk of infection.

Pharmaceutical company Moderna on Monday announced their vaccine was shown to be up to 94.5% effective in phase 3 trials involving more than 30,000 U.S. participants.  Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be stored and transported at around minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, Moderna says its vaccine can be safely stored for up to six months in a standard freezer, and for up to 30 days in a standard refrigerator.  If true, this would have significant advantages for vaccine distribution.  Moderna says they will ask the Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) “in the coming weeks.”

US still averaging 150,000+ COVID-19 infections daily; hospitalizations hit new single-day high
Tuesday marked the fourteenth consecutive day that the U.S. reported more than 150,000 new COVID-19 cases.  According to the Covid Tracking Project, there were 155,201 new cases reported November 17, as well as 76,830 hospitalizations, the latter a new single-day record.  There were also 1,565 COVID-19 fatalities reported on Tuesday, with an average 1,160 a day reported over the last seven days.  According to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the US currently has at least 11,361,395 reported COVID-19 cases and 248,707 deaths.  Those continue to be the highest numbers of any nation, comprising about 20% and 18.5% of global totals, respectively.  The U.S. is on track to surpass 250,000 COVID-19 deaths as early as Thursday.

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