Today’s In Crisis headlines

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

Attorney General Barr says “have not seen fraud” sufficient to affect election outcome
Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday broke with the Trump administration, declaring in comments to the Associated Press, “We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”  Barr’s statement comes as President Trump and campaign representatives continue to press unsupported claims that the election was stolen from him.  Barr said the FBI and federal prosecutors have looked into specific voter complaints but have uncovered no evidence that would prevent President-elect Joe Biden from taking office next month.  The attorney general specifically debunked a popular conspiracy theory about voting machines supposedly being programmed to skew the election results, saying there’s nothing to substantiate it.

Georgia elections official excoriates Trump, others for “inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence”
A Georgia Republican elections official on Tuesday declared President Trump is encouraging violence against state workers who are simply doing their jobs by counting votes.  Gabriel Sterling, the statewide voting system implementation manager in Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office, said the president’s unproven election claims, and his attorney calling for a former government official to be shot for contradicting the claims, have put Raffensperger’s family and others at real risk of harm.  Sterling also called out Georgia’s two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, for not forcefully condemning threats of violence against election officials and for echoing some of the falsehoods. “This is the backbone of democracy and all of you who have not set a damn word are complicit in this,” Sterling said in a fiery news conference.  The Perdue and Loeffler campaigns responded with statements condemning violence but also further suggesting there was fraud in the 2020 election, despite no evidence to support such claims.  The Trump campaign released a similar response. Loeffler and Perdue face a January 5 runoff election in Georgia’s tight Senate race.

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: 64,007,836
Global deaths: 1,483,401.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 270,691.
Number of countries/regions: at least 191
Total patients recovered globally: 41,170,820

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 13,728,153 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 270,691.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 34,662.
U.S. total patients recovered: 5,226,581
U.S. total people tested: 194,157,032

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in Texas, with 1,251,981 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.  This ranks third in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,828,826 reported cases, and England, which has 1,413,410 reported cases.  California is fourth, with 1,250,655 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.

UK health officials approve Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use
A COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, has been approved for use in the United Kingdom. The U.K. Department of Health and Social Care announced Wednesday that it has accepted the recommendation from the country’s drug regulator to grant a temporary authorization for emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, called BNT162b2. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency concluded that the vaccine met its standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.  

The move allows Britain to become one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population as it tries to curb Europe’s deadliest outbreak, with 1,413,410 reported cases as of Wednesday morning – the second-highest number in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  The vaccine will be available in the U.K. beginning next week.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to meet December 10 to consider Pfizer-BioNTech’s request for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for their vaccine.  The FDA will hold another meeting December 17 to consider Moderna’s vaccine EUA request.

CDC advisory committee approves guidance on who should receive COVID-19 vaccine first
Following a meeting Tuesday, an independent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee has approved guidance regarding who in the U.S. should receive a COVID-19 vaccine first.  In a 13-1 vote, the committee recommended that the first vaccine recipients should be healthcare workers and adults in long-term care facilities. The committee says healthcare workers put themselves at risk and are vital to carrying out the vaccine program, while long-term-care adults are at high risk and vaccination would provide maximum benefit by preventing the disease, and thereby reducing the burden on hospitals.

Also Tuesday, the CDC announced it planned to soon release guidance that would shorten the length of time it recommended people quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19, according to a senior Trump administration official who was at the meeting.  The CDC said it planned to recommend COVID-19-exposed people with a negative test quarantine for seven days, rather than 14 days, and that people exposed to the virus who took no test quarantine for 10 days, also down from 14 days, according to the official.

COVID-19 hospitalizations near 100,000 as US deaths exceed 270,000
The U.S. on Tuesday posted yet another single-day record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 98,691, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  The number of hospitalizations and daily deaths is also beginning to increase after a holiday lull due to a lag in data reporting.  The number of people in the U.S. hospitalized with COVID-19 is on track to exceed 100,000 before the end of the week.  Also Tuesday, the number of virus fatalities in the U.S. exceeded 270,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with 270,691 reported deaths as of Wednesday morning.  The U.S. surpassed 250,000 COVID-19 deaths just 14 days ago, on November 18.  An average 1,520 people are dying every day of the virus in the U.S., according to the Covid Tacking Project, better than one death every minute.

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