Tuesday morning news – October 27, 2020

Barrett confirmed, sworn in as Supreme Court justice » Judge Amy Coney Barret is now Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Justice Clarence Thomas swore her in at a White House ceremony last night. 

BARRETT: That I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office I am about to enter—so help me God—so help me God. 

Barrett took the oath just hours after the U.S. Senate voted largely down party lines to confirm her. 

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 52. The nays are 48. The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett of Amy Coney Barrett to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed!

As expected, one GOP senator broke with Republicans. That was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Democrats were lockstep in opposition. 

The 48-year-old Barrett fills the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 

Her confirmation likely gives conservatives on the high court a 5-to-3 advantage over the court’s liberal wing with Chief Justice John Roberts serving as a swing vote on many issues. 

U.S. COVID-19 deaths again on the rise » The number of Americans dying each day from COVID-19 is on the rise once again. 

The seven-day moving average of daily deaths had been slowly dropping for more than a month until the past week or so. 

On October 17, the average number of COVID-19 deaths stood at 704. That was the lowest number since early July. But that number is now back up over 800. 

And the numbers of new cases are climbing in nearly every state. That includes New Mexico where Dr. Jason Mitchell is chief medical officer at Presbyterian Health Systems in Albuquerque. 

MITCHELL: You can get a lot of spread and all of a sudden see a spike in very vulnerable populations and a lot of sickness very, very quickly, and so that’s my biggest concern. 

He said officials are keeping a watchful eye on hospital capacity. 

Confirmed daily infections are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm says the rise is due to multiple factors, including colder weather and “pandemic fatigue.” People who are weary of hunkering down and are venturing out more.  

AstraZeneca reports positive response to coronavirus vaccine » But there is some good news in the fight against the virus, fueling hopes of developing a proven vaccine by the end of the year. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: British drugmaker AstraZeneca is working together with Oxford University on a possible vaccine and on Monday, the company reported encouraging results. 

AstraZeneca said both younger and older test subjects are showing an immune response. A company spokesman told CNBC, “It is encouraging to see” a similar response “between older and younger adults.” And he said the level of adverse reactions to the vaccine were actually lower in older adults who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

The FDA paused testing of the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as a Johnson & Johnson vaccine after participants in both studies became ill. 

But on Friday, the FDA gave both companies the green light to resume testing.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Wildfire forces 60,000 to evacuate in Calif. » A fast-moving wildfire forced 60,000 people to evacuate in Southern California on Monday. That as powerful winds prompted officials to cut off power to roughly a million California residents. The move was a precaution to prevent utility equipment from sparking new blazes. 

Kevin Rice with the LA County Fire Department told reporters…

RICE: We have a strike team coming here to Santa Clarita. That’s five fire engines. We have other strike teams going to Malibu and the foothill areas. We’ve got 10 or 20 patrols throughout the county. 

The blaze broke out shortly after dawn south of LA and within a few hours it exploded in size to nearly 2,000 acres. 

Officials aren’t yet sure what caused the fire. 

Making matters worse, forecasters warned Monday of what could be the strongest winds in California this year. 

Already, north of San Francisco, a Mount St. Helena weather station recorded a hurricane-force gust of 89 mph late Sunday. And Some Sierra Nevada peaks registered gusts well over 100 mph.

Gas prices continue to fall as pandemic dampens demand » Gas prices continue to drop with no end in sight. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded fell 3 cents over the past two weeks to $2.22.

Prices have fallen for six weeks in a row. That’s normal coming out of the summer months, but the pandemic is suppressing demand even further. And industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says we may not see the normal holiday spike. 

LUNDBERG: Thanksgiving will not be what it normally is because there’s no money in the case of many, many families for discretionary trips. 

San Francisco has the highest average price for regular unleaded—$3.35 per gallon. Houston has the lowest at $1.77 per gallon.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Amy Coney Barrett listens as President Donald Trump speaks before Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administers the Constitutional Oath to Barrett on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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