Wednesday morning news – November 18, 2020

States and cities impose new coronavirus measures amid surge » More cities and states are putting new restrictions in place while warning residents about holiday gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge nationwide.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti… 

GARCETTI: The situation in LA is more concerning than it’s ever been. I don’t say this to scare you. It is just the truth that right now is the toughest moment we have faced. 

He urged residents to not share Thanksgiving with people outside of their household. 

His warning comes as California Governor Gavin Newsom says he’s pulling the “emergency brake” on plans to reopen the state’s economy. 

He said that daily cases in the state doubled in the span of just 10 days. 

NEWSOM: Where are we seeing an increase in the spread? It’s not just households. It’s also businesses. 

Newsom is reinstalling tough restrictions that will halt indoor worship and force most indoor businesses to close or operate at partial capacity.

Newsom said he is also strengthening a mask requirement and is considering a curfew on business hours.

The state of Michigan and the City of Philadelphia are putting similar measures in place. And New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced Monday…

MURPHY: Last week we asked indoor dining to close at 10. Today we’re going to reduce the amount of folks that could gather indoors for an event down to 10 people. 

Delaware is also limiting indoor gatherings. And Iowa and Pennsylvania have widened their mask requirements. 

Trump campaign argues case in Pennsylvania » Meantime, in a courtroom in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign argued its case Tuesday as it looks to stop the state from certifying the results of the presidential election. 

The president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani joined the campaign’s legal effort this week. He said the Trump campaign was—quote—“prepared to call witnesses to demonstrate” that many “ballots were counted surreptitiously.” And he added…

GIULIANI: This will be now our first established vehicle on our way to the Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar wants the case thrown out. She said what the Trump campaign is casting as fraud is—quote—“at best, garden-variety irregularities.”

And the Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivered a legal blow to the campaign Tuesday. The court ruled 5-to-2 that election officials did not wrongly block the campaign from observing the counting of mail-in ballots. 

Georgia uncovers 2,600 uncounted ballots during recount » Meantime, the vote margin in Georgia may tighten in the president’s favor after officials discovered an election error. 

Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said more than 2,600 uncounted ballots surfaced during a state recount. He said they were not initially counted because officials failed to upload votes from a memory card in a ballot-scanning machine. 

RAFFENSPERGER: The county election official, he was out and he assigned a person that was inexperienced for a very critical role, and they messed up. It was human error. It wasn’t the machine. And we’ve asked for his resignation and so have the county commissioners as I understand it. 

Floyd County Republican Party Chair Luke Martin called the discovery of the uncounted ballots “concerning.” But he said it “doesn’t appear to be a widespread issue.” 

The newly discovered ballots won’t tip the election there. Prior to the recount, Biden was leading Trump in Georgia by about 14,000 votes. 

NATO chief warns against withdrawal from Afghanistan » NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday warned against a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. That after a report that President Trump is expected to withdraw a large number of U.S. troops from the country soon.

Stolteberg said “no NATO ally wants to stay any longer than necessary.” But “the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high.”

Nearly 12,000 NATO troops from dozens of countries are in Afghanistan training and advising security forces. Less than half are American troops.

Back in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also warned against a pullout. 

MCCONNELL: The spectacle of U.S. troops abandoning facilities and equipment, leaving the field in Afghanistan to the Taliaban and ISIS would be broadcast around the world as a symbol of U.S. defeat and humiliation and of victory for Islamic extremism.  

The expected plans would cut U.S. troop numbers almost in half by Jan. 15th, leaving 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.

Iota continues to pound Central America » The storm that was Hurricane Iota is drenching El Salvador this morning with heavy rain. 

Iota slammed the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua Monday night as a strong Category 4 storm packing winds close to 160 miles per hour. 

It then tore across Honduras on Tuesday. 

It was a devastating blow for a region just hit by Hurricane Eta just 2 weeks ago. 

Eric Blake with the National Hurricane Center said the only good news is the speed of the storm. 

BLAKE: The only saving grace for this system is that it’s moving a lot faster, so maybe the rainfall effects won’t be as bad. However, the infrastructure has been significantly weakened, and Iota was stronger.

The extent of the damage in Nicaragua and Honduras was still unclear on Tuesday because communications are down and roads are blocked across much of the region.

Sen. Grassley tests positive for COVID-19 » Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The 87-year-old Republican said in a statement Tuesday that he’s “feeling good” and will continue working from home. 

He missed Tuesday’s votes in the Senate—the first votes he’s missed 27 years.

(AP Photo/Delmer Martinez) Women walk under in the rain brought by Hurricane Iota, in La Lima, Honduras, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 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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