Friday morning news – December 4, 2020

Calif. heads for stricter lockdown as deaths, hospitalizations surge » California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that a tougher lockdown is on the way. 

He said he will likely order most businesses in the state to close or limit capacity.

Hospitalizations are now at record highs, both in California and nationwide. And the Democratic governor told reporters…

NEWSOM: Regions where the ICU capacity is falling below 15 percent, we are now mandating that we are implementing a stay-at-home order for three weeks. 

He said without serious action, hospitalizations could double or even triple in just one calendar month. 

His announcement comes as COVID-19 deaths set a new single-day record in the United States. More than 3,000 people died of the disease on Wednesday. 

Unemployment claims drop at start of holiday season » The number of Americans filing jobless claims remains chronically high, but new applications fell last week to 712,000. That’s down about 10 percent from the week before. 

Analysts say many employers are hiring seasonal workers for the holidays, and that could explain the drop in new claims. 

The total number of people continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits also dropped from 6.1 million to 5.5 million.

Optimism growing for COVID relief bill » Meantime, on Capitol Hill lawmakers say they’re feeling more optimistic about passing a relief package unveiled earlier this week. 

New York GOP Congressman Tom Reed is co-chair of the House Problem Solvers caucus.

REED: I want to thank each and every one of these members that came together. And we were able to support this package because of the work and the trusting relationship that this group has formed over the last years.

The $900 billion measure is now in the draft process. It would focus on delivering state and local aid, unemployment help, and small business loans. 

The proposal is more than a trillion dollars shy of the HEROES Act that House Democrats passed earlier this year. But it would spend $400 billion more than the latest Republican Senate bill. 

President Trump told reporters he’s all for it. 

TRUMP: I want it to happen, and I believe that they’re getting very close to a deal.
REPORTER: And you’ll support it?
TRUMP: I will. I will. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on Thursday. It’s unclear if either would support the bill as it currently stands. But both leaders struck an optimistic tone and signaled a willingness to compromise. 

Phishing ploy targets COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort » Tech giant IBM says cyberhackers tried to steal information about plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: IBM security agents recently uncovered the cyberespionage scheme which used phishing emails to try and break into systems in several countries. 

The hackers were trying to swipe vital information on the World Health Organization’s plans for distributing vaccines in developing countries. 

Researchers aren’t sure who was behind the campaign or if it was successful. But they say the campaign bore—quote—“the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft.” 

The hackers were sophisticated and careful in efforts to cover their tracks.

IBM security officer Nick Rossman said whoever is behind the operation could be trying to learn about the distribution process in order to copy it. Or they might want to undermine a vaccine’s legitimacy or even launch a disruptive or destructive attack.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

Wis. high court won’t hear Trump lawsuit » Wisconsin’s Supreme Court says it will not hear a Trump campaign lawsuit right now.

The campaign wanted the swing state’s high court to disqualify more than 200,000 ballots in mostly Democratic counties, alleging irregularities.

In a split decision Thursday, the court said the case must first wind its way through lower courts.

That ruling came one day after President Trump made his case to the American people in a video address. He again claimed that Democrats “rigged” the election.

TRUMP: They used the pandemic as an excuse to mail out tens of millions of ballots, which ultimately led to a big part of the fraud. 

But Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said it’s time for Trump’s legal team to prove its case.

GRAHAM: You’re making all these claims. You’ve got to prove it. Doing a video is not proof.

A Nevada court heard arguments Thursday in a Trump lawsuit there. 

One day earlier in Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey certified President-elect Biden’s win in his state.

(Office of the Governor via AP) This photo from video provided by the Office of the Governor shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a virtual briefing from his home in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Nov. 30, 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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