Tuesday morning news – December 15, 2020

First U.S. vaccine shots administered » AUDIO: Nice deep breath. Okay, little poke, 1-2-3. 

Monday was “V-Day” in the United States as healthcare workers and nursing home residents received the very first public coronavirus vaccine shots. 

AUDIO: And that’s the first Kentucky vaccination [applause]

Thousands of Americans rolled up their sleeves for the first of nearly 3 million initial doses. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared… 

AZAR: This is not the end of our battle against COVID, but today marks a critical milestone toward the ultimate defeat of COVID-19.

Truckloads of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine are still rolling into hospitals and other distribution centers across the country. 

More supplies will arrive each week. And there will likely be more vaccine doses to go around next week if the FDA approves the Moderna vaccine for emergency use this weekend as expected. 

U.S. health officials hope to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of the month. 

But there won’t be enough for most Americans for at least another two or three months. 

Surgeon general appeals for vigilance as COVID death told tops 300k » And with that in mind, Surgeon General Jerome Adams is appealing to all Americans to keep up the fight against the virus by wearing masks and distancing.

ADAMS: The finish line to this marathon is in sight. And remember that we can’t finish the race without each and every one of you. 

Just as U.S. healthcare workers administered the first vaccine shots, the death toll in the United States hit a grim milestone. 

More than 300,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. 

The government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, called the numbers staggering. He said it’s the most impactful respiratory pandemic since the Spanish Flu more than a century ago. 

Electoral College formally elects Biden » Electors from all 50 states gathered on Monday for the meeting of the Electoral College. 

HEASTIE: I am proud to announce that 29 votes have been cast for the honorable Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. of Deleware for president of the United States.

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie heard there. 

Constitutionally, it is the electors who officially choose the president, though they represent the will of the voters. 

And as expected, electors granted Biden the 306 electoral votes he won in the November election to President Trump’s 232.

Attorney General Barr resigning » Attorney General William Barr is stepping down amid lingering tension with President Trump. The president has criticized Barr for stating that, despite Trump’s claims, the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. 

Trump has also expressed anger that the Justice Department did not publicly announce it was investigating Hunter Biden ahead of the election.

Barr submitted his letter of resignation at the White House on Monday. His last day on the job will be December 23rd. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will then take over as acting attorney general.

U.S. agencies hacked in months-long global cyberspying campaign » Hackers broke into the networks of the Treasury and Commerce departments as part of a monthslong global cyberespionage campaign. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Word of the cyberspying intrusion came just days after the prominent cybersecurity firm FireEye said it had been breached. Industry experts said that attack bore the hallmarks of Russian tradecraft.

The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity arm has issued an emergency directive. It’s calling on all federal civilian agencies to scour their networks for signs of breaches. 

The threat apparently came from the same cyberhackers that attacked FireEye—along with other foreign governments and major corporations.

Some analysts say this could turn into one of the most damaging espionage campaigns on record.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

U.S. government: Iran responsible for death of retired FBI agent » Iran is responsible for the death of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson. 

That’s the word from the Trump administration, which formally blamed Iran for the first time on Monday for Levinson’s presumed death. 

The U.S. government also imposed sanctions on two Iranian intelligence officers believed responsible for Levinson’s abduction. He disappeared under mysterious circumstances more than a decade ago. 

U.S. officials also said the Iranian regime sanctioned the plot that led to Levinson’s abduction and lied for years about its involvement.

Indians owner says name won’t change in 2021 » The owner of the Cleveland Indians says the team is not changing its name in 2021. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Owner Paul Dolan on Monday confirmed reports that the big league franchise does plan to change the name it’s used for more than a century. But he’s not sure when

Dolan said after internal discussions and meetings with outside groups, including Native Americans, he concluded that—in his words—“The name is no longer acceptable in our world.”

He said the name change is a “multi-stage” process in its early stages. And the team will continue to play as the Cleveland Indians next season. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, Pool) Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, gets his first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by HN Samantha Alvarez, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Md.

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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