WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Joe Biden Announces COVID-19 Task Force

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater, on Nov. 9, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press
Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater, on Nov. 9, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Joe Biden Announces COVID-19 Task Force

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Hi there! It’s Monday, and I’m filling in for Hunter for most of this week. Anyone else jealous he’s off on such a beautiful afternoon? Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Joe Biden announces a COVID-19 task force, but cautions a “dark winter” ahead

Just two days after he was named president-elect, Joe Biden announced the 13 experts appointed to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, pushing forward a key campaign promise: to create a stronger federal response to the pandemic.

“The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden said he will implement the board’s plan immediately after his Jan. 20 inauguration. [NPR]

Yet he also cautioned that Americans still face “a dark winter” and implored everyone to wear a mask. [AP]

Dr. Julie Morita, the former public health department commissioner who led Chicago’s response to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, is a member of Biden’s task force. [WBEZ]

Here’s a look at what Biden has planned for his first 100 days in office. [NPR]

2. Trump faces pressure to cooperate with transfer of power

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is facing pressure to concede and cooperate with Biden’s transition into office come January.

The Trump-appointed administrator of the General Services Administration, which is tasked with beginning the transition of power, has not recognized Biden as president-elect.

“That lack of clarity is fueling questions about whether Trump, who has not publicly recognized Biden’s victory and has falsely claimed the election was stolen, will impede Democrats as they try to establish a government,” writes The Associated Press. [AP]

While Trump may never accept the outcome, a tumultuous and chaotic election season is coming to an end, reports NPR. Here are five other takeaways. [NPR]

3. U.S. COVID-19 cases top 10 million

The COVID-19 task force announcement comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. tops 10 million, with more than 764,000 cases reported in the past seven days. [NPR]

In Illinois, state officials today reported 10,573 new cases and 14 deaths. Illinois is seeing a weekly average of 9,160 cases per day, an increase of 106% from the average two weeks ago. [New York Times]

And Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker today announced tighter restrictions on DuPage, Kane, Will and Kankakee counties. [WBEZ]

As the state is firmly in its second surge, here’s a look at how the first COVID-19 death in Illinois foretold today’s 10,000-plus toll. [WBEZ]

In Chicago, the rolling, seven-day positivity rate is at 12%. You can find more information about infections throughout Illinois in this link. [WBEZ]

4. What Biden’s presidency could mean for Chicago and Illinois

Since Republican President Trump took office in 2016, he’s repeatedly singled out Chicago and Illinois as targets of his vitriol — and Democratic leaders here have answered in kind.

But that frosty relationship with the White House is sure to thaw once President-elect Biden is sworn into office in January.

Among the most sought-after changes Chicago and Illinois could see: more money for local governments in the form of a new COVID-19 relief bill.

“‘You cannot have New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago failing, you just can’t,” said 36th Ward Ald. Gilbert Villegas.

Several prominent Chicago-area Democrats may be up for key roles in Biden’s administration. Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson is rumored to be a candidate for U.S secretary of education. [WBEZ]

And there’s speculation that Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war vet who reportedly made Biden’s shortlist for vice president, may come up for consideration to lead the Defense Department or Department of Veterans Affairs.

Others who may be up for key roles include Claudia Chavez, a Biden campaign staffer who worked in former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall, and Sheila Nix, an Oak Park resident who is already serving as a senior adviser to the campaign. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Markets spike after Pfizer says experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective

Stocks soared after a promising experimental vaccine from Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech was proved to be more than 90% effective in initial clinical results released today.

“I think the 90% success rate in trials is on the high end of street expectations given the 40-60% success for seasonal flu vaccines,” Wayne Wicker, chief investment officer at Vantagepoint Funds, said in an email to The Washington Post. [Washington Post]

That news comes from an interim analysis of a study involving 43,538 volunteers, 42% of whom had “diverse backgrounds.”

This is the first experimental COVID-19 vaccine to exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s minimum effectiveness bar of 50%. But while promising, the analysis alone doesn’t provide enough data. The FDA requires a minimum of two months of follow-up data from at least half of the volunteers. [NPR]

Here’s a look at where we are in the global COVID-19 vaccine race. [Reuters]

Here’s what else is happening

  • President Trump fired his third defense secretary. [New York Times]
  • Moody Bible Institute is being rocked by allegations it mishandled sexual misconduct claims. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Chicago broke the record for longest stretch of 70-degree days in November. [Chicago Tribune]
  • McDonald’s will debut the “McPlant” sandwich in 2021. [AP]

Oh, and one more thing …

Did you know Alex Trebek, the longtime host of Jeopardy! who died Sunday of pancreatic cancer, ran a leg carrying the Olympic torch in 1996? Or that he bred racehorses and spoke French?

There have been many great game show hosts, but, as Los Angeles Times TV critic Robert Lloyd writes: “Trebek stands apart — a beloved figure, a historical personage. You could be well into middle age and never have known a world in which Trebek did not host Jeopardy! Until now.”

“The world might go mad,” Lloyd continues, “But Jeopardy! is a sane, safe place, where facts rule, science is real, the news is never fake, and knowing things is more important than feeling them.”

Here’s a look at the “irreplaceable” game show host’s life and career. [LA Times]

Tell me something good …

Now that the election is over, I’m wondering, is there a winter or fall holiday you are most looking forward to?

I’ve decided I want some holiday cheer right now, so I’m decorating my house for Christmas this week. Bring on cozy socks, hot chocolate and Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas album.

Are you extra looking forward to a holiday tradition or celebration as 2020 starts to come to a close? Or perhaps trying something new this year?

Feel free to email or tweet me, and your response might appear here this week. 

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! I’ll see you tomorrow.