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National News

Here is the latest news from The Associated Press

December 2, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell says he’s sticking with his scaled-back COVID-19 relief bill with the goal of passing a significant down payment during the lame-duck session and then revisiting the topic next year. The Kentucky Republican made the announcement after President-elect Joe Biden called upon lawmakers to follow a similar path. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resumed talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a year-end spending package that could include COVID-19 relief provisions. Yet it’s unclear whether the flurry of activity will lead to progress. Time is running out on the lame-duck session and Donald Trump’s presidency.

UNDATED (AP) — British officials have authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, greenlighting the world’s first shot against the virus that’s backed by rigorous science and taking a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic. The go-ahead Wednesday for the vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech comes as the virus surges again in the United States and Europe, putting pressure on hospitals and morgues in some places and forcing new rounds of restrictions that have devastated economies. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency recommended the vaccine could be used after it reviewed the results of clinical trials that showed the vaccine was 95% effective overall — and that it also offered significant protection for older people.

UNDATED (AP) — Nearly 37,000 people died of COVID-19 in the U.S. in November, the most since the dark early days of the pandemic. It’s engulfing families in grief, filling newspaper obituary pages and testing the capacity of morgues, funeral homes and hospitals. States have begun reopening field hospitals to handle an influx of patients that is pushing health care systems — and their workers — to the breaking point. Hospitals are bringing in mobile morgues. And funerals are being livestreamed or performed as drive-by affairs. Health officials fear that the situation will be even worse in coming weeks, after many Americans ignored pleas to stay home over the Thanksgiving holiday.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — In a breakthrough, the United Nations says it and Ethiopia’s government have signed a deal to allow “unimpeded” humanitarian access to the embattled Tigray region, at least the parts under federal government control. This will allow the first food, medicines and other aid into the region of 6 million people that has been cut off during fighting that began a month ago between the federal and Tigray regional governments. For weeks, the U.N. and others have pleaded for access amid reports of supplies running out. A U.N. humanitarian spokesman says the first mission to carry out a needs assessment begins Wednesday.

UNDATED (AP) — Global shares and Wall Street futures are mostly lower after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite index both set fresh record highs. Benchmarks fell Wednesday in Paris, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai but climbed in Tokyo and Seoul. Investors are betting that coronavirus vaccines may bring on a fuller global economic recovery despite the challenges of immunizing billions of people. Revived talk of new help for the U.S. economy also has boosted sentiment. Australian shares were almost unchanged despite news Wednesday that the economy expanded at a 3.3% pace in the last quarter as it began to recover from pandemic lockdowns. Oil prices were lower.