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Today’s top stories
Safety nets are likely to be yanked from underneath millions of vulnerable Americans in December, as the coronavirus surges.
Why it matters: Those most at risk are depending on one or more relief programs that are set to expire, right as the economic recovery becomes more fragile than it's been in months.
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The U.K. government said on Friday that it will establish next year a Digital Markets Unit, which will enforce forthcoming "pro-competition" regulations aimed at curbing some of the digital platforms like Google and Facebook.
Why it matters: This is the latest move by a government to respond to growing objections to the size and power these companies have amassed.
- Health: AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine — Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers — Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
- Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
- World: Berlin to open six mass COVID vaccination centers — Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
- Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
- Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.
The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.
Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.
National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.
Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.
Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.
The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.
The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.
The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.
Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.
Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.
The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.
Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.