PFIZER SEEKS EMERGENCY AUTHORIZATION TODAY: Drug manufacturer Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, plan to seek emergency authorization Friday from the FDA for their coronavirus vaccine (Politico). The companies said earlier this month that their vaccine was safe and 95 percent effective in a late-stage trial that enrolled nearly 44,000 participants. The U.S. government has already purchased 100 million doses of the vaccine, which is given as two shots weeks apart, and has an option to buy 500 million more.


BIDEN RULES OUT LOCKDOWN: President-elect Joe Biden is ruling out the possibility of a national lockdown to address the coronavirus pandemic (AP). Speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, Biden said there will be “no national shutdown” when he’s in office because “every region, every area, every community can be different” and a blanket lockdown would be “counterproductive.” Biden has faced questions about whether he’d pursue a nationwide shutdown to try to rein in the virus after one of the members of his coronavirus task force floated the possibility in an interview. But Biden and other members of the task force have said the proposal is not on the table and is not the best option to address the pandemic. Biden did say that there may be “constraints” in the “degree to which business can be open,” suggesting federal and state officials would be “calibrating” what can remain open based on the local trends in the pandemic.


TRUMP BROADENS EFFORTS TO OVERTURN ELECTION: President Trump has broadened his push to overturn the election outcome and threatened Republicans who challenge his refusal to concede, as looming deadlines for key states to certify their results are set to narrow the path for his legal challenges (Wall Street Journal). Mr. Trump’s postelection campaign to reverse his loss to President-elect Joe Biden—one without precedent in modern U.S. history—is increasingly showing signs of strain among some Republican lawmakers and governors, while many of the president’s own advisers say they are ready for the campaign to turn the page. For more than two weeks, prominent Republicans have supported the president’s right to litigate the results. But some are now expressing frustration over an effort they believe has no chance of success and over Mr. Trump’s firing of a cybersecurity official who defended the election’s integrity. Some Trump advisers say they are concerned the continued push risks giving false hope to millions of Mr. Trump’s supporters.


TRUMP INVITES MICHIGAN GOP LEGISLATORS TO WHITE HOUSE: President Trump on Thursday invited Republican state legislators from Michigan to visit the White House as he wages a fierce campaign to undermine the election results in the Wolverine State and other battlegrounds that went for President-elect Joe Biden (The Hill). An official familiar with the plans confirmed that the president will meet with Michigan lawmakers Friday, but it was not immediately clear how many will attend and what Trump intends to say upon their arrival. The meeting comes amid a full-court press by Trump and his legal team to subvert Michigan’s election results, which currently show him losing to Biden by more than 150,000 votes.


BIDEN CALLS TRUMP TRANSITION DENIAL 'TOTALLY IRRESPONSIBLE': President-elect Joe Biden took questions following remarks on his efforts to work with governors to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and addressed the Trump administration's stonewalling by not recognizing him as the president-elect (ABC News). Asked by ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce what the American people are witnessing as Trump continues to fight election results with legal battles, Biden paused for a moment before deeming it "totally irresponsible." “Let me choose my words here,” he said. “I think they're witnessing incredible irresponsibility. Incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions. And I think it is -- well, I don't know his motive, but I just think it's totally irresponsible.”


HOLCOMB NAMES JENNER AS NEW SUPT: Gov. Eric J. Holcomb announced Dr. Katie Jenner will serve as Indiana’s first secretary of education (Howey Politics Indiana). “This is an incredibly important time for education in Indiana. Dr. Katie Jenner has focused her entire career on investing in students, teachers and staff, and she will continue to build the relationships needed to move our state forward in constructive ways,” Gov. Holcomb said. “As Indiana’s Secretary of Education, Dr. Jenner’s certification, work at nearly every level of education and her remarkable depth of experience will lead our state into this exciting next chapter.” Dr. Jenner currently serves as Gov. Holcomb’s senior education advisor. Her first position in K-12 public education was as a Career and Technical Education teacher in Kentucky beginning in 2005. From 2009 to 2018, she worked for Madison Consolidated Schools in Indiana as a school administrator and district administrator. In 2018 she joined Ivy Tech Community College as vice president of K-12 Initiatives and Statewide Partnerships, where she built statewide college strategies among K-12 schools, career centers, and Ivy Tech. “I am grateful for the opportunity to further serve the people of Indiana,” Dr. Jenner said. “My priorities are to ensure high quality education for all students and families, and to provide solution-focused support for our teachers and educational leaders. We have great opportunity ahead in Indiana, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and work hand in hand with students, educators and stakeholder partners across the state.” By law, the new role of the secretary of education begins on Jan. 11, 2021.


PENCE TOUTS 'GREAT PROGRESS' AT RARE COVID TASK FORCE: Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday touted “great progress” against the coronavirus pandemic during the first White House task force briefing in months as the country experiences record-high cases, hospitalizations and deaths (Politico). “America has never been more prepared to combat this virus than we are today," Pence told reporters. He declined to take questions despite the worsening crisis and tensions following the presidential election, even as President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede could hamper the fight against coronavirus. “If you are fighting a battle and the calvary is on the way, you don't stop shooting. You keep shooting until the help gets there,” Fauci said. Officials have cautioned that a vaccine won’t be available to the general public until spring 2021, at the earliest.


TRUMP VACCINE TEAM WON'T BRIEF BIDEN TRANSITION: Officials working on vaccine distribution planning under President Donald Trump have no intention of briefing anyone on President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, Democratic senators said on Thursday, as Biden warned the failure to share information would cost lives (Reuters). “Just off a conference call with Trump Administration vaccine distribution team,” Senator Chris Murphy said on Twitter. “They confirmed that they have not briefed anyone on President-elect Biden’s team and have no plans to do so. This is potentially catastrophic.”


CDC ADVISES AGAINST THANKSGIVING TRAVEL: As the United States struggles with surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday urged Americans not to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday and to consider canceling plans to spend time with relatives outside their households (New York Times). Officials said they were strengthening their recommendations against travel because of a startling surge in infections in just the past week. Recent numbers of hospitalizations — more than 79,000 reported on Wednesday — and new daily cases keep shattering U.S. records. As of Wednesday, the seven-day average of new cases across the country had surpassed more than 162,000, an increase of 77 percent from the average two weeks earlier. “Amid this critical phase, the C.D.C. is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” said Dr. Henry Walke, Covid-19 incident manager at the agency, during a news briefing. “We’re alarmed,” he added, citing an exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.


BOX WARNS RETURNING COLLEGE STUDENTS: With thousands of students across Indiana transitioning back to their homes to finish the academic semester online, health officials are pleading for them to to do so cautiously as the state continues to see record increases in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations (NWI Times). Many of the new COVID-19 cases across the state are trending back to the 18- to 30-year-old group, Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during a Wednesday news conference. That's especially concerning as college and university students prepare to go home for the holidays, she said. Box advised students leaving their campuses to “behave as if you have COVID, or have been exposed," and recommended they quarantine at home for 14 days. She also encouraged students to wear a mask inside their house, use their own bathroom when possible and avoid seeing elderly relatives until they’ve completed a two-week isolation without symptoms of the virus. “And please don’t head out to the bars or hang out with all the friends you haven’t seen for months,” she said. “You need to keep those social bubbles small.”


RSG CHAIR BANKS SEES 'TRUMPISM' AS THE FUTURE: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the incoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), wants the conservative group to drive the conversation on what the future of the party looks like in the post-Trump era (The Hill). Banks, who was unanimously elected to succeed RSC Chairman Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Thursday, praised President Trump for attracting working-class voters to the GOP and feels Republicans need to continue to build on broadening the party’s base. He sees the conservative caucus as the perfect place to discuss how the GOP can merge a populist message and agenda with the traditional conservative platform moving forward.  “The last couple of years, Chairman Johnson was able to work with the White House and with the Republican Senate. Really, I think the role of focus Republican Study Committee in the next couple of years is going to be foundational toward determining what the Republican Party stands for, what the conservative movement looks like moving forward in what is likely the post-Trump era,” he told The Hill in an interview. “And I want to lead that conversation, I want RSC to lead a collaborative effort and conversation with where the conservative movement goes from here and draw from the many lessons that we've learned for President Trump.”


HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: With American pandemic deaths crossing the 250,000 threshhold, President Trump made calls to Michigan local election officials and is inviting legislators to the White House, while President-elect Joe Biden was talking to stressed out front line medical workers. That explains their priorities as the pandemic engulfs American hospitals. Biden's transition still has no access to federal data. Trump is attempting to undermine the American election system, with a Reuters/Ipsos Poll showing that 68% of Republicans now believing the election was "rigged."  There are Republicans beginning to speak up (though none from Indiana). “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election," said Sen. Mitt Romney. "It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.” And Sen. Ben Sasse said, "President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence. Wild press conferences erode public trust. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.” The damage to our most precious American cornerstone is stunning, disgusting and sad, with the whole world is watching. - Brian A. Howey


Presidential 2020


HAND RECOUNT CONFIRMS BIDEN WIN IN GEORGIA: President-elect Joe Biden prevailed over President Trump in Georgia’s election, making him the first Democratic presidential candidate in 28 years to win the state, according to the Associated Press projection (Wall Street Journal). Mr. Biden remained ahead in Georgia after a hand recount of the state’s five million presidential votes, the state’s secretary of state said Thursday. With the manual audit complete, Mr. Biden is one step closer to winning Georgia officially. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger must still certify the results, which he is required to do by Friday.


TRUMP CAMPAIGN DROPS MICHIGAN LAWSUIT: President Trump's reelection campaign said Thursday that it is dropping a lawsuit challenging voting results in Michigan, which show Democrat Joe Biden narrowly carrying the battleground state (Fox News). “This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan," Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, said in a statement. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, said the decision to rescind the lawsuit is the "direct result of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted."


JUDGE ISSUES WITHERING ASSESSMENT OF TRUMP GEORGIA SUIT: Another bid by an ally of President Donald Trump to overturn the results of this month’s election was roundly rejected in court on Thursday, as a federal judge appointed by Trump turned down a bid to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden as the victor in Georgia (Politico). At the conclusion of a three-hour virtual hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg delivered a withering assessment of the suit that a prominent attorney, Lin Wood, filed to try to stop officials from finalizing a tally that has Trump trailing Biden by more than 12,000 votes. “It would require halting the certification of results in a state election in which millions of people have voted,” the judge said. “It would interfere with an election after the voting was done.”


GIULIANI LEADS MADCAP PRESSER: They called themselves an “elite strike force team.” But the madcap news conference by President Donald Trump’s attorneys on Thursday afternoon was more campaign farce than cogent legal argument, as Rudy Giuliani offered several conspiracy theories and a litany of false claims that he pledged would reverse the outcome of the 2020 White House race (Politico). “I guess we’re the senior lawyers,” Giuliani told a packed room of reporters inside the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., flanked by fellow Trump campaign attorneys Jenna Ellis, Joseph diGenova and Sidney Powell. In the 90 minutes that followed, the former New York mayor and his colleagues spun a web of mistruths that made mention of the Clinton Foundation, liberal megadonor George Soros and the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez.


DEMS SEEK TESTIMONY FROM GSA CHIEF BLOCKING TRANSITION: Four senior House Democrats are demanding that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy brief them Monday on the reason she has yet to ascertain Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, warning that her answers will determine whether they intend to haul her to Capitol Hill for a public hearing, along with other senior General Services Administration officials (Politico). “We have been extremely patient, but we can wait no longer,” said House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, in a four-page letter joined by Reps. Gerry Connolly and Mike Quigley. Biden’s team can’t begin accessing federal resources to aid the transition until Murphy makes an official “ascertainment” of his victory, a relatively routine step based on the unofficial but clear results of a presidential election.


61% IN RASMUSSEN POLL SAY TRUMP SHOULD CONCEDE: Most voters now believe President Trump should admit that he lost the election, although they’re less certain their friends and neighbors would agree. They’re more closely divided, however, over whether the Democrats stole the election as Trump contends. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters think Trump should concede the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. Just 33% disagree. Eighty-four percent (84%) of Democrats, 37% of Republicans and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party believe Trump should concede. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Republicans disagree.


BIDEN TURNS 78 TODAY: President-elect Joe Biden turned 78 on Friday. In two months, he’ll take the reins of a politically fractured nation facing the worst public health crisis in a century, high unemployment and a reckoning on racial injustice (AP). As he wrestles with those issues, Biden will be attempting to accomplish another feat: demonstrate to Americans that age is but a number and he’s up to the job. Biden will be sworn in as the oldest president in the nation’s history, displacing Ronald Reagan, who left the White House in 1989 when he was 77 years and 349 days old.


General Assembly


HUSTON STATEMENT ON DR. JENNER: House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) issued this statement on selecting Dr. Katie Jenner as Indiana's first secretary of education (Howey Politics Indiana): "Dr. Katie Jenner brings a vast array of education experience, including serving in the classroom, school administration and higher education. She's a great pick to fill this important role. I look forward to working with her to continue supporting our Hoosier students, teachers and schools."


BRAY STATEMENT ON DR. JENNER: Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) made the following statement regarding Gov. Holcomb's selection of Dr. Katie Jenner as the state's first secretary of education (Howey Politics Indiana): “Gov. Holcomb has made a fantastic choice in naming Dr. Katie Jenner as his secretary of education. Senate Republicans share the governor and Dr. Jenner's goals of making sure our students are prepared to lead successful lives and supporting our students and teachers through this challenging time. Dr. Jenner is a highly qualified, dedicated, passionate educator, and I know she will serve our state and all of our students, teachers and schools well as she steps into the role of our state's first-ever secretary of education."


RAATZ STATEMENT ON JENNER: State Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) made the following statement regarding Gov. Holcomb's selection of Dr. Katie Jenner as the state's first secretary of education (Howey Politics Indiana): “As chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development, I am pleased to congratulate Dr. Katie Jenner on being appointed Indiana's first secretary of education. With many years of experience in the education field, Dr. Jenner is a highly qualified and dedicated educator who will bring new ideas and positive energy to Hoosier schools, benefitting students, families and educators alike. I look forward to seeing what she will accomplish in this new role."




YOUNG, BRAUN POST OFFICE BOX NAMING BILL: U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) applauded the Senate passage of their bills to rename two post offices in Dana and Kokomo (Howey Politics Indiana). The first bill would rename the post office in Dana, Indiana, after Ernest ‘Ernie’ T. Pyle, the celebrated war correspondent and Hoosier journalist who was born near Dana. On April 18, 1945, Pyle was reporting on the U.S. Army’s 305th Infantry Regiment when he was killed. The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Senator Young previously introduced three resolutions designating August 3rd as National Ernie Pyle Day. Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) led the introduction of similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The second bill would rename the post office in Kokomo, Indiana after Opha May Johnson, the first American woman to join the Marines. Johnson was was born in Kokomo in 1878. She began her service on August 13, 1918 during World War I and continued serving until her retirement in 1943. A companion bill has not yet been introduced in the House of Representatives. Senator Young and Braun’s letter of support can be read here.




GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB HIRES HERRING AS EQUITY OFFICER - Karrah Herring, the director of public affairs for the University of Notre Dame, has been selected as the state’s first chief equity, inclusion and opportunity officer, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday afternoon (IBJ). Holcomb announced plans to create the new cabinet-level position in August after promising to address issues of racial inequality and injustice in June as protests and riots over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis broke out across Indiana and other states. Herring, who will report directly to Holcomb, will be responsible for identifying shortcomings in administration and finding ways to fix those gaps and remove any barriers for minorities to work for state agencies.


GOVERNOR: DR. JENNER'S AGENDA - Initially, in her new role as secretary of education, Dr. Jenner will focus on the following (Howey Politics Indiana): Support Schools Through and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic;  Provide successful education experiences so student learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic and improves throughout the recovery;  Provide All Students Personalized Pathways to Prepare them for Lifelong Success; Lead a top-notch team that supports schools as they provide opportunities for students as they prepare for their next step in education, training, military service, or direct employment. Close collaboration will be built with local communities, families, and stakeholders across Indiana’s full education continuum – early learning (Pre-K), K-12, postsecondary, and the workforce; Champion the Educator Profession; Attract talented Hoosiers to the teaching profession by working closely with Indiana’s schools of education, K-12 school leaders, local communities and Indiana employers to make teaching a more diverse, competitive and fulfilling profession. Great teachers help ensure the long-term health, success and economic security of our state; Cultivate a Future-Ready Education System; Maximize the Department of Education’s support and service to schools by creating a dynamic, flexible and data-driven network that supports learning-focused innovation, informs teachers’ professional development, and equips students with the skills needed to succeed in the future.


GOVERNOR: CHAMBER REACTS TO JENNER - The Indiana Chamber of Commerce comments on Gov. Eric Holcomb today selecting the state’s first secretary of education, Katie Jenner, who currently serves as his senior education advisor (Howey Politics Indiana). Jason Bearce, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce development: “The Indiana Chamber has long supported making Indiana’s top education official an appointed position so the Governor has someone aligned with his policy priorities in such a key role. That enhanced level of cooperation and collaboration will make the state’s education direction clear and allow for more impactful efforts on behalf of Indiana students. What we are particularly excited about with Katie is in both her prior roles for the Madison Consolidated Schools and Ivy Tech Community College she worked closely with employers to better align K-12 education with workforce needs and opportunities.”


GOVERNOR: WILEY STATEMENT ON DR. JENNER - Betsy Wiley, president and CEO of the Institute for Quality Education, issued the following statement concerning Gov. Eric Holcomb’s appointment of Dr. Katie Jenner as Indiana’s first appointed secretary of education (Howey Politics Indiana): “Governor Holcomb made a stellar decision with the appointment of Dr. Katie Jenner as Indiana’s first secretary of education and successor to the current superintendent of public Instruction. Dr. Jenner’s career as a teacher, administrator and most recently as Governor Holcomb’s senior policy advisor for education make her the ideal choice. I have every confidence that she will bring a breath of fresh air and an inclusive approach to the Indiana Department of Education, and that under her leadership, all of Indiana’s students, educators and schools will find a thoughtful partner.”


GOVERNOR: LUBBERS REACTS TO DR. JENNER - Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers’ statement on Gov. Eric J. Holcomb appointing Dr. Katie Jenner as the first Indiana Secretary of Education: “Katie Jenner has been a valuable voice for K-12 schools as the Governor’s senior education advisor. She recognizes the importance of aligning Indiana’s entire system of education, from preschool to higher education and the workforce,” said Lubbers (Howey Politics Indiana). “Secretary Jenner has a background in the classroom as a teacher, in administration at the K-12 level and in higher education, which makes her well suited for this role. We look forward to working alongside Secretary Jenner as we continue working to raise Indiana’s educational attainment and future prosperity for all Hoosiers.”


ISDH: THURSDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced that 7,420 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. ICU bed availability has fallen to 21.3% and ventilator capacity is at 73.2%. COVID hospitalizations were at 3,063. That brings to 275,503 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 4,889 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 59 from the previous day. Another 254 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. To date, 2,009,763 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,989,456 on Wednesday. A total of 3,725,334 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.


COVID: COACH HOLTZ HAS COVID - Former Notre Dame head football coach Lou Holtz told ABC Columbia on Thursday that he tested positive for COVID-19 (South Bend Tribune). Holtz, 83, is still recovering, according to the report. When and how Holtz contracted the coronavirus remains unknown. “I don’t have a lot of energy right now,” Holtz told ABC Columbia, a TV station in South Carolina.


DWD: 16K FILE FOR JOBLESS CLAIMS - Nearly 16,500 Hoosiers filed first-time unemployment claims in the week ending on Nov. 14 (WRTV). The number of claims for the week was 16,482, an increase of 2,371 from the previous week's adjusted total of 14,111. The number of claims in Indiana remained above 20,000 for 17 straight weeks from early March to mid-July. After that, it stayed in the 10,000 range until about a month ago, when it jumped to nearly 18,000. In the 33 weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more than a million Hoosiers have filed for unemployment. The number of continued claims dropped under 100,000 to 96,385, the first time since the pandemic started that it's dropped.


ATTORNEY GENERAL: HILL HOLDS MENTAL HEALTH FORUM - Attorney General Curtis Hill at a forum Thursday morning stressed the need to dig deeper into the psyches of both police officers and the citizens who interact with those officers (Howey Politics Indiana). Understanding what prompts certain behaviors by police and understanding why some citizens are apprehensive about law enforcement can help foster healthier interactions between the two groups, Hill said. Attorney General Hill emphasized this point to begin a forum about the intersection of mental health and law enforcement. Several prominent health and law enforcement officials from Indiana joined Attorney General Hill at The Bridge Forum, titled “Beyond the Stigma.”


AGRICULTURE: 2020 PROFITABLE FOR FARMERS - 2020 can be described in many ways, and not many are too flattering. However, for many farmers, 2020 can be described as profitable. Ad hoc government payments contributed to that, but an unanticipated and surprising rally in the markets are driving it as well (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). Tim Koch, Chief Credit Officer at Farm Credit Services of America, says the opportunity is there to make 2021 a profitable year as well by locking in some of these high prices. “For some that have struggled these last 2 or 3 years with lower commodity prices, 2020 was an opportunity to pay down some debt and to replenish some working capital. For that segment, they probably should more strongly consider taking some opportunities to lock in a profit for 2021. For those that are more financially stable who can take a little more variability, that option and opportunity exists. There’s also an option of pricing some of your crop. It doesn’t have to be an all or none scenario. I think far too often people think of it that way.”




WHITE HOUSE: CENSUS CAN'T MEET TRUMP DEADLINE - In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to strip unauthorized immigrants from census totals used for reapportionment, Census Bureau officials have concluded that they cannot produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after President Trump leaves office in January (New York Times). The president said in July that he planned to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count for the first time in history, leaving an older and whiter population as the basis for divvying up House seats, a shift that would be likely to increase the number of House seats held by Republicans over the next decade.


WHITE HOUSE: PENCE FALSELY CREDITS TRUMP ON PFIZER VACCINE - Vice President Mike Pence has misleadingly credited President Donald Trump’s “leadership” and Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s program to accelerate development and delivery of a coronavirus vaccine, for a vaccine developed by Pfizer, despite the fact that the company received no support from the U.S. government beyond an agreement to buy an initial 100 million doses (Forbes). After Pfizer and partner BioNTech announced final results from trials of their vaccine showing it to be 95% effective, much higher than the 50% the Food and Drug Administration had said it was willing to accept, Pence tweeted, “Because of [Trump’s] leadership & Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer completed its trial with a vaccine that is 95% effective on patients, including Seniors,” he wrote. While Pfizer does have a deal with Operation Warp Speed — $1.95 billion to secure an initial 100 million doses, enough to vaccinate 50 million people — this was to ensure that there would be a market for the vaccine and to incentivize the company’s research, with no money paid out until the vaccine is approved.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP/PENCE SCHEDULE - President Trump will participate in a virtual APEC leaders meeting at 6:50 a.m. in the Situation Room. He will deliver remarks about lowering drug prices at 2:30 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room. WSJ with the latest on Trump’s new rules on reducing drug costs. Vice President Pence will attend “Defend the Majority” rallies in Canton and Gainesville, Ga.


TREASURY: MNUCHIN DECLINES TO EXTEND EMERGENCY LENDING PROGRAMS - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to extend several emergency loan programs established jointly with the Federal Reserve that are set to expire on Dec. 31 (Wall Street Journal). The Fed’s corporate credit, municipal lending and Main Street Lending programs won’t be renewed, Mr. Mnuchin said Thursday. The central bank signaled disappointment in his decision. “The Federal Reserve would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy,” the Fed said in a statement.


JUSTICE: HALL EXECUTED AT TERRE HAUTE PRISON - After a judge halted the execution of Orlando Hall, originally scheduled for this evening, he was put to death late Thursday night (Indiana Public Media). Hall became the 8th federal inmate to be executed since the Trump Administration resumed executions in July. Brandon Bernard is scheduled to be executed December 10th for his role in the murder of two youth pastors in Texas in 1999.


MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - ABC “This Week”: Ron Klain. Panel: Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel. Karen Finney and Sarah Isgur. “Fox News Sunday”: Thomas Inglesby … Kate Bedingfield. Panel: Jason Chaffetz, Jane Harman and Jonathan Swan. Power Player: Wilton Gregory (rerun). CBS “Face the Nation”: H.R. McMaster … Scott Gottlieb. NBC “Meet the Press”: Panel: Eddie Glaude Jr., Hallie Jackson, Anna Palmer and John Podhoretz.


IOWA: TYSON SUSPENDS MANAGERS WHO MADE COVID BETS - Tyson Foods suspended top officials at its largest pork plant on Thursday and launched an investigation into allegations that they bet on how many workers would get infected during a widespread coronavirus outbreak (AP). The company’s president and CEO, Dean Banks, said he was “extremely upset” about the allegations against managers at its plant in Waterloo, Iowa, saying they do not represent the company’s values. He said the company has retained the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an investigation, which will be led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “If these claims are confirmed, we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company,” Banks said in a statement.




COLUMBUS: PARAMEDIC DIES OF COVID — Scott Gordon, a paramedic at Columbus Regional Health, died of COVID-19 complications Sunday (WRTV). Gordon, 56, worked for the hospital for nearly 20 years and was a highly respected first responder in Bartholomew County, according to the hospital. "Columbus Regional Health appreciates the years of dedicated service Mr. Gordon provided to our organization, his co-workers and the communities we serve," a Facebook post from Columbus Regional Health read. "He will be greatly missed, and it is with heavy hearts that Columbus Regional extends our deepest condolences to Mr. Gordon’s loved ones."


FRANKLIN: SCHOOLS GOING VIRTUAL — An increasing number of absences among teachers, substitutes and staff has forced a quick transition to virtual learning at a Johnson County school (WRTV). Custer Baker Intermediate School in Franklin went to at-home schooling Thursday.


RICHMOND: MAYOR SNOW WITHDRAWS COVID FINE ORDINANCE — Two weeks after Richmond Common Council nearly passed a proposed ordinance that would have created a fine schedule for those who violate a local COVID-19-related limit on social gatherings, the legislation was dropped altogether (Richmond Palladium-Item). Mayor Dave Snow asked council members to withdraw the ordinance Monday night, saying Gov. Eric Holcomb's latest executive order that was signed Friday made the city's proposed enforcement efforts unnecessary. "I feel as though that is sufficient in covering enforcement for the executive orders in place," Snow said. "When we brought forth Ordinance 67-2020, this was not in place. "I see no purpose in double penalizing the community as we try to navigate through the complications of COVID. I think the governor has done a good job of laying this out."


HAMILTON COUNTY: FIREFIGHTER JOINS BIDEN'S COVID MEETING - A local firefighter union president joined President-elect Joe Biden for a virtual meeting about the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday (WRTV). Anthony Murray, the president of the International Association of Firefighters of Hamilton County, was one of a few frontline workers who spoke with Biden during the meeting. Murray said he is currently in self-quarantine after a potential close contact exposure.


HANCOCK COUNTY: 255 BALLOTS FOUND UNCOUNTED — In a year of election turmoil, mistrust and unproven allegations of voter fraud across the country, Hancock county found a couple hundred uncounted ballots in the basement almost two weeks after Election Day (WTHR-TV). Hancock County's election officials escorted 13News into the locked basement where 255 early ballots sat on top of a file cabinet un-noticed and uncounted for almost two weeks. A county employee discovered them Monday. "We couldn't have had a worse year for that kind of thing to happen," said Bob Bogigian, a Democrat serving on the bipartisan county election board.


ELKHART COUNTY: MASK ORDER ISSUED - The risk of coronavirus in Elkhart County reached the highest possible level Wednesday, moving from orange to red and prompting the county health department to issue a new order requiring residents to wear masks when leaving their homes (Yankey, Elkhart Truth). The order, which takes effect Thursday, states that every individual must properly wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are in an indoor area open to the public, including public transportation; an outdoor public area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained; or a private indoor or outdoor area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained. Health officials on Wednesday reported that Elkhart County had an increase of 311 people who tested positive for COVID-19, pushing its moving average of new positive cases to a record 336. Three more people died, bringing the death toll in the county to 197.


CLARK COUNTY: NEW BAR, RESTAURANT RESTRICTIONS — The Clark County Health Department has placed restrictions on bars and restaurants as COVID-19 cases increase in the community (Rickert, News & Tribune). Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel issued an executive order Wednesday requiring restaurants to reduce capacity to 75% and for bars and barrooms to close at 10 p.m. Both Clark and Floyd counties are now in the orange category on the state’s color-code map tracking levels of COVID-19 community spread, which indicates that the county is approaching high levels of spread. For counties in the orange category, gatherings are limited to 50 people, according to an executive order by Gov. Eric Holcomb. Red is the highest category of community spread.


VIGO COUNTY: CONTACT TRACING STRESSED - Some Vigo County residents who test positive for the coronavirus may need to complete their own contact tracing (Indiana Public Media). Overwhelmed and unable to properly trace every new positive case, the Vigo County Health Department will begin sending instructions to some patients who test positive for the novel coronavirus. Individuals still will be contacted by the state’s tracers, but well-documented delays by the Maximus-managed state program could lead to more infections—that’s why the county is asking patients to identify and reach out to their own close contacts. The county has about 15 staff who do contact tracing. They had been reaching out to every new positive case, but with more than 100 new cases every day, the task has become too difficult.


ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: MOST GOVT OFFICES CLOSE - Beginning Monday, most St. Joseph County and City of South Bend offices located in the County-City Courthouse Complex in downtown will close to the public in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The recommendation came from the county health department because of the recent spike in cases and hospitalizations (South Bend Tribune). The restrictions are expected to last through Dec. 31. County meetings will transition to being all conducted virtually. The public may access meetings via the information provided on the corresponding agenda for each meeting.


MIAMI COUNTY: SOLAR ENERGY ORDINANCED OK'd: Miami County has approved its first solar energy ordinance that officials say aims to encourage the development of solar parks in the county while protecting the health and safety of nearby residents (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). The Miami County Planning Commission last week unanimously approved the ordinance. County commissioners on Monday followed suite by unanimously voting to adopt the ordinance. The ordinance now requires solar farms to build at least 25 feet from non-participating landowners and 150 feet from non-participating residential dwellings, but that setback requirement may be waived in writing by participating landowners.