AP High Information at 3:31 p.m. EST

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Updated Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 | 12:33 p.m.

Daily COVID-19 deaths in US reach highest level since May

The surging coronavirus is taking an increasingly dire toll across the U.S. just as a vaccine appears at hand, with the country now averaging over 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the calamitous spring in and around New York City. The overall death toll has reached about 253,000, by far the highest in the world. Total confirmed infections have eclipsed more than 11.7 million, after the biggest one-day gain on record Thursday — almost 188,000. And the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 hit another all-time high at more than 80,000. With health experts deeply afraid Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will fuel the spread of the virus, many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions.

Trump to meet Michigan leaders in bid to subvert election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michigan state legislators headed to the White House on Friday as President Donald Trump made an extraordinary and sure-to-be futile attempt to block Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state and subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election. The state has yet to certify its results for Biden, who won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, according to unofficial results. Trump and his allies have been trying to convince judges and lawmakers in the state to set aside the popular vote and swap in Republican-chosen electors. The president personally called two county canvass board officials earlier this week who had refused to certify the results in Wayne County, the state’s most populous county and one that overwhelmingly favored Biden.

Criminal probe, legal fights await Trump after White House

A few miles south of the namesake tower where Donald Trump began his run for president, New York prosecutors are grinding away at an investigation into his business dealings that could shadow him long after he leaves office in January. The probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is one of several legal entanglements likely to intensify when Trump loses power — and immunity from prosecution — upon leaving the White House. Trump faces two New York state inquiries into whether he misled tax authorities, banks or business partners. Two women alleging he sexually assaulted them are suing him.

Pfizer, BioNTech seek emergency use of COVID-19 shots in US

Pfizer formally asked U.S. regulators Friday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month and eventually an end to the pandemic — but not until after a long, hard winter. The action comes days after Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study. The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete.

Mnuchin denies trying to hinder incoming administration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied that he is attempting to limit the choices President-elect Joe Biden will have to promote an economic recovery by ending several emergency loan programs being run by the Federal Reserve. Mnuchin said his decision was based on the fact that the programs were not being heavily utilized. He said Friday that Congress could make better use of the money by re-allocating it in another direction to support grants to small businesses and extended unemployment assistance. “We’re not trying to hinder anything,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview. “We don’t need this money to buy corporate bonds.

Biden wants Congress to pass emergency COVID aid this year

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is calling on Congress to enact billions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 assistance before the year’s end, according to a senior aide who warned Friday that “there’s no more room for delay.” Biden transition aide Jen Psaki delivered the remarks ahead of Biden’s first in-person meeting since winning the election with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. The incoming Democratic president will host the top Democrats in the House and Senate Friday afternoon at his makeshift transition headquarters in a downtown Wilmington, Delaware, theater. Pelosi told a news conference Friday that she and Schumer would be talking with Biden about “the urgency of crushing of virus,” including the lame-duck session of Congress, legislation on funding the government and COVID relief.

Trump makes late-term bid to lower prescription drug costs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trying to close out major unfinished business, the Trump administration issued regulations Friday that could lower the prices Americans pay for many prescription drugs. But in a time of political uncertainty, it’s hard to say whether the rules will withstand expected legal challenges from the pharmaceutical industry or whether the incoming Biden administration will accept, amend or try to roll them back entirely. “The drug companies don’t like me too much. But we had to do it,” President Donald Trump said in announcing the new policy at the White House. “I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep it,” he added, noting pressure from drug company lobbyists.

Study: Motorcycle rally sparked COVID-19 cases in next state

NEW YORK (AP) — When nearly a half-million motorcycle enthusiasts gathered in South Dakota this summer, health experts worried the gathering would ignite new outbreaks of coronavirus cases. It did, according to a report Friday that looked at cases in neighboring Minnesota. About one-third of counties ended up having at least one coronavirus case that was tied to August’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, investigators reported in a study mainly conducted by Minnesota health officials and published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Minnesota officials counted 86 cases that they said were related to the rally — 51 people who went to Sturgis and 35 who came into contact with those people later.

Wall Street slips amid worries about worsening pandemic

U.S. stocks are pulling a bit lower in afternoon trading Friday as worries about the worsening pandemic undercut growing optimism about a coming coronavirus vaccine. The S&P 500 fell 0.2%, as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 132 points, or 0.5%, at 29,349, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2%. Treasury yields were holding steady, while stock markets around the world made only modest moves. Wall Street has suddenly begun to teeter-totter this week after a big November rally swept both the S&P 500 and Dow to record highs. Evidence is piling up for investors both for hope about the economy’s prospects next year and for fear about the damage accruing in the shorter term.

Raptors denied permission to play in Canada, head to Tampa

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors will start the NBA season next month in Tampa, Florida, because of travel restrictions the Canadian government has put in place stemming from the pandemic. The Raptors had been looking at other sites for several weeks, including Sunrise, Florida, the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. But with NBA training camp less than two weeks away and a season starting on Dec. 22, the Raptors were pressed to make a final decision. Instead, they will play home games at Amalie Arena, home of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. “Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement Friday.

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