SINCE 1947

ABC Top Stories

Celebrity Chef David Chang wins 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire''s top prize for restaurant workers hurt by COVID-19

ABC/John Fleenor(LOS ANGELES) -- Celebrity chef, restaurateur, and Ugly Delicious host David Chang snagged the top prize on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? on ABC Sunday night -- but it's restaurant workers who will benefit. 

Chang's jackpot will be donated to the Southern Smoke Foundation, which is dedicated to helping restaurant workers in need -- and thanks to the pandemic shutdowns, that's no small number. 

On the million-dollar question, Chang called upon ESPN personality Mina Kimes for help; she correctly advised him how to answer this: "Which U.S. president was the first to have electricity in the White House?" 

"No celebrity in the 20 years that this show has been on has ever won the million dollars," host Jimmy Kimmel warned before Chang pulled the trigger with the right answer Kimes gave: Benjamin Harrison.

In response, the charity tweeted its gratitude to Kimes and Chang, noting, "This is going to change so many peoples' lives for the better!" along with the hashtag, "#takingcareofourown."


By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump-Biden transition live updates: Arizona certifies Biden win

Caroline Purser/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 51 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Nov 30, 2:07 pm
Arizona certifies election results, affirming Biden’s win

Arizona has certified the results of the 2020 presidential election, affirming Biden’s victory and officially granting him the state’s 11 electoral votes.

Secretary of State Kathy Hobbs, a Democrat, certified the vote in the presence of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and GOP Attorney General Mark Brnovich, on Monday morning.

“This election was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures -- despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary," Hobbs said.

Ducey added he'll be signing the official documentation "today" to also make way for Arizona's Senator-elect Mark Kelly, who beat GOP Sen. Martha McSally in a special election, to be sworn into office "as swiftly as possible" with the certification of his victory being hand-delivered to the U.S. Senate.

As Hobbs certified the vote, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guiliani vowed in an ongoing "hearing" to continue contesting results in the state.

-ABC News' Meg Cunningham

Nov 30, 12:32 pm
Georgia's secretary of state slams 'dishonest actors,' announces investigations into third-party groups

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spoke before reporters Monday morning at the state capitol building in Atlanta and announced that his office has opened investigations into four third-party groups that he claimed are "working to register people in other states to vote here in Georgia."

However, Raffensperger also maintained the 2020 presidential election was the most secure election in the state's history and slammed against those peddling misinformation surrounding it.

"Once this recount is complete, everyone in Georgia will be able to have even more confidence in the results of our elections, despite the massive amounts of misinformation that is being spread by dishonest actors," Raffensperger said, adding the state's machine recount is on schedule to finish by the midnight Wednesday deadline.

"There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation, and frankly, they're misleading the president, as well, apparently," he added.

Ahead of Senate runoffs Jan. 5, Raffensperger also warned, "Anyone telling you to boycott an election is not on your side."

Gabriel Sterling, the statewide voting system implementation manager, blasted lawsuits questioning the credibility of the state's electoral process as "fever dreams"and shot down the conspiracies about the election including that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes.

"The ridiculous things claimed in these lawsuits are just that, they're insanities, fever dream, made up, internet cabal," he said. "Nothing was shipped from overseas. No votes were switched. We did a hand audit that proved no votes were switched."

Sterling said he feels like he's "playing a game of Whac-A-Mole"-- that every time they shoot down one unfounded claim, another "new crazier one" pops up.

-ABC News' Quinn Scanlan

Nov 30, 11:51 am
Trump discredits Georgia voting system ahead of Senate runoffs

Trump continues to discredit the voting system in Georgia, slamming GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger -- and in doing so, risks undercutting GOP efforts there by discouraging Republican voters ahead of two runoffs on Jan. 5 that will determine the balance of power in the United States Senate.

Referring to Kemp as "hapless," Trump called on him via Twitter Monday morning to use his "emergency powers... to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State" and do signature matching for the absentee ballots again.

It’s unclear what emergency powers the president is referring to that the governor could execute, but signature matching for absentee ballots has already been conducted twice.

Signatures are matched first when a voter applied for an absentee ballot and then again when the voter returned their absentee ballot. Once the signature accompanying the returned ballot is verified, the ballots are separated from the envelopes and there is no way to re-match them because, under the Georgia state Constitution, a voter is entitled to a secret ballot. However, the envelopes are kept on file for two years.

It comes ahead of Trump traveling to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for the Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs.

-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan

Nov 30, 10:08 am
Overview: Biden to get first Presidential Daily Brief, Trump legal team challenging Arizona certification

Biden is slated to receive his first Presidential Daily Brief Monday marking a milestone for the president-elect following a nearly three-week delay in the Trump administration recognizing him as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
It comes after Biden, who has pressed forward with his transition despite Trump’s roadblocks, announced he’ll enter the White House with an all-female communications team and unveiled his economic team Monday morning, naming former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his nominee for Treasury Secretary, the first woman to hold the top job if confirmed.

In another challenge to his transition, the president-elect fractured his right foot while playing with his dog, Major, over the weekend, and is expected to wear a walking boot for several weeks.

Trump, meanwhile, isn’t acknowledging the loss even after appearing to come to terms with it on Thanksgiving and saying he would leave the White House if the Electoral College affirms Biden’s win.

In a defiant interview with Fox Business Sunday, Trump fired off false claims to sow doubt in the electoral process and vowed to continue legal battles with his team on Monday targeting Arizona’s certification deadline. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and campaign adviser Jenna Ellis are expected to appear from D.C. at another non-official "hearing" of state GOP lawmakers at a Phoenix hotel Monday.

The day also brings a certification deadline in Wisconsin, where a recount paid for by the Trump campaign wrapped over the weekend brought Biden 87 additional votes.

Nov 30, 9:48 am
Biden rolls out economic team leaders

Biden has formally announced his economic team, including nominee Janet Yellen, who would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, and the first person to have served as Treasury Secretary, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and chair of the Federal Reserve if confirmed.

Neera Tanden, nominated to to lead the Office of Management and Budget, would be the first woman of color in the role, if confirmed.

Here's a breakdown of the economic positions announced Monday:

  • Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury
  • Neera Tanden, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
  • Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • Jared Bernstein, member of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • Heather Boushey, member of the Council of Economic Advisers

Nov 30, 8:52 am
Biden transition launches Presidential Inaugural Committee

The Biden transition is launching its Presidential Inaugural Committee, led by Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, to organize activities around his swearing-in on Jan. 20. Several campaign officials including senior adviser Maju Varghese, national political director Eric Wilson and Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela, who also served as a senior adviser, will serve on the committee.

The team announced the following positions on Monday:

  • Tony Allen, Ph.D., chief executive officer
  • Maju Varghese, executive director
  • Erin Wilson, deputy executive director
  • Yvanna Cancela, deputy executive director

“This year's inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe," Allen said in a statement.

The committee says it will work with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) to prioritize keeping people safe in the pandemic while engaging the public in the historic event.

Nov 30, 8:56 am
Deadlines and dead ends pile up losses for Trump

President Donald Trump could not be more clear in what he's looking for -- what he now needs -- to hang on to power.

"It will take a brave judge or a brave legislature," the president said on Fox News Sunday morning.

What Trump is pleading for is as improbable as it is breathtaking. But there appears to be just enough political bravery of a different sort, coming from state and federal judges as well as state lawmakers, to put the presidency where the voters delivered it early in this long month.

The weekend brought an end to Wisconsin's partial recount -- as funded by the Trump campaign -- with Biden actually netting 87 additional votes, in results scheduled to be finalized Monday. The Trump campaign also lost yet another court challenge in Pennsylvania, this time with the state Supreme Court tossing out a challenge to absentee ballots.

Much attention has rightly focused on the unwillingness of Republican members of Congress to state what's obvious -- that Biden won and Trump lost.

But something profound has been happening at other levels of government. Lawmakers and judges from both political parties have rejected the president's increasingly outlandish claims that he should be awarded a second term.

Those claims have expanded even as Trump's losses pile up in courthouses and state houses. It has not been pretty, but the system continues to hold.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Four police officers charged after alleged assault of Black music producer

anouchka/iStockBy IBTISSEM GUENFOUD, ABC News

(PARIS) -- The alleged beating of a Black music producer by three police officers inside his Paris studio is stirring outrage in France.

Paris' court of justice on Monday indicted four police officers, including three for "voluntary violence by a person holding public authority" and "forgery in public writing" for allegedly lying on police reports, according to local radio station Europe1.

Two of the police officers, a brigadier and a peacekeeper, were placed in pre-trial custody. The third, also a peacekeeper, was placed under judicial supervision. A fourth police officer suspected of having thrown a tear gas canister inside the studio during the arrest was charged Sunday, over a week after the alleged attack occurred on Nov. 21 in the 17th arrondissement of Paris.

In a seven-minute video recorded on surveillance cameras, producer Michel Zecler is seen being beaten several times with a police baton and kicked by three police officers in his studio. Zecler was first approached by police after being seen on camera without a mask on and leaving his car to enter his studio.

The videos were shared with journalists of French outlet Loopsider. According to Loopsider's reporting, the officers claimed Zecler dragged them inside the studio, hit them and then called for reinforcements, a version that the surveillance camera videos refute.

"It's going so fast, I wonder if they are real police," Michel said in an interview with Loopsider.

The officers also allegedly attacked young artists, including a minor, who were present in the studio.

Two lawyers for three of the officers did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said last week the police officers had "screwed up" and asked for their suspension "as a precaution."

Zecler's lawyer, Hafida El Ali, called the beating "despicable" and described the officers' behavior as similar to "thugs and delinquents."

El Ali told ABC News media coverage of this case helped speed up the indictments.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also weighed in, saying the alleged attack was "unacceptable" and adding that the nation "will never accept the violence perpetrated against our police and our gendarmes, all those who wear the uniform."

The French government has been accused of attacking public freedoms through a much-criticized bill on global security that was approved in France's National Assembly on Nov. 24.

More than 133,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday to protest the bill, which protects the faces and identity of police officers from being disseminated with a "malicious intent" online. Some protestors carried "Je Suis Michel" signs in support of the music producer.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus live updates: Rhode Island bucks national trend by opening schools, closing bars

Go Nakamura/Getty ImagesBy MORGAN WINSOR and ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 62.7 million people and killed over 1.4 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

Nov 30, 1:44 pm
Florida schools, businesses to remain open as state's outbreak worsens: Governor

Schools in Florida will remain open for in-person learning next spring, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Monday press conference in which he referred to school closings as the largest public health blunder in American history.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising in Florida, according to an ABC News analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project. Despite the worsening statistics, DeSantis said he will not close businesses or issue a statewide mask mandate, nor will he permit local governments to fine residents for failing to wear masks in public.

ABC News' Scott Withers contributed to this report.

Nov 30, 12:44 pm
Vaccines could be 'into people's arms before Christmas' if proven safe: HHS secretary

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Monday that if safety and efficacy bear out, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could approve Pfizer's vaccine within days of an independent FDA advisory committee meeting on Dec. 10.

"We could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people's arms before Christmas," Azar told CBS.

Moderna announced Monday that it would seek emergency FDA authorization for its vaccine, making it the second U.S. company to do so. Moderna's FDA hearing will be held Dec. 17.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Nov 30, 10:40 am
Rhode Island bucks national trend by opening schools, closing bars

Rhode Island entered a two-week pause Monday, shuttering bars, gyms, movie theaters, bowling allies and indoor sporting facilities. But unlike in many other states, schools will remain open.

"We've really got to shut it down for those two weeks," Gov. Gina Raimondo said at a Nov. 19 press conference. "Because if we do, we can slowly crank up after those two weeks and make it through the end of the year."

The tightened restrictions are in response to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state, which has reported 53,954 infections and 1,346 deaths to date.

Rhode Island's pause will remain in effect until Dec. 13.

Nov 30, 8:58 am
TSA screens record number of travelers since March

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it screened 1,176,091 people at its checkpoints in airports across the United States on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, making it the busiest day for air travel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous pandemic record was set on Wednesday, the day before the holiday, when TSA screened 1,070,967 individuals at airport security checkpoints.

By comparison, 2,882,915 travelers were screened on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year, which remains the highest volume in TSA history.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is recommending that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving.

"It's not a requirement, it's a recommendation for the American public to consider," Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters during a call on Nov. 19. "Right now, as we're seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time."

Nov 30, 8:20 am
Study shows COVID-19 infections dropped about 30% in England during second lockdown

New research suggests England has seen roughly a 30% drop in COVID-19 infections three weeks into its second nationwide lockdown.

The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) program, run by Imperial College London and research firm Ipsos MORI, is tracking current cases of COVID-19 in England by testing more than 150,000 randomly-selected people each month over a two-week period. An interim report released Monday from the latest round of testing, which includes results from more than 105,000 at-home tests between Nov. 13 and Nov. 24, shows that an estimated 0.96% of England's population -- or around one in 100 people -- is infected with COVID-19.

The study, which is commissioned by England's Department of Health and Social Care, also found that the overall reproduction (R) number has fallen to below 1 -- estimated at 0.88 -- meaning the country's outbreak is currently shrinking rather than growing.

"In this interim report from the seventh round of data collection, we found a reduction in national prevalence of infection by around 30% from the high levels in the latter half of round 6 (26 October to 2 November 2020)," the study's co-authors wrote in the report. "The national prevalence has now dropped to ~1%, a level last seen 6 weeks earlier. This fall in prevalence covers a period of nearly three of the four weeks of the second national lockdown, and is consistent with an observed reduction in the number of daily swab-positive cases recorded in routine surveillance data."

Paul Elliott, professor of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial College London and director of the REACT program, called the data "encouraging" for England, which was under a regional tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions before entering lockdown again on Nov. 5. A tougher three-tier system will come into force when the lockdown ends just after midnight on Wednesday.

"We're seeing a fall in infections at the national level and in particular across regions that were previously worst affected. These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in these areas and that lockdown has added to this effect," Elliott said in a statement Monday. "As we approach a challenging time of year, it’s even more vital that through our actions and behaviors we all play our part in helping to keep the virus at bay."

Nov 30, 7:00 am
Moderna to submit emergency authorization request to FDA

Moderna announced it plans to submit a request on Monday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the second company after Pfizer to do so.

Moderna said in a press release that the FDA's meeting to review the safety and efficacy data for its National Institutes of Health-funded vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273, will likely be scheduled for Dec. 17. The FDA hearing for the vaccine candidate developed by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is slated for Dec. 10.

Moderna also announced that the final analysis of its Phase 3 clinical trial of mRNA-1273 indicates a vaccine efficacy of 94.1%. Pending FDA authorization, Moderna said it expects to have approximately 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 available in the United States by the end of the year. The Massachusetts-based biotechnology company remains on track to manufacture 500 million to one billion doses globally in 2021.

"This positive primary analysis confirms the ability of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and importantly, the ability to prevent severe COVID-19 disease," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement Monday. "We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death."

Nov 30, 5:48 am
US reports over 138,000 new cases

There were 138,903 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Sunday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 27th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Sunday's count is down from a peak of 205,557 new cases on Friday.

An additional 826 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Sunday, less than the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.

A total of 13,384,651 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 266,875 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.

Nov 30, 4:55 am
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients hit all-time high in US

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of 93,238 on Sunday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The figure surpassed Saturday's record of 91,635 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized. Current COVID-19 hospitalizations have gone up every day since Oct. 25, except for Sunday when the figure dipped slightly to 89,834, which The COVID Tracking Project credited to "the holiday effect."

Our daily update is published. Our testing, case, and death statistics continue to be affected by the Thanksgiving holiday. Hospitalizations are less affected by the data slowdown and are at the record-high level of 93,238.

— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) November 30, 2020

The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort launched from The Atlantic magazine to track the U.S. outbreak, has warned of data inconsistencies in the coming days and weeks due to lags over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday. For instance, some states didn't report any data at all on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, while others only had partial reports. The totals for testing and new cases were inflated Saturday and Sunday as several states reported two days' worth of data.

"The data wobbles don't consist only of some states not reporting at all -- though that's happened a lot -- but that most or all states that are reporting do not have a full data pipeline from labs and health departments," The COVID Tracking Project wrote on its Twitter account Sunday.

However, the group noted that hospitalization numbers "are less affected by the data slowdown."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Cyber Monday expected to be biggest online shopping day in US history


(NEW YORK) -- Cyber Monday is expected to become the largest online shopping day in history, according to preliminary data from industry analysts.

Analysts predict consumers will spend anywhere from $10.8 billion to $12.7 billion on Monday, a 15% to 35% increase compared to last Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics.

"Cyber Monday is on track to break all previous records for online sales," Taylor Schreiner, the director at Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement.

"Consumers will likely take advantage of the best discounted items today like TVs, toys and computers before price levels start creeping back up throughout the rest of the season," Schreiner added. "Shoppers are encouraged to do their gift buying soon as shipping in time for Christmas will get more expensive in the coming weeks."

As the coronavirus pandemic looms large over this year's holiday shopping season -- leading to high demand for online, delivery and curbside pickup options this year -- Adobe found that Black Friday 2020 hit a new online sales record with consumers spending $9 billion. This is an increase of 21.6% in online sales compared to Black Friday last year, making it the second-largest online spending day in U.S. history after Cyber Monday 2019.

In addition, curbside pickup over Black Friday weekend was up 67% compared to last year, according to Adobe.

Still, analysts say they expect this year's Cyber Monday to be the "king of online shopping days and become the largest online sales day in history," according to Adobe's analysts.

Their research found that 56% of consumers believe that retailers are saving the best discounts for Cyber Monday, and that shoppers are likely to see the biggest discounts on computers. Deep discounts on toys, appliances and electronics are also expected.

The analysts also highlighted other trends expected Monday, noting that between 7 p.m. PT to 11 p.m. PT will be the "golden hours of retail," when customers rush for last-minute buys before the deals expire. That four-hour window is expected to bring in a massive 29% of the day's revenue, or at least $3.1 billion. The analysts forecast $13 million will be spent per minute during the peak hour of 8 p.m. PT to 9 p.m. PT Monday.

Finally, the analysts found that mobile shopping has been dominating this holiday shopping season, accounting for 40% of online sales so far.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Anticipating a vaccine, supply chain preps for shortages, funding concerns

nevodka/iStockBy SASHA PEZENIK, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With the steady march toward a safe, effective and authorized coronavirus vaccine, another race now runs alongside: how to dispatch tens of millions of doses across every corner of the nation and globe, and do it safely, securely and swiftly. The solution will involve complicated logistical calculus, experts say, no matter which vaccine gets across the finish line first.

Pfizer's vaccine is likely to be the first to be granted authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, followed by one created by Moderna, and then possibly vaccines from AstraZeneca/Oxford and Johnson & Johnson, if the efficacy and safety data prove solid.

The U.S. government has promised a goal of "shots in arms" within 24 hours of FDA authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine.

All about the money

Those responsible for the cross-country relay -- state and local public health officials and supply chain experts -- have hustled to marshal their resources, even as shortage concerns linger and officials warn the federal dollars they have received so far will not be enough.

"There's a light at the end, but that tunnel is still very long," Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News. "We at the state level will soon be handed the baton and we need additional funding support from the federal government. What's at stake is nothing short of the velocity and equity with which we can get this vaccine to everyone in need."

More than a dozen states have told ABC News they will likely need additional funding, or are awaiting additional funding. In response to concerns raised by the National Governors Association, Operation Warp Speed has said it is in the process of planning to make additional funding and resources available to support vaccine operations, information systems and communications campaigns, though some officials still say more will be needed.

"Without those additional resources, it will be like putting up tent poles without having a tent," Shah said. "We've got to think through literally everything, from when the vaccine enters our borders to the time it goes into somebody's arm for injection."

That "last mile" of distribution may pose the rockiest stretch of the journey, experts say. Getting the vaccine from a central transportation hub to its final destination at local hospitals and pharmacies across the country will require unprecedented coordination and delicately calibrated conditions.

The U.S. government estimates having 40 million doses -- enough for 20 million Americans -- by the end of this year if the FDA provides authorization in early December. About half of those vaccine doses will be provided by Pfizer, with the other half by Moderna.

Cold storage, shortage fears

Pfizer's vaccine must be stored at temperatures colder than Antarctica in winter: roughly minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Doses would ship in dry ice thermal containers, stored either with replenished dry ice for up to roughly two weeks or stored in ultra-low temperature freezers. Moderna's vaccine also requires cold storage, though not as extreme: It can be stored around minus 4 degrees, the same as a commercial freezer.

Manufacturers, logistics providers, federal and state governments and health care systems have been shoring up their cold chain infrastructure for months, lining up equipment and transportation capacity.

"The clock starts ticking once those dry ice containers start shipping around," Dr. Mark Jarrett, chief quality officer of Northwell Health, New York's largest health system, told ABC News.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states and localities not to buy ultra-cold freezers for now, since the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped with dry ice "pizza boxes" that can keep it viable for up to 15 days, as long as there's fresh dry ice available. It can then last five additional days in a conventional freezer.

Dry ice faced "significant shortages" during the pandemic's spring surge, President and CEO of the Compressed Gas Association Rich Gottwald told ABC, warning in an April letter to Vice President Mike Pence.

In mid-October, the nation's governors penned a letter to the Trump administration with several concerns, including ultra-cold freezer and dry ice supply, and seeking clarity so that "no one is caught flat-footed when the time comes to vaccinate people."

The Compressed Gas Association now says they expect "sufficient" dry ice supply for COVID-19 vaccines.

"There may be issues with [the] COVID vaccine; the supply of dry ice will not be one of those issues," Gottwald said.

Still, some dry ice manufacturers and distributors are echoing those earlier warnings.

"Our system is already taxed beyond what the supply is right now," Tim Koerner, co-owner of the American Carbonation Corporation, told ABC News. "It could be close to sufficient, but it's gonna be tight."

UPS announced Wednesday it's ramping up dry ice production capabilities and launching a mobile freezer storage unit supply, noting "a major spike in demand" and the need to "plan for what some analysts fear may be a dry ice shortage" amid vaccine preparation.

Public health authorities and hospitals who can afford the investment are acquiring ultra-cold freezers, despite CDC guidance, to maintain supply chain agility.

Unsure how much vaccine they'll be receiving, David Reich, president of The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens, said they had bought a number of the freezers to be ready for whatever comes.

Henry Ford Health System in Michigan announced Wednesday it had received and begun installing six specialized freezers for the Pfizer vaccine, and six other freezers for the Moderna vaccine.

Distributing the vaccine

UPS Healthcare is collaborating with Stirling Ultracold, an Ohio company making laboratory-grade ultra-cold freezers, to supply portable models for storage of vaccines.

Demand has "dramatically increased," Stirling Ultracold CEO Dusty Tenney told ABC News. Sales are up 250% since the first quarter, with backorder times up to six weeks.

"There is a lot riding on everyone right now to make sure this is successful," Tenney said.

An onboard computer tracks temperature through the cold chain's many handoffs "to ensure that when they do arrive, there's no waste or loss associated with the vaccine's efficacy," Tenney said.

"Our job is to make sure nowhere in that process does it break down," Tenney added.

Stirling Ultracold hopes to have 2,000 portable freezer units in use by January. Each portable unit can hold 6,000 doses, allowing for 12 million of them throughout the country at a time.

"We were concerned about the freezers, and so we quickly purchased and pre-positioned them at certain sites along the health system," Jarrett, from Northwell Health, said. "That's one thing we've learned in COVID -- was try and be ahead of the curve."

Those freezers don't come cheap: each unit, depending on the model, ranges from $6,000 to more than $10,000.

"You can't strap [vaccine] on the back of 'Bob's truck,'" Shah said. Maine has received $800,000 in federal funding so far, and "significantly more will be needed," as they ramp up logistics and manpower.

Dry ice also has flight restrictions, which could further hamper distribution.

Who gets the vaccine and when?

Not all the vaccine candidates share the need for shipping in extreme temperatures. In addition to Moderna's, which can be held in most standard freezers, the vaccines from AstraZeneca/Oxford and Johnson & Johnson don't need to be frozen at all and can be safely stored for months in a standard refrigerator.

But all vaccine shipments will face logistical problems for one reason or another.

"We need to address the fact that all last miles in this country are not equal. If logistics work against our most-vulnerable populations, we will further exacerbate the impact of this pandemic," said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and ABC News Contributor.

"We've already seen the incredible divide when it came to testing -- increased travel times for counties with lower population density and higher percent of minority and uninsured. Will the challenges of cold storage and the requirement for two doses further exacerbate health inequities when it comes to immunizations?" Brownstein continued. "We'll need further analysis to understand how these logistical challenges intersect with fair and equitable access."

"We have to be ready for all of it," said Dr. Abinash Virk, infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic. "It's a complicated process now happening at supersonic speed."

Figuring out which front-line staff has priority for the injection's first wave, organizing electronic medical systems and data communication must be done before the first shot and before knowing which vaccine will be the one they're giving, Virk said.

"Pfizer has the most restrictive storage and transport requirements," Virk said. "If we're able to handle that, then, the subsequent ones, hopefully, will be able to handle much easier."

Vaccines requiring two doses offer their own unique coordination: Pfizer's needs a booster after 21 days while Moderna's requires one after 28 days. That means ensuring the right shipment arrives in time for the patient who needs their second dose.

That could get harder in remote areas.

"All this will be unfolding as the vaccine is literally rolling in trucks to get there," Dr. Robert O. Williams III, of the University of Texas at Austin's Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, said. "For rural areas that don't have the same infrastructure and cold infrastructure, that's an added challenge."

"We're the last mile. And that's sometimes the toughest mile," Jarrett said. "And there may be hurdles, but that's never going to stop us from doing the right thing."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NFL fines Saints, Patriots for COVID-19 violations, investigating two other teams

Bryan Allen/Getty ImagesBy IVAN PEREIRA and KATIE CONWAY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The NFL cracked down this weekend on two teams who broke the league's coronavirus-related policies and are looking into two other teams for possible violations, according to reports.

The league fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 after the players and the team posted a video on social media showing unmasked team members celebrating their Nov. 8 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the locker room, a source told ABC News. The NFL also took away a seventh-round draft pick as punishment for the Saints' violation, the source said.

The Saints are appealing the punishment, according to ESPN.

A source told ABC News the team's steep fine and draft pick loss stemmed from the Saints' repeated violations of COVID-19 protocols and warnings from the league. In September, Saints Coach Sean Payton, who was seen in the video, and the team were fined a combined $350,000 after he was seen not wearing a face mask during a game.

Payton told back in September he should have been more careful while on the field and kept his mask on.

"It's something we're just going to have to remind ourselves to do," he said.

The NFL sent out a memo to all teams on Nov. 3 with updated COVID-19 rules that stressed: "All players and staff must wear masks or double-layered gaiters in the locker room on game day -- prior to the game, during halftime, and post-game."

The New England Patriots were also fined $350,000 for violations related to positive tests of Cam Newton and other players in October, ESPN reported.

Although Newton didn't play in the Oct. 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs two days after he was diagnosed, 20 teammates and staff members who were deemed to be close contacts to Newton flew out to the game, according to ESPN. The day after the game, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had been in close contact with Newton, tested positive for COVID-19, ESPN reported.

The Patriots did not immediately release a statement about the fine.

The league is also investigating the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos over coronavirus-related violations, sources told ABC News.

The two teams were scheduled to play on Thanksgiving Day, but the game was moved to Tuesday after the Ravens reported at least 19 coronavirus cases among its players and staff members, including quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Broncos' current starting quarterback, Jeff Driskel, also tested positive last week.

The Broncos had its three quarterbacks in a room together for a meeting for an extended period of time without masks after Driskel contracted the disease, according to sources. The players, who were considered close contacts to Driskel, allegedly took off their tracking devices that are used by teams to assist with contact tracing, according to the sources.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was fined earlier in the season for not wearing a face mask, and the team would be considered a repeat offender if the league determines it violated protocols.

The Broncos released a statement Saturday that said the team would work with the NFL if they discover any positive tests among their players or staff.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, told ABC News he expects the situation to get harder as the season progresses due to the growing cases across the country.

He added that the league is constantly evolving its coronavirus protocols and pushes teams to follow the science.

"What keeps us safe are the same measures that work for everyone outside of football, and that's wearing masks, physical distancing, good hand hygiene, prompt reporting of symptoms," Sills told ABC News.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Will President Trump be Re-Elected?