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Trump-Biden transition live updates: Biden announces pick for FEMA chief


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

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach Trump on on article for "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol -- making him the only president to be impeached twice.

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

Jan 15, 6:46 pm
Barry Berke, veteran of Trump's 1st impeachment, to be House Dems' top lawyer for 2nd trial

Barry Berke, the veteran New York defense lawyer who helped House Democrats argue President Donald Trump's first impeachment last year, will rejoin the House Judiciary Committee as the panel's lead impeachment lawyer for Trump's second trial, the panel announced Friday.

Berke will serve as chief impeachment counsel, supported by a team of attorneys from the House Judiciary and Oversight committees who helped Democrats make their case to the Senate last year that Trump abused his office by trying to pressure Ukraine's president to dig up dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., unveiled a team of nine new impeachment managers to make the case that Trump should be convicted of inciting the Capitol Hill riot that left five people dead, the presence of Berke and the rest of the legal team underscores the unique position House Democrats are in: For the first time in American history, they will have a team of lawyers behind them with experience arguing in a Senate impeachment trial.

Democrats could transmit the impeachment article to the Senate as early as next week, which could trigger the start of proceedings following Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

There has been no official announcement on who will represent Trump in the trial, but personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Alan Dershowitz, who took part in the last trial, may be on the team, sources told ABC News. Trump favorite John Eastman, who led a failed election challenge to the Supreme Court, could also join the team.

-ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel

Jan 15, 5:35 pm
Biden says he feels safe for inauguration

As law enforcement agencies prepare for Wednesday's inauguration, Biden told reporters he feels safe about the upcoming ceremony.

When asked at the end of a briefing on his vaccination plan Friday if he felt safe about Inauguration Day based on the intelligence he’s seen, the president-elect simply, loudly and clearly said “Yes” before exiting the room.

The FBI, DHS, Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police, along with several local law enforcement agencies, have issued an extensive "threat assessment" surrounding Wednesday's inauguration.

There also will be 25,000 National Guardsmen in the nation’s capital to aid with security that day, ABC News has learned.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle

Jan 15, 4:40 pm
Kentucky State Capitol grounds to close Sunday

The Kentucky State Capitol grounds will be closed on Sunday, amid reports of threats against state capitols in the coming days, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday.

“Our commitment is that what happened at the U.S. Capitol will not happen here,” Beshear said in a statement.

There will be an increased law enforcement presence at the state Capitol for the next several days, including support from the Kentucky National Guard, and areas near the Capitol will be closed on Sunday, the governor said.

There are no gatherings or rallies planned in the coming days, he noted.

Jan 15, 4:24 pm
Biden announces 5-point vaccination plan

Biden outlined a five-point vaccination plan Friday to ramp up rollout when he takes office.

On day one, he said he plans to instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to start opening the first of thousands of federally supported community vaccination centers across the nation. By the end of his first month in office, 100 of these centers will be open, Biden said, at places that are "convenient and accessible," such as school gymnasiums, community centers and sports stadiums.

"As we build them, we're going to make sure it's done equitably," Biden said. "We're going to make sure there are vaccination sites in areas hit harder by the pandemic, in Black and Hispanic communities as well."

Within the first month, his administration also plans to promote mobile vaccination clinics "to hard-hit and hard-to-reach communities in cities, small towns and in rural communities," he said.

Thirdly, the administration plans to "fully activate the pharmacies across the country to get the vaccination into more arms as quickly as possible," Biden said. This will include working with both independent and chain pharmacies to help people more easily make appointments, he said.

The fourth point of the plan involves ramping up vaccine supply through the Defense Production Act, Biden said.

"We'll use the Defense Protection Act to work with private industry to accelerate the making of materials needed to supply and administer the vaccine, from tubes and syringes to protective equipment," Biden said.

Lastly, Biden promised transparency on vaccine supply.

"We're going to make sure state and local officials know how much supply they'll be getting and when they can expect to get it so they can plan," he said. "Right now, we're hearing that they can't plan, because they don't know how much supply of vaccines they can expect at what time frame."

Biden stressed that his administration is not changing the Food and Drug Administration's recommended dosing schedules.

"We believe it's critical that everyone should get two doses within the FDA-recommended time frame. So we're not doing away with that availability," he said.

Jan 15, 3:52 pm
Top White House science team members announced

Ahead of planned remarks Friday afternoon on his vaccination program, Biden released the names of top members of his White House science team.

Dr. Francis Collins will continue in his role as director of the National Institutes of Health, Biden announced.

Biden also wrote a letter to Dr. Eric Lander, the presidential science advisor-designate and nominee for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), tasking him to "work broadly and transparently with the diverse scientific leadership of American society."

Here are all the positions announced Friday by the Biden team:

-Dr. Eric Lander will be nominated as director of the OSTP and serve as the presidential science advisor.

-Dr. Alondra Nelson will serve as OSTP deputy director for science and society.

-Dr. Frances H. Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber will serve as the external co-chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

-Dr. Francis Collins will continue serving in his role as director of the National Institutes of Health.

-Kei Koizumi will serve as OSTP chief of staff and is one of the nation’s leading experts on the federal science budget.

-Narda Jones will serve as OSTP legislative affairs director.

-ABC News' John Verhovek

Jan 15, 3:52 pm
Buttigieg's nomination hearing expected next week

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is expected to hold Pete Buttigieg's nomination hearing for transportation secretary on Thursday at 10 a.m.

This is the sixth Cabinet-level nomination hearing to be noticed. Others expected for next week: Avril Haines to serve as director of national intelligence, Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary, Tony Blinken to serve as secretary of state, Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense, and Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as Department of Homeland Security secretary.

Jan 15, 3:05 pm
Avril Haines nomination hearing scheduled for Tuesday

The nomination hearing for Avril Haines, Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, is now scheduled for Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced. The hearing is slated to start at 10 a.m. ET.

It was originally scheduled for Friday but was then postponed.

Jan 15, 2:48 pm
Army says there will be 25,000 National Guardsman in DC for inauguration

A spokesperson for the U.S. Army confirmed that there will be 25,000 National Guardsmen in the nation’s capital to aid with security for Biden’s inauguration.

“The Defense Department has agreed to provide up to 25,000 service members to support the Presidential Inauguration National Special Security Event federal law enforcement mission and security preparations, as led by the U.S. Secret Service,” the spokesperson said. “The Department of the Army and the National Guard Bureau are working on a sourcing solution now to support this request.”

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jan 15, 2:00 pm
Officials issue wide-ranging ‘threat assessment’ ahead of Biden’s inauguration

The FBI, DHS, Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police, along with several local law enforcement agencies, have issued an extensive "threat assessment" surrounding Wednesday's inauguration.

It covers a range of threats surrounding the inauguration, including not only physical threats from domestic terrorists but also influence campaigns from Russia, China and Iran stemming from the Capitol siege. It even covers physical threats from drones.

The memo says domestic extremists is the “most likely” threat to the inauguration, citing recent incidents of ideologically motivated violence, including the deadly mob at the U.S. Capitol building.

Regarding foreign concerns, the assessment said that since the incident at the Capitol, “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition.”

“We have not identified any specific, credible information indicating that these actors intend to explicitly commit violence,” it added. “Furthermore, we have not identified any specific, credible cyber threat to critical infrastructure supporting the upcoming Presidential Inauguration nor a specific credible cyber threat to military or law enforcement personnel supporting the event."

The memo did say, however, that Russian state media has “amplified themes related to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, impeachment of President Trump, and social media censorship.”

Iranian state media has “continued to stoke claims that President Trump encouraged and incited the violence, as well as calls to invoke the 25th amendment,” the memo added. It has also “amplified perceived concerns related to President Trump’s mental health and the prospect of other risky actions he could take before leaving office.”

Finally, it noted that Chinese media has “seized the story to denigrate US democratic governance -- casting the United States as broadly in decline -- and to justify China’s crackdown on protestors in Hong Kong."

Lastly, the memo warned that drones could disrupt law enforcement operations at the inauguration, though it added that it does not have “specific, credible information” indicating malicious actors have plans to use unmanned aircraft systems to target the event.

-ABC News’ Mike Levine

Jan 15, 1:40 pm
Vice President Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Harris

Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on a call Thursday, sources familiar with the call told ABC News.

The news was first reported by the New York Times. 

Jan 15, 1:36 pm
How Trump plans to leave the White House

Sources told ABC News that Trump has requested a large sendoff hours before President-elect Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday.  

Sources say Trump plans to depart the White House next Wednesday morning, choppering via Marine One to Joint Base Andrews where he is expected to give remarks to supporters and departing members of his administration. 

Sources add that Trump has requested the event to have a "military-like feel" though details are still not finalized. The president will then fly down to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida onboard Air Force One with a small number of staffers who will be part of his post-presidency operation, according to the sources. 

Jan 15, 1:30 pm
DC mayor says National Mall will be temporarily closed for Biden’s inauguration

During a news conference Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the National Mall is temporarily closed to the public through at least Thursday. 

Thirteen metro stations inside the security perimeter will also be closed. 

Bowser said the National Mall closure came at the request of and in cooperation with the Secret Service and the National Park Service.

The mayor urged Americans to enjoy the inauguration virtually from home this year. 

She also discussed the city’s beefed-up security ahead of the inauguration but told D.C. residents she doesn’t expect the security measures currently in place to last too long after Biden takes office.

Jan 15, 12:55 pm
Nomination hearing for Avril Haines postponed

The nomination hearing for Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has been postponed. It was originally scheduled for Friday.

A joint statement from Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Marco Rubio and Vice Chairman Mark Warner on Thursday confirmed the postponement. It did not give specific reasons, but referenced the “unusual circumstances on Capitol Hill.”

Rubio and Warner added that they "look forward to holding a hearing next week" for Haines, but did not list a specific date.

Jan 15, 12:49 pm
Extremism seen on Jan. 6 'very likely part of an ongoing trend'

Far from a one-off event, the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol emboldened extremists and “is very likely part of an ongoing trend,” according to a joint intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News.

The trend involves domestic extremists exploiting lawful gatherings to engage in violence and criminal activity and the bulletin said that “very likely will increase throughout 2021.”

Targets include racial, ethnic and religious minorities along with journalists and government officials.

“Narratives surrounding the perceived success of the 6 January breach of the US Capitol, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories will likely lead to an increased [domestic violent extremist] threat towards representatives of federal, state, and local governments across the United States, particularly in the lead-in to the 20 January Presidential Inauguration,” the bulletin said.

Beyond the inauguration, the bulletin said gun control legislation, the easing of immigration restrictions and limits on the use of public land could antagonize extremists.

There is a range of groups that share what the bulletin called the “false narrative of a stolen election.”

“In-person engagement between domestic violent extremists of differing ideological goals during the Capitol breach likely served to foster connections, which may increase DVEs’ willingness, capability, and motivation to attack and undermine a government they view as illegitimate,” the bulletin said.

Jan 15, 12:43 pm
Incoming WH press secretary reveals some details of Biden's vaccine push

In a series of tweets Friday, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki provided some information on the structure of the Biden administration's vaccination effort and confirmed that the program will not go by the "Operation Warp Speed" name created by the Trump administration.

Psaki also said that Bechara Choucair, previously announced as the Biden team's vaccination coordinator, will lead the 100 million doses delivered in 100 days effort, while Dr. David Kessler's role will focus on maximizing the current supply of vaccine and to get more online as quickly as possible.

Jan 15, 12:17 pm
Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen and John Legend to perform at Biden's inauguration event

Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, the Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen have joined the growing list of celebrities who will appear at the star-studded event celebrating Biden's inauguration next week.
The event, hosted by Tom Hanks, will be a primetime television special that will air the night after the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20.

Longoria and Washington "will introduce segments throughout the night ranging from stories of young people making a difference in their communities to musical performances," Biden's inaugural committee said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, the Foo Fighters, Springsteen and Legend will perform remotely "from iconic locations across the country, joining Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons and Jon Bon Jovi with additional performances to be announced ahead of January 20," the committee said.

The committee had previously announced that Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem while Biden and Harris are sworn in. Jennifer Lopez will also give a musical performance.

Jan 15, 12:06 pm
Pelosi says managers are 'preparing' for Trump's impeachment trial

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that "our managers are solemnly and prayerfully preparing" for Trump's impeachment trial, "which they will take to the Senate."

"Justice is called for as we address the active insurrection that was perpetrated against the Capitol complex last week," Pelosi said during her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

Pelosi did not specify when the article of impeachment will be sent to the Senate, prompting the trial. According to Senate rules, the trial would begin the day after the impeachment charge is sent over by the House of Representatives.

"You'll be the first to know when we announce that we're going over there," she told reporters.

Pelosi noted how quickly the House voted to impeach the president, just one week after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which she said was "incentivised" by Trump.

"So urgent was the matter," she told reporters.

When asked about the role members of Congress may have played in the riot, Pelosi said they would be held accountable.

"If it in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime," she said, "there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution."

The speaker also announced that she's asked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore -- who helped coordinate the military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina -- to lead an "immediate review" of security failings at the Capitol, reviewing security infrastructure, the interagency process, and command and control.

At the start of Friday's press conference, Pelosi quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

Jan 15, 11:08 am
Biden announces additions to White House staff

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have announced additional White House picks -- with many familiar faces from Biden's 2020 campaign staff.

While she was not expected to join the administration and instead return to her communication’s firm SKDKnickerbocker, Anita Dunn will be serving as a senior adviser to the president -- marking yet another longtime Biden adviser and a member of the highest echelons of his campaign joining the White House in a senior role.

TJ Ducklo, the national spokesperson for the campaign, will also join the White House as deputy press secretary alongside Karine Jean-Pierre. Deputy press secretary Matt Hill will join as a senior associate communications director.

Biden’s campaign photographer and videographer will also take on similar roles in the administration.

Jan 15, 9:37 am
House committee asks hotels, travel companies to help identify 'inciters and attackers'

The House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Reform has sent letters to two dozen hotels and private travel companies seeking help in identifying rioters and preventing future attacks in Washington, D.C., ahead of Biden's inauguration.

"While the inciters and attackers bear direct responsibility for the siege on the Capitol and will be held fully accountable, they relied on a range of companies and services to get them there and house them once they arrived—companies that law-abiding Americans use every day, but whose services were hijacked to further the January 6 attacks," committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., wrote in the letters. "Trump supporters chartered scores of buses and vans and drove in caravans to the nation’s capital. They stayed in D.C. hotels, with videos showing attackers relaxing in the lobby of one hotel after the insurrection."

The committee has asked the businesses -- ranging from major hotel chains to bus and car rental companies -- to retain records of January reservations for future congressional investigations, to put in place additional screening measures "to ensure that your services are not being used to facilitate violence or domestic terrorism," and to provide information to the committee by Jan. 29 on those measures.

Jan 15, 8:54 am
FBI warns of possible explosives at expected protests linked to inauguration

The danger to the public and to law enforcement officers from explosive devices during expected upcoming protests "is substantial," the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a new awareness bulletin obtained by ABC News on Friday.

The document is full of photos of devices used in the last eight months against civilian and law enforcement targets during public demonstrations.

"Devices targeting infrastructure also increased following violent activity during this time period," the bulletin states.

The FBI now wants to make first responders aware of what has been deployed in the past and what they might encounter during protests linked to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

"The danger posed to law enforcement officers and the general public from the all the tactics listed is substantial," the bulletin states. "If a suspicious item is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an IED, or other hazardous material, DO NOT touch, tamper with, or move the item. Only bomb disposal personal should handle any suspected devices that are located."

An internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News earlier this week stated that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols as well as at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, least through Inauguration Day.

The warning comes after suspected pipe bombs were found last week outside both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee headquarters, just a few blocks from the Capitol where pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

Jan 15, 8:33 am
Biden picks former FDA head to help lead Operation Warp Speed

Biden has chosen Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to help lead the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine initiative.

Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the FDA from 1999 to 1997 under the Bush and Clinton administrations, will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is the current chief science officer to Operation Warp Speed.

Biden also announced several other appointees who will join his incoming administration's COVID-19 response team.

"We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus," the president-elect said in a statement Thursday. "The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better."

Jan 15, 7:46 am
Biden announces pick for FEMA chief, other key administration posts

With just five days until his inauguration, Biden announced Thursday his pick to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with several other key posts for his incoming administration.

Deanne Criswell is his nominee for FEMA administrator. Janet McCabe is his nominee for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shalanda Young is his nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Jason Miller is his nominee for deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. And David Cohen is his appointee for deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

"These dedicated and distinguished leaders will bring the highest level of experience, integrity, and knowledge to bear on behalf of the American people," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans. I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people's lives."

Jan 14, 10:46 pm
New California senator says he's prepared for impeachment trial, coronavirus response

Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State and the man who will fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat in the Senate, told ABC News he’s prepared to balance both the impeachment trial and response to COVID-19 when he’s sworn in next week.

“We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Padilla said. “It’s not either or, COVID-19 response is absolutely important. Holding President Trump accountable is extremely important. And doing our part, as the Biden-Harris administration settles, is also extremely important. So we're prepared to do what it takes.”


"There has to be accountability, nobody is above the law."@AlexPadilla4CA, U.S. Senator Designate for California, joins @ABCNewsLive to discuss impeachment and the COVID-19 pandemic.

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 15, 2021


He said he doesn’t know how the Senate will vote, but believes a “rebalanced leadership” with Democrats in the White House, Senate and House, will give the party “tremendous opportunity” to achieve their goals.

When asked whether he believes last week’s riot at the Capitol would embolden further attacks, he said, “Frankly, when I saw the images last Wednesday, it only emboldened my resolve to want to get to work, and want to get to work quickly.”

Jan 14, 10:46 pm
Va. governor ready for potential threat at state capital

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he sent 2,000 National Guardsmen and hundreds of state police to help stop the president’s supporters from rioting at the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress last week.

Now, with Biden’s inauguration just days away, he said his state is prepared to ensure a peaceful transition of power in Washington, D.C., and ready to face any other threats that might emerge after multiple recent reports of threats at capital buildings throughout the country.

“Unfortunately, we have experience here in Virginia,” Northam told ABC News’ Linsey Davis. “We had the riots in Charlottesville back in August 2017, and then we had a lot of armed protesters in January (2020), and so, we have some experience.”


"Words have meaning, and our leaders need to be very careful with how they message to those that support them."@GovernorVA Ralph Northam joins @ABCNewsLive to discuss security precautions Virginia is taking following U.S. Capitol siege.

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 15, 2021


With fences posted around the state’s capital building and windows boarded up, Northam said it’s “an unfortunate situation, but we’ve made it known to these individuals that if they come here looking for trouble, that we’re ready and the outcome is not going to be good for them.”

Northam said that the riot at the Capitol has also impacted his state’s ability to vaccinate people for the coronavirus.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re having to use the resources that we are (using),” he said. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. … The Guardsmen, they’ve been very involved with our testing and now our vaccination program. We’d like to have them doing that, but instead, we have a president that has incited violence and we need to protect the country.”

Jan 14, 8:42 pm
Biden outlines major points of recovery plan during his address

Biden outlined the major points of his rescue plan: a $1.9 trillion proposal that includes a nationwide vaccination program, $1,400 checks for individuals, an extension and expansion of unemployment benefits and help for struggling communities and businesses.

Biden placed particular emphasis on housing and food insecurity and spoke about expanding SNAP benefits. He said his policy plan would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, potentially previewing an executive action we could see next week. He also asked Congress to appropriate funds for rental assistance.

Biden, who preached bipartisanship while on the trail, said both he and Vice President-elect Harris had spoken with officials, mayors, and governors of both parties on a regular basis to address the problems across the country.


President-elect Biden: “There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour. No one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.”

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 15, 2021


The president-elect also emphasized his plan's focus on helping small businesses and minority-owned businesses in particular, criticizing the Trump administration's initial approach which he said favored the wealthy and well-connected.

"Last week, I laid out how we'll make sure that our emergency small business relief is distributed swiftly and equitably, unlike the first time around. We're going to focus on small businesses, on Main Street. We'll focus on minority-owned small businesses, women-owned small businesses, and finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and to rebuild," Biden said.

He also pushed his plan for a mandatory federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

"People tell me that's going to be hard to pass. Florida just passed it, as divided as that state is, they just passed it. The rest of the country is ready to move as well," he said. "No one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line. And that's what it means. If you work for less than $15 an hour and work 40 hours a week, you're living in poverty."


President-elect Biden: “The very health of our nation is at stake… We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most.”

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 15, 2021


He frankly noted the "bold, practical" policy he was putting forward did not come cheap but argued there was no option to act.

"I know what I just described does not come cheaply. But failure to do so will cost us dearly," he said. "The consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do what I'm proposing."

Biden ended his remarks with a call for unity and optimism, referencing his inauguration on Wednesday as a "new chapter for the country."

Jan 14, 8:38 pm
Biden announces joint session of Congress next month

During his address Thursday, Biden announced his first joint session of Congress will take place next month, where he will address the second pillar of his recovery plan, focused on investments in infrastructure.  

The president-elect praised Congress for working across the aisle to pass a COVID-19 relief bill in December, but reiterated his message that the package by itself was only a "down payment." He said more is required, framing his policy proposal as the next step and urging lawmakers to push forward.

After blasting the current administration's vaccine distribution plan as a "dismal failure," Biden previewed his remarks Friday, where he plans on laying out his vaccination plan.

"We'll have to move heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in people's arms, to increase vaccine supply and to get it out the door as fast as possible," he said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus live updates: COVID-19 deaths top two million worldwide


(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 93.2 million people worldwide and killed over two million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news was developing Friday. All times Eastern:

Jan 15, 8:20 pm
7-day averages for cases down across US

There are some encouraging signs in the latest COVID-19 data.

The seven-day averages for cases are declining throughout the U.S., according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The averages are down in all four regions that the tracker compares: Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

On a national level, it appears that COVID-19 hospitalizations are also on the decline, the tracker said. Though it noted that some areas are still seeing an "overwhelming" level of hospitalizations.

The U.S. reported 243,996 new cases, 3,679 new deaths and 127,235 currently hospitalizations on Friday, according to The COVID Tracking Project's tally.

Jan 15, 4:57 pm
Biden stresses equity, transparency in vaccination plan

President-elect Joe Biden laid out a five-point vaccination plan Friday that he promised would turn the public's "frustration into motivation" and meet his goal of getting 100 million shots into Americans' arms within his first 100 days in office.

The plan includes working with states to open up more priority groups for vaccination, mobilizing a larger workforce to administer vaccines and working directly with independent and chain pharmacies to distribute them. Biden's administration also plans to set up 100 federally funded vaccination centers in school gyms, sports stadiums and mobile clinics to help reach communities that have been hit hard by the virus.

"Equity is central to our COVID response," Biden said.

Scientists in Biden's administration, like the surgeon general, will speak directly to the American people, he added, and pledged to be transparent about "both the good news and the bad" when it came COVID-19 progress. "You’re entitled to know," he said.

Jan 15, 2:07 pm
Faster-spreading variant could become dominant by March: CDC

The new COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom could increase the trajectory of the virus in the United States, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

Unless new mitigation measures are taken, the variant, known as B.1.1.7, is likely to become the predominant variant in the U.S. by March, the report warned. The CDC called for "universal compliance" with public health measures and more genomic surveillance to monitor new variants and mutations.

"Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public," according to the report. While the new variant is not more deadly than the old one, it is thought to be more transmissible, meaning that it could lead to more cases, and ultimately more hospitalizations and deaths.

-ABC News' Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Jan 15, 1:01 pm
COVID-19 deaths top two million worldwide

Deaths from COVID-19 reached a grim new milestone Friday, with 2,00,905 fatalities reported around the world since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world in COVID-19 deaths, with 389,581 fatalities, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Jan 15, 1:11 pm
100M doses in 100 days 'quite feasible': Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci called President-elect Joe Biden's promise to administer 100 million COVID-19 shots in the first 100 days of his term "quite feasible" during an interview with NBC's Today show Friday. He said he hopes the United States can get to 70% or 80% vaccination within several months.

Part of the distribution holdup, according to Fauci, has been careful prioritization by states.

"If you have a dose, give it," he urged states. "Don't be so rigid as to those early designations."

Reaching those goals, however, depends on vaccine uptake. 

"When a vaccine becomes available, get vaccinated,” Fauci pleaded with the public.

Jan 15, 8:31 am
Biden picks former FDA chief to help lead Operation Warp Speed

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to help lead the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine initiative.

Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the FDA from 1999 to 1997 under the Bush and Clinton administrations, will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is the current chief science officer to Operation Warp Speed.

Biden also announced several other appointees who will join his incoming administration's COVID-19 response team.

"We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better."

Jan 15, 7:40 am
Moscow sees highest single-day death toll from COVID-19

There were 5,534 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a record 81 deaths from the disease registered in Moscow on Thursday, according to Russia's coronavirus response headquarters.

In total, the Russian capital has reported 882,962 confirmed cases with 12,322 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.

With more than 3.4 million confirmed cases, Russia has the fourth highest cumulative total in the world, after the United States, India and Brazil, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Jan 15, 6:58 am
US marks 10th straight day of over 200K new cases

There were 229,386 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Thursday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 10th consecutive day that the country has reported more than 200,000 new cases. Thursday's tally is less than the country's all-time high of 302,506 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 3,769 new deaths from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Thursday, down from a peak of 4,462 fatalities logged on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.

A total of 23,314,238 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 388,705 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. 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, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.

Jan 14, 9:57 pm
Dodger Stadium to open as mass vaccination site Friday

Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium will open as one of the largest mass vaccination sites in the country on Friday, officials announced.

The stadium will have the capacity to vaccinate 12,000 people a day, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said during his COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

Eligibility in Los Angeles County currently is limited to health care workers and seniors in nursing facilities.

The vaccination push comes as 1 in 3 people in LA County has been infected with COVID-19, Garcetti said. The county reported 17,323 new cases on Thursday.

"Our numbers remain very high. We remain one of the epicenters of this disease across the country," Garcetti said, though he added that there are signs that hospitalizations may be stabilizing.

Jan 14, 8:06 pm
US deaths 25% higher than any other time during pandemic

Deaths continue to surge nationwide in the weeks after the end-of-year holidays. U.S. deaths are currently 25% higher than at any other time during the pandemic, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

"For scale, COVID-19 deaths reported this week exceed the CDC's estimate of 22K flu-related deaths during the entire 2019-2020 season," the wrote.

There were 3,915 deaths reported on Thursday, well above a seven-day average that continues to rise. Cases and hospitalizations were under the seven-day average on Thursday.

The one bit of good news highlighted by The COVID Tracking Project hospitalization numbers are leveling off. However, there are still 128,947 people currently hospitalized, much more than at any other time during the pandemic.

The COVID Tracking Project singled out Alabama, Arizona, California and Florida as particularly concerning locations right now. Arizona currently has the worst per-capita case numbers in the world, according to the project.

Jan 14, 4:29 pm
Newly identified US variant may have emerged in May, study indicates

A newly identified variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 may have emerged in the U.S. in May and could be one of the predominant versions circulating now, researchers at Southern Illinois University found.
Just because a new variant has emerged doesn't mean it's inherently dangerous, experts cautioned. It’s unknown if this new U.S. variant is more transmissible and deadly, but scientists say they are monitoring and continuing to study newly emerging viral variants. On Wednesday, researchers at Ohio State reported two newly identified ones. On Thursday, researchers at Southern Illinois University said they also identified a new variant, which is likely the same as the two identified in Ohio.

Now, researchers at Southern Illinois University are sharing even more details about this U.S. variant, which they are calling 20C-US. Origins of this variant can be traced to May 2020 from a sample in Texas, they said.
The 20C-US variant appears to be widespread in the Upper Midwest and comprises roughly 50% of the samples in the U.S., said Keith T. Gagnon, coauthor of the study and associate professor at Southern Illinois University.

"Let’s not get overly excited -- but be diligent," Gagon said. "Here it was, underneath our noses, for months."
“It doesn't look like it’s going to get in the way of vaccines," Gagnon added.

ABC News’ Sean Llewellyn, Eric Strauss and Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Jan 14, 3:30 pm
Texas is 1st state to administer 1 million vaccines

Texas, home to about 29 million people, has become the first state to administer more than 1 million vaccine doses, Gov. Greg Abbott said.

Texas has 2,040,751 confirmed cases and at least 31,277 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Texas’ Harris County, home to Houston, ranks No. 5 in the country for highest cases, behind Los Angeles County, California; Cook County, Illinois; Marciopa County, Arizona; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

Jan 14, 2:14 pm
Brazil variant prompts UK to ban arrivals from some South American, Central American countries

The United Kingdom will ban arrivals from several South and Central American countries beginning on Friday "following evidence of a new variant from Brazil,” U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The government will ban arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Travel from Portugal to the U.K. will also be suspended given its strong travel links with Brazil, Shapps said.

Jan 14, 2:05 pm
About 1 in 3 has been infected in LA County

About one in every three people in Los Angeles County has been infected with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, Los Angeles County Health Department officials said Wednesday.

Los Angeles County is close to becoming the county to reach 1 million cases. As of Thursday morning, 958,497 people in the county had been infected.

Jan 14, 12:46 pm
Arizona leading US in cases per capita

The U.S. is averaging over 242,000 new cases per day, according to ABC News’ analysis of COVID Tracking Project data.

Arizona is leading the country in cases per capita.

In Virginia, Georgia and Florida, daily case numbers dwarf their respective summer peaks.

In New York, the average number of daily cases is 65% higher than during the spring surge.

Jan 14, 12:24 pm
Turkey's president gets 1st dose of China's COVID-19 vaccine

Turkish President Recep Tayyip on Thursday received a first dose of CoronaVac, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Turkey approved CoronaVac for emergency use on Wednesday. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was the first person in the country to receive a dose of the vaccine.

Jan 14, 11:28 am
Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI receive 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

"I can confirm that as part of the Vatican City State vaccination program to date, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus," Bruni said in a statement Thursday.

Francis, who turned 84 last month and had part of a lung removed when he was younger, reportedly received the shot Wednesday while Benedict, 93, reportedly got it Thursday.

Vatican City, an independent enclave surrounded by Rome that serves as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, launched the immunization campaign on Wednesday, administering doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

The tiny city-state has a population of only around 800 people but employs more than 4,000. It's unclear how many doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been procured so far.

Vatican City citizens, along with employees and pensioners, will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine as well as family members who are entitled to use of the city-state's health care system. Priority is being given to health care workers, public safety personnel, the elderly and individuals who are most frequently in contact with the public, according to Bruni.

The vaccination campaign is voluntary and people under the age of 18 are being excluded for the time being, Bruni said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Vatican City has reported at least 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Jan 14, 10:13 am
US reports over 229,000 new cases

There were 229,610 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Wednesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the ninth straight day that the country has reported more than 200,000 new cases. Wednesday's tally is less than the country's all-time high of 302,506 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 3,959 new deaths from COVID-19 registered nationwide on Wednesday, down from a peak of 4,327 fatalities logged the previous day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.

A total of 23,079,163 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 384,794 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. 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, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.

Jan 14, 10:00 am
Another member of Congress tests positive

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said Thursday morning that he’s tested positive for COVID-19, one day after attending the impeachment vote on the House floor.

Espaillat said he's quarantining at home.

He tweeted, “I received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last week and understand the affects take time. I have continued to be tested regularly, wear my mask and follow the recommended guidelines."

Eight lawmakers have tested positive since the Jan. 6 siege.

Jan 14, 8:46 am
965,000 workers filed jobless claims last week

A total of 965,000 workers filed jobless claims last week, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, an increase of 181,000 from the prior week.

The Labor Department also said that more than 18 million people were still receiving some form of unemployment benefits through all government programs for the week ending Dec. 26. For the comparable week in 2019, that figure was just above two million.

The weekly unemployment tally has fallen since peaking at 6.9 million in March but still remains elevated by historical standards.

The pre-pandemic record for weekly unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.

That record has been broken every week since late March.

As of last month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 6.7%. It was 3.5% last February.

Jan 14, 8:32 am
WHO experts arrive in Wuhan

An international team of scientists researching the origins of COVID-19 arrived on Thursday in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus was first discovered, the World Health Organization said.

“The experts will begin their work immediately during the 2 weeks quarantine protocol for international travelers,” the WHO tweeted.

Jan 14, 8:19 am
US could see up to 477,000 deaths by Feb. 6

This week’s national  released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that 16,200 to 29,600 more Americans will likely die in the week ending Feb. 2.

The national ensemble estimates a total of 440,000 to 477,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by that date.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Bets on, bets off: Online gambling site already taking wagers on 'Cobra Kai' season 4

CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX © 2020(LOS ANGELES) -- After fans binged the recently-dropped third season of the Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai, its cliffhanger ending left them aching for more -- so much so that the online sportsbook My Bookie is taking wagers on what will happen in the show's forthcoming fourth season.

In the cliffhanger, former enemies Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence, played respectively by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, team up to take on Martin Kove's Sensei John Kreese, and whupped him handily enough that he called an old Army buddy for back-up. It's not stated in the show, but Karate Kid fans are already predicting the return of actor and martial artist Thomas Ian Griffith's Terry Silver, one of the baddies in Karate Kid Part III

It's so likely Silver will return that My Bookie makes it a -500 bet -- meaning if you bet $500 that he shows up, you'll make just $100. On the other hand, betting $100 against Terry's return would net you $200, because it's considered unlikely he won't join the fight. 

Want to score on a long shot? Fans can also bet whether or not Oscar-winner Hillary Swank, who starred in 1994's The Next Karate Kid, will return to the Karate Kid universe. A hundred-dollar bet would net you $550, according to My Bookie's odds. 

Another long-shot return is Jaden Smith, the star of the panned 2010 reboot of The Karate Kid. That's considered so unlikely that a $100 bet would win you $900. Betting $100 that his character Dre Parker wins the All Valley Karate Championship will score you $2,000.

You can even bet on how many times people say the series' iconic line, "Sweep the leg."

Here are some other wagering possibilities for the fourth season of Cobra Kai and their corresponding money line bets, according to MyBookie: 

Who wins the All Valley Karate Championship?
(Winner must be announced in season 4)

Miguel Diaz:  110
Robby Keene:  150
Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz:  300
Samantha LaRusso:  400
Kyler: 600
Tory Nichols:  650
Demetr: 800
Mitch: 1500
Dre Parker: 2000
Anthony LaRusso: 2200
All other fighters: 500

All Valley Karate Championship -- Match Winner
(Fight must take place at tournament)

Samantha LaRusso: -140
Tory Nichols: 110

Does Terry Silver make an appearance in Season 4?
Yes:  -500
No: 200

Does Mike Barnes make an appearance in Season 4?
Yes: -230
No: 160 

Does Hillary Swank make an appearance in Season 4?
Yes:  550
No: -2000

Does Jaden Smith make an appearance in Season 4?
Yes:  900
No: -3000 

Does Hawk return to Cobra Kai?
Yes: -140
No: 110

Total times "sweep the leg" will be mentioned in Season 4
Over 3.5 times: -130
Under 3.5 times: 100

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Two US COVID variants have been identified. What does that mean for vaccines?


(NEW YORK) -- Two independent research groups published findings confirming what many scientists have long suspected: The U.S. has its own unique COVID-19 viral variants that are distinct from the U.K. and South African lineages making headlines in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center announced two distinct, newly identified variants. The next day, researchers at Southern Illinois University said they found a variant that may have emerged months ago and quickly spread across the country. The variant is likely the same or similar to one of the variants identified by the Ohio researchers.

While viruses mutate constantly, these mutations are not inherently dangerous, experts cautioned. More scientific experiments will be needed to show whether the newly identified U.S. variants are more transmissible, more deadly or if they might impact the vaccine.

And researchers predicted even more variants could be identified in the coming weeks as more scientists start looking for them.

"This should be a wakeup call that we’re not doing enough genomic surveillance," said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and associate research scientist at the Center of Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's School of Public Health.

"We’re going to see a lot of these papers coming out," said Rasmussen, who was not involved in either study. "Whether [the variants] are associated with increased transmissibility or not remains to be seen."

Since the emergence of new variants around the globe, there has been fear that they will cause more severe disease and deaths, be more transmissible and render the vaccines ineffective. It first started with variants identified from U.K. and then South Africa, both of which are thought to be more transmissible but not more deadly. But they're unlikely to undermine the current vaccines, according to very preliminary research.

Researchers at Southern Illinois University are calling this U.S. variant 20C-US. The variant isn't new, just newly identified. Its origin was traced back to a patient sample in Texas from May 2020. Since then, the variant seems to have swept across the country. According to Dr. Keith T. Gagnon, one of the lead researchers of the study released by Southern Illinois, 20C-US now compromises about 50% of samples in the country. It is currently widespread in the Upper Midwest, which could be why researchers at Ohio State detected a strikingly similar variant.

Dr. Daniel Jones, one of the lead authors of the study from Ohio State, told ABC News that these variants could be from the same lineage but more research on each is needed.

While some researchers, including the White House Task Force's Dr. Deborah Birx, have speculated there might be a U.S. variant circling the nation, these two studies are the first ironclad evidence of one.

Gagnon said it has taken scientists in the U.S. months to identify this variant because the U.S. is not systematically monitoring and tracking the ever-changing genetic makeup of COVID-19 samples collected from patients.

Gagnon also said it's possible the 20C-US variant is more transmissible, especially with the surge of infections in the fall and winter. The variant could have gotten lucky and gained a foothold as people were spending more time indoors and seeing family and friends for the holidays without proper social distancing and mask wearing.

With multiple vaccines now available, there is the fear that this new U.S. variant will render the vaccines ineffective. But so far there is no evidence that the mutations impact the efficacy of the vaccines.

"Here it was, underneath our noses for months," Gagnon said, meaning volunteers who were vaccinated in the large, late-stage vaccine trials were likely exposed to it and a majority were protected.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to get in the way of vaccines," Gagnon added. The researchers at Ohio State agreed with those sentiments in their press conference earlier this week.

The other variant that Ohio State researchers discovered was found in only one patient. It has similar mutations seen in the U.K. and South African variants but was not associated with travel and developed independently here in the U.S. It is unclear how much of the population has this variant and if it will be an important.

Both groups recommended to keep calm and wait for more experimental studies to determine what these variants will do.

“We’re not ready to overreact," said Peter Mohler, chief scientific officer and a co-author of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center study.

"We want to make sure we study these [variants] in the lab and get very good data” to determine if they change transmission and mortality, he added.

But researchers also warn that the longer COVID-19 is around, the more likely there will be mutations and variants. And each time we will have to determine if the variants are more transmissible or deadly.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nestle delivers sweet taste of nostalgia with new Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk


(NEW YORK) -- There was something satisfying about sipping the last sweet, cereal-infused milk at the bottom of the bowl and now Nestle has come up with a new flavor to flood your fridge with that nostalgic taste.

Nestle has announced it's new Cinnamon Toast Crunch-flavored milk as part of its sensations products that the brand said "tastes just like an epic combination of cinnamon and sugar deliciousness with hints of toasted cereal."

The14-fluid ounce bottles will retail for $2.49 and is available now in grocery stores, convenience stores and mass retailers nationwide.

The company behind Nesquik, known for its classic chocolate milk, also rolled out two other new products including Protein Power Strawberry Milk and Nesquik Dark Chocolate Whole Milk.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Shawn Johnson pregnant with baby No. 2 with husband Andrew East

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagicBy CARSON BLACKWELDER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Shawn Johnson is pregnant with her second child with husband Andrew East, the couple announced Friday.

"Here we go again," the Olympic gold medalist captioned an Instagram post featuring a series of photos in which she shows off her baby bump with her family.

In the first snap, she shares a romantic kiss with East. The second is a sweet shot of their 1-year-old daughter, Drew Hazel, and the third is a family portrait of the three of them together.

The couple also shared a video to YouTube about their big news -- including how Johnson told East she was pregnant, them both guessing it's a boy, and that the baby's due date is summer 2021.

Johnson also opened up about how conflicted she feels after having experienced a pregnancy loss back in 2017.

"I think every time I get a pregnancy test positive after the miscarriage, I try to numb myself and be like, 'OK, here's the situation: You're pregnant, we don't know how it's going to end,'" she said. "I don't celebrate it, which is kind of sad. I get very excited, but I also get very daunted by the situation."

East -- who said he wants to have "as many kids as possible" -- then recalled how he tested positive for COVID-19 just days after finding out Johnson was pregnant.

"We were in this time of celebration and we wanted to tell her parents and our friends, but then I ended up having to self-isolate," he said, calling it "not the ideal situation."

Johnson ended the video with a message of support to other families on the journey to have children.

"If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, if you're trying to adopt, if you're in the process of expanding your family or recently suffering from a loss, we are praying for you. All those beautiful babies out there, all those rainbow babies, all those babies in heaven," she said. "We love you guys."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Lebanon enacts all-day curfew after new surge in coronavirus cases

CasPhotography/iStockBy IBTISSEM GUENFOUD, ABC News

(PARIS) -- Starting Thursday, people in Lebanon are asked to stay home, day or night, without exemptions for grocery shopping or exercising, to curb a new surge in coronavirus cases.

Lebanon has entered a national state of emergency, which includes a 24-hour curfew prohibiting citizens from leaving their home from Jan. 14 until the morning of Jan. 25, Brig. Gen Mahmoud al Asmar, spokesperson of the Lebanese Higher Defense Council, announced earlier this week.

Only a limited category of essential workers, such as health care workers and journalists, are allowed to venture outside. Travel in and out of the country is also heavily reduced and under further restrictions, including a minimum 72-hour quarantine upon arrival.

The government decided to confine the entire population as it faced the critical situation of the country’s hospitals running out of beds for patients.

The Beirut port explosion in August 2020 destroyed several hospitals, and two years of a dire financial crisis have already put pressure on a weak health care system. Now the country faces its highest daily death toll and highest daily case numbers, with an average of 5,000 COVID-19 cases a day.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Public Health announced Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at the hospital.

"The whole health care system is on the brink of collapse," said Dr. Firass Abiad, surgeon and CEO of Beiruit's Rafik Hariri University Hospital, where he said the ICU is running at full capacity. "All hospitals in Lebanon are facing shortages because of the economic crisis and some medical supplies and medication. Unfortunately because of the surge, this situation has worsened at the moment."

Abiad said his hospital has not had to turn patients away yet, but it is something he worries about as emergency rooms fill up.

"We are hoping that the society will show a high compliance with these new measures," he said.

Gatherings over the holiday season are being held responsible for the current surge in cases. The Lebanese government eased measures against the spread of the virus over the holidays, allowing restaurants, hotels and even nightclubs to open up.

Lebanon leads the number of cases per million population in the Arab world, as COVID-19 infections hit new records after the holiday season, according to the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut. The country, which has a 6.8 million population, has one of the fastest increasing daily number of cases.

With a 70% increase in contaminations compared to the seven days preceding, the country is one where the epidemic is spreading fastest in the world, after Portugal, Nigeria and Ireland, according to data from Agence France-Presse.

Scenes of panic at grocery stores were plentiful in the last days before the complete closure of the country, as the Lebanese lined up in front of supermarkets to stock up.

However, in a country in the midst of an economic and financial crisis, food insecurity will likely rise under the new lockdown, Soha Zaiter, the executive manager of the Lebanese Food Bank, said.

"We have a lot of people working day by day, if they do not go out in the morning, they cannot buy food or pay the rent," Zaiter told ABC News. "People cannot afford to stay like this, yet the government is not making any plans to cover the expenses of people that are in need. The demand is getting higher and higher."

The Lebanese Food Bank is planning to distribute around 6,000 food boxes across Lebanon, in addition to blankets and heaters for the most in need.

"People need us more than ever before," Zaiter said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Will the St. Louis Cardinals make the playoffs this year?