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COVID-19 UPDATE | MONDAY, NOV. 9 (Evening)

November 9, 2020

The Senate is in session today. The House will return next week.

Election Results

  • Alaska will not begin to count mail-in ballots until Tuesday. The state currently only has 46% of votes reported, but it is expected that President Trump and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) will maintain their leads.
  • As contention remains among Republicans around election results, President-Elect Biden has been congratulated on his victory by former President George W. Bush, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Over the weekend, world leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also extended their congratulations to President-Elect Biden.
  • President Trump continues to contest the results of the election, claiming that Democratic victories in swing states were achieved via fraud. The President’s campaign has filed suit contesting the results in the following states:
    • Pennsylvania
    • Georgia
    • Michigan
    • Arizona
    • Nevada

Presidential Transition

  • The Biden-Harris Transition Team announced its thirteen-member COVID-19 advisory board. The board includes:
    • Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General
    • Dr. David Kessler, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner
    • Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Professor of Public Health at Yale University
    • Dr. Luciana Borio, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations
    • Dr. Zeke Emanuel, former Obama Health Adviser and architect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
    • Dr. Atul Gawande, surgeon who advised the Clinton and Obama Administrations
    • Dr. Rick Bright, former Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and whistleblower who claimed to raise early warnings to the Trump Administration about COVID-19 supply shortages
    • Dr. Celine Gounder, Infectious Diseases Specialist at New York University
    • Dr. Julie Morita, former Health Commissioner of Chicago
    • Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota
    • Loyce Pace, Executive Director and President of the Global Health Council
    • Dr. Robert Rodriguez, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California San Francisco
    • Dr. Eric Goosby, former United States Global AIDS Coordinator
  • General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy declined to authorize the transition resources provided by the federal government to Presidential election winners, until GSA can identify the clear winner of the election, though President-Elect Biden has been recognized as the winner by most entities.
    • Until that authorization is given, the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 enables President-Elect Biden and his team to continue to receive the same resources available prior to the election, including limited office space, computers, and security clearance background investigations.
    • However, this prevents the President-Elect and his team from speaking with certain key government figures, such as those at the Department of Defense, in an official capacity.


  • Pfizer announced that initial data on their COVID-19 vaccine shows that it is over 90% effective after the second dose, meaning that protection would be received after 28 days. Of the 43,000 volunteers who received the vaccine, over 90% of infections were in people who have received a placebo.
    • The FDA had previously said that any COVID-19 vaccine would need at least 50% efficacy to be authorized for public use.
    • Pfizer expects to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization in the third week of November, after monitoring volunteers for two months after their second dose.
    • Notably, the Pfizer vaccine is not one of the drugs developed under the Administration’s Operation Warp Speed, which was launched to expedite the development of COVID-19 therapies and vaccines on a timeline that far outpaces historical efforts. Other vaccine candidates, developed through Operation Warp Speed, are in varying levels of maturity.
  • COVID-19 continues to surge both within the United States and globally, with a record 132,797 new cases reported in the U.S. alone on Friday, November 6. Public health figures warned that the surge risks overwhelming the country’s healthcare system, with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicting as many as 132,000 more deaths by Inauguration Day 2021.
    • Some states in the Northeast, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, are imposing new, stringent restrictions, such as nightly curfews and stronger mask mandates.


  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has tested positive for COVID-19. Secretary Carson attended an election night party at the White House, which was also attended by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who tested positive last week.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that he will step down from his position before President-Elect Biden takes office, explaining that the new Administration will need someone they trust leading NASA.
  • It has been reported that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will file suit against Facebook for antitrust violations this month, which may require Facebook to release its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. Also according to reports, the case may by handled internally by the FTC’s administrative law judge, which would extend the duration of the proceedings, and prevent states from joining the suit.

Other News

  • The stock market has experienced significant increases after the news of Pfizer’s vaccine and President-Elect Biden’s victory. The Dow Jones closed nearly 3% over the opening bell, and the S&P closed up by 1.2%, both of which fell just short of record highs.
  • The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow on a challenge to the ACA’s individual mandate. The challengers, a group of 18 states led by Texas, are arguing that the ACA’s requirement for Americans to obtain health insurance or pay income tax penalties is unconstitutional and that the ACA should be repealed.
    • This case is especially important given the Supreme Court’s new 6-3 conservative majority and President-Elect Biden’s healthcare ambitions.
    • A decision will be issued by next spring.
  • United Airlines announced that it will add over 1,400 domestic flights for Thanksgiving, which it expects to be the busiest air travel week since March. United also said that it will operate at 48% in December as compared to December 2019.
  • Google announced that it will respond to the Department of Justice’s antitrust suit in December, rather than asking the court to dismiss the case. This will allow for a speedier court process, about 12-18 months by Google’s estimation.
    • The schedule of the case will be determined at a hearing on November 18.
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