President-elect Joe Biden with senior adviser Symone Sanders
President-elect Joe Biden with senior adviser Symone Sanders during a campaign event in Iowa in early 2020. (Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock)

Biden and Harris Announce All-Female White House Communications Team; After 9 Long Months, COVID-19 Hits New Peak; and More

Biden and Harris announce entirely female-led White House communications team.

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition to the White House continues at a brisk pace. On Monday, Nov. 30th, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received their first daily Presidential intelligence briefings. A day earlier, CBS News has reported that the pair announced the appointments of an all-female communications team — another historic first. In a statement, Biden said that their new team of seven highly-qualified women consisted of “qualified, experienced communicators” who will “bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.” Members of the newly announced group include: 

  • Jen Psaki, who had previously served in the Obama-Biden administration, will serve as White House press secretary.
  • Biden-Harris’ deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield will take on the role of White House communications director.
  • Symone Sanders, a senior Biden advisor and former press secretary for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, will be a senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Harris.
  • Frequent TV commentator, member of the LGBTQ community, and Biden’s senior campaign advisor, Karine Jean-Pierre will become principal deputy press secretary.

 

After nine long months, COVID-19 hits new peak in severity.

Even with numerous warnings to limit travel for Thanksgiving and to avoid large family gatherings, many Americans appear not to have heeded the advice of public health officials. More than a million citizens passed through airport security checkpoints on Wednesday, Nov. 25 — a number not seen since March when the pandemic began. And our out-of-control COVID-19 spike is only expected to worsen, many experts warn. According to CNN’s Stephen Collinson, “The U.S. is now averaging 162,365 new coronavirus cases per day, a number that could be artificially low because data slowed over the Thanksgiving break.” Collinson added that “an average of 1,430 Americans are dying every day according to Johns Hopkins University data. A record-setting 93,238 COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported on Sunday.”

With more than a month and a half to go before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, and President Trump reportedly doing little more than replaying the results of the election over social media, executive leadership is missing and many health officials are seemingly preparing for the worst, issuing warning after warning on the things we still can do now to help lessen or reduce the spread of the virus. In addition to maintaining mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing as we’ve been doing for months, their best suggestions that can help you and your co-workers and employees remain hopefully COVID-free until vaccinations are finally available are:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 ASAP if you traveled for Thanksgiving. If you traveled, assume you have the virus, said White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period, so if you’re young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later, but you need to assume you are infected, and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask,” Birx cautioned. “To every American, this is the moment to protect yourself and your family.”
  • Limit your time out of your house as much as possible for at least the next week. “Make really sure you adhere 100% to mask-wearing to avoid crowds because you could inadvertently have gotten COVID and spread it, so just be careful during the week after your travel because you are at increased risk,” Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir told CNN‘s Dana Bash. “Just remember you’ve had an increased risk of being exposed, so you should decrease unnecessary activities for about a week, and if you can get tested in three or five days, that’s also a very good idea.”
  • Hunker down and wait things out as safely as you can. “I want to be straight with the American people,” US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s going to get worse over the next several weeks. The actions that we take in the next several days will determine how bad it is or whether or not we continue to flatten our curve.” His final advice, according to The Hill: “We are mere weeks away from starting to vaccinate the vulnerable and we can significantly protect people who are at risk for the virus, so hang on just a little bit longer,” Adams said.

 

New Vatican appointments promote diversity — and homophobia.

The recent appointment of 13 new cardinals by Pope Francis on Nov. 28 was a sort of mixed bag for diversity and inclusion efforts within the Roman Catholic Church. In a vastly scaled-down ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, Pope Francis did make history by appointing Wilton Gregory as the first Black cardinal from the United States in Vatican history. Gregory is an outspoken civil rights advocate who has served for years as archbishop of Atlanta since 2005 before taking over leadership of the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. in 2019.  Meanwhile, any celebration of Gregory’s appointment has been partially muted over news of the same honor going to Mexico’s Felipe Arizmendi, who was also appointed Cardinal in the same ceremony. Yahoo News notes that although Arizmendi is considered progressive for his views of Indigenous and migrant rights and has worked toward promoting it in both poor and rural communities in the south of Mexico, he is also highly conservative and well known for his anti-gay views on the LGBTQ community. Arizmendi has called being gay a “contagion” and has spoken out repeatedly about the passage of marriage equality in Mexico, saying gay marriage is unequal and inferior to marriage between a man and a woman. The position of Cardinal, which Gregory and Arizmendi have now both attained, is the highest in the Catholic faith after the Pope. There are currently 229 living Cardinals in the world from 90 different countries. 

 

D.I. Fast Facts

$34,482.76

Amount spent per vote gained in Wisconsin’s Presidential election vote recount ordered by the Trump campaign. The votes that were found — a net increase of 87 total — went in favor of President-elect Joe Biden. The Trump campaign spent $3 million on the recount, which focused on two heavily Democratic and predominantly Black counties that had gone overwhelmingly in favor of Biden.

NBC News

 

427,300

Number of new employees hired by Amazon globally between January and October of 2020. The figure breaks down to more than 1,400 new employees being hired daily. Amazon’s global workforce currently stands at more than 1.2 million.

New York Times

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