NC'S CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE BIDEN WIN: WRAL News contacted all 10 Republican U.S. House members and U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr on Monday to ask whether they believe Biden has won and whether they will accept him as the legitimate president if he wins the majority of the electoral votes on Dec. 14. Spokespersons for 5th District Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, 7th District Congressman David Rouzer, 8th District Congressman Richard Hudson, 9th District Congressman Dan Bishop and 13th District Congressman Ted Budd responded without answering the questions. Most issued statements calling for election integrity and saying all claims of fraud need to be investigated. The other seven didn't even respond. "I think the silence speaks a lot about the state of the Republican Party and the fear in which they’re operating under," McLennan said.
NC'S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY FEARS GOVERNOR COOPER WILL TIGHTEN RESTRICTIONS: It’s been nine months since restaurants were first closed and forced to turn largely to takeout service. But the COVID pandemic is reaching new heights nationally and in North Carolina. On Monday, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,240 COVID patients were hospitalized in North Carolina and that the 7-day average for new daily cases was nearly 5,000. Minges said the hospitality industry has largely borne the economic brunt of the pandemic, with many restaurants closing for good as diners stay home. “There’s no question, restaurants and hotels have been devastated by this pandemic,” Minges said. “Some have fared better than others by altering their business models. Many were particularly high leveraged going into this and quite a few will not make it. The impact of further restrictions would be even more devastating.” Restaurant limitations have largely held steady since dining rooms were reopened in May at 50%. Since then, bars have also reopened for outdoor service at 30% and alcohol sales for all bars and restaurants was capped at 11 p.m.
VIRGINIA FOXX AND TED BUDD ARE BOTH RECOVERING FROM COVID 19: U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk tested positive the week of Nov. 23, communications director Alex Ives said on Monday. Rep. Ted Budd of Advance said last week he received a similar coronavirus diagnosis. Ives said it's highly likely the 77-year-old Foxx likely became infected after she was exposed to her immediate family, particularly since a COVID test that Foxx took earlier that week was negative. Foxx, who won her ninth term to the 5th Congressional District seat last month, was asymptomatic and stayed clear of the public and staff during her quarantine period, Ives wrote. She was cleared by health department officials and resumed her U.S. House duties in Washington on Monday, according to Ives. Budd, who will start his third term representing the 13th District next month, has been recovering at his Davie County farm. He said he had mild symptoms.
BIDEN SET TO PICK FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN DEFENSE SECRETARY: President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to nominate retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, a former commander of the American military effort in Iraq, to be the next secretary of defense, according to two people with knowledge of the selection. If confirmed by the Senate, General Austin would make history as the first African-American to lead the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops and the enormous bureaucracy that backs them up. General Austin, 67, was for years a formidable figure at the Pentagon, and is the only African-American to have headed U.S. Central Command, the military’s marquee combat command, with responsibility for Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria — most of the places where the United States is at war. Some 43 percent of active-duty troops are people of color. But the people making crucial decisions are almost entirely white and male. Supporters say General Austin broke through that barrier thanks to his experience, intellect and the mentorship of a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who plucked him to direct the staff of the Joint Chiefs’ office. After that, General Austin continued to rise in the ranks. He was named commander of Central Command by President Barack Obama in 2013. General Austin’s style was far more reserved than some of the officers with marquee names who spent considerable time cultivating their public image and using the news media to maneuver policy fights with the administration.
BRITAIN BEGINS VACCINATING CITIZENS WITH PFIZER/BIONTECH VERSION: The 90-year-old grandmother received her jab, as the Brits would say, at University Hospital in Coventry, England, at 6:31 a.m. local time. The nurse, May Parsons, told her to relax her arm. "I feel so privileged to be the first," Keenan said, adding that it meant she could "finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year." British health officials hailed the first injections as a turning point in the fight against a virus that has infected 67 million people around the globe, killing more than 1.54 million. The vaccine was developed jointly by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech. Thousands of nurses, pharmacists and medical technicians, bolstered by legions of volunteers and members of the British military, will safeguard, transport, unpack and jab millions of doses into the upper arms of a nation grown weary of lockdowns and loneliness, anxiety and sickness. Very soon, other nations are expected to follow. The United States could grant emergency authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of the week. Europe, by the end of the month. The ultimate goal is to inoculate enough people to confer individual immunity and eventually stop the virus’s spread. But until more vaccine doses are available and other vaccines are approved, officials here and elsewhere are balancing the need to protect the most vulnerable against the need to slow transmission.