Here are things to know for Tuesday, Dec. 15:
1. Electoral College makes Biden’s win official
The Electoral College formally chose Joe Biden on Monday as the nation’s next president, giving him a solid electoral majority of 306 votes and confirming his victory in last month’s election. The state-by-state voting took on added importance this year because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he had lost.
Heightened security was in place in some states as electors met on the day established by federal law. Electors cast paper ballots in gatherings with masks, social distancing and other virus precautions the order of the day. The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.
2. MD Anderson receives its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center received its allocation of COVID-19 vaccine early Monday, the hospital announced.
“MD Anderson’s initial vaccination clinics will safely and efficiently vaccinate health care workers caring for highly immune compromised patients and those with increased risk of occupational exposure,” the hospital said in a news release.
Vaccination clinics are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Dec. 16, to give employees time to become familiar with new information made available following emergency authorization.
3. US COVID-19 deaths top 300,000 just as vaccinations begin
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 300,000 Monday just as the country began dispensing COVID-19 shots in a monumental campaign to conquer the outbreak.
The U.S. crossed the threshold on the same day health care workers rolled up their sleeves for Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot, marking the start of the biggest vaccination campaign in American history. If a second vaccine is authorized soon, as expected, 20 million people could be immunized by month’s end.
4. As COVID-19 deaths mount in El Paso, the pandemic is robbing some mourners of traditional funerals
When Cindy Colorado’s mother-in-law died from COVID-19 on Dec. 1 – becoming one of more than 1,300 El Pasoans who have succumbed to the virus in this border town – the family hoped to give her a traditional Catholic funeral.
“We’d like at least some time of blessing, if it can be done,” Colorado said before she met with the funeral director. “If not, I understand because of what [El Paso] is going through, and I understand what [the church] is going through as well.”
She learned that the church could have someone pray the rosary at the funeral home, but the funeral home won’t allow more than 25 people to attend a service – and no one under 13. They wouldn’t be allowed to touch the casket or the body.
5. Spencer Solves It: Holiday miracle for grandmother now raising 5 grandchildren after son dies from COVID-19
Rhonda Widemon reads a passage from the bible to her five beautiful grandchildren.
It’s Rhonda’s way of trying to ease the incredible pain they have been feeling, ever since their father and Rhonda’s son, Jamond Coffman, died from COVID-19 this past July.
Since that time Rhonda has taken all five of her grandchildren in and is raising them alone.
“It’s Christmas season,” Rhonda said. “I don’t have the money, I don’t have anything.”
So Rhonda wrote to Spencer Solves It.
Now, working with the generous people at Academy Sports and Outdoors, who’ve agreed to provide us with more than $2,000 worth of brand new bicycles. All total, five families in Houston will be given 21 bikes and accessories.