5 things to know for November 25: Covid-19, Biden, immigration, China, opioids

Here's what you need to know to get up to speed and on with your day
5 Things You Need To Know

1. Coronavirus

“The mother of all superspreader events.” That’s what CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner said Thanksgiving could potentially turn into as millions of people prepare to gather for the holiday despite suggestions to avoid travel and group events. The CDC says another wave, on top of already historic numbers, could overwhelm health care systems around the country. Already, the US hit another record number of hospitalizations yesterday, with more than 88,000 people being treated for Covid-19. Tuesday also saw more than 2,100 US coronavirus deaths — the highest total death toll since May. More places are enacting new restrictions, like in El Paso, Texas, which has issued a curfew ahead of Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says distribution of a vaccine could start soon after December 10.

2. Election 2020

The White House has given formal approval for President-elect Joe Biden to receive the President’s Daily Briefing, a rundown of threats and intelligence developments compiled by the national security community. It’s one of many steps being taken to begin Biden’s official transition. The incoming presidential team is now in contact with every federal agency, as well. Meanwhile, states are still certifying their election results, and now the hotly contested battleground of Pennsylvania is officially Biden’s. As votes continue to be counted (remember, states can count votes into December), Biden is now the first President-elect to win more than 80 million votes.

3. Immigration

The Justice Department is putting new pressure on immigrants facing deportation in the US by asking them to file for deportation relief within a matter of weeks. That’s an unusually fast time line, especially since the pandemic has slowed down the processes immigrants usually go through to stay in the country legally. Normally, people have a chance to ask a judge to let them stay in the US by arguing they qualify for asylum or another legal option. This rapid new deadline has immigration attorneys scrambling, and some have called the move politically motivated. Meanwhile, a new federal filing reveals US Customs and Border Protection held more than five dozen children, some under the age of 1, in facilities along the US-Mexico border for more than three days during the last two months. The extended detention of minors has been a particularly urgent topic for immigration advocates in the past year as the number of apprehensions at the border began to rise.

4. China

China’s Ministry of Justice has drafted new rules that would restrict how foreign religious groups and worshipers operate. The draft rules are intended to prevent the spreading of what the government calls “religious extremism” or use of religion “to undermine China’s national or ethnic unity.” They could usher in strict new requirements for holding services, including describing the primary religious texts used, listing the nationality and visa status of all attendees and obtaining special permits. Chinese President Xi Jinping has historically been harsh on organized religion and has overseen a major clampdown on Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups, as well as other campaigns against Christians and Tibetan Buddhists. Meanwhile, India has banned more than 40 new Chinese apps on the grounds of national security. It’s the latest sign of declining relations between the two major powers.

5. Opioids

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has pleaded guilty to three federal criminal charges related to the company’s role in creating the nation’s opioid crisis. The plea deal, announced in October, includes the largest penalties ever levied against a pharmaceutical manufacturer, with fines of more than $5.5 billion. Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy last year and will be dissolved as part of the deal to form a new company that operates solely in the public interest. The company says by pleading guilty, it is taking responsibility for past misconduct. Drug overdoses steal thousands of American lives every year, including 70,000 in 2018 alone, according to the CDC. The majority of these deaths — 70% in 2018 — are caused by prescription or illicit opioids like OxyContin.


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Some Thanksgiving mood music

“Spring” is the famous one. “Summer” is the dramatic one. “Winter” is the atmospheric one. But Vivaldi’s “Fall” really is underrated. And yes, it makes for some lovely post-dinner (and 5 Things-writing) listening. (Click here to view.)

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