NEW YORK — At least two U.S. Marshals and a suspect have been shot in the Bronx early Friday, police said. The New York Police Department said the shooting happened about 5:30 a.m. and they didn't immediately have information about the conditions of those shot. Two or three Marshals were injured, the department said. Media reports described the Marshals’ injuries as non-life threatening. The police department's public information office referred a request for additional information by The Associated Press to the U.S. Marshals Service. No one was immediately available to comment at the Marshals' office in New York City. The Associated Press
The U.S. government's first shipment of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses to be divided among states and federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, will fall far short of protecting high priority groups such as healthcare workers, a Reuters analysis has found. Across the country, state health departments are preparing local hospitals for the first shipments of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes it, possibly as early as mid-December. The first shipment is expected to cover inoculations of 3.2 million people, nowhere near enough for the 21 million U.S. healthcare workers.
LONDON — Britain’s announcement that it has become the first Western country to authorize the use of a COVID-19 vaccine has sparked debate about whether officials emphasized speed over safety. The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency gave temporary authorization for people to receive a vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German company BioNTech. The agency made the decision under rules allowing regulators to sign off on medicines more quickly during public health emergencies. The move made the United Kingdom the world's first country to OK a rigorously tested COVID-19 vaccine. The British public is now seeking more information about the vaccine and the immunization timetable as authorities try to find an equitable way to distribute the limited number of doses that initially will be available. WHO WILL GET THE VACCINE FIRST - AND WHEN? Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said vaccinations would begin “within days.” The exact date the shots start will depend on how fast regulators can complete safety checks that must be done on each batch. A panel of independent experts that advises the British government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, has set out priorities for vaccinating the most vulnerable people first. The highest priority goes to older people living in nursing homes and their caregivers, but logistical difficulties in shipping smaller quantities of vaccine to reach a limited demographic group might cause a delay to this group. People over age 80 and healthcare workers have the second-highest priority. From there, priority access is based roughly in order of age until a vaccine has been offered to everyone over the age of 50, which is almost 40% of the U.K. population. Younger people with health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19 also will take precedence. DID BREXIT HELP THE UK AUTHORIZE A VACCINE FIRST? Health secretary Hancock sparked controversy when he said Wednesday morning that British authorities couldn’t have moved so quickly if the U.K. were still a member of the European Union. That drew a rebuke from the EU, which pointed out that Britain is still governed by the bloc’s rules. While the U.K. formally left the EU on Jan. 31, it remains bound by European Union regulations until a transition period designed to cushion the shock of Brexit ends on Dec. 31. EU rules permit individual member countries to give temporary authorization for the national use of medicines during a public health emergency. But U.K. regulators may have been able to move faster than the 27-nation EU because they are no longer assessing products intended for the entire bloc, Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said. “Consequently, the U.K. has almost undoubtedly had greater capacity to respond to a new application for authorization of a vaccine than any other country,” Evans said. However, any speed advantage the U.K. might have had is likely to disappear starting Jan. 1, when British regulators will become responsible for reviewing all applications for new drugs and vaccines to be authorized in the U.K. "It will have to do work that previously would have been shared among all the other ... member states,” Evans said. DID UK REGULATORS MOVE TOO FAST? Dr. June Raine, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency's, said people should be absolutely confident that “no corners have been cut.” British experts reviewed more than 1,000 pages of information, including raw data, on safety, quality and effectiveness before deciding to give temporary authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine's use, she said. But that doesn't mean regulators take the same approach everywhere. American immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told Fox News that British regulators didn’t review the data as carefully as their counterparts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, potentially fueling concerns of individuals who are hesitant about getting the vaccine. “We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach with the FDA,'' Fauci said. “The U.K. did not do it as carefully. They got a couple of days ahead. I don’t think that makes much difference. We’ll be there very soon.'' Evans said there is only one major difference between the approach taken by British regulators and those in the U.S. The FDA often reanalyzes raw data to verify the findings of drugmakers. Virtually no other regulatory entity regularly does this, said Evans, who has worked with EU and U.K. regulators. “The processes carried out by the FDA and the MHRA are basically very similar,” he said. “We may well see differences in interpretation of the data between a regulator and a company, but this type of difference is regularly seen by all regulators, whether they reanalyze the data or not.” WHAT DOES THE EU SAY? The European Medicines Agency has said it expects to make a decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by Dec. 29. The regulator said it is taking more time because it is considering granting the vaccine a different type of green light, known as a conditional marketing authorization. The process requires more data, but will result in the vaccine being authorized for use in all 27 EU member nations, rather than a single country. The agency said its procedure is “the most appropriate regulatory mechanism for use in the current pandemic emergency.'' The debate comes at a particularly sensitive moment as Britain and the EU reach the final phase of talks over their post-Brexit relationship. More than four years after people in the U.K. voted to leave the bloc, negotiators have just days to reach a trade deal before the end of the transition period. One of Britain’s goals has always been to wrest control of its rules and regulations from EU bureaucrats. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN DELIVERING THE VACCINE? First, the Pfizer/BioNTeach vaccine must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) until a few hours before it is administered. Storage and shipment therefore requires specialized equipment that can maintain such ultra-cold temperatures. Also, the U.K.'s emergency use authorization sets out strict conditions to ensure vaccine supplies aren’t damaged or wasted. The vaccine is shipped in packages containing 975 doses. “You can't, at this point, distribute it to every individual GP surgery, as we normally would for many of the other vaccines available on the NHS,'' National Health Service CEO Simon Stevens said. More broadly, vaccinating a large percentage of the country’s population in a few months is an unprecedented challenge. Because of this, most vaccinations will take place at a relatively small number of sites that can handle large numbers of people. WHERE WILL THE VACCINATIONS TAKE PLACE? Vaccinations will start at 50 hospital hubs, which will offer vaccines to care home residents and people over 80. Those who are going to receive the vaccine will be notified by the hospital, so there is no need to schedule an appointment. As the National Health Service receives additional supplies of the vaccine, the shots will also be offered at about 1,000 community vaccination centres. Local GPs will invite their patients to be vaccinated in order of priority. ___ Follow AP's coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
For a man obsessed with winning, President Donald Trump is losing a lot. He’s managed to lose not just once to Democrat Joe Biden at the ballot box but over and over again in courts across the country in a futile attempt to stay in power. The Republican president and his allies continue to mount new cases, recycling the same baseless claims, even after Trump’s own attorney general declared the Justice Department had uncovered no widespread fraud. "This will continue to be a losing strategy, and in a way it's even bad for him: He gets to re-lose the election numerous times," said Kent Greenfield, a professor at Boston College Law School. “The depths of his petulance and narcissism continues to surprise me.” In an Associated Press tally of roughly 50 cases brought by Trump's campaign and his allies, more than 30 have been rejected or dropped. About a dozen are awaiting action. Trump has notched just one small victory, a case challenging a decision to move the deadline to provide missing proof of identification for certain absentee ballots and mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania. Another legal blow came Thursday, the day after Trump posted a 46-minute speech to Facebook filled with conspiracies, misstatements and vows to keep up his fight to subvert the election. In Wisconsin, a split state Supreme Court refused to hear Trump’s lawsuit seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. The case echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes. Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court late Wednesday. Meanwhile, in Arizona, a judge heard arguments Thursday in a case contesting the election results brought by Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward. Ward’s lawyers say an inspection of 100 ballots found two problems: one person’s vote for Trump was ultimately recorded as a Biden vote and another person’s vote for Trump was cancelled when the reproduced ballot contained votes for both the Republican incumbent and a write-in candidate. Judges in battleground states have repeatedly swatted down legal challenges brought by the president and his allies. Trump's legal team has vowed to take one Pennsylvania case to the U.S. Supreme Court even though it was rejected in a scathing ruling by a federal judge as well as an appeals court. After recently being kicked off Trump's legal team, conservative attorney Sidney Powell filed new lawsuits in Arizona and Wisconsin this week riddled with errors and wild conspiracies about election rigging. One of the plaintiffs named in the Wisconsin case said he never agreed to participate in the case and found out through social media that he had been included. The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit. The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have raised are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postmarks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. Election officials from both parties have said the election went well, and Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Justice Department uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the election's outcome. Trump's lawyers responded by criticizing Barr, who has been one of the president's biggest allies. Greenfield says their criticism speaks volumes. “It goes to show how vehement their ability to overlook reality is," he said. Failing to gain any traction in court, Trump and his allies are now turning to events with Republican lawmakers and rallies in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan where they can use unfounded claims of fraud to incite the president’s loyal base. At a rally in Georgia on Wednesday, Powell and another pro-Trump attorney, Lin Wood, suggested that Republican voters sit out of the two January runoff elections that will decide control of the Senate because of the potential for fraud. And in Michigan, Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, urged Republican activists to pressure, even threaten, the GOP-controlled Legislature to award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Trump despite Biden’s 154,000-vote victory. In his video posted Wednesday, Trump said there were facts and evidence of a mass conspiracy created by Democrats to steal the election, a similar argument made by Giuliani and others before judges that has been largely unsuccessful. Most of their claims are rooted in conspiracy theories about voting machines that are not true, and affidavits by partisan poll watchers who claimed they didn't get close enough to see ballots being tallied because of safety precautions in the coronavirus pandemic. Because they couldn't see, they argued, something untoward must have happened. “No, I didn’t hear any facts or evidence," tweeted Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, after watching the video Wednesday night. “What I did hear was a sad Facebook rant from a man who lost an election." ___ Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
Russia protested on Friday after Latvia charged several journalists from the Rossiya Segodnya news agency with violating European Union sanctions. The journalists were charged because of their association with Dmitry Kiselyov, who heads Rossiya Segodnya, said Sputnik Latvia, a subsidiary of Rossiya Segodnya. The Kremlin media mogul was sanctioned by the EU for his role in Russia's seizure of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
MADRID — Spain's Supreme Court has revoked a less restrictive prison status awarded to nine Catalan political figures previously sentenced to jail for their part in a secession attempt in Catalonia. The status would have allowed them almost daily release. The court said Friday that such a measure was “premature” given that none of the nine had served half their sentence and most not even a quarter of it. The sentences ranged between nine and 13 years. The nine were convicted in 2019 of sedition and misuse of public funds following the failed independence bid two years earlier. After they were transferred to prisons in the northeastern region, the pro-independence Catalan regional government granted them third-grade status last July. meaning they could leave prison during the day to carry out certain activities. The July measure was quickly suspended following appeals by prosecutors. The new court ruling comes as the leftist Spanish government is considering possible pardons and a reform of the sedition law that would favour the nine. The nine include the former vice-president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, and five ex-regional cabinet members. Former regional president Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium and is still sought by Spanish authorities. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secession push in Catalonia was Spain’s most serious crisis in decades. Polls have long shown the wealthy region’s 7.5 million inhabitants are roughly evenly divided over independence. Spain’s constitution says the country is indivisible. The Associated Press
It took Luis Salgado years of manual labor to save enough money to open a small fresh produce store, so when torrential floods swept away $1,500 worth of apples, bananas and other fruits, he decided there was no longer a future for him in Honduras. Salgado had already been struggling to eke out a profit after measures to curb the novel coronavirus such as additional cleaning cut into his meager revenues. Back-to-back hurricanes Eta and Iota internally displaced more than half a million people in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, according to International Organization for Migration data.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Paula and Anthony Hunter spun off their catering service into a restaurant serving Italian food with a “touch of soul” right before the coronavirus hit. Soon, both Louisville businesses slammed to a halt, and the couple relied on federal relief to help stay afloat. They improvised to keep income flowing in, navigating a maze of food delivery mobile apps and prepping boxed lunches for health care workers toiling long hours at local hospitals. Now, hit with a recent statewide order closing restaurants to indoor dining until mid-December, the couple is hoping for another round of federal aid to hang on until a vaccine arrives. “Just a few more months, you know, get us through this,” said Paula Hunter, who owns the Black Italian restaurant along with her husband. Kentucky's senior senator, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is at the centre of congressional negotiations on another relief package. Kentucky voters didn’t punish McConnell for the long-stalemated talks, awarding him a lopsided victory as he secured a seventh term in last month’s election. He spent the campaign boasting about the money he delivered for the Bluegrass State in the massive federal relief package passed early in the pandemic. While reports of hardship are growing in Kentucky, much of the political pressure there is focused not on McConnell but on the state’s Democratic governor, Andy Beshear. Beshear is under fire from business owners and state GOP leaders who think the virus-related restrictions he’s imposed on daily life in Kentucky have gone too far. Emboldened by gains they made in the November elections, GOP legislative leaders are expected to push to rein in Beshear’s authority to take emergency measures when the legislature convenes next year. Beshear says he's focused on saving lives but Congress must do its part and pass more aid. “We need people to not be Democrats or Republicans but to be human beings and do the right thing," the governor said in an interview. “People out there are dying, People out there are hurting. This is the time to invest in our people and in their safety.” With COVID-19 surging across the country, a group of Senate centrists has offered a $908 billion federal relief package aimed at breaking the monthslong logjam. McConnell hasn’t budged so far from a $550 billion plan that failed twice this fall but said Thursday that “compromise is within reach” as bipartisan talks gained momentum in the Senate. “There is no reason why we should not deliver another major pandemic relief package to help the American people through what seems poised to be the last chapters of this battle,” McConnell said in a Senate speech this week. In his home state, anxiety is rising along with deaths, infections and hospitalizations. In a region already reeling from the decline of coal mining, eastern Kentucky pastor Chris Bartley has heard an unprecedented chorus of pleas for help from people whose lives have been shattered by the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19. “You hear the desperation in the phone calls: ‘I have to pay my rent today. I’ve done everything I can do. I’ve offered to rake leaves or mow grass or anything I can do.’ They’ve lost their job or the stimulus has run out,” said Bartley, associate pastor at a Methodist church in Pikeville, Kentucky. Along with prayers for divine guidance, Bartley hopes to see more relief from Congress. Beshear, meanwhile, delivers daily doses of grim news of the state's virus cases and deaths and presses for another economic lifeline for struggling businesses, the unemployed, and state and local governments. “We saw the first round of CARES Act funding really flow through our economy in a positive manner," he said. “People needed the dollars. They spent the dollars. We saw businesses lifted up by those dollars. We were able to use funds to help people stay in their homes with an eviction-relief fund. Pay their utility bills so they didn’t end up in debt." Beshear has carefully avoided calling out McConnell or President Donald Trump as the impasse drags on. Republicans dominated federal and state elections last month in Kentucky. The governor has fought his own battles as his restrictions on businesses, gatherings and schools have drawn opposition from GOP lawmakers, business operators and the state's Republican attorney general. Kentucky's Supreme Court last month upheld the governor’s authority to issue coronavirus-related mandates, but Beshear is now embroiled in another legal fight over his recent virus-related suspension of in-person classes at religious schools. Some restaurant operators vow to reopen their dining rooms to 50% capacity later this month, regardless of whether Beshear chooses to extend his current order closing restaurants and bars to indoor dining until Dec. 13. Beshear said Wednesday he doesn't expect to extend the order. The governor set aside $40 million in federal aid to help bars and restaurants reeling from the restrictions, but many say it will cover only a small portion of the revenue they're losing. Publicly, Beshear shrugs off the pushback from his detractors. “I’m willing to take whatever blame some people want to heap out there," he said. “If it means that their relatives are still around for Christmas this year and Christmas next year, I’ll take it.” Meanwhile, Beshear this week announced the release of an additional $50 million in federal relief funding to reimburse hard-hit city and county governments for coronavirus-related expenses. Pike County Judge-Executive Ray Jones welcomed the influx of money but warned that without another federal relief package, the hardships will intensify for city and county governments faced with increasing demands from constituents amid shrinking tax revenues. He's hoping any new federal package includes another round of Paycheck Protection Program subsidies for struggling businesses and an extension of supplemental federal unemployment programs. “There’s no question if there’s not an extension of the unemployment benefits and another round of PPP funding, it will have a catastrophic impact on local revenues,” Jones said. Bartley sees the damage being inflicted on families firsthand. “I'm dealing with more mental health issues than I ever have in 20 years," he said. At his church's food pantry, demand fell after Congress passed the massive aid bill months ago, but now more and more people are showing up for bags of groceries. “It’s almost as much as we can do to keep up again," Bartley said. Congress, he added, needs to “get past all of the politics” and provide more aid to those in need. “I don’t know a whole lot about the political scheme of all this, but it seems like we’ve got to do something for the betterment of our country," Bartley said. “I don’t know how or what that could be. But it feels like something has to happen, or it’s like the dam is going to break.” ___ Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/virus-outbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Bruce Schreiner And Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, The Associated Press
Martyanov was expressing dismay at his staff's apparent reluctance to volunteer for the human trials of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, named after the Soviet-era satellite that triggered the space race. The official in the Moscow department of city property said many quota spots for his staff to join the trial remained unfilled. Martyanov, the head of his department and Moscow's city administration did not respond to requests for comment.