AP News Digest 2 p.m. Deborah Birx alarm Spotlight Schoolboys AP

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VIRUS OUTBREAK-BIRX — As COVID-19 cases skyrocketed before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Dr. Deborah Birx coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, warned Americans to “be vigilant” and limit celebrations to “your immediate household.” For many Americans that guidance has been difficult to abide, including for Birx herself. The day after Thanksgiving, she traveled to one of her vacation properties on Fenwick Island in Delaware. She was accompanied by three generations of her family from two households. By Aamer Madhani and Brian Slodysko. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

NIGERIA-FREED SCHOOLBOYS — Nigeria’s freed schoolboys have reunited with their joyful parents after being held captive for nearly a week by gunmen allied with jihadist rebels in the country’s northwest. Many of the schoolboys expressed worry about returning to school, saying their captors threatened them with death if they went back to classes. By Lekan Oyekanmi and Sunday Alamba. SENT:430 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK — Initial shipments of the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S. have left a factory as the nation works to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control. The trucks left from the Moderna McKesson plant in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Meanwhile, an expert committee is considering who should be next in line for early doses of the vaccine. Early shots are mostly being given to health care workers and residents of long-term care homes. By Mike Stobbe and John Hanna. SENT: 730 words, photos. UPCOMING: Committee expected to vote at 4 p.m.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EUROPE — One by one, several European Union nations banned flights from the U.K. and others were considering such action, all in hopes of blocking a new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England from establishing a strong foothold on the continent. By Kirsten Grieshaber and Sylvia Hui. SENT: 475 words, photos. VIRUS OUTBREAK-GENETIC VARIANTS: Reports from Britain and South Africa of new coronavirus strains that seem to spread more easily are causing alarm but it’s unclear if that’s the case or whether they pose any concern for vaccines or causes more severe disease, virus experts say. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. UPCOMING: 700 words by 4 p.m., photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONGRESS — Top Washington negotiators, propelled by a late-night agreement on the last major obstacle to a COVID-19 economic relief package, say a Sunday agreement is all but inevitable to deliver long-overdue pandemic aid of almost $1 trillion. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 830 words, photos. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 5 p.m.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-INDONESIA-VACCINE — In October, Indonesian diplomats and Muslim clerics stepped off a plane in China. While the diplomats were there to finalize deals to ensure millions of doses reached Indonesian citizens, the clerics had a much different concern: Whether the COVID-19 vaccine was permissible for use under Islamic law. By Victoria Milko. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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FILM-BOX-OFFICE — ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ grabs $38.5 million overseas. SENT: 200 words.

FIJI-CYCLONE — Fiji cyclone death toll rises to 4 with 1 missing. SENT: 140 words, photos.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

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VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONTACT TRACING — Health departments are asking people who test positive for the coronavirus to warn friends, family and co-workers themselves. Health officials say do-it-yourself tracing is not ideal, but with infections and hospitalizations soaring nationwide, it’s likely the most effective way to reach people who may be at risk. SENT: 935 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HOLIDAY TRAVEL — More than 1 million people have passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints in each of the past two days in a sign that public health pleas to avoid holiday travel are being ignored. SENT: 440 words.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LAWSUITS — A battle over providing businesses with legal immunity to COVID-19 lawsuits is on hold for the time being in Congress, but businesses are still worried. Several hundred coronavirus-related lawsuits have been filed across the country. Mom-and-pop outfits without deep pockets most fear the prospect of crippling lawsuits. SENT: 970 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-TRAVEL-TESTING — Mostly virus-free Kauai hit by pandemic after travel resumes. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MISSISSIPPI CHURCHES — Mississippi is the center of the Bible Belt in the U.S. and its residents consider themselves the most religious in the country. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs has described churches as a “powder keg” for virus infections and deaths. Yet Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has not placed restrictions on worship, citing religious freedom. SENT: 890 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASIAN-FOOD — Bigotry toward Asian Americans and Asian food has spread steadily alongside the coronavirus in the United States. Distorted information about the virus that first appeared in China has led to a revival of century-old tropes about Asian food being dirty. Social media has been flooded with racist memes portraying Chinese people as bat eaters responsible for spreading COVID-19. SENT: 980 words, photos. This is the Monday Spotlight

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MIDEAST — More than 1 million people have passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints in each of the past two days in a sign that public health pleas to avoid holiday travel are being ignored. SENT: 480 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-ITALY-NEW-POOR — The coronavirus pandemic is revealing pockets of economic insecurity in Italy’s wealthy north, where thousands of people are turning to charity for the first time. Italian agriculture lobby Coldiretti estimates in the Lombardy region the virus has created 300,000 people it described as the “new poor.’’ SENT: 910 words, photos.

Find more coverage on the Virus Outbreak on the featured topic page in AP Newsroom.

TRUMP-FLATTERY — President Donald Trump’s administration is ending how it began, with over-the-top declarations of praise for the chief executive. But now the flattery is mixed with a sense of finality as key people in the president’s orbit are beginning to turn the page and acknowledge his defeat. SENT: 940 words, photos.

SENATE-CALIFORNIA — Should California get its first Latino U.S. senator or should the 100-member chamber maintain one Black woman’s voice? That’s a weight on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shoulders as he considers his pick to serve out the rest of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ Senate term through 2022. That the choice is left to one governor has some observers frustrated with the persistent lack of racial diversity in the Senate and what they view as both parties’ failure to do much about it. SENT: 1,010 words, photos.

BIDEN-ATTORNEY-GENERAL — President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming press secretary says Biden won’t discuss the investigation of his son with any prospective candidates for attorney general. A federal investigation into the finances of Biden’s son, Hunter, will likely be a major point of contention during Senate confirmation hearings for the nominee. SENT: 250 words, photo.

ELECTION-2020-GEORGIA-WARNOCK — As the head of the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, the Rev. Raphael Warnock has not shied away from impassioned sermons and forceful advocacy on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged. The 51-year-old Warnock now wants to take that progressive platform to the U.S. Senate. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

BREXIT — Deep into a crucial weekend of negotiations, a breakthrough on fishing rights remained elusive for the European Union and Britain, leaving both without a trade agreement that would dull the edge of a chaotic, costly economic break on New Year’s Day. SENT: 580 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN — A car bomb blast that rocked Afghanistan’s capital has killed at least nine people, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry. Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi told reporters that the attack wounded around 20 others, including a member of parliament. SENT: 430 words, photo.

NEPAL-POLITICS — Nepal’s president has dissolved Parliament after the prime minister recommended the move amid an escalating feud within his Communist Party that is likely to push the Himalayan nation into a political crisis. SENT: 210 words, photo.

KUWAIT — The eldest son of Kuwait’s late emir has died. He was 72. Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al Sabah emerged as an influential reformer, drawing popular support for his ambitious mega-projects and anti-corruption efforts. SENT: 300 words, photo.

BELARUS-PROTESTS — Around 100 people have been detained in the Belarusian capital during the anti-government protests that were prompted by the reelection of the country’s authoritarian leader and have continued for more than four months. SENT: 440 words.

SUDAN-ETHIOPIA — Sudan’s prime minister meets his Ethiopian counterpart as Sudanese forces continue their advances to reclaim territories controlled by Ethiopian militias along the two countries’ shared border. SENT: 430 words, photo.

MIGRANT DEATHS — After a record hot and dry summer, more than 210 deaths among border-crossers have been documented this year in Arizona’s desert and mountains. It’s a reminder that the most remote paths to enter the U.S. from Mexico can be the deadliest. SENT: 880 words, photos.

GOLF-PNC CHAMPIONSHIP — Tiger Woods and 11-year-old son Charlie are four shots behind going into the last day of the PNC Championship. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m. EST.

At the Nerve Center, Rob Jagodzinski can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, (ext. 7636). Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://newsroom.ap.org. For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477.



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