Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 65.2 million people and killed over 1.5 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:Dec 04, 7:31 amCOVID-19 vaccinations will be free of charge in FranceFrench Prime Minister Jean Castex said COVID-19 vaccinations will not be made compulsory but “will be free for all” in the country’s social security system.“Getting a vaccine is also about protecting others. It is a choice of trust, we must be as numerous as possible to get a vaccine,” Castex said at a press conference Thursday evening, while unveiling the country’s vaccination strategy.France will launch a COVID-19 vaccination campaign within weeks, pending regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency. The program will run throughout 2021, staggered over three categories of people.The first phase is slated to begin in January, with vaccines administered to nursing home residents and staff, representing one million people. A second phase starting in February will see 14 million people inoculated, based on age and medical criteria. The third and final phase, beginning in March, will target the remainder of the population who wish to be vaccinated.Through deals clinched by the European Union, France has secured some 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from several pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms that developed them and have applied for temporary authorization. Castex said that’s enough doses to inoculate 100 million people — more than France’s entire population.As of Friday afternoon, France’s health ministry had confirmed a total of 2,257,331 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 54,140 deaths.Dec 04, 5:18 amItaly reports nearly 1,000 new deaths in all-time highAn additional 993 deaths from COVID-19 were registered in Italy on Thursday, marking a new all-time high, according to data from the country’s civil protection agency.Italy’s previous single-day record of 969 new fatalities from the disease was set in late March, when the country was the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe.The Italian civil protection agency also reported 23,225 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 31,772 patients currently hospitalized with the disease, including 3,597 in intensive care.Since the start of the pandemic, Italy has confirmed more than 1,664,829 million cases, including at least 58,038 deaths, according to the civil protection agency.The country has the eighth highest case load in the world, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Dec 04, 4:17 amUS has worst day yet with record number of new cases and deathsThere were 217,664 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,879 additional deaths from the disease registered in the United States on Thursday, both numbers which shattered the country’s previous daily records, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.It’s the most new cases and deaths the U.S. has recorded in a single day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the 31st straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections, and the third time since the pandemic began that the daily figure has topped 200,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.A total of 14,143,801 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 276,366 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is averaging 46 points, but the Volunteers’ offensive production is somewhat deceptive.With 138 points, the Vols (2-1) have their highest total over their first three games since the 1914 team had 171 points. The numbers seem misleading because two of Tennessee’s first three opponents were Bowling Green and Football Championship Subdivision program Western Carolina.In their only meeting with a major-conference school, the Vols lost 31-24 to Oklahoma in overtime after getting shut out in the last 42 minutes of regulation time. On Saturday, they face a stern test at Florida (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), which enters the heated rivalry with 10 straight victories over the Vols (2-1, 0-0).“They may be the best defense we’ve faced since we’ve been here,” said Tennessee coach Butch Jones, who is in his third season at Knoxville.Florida will be missing suspended cornerback Jalen Tabor, who sacked Justin Worley, knocked the ball loose and recovered the fumble to set up the only touchdown in the Gators’ 10-9 victory at Tennessee last year.But that defense remains potent.Florida had six sacks and two interceptions while allowing just eight pass completions last week in a 14-9 triumph at Kentucky. The Gators are eager to deliver a similar performance Saturday in front of their home crowd.“We preach we don’t lose at home,” Florida safety Marcus Maye said. “The past couple of years we’ve lost a couple of games, let a couple of games slip away. We’re back to trying to get things back to how they usually are around here. Protect the Swamp.”The Vols want to learn how far their offense has come the last two weeks.Tennessee blew a 17-0 lead against Oklahoma because its offense wasted favorable field position and couldn’t produce a game-clinching score. The Vols said afterward that they struggled to adjust to Oklahoma’s blitzes.Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord says the Oklahoma experience should help prepare Tennessee’s offensive line for Saturday’s test.“An example would be the (Oklahoma) game we had some problems with protection, picking people up when we were trying to throw the ball deep,” DeBord said. “In this past game (against Western Carolina), we picked them up twice on a blitz and hit the ball deep.”Aside from that second-half performance against Oklahoma, Tennessee has scored pretty much at will despite getting little production from some of their most notable receivers.Alton “Pig” Howard, who led the Vols in catches and yards receiving last year, has only one reception. Jones said Wednesday that Howard “is nursing some things” and declared his status uncertain for Saturday’s game. Jones indicated Monday that Howard had “tweaked his ankle a little bit.”Marquez North, who has caught at least 30 passes each of the last two seasons, has only four receptions for 38 yards.The Vols have made up for it with their rushing attack. Tennessee leads the SEC with 158 carries and rank third in the conference with 246 yards rushing per game. Jalen Hurd has rushed for 300 yards and five touchdowns, while Alvin Kamara averages 7.5 yards per carry.“They’re going to play a long time beyond this league,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “They’re really, really good players. We have to be really good tacklers this week and hopefully not give them a bunch of gaping holes.”Tennessee’s offense has done much of its damage so far against porous defenses.Bowling Green is allowing 43.3 points per game. Western Carolina lost to The Citadel before coming to Tennessee and recorded its only win over Division II Mars Hill. The Vols believe they’re ready for the Gators.“We look at it as another opportunity to go out and show what we can do,” Tennessee center Coleman Thomas said.___AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Gainesville, Florida, contributed to this report.___AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org___This story has been corrected to show that Western Carolina wasn’t one of Tennessee’s first two opponents.
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In a new effort to crack down on illegal immigrants, federal authorities are expected to announce tough rules this week that would require employers to fire workers who use false Social Security numbers. Officials said the rules would be backed up by stepped-up raids on workplaces across the country that employ illegal immigrants. After first proposing the rules last year, Department of Homeland Security officials said they held off finishing them to await the outcome of the debate in Congress over a sweeping immigration bill. That measure, which was supported by President George W. Bush, died in the Senate in June. Now administration officials are signaling that they intend to clamp down on employers of illegal immigrants even without a new immigration law to offer legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the work force. “Across the employer community, people are scared, confused, holding their breath,” said Craig Regelbrugge, co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, a trade organization. “Given what we know about the demographics of our labor force, since we are approaching peak season, people are particularly on edge.” The expected regulations would give employers a fixed period, perhaps up to 90 days, to resolve any discrepancies between identity information provided by their workers and the records of the Social Security Administration. If workers’ documents cannot be verified, employers would be required to fire them or risk up to $10,000 in fines for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. Immigrant-rights groups and labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, predicted that the rules would unleash discrimination against Hispanic workers. They said they are preparing legal challenges to try to stop them from taking effect. The new rules codify an uneasy partnership between the Department of Homeland Security, which enforces the immigration laws, and the Social Security Administration, which collects identity information from W-2 tax forms of about 250 million workers each year, so it can credit the earnings in its system.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The approach is expected to play well with conservatives who have long demanded that the administration do more to enforce existing immigration laws, but it could also lead to renewed pressure from businesses on Congress to provide legal status for an estimated 6 million unauthorized immigrant workers. “We are tough and we are going to be even tougher,” Russ Knocke, the spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said Tuesday. “There are not going to be any more excuses for employers, and there will be serious consequences for those that choose to blatantly disregard the law.” Experts said the new rules represent a major tightening of the immigration-enforcement system, in which employers for decades have paid little attention to notices from the Social Security Administration advising that workers’ names and numbers did not match the agency’s records. Illegal workers often provide employers with false Social Security numbers to qualify for a job. Employers, especially in agriculture and low-wage industries, said they are deeply worried about the new rules, which could force them to lay off thousands of immigrant workers. More than 70 percent of farm workers in the fields of the United States are illegal immigrants, according to estimates by growers associations.