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DNY59/iStockBy PETE MADDEN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and its former leaders Bishop Richard Malone and Bishop Edward Grosz, alleging they failed to adequately investigate accusations of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Over a two-year investigation, James' office identified more than two dozen diocesan priests who were credibly accused of abuse but were not immediately referred to the Vatican for possible removal from the clergy, which according to the complaint "operated to conceal the actual nature and scope of sexual abuse allegations in the [Diocese]."

"For years, the Diocese of Buffalo and its leadership failed to protect children from sexual abuse," said Attorney General James in a statement. "Instead, they chose to protect the very priests who were credibly accused of these atrocious acts."

Bishop Malone resigned in December 2019 in the wake of a Vatican review of the diocese prompted by widespread criticism of his handling of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by local clergy members. Bishop Grosz resigned in March 2020 upon reaching mandatory retirement age for bishops.

The Diocese of Buffalo has been in a state of crisis since 2018, when Siobhan O'Connor, Malone's former personal secretary, leaked internal church documents to investigative reporter Charlie Specht from ABC's local station WKBW, sparking months of reporting about whether there had been efforts to conceal the extent of the problem from the public.

In an interview with ABC News that aired as a special edition of "Nightline," Malone defended his leadership.

"I feel that in the almost 20 years I have been a bishop, I've tried hard to be a good shepherd," Malone told ABC News, arguing that he had "inherited a decades old horrific problem of abuse."

But the crisis only deepened in September with the emergence of secret audio recordings, made by Malone's then-secretary and diocesan vice chancellor Fr. Ryszard Biernat and obtained by both WKBW and ABC News.

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Myriam Borzee/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.

Over 57.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis -- through clinical means or a lab test -- has also varied from country to country.

The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 11.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 254,383 deaths.

Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here's how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

Nov 23, 12:08 pm
England lockdown to end next week as planned


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that a monthlong, nationwide lockdown in England will be lifted next week as scheduled.

Nonessential businesses and shops, including gyms and hair salons, will be allowed to reopen when the country returns to a regional tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions after Dec. 2.

"For the first time since this wretched virus took hold, we can see a route out of the pandemic," Johnson told members of Parliament, adding that breakthroughs in testing, treatments and vaccines should reduce the need for restrictions next year.

Unlike previous restrictions, the tiered measures will be a uniform set of rules and much tougher. The prime minister is expected to announced which parts of the county is in which tier on Thursday.

"I can't say that Christmas will be normal this year," Johnson said. "We all want some kind of Christmas; we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it. But what we don't want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown."

ABC News' Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.


Nov 23, 10:31 am
TSA screens over 3M flyers in 3 days ahead of Thanksgiving


More than 3 million people went through airport security checkpoints across the United States between Friday and Sunday, despite public health guidance against traveling for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 1,019,836 individuals on Friday and 984,369 on Saturday. But Sunday saw the most travelers, with TSA screening 1,047,934 people -- the highest since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in mid-March.

The previous pandemic record was set on Oct. 18, the Sunday after the long Columbus Day weekend, when TSA screened 1,031,505 individuals.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is recommending that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving.

"It's not a requirement, it's a recommendation for the American public to consider," Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters during a call on Nov. 19. "Right now, as we're seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time."

ABC News' Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

Nov 23, 9:35 am
'We are at a dire point,' US surgeon general says

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the nation is "at a dire point" in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, "by any measure."

"Cases, positivity, hospitalizations, deaths -- we are seeing more Americans negatively impacted than ever before. But I also want Americans to understand that we've never had more reason for hope, thanks to science," Adams told ABC News' Cecilia Vega in an interview Monday on Good Morning America.

"We're going to have people -- the vulnerable -- start to be vaccinated in mere weeks," he added. "So I"m asking Americans, I'm begging you, hold on just a little bit longer, keep Thanksgiving and the celebrations small and smart this year."

Adams advised people to hold Thanksgiving and holiday celebrations outdoors if possible, to keep the gatherings small -- ideally less than 10 attendees -- and to prepare ahead of time.

"Make sure you're not going around out in public and exposing yourself to other people, especially now heading into these celebrations," he said.

When asked about the White House's controversial plans to hold holiday parties indoors, Adams said the public health guidelines "apply to everyone."

"We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be super-spreader events, so we want them to be smart and we want them to be as small as possible," he said. "These apply to the White House, they apply to the American people, they apply to everyone."

Nov 23, 8:26 am
Nevada to enter 'statewide pause'


Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered a three-week "statewide pause" that begins Tuesday to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"I am not issuing a shutdown order," Sisolak said during a virtual press conference Sunday evening. "My goal is to aggressively try to attack this spread, while maintaining some portion of our economy and our daily lives."

Under the pause, residents will be required to wear face masks in private and public gatherings. Public gatherings will be limited to 50 people or to 25% capacity, whichever number is lower. Private gatherings will be limited to 10 people from no more than two households.

Sisolak said no additional businesses will be closed, but bars and restaurants will only be able to operate at 25% capacity with no more than four people per table. Gyms and fitness studios may operate with no more than 25% capacity while adhering to strict social distancing guidelines. Retail establishments including malls can continue operating at 50%.

"I know the majority of our bars and restaurants are doing their best, but these settings have proved to be high risk because they allow the opportunity for people to remove their face coverings in indoor settings around people outside of their households," Sisolak said. "That’s how the virus spreads."

Nov 23, 7:09 am
Russia reports over 25,000 new cases for first time


Russia confirmed 25,173 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 361 fatalities from the disease in the last 24 hours, according to the country's coronavirus response headquarters.

It's the first time that Russia has reported over 25,000 newly diagnosed infections in a single day, setting a new record for the country. The cumulative total now stands at 2,114,502 confirmed cases, including 36,540 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.

Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Russian authorities have repeatedly said they have no plans to impose another nationwide lockdown. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that it's up to regional authorities to decide what measures need to be imposed in their regions to curb the spread of the virus.

The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Nov 23, 5:39 am
US reports over 142,000 new cases


There were 142,732 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Sunday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 20th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Sunday's count falls under the all-time high of 196,004 new cases on Nov. 20.

An additional 921 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Sunday, down from a peak of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

A total of 12,247,487 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 256,783 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. 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 the 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 and crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4.

Nov 23, 4:41 am
AstraZeneca, Oxford say their vaccine is up to 90% effective


U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and England's University of Oxford announced Monday that late-stage trials show their COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing the disease.

The results are based on interim analysis of phase 3 trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil, which looked at two different dosing regimens. One regimen showed vaccine efficacy of 90% when the drug, called AZD1222, was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart. A second regimen showed 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens showed an average efficacy of 70%, according to press releases from AstraZeneca and Oxford.

There were a total of 131 COVID-19 cases in the analysis, and no hospitalizations or severe cases of the disease were reported in participants receiving the vaccine candidate, according to the press releases.

"These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives," Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial, said in a statement Monday. "Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply."

AstraZeneca, which has promised not to profit from the vaccine "for the duration of the pandemic," said it will now immediately prepare to submit the data to regulators around the world -- including in the United Kingdom, Europe and Brazil -- that have framework in place for conditional or early approval. The company will also seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income nations.

Meanwhile, Oxford said it is submitting the full analysis of the interim results for independent scientific peer review and publication.

"Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic," AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement Monday. "This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency. Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval."

The U.K. government has already placed orders for 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine candidate, along with 40 million doses of another developed by Pfizer and BioNTech which has shown to have 95% efficacy.

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ABC NewsBy DANIEL MANZO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A quick moving and rather weak storm system moved through parts of the Midwest this weekend and a quick burst of snow fell on Sunday in parts of Indiana and Michigan, where locally 1 to 2 inches accumulated.

This same frontal system is on the East Coast Monday morning and will bring a quick round of very heavy rain to the major I-95 cities Monday morning including Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford and Boston. A couple of strong wind gusts and a few embedded thunderstorms will also be possible.

In the interior Northeast, some precipitation could change to snow briefly, especially in the higher elevations of the Catskills and Adirondacks where very light accumulation will be possible.

This storm system quickly moves out later Monday with some clearing arriving in the afternoon.

Elsewhere, attention turns to a rather large storm system that will develop in the central U.S. beginning mainly on Tuesday.

On the western side of this storm system, some heavy mountain snow of locally up 10 to 20 inches will be possible across parts of the Colorado Rockies.

Some snow will also likely sneak into parts of the immediate Denver metro area and the Colorado high plains. However, it will be tough for the snowfall to accumulate due to mild temperatures.

Meanwhile, on the eastern side of the snow, a burst of snow will also move into parts of the Upper Midwest and especially in parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

Again, accumulations should be light, because of temperatures near the freezing mark. The best chance for over 3 inches of snow appears to be Central and Southern Wisconsin. Regardless of precise snowfall amount, however, wet snow could make roads slippery in the region.

Meanwhile, on the southern side of the storm in the warm sector, some scattered severe storms could move across parts of Texas, Oklahoma on Tuesday sliding to the Mississippi River valley by Wednesday morning.

The strong storms could bring some gusty winds and perhaps a couple of brief tornadoes and the threat area will include places like Dallas, Shreveport, Little Rock and Memphis.

The good news is by Thanksgiving on Thursday, the bulk of the impacts of this storm system are done.

Some leftover showers will be possible on the East Coast but most of it should remain pretty scattered.

It will not be a washout, nor will it be cold, so on the East Coast there likely will be an opportunity to meet family members or friends outside for safe and socially distant Thanksgiving activities.

The rest of the country is looking rather quiet on the holiday with no real organized weather concerns. Perhaps most notably, is that there is no real big blast of cold air anywhere.

It could a little seasonably cool in the Northwest, but nothing too unbearable. This is very good news coast to coast because just about everyone should be able to find an acceptable time frame to spend outdoors, safe and socially distant.

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RichLegg/iStockBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- In Washington, D.C., the city's nonprofits that care for the hungry are bracing for a critical juncture this holiday season.

Mike Curtin, the CEO of DC Central Kitchen, which provides meals to homeless shelters, senior centers and other groups, told ABC News his team will provide 12,000 meals this Thanksgiving, a 5,000-meal increase over last year.

This rise in demand is being exacerbated by logistical changes brought on by the coronavirus, according to Curtin.

Coronavirus restrictions mean that nonprofits won't be able to provide buffet-style service this year, so meals are being prepared in individual packets. Diners also won't be able to eat together indoors or for extended periods.

"One of the hardest things to create in an institutional setting ... is a true sense of community," Curtin told ABC News. "One of the ways we thought we could provide to get that place is that shared healthy meal. Taking that piece away is making the providers' jobs even more difficult."

The situation in the nation's capital is being played out in communities across the country, as millions of Americans -- even those who are employed -- are becoming more food insecure, according to experts.

A report issued last month by the nonprofit Feeding America found that 50.4 million Americans have been identified as food insecure, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as "a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life." In 2018, the organization said that 37.2 million Americans were food insecure.

The number of children who are food insecure has grown from 11.2 million to 17 million over the last two years, according to the report.

A follow-up report by Feeding America issued last week found that one in six Americans, and a quarter of the nation's children, could face hunger in 2020 because of the pandemic.

"With 11.1 million people in America still unemployed, many are turning to the food banks for the first time," the nonprofit said in a news release. "Previous food bank surveys revealed that an estimated 40 percent of people seeking assistance from food banks had never needed help before."

Organizations across the country that help feed the hungry have been seeing the increased demand.

A spokeswoman for YMCA told ABC News that their locations with food programs increased by 25% this year.

YMCAs across the country served over 37 million people between March and August, according to the spokeswoman. Prior to this year, YMCAs served 27 million people a year on average, the spokeswoman said.

Rosie Allen-Herring, the president and CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area, told ABC News that the biggest problem facing nonprofits is the increase of so-called ALICE households, which are "Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed."

"These are individuals who go into work every day, but they need these [food] services to get by," she told ABC News.

Allen-Herring said about 55% of residents in the Washington, D.C., area are ALICE households, while nationally it's about 40%.

Curtin said that since the pandemic began his nonprofit partners have been able to adapt and are, so far, able to keep up with the demand. For the holidays, he said the organizations created solutions to provide families with some semblance of a community get-together or dinner.

For example, some of the charities in D.C. are holding their dinners outdoors, while others are experimenting with dinners where the families eat in shifts, according to Curtin.

"When you're living in a situation where every day you're trying to achieve normalcy in a non-pandemic time, getting to that place to celebrate Thanksgiving is that much harder," he said.

Curtin and other experts said the biggest challenge ahead for the nonprofits is funding. Food banks, kitchens and other charities are in desperate need of cash as Congress has stalled on stimulus assistance and donations have slowed as millions of Americans deal with their own financial crises.

In addition, said Curtin, it simply isn't safe to have many volunteers working indoors or close together.

"If you'd ask me nine months, ago I'd say come and volunteer," he said when asked what people can do to help during the holidays. "I can't say that now. We need your money and we need it desperately."

Allen-Herring also warned that the country's current hunger situation will get worse for months -- even if the economy rebounds. It will take a long time for families to recover, and without funding and additional resources, she said the country could be looking at more holidays where nonprofits have to go the extra mile.

"We see it with all of our nonprofit partners," Allen-Herring said. "That work must continue, the challenge is there. But we know we can do it."

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Bellevue Police DepartmentBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(BELLEVUE, Neb.) -- A suspect is under arrest and charged in connection with a shooting at a Sonic Drive-In late Saturday evening that killed two people and left two others hospitalized, according to police.

At approximately 9:23 p.m. police in Bellevue, Nebraska, received a call about reports of a possible bomb inside a moving truck in the parking lot of a Sonic Drive-In, according to local authorities.

In a statement released by the Bellevue Police Department, numerous officers immediately responded to the scene of the incident, which was then updated at 9:24 p.m. to a shooting, with the first officers arriving only two minutes later at 9:26 p.m. to discover four victims with gunshot wounds.

“Two victims were transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center,” the Bellevue Police Department said in its statement. “Two additional victims were determined to be deceased on the scene. The victims will be identified after the completion of appropriate family notifications.”

On Sunday evening, police released the names of the shooting victims, all who were employees of Sonic: Nathan Pastrana, 22, and Ryan Helbert, 28, both died at the scene. Kenneth Gerner, 25, and Zoey Reece Atalig Lujan, 18, were injured.

Roberto Carlos Silva Jr., 23, was taken into custody shortly after police arrived on scene, according to authorities. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson, the police said Sunday.

At a press conference late Sunday, police showed bodycam video of Silva Jr. being arrested in the parking lot of the Bellevue restaurant. In one part of the video -- which was shown on a screen at the presser and is not being released beyond that -- one can see the U-Haul truck burning in the background.

Police did not release any details on why the U-Haul was on fire, only that they believe the truck was in fact brought there by the suspect.

Police did not give any updates on the condition of the two victims who were taken to hospital, and the motive behind the shooting is currently not known.

Authorities also said that there are no indications of any additional suspects involved in the shooting.

The investigation is ongoing.

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MattGush/iStockBy IVAN PEREIRA, JOSHUA HOYOS and GREG BRADBURY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Police announced Sunday evening that they arrested a 15-year-old suspect in connection with a shooting at a Wisconsin mall Friday that left eight people injured.

The Wauwatosa Police Department announced in a statement that the unidentified teen was picked up earlier in the day.

Officers also found a firearm that the boy allegedly used during the incident, police said.

On Friday afternoon, officers responded to reports of shots fired at the Mayfair Mall's lower level, and discovered seven adults and one teenager who had been injured, according to police.

Police say the suspect exited the mall along with other patrons as officers and tactical teams worked for hours to secure the scene.

"An officer’s first priority in this situation is to secure the immediate scene and begin rendering first aid," the Wauwatosa Police Department said in a statement. "The process to completely secure the mall, which contains 1,265 million square feet, took approximately six hours and involved seven tactical teams. "

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride told ABC News Saturday that the eight victims were recovering from their injuries.

The police said the incident was not random but "an altercation between two groups." Four of the victims were "innocent bystanders," according to the police.

Investigators, aided by the FBI, received several leads from victims and witnesses during the day and were able to track down the suspect, according to the police.

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sshepard/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of college students are in the process of heading home for the Thanksgiving break, even as public health experts warn against travel for the holiday amid exponential growth of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

According to the College Crisis Initiative, a research project at Davidson College, few institutions have announced post-Thanksgiving exit plans. Those that have may recommend students be tested before leaving campus, but fewer still require it. After the break, they also may be keeping the majority of students off campus until next year.

The campuses of the State University of New York are among a small number of institutions that are mandating testing as part of its Thanksgiving break plan. Testing is currently underway across dozens of campuses, with students required to test negative for COVID-19 within 10 days before leaving. Students were encouraged to take their test as close to their departure date as possible, with individual campuses coordinating testing schedules.

The system plans to ultimately test some 140,000 students, using a self-administered, saliva swab diagnostic test developed by SUNY Upstate Medical University and Quadrant Biosciences. The policy was reviewed by public health experts at the University of Albany's School of Public Health and Upstate Medical University.

"The health experts said you need to wind down your semester after Thanksgiving break and then go all remote because you don't want people traveling back and forth in the cold months," SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras told ABC News. "We don't want to send our students home, possibly infected."

Most students won't return in-person until next year. The winter term will be fully remote, and the start of in-person learning for the spring semester was recently pushed back to Feb. 1, to help reduce additional risks during flu season.

SUNY has not been immune to outbreaks across its 64 campuses. A handful of its schools have had to temporarily pause or end in-person learning for the fall. Notably, SUNY Oneonta pivoted to all-remote learning in early September after more than 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, largely driven by on- and off-campus parties, officials said.

Shortly after, SUNY announced that all its colleges and universities will be required to implement a testing program to detect COVID-19 cases on campuses, and it crafted a uniform compliance document.

"I felt that we needed to bring a little more rigor to the process, and more uniformity to the process," said Malatras, who was named chancellor in late August. "Every campus dealt with infractions against their codes of conduct differently. But what you saw there was an uneven application was leading to bad results on some of our campuses."

Currently, the rolling seven-day average positivity rate across SUNY campuses is around .9%. Statewide, that number is closer to 3% -- among the lowest in the nation. Malatras points to high compliance among students and SUNY's testing regimen to getting the system to this point.

"COVID still exists in the community. You're seeing an uptick everywhere, and you're gonna have it," he said. "It's how do you mitigate it and manage it in a proper way. You need high compliance, and you need a smart way of monitoring the virus. You monitor it through testing."

SUNY has been among the "most aggressive in the country" on its protocols, Malatras posits, "partially because New York was one of the earliest- and hardest-hit states."

"We have more awareness of the situation in many cases, sadly," he said. "The cases are exploding at this time for the first time in many states, so they're dealing with it, they're grappling with it for the first time."

Malatras addressed some criticism that the policy "infringes on students' rights" and is an attempt to "hold students hostage" in a recent New York Daily News op-ed.

"None of it is true," he said, noting that by state health law, any person who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days. Campuses are also staying open for students that are choosing not to leave for the remainder of the semester, he said.

Each SUNY campus must make accommodations for students to isolate, he told ABC News. The local health department can also sign off on students leaving campus to isolate elsewhere, he said.

Students, who have undergone regular testing throughout the semester, have responded well to the Thanksgiving policy, he said.

"It's good, they give us enough time and they work with everyone," SUNY Purchase student Kristen Lambert told New York ABC station WABC-TV while getting tested for COVID-19 before Thanksgiving break.

Zionah Campbell, a student at SUNY Brockport, told Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM-TV earlier this month, "I like knowing that we're getting tested, so that we feel safe."

The school was encouraging students to leave early for Thanksgiving break after testing negative after discovering a COVID-19 cluster.

"The fact that we could learn that we're fine could protect us or save us," said SUNY Brockport student Layla Jacobs told the station.

With most of the population off-campus and not undergoing regular COVID-19 testing after Thanksgiving, SUNY is considering having its Food and Drug Administration-approved saliva test available to those outside the institution during that time, Malatras said.

Come the spring semester, returning students must complete a seven-day quarantine before they arrive on campus, at which point they also will be tested for COVID-19, officials said.

Spring break has been canceled across SUNY institutions as well to limit the potential spread of the virus.

For right now though, travel over the upcoming holiday is a pressing concern for health professionals, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that people stay home this Thanksgiving.

Testing can help lower the risk of bringing the virus home, said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor.

"But there's going to be risk," he said.

"Any amount of travel, and additional contacts that people have, is going to lead to transmission," he said.

For schools that plan to go primarily remote for the winter and send students home, the American College Health Association recommended that they remind students that "the test only reflects one point in time, there can be false negative results, and, in some cases, the virus may be contracted during travel." It also advised students to consider getting a test after traveling and to quarantine for the first 14 days after arrival.

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Facebook/Tracy Police DepartmentBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(TRACY, Calif.) -- A 64-year-old caretaker has been arrested after the 92-year-old man he had served as caretaker to for approximately 20 years was found dead in a motel room with multiple blunt force trauma injuries.

The incident occurred on Nov. 18 around 8 p.m. when the Tracy Police Department in Tracy, California, received a call of a person not breathing in a motel room located just off of Interstate 205.

When authorities arrived they discovered 92-year-old JC Williams Jr. in the motel room unresponsive and pronounced him deceased shortly after and deemed that Williams’ death was suspicious.

“Upon further investigation, Mr. Williams appeared to have multiple blunt force trauma injuries, which were believed to have resulted in his death,” the Tracy Police Department said in a statement.

Two days later on Nov. 20, Clark Stone, a 64-year-old resident of Lathrop, California, who had served as William’s caretaker for approximately two decades, was arrested in association with the homicide of Williams.

Stone was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail and charged with inflicting great bodily injury upon another during the commission of a felony, elder abuse for causing unjustifiable pain and suffering and elder abuse for causing great bodily harm.

Authorities did not disclose what could have caused the extensive injuries Williams suffered or how long Williams had been in the motel room before being discovered.

No possible motives in the case were revealed during the course of the investigation and the investigation into Williams’ death is currently ongoing.

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ABC NEWSBY: BRITTANY BORER, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) -- A cold rain will spread out along a cold front as a low pressure system makes its way across the Midwest today.

By the afternoon some light snow could mix in with the rain for northern Ohio, eastern Michigan and parts of western New York.

By Monday morning, heavy rain could be a hassle heading out in Boston with some showers in New York City and Philadelphia through the late morning.

Light snow is also possible in the Adirondacks and western Catskills as colder air is expected behind this front by Tuesday.

Snow accumulations will likely be minimal, though an inch or so is not out of the question for northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio, near Toledo. Ice, however, could be a concern with the mixture of snow and rain with the colder air on the back side of the front refreezing any standing moisture on hard surfaces.

Elsewhere, much of the South through the Mid-Atlantic is expecting warmer than normal temperatures today. Temperatures in the low 70s in Atlanta today are consistent with normal highs in the month of October.

As a cold front passes, temperatures will dip closer to average on Tuesday for most spots. The cool down does not last long, however, as mild air returns mid-week.

As far as Thanksgiving Day is concerned, folks along the East Coast could wake up to a soggy start. By the evening, however, most of the showers will have exited the region making way for peeks of sunshine.

Much of the country will be warm and dry with the cooler air bottled up in the Rockies. The Northwest will likely see scattered rain and snow showers to start off the holiday which will taper off as the day goes on.

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Evgenia Parajanian/iStockBy MARWA MOUAKI, ABC News

(NEW YORK) – For years, thousands of immigrant parents and children have been separated at the border between the United States and Mexico. Most recently, news broke out revealing  the parents of more than 500 children separated at the border cannot be found.

Justice in Motion is a nonprofit which works to reunite parents with their children after they're separated at the border.

“When people cross borders, they often leave their rights behind,” says Cathleen Caron, the founder and executive director of Justice in Motion.

With a network of over 44 human rights organizations and individual human rights lawyers in Mexico and Central America, Cathleen says Justice in Motion works to ensure that those crossing borders have access to justice. Although news broke of the missing parents recently, Justice in Motion has been searching door to door for parents separated from their children at the border since 2018, when the ACLU filed the lawsuit to stop the zero tolerance policy in June.

“When the lawsuit first happened, it applied to all the children who are currently in government custody. So that number ended up being 2,400. What was not revealed to us until January 2019 through an internal government report was that they had started piloting the program back as early as August 2017, and there were an additional 1,500 families separated.”

The 500 missing pairs of parents are actually what's left of the original 4,000 that were missing in 2017, and Cathleen says that most of those parents are going to be deported at this point.

With an endless amount of research, fliers and physical searching on the ground in Mexico and Central America, Justice in Motion has been able to locate thousands of parents. However, a reunion does not mean the story is over and that there's a happy ending.

“These families that we find, they’re deeply traumatized by the experience and the happy videos don't always tell the full story. In their minds, their parents abandoned them. It's too hard for a young child to understand all that went down and why they were separated at the border,” Cathleen shares.

So what does this all mean to someone living through the nation's immigration crisis? What happens when someone from one of those families channels trauma into action? Daihana Estrada is a Mexican American law student. At just 17 years old, she witnessed her parents being deported.

“I still remember when they got deported. It was a really hard transition for our family and ultimately that led me to pursue a career in law.”

In June, Daihana tweeted, “Who would have thought that the 17 year old girl from Utah who witnessed her parents being deported would appear before an immigration judge today for her first case as a law student. I couldn't change my parents outcome but I will do my best to change someone else's.”

Who would have thought that the 17-year-old girl from Utah who witnessed her parents being deported would appear before an Immigration Judge today for her first Immigration case as a law student. I couldn’t change my parents outcome but I will do my best to change someone else’s

— Daihana (@Daihanae1) June 12, 2020

After the court case, she told herself, “Daihana, take a step back, realize what just happened. You just appeared for your first immigration case as a law student.”

Listen to the full interview and the rest of this past week’s highlights here.

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janiecbros/iStockBY: CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC NEWS

(LOS ANGELES) -- A SpaceX rocket launched a new American-European satellite that will monitor global sea levels and help our understanding of climate change on Saturday.

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency, lifted off at 12:17 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 4 East at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. It was carried to the cosmos by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch was broadcast live on NASA's website.

"What we expect to see, the new science coming out of Sentinel-6: that it would open up new frequencies and give us a fuller picture of what do we know about the oceans," NASA program scientist Nadya Vinogradova-Shiffer said during a launch press briefing Saturday.

While its primary goal is monitoring Earth's oceans and sea level rise, the spacecraft also carries sensitive equipment that can track hurricanes and provide data that will improve weather forecasts and climate models on Earth.

One instrument will "help us do all sorts of improvements to forecasts, including using the atmospheric measurements to monitor hurricanes from their formation all the way through their whole life and dissipation," Eric Leuliette of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Saturday.

It is the first of two twin satellites with the same mission. The second is set to launch in 2025.

"The satellite will map 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days and provide crucial information for operational oceanography and climate studies," the ESA said in a statement. "Since sea-level rise is a key indicator of climate change, accurately monitoring the changing height of the sea surface over decades is essential for climate science, for policy-making and for protecting those in low-lying regions at risk."

The work of a handful of multinational organizations went into Saturday's mission, including the European Commission, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the French space agency CNES.

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ABC NewsBY: JANAI NORMAN, SABINA GHEBREMEDHIN AND MEREDITH DELISO, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) -- Quawan Charles, a Black teen who was found dead in a Louisiana sugar cane field earlier this month, will be laid to rest on Saturday. But his family is still seeking answers around the death of the 15-year-old, whom his mother described as a "good kid" and "loving child."

"I loved him and he loved me," Roxanne Nelson told Janai Norman in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America."

Nelson called local police on Oct. 30, the day Charles went missing from his father's home in Baldwin, Louisiana. A video released by Baldwin police shows Charles getting into a car with a friend and the friend's mother that day, officials said. On Nov. 3, Charles' body was found in a sugar cane field about 20 miles away. The local coroner's office ruled Charles' likely cause of death as drowning.

"I cannot sleep at night, like I want to," Nelson said. "I'm constantly thinking about my son and trying to figure out exactly how he died."

Nelson believes police could have saved her son had they acted faster.

"They could've done more. They didn't. They didn't do what they were supposed to do," Nelson said. "Had they done what they were supposed to do, my son would be alive today. I feel because my son was Black, it didn't matter to them."

Baldwin police did not notify state police to issue an Amber Alert, nor did they report Charles' disappearance to local media. Charles was entered into the National Crime Information Center as a missing person or runaway, according to the Baldwin police report.

According to Chase Trichell, an attorney for the family, under a recently modified statute, any Louisiana law enforcement agency that becomes aware of a missing child must immediately notify the state police, which then determines whether it's an Amber Alert or media advisory case. The latter would have alerted neighboring parishes like Iberia, he said, where Charles' body was found four days after he was first reported missing.

"Which begs the question, had they followed state law, would Quawan be alive today?" Trichell told "Good Morning America."

Baldwin Assistant Police Chief Sam Wise told Lafayette ABC affiliate KATC that Charles's disappearance didn't appear to indicate he was in danger.

"We didn't see where it felt it met the criteria of an abduction or kidnapping," Wise told the station. "Because there were no eyewitnesses or no one to say that he had jumped in the vehicle or even beat him and took him into that vehicle. So it didn't meet the criteria to get in touch with state police."

"We did put him [in the] NCIC, we did comb the area," he told KATC.

Trichell said he has found cases of missing children from the past two years where the Baldwin Police Department or St. Mary Parish "followed a protocol whereby they disseminated the information to local media and those children in large part were found."

"In other cases where the missing people were different from him demographically, they did do everything they could, and those people were found," he said.

Trichell and Charles' family are also questioning why Baldwin police didn't ping his cellphone when he was first reported missing. Wise told KATC that the department does not have the technology to ping phones.

"We tried reaching out to the young man the entire weekend by calling and texting him and just trying to get a hold of him," he told the station.

Trichell has charged that the department could have contacted Charles' cell carrier to ping the cellphone for them. "The results would have come back probably within half an hour," he said.

Nelson reported her son missing to the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office on Nov. 3, who found him that day after pinging his cell phone, Trichell said.

The Baldwin Police Department was not able to provide "Good Morning America" with a comment by press time.

Iberia Parish sheriffs, who are handling the homicide investigation, said they have interviewed the people last seen with Charles and are actively tracking their whereabouts. They have also said they obtained video evidence that showed Charles alone near where his body was later found.

A final autopsy report and toxicology report are still pending, as the family awaits more answers.

"My baby is dead," Nelson said. "I will never, ever see my child again on this earth. And I love my child. And I'm missing him like crazy. It's tearing me up."

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Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, EMILY SHAPIRO, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA, JON HAWORTH and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.

Over 57 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis -- through clinical means or a lab test -- has also varied from country to country.

The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 11.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 253,309 deaths.

Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here's how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

Nov 20, 6:13 pm
Donald Trump Jr. has tested positive for COVID-19


Donald Trump. Jr. is the latest person connected to the White House to test positive for the coronavirus, a spokesman confirmed to ABC News.

“Don tested positive at the start of the week and has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result. He’s been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended COVID-19 guidelines,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The president's eldest son is the second of his children to test positive for the virus, following Barron Trump's diagnosis last month.

ABC News' John Santucci contributed to this report


Nov 20, 5:52 pm
FDA to review Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 10


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that its vaccine advisory committee will meet Dec. 10 to discuss the request for emergency use authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The public meeting will be a chance for both FDA career scientists and members of the independent advisory board to ask Pfizer questions about its product.

After that, the board will make a recommendation, which the FDA will take into account when it decides whether to authorize the vaccine.

Officials said they cannot predict how long the FDA's review will take, but that it will be "as expeditiously as possible, while still doing so in a thorough and science-based manner."

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report

Nov 20, 5:17 pm
California sets new record with more than 13,000 daily cases


California broke its daily case record with 13,005 newly recorded cases.

California's seven-day positivity rate stands at 5.9%.

With over 1.07 million cases, California trails only Texas, which last reported 1.1 million cases.

ABC News' Alex Stone contributed to this report.


Nov 20, 3:15 pm
FDA could approve emergency use of Pfizer vaccine in December


Pfizer said it's completed its submission to the Food and Drug Administration in which the company requests emergency use authorization for its vaccine.

The FDA is expected to start digging into the efficacy and safety data immediately, and it could make a decision as early as mid-December.

ABC News' Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Nov 20, 1:43 pm
Cases double in Kansas counties without mask mandate


A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Kansas counties that opted out of a statewide July 3 mask mandate saw COVID-19 cases jump 100% from July 3 to Aug. 23.

While 81 counties opted out of the mandate, the 24 that adhered to it saw a 6% decrease in cases, according to the CDC.

ABC News' Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Nov 20, 12:45 pm
More than half of El Paso cases coming from retail shopping


In hard-hit El Paso, Texas, rising cases are due to community spread, primarily through retail shopping, Mayor Dee Margo said.

"We did a deep dive from Oct. 10 to Oct. 16 in our contact tracing," he told "GMA 3: What You Need To Know." We found out that 55.11% of our positives were coming from retail shopping. Primarily in what we would term the big major retailers, the big-box stores. So it's a community spread."

El Paso is in the middle of its fifth week of its latest COVID-19 spike, the mayor said. With so many fatalities, the county Thursday put out a call for morgue staffing.

With 1,000 cases reported on Friday, the Texas city has had at least 79,000 -- and 845 fatalities.

ABC News' Ariane Nalty contributed to this report.

Nov 20, 12:27 pm
More cases in past 4 weeks than in first 6 months of pandemic


There have been more COVID-19 cases worldwide in the last four weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization.

He again urged people, despite promising news on vaccines, to continue using all tools to interrupt chains of transmission and save lives now.

ABC News' Kirit Radia contributed to this report.

Nov 20, 9:57 am
Florida Sen. Rick Scott tests positive, urges everyone to wear masks


Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fl., announced Friday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

After returning to Florida last week, Scott came into contact with someone who subsequently tested positive. The Republican senator has been quarantining at his home in Naples since then. He took multiple rapid tests earlier this week, all of which were negative, but a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test he took Tuesday came back positive Friday morning, according to a press release from his office.

"After several negative tests, I learned I was positive this morning," Scott said in a statement Friday. "I am feeling good and experiencing very mild symptoms. I will be working from home in Naples until it is safe for me to return to Washington, D.C."

Scott is the eighth member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19 just this week.

"I want to remind everyone to be careful and do the right things to protect yourselves and others. Wear a mask. Social distance. Quarantine if you come in contact with someone positive like I did," he said. "As we approach Thanksgiving, we know this holiday will be different this year. But, listen to public health officials and follow their guidance. We will beat this together, but we all have to be responsible."

ABC News' Mariam Khan contributed to this report.

Nov 20, 8:54 am
US Army general says there's 40 million vaccine doses ready to go once FDA grants authorization


A top U.S. Army general who is co-leading the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine initiative said they will start distributing doses throughout the nation 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency use authorization (EUA).

"We have about 40 million doses of vaccine, give or take, exactly when the EUA comes out," Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operations officer for Operation Warp Speed, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.

"We're going to execute fair and equitable distribution based on the population of the jurisdictions -- jurisdictions identified as the 50 states, eight territories and six metropolitan cities," he added, noting that governors will then "make sure the priority for the execution of the vaccine within the state will be implemented."

"We're going to get it down to the states. The states are going to tell us exactly where they want it to be," the general said. "We will ensure that the vaccine gets there in a timely manner. We'll make an initial push -- once EUA is approved -- of everything we have on the shelf, and then every week we're going to maintain a cadence of delivery of vaccine so the states have access and prior planning knowledge to ensure it gets to the right places and the right times."

Perna said the news that Pfizer and partner BioNTech will submit a EUA request to the FDA on Friday for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate is "really remarkable." He expressed "100% confidence" that Operation Warp Speed's distribution plan will be a success -- a process he said began some six months ago.

"We started with the development, manufacturing. We have taken no shortcuts to this end," he said. "It has been a well regulated and accounted for process that we are ensuring occurs the right way."

The general said Operation Warp Speed has also teamed up with companies like Walgreens and CVS.

"I've sat down with their CEOS and their teams -- very elaborate, very comprehensive, operational plans on how they can partner with states to deliver vaccines from inner cities to rural America," he said, "and I'm incredibly confident that they can do that."

When asked whether outgoing President Donald Trump's refusal to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team has hindered vaccine efforts, Perna replied, "Absolutely not."

Nov 20, 6:45 am
Pfizer and BioNTech to submit emergency authorization request to FDA today

Pfizer and partner BioNTech announced they will submit a request on Friday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The submission, which is based on a vaccine efficacy rate of 95% demonstrated in the Phase 3 clinical study with no serious safety concerns to date, will potentially enable use of the drug in high-risk populations in the United States by the middle to end of December.

"Our work to deliver a safe and effective vaccine has never been more urgent, as we continue to see an alarming rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 globally," Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a statement Friday. "Filing in the U.S. represents a critical milestone in our journey to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the world and we now have a more complete picture of both the efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine, giving us confidence in its potential."

The companies have already initiated rolling submissions with several drug regulatory agencies around the world, including in Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan and the United Kingdom, and plan to submit applications to others in the coming days. The companies said they will be ready to distribute the vaccine within hours after authorization.

Based on current projects, the companies said they expect to produce globally up to 50 million doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

"Filing for Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. is a critical step in making our vaccine candidate available to the global population as quickly as possible," Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said in a statement Friday. "We intend to continue to work with regulatory agencies worldwide to enable the rapid distribution of our vaccine globally. As a company located in Germany in the heart of Europe, our interactions with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are of particular importance to us and we have continuously provided data to them as part of our rolling review process."

Nov 20, 6:40 am
Russia reports record high of over 24K new cases


Russia confirmed 24,318 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to the country's coronavirus response headquarters.

It's the highest single-day tally of COVID-19 infections that Russia has reported since the start of the pandemic, and it marks the second straight day that the country has set a new record for its daily case counts.

An additional 461 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide over the past day, just under Russia's peak of 463 deaths recorded the previous day. The country's cumulative total now stands at 2,039,926 cases, including 35,311 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.

The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Nov 20, 6:02 am
North Carolina college student dies from COVID-19 complications


A 23-year-old college student in North Carolina died from COVID-19 complications on Thursday morning.

Jamesha Waddell was a senior at Livingstone College, a private, historically black Christian college in Salisbury, about 45 miles northeast of Charlotte. She left campus on Sept. 19 and was self-isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19, according to Livingstone College president Jimmy Jenkins.

"While isolating at home, Jamesha’s condition worsened, and she required hospitalization and intensive care," Jenkins said in a statement Thursday. "This morning, her spirit transitioned due to complications related to the COVID-19 virus."

As students prepare to leave campus next week for winter, Jenkins urged them to "remain vigilant in mitigating the spread of this virus" by wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing and washing hands frequently.

Nov 20, 5:31 am
India becomes second country in the world to reach nine million cases


India's tally of COVID-19 cases has hit the nine million mark, becoming only the second country in the world to do so.

The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare confirmed 45,882 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with an additional 584 deaths from the disease. That brings the country's cumulative total to 9,004,365 cases with 132,162 deaths.

Despite surpassing the grim milestone, India has seen a steady decline in its infection rate since reaching a peak of 97,894 new cases on Sept. 16.

India has the second-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, and the third-highest death toll from the pandemic, after the United States and Brazil. The relatively low death toll in a vast county of 1.3 billion people has raised questions about how India is counting COVID-19 fatalities.

Nov 20, 4:20 am
US records all-time high of over 187K new cases


There were 187,833 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Thursday, marking the highest single-day increase in infections worldwide since the pandemic began, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the first time that the United States has reported over 180,000 newly diagnosed infections. Thursday's count shatters the country's previous record of 177,224 new cases on Nov. 13.

An additional 2,015 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Thursday, the highest since May 6 but still under a peak of 2,609 new deaths on April 15, according to Johns Hopkins data.

A total of 11,717,947 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 252,555 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 and crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4.

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sdominick/iStockBy GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Not even a global pandemic can get in the way of Santa's sleigh.

That's according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert. He told USA Today, "Santa is exempt from this because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity."

Kids have been worried -- for both themselves and for Santa's arrival.

"Santa is not going to be spreading any infections to anybody," he said.

Fauci isn't the only notable person declaring Santa safe from spreading COVID-19. Last week, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte responded in a Facebook post to a letter from a 5-year-old boy named Thomas what's been on the mind of children the world over as the holidays draw near: Will Santa come this year?

Conte reassured the boy that Santa has an "international self-certification: he can travel everywhere and distribute gifts to all children around the world. Without any limitation. He then confirmed that he always uses a mask and keeps the right distance to protect himself and all the people he meets."

He urged the little boy from Cesano Maderno, in Northern Italy, to not "waste a chance at an extra gift" by asking Santa to send away the coronavirus. "We adults will manage to kick out the coronavirus, all together," he wrote.

"The idea of letting them find under the tree, besides hot milk and cookies, even sanitizing liquid seems excellent," Conte wrote, adding it would allow Santa to restart safely.

And there's no need for Thomas to tell Santa he's been a good boy this year, Conte said. The prime minister has already done it for him.

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ABC NewsBy ANGELINE JANE BERNABE and KIERAN MCGIRL

(NEW YORK) -- The woman who says she had a consensual affair with the high-profile former pastor of a New York City megachurch, which led to his shocking firing, is speaking out about what happened.

“I still cherish what we had,” Ranin Karim told ABC News' Amy Robach of her involvement with Carl Lentz. “It was always gonna be part of my past. I wish I can just like, delete it, but you can’t.”

Lentz became a high-profile pastor during his time at Hillsong Church, a megachurch once frequented by celebrities including Justin Bieber, Chris Pratt and Vanessa Hudgens. Lentz, who was fired earlier this month, developed a celebrity status of his own, followed online by more than 500,000 people.

Karim says her story with Lentz began five months ago when they first met at a park near her New York City home.

Their meetings at the park became a regular thing, according to Karim, who said that Lentz refused to tell her his last name or even what he did for a living. Lentz also asked her not to Google him and saved her phone number in the Notes app of his phone, instead of in his contact list, according to Karim.

“He was like, ‘You know, I work with celebrities … I manage celebrities, and I travel with them,'" Karim recalled. "He didn’t want to say what he does."

Karim said she did a reverse Google search with Lentz’s phone number and found out about his role at Hillsong, which was founded in Australia in 1983 and has over 150,000 members worldwide.

Karim said she attended Hillsong once, years before meeting Lentz, a father of three. After finding out who he was, she said she asked him directly about his marriage.

"I was, like, 'Are you married?,' and he said, 'I am,'" said Karim. "But he doesn't wear a ring. You never ever see him wearing a ring."

After finding out Lentz was married, Karim said she stayed in touch because she did not "want to judge him."

"I was like it's all good. I was married before, and I didn't want to judge him," she said. "I like to meet people, and feel like they're a blank canvas, you know?"

"You get to know them, and you let them paint their warm colors on it," Karim said. "You don't go and just stick or put stickers on people and think they're going to be that, and going to be this, and I didn't want to do that to him, because I don't want to judge him."

Lentz, who has not identified the woman with whom he had an affair, did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

Karim described her connection with Lentz as one that is "hard to explain in words." She said Lentz's wife found out about the alleged affair in October.

“He called me at midnight and he said ... 'My wife find out. And I gotta go. She saw the text messages,’” said Karim. “I was devastated.”

Shortly after, on Nov. 4th, Hillsong Church’s global senior pastor Brian Houston released a statement on the church's website announcing that Lentz had been fired.

“This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interest of everyone, including Pastor Carl,” Houston wrote. “The action has been taken following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”

Lentz addressed his firing in a lengthy Instagram post the next day.

“I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that,” Lentz wrote. “This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions. I now must begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife Laura and my children and taking time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need.”

“I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving,” he added.

Houston later announced that Hillsong Church is launching an “independent investigation into the inner workings of Hillsong NYC/East Coast.”

“We need a solid foundation for a fresh start and new beginning,” Houston wrote in a Nov. 12th tweet. “The best is yet to come.”

We are launching an independent investigation into the inner workings of Hillsong NYC/ East Coast. We need a solid foundation for a fresh start and new beginning. The best is yet to come.

— Brian Houston (@BrianCHouston) November 12, 2020

Karim said she believes that Lentz's rising celebrity status may have contributed to his behavior.

“When you give somebody so much power, they become God to people, and I think people forgot the concept of religion and beliefs," she said. "I think that people look at Carl like he is God to them.”

Karim said she is also sorry for what happened to Lentz’s family due to the affair, and is especially sorry to his wife, Laura.

“I feel bad for her,” she said. “Woman to woman, I don’t think she deserved to be hurt the way that she did, and I never meant to hurt her.”

Now that Karim has shared her side of the story, she said she wants to move forward and leave the past behind.

“I know people [are] gonna hate me, think whatever they want to think, but in the end of the day, it’s my story,” she said. “I wanted to free myself of what people think of me.”

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