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ABC News

If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be

Congress is returning to Washington for one last attempt at deal-making this year

The Saints and Patriots were hit with fines; Broncos and Ravens under scrutiny.

November 29, 2020, 11:46 PM
• 6 min read

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The NFL cracked down this weekend on two teams who broke the league’s coronavirus-related policies and are looking into two other teams for possible violations, according to reports.
The league fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 after the players and the team posted a video on social media showing unmasked team members celebrating their Nov. 8 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the locker room, a source told ABC News. The NFL also took away a seventh-round draft pick as punishment for the Saints’ violation, the source said.

The Saints are appealing the punishment, according to ESPN.

A source told ABC News the team’s steep fine and draft pick loss stemmed from the Saints’ repeated violations of COVID-19 protocols and warnings from the league. In September, Saints Coach Sean Payton, who was seen in the video, and the team were fined a combined $350,000 after he was seen not wearing a face mask during a game.
Payton told NOLA.com back in September he should have been more careful while on the field and kept his mask on.
“It’s something we’re just going to have to remind ourselves to do,” he said.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Nov. 22, 2020.

The NFL sent out a memo to all teams on Nov. 3 with updated COVID-19 rules that stressed: “All players and staff must wear masks or double-layered gaiters in the locker room on game day — prior to the game, during halftime, and post-game.”
The New England Patriots were also fined $350,000 for violations related to positive tests of Cam Newton and other players in October, ESPN reported.

Although Newton didn’t play in the Oct. 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs two days after he was diagnosed, 20 teammates and staff members who were deemed to be close contacts to Newton flew out to the game, according to ESPN. The day after the game, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had been in close contact with Newton, tested positive for COVID-19, ESPN reported.
The Patriots did not immediately release a statement about the fine.

The league is also investigating the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos over coronavirus-related violations, sources told ABC News.
The two teams were scheduled to play on Thanksgiving Day, but the game was moved to Tuesday after the Ravens reported at least 19 coronavirus cases among its players and staff members, including quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Adrian Phillips #21 celebrates with his teammates after intercepting a ball thrown during the game at Gillette Stadium, Nov. 29, 2020, in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The Broncos’ current starting quarterback, Jeff Driskel, also tested positive last week.
The Broncos had its three quarterbacks in a room together for a meeting for an extended period of time without masks after Driskel contracted the disease, according to sources. The players, who were considered close contacts to Driskel, allegedly took off their tracking devices that are used by teams to assist with contact tracing, according to the sources.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was fined earlier in the season for not wearing a face mask, and the team would be considered a repeat offender if the league determines it violated protocols.
The Broncos released a statement Saturday that said the team would work with the NFL if they discover any positive tests among their players or staff.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told ABC News he expects the situation to get harder as the season progresses due to the growing cases across the country.
He added that the league is constantly evolving its coronavirus protocols and pushes teams to follow the science.
“What keeps us safe are the same measures that work for everyone outside of football, and that’s wearing masks, physical distancing, good hand hygiene, prompt reporting of symptoms,” Sills told ABC News.
What to know about the coronavirus:

President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female communications team at his White House, led by campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE and ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press

November 30, 2020, 12:42 AM
• 4 min read

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WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation.
Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary.

In a different area of the White House operation, Biden plans to name Neera Tanden, the president and CEO of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, as director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to a person familiar with the transition process granted anonymity to speak freely about internal deliberations.
Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of color, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female.
President Donald Trump upended the ways in which his administration communicated with the press. In contrast with administrations past, Trump’s communications team held few press briefings, and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods.
Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favorite Fox News shows.
In a statement announcing the White House communications team, Biden said: “Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House.”
He added: “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”
Bedingfield, Psaki and Tanden are all veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice president; Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department; and Tanden served as a senior adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and helped craft the Affordable Care Act.
Others joining the White House communications staff are:

— Karine Jean Pierre, who was Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She’s another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs.
— Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director. She most recently was deputy director for America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, and was a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Three Biden campaign senior advisers are being appointed to top communications roles:
— Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director.
— Symone Sanders, another senior adviser on the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson.
— Elizabeth Alexander, who served as the former vice president’s press secretary and his communications director while he was a U.S. senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director.
After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden faced some of his own criticism for not being accessible to reporters. But near the end of the campaign, he answered questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president.
The choice of a number of Obama administration veterans — many with deep relationships with the Washington press corps — also suggests a return to a more congenial relationship with the press.
As head of the OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.
Her choice may mollify progressives, who have been putting pressure on Biden to show his commitment to progressive priorities with his early staff appointments. She was chosen over more moderate voices with roots in the party’s anti-deficit wing such as Bruce Reed, who was staff director of President Barack Obama’s 2010 deficit commission, which proposed a set of politically painful recommendations that were never acted upon.
———
Taylor reported from Washington.

The office of President-elect Joe Biden says Biden twisted his ankle while playing with one of his dogs and will be examined by a doctor “out of an abundance of caution.”

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE Associated Press

November 29, 2020, 9:58 PM
• 1 min read

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WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden twisted his ankle while playing with one of his dogs and will be examined by a doctor “out of an abundance of caution,” his office said Sunday.
Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist at Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists in Newark, Delaware, for an examination Sunday afternoon, his office said. Reporters covering the president-elect were not afforded the opportunity to see Biden enter the doctor’s office, despite multiple requests.

Biden was playing with Major, one of the Bidens’ two dogs. They adopted Major in 2018, and acquired their first dog, Champ, after the 2008 election. The Bidens have said they’ll be bringing their dogs to the White House and also plan to get a cat.
At 78, Biden will be the oldest president when he’s inaugurated in January, but he frequently dismissed questions about his age on the campaign trail. He released a doctor’s report in December that disclosed he takes a statin to keep his cholesterol at healthy levels, but his doctor described him as “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”

Current COVID-19 restrictions limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people.

November 29, 2020, 8:44 PM
• 4 min read

Officials in New York City said they shut down an illegal club this weekend after it hosted nearly 400 people, a violation of the COVID-19 restrictions on crowd sizes.
The New York City Sheriff’s Office tweeted that it found at least 393 people inside a commercial property on West 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

The NYC sheriff’s office shut down a party early Saturday in Manhattan where they say nearly 400 people gathered.

According to New York state’s emergency coronavirus restrictions, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and all “bars, restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, as well as any State Liquor Authority-licensed establishment, must close in-person service from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.”

The sheriff’s office tweeted that the location had no liquor license and warehoused dozens of bottles of alcohol that were allegedly sold at the party.

The NYC sheriff’s office shut down a party early Saturday in Manhattan where they say nearly 400 people gathered.

It also said it issued arrest warrants for four unidentified organizers and charged them for “offenses for penal, health, [and] alcohol beverage control laws.”

The party shutdown comes as New York City, which was once the epicenter of the pandemic, is seeing a new wave in cases and hospitalizations, according to health data.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said between Nov. 1 and Nov. 25, the seven-day average of new daily cases rose from 621 to 1,451, the seven-day average for daily hospitalizations rose from 46 to 106, and the citywide positivity rate increased from 1.88% to 3.49%.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has stressed the importance of following the coronavirus guidelines to bring these numbers down.
“We’re going to continue to be guided by facts and data as we fight back against #COVID19 and reopen our city,” he tweeted Sunday.
What to know about the coronavirus:

At least 10 men have been attacked since Nov. 10 in Waltham, Massachusetts.

November 29, 2020, 5:46 PM
• 5 min read

One man was out for an evening stroll when someone came up behind him and bashed him in the face with a blunt object. Another victim was taking out the trash at his apartment complex when he was ambushed, and a U.S. Postal Service carrier was badly beaten while out delivering the mail after dark.
Residents of Waltham, Massachusetts, are on edge after police said at least 10 men have been targeted by a mystery assailant in a string of unprovoked assaults that have occurred since Nov. 10.

“Waltham police are using all means necessary to bring these cases to an end as quickly as possible,” Detective Sgt. Steve McCarthy said in a statement.
McCarthy said the latest attack occurred around 8 p.m. on Friday when a culprit came up behind a man walking on a residential street, hit him in the face with a blunt weapon and ran off under the cover of darkness. As in the other cases, McCarthy said the person responsible for the serial assaults appears to be lying in wait and attacking victims by surprise.

On Saturday, police released surveillance video of an individual they described as “a suspect in the string of recent assaults around Waltham” and urged the public to contact them with any information on the person’s identity.
The video shows a man dressed in a dark hooded coat, light blue jeans and sneakers running down a street. Police did not specify when or where the video was taken.
Investigators only have a general description of the assailant, saying he appears to be a Black male, 5-foot-6- to 5-foot-10-inches tall and 160 to 180 pounds.

Waltham, Massachusetts police released surveillance video to their Facebook page of a suspect believed to be responsible for a series of attacks.

Police also took the unusual step of making reverse 911 calls to alert residents of the city, cautioning them to be vigilant and remain aware of their surroundings, especially after dark.

Authorities said that in all of the “random, unprovoked” attacks, the suspect has struck between 5:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. in the city 22 miles northwest of Boston.
Initially, the assailant appeared to be targeting residents of an apartment complex but has since spread out across the community of roughly 63,000 people, attacking several recent victims in the city’s downtown area, according to police.

David Cameros, one of the victims, told ABC affiliate station WCVB-TV in Boston, that he was attacked Wednesday night outside his apartment complex. He said he had just taken out his garbage and was talking on his cell phone while having a smoke when he was clobbered in the head by what he believes was a baseball bat.
Cameros said he was knocked unconscious and left with a fractured skull.
“I don’t know if it is only one or there are more attackers. The aggressor always attacks from behind,” Cameros said.
Another victim, who would only give his first name, Emerson, a mechanic, told WCVB he was targeted while out for an evening stroll also on Wednesday evening. Emerson remains in a hospital being treated for several fractures to his face and skull.

Emerson said the attacker came up behind him like a “coward” and that he didn’t have a chance to see his face.
“I did not have the opportunity to defend myself,” Emerson said Saturday, adding that he is awaiting surgery on his face.
Melissa Gallant, a friend of Emerson, said she and other residents of the city have been left rattled by the attacks.
“I know he’s beat up bad, bad, bad and he’s such a nice guy,” Gallant told WCVB of Emerson. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s not right. He helps everybody. He’s a very good man.”