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Politics

Joe Biden’s first Cabinet picks expected Tuesday amid Trump’s road blocks to transition

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden’s first Cabinet picks are coming Tuesday and planning is underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration in January as his team moves forward despite road blocks from the Trump administration.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, offered no details Sundays about which department heads Biden would first announce. The Associated Press has reported that Biden could name his nominee for secretary of state or treasury secretary this coming week.

Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

Biden said last week he had settled on his pick for treasury secretary.

Klain said the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

“We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to accept the results of the election.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said there was a “very good chance” Biden would be president and that Biden and his team should have access to relevant information for the transition. After a federal judge’s ruling against the Trump campaign in an election challenge in Pennsylvania on Saturday, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said the president had “exhausted all plausible legal options” and Toomey congratulated Biden on his win.

And on Sunday, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, said on ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome. Christie said Trump’s his legal team was a “national embarrassment.”

Looking ahead to the Jan. 20 inauguration, Klain said it is “definitely have to be changed” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that the Biden team is consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

“They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

Inaugurations typically include a traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, remarks by the president and vice president from the Capitol, a lunch with lawmakers in the Capitol rotunda and numerous balls across Washington. All are events attended by hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the nation’s capital.

It’s unclear how public health concerns will affect those traditions.

During the campaign, Biden drew a contrast with Trump on the coronavirus by paring down his own events in response to the pandemic. Biden held smaller gatherings where people were asked to wear masks and adhere to social distancing recommendations from public health experts. Since he won the presidency, Biden has emphasized the importance of mask-wearing.

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World News

George Moak charged with first-degree murder in Denver shooting death.

A man has been charged with first-degree murder in Denver for a shooting death.

Gabriel Ira Moak, 53, has been charged for the Nov. 10 death of 42-year old Joseph Heck, according to the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Heck was shot, multiple times, in the 1400 block of Xavier Street.

Officers responding to a 911 call found Heck bleeding, lying in a stairwell, according to a news release. He was taken to Denver Health Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

An arrest affidavit in the case described the defendant and the victim as “good friends.”

Moak was scheduled to appear in court for a first advisement hearing on Thursday.

 

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Health

Who will be the first to get COVID-19 vaccines? – The Denver Post

Who will be the first to get COVID-19 vaccines?

No decision has been made, but the consensus among many experts in the U.S. and globally is that health care workers should be first, said Sema Sgaier of the Surgo Foundation, a nonprofit group working on vaccine allocation issues.

An expert panel advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also considering giving high priority to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older.

Once a vaccine gets a green light from the Food and Drug Administration, the panel will look at clinical trial data on side effects and how people of various ages, ethnicities and health statuses responded. That will determine the panel’s recommendations to the CDC on how to prioritize shots.

State officials are expected to follow the CDC’s guidance as they distribute the first vaccines.

Vaccine supplies will be limited at first. There won’t be enough to protect everyone, yet getting the shots to the right people could change the course of the pandemic.

Many other questions about distribution remain unanswered, Sgaier noted, such as whether to distribute shots equally across the country, or to focus on areas that are hot spots.

The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: [email protected]

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World News

Chipotle opens its first digital-only restaurant

Chipotle CEO: Digital experience during coronavirus lockdowns a ‘key driver’ of success

Chipotle Mexican Grill Chairman and CEO Brian Niccol on increasing drive-thru locations and digital infrastructure to meet increasing demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chipotle is opening its first digital-only restaurant, the Chipotle Digital Kitchen.

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Rather than the typical fast-casual, burrito-building service line, the Digital Kitchen will consist of only a lobby designated for off-premise orders and food pick-up. However, the Chipotle experience will be far from gone, as all the sounds, smells and kitchen views of a traditional restaurant will be pampered throughout the reception area.

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CHIPOTLE FACES EMPLOYEE SHORTAGES AS COVID-19 CASES SPIKE

The new prototype, located in Highland Falls, N.Y., comes as Chipotle looks to spread locations into high dense, urban marketplaces without the costs of operating a full-scale restaurant. The virtual restaurant space will also help accelerate the digital business in non-traditional locations.

Interior of Chipotle’s first Digital Kitchen in Highland Falls, New York (Credit: Chipotle)

“The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business, while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests,” Chief Technology Officer of Chipotle Curt Garner said in a statement. “With digital sales tripling year-over-year last quarter, consumers are demanding more digital access than ever before so we’re constantly exploring new ways to enhance the experience for our guests.”

Chipotle’s digital sales grew 202.5% year-over-year, to $776.4 million, and represented 48.8% of sales last quarter, according to Chipotle’s Global Chief Development Officer Tabassum Zalotrawala. Delivery made up about half of those digital sales, which benefited from expanded partnerships. The remainder of sales came from order-ahead transactions.

"Fortunately, what we did prior to the pandemic was we invested heavily into the digital accessibility for our customers –whether it's the app, the website," Chipotle chairman and CEO Brian Niccol told Fox Business' Neil Cavuto. Off-premise orders especially took off when stay-at-home orders went into place and will "continue to be a key driver of our success and our ability to manage through the crisis."

GHOST KITCHENS TAKE ON CORONAVIRUS-DRIVEN FOOD DELIVERY SURGE

The new digital-only concept will hinge on orders through the Chipotle website, app or third-party delivery partners. The Digital Kitchen will also accommodate large catering orders available for pick up in a separate lobby.

Exterior of Chipotle’s first Digital Kitchen in Highland Falls, New York (Credit: Chipotle)

“We absolutely plan to open more digital kitchens and are carefully evaluating the best trade areas for Chipotle in which to expand this test,” Zalotrawala said in a statement to FOX Business. “Future locations will be areas where Chipotle has a higher volume of sales through digital business.”

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World News

Donald Trump seen for first time since TV rant as he 'goes to play golf'

A casually-dressed Donald Trump has been photographed for the first time since Thursday’s TV rant as he apparently headed to play golf. The President of the United States was snapped leaving the White House and stepping into an armored Secret Service SUV shortly after 10am EST Saturday morning.

Trump – who appears to be on course to lose the presidency to Democrat rival Joe Biden – wore a casual navy top with a white collar, white ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball cap, black wind-cheater, black trousers and what appeared to be white golf shoes.

Regulars at Trump’s golf club in Sterling, Virginia, said they expected him to make his usual weekend appearance there at some stage today.

Politico reporter Daniel Lippman tweeted: ‘Even as President Trump battles it out to try to win the remaining swing states whose vote counts are steadily slipping away from him, people at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. tell me they are expecting him to play golf later today. It’s a sunny day in the DC area!’

Trump was last seen on Thursday night, when he took to the stage in the White House briefing room to claim the ongoing election count had been rigged against him.

The president made unfounded claims about secret counting rooms, burst pipes, and his supporters being banned from watching ballots being cast in key swing states which will ultimately decide the result of this year’s contest.

On Saturday morning, President Trump sent a series of tweets claiming ‘bad things took place’ inside vote counting centers. He claimed tractors were used to block doorways, and cardboard was used to cover-up windows.

Those tweets were promptly covered up by Twitter, after they were branded misleading. Trump has since sent another unfounded, all-caps missive, writing: ‘I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!’

NBC News later said that there had been no reports of farm machinery being used to block entrances. Cardboard was used to cover windows at a center in Detroit on Wednesday, but officials say this was to protect the privacy of vote counters, who expressed concern about onlookers standing outside filming and photographing them at work.

Current forecasts have Joe Biden on course to win the election, with AP and Fox News’s tallies having the Democrat challenger just six electoral college votes off the 270 needed to win the race.

The New York Times and CNN have not yet called Arizona for Biden, and have him on 253 votes, with all forecasters putting Trump on 214 votes.

A win in Nevada – which has six electoral college votes – would see Biden named president-elect by AP and Fox. Meanwhile, a victory in Pennsylvania – which has 20 electoral college votes – would see Biden comfortably sweep to victory among all forecasters.

Updates from those states, as well as Arizona, are expected on Saturday, although officials there warn definitive results may still be several days off.

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