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Sally, coronavirus, CDC, vaccine, Trump, Biden, election: It’s Wednesday’s news

Alex Connor USA TODAY

Published 6:20 PM EDT Sep 16, 2020

Sally is slowly moving inland. Congress vows action on a coronavirus relief package. And when can we expect a vaccine?

It’s Alex. Here’s the latest.

But first, local public health officials looked to the CDC for help to fight the coronavirus. Instead, the agency offered flawed guidance and conflicting information.

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Sally’s slow roll through the South

Hurricane Sally, which has weakened to tropical storm status, battered Alabama and Florida in its slow grind over the Panhandle. Making landfall early Wednesday morning as a Category 2 storm, Sally is still – categorically – a nightmare. Behind her, Sally leaves a path of destruction: Catastrophic flooding, a partially collapsed bridge, more than half a million without power. Waterlogged streets have transformed into rivers and rain gauges are overflowing. When it’s all over with, forecasters say Sally will have dumped up to 3 feet of water into some areas. “It’s just a nightmare,” said Weather Service forecaster David Eversole in Mobile, Alabama. In the days to come, the massive storm is expected to make a northeastward turn as it slowly swings across the Southeast.

Sally is the eighth named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. this year — the most through Sept. 16 in recorded history. An eerie similarity? Sally’s path and landfall follow Hurricane Ivan’s 16 years ago — a Category 3 storm that devastated the area.

  • The National Hurricane Center is nearly out of storm names. Then what? The Greek alphabet.
  • Flooded streets. Downed trees. Debris everywhere: 16 photos that show Hurricane Sally’s destruction along the Gulf Coast.

No deal? No break, says Pelosi

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will stay in session until a breakthrough is made on a coronavirus bill as negotiations over another stimulus package remain deadlocked. “We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” she said. Democrats and Republicans haven’t been able to work out a deal, even though many Americans have now lost financial assistance and protection from evictions. Why can’t they come to an agreement? The two sides are at odds over issues like unemployment insurance, liability protections for companies, and funding for cash-strapped states and local governments. 

What everyone’s talking about

  • Michael Caputo, Trump-appointed health official accused of meddling with CDC COVID-19 data, is taking a leave of absence.
  • Two cranes collided at a construction site in Austin, TX, sending at least 16 people to the hospital.
  • “Nothing left in the bucket”: Demand for wildfire fighting has been high since mid-August and resources are running thin.
  • Five Chinese citizens at large, two Malaysian suspects arrested in global hacking campaign targeting gaming.
  • Bail was set at $1 million for several protesters arrested during demonstrations against a fatal police shooting in Lancaster, a move decried as “blatantly unconstitutional.”
  • Seattle singer Lady A files countersuit against band formerly known as Lady Antebellum.

A vaccine at warp speed?

The White House’s Operation Warp Speed is aptly leaning into its namesake. Federal officials announced Wednesday that the United States plans to begin distributing a coronavirus vaccine within 24 hours of it being approved. The initial rollout could begin as early as late this year or in January, and the vaccine will initially be in short supply, going to the most vulnerable, said CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield. “‘When is it going to be available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccines to get back to our regular life?’ I think we’re probably looking at late in the second quarter, third quarter 2021,” he said.

  • “I don’t trust Donald Trump”: Joe Biden says any COVID-19 vaccine should be developed and distributed free of politics.

Real quick

  • A top Pentagon official sexually harassed 2 women in his office for 7 years, according to an inspector general report.
  • Opinion: Big Ten’s decision to play football signals its darkest day in the conference’s history.
  • A rare mosquito-borne virus is suspected in Michigan, with a 33% fatality rate in people who become ill. 
  • A Chicago radio host has been fired for his tweet about ESPN reporter Maria Taylor’s attire.
  • McDonald’s Travis Scott Meal proves to be popular, leading to some restaurants are running short on key ingredients.
  • Katy Perry, Rosario Dawson, more take a break from Instagram with #StopHateforProfit. Here’s why.

48 days to go 

As Election Day inches closer, everything seems to keep getting weirder – if that was even possible. A round-up of election news, just for you:

  • Donald Trump attacked Joe Biden on coronavirus mask mandates. But Biden doesn’t hold public office.
  • Joe Biden, who is struggling to win over Latino voters, went viral after playing “Despacito” at a Florida campaign stop.
  • A bronze statue representing Melania Trump was unveiled in her native Slovenia to replace a wooden one that was set on fire in July.
  • And could Douglas Emoff become America’s first Second Gentleman? Here’s what to know about Kamala Harris’ husband.

Re: voting. It’s already underway! This is when early voting and mail-in voting for president begins in every state.

A break from the news

  • Apple iOS14: 5 features our tech columnist really likes – and one he’s not so crazy about. 
  • Talk about innovation: An Ohio dad went viral after he concocted a “candy chute” to hand out Halloween candy from 6-feet away.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

Published 6:20 PM EDT Sep 16, 2020

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