US daily COVID-19 hospitalizations have hovered above 100,000 for a month – but experts say the post-holiday surge is yet to come

coronavirus hospital christmas
Respiratory therapist Andrew Hoyt cares for a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in Chula Vista, California on December 21, 2020.

  • Saturday marked one month of more than 100,000 consecutive, daily coronavirus hospitalizations in the US.
  • Those numbers likely reflect people who were infected before the Christmas holiday.
  • Experts anticipate that hospitalizations will continue to climb, meaning the pandemic’s worst days may still be ahead.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US coronavirus outbreak has continuously shattered records this winter, but Saturday marked a particularly gruesome milestone: one month of more than 100,000 consecutive, daily coronavirus hospitalizations.

Average daily cases also reached an all-time high of more than 275,000 on Saturday, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. The US death toll has surpassed 350,000. 

The US’s average daily hospitalizations have more than tripled over the last three months, fueled by holiday travel, pandemic fatigue, and many state officials’ resistance to impose new lockdown restrictions. 

As of December 28, at least 280 of the nation’s hospitals had reached or exceeded maximum ICU capacity out of 4,824 hospitals for which data was available, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. In the week leading up to Christmas, nearly one-fifth of US hospitals with intensive care units reported that at least 95% of their ICU beds were full.

But hospitalizations are a lagging indicator: They usually reflect cases that were diagnosed a week ago.

“It takes somewhere between five and 10 days after an exposure to actually get sick from COVID and then it takes another week or so after that to be sick enough to need hospitalization,” Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine physician at Brown University, told Business Insider.

That means people who were hospitalized around Christmas could have been infected around Thanksgiving. Experts don’t expect infections that occurred over the Christmas holiday to factor into hospitalization data for at least another week – perhaps more. 

“We’re all stealing ourselves for a really difficult next couple of months,” Ranney said in December.

The approval of coronavirus vaccines, she added, represents “a light at the end of the tunnel” – but the pandemic’s worst days may still be ahead.

The US could see another 210,000 coronavirus deaths from now until April, bringing the total death count to more than 560,000, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicts.

coronavirus hospital full
Hospital staff sanitize their hands in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada on December 16, 2020.

Overflowing hospitals make it harder to treat patients

With the holidays over, US hospitals say they’ve never been more strained. 

Many hospitals are running low on ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, face shields, or gowns, forcing them to reuse these materials as many times as possible. In a December survey from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, 73% of infection prevention experts said they had sacrificed their normal standards of care due to respirator shortages.

Without enough beds to treat patients, hospitals are also having to make tough calls about who to admit or prioritize for treatment.

“This is by far one of the most difficult things for me and my colleagues, sending a patient home when we would normally admit them,” Dr. Frank LoVecchio, an emergency room physician at Arizona’s Valleywise Health, told Fox 10 Phoenix. “But you reach that point when the needs exceed what is available.”

GettyImages 1229643419
A hospital worker rests against the wall while working at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts on November 11, 2020.

Some hospitals have had to transfer patients to alternate care sites, while others are forced to examine patients in outdoor tents or waiting rooms. Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, California, told CNN her hospital has started treating patients in the gift shop and chapel.

A tsunami of coronavirus patients also poses an increased risk of hospital staff getting sick themselves. When that happens, hospitals can become even more stretched. 

Josh Mugele, an emergency-room doctor at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Georgia, told Business Insider he was “really nervous” about getting the virus in December. His hospital had reached maximum ICU capacity, having seen more coronavirus patients than at any other time during the pandemic. 

Mugele was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week. He suspects he got infected while working the night shift on Christmas.

“It’s frustrating now that somebody has to cover my shift,” he said. “The shifts these days are really, really hard. They’re just stressful. There’s a lot of sick people.”

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DNA found at the scene of the Christmas day explosion in Nashville matches 63-year-old ‘person of interest’

nashville explosion
Police close off an area damaged by an explosion on Christmas morning on December 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • DNA remains found at the scene of the Nashville bombing on Christmas Day matched that of 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner, The New York Times reported Sunday.
  • The explosion in Nashville linked to a parked RV left three people injured and destroyed much of a downtown street on Christmas Day.
  • Warner was identified by police earlier Sunday as a “person of interest” in connection to the explosion, according to multiple reports. 
  • “Anthony Warner is the bomber,” Donald Cochran, the US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said at a news conference, citing The Times report. “He was present when the bomb went off and he perished in the bombing.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

DNA of human remains found at the scene of the Nashville bombing on Christmas Day match 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Warner was identified earlier Sunday by police as a “person of interest” in connection to the downtown Nashville bombing that occurred early on Christmas morning and injured three people, according to CBS News.

“Anthony Warner is the bomber,” Donald Cochran, the US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said at a news conference, citing The Times report. “He was present when the bomb went off and he perished in the bombing.”

Federal agents converged on Warner’s home in Antioch, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon and conducted a search. Warner owned an RV that appeared to be a similar make and model to the one used in Friday’s explosion, according to CBS.  

Authorities said Friday they believed the blast was “intentional.”

nashville explosion anthony quinn warner home
Law enforcement officers investigate the house belonging to Anthony Quinn Warner, a 63 year-old man who has been reported to be of interest in the Nashville bombing, on December 26, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

CNN reported Saturday that investigators also believe the explosion may have been a suicide bombing, citing two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

Police and witnesses reported that the RV emitted an audio recording warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes and urging them to flee. 

One local business owner told The Tennessean that the RV had been there since at least Thursday night.

“It’s a miracle that no residents were killed,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in a Saturday morning tweet. Lee said he and his wife toured the site where the explosion occurred and saw “shocking” damage. 

 

Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced on Saturday that the city will enter a curfew until Sunday afternoon. “This is an active crime scene,” Cooper said. “I would encourage people not to come to downtown Nashville until that curfew is lifted.”

Tennessee’s governor requested federal aid to assist recovery efforts

President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden had been briefed on the incident, the Hill reported.

“The President is grateful for the incredible first responders and praying for those who were injured,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere. 

On Saturday morning, Gov. Lee tweeted out a request for Trump to declare an emergency and allocate federal aid to support recovery efforts. 

“Preliminary reports show 41 businesses were damaged by the explosion. These buildings, many of which are historic, and others will need to be assessed by an engineer for structural integrity and safety,” he wrote in a letter requesting emergency assistance.

“The severity and magnitude of the current situation is such that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments,” he added in the letter. “As a result, federal assistance under the Stafford Act is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources.” 

The Stafford Act allows a president to declare an incident or circumstance a national emergency and move federal resources to aid those affected by it.

‘It felt like a bomb.’

Buck McCoy, who lives near the area, told the Associated Press: “All my windows, every single one of them got blown into the next room. If I had been standing there it would have been horrible.” 

“It felt like a bomb. It was that big,” he added. Local reports said the explosion could be heard from miles away.

Police say the explosion occurred outside a building on Second Avenue North. They closed a 10-block radius around the explosion site.

Nashville Explosion
Plumes of smoke rise next to the Regions Building near the explosion reported in the area on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early Christmas morning

Authorities are not aware of whether anyone was inside the vehicle. 

CBS News first reported that possible human remains were found near the explosion, but law enforcement told the outlet it’s still unclear whether the remains belonged to a victim or someone connected to the explosion. 

Local and federal agencies, including the FBI, are investigating the incident, according to a press release from the Nashville Police Department. The area has been shut down to accommodate the investigation.

The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily barred pilots from flying through the airspace above the explosion cite, classifying it as “national Defense Airspace,” according to ABC affiliate WKRN. Pilots flying into the area “may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by law enforcement/security personnel,” WKRN reported.

Service interruptions

As the Tennessean reported, the explosion caused damage to AT&T facilities, which affected service for some in Nashville and other nearby areas, a spokesperson told the outlet. Flights from the Nashville International Airport and emergency lines like 911 access to police was also disrupted as a result of the explosion, the Tennessean reported. 

AT&T is actively working with local authorities to repair services, as well as dispatched national disaster recovery teams to fix the problem, the company said in a statement Friday evening.

“Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications and we are working with law enforcement to get access to our equipment and make needed repairs. Given the damage to our facility, it will take time to restore service,” the statement said. “We have already rerouted significant traffic from this facility and are bringing in other equipment, including numerous portable cell sites to the area.”

In a tweet shortly after the incident, Gov. Lee expressed his condolences for those injured.

“We will supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible,” he said, adding he is “praying for those who were injured and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning.”

This story is developing. Please check back for more updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Investigators are searching the home of a ‘person of interest’ in connection with the Nashville blast

nashville explosion
Police close off an area damaged by an explosion on Christmas morning on December 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • An explosion in Nashville linked to a parked RV left three people injured and destroyed much of a downtown street on Christmas Day.
  • Authorities called the blast “intentional,” and hundreds of investigators quickly fanned out to determine a motive and pinpoint a culprit.
  • Witnesses and authorities reported that shortly before the RV exploded, an audio recording warned that a bomb would go off in 15 minutes and urged people to evacuate.
  • As of Saturday evening, authorities had not yet identified a suspect, but were searching the home of a possible “person of interest.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hundreds of federal investigators continued their search on Saturday for a suspect and motive behind the bomb that obliterated much of a a downtown Nashville street early on Christmas morning and injured three people.

A number of media outlets reported Saturday that police were searching for a “person of interest” in connection with the explosion, whom CBS News identified as 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner. 

Federal agents converged on Warner’s home in Antioch, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon and conducted a search. Warner owned an RV that appeared to be a similar make and model to the one used in Friday’s explosion, according to CBS.  

Authorities said Friday they believed the blast was “intentional.”

nashville explosion anthony quinn warner home
Law enforcement officers investigate the house belonging to Anthony Quinn Warner, a 63 year-old man who has been reported to be of interest in the Nashville bombing, on December 26, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Police and witnesses reported that the RV emitted an audio recording warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes and urging them to flee. 

One local business owner told The Tennessean that the RV had been there since at least Thursday night.

“It’s a miracle that no residents were killed,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in a Saturday morning tweet. Lee said he and his wife toured the site where the explosion occurred and saw “shocking” damage. 

 

Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced on Saturday that the city will enter a curfew until Sunday afternoon. “This is an active crime scene,” Cooper said. “I would encourage people not to come to downtown Nashville until that curfew is lifted.”

Tennessee’s governor requested federal aid to assist recovery efforts

President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden had been briefed on the incident, the Hill reported.

“The President is grateful for the incredible first responders and praying for those who were injured,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere. 

On Saturday morning, Gov. Lee tweeted out a request for Trump to declare an emergency and allocate federal aid to support recovery efforts. 

“Preliminary reports show 41 businesses were damaged by the explosion. These buildings, many of which are historic, and others will need to be assessed by an engineer for structural integrity and safety,” he wrote in a letter requesting emergency assistance.

“The severity and magnitude of the current situation is such that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments,” he added in the letter. “As a result, federal assistance under the Stafford Act is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources.” 

The Stafford Act allows a president to declare an incident or circumstance a national emergency and move federal resources to aid those affected by it.

‘It felt like a bomb.’

Buck McCoy, who lives near the area, told the Associated Press: “All my windows, every single one of them got blown into the next room. If I had been standing there it would have been horrible.” 

“It felt like a bomb. It was that big,” he added. Local reports said the explosion could be heard from miles away.

Police say the explosion occurred outside a building on Second Avenue North. They closed a 10-block radius around the explosion site.

Nashville Explosion
Plumes of smoke rise next to the Regions Building near the explosion reported in the area on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early Christmas morning

Authorities are not aware of whether anyone was inside the vehicle. 

CBS News first reported that possible human remains were found near the explosion, but law enforcement told the outlet it’s still unclear whether the remains belonged to a victim or someone connected to the explosion. 

Local and federal agencies, including the FBI, are investigating the incident, according to a press release from the Nashville Police Department. The area has been shut down to accommodate the investigation.

The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily barred pilots from flying through the airspace above the explosion cite, classifying it as “national Defense Airspace,” according to ABC affiliate WKRN. Pilots flying into the area “may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by law enforcement/security personnel,” WKRN reported.

Service interruptions

As the Tennessean reported, the explosion caused damage to AT&T facilities, which affected service for some in Nashville and other nearby areas, a spokesperson told the outlet. Flights from the Nashville International Airport and emergency lines like 911 access to police was also disrupted as a result of the explosion, the Tennessean reported. 

AT&T is actively working with local authorities to repair services, as well as dispatched national disaster recovery teams to fix the problem, the company said in a statement Friday evening.

“Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications and we are working with law enforcement to get access to our equipment and make needed repairs. Given the damage to our facility, it will take time to restore service,” the statement said. “We have already rerouted significant traffic from this facility and are bringing in other equipment, including numerous portable cell sites to the area.”

In a tweet shortly after the incident, Gov. Lee expressed his condolences for those injured.

“We will supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible,” he said, adding he is “praying for those who were injured and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning.”

This story is developing. Please check back for more updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tennessee Gov asks Trump for emergency aid after a parked RV exploded in downtown Nashville in an incident police say was ‘intentional’

Nashville Explosion
Smoke billows from the site of an explosion in the area on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early Christmas morning.

  • An RV exploded in downtown Nashville on Friday morning, according to local reports.
  • Buildings are damaged, and three people were taken to hospitals. 
  • Local authorities told CNN that they believe the act was done intentionally.
  • A video circulating online appears to show a recording telling people to leave the area just before the explosion set off.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Local emergency services were dispatched after an explosion rattled downtown Nashville early on Christmas morning, damaging buildings and blowing out windows.

CNN reported that authorities said they believe the incident was done intentionally.

“We do believe this to have been an intentional act,” Don Aaron, a spokesperson with the Metro Nashville Police Department, told CNN. “Significant damage has been done to the infrastructure there on 2nd Avenue North.”

Authorities have not yet named any suspects involved in the explosion, but CBS reported that police have identified people of interest who they believe are connected to the incident. 

At least three people have been transported to hospitals, CNN reported. There have not yet been any reports of critical injuries, a representative of the Nashville fire department told CNN.

“It’s a miracle that no residents were killed,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in a Saturday morning tweet. Lee said he and his wife toured the site where the explosion occurred and saw “shocking” damage. 

The explosion came from a parked RV, ABC News reported. Emergency crews are attempting to determine the cause of the explosion. One local business owner told The Tennessean that the RV had been there since at least Thursday night.

 

John Drake, chief of the Metro Nashville Police Department, told a local Fox News affiliate that the area was immediately evacuated after one officer noticed an RV playing a recording that warned people to leave the area. 

The recording announced that a bomb would go off in 15 minutes, according to reports. 

“There were a number of people who did evacuate and then we know of some people, it didn’t go off when the message said it would, and so people started coming back in, and then it went off,” Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden had been briefed on the incident, the Hill reported.

“The President is grateful for the incredible first responders and praying for those who were injured,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere. 

On Saturday morning, Gov. Lee tweeted out a request for Trump to declare an emergency and allocate federal aid to support recovery efforts. 

“Preliminary reports show 41 businesses were damaged by the explosion. These buildings, many of which are historic, and others will need to be assessed by an engineer for structural integrity and safety,” he wrote in a letter requesting emergency assistance.

“The severity and magnitude of the current situation is such that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments,” he added in the letter. “As a result, federal assistance under the Stafford Act is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources.” 

The Stafford Act allows a president to declare an incident or circumstance a national emergency and move federal resources to aid those affected by it.

 

Buck McCoy, who lives near the area, told the Associated Press: “All my windows, every single one of them got blown into the next room. If I had been standing there it would have been horrible.” 

“It felt like a bomb. It was that big,” he added. Local reports said the explosion could be heard from miles away.

Police say the explosion occurred outside a building on Second Avenue North. They closed a 10-block radius around the explosion site.

Nashville Explosion
Plumes of smoke rise next to the Regions Building near the explosion reported in the area on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early Christmas morning

Authorities are not aware of whether anyone was inside the vehicle. 

CBS News first reported that possible human remains were found near the explosion, but law enforcement told the outlet it’s still unclear whether the remains belonged to a victim or someone connected to the explosion. 

Local and federal agencies, including the FBI, are investigating the incident, according to a press release from the Nashville Police Department. The area has been shut down to accommodate the investigation.

The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily barred pilots from flying through the airspace above the explosion cite, classifying it as “national Defense Airspace,” according to ABC affiliate WKRN. Pilots flying into the area “may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by law enforcement/security personnel,” WKRN reported.

As the Tennessean reported, the explosion caused damage to AT&T facilities, which affected service for some in Nashville and other nearby areas, a spokesperson told the outlet. Flights from the Nashville International Airport and emergency lines like 911 access to police was also disrupted as a result of the explosion, the Tennessean reported. 

AT&T is actively working with local authorities to repair services, as well as dispatched national disaster recovery teams to fix the problem, the company said in a statement Friday evening.

“Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications and we are working with law enforcement to get access to our equipment and make needed repairs. Given the damage to our facility, it will take time to restore service,” the statement said. “We have already rerouted significant traffic from this facility and are bringing in other equipment, including numerous portable cell sites to the area.”

In a tweet shortly after the incident, Gov. Lee expressed his condolences for those injured.

“We will supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible,” he said, adding he is “praying for those who were injured and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning.”

This story is developing. Please check back for more updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lindsey Graham says Trump is ‘more determined than ever’ to secure $2,000 checks as COVID-19 relief bill lingers in limbo

trump gold christmas
President Donald Trump’s motorcade drives to the Trump International Golf Club, Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

President Donald Trump spent his Christmas golfing in Florida as a government shutdown looms and COVID-19 relief hangs in the balance. Earlier in the day, he renewed calls for $2,000 stimulus checks, instead of the $600 included in a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed in both houses of Congress and is awaiting Trump’s signature.

In a Friday evening Tweet, Sen. Lindsey Graham doubled on Trump’s called for Americans $2,000 in aid.

“After spending some time with President @realDonaldTrump today, I am convinced he is more determined than ever to increase stimulus payments to $2000 per person and challenge Section 230 big tech liability protection,” Graham tweeted.

As Business Insider previously reported, Section 230 is “a provision in a 1996 law that protects companies on the internet like Twitter and Facebook from being regulated as publishers of third-party content like tweets and Facebook posts.” It is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and allows the aforementioned internet companies to govern content on their platforms.

Trump has regularly railed against this provision and vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act due to the fact that it did not include changes to Section 230.

Trump in Florida for Christmas as the relief bill hangs in limbo

Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach for the holidays, had no events on his public schedule after throwing the future of a massive COVID-19 relief and government funding bill into question. Failure to sign the bill, which arrived in Florida on Thursday night, could deny relief checks to millions of Americans on the brink and force a government shutdown in the midst of the pandemic.

The White House declined to share details of the president’s schedule, though he was expected to golf Friday with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump was briefed on the explosion in downtown Nashville early Friday that authorities said appeared to be intentional, but the president said nothing publicly about it in the hours after.

Trump tweeted that he planned to make “a short speech to service members from all over the world” by video conference Friday to celebrate the holiday, but declared: “Fake News not invited!” Without giving details, the White House said only that Trump would work “tirelessly” during the holidays and has “many meetings and calls.”

Trump’s vacation came as Washington was still reeling over his surprise, eleventh-hour demand that an end-of-year spending bill that congressional leaders spent months negotiating to give most Americans $2,000 COVID relief checks – far more than the $600 members of his own party had agreed to. The idea was swiftly rejected by House Republicans during a rare Christmas Eve session, leaving the proposal in limbo.

The bipartisan compromise had been considered a done deal and had won sweeping approval in the House and Senate this week after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it. If he refuses to sign the deal, which is attached to a $1.4 trillion government funding bill, it will force a federal government shutdown, in addition to delaying aid checks and halting unemployment benefits and eviction protections in the most dire stretch of the pandemic.

“Made many calls and had meetings at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida. Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600?” he tweeted after leaving the golf course Friday afternoon. “It wasn’t their fault, it was China. Give our people the money!”

Refusing to accept the results of the election

Trump’s decision to attack the bill has been seen, at least in part, as political punishment for what he considers insufficient backing by congressional Republicans of his campaign to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election with unfounded claims of voter fraud.

“At a meeting in Florida today, everyone was asking why aren’t the Republicans up in arms & fighting over the fact that the Democrats stole the rigged presidential election?” Trump tweeted Thursday.

“I will NEVER FORGET!” he later added.

Trump for weeks now has refused to accept the results of the election and has been pushing new, increasingly outrageous schemes to try to overturn the results. He has been egged on by allies like his lawyer, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who accompanied the president to Florida aboard Air Force One.

Trump has provided no credible evidence to support his election claims, which have been refuted by a long list of officials, among them judges, former Attorney General William Barr, Republican governors, and local election administrators.

The US is still reeling from the pandemic

Meanwhile, the nation continues to reel as the coronavirus spreads, with record infections and hospitalizations and more than 327,000 now dead. And millions are now going through the holidays alone or struggling to make ends meet without adequate income, food, or shelter thanks to the pandemic’s economic toll.

The Justice Department said Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen also was briefed on the Nashville blast and directed that all department resources be made available to help. The FBI will be taking the lead in the investigation, agency spokesman Joel Siskovic said.

Three people were treated in hospitals after a recreational vehicle, blaring a recorded warning of an imminent detonation, exploded in Nashville’s downtown. The blast caused widespread communications outages that took down police emergency systems and grounded flights at the city’s airport.

To mark the holiday, the president and first lady Melania Trump tweeted out a pre-recorded video message in which they wished Americans a Merry Christmas and thanked first responders and members of the military.

“As you know, this Christmas is different than years past,” said Mrs. Trump, who focused on the acts of “kindness and courage” the pandemic had inspired.

Trump hailed the vaccine doses now being delivered and thanked those responsible. “It is a truly a Christmas miracle,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been trying to salvage the year-end legislation to try to prevent a shutdown. Democrats will call House lawmakers back to Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s $2,000 proposal, though it would probably die in the Republican-controlled Senate. They are also considering a vote Monday on a stop-gap measure at least to avert a federal shutdown and keep the government running until Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.

In addition to the relief checks, the COVID bill that passed would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit, provide a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and money for schools, and provide money for health care providers and to help with COVID vaccine distribution. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lindsey Graham tweets that Trump wants $2,000 checks in relief bill as COVID-19 relief bill lingers in limbo

trump gold christmas
President Donald Trump’s motorcade drives to the Trump International Golf Club, Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

President Donald Trump spent his Christmas golfing in Florida as a government shutdown looms and COVID-19 relief hangs in the balance. Earlier in the day, he renewed calls for $2,000 stimulus checks, instead of the $600 included in a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed in both houses of Congress and is awaiting Trump’s signature.

In a Friday evening Tweet, Sen. Lindsey Graham doubled on Trump’s called for Americans $2,000 in aid.

“After spending some time with President @realDonaldTrump today, I am convinced he is more determined than ever to increase stimulus payments to $2000 per person and challenge Section 230 big tech liability protection,” Graham tweeted.

As Business Insider previously reported, Section 230 is “a provision in a 1996 law that protects companies on the internet like Twitter and Facebook from being regulated as publishers of third-party content like tweets and Facebook posts.” It is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and allows the aforementioned internet companies to govern content on their platforms.

Trump has regularly railed against this provision and vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act due to the fact that it did not include changes to Section 230.

Trump in Florida for Christmas as the relief bill hangs in limbo

Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach for the holidays, had no events on his public schedule after throwing the future of a massive COVID-19 relief and government funding bill into question. Failure to sign the bill, which arrived in Florida on Thursday night, could deny relief checks to millions of Americans on the brink and force a government shutdown in the midst of the pandemic.

The White House declined to share details of the president’s schedule, though he was expected to golf Friday with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump was briefed on the explosion in downtown Nashville early Friday that authorities said appeared to be intentional, but the president said nothing publicly about it in the hours after.

Trump tweeted that he planned to make “a short speech to service members from all over the world” by video conference Friday to celebrate the holiday, but declared: “Fake News not invited!” Without giving details, the White House said only that Trump would work “tirelessly” during the holidays and has “many meetings and calls.”

Trump’s vacation came as Washington was still reeling over his surprise, eleventh-hour demand that an end-of-year spending bill that congressional leaders spent months negotiating to give most Americans $2,000 COVID relief checks – far more than the $600 members of his own party had agreed to. The idea was swiftly rejected by House Republicans during a rare Christmas Eve session, leaving the proposal in limbo.

The bipartisan compromise had been considered a done deal and had won sweeping approval in the House and Senate this week after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it. If he refuses to sign the deal, which is attached to a $1.4 trillion government funding bill, it will force a federal government shutdown, in addition to delaying aid checks and halting unemployment benefits and eviction protections in the most dire stretch of the pandemic.

“Made many calls and had meetings at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida. Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600?” he tweeted after leaving the golf course Friday afternoon. “It wasn’t their fault, it was China. Give our people the money!”

Refusing to accept the results of the election

Trump’s decision to attack the bill has been seen, at least in part, as political punishment for what he considers insufficient backing by congressional Republicans of his campaign to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election with unfounded claims of voter fraud.

“At a meeting in Florida today, everyone was asking why aren’t the Republicans up in arms & fighting over the fact that the Democrats stole the rigged presidential election?” Trump tweeted Thursday.

“I will NEVER FORGET!” he later added.

Trump for weeks now has refused to accept the results of the election and has been pushing new, increasingly outrageous schemes to try to overturn the results. He has been egged on by allies like his lawyer, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who accompanied the president to Florida aboard Air Force One.

Trump has provided no credible evidence to support his election claims, which have been refuted by a long list of officials, among them judges, former Attorney General William Barr, Republican governors, and local election administrators.

The US is still reeling from the pandemic

Meanwhile, the nation continues to reel as the coronavirus spreads, with record infections and hospitalizations and more than 327,000 now dead. And millions are now going through the holidays alone or struggling to make ends meet without adequate income, food, or shelter thanks to the pandemic’s economic toll.

The Justice Department said Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen also was briefed on the Nashville blast and directed that all department resources be made available to help. The FBI will be taking the lead in the investigation, agency spokesman Joel Siskovic said.

Three people were treated in hospitals after a recreational vehicle, blaring a recorded warning of an imminent detonation, exploded in Nashville’s downtown. The blast caused widespread communications outages that took down police emergency systems and grounded flights at the city’s airport.

To mark the holiday, the president and first lady Melania Trump tweeted out a pre-recorded video message in which they wished Americans a Merry Christmas and thanked first responders and members of the military.

“As you know, this Christmas is different than years past,” said Mrs. Trump, who focused on the acts of “kindness and courage” the pandemic had inspired.

Trump hailed the vaccine doses now being delivered and thanked those responsible. “It is a truly a Christmas miracle,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been trying to salvage the year-end legislation to try to prevent a shutdown. Democrats will call House lawmakers back to Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s $2,000 proposal, though it would probably die in the Republican-controlled Senate. They are also considering a vote Monday on a stop-gap measure at least to avert a federal shutdown and keep the government running until Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.

In addition to the relief checks, the COVID bill that passed would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit, provide a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and money for schools, and provide money for health care providers and to help with COVID vaccine distribution. 

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Here’s a look back on the historic traditions that inspired modern Christmas celebrations, from Ancient Rome to Scandinavia

Christmas holiday
Traditional foods and customs are influenced by European countries.

  • While Christmas is closely associated with the Christian faith and the birth of Jesus, modern-day traditions can also be traced back to rituals and customs from other cultures. 
  • Ancient Rome’s Saturnalia celebrations placed an emphasis on sharing food and drinks, spending time with loved ones, and exchanging little gifts during the winter season. 
  • The Germanic-Scandinavian tradition, Yule, was a winter festival where the Norse god Odin left small gifts for each household on his eight-legged white horse.
  • The evolution of Santa Clause resembles Odin as well as other historical figures, including Saint Nicholas of Myra and the Dutch figure Sinterklaas. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Not long to go now before many of us get to spread some good tidings and joy as we celebrate Christmas.

The main ways we understand and mark the occasion seem to be rather similar across the world. It’s about time with community, family, food-sharing, gift-giving, and overall merry festivities.

But while Christmas is ostensibly a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, many of the rituals and customs come from other traditions, both spiritual and secular.

The first Christmas

The journey of Christmas into the celebration we know and recognize today is not a straight line.

The first Christmas celebrations were recorded in Ancient Rome in the fourth century. Christmas was placed in December, around the time of the northern winter solstice.

It is not difficult to spot the similarities between our now long-standing Christmas traditions and the Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was also celebrated in December and coexisted with Christian belief for a period of time.

Saturnalia placed an emphasis on the sharing of food and drink, and spending time with loved ones as the colder winter period arrived. There is even evidence that the Romans exchanged little gifts of food to mark the occasion.

As Christianity took greater hold in the Roman world and the old polytheistic religion was left behind, we can see the cultural imprint of Saturnalia traditions in the ways in which our well-known Christmas celebrations established themselves across the board.

Read more: Researchers are on a quest to create the perfect Christmas tree that lasts through the holidays – and one of these ‘frankenfirs’ will be available by 2021

A Yule celebration

Turning an eye to the Germanic-Scandinavian context also provides intriguing connections. In the Norse religion, Yule was a winter festival celebrated during the period we now roughly associate with December.

The beginning of Yule was marked by the arrival of the Wild Hunt, a spiritual occurrence when the Norse god Odin would ride across the sky on his eight-legged white horse.

While the hunt was a frightening sight to behold, it also brought excitement for families, and especially children, as Odin was known to leave little gifts at each household as he rode past.

Like the Roman Saturnalia, Yule was a time of drawing in for the winter months, during which copious amounts of food and drink would be consumed.

The Yule festivities included bringing tree branches inside the home and decorating them with food and trinkets, likely opening the way for the Christmas tree as we know it today.

The influence of Yule on the festive season of Northern European countries is still evident in linguistic expression too, with “Jul” being the word for Christmas in Danish and Norwegian. The English language also maintains this connection, by referring to the Christmas period as “Yuletide”.

Here comes Santa

Through the idea of gift-giving, we see the obvious connections between Odin and Santa Claus, even though the latter is somewhat of a popular culture invention, as put forward by the famous poem A Visit from St Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas), attributed to American poet Clement Clarke Moore in 1837 (although debate continues over who actually wrote the poem).

The poem was very well-received and its popularity spread immediately, going well beyond the American context and reaching global fame. The poem gave us much of the staple imagery we associate with Santa today, including the first ever mention of his reindeer.

But even the figure of Santa Claus is evidence of the constant mixture and mingling of traditions, customs, and representations.

Santa’s evolution carries echoes of not only Odin, but also historical figures such as Saint Nicholas of Myra – a fourth-century bishop known for his charitable work – and the legendary Dutch figure of Sinterklaas that derived from it.

Read more: Coaches, founders, and executives share how they’re setting goals for 2021

Christmas down under in the summer

The idea of connecting Christmas to winter festivals and drawing in customs makes the most sense in the colder months of the Northern hemisphere.

In the Southern hemisphere, in countries such as New Zealand and Australia, the traditional Christmas celebrations have evolved into their own specific brand, which is much more suited to the warmer summer months.

Christmas is an imported event in these areas and acts as a constant reminder of the spread of European colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Celebrating Christmas still carries the influence of European contexts, being a time for merriment, gift-giving, and community spirit.

Even some of the traditional foods of the season here are still indebted to Euro-British traditions, with turkey and ham taking center stage.

All the same, as Christmas falls in the summer down under, there are also different ways to celebrate it in New Zealand and other regions that clearly have nothing to do with winter festivals.

Barbecues and beach days are prominent new traditions, as borrowed practices co-exist with novel ways of adapting the event to a different context.

The wintry Christmas puddings are often exchanged for more summery pavlovas, whose fresh fruit toppings and meringue base certainly befit the warmer season to a greater extent.

The transition to outdoor Christmas celebrations in the Southern hemisphere is obviously locked in common sense because of the warmer weather.

Nonetheless, it also shows how both cultural and geographical drivers can influence the evolution of celebrating important festivals. And if you really want to experience a cold Christmas down under, there is always a mid-year Christmas in July to look forward to.

Lorna Piatti-Farnell, professor of popular culture, Auckland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation
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Warren Buffett gave $10,000 in cash to each of his relatives at Christmas

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett

  • Warren Buffett’s favorite Christmas presents over the years have included dresses, chocolates, and stacks of cash.
  • “He would always give each of us $10,000 in hundred-dollar bills,” Mary Buffett, the famed investor’s former daughter-in-law, told ThinkAdvisor. “As soon as we got home, we’d spend it – whooo!”
  • Berkshire Hathaway’s billionaire boss has also bought dresses in bulk from a local store, and he sends boxes of See’s Candies with funny Christmas cards to friends and relatives every year.
  • View Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Warren Buffett’s favorite Christmas presents include dresses, chocolates, and envelopes of cash.

The famed investor and billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway certainly makes an effort when the holidays come around. Here are the details of his signature gifts.

Cash and stock

“He would always give each of us $10,000 in hundred-dollar bills,” Mary Buffett, who was married to Warren’s son Peter from 1980 to 1993, recently told ThinkAdvisor. “As soon as we got home, we’d spend it – whooo!”

Warren switched things up after realizing his family were blowing through the lump sum – worth more than $30,000 in today’s dollars.

“One Christmas there was an envelope with a letter from him,” Mary told ThinkAdvisor. “Instead of cash, he’d given us $10,000 worth of shares in a company he’d recently bought, a trust Coca-Cola had. He said to either cash them in or keep them.”

Mary decided the stock was worth more than $10,000, so she held onto the shares. After they rose in value, she repeated the strategy with Warren’s future gifts.

“Every year when he’d give us stock – Wells Fargo being one of them – I would just buy more of it because I knew it was going to go up,” she said.

‘Wheel out the dresses’

Buffett is famously prudent in allocating resources across Berkshire’s companies. He also prizes efficiency in his Christmas shopping.

The billionaire’s strategy in the 1960s was to visit Topps, a dress shop in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, and hand an employee a list of the dress sizes of all the women in his life, Alice Schroeder wrote in “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.”

“I would go over and they’d wheel out the dresses,” Buffett said. “I’d make a variety of decisions and buy presents for my sisters, Susie, Gladys, and so forth. I kind of enjoyed it.”

Christmas cards and chocolates

Buffett sends boxes of See’s Candies – one of Berkshire’s best investments ever – to dozens of relatives and friends each year, his longtime friend Carol Loomis wrote in Fortune. Each box comes with his annual Christmas card attached.

In 2013, the card showed Buffett dressed as Walter White from “Breaking Bad” with the message “Have yourself a Meth-y Little Christmas.”

In 2016, it featured Buffett and his Berkshire partner, Charlie Munger, dressed in black tie for their induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame with the caption “Butch & Sundance.” 

In 2018, the card showed Buffett wearing a T-shirt reading “The Next Charlie Munger” with the caption “Aiming High in 2019.”

Buffett’s Christmas card for 2020 shows him with his arm around a metal bust of Munger, who was unable to join him at Berkshire’s annual meeting due to the pandemic. His sweater reads,”You can never have too much love or too much gravy.”  The caption below reads, “…. or too much Charlie.”

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Zero-gravity cookies and Santa space suits: Here’s what it’s like to spend Christmas on the International Space Station

ISS Christmas 2005
Christmas on the ISS can get pretty festive – especially in zero gravity.

  • There are often astronauts in the International Space Station over Christmas, and this year is no exception.
  • Despite being posted to a cramped space station, they still manage to celebrate Christmas with most of the traditional trappings.
  • That means Santa space suits
  • If they’re lucky they get the day off as well.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

No one likes spending Christmas at work – but sometimes there’s just no getting out of it. For example, if you are stationed in orbit 250 miles above the planet.

But despite being as far away as it’s humanly possible to get from Earth – where Christmas was invented – astronauts aboard the International Space Station manage to keep their workplace pretty festive. They festoon the station with decorations, put up Christmas trees, open presents, and even get Christmas dinner.

The crew currently aboard the ISS shared a holiday video with the world on December 22. The astronauts, four of whom arrived in November aboard the SpaceX spacecraft “Resilience,” said they’d named the craft after the people who helped get them up there in a year of unprecedented challenges.

“There couldn’t be a more fitting name to describe 2020, the resilience of the human spirit is something we can truly celebrate in this special season,” NASA astronaut Victor Glover said.

Here are some amazing moments from the many Christmases which have been celebrated aboard the ISS.

Of course to have a real Christmas you need a Christmas tree.

ISS Christmas 2015
A Christmas tree watches the Earth from space.

Astronauts may not be able to pick their own real fir tree, but for years they’ve been bringing up fake ones and adorning them with tinsel and decorations.

Over the decades astronauts have sometimes had to improvise.

ISS Christmas 1973
A Christmas tree made out of food packaging.

This Christmas tree is fashioned from empty food containers, and was made by three astronauts aboard the ISS on the Skylab 4 mission in 1973.

For years astronauts have been decorating Christmas cookies in zero-gravity.

ISS Christmas 2008 cookies
Astronauts Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus in 2008.

In November this year a specially designed “space oven” was shipped to the astronauts on the ISS to experiment on the impact intense heat and zero-gravity would have on baking cookies, however NASA confirmed that the astronauts will only be baking five experimental cookies in this oven and will not eat them.

The astronauts get Christmas dinner.

NASA preparing Christmas dinner
Sandra Magnus prepares Christmas dinner.

It’s impossible to prepare a full roast meal on the ISS, but astronauts still get an approximation of a Christmas dinner.

For Christmas 2018 crew members got a meal of smoked turkey, candied yams, corn, green beans, mac and cheese, and potatoes au gratin. This was followed by dessert options of strawberries, bread pudding, butter cookies, and shortbread cookies.

This feast was shipped up to the astronauts a few weeks ahead of Christmas aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

A NASA spokesperson sent Business Insider a list of what’s on the menu for the ISS crew this Christmas.

Herb and Citrus Butter Roasted Whole Butterball Turkey
A roasted butterball turkey (not pictured: the turkey which the astronauts will be receiving this year).

The main course for the astronauts’ Christmas meal includes:

  • Roasted Turkey
  • Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Potatoes Au Gratin
  • Southwestern Corn
  • Spicy Green Beans
  • Cornbread Dressing
  • Wheat Flat Bread

And for dessert…

  • Cherry Blueberry Cobbler
  • Cranapple Dessert
  • Shortbread Cookies
  • Sparkle Gel
  • French Vanilla Cappuccino

The astronauts’ Christmas meal was shipped up to them aboard the SpaceX CRS-21 spacecraft on December 6 (along with some meteorite samples and live mice).

Last year the astronauts were sent gingerbread men, some of which ended up floating around in zero gravity.

ISS christmas 2019 gingerbread man
Astronauts celebrate Christmas 2019 aboard the ISS.

Stockings have also become a regular feature – although the lack of gravity means they don’t necessarily hang the way they usually do.

ISS Christmas 2017
This picture of astronaut Mark Vande Hei was taken on Christmas Eve 2017.

On Christmas morning astronauts emerge from their sleeping quarters to find their stockings and presents just like on Earth.

ISS Christmas 2010 Christmas morning
Christmas morning 2010 on the ISS. From left to right: European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman.

Presents from the astronauts’ families are shipped up to the ISS ahead of Christmas day. Their families have to be organized, sometimes sending presents up as early as November to coincide with cargo ships travelling to the station with new supplies and science experiments.

This year’s batch of Christmas presents and food was brought up by another SpaceX Dragon ship on December 8.

It’s not just their families that give them gifts – the astronauts also get presents for each other.

In 2014 US astronaut Terry Virts tweeted that he’d got a harmonica from Russian cosmonaut Elena Sorova.

 

Santa Claus hats are another staple, as exemplified in this photo of astronaut Scott Kelly (2010).

ISS Christmas 2010

This picture from Christmas 2011 shows that elf hats are also permitted.

ISS Christmas 2011
The upside-down elf is Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov.

And of course decorations are a must, as proven by this photo taken in the run-up to Christmas aboard the Russian segment of the ISS in 2012.

ISS Christmas decorations 2012

The decorations can get pretty space-specific.

ISS Christmas 2008
Sandra Magnus floats between two Santa-hatted space suits.

Stuffing empty space suits and putting hats on them appears to have caught on, in 2014 US astronaut astronaut Terry Virts shared this picture.

ISS Christmas 2014

Virts and his team also left some “powdered milk and freeze dried cookies” for Santa according to ABC — although without a chimney, they had to settle for leaving them by the airlock.

 

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is famous for his orbital musical renditions, and Christmas is no exception.

ISS Christmas Chris Hadfield 2012

This photo was taken on Christmas day 2012, and according to NASA Hadfield later joined the rest of the crew for an “assortment of Christmas carols.”

Sometimes astronauts get the day off, but not always.

In 2018 two out of the three crew members got the whole day off, while a third had to carry out a few odd jobs. “The only tasks on their schedule for Xmas besides meals and exercise are some blood and saliva sample draws for human research studies,” a spokesperson told Space.com.

Sometimes the astronauts have more serious Christmas duties to attend to. On Christmas Eve 2013 NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio ventured outside the ISS on a space walk to fix a broken cooling system.

This year NASA confirmed to Business Insider the astronauts onboard will get to take Christmas day off work.

Even though the ISS might lack a few home comforts, being in space is a pretty unique way to spend the holiday.

Astronaut Anne McClain shared what it feels like to look down on the Earth at Christmas time during her stay on the station in 2018.

And in 2014 Terry Virts tweeted a video of what he called the ISS’ version of Christmas lights.

 

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Here are 9 countries sacrificing the holidays and locking down over the festive period

18 December 2020, Saxony, Bautzen: Christmas lights hang over the empty Reichenstraße in front of the Reichenturm. So far, there has been no sign of a turnaround in new infections in the state of Saxony. According to the Ministry of Health in Dresden, the seven-day incidence climbed to 415 on Thursday (17.12.2020). On Wednesday, the value was still at 407. Saxony thus continues to be well ahead of all other federal states. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Christmas lights hang over an empty street in Bautzen, Germany, on December 18, 2020.

  • A number of countries have announced strict lockdown measures spanning Christmas and New Year’s.
  • Coronavirus cases are still rising in many countries, with holiday travel and celebrations providing a breeding ground for the virus. 
  • Here are 9 countries enforcing new measures. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A number of countries have chosen to drastically curtail Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in the face of rising COVID-19 cases. 

The trend is particularly apparent in mainland Europe, where curfews, lockdowns, and limits on private and public  gatherings have been reintroduced.

Here are 9 countries where Christmas 2020 and New Year’s 2021 will be like never before.

Germany

14 December 2020, Hamburg: Passers with nose-mouth-guards walk through the Christmassy decorated shopping street "Spitalerstraße" in the city centre. From 16.12.2020, Hamburg is stepping up its measures to contain the corona pandemic in view of the continuing high infection figures. Photo: Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa (Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images)
People seen in Hamburg, Germany, on December 14, 2020.

Germany entered a new Christmas lockdown on Wednesday, with only food shops and essential services like gas stations, chemists, and post office allowed to stay open.

Singing Christmas carols and drinking outdoors is banned, but Christmas tree vendors have been allowed to remain open.

From Christmas Eve to Boxing Day only, families are allowed to be visited by four other adult family members.

Precautions have also been put in place for New Year’s Eve. Any and all public gatherings have been banned, as has the sale of fireworks.

The lockdown began on the same day that Germany reported 952 deaths: a new daily record.

Source: Deutsche Welle, BBC

Denmark

Hundreds of Danish farmers and fishermen demonstrate with tractors against a government decision to cull their minks to halt the spread of a coronavirus variant on November 21, 2020. - More than 500 tractors, many decked out with the Danish flag, drove past the government's offices and parliament in Copenhagen to the port. (Photo by Thibault Savary / AFP) (Photo by THIBAULT SAVARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Danish farmers and fishermen demonstrate against a government decision to cull their minks on November 21, 2020.

Denmark’s prime minister Mette Frederiksen announced a nationwide Christmas lockdown on Wednesday December 16.

The same day, health authorities reported a record 3,692 daily cases, a new record. 

All businesses, except essential food and medical stores, must close between December 25 and January 3. 

As many as 10 people can gather together for Christmas celebrations if social distancing can be observed. Rules for New Year’s Eve are due to be announced the week beginning December 21.

Source: DR

Poland

FILE PHOTO: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks at a memorial concert to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi death camp Auschwitz at the State Opera in Berlin, Germany, January 27, 2020.     Odd Andersen/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki seen in Brussels in February 2020.

On Thursday, Poland announced a national lockdown from December 28 to January 17.

It is also forbidden to travel between towns or cities starting from 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve until 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Public gatherings on New Year’s Eve have been limited to five people. Wedding parties are also forbidden. 

Schoolchildren under the age of 16 can’t leave home without adult supervision during the school holidays.

Source: Government of Poland

The Netherlands

Amsterdam reopening
Tourists and locals enjoying on the terrace at the Leidseplen amid the Coronavirus pandemic on June 1, 2020 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

On December 14, the Netherlands ordered all non-essential shops to close and told everyone to stay inside if possible until January 19, 2021.

In general, households can only entertain two adult visitors who live elsewhere, but on Christmas Eve and Christmas day three people may visit.

Bars and restaurants had been closed for weeks, and will remain shuttered.

 “We’re not dealing with a simple flu,” prime minister Mark Rutte said. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to swallow the bitter pill.”

Source: Euronews, Sky News

Romania

FILE PHOTO: Romania's President Klaus Werner Iohannis arrives for the second day of a special European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium February 21, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Romania’s President Klaus Werner Iohannis

Romania has extended its existing lockdown until January 15.

A daily curfew is in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., which will apply on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve too.

Face masks are compulsory indoors and outdoors in public areas. Christmas parties are banned in public and private areas both indoors and outdoors.

Anyone found breaching the rules can be fined a maximum of $3,800.

Source: UK Government travel advice 

Hungary

BUDAPEST, Dec. 2, 2020 -- Christmas lights and decorations are seen in downtown Budapest, Hungary, Dec. 2, 2020. (Photo by Attila Volgyi/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Attila Volgyi via Getty Images)
Christmas lights and decorations are seen in downtown Budapest, Hungary, December 2, 2020.

The whole of Hungary has been under a 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew since November 10 and family gatherings are limited to 10 people. This includes Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the rules also apply on New Year’s Eve and that all parties are banned.

Source: About Hungary

Czech Republic

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - DECEMBER 05: Members of the Cirk La Putyka troupe entertain people driving through with their cars on the eve of St. Nicholas Day on December 05, 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic. On the eve of St. Nicholas, Czechs traditionally celebrate by dressing up as Devils, Angels, and St. Nicholas, and visiting children, handing out little presents. Amid the coronavirus crisis, Circ La Putyka troupe offered a drive-thru celebration as spectators drove a route visiting heaven, hell, and St. Nicholas. Due to the governments restrictive measures, the usual traditions of door-to-door visiting would be impossible. The eager guests formed a long line of cars at the Circ La Putyka base in Prague. (Photo by Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images)
A drive-through Christmas celebration on December 05, 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Most non-essential businesses shuttered on December 18 and all gatherings have now been limited to six people.

A nationwide curfew from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. has also been enforced.

“This year’s Christmas will be totally different, but that is the result of the situation we are in,” Jan Blatný, the country’s health minister, said.

Source: Guardian 

Italy

colosseum rome italy tourism
Italy’s Carabinieri police in front of the Colosseum on June 1, 2020.

While not yet officially confirmed, Italian newspapers reported on December 18 that the government is due to announce a national lockdown active between December 24 and 27 and between December 31 and January 3.

“For the period from Christmas Eve to Epiphany, whether until the 3rd or 6th of January, the more restrictions there are, the better,” Francesco Boccia, Italy’s Minister for Regional Affairs, said Thursday.

Source: The Local

Turkey

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 17: Surroundings of Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque remain empty after a general curfew imposed every weeknight from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. within measures against a second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Istanbul, Turkey on December 17, 2020. (Photo by Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque seen during the curfew in Istanbul, Turkey on December 17, 2020.

Being a majority Muslim country, Turkey does not widely celebrate Christmas, but from 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve until 5 a.m. on January 4, 2021, the whole country will be under a lockdown. 

However, it only applies to residents, and foreign tourists are exempt from the order, and can sight-see at their leisure.

Source: Independent, The New York Times 

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