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    Black Friday online spending sets new U.S. record

    A report shows that smartphones were a popular purchase

    With many consumers still apprehensive about shopping in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spending for online shopping during Black Friday hit a new record. 

    An estimated $9 billion was spent online the day after Thanksgiving, according to a report from Adobe Analytics. That figure represents a 22 percent increase from the previous online spending record of $7.4 billion, set in 2019. 

    Adobe researchers said Friday’s online sales total takes the title of second-largest spending day in U.S. history, behind Cyber Monday last year. Consumers spent $6.3 million per minute (or $27.50 per person) online on Black Friday 2020.

    Digital devices were hot items

    There was a 25 percent increase in spending on smartphones compared to last year, according to the report. Forty percent of all online sales, or $3.6 billion, was spent on these devices. 

    “New consoles, phones, smart devices and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes and alcohol, that would previously have been purchased in-store,” said Taylor Schreiner, a director at Adobe Digital Insights.

    Sales of personal care products surged 556 percent, and online spending on pet products rose 254 percent. Popular items included Hot Wheels, Lego sets, Apple AirPods, Apple Watches, Amazon Echo devices, and Samsung TVs.

    More consumers also utilized retailers’ in-store and curbside pickup options. The report found that the use of these options increased 52 percent from last year.

    This year’s Cyber Monday shopping event is expected to become the biggest day in online sales in U.S. history. Adobe expects online sales to total between $10.8 billion to $12.7 billion.

    With many consumers still apprehensive about shopping in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spending for online shopping during Black Friday hit a new re...
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    Coronavirus update: Promising vaccine data confirmed, distribution centers set up nationwide

    There was finally a break from new record daily cases

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

    Total U.S. confirmed cases: 13,399,855 (13,247,386)

    Total U.S. deaths: 266,986 (266,074)

    Total global cases: 62,924,259 (62,362,397)

    Total global deaths: 1,462,989 (1,454,745)

    Moderna seeks a green light from the FDA

    Moderna is requesting emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine after new data confirmed that it is more than 94 percent effective in preventing infections. The trial also provided evidence that the vaccine is safe.

    Moderna is the second drugmaker to seek EUA from the FDA. Pfizer, which also reported a successful trial for its vaccine, applied for the same approval earlier this month.

    Moderna’s announcement means the vaccine could be available to some Americans -- frontline workers, first responders, and nursing home staff and residents -- before the end of December.

    You may not have to travel far to get vaccinated

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that it is working with major retail pharmacy chains -- including Walmart, Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens -- to become vaccination distribution centers. 

    These firms have begun training staff and securing large refrigeration units to facilitate distribution to the public. Pharmacies increasingly have become basic health service providers, administering the annual flu vaccine. Some, like CVS Health, have established small clinics within their stores.

    “We are leveraging the existing private sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible with no out-of-pocket costs,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”

    Cases trend lower

    New cases of the coronavirus are suddenly trending lower. After a record 205,000 new cases reported on Friday, the number dropped to 138,000 on Sunday. But health officials say this is no time to relax.

    “What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “I don’t want to frighten people, except to say it is not too late to do something about this.”

    Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), previously expressed concerns about the large number of Americans who gathered for Thanksgiving. He urged Americans to use extreme cautious heading into the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

    Health systems urge Americans to mask up

    A growing number of health systems in the U.S. have a very simple holiday message for Americans: “Wear a mask, for Pete’s sake!”

    With a vaccine in sight but with hospitals strained from the surge in new COVID-19 cases, the #MaskUp Twitter campaign is asking Americans to wear a mask and limit contact with people outside their household. If you don’t do it for yourself, the campaign asks you to consider overworked health care professionals.

    “You’ve called us heroes,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a press release. “But heroes don’t deserve this.”

    Word of the year

    Dictionary.com has selected “pandemic” as the 2020 Word of the Year. The site says the word sums up an unprecedented year in which the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted every sector of society.

    "The pandemic has changed everything, including our language," said John Kelly, senior research editor at Dictionary.com. "From the technical lingo of asymptomatic to coinages like ‘doomscrolling,’ the pandemic suddenly generated a new shared vocabulary for a new lived experience

    He said the event drove not only record searches for new or unfamiliar terms but a record in the number of related additions made to Dictionary.com. 

    Around the nation

    • Missouri: There’s mixed virus news in the Show Me state. The death rate in the state is actually falling because more of the people becoming infected are recovering. But state health officials say hospitalizations are still worrisome, with ICU occupancy at 21 percent.

    • Louisiana: The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of a pastor who faces criminal charges for his defiance of state coronavirus orders. "I am thankful that the United States Supreme Court denied this effort to overturn these mitigation efforts," said Gov. John Bel Edwards.

    • Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott has declined to impose a statewide mask mandate, but a growing number of Texas localities are seeing the need for one. Amarillo is one of the latest Texas cities to require citizens to wear a mask in public. “I am responding to what healthcare workers are asking and telling us that we need,” said Mayor Ginger Nelson.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 13,399,855 (13,247,...
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      Moderna applies for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine

      Grocery stores and pharmacies are already gearing up for nationwide distribution

      As anticipated, pharmaceutical manufacturer Moderna announced Monday that it will apply for emergency use authorization (EUA) for its coronavirus vaccine with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

      If all goes according to plan and approval is given, the first injections may be administered as early as Monday, December 21.

      The proof speaks for itself

      Moderna claims that its vaccine had a success rate of 94.1 percent in a Phase 3 study that assessed 196 actual cases of COVID-19. The results of that study closely mirror the analysis of data published earlier in the month that found the vaccine to be 94.5 percent effective.

      The performance of the vaccine was also impressive in individual categories. Against severe COVID-19, the vaccine registered a 100 percent success rate. Efficacy was consistent across age, race, ethnicity, and gender demographics, too. The 196 cases included 33 older adults (aged 65+) and 42 participants who identify as a member of a “diverse community.” This included members that were Hispanic or LatinX, Black or African American, Asian American, and multiracial.

      “We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. 

      Getting the distribution component ready

      Whether it’s Moderna’s vaccine or any of the vaccines created by its peers, getting ready to distribute a treatment is one of the next big steps. Major pharmacies across the country say they’re already preparing to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine and, once it’s available, people should be able to get it at their neighborhood supermarket or drugstore.

      The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is already on the case, working with Albertsons, CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart, and others to become vaccination distribution centers. Various sources report that several pharmacy and grocery chains have begun training staff and securing large refrigeration units to become vaccination centers.

      As anticipated, pharmaceutical manufacturer Moderna announced Monday that it will apply for emergency use authorization (EUA) for its coronavirus vaccine w...
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      Major pharmacies preparing to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine

      Once a vaccine is approved, here’s where you can get it

      When a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is approved, you’ll probably be able to get it at your neighborhood supermarket or drugstore.

      The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun working with Kroger, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and other national chains to become vaccination distribution centers. These firms have begun training staff and securing large refrigeration units to become vaccination centers.

      Moderna said Monday that it would ask U.S. and European regulators to approve its vaccine, which was shown to be 94 percent effective in clinical trials. Pfizer has already taken that step for its vaccine.

      Pharmacies increasingly have become basic health service providers, administering the annual flu vaccine. Some, like CVS Health, have established small clinics within their stores.

      Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief health officer at CVS Health, believes the pharmacy will administer the COVID-19 vaccine to as many as 20 million people in the U.S.

      “With approximately 70 percent of the U.S. population living within three miles of a CVS Pharmacy, we’ll be easy to reach when a vaccine is authorized by the FDA and becomes available in retail settings,” Brennan said. “Our pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and pharmacy technicians have been an invaluable community resource since the pandemic began and are ready to play a critical role in the vaccination effort.”

      Albertsons and its subsidiaries

      Albertsons supermarkets will also be a vaccine distribution point. The company operates more than 1,700 pharmacy locations nationwide, including those in Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, and Carrs stores.

      “Throughout this pandemic, our pharmacy teams have been on the front lines, offering care and health solutions for our communities,” said Omer Gajial, senior vice president of Albertsons Companies Pharmacy and Health. “When a vaccine is ready, our pharmacists will play a critical role in administering this important public health service.”

      No matter where you get the vaccine, there should be no cost to the consumer. The U.S. government will pay the cost for uninsured people.

      There will be some paperwork to complete before receiving the shot. Albertsons says consumers will find contactless consent forms for the vaccine in the company’s pharmacy apps. By completing the necessary paperwork electronically ahead of time, patients can reduce the amount of time spent in the pharmacy. 

      Here’s the list

      Here’s the list of participating retailers, provided by HHS. More locations may be added when one or more vaccines are approved.

      • Albertsons Companies, Inc. (incl., Osco, Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Star Market, Shaws, Haggen, Acme, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United, Vons, Pavilions, Amigos, Lucky’s, Pak n Save, Sav-On)

      • Costco Wholesale Corp.

      • CPESN USA, LLC

      • CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (incl. Long’s)

      • Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation’s PSAO, Elevate Provider

      • Health Mart Systems, Inc.

      • H-E-B, LP

      • Hy-Vee, Inc.

      • LeaderNET and Medicine Shoppe, Cardinal Health’s PSAOs

      • Managed Health Care Associates (MHA)

      • Meijer Inc.

      • Publix Super Markets, Inc.

      • Retail Business Services, LLC (incl., Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Bros Co, Stop & Shop)

      • Rite Aid Corp.

      • The Kroger Co. (incl., Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Frys, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, City Market, Dillons, Marianos, Pick-n-Save, Copps, Metro Market)

      • Topco Associates, LLC (incl. Big-Y Pharmacy and Wellness Center, Brookshire’s Pharmacy, Super One Pharmacy, FRESH by Brookshire’s Pharmacy, Coborn’s Pharmacy, Cash Wise Pharmacy, MarketPlace Pharmacy, Hartig Drug Company, King Kullen, Food City Pharmacy, Ingles Pharmacy, Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill Pharmacies, Save Mart Pharmacies, Lucky Pharmacies, SpartanNash, Price Chopper, Market 32, Tops Friendly Markets, ShopRite, Wegmans, Weis Markets, Acme Fresh Markets)

      • Walgreens (incl. Duane Reade)

      • Walmart, Inc. (incl. Sam’s Club)

      • Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. (incl. Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Fresco Y Mas)

      When a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is approved, you’ll probably be able to get it at your neighborhood supermarket or drugstore.The Department of He...
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      Hacker sells email credentials of ‘hundreds’ of high level executives

      Stolen account credentials are being sold for $100 to $1500 each

      A hacker is reportedly selling access to email accounts belonging to “hundreds” of high level executives across the world. The accounts are going for $100 to $1500 each, depending on the value of each account. The targets include CEOs, vice presidents, and directors. 

      The email and password combinations are being sold on a “closed-access underground forum for Russian-speaking hackers named Exploit.in,” according to ZDNet. The seller did not disclose how he obtained the login credentials, but he claimed to have hundreds of additional accounts to sell. 

      ZDNet said a cybersecurity source has confirmed the validity of the stolen data. That source has begun the process of notifying all the affected companies. 

      Scam potential 

      If corporate executive login credentials fall into the wrong hands, both the executives and their workers could be affected. Cybercriminals can use compromised corporate email credentials for a variety of money-making schemes, KELA Product Manager Raveed Laeb explained to ZDNet. 

      "Attackers can use them for internal communications as part of a 'CEO scam' - where criminals manipulate employees into wiring them large sums of money; they can be used in order to access sensitive information as part of an extortion scheme,” Laeb said.

      Stolen login credentials can also be “exploited in order to gain access to other internal systems that require email-based 2FA, in order to move laterally in the organization and conduct a network intrusion," Laeb added.

      To reduce the likelihood of such events unfolding, cybersecurity experts highly recommend using two-step verification or two-factor authentication for online accounts. Attackers won’t be able to do anything with stolen login details in cases where the user has set up 2SV or 2FA. 

      A hacker is reportedly selling access to email accounts belonging to “hundreds” of high level executives across the world. The accounts are going for $100...
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      Any Volume recalls bicycle helmets

      The helmets do not comply with federal federal safety standards

      Any Volume of Bridgeville, Pa., is recalling about 660 bicycle helmets.

      The helmets do not comply with the U.S. CPSC federal safety standard for bicycle helmets, posing a risk of head injury.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves Any Volume’s medium-sized adult bicycle helmets sold in blue, green, pink, red, white and yellow.

      The helmets have black nylon fabric straps with white striped patterns in the center and a black plastic knob at the back of the helmet for adjusting the fitting.

      The helmets, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively online at ebay.com from May 2020, through October 2020, for about $15.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled helmets and contact Any Volume for a full refund. Any Volume is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Any Volume toll-free at (877) 391-5003 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at cs@anyvolume.com or online at www.anyvolume.com and click on “BH 11 and H-103 Bike Helmet Recall Notice” at the center of the page for more information.

      Any Volume of Bridgeville, Pa., is recalling about 660 bicycle helmets. The helmets do not comply with the U.S. CPSC federal safety standard for bicycle...
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      Chrysler recalls model year 2014-2019 Jeep Grand Cherokees

      The Exhaust Gas Recirculation cooler may crack internally

      Chrysler is recalling 28,884 model year 2014-2019 Jeep Grand Cherokees with 3.0L EcoDiesel engines.

      The Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler may crack and allow pre-heated vaporized coolant to enter the EGR system. This mixture may combust inside the intake manifold.

      Combustion in the intake manifold can increase the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the EGR cooler free of charge. Dealers will also inspect and -- as necessary – replace the intake manifold.

      The recall is expected to begin December 31, 2020.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at (800) 853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is W79.

      Chrysler is recalling 28,884 model year 2014-2019 Jeep Grand Cherokees with 3.0L EcoDiesel engines. The Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler may crack...
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      What’s the deal on Cyber Monday?

      Compare top discounts for tech, gifts and more

      Even if you bought a few discounted big-ticket items last Friday, today is the day to save on electronics and gifts. Check out these deals on new tech devices, toys, jewelry and more.

      We also like that the Small Business Gift Guide makes it easy to support independent makers and crafters. For the most up-to-date information, check the Amazon app or ask Alexa, “What are my deals?” All Amazon Cyber Monday deals below are valid from November 28 through November 30.

      Cyber Monday deals on Amazon

      This year, millions of items are available with free shipping and delivery, even if you don’t have an Amazon Prime account. If you do have a Prime membership, you can get a free $100 gift card by applying for an Amazon Rewards Visa Card.

      Deals for new homeowners

      If you or someone you know is settling into a new space this holiday season, there’s no place like the internet — you’ll find plenty of gift ideas for making new digs feel like home among these online deals.

      Compare inexpensive rugs in a range of colors, shapes and sizes. With a robot vacuum cleaner, tidying up can be as easy as “Hey Alexa, clean my house!” Plus, sweet deals on video doorbells can help you keep an eye on things no matter where you are. For more, check out our resources on easy ways to renovate, decorate and protect a home.

      35% off iRobot 675 Roomba Vacuum

      • Ideal for hard floor and carpets
      • Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity

      Shop on Amazon

      30% off Safavieh, nuLOOM and Unique Loom rugs

      • Prices start around $12
      • Stain-resistant area rugs available

      Shop on Amazon

      $60 off Ring Video Doorbell 3

      • Enhanced Wi-Fi and motion detection
      • Easy to install

      Shop on Amazon

      Electronics and tech gifts

      Every year, new tech tempts even the staunchest Luddites. This year, we’re eyeing deals on these fancy Jabra headphones and the Toshiba Smart Fire TV. Plus, the new fourth-generation Amazon Echo is on sale — Alexa, can you say upgrade?

      $30 off the new Echo

      • Available in multiple colors
      • Simple to set up

      Shop on Amazon

      32-inch Toshiba Smart HD Fire TV for $119.99

      • Stream 500,000+ movies and shows
      • 720p resolution

      Shop on Amazon

      40% off Jabra Headphones

      • Wireless connectivity technology
      • Engineered with SmartSound

      Shop on Amazon

      Gifts for kids

      Whether the little ones in your life are adventurers, bookworms or artists, Cyber Monday has you covered. Don’t worry if you overdo it with too many toys — there are always storage options.

      30% off select Magic: the Gathering decks

      • Decks come with 71 cards
      • Recommended for ages 13+

      Shop on Amazon

      40% off L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. 4-in-1 Glamper

      • Regularly priced around $99
      • Recommended for ages 6+

      Shop on Amazon

      30% off Mynt Printing Pens and Accessories

      • Turns drawings into 3D works of art
      • Includes one-year limited warranty

      Shop on Amazon

      20% off kids bikes and helmets

      • Wide selection of colors and styles
      • Regular bike prices start around $60

      Shop on Amazon

      Gifts for moms and dads

      Now’s a good time to repay Mom and Dad for all the times they’ve lifted you up. Roald Dahl said it best: “It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.”

      50% off 23andMe DNA Tests

      • Regularly priced around $200
      • Includes Personal Genetic Service kit

      Shop on Amazon

      40% off Samsung AirDresser cabinet steamer

      • Deodorizes, sanitizes and relaxes wrinkles
      • Easy installation and built-in Wi-Fi

      Shop on Amazon

      35% off Nixplay Digital Frames

      • Share pictures via email or an app
      • Multiple sizes available

      Shop on Amazon

      40% off select handbags and accessories

      • Variety of styles available
      • Select brands include Baggu, Shashi and Gorjana

      Shop on Amazon

      30% off select Greenworks power tools

      • Wide selection of battery-powered outdoor tools
      • 4-year limited warranty

      Shop on Amazon

      Health, beauty and self-improvement

      Do we really have to wait for the new year to start on our resolutions? We say no. It’s 2020, and there are no rules. Consider the deals below if you’re looking to get a jump-start on your weight loss goals or improve your smile (because we won’t be wearing masks forever).

      Up to 47% on teeth whitening kits

      • Discounts on Oral-B, Crest and more
      • Some see improvements after one use

      Shop on Amazon

      60% off Haus Laboratories by Lady Gaga Collection

      • Quality products for eyes, lips, brows and more
      • Variety of color options

      Shop on Amazon

      Treat yourself

      This winter, find solace in stories with these digital and print book deals. Go ahead and stock up on succulents while you’re at it — they improve air quality and look pretty. After all, you have everything you need if you have a garden and a library, according to Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero.

      20% off succulents plants

      • Adaptable and easy to maintain
      • Naturally converts respiratory waste into oxygen

      Shop on Amazon

      50% off select books and Kindle Unlimited for $0.99

      • Paper and digital reading options
      • Get up to 2 months of Kindle Unlimited for 99 cents

      Shop on Amazon

      Holiday shopping should be a breeze this year — we’ve all got plenty to worry about otherwise. Next, read about where buyers admitted to suffering from the worst holiday-spending hangovers last year.

      What’s the deal on Cyber Monday?...
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      FTC offers tips for holiday shopping in 2020

      Consumers are reminded to look out for scams and do their research to save money

      While Black Friday may represent the official start to the holiday shopping season for many consumers, there are many people who are already scouring online sites to get good deals on products for their friends and family. To help in that effort, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a blog post with various tips to keep in mind. 

      Shameka Walker, an attorney with the FTC’s Division of Consumer & Business Education, says that holiday shopping has taken on a new shape this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      “Because of COVID-19, it’s likely that we’ll be going online to look for those perfect gifts. With so many deals around and what seem like eternal ‘Black Friday’ sales, it’s important to keep some online shopping tips in mind,” she said. 

      Holiday shopping tips

      Walker says one of the most important things to do if you’re planning to shop from home is to make sure your computer is outfitted with up-to-date antivirus software. Computer security, in general, is something that the FTC takes very seriously, and it has published a comprehensive list of things consumers can do to make sure their cybersecurity is up to snuff. 

      ConsumerAffairs also has several resources focused on helping consumers protect themselves against threats like identity theft.

      Other tips Walker provides include things that consumers can do when doing their actual shopping to ensure that they’re getting the best deal and keeping themselves safe. They include:

      • Taking time to compare products. If you know that there’s a product out there that you’ll want to get for the holidays, don’t be content to buy it from the first source you look at. Shopping around can allow you to save money that can be used for other gifts or to sock away for a rainy day. 

      • Checking out sellers. Going hand-in-hand with comparing products is the necessity of checking out who is selling you a product. Sites like ConsumerAffairs can allow you to look up reviews about a company to ensure that you’re buying from a legitimate source. 

      • Looking for coupon codes. There’s more than one way to get a good deal. While steep discounts are always nice, finding an eligible coupon can be another way that you can increase your savings. 

      • Paying by credit card. Paying for online purchases with a credit card gives consumers protection under the Fair Credit Billing Act. This allows you to dispute certain charges and limits the amount of money that a hacker or scammer can potentially steal from you in the event of a cybersecurity lapse. 

      • Using secure checkout. You’ll want to make sure that the site you’re using to buy a product is protected by enhanced security protocols. One easy way to check for this is by checking the site’s URL and seeing if it starts with “https.” The “s” in that case stands for “secure,” which means you can have more confidence when it comes to entering your information. 

      • Keeping records of transactions. Keeping a running tab of the products you’ve ordered will give you an easy checklist once packages start coming in. If you notice there’s something missing, you can contact the vendor early on to resolve the issue.

      While Black Friday may represent the official start to the holiday shopping season for many consumers, there are many people who are already scouring onlin...
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      Coronavirus update: Strict enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines, an ambitious vaccination goal

      Employers may require workers to get vaccinated

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 12,619,931 (12,433,676)

      Total U.S. deaths: 260,322 (258,172)

      Total global cases: 59,985,053 (59,401,413)

      Total global deaths: 1,413,325 (1,401,106)

      States plan strict enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines

      Various state and local governments are planning tough enforcement of coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation guidelines during the Thanksgiving holiday. The crackdown comes as polls show that many Americans are ignoring health officials’ pleas not to travel and gather for Thanksgiving celebrations.

      Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf reinforced his request to state residents to stay home, warning that Pennsylvania hospitals will run out of intensive care beds if cases continue to rise. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took to Twitter to advise people to cancel non-essential travel.

      “Travelers arriving at LAX or Van Nuys Airport from another state or country will be required, starting tomorrow, to fill out an online form to acknowledge California’s recommended 14-day self-quarantine,” Garcetti wrote.

      110 million vaccinated by February?

      U.S. regulators have yet to approve any of the promising COVID-19 vaccines that have completed clinical trials, but plans are already underway to inoculate Americans. Moncef Slaoui, an Operation Warp Speed advisor, says 110 million people in the U.S. could receive a vaccine by February. 

      “The U.S. population as a whole should be covered in terms of vaccine doses available somewhere between the month of May and the month of December” of 2021, Slaoui told “CBS This Morning.” 

      UPS, meanwhile, says it has stepped up its production of dry ice to keep Pfizer’s vaccine at the required ultra-low temperature. Pfizer has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) and expects to receive it within days.

      Some employers will require workers to be vaccinated

      Now that as many as three promising vaccines appear to be headed to market within weeks, debate has occurred among some people about whether or not to take the vaccine. NPR reports that a growing number of employers are saying it won’t be an option -- if you aren’t inoculated you aren’t coming to work.

      "I'm not going to open until I can indeed be sure that everyone on my staff is vaccinated," Holly Smith, owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Wash., told NPR. "The immediate people on the team — you've got to take care of them. If you don't take care of them, they cannot help you take care of business."

      Lawyers say a legal precedent is firmly in place. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ruled that employers can require workers to get a flu shot.

      Unemployment continues to creep higher

      The Labor Department reports that first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week totaled 778,000, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week. Claims have risen in each of the last three weeks, suggesting a weakening in the labor market caused by the pandemic.

      There was one bit of good news, however. Continuing claims -- covering people who have collected unemployment benefits for at least two weeks -- fell by nearly 300,000.

      FDA approves new antibody test

      The FDA has given its approval to yet another antibody test, but this one is a little different. Most tests measure antibodies to determine whether someone has had the virus in the past.

      The new test, the COVID-SeroKlir test, measures how many antibodies are in your system and how well they provide immunity against COVID-19. 

      Scientists say the new test can help doctors better understand how the immune system counters the virus, and it may help explain why some immune systems are more effective than others. 

      Around the nation

      • South Carolina: Most of the colleges in the state will not be bringing students back to campus after the Thanksgiving break. Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, Charleston Southern University, the College of Charleston, and the Citadel will finish out the semester online.

      • Vermont: Gov. Phil Scott says that students and their parents will be asked next week if they attended gatherings outside their households on Thanksgiving . Those who did will be asked to quarantine, the governor’s office said.

      • Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey says a COVID-19 vaccine may be in Arizona before the end of the year. "We’ve enrolled hundreds of providers who are ready to administer the vaccine, and we expect doses on the ground in mid to late December," he said.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 12,619,931 (12,433,...
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      Delta pilots sign off on deal to avoid furloughs until 2022

      The airline says it’s not out of the woods yet, and it’s watching the COVID-19 spikes carefully

      Delta Air Line pilots should be happy going into the Thanksgiving weekend. On Wednesday, they voted yes on a cost-cutting deal designed to avoid more than 1,700 furloughs until 2022. 

      But the pilots also had some skin in the game, agreeing to accept up to a five percent cut in hours. In addition, any pilot that would have been furloughed by the airline at the end of the month is guaranteed to receive partial pay of 30 hours a month and will not have to fly.

      Other Delta employees had caught a break earlier this year, saving tens of thousands from the unemployment line. Still, other airlines such as JetBlue and United had earlier cut deals with their pilots to escape some level of furlough. When all the coronavirus-led job losses are added up, U.S. airlines have cut more than 70,000 jobs this year, all in an effort to keep carriers from completely going belly-up. 

      Delta says it’s grateful

      Things like furloughs and shedding jobs to make ends meet is painful for everyone involved. Delta’s chief of operations, John Laughter, expressed his gratitude in a note to pilots, saying that the company is “grateful to keep all our pilots actively employed and provide stability for you and your families.”

      Laughter also warned about potential challenges that the latest spikes in coronavirus infections might create for both the airline and its workers.

      “Our recovery will be uneven -- as evident by the recent increase in COVID rates which are affecting our bookings for the holiday season,” Laughter wrote. “But there is still much to be thankful for, and by working together we continue to maintain and grow a loyal customer base that feels confident choosing Delta time and again for our safety, reliability and service.”

      Delta Air Line pilots should be happy going into the Thanksgiving weekend. On Wednesday, they voted yes on a cost-cutting deal designed to avoid more than...
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      CDC plans to cut suggested quarantine period to 7-10 days

      Health officials are hoping the change will translate to a larger number of people isolating for the recommended time

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is finalizing plans to shorten the advised quarantine period to between seven and 10 days, The Wall Street Journal reports

      Currently, the CDC and the World Health Organization both suggest a 14-day self-isolation period for people potentially exposed to the virus. In cutting down the quarantine time, the CDC hopes more people will fully isolate for the recommended time. 

      “We do think that the work that we’ve done, and some of the studies we have and the modeling data that we have, shows that we can with testing shorten quarantine,” Henry Walke, a senior CDC official told the Journal. “Hopefully, people would be better able to adhere to quarantine if it was, for example, seven to 10 days.”

      A test to ensure that the person quarantining is negative for the coronavirus would be part of the new guidelines, said Walke. If the test returns a negative result, he said the person’s “probability of going on and developing an infection after that is pretty low.”

      He added that there is a risk that some infections would be missed, but public health officials believe the shorter quarantine period would be worth it since a larger number of people would be more likely to quarantine effectively.

      Fall surge

      The expected guideline change comes in the midst of a fall surge in COVID-19 infections. On Tuesday, the U.S. surpassed 12.5 million confirmed cases of the virus. 

      Despite rising case numbers, millions of Americans are still expected to ignore the advice of health officials and go through with their Thanksgiving travel plans. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has expressed concern that Americans who travel this week could potentially create a new wave of infections that will manifest a few weeks later. 

      Health officials are continuing to urge people to avoid gathering with friends and family outside of their household this holiday season, as well as to keep practicing COVID-19 safety measures like mask-wearing and social distancing in public spaces.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is finalizing plans to shorten the advised quarantine period to between seven and 10 days, The Wall St...
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