Good morning, NBC News readers.
President-elect Joe Biden put another state on the Electoral College scoreboard. New Jersey's governor made a desperate plea to Covid-fatigued residents. And a gigantic gator takes a stroll on a Florida golf course amid Tropical Storm Eta.
Here's where things stand this Friday morning.
Biden wins Arizona, NBC News projects
President-elect Joe Biden has won Arizona, NBC News projects.
The state’s 11 electoral votes further cements Biden's projected presidential victory, bringing his Electoral College lead over President Donald Trump to 290-217.
Biden, whose margin of victory in the state is just over 11,000 votes, is the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since former President Bill Clinton in 1996.
Biden's victory in the state known for its conservative Republican stalwarts like the late Sens. John McCain and Barry Goldwater, adds further pressure on Trump, who has yet to concede the election.
A coalition of federal agencies involved in election security and representatives for election officials from each state refuted the widespread claims of voter fraud by the president and right-wing conspiracists in a statement Thursday.
"The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history," the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council said in a statement. "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."
The statement comes as more Senate Republicans and former national security officials are pushing for Biden to receive intelligence briefings, a key step in the transition to the White House.
Over 150 former national security officials urged the General Services Administration in a letter Thursday to move forward with the transition, including security briefings.
While few Republicans have broken with Trump to congratulate Biden, even Trump allies like Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsay Graham said Biden should begin receiving the presidential-level security briefings on Thursday.
China also acknowledged Biden's win on Friday, issuing a terse statement saying: "We respect the choice of the American people and we extend our congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris."
Relations with China will loom large for the next administration with one major question being: Can Biden pick up the pieces of global trade after Trump's grueling tariff wars?
- See the full map of the U.S. presidential election results and dig into the state by state data.
- Follow our live blog for all the latest developments and analysis.
Covid-19 vaccine to the rescue? Experts say not so fast. We need to make it through this winter first
Pfizer's announcement Monday of a potentially effective coronavirus vaccine triggered a wave of hope and optimism, renewing some expectations that life in the U.S. could return to normal sometime next year.
Normal, however, is still a ways away.
A vaccine, even one with promising early results, cannot do anything to stop a grueling winter, with outbreaks growing rapidly across the country and record hospitalization rates threatening to overwhelm health care resources.
Governors and other state officials have a blunt message about Thanksgiving: Don't hold large gatherings this year.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made a desperate plea with coronavirus-fatigued residents on Thursday to keep following health guidelines.
After Murphy rattled off a long series of numbers showing how the virus is spiking in the Garden State, a reporter asked what he'd say to state residents tired of Covid-19 protocols.
"You know what's really uncomfortable and annoying? When you die. That's my answer," the exasperated governor replied. "This is not forever. We're in a sprint right now and we're just asking people to bear down."
Georgia Democrats aim to keep voters fired up for Senate control
Democrats know this year's election was as much about Trump as anything else, but without him on the ballot, they are working to find other ways to keep voters engaged.
In Georgia, party officials, labor leaders and progressive activists are mounting an aggressive campaign to keep their base mobilized and register new voters ahead of a Dec. 7 deadline before people return to the ballot box for potentially two runoffs for Senate seats on Jan. 5.
Democrats are doing what they can to stoke enthusiasm, but recognize they have an uphill climb in the historically conservative state.
"With record turnout this time around, I think that people understand what's at stake. They're going to rise up one more time," said Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock.
Want to receive the Morning Rundown in your inbox? Sign up here.
- A Justice Department probe found "bad judgment," but no misconduct by prosecutors who oversaw the controversial 2008 Jeffrey Epstein deal.
- At least six people are dead after heavy rains and Tropical Storm Eta soaked the southeast.
- Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito called Covid-19 restrictions "previously unimaginable," citing danger to religious freedom.
- Still trying to explain the election to your kids? Lester Holt will walk viewers through what come next in the political process in a special "Nightly News Kids Edition" on Saturday morning. (Check local listings for times).
THINK about it
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's transition "joke" makes a laughing stock of America's global diplomacy, journalism professor Ilene Prusher writes in an opinion piece.
Many families are rethinking Thanksgiving this year. Here are some ideas for how to make it safe, but still special.
Early Black Friday sales are already on. We asked retail experts which are the best ones to hit.
Whoa! That's some gator
Another one for the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it category this week.
A massive alligator was spotted creeping around the grounds on a Naples, Florida, golf course on Wednesday as Tropical Storm Eta was bearing down.
While large alligators are not an uncommon sight in Florida, this one gained attention for its rather prehistoric appearance.
Not sure I'll be hitting those links anytime soon after seeing that creature...
Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.
If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send an email to me.
If you'd like to receive this newsletter in your inbox Monday to Friday, please sign-up here.