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Giuliani tests positive for Covid-19 as Biden names his team to fight the virus

Demand for Covid vaccines expected to get heated fast, experts say.
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Good morning, NBC News readers.

Experts say hesitancy over a Covid-19 vaccine will likely shift quickly to heated demand, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for Covid-19, and “The Nutcracker” heads outdoors.

Here is what's happening this Monday morning.


Experts say they expect attitudes on Covid vaccines to shift dramatically

Americans have made no secret of their skepticism about Covid-19 vaccines, with fears of political interference and a "warp speed" timeline blunting confidence in the shots.

But with two promising options primed for release, likely within weeks, experts in ethics and immunization behavior say they expect attitudes to shift quickly from widespread hesitancy to urgent, even heated demand.

President-elect Joe Biden is set to meet this week with Operation Warp Speed’s top scientist Moncef Slaoui about the vaccine rollout. It’s a critical next step in the transition process, which the Trump administration delayed for weeks.

That rollout can't come soon enough. Cases around the U.S. have continued to surge, and 33 million people in California have been told to stay home while health officials try to save hospitals in crisis.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for Covid-19, Trump announced Sunday. Giuliani most recently appeared without a mask during a meeting with Georgia lawmakers Thursday.

News of his infection came after Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, expressed frustration with government officials who ignore public health guidance as cases and deaths rise.

Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.


Biden fills out his Cabinet, passing over ideologues to keep the peace

President-elect Biden on Monday picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

He also created three new senior White House positions intended to signal a more aggressive response to Covid-19, including addressing its disproportionate impact on Black people and Latinos.

Becerra, 62, served 12 terms in the House of Representatives and was a vigorous defender of the Affordable Care Act who led the defense of the law in the Supreme Court last month. If he is confirmed, he would be the first Latino to lead the massive department as the incoming administration tries to elevate more diverse candidates to front-line positions.

Biden has been performing a delicate balancing act, selecting people for his administration who not only would be “accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party,” as he recently put it, but who also stand a reasonable chance of getting confirmed by a Senate that will be in GOP hands if Democrats don’t win next month’s Georgia runoffs.

While progressives have so far failed to persuade Biden to put their favored candidates in top jobs for his administration, they appear to have succeeded in making enough noise to keep out their biggest foes, at least for now.

But as Biden announces his picks, some observers fear that President Trump is attempting to tie his hands and shape America's international outlook for months, if not years, to come.


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Plus

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THINK about it

Trump's failure doesn't change the fact that American democracy is in big trouble, writes Parag Khanna, the author of "The Future is Asian," in an opinion piece.


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One fun thing

"The Nutcracker" is a tradition in Grapevine, Texas. For nearly three decades, the North Central Ballet has performed the iconic show and this year will be no different — although strict pandemic safety precautions mean that it will definitely look and feel a bit different.

An outdoor stage, face masks and socially distant seating are all new additions to the 2020 performance.

“I think everyone is so ready to do something normal, especially at the holiday season,” said Les Jordan, the director of the North Central Ballet.

It’s not just this ballet company that’s gotten creative. Across the country, performers have come up with new ways to bring the iconic holiday show to audiences, including online streaming and outdoor performances.


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Rachel