Morning Briefing Dec. 17, 2020: Feds say Whitmer kidnapping plot suspect called for killing police officers, Congress nears deal on COVID aid, more

Here are this morning’s top stories

We know the stories of their alleged planned exploits -- surveilling Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s home and using encrypted communications as they looked to train for a deadly assault, and allegedly trying to purchase explosives to carry out the kidnapping.

What to know today 🌅

6 indicted in Whitmer kidnapping plot; feds say 1 called for killing police officers

There is a new twist: A grand jury indictment claims that Brandon Michael-Ray Caserta, of Canton Township, instructed his co-conspirators in an encrypted video message that if they encountered police during the recognizance “they should give the officers one opportunity to leave, and kill them if they did not comply.” Read more here.

Live updates: Congress nears deal on COVID aid, includes stimulus checks

Congressional negotiators are closing in on a $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package that would deliver additional help to businesses, $300 per week jobless checks, and $600 stimulus payments to most Americans. But there was no deal quite yet. The long-delayed measure was coming together as Capitol Hill combatants finally fashioned difficult compromises, often at the expense of more ambitious Democratic wishes for the legislation, to complete the second major relief package of the pandemic.

Follow updates here today.

FDA advisory panel to meet today on Moderna’s COVID vaccine

We could have a second COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week if the FDA decides whether to authorize Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use. A key FDA panel is set to vote Thursday on whether to recommend the approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. A favorable vote form this panel could clear the path for Moderna’s vaccine to become the second approved for use in the United States. The FDA does not have to follow the advice of the panel, but it often does.

Live stream: FDA panel meets to vote on Moderna COVID vaccine authorization

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Michigan Senate considers forming joint committee that could suspend COVID-19 restrictions

The Michigan Senate is considering Concurrent Resolution 36, which would form a joint committee of the Legislature acting between sessions to suspend rules or regulations administered by state administrative agencies.

Under the resolution, the Legislature could call a joint committee after the current session -- ends Dec. 18 -- through Jan. 13.

Here’s what to know.

💉 How you will know when it’s your turn to be vaccinated

As the first vaccinations are being given to frontline health care workers, many are anxious to know when it will be their turn to receive the vaccine.

People over 65 have been hard hit -- not only by the virus itself but with the restrictions it has placed on their lives, limiting their ability to see their families, travel and do most of the things they enjoyed before the pandemic.

READ: Answering questions about efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine

Not surprisingly, many wanted to get this vaccine Tuesday. Here’s the primary questions they want answered when it comes to the vaccine.

Michigan DNR: 12 confirmed cougar sightings in 2020

The Michigan DNR has confirmed 12 cougar sightings in 2020, all in the Upper Peninsula.

In 2020, the DNR has 12 confirmed reports of cougars in Michigan, all in the Upper Peninsula. It’s the most confirmed sightings in one year in at least the last 12 years, according to DNR records.

Coronavirus in Michigan 🦠

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 446,752 as of Wednesday, including 11,018 deaths, state officials report.

Wednesday’s update includes 4,037 new cases and 83 additional deaths. On Tuesday, the state reported a total of 442,715 confirmed cases and 10,935 deaths.

New COVID-19 cases are slowing but deaths continue to rise in Michigan. Testing has remained steady, with more than 45,000 diagnostic tests reported per day, with the positive rate decreasing to near 11% over the last week. Hospitalizations have slowed but remain relatively high, including upticks in critical care and ventilator use.

READ: 9 major takeaways from Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 briefing

Michigan’s 7-day moving average for daily cases was 4,631 on Tuesday, the lowest in four weeks. The 7-day death average was 124, the highest since April. The state’s fatality rate is 2.5%. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 195,000 on Tuesday. More than 236,000 have recovered in Michigan.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 6.2 million have recovered in the U.S., with more than 16.7 million cases reported across the country. More than 304,500 have died in the U.S.

Worldwide, more than 73.6 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 1.6 million have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, because of limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

Here’s a look at more of the data:

Weather forecast: A few more snow flakes

Here is the weather forecast for Detroit.

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