Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump, Alex Trebek dies and a COVID-19 vaccine appears to show great promise

The biggest news to emerge from a jammed weekend arrived on Saturday when the Associated Press joined other news outlets in calling the election for President-elect Joe Biden. Biden crossed the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to win when Pennsylvania was called in his favor. Counts in several states were delayed by the surge of mail-in ballots driven by the ongoing pandemic, along with rulings by Republican-controlled state legislatures that prevented mail-in ballots from being tabulated prior to Election Day.

President Donald Trump, of course, has not only refused to concede, but he’s used his platform to promote, without evidence, widespread election fraud while inaccurately claiming victory. A handful of Republicans, including Sen. Mitt Romney, have congratulated Biden for his victory, while a majority (including — gasp! — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman) have remained silent, allowing Trump to continue to sow doubt about the electoral process. Who ever could have seen this coming?

***

The lone silver lining from Trump’s continuing campaign against democracy might have been a weekend press conference helmed by the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and held at a Four Seasons on the edge of Philadelphia. Er, make that Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a small business nestled next to a porn shop and across the street from a crematorium, which the Trump camp inexplicably booked as the site for its presser. (The general belief is that the campaign thought it had reserved the swanky hotel and just ran with it rather than acknowledging the misstep.) Here’s a nice rundown of the day, in case you haven’t read up on it yet.

Oh, and today Politico is reporting that one of the speakers at the presser, Daryl Brooks, who alleged vote-counting shenanigans, is a convicted sex offender.

And, lord, the memes!

The plan? We name your landscaping company after a fancy hotel to trick the President of the United States into holding a press conference outside of your business.pic.twitter.com/04bWKLz9JA

— steev (@OkSteev)November 8, 2020

***

Longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died on Sunday at age 80, about 20 months after he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Trebek hosted the game show for a record-setting 37 years, and episodes posthumously featuring him will continue to run through Dec. 25. No plans about a replacement host have been announced.

***

In promising news on the coronavirus front, data released by drug-maker Pfizer on an ongoing study into its COVID-19 vaccine show the vaccine has a 90 percent effective rate. (The CDC had set a bar of a 50 percent success rate in order to move forward with any COVID vaccine.) According to news articles, the vaccine, barring setbacks, could be available for emergency use by the end of the year, though large-scale distribution could still be months away. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, told the AP that the results suggesting 90 percent effectiveness are “just extraordinary,” adding: “Not very many people expected it would be as high as that.”

It's also worth noting that Pfizer did not participate in Trump's "Operation Warp Speed" program, receiving no federal money.

***

With COVID-19 cases in Ohio continuing to surge, Gov. Mike DeWine took time off from pressing residents to take personal responsibility while offering zero in the way of governmental action in order to announce new leadership staff and roles within the Ohio Department of Health. DeWine named Stephanie McCloud the new director of the department and Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff chief medical officer. The department was previously helmed by Dr. Amy Acton, who departed the position in June amid right wing threats.

***

In sports news, Ohio State football kept up its season-opening unbeaten streak, beating an overmatched Rutgers and its collection of Schiano men by a final tally of 49-27, while the Columbus Crew closed out the regular season with a 2-1 win over Atlanta United. The Crew, who finished the season in third place, will open the playoffs at home against the New York Red Bulls in two weeks.