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Louisiana dodges massive storm surge, but winds leave 600,000 without power

A rare relief in the 2020 grind: The worst-case scenario hasn't yet come to pass with Hurricane Laura.

The state of play: The storm surge in Louisiana was 9 to 10 feet vs. the possibility of 20, and wind damage is easier to repair than massive flooding.

  • The death toll currently stands at four, and Interstate 10 is closed because a casino riverboat is jammed under one of its bridges.

The big picture: This was still a monster Category 4 hurricane at landfall.

  • “It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” Brett Geymann told the AP.
  • 600,000 people are without power, and 100,000 are potentially without access to clean water.

There's a “chlorine gas chemical fire” near Lake Charles, Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a shelter in place order as a result of the fire, telling residents to close windows and doors and turn off their A/C units.

What they're saying: "Just about the entire state saw Tropical Storm-force winds," Edwards said Thursday. "That's how big and powerful this storm was."

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters on that his state saw the most significant damage in Orange County.
  • "You saw more rooftops ripped off, you saw more shingles missing, you saw more trees down, you saw big pieces of steel framing wrapped around some trees. You saw some roads that were still inundated with water, impassable at this particular time," Abbott said.

What's next: FEMA said on Wednesday that it planned to move 500,000 meals and 800,000 liters of water into Louisiana, and would keep 250,000 meals and 400,000 liters of water at its Fort Worth distribution center for either state.

  • Flood-level rainfall and tropical-storm force winds are expected for Arkansas, after Laura passed near the Louisiana-Arkansas border around 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Apps are helping people of color stop deadly police encounters

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.

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TikTok gets more time (again)

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The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to satisfy national security concerns raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

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Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

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Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

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Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.

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Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the COVID-19 vaccine approval process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing two emergency use authorization requests for COVID-19 vaccines, with an outside advisory committee scheduled to meet next Thursday to review data from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with former FDA commissioner Rob Calif about the EUA process, the science and who should make the final call.

The U.S. economic recovery needs rocket fuel

Data: BLS. Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's deeply disappointing jobs report should light a fire under Congress, which has dithered despite signs the economy is struggling to kick back into gear.

Driving the news: President-elect Biden said Friday afternoon in Wilmington that he supports another round of $1,200 checks.

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CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

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Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

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