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The NCAA eyes an Indianapolis bubble for March Madness

The NCAA announced Monday that it will consolidate March Madness to a single city in 2021, likely Indianapolis.

Why it matters: The NCAA lost $375 million when it canceled March Madness this past spring, and with COVID-19 surging heading into the winter, utilizing a bubble could be the only way to successfully complete the event.

The state of play: The 13 cities originally slated to host preliminary round games will have to wait until 2022 or beyond to get another chance.

  • The cities missing out include Brooklyn; Dallas; Detroit; Denver; San Jose, California; Minneapolis; Memphis, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; Wichita, Kansas; Dayton, Ohio; Boise, Idaho; Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Indianapoliswas supposed to host the Final Four. Now, it could host the entire 68-team tournament.

Possible locations: Assuming each arena can handle four games per day (noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm), then even during the packed first round (16 games per day) they shouldn't need more than four arenas. Some options that could work:

  • Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Colts
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler University
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum, IUPUI
  • IUPUI Gymnasium, IUPUI

Of note: The NBA season will be in full swing, so the Pacers' home court, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, isn't an option. If more than four arenas are needed, smaller gyms — or ones outside the city center — could be in play.

The bottom line: The regular season could get thrown into disarray long before March arrives. But if it's completed as scheduled, a bubble awaits the 68 teams ready to go dancing.

Worth noting: No word yet on the women's tournament. Their Final Four was scheduled to be held in San Antonio.

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)

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more time to satisfy its national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

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

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

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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