Tropical Storm Eta, Congress returns, COVID-19, election results: 5 things to know Monday – USA TODAY

Not all states have reported a winner

America celebrated the end of its 2020 presidential election cycle over the weekend after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris secured more than 270 electoral votes. However, Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska are still counting ballots. While Biden enjoys a slight lead in Georgia with 49.5% of the vote, the slim vote margin will likely lead to a recount that could take until the end of the month. President Donald Trump leads in North Carolina and Alaska, but it is impossible for him to pick up enough electoral votes to win reelection — even if Georgia flipped back to red.  

Deadly Tropical Storm Eta makes landfall on Florida Keys

A strengthening Tropical Storm Eta made landfall on Florida’s Lower Matecumbe Key, days after leaving scores dead and over 100 missing in Mexico and Central America. The National Hurricane Center in Miami declared hurricane and storm surge warnings for the Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. Florida officials closed beaches, ports and COVID testing sites, shut down public transportation and urged residents to stay off the street. Last week, Eta stormed through Central America as a Category 4 hurricane, triggering deadly mudslides that destroyed entire villages. Should Eta become a hurricane again, it would be just the fourth U.S. hurricane landfall in November since 1851. 

Congress is back in session 

Congress will return to Washington on Monday, following an election recess that sent both the House and Senate back home. Over the break, both Republican and Democratic leaders have continued to call for a coronavirus stimulus package but after failing to come to a compromise bill before the election, it’s unclear the likelihood of passing a bill before Joe Biden is sworn into office at the end of January. Several lawmakers in the House and Senate will also be returning to Washington as their races remain too close to call, which includes Senate races in North Carolina and Alaska that are both expected to favor Republicans. 

No. 1 on Joe Biden’s list: COVID-19

President-elect Joe Biden announced his COVID-19 advisory task force Monday. The group of public health experts, almost all doctors, will offer guidance to Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their coronavirus staff as they prepare to take over the presidency. “Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement. “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.” The inclusion of Rick Bright in the task force could raise some eyebrows from within the Trump administration — Bright resigned from the federal government after criticizing the Trump administration’s pandemic response. He filed a lengthy whistleblower complaint claiming his early warnings about the virus were ignored. Bright was director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. On Sunday, the world surpassed 50 million total cases. 

Struggling Patriots aim to rebound on ‘MNF’

The winless New York Jets host the once-proud New England Patriots on “Monday Night Football” (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) in what used to be riveting AFC East rivalry. While the Jets are a defeat away from their first 0-9 start in franchise history, the post-Tom Brady era for the Patriots has hit the skids. New Patriots QB Cam Newton has struggled and his team has lost four consecutive games — New England’s worst losing streak in 18 years, which has put it on the fast track toward missing the playoffs for just the third time in two decades. The Jets, meanwhile, are having quarterback troubles of their own. Starter Sam Darnold is doubtful and Joe Flacco is expected to start. Both Darnold and Flacco could be replaced this offseason if the Jets’ winless ways continue.

Contributing: The Associated Press