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News Wrap: Relentless surge in infections forces more business to lay off workers

In our news wrap Friday, U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December due in large part to the pandemic, President-elect Biden signals a plan to release nearly all available vaccine doses after taking office, an Israeli court indefinitely postponed the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Hall of Fame baseball manager Tommy Lasorda died at age 93.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: President-elect Biden announced that, upon taking office, he wants to release to the public nearly all available doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

    The Trump administration has held back some doses to ensure people get a second required shot. All of this comes as the U.S. recorded more than four 4,000 deaths on Thursday.

    We will take a closer look after the news summary.

    The relentless surge in infections has forced more businesses to lay off workers. The U.S. Labor Department reports that employers shed a net 140,000 jobs last month. That is the first monthly decrease since April. With that loss, the U.S. economy still has nearly 10 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. The unemployment rate in December remained at 6.7 percent.

    President-elect Joe Biden says that he will start rolling out plans for a new trillion-dollar stimulus package next week. In his appearance in Wilmington, Delaware, today, he said that the latest economic numbers make it more urgent than ever.

  • President-elect Joe Biden:

    The jobs report is a pandemic report. With the pandemic raging, people are losing work and losing hope. The bottom line is, the job report shows we need to provide more immediate relief for working families and businesses now.

    The president-elect also introduced Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as his choice for commerce secretary. The mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, will be the nominee for secretary of labor. And Isabel Guzman is the pick to lead the Small Business Administration.

    North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal over what he dubbed hostile American policy. He spoke during a meeting of the ruling party, but Kim said he won't use nuclear weapons unless so-called hostile forces use theirs first against North Korea.

    In Indonesia, a radical Islamic cleric was released today, after serving a 10-year prison sentence for funding Islamist militants. Abu Bakar Bashir was linked to the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people. Supporters welcomed him back to his hometown, and police said they will monitor his activities. Bashir is now 82 and in ill health.

    Back in this country, major indexes on Wall Street scored a new round of record closes. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 56 points to end near 31098. The Nasdaq rose 134 points, and the S&P 500 added 20.

    And Hall of Fame baseball manager Tommy Lasorda has died in Fullerton, California, of a heart attack. Lasorda led the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles during his 71 years with the franchise. He later became a kind of ambassador for the game. Tommy Lasorda was 93 years old.

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