November 20, 2014

In a Thursday evening prime time address from the White House, President Barack Obama announced three executive actions he plans to take on immigration reform. The much-anticipated move has already drawn considerable controversy, with Republicans accusing the president of unlawfully exceeding the powers of his office.

Millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than five years will be able to temporarily stay without fear of deportation, as long as they have children who are American citizens, register with authorities, pass a criminal background check, and pay taxes, Obama said. As many as 5 million people could benefit from this offer.

"If you meet the criteria you can come out of the shadows and be right with the law," Obama said.

He reiterated that this applies to "families, not felons," and noted that deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.

Additionally, Obama announced additional resources for law enforcement personnel at the border, and said it will become easier and faster for highly skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay in the United States. Catherine Garcia

10:03 a.m.

Ivermectin, a cheap and "generic" antiparasitic drug "used all over the world," may significantly reduce the risk of death in patients suffering from moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, researchers have found.

The University of Liverpool's Andrew Hill and others carried out a meta-analytical breakdown of 18 studies that showed the drug — which is off-patent and commonly used to treat lice and scabies, as well as some more serious parasites — appears to reduce inflammation and eliminate the coronavirus swiftly, the Financial Times reports. In six of those trials, the mortality risk was cut by 75 percent in patients with more serious COVID-19 infections. The research team has also theorized the drug could also make it harder for infected people to transmit the virus.

Hill said he's encouraged by the findings, but further studies are needed, especially since several of those in the analysis were not peer-reviewed. FT also notes that meta-analyses, which look at many studies at once, can be prone to errors. Read more at the Financial Times. Tim O'Donnell

10:00 a.m.

Melania Trump was reportedly "emotionally checked out" long before boarding Air Force One to leave D.C. on Wednesday, going as far as to outsource writing her "thank you" notes to the White House residence staff, The New York Times and CNN report.

Traditionally, the first family of the United States will write short cards to their household staff, thanking them for taking care of them over the past four to eight years. The cards tend to be intimate and "much of the correspondence includes personal anecdotes and the letters become 'cherished keepsakes' for the residence staff," such as the butlers, cooks, and housekeepers, who do not tend to turn-over between administrations, CNN writes.

Melania Trump, however, reportedly did not personally write the cards for the approximately 80 staff members charged with caring for her, her husband, and her teenage son, Barron, while they lived in the White House. Instead, she is said to have instructed a "lower-level East Wing staffer" to write the type-written notes "in her voice," and then signed her name.

"I think she was a reluctant first lady and she did it for her husband," society publicist R. Couri Hay, who knows Trump from New York, told The New York Times. He added that after she departs Washington, "I think that you will find that she will be even less visible, and less available." Jeva Lange

9:41 a.m.

President Trump never really acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden's victory — or even mentioned his name after the election. But the president did leave a note for his successor before his Wednesday morning departure, outgoing White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told NPR.

Trump left the White House for the final time Wednesday morning, to the tune of some very fitting songs. Outgoing presidents and their staffs typically leave notes on their desks for their successors to aid in the transition and wish them well. But given Trump's history of not exactly following norms or accepting election results, it's a surprise that he followed that tradition.

It's unclear just what was in the note Trump left for Biden. In his farewell address, he did wish the next administration "great luck and great success," without mentioning their names. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence, who reportedly did eventually offer his congratulations in a call to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, also left behind a note for her. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:39 a.m.

President Trump offered his final goodbye before leaving office, vowing that "we will be back in some form" before concluding his term with the "YMCA" and wishing everyone a "good life."

Trump spoke at a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday before leaving for Florida instead of sticking around to attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. He described serving as president as "my greatest honor and privilege," thanking supporters while offering one assessment both supporters and critics will likely agree with: "We were not a regular administration."

As in previously released farewell remarks, Trump never mentioned Biden's name during his address, though he wished "the new administration great luck and great success." He also promised he will be "watching" and listening."

"Goodbye," Trump said. "We love you. We will be back in some form."

He concluded the very last speech of his presidency with, "Have a good life. We will see you soon." From there, the 45th president exited the stage a final time to a staple of his rallies: the "YMCA." Minutes later, Air Force One departed as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played Trump off. Brendan Morrow

9:38 a.m.

And he's off — to the crooning of Frank Sinatra and the escaped laughter of CNN anchors.

President Trump departed with his family from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday, four years to the day after he took his oath of office. He got out of Dodge a few hours before President-elect Joe Biden's swearing-in ceremony and is headed to Florida to begin his post-White House life.

As Trump's plane took off, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" blared, which was certainly on the nose. The whole scene amused CNN's coverage crew, who couldn't hold back a few chuckles. It's been a long four years, after all. Tim O'Donnell

9:31 a.m.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is 95 percent effective at protecting against infection, large human trials found, but there is no conclusive evidence yet that the vaccines prevent transmission of the new coronavirus. "Early findings from Oxford/AstraZeneca revealed its vaccine could have some effect on transmitting the virus, while similar results have also been reported by Pfizer/BioNTech," Reuters reports. But "scientists do not yet know whether COVID-19 vaccinations will reduce transmission because this was not tested in the trials."

A new study from Israel's Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer suggested that the Pfizer vaccine does, in fact, reduce transmission. The small study of 102 medical workers found that after the second dose of the vaccine, 100 of the subjects had significantly higher levels of antibodies than even people who recovered from severe COVID-19 infections, The Jerusalem Post reports.

"The results of the survey are in line with Pfizer's experiment and even better than expected," said Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of Sheba's Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit. "I expect that the survey results of the other employees participating will be similar. There is certainly reason for optimism." It isn't clear how long immunity will last, and the results are preliminary, but Regev-Yochay said it appears to her that fully vaccinate people won't shed the virus, meaning they won't pass it on to others.

"People who have received both doses of the vaccine have levels of antibodies ranging from six to 59," Regev-Yochay said. "These are high values, and it's encouraging and reasonable to assume that these people will not be carriers or contagious, although that is still not a direct conclusion." Israel is the first country to have vaccinated nearly a quarter of its population, making it a valuable resource for vaccine developers and public health experts. Peter Weber

9:12 a.m.

President Trump used the past tense to talk about the pandemic in his farewell address to the country, one day after the 400,000th American died of COVID-19. "As bad as the pandemic was," he told his assembled crowd of about 200 supporters, "we were hit so hard like the entire world was hit so hard."

Trump went on to repeat a racist and debunked conspiracy theory about the origins of the virus, calling the "China virus" a "horrible thing that was put onto the world … so be careful, be very, very careful." He additionally claimed that he believed COVID-19 numbers would "skyrocket downward," and that he was leaving the country in "a position like it's never been in before, despite the worst plague to hit since, I guess you'd say since 1917, over 100 years ago" — an apparent reference to the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Trump further acknowledged "the people and families who suffered so greatly" in the pandemic, but stressed he had no regrets about his handling of the outbreak. "We have left it all, as the athletes would say, we have left it all on the field," he said. "We'll never say, in a month, when we're in Florida, we're not going to be looking at each other and saying, 'You know, if we'd only worked a little bit harder…'" Jeva Lange

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