November 15, 2019

The House Ethics Committee disclosed Thursday that two Florida congressmen, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) and Rep. Ross Spano (R), are under investigation. Hastings, who has been in the House for 26 years, is being investigated by the Ethics Committee for his long-term relationship with a member of his staff, Patricia Williams. Former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) resigned last month after denying she had an intimate relationship with a member of her staff while admitting she had such a relationship with a campaign staffer.

Williams has been on Hastings' staff since 2000, and they bought a house together in 2017, the Palm Beach Post reports. He downplayed any impropriety this fall, telling the Post, "However it looks, it's been looking like that for 25 years."

With Spano, the House Ethics Committee announced it is deferring its investigation at the request of the Justice Department, which, the committee revealed, has opened a criminal investigation into possible campaign finance violations. Spano claimed last year that he loaned his campaign $175,000 from personal funds when in fact he had received $180,000 in loans from personal friends, Politico reports. Spano's lawyer informed the Federal Election Commission of the erroneous campaign finance report soon after Spano won the race.

"Today, the House Committee on Ethics deferred their review of my self-reported filings with the FEC," Spano said in a statement. "We plan to cooperate fully with the Justice Department on this matter." Peter Weber

7:12 p.m.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on Tuesday said if everyone in the United States wore face masks, the coronavirus could be "under control" within one to two months.

During a webinar with the Journal of the American Medical Association's Howard Bauchner, Redfield said he was "glad" President Trump wore a mask in public for the first time over the weekend, as this "set the example" for others. "The time is now" to wear face coverings, and he believes "if we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control."

Redfield is concerned about this year's flu season coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic, and urged people to get their flu shots. "I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we experienced in American public health," he said. "Keeping the health care system from being overstretched I think is really important, and the degree we are able to do that will define how well we get through the fall and winter." Catherine Garcia

6:27 p.m.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized early Tuesday, after experiencing fever and chills, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said.

Ginsburg, 87, was evaluated at a hospital in Washington, D.C., on Monday night, before being admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said Ginsburg "underwent an endoscopic procedure at Johns Hopkins this afternoon to clean out a bile duct stent that was placed last August. The justice is resting comfortably and will stay in the hospital for a few days to receive intravenous antibiotic treatment."

In May, Ginsburg received treatment at Johns Hopkins for a gallbladder condition. She has battled cancer four times, and last August, underwent radiation for a tumor on her pancreas. Catherine Garcia

5:56 p.m.

The results from the first phase of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine trial are out, and the promising findings are in line with some early data from the study released in May.

The study, published Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, found the experimental mRNA vaccine — which requires two doses a month apart — induced coronavirus immune responses in all 45 participants, just as scientists had hoped. There were some mild side effects, including fatigue, chills, and fevers, but The Associated Press notes those aren't uncommon with other vaccines, and there have been no major safety concerns.

Moderna will begin its final step at the end of July, a 30,000-person study to prove if the shots are strong enough to protect people from the virus. While the first phase does indicate the vaccine produces antibodies geared toward fighting off the virus, it's less clear if the levels of antibodies are enough to actually fend off infection. Read the full results of the study at The New England Journal of Medicine, as well as more context at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

5:33 p.m.

The creators of Glee are remembering Naya Rivera as a "joy to be around," and setting up a college fund for her young son, after her tragic death.

Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan released a tribute to Rivera on Tuesday after officials said they recovered her body at Lake Piru in California, where she went missing days earlier. The actress, who played Santana Lopez on Glee, was feared dead after her 4-year-old son was found alone in a boat she had rented. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said this week Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," and an autopsy has since confirmed her cause of death as accidental drowning. She was 33.

"We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera," Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennan said, per Variety. They described her as "one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with," someone who was "a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around."

"She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast," they go on to say. "She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous. ... Naya was more than just an actor on our show — she was our friend."

The statement ends with Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennan saying that their "hearts go out to her family" and that they are "in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all."

Among Rivera's former Glee colleagues who previously paid tribute this week were Jane Lynch, who remembered "what a force" she was, and Chris Colfer, who wrote, "Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be." Brendan Morrow

5:29 p.m.

President Trump continued to stir controversy about the Confederate battle flag Tuesday during an interview with CBS News' Catherine Herridge.

Herridge asked Trump if he still believes, as he said in 2015, that the flag should be removed from public spaces and placed in museums. The president didn't explicitly answer the question, but he said the only thing he really cares about his "freedom of speech," implying that he thinks people should be allowed to leave it up.

When Herridge reminded him the flag is a "painful reminder" for many people because the Confederacy rebelled against the United States to preserve slavery, Trump said he knows people who "like the Confederate flag" but are not "thinking about slavery" before once again turning the conversation back to the First Amendment. Tim O'Donnell

5:23 p.m.

Florida is now leading much of the world in new coronavirus cases, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.

Florida reported 9,194 new coronavirus cases in the past day on Tuesday afternoon, bring its total case count to 291,629. A total of 132 new deaths were reported, bringing that count to 4,409, per the Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade County led the new case count at 2,090, leading one infectious disease expert to deem Miami the new "epicenter of the pandemic," CNN reports. "What we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago, five months ago — now we are there," said Lilian Abbo, of the Jackson Health System, during a Monday news conference held by the Miami-Dade County mayor.

The county has seen coronavirus hospitalizations grow by 68 percent and the number of ICU beds used go up by 69 percent in the past two weeks. The number of ventilators in use has also more than doubled during that time. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:33 p.m.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced a "return to the status quo" on international student visas.

Following several schools' decisions to go fully remote to stem COVID-19 spread, ICE announced foreign students could not access essential F and M visas they'd need to study in the U.S. But facing opposition from more than 50 colleges and universities, the Trump administration rescinded that rule change, a federal judge in Boston announced Tuesday.

ICE's initial decision came after Harvard University and other schools announced all their classes would be fully online in the fall, though most schools said they'd house students who could not learn effectively in their homes. That included students in countries wracked by civil unrest.

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology specifically cited those students in suing ICE for its decision, and said it "would bar hundreds of thousands of international students at American universities from the United States." Dozens of universities joined the suit, which went to court Tuesday. That's where a judge announced ICE would "return to the status quo" and effectively drop its rule change. Kathryn Krawczyk

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