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In 2020 finale, Trump combative, Biden on offense

PITTSBURGH — In the closing hours of a campaign shadowed by a once-in-a- century pandemic, President Donald Trump charged across the nation on Monday delivering an incendiary but unsupported allegation that the election is rigged, while Democratic challenger Joe Biden pushed to claim states once seen as safely Republican.

America stood at a crossroads. Never before in modern history have voters faced a choice between candidates offering such opposite visions as the nation confronts a virus that has killed 230,000 Americans, the starkest economic contraction since the Great Depression and a citizenry divided on cultural and racial issues.

The two men also broke sharply Monday on the voting process itself while campaigning in the most fiercely contested battleground, Pennsylvania.

The president threatened legal action to stop counting beyond Election Day. If Pennsylvania ballot counting takes several days, as is allowed, Trump charged that “cheating can happen like you have never seen.”

Biden, in Pittsburgh, pushed a voting rights message to a mostly Black audience, declaring that Trump believes “only wealthy folks should vote” and describing COVID-19 as a “mass casualty event for Black Americans.”

“We’re done with the chaos, we’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility,” said Biden, whose campaign has focused on increasing turnout by Black voters, who could prove the difference in several battleground states.

Both campaigns insist they have a pathway to victory, though Biden’s options for winning the required 270 Electoral College votes are more plentiful. Trump is banking on a surge of enthusiasm from his most loyal supporters in addition to potential legal maneuvers.

Trump spent the final full campaign day sprinting through five rallies, from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. Biden devoted most of his time to Pennsylvania, where a win would leave Trump with an exceedingly narrow path. He also dipped into Ohio, a show of confidence in a state that Trump won by 8 percentage points four years ago.

The two men delivered their final messages, with Biden emphasizing the pandemic. He declared that “the first step to beating the virus is beating Donald Trump,” and he promised he would retain the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom the president has talked of firing.

Trump, meanwhile, made only passing mention of what his aides believe are his signature accomplishments — the nation’s economic rebound, the recent installation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett — in favor of a torrent of grievance and combativeness.

He angrily decried the media’s coverage of the campaign while complaining that he also was being treated unfairly by, in no particular order, China, the Electoral College system and rock singer Jon Bon Jovi.

“I have been under siege illegally for three-and-a-half years. I wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have all of this horrible stuff. We’d have a very, very calm situation,” said Trump at an evening rally in Michigan. “People see that we fight and I’m fighting for you. I’m fighting to survive. You have to survive.”

Biden announced an unusual move to campaign on Election Day, saying he would head to Philadelphia and his native Scranton on Tuesday as part of a get-out-the-vote effort. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, will visit Detroit, a heavily Black city in battleground Michigan, and both of their spouses will hit the road too.

Trump told reporters he would be visiting his campaign headquarters in Virginia, and he is also hosting family and friends on Election Night in the East Room of the White House.

Nearly 100 million votes have already been cast, through early voting or mail-in ballots, which could lead to delays in tabulation. Trump has spent months claiming without evidence that the votes would be ripe for fraud and refusing to guarantee that he would honor the election result.

Trump also rallied in Scranton on Monday, underscoring the importance of the state’s vote-rich northeast counties, and zeroed in on the state’s process to count votes. He has used stark terms to threaten litigation to stop the tabulation of ballots arriving after Election Day — counting that is allowed with earlier postmarks in some states.

He has said that “we’re going in with our lawyers” as soon as the polls close in Pennsylvania and on Monday spoke ominously about the Supreme Court decision to grant an extension to count the votes after Tuesday.

“They made a very dangerous situation, and I mean dangerous, physically dangerous, and they made it a very, very bad, they did a very bad thing for this state,” Trump declared.

He said of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, “Please don’t cheat because we’re all watching. We’re all watching you, Governor.”

There is already an appeal pending at the Supreme Court over the counting of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania that are received in the mail in the three days after the election.

The state’s top court ordered the extension, and the Supreme Court refused to block it, though conservative justices expressed interest in taking up the propriety of the three added days after the election.

Those ballots are being kept separate in case the litigation goes forward. The issue could assume enormous importance if the late-arriving ballots could tip the outcome.

One of Biden’s top legal advisers Bob Bauer pushed back at Trump’s promise of mobilizing his lawyers after polls close to challenge certain ballots.

“It’s very telling that President Trump is focused not on his voters but on his lawyers, and his lawyers are not going to win the election for him,” Bauer said. “We are fully prepared for any legal hijinks of one kind or another. We’re not worried about it.”

Democrats also celebrated a decision by a federal judge to reject another last-ditch Republican effort to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston because the ballots were cast at drive-thru polling centers established during the pandemic.

Biden’s team pushed into states Trump won handily in 2016, hoping to deliver an Election Night knockout blow that could prevent further Republican challenges.

Biden said he returned to Ohio at the urging of Sen. Sherrod Brown and other Ohio Democrats in Congress, suggesting a final, late visit could win. And the Democrats’ most popular surrogate, former President Barack Obama, made one of his final campaign stops in Georgia.

“I didn’t originally plan to come to Georgia. I told Michelle, I’m sorry, Baby, I got to go to Georgia. This is a big deal,” said Obama, noting Democrats’ hopes that they could deliver a knockout blow to Trump in the former GOP stronghold. “Georgia could be the state, Georgia could be the place.”

But even as Biden enjoyed strong poll numbers, the move to expand the map revived anxiety among Democrats scarred by Trump’s 2016 upset over Hillary Clinton, whose forays into red states may have contributed to losing longtime party strongholds.


Lemire and Weissert reported from Washington. Miller reported from Traverse City, Mich. Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed.


AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020/.

Trump carries Mount Carmel Elementary in Monday mock election

MOUNT CARMEL — They may not have any electoral votes, but students at Mount Carmel Elementary School made their voices heard on Monday, re-electing President Donald Trump with 87% of the 209 mock votes that were cast.

After studying election history and procedures for the past week, on Monday students in the K-4 MCES cast their vote either for Trump or Joe Biden.

One kindergartner told the Times News she was riding the “Trump Train Choo Choo” because that’s what her mommy says every morning. Another kindergartner said he didn’t vote for Trump, although he couldn’t remember the name of the guy he did vote for.

When clumped in large groups, however, students definitely had a pro-Trump buzz about them.

Monday’s mock election was coordinated by third-grade teacher Kim McCann, who noted that on Election Day the school becomes a voting precinct.

“We wanted them to be able to experience what their parents go through when they come in, to go through the voting process to cast their vote,” McCann said. “Each classroom will have an opportunity to come out today, they’ll sign in at the table and look at the candidates posted on the wall. Then they will go into the cafeteria, and we have three (polling booths) set up. We have it sectioned off just like when we go vote, and they’ll go in and cast their vote, either for President Trump or Joe Biden.”

“You could feel the anticipation with the kids talking about it,” McCann said. “They’re anxious to be able to come and cast their vote. Several in one of my classes today wanted to know why their vote will not count. So we went back to reading and learned that you have to be 18 to vote. But within our school their vote will count.”

McCann added, “You can feel the excitement a little bit, especially as they were coming to lunch and began to see the different posters and the candidates on the wall. You could fee it rising a little bit. It is exciting. It’s an exciting time of the year. History is being made. History is in the making and we’ve talked about that.”

Santa Claus gets a ride from the Kingsport Fire Department in this photo from a recent Kingsport Christmas Parade. The DKA has canceled this year’s Christmas Parade due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Kingsport’s Christmas Tree Lighting will be held as a virtual event only on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m.

Six new COVID-19 deaths in Northeast Tennessee include two in Sullivan County

Six new COVID-19 deaths and and 105 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Monday in Northeast Tennessee, bringing its pandemic total to 254 deaths. Two of the new deaths were in Sullivan County. Washington County, Unicoi County, Johnson County, and Greene County each had one new death.

The 105 new cases reported in the region: 25 in Greene; 23 in Sullivan; 19 in Washington, 14 in Unicoi, 12 in Hawkins; 10 in Johnson; one in Carter; and one in Hancock. The numbers bring the region’s pandemic total to 15,072 cases.

Statewide, 26 new deaths and 3,161 new cases reported on Monday increased Tennessee’s pandemic totals to 3,379 deaths (3,186 confirmed as COVID-19 and 193 probable) and 264,587 cases (249,356 confirmed as COVID-19 and 15,231 probable), 234,460 of which were listed as “Inactive/recovered.”

Total cases in Northeast Tennessee by county, as of Monday: 4,167 in Sullivan County; 3,967 in Washington County; 1,998 in Greene County; 1,748 in Carter County; 1,312 in Hawkins County; 1,232 in Johnson County; 519 in Unicoi County and 129 in Hancock County.

Death totals in Northeast Tennessee by county, as of Monday: 60 in Washington County; 56 in Greene County; 55 in Sullivan County; 36 in Carter County; 29 in Hawkins County; nine in Johnson County; six in Unicoi County and three in Hancock County.

The new case numbers were based on 37,116 new test results statewide, compared to the day before, with a positive rate of 8.44%.

Average positive rates during the past seven days in Northeast Tennessee’s counties ranged from 10.9% to 20.1%.

A breakdown: Hawkins County (average 18.8 tests per 10,000 population per day) 10.9% average positive rate; Greene County (average 29.2 tests per 10,000 population per day) 12.6% average positive rate; Hancock County (average 9.5 tests per 10,000 population per day) 13.6%; Sullivan County (average 19.7 tests per 10,000 population per day) 15.1%; Johnson County (average 23.9 tests per day per 10,000 population per day) 16.4%; Washington County (average 22.9 tests per day per 10,000 population per day) 18.3%; Carter County (average 21.4 tests per 10,000 population per day) 19.6%; Unicoi County (average 21.5 tests per 10,000 population per day) 20.1%.

Source: Tennessee Department of Health

2020 Kingsport Christmas Parade canceled

KINGSPORT — The 2020 Kingsport Christmas Parade has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Downtown Kingsport Association made the announcement Monday afternoon.

“After consulting with local health officials, it has become clear that holding the parade during the COVID-19 pandemic is not in the best interest of the health and safety of our community,” DKA officials said in a news release.

“Thousands of spectators, participants, along with many volunteers, join the Downtown Kingsport Association for the Kingsport Christmas Parade each year. Given the size of this parade and the crowds that gather to enjoy it, there is not a practical way to ensure social distancing.”

The Kingsport Christmas Tree Lighting will be held as a virtual event only on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. Details on viewing this event via live stream will be released at a later date.

“We look forward to celebrating with everyone next year at the Kingsport Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting on Dec. 4, 2021,” DKA officials said.

The Downtown Kingsport Association is a private, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the revitalization of Downtown Kingsport.

The organization’s purpose is to promote Downtown Kingsport as the heart of the community, strengthen its economic viability by encouraging growth and diversity among businesses, and restore its unique history characteristics and beauty.

COVID-19 in SWVA: 23 new cases, one death

The new COVID-19 case rate in far Southwest Virginia slowed on Monday, according to state health data.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) reported that the state had 1,025 new cases and three deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 183,418 cases and 3,658 deaths.

The LENOWISCO Health District added 23 cases and one death for totals of 1,827 and 27 deaths during the pandemic. Lee County added 10 cases for 589 and 10 deaths. Wise County also had 10 cases for 722 and 10 deaths.

Scott County saw three cases and one death for 464 cases and seven deaths. Norton remained at 52 cases and no deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Monday’s VDH report was 2,873,195 of 8.63 million residents, or 33.29%. For nasal swab testing only, 2,663,155 people have been tested to date, or 30.86%.

n the LENOWISCO district, 19,963 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 23.09%.

testing rates by locality

• Lee County, 6,265 of 23,423, or 26.75%

• Norton, 1,948 of 3,981, or 48.93%

• Wise County, 7,416 of 37,383, or 19.84%

• Scott County, 4,334 of 21,566, or 20.1%

Red Onion State Prison remained at 20 inmate cases and decreased by one to one active staff/contractor case, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections COVID-19 webpage (https://vadoc.virginia.gov/news-press-releases/2020/covid-19-updates/).

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at no inmate cases and decreased by two cases for three active staff/contractor cases. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 16 inmate cases while decreasing by two cases for five active staff cases.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Monday’s report rose from 17.3% to 17.9%. The statewide positivity rate rose from 5.7% to 5.8%.

According to Monday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/key-measures/pandemic-metrics/region-metrics/), cases in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — were ranked as rising after a 42-day increase in cases. The region’s ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results remained increasing based on a 22-day increase in that measure.

All four school systems in the LENOWISCO district — Wise, Lee and Scott counties and Norton — were ranked as highest-risk based on the 14-day case incidence rate in the district. All three county school divisions were ranked highest-risk for percent change in seven-day case incidences while Norton was ranked lowest-risk.

Where to be tested

Do you think you may have COVID-19? Local health departments provide free testing.

The LENOWISCO Health Department, which covers Norton and Lee, Wise and Scott counties, posts regular updates on testing sites across the district and offers free COVID-19 tests at its county offices. Those seeking a test must call in advance for an appointment. Contact numbers for the county offices are:

• Lee County (Jonesville) — (276) 346-2011

• Scott County (Gate City) — (276) 386-1312

• Wise County and Norton (Wise) — (276) 328-8000

Additional testing and COVID-19 precaution information can be found at the LENOWISCO Health District’s Facebook page — www.facebook.com/Lenowisco

The Health Wagon will partner with the Virginia Department of Health to offer 17 sessions of free drive-thru testing at Food City in St. Paul through Dec. 31. Call (276) 328-8850 for an appointment.

In Southwest Virginia, online resources are available to help evaluate whether residents might be infected and where to get a COVID-19 test. The Virginia Department of Health’s COVIDCHECK (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/) can walk a user through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.

Election signs are crowded together at the entrance of the railroad underpass on Hammond Avenue in Mount Carmel near City Hall. There were 2,046 early votes cast for the Mount Carmel city election.