It’s Thursday, December 24th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - South Florida airports have projected a decrease in travel during this holiday season, but the next two weeks may be the busiest of the year.
Millions are expected to fly during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it will not be as busy as previous years. Miami International Airport is expecting a 54% decrease in holiday travel compared to previous years - with a projected 1,157,353 passengers taking a flight during these next two weeks. That would be an average of 60,000 to 70,000 passengers every day. Meanwhile, several malls and grocery stores will also be open Thursday before closing on Christmas Day. For a complete list, click on this link.
No. 2 - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a major announcement for Florida's seniors at a news conference inside a Pensacola hospital where the COVID vaccine was distributed to essential workers.
DeSantis said he would sign an executive order guaranteeing seniors ages 65 and over would be the first to get the vaccine among the general public - emphasizing he hopes there would be enough vaccines by the start of next year for all seniors. He also said doctors should use their judgment to vaccinate people with underlying health conditions like cancer that make them more vulnerable to the virus. The next priority when more vaccine arrives would be law enforcement, firefighters and teachers, DeSantis said.
No. 3 - President Donald Trump issued 26 pardons on Wednesday night, including ones to his son-in-law Jared Kushner's father, and to his 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort and Republican political operative Roger Stone.
The latest grants of executive clemency by Trump came a day after the president issued a first wave of 15 pardons, a week after the Electoral College confirmed he had lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. Manafort, 70, was among the first in Trump's inner circle to face charges that were brought on by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump campaign. Stone was convicted in November 2019 for lying under oath to Congress about his efforts to learn in advance about WikiLeaks disclosure of emails hacked from then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign manager and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign by Russians.
No. 4 - President Trump made remarks Tuesday night about the COVID-19 relief package recently approved by Congress, calling the package a “disgrace” - but what does this mean for Floridians waiting on relief?
The legislation passed by Congress included two bills that were combined. One was the spending bill to fund the government through September and the other included COVID-19 relief, including $600 direct payments, extended federal unemployment benefits and an extension of the CDC eviction moratorium until the end of January. Patrice Paldino with Coast to Coast Legal Aid works with people facing eviction. She says the uncertainty of whether relief like the eviction moratorium will be extended is having its impact on some South Floridians. To hear who else could be at risk, click here for the story from NBC 6 investigator Sasha Jones.
No. 5 - For a third time in the past four years, the Orlando Magic opened their season on their home court with a stirring victory and beat the rival Miami Heat.
Evan Fournier hit a go-ahead 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter, converted a three-point play off another driving layup in the final minute and scored 25 points in the Magic’s 113-107 victory over Miami on Wednesday. Bam Adebayo led Miami with 25 points and 11 rebounds, Goran Dragic added 20 points, and Jimmy Butler had 19 points and seven assists. The Heat turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 24 Magic points. Miami returns to the AmericanAirlines Arena for their home opener Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
No. 6 - Weatherwise, 'twas the day before Christmas - and across South Florida, warm temps and rain stick around Thursday before cooler weather arrives for the big day. Keep your NBC 6 app handy for push alerts on any severe weather as well as First Alert Doppler 6000.