Could the calvary be coming?  President-elect Joe Biden swung behind a bipartisan COVID-19 relief effort Wednesday and his top Capitol Hill allies cut their demands for a $2 trillion-plus measure by more than half in hopes of breaking a monthslong logjam and delivering much-sought aid as the tempestuous congressional session speeds to a close.  Biden said the developing aid package “wouldn’t be the answer, but it would be the immediate help for a lot of things.” He wants a relief bill to pass Congress now, with more aid to come next year.

104 more cases of Covid-19 were registered in Marion County on Wednesday bringing the total to 13,280.   Three more deaths were also noted bringing that total to 382.  The positivity rate in Marion is also on the rise.  Since November 18th, there have been six days of testing when the rate was above 10%.

Ford pickup trucks are popular in Ocala, especially the F250 and F350 models.  The Ocala Police Department says at least a half dozen of the big pickups have been stolen or broken into since October 1st.  The latest was an F350 taken from the Comfort Suites off  Blitchton Road on Wednesday.  Police are short on clues and are looking to the public for help.

Great Britain is getting a head start on covid vaccines.  The UK has approved the Pfizer vaccine and officials say inoculations will begin within days.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not scheduled to consider the vaccine until Dec. 10.  The FDA is currently going through an approval process using outside sources, causing the delay in approval.

American Airlines is taking its long-grounded Boeing 737 Max jets out of storage, updating key flight-control software, and flying the planes in preparation for the first flights with paying passengers later this month. The airline invited press reporters and photographers on board one of the planes Wednesday to demonstrate its confidence in the plane’s safety.  All Max jets worldwide were grounded in March 2019 after the second of two crashes that together killed 346 people.  The big question remains, will the public get back on board.

Another holiday is on the horizon.   Christmas.  And the Centuers for Disease Control is out with it’s recommendation…..just Don’t travel. But if you must, consider getting coronavirus tests before and after, U.S. health officials urged Wednesday.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the best way to stay safe and protect others is to stay home.  The CDC issued the same recommendation over Thanksgiving but millions ignored it and now another surge in the disease is expected within a couple of weeks. 

Marion County sheriff’s detectives are investigating a murder early this morning which occurred in the 2300 block of SE 178th avenue.  One victim died from injuries at a local hospital shortly after the 2 AM incident.  No other details have been made available. 

On second thought….let’s not do that.  The City of Belleview Wednesday decided to cancel this Saturday’s Light Up Lake Lillian event and the December 13th Christmas parade.  The city cited the increase in the number of covid-19 cases and the increase in the positivity rate, not to mention the cancellation of schools participation.

Friends of former police chief Greg Graham have organized a walk for charity to honor the chief, who was killed in October in a plane crash near Dunnellon.  The Chief Greg Graham Legacy Walk will all take place at the Zone Health and Fitness on South Pine where participants will take turns on Graham’s favorite treadmill, number 12.  Walkers will be required to raise funds for their walking teams.  The money will be donated to Graham’s favorite charities.

The Escambia County Administrators office in Pensacola was the victim of an illegal bug according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  Administrator Janice Gilley suspected something when private conversations in her office became mainstream media stories.  A sweep of the office found the bug and FDLE was called in.  Investigators say they haven’t been able to determine anything about who hid the device or why.  

56 year old Munib Garvanovic of Jacksonville is what you would call lucky.  Three years ago the 56 year old won a million dollars in the Florida Lottery’s Gold Rush Doubler scratch off game.  Now Garvanovic has done it again.  This time, he won five million in the lottey’s 200X cash game.  He opted for the cash payout of $4,450,000. 

The idea of the county purchasing the old Sears building at the Paddock Mall got a cool reception with county commissioners on Tuesday.  One commissioner expressed displeasure that the board had not been given details before it came before the public meeting Tuesday.   Another commissioner commented that the county would be taking a $100,000 annual hit on property taxes.   Its not known if the proposal will now go any further.

Florida has become only the third state in the nation to exceed 1 million cases of Covid-19 and is now approaching a death toll of 20,000.  But despite the figures, Governor Ron DeSantis remains defiant about issuing a statewide masking order or any return to lockdowns.  The governor’s reasoning, other states are seeing even more increases.  Florida added more than 8800 news cases Monday for a total of more than 1 million, 8000.

132 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Marion County Tuesday bringing the total in the county to 13,176 since the pandemic began with 379 dead.  While the number of positive cases is going up, the positivity rate is still relatively low at 8.8% for last week.  Officials are still bracing for another spike in the number of cases in another week to 10 days from the Thanksgiving holiday where many people ignored safety protocols.

A Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced.  The lander was launched Nov. 24.  Plans call for the lander to spend about two days drilling into the lunar surface and collecting 4.4 pounds of rocks and debris. The sample will be lifted up into orbit and transferred to a return capsule for the trip to Earth.  If it succeeds, it will be the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since a Soviet probe in the 1970s.

An influential government advisory panel convened on Tuesday to answer one of the most pressing questions in the U.S. coronavirus outbreak: Who should be at the front of the line when the first vaccine shots become available?  The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted on a proposal that would give priority to health care workers and nursing home patients which was approved.  Those two groups encompass around 23 million Americans out of a U.S. population of about 330 million.

Three people have been rung up by sheriff’s detectives for stealing a truck and lawn equipment worth about $80, 000.  Joe Murphy, Kevan Davis, and Kim Thrasher are all guests at Sheriff Wood’s no frills hotel.  They’re all facing multiple charges.  After the thefts were reported on Sunday, deputies spotted some of the stolen goods at two locations and made the arrests.  All three will enjoy the holidays in jail.  Their next court date is slated for January 5th. 

A state representative from Howie in the Hills has filed a bill that would strip the state’s power to mandate that residents be vaccinated during a pandemic.  In a video two weeks ago, Governor DeSantis said the state would not force anyone  to get a COVID-19 vaccine if they don’t want one.

A Polk City woman has died weeks after a group of teenagers intentionally ran over her as she defended her son, who had been assaulted by the teens.  Suzette Penton died last week from injuries suffered in the Nov. 9th incident , according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators said she was run over by a van carrying 18-year-old Elijah Stansell and three other teens, ages 14, 15 and 16. They now face murder charges.

U.S. construction spending jumped 1.3% in October, the fifth straight monthly increase, again on the strength of single-family home building. The October gain follows a strong upward revision in September.  Home buying has been one of the few bright spots during the pandemic , spurred on by record low interest rates.

An Amazon driver is credited with saving the life of a man in New Smyrna Beach.  23 year old Sean Campbell heard the screams from inside a burning home last week.  He dropped everything and entered the home where he found the elderly man in the kitchen.  The man’s wife had already escaped with the help of a neighbor.  Everyone is fine but the house is a wreck.  The elderly couple is now staying with relatives.. 

The county is giving a long hard look at purchasing the old Sears location at the Paddock Mall.  The county says the location could serve as a governmental complex, storage area for emergency supplies, and even an evacuation center at times as the building is rated for storm impact.   The Sears property is listed at 6 ½ million dollars.

No graduation ceremonies at CF this December.  Well kind of.  At least not in person.   Graduates for the December 11th event will watch from their homes online all thanks to the Covid outbreak.   

If you’ve ever wanted to get into professional football, here’s your big chance.  The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking for a new general manager after GM Dave Caldwell was fired Sunday after the team’s 10th consecutive loss.  You’ll make a good salary and be able to pick your own coach.  The only thing you’ll be required to do is come up with a winning team, which could be easier said than done.

As you head out this morning, a reminder.  You will need a coat or jacket as temperatures are in the 30’s with wind chills.  And today isn’t going to exactly be a Florida type beach day with highs only in the 50’s.  While it will be sunny today, those northwest breezes will make it feel much cooler.  Actually, this morning it is warmer in Boston than it is here in Ocala.

The application window for School Choice programs, including magnet and career and technical academies, gets underway Tuesday and runs through January 31st.  This year, the entire process is online.  Through the program, parents may apply for their children to attend schools outside their zoned area.

Sheriff’s detectives have arrested an Ocklawaha woman on charges of second degree murder without premeditation after she shot a man along County Road 314A Sunday.  41 year old Jennifer Hill is being held on $50,000 bond.  Police say Hill shot and killed 39 year old Michael Hofacker in what may have been a mistaken identity.  Police leveled the charges after statements from Hill and eyewitnesses conflicted. 

Today is the last day of the 2020 hurricane season.  That’s the good news.   And there’s more good news.  The National Hurricane Center is only watching one system out in the Atlantic and that system is moving toward Europe.  No other activity is being noted as the oceans begin to cool just enough to hinder development of tropical systems. Tonight we’re expecting a blast of cold air dropping temperatures into the upper 30’s

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his senior economic team, including his plans to nominate the first woman to head the Treasury Department as well as several liberal economists and policy specialists who established their credentials during the previous two Democratic administrations.  In a statement, Biden said he would nominate Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, to lead the Treasury Department

Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens. Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths

Nearly 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the greatest number since the pandemic gripped the country in March, despite pleas from health experts for Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving.  Local health officials are now worried that the travel period will produce a huge spike in the number of cases within the next two weeks.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Monday that schools in Florida will remain open this spring, saying there is no scientific evidence that closing schools helps to dampen the spread of the virus,  but parents will continue to have options for virtual learning.  The governor made the announcement during a news conference in Kissimmee.  But DeSantis downplayed virtual learning saying kids just learn better in the classroom.  However the state will continue to fund the effort.

A 21 year old Dunnellon man was killed late last night in a single vehicle crash at SW 201st Avenue and SW 5th Place.  The victim has not been identified.  The Florida Highway Patrol says the man failed to stop at a  stop sign at a T intersection and smashed into a tree.   The vehicle and the body of the man were found early Monday morning by a motorist passing by.

We’ve been through black Friday, small business Saturday, and now today is cyber Monday in the 2020 holiday shopping season.  Crowds of people crammed into stores Friday and Saturday despite pleas for cautions from health officials.  Retail officials believe today will be the largest cyber Monday ever.

Gas prices in the Ocala area remained steady over the past week at an average of $2-10 a gallon.  But classic hits listeners won’t pay that much.  We’ve found fuel for you at several locations as low as $1-97.  To find those stations or prices in your neighborhood, just log on to our website classichitsocala.com.  The link is right there on the front page.

A 62-year-old boater who had been missing since Friday was found Sunday clinging to his capsized vessel off of Florida’s Atlantic coastline, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.    The agency had been searching for signs of Stuart Bee and his 32-foot boat since he was reported missing on Friday.  His condition after being found was not known.

Alabama remained on top of the AP college rankings released Sunday.  As a matter of fact, the rankings did not change at all with Notre Dame at number 2,  Ohio State at number 3, followed by Clemson, Texas A&M, and the Florida Gators at number 6.

Britain said Sunday it has secured 2 million more doses of a promising coronavirus vaccine as it gears up to launch within days the country’s most ambitious inoculation program in decades.  The U.K. has had Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 58,000 confirmed virus-related deaths. It now hopes to hit a more positive milestone by becoming one of the first countries in the world to start vaccinating its population against COVID-19.

David Prowse, the hulking figure who played Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies has died following a brief illness.  He was 85.  Prowse did not provide the voice of Darth Vader but only the on-camera movements in the iconic costume.

If you need to be out shopping on Saturdays during the month of December, the SunTran bus system has a deal for you.  The local bus system is reducing face every Saturday in December to just a quarter.  Suntran officials say the effort is to encourage ridership at a lower cost and reduce the stress of transportation while shopping.