Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, December 30, 2020:


MUTANT STRAIN: The more infectious coronavirus variant that’s been spreading through the UK is now in the U.S. A Colorado man in his 20s with no travel history is confirmed to be carrying the variant. The approved vaccines are believed to be effective against this strain, which is easier to spread but does not appear to have more severe symptoms. CBS DENVER
VACCINE ROLLOUT: In 1947, New York City vaccinated six million people against smallpox in less than a month. In 2020, just 2.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the U.S. in December, according to the CDC. The government’s goal was for 40 million doses to be given to 20 million people in the first month. Dr. Fauci has acknowledged that the initial rollout has been bumpier than he hoped, owing to a combination of miscommunication between the government and states, reporting lags, and a major pharmacy partnership that’s still pending. President-elect Biden slammed the Trump administration for the delays and reiterated his pledge of 100 million doses in his first 100 days. Overseas, the UK has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine. CNN 


Senate Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an immediate vote on the $2,000 stimulus checks demanded by President Trump and supported by a growing number of Senate Republicans, including the two hoping to keep their seats in Georgia next week. McConnell, who is in a political bind, is planning to tie the checks to two other pieces of legislation: repealing liability protections for tech companies and establishing a committee on election fraud. That would be a so-called “poison pill” for Democrats, but would allow Republicans to say they voted for the checks even if they don’t ever pass. AP


Good thing no one has New Year’s plans. Two separate storm systems are expected to create some combination of wet, windy, icy or snowy conditions for huge swaths of the U.S. on New Year’s Eve. The first storm is tracking over the Midwest and Great Lakes today, and the second will bring a wintry mix from Texas up to the Northeast tomorrow: FORECAST


TAMIR RICE: The Justice Dept. has declined to charge any of the Cleveland police officers involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 due to “insufficient evidence.” Video footage of the incident showed that the boy, who was playing with a toy gun, was shot within two seconds of police arriving on scene. His killing helped galvanize the early BLM movement. NPR
BREONNA TAYLOR: The Louisville Police Dept. reportedly plans to fire two of the detectives connected to the Breonna Taylor case: Det. Joshua Jaynes, who secured the no-knock warrant but was not on scene for the shooting, and Det. Myles Cosgrove, who fired the fatal shot, according to ballistics tests. Earlier this week, The New York Times recreated the shooting using a 3-D model: WATCH


The federal government has issued new dietary guidelines that reject recommendations from its own scientific advisors on sugar and alcohol consumption. An independent committee of scientists and doctors suggested that the guidelines, issued every five years, cut the recommendation for added sugars from 10 percent to 6 percent of calories, and that men cut their alcohol intake to one drink a day, down from two. Those suggestions were ignored, though the new guidelines do recommend that children under 2 not eat any added sugar (like cakes, candy or ice cream). NBC NEWS


AA 718 took off from Miami Tuesday morning and landed in New York just after 1 pm ET, an uneventful flight - except for the fact that it was the first time a Boeing 737 Max flew in U.S. skies since the jetliner was grounded nearly two years ago. American is the first domestic carrier to start to ease the Max back into its rotation. United, Alaska and Southwest will follow in the coming months. American is allowing any passengers who don’t want to fly on the plane to rebook their trip. Here’s the cockpit announcement as Flt. 718 prepared to take off: WATCH


Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Russell Okung has become the first NFL player to be paid a portion of his salary in cryptocurrency, sort of. Okung said last year that he wanted to be paid in bitcoin, and he wasn’t kidding. Okung used a third-party service to transfer half his $13 million annual salary into the digital currency, which hit another all-time high this week. COINDESK


… those creepy Boston Dynamics robots, busting a synchronized move. The robotics company showed off its lineup of robots dancing to Do You Love Me by The Contours, and it’s equal parts terrifying and incredible: WATCH


Pierre Cardin, the legendary designer who upended the world of French high fashion as one of the first to license his name for everything from boxer shorts to bath towels, has died. Cardin rose to fame dressing celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy, but realized the power of branding early on and expanded his empire from his famous bubble dresses to ready-to-wear collections and other merchandise for the masses. Cardin was 98. WWD


President Trump has ended President Obama’s 12-year streak as the most admired man in America, according to the annual end-of-year Gallup survey. The 45th president is considered the most admired man by 18 percent of respondents, while the 44th president came in at 15 percent. President-elect Biden got 6 percent. Michelle Obama was named the most admired woman in the country for the third year in a row. GALLUP
Podcast scheduling note: We'll be dark this week, but back to biz in 2021. So bookmark our podcast and start 2021 fresh! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!