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The news you need to know today

Here's the headlines for Wednesday, Dec. 15

800,000 Americans
The coronavirus has now killed more than 800,000 people in the U.S., just two years after the first COVID-19 cluster was reported in Wuhan, China, and a year after vaccines were first rolled out.

With surges fueled by more transmissible variants of the coronavirus, the U.S. hit the tragic new record Tuesday, shortly after surpassing 50 million COVID-19 cases — by far the most in the world. Read more from NPR here.

The House votes to hold Mark Meadows in contempt
The Democratic-led U.S. House voted to hold the former Trump White House chief of staff in criminal contempt of Congress on Tuesday evening. The vote was cast almost completely along party lines, triggering a series of steps to send the referral to the U.S. attorney's office, leaving the Justice Department to decide whether it will pursue a prosecution in the case. Read more from NPR here.

Kronos hack will likely affect how employers issue paychecks and track hours
Human resources management company Ultimate Kronos Group (known as Kronos) said it suffered a ransomware attack that may keep its systems offline for weeks. Dozens of companies and governmental organizations announced they were affected by the attack. Read more here.

The Supreme Court decision on Texas' abortion ban could have a ripple effect in Florida
The Republican-controlled Legislature in Florida has failed twice in thepasttwo years to pass a so-called heartbeat bill. Efforts in the state in 2019 and 2020 died before any hearings or votes could be scheduled.

But Heather Shumaker, with the National Women’s Law Center, says that could change with the Supreme Court's recentruling. Read morehere.

Enrollment at Florida state colleges continues to shrink
Florida college officials are trying to figure out what’s behind a continuing drop in state college enrollment, which analysts project could decline by more than 9% over the next five years if the trend persists.

The most recent end-of-year data on college system enrollment showed a system-wide enrollment of 277, 279 students for the 2021-22 academic year compared to 293,493 students for the previous year. Read more here.

Scams to avoid this holiday season
The Better Business Bureau is out with the 12 scams of Christmas — offering tips on how to avoid rip-offs. These scams are employed year-round, but Tammy Ward of Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida says your concerns should ratchet up for the holidays. Read morehere.