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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: Rick Friedman/Getty Images

A judge ruled on Thursday that federal prosecutors, including Trump's labor secretary Alexander Acosta, violated the law by striking a sweetheart plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, in which Epstein averted federal prosecution for his participation in an international sex operation, reports The Miami Herald.

Details: Acosta, who at the time was the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida, opted not to prosecute Epstein on federal sex traffic laws and instead struck a deal that ultimately granted him immunity. More than 30 of Epstein's victims were not notified of the arrangement. "Particularly problematic was the Government's decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility," the judge wrote.

Go deeper

6 mins ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

51 mins ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.