Barr: no evidence of fraud that would change election outcomeUS braces for Covid surge in aftermath of ThanksgivingUK approves vaccine for rollout next weekJustice department investigates alleged â€˜bribery for pardon' schemeSign up to receive First Thing â€“ our daily briefing by email 2.48pm GMT Private ambulance companies across the country are facing financial struggles in the wake of rising costs and declining revenue, all while providing essential services during the pandemic. According to NBC News, private EMS services received $350 million in federal assistance to help them respond to the pandemic, but companies said the money is not enough for them to stay afloat. For many companies, the 911 calls and transfer to hospitals that made up the bulk of their revenue before the pandemic have dropped as people delay surgeries and other elective medical procedures. 2.24pm GMT Good morning, this is Lauren Aratani taking over for Martin Belam. As Congress continues to be at a standstill with a new coronavirus stimulus package, cities are starting efforts to bring direct relief to their residents. Houston, Texas is preparing to launch a program that would give $1,200 checks to residents of the city this month, payments similar to the stimulus checks that were sent out by the federal government in the spring.