In his first “fireside chat” video, President Biden spoke to a woman who lost her job due to the pandemic, offering her solace but also using the interaction to highlight the importance of his Covid-19 relief plan.
“Working is a part of who you are. Like my dad used to say, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about your respect. It’s about your place in the community,” Biden told the woman, who was identified in the video as Michele from California. “I’ve been saying a long time the idea that we think we can keep businesses open and moving and thriving without this pandemic is just a nonstarter. We’re putting together a plan that provides for emergency relief to people who are in desperate need now.”
In the video, Michele said she was laid off for the first time in her life this July and wrote a letter to Biden to tell him how she felt and shortly after she received the phone call from him.
Biden also spoke about getting 100 million shots in his first 100 days to which Michele excitedly said she “finally” got her parents appointments.
Some background: The White House announced Friday plans to bring back the tradition of weekly presidential addresses to the American people, continuing in the tradition of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats.
“This is a time-honored tradition in the country of hearing from the President in this way, from FDR’s Fireside Chats to Ronald Reagan establishing the weekly presidential radio address,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday. “President (Joe) Biden will continue that tradition, and we expect it to take on a variety of forms.”
The Netherlands has passed the mark of a million confirmed Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to numbers by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) on Saturday.
RIVM reported 4,130 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total since the pandemic started almost a year ago to 1,001,826.
When Patricia Dowd passed away last February, no one knew it was from Covid-19.
She was 57 and very active, her brother said. Dowd had come down with flu-like symptoms but didn’t qualify for a Covid-19 test because they were scarce and restricted at the time.
On February 6, Dowd died suddenly after her heart ruptured.
In the year since, more than 450,000 other families have suffered the shock and devastation of losing a loved one to coronavirus.
Here are some of their stories:
Take a passing glance at Dubai, and you may think life is back to normal. In recent weeks, the bustling city has been a sparkling attraction for tourists, especially from Europe, trying to escape the brutal winter and strict coronavirus lockdowns.
But as tens of thousands of visitors flocked there during its peak year-end season, the virus inevitably caught up with the city despite precautions aimed at limiting its spread. Cases began to rise, nearly quadrupling since November.
Even as Covid-19 gained a stronger foothold, the images out of Dubai — particularly from the Instagram feeds of influencers or celebrities — painted an image of a wide-open winter sun paradise.
For those back home in countries such as the UK, where most people are being told they cannot travel abroad because of the risk to health, these pictures caused consternation, drawing criticism of those enjoying themselves.
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As officials make strides to improve accessibility to Covid-19 vaccines in the United States, some states are turning their focus to the underserved and vulnerable communities that have not yet been eligible for protection.
Though coronavirus vaccine administration is not at President Joe Biden’s hoped-for level of 1.5 million per day, the US has gotten closer with an average of 1.3 million new shots a day.
Until now, the sluggish pace of distribution had most states’ demand for vaccines exceeding their supply as they raced to protect their first-priority populations, usually healthcare workers and older Americans.
Now New York, with about 75% of hospital workers inoculated, may become the first state to offer vaccine access to people with the simultaneous presence of two or more medical conditions, no matter their age. The governor’s office listed cancer, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease and heart conditions as some of the comorbidities and underlying conditions that the state will use to determine eligibility for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said Friday that the state is now vaccinating those in the prison system along the same guidelines as the general public.
And in Texas, the Houston Health Department said Friday that it will prioritize “vulnerable populations” and “underserved communities” as it receives additional vaccine allotments.
When it comes to reaching the underserved, such as people who are homeless, those without insurance and migrant workers, local pharmacies and health centers are a better option than trying to “reinvent the wheel” with mass vaccination sites, Adm. Brett Giroir said in a radio interview aired Friday.
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US President Joe Biden’s team is promising new guidance on school reopenings next week. But even as more Covid-19 vaccine shots go into arms two and half weeks into his administration, there is growing impatience and frustration among parents about the biggest question looming over their lives: when their children can get back in the classroom.
The issue of school reopenings emerged as a central flashpoint this week as the anger that many parents and teachers are feeling is spilling into courtroom battles and potentially headed toward the picket line in Chicago, home to the third-largest school district in the country. Biden has said he wants to open the majority of K-8 schools within his first 100 days, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the CDC will provide more advice on how they can safely do so next week.
But reopening policies and the readiness of campuses to usher children back through their doors currently vary wildly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction — a legacy of the Trump administration’s decentralized approach to managing Covid-19. And the ability of schools to reopen hinges on the coronavirus transmission rate in each locality — meaning that the CDC’s advice next week is unlikely to offer anxious parents any immediate, one-size-fits-all answers that bring clarity to when their lives will get back to normal.
Even after Biden set his 100-day goal for reopening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said achieving that goal “may not happen because there may be mitigating circumstances.”
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According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been at least 26,808,328 cases of coronavirus and at least 459,403 deaths in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic.
On Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported 128,114 new cases and 3,522 new deaths.
At least 58,380,300 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 36,819,212 doses of vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.
South Korea will maintain its current social distancing levels until the end of February 14, health officials announced Saturday.
Some adjustments will be made to business opening hours due to economic hardships, South Korean Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae said.
Last week, the ministry said it would review easing the restrictions for the coming holiday week. The measures in the Seoul Metropolitan Area are at the second highest level and third highest for the rest of the country.
Kang said previous social distancing rules, including the ban of gathering of 5 people or more, will remain in place during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Saturday that restaurants, gyms, karaoke rooms and cafes outside of greater Seoul will be allowed to open for an extra hour until 10 p.m. local time, staring next week.
The decision was made because “small business owners have reached their limit”, and not because the Covid-19 situation is in submission. This measure would affect 580,000 businesses, he said.
South Korea reported 366 local and 27 imported cases Friday. Five patients died Friday, raising the national death toll to 1,464.
There has been 70,505 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.
By following public health guidelines and getting vaccinated as soon as possible, we can avoid a surge in dangerous Covid-19 variants, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “The Beat” about the likelihood of variants becoming dominant strains in the US, Fauci said the surge might be “a possibility, but not necessarily an inevitability.”
The virus can only mutate, if it is able to replicate, Fauci explained.
“When you have a lot of infection in your country, when you’re getting three to 400,000 new infections a day, the virus has an open playing field to replicate so much that it starts to mutate. That’s when you get the dangerous mutations.”
To prevent the variants from replicating and mutating, Fauci charged the public with continuing to follow evidence-based public health measures.
“One of the best ways to prevent that from happening in this country is to double down on public health measures to prevent the virus from going from one person to another: the masking, the distancing, the avoiding congregate settings,” Fauci said.
And, most importantly, Fauci urged the public to get vaccinated.
“As soon as the vaccine becomes available, please go out and get vaccinated, because the combination of vaccination and public health measures will bring the level of virus down so low you won’t give it a chance to mutate. That’s what we need to do.”