May 16, 2024
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What you need to know about coronavirus on Friday, January 15

The package will allocate more than $400 billion toward addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, including $160 billion in funding to execute a national vaccination program, expand testing and mobilize a public health jobs program, among other measures. Biden unveiled plans for $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans as well as extending and expanding unemployment benefits, including a $400 weekly unemployment insurance supplement, through September.

Biden did not detail how he plans to move his massive proposal through a Congress where Democrats will have narrow House and Senate majorities. But he has to make a running start.

At the current rate of daily fatalities, the US death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic could reach 400,000 before he is sworn in next Wednesday. The virus is now killing at a faster rate than at any point in 2020: an average of 3.5 people are getting infected every second, and the five highest daily tallies for new infections and new deaths have all occurred in 2021.
Infections are so widespread in Los Angeles County that essential workers have been warned to wear masks inside their own homes. Hospitals have reached breaking point, and the coroner’s office is running out of space to store the bodies of Covid-19 victims. But there is hope: L.A.’s Dodger Stadium, which has been a testing site, will now become a mass vaccination center. While it may speed up efforts to vaccinate priority groups though, health officials have been hindered by supply shortages.

Biden blasted the current administration’s vaccine rollout as a “dismal failure.” And he added: “There will be stumbles, but I will always be honest with you about both the progress we’re making and what setbacks we meet.”


Q: What else is in the American Rescue Plan?

A: Rental assistance and an eviction moratorium. Additional support for small businesses, states and local governments. Restoration of emergency paid leave.

These are some of the other key parts of Biden’s proposal. To learn more about it, read this.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.


Covid-19 cases surge in Brazil’s Amazonas state as its new variant sees international flight ban

The Brazilian state of Amazonas is running out oxygen, prompting its government to announce a curfew as it airlifts patients to other states. The country’s health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, said the healthcare system in the hard-hit Amazonian city of Manaus is in “collapse,” adding that hundreds of people are waiting for hospital beds.
Despite Brazil having the second deadliest Covid-19 outbreak in the world — after the US — the country’s vaccination campaign has yet to begin. Pazuello said immunizations would begin this month, but did not specify a date. This comes as the UK bans arrivals from multiple Latin American countries “following evidence of a new variant in Brazil,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch accused President Jair Bolsonaro of sabotaging efforts to stem the outbreak, instead pursuing policies that have undermined human rights.

How will school closures affect children in the long run? Wars, disease and natural disasters offer clues

Children across the globe have seen their schools closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 1.6 billion students were out of school during the first peak of the pandemic in April 2020, and almost 700 million remained out as 2020 drew to a close, Laura Smith-Spark writes. It may take years for the full impact of these months of missed schooling to be known, so what can history tell us about the long-term effects of disruptions to education?

The most striking data came from a paper assessing the long-term education cost of World War II. The authors concluded that “individuals experienced a sizable earnings loss some 40 years after the war, which can be attributed to the educational loss caused by the conflict.”

A Best Western in London is taking in Covid patients

England’s health service is currently staggering under an unprecedented crisis with more coronavirus patients in hospital than at any point in the pandemic. A new, more infectious variant, which officials say is out of control, has caused record-breaking infection rates, and could soon overwhelm intensive care units.

Salma Abdelaziz visits a Best Western hotel in a London suburb that has turned into a recovery ward for coronavirus patients, as part of a pilot program to relieve local hospitals that are under enormous strain due to the winter surge in cases.
Hotel staff completed an NHS training course and installed air filtration systems.


  • The pandemic is not only having an immediate impact in terms of the deaths of thousands of Americans, it’s also taking more than a year off the average US life expectancy, a new study has found.
  • The number of new skyscrapers built globally dropped more than 20% in 2020, attributed to the slowdown caused by Covid-19, as projects around the world ground to a halt amid restrictions on construction.
  • There is a gap in vaccine confidence in Hispanic age groups. One study found that most Hispanic adults in the US want to be immunized eventually, but Hispanic adults under 50 are twice as likely to say they will “definitely not get the vaccine.”
  • Grammy-nominated artist Post Malone is donating 10,000 pairs of his sold-out Duet Max Clog II Crocs to frontline workers at 70 hospitals across the country.
  • Pope Francis and former Pope Benedict received the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine as the Vatican City began its vaccine program in a medical center set-up inside its main Auditorium Hall, where the pontiff often holds his weekly audiences.


Even before the pandemic, fear of needles had a serious impact.

Now, as Covid-19 vaccines roll out across the globe, addressing such concerns is essential to public health. Fortunately, experts say treatments for needle phobia can be highly effective. Here’s how.


“It’s the boogeyman, it’s the epidemiologists’ horror story. It’s the term they use for what’s coming next.. — CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley

As human activity ventures further into the wilderness, scientists believe more diseases will emerge. Kiley takes CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta on a journey into the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the hunt for the next pandemic pathogen continues. Listen now.