Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 5, 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations hit record as fourth-wave fears loom, Stanford wins women's basketball title, and more


COVID-19 vaccine pace hits record as 4th-wave fears loom

The pace of coronavirus vaccinations continued to accelerate over the weekend. The number of shots surpassed four million in a single day on Saturday, a first. The seven-day average exceeded three million for the first time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase came as President Biden pushed to make enough COVID-19 vaccines for every American adult by the end of May. Although coronavirus infections and deaths have fallen from their winter peaks, the numbers have spiked again recently in many states, especially in the Midwest and the Northeast. Public health experts disagreed on Sunday news talk shows about whether the increases indicated that the nation was heading into a fourth wave. Elsewhere, India's health ministry reported over 100,000 new COVID-19 cases Monday, making India the second country after the U.S. to report that case level in a single day.


Stanford beats Arizona to take NCAA women's basketball title

Stanford beat Arizona 54-53 on Sunday to win the NCAA women's basketball championship. It was the third national title for Stanford, and its first since 1992. It was also the third championship for coach Tara VanDerveer, who this year became the winningest coach in women's basketball. Stanford entered the final quarter up by three, 43-40, in a hard-fought defensive battle. Stanford (31-2), led by Haley Jones, built the lead to nine points in the final quarter before Arizona (21-6) bounced back, with star guard Aari McDonald pulling her team to within one point, 51-50, with a three-pointer. McDonald had a chance to put Arizona ahead with seconds left. She fired from the top of the key under pressure, and the shot bounced off the rim as time ran out.


Florida officials struggle to prevent collapse of polluted reservoir

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) went to examine the site of a former phosphate plant near Tampa on Sunday, as a reservoir of wastewater threatened to fail and send hundreds of millions of gallons of polluted water into Tampa Bay. "Structural collapse could occur at any time," said Jacob Sauer, Manatee County director of public safety. Officials are pumping polluted water into the bay to relieve pressure on the Piney Point reservoir walls. County authorities expanded an evacuation order to residents of hundreds of homes around the reservoir. DeSantis declared a state of emergency in the area on Saturday. Florida's Department of Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Noah Valenstein said damage to the environment could be cleaned up, but the looming disaster posed an "imminent threat" to public health.


Flooding kills dozens in Indonesia

Heavy rains from a tropical cyclone triggered landslides and flash flooding in eastern Indonesia, killing at least 76 people and displacing thousands in eastern Indonesia and East Timor. In Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province, a mudslide slammed into dozens of houses in Lamenele village shortly after midnight on Monday, killing at least 38 people and injuring five. On Lembata island, the rain caused cold lava to fall down the slopes of the Ili Lewotolok volcano, which last erupted in November. The cold lava hit multiple villages, leaving at least 11 people dead and 16 more buried under tons of rubble. Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency on Monday said rescuers are having a hard time searching for survivors because of debris blocking roads.


Jordan crown prince says he's confined to home

Jordan's former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, said Sunday that he had been told by the country's military not to leave his home, suggesting he had been placed under house arrest after being accused of involvement in a coup plot. He said in a video sent by his lawyer to the BBC that he was not "part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out." Hamza, the half-brother of the country's ruler King Abdullah II, is the son of the late King Hussein and the American-born Queen Noor, who defended her son. "Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander," Queen Noor tweeted Sunday. "God bless and keep them safe."


Blunt says Biden should slash his infrastructure plan

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday that President Biden should slash his $2 trillion infrastructure plan to $615 billion if he wants to win over Republicans. Blunt, the No. 4 Republican in the Senate, said many Republicans might back the plan if it were scaled back to cover only roads, bridges, and other traditional infrastructure. "There's an easy win here for the White House if they would take that win," Blunt said. Progressives called for expanding the proposal to increase spending on such things as affordable housing and fighting climate change. Biden has said he would like to have GOP support, but Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Biden was prepared to use the budget reconciliation process to approve the infrastructure plan without GOP backing, as Democrats did with his coronavirus relief package.


Hotel magnate and Swiss billionaire make $680 million bid for Tribune

Choice Hotels International Chairman Stewart Bainum and Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss have made a $680 million, $18.50-per-share offer for the Tribune Publishing newspaper chain, potentially outbidding hedge fund Alden Global Capital, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. A special committee of the Tribune board reportedly found the new bid was probably the better deal, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Bainum and Hansjörg increased the amount they planned to personally contribute from $200 million to more than $600 million, guaranteeing their proposal was fully financed. Alden in February reached a deal to pay $17.25 per share for Tribune, agreeing separately to sell Bainum the Baltimore Sun for $65 million once it acquired Tribune. Now it likely would have to raise its bid to acquire the company.


Rapper DMX in 'vegetative state,' manager says

The rapper DMX, whose given name is Earl Simmons, was in a "vegetative state" on Sunday following a heart attack, his longtime manager, Nakia Walker, said. Some of Simmons' relatives have been able to visit since he was hospitalized after he collapsed at his White Plains, New York, home and was rushed to the hospital. Simmons' lawyer, Murray Richman, revealed a day earlier that Simmons had been placed on life support. "He is truly an amazing person," Richman said. "He walked into a room, he lit up the room. He couldn't help making you feel good in his presence." Richman said that Simmons, 50, had a "difficult life" and "expressed the pain and suffering in a very unique way. He truly is reflective of a whole segment of our society whose pain and suffering go unrecorded." Simmons was the first musician to have his first four albums debut at the top of the Billboard chart.


Godzilla vs. Kong debut breaks pandemic-era record

Godzilla vs. Kong continued its dominant opening run over the weekend. The monster movie took in $48.5 million in its first five days, easily breaking the record for the biggest debut since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The last Godzilla movie made $47.8 million in its three-day weekend debut back in 2019. The new film's opening weekend amounted to a test of moviegoers' willingness to return to theaters as the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations picks up and many states lift mask mandates now that the winter virus surge has passed. AT&T's WarnerMedia also offered Godzilla vs. Kong, along with the rest of its 2021 releases, for streaming over HBO Max at the same time as the theatrical debut, but didn't provide data on streaming views.


Chadwick Boseman wins posthumous SAG Award

Chadwick Boseman won a posthumous award for best actor in a lead role at Sunday night's 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards. Boseman, who died of cancer last August, was honored for his role in his final film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Boseman made history when he became the first actor to ever earn four SAG Award nominations in one year for movies, thanks to his work in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods. The night's other winners include Ma Rainey's Black Bottom's Viola Davis, best female lead actor; Judas and the Black Messiah's Daniel Kaluuya, best male actor in a supporting role; and Minari's Yuh-Jung Youn, best female supporting actor. Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago 7 received the outstanding performance by a cast.


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