Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 13, 2021

Harold Maass
Rochelle Walensky
Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

1.

CDC director says Michigan should 'close things down' as virus surges

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday warned that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations were rising so fast in Michigan that the state should "close things down." Michigan's infection rate has risen sevenfold since a February low point, reaching a seven-day average of 7,377 new cases per day, and 3,570 hospitalizations, The New York Times reported. "When you have an acute situation, an extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccines — in fact we know the vaccine will have a delayed response," she said at the White House COVID-19 response team briefing. "The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer ... to flatten the curve, decrease contact with one another." [The Hill, The New York Times]

2.

Police say Minnesota officer who shot Daunte Wright meant to Tase him

The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, might have mistakenly fired her gun instead of her Taser, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said Monday. Body-camera footage the department released Monday showed Wright struggling as he is being handcuffed during a traffic stop. An officer shouted "Taser," fired a single bullet, then said, "Holy s---. I just shot him." Protests broke out after the Sunday shooting, which raised tensions around nearby Minneapolis where former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for murder over the death of George Floyd. President Biden called for "peace and calm," acknowledging "the anger, pain, and trauma that exists in the Black community," but saying there was "absolutely no justification, none, for looting. No justification for violence." [USA Today, The New York Times]

3.

Biden set to nominate Christine Wormuth as 1st female Army secretary

President Biden plans to nominate Christine Wormuth, who served in the Obama administration as a top Pentagon policy official, to be secretary of the Army. She also led Biden's Pentagon transition team. "Christine is a true patriot with a dedicated career in service to America and our nation's security," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. "I have no doubt that, if confirmed, she will lead our soldiers and represent their families with honor and integrity as the Secretary of the Army." If approved by the Senate, Wormuth will be the first female Army secretary. Three women have served as Air Force secretary. [The Hill]

4.

Taliban backs out of Afghanistan peace conference

A Taliban spokesman said Monday that the radical Islamic insurgent group would not attend a peace conference with the Afghan government scheduled to start Friday in Turkey. In an audio message to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that the group was still discussing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's peace proposal internally and would "share our final decision" once it is made. The two sides were expected to reach a political agreement in Istanbul that would kick off efforts to end Afghanistan's 20-year conflict. The U.S. helped facilitate the United Nations-led event, hoping it would clear the way for American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. [The Associated Press, Bloomberg]

5.

Expert: Restraint, not drugs, killed George Floyd

A cardiology expert, Jonathan Rich, said Monday that George Floyd would have lived if former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin had not pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for nine minutes. "I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose," Rich testified in Chauvin's murder trial. Use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton said no "reasonable officer" in Chauvin's position could have concluded that Floyd, handcuffed and repeatedly saying he couldn't breathe, intended harm to the group of officers restraining him. Floyd also called out for his late mother while he was pinned to the ground. "He loved her so dearly," Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, told the court. The defense starts presenting its case Tuesday. [The Washington Post, Star Tribune]

6.

Biden tells CEOs infrastructure plan will help address chip shortage

President Biden told corporate leaders in a virtual meeting on the semiconductor shortage that the United States should lead the world in producing computer chips. He used the occasion to tout the benefits of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which calls for investing $50 billion in semiconductor manufacturing and research, saying it could help. "We need to build the infrastructure of today, not repair the one of yesterday," he told the group, which included 19 technology, semiconductor, and automotive industry executives. "China and the rest of the world is not waiting and there's no reason why Americans should wait." The shortage has delayed a new iPhone and last week forced U.S. automakers to temporarily idle or reduce production at several factories. Intel has announced that it will make chips for car plants later this year. [USA Today, Reuters]

7.

Stimulus checks push federal deficit surges to record

The federal budget deficit surged to a record $1.7 trillion in the first half of the fiscal year, as spending jumped in March due to the latest round of coronavirus relief checks. The half-year deficit was twice as big as it was in the same period a year before. The March shortfall of $660 billion was up by 454 percent over the same month last year. Revenue rose by 13 percent to $268 billion despite the COVID-19 pandemic-related drop in business due to shutdowns and other problems. Spending was up by 161 percent to $927 billion, the third biggest monthly gap in history. Only last June and April were larger. Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said much of the last year's borrowing was "unquestionably warranted," but added, "We need to start paying for what we spend." [The Wall Street Journal]

8.

Shooting at Knoxville high school leaves 1 person dead

A teenage boy was killed on Monday afternoon during a shooting at the Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, said David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A police officer was also wounded, and underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the hip, a person with knowledge of the matter told Knox News. One person reportedly was detained in connection with the shooting. The gunfire started when police responded to a report that an armed student was in a school bathroom. When police entered, the student fired, striking the officer, Rausch said. Police returned fire, killing him. Administrators canceled classes for two days. Four Knoxville teens have been fatally shot in recent months, including two Austin-East students. [Knoxville News Sentinel, NBC News]

9.

Biden reaches deal with 3 countries to deter migrants heading to U.S.

Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala have reached a deal with the Biden administration to surge their security forces to their borders to help reduce a wave of migration to the U.S., White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. Mexico will keep 10,000 troops stationed at its southern border. Neighboring Guatemala has sent 1,500 police officers and troops to its southern border with Honduras, and will put 12 internal checkpoints along a route taken by migrants. Honduras has deployed 7,000 security forces to its northern border. The agreement came after a record number of unaccompanied children tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The Border Patrol encountered just under 170,000 migrants overall on the southern border in March, the most since March 2001. [The Associated Press, The Guardian]

10.

Weinstein indicted on 11 California sexual assault counts

Harvey Weinstein, the former movie producer convicted for two felony sex crimes last year, has been indicted on 11 counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County, attorneys said Monday. A grand jury indicted Weinstein, 67, on four counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery, and one count of sexual penetration by force. Attorneys said Weinstein, currently in prison in New York, could be extradited to face the charges this month. Weinstein defense attorney Mark Werksman dismissed the indictment as "stale, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, uncredible allegations that arose during the hysteria of the #MeToo movement," and said he was confident Weinstein would be acquitted "because there's no credible evidence against him." [Los Angeles Times]