10 things you need to know today: July 7, 2021
Biden expands vaccination push as Delta variant spreads, Howard hires Nikole Hannah-Jones after UNC controversy, and more
Biden renews vaccination call as Delta variant spreads
President Biden on Tuesday renewed his call for all eligible Americans to get coronavirus vaccinations as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads and raises fears of a surge of infections in people who haven't had the shots. The U.S. is close to having 160 million people fully vaccinated, but with millions of eligible people unvaccinated, "their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk, the people they care about are at risk," Biden said. "This is an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant." The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to broaden vaccine availability by providing doses to doctors' offices and workplaces. Biden's team also is increasing the push to get vaccines to pediatricians, with the aim of get more adolescents inoculated before the new school year.
Nikole Hannah-Jones hired by Howard instead of UNC
Howard University announced Tuesday it was hiring New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. The news came less than a week after trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted to grant Hannah-Jones tenure, reversing a controversial earlier decision, but Hannah-Jones turned down that offer. She said it was "just not something that I want anymore." Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for writing connected to her 1619 Project, which explored the legacy of slavery in the United States. Howard, the prestigious historically Black university in Washington, D.C., also said it was hiring Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me. Hannah-Jones will become the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism, a tenured position.
Eric Adams wins NYC Democratic mayoral primary
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has won New York City's Democratic mayoral primary, The Associated Press projected on Tuesday night. The primary, held on June 22, was the city's first to use ranked choice voting. There are still some ballots to be counted, but the latest tabulations released by the New York City Board of Elections on Tuesday showed Adams, a former police captain, with a safe lead over the second-place finisher, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia. Adams said "an historic, diverse, five-borough coalition led by working-class New Yorkers has led us to victory." Adams is favored to beat Curtis Sliwa, the Republican founder of the Guardian Angels, in the general election, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans 7-to-1 in New York City.
36 deaths now confirmed in Florida condo collapse
Search crews on Tuesday found more bodies at the site of the partial collapse of a beachfront condominium tower in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach. The recoveries on the 13th day of the search brought the confirmed death toll to 36. More than 100 others remained "potentially unaccounted for," although 70 of them have been confirmed to have been in the Champlain Towers South when part of the building collapsed early on June 24. Demolition crews brought down the rest of the building on Sunday. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that is has been difficult to reach family members who reported people missing, making "it very difficult to determine whether an individual was in fact in the building."
Tropical Storm Elsa nears Florida's Gulf coast
Tropical Storm Elsa, which briefly regained hurricane strength on Tuesday, approached Florida early Wednesday with top sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm is expected to make landfall on Florida's northern Gulf coast by late morning or early afternoon. The Florida Division of Emergency Management said hurricane warnings had been issued for seven counties. The warnings affected about 4 million people. The South Florida counties of Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade on the state's Atlantic coast were under tornado watches into early Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said. The tornado threat will move upward to southeast Georgia and the coastal Carolinas after the storm crosses Florida and continues north, forecasters said.
Japan reportedly considering last-minute ban on Olympic spectators
Japan is considering expanding coronavirus restrictions and banning all spectators from the Tokyo Olympic Games, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing several sources. Medical experts have been urging organizers for weeks not to let spectators watch events in person. Organizers have banned overseas spectators and set a limit on domestic spectators at 50 percent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people. But now, with the start of the Games just two weeks away, the pressure is rising and the ruling party is facing an expected setback in a Sunday Tokyo assembly election that some allies of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga blame on public anger over the Games. "Politically speaking, having no spectators is now unavoidable," a ruling party source said in the Reuters report.
Mary Simon appointed Canada's 1st Indigenous governor general
Diplomat Mary Simon will become the first Indigenous person to serve as Canada's governor general, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday. Simon, an Inuk leader and former Canadian ambassador, was a longtime advocate for Inuit rights and culture before Trudeau picked her to serve as the representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada. "Today, after 154 years, our country takes a historic step," Trudeau said at a news conference at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. "I cannot think of a better person to meet the moment." Simon began her remarks in Knuktitut then said in English that her appointment marked "a historic and inspirational moment for Canada, and an important step forward on the long path towards reconciliation." Simon replaces Julie Payette, who resigned in January after facing allegations of workplace harassment and bullying.
AAA: U.S. gas prices to rise up to 20 cents a gallon over 2 months
AAA said Tuesday that it expected U.S. gasoline prices to rise by 10 to 20 cents per gallon through late August. The average price for a gallon of regular gas has reached $3.13, up from $3.05 a month ago, AAA said. A year ago, the average pump price for regular gas in the United States had dropped to $2.18 per gallon, because the coronavirus crisis was forcing people to stay home. Upward pressure on prices increased this week when OPEC talks broke down, blocking a deal on raising production to meet surging demand. "Robust gasoline demand and more expensive crude oil prices are pushing gas prices higher," Jeanette McGee, an AAA representative, said in a statement. "We had hoped that global crude production increases would bring some relief at the pump this month, but weekend OPEC negotiations fell through."
Pentagon cancels contested cloud-computing contract
The Defense Department announced Tuesday that it was canceling its $10 billion cloud-computing contract with Microsoft. The decision came after Amazon protested the decision to give the contract, known as JEDI, to rival Microsoft. The Pentagon said it would start the procurement process over again. The process will start out with Amazon and Microsoft competing against each other, but other cloud vendors are expected to be allowed to make bids at some point. "The Department has determined that, due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy, and industry advances, the JEDI Cloud contract no longer meets its needs," a Defense Department spokesperson said in an unsigned news release.
Sha'Carri Richardson denied spot on Olympic relay team
USA Track and Field excluded sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson, who lost her spot in the individual 100-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics after a positive test for marijuana, from the U.S. Olympic 4x100 relay team, according to the Olympic roster released Tuesday. Richardson won the Olympic trials in the event last month in Oregon, but the victory was vacated due to the positive marijuana test. Richardson said she smoked marijuana during the trials after learning of her biological mother's death. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspended Richardson, 21, for 30 days. The relays start after the suspension ends, so Richardson could have competed on the 4x100 relay team, but USA Track & Field chose to round out the roster with the sixth- and seventh-place runners instead.