10 things you need to know today: January 4, 2022
U.S. daily coronavirus infections hit a record 1 million, N.Y. attorney general subpoenas Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, and more
U.S. new COVID cases hit single-day record of over 1 million
New coronavirus infections jumped to a record of 1,082,549 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The surge has come as the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus variant continues to tear across the country. More than 103,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, the most since the late summer surge, according to The Washington Post. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have risen by 27 percent in the past week as the daily average of new cases more than doubled, but deaths declined by 8 percent. The total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has now reached 56,189,547, with 827,748 U.S. deaths. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to meet with the White House coronavirus response team on Tuesday to discuss steps to counter the Omicron spike.
N.Y. attorney general subpoenas Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump
New York State Attorney General Letitia James' office has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump under an investigation into the business practices of their father, former President Donald Trump, according to a court document filed Monday. The inquiry focuses on whether Trump inflated the value of his properties to get better loans, and underestimated them to lower tax bills. Lawyers for the Trump Organization and Trump's children are trying to block lawyers in James' office from questioning Trump or his children. The subpoenas for Trump, Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump were issued on Dec. 1. James' office questioned Eric Trump, another son of the former president, in October 2020. Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump became involved in the family business shortly after college.
Schumer: Senate will vote on filibuster change if GOP blocks voting rights bill
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday that the Senate would vote by Jan. 17 on changing the chamber's filibuster rule if Republicans continue to use it to block voting rights legislation. Democrats have been pushing federal legislation to protect voting rights as Republicans in GOP-led state legislatures enact new voting restrictions. Republicans say the laws are necessary to prevent vote fraud, and they accuse Democrats in Washington of trying to overstep their authority. But Schumer said passing federal measures to protect voting rights is necessary to "protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections."
FDA authorizes Pfizer booster for children ages 12 to 15
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday signed off on giving Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shots to children ages 12 to 15. The agency also said people would be eligible for the third Pfizer dose five months after getting the second shot, shortening the minimum wait time for a booster by one month. The moves came as part of an accelerating effort to increase protection for Americans as the new Omicron coronavirus variant spreads fast and pushes daily infections to the highest levels since the pandemic began just as students return to schools after the holiday break. Making more people eligible for boosters "is critical to help us ultimately defeat this pandemic," said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a statement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consider approving the change this week.
Schools face 'chaos' as classes resume during Omicron surge
Many school systems around the country reopened on schedule Monday after the holiday break despite the COVID-19 surge driven by the quick spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. Leaders in many of those districts stressed the importance of in-person classes and the need to avoid the learning deficits and emotional problems students experienced last year during remote learning. Some districts — including Newark, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Cleveland — temporarily shifted to remote learning despite those concerns, affecting more than 450,000 students. Many schools also struggled with staff shortages made worse by a record spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide. Some districts delayed reopening to allow for students and staff to get coronavirus tests. "It's chaos," said Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union.
Epstein settlement unsealed in lawsuit against Prince Andrew
The 2009 settlement between Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Roberts Giuffre was unsealed Monday as part of Giuffre's lawsuit against Prince Andrew. The settlement stipulated that Giuffre, who accused Epstein of trafficking her and forcing her to have sex with Prince Andrew and others while she was still a minor, agreed to drop her case against Epstein and any other "potential defendant[s]" in exchange for $500,000. A Florida court convicted Epstein of sex crimes in 2008, and he died in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. On Dec. 29, Epstein's longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of procuring underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. The document was unsealed as part of Giuffre's lawsuit against the U.K.'s Prince Andrew, who was not mentioned in the settlement deal.
Flight cancellations continue due to snowstorms and staff crunch
Airlines canceled another 3,000-plus flights within, to, and from the United States on Monday, as snowstorms and staff shortages blamed on the Omicron coronavirus variant surge continued to disrupt travel. More than 15,000 flights were canceled between Christmas Eve and the start of the first work week of 2022. Washington, D.C., was hit by a severe snowstorm that started early Monday, and forced the Federal Aviation Administration to order a ground stop for Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall airports. More than half of the flights that had been scheduled to leave National were canceled by mid-day. Nearly a third of BWI's flights were scrapped, as were about 19 percent of those that had been scheduled to depart Dulles International Airport.
Apple becomes 1st company worth $3 trillion
Apple shares edged up on Monday, lifting the iPhone maker's value to touch $3 trillion, making it the first publicly traded company in history to reach the milestone. Apple is now worth more than Walmart, Disney, Netflix, Nike, Exxon Mobil, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Morgan Stanley, McDonald's, AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, IBM, and Ford, combined. Apple was launched out of a California garage in 1976. The computer and electronic gadget maker became the first U.S. company ever to be worth $1 trillion in August 2018. It hit the $2 trillion mark two years later. "When we started, we thought it would be a successful company that would go forever. But you don't really envision this," said engineer Steve Wozniak, who founded Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976.
Elizabeth Holmes convicted on 4 fraud charges
A California jury on Monday found Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the failed blood-testing start-up Theranos, guilty of defrauding investors by lying about the success of the company's devices. The jury found Holmes guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with each count punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Jurors found Holmes not guilty on four other counts related to duping patients who received inaccurate results. The jurors couldn't reach a verdict on three other investor fraud counts. Holmes, once a rising Silicon Valley superstar, had testified that Theranos experts had assured her the tests worked, and she accused her ex-boyfriend and former deputy at Theranos, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, of sexually abusing and manipulating her.
Judge blocks Navy from punishing SEALS for declining vaccine
A federal judge in Texas on Monday ruled that the Defense Department can't punish Navy SEALs who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor issued a preliminary order blocking the Navy from taking any action against 35 members of the Navy special forces teams over their attempts to get a religious exemption from the vaccine requirement. Under the Navy's vaccine policy, religious objectors can be considered non-deployable or disqualified from Special Operations. "The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect," O'Connor wrote in his order. "The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment."