As the world creeps toward 1 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus and surpasses 47,000 deaths, the U.S. hit a grim milestone on Wednesday, reporting more than 1,000 deaths tied to the coronavirus for the first time. As of Thursday morning, according to a widely cited count from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has 216,721 cases and 5,138 coronavirus deaths, including 1,374 in New York City. The number of deaths reported Wednesday, 1,040, is more than twice the previous U.S. high mark, 504 deaths, registered Tuesday, USA Today reports.
The U.S. now has the largest confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, though there are serious doubts about the numbers reported from China and other nations. Only Italy (13,155 deaths) and Spain (9,387) have higher official death counts. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said the administration believes "Italy may be the comparable area to the United States at this point," citing models of the pandemic. In Italy, the strain on the hospitals from the spike in COVID-19 cases has blocked other ill people from getting care.
The death tolls in the U.S. and other hard-hit countries don't reflect "the untold stories of people who don't go to see overburdened doctors, delaying treatment for illnesses that turn terminal, or of those who languish as they wait for treatment at emergency rooms flooded with COVID-19 patients," Josh Kovensky writes at Talking Points Memo. "Meanwhile, the lack of testing has meant that people may have died of COVID-19 itself without ever having been diagnosed."
Some researchers predict that the U.S. death toll will top 2,200 a day by mid-April, USA Today reports. The No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., heart disease, currently kills about 1,772 Americans a day, according to CDC figures, while lung cancer kills 433 people a day, breast cancer kills about 166 people a day, and the 2017-18 flu — the worst outbreak in the last decade — killed an estimated 508 people a day. Peter Weber
Pfizer has said clinical trials show the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech to be 100 percent effective in this age group. The vaccine already has been approved for people aged 16 and up.
The approval sets the stage for many middle schoolers and young high-school students to be vaccinated before the next school year. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must approve the authorization as well before vaccinations for the age group can begin. The Week Staff
"The focus from here on in for us is to make it as easy as possible for eligible residents to get vaccinated," Ferrer told reporters during a news conference.
To reach herd immunity, a community must have enough people who have either been inoculated or have natural immunity to protect the rest of the population against the coronavirus. In Los Angeles County, more than 3 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 84 percent getting a second dose on schedule, 7 percent getting a second dose late, and 9 percent still waiting to get their second dose, the Los Angeles Times reports.
If 2 million more get their first doses, 80 percent of all residents 16 and older will have received at least one shot. Ferrer stressed that for the county to reach herd immunity in mid- to late-July, vaccine rates must stay steady. There are 750 vaccination sites across Los Angeles County, and mobile vaccination teams are visiting communities where people have mobility issues or there is a lack of health care facilities.
California has recovered from the surge in cases over the fall and winter, with the state now seeing its lowest hospitalization rate since the beginning of the pandemic. Catherine Garcia
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has written the perfect song for that surely very large group of people who equally love space, old-timey sea shanties, and internet trends.
The heliophysics and solar wind sea shanty, set to the tune of "Soon May the Wellerman Come," takes the original lyrics and makes some galaxy-themed edits. For example, instead of traditional lines "Soon may the Wellerman come / To bring us sugar and tea and rum," the researchers chant in unison, "Soon may the solar wind come / To bring us plasma and magnetism."
The research laboratory's catchy jam "illuminates one of the primary connections between the Sun and the Earth, the solar wind," NASA writes. "The solar wind is a constant outflow of magnetized material released by the Sun and causes a cascade of effects on space and Earth. The most visible of these from our planet is the aurora borealis, displays of colorful light in the sky that provide a stunning example of the Sun-Earth connection."
Typically performed by fishermen, merchant sailors, and whalers, sea shanties were a type of folk song sung on ships to pass time. After a recent resurgence on TikTok (thanks to a viral video from aspiring Scottish musician Nathan Evans), even Andrew Lloyd Webber has found himself playing along. Perhaps NASA can recruit him to help write its next hit single. Brigid Kennedy
Amid escalating violence in Jerusalem on Monday, at leat 20 Palestinians, including nine children, have been killed after Israel launched air raids on the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian health ministry told Al Jazeera.
Jerusalem has been the site of unrest for the last several days as Palestinians protested against potential evictions in east Jerusalem, and Israeli police met the demonstrations, which took place at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, with force. Earlier Monday, Hamas fired several rockets at Israel after the group's ultimatum demanding Israel withdraw its security forces from Al-Aqsa, where they clashed with Palestinians inside, resulting in injuries to 300 Palestinians and 21 officers, The Guardian reports. In response to the rockets, Israel carried out the deadly airstrikes.
Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said both Hamas' and Israel's actions were "war crimes" that endangered civilian lives. Read more at Al Jazeera and The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell
Israel's use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated Gaza on population living in open-air prison for 14 years bound to result in civilian harm. Alarming reports of many Palestinians killed today. @hrw has documented many Israeli war crimes over years 6/7 pic.twitter.com/VHg4TUSkcO
His mission was to no longer accept his Golden Globe Awards.
Tom Cruise has returned his three Golden Globes to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in protest of the embattled organization, Deadline reports.
This was the latest blow to the group that puts on the Golden Globes after NBC announced Monday afternoon it would not air the awards show in 2022. The HFPA drew heavy criticism ahead of this year's ceremony after it was revealed that its voting body doesn't consist of a single Black member. The HFPA recently announced planned changes to address a number of issues including the group's lack of diversity, but major studios called the reforms out for not going far enough, and NBC on Monday officially pulled the plug on next year's ceremony.
"This is a new tack," Deadline writes of Cruise's move, "but I wouldn’t be surprised if others follow his lead and that the reception area of the HFPA could be crammed with golden trophies." Cruise twice won a Best Actor Golden Globe for Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire, and he also won Best Supporting Actor for Magnolia.
The news was just another example of the major crisis the Golden Globes group is facing amid questions over whether the ceremony will even return to NBC at all. Even though NBC said Monday it hopes to "be in a position to air the show in January 2023," Variety writes dropping it in 2022 "could very well serve as a permanent break between the Globes and NBC." Clearly, it hasn't been a golden afternoon for the HFPA. Brendan Morrow
Like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) doesn't think Republicans should stop talking about the 2020 presidential elections — just not for the same reason.
Stefanik, an ally of former President Donald Trump, is widely expected to replace Cheney as the GOP conference chair, the No. 3 Republican position in the House, this week. While she's said she's focused on winning the 2022 midterms and "going on offense" against the Biden administration's policies, she toldThe Washington Examiner she doesn't think Trump's continued focus on his election loss, which he falsely claims was the result of widespread voter fraud, is out of step with that strategy.
"I think the president is right to focus on the election integrity and election security issues," Stefanik told the Examinerwithout explicitly stating whether she believes President Biden was elected legitimately. "If you go to any Republican Lincoln Day dinner, any town meeting across the country, it is one of the top concerns of voters."
Stefanik explained that, in her view, continuing to discuss 2020 will help "rebuild the American people's trust in our elections" and is "very much in line" with the GOP's push against the Democrats' H.R. 1 voting rights bill, which she called a "federal takeover" of elections.
Cheney, on the other hand, thinks Republicans ought to emphasize 2020 to prove that Trump should no longer be involved with the party going forward. Read Stefanik's full interview at The Washington Examiner. Tim O'Donnell
After a longer-than-expected pit stop as a minor league outfielder, Tim Tebow is reportedly continuing his unconventional professional sports career and will head back to the gridiron for the first time since 2015.
Tebow, a legendary Heisman Trophy- and national championship-winning quarterback for the University of Florida who couldn't quite cut it in the NFL, is close to inking a 1-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, which would reunite him with his old college coach, Urban Meyer, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports.
Tebow won't be lining up under center for his second go round in the NFL, though. This time, he'll be trying to make the roster as tight end, a positional move that a lot of analysts thought the 33-year-old should've made to prolong his career when he was younger.
Assuming nothing changes in the next few days and Tebow and the Jaguars complete their deal, there's no guarantee he'll make the final roster. But it looks like there's a chance the clock will strike "Tebow Time" once again. Tim O'Donnell