October 23, 2020

Reopening schools doesn't seem to be a major contributor to coronavirus community spread, data from random testing in the U.S. and Britain reveals. That's especially true of elementary schools, the data shows.

Children, even young ones, can and have been infected with COVID-19 and can transmit the virus to adults. But even as coronavirus surges once again across the U.S. and Britain, random testing data shows young children aren't the ones causing coronavirus spikes, experts who've seen the data say. "The more and more data that I see, the more comfortable I am that children are not, in fact, driving transmission, especially in school settings,” Brooke Nichols, an infectious disease modeler at the Boston University School of Public Health, told The New York Times.

The risks among children in middle and high schools are less clear, experts acknowledge. But they believe "these schools may be able to contain the coronavirus, provided the community prevalence is low and the schools take abundant precautions," the Times reports. It all led Dr. David Rubin, a pediatrician and infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, to conclude it's worth at least reopening elementary schools in lower-risk areas. "I think there’s a pretty good base of evidence now that schools can open safely in the presence of strong safety plans, and even at higher levels of case incidence than we had suspected,” he said. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:19 a.m.

His hard work paid off, and now, Joshua Nelson wants to give a boost to another deserving student.

Nelson, 18, is a senior at St. Charles West High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He was one of just a handful of students to receive the President's Scholarship at Southeast Missouri State University — a $43,000 award that will cover tuition and boarding for four years, as long as Nelson meets the criteria for renewal. He had saved $1,000 for college, and is now using that as the foundation for the Joshua Nelson Leaders in Action Scholarship, which will be given to a well-rounded student active in community service.

"I really thought it was important to give back to my community that poured in so much to me," Nelson, who will study biomedical sciences, told KSDK. "Honestly, it makes me feel on top of the world. The fact that I can just help somebody a little bit makes me feel great and I really want to see other people succeed."

Nelson has a history of giving back: he is president of his school's Multicultural Achievement Council, which aims to prepare historically under-represented students for college and careers, and also tutors at a local Boys and Girls Club. On top of that, he is a varsity basketball player and member of the National Honor Society and National Society of Black Engineers.

It is Nelson's hope that other individuals and businesses in the community will donate to the scholarship fund, so multiple awards can be distributed to students for years to come. Catherine Garcia

1:41 a.m.

Laos has recorded its first COVID-19 death, CNN reports, more than a year after the coronavirus pandemic began.

The state-run Vientiane Times said the person who died was a 53-year-old Vietnamese woman who worked at a karaoke club in the capital Vientiane. The woman had diabetes and other medical conditions, the Vientiane Times said.

A landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Laos has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases since the Lao New Year holiday in mid-April — of the 1,233 cases reported in Laos since May 2020, 1,184 were recorded in the last month, Johns Hopkins University data shows. About 7.28 million people live in Laos, and so far, the government has administered 184,387 COVID-19 vaccine doses, CNN reports. Catherine Garcia

1:00 a.m.

When his mother called to tell him she had been fired from her job as a hotel housekeeper, Sian-Pierre Regis knew it was time for her to stop worrying about taking care of everyone else and start focusing on herself.

His mom, Rebecca Danigelis, was fired in 2016, at the age of 75. By that point, she had been working hard for decades, and Regis was concerned that without a job, she would feel adrift. "She worked her hands to the bone," Regis told CBS Evening News. "She deserved to feel joy. And that's what I wanted to give her."

Regis, a freelance journalist, had his mom share with him her bucket list — things she had always wanted to do, but couldn't because of work. Soon, they were on the road, doing everything from milking cows in Vermont to dancing in a hop-hop class to jumping out of an airplane. Regis filmed their adventures and turned the footage into a documentary called Duty Free, which is about their journey, ageism, and financial insecurity. The documentary is now in theaters and available to stream online. Catherine Garcia

12:15 a.m.

There are nearly a dozen countries that have yet to receive a single COVID-19 vaccine dose, including Chad, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Eritrea, and Tanzania.

"Delays and shortages of vaccine supplies are driving African countries to slip further behind the rest of the world in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and the continent now accounts for only 1 percent of the vaccines administered worldwide," the World Health Organization said last week.

Chad, one of the world's least developed countries, has recorded 4,835 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 170 deaths. The government has expressed concerns over receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, over fears it won't protect as well against the coronavirus variant that first emerged in South Africa. The country routinely sees the temperature reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and could receive a shipment of Pfizer doses next month if the cold storage facilities necessary to hold the vials can be secured, The Associated Press reports.

Dr. Oumaima Djarma, an infectious disease doctor in N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, told AP it is "unfair and unjust" that no one in the country — not even a single health care worker — has been able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Djarma has been pleading for vaccines "to at least protect the health workers. Everyone dies from this disease, rich or poor. Everyone must have the opportunity, the chance to be vaccinated, especially those who are most exposed."

Burkina Faso was on track to receive vaccines from a manufacturer in India, but because that country is dealing with an overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases, production has been scaled back. Chivanot Afavi, a nurse in Burkina Faso, told AP that health care workers there want COVID-19 vaccines just as much as their "colleagues around the world. No one really knows what this disease will do to us in the future." Catherine Garcia

12:04 a.m.

A gunman walked into a birthday party in Colorado Springs, Colorado, early Sunday and opened fire, killing six adults and then himself, police said. One of the victims was the gunman's girlfriend, police said. None of the children at the party were shot, but they were "crying hysterically" when police drove them away to be placed with relatives, Yenifer Reyes, a neighbor at the trailer park where the shooting occurred, told The Denver Post.

Freddy Marquez, who attended the birthday party but left early with his wife and children, told the Post that everyone at the party was extended family. The party was for his wife and her brother, Marquez said, and his wife's mom, two brothers, and three other extended family members were killed by the gunman, who he said he did not know well.

"It was Colorado's worst mass shooting since a gunman killed 10 people at a Boulder supermarket March 22," The Associated Press notes.

"My heart breaks for the families who have lost someone they love and for the children who have lost their parents," Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said "the tragic shooting in Colorado Springs is devastating, especially as many of us are spending the day celebrating the women in our lives who have made us the people we are today." Peter Weber

May 9, 2021

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called his Israeli counterpart on Sunday to let him know the United States has "serious concerns" over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from homes in East Jerusalem, the White House said in a statement.

On Sunday night, clashes continued in Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli police, with the demonstrators, outraged over the evictions, throwing rocks and water bottles at officers, who responded with rubber bullets and stun grenades. Palestinian medics say hundreds of people have been injured in the violence.

During the call with Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Sullivan "encouraged the Israeli government to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm" amid Jerusalem Day, an Israeli national holiday marking Israel's capture of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Sullivan also made it clear that the Biden administration is committed to Israel's security and building peace and stability in the region, the White House said, with Sullivan and Ben-Shabbat both agreeing that "the launching of rocket attacks and incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel is unacceptable and must be condemned." Catherine Garcia

May 9, 2021

A relatively new Russian criminal organization known as DarkSide may be behind the recent ransomware attack against the Colonial Pipeline, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News on Sunday.

Operated by the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co., the Colonial Pipeline runs from Texas to New Jersey, transporting 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel supply. It was shut down on Friday after Colonial Pipeline learned it was the target of a ransomware attack, and on Sunday, the company said its main lines are still not operating and the full system will be "back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations."

During an appearance on Sunday's Face the Nation, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the White House is assisting Colonial Pipeline as it works to restart its systems, and lamented that ransomware attacks are "unfortunately" becoming "more frequent. They're here to stay." A White House official told NBC News the Department of Energy is in charge of the government's response to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, and different agencies are planning for scenarios where the United States' fuel supply is targeted.

Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the cyber security firm CrowdStrike, told NBC News that if the cyberattack was plotted by a Russian group, "whether they work for the state or not is increasingly irrelevant, given Russia's obvious policy of harboring and tolerating cyber crime." Catherine Garcia

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