Biden TV address will mark one-year anniversary of lockdowns
President Joe Biden will make his first prime-time address Thursday night to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the start of coronavirus shutdowns. The address comes a day after Biden won final approval of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will discuss “the many sacrifices that the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered.” Biden is also likely to tout his administration’s work in deploying COVID-19 vaccines, which have increased from a weekly average of 900,000 when Biden took office to 2.2 million last week. Biden spoke at a White House event Wednesday with the heads of Johnson & Johnson and Merck, the pharmaceutical company that is partnering with its competitor to help produce the COVID-19 vaccines. The administration has arranged to purchase an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
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The COVID-19 pandemic: It has been a year
One year ago today, the World Health Organization declared that the spread of COVID-19 had become a pandemic. From that alarming announcement, a national tragedy ensued. By the end of March 2020 the U.S. had the most cases of any nation; today, more than 529,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 virus, with about 1,900 more still dying each day. Apart from the brutal death toll, Americans have had to endure masks and lockdowns, loss of jobs, and the interruption of countless pleasures great and small. The amazingly rapid development of vaccines has renewed hope for a swift end to the nightmare. Even so, experts say it may be many more months before we can truly declare victory over COVID-19.
The pandemic relief bill has passed. What’s next?
The House has officially given the green light to the COVID-19 relief package containing $1,400 stimulus checks for millions of Americans. It now heads to President Joe Biden, who is expected to give his final stamp of approval Friday. It’s hard to say when the checks will arrive, but the last round of payments arrived via direct deposit about two weeks after the bill was signed. Those who got a paper check had to wait longer. Meanwhile, there are others that stand to benefit from Biden’s relief bill, such as schools, restaurants, farmers and event venues.
Minnesota Supreme Court weighs murder charge against Derek Chauvin
The trial will continue on Thursday of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in a case that rocked the country and spurred worldwide protests after George Floyd’s death. The first hour of the day will be dedicated to discussing potential conflicts in the trial. After that, jury selection will continue. On Wednesday, the court, for hours, heard from more potential jurors, with both Chauvin’s attorney and prosecutors questioning them about their knowledge of the case, the protests and Floyd’s death. Jurors faced questions about whether they could set aside any existing opinions to serve impartially. Thus far, five jurors have been chosen: four men and one woman. Three weeks have been set aside to choose the jury. On Thursday, the judge reinstated a third-degree murder charge, giving the jury more options as it considers Chauvin’s culpability in the death of rge Floyd.
More NBA teams get back to business as all eyes shift to San Antonio
On the heels of the league’s All-Star break, the NBA ramps up its schedule Thursday as 22 teams face off in 11 games. Notable ones include the Boston Celtics traveling to face East powerhouse Brooklyn Nets (TNT, 7:30 p.m. ET), the Los Angeles Clippers hosting the Golden State Warriors (TNT, 10 p.m. ET) and two surprisingly strong teams meeting in Portland as the Trail Blazers (21-14) host the Phoenix Suns (24-11). The league likely thought its ceremonial second half would begin quietly Wednesday as just two games were on the schedule, but the San Antonio Spurs sent shockwaves when they announced seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge won’t play another game for the team this season. “We’ve mutually agreed for him to work out some opportunities for him, and that’ll be elsewhere,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. The trade deadline is March 25, and if the Spurs can’t find a trade partner, the two sides will work on a buyout.