News Headlines 3/8/21

MORE THAN 58.8 MILLION AMERICANS HAVE GOTTEN AT LEAST ONE DOSE OF COVID VACCINE: As the vaccine effort continues to ramp up across the country, passing more than two million vaccinations daily in recent days, more than 58.8 million Americans had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine as of yesterday (March 7th), according to CNN. About 30.6 million people — or about 9.2 percent of the U.S. population — have gotten two doses and are fully vaccinated. As the race between vaccinations and the coronavirus variants that are spreading continues, CNN cited Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College, as saying the good news is that all three vaccines being used in the U.S. — Pfizer’s Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s — “work really well” against the U.K. variant, which is spreading the most so far and is more contagious.

HOUSE TO TAKE UP $1.9 TRILLION COVID PLAN AFTER PASSED BY SENATE: Final passage in the House of President Biden‘s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan is expected on Tuesday (March 9th) after it was passed in the Senate on Saturday on a party-line vote. However, there could potentially be some pushback from progressive Democrats unhappy about a federal $15-an-hour minimum wage being removed from the package, as well as unemployment benefits being reduced. A central part of the bill is sending $1,400 to most Americans, and it also includes money for Covid vaccines and testing, aid to state and local governments, help for schools and the airline industry, and more.

JURY SELECTION BEGINS TODAY IN TRIAL OF OFFICER CHARGED IN GEORGE FLOYD’S DEATH: Jury selection will begin today (March 8th) in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd last May. Video showing Chauvin, who is while, with his knee on the neck of Floyd, who was Black, for nearly nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly said that he couldn’t breathe sparked weeks of protests across the country against racial injustice and police brutality. Three other officers involved in the incident will go on trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All four were fired after Floyd’s death.

TWO TOP N.Y. LAWMAKERS TURN AGAINST CUOMO, HE REFUSES TO RESIGN: New York’s two top Democratic lawmakers turned against embattled Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday as further charges of sexual harassment emerged. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Cuomo should resign, becoming the first senior Democrat in the state to say so, and while Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie didn’t come out and say the same, he said in a statement, “it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.” But Cuomo said during a press conference yesterday that it would be, quote, “anti-democratic” for him to step down, saying, “There is no way I resign.” Two more women who’d worked for Cuomo accused him Saturday of inappropriate behavior, after three other woman previously accused him. Karen Hinton, a former press aide to Cuomo when he served as the federal housing secretary under President Bill Clinton, told the Washington Post that after a hotel room interaction when they were trying to mend issues they’d had Cuomo gave her a hug as she got up to leave that was, quote, “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate.” She called it not sexual harassment, but a “power play” for “manipulation and control.” The other woman, Ana Liss, who was a policy and operations aide from 2013 to 2015, told the Wall Street Journal Cuomo had called her “sweetheart,” asked if she had a boyfriend, touched her on her lower back during an event, and once kissed her hand.