News Headlines 3/29/21

MANY STATES SEEING INCREASE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES: After their steep post-holiday plunge that began in January and then a leveling off, new coronavirus cases have begun to rise again, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky saying Friday (March 26th) that the average number of U.S. cases was up seven percent from the week before, and hospitalizations slightly up. Johns Hopkins University data shows that more than two dozen states are reporting at least a 10 percent increase of new cases compared to the previous week, with many of those in younger people. Michigan and some northeastern states, including New York and New Jersey, are particularly seeing concerning increases. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN Sunday (March 28th), “People over 65, a large proportion of them, have been vaccinated, are protected. That’s one of the reasons we have not seen a huge spike in hospitalizations. A lot of the spread is happening among younger people . . . that’s the group that is moving around, kind of relaxing, getting infected.” The two factors experts believe to be driving the rise in cases are the spread of coronavirus variants, particularly the U.K. variant, and the easing of restrictions by states and local jurisdictions. Health officials have been urging that restrictions be left in place a little longer while more people get vaccinated. Jha said, “We’re weeks away from a point where we can begin to do these things a bit more safely, but I think states have just moved too fast.” CDC data shows that 15.5 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, and about 28.2 percent has gotten at least one dose.

SHIP BLOCKING SUEZ CANAL REPORTEDLY REFLOATED: The massive container ship that has been stuck sideways and blocking the Suez Canal since last Tuesday has reportedly been refloated. Osama Rabie, the head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), said in a state TV interview, “The container ship began to float successfully after responding to the pulling maneuvers.” The SCA confirmed that the Japanese-owned, Panamian-flagged ship, called the Ever Given, had been mostly dislodged and crews plan to fully refloat it later Monday. According to CNN, video shows the stern, which is the back of the ship, out of the bank and facing the canal, and the refloating effort will keep the stern away from the bank as they work on pulling the front of the ship out. Mohab Mamish, the former head of the Suez Canal and Egyptian Presidential seaport adviser, told CNN Arabic the canal is expected to be ready for passage by today. Some 350 ships are now waiting to get through the Suez Canal.

FOUR KILLED IN TENNESSEE FROM TORRENTIAL RAINS: Four people were killed in Tennessee as torrential rains fell across the state beginning late Saturday and on Sunday (March 28th), flooding homes and leaving roads impassable. Nashville received more than seven inches of rain, which Mayor John Cooper said was its second-highest two-day rainfall total ever recorded, and at least 130 people had to be rescued in the Nashville area from their cars or homes. Many rivers and creeks were at or near their highest level since 2010, according to the National Weather Service, and the flooding threat will remain from some rivers for a couple of days.

FLOYD FAMILY, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS HOLD PRAYER SERVICE AHEAD OF TODAY’S TRIAL START: Several members of George Floyd‘s family were joined by national civil rights leaders at a prayer service last night (March 28th) in Minneapolis, ahead of today’s start of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former city police officer charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death last May. Several dozen people were at the service held in Greater Friendship Missionary Church, with speakers calling for justice. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, said during the service, “I have faith that he will get convicted,” saying of the video in which Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, “the video is the proof.”

MYANMAR SECURITY FORCES OPEN FIRE ON FUNERAL: Myanmar security forces opened fire yesterday (March 28th) on people attending the funeral of a student who was killed a day earlier in the ongoing crackdown on protests against the February 1st military coup, according to local media. At least 114 people, including several children, were killed on Saturday, the deadliest day yet of the crackdown. Tom Andrews, the U.N.’s independent expert on human rights for Myanmar, accused the military junta of committing “mass murder,” and called for more international action, saying, :It is past time for robust, coordinated action.” President Biden told reporters of the situation, “It’s terrible. It’s absolutely outrageous,” and said his administration is working on a response.