Today’s In Crisis headlines


(NEW YORK) — Here are today’s In Crisis headlines:

House passes COVID-19 relief bill; Biden to sign into law Friday
House Democrats on Wednesday passed a massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill with the goal of having it on President Joe Biden’s desk by the end of the week, just days before key federal unemployment benefits start to expire for many workers on March 14. The bill passed by a 220-211 vote, with no Republicans voting in favor, mirroring last weekend’s party-line Senate vote to pass the legislation.  The White House says President Biden will sign the measure into law on Friday. 

Dubbed the American Rescue Plan, the bill includes an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits through September 6, and a new round of relief payments for Americans struggling with the pandemic’s ongoing economic impact.  The White House previously said Americans can expect to see their $1,400 checks by the end of the month.  President Biden is expected to address the relief plan when he delivers his first primetime address as president tonight, during which he will also acknowledge today’s one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Judge reinstates third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin
The judge in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin Thursday morning granted a motion to reinstate a charge of third-degree murder against the man accused of killing George Floyd.  Chauvin already faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death during an arrest on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.  Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder but a judge dismissed that charge in October.  An appeals court last week ordered the judge to reconsider reinstating the charge.  Jury selection in Chauvin’s trial began earlier this week, with five jurors seated as of this morning.  Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death face trial in August.
Unemployment claims down from previous week in latest report
Some 712,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 6, according to data released this morning by the U.S. Labor Department.  That figure represents a decrease of 42,000 claims from the previous week’s level, which itself was revised up by 9,000, from 745,000 to 754,000 claims.  Even with the decline, unemployment claims remain at historically high levels due to the ongoing pandemic, with 20,116,302 Americans currently receiving unemployment benefits from state and federal programs.

COVID-19 numbers
Here’s the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections, deaths and vaccinations.

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 118,134,623
Global deaths: 2,622,190.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 529,267.
Number of countries/regions: at least 192
Total patients recovered globally: 66,941,986

Latest reported COVID-19 numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 29,155,047 reported cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 529,267.  California has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 54,890.
U.S. total people tested: 367,697,401

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 3,611,295 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  This ranks second in the world after England, which has 3,707,999 cases.  Texas is third, with 2,710,278 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 29 million.

Latest reported COVID-19 vaccination numbers in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a total of 127,869,155 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S.  Of those, 95,721,290 doses have been administered, with 62,451,150 people receiving at least one dose and 32,904,161 people fully vaccinated, representing 18.8% and 9.9% of the total U.S. population, respectively. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines each require two doses to be effective.  The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose to be effective.

WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic one year ago today
Today marks one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.  Speaking at a media briefing on March 11, 2020, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO was “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”  He further called for “countries to take urgent and aggressive action” to address the virus’ spread. 

The first reported case of COVID-19 came December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China, with the first reported case in the U.S. coming January 21, 2020.  As of Thursday morning, there have been 118,134,623 global reported cases of COVID-19 and 2,622,190 global deaths.  In the U.S., there are 29,155,047 reported cases and 529,267 deaths.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently forecasting a total of 547,000 to 571,000 reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by the week ending April 3.

Former US presidents and first ladies urge COVID-19 vaccination in new public service ads
Every living former U.S. president, minus one, and first lady appears in a new public service ad, released Thursday, urging all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  The one-minute pitch, created by the Ad Council, features former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter encouraging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, a bid to convince skeptics who may be hesitant to get immunized.  “It will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease,” former President Obama declares.  The ad also features photos of the former presidents and first ladies receiving the vaccine.  A second, thirty-second ad, shot during President Biden’s January inauguration, features Bush, Clinton and Obama standing together, albeit socially-distanced, again making the pitch to get vaccinated.  The ads do not feature Donald Trump.  Though he did not attend Biden’s inauguration, no reason was provided for his absence from the other ad.

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