COVID-19

President Biden is set on Friday to announce a total of $4 billion in contributions to COVAX, the vaccine alliance trying to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries, a senior administration official told reporters.

Biden will make the announcement during a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders about the pandemic.

Nearly a half-million Texans are without electricity for a third-straight day as the effects from historic winter storms that have blasted the state and many other parts of the country this week are still being felt.

And more severe weather is ahead for many of the same areas already hit hardest, with 100 million people in the path of the latest storm forecast to bring freezing rain and snow from the Plains to the East Coast on Thursday.

Liam Niemeyer / WKMS

This story is part of an update to the 2020 newsroom collaboration series highlighting school reopenings in western Kentucky.

 

It’s just after lunchtime at East Calloway Elementary School in February, and children wearing colorful masks are walking in a socially-distant line through the hallways. They’re led by a teacher wearing a gray, poofy wig and some seriously dated clothing. Actually, many of the teachers are looking quite elderly. It’s the 100th day of school, and staff are celebrating as old people.

The White House plans to increase testing capacity in the U.S. through multiple channels, officials said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The administration says it will spend $650 million to expand testing for K-8 schools and settings where people congregate such as homeless shelters, via new "hubs" created by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. Regional coordinating centers will work to increase testing capacity, partnering with labs and universities to collect specimens, perform tests and report results to public health agencies.

Courtesy Angela Orozco

This story is part of an update to the 2020 newsroom collaboration series highlighting school reopenings in western Kentucky.

Updated at 9:07 a.m. ET

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Amazon on Tuesday, claiming the massive e-commerce company's "flagrant disregard for health and safety requirements" during the coronavirus pandemic put the lives of workers and the general public at risk.

At a CNN town hall on Tuesday evening, President Biden said his goal is to open the majority of K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office. Asked to clarify what he meant by "open," Biden said "I think many of them five days a week. The goal will be five days a week" in person.

He said he would focus on K-8 schools because they're the "easiest to open" due to the relatively low transmission rate of the coronavirus between children.

Peter Sulewski spent nearly four years roving through Baltimore's homeless shelters and saw the toll it takes on health — even without the added threat of COVID-19.

Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in office three weeks. He arrives at a challenging time: the U.S. must figure out how to deal with China, Russia and Iran, the coronavirus pandemic rages on, and the State Department must rise from the morale slump it suffered during the Trump administration.

In an interview Tuesday with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, Blinken said that "there is no doubt" that the ability of American diplomats to promote democracy and human rights has been "tarnished by recent events."

Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released new guidance for school-related student travel. The updated “COVID-19 School-Related Student Travel Considerations” cautions districts of factors, and potential penalties, to consider when planning school-related travel. 

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