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Biden prioritizing schools, teachers in coronavirus playbook

President-elect Biden's COVID checklist includes getting Americans to wear masks as a patriotic duty, vaccinating 50 million people and reopening the majority of schools by the end of April.

Why it matters: The remote learning adopted by many of America's biggest school districts has been a disaster for students and parents alike.


  • Other countries have prioritized keeping schools and child care open, but not the U.S.
  • As of October, "74% of the 100 largest school districts ... chose remote learning only as their back-to-school instructional model, affecting over 9 million students," per EdWeek.
  • This put unprecedented stress on working parents, particularly working moms.

Teachers are high on Biden's list for vaccinations, he said Tuesday:

  • [W]e'll follow the guidance of science to get the vaccine to those most at risk. That includes health care professionals, people in long-term care and, as soon as possible, it will include educators."
  • "If Congress provides the funding we need to protect students, educators and staff, if states and cities put strong public-health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see if the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days."

Between the lines: The CDC and states are setting vaccination priorities, a senior Trump White House official said Monday.

What's next: The FDA's vaccine advisory committee released a detailed analysis finding that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine appears to meet the safety and efficacy requirements necessary for an emergency use authorization, Axios' Orion Rummler reports.

The bottom line: "My first 100 days won’t end COVID-19. I cannot promise that," Biden said.

  • "But I am convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better."

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to congressional leadership

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

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FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The Food and Drugs Administration on Saturdayissued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

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Italy tightens COVID restrictions for 5 regions amid warnings of a growing prevalence of variants

Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters.

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Palestinian Authority announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced fresh coronavirus restrictions, including a partial lockdown, for the occupied West Bank as COVID-19 cases surge.

The big picture: The new measures come as Israel, which leads the world in vaccinations, faces increased pressure to ensure Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have equal access to vaccines.

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Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."

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Scoop: Biden admin call on Putin pipeline provokes GOP anger

A briefing between the State Department and congressional staff over Vladimir Putin's Russia-Germany gas pipeline got tense this week, with Biden officials deflecting questions about why they hadn't moved faster and more aggressively with sanctions tostop its completion.

  • The Biden officials also denied negotiating with the Germans over a potential side deal to allow the pipeline to be finished.
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