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Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

President Biden on Thursday signed a slew of executive orders to address the coronavirus pandemic, including an interstate face mask mandate and an order to renew supplies of PPE, testing materials and vaccines through the Defense Production Act.

Why it matters: The stakes are highest for Biden’s vaccination effort. Several states cannot keep up with demand.

  • The day before Biden's inauguration, the U.S. hit 400,000 deaths due to COVID-19 — counting more than 100,000 fatalities in 36 days.

Details: Biden signed 10 executive orders related to the pandemic, which included asking Americans to wear masks when traveling across state borders, and mandating that people flying in the U.S. wear face coverings and get COVID tests prior to traveling.

The plan also calls for:

  • Masks in airports, trains, planes, ships and intercity buses.
  • Proof of negative tests for international travelers before departing for the U.S.
  • OSHA guidance for work safety enforcement.
  • Massive efforts for “real-time” data collection for schools and higher education, plus a public dashboard on coronavirus cases, testing, vaccinations and hospital admissions.
  • The Department of Education and Health and Human Services to provide schools and communities with resources to safely reopen schools.

Our thought bubble: Biden’s executive orders are providing a more uniform approach in controlling the pandemic across state lines, unlike during the Trump administration when governors and public health departments were left to coordinate most of the logistics.

What he's saying: Biden acknowledged that the death toll from the pandemic is likely to reach 500,000 people by next month, after the U.S. hit 400,000 deaths due to COVID-19 just days ago.

  • "You're going to be hearing a lot from Dr. Fauci again," Biden added, saying that scientists will be involved in the federal government's planning for the pandemic and will be "free from political interference."
  • "We will level with you when we make a mistake," he said, adding: "We're still in a dark winter of this pandemic. It's gonna get worse before it gets better. It's gonna take many months before we're where we need to be."
  • "Despite the best intentions, we're going to have setbacks, which I will always explain to you."

Top Chinese diplomat warns Biden against meddling in country's affairs

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a speech on Sunday warned the U.S. against getting involved in China's "internal affairs," saying that "both sides need to abide by the principle of non-interference," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a hardline approach with China. Tensions between the U.S. and China had heightened for years under the Trump administration.

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America is learning to rebalance its news diet post-Trump

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

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Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

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Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.

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Biden to sign voting rights executive order to mark "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

President Biden will sign an executive order today, on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," meant to promote voting rights, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: The executive order comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to pass a sweeping election bill meant, in part, to combat a growing number of proposals introduced by Republicans at the state level that would restrict voter access.

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New York Gov. Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male aides who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

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In photos: Minnesota protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old Black man's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

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