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White House: Getting vaccinated against COVID "most important" step in hurricane preparedness

The "most important" step Americans can take to prepare for peak hurricane season is to "get vaccinated to ensure they will be protected from COVID-19 if they have to evacuate their homes," the White House said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The statement was released as President Biden met with senior administration officials on hurricane preparedness — hours before Tropical Storm Fred formed near Puerto Rico. Florida is in the path of the storm, which could possibly intensify into a hurricane.

Between the lines: The Federal Emergency Management Agency told Axios' Jonathan Swan last year the agency had included the coronavirus crisis in its planning document, titled "COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season."

  • Now, with the more contagious Delta variant surging, particularly in the hurricane-prone southern states, FEMA officials want to step up protections against the virus, with COVID-safe shelters, a White House official told Axios.
  • Hurricane preparedness, along with other natural disasters, form a key part of FEMA's COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance All-Hazards action plan.

The big picture: Biden met on Tuesday with officials from FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and COVID-19 response teams, including NIAID director Anthony Fauci, for a briefing on the pandemic in the South and Southeast states.

  • "The President was briefed on the data that demonstrates that the most important preparatory step people can take to prepare for peak hurricane season is to get vaccinated to ensure they will be protected from COVID-19 if they have to evacuate their homes," per a White House readout.
  • "They also discussed how FEMA is innovating during the pandemic by working with partner organizations to enable COVID-safe sheltering, providing vaccination options at shelters and recovery centers, and protecting its workforce so they maintain mission readiness."

Go deeper: NOAA's updated hurricane outlook calls for even more storms in 2021

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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