5 things to know for April 7: Covid-19, voter suppression, Chauvin, China, Florida

The US economy is growing at its fastest pace since 1984, and will likely surpass its pre-pandemic size, the International Monetary Fund predicts. One big reason: The $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.

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1. Coronavirus

Nearly half of US adults could have a first Covid-19 vaccine dose by the weekend, and the country will have enough vaccines for all Americans by the end of next month. However, there are several reasons to temper any optimism that brings. For one, some willing adults may be waiting until the end of the year to get vaccinated because of slow rollouts in some states. Hospitals are also noticing younger and younger patients, and experts say youth sports and extracurriculars may be contributing to the rise. Researchers have also reported as many as 1 in 3 people infected with Covid-19 have longer term mental health or neurological symptoms. A quick look around the world: Chile is postponing its elections for five weeks due to a surge in cases, and India keeps breaking single-day case records, this time with a high of 115,000 new infections.

2. Voter suppression

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued an executive order to “mitigate the impact” of Georgia’s new election law. The city can’t change or stop the state law, but her order will focus on things like voter education and efforts to inform people of what the new law requires them to do. Private corporations are still pushing back on the bill, creating an unusual rift between Republican lawmakers and big businesses — two entities that are often allies. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned big businesses they would face “serious consequences” after accusing them of employing “economic blackmail” in attempts to influence voting laws in the aftermath of Georgia’s decision. By one tally, lawmakers in all but three states have introduced bills in state legislatures this year that would restrict ballot access.

3. Chauvin trial

Four witnesses, all law enforcement professionals, testified yesterday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd last May. A lot of the testimony focused on whether Chauvin used excessive force when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. A use-of-force expert from the Los Angeles Police Department said he did. A similar expert from the Minneapolis Police Department said the tactics Chauvin deployed are not those recommended in training. The trial’s recent focus on police policy is a shift from its first week, which centered on what happened to Floyd on his last day. Testimony in the trial began last Monday and is expected to last about a month overall.

4. China

China’s armed forces conducted simultaneous military exercises to the west and east of Taiwan, flanking the self-governing island by air and sea. China said the display of an aircraft carrier and warplanes was a routine training exercise, but analysts say it was a warning to Taiwan and its supporter, the US. Even though China and Taiwan have been governed separately for more than seven decades, Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed that Beijing will never allow the island to become formally independent and has refused to rule out the use of force, if necessary, to take the island back. After diplomatic talks between the US and Japan last month, US officials say the two countries are prepared to push back against Chinese threats to stability and order in Asia.

5. Florida water breach

A leak in a Tampa-area reservoir has caused panic along the Gulf Coast since it was discovered a little more than a week ago. The local public safety department warned the leak could cause a collapse of nearby phosphogypsum stacks, waste that is created during fertilizer production and phosphate rock mining. Such a combination would be catastrophic if it were to leach into nearby waterways. Since the leak was discovered, around 34 million gallons a day are being moved as part of a controlled release through pumps, vacuum trucks and other methods, and about 180 million gallons of water have been successfully released. Local officials say they’ve mitigated the crisis, and there are also plans for a deep injection well as a long-term solution. Still, the leak is ongoing, and the fact that such toxic substances were sitting abandoned for 20 years raises serious environmental concerns.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Rapper will.i.am is selling a smart mask for $299

If you want to look like the hi-tech hero of a dystopian action film, it’s money well-spent.

Yahoo Answers is shutting down 

Darn! Now where are we doing to ask the important questions, like “Why do we here?” or “Did I accidentally summon a demon?”

83-year-old baseball card company Topps is going public

Welcome to a different type of trading.

Starbucks is running out of oat milk a month after adding it to menus nationwide

We sure do love our sweet, sweet non-dairy milk alternatives.

Plane mistakenly lands at airport under construction

There are normal work mistakes, and then there are “landing at the wrong airport” work mistakes.

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TODAY’S NUMBER

170

That’s about how many women in Chile got pregnant after the government distributed faulty birth control pills.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“These are more than straws in the wind. They reinforce the thought, likely already present in the reader’s mind, that Supreme Court justices are primarily political officials or ‘junior league’ politicians themselves rather than jurists.”

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who cautioned against viewing the Court as led by the politics of its justices, rather than their observation of the law. In a lecture at Harvard Law School, the eldest SCOTUS justice said he fears public trust in the court is eroding.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

Capybara are friends, not food 

If you’re having a rough day, you can probably relate to this pelican: Trying its hardest, but just not getting anywhere.

(Click here to view)

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