1/ Scientists and public health experts say that “herd immunity” in the U.S. may not be attainable due to vaccine hesitancy. About 30% of the U.S. population remains reluctant to be vaccinated. The original herd immunity threshold, meanwhile, was estimated to be about 60 to 70% of the population. Experts, however, now estimate that the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80% due to more contagious variants circulating in the U.S. Experts also say the coronavirus will most likely continue to circulate in the U.S., causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers. (New York Times)
Los Angeles County reported no new deaths related to Covid-19 and just 313 new cases of the coronavirus. Infections in L.A. County are at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic. (Los Angeles Times)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the state’s remaining Covid-19 public health restrictions, saying “we are no longer in a state of emergency.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, Florida has reported the third-most Covid-19 cases in the U.S. at more than 2.2 million and the fourth-highest death toll at more than 35,000 fatalities. (CNBC / ABC News)
2/ The U.S. will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday, citing a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country and the emergence of coronavirus variants. The policy does not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents or other people with exemptions. India recorded 386,452 Covid-19 cases on Friday – the ninth day in a row the country has added more than 300,000 cases a day. The country also reported 3,498 deaths, bringing the death toll to 208,330. (Associated Press / CNN / NBC News)
3/ The EPA proposed phasing out the use of a common refrigerant blamed for driving global warming. The proposed regulation would cut down on the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons in cooling appliances in the U.S. by 85% over the next 15 years. It’s the first time the federal government has set national limits on hydrofluorocarbons, a class of man-made chemicals thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. Phasing out HFCs worldwide is expected to avert up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
4/ The Biden administration will raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500 this fiscal year. In a statement, Biden said that raising the cap “erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.” The White House, however, abruptly reversed course on the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. last month after the Biden administration said it would keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000. (CNN / USA Today)
5/ The Biden administration will reunite four migrant families separated during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in 2017. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called it “just the beginning” of a broader effort. More than 1,000 families, however, remain separated. (Associated Press / ABC News / NBC News)
6/ Rep. Liz Cheney pushed back against Trump’s attempt to commandeer the term “Big Lie” and accused him and those who perpetrate the falsehoods of “poisoning” democracy. After Trump issued a statement from his Save America PAC proclaiming that the presidential election “will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” – a term used to refer to the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump – the No. 3 House Republican publicly rejected Trump’s false claim, tweeting: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for inciting the riot at the Capitol. (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)
7/ The Capitol Police official who directed officers to look for anti-Trump protesters in the pro-Trump crowd on the morning of Jan. 6 was the deputy chief and sixth-ranking official in the department. Eric Waldow is facing congressional scrutiny for his 8:24 a.m. radio transmission: “With regards to pedestrian traffic on — on the grounds today, we anticipate a — a large presence for pro-Trump participants. What we’re looking for is any anti-Trump counter protesters.” (Politico)
8/ The Biden administration disclosed secret Trump-era rules for targeted killings away from conventional war zones. In 2017, Trump issued rules for counterterrorism “direct action” operations, like drone strikes and commando raids, in certain countries, giving commanders broad latitude to make decisions about attacks, including that there should be “near certainty” that civilians “will not be injured or killed in the course of operations.” A Biden administration review discovered that the Trump-era operating principles often made an exception to the requirement of “near certainty” that there would be no civilian casualties. The Biden administration suspended the rules on its first day in office and imposed an interim policy requiring approval for strikes outside of the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. (New York Times)
9/ Joe Manchin said he does not support the bill to make D.C. the nation’s 51st state, likely dooming the measure’s chances in the Senate. “If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment,” Manchin said. “It should propose a constitutional amendment and let the people of America vote.” (Washington Post / CBS News)
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