FDA weighing approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine
A proposed new COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is expected to get a thumbs-up Friday from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee. If the FDA formally grants authorization as anticipated within the next few days the U.S. will have three approved vaccines. Like the other two, from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine underwent a large clinical trial showing its safety and effectiveness. The J&J vaccine differs from the two already authorized, because only one shot is recommended, instead of two. Meanwhile, starting Friday, the COVID-19 vaccine will be available in select CVS stores in 17 states. The drugstore chain announced Wednesday that it would be expanding its vaccination rollout to pharmacies in six states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
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House to vote on Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill
The House will vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package Friday. The Democratic-controlled House will likely pass the package, although it will face some opposition in the Senate. Republicans have united against Biden’s relief package, including several moderate senators who said the legislation is excessive and goes beyond its scope. Though Biden had hoped the legislation would be bipartisan, Democrats on Capitol Hill are eager to pass it through both chambers by mid-March, when a federal boost to unemployment benefits expires.
Ex-Olympic coach’s death by suicide changes investigation
Police expected former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert to turn himself in for arraignment on a multitude of charges on Thursday, but are instead now investigating his death by suicide. The 63-year-old is the former owner of the gymnastics club where hundreds of women and girls said serial-molester Larry Nassar sexually abused them – many even said Geddert knew about it, failed to take action, then lied to police about it. The charges levied against him were 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor and one count each of first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, racketeering and lying to a police officer. Nassar is serving a 175-year prison sentence.
Suicide Lifeline: If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.
Biden heads to Texas to assess damage after horrific winter storm
In his first trip as president to a disaster zone, President Joe Biden is heading to Texas, one week after the state was ravaged by a winter storm that left millions without electricity and clean water for days. Biden, who will spend much of his time accompanied by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, is bringing first lady Jill Biden with him to Houston with plans to meet with local leaders to discuss the storm, relief efforts and recovery. A visit to a COVID-19 health center where vaccines are being distributed is also on the agenda. At least 4.3 million Texans lost electricity last week during the winter storm, and millions more lost water or were under a boil advisory. Texas is not part of the national power grid, and instead has its own electrical grid that covers nearly the entire state. Their grid is operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which has come under fire for the outages. Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for over 100 counties in the state.
Moonlight, feels right? It’s time for this year’s snow moon
A snow moon — so called because of February’s typically heavy snowfalls — rises in the east around nightfall Friday on its way to setting early Saturday morning in the west. Each full moon has its own name. This comes from the tradition of people around the world through millennia naming months after nature’s cues. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, full moon names in our part of the world date back to Native Americans who lived in the northern and eastern U.S.