Georgia surpasses 16,000 COVID-related deaths hours before Biden visit

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Regular Booster Vaccines Are the , Likely Future of COVID Battle, Say Experts.The statements come from the head of COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK), a consortium committed to sequencing the coronavirus genomes.We have to appreciate that we were always going to have to have booster doses; immunity to coronavirus doesn’t last forever, Sharon Peacock, Head of COG-UK, via Reuters.We already are tweaking the vaccines to deal with what the virus is doing in terms of evolution —, Sharon Peacock, Head of COG-UK, via Reuters.... so there are variants arising that have a combination of increased transmissibility and an ability to partially evade our immune response, Sharon Peacock, Head of COG-UK, via Reuters.Peacock compared the boosters to annual flu shots.She also expressed concern over the South African variant of the virus.... saying that "it is more transmissible," and that "our immunity is reduced against that virus.".I have to be quite humble in the face of a virus that we know very little about still, Sharon Peacock, Head of COG-UK, via Reuters

Biden, Harris visiting Georgia this week, touting COVID relief plan

One day before President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Georgia to tout Democrats’ trillion-dollar relief package, Georgia officially surpassed 16,000 COVID-related deaths.

Thursday’s latest official totals from the Georgia Department of Public Health show 16,053 deaths among 839,823 cases. That was an increase of 1,286 confirmed cases and 57 newly reported deaths.

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Biden and Harris are visiting Georgia Friday as part of a nationwide victory lap following passage of his massive, $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. The Biden administration is looking toward the middle of May to relax restrictions on travel across the borders with Mexico and Canada and on inbound international travel from the U.K., Europe and Brazil, two sources told CNBC.

New jobless numbers released Thursday revealed the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 770,000, a sign that layoffs remain high even as much of the U.S. economy is steadily recovering from the coronavirus recession.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims climbed from 725,000 the week before. The numbers have dropped sharply since the depths of the recession last spring but still show that employers in some industries continue to lay off workers. Before the pandemic struck, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any one week.

Biden visited a small business in suburban Philadelphia on Tuesday, his initial trip outside Washington for the “Help is here” tour that got underway Monday. Harris dropped in on a COVID-19 vaccination site and a culinary academy in Las Vegas while first lady Jill Biden toured a New Jersey elementary school.

The White House is wasting no time promoting the relief plan, which Biden signed into law last week, looking to build momentum for the rest of his agenda and anxious to avoid the mistakes of 2009 in boosting that year’s recovery effort. Even veterans of Barack Obama’s administration acknowledge they did not do enough then to showcase their massive economic stimulus package.

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“Hope is here in real and tangible ways,” Biden said Monday at the White House. He said the new government spending will bankroll efforts that could allow the nation to emerge from the pandemic’s twin crises, health and economic.

Biden said that within the next 10 days, his administration will clear two important benchmarks: distributing 100 million stimulus payments and administering 100 million vaccine doses since he took office. To commemorate those milestones, Biden and his top representatives are embarking on their most ambitious travel schedule of his young presidency, visiting a series of potential election battleground states this week.

Last week, Biden — who has still not held an open press conference — pledged in his first prime-time address to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1 and raised the possibility of beginning to “mark our independence from this virus” by the Fourth of July. Speaking in the White House East Room Thursday night, Biden honored the “collective suffering” of Americans over the past year in his 24-minute address and then offered them a vision for a return to a modicum of normalcy this summer.

The speech came just hours after Biden signed his $1.9 trillion relief package that he said will help defeat the virus, nurse the economy back to health and deliver direct aid to Americans struggling to make ends meet.

The Biden plan cleared Congress without any backing from Republicans, despite polling that found broad public support. Republicans argued the bill was too expensive, especially with vaccinations making progress against the virus, and included too many provisions not directly linked to the pandemic.

The president on Monday announced he had chosen Gene Sperling, a longtime Democratic economic policy expert, to oversee the massive stimulus package, the role Biden himself had played for the 2009 economic rescue package. The goal, Biden said, is to “stay on top of every dollar spent.”

“I learned from my experience implementing the Recovery Act just how important it is to have someone who can manage all the moving parts with efficiency, speed and integrity and accountability,” said the president.

The plan’s key features include direct payments of $1,400 for most single taxpayers, or $2,800 for married couples filing jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent — a total of $5,600 for a married couple with two children. The payments phase out for people with higher incomes.

An extension of federal unemployment benefits will continue through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. There’s $350 billion for state, local and tribal governments, $130 billion for K-12 schools and about $50 billion to expand COVID-19 testing, among other provisions.

Restaurants and bars that were forced to close or limit service can take advantage of a new multibillion-dollar grant program, and the plan also has tens of billions of dollars to help people who have fallen behind on rent and mortgage payments.