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Coronavirus

A year ago, hundreds of desperate consumers were emailing Mike Bowen's Texas medical supply factory every day, looking to buy N95 medical respirator masks that can filter viruses: "Scared Americans and moms and old people and people saying, 'Help me,' " Bowen recalls.

The U.S. hotel industry suffered its worst year on record in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic severely crimped business travel and Americans gave up on vacations to stay at home.

Hotels hit all-time lows in occupancy and in revenue per available room last year, according to data provider STR.

A number of European countries have announced new mask recommendations and requirements, pushing aside fabric masks in favor of surgical masks or medical-grade respirators.

Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET Wednesday

Data from K-12 schools that reopened for in-person instruction in the fall show little evidence that schools contributed meaningfully to the spread of COVID-19, according to a new article published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

California lifted stay-at-home orders for all regions on Monday as the government said hospital intensive care unit capacity is expected to increase.

The stay-at-home orders applied to regions of the state where availability in ICUs had dropped below 15%. Southern California, the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley were still under the order when it was lifted.

The Transportation Security Administration caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers passing through U.S. airport security in 2020 — twice the 2019 rate — amid the sharp drop in air travel because of the coronavirus.

Updated at 5:46 p.m. ET

President Biden announced Tuesday that his administration is working to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the two COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use, with the goal, the White House says, of having enough vaccine supply for the entire adult U.S. population by the end of the summer.

He also announced steps to increase vaccine doses going to state and local governments over the next three weeks, and to provide them more clarity going forward about how much supply they should expect.

Italians are used to hearing the words, "Once again, the government in Rome has collapsed." Now another Italian leader is resigning — but this time, it risks plunging the country into political chaos while still in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic and deep economic turmoil.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte handed in his resignation to the president on Tuesday following weeks of political uncertainty and a split in the governing coalition over his handling of the second wave of COVID-19 and recovery funds from the European Union.

News that AstraZeneca's promised COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Europe will be delayed isn't sitting well with officials, who are pushing the company to honor the agreed-upon delivery schedule.

"Europe invested billions to help develop the world's first COVID-19 vaccines," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video statement Tuesday. "And now, the companies must deliver. They must honor their obligations."

Palestine Howze died April 14, 2020, in a North Carolina nursing home.

She had developed a pressure ulcer — or bed sore as they're commonly known. It flared up in December 2018 and just grew worse, says her daughter Lisa Howze. Infection set in.

"We begged them to take her to the emergency room, but they assured us that they could handle it," Howze says.

Karen Butcher's son Matthew struggled for years with an addiction to opioids. She's convinced the pandemic made it worse.

The restaurant in Scott County, Ky., where Matthew worked as a bartender closed before the pandemic, and soon other establishments, from restaurants to stores, followed suit as states imposed lockdowns.

"One day you're a bartender and you're serving people and having a great time at it, and then the next day the doors are closed," Butcher recalls. "Then COVID hits. It was the perfect storm."

Every Sunday afternoon, Suzan Mubarak keeps an eye on her phone. That is when her boyfriend will call to let her know he's outside her house for their weekly wave.

Mubarak, 31, and Mitch Domier, 43, live a few miles apart in Bozeman, Mont., but those drive-by visits are the closest the couple has been for nearly 10 months. The coronavirus pandemic largely locked down the homes for adults with developmental disabilities where they each live, limiting them to video chats and the occasional drive-by.

Dutch demonstrators again defied the country's new curfew to protest government restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Hundreds of people have been arrested in recent days as the protests turned violent with rioters attacking police.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte disputed the motivations of the rioters.

"What motivated these people has nothing to do with protesting," he told reporters Monday. "It's criminal violence and we will treat it as such."

Updated on Tuesday at 9:41 p.m. ET

A gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, Calif., underwent monoclonal antibody therapy after contracting COVID-19 this month.

Winston, an elderly silverback gorilla, and two other troop members tested positive for the coronavirus after they had symptoms such as mild coughing. "The virus was confirmed in 3 gorillas and we assume they all were exposed," Nadine Lamberski, the zoo's chief conservation and wildlife health officer, told NPR in an email. She said all the troop members were managed accordingly.

A few months ago, South Dakota was in the news for its rising coronavirus case numbers and deaths. It's a rural, less populous state. But the disproportionately high caseload strained the health care system.

Now, as daily case numbers continue on a downward trend nationwide, the state is notable again, but for a different reason: the success of its vaccine rollout.

Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET

Teachers at Chicago Public Schools were slated to return to the classroom on Monday, in preparation for the return of students to the district's K-8 schools next week.

But on Sunday, a majority of the Chicago Teachers Union's membership voted in favor of a resolution to continue to work remotely. The union said 71% of its voting members had voted to conduct remote work only, with 86% voter participation.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian beer conglomerate, announced Monday it would not directly advertise its Budweiser brand during the Super Bowl for the first time in 37 years.

As Daily COVID-19 Case Counts Drop In Oklahoma, Daily Death Rates Expectedly Continue To Rise

Jan 25, 2021
Medical staff prepare to swab another patient being tested for COVID-19 at an Oklahoma City site on May 8. Most of staff working at the site were women.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma’s coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations are trending down for the first time in months. Unfortunately, deaths are not.

The loneliest part of coming to America is the first few months, says Mustafa Nuur, who came as a refugee from Somalia in 2014.

Now, the coronavirus makes it so much harder for newcomers, he says. Despite the pandemic, the U.S. admitted 21,533 refugees in 2020, some arriving as late as September, according to refugee resettlement agencies citing official numbers.

California is lifting stay-at-home orders for all regions in the state, including Southern California, the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley — the three regions that had still been under the order — citing a drop in intensive care unit projections. But health officials warn that most counties still need to follow strict guidelines.

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