Will we see a pandemic baby boom? Maybe not. The US birth rate fell more than 6% in the last quarter of 2020, which includes the first weeks babies conceived in the early days of the pandemic would have been born.
Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
(You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
Members of the World Trade Organization have discussed a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, a step many world leaders say is the best way to boost vaccine access for developing nations. Rich nations have bought up a lot of the global vaccine supply, leading to declining case numbers and a slow return to normalcy. The US has now fully vaccinated 32% of its population, and experts say authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for young teens will help get the country closer to herd immunity. Meanwhile, skyrocketing cases in Nepal are heightening fears that the country could soon face an outbreak on par with the crisis in India.
Facebook’s independent, court-like oversight board decided the social network can continue to block former President Trump from its platform. The board concluded Trump’s posts on January 6, which praised Capitol rioters, “severely violated” Facebook’s policies and “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.” Facebook is supposed to revisit the decision in six months. Republicans and Trump allies immediately claimed the decision was biased, while critics of the ex-President voiced hope that the upheld ban could reduce Trump’s lasting influence via social media.
3. Economic relief
The Paycheck Protection Program, a core element of the US government’s economic relief agenda, is officially exhausted weeks before its planned closure at the end of this month. The program reopened in January with an additional $284 billion for first-time borrowers and some second loans for those who participated in last year’s first round. The Small Business Administration said more than 8 million small businesses were helped by the program. The SBA will keep taking some new applications from underserved areas. Meanwhile, President Biden is promoting the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The $28.6 billion program was established as part of Biden’s massive Covid-19 relief package and will provide money to match restaurants’ pandemic-related revenue losses.
G7 leaders are warning China not to escalate tensions with Taiwan after a spike in military maneuvers around the self-governed island. Representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US said in a joint statement that they support peace between China and Taiwan and wish to see Taiwan participate in World Health Organization forums and the World Health Assembly. Beijing has blocked Taiwan’s participation in the WHO. G7 ministers also had tough words about China’s alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and growing challenges to democracy in Hong Kong. While the statement didn’t recommend any action against China, it’s likely to fray already-fraught relations between China and these other world powers.
Colombia has seen more than a week of bloody protests over economic inequality and police brutality, and experts think the unrest could have deeper regional effects. The protests began when President Ivan Duque unveiled a controversial fiscal reform proposal that critics say would have disproportionately impacted middle and working-class people. Although he withdrew it this weekend, demonstrations continued over broader grievances. More than 24 people have been killed and dozens have disappeared during the violence, prompting fear and outrage over the police response. How Duque responds to all this could impact how other countries in the region handle police brutality and economic issues.
An Orioles pitcher could have had a perfect game but for one weird baseball rule
Luckily, a no-hitter is a good consolation prize.
Mediterranean diet may prevent memory loss and dementia, study finds
Stock up on that salmon and broccoli!
Google backtracks on office returns and will let employees keep working remotely
People just aren’t ready for real pants again.
You can now get beer made by the Queen — or, at least, her estate
Drink it with your pinky up for the full effect.
A Japanese town spent some of its Covid-19 relief money to build a statue of a giant squid
Is it a cool statue? Yes. Is it what the government intended when it handed out funds during a devastating pandemic? … Probably not.
That’s how much reported hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the largest US cities and counties are up since this time last year, a study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism finds. Here’s how you can help Asian Americans under attack.
“It appears that Rayshard Brooks’ life didn’t really matter and that the world has moved on.”
L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for the family of Brooks, a Black man who was shot last June by an Atlanta police officer in a Wendy’s parking lot. The Atlanta Civil Service Board ruled the shooter, Garrett Rolfe, was wrongly terminated following the incident. The fired officer still faces a felony murder charge.
A place out of time
The French town of Mont Saint-Michel is like no other. Home to a magnificent Medieval abbey, its isolation ebbs and flows with the tides. (Click here to view.)