Jonathan: The government just signaled we’re moving into a new phase of the Covid pandemic. Don’t worry, it’s a good thing. Plus: the nation remembers a sad day in the history of space travel. Those stories and more today on Notice News.
End of Covid Health Emergency
Happy first day of February, I’m Jonathan here at Notice HQ in Brooklyn. Some good news to start off the month: After three years of face masks, nasal swabs, and zoom classes, we have another sign the pandemic may be winding down—or at least entering a new stage.
On Monday, the White House announced it would let the public health emergency around the pandemic expire on May 11.
That emergency was first declared by then-President Trump in January 2020, and it’s been renewed every 90 days since then. Biden’s move to end the emergency will treat Covid as an ongoing, manageable disease, rather than a rapid-spreading new danger.
Since December 2019, the World Health Organization reports more than 750 million confirmed cases of Covid, and nearly 7 million deaths across the globe. The U.S. alone has seen more than 1.1 million Covid deaths, and government data shows that over 500 people still die daily from the disease, which experts say is double the number of daily deaths seen during a bad flu season.
Biden’s end to the covid emergency means changes to government funding, meaning some people may have to start paying for Covid tests or antiviral pills. Vaccines should remain free for people with insurance, but it may become harder for people without insurance to get free covid treatment.
While covid’s pandemic phase may be winding to a close, health experts warn countries must remain vigilant in fighting off future public health threats.
Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: “Friends, the next pandemic could be just around the corner. Hopefully, it’s not, but we don’t know. We didn’t know three years ago that it was just next door and it hit us very, very fast, and it spread around the world rapidly, as we know. “Most countries were unprepared for Covid-19, and today, many countries still remain unprepared for any future outbreak.”
Here’s what else is making news right now:
A major winter storm is bringing ice, power outages, and dangerous travel conditions throughout the central and southern U.S. The ice storm is expected to last through tomorrow and airlines have already canceled hundreds of flights.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel’s prime minister on Monday, and also met with the president of Palestine on Tuesday. The secretary’s trip comes amid some of the worst violence between Israel and Palestine since 2015.
And an employee of a school district near Chicago has been accused of stealing one and a half million dollars worth of chicken wings. Prosecutors aren’t sure where any of the wings went or if this person also planned on knocking off a bleu cheese farm.
Remembering the Space Shuttle Columbia
20 years ago today, a space mission came to a tragic end.
On February 1st, 2003, a broken wing caused the space shuttle Columbia to crash, killing all 7 astronauts aboard the shuttle. Among them was the first astronaut from Israel and 6 Americans.
Sound: “Well uh, first of all it’s great to be here today and…”
The shuttle was on a construction mission for the international space station and spent 16 days in space before breaking up on its re-entry. The shuttle disintegrated flying over east Texas and pieces of it were found across 2,000 locations in Texas and Louisiana.
The tragic accident sparked major criticism of the space program, especially considering how expensive it was. The disaster led directly to the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
Since then, NASA’s relied on Russia to get to the International Space Station until Elon Musk’s company, Space X, started flying there in 2020.
This wasn’t the first time a space mission ended in disaster. In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger broke up just over a minute into its flight and drew similar criticism.
Now, 20 years after the Columbia disaster, the U.S. has plans to put astronauts on Mars sometime in the late 2030s or early 2040s.
That’s it for today but you can learn more about the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency on our website, NoticeNews.com. i’ll be back tomorrow with more from us, Notice News.