AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EST News Staff

Medically vulnerable in US put near end of vaccine line

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — When Ann Camden learned last month that her 17-year-old daughter got exposed to the coronavirus at school and was being sent home, she packed her belongings, jumped in the car and made the two-hour drive to the coast to stay with her recently vaccinated parents.

The 50-year-old mother had been diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and could not afford to become infected. She also was not yet eligible under North Carolina’s rules to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. So she left her twin daughters with her husband and fled for safety.

Across the United States, millions of medically vulnerable people who initially were cited as a top vaccination priority group got slowly bumped down the list as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modified its guidelines to favour the elderly, regardless of their physical condition, and workers in a wide range of job sectors.

North Carolina is one of 24 states that currently places people under 65 with “underlying medical conditions” near the bottom of the pack to receive the vaccine, according to Jen Kates, senior vice-president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. A report she wrote for the foundation last month listed Pennsylvania as the lone state making vaccines available to the medically vulnerable during its first phase of distribution.

When North Carolina unveiled its initial guidance in October, it placed people with multiple chronic conditions near the top of the list. In response to December recommendations from the CDC to prioritize people 75 and older, however, it dropped those with chronic conditions to Phase 2. When the guidance changed again to expand eligibility to those 65 and up, medically vulnerable residents learned in January they would be dropped to Phase 4 — to be vaccinated after “frontline essential workers” but before “everyone.”

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FEMA to help manage unaccompanied minors at US-Mexico border

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The Biden administration is turning to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help managing and caring for record numbers of unaccompanied immigrant children who are streaming into the United States by illegally crossing the border with Mexico.

FEMA will support a governmentwide effort over the next three months to safely receive, shelter and transfer minor children who arrive alone at the U.S. southwest border, without a parent or other adult, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Saturday.

Government figures show a growing crisis at the border as hundreds of children illegally enter the U.S. from Mexico daily and are taken into custody.

The Homeland Security Department is supposed to process and transfer unaccompanied minor children to the Department of Health and Human Services within three days so that they can be placed with a parent already living in the United States, or other suitable sponsor, until their immigration cases can be resolved.

But more children are being held longer at Border Patrol facilities that weren’t designed with their care in mind because long-term shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services have next to no capacity to accommodate them. Children are being apprehended daily at far higher rates than HHS can release them to parents or sponsors.

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Virus tolls similar despite governors’ contrasting actions

Nearly a year after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the nation’s first statewide shutdown because of the coronavirus, masks remain mandated, indoor dining and other activities are significantly limited, and Disneyland remains closed.

By contrast, Florida has no statewide restrictions. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has prohibited municipalities from fining people who refuse to wear masks. And Disney World has been open since July.

Despite their differing approaches, California and Florida have experienced almost identical outcomes in COVID-19 case rates.

How have two states that took such divergent tacks arrived at similar points?

“This is going to be an important question that we have to ask ourselves: What public health measures actually were the most impactful, and which ones had negligible effect or backfired by driving behaviour underground?” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

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Nurses fight conspiracy theories along with coronavirus

Los Angeles emergency room nurse Sandra Younan spent the last year juggling long hours as she watched many patients struggle with the coronavirus and some die.

Then there were the patients who claimed the virus was fake or coughed in her face, ignoring mask rules. One man stormed out of the hospital after a positive COVID-19 test, refusing to believe it was accurate.

“You have patients that are literally dying, and then you have patients that are denying the disease,” she said. “You try to educate and you try to educate, but then you just hit a wall.”

Bogus claims about the virus, masks and vaccines have exploded since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic a year ago. Journalists, public health officials and tech companies have tried to push back against the falsehoods, but much of the job of correcting misinformation has fallen to the world’s front-line medical workers.

In Germany, a video clip showing a nurse using an empty syringe while practicing vaccinations travelled widely online as purported evidence that COVID-19 is fake. Doctors in Afghanistan reported patients telling them COVID-19 was created by the U.S. and China to reduce the world population. In Bolivia, medical workers had to care for five people who ingested a toxic bleaching agent falsely touted as a COVID-19 cure.

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Boxing great Marvelous Marvin Hagler dies at 66

Marvelous Marvin Hagler stopped Thomas Hearns in a fight that lasted less than eight minutes yet was so epic that it still lives in boxing lore. Two years later he was so disgusted after losing a decision to Sugar Ray Leonard — stolen, he claimed, by the judges — that he never fought again.

One of the great middleweights in boxing history, Hagler died Saturday at the age of 66. His wife, Kay, announced his death on the Facebook page for Hagler’s fans.

“I am sorry to make a very sad announcement,” she wrote. “Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire. Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Hagler fought on boxing’s biggest stages against its biggest names, as he, Leonard, Hearns and Roberto Duran dominated the middleweight classes during a golden time for boxing in the 1980s. Quiet with a brooding public persona, Hagler fought 67 times over 14 years as a pro out of Brockton, Massachusetts, finishing 62-3-2 with 52 knockouts.

“If they cut my bald head open, they will find one big boxing glove,’’ Hagler once said. “That’s all I am. I live it.”

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Myanmar civilian leader vows ‘revolution’ against junta

MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) — The civilian leader of Myanmar’s government in hiding vowed to continue supporting a “revolution” to oust the military that seized power in last month’s coup, as security forces again met protesters with lethal forces, killing at least seven.

Mahn Win Khaing Than, who was named the acting vice-president by Myanmar’s ousted lawmakers and is a member of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, addressed the public on Saturday for the first time since the Feb. 1 military takeover.

“This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close,” he said in a video posted on the shadow government’s website and social media.

“In order to form a federal democracy, which all ethnic brothers who have been suffering various kinds of oppressions from the dictatorship for decades really desired, this revolution is the chance for us to put our efforts together,” he said.

He added: “We will never give up to an unjust military but we will carve our future together with our united power. Our mission must be accomplished.”

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Warp-speed spending and other surreal stats of COVID times

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. effort in World War II was off the charts. Battles spread over three continents and four years, 16 million served in uniform and the government shoved levers of the economy full force into defeating Nazi Germany and imperial Japan.

All of that was cheaper for American taxpayers than this pandemic.

The $1,400 federal payments going into millions of people’s bank accounts are but one slice of a nearly $2 trillion relief package made law this past week. With that, the United States has spent or committed to spend nearly $6 trillion to crush the coronavirus, recover economically and take a bite out of child poverty.

Set in motion over one year, that’s warp-speed spending in a capital known for gridlock, ugly argument and now an episode of violent insurrection.

For a year now, Americans have grappled with numbers beyond ordinary comprehension: some 30 million infected, more than half a million dead, millions of jobs lost, vast sums of money sloshing through government pipelines to try to set things right.

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London police tactics at vigil for slain woman draw scrutiny

LONDON (AP) — London’s police department is under scrutiny for the way officers handled some participants at an unofficial vigil Saturday night for a London woman whose death led to murder charges against a fellow officer and spurred a national conversation about violence against women in the U.K.

Hundreds of people disregarded a judge’s ruling and police requests by gathering at Clapham Common in honour of Sarah Everard, 33, who last was seen alive near the south London park on March 3. Demonstrators said they wanted to draw attention to the fear and danger many women see as a daily part of British life.

Everard disappeared while walking home from a friend’s apartment at about 10:30 p.m. and was found dead a week later. The slaying sent shockwaves across the U.K. because a Metropolitan Police officer is charged with her kidnapping and murder.

Video of Saturday’s informal vigil turned rally showed officers from the same police force tussling with participants as they pushed their way through the crowd. At one point, several male officers grabbed hold of several women and pulled them away in handcuffs to screaming and shouting from onlookers, Britain’s Press Association reported.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan decried the police actions.

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The Latest: All Duke University undergrads must quarantine

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University issued a quarantine order for all of its undergraduates effective Saturday night due to a coronavirus outbreak caused by students who attended recruitment parties, the school said.

The university said in a statement that all undergraduate students will be forced to stay-in-place until at least March 21. Suspension or dismissal from the school are potential punishments for “flagrant or repeat violators.”

Over the past week, the school has reported more than 180 positive coronavirus cases among students. There are an additional 200 students who may have been exposed and have been ordered to quarantine.

The school said in the statement that the outbreak was “principally driven by students attending recruitment parties for selective living groups.”

Duke said it would provide a policy update on Thursday.

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For Biden, there’s no place like a weekend home in Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — As he stood in the Rose Garden celebrating his first big legislative win, President Joe Biden gestured to the White House and said it’s a “magnificent building” to live in.

Except on weekends.

Of the eight weekends since Biden took office, he has spent three at his longtime home outside Wilmington, Delaware, including this weekend. Tentative plans for another weekend visit were scrubbed due to Senate action on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.

Biden also spent a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Many presidents have complained at one point or another about feeling confined in the White House. Biden already has echoed earlier presidents in comparing the experience to living in a “gilded cage.”

The Associated Press

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