5 things to know for March 30: Coronavirus, White House, voter suppression, Hong Kong, Brazil

New Orleans native Peter Woullard, a behavioral health technician, was working in an emergency room when he contracted Covid-19. Nerve damage stemming from complications during his illness left him unable to walk for nearly a year.

Posted: Mar 31, 2021 6:11 AM
Updated: Mar 31, 2021 6:11 AM

The Ever Given is finally free from the Suez Canal! Now comes the next tricky part: untangling the shipping gridlock it leaves in its wake.

Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

Don't give up. That's the message CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, President Joe Biden and other pandemic authorities are telling the American people to avoid a pandemic backslide. Walensky says she's scared about where the country's headed, as case numbers tick up and the country crosses the dark threshold of 550,000 coronavirus deaths. Biden says in the next three weeks, 90% of the adult US population will be eligible for the vaccine. In Canada, the country's health leaders have halted distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine among people under 55 after reports of rare but serious blood clots. The World Health Organization will release a report into the origins of Covid-19 today, and they've concluded the virus did likely come from an animal after all -- not a lab.

2. White House

President Joe Biden will lay out the first of a sweeping two-pronged infrastructure and jobs proposal on Wednesday. The proposal will likely cost between $3 trillion and $4 trillion, but will include things like badly needed repairs for the country's physical infrastructure. It won't, however, include a gas or mileage tax -- a possibility that raised concerns for low-income Americans or those who travel a lot for work. Yesterday, Biden also announced a massive effort to bolster offshore wind energy projects to create more jobs and address the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the White House will host a bipartisan briefing for House members on Wednesday to discuss the worsening situation at the US-Mexico border. The administration is struggling to find space to house the record number of unaccompanied minors, and has even asked federal workers to volunteer at facilities to house and care for the children.

3. Voter suppression

Georgia's new controversial and restrictive voting law has faced swift backlash. Two federal lawsuits have been filed to challenge the law: one brought by a Democratic election attorney on behalf of racial justice groups, and another by a collective of several civil rights and voting rights groups. The lawsuits allege the new laws, which do things like limit ballot drop boxes and make it illegal to give water to those waiting in line to vote, are unconstitutional and violate the Voting Rights Act. Justice groups are urging sports organizations, like the PGA Tour and Major League Baseball, to reconsider holding upcoming major events in the state.

4. Hong Kong

China's government has passed a new law that will drastically restrict the right of Hong Kongers to stand for election, giving Beijing even more control over the supposedly semi-autonomous city. The new law reshapes Hong Kong's 70-seat legislature, adding 20 seats and changing its makeup so that most of the seats would be controlled by a government-appointed Election Committee or groups loyal to Beijing. This makes it impossible for any opposition party to gain a majority, especially since anyone hoping to gain a seat must also secure nomination from the committee. Chinese and Hong Kong officials say these changes are necessary to ensure "patriots governing Hong Kong" prevail, but others fear it's just another tool of political suppression.

5. Brazil

Coronavirus is crippling Brazil, and the country's President Jair Bolsonaro is making moves that appear designed to secure greater loyalty amid the crisis. Six ministers resigned yesterday, including the country's defense minister, secretary of state and Attorney General Andre Levi, who refused to sign Bolsonaro's lawsuit to lift three state governors' lockdown orders. Marcelo Queiroga, Brazil's fourth health minister since the beginning of the pandemic, was also sworn in quietly just last week. Yesterday's changes appear to put several army generals closer to Bolsonaro in more strategic positions. Criticism of Bolsonaro's coronavirus response has grown in recent weeks as a new variant rips through the country, seriously sickening even younger people. So far, 312,206 people in Brazil have died of the virus.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Toxic chemical 'Hall of Shame' calls out major retailers for failing to act on potentially dangerous substances

And yikes, what a long and detailed list it is.

Nike sues the maker of Lil Nas X 'Satan Shoes' for trademark infringement

"Nike has to clarify it does not endorse satanism" was not on our 2021 bingo card.

Volkswagen America may or may not be changing its name to Voltswagen, maybe

Ha ha, get it? Because they sell electric cars.

What it's like working at a coffee shop and having to deal with customers arguing over mask requirements

Infuriating. It's infuriating.

The housing market's so intense, Realtors are sometimes fielding dozens of cash offers on one house

Interested in buying right now? Better shine up your first born.

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TODAY'S NUMBER

9 minutes, 29 seconds

That's how long former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin actually knelt on George Floyd's neck before Floyd's death -- not the infamous 8:46 timing that has become a symbol of police brutality. Prosecutors in Chauvin's trial said the figure is the "most important three numbers in this case."

TODAY'S QUOTE

"It took more courage for her to stay than to leave, and people who weren't there have no clue how much worse it could've been w/o her."

Dr. Jerome Adams, former US surgeon general and White House coronavirus task force member under former President Donald Trump, who took to Twitter to defend Dr. Deborah Birx. Birx recently revealed regrets about the coronavirus response under Trump, and critics have wondered why she didn't stand up to the President as thousands died.

TODAY'S WEATHER

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AND FINALLY

Little masterpieces

Ever wonder how artists make those impossibly intricate clay canes with designs inside? Wonder no more! (Click here to view)

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