CORONAVIRUS: There are concerns that the US could be in for another coronavirus surge. The why: a record number of people are traveling ahead of spring break...and that UK variant is set to become dominant in the US. That’s especially worrisome, since the UK variant has been found to be at least 50 percent more transmissible than the one currently going around. Meanwhile, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have temporarily halted the AstraZeneca vaccine - apparently due to some reports of blood clots. But health experts say there’s no link between the vaccine and clotting. And in other news, the American Red Cross says coronavirus antibodies were discovered in about 1 in 5 blood donations from unvaccinated people - suggesting they may have had the virus at some point. Not a typo.
USA: All eyes are on the US-Mexico border. In recent weeks, the number of unaccompanied migrant kids crossing the border has skyrocketed, with border crossings overall on pace for the highest levels in 20 years. It gets worse: more than 4,000 minors have been stuck in Border Patrol-run facilities for extended periods of time. In response, the Biden team is warning that now is not the time to cross the border and scrambling to find a solution. In other US news, two people were just arrested and charged with assaulting Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick on January 6th. The two men are accused of spraying Sicknick, who died a day later, with an unknown chemical irritant. Stay tuned.
WORLD: A new report just revealed that pandemic lockdowns improved air quality in 84 percent of countries worldwide. Yes, really. But pollutant levels are expected to sharply rise once much of the world reopens. Speaking of air, China is facing its worst sandstorm in 10 years. Winds carried dust from the Gobi Desert all the way into Beijing, turning the sky orange, causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled, and pushing the city’s air quality index all the way to 999. (For reference, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s highest health warning level is at 301 or higher.) Meanwhile, Kim Yo Jong - aka Kim Jong Un’s sister - just warned the Biden team against “causing a stink at its first step.” This comes after the White House announced it hadn’t received a response to its outreach to North Korea.