5 things to know for July 21: Coronavirus, stimulus, Europe, election 2020, Russia

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More people are getting tested for the coronavirus in the US, and that’s putting a strain on diagnostics labs and creating significant delays for test results. Labs are working to scale up their capacity and hope to be able to perform about 150,000 tests each day by the end of the month. Meanwhile, results from trials involving three different coronavirus vaccines have now been released, and all of them show positive results and appear to produce proper immune responses. And, just as importantly, they appear to be safe. Another treatment for the virus, from Synairgen, has also shown promising results after the company that manufactures the drug reported positive early results from a Phase 2 trial in the UK. Also, President Donald Trump is finally aboard the mask train: He tweeted a photo of himself in a face mask and said wearing one is patriotic. He also announced he would soon resume regular public briefings after discontinuing them in April.

2. Stimulus

GOP leaders and the Trump administration are split on what to focus on in the next economic recovery package. The President wants to pursue a payroll tax cut and tie money for schools to reopening, two things Senate Republicans are trying to discourage. GOP legislators have also said funding for testing is essential, while the White House doesn’t want to give any more money to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While Congress debates, some local officials are struggling to spend what they already have. Congress doled out $150 billion in state and local aid in March to help smaller towns and municipalities. However, leaders in these areas say strict federal rules limiting how the funding is supposed to be spent has kept a lot of that money bottled up, even as budget shortfalls and financial woes continue.

3. Europe

European Union leaders have agreed on a landmark stimulus plan to boost Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis. The 750 billion euro (almost $858 billion) deal will create reforms to help businesses rebound from the pandemic, roll out new measures to reshape economies in the long term, and create investments to help protect from “future crises.” It also will allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in grants and loans to member states. EU heads shook on the stimulus deal after five days of tense negotiations. But now that it’s in place, leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes have praised the European body and expressed hope for the future.

4. Election 2020

Top Democrats are asking the FBI to look into claims of Russian interference in the upcoming 2020 election. A letter signed by Democratic House and Senate leaders expresses concerns over a “concerted foreign interference campaign which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.” The letter doesn’t specifically mention Russia — intelligence officials have warned that several foreign adversaries, including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, have upped their ability to carry out cyber programs. However, Congressional Democrats have already voiced their concerns that Russia could repeat its 2016 election tactics in 2020. Meanwhile, GOP leaders have vowed to fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy with another Trump nominee, even if the vacancy occurs after the election.

5. Russia

Speaking of Russia, the US is working to shore up Ukraine’s navy, a force that was decimated by Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014. Recent efforts include a military exercise that began yesterday, not long after Russia launched major military drills of its own in the region. The shows of force are the latest in several tense exchanges between the US and Russia. The US has recently accused Russia of deploying cyberattacks against organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine development and trying to destabilize Libya. Then, of course, there are the reports that Russian operatives paid Taliban forces to target US and UK troops in Afghanistan. The US also recently announced sanctions against a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Anthony Fauci will throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ opening game

Disney World is tightening its mask rules

You can’t roam around while eating any more, so take some time to enjoy those churros.

Nicki Minaj is pregnant

Keanu Reeves is writing comic books


4.7 million

That’s how many people the Transportation Security Administration said it screened last week, down from about 4.8 million the previous week. It’s the first dip in air travelers since April, and overall, the number is only about a quarter of the number of travelers screened on the equivalent days in 2019.


“Nobody could possibly fill the shoes of Congressman Lewis. His leadership and fighting spirit is needed now more than ever in this country.”

State Sen. Nikema Williams, who was chosen to replace the late Rep. John Lewis on the ballot for his Atlanta-area Congressional district in November.



Well, this isn’t proper symphony etiquette…

Oh, to be an adorable cat stealing the show, getting loving pets from orchestra members and generally living the life.

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