Drivers are finally off Interstate 95 after being stuck on a 50-mile stretch in the Stafford County, Virginia, area for more than 24 hours, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.
"There are no people stranded still on I-95," VDOT announced in a tweet. "Less than 20 vehicles left to be removed from the interstate before plow trains will come through to remove snow and ice from the travel lanes."
Those 20 vehicles were abandoned amid the backup, caused by a collision involving multiple trucks during a major snowstorm that left snow and ice packed onto the road.
The interstate reopened at around 8:40 p.m., VDOT said.
Many drivers ran out of gas in freezing temperatures. Some didn't have food or water, and children, pets and people with medical needs are among those stuck in the traffic nightmare. Sen. Tim Kaine, who represents Virginia in the U.S. Senate, was among those trapped on the highway.
Vania Masaya was trapped in the gridlock with her young children and out of gas. Traffic came to a halt for them at about 9 a.m. Monday. Twelve hours later, they had barely moved, and the mother’s fear grew unbearable.
“I just kept thinking, they’re gonna die in this cold,” she said Tuesday, nearly crying. “It was freezing. My daughter's cheeks were so cold.”
Amtrak train Crescent 20 departed Atlanta late, at about 2 a.m. Monday, headed north on a route that would take it to Washington, D.C. That trip usually takes about 14 hours, but a winter storm literally stopped the train in its tracks.
Tuesday morning, passengers still aboard the train reported they were without food, functioning toilets and information from the rail service as to what happens next.
“All we’ve been told is there are trees on the tracks preventing us from moving forward,” passenger Sean Thornton said Tuesday morning. “Nobody has eaten for about 20 hours and the toilets in coach are completely backed up. The snack bar sold out of food yesterday. Passengers have been banned from leaving the train.”
Thornton said passengers had repeatedly asked for more information, but got nothing.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, passengers got word they were about to receive food. But Cook said the train didn’t move again until after 4 p.m.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with his COVID-19 response team at the White House, Biden looked both to convey his administration’s urgency toward addressing the new variant and to convince wary Americans that the current surge bears little resemblance to the onset of the pandemic or last year’s deadly winter. The president emphasized that vaccines, booster shots and therapeutic drugs have mitigated the danger for the overwhelming majority of Americans who are fully vaccinated.
“You can still get COVID, but it’s highly unlikely, very unlikely, that you’ll become seriously ill,” Biden said of vaccinated people.
“There’s no excuse, there’s no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated,” he added. “This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Compared to last year, more Americans are employed, most kids are in classrooms, and instances of death and serious illness are down — precipitously so among the vaccinated.
“We’re in a very different place than we were a year ago,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki when asked if the country had lost control of the virus.
"Right now, we are experiencing the winter surge that we anticipated together with the convergence of the delta variant, the flu season and the omicron variant -- which has spread like wildfire throughout the country and around the world. Our focus has been and continues to be preventing hospitalizations and deaths," Hogan said.
State officials said the state on Tuesday marked a record high of 3,057 COVID-19 hospitalizations, representing an increase of more than 500% over the past seven weeks.
"Currently, there are 3,006 adults and 51 children with COVID-19 in Maryland hospitals -- and that represents a 100% increase since Dec. 22, or a doubling," said Dr. Ted Delbridge, executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems. "Our hospitals are struggling to deal with the numbers of sick people coming to them. As of yesterday (Monday) afternoon, more than 600 patients were waiting at emergency departments for their turn to be admitted to a hospital bed. In fact, our emergency departments are as busy as they've ever been."
The governor said the peak of hospitalizations could reach 5,000 -- which is more than 250% higher than the previous peak -- over the next four to six weeks.
"The next four to six weeks will be the most challenging time of the entire pandemic," Hogan said. "While we are hoping for the best, we are actively preparing for the worst."
The governor issued a 30-day state of emergency to take urgent short-term actions to combat the current crisis. He also issued two executive orders, the first order gives the state health secretary the ability to regulate hospital personnel, bed space and supplies, which includes directing and expediting the transfer of patients between hospitals.
It also allows interstate reciprocity for health care licenses, it allows inactive health care practitioners to practice without needing to reinstate their expired licenses and it authorizes graduate nurses to work at any health care facility to provide full nursing services. And, the order allows for health care practitioners to practice outside the scope of their licenses.
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Biden on Tuesday directed the government to buy an additional 10 million courses of Pfizer’s oral antiviral treatment, Paxlovid. With the new order, the U.S. has committed to purchase at least 20 million courses from Pfizer.
The Biden administration is speeding up the delivery of the first 10 million treatment courses to June from September, according to the White House. Pfizer, in a statement announcing the new U.S. order Tuesday, said the remaining 10 million courses will be shipped by the end of September.
“I’m pleased to say that on Christmas Eve, we shipped out the first batch of these pills that we purchased and received, and more will be shipped this week,” Biden said in a televised speech about his strategy to combat omicron.
While the president said production is in “full swing,” he noted that the complex chemistry involved in manufacturing the pills means it can take a significant amount of time from production to patients.
The White House, in a statement, said the U.S. government is receiving the pills as soon as they come off the production line. Biden is also prepared to offer Pfizer any resources it needs to make the pills, including using the Defense Production Act if needed, according to the White House.
This rate is also rising faster than ever. In the past two weeks, as omicron overtook the state, the positivity rate climbed more than twice as fast as any other point in the pandemic. And it is still accelerating.
Despite these rising statistics, Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday he was reassured that COVID-19 hospitalizations had not at this time matched the peaks of prior surges, which he described as "very encouraging news."
"We’re going to watch this going forward and continue to encourage people to protect themselves, get their vaccine, get their boosters," Lee said. "We’re in a a really different spot in the pandemic than we’ve been for the past couple of years."
The new omicron variant of COVID-19 has nearly made delta obsolete, as it was responsible for 95.4% of all new cases in the week that ended Jan. 1, according to CDC data released Tuesday.
It took only about a month for the new variant to displace delta, as the first case of omicron was detected in the United States on Dec. 1 and it was responsible for just 0.6% of new cases for the week that ended Dec. 4.
Omicron was responsible for 8% of cases by Dec. 11, 37.9% of cases by Dec. 18, and 77% of cases by Dec. 25.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted the Chicago Teachers Union late Tuesday for the work action, which the union said was endorsed by 73% of its members. CTU said it took the step out of concerns about inadequate COVID-19 protections and intends to continue to teach remotely, though it remains unclear if that will happen starting Thursday.
As they waited for the outcome of the union vote Tuesday, Lightfoot, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady held a news conference where they again insisted that, despite the current spike in cases, children need to be back in school and that it’s a relatively safety environment with proper mitigation.
Lightfoot also warned teachers who don’t show up Wednesday will be placed on no-pay status — a move that would likely escalate the dispute.
“I have to tell you, it feels like ‘Groundhog Day,’ that we are here again,” Lightfoot said in reference to past strife with the CTU, including the 2019 teachers strike and then several rounds of thwarted school reopening attempts last year. She also accused union leaders of “politicizing the pandemic.”
“There is no basis in the data, the science or common sense for us to shut an entire system down when we can surgically do this at a school level,” Lightfoot said.
But with the spike in city cases and growing concerns about adequate mitigation, CTU’s House of Delegates, its 600-member governing body, approved a resolution Tuesday for members to teach remotely from Wednesday until Jan. 18, unless an agreement with CPS is reached or the rate of Chicago COVID-19 cases falls below a certain threshold.
That outcome sent the measure to a vote by the union’s 25,000 rank-and-file members later Tuesday, with CPS parents having to wait until nearly 11 p.m. to learn if they could send their children to school Wednesday.
In a message to parents late Tuesday, CPS officials apologized for the possible inconvenience. They said that if CTU approved its work action, students should not report to buildings Wednesday, though Martinez later clarified that students will not be turned away and will be looked after if dropped off. Schools will also be open for regularly scheduled COVID-19 testing, but there would be no remote instruction Wednesday, and after-school activities, sports and other school events would be canceled.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, wants to hear directly from then-Vice President Mike Pence, who certified the 2020 presidential election despite an extensive pressure campaign led by then-President Donald Trump and his allies to halt the process.
Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, wants Pence to voluntarily speak with the panel about what he witnessed on January 6 and the conversations he was privy to in the days leading up to it, which could provide extensive insight to the panel's investigation.
"I would hope that he would do the right thing and come forward and voluntarily talk to the committee," Thompson told CNN in an interview Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Pence declined to comment on Thompson's remarks.
Hannity is one of the most prominent media figures in America and was a close adviser to Donald Trump throughout his presidency. The committee revealed last month that Hannity texted then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the riot to urge him to get Trump to stop his supporters.
In a letter to Hannity, Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) wrote that they seek "voluntary cooperation on a specific and narrow range of factual questions" and are not seeking "information regarding any of your broadcasts, or your political views or commentary."
Jay Sekulow, counsel to Sean Hannity, told Axios, “If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”
The former president had planned to use the Thursday news conference at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., as counterprogramming for a scheduled prayer service at the Capitol to commemorate the events of Jan. 6.
In a statement, Trump blamed the House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 riot for the cancellation. He said he would instead touch on many of the themes he had planned to discuss at the news conference during a rally in Arizona set for Saturday.
In the criminal complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of Florida and unsealed on Tuesday, the Justice Department alleges that Mario Antonio Palacios and others entered the presidential residence in Port-au-Prince on July 7 with the "intent and purpose of killing President Moïse." Moïse's wife was also injured in the shooting.
Palacios, a 43-year-old Colombian national, is charged with "conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the U.S. and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap," the DOJ said.
The West Virginia Democrat bluntly dismissed talk of progress from other members of his party over the last couple weeks and made clear he’s tired of discussing the $1.7 trillion proposal that focuses on education, climate action, health care, taxes and child care.
“I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better because I think I’ve been very clear on that. There is no negotiation going on at this time,” Manchin told reporters outside his office.
Manchin’s comments amount to just the latest bad sign for the House-passed legislation, which is now interminably stalled in the Senate due to Manchin’s opposition. There have been no specific conversations about reviving the legislation since Manchin spoke with Biden in late December after coming out against the bill on Fox News.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that talks with Biden will pick back up soon enough, and said in his recent discussions with Manchin about voting rights over the past two weeks they have also touched on Biden's spending bill.
"I've talked to Sen. Manchin numerous times during the break," Schumer said on Tuesday afternoon. "I believe the Biden administration will be having discussions with Manchin with his cooperation and participation."
While broader federal voting rights legislation remains mired in the Senate as long as the 60-vote filibuster rule applies, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told Axios there's "some interest" among Senate Republicans in reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887.
The goal would be to clarify the role the vice president and Congress play in certifying presidential elections.
Both were flashpoints a year ago as Donald Trump challenged the finalization of the 2020 election results.
A statement sent out by her office did not explain her decision not to run for a fifth two-year term to the U.S. House but it had been widely speculated that Lawrence was dissatisfied with the new redistricting process, which connected her home base of Southfield and the west side of Detroit with Dearborn, Westland and other parts of western Wayne County she has not represented.
Her departure will lead to a scramble to determine who will move to succeed her in what will remain a solidly Democratic district.
First elected to Congress in 2014, Lawrence represents a district that until now has connected Southfield and other parts of southeastern Oakland County with the east side of Detroit, downtown, Hamtramck and the Grosse Pointes.
Fifty-six percent of voters now say they disapprove of the job Biden is doing, the worst such reading of his presidency as he approaches the end of his first year in office, according to new CNBC/Change Research poll. Prior polls in the series showed Biden’s disapproval rating at 54% in early September and 49% in April.
Biden’s approval rating is now at 44%, down from 46% in September and 51% in April.
The latest sign of trouble for Biden comes as his administration looks to tackle a wide range of economic and political problems ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, which will decide the balance of power in Congress.
Ben Frazier, a Jacksonville community activist, was arrested and escorted away from a government building where Gov. Ron DeSantis was set to host a news conference on Tuesday.
The confrontation started when DeSantis aides asked those present for the news conference at the Florida Department of Health building in Duval County to show media credentials. The event was open only to credentialed journalists, they said.
Frazier, 71, and a small group of citizens did not have credentials, but refused to leave the room. The disagreement between DeSantis staffers — who kept asking Frazier and his group to leave — and the activists was broadcast on The Florida Channel.
“This is a public building, and we don’t intend on moving,” Frazier told the aides at one point. The governor was not in the room at the time.
Frazier is the president of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, which says its mission is to “stand against racial, economic and social injustice.”
He told DeSantis aides he wanted to meet with the governor.
As the omicron variant continues to spread across the country, both of NBC's late-night talk show hosts, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon, have announced they've tested positive for COVID-19.
"The bad news is, I tested positive for COVID (thanks, 2022!)" Meyers said in a tweet Monday. "The good news is, I feel fine (thanks vaccines and booster!)"
Meyers said the network had canceled the remainder of shows scheduled from Tuesday to Friday.
"Tune in next Monday to see what cool location we will try and pass off as a studio!!!" Meyers added.
News of Meyers' positive case of COVID comes a day after Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon announced he had tested positive for the virus right before Christmas.
In his latest Instagram post, Fallon, who appears to have recovered, says he had received a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot —experiencing only mild symptoms.
"Thank you to the doctors and nurses who work so hard around the clock to get everyone vaxxed," Fallon wrote. "Thank you to NBC for taking the testing protocols so seriously and doing a great job - and also thanks for putting me in the 'What 'chu talkin' about Willis?' isolation room when they told me the news."
The announcement reversed the companies’ decision just a day earlier to reject any postponement in new 5G service.
In a statement Monday night, AT&T also repeated its promise to further reduce power of the networks around airports — an approach used in France — for six months to give regulators more time to study potential interference with aviation.
“We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues,” AT&T spokeswoman said in a statement.
In an interview with the Times, Smith delivered a quote that prompted head-scratching among his soon-to-be-former colleagues and media industry vets. “There are 200 million people who are college educated, who read in English, but who no one is really treating like an audience, but who talk to each other and talk to us,” he said. “That’s who we see as our audience.”
The new venture has no official name and its funding is still being shaped up. David Bradley, chairman emeritus of the Atlantic, is among the potential backers. Prior to his arrival at Bloomberg, Smith had led Atlantic Media. Among his other accomplishments are launching the U.S. edition of the Week magazine and founding Breaking Media, parent of digital brands like Above the Law and Dealbreaker.
In a tweet, Justin Smith described the new venture as “a personal dream, and a market opportunity.”
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of Justin Smith’s departure from Bloomberg, Bradley said the startup had the working title “Project Coda.” It is expected to include digital publishing, newsletters, podcasts and video offerings, he said.
Announcing the new company, Sony Mobility Inc, in a news conference ahead of the CES technology trade fair in the United States, Sony's chairman and president, Kenichiro Yoshida, said the company was "exploring a commercial launch" of electric vehicles.
Sony already has advanced technology in sensors critical to autonomous driving, as well as the audio and entertainment systems that are increasingly a focus for next-generation vehicles.
Schneider, an Oakland resident, tweeted about the robbery to her 52,000 followers, saying she was shaken up but otherwise OK.
“Hi all! So first off: I’m fine. But I got robbed yesterday, lost my ID, credit cards and phone. I then couldn’t really sleep last night, and have been dragging myself around all day trying to replace everything,” the Oakland resident said in her post.
Oakland police said in a statement they were still investigating the armed robbery that occurred Sunday afternoon and had not yet made any arrests.
Schneider, the first transgender contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, won again on Tuesday’s show bringing her impressive winning streak to 25 consecutive victories, earning her $897,600 in winnings so far.
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers explained he is "giving less f--ks" and developing a maturity from "aging, from making mistakes, from failing, from being too sensitive at times, from taking things too personal at times" as he enters the twilight of his career.
Rodgers believes this attitude and perspective have allowed him to age gracefully in a profession that doesn't historically reward athletes in their late 30s.
ComicConnect.com, which handled the sale, said the comic book, which was sold to an anonymous buyer, is a rare object for collectors. The auctioned comic is made all the more rare by its 9.0 Very Fine/Near Mint quality grading.
"Highly-graded copies of Hulk #1 are notoriously hard to find, due to the cheap paper used and the smudging of the gray color on the front cover," ComicConnect.com Chief Operating Officer Vincent Zurzolo said in the company's announcement.
Zurzolo said there are only seven copies of the same issue known to exist with higher ratings, and it is extremely rare to find one offered for sale.
On January 5, 1933, construction begins on the Golden Gate Bridge, as workers began excavating 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt for the structure’s huge anchorages.
The Golden Gate Bridge officially opened on May 27, 1937, the longest bridge span in the world at the time. The first public crossing had taken place the day before, when 200,000 people walked, ran and even roller skated over the new bridge.
The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, has arrived in the United States for an official visit, his first since re-election last October.
He arrived in New York on board the liner Queen Mary earlier today and was welcomed by Mayor Impelliterri before being taken to Long Island for a flight to Washington.
Mr Churchill, who was returned to power last year following six years in opposition, is anxious to maintain what is called the "special relationship" between Britain and the US.
In a brief news conference before boarding his flight, he spoke of his hopes for peace and also of Britain's ties with the US.
He said: "It is of great importance when a new government comes in in our country that those who have the grave responsibility of guiding it, like Mr Eden and myself, should get in touch at an early stage with our American friends and colleagues.
"Our two governments must understand each other's points of view and do all we can to work together for the common cause, trusting we will be able to build up that common understanding and intimacy which enabled us to go through safely in the past and without which no full settlement of new problems can be reached."
Mr Churchill arrived in Washington where he was welcomed officially by President Harry S Truman.
Mr Truman also spoke of the close ties between Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States.
"Great Britain and the Commonwealth and the United States are the closest of friends and you and I want to keep it that way," he said.
Mr Churchill thanked the president. "It is always a great joy to me to come to the United States," he said, "where I have many and ancient connections and I look forward very much indeed to renewing the comradeship which grew up during the struggles of the war."
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