Headlines for February 4, 2021

A congressional watchdog is blasting the former Trump administration over its disastrous handling of the pandemic, with auditors saying they were left “deeply troubled” by their review of the federal government’s failures. In a 346-page report, the General Accounting Office says 90% of its recommendations remained unimplemented just before Trump left office.

The report came as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 passed 450,000, with over 3,900 deaths reported on Wednesday alone. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday people should get vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent new coronavirus variants from causing a fresh surge in cases.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky: “Although we have seen declines in cases and admissions and a recent slowing of deaths, cases remain extraordinarily high, still twice as high as the peak number of cases over the summer. And the continued proliferation of variants, variants that likely have increased transmissibility, that spread more easily, threatens to reverse these recent trends.”

CDC Director Walensky also said the vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools. It’s a position that’s drawn fire from teachers’ unions nationwide.

On Wednesday, Baltimore City schools announced a two-week delay to its plans to expand in-person learning, after students and parents joined teachers in a car caravan protest at Baltimore City Hall demanding stronger safety measures — including that all staff members be fully vaccinated.

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