Lately, it feels like there is so much going on: in the world, in the news, in our lives. Keeping up with current events was hard enough already, and now we’ve got a lot of information getting thrown at us at all times. Use this breakdown of some current topics to get the basic understanding and what you need to know about what happened over Spring Break.
President Biden’s address
Biden held an address on March 11, the anniversary of the U.S.’s COVID-19 response. He urged Americans to wear a mask and work together to protect each other.
He also spoke about hate crimes against Asian-Americans, labelling all of it un-American.
Biden directed all states to make all adults eligible to be vaccinated by May 1. There are now enough vaccine doses to cover all eligible American adults.
He also announced that a new website and other tools for getting vaccinated and making appointments will be available on May 1.
“We need everyone to get vaccinated,” Biden said. “We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced and keep wearing the masks as recommended by the CDC.”
CRRSSAA/HEERF II (and what those even mean)
Last year, certain higher education students nationwide received aid from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
This year, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act 2021 (CRRSSAA) authorized the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II), signed Dec. 27, 2020.
HEERF II includes $81.88 billion for education support.
Specific grant funds are allocated to proprietary institutions that must be used for student financial aid grants entirely. However, CRRSSAA requires that institutions also prioritize students with exceptional need first for those grants, unlike CARES.
Grant funds are meant to be used for unexpected costs relating to COVID-19. This can include tuition, rent, groceries, child care, transportation and more.
Students who receive this funding do not have to pay any of it back.
EWU students can check EagleNET Financial Aid to see the amount they were allocated.
AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.S.
So far, the U.S. has approved the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Several other countries have approved the AstraZeneca vaccine. Before the U.S. could, the FDA requested results from a large-scale trial.
The vaccine was deemed 79% effective on March 22, after three phases of trials. It was then revealed the data for that number was outdated and/or incomplete. The company updated the analysis to 76% effective, but 85% effective in those 65+.
The full trial analysis is being checked by the FDA before approval can occur.
Halfway to touching?
The CDC released an update on March 19 regarding the K-12 operational strategy.
Crediting latest science, the CDC is now recommending universal masking paired with three feet of distance, rather than the previous six.
In elementary schools, only three feet of distance must be maintained in any classroom.
In middle and high schools, only three feet of distance must be maintained in areas with low, moderate or substantial transmission. In areas with high transmission, that distance remains six feet.
The CDC still recommends cohorting when possible, which is when a group of students only has exposure to the same group of students and staff.
Six feet of distance should still be maintained: by adults, in common areas, when eating/without masks, during activities with increased exhalation and in community areas outside of classrooms.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan on Oprah
Prince Harry and his wife Duchess Meghan have been making headlines for the British royal family for years now. They stepped back from their senior roles in Jan. 2020.
In an interview with Oprah, Meghan discussed how the treatment she’s received in the palace has impacted her mental health, as well as the severity and dangerousness of the situation.
They discussed their environment throughout their relationship, particularly within the palace. Meghan, who is biracial, has been subject to subtle and overt racism for years.
Both Harry and Meghan saw declines in their mental health, but the environment only grew more toxic.
Meghan was also subject to attacks from tabloids and false narratives being pushed. Neither the royal family or other palace officials corrected that narrative; often they tried to prove it further.
Part of the conflict arose from conversations during Meghan’s recent pregnancy. Officials –not including the Queen or Prince Philip– at the palace were concerned about the child’s skin tone.
Their baby, Archie, was prevented from having a royal title, and therefore cannot receive royal security.
The family has moved to the United States where Harry and Meghan plan to continue similar work. Meghan and Archie have not received protection or money from the royal family, and Harry has since been cut off.
Suez Canal crisis
The Suez Canal is a 120-mile man-made waterway in Egypt, built in the mid-1800s. The canal divides Africa and Asia, while connecting the Mediterannean Sea to the Red Sea.
The canal is used primarily by commercial vessels, and is one of the most used shipping lanes.
The 1,300-foot long container ship, the Ever Given, was travelling from China to Europe when it came through the Suez Canal on March 23. But it would unintentionally remain there for six days.
Due to reasons still unknown, the Ever Given became lodged in the canal at an angle, touching the wall on both ends. There is no record of this ever happening in the Suez Canal before.
It took a mixture of efforts, including tugboats pushing and pulling and excavation, and six days to dislodge the Ever Given. Nearly 400 cargo ships would be delayed in that time.
While the traffic is estimated to return to normal within a few days, experts warn the effects this could have on trade and international economies is unknown.