COVID-19 has now killed as many as Spanish Flu, thousands of Haitian migrants at Texas border

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On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: President Joe Biden will tackle climate, COVID-19 and US alliances at annual UN meeting. Plus, thousands of Haitian migrants are still at the Texas border as the U.S. and Mexico send many back to Haiti, COVID-19 has now killed as many Americans as Spanish Flu, the latest tropical storms form in the Atlantic and a new book looks at the final days of the Trump presidency.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I'm Taylor Wilson, and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 21st of September 2021. Today a look at the issues President Joe Biden plans to address at the UN General Assembly, plus the latest from the migrant situation at the Texas border, and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. Justin Trudeau will remain Prime Minister of Canada. His Liberal Party won in yesterday's parliamentary elections, but they appear to have fallen short of a majority, meaning they'll likely have to rely on help from the other parties to pass legislation.

  2. An autopsy is set for today of the body that's thought to be Gabby Petito. The 22-year-old went missing after she and her fiance, Brian Laundrie went on a cross-country road trip. Laundrie himself disappeared last week.

  3. And the man who inspired the film, Hotel Rwanda, for saving hundreds of people in the East African country from genocide has been convicted of terrorism. Paul Rusesabagina was sentenced to 25 years in prison at a trial that human rights watchdogs have described as an act of retaliation.

Taylor Wilson:

President Joe Biden will face a number of issues at the United Nations annual summit in New York City when he speaks today. The 76th General Assembly meeting comes after weeks of international incidents, including some with the White House smack in the middle. One of them is the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and an admission from the Pentagon last week, that the United States killed 10 civilians, including children in a drone strike during the final days of the war in Afghanistan.

Taylor Wilson:

There are also tensions after a new US-UK-Australia Alliance canceled out a previous deal between France and Australia. In an angry response, France recalled its ambassadors from both the US and Australia. That trend continues to dominate political discourse in all those countries. And White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki said yesterday that Biden will hold a call with French President Emmanuel Macron this week.

Jen Psaki :

The president will have a call, we're still working on the scheduling of it, with President Macron in the coming days. And what I expect the president will do on that call is reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a range of challenges that the global community is facing.

Taylor Wilson:

The summit took place virtually last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the virus continues to cast a shadow over the entire event. In particular, wealthier nations will be asked to answer for booster vaccine programs while many poorer countries still have not even given a first dose to the vast majority of their populations.

Taylor Wilson:

President Joe Biden is also expected to outline his vision for the US global role on other issues like China, counter terrorism and crucially, climate change. On Friday, Biden met with a handful of global leaders to talk about climate issues. His priority: action now.

President Joe Biden:

We're at an inflection point and that there's a real consensus, a real consensus that while the climate crisis poses an existential threat, there is a silver lining. The climate crisis also presents real and incredible economic opportunities to create jobs and lift up the standard of living for people around the world. Those that have not yet done so, time is running out.

Taylor Wilson:

Biden earlier this year, rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, and is expected to outline more climate action this week. We'll have all the latest from the UN meetings on usatoday.com.

Taylor Wilson:

Thousands of Haitian migrants remain in the Texas border city of Del Rio today, but their options are shrinking. The US will send some of them on up to six flights back to Haiti today after initial flights earlier this week. And Mexico has begun busing some migrants away from the Mexican side of the border. US officials said yesterday that more than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants had been removed from an encampment that popped up on the Rio Grande in recent weeks. And there were at least 14,000 people there at one point, but there were disturbing videos yesterday of US border agents using horses and what appeared to be whips to push back migrants at the river. Some US agents yelled nasty remarks with one video from Al Jazeera, showing an officer yell, "This is why your country's expletive, because you use your women for this."

Taylor Wilson:

That was on the US side of the river, but Mexican authorities have also been detaining some Haitians on the other side, and plan to bus them to major cities where they will also send flights back to Haiti. Meanwhile, officials from Mexico's National Human Rights Campaign have been walking with migrants, signing people up if they're interested in applying for asylum in Mexico, something 19,000 Haitians have done this year. For the US part, this may end up being one of the quickest large-scale expulsions of migrants in decades. It was made possible by a pandemic-related authority, by then President Donald Trump, that allows migrants to be immediately removed from the country without an opportunity to seek asylum. President Joe Biden did exempt unaccompanied children from that rule.

Taylor Wilson:

And not all Haitians are expected to be expelled on flights this week. Some may have a chance to seek asylum and families left behind would likely be released into the US. So many Haitian migrants around the world are desperately seeking security and economic opportunities after their country was ravaged by an earthquake, political chaos after President Jovenel Moise's assassination this summer and corruption. McKenso Vayar told the AP about what he hopes for in the United States.

McKenso Vayar:

A younger person like me cannot realize my dream out of Haiti. But that's the reason why, of course, 10 country working with my wife. My wife, she's pregnant. My dream is to live a better life without problems, to grow up my baby without problems. Because my country, there are enough problems.

Taylor Wilson:

COVID-19 has now killed as many Americans as the 1918/1919 Spanish flu, about 675,000 people. Though the US population is about three times larger now, so deaths make up a smaller percentage. Still, it's the latest reminder that COVID-19 continues to surge nationwide. And with more than a week remaining in September, the month already has more COVID deaths than all of August. It's on track to be the deadliest US COVID month since February. The rise in deaths comes as the CDC released a report that 99.4% of all COVID-19 cases in the country are now from the highly contagious Delta variant.

Taylor Wilson:

Children are also increasingly getting infected. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 30% of nationwide infections in the week ending September 9th were among children. Anyone under 12 is still not eligible for a vaccine, but there is some promising news this week. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective for kids aged five to 11, and at just one third, the dose used in adolescents and adults. Pfizer Senior Vice President, Dr. Bill Gruber.

Dr. Bill Gruber:

We measured the ability of antibody from the children that were vaccinated to kill the virus and how well that matched up antibody from 16 to 25 year olds. And it matched very closely. Having matched that antibody response, we're likely to match the protection. We had more people volunteering quickly than we could accommodate in the trial. So there's pent-up demand for parents to be able to have their children return to a normal life, to reduce the risk of their child getting sick, as well as transmitting to the family.

Taylor Wilson:

Next is the question of how long until possible approval. Patient safety reporter, Karen Weintraub has more.

Karen Weintraub:

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears to be safe and effective in children five to 11. Pfizer says that they're going to file their application by the end of this month. And then FDA has to review it. That could take three weeks, could be six weeks. They've been moving these things along very quickly and they know the urgency for this, but the exact timeline, we just don't know. Moderna will be next. J&J seems a little bit further behind. The dose is one third of the dose that we would normally give to adults and older teens. And it's two shots given three weeks apart. The side effects are the same as seen with 16 to 25 year olds. That's the group they compared it to. And so it's things like fever, headaches, muscle aches, just feeling cruddy or flu-like for a day or two. They should pass very quickly.

Karen Weintraub:

One of the things that's not clear in the teenagers, we're seeing some rare instances, but occasionally myocarditis, which is a swelling around the heart. Most of those clear up pretty quickly, seemingly without permanent damage. It's not clear whether that will be a factor among the younger kids, because it's so rare. Traditionally medicines are tested first in adults to make sure they're safe before they're given to children. So, that's part of it.

Karen Weintraub:

The other issue is with this virus, when it first hit in January of last year in China, it was believed to primarily affect adults, which is true. Adults do have worse outcomes generally than children. And so the urgency wasn't there from the beginning to test children. The Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants. And so, we believe more kids are getting sick now because of that.

Taylor Wilson:

For all the latest, stay with the live COVID-19 updates page on usatoday.com.

Taylor Wilson:

Hurricane season is not done yet. Tropical storms, Peter and Rose formed over the weekend. Rose is not currently expected to threaten any land areas, but Peter, which formed on Sunday is expected to bring heavy rains to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other parts of the Caribbean starting today. AccuWeather Meteorologist, Bernie Rayno has the latest.

Bernie Rayno:

We have twin tropical storms, Peter and Rose. And then we also have a pretty vigorous tropical wave. Now this wave's a little farther south than what Peter and Rose were. Now, Peter is going to be weakening as it moves around that upper low and eventually should stay south of Bermuda. Although, there could be some impacts for Bermuda from Peter later on this week, but certainly no impacts on the United States. This is Rose Tropical Storm. It continues to move north and west. This is going to be getting into some cooler waters. So right now we're not worried about this system, having any impact on the United States.

Bernie Rayno:

Now this tropical wave that's coming off Africa is pretty vigorous. And this is a lot farther south than what Peter and Rose was. So, we'll watch this. It'll approach the islands in about a week to 10 days, but as I look even farther down the road for the United States, what do I see? Dips in the jet stream or troughs. Now, it's a little early to say this won't have any impact on the United States, but I certainly don't think the odds are high.

Taylor Wilson:

For more, head to the weather section at usatoday.com/news.

Taylor Wilson:

A new book is looking into former President Donald Trump's final days in office. The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa recounted the transition from Trump to President Joe Biden in a new book called Peril, which is on stands today. The book is based off more than 200 interviews and eyewitness accounts, and it alleges that in the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection, Trump's top military advisor, General Mark Milley took precautions to limit Trump's ability to launch a military strike or deploy nuclear weapons. The book has plenty of classified material ranging from secret orders to diaries and meeting notes.

Taylor Wilson:

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us wherever you're listening right now, seven days a week. And if you have a chance, please drop us a rating and review. Thanks as always to Shannon Green and Claire Thornton for their great work on the show. I'll be back tomorrow with another edition of 5 Things, part of the USA Today Network.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 deaths hits Spanish Flu death count, Joe Biden at UN: 5 Things podcast

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