Nightmare on I-95

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  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    46th and current president of the United States

Snow and ice blanketed a 50-mile stretch of I-95, leaving hundreds of drivers stuck on the highway overnight. President Joe Biden urged vaccines for Americans as COVID-19 surges again. And it's the end of an era for BlackBerry devices.

👋 Laura here, with all the news you need to know on this chilly Tuesday.

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Traffic stranded overnight on icy, snowy highway

A nightmare scenario unfolded on Interstate 95 in Virginia overnight after a winter storm pounded the mid-Atlantic and dumped more than a foot of snow in some places. On a roughly 50-mile stretch of I-95 near Fredericksburg, drivers were stuck in their cars overnight while ice blanketed the freeway. On social media, people shared their experiences waiting out the jam as they sat for hours without moving. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said Tuesday morning that he remained in the standstill for 19 hours on his way to Washington. Others said drivers got out of their cars and were worried about food. The storm blanketed parts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Kentucky, leaving more than 300,000 without power in Virginia and Maryland and causing at least five deaths across three states.

Drivers wait for the traffic to be cleared as cars and trucks are stranded on sections of Interstate 95 Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022, in Carmel Church, Va. Close to 48 miles of the Interstate was closed due to ice and snow.
Drivers wait for the traffic to be cleared as cars and trucks are stranded on sections of Interstate 95 Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022, in Carmel Church, Va. Close to 48 miles of the Interstate was closed due to ice and snow.

Biden: 'We have the tools' to fight COVID. Use them.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday sought to reassure the public that the federal government is prepared to address the growing COVID-19 health crisis amid a staggering increase in infections driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. Addressing the country before a meeting with the White House COVID-19 response team, Biden once again exhorted Americans to get vaccinated and boosted and to wear masks in public to avoid spreading and catching the coronavirus. "We have the tools to protect people from severe illness due to omicron – if people choose to use the tools," Biden said. "There’s a lot of reason to be hopeful in (2022), but for God’s sake, please take advantage of what’s available."

President Joe Biden speaks as he meets with the White House COVID-19 Response Team on the latest developments related to the Omicron variant in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Campus in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks as he meets with the White House COVID-19 Response Team on the latest developments related to the Omicron variant in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Campus in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

What everyone's talking about

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COVID-19 cases, test shortages are closing schools across the country

A majority of schools opened in-person Monday for their spring semester start, but a growing number have shifted abruptly to remote learning again amid the omicron-fueled surge in COVID-19 infections and subsequent staffing shortages. Public sentiment is on the side of in-person learning, and parent groups nationwide called Monday for schools to stay open. But districts in and around Detroit, Atlanta, Newark, New Jersey and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well as individual schools elsewhere, nonetheless reverted to virtual learning for days or weeks, mostly because of staff shortages due to illness or quarantine.

Harwich Elementary School nurse Holly Tavano helps her daughter, Linnea, 10, with a coronavirus test Dec. 6. Students at the school in Massachusetts have access to testing that lets them stay in school if they've had a COVID-19 exposure. In-person school could be in jeopardy across the nation as the omicron variant arrives.
Harwich Elementary School nurse Holly Tavano helps her daughter, Linnea, 10, with a coronavirus test Dec. 6. Students at the school in Massachusetts have access to testing that lets them stay in school if they've had a COVID-19 exposure. In-person school could be in jeopardy across the nation as the omicron variant arrives.

Bye bye, BlackBerry.

Are you still holding on to that BlackBerry for dear life? First of all, why? And second, it's time to say goodbye for good. As of Tuesday, legacy services for BlackBerry devices will go away. That means any devices running BlackBerry software "will no longer reliably function, including for data, phone calls, SMS and 9-1-1 functionality," the company said. BlackBerry ushered in the era of smartphones, positioning itself as the dominant player in the industry in the 2000s. But with the rise of Apple's iPhone and Google Android devices starting in 2008, BlackBerry devices fell out of favor with consumers and businesses. In 2016, BlackBerry announced it would no longer manufacture BlackBerry devices. In 2020, the company revealed it also planned to shut down legacy services tied to BlackBerry devices.

Real quick

Dude, where's my package?

Missing any books from Amazon? Could be in Oklahoma City. Officials found almost 600 Amazon packages dumped in Oklahoma City on New Year's Eve that were supposed to be delivered by Christmas. The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office said the packages were found in a rural part of town and that someone took the items they wanted and discarded the rest. "Apparently the thief isn't much of a reader...the books that were being delivered were left behind," the OCSO wrote. Tracking numbers showed the packages left from the Amazon facility to go to USPS for delivery but never arrived.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office is investigating after almost 600 Amazon packages were found dumped in Oklahoma City on New Year's Eve.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office is investigating after almost 600 Amazon packages were found dumped in Oklahoma City on New Year's Eve.

A break from the news

We asked, you answered! ❄️ As snow fell around the country, we asked for your pics. Emily Brown and Sue Lyons sent these snowy scenes in from Washington D.C., and Centreville, Virginia.

Nearly a year after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, Washingtonians enjoy sledding down the hills that were fenced off for months in 2021.
Nearly a year after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, Washingtonians enjoy sledding down the hills that were fenced off for months in 2021.

Washingtonians spent time Monday evening sledding under the glow of the U.S. Capitol.

Snow covers a yard in Centreville, Virginia on Jan. 3, 2022.
Snow covers a yard in Centreville, Virginia on Jan. 3, 2022.

And in Centreville, snow blanked yards and cars alike. Hope you're staying warm out there!

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: I-95 traffic stuck on the highway, COVID-19 cases closing schools, BlackBerry devices. It's Tuesday's news.

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