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The U.S. has surpassed another somber milestone that was once unthinkable: 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, a threshold reached faster than any other country in the world.
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A half-million deaths
The United States reached another "heartbreaking" COVID-19 marker on Monday: 500,000 deaths, more than double any other country. Nearly a year after the coronavirus was declared a worldwide pandemic, Americans have largely grown numb to the mounting death toll. We should not. Each American who succumbs to COVID-19 leaves an average of nine close family members in mourning. The nation's 500,000 deaths put 4.5 million spouses, children, parents, siblings and grandparents in pain, confusion and loss. One family's anguished goodbye to their "rock" captured America's grief amid COVID-19. This video is heartbreaking, but a must-watch.
Experts warn: Now is the time to prepare for the next pandemic.
'He shouldn't be dead': A year after a father's COVID-19 death, a family confronts their loss.
Many Texans are still without water and power
Although temperatures warmed up across storm-battered Texas on Monday, millions still struggled with water shortages, boil-water advisories and flooding damage from burst pipes, and about 18,000 customers remained without power. As of Monday morning, more than 1,200 public water systems were reporting disruptions in service, many of them leading to boil-water notices, the Texas Council on Environmental Quality said.
Short List reader Mark Kazdol, who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, has been without running water since last Tuesday when the freeze took hold and caused a pipe to burst underground. "We are managing as best as possible right now," Kazdol says. Thankfully, he's no longer in the dark. After four days without power, his electricity was restored three days ago.
Texas politicians saw electricity deregulation as a better future. Years later, millions lost power.
The family of an 11-year-old boy who died last week amid historic freezing temperatures in Texas is suing two power companies.
What everyone’s talking about
'It's life and death': Non-English speakers are struggling to get COVID-19 vaccines across the U.S.
'Jeopardy!' exclusive: Ken Jennings signs off (for now), so who's next? And how soon will the show replace Alex Trebek?
Daft Punk, the Grammy-winning electronic music duo, has broken up after 28 years.
Ford F-150 goes viral after providing generator power to Texas home during blackout.
United Airlines engine failure on Boeing 777 flight from Colorado: What travelers need to know.
NYC is one step closer to seeing Trump's taxes
The Supreme Court has cleared the way for New York City prosecutors to feast their eyes on Donald Trump's taxes — a brutal defeat for the former president. The SCOTUS on Monday refused to intercede in a long-running legal fight between Trump and the Manhattan district attorney, paving the way for prosecutors who are investigating Trump and his company to enforce a grand jury subpoena for his tax records. Trump has dismissed the investigation as a political "witch hunt" and has fought all the way to the high court to keep his tax returns under wraps. Does that mean you’ll get to see his taxes, too? Because of the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, the development doesn't mean Trump's financial records will become public.
The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the adult movie actress Stormy Daniels who sued Trump for defamation.
Merrick Garland calls Capitol riot investigation 'first priority'
President Joe Biden's nominee to head the Justice Department as attorney general, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland, was in the hot seat Monday at his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Garland called for a restoration of Justice Department "norms" as guardrails against the influence of partisan politics that have threatened the agency's independence from the White House.
Here are a few takeaways from the hearing:
Garland called the treatment of alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein “horrendous,” but said he couldn’t comment on why the Justice Department acted the way it did.
He swore to pursue equal justice for marginalized communities of color while leading a battle against extremism.
Garland vowed to fiercely guard the Justice Department from political interference and cast the far-reaching investigation into the deadly Capitol assault as his “first priority” as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
Lawmakers vote to repeal death penalty in Virginia, historically a hot spot for capital punishment.
U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico will remain shut until March 21, marking a full year of closures.
Alleged Oath Keepers member says she met with Secret Service before the Capitol riot.
'Our ancestors' dreams come true': Deb Haaland could become the nation's most powerful Native American leader.
Congratulations are in order for new parents Wilmer Valderrama and Amanda Pacheco.
Where does the $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill go from here?
Congress is getting back to business this week on Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which Democrats are eager to pass even without Republican help. The first obstacle was cleared Monday when the House Budget Committee endorsed the relief package. But Congress is up against a clear deadline. In a few weeks, aid for millions of people still struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic will run dry. So where does the latest COVID-19 relief bill go from here? Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes dive in:
When could the COVID-19 bill pass? Democrats aim to pass the whole stimulus package by mid-March, when a federal boost to unemployment benefits expires. But it will first face several hurdles.
What's in the current COVID-19 relief bill? The draft of the legislation contains $1,400 checks for Americans earning $75,000 or less, an extension of a $400-a-week boost to federal unemployment benefits, funding for vaccine distribution and more.
What are the major hurdles and disagreements? Republican senators oppose many of the provisions in the legislation, such as the billions in aid for state and local governments. Intraparty disputes have also emerged among Democrats over the inclusion of a federal minimum wage increase.
A break from the news
🍸Margarita, anyone? It's 5 o'clock somewhere. Time to kick off National Margarita Day!
💰 Have any questions about taxes? USA TODAY is working to find answers.
📗 A look inside the Green Book, which guided Black travelers through a segregated and hostile America.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 deaths, Texas, Trump taxes, Merrick Garland: Monday's news