Robinhood, Biden to visit Walter Reed, COVID-19 vaccine: 5 things to know Friday

·5 min read

Robinhood to remove block from investors buying GameStop, AMC

Robinhood, a popular stock trading platform among amateur investors, blocked its users from buying shares in GameStop, AMC Entertainment and several other companies Thursday following sudden and sharp increases in value. They were only permitted to sell. After the market closed for trading Thursday, the company announced that "we plan to allow limited buys of these securities" beginning Friday but it will "continue to monitor the situation." The move to block buyers drew swift condemnation from some previously vocal advocates, including investors seeking to capitalize on a massive wave of interest in struggling companies whose stocks had been shorted by sophisticated investors. Several stocks – most notably GameStop and AMC – have enjoyed huge upswings in value in recent days as retail investors rallied on message board platform Reddit to drive up the stocks' price to hurt Wall Street investors who had bet against the shares.

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After another day filled with executive orders, Biden to visit wounded service members

President Joe Biden will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland Friday to visit with wounded service members, the White House said Thursday. This will be Biden's first visit to Walter Reed as president. It will come after a busy first week-plus in office that saw him sign over three dozen executive orders, bringing scrutiny from critics, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. On Thursday, Biden signed an executive order for the Department of Health and Human Services to reopen insurance enrollment on from Feb. 15 through May 15. He also revoked what's known as the "global gag rule," which blocks foreign assistance to groups that include abortion services or information in their family planning programs.

Amid dispute, AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine expected to get EU clearance

The European Medicines Agency is expected on Friday to authorize use of the COVID-19 vaccine that British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca developed with Oxford University. It would be the third cleared for use in the European Union, joining the United States in approving the BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. However, officials in Brussels have fought with AstraZeneca after the pharmaceutical company said it would deliver smaller than expected supplies to EU member nations. The bloc's executive commission asked Belgian authorities to inspect a factory in Belgium that is part of AstraZeneca's production chain. The development comes after Novavax, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology firm, released interim results from two clinical trials that show its candidate vaccine appears to be safe and roughly 90% effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. It also protects against at least a few of the variants that have arisen in recent months.

Winter storm continuing across West Coast, Northeast

After "historic" snowfall earlier this week, parts of the country from the West Coast to the Northeast will see snowfall again, which could last until the middle of next week. The winter storm that arrived in California will continue until Friday, bringing unusual snowfall in mountainous areas of the state. Up to 10 feet of snow is expected in the Sierra Nevada region, reported the National Weather Service, which has issued a high-risk avalanche warning in the area. This week saw unusually high snowfall in several regions, especially the Midwest, which will be hit once again with the upcoming storm.

New Samsung Galaxy phones are available

Samsung’s new line of premium Galaxy S21 smartphones arrives Friday with advanced features aimed at securing the devices' position as desirable alternatives to Apple's iPhone 12. Samsung was able to bring the Galaxy S21 lineup's launch prices down in part because of the tech giant's early investments in 5G, display and camera technologies, which have led to efficiencies in production, says Samsung official Drew Blackard. Click here for a full breakdown of the basic features and prices for the new phones.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Robinhood to lift block, Biden to visit Walter Reed: 5 things to know Friday