We can stop the fourth wave

Alex Connor, USA TODAY
·5 min read

An über-contagious fourth wave of coronavirus is looming. The week's deadly cold snap shows no sign of letting up. And anyone else feel jealous that NASA's Perseverance gets to just up and leave Earth?

It's Alex, officially fed up with Mother Nature. Shall we talk news?

But first, what would you do for a COVID-19 vaccine? This 90-year-old Seattle woman walked 6 miles through the snow.

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Not a wave we're interested in riding

COVID-19 isn't done with us. Though infection and hospitalization rates are falling nationwide, public health experts dread the possibility of a fourth wave. More contagious variants of the virus have all arrived in the USA, and one first identified in the United Kingdom is likely to be dominant here by the end of next month. "It's like we're trying our best to help the virus rather than stopping it," said Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist and research associate professor at Rockefeller University. The two available vaccines appear to be effective against these variants, Hatziioannou said. However, the variants are likely to make targeted drugs such as monoclonal antibodies less effective. Now is the time, experts said, to double-down on precautions and finally bring the virus under control.

A man is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at La Colaborativa in Chelsea, Massachusetts on February 16, 2021.
A man is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at La Colaborativa in Chelsea, Massachusetts on February 16, 2021.

The weather outside really is frightful

An unrelenting winter weather pattern showed no signs of letting up Tuesday as it left a trail of destruction, outages and subzero temperatures across dozens of states. At least 15 people have died as a result of a series of storms that moved from coast to coast this weekend, including three killed in a tornado that tore through a seaside North Carolina town. In Texas, millions of people remain without power. Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that the state's National Guard had been deployed to conduct welfare checks and help bring people to one of the 135 warming centers. And it's not over yet: Another winter storm with snow and ice is forecast to pummel the South and Midwest on Wednesday.

  • Why is it so cold? How the polar vortex brings record low temperatures and winter storms.

  • How often should I start my car and let it idle in cold weather? Answer: Don't.

What everyone’s talking about

Amy Cooper won't face charges for incendiary 911 call

Charges were dismissed Tuesday against Amy Cooper, the white woman who called police on a Black bird-watcher in Central Park last May. Prosecutors said she completed a psycho-education and therapy program focused on racial equity. Cooper faced a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting an incident to police after prosecutors said she twice called 911 claiming that Christian Cooper threatened and tried to attack her. Prosecutors announced in July that they were pursuing charges in the Cooper case.

Real quick

T-minus 48(ish) hours to Mars

Despite having bridged a gap of nearly 300 million miles between Earth and Mars since its launch in July, NASA’s Perseverance rover still has seven perilous moments ahead. Thursday, the car-size rover and its descent equipment will kick off an autonomous series of operations designed to slow the approach from 12,100 mph to just 1.7 mph. The fiery, seven-minute atmospheric entry and touchdown is handled entirely by Perseverance's suite of onboard technologies. And get this: Jezero Crater, the site selected for its scientific potential, is easily the most dangerous site NASA has ever tried to land a rover. The payoff – potentially gleaning answers about the origins of life itself – is worth it.

The Mars Perseverance rover is set to land after a 204-day journey.
The Mars Perseverance rover is set to land after a 204-day journey.

A break from the news but not tax season

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19, deadly winter storm, Joe Biden, Amy Cooper: It's Tuesday's news