Biden to hold celebratory signing event for relief bill
While President Joe Biden moved up his signing of the COVID-19 stimulus bill to Thursday, he will still hold a celebratory signing event with congressional leaders on Friday. The $1.9 trillion bill includes direct payments of up to $1,400 for individuals, billions to help schools and colleges reopen, and funding for vaccine distribution – along with many other measures aimed at helping America recover from the pandemic. The signing comes days before a federal boost to unemployment benefits was set to expire. All eyes were on Biden Thursday evening as he gave his first prime time address to the nation since taking office. He urged Americans to be unified in battling the coronavirus and to continue to take precautions against its spread while the administration works to make vaccines more widely available. He struck a hopeful tone for the country’s return to a semblance of normality while also acknowledging the loss all Americans have faced.
COVID-19: Oklahoma to lift restrictions; California nears vaccine milestone
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Thursday he will roll back his few remaining COVID-19 restrictions, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying it’s too soon for states to start undoing virus prevention measures. Stitt said he will issue a new executive order Friday to eliminate the restrictions on public gathering limits, attendance limits at indoor sporting events and a mandate that state employees working and visitors to state buildings wear masks. In California, Los Angeles County, once the epicenter of the pandemic, may soon open up indoor dining, movie theaters and gyms. The county could move to the “red tier” in California’s tier-based system as early as Monday if the state reaches its goal of administrating two million vaccine doses to residents in its disadvantaged areas — which appears likely to happen Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
‘Blockbuster blizzard’ expected to hammer Denver area
One of the biggest snowstorms in years, perhaps decades, is forecast to blast the Denver metro area with several feet of snow this coming weekend. The storm should be a long-duration event, from Friday through Sunday, that could result in snowfall totals nearing two feet in Denver and piling as high as three feet in places west of Denver, AccuWeather said. “The storm has the potential to rank among the biggest on record in Denver,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. Heavy snow will stretch north into Wyoming and Nebraska, where as much as 5 feet could fall in some spots, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue, who called the looming storm a “blockbuster blizzard.” The weather will feel “all the more shocking” because of the recent springlike weather in some places, AccuWeather said, where temperatures of 70 degrees were recorded this week.
It has been a year since Broadway shut its doors
On March 12, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned gatherings of 500 or more in the city, effectively forcing all Broadway theaters to shut their doors in the face of coronavirus concerns. The move plunged into darkness one of New York City’s most popular tourist attractions, causing turmoil in the industry. Now that the country is beginning to reopen thanks to the rapid delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines, Broadway performers are now waiting for the intermission bell to call them back to the stage. The shutdown did bring about the online show “Stars in the House,” which has raised more than $715,000 for entertainment industry assistance organization The Actors Fund.
Are the days of sharing Netflix passwords numbered?
A new effort to crack down on shared Netflix passwords has been rolled out among a select number of users — for now. The streaming giant is testing a feature in which a message pops up for viewers asking them to verify their account via a text or email sent to them. Users who can’t confirm will get a prompt to set up a new account that comes with a 30-day free trial. The feature comes as the company faces increasing competition from Disney+, HBO Max and Hulu. It’s estimated that about a third of Netflix users have shared their passwords with others.
Contributing: The Associated Press