U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. stock futures fell Friday after a strong week on Wall Street. Though there was no clear catalyst for the decline, some analysts pointed to revamped discussions of lockdown measures to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

President Joe Biden unveiled a broad plan to address the pandemic, acknowledging that it will take months for those plans to significantly change the course of the virus. Through 10 executive orders, Biden implemented new travel restrictions and expanded testing and vaccine availability, with plans to administer 100 million doses by the end of April. Biden also invoked the Defense Production Act to increase medical supplies needed to combat the virus. The success of these orders hinges on Congress passing Biden’s nearly $2 trillion relief bill, which already faces criticism from members on both sides of the aisle.

President Biden will sign two additional executive orders Friday aimed to support families and workers facing financial struggles due to the pandemic. The orders seek to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and increase benefits through school meal programs for low-income students by 15 percent, as well as increase unemployment protections for workers who refuse to return to unsafe working conditions that could expose them to the virus.

In the year since Wuhan officials first locked down the city to slow the spread of coronavirus, families of COVID-19 victims have called for the government to take responsibility for the deaths of thousands. Even as the city returned to a relative normal, those families have yet to receive an explanation, which many residents see as key to a full recovery.

China launched mass testing Friday as the country experienced its worst outbreak since March, causing concern that a new surge might disrupt Lunar New Year plans. Long lines formed in some parts of Beijing amidst several days of new cases. City officials said some rural areas saw a slide in adherence to rules, including wearing masks, social distancing and temperature checks.

The IOC President and local organizers pushed back against rumors that the already postponed Tokyo Olympics will be canceled. The IOC said it is “fully concentrated” on bringing the Olympics and Paralympic Games to Tokyo, and a local planning committee said the games have the support of the Japanese Prime Minister. Local vaccination, likely starting in late February, is key to the games’ success, but uncertainty is growing as Japan is ranked lowest in the world for vaccine confidence.

The company that makes Purell hand sanitizer is betting on its future success, confident that clean hands will remain en vogue beyond the pandemic. As hand sanitizer sales jumped 600% in 2020, Gojo Industries added a second factory and warehouse and restructured its supply chain. A decline in flu and other infections this season, likely from increased social distancing and hand washing and sanitizing, boosted Gojo’s confidence for the long term.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Why Fights Over The COVID-19 Vaccine Are Everywhere On Facebook – FiveThirtyEight – 1/22/2021
If you took one look at the Facebook group Vaccines Exposed, it seemed clear what it was all about. It was “a group opposed to deadly vaccinations,” with over 13,000 members on a platform known to harbor anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. Some of its followers’ recent posts included a video falsely claiming the COVID-19 vaccine will kill people and a post claiming children are having cancer “injected into them. #facts.”

Shaken, not deterred: the latest film delays are proof cinema is plotting a comeback – The Guardian – 1/22/2021
The movie business is a gamble at the best of times. And in the immortal words of Kenny Rogers, you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Timing is all. The stakes are rising. So are the vaccination figures. Is Covid about to throw in its hand?

Black doctors’ group takes aim at Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy – STAT – 1/22/2021
Specifically, the National Medical Association, a professional society of African American doctors, formed its own in-house FDA to vet the data when the official one seemed not to be. At first, the task force was framed as a stand-in — another instance in the long history of Black leaders stepping in where the government had failed.

Home workouts are getting expensive, as apps embrace pricey subscriptions – Washington Post – 1/22/2021
Fitness apps are taking a page out of Netflix’s handbook in the new year and building on their pandemic success to lure more people into workout subscriptions, which give access to prerecorded and live fitness classes or offer guidance and personalized training. Like a number of industries that have transitioned to heavily digital.

This ‘Touchless’ Button Could Be A Gamechanger For COVID-Proof Everyday Design – Design Taxi – 1/22/2021
People’s innate urge to press a button, especially when they’re told not to, could be driven by a curiosity about what will unfold before their eyes as a result of their own actions. Perhaps this is why many haven’t yet gotten used to the contactless solutions developed in response to COVID-19.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Axios @axios 22 Jan Communities of color tend to have fewer pharmacies per capita, putting them at a disadvantage in the coronavirus vaccination effort.

Reuters Business @ReutersBiz 22 Jan Exclusive: Walmart expands vaccinations in boost to U.S. COVID-19 program

Good Morning America @GMA 22 Jan Pace of vaccination rollout getting desperate as regions burn through its supplies. @whitjohnson reports from NYC, which is expected to run out of its allotted doses by the end of the week.

Jennifer Jacobs @JenniferJJacobs 22 Jan “And at the county level, not enough RNs and pharmacists and others trained to give shots. “It’s a failure of bureaucracy at every level despite the reflex to blame Trump,” same health official in Florida says of slowness in coronavirus vaccine distribution.

Craig Pittman @craigtimes 21 Jan Grand opening of @Publix website to sign up #coronavirus vaccine led to another day of mounting frustration for scores of #Florida seniors who couldn’t get a place in line. via @LisaHuriash

CONTENT FACTS

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