“Map: Track the spread of the Covid-19 variants across the United States” – NBC News / Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Graphic: Wen Si and Elliott Ramos / NBC News

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Global shares rallied following a tumultuous week that saw a spike in demand for stock in companies struggling amid the pandemic. Dow futures gained 260 points, hinting at an opening gain of more than 200 points. Silver surged to over $30 an ounce as investors driven by social media attempt to squeeze the metal higher. 

Stock trading app Robinhood narrowed the number of companies with restricted trading from 50 to eight ahead of Monday’s trading session. The list includes GameStop and AMC, which saw a significant drop in business as lockdowns kept consumers home. Robinhood extended the restrictions because the central Wall Street clearinghouse mandated an increase in the app’s deposit requirements last week to ensure orderly settlements.

President Joe Biden plans to meet with 10 Republican senators Monday to discuss the group’s counteroffer on coronavirus relief. The alternate plan would cost about $600 billion, compared to Biden’s $1.9 trillion package. The group of Republican senators hopes the package can be a starting point for a bipartisan package.

As Biden pushes for more direct payments, critics call for targeting checks for lower-income households, while progressives say broad eligibility will ensure the checks get out the door quickly.

Protestors blocked access to a mass vaccination site in Los Angeles, delaying vaccinations for nearly an hour. While the protests did not impact any appointments, the sentiments highlight continued distrust of vaccines and an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of the pandemic from a considerable portion of the population.

Vaccine sites in the New York metro area are closed today as a winter storm threatens up to 16 inches of snow in the region. The delay is yet another hurdle for vaccine rollout in the city, which has seen inadequate supply, glitchy sign-up systems and confusion over eligibility requirements.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered teachers to return to their classrooms as a dispute between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union inches closer to a strike. Lightfoot vowed that the city will have to take action against any teachers that don’t report to work. Teachers that refuse to show up for in-person teaching will be kicked out of the district’s remote learning system, according to CPS CEO Janice Jackson.

New York City public schools that saw falling enrollment amid the pandemic must return a portion of their funding for every student who left. The country’s largest school system saw a 4% decline in enrollment from the previous year.

As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to defend their Super Bowl title against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one offensive lineman is staying home to fight on the coronavirus frontlines. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who lifted the Lombardi Trophy in Kansas City’s triumph last year, opted out of the 2020 season to work in a Montreal long-term-care facility. “The definition of what it means to be a hero changed because of those people,” Duvernay-Tardif said when reflecting on his healthcare colleagues’ work over the last year.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

The pandemic has employers experimenting with four-day work week – Digiday – 2/1/2021
“With staff well-being at the forefront of our minds, we have been experimenting with a more modern approach to work focusing entirely on outcomes rather than a more traditional input measurement,” COO Adam Ross explained. Awin, based in Berlin, is part of Axel Springer and United Internet and has 100 employees in the U.S. and 1,000 globally.

Should Covid vaccines be mandatory at work? – Financial Times – 1/31/2021
Making vaccines mandatory could make it hard for any cruise operator to find the hundreds of crew typically needed for a large ship. Saga’s crews will instead be quarantined for two weeks before the ship leaves port. They will only be allowed on board if they test negative and will undergo tests every three days during the cruise.

COVID-19’s Impact on Academic Research – Inside Higher Ed – 2/1/2021
Sixty-seven percent of science, technology, engineering and math research was delayed or continued due to COVID-19, according to the survey. Most institutions had some of their STEM labs open during the pandemic, but 14 percent were entirely shut down for some time. Just 18 percent of institutions were fully capable of supporting online learning.

Tampa’s Mayor vs. a Covid-Era Super Bowl – Kaiser Health News – 2/1/2021
To be sure, many people in the city are still bucking the guidance to wear masks. City and county officials continue to look for ways to motivate more compliance and the Hillsborough County commission in December said that only people who are seated and eating or drinking in indoor bars or restaurants can remove their masks.

$500 Billion in Aid to Small Businesses: How Much Did It Help? – New York times – 2/1/2021
“Had we not gotten P.P.P. in April, we would have been out of business,” Mr. Guerra said. Tiny businesses like his — those employing fewer than 10 people — account for only 10 percent of U.S. jobs, according to data from the Census Bureau. But they account for 77 percent of all businesses.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Michael Tackett @tackettdc 31 Jan “Ten Senate Republicans wrote Biden…Sunday that their smaller counterproposal will include $160 billion for vaccines, testing, treatment &personal protective equipment &will call for more targeted relief than Biden’s plan to issue $1,400 stimulus checks”

Gerry Conway Wears A Mask Because He Cares @gerryconway 31 Jan A lesson I hope was well learned:“In retrospect, in the quest to win Republican backing for both, Democrats say, they settled for too small an economic stimulus and extended talks on the health care measure for too long.”

Quint Forgey @QuintForgey 1 Feb Asked whether Democrats will be able to pass their coronavirus relief package through the budget reconciliation process, @SenTomCotton says: “I’d be very doubtful … if @BernieSanders has the votes for some of his proposals…”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi @CongressmanRaja 1 Feb It’s time.

Matthew Zeitlin @MattZeitlin 1 Feb What’s happening now with the relief bill is what a simple majority senate engenders, precisely because a party line vote is a possibility, it puts pressure on at least some in the minority to start dealing

CONTENT FACTS

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