Biden unveils $1.9T plan to stem pandemic and steady economy; World nears 2M dead; Amazon city in Brazil scrambles to provide oxygen to COVID-19 patients



Media  – President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to Americans struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged and devastating economic fallout.


Biden said he hopes his multipronged strategy will put the country on the path to recovery by the end of his administration’s first 100 days, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Bill Barrow report.


The plan includes $1,400 checks for individuals, on top of $600 provided in the last COVID-19 bill. There’s also money for a mass vaccination campaign and a major expansion of local public health efforts.


The rapid expansion of vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots.


The vaccines have been rolled out unevenly across the U.S., but some states in the Deep South have had particularly dismal inoculation rates.


Vaccines to stimulus checks: Here’s what’s in Biden plan. 


Global Deaths: The world is approaching the unfathomable and bleak milestone of 2 million dead from the coronavirus. Follow all that coverage here in the coming hours.


Brazil Oxygen: Hospital staffers and relatives of COVID-19 patients are rushing to provide facilities with oxygen cylinders just flown into the Amazon rainforest’s biggest city as doctors choose which patients will get to breathe amid dwindling stocks and an effort to airlift some of them out. The shortage of oxygen in Manaus is such that the local government’s provider is considering diversion some of the supply from neighboring Venezuela. Brazil’s government says a second plane with medical supplies including oxygen will arrive today, and more later, Mauricio Savarese and David Biller report.


Europe Lockdowns: Most of Europe kicked off 2021 with earlier curfews or stay-at-home orders amid sharp spikes in infections increasingly blamed on the more contagious variant first detected in the U.K. But authorities in Spain say the variant causing havoc elsewhere is not to blame for its sharp resurgence of cases and that the country can avoid a full lockdown even as its hospitals fill up. The government has been tirelessly fending off drastic home confinement like the one that paralyzed the economy for nearly three months in the spring of 2020, Aritz Parra reports from Madrid.


China Outbreak: A city in northern China is building a 3,000-unit quarantine facility to deal with an anticipated overflow of patients as COVID-19 cases rise ahead of the Lunar New Year travel rush. State media showed crews leveling earth, pouring concrete and assembling pre-fabricated rooms in farmland outside Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province that has seen the bulk of new cases. It evoked scenes from last year, when China rapidly built field hospitals and turned gymnasiums into isolation centers to cope with the initial outbreak in Wuhan.

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