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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Friday, February 4, 2022:


HOSPITALIZATIONS DOWN: In a sign that the omicon wave may be relenting, COVID hospitalizations are trending downward. The seven-day average of patients with confirmed or suspected cases was 134,000 on Wednesday, according to government data, which is down 16 percent from a record high on January 20. At the same, deaths are rising as they lag behind other indicators. Yet health experts remain optimistic that the wave is cresting, especially in the mid-Atlantic. WSJ

Wave. Crest. Repeat.

STAFFING HELP: Let's hope they're right because hospitals could use a break. Severe staffing shortages are pushing hospitals to hire more foreign nurses with a windfall in green cards. The U.S. usually offers at least 140,000 green cards per year to permanent workers but this year 280,000 are available. Consulate delays during the pandemic prevented the government from issuing the normal number of visas to Americans' family members so, by law, those unused visas can go to professionals. Hospitals are banking on this boost in foreign workers to provide relief to their overextended staff. AP


President Joe Biden on Thursday said that ISIS leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, is dead after a raid by U.S. special operation forces near the Turkish border in Syria. While the Islamic State group has been on the backfoot for years, U.S. officials said it's been trying for a resurgence in recent months. The raid's target Qurayshi took over as leader in 2019 after another U.S. raid killed the previous leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. CHEDDAR


Despite covid outbreaks, diplomatic boycotts, and not a small amount of geopolitical tension, the Beijing Winter Olympics is now underway. The Opening Ceremony began at 6:30 a.m. ET and on various platforms NBC will be airing the competitions live with reairs in the evening for those who aren't early-risers. (Don't forget, Beijing is 13 hours ahead of the East Coast.) Tune in for a day of alpine skiing, curling, figure skating, ice hockey, and luge. NBC

Just showing up to these Olympics should earn you a medal.


Minneapolis police have released body cam video of a police shooting Wednesday morning that left a man dead. Amir Locke was on a couch, apparently asleep under a blanket, when police executed a no-knock warrant. Locke had a gun, which his family says he had a permit for, and an officer quickly opened fire, hitting him at least three times. Locke was reportedly not the target of the warrant and it's still unclear whether he was a part of the investigation at all. STARTRIBUNE


A senior U.S. official on Thursday said they acquired intelligence about a Russian plot to use a fabricated video as a pretext for invasion. The video is supposed to portray a fake attack by the Ukrainian military against Russian-speaking people or on Russian territory. However, the official did not provide any direct evidence for the existence of the video or how they learned about it. The report comes as both the U.S. and Russia make moves escalating the crisis. NY TIMES


Chocolate-lovers are doing their part to boost the economy, but candy-conglomerate Hershey is struggling to keep up with demand. Despite the company hitting record production levels and adding four new manufacturing lines in 2021, the company said it's still playing "catch-up" and prices will be going up. Demand for chocolate shot up during the pandemic, as more consumers celebrated the holidays at home, and now the trend is proving stickier than expected. BLOOMBERG

We’re not gorging ourselves, we’re supporting the economy.


Shares of Facebook parent company Meta dropped a historic 26.4% on Thursday after a disappointing fourth quarter earnings report sowed doubt among investors about the future of the social media giant's business model. The brutal sell-off helped end a four-day winning streak on Wall Street and wiped out more than $230 billion in market value, the worst single-day loss for a U.S. company in history. All the major indices were down on the news, a testament to Meta's vast valuation and outsized influence on the rest of the stock market. AP

This is just a glitch in the matrix.


Tempering the drop in tech stocks on Thursday was a revenue beat for Amazon. The e-commerce giant reported a 9% jump in revenue and a $12 billion gain from its investment in electric vehicle company Rivian, pushing up its share price. While investors rejoiced, however, Amazon Prime users had less to celebrate. The company announced that it's raising the price of its popular membership program, which affords quicker delivery times and access to Amazon Prime Video, from $119 per year to $139 per year. CNBC


…Director Spike Lee is on board to direct a multi-part series on one of the more controversial figures in sports, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Lee, who is no stranger to controversy himself, said he plans to use "a vast never-before-seen archive" to tell Kaepernick's story. THE HILL

…ESPN is set to make history with its first-ever all-woman crew, which will be covering the Golden State Warriors-Utah Jazz game next Wednesday. Beth Mowins, who was the first woman to call a Monday Night Football game for ESPN, will also be involved. ESPN


Attention New Yorkers: If you happen across a giant cube of 24-karat gold in the middle of Central Park, don't try to steal it. It's a sculpture from German artist Niclas Castello, and it's flanked at all times by heavy security detail. It also weighs 410 pounds. The cube is not for sale, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the artist is launching an NFT and an accompanying cryptocurrency called Castello Coin, which will sell for an initial price of $.44 cents. ARTNET


One thing we love: The Winter Olympics with all of those grown adults living their best lives sliding around on snow and ice.

One thing we hate: Coming in from the snow in wet boots that leave a puddle of dirty water on the floor.

One thing we ate: Homemade apple crumb cake with whipped cream (or ice cream, if you prefer)
Need2Know Podcast Note: The Need2Know podcast is taking a break for now. We're looking forward to bringing you more context and analysis on the big stories of the day in a few weeks. In the meantime, check out our archive on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!

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Too busy with Wordle this week to watch the news? Don't worry, we have you covered.
The Weekend Wrap recaps all the big stories you might have missed and gives a glimpse into what we'll be tracking next week. Watch a new episode every Friday at 7 pm ET with encores throughout the weekend!