Need2Know: National Pandemic Response, Fauci Unchained & Bond Delayed, Again

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, laughs while speaking in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
January 22, 2021
Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Friday, January 22, 2021:

NATIONAL COVID RESPONSE

President Biden signed a slew of executive orders as part of a 200-page national pandemic response the new administration is instituting immediately. Masks are now required on all federal property and for interstate travel, planes and public transportation. International travelers will have to produce a negative COVID test before flying into the country. Federal agencies are now required to share virus data. A “health equity task force” is being created to address the disproportionate impact on minority communities. Biden said he expects the country to hit 500,000 deaths next month and that it will take months to turn things around. READ MORE

FAUCI RETURNS

Dr. Fauci returned to the White House briefing room, saying he felt liberated to be able to speak freely about the pandemic without being undercut by the administration. The nation’s top infectious disease expert said the current situation is “historic, in a very bad sense.” The good news, he said, is that vaccines appear to be effective, if slightly less so, against the new variants of the virus. If the U.S. can get 70 to 85 percent of people vaccinated by the middle to end of the summer, Fauci said he’s confident the country will approach “a degree of normality” by autumn. POLITICO

VACCINE PLANT FIRE

A fire at the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer in India has killed five people. The blaze broke out at a building that was under construction to increase coronavirus vaccine production, part of the Serum Institute of India. The institute says the fire will not slow down its ability to manufacture those vaccines. India is known as the “world’s pharmacy” for its ability to produce cheap, generic medicines at scale that go mostly to developing countries. AP

ANTIFA ARRESTS

Police in Seattle and Portland have arrested more than a dozen Antifa and anti-government protesters for various acts of vandalism and rioting during Inauguration Day protests that turned violent. People dressed in black with their faces covered smashed windows at ICE and Democratic Party offices in Portland and Amazon and Starbucks stores in Seattle. USA TODAY

HOUSING MARKET

There are way more people in the U.S. looking to buy a new home than there are owners looking to sell, which has led to extremely tight inventories across many cities and suburbs. Homebuilders are racing to catch up with demand. Measures of new-home construction ended 2020 at their highest levels since 2006, though labor and lumber shortages could threaten to put a stop to that momentum. The tight market is being driven by several factors: low mortgage rates, out-of-towners fleeing cities and coming in with more money than locals, therefore driving up prices, and a broader trend of people staying in their homes for longer. WSJ

THE NEXT IPHONE

The iPhone is the most profitable consumer product in history, and Apple’s already at work on its replacement. The company is reportedly in the process of developing a VR/AR headset that analysts believe could pave the way for an eventual pair of sleek smartglasses that would have all the functionality of the iPhone, and more. The first iteration of the headset won’t arrive until next year at the earliest, and would be Apple’s first major new product launch since the Apple Watch. BLOOMBERG

SUPER BOWL OR BUST

It’s conference championship weekend in the NFL. The Bucs and Packers -- Brady vs. Rodgers -- play Sunday afternoon for the NFC title, followed immediately by the Bills and Chiefs in the AFC. Winners go to the Super Bowl. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is still in the concussion protocol, but has been practicing this week. NBC SPORTS

SPOTTED...

…pro surfer Makua Rothman, hanging ten on what could be one of the biggest waves ever surfed. Rothman caught the estimated 100-foot tall swell last weekend at the famous Jaws break in Maui: SEE IT
...Dennis Quaid as Ronald Reagan. Quaid is playing the 40th president in an upcoming biopic: SEE IT
...Muncher, the newest ghost in the Ghostbusters franchise. The blue, gelatinous blob will make his debut in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was just delayed until fall: SEE IT

GET WELL, SCREECH

Dustin Diamond, who played Screech in the original Saved by the Bell, is undergoing chemotherapy for stage 4 cancer, his reps confirmed. Diamond was admitted to the hospital earlier this month when doctors discovered that he had cancer and that it had spread to his lungs. The 90’s TV icon is said to be keeping a positive outlook. TMZ

LEFTOVERS: 00-NEVER

Last March, No Time to Die was the first blockbuster to push back its release date because of the pandemic, foreshadowing what was to come. Now it’s moving once again. The upcoming James Bond movie was supposed to premiere in April, but the studio has pushed it until October. It’s the third delay in 10 months for the 007 flick. The speculation in Hollywood is that most or all of the big tentpoles scheduled for the spring and early summer will be delayed. VARIETY
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