Infrastructure, AstraZeneca, Weight Gain: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. President Biden’s economic team is preparing a sweeping plan to spend up to $3 trillion to boost the economy.

Administration officials caution that the details of the spending programs remain in flux. But the first piece being discussed would spend nearly $1 trillion on infrastructure alone, including roads, bridges, rail lines, ports and the electric grid.

The investments would be the most aggressive U.S. spending yet to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Above, a wind farm in Carbon County, Wyo.

The second piece would provide free community college, universal pre-K, a national paid leave program and measures to reduce child care costs, according to people familiar with the plans and documents obtained by The Times.

But whether Democrats can push the programs through Congress depends in part on how the bills are funded. Officials have discussed offsetting the infrastructure spending by raising taxes on corporations.

2. A large U.S. clinical trial showed the AstraZeneca vaccine provided strong protection against Covid-19.

Government officials and public health experts expressed hope that the results would increase global confidence in the vaccine after more than a dozen countries suspended its use over concerns about possible rare side effects.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was 79 percent effective over all in preventing symptomatic infections, the company said. The vaccine is not yet authorized in the U.S. and is unlikely to become available before May. But the results could ease concerns in Europe.

New York will again lower its age requirements for vaccine eligibility, allowing people 50 and older to sign up for their shots beginning on Tuesday, and West Virginia today became the latest state to open vaccination to all adults, joining Alaska and Mississippi. Above, a vaccine center in Brooklyn.


An influx of spring breakers to South Florida, and Miami Beach in particular, led officials to extend curfews over concerns that the virus will continue to spread. Florida has logged more than two million cases since the pandemic began, according to a Times database. Above, Ms. Harris in Jacksonville today.

It’s not just the young. Across the U.S., millions of older Americans, chronically ill and trapped at home, pose a big challenge to vaccination efforts, because they are often difficult to find.

In the absence of a national campaign targeting the homebound, local volunteers and hospital workers are going door to door, finding patients through Meals on Wheels, or starting vaccination clinics at senior apartment buildings and adult day care centers.


4. Eleven years after it became law, health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is surging.

More than 200,000 Americans signed up for health insurance under the law during the first two weeks of an open enrollment period created by President Biden, and even conservative states like Alabama and Wyoming are considering its Medicaid expansion.

The hundreds of thousands flocking to its marketplace is a sign that those who lost insurance during the pandemic remain in desperate need of coverage, according to federal officials. Above, a hospital in Birmingham, Ala.

While new subsidies in Mr. Biden’s stimulus package made tens of millions more Americans eligible for free or inexpensive health plans, it will probably take a year for the full emergency subsidies to reach people, because of logistical problems.


5. The Supreme Court will review the death sentence in the Boston Marathon bombing case.

Last year, a U.S. appeals court upheld Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s convictions on 27 counts. But it overturned his death sentence because the trial judge had not questioned jurors closely enough and had excluded evidence. The Supreme Court said it would review the lower court’s decision.

The 2013 bombings, near the finish line of the marathon, killed three people and injured 260, including 17 who lost limbs. Above, an F.B.I. photo of Mr. Tsarnaev from the time of the attack.

Separately, the Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear a challenge to the requirement that only men register for the draft. Since 2016, women have been allowed to serve in every role in the military, including ground combat.

6. Momentum grows for a ban on menthol cigarettes, which have long been marketed to Black smokers.

Black smokers die of heart attacks, strokes and other tobacco-linked causes at higher rates than white smokers. And 85 percent of Black smokers use Newport, Kool and other menthol brands that are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than plain tobacco. Above, a 2008 ad in Essence magazine.

Advocates are hoping that President Biden, whose campaign had strong support from Black voters and who has put addressing health inequities front and center among his goals, will soon come out in favor of a ban.

The Food and Drug Administration said in 2018 that it would ban menthols, but the Trump administration killed the plan in 2019.

7. The N.C.A.A. basketball tournament closes in on the men’s Sweet 16, while the women end their first round.

No. 1 seed Gonzaga got past No. 8 seed Oklahoma, and seventh-seeded Oregon rolled over Luka Garza and No. 2 seed Iowa to advance to the Sweet 16. Follow our live coverage of the rest of the men’s games today, including No. 1-ranked Michigan against L.S.U. Above, an Indianapolis hotel keeps track of the bracket.

In the women’s tournament: No. 11 seed Brigham Young held off No. 6 seed Rutgers for an upset; No. 13 seed Wright State downed No. 4 seed Arkansas; No. 3 seed Arizona romped past Stony Brook; and No. 4 seed Indiana routed Virginia Commonwealth.


8. Viewers have left “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” long a daytime hit, after workplace misconduct.

In September, at the start of the 18th season of her talk show, Ellen DeGeneres apologized to her audience after accusations by former staff members led to firings and an internal investigation.

Since then, the show has lost more than a million viewers, averaging 1.5 million viewers over the last six months, down from the 2.6 million in the same period last year, a steeper decline than its rivals.

The spotlight on her workplace troubles has added to questions about her future.


9. A year of gaining weight and working from home.

A small peer-reviewed study published today suggests that adults under shelter-in-place orders over the past year gained more than half a pound every 10 days. That translates to nearly two pounds a month.

The size of the study makes generalizations tricky. But Dr. Gregory Marcus, senior author of the JAMA Network Open research newsletter, said Americans who kept up their lockdown habits could easily have gained 20 pounds over a year. Above, a Los Angeles gym last week.

And in a survey Microsoft released today of more than 30,000 full-time and self-employed workers, 73 percent said they wanted flexible remote work options to continue.

The company said it would give nonessential on-site employees the choice to work from the Redmond, Wash., campus, home or a combination of both.


10. And finally, the photographer Anne Geddes, the original baby-picture influencer, has a new project in the age of Instagram and the coronavirus.

Her 1990s photography books of little babies in pea pods and flower beds sold millions. Now marooned at home, she is posting baby pictures from parents around the world in her pandemic project, called, simply, “Joy.”

“The messages were all the same,” Ms. Geddes said about the photos people sent her. “One mother said, ‘I’m sending you my heart.’”

Have a joyous evening.


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