🤿 A deeper dive…
Shopping malls and museums in Israel are now open to the general public and subject to social distancing rules and mandatory masks.
Meanwhile, access to gyms, hotels, cultural and sports events, and swimming pools is limited to people with a Green Pass – available to those who have had both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior, or recovered from the disease with presumed immunity.
Israel eventually plans to use the Green Pass system to allow for quarantine-free travel during the pandemic.
People who are eligible for the QR-secured pass can receive it on their phone by downloading the government’s app and entering their personal details. A printable version is also available for those who sign up by phone or through the government’s website.
The Health Ministry’s website crashed Saturday night due to heavy traffic. Officials said vaccination certificates could be used in place of a Green Pass until the system was running properly.
More than 55k Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday according to The COVID Tracking Project. The number fell for the 41st straight day to its lowest level since November 6.
President Biden ordered flags on federal land to be flown at half-staff for the next five days to commemorate the U.S. surpassing 500k deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. (Which occurred yesterday afternoon, per Johns Hopkins data.)
A FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet this Friday to vote on whether the agency should authorize Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.
⚖️ SCOTUS & Trump Tax Returns
The Supreme Court on Monday denied former President Donald Trump’s efforts to block a New York grand jury from obtaining his corporate and personal tax returns. The court’s one-sentence order effectively allows Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. to enforce an August 2019 subpoena of Trump’s accounting company.
More: Despite the ruling, some say it’s unlikely Trump’s tax returns will ever be made public due to secrecy rules surrounding grand jury investigations.
The CDC found educators could play a “central role” in COVID-19 transmission in schools, according to a study conducted over the holiday season and released on Monday. The study, which took place in eight Georgia public elementary schools, found four out of nine COVID-19 “clusters” – a group of three or more linked COVID-19 cases – had an educator as the first identified case.
More: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the main reason for the spread of COVID-19 in schools was due to “inadequate physical distancing and mask adherence in the schools.”
Even More: The study suggested that vaccinating educators could be critical to minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
🎨 Paint a Picture:
Researchers in Norwaydetermined the faint penciled phrase – “Can only have been painted by a madman” – in the corner of Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream was, in fact, written by Munch himself. (It was previously speculated to be vandalism.)
Scientists from Australia discovered the country’s oldest known rock art: a two-meter-long sandstone painting of a kangaroo. The artwork is more than 17,000 years old. (Picture)
✌️ Two Quick Things…
🌿 New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills yesterday to legalize marijuana; NJ becomes 13th state to do so. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
🚨 The wife of Mexican drugkingpin “El Chapo” was arrested in Virgina for allegedly helping run his empire and carry out his escape. Read more.
💵 Small Talk
The Biden administration announced temporary changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed at targeting more aid toward small businesses.
For the next two weeks (starting Wednesday), only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be able to apply for loans.
The latest round of the program has already paid out $133.5B in loans – about half of the $284B allocated by Congress – and is scheduled to end in late March.
More: Biden’s administration made a number of other revisions to the PPP, including lifting restrictions for small business owners who have prior non-fraud felony convictions or are still paying federal student loans. Dig deeper.
“I was basically thrown at a wall at 20-odd miles an hour. That’s going to hurt, especially in the middle of your sleep.”
Twenty-one-year-old Jasmine Harrison was well on her way to beating the world record of the youngest woman to ever row the Atlantic alone when her boat capsized, badly injuring her elbow.
Harrison on her journey across the Atlantic (Image: Twitter)
Luckily, the young rower was able to work through the pain and finish her journey, arriving in Antigua 70 days, 3 hours, and 48 minutes after leaving the coast of Spain.
Jasmine Harrison pulling into the finish line, officially breaking the world record. (Image: Twitter)
Surviving off of mostly biscuits, Nutella, and peanut butter, Jasmine accomplished the feat by sleeping and rowing in two-hour shifts.
From ABC: When asked by reporters what the first thing she wanted upon stepping onto land was, she replied, “Food. Definitely food.”
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🦴 Colossal Discovery… paleontologists derived the world’s oldest DNA sequence from the tooth of a woolly mammoth found in Siberia, marking the first time genetic information has been recovered from animal remains that were more than 1 million years old.
The number of stars on the EU flag has nothing to do with the number of member countries (27). The EU says the 12 stars “stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe.”