National News

Amazon driver rescues baby abandoned in Houston, reunites him with mom

iStockBy: HALEY YAMADA, ABC News

(HOUSTON) -- Juan Carlos Flores was on his delivery route in Houston on Monday when he found a 5-month-old baby abandoned on the side of a road after an apparent carjacking.

With the help of nearby residents, Flores was able to reunite the kidnapped baby with his mother.

“When I went close to the baby, I wanted to cry, because I [said] it’s impossible the baby can be here on the side of the street alone,” Flores told ABC News.

Home surveillance video showed the baby being left on the side of the road Monday morning. Ageint Security said the video showed several delivery truck drivers had driven past the baby in the 22 minutes before Flores spotted him.

The hero driver quickly alerted the closest resident and flagged down police, who were searching for the baby nearby. He led the officers back to the house where the neighbor was caring for the child.

“I asked [the neighbor] if the baby belongs to them, they said, ‘What, are you kidding me?’” said Flores. “[The police] came, like 5 to 10 cars of police, with the mom crying, and they told me the baby was stolen with the car.”

The Houston Police Department confirmed to ABC news that no arrests have been made so far. It’s asking for the community to help identify the driver seen dropping the baby off in the surveillance video.

Flores began driving for Amazon at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. He told ABC News he has already delivered thousands of packages, but this was the best delivery he’s ever made and “the best thing that’s happened to me in my job.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Puerto Rico declares state of emergency over gender violence crisis

iStockBy: CRISTINA CORUJO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The Puerto Rican government responded this weekend to the plea of thousands who have asked the island's leaders to address the ongoing crisis of gender violence.

Newly sworn-in Gov. Pedro Pierluisi signed an executive order Sunday declaring a state of emergency that would allocate resources to deal with gender violence in Puerto Rico.

"Gender violence is a social evil, based on ignorance and attitudes that cannot have space or tolerance in the Puerto Rico that we aspire to," Pierluisi said in a news release. "For too long, vulnerable victims have suffered the consequences of systematic machismo, inequity, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and above all, lack of action. It is my duty and my commitment as governor to establish a STOP to gender violence, and for these purposes I have declared a state of emergency."

“Fighting does work,” said Lourdes Inoa Monegro, the program director at Taller Salud, a nonprofit organization that's been helping women in the island deal with the gender violence crisis.

As cases of gender-based killings continued to rise, advocacy groups in the island had been demanding concrete action from the government to address the crisis.

Although advocacy groups wish the island hadn’t reached this point of the crisis in the first place, members of Taller Salud say this state of emergency was past overdue. “This is a message that our claim was much needed,” Inoa Monegro told ABC News.

After Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico in 2017, domestic violence rose substantially, according to an analysis from GEN and Type Investigations. The analysis found that in 2018, the intimate partner murder rate in Puerto Rico rose to 1.7 per 100,000 women, up from 0.77 per 100,000 in 2017.

Meanwhile, the rate of gender violence in general is still rising. Last year, a total of 60 indirect and direct murders linked to gender violence were reported in the island, according to Puerto Rico's Gender Equality Observatory, a figure that represents an increase of 62% from 2019.

So far, Puerto Ricans have already mourned the loss of a transgender man and a young woman in the first three weeks of 2021. Both cases are being considered as gender-based murders by advocacy groups.

While many advocates have taken Sunday's declaration as an effective measure to move forward, Vilma Gonzalez, the executive director of the nonprofit Paz Para La Mujer, said “the work doesn’t end here.”

Gonzalez said now is the moment to start working and execute everything that was approved in the executive order.

“We are here to help, but we are also here to inspect the process,” Gonzalez told ABC News.

The new executive order declaring the state of emergency would create a committee called PARE (an acronym in Spanish that means Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education of Gender Violence) that would work on determining what measures and policies should be taken to address the ongoing crisis in the island.

The PARE committee will have 17 members, including representatives from the main gubernatorial agencies, people that work for nonprofits and gender violence experts.

As part of the executive order, a mobile app will be created to assist victims and report aggressions. A program to check in with women who have filed restraining orders and educational media campaigns will also be launched.

The order also stipulates that an official will be designated to oversee and verify that everything in the executive order is being followed.

"To eradicate gender violence, we have to make concerted efforts between the state and society in which, in addition to a comprehensive plan, there is an educational approach to teach our boys and girls that every human being has to be respected, as well as empower to our next generations to eradicate this evil," Pierluisi said in the news release. "Equity between boys and girls, men and women is key to achieving the Puerto Rico without gender violence that we all want."

While this new order does address many issues that former governors Ricardo Rossello and Wanda Vazquez hadn’t taken in consideration, there are some aspects of it that still need work, both Inoa Monegro and Gonzalez said.

Inoa Monegro said some aspects of reliable data collection, transgender killings and gender education were mentioned in the order at an “ambiguous” level.

“We are interested in the steps,” Inoa Monegro said, but added, “What is the timeline now?”

Gonzalez said this state of emergency “can't stay in a paper.” As a person who works directly with victims, she said it’s crucial to see the plans on the executive order come to life. “A work plan without accountability is nothing,” she said.

Following years of work from nonprofits and multiple protests of Puerto Ricans demanding change, advocates say this state of emergency against gender violence is just the first step.

“Now is when we get to work,” Inoa Monegro said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Coronavirus live updates: Fauci describes what it was like working with Trump

Myriam Borzee/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR and ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 99.2 million people worldwide and killed over 2.1 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Latest headlines:

-Most Americans won't be able to get vaccinated by April, May: Biden vaccine adviser
-Massachusetts ends curfew for individuals, businesses
-Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine is expected to protect against new variants
-Fauci says he believes UK variant is indeed more virulent
-Biden to impose South Africa travel ban and reinstate restrictions on Brazil, much of Europe
-Israel bans almost all incoming flights for 1 week
-Fauci describes what it was like working with Trump

Here's how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

Jan 25, 5:42 pm
1st case of Brazil variant detected in US


Health officials in Minnesota announced Monday they have recorded the first instance of the Brazilian coronavirus variant in the U.S.

The patient, who lives in the Twin Cities metro area, had traveled to Brazil before becoming ill during the first week of January, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The specimen was collected Jan. 9.

"With the new lab information showing the case to be the Brazil P.1 variant, MDH epidemiologists are re-interviewing the person to obtain more details about the illness, travel and contacts," the health department said in a statement.

Officials warned that "while this variant is thought to be more transmissible than the initial 9 strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, it is not yet known whether the variant causes more severe illness."

ABC News' Sasha Pezenik


Jan 25, 3:41 pm
Vaccine nationalism could cost high-income countries $4.5 trillion


The World Health Organization cited new economic research during a press conference Monday, which warns that vaccine nationalism could cost high-income countries $4.5 trillion. Universal vaccination may make it feel as though life is getting back to normal in wealthy countries, but global trade will suffer if poorer nations still have active COVID-19 transmissions, according to research from the International Chamber of Commerce.

"They will not only feel the hit but bear half the cost," said John W.H. Denton AO, secretary general of the ICC. "If you actually want to fix your own economy you're going to have to get involved in fixing the global economy and part of that is that vaccines flow globally and equitably."

Countries need to focus on the tools we already have to drive down COVID-19 transmissions, according to Dr. Bruce Aylward, adviser to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"If any country bets everything on the vaccine we're going to lose," Aylward said.

ABC News' Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Jan 25, 2:31 pm
Most Americans won't be able to get vaccinated by April, May: Biden vaccine adviser


Dr. David Kessler, co-chair of Biden's COVID-19 task force, pushed back the timeline in which most Americans can expect to get vaccinated during an interview on SiriusXM’s "Doctor Radio Reports" with Dr. Marc Siegel.

"We're not going to have everyone vaccinated in April, in May, right? Just not gonna happen," Kessler said. "We got to get over 65, essential workers. I think this is going to take us into the fall. We got to get there before next winter, and one of the things I care about very honestly, is we can't do this again.”

The U.S. outbreak may end sooner if Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is more than 80% effective, according to Kessler. But even if that vaccine is highly effective, he added, it will still take months to get priority groups, like older adults and essential workers, vaccinated.

"The bottom line is I wish I could tell you there's plenty of vaccine and we can fill all these endless amounts of appointments. We can't. It's going to take us months to have enough supply," Kessler said.

ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

Jan 25, 12:51 pm
Massachusetts ends curfew for individuals, businesses


Massachusetts lifted its stay-at-home order Monday, which had asked residents not to go out between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and required businesses to close at 9:30 p.m.

"Vaccines are reaching residents, positive case rates and hospitalizations have stabilized; those trends are moving in the right direction," Gov. Charlie Baker said during a Jan. 21 press conference announcing the loosened restrictions. "As a result, we believe it's OK and it's time to start a gradual easing of some of the restrictions we put in place in the fall," Baker said.

Restaurants and other businesses will still be capped at 25% occupancy until at least Feb. 8, according to Baker. Gatherings are still limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

ABC News' Brian Hartman contributed to this report.


Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Tacoma Police officer who hit at least one pedestrian with patrol car placed on administrative leave

JasonDoiy/iStockBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(TACOMA, Wash.) -- A Tacoma Police Department officer who struck at least one pedestrian with his patrol car while trying to clear a crowded scene has been placed on administrative leave.

Officers responded to the intersection of South 9th Street and Pacific Avenue in Tacoma around 6 p.m. Saturday night after receiving "numerous reports" of an incident that was occurring there, according to a police press release.

When authorities arrived, there were several vehicles and about 100 people blocking the intersection, police said, but did not provide additional details on the incident. According to ABC Seattle affiliate KOMO, the crowd was watching a "street sideshow."

Officers then began clearing the intersection, but during the operation, police said people surrounded a police vehicle as the officer was stopped in the street. The officer, "fearing for his safety," then tried to back up but was unable to do so due to the crowd, police said. He then hit at least one pedestrian while trying to escape, police said.

"While trying to extricate himself from an unsafe position, the officer drove forward striking one individual and may have impacted others," the press release states.

A witness wrote on Twitter that the officer was in pursuit of a driver doing burnouts nearby. Video shared by that same witness appeared to show the back tires of a police SUV moving forward running over the victim as the crowd screamed in horror.

Another video posted to the social media site appeared to show the SUV driving into a crowd of people, knocking several over before running over the victim.

The officer then "stopped at a point of safety and called for medical aid," according to police. The victim was transported to an area hospital.

Puyallup Police Capt. Dan Pashon, who is part of the team investigating the incident, told KOMO that two people were transported to the hospital. One victim has been released, and the other remained in the hospital as of Saturday evening, KOMO reported.

Additional information about the victims and their conditions was not immediately available.

The officer has been with the department for nearly 30 years and was placed on paid administrative leave Saturday evening "immediately following the incident," per department policy, Tacoma Police Department Public Information Officer Wendy Haddow said in a statement.

The incident has been turned over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team, which will conduct an independent review, police said.

Tacoma Police interim Chief Mike Ake said in a statement that he is "concerned" that the department is "experiencing another use of deadly force incident."

"I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight's event, and am committed to our Department's full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department's response during the incident."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Winter storms moving across US with snow, freezing rain and flooding

ABC NewsBy MAX GOLEMBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A couple of storms moved through the West and the Midwest this weekend with a funnel cloud reportedly being spotted in downtown San Diego along with 1 to 2 feet of snow from California to Colorado and even hail covering the ground in Malibu, California.

In the Midwest, accidents and spinouts caused a nightmare travel situation on the roads from Nebraska to Michigan.

There are 24 states from California to Maryland on Monday morning that are on alert for snow, ice and flash flooding.

The western storm that hit this weekend will move into central U.S. Monday with heavy snow from Omaha, Nebraska to Des Moines, Iowa to Chicago.

A winter storm Warning has been issued for Chicago and there is an icy mix of freezing rain and sleet expected south of there for Indianapolis and parts of Ohio Valley today.

The storm will move into the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic Monday night into Tuesday with an icy mix for West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and snow for upstate New York and New England.

A winter weather advisory has also been issued for Baltimore where that icy mix is expected.

At this moment, it does not look like there will be a lot of snow for major cities like Philadelphia and New York City, with maybe a wintry mix with rain that should melt on the ground.

The heaviest snow will be from Nebraska to Iowa where locally more than a foot of snow is possible and up to 8 inches is expected in Chicago with 3 to 6 inches in Michigan.

However, another storm system will move into the West and it is expected to bring copious amounts of rain to California and crippling feet of snow to the mountains.

Elsewhere, major flash flooding and debris flow is possible later this week in California.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Arrest made in Indianapolis mass shooting that left five people, including pregnant mother, dead

kali9/iStockBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Indianapolis police announced Monday they have arrested a juvenile suspect in connection with a mass shooting that claimed the lives of five people, including a pregnant teen.

The 19-year-old woman's unborn child was also killed in the shooting. A boy suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to a nearby hospital, police said.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Randall Taylor called the incident the city’s "largest mass casualty shooting in over a decade."

"While removing the alleged perpetrator of yesterday's mass murder from our neighborhoods does not bring back the lives senselessly lost, hopefully, it will bring us one step closer to healing as a community," Taylor said in a statement Monday.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said it will not disclose the full identity of the suspect or release a photo due to his age. Police do not believe other suspects were involved.

Police received a 911 call before 4 a.m. Sunday and discovered a boy shot at the 3300 block of East 36th Street, according to the police. The boy was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, police said.

Officers then went to the 3500 block of Adams Street and found five people dead inside a house, according to the police.

The victims were later identified as Kezzie Childs, 42, Raymond Childs, 42, Kiara Hawkins, 19, Elijah Childs, 18, and Rita Childs, 13. Hawkins was pregnant and rushed to a hospital but doctors could not save her or her unborn child, police said.

"This does not appear to be a random act," IMPD Sgt. Shane Foley said at a news conference later Sunday afternoon.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett was emotional during the news conference and said that he has called the U.S. Attorney's office and FBI to assist with the investigation.

"I want those responsible to know that the full might of local state and federal law enforcement is coming for them as I speak," Hogsett said. "Coming for them today, coming for them tonight coming for them tomorrow ... coming for them as long as it takes."

The investigation is still ongoing, police said. The Marion County Prosecutors Office will review the case and determine a final charging decision, according to the police.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Girl, 15, stabbed to death in grocery store during fight with four younger girls

Alex_Schmidt/iStockBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(LAKE CHARLES, La.) -- A 15-year-old girl was stabbed to death at a grocery store during an alleged fight with four other girls, all of whom were younger than she was.

The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23 at a grocery store in Lake Charles, Louisiana, when a fight took place between a 15-year-old girl and four other females all between the ages of 12 and 14.

The cause and the motive of the altercation is currently unknown but, during the incident, the 15-year-old girl was stabbed and the victim was subsequently transported to a local area hospital where she died. Where she was stabbed on her body and her cause of death has not yet been disclosed.

“In last night’s case, they stole knives from the actual store where they were at. It is really heart-breaking when we have to come in and pick up the pieces because so many families are damaged after this,” said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso at a press conference on Sunday night.

He also disclosed that much of the evidence that authorities were able to gather came directly from videos posted to social media.

“Our whole case unfolded before us through live Facebook and Instagram … we have videos of everything that took place and it’s very disturbing,” said Mancuso. “The whole murder was played out on [social media] so, again, there appeared to be no remorse. It was very cold to see 12, 13, 14 and 15-year-olds acting this way and we as a society can’t tolerate it. We cannot let this plague and take over our community.”

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office said that the four females -- aged 14, two girls who are 13 and 12 -- were all booked into the juvenile detention center and one was charged with second degree murder while the other three were charged with principal to second degree murder.

The investigation is currently ongoing and Mancuso indicated that there may be other arrests involved in the case.

Said Mancuso: “This is the third homicide in six months that we’ve had that involved juveniles that range from 11 to 16 years old. They come from all backgrounds, all races. This is just a problem that we are having with kids having access to weapons.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Nashville attorney's license suspended after posting advice on getting away with murder

DNY59/iStockBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The license of a Nashville, Tennessee attorney has been suspended for four years after he posted advice on how to get away with murder.

The advice was given in 2017 in response to a post by a Facebook friend who described a "tumultuous" breakup with her child's father and inquired about the legality of carrying a gun in her car, according to court documents filed in the Supreme Court of Tennessee on Friday.

Attorney Winston Bradshaw Sitton reportedly wrote that if the woman wanted to kill her ex-boyfriend, she should "lure" him into her home and "claim" he broke in with intent to do her harm and she feared for her life, according to the Tennessee Supreme Court judgment.

Sitton, whose Facebook page described him as a lawyer, also emphasized in the comment that his advice was given "as a lawyer" and that if she was "remotely serious" she should delete the thread, because it could be used as proof of premeditation against her in trial, the court documents state.

"If you want to kill him, then lure him into your house and claim he broke in with intent to do you bodily harm and that you feared for your life," he wrote. "Even with the new stand your ground law, the castle doctrine is a far safer basis for use of deadly force."

In response to Sitton's comment, the woman wrote, "I wish he would try," to which Sitton advised her to "keep mum about this," the documents state.

According to the judgment, Sitton had never met the woman in person but had been friends with her on the social media platform for about a year.

Although the woman later deleted the Facebook post, her ex-boyfriend became aware of the exchange and brought screenshots to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, who then passed the screenshots to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, according to the court documents.

Sitton received a four-year suspension, one year of which is an active suspension and the rest is on probation.

The case is described as "a cautionary tale on the ethical problems that can befall lawyers on social media" in the judge's opinion, which was written by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby.

Disciplinary proceedings found that Sitton's conduct was "prejudicial to the administration of justice" and in violation of the state's rules of professional conduct. Disciplinary proceedings are not criminal proceedings, the court document made clear, and he has not been criminally charged.

Sitton describes himself on his LinkedIn page as a "lawyer/business consultant with extensive experience in the healthcare, financial services, and entertainment industries."

In a statement posted to his firm's Facebook page, Sitton said the language he wrote in the post was "intemperate" and that he regretted "the way this utterance was phrased" but described the comment as "intentionally caustic and cynical."

"I adamantly contest the finding that my gratuitous commentary offered to a battered woman, who was being threatened and abused and harassed by her son's father, was legal advice as to how to commit a crime or in any way violated my legal duties as either a citizen or as a lawyer," Sitton wrote.

"We agree with Mr. Sitton that it is hard to conceive of any reason why a lawyer, any lawyer, would offer instructions on how to commit murder and stage a concocted defense," Kirby's judicial opinion stated.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Coronavirus updates: Herd immunity by fall 'ambitious,' says surgeon general nominee

Samara Heisz/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 98.7 million people worldwide and killed over 2.1 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news developed over the weekend. All times Eastern:

Jan 24, 7:58 pm
Mexican president tests positive


Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced on Twitter Sunday evening that he contracted the coronavirus.

Obrador said his symptoms are mild and he is undergoing medical treatment.

"As always, I'm optimistic. We'll all get by," the 67-year-old president tweeted.

Obrador had repeatedly refused to wear a mask and resisted calls for mask mandates and other restrictions despite the growing number of cases in the country.

Jan 24, 7:12 pm
US hospitalizations continue to decrease


There are 110,628 people currently hospitalized in the U.S., the fewest since Dec. 14, the COVID Tracking Project reported.

The tracking project said that hospitalizations are decreasing across the country.

"For the first time since November 3rd, no state has over 600 people per million hospitalized with COVID-19," the tracking project tweeted.

Jan 24, 3:17 pm
New Zealand reports first community COVID-19 case since November


The New Zealand Health Ministry announced Sunday it recorded its first coronavirus case from within the community in three months.

New Zealand has been reporting positive cases in managed isolation, which requires anyone who travels into the country, both citizens and non-citizens, to go into a 14-day quarantine in a designated facility. There have been no cases from within the community since November.

The female patient traveled in Spain and the Netherlands late last year for work, according to officials.

"While in the Netherlands she was in contact with family members, who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19," the health ministry said in a statement.

The patient arrived in Auckland on Dec. 30 following a trip from the United Kingdom with a layover in Singapore, according to the Health Ministry. The patient stayed at a hotel during her 14-day quarantine and tested negative on Jan. 2 and Jan. 10, according to the Health Ministry.

"The person started developing mild symptoms on 15 January and these progressively got worse. The person had a test taken on Friday 22 January and self-isolated at home," the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The patient's roommate hasn't shown any symptoms so far, but has been tested and is isolating at home, according to the Health Ministry.

The Health Ministry said it is contact tracing and carrying out rapid genome sequencing to see if there's a match to one of the more transmissible variants.

Jan 24, 2:49 pm

Chicago Public Schools delays return for in-person teachers following union vote

Chicago Public Schools announced Sunday they will postpone the in-person start for kindergarten through eighth grade teachers after the Chicago Teachers Union announced voted over the weekend to continue remote work.

Teachers were scheduled to report to in-person learning on Monday, but that was pushed back to Wednesday, according to CPS. "While we agree with our labor partners on many aspects of a smooth expansion of in-person learning, our discussions are ongoing. To ensure we reach a resolution without a disruption to student learning, we’ve agreed to push back the return of K-8 teachers, staff to Wed, 1/27," CPS said in a statement.

Kindergarten through eighth grade are slated to return to in-person learning on Feb. 1. Pre-K and special education students have been going to in-person classes since the beginning of the month.

In a statement, the union said that there was concern among members regarding the rise in COVID-19 cases and the small number of students who have opted to return to in-person learning.

Chicago Public Schools said 37% of parents surveyed intend for their kids to return, according to ABC station WLS. The union noted that the number of eligible students who can currently return to in-person is also low.

"But the fact of the matter remains this: 19% of students have returned. The district doesn’t need anywhere near all of our membership to return to meet that need," CTU said in a statement.

Some parents who wished to have their children return to class in person took up their pleas directly to the union this weekend.

"Parents should not be vilified or bullied for needing a choice to return to in-person learning," Sarah Sachen told WLS.

Jan 24, 11:29 am

Herd immunity by fall an ‘ambitious goal,’ says nominee for surgeon general

The possibility of obtaining herd immunity by the time summer is over and a new school year begins may be an "ambitious goal," Vivek Murthy, President Joe Biden's nominee for U.S. surgeon general, told George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday.

"I think what -- I think we can see improvement," Murthy said. "I think we can see reductions in cases and hospitalizations and deaths. I think we can see many more people immunized.”

The "important thing" will be getting as many people vaccinated as possible, Murthy added.

"The more people we vaccinate, the better we will do, the fewer outbreaks we will see, the sooner we can get back to our way of life," he said.

Murthy also emphasized the importance of dispelling misinformation as well as continuing to take the necessary precautions, such as wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings.

"Then I think we can be on a path to not only turning the pandemic around, but, most importantly, getting our schools open, our workplaces back up and running, and regaining our way of life," he said.

Jan 24, 11:07 am

US surpasses 25 million positive cases

The U.S. has surpassed 25 million cases of COVID-19, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

The national total confirmed case count currently sits at 25,003,695.

Last week, the U.S. surpassed 400,000 deaths from the virus. The death toll is currently at 417,463 in the U.S. and at 2,122,766 worldwide.

The number of global confirmed cases is nearing 100 million, currently sitting at 98,853,428.

-ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos

Jan 24, 9:51 am

Over 20 million vaccine doses administered in US

There have now been more than 20 million vaccine doses given out in the U.S., the CDC reported on Saturday.

The milestone was reached 23 days after the goal set by former President Donald Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed to reach that number of doses by the end of 2020.

President Joe Biden's administration has pledged to distribute 100 million doses in the first 100 days, as well as ramp up production of materials to administer vaccines amid an increase in demand and shortages of supply at the state level.

-ABC News' Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.

Jan 23, 11:45 pm

University of Michigan pauses all sports after positive tests

The University of Michigan has paused all athletics, including men's and women's basketball, for at least 14 days following "several" positive tests by people within the Michigan Athletic Department. The positive tests were also for the so-called U.K. variant, a more-contagious version of the virus. The decision to pause athletics was made in part due to the fact the tests were for the B.1.1.7 variant.

The decision was made not by the school but by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The athletic programs will not be able to play or practice during the period.

"Canceling competitions is never something we want to do, but with so many unknowns about this variant of COVID-19, we must do everything we can to minimize the spread among student-athletes, coaches, staff, and to the student-athletes at other schools," Athletic Director Warde Manuel said in a statement.

Jan 23, 7:47 pm
Weekly average cases in US back to 'pre-Thanksgiving levels'


New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are seeing a "very encouraging" drop, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The number of weekly cases decreased 21% as of Saturday, the tracker said. There were "more modest but very welcome" drops in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations as well.

 

The weekly view today shows cases down 21%, with more modest but very welcome drops in hospitalizations and deaths. The 7-day average for cases has returned to pre-Thanksgiving levels. Tests are slightly down, possibly because most of the backlogs have now been resolved. pic.twitter.com/A9UIpy0q5z

— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) January 24, 2021


The seven-day average for cases is back to "pre-Thanksgiving levels," though the group noted there are still nearly three times as many new cases daily compared to the summer peak.

 

Jan 23, 5:55 pm
LA County crosses 15,000 deaths


Los Angeles County has crossed 15,000 deaths, with about one-third of those deaths happening in 2021.

Health officials reported 269 deaths in the county on Saturday. LA remains the hardest-hit county in the United States. LA County has more than twice as many cases (1,064,887) as the second-highest in the nation (Arizona's Maricopa County; 444,431, according to Johns Hopkins University).

The county said 5,106 people have died since Dec. 30.

There was a little bit of good news in LA, however, as the county is following national trends of dropping hospitalizations. The number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 dropped under 7,000 for the first time since Dec. 29, according to the health department.

"Many people continue to spread this virus and, tragically, now more than 15,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health, said in a statement. "While we are seeing some positive data in daily new cases and hospitalizations, we are far from out of the woods. It is critically important we slow COVID-19 spread to decompress the strain on our healthcare system and save lives."

ABC News' Matthew Fuhrman contributed to this report.

Jan 23, 1:00 pm
New deaths, cases on decline

Week-to-week comparisons show new deaths and new cases are on the decline nationwide, according to an internal Department of Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News.

Thirty-one states and territories are in a downward trajectory of new cases, according to the memo. Twenty states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new cases while five jurisdictions are at a plateau.

The U.S. saw 1,318,915 new cases from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22 -- a 20.3% decrease from the previous week.

There were 21,442 deaths reported from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22, which was a 7.7% decrease from the week before.

The national test-positivity rate also dropped, falling from 11.9% to 10.4% in week-to-week comparisons, the memo said.

ABC News’ Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

Jan 23, 12:15 pm
Indoor dining returns to Chicago


Indoor dining resumed in Chicago on Saturday as the city moved to “Tier 1” of reopening “due to recent progress in the fight against COVID-19,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Indoor dining is limited to 25 people or 25% capacity with tables six feet apart.

All bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m.

"We have long pushed for the careful resumption of limited indoor dining, and I am thrilled that we have made enough progress … to reopen our businesses and bring workers back," Lightfoot said in a statement, according to ABC Chicago station WLS.

Jan 23, 10:40 am
North Carolina identifies its 1st case of UK variant


North Carolina has identified its first case of the coronavirus’ United Kingdom variant, state health officials said.

The variant was confirmed in an adult in Mecklenburg County.

The U.S. has 195 confirmed cases of the variant across 21 states, according to North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services.

ABC News’ Josh Hoyos contributed to this report.

Jan 22, 8:21 pm
Cases falling week-over-week in most states: COVID Tracking Project


COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are going down across the country.

In 44 states, the seven-day average of new cases has dropped over 10% since last week, The COVID Tracking Project reported Thursday. Daily cases are rising in only one state -- Virginia.

In 24 states, the number of current hospitalizations decreased by more than 10% from a week ago, it found. Everywhere else in the nation, hospitalizations are relatively flat.

Jan 22, 6:50 pm
United CEO wants to make vaccines mandatory for employees


United Airlines' top executive said he would like the airline to require COVID-19 vaccination for employees.

"I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines, and for other companies, to require the vaccines," CEO Scott Kirby said during an employee town hall Thursday. "That said, we have to have the logistic challenges worked out … and we need some others to show leadership, particularly in the health care industry."

Kirby told employees that if other companies mandate vaccines, "You should probably expect United to be amongst the first wave of companies that do it as well."

For now, United is urging employees to get the vaccine as soon as possible, according to an internal memo obtained by ABC News.

On an earnings call yesterday, an executive said the company has been working with local governments "to move our employees up in prioritization of essential workers for vaccination, both for their safety and the safety of our customers."

-ABC News' Gio Benitez

Jan 22, 2:49 pm
New Jersey confirms 1st cases of UK variant


Two people -- a man and a child -- were identified as the first cases of the United Kingdom variant in New Jersey, officials said.
 
The Ocean County man, who is in his 60s, had no travel history or clear exposures to others who were ill, said the state’s Health Commissioner, Judy Persichilli.
 
He developed symptoms on Dec. 29 and was tested one week later. His “symptoms have since resolved and he was never hospitalized,” Persichilli said.

The child, who had traveled to northern New Jersey, was tested on Jan. 11 in New York City and is asymptomatic, she said.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

Jan 22, 2:30 pm
California reports highest daily death toll


California reported its highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic with another 764 lives lost.

The state reported 23,024 new cases on Friday.

Jan 22, 2:01 pm
Severe allergic reactions rare but possible with Moderna vaccine


A CDC report released Friday indicates that the risk of severe allergic reactions with Moderna's vaccine is low. Severe, life threatening allergic reactions were seen in 2.5 cases per million people receiving the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the report said.

Of the 4,041,396 first doses given as of Jan. 10, there were 1,266 (0.03%) reports of "adverse events," the report said. Among those, 108 "adverse events" were considered as possible cases of severe allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis. Ten cases were determined to be anaphylaxis (a rate of 2.5 anaphylaxis cases per 1 million doses) including nine people with a documented history of allergies or allergic reactions, the report said.

Jan 22, 1:43 pm
UK variant may be associated with higher mortality, Boris Johnson says


More people are testing positive for the United Kingdom’s variant of the coronavirus, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday “there is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”

U.K. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty stressed that the data is uncertain and there is a chance the new variant is increasing infections and mortality.

The U.K. has seen record daily death tolls several times this week.

There were 1,401 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Jan 22, 1:00 pm
New York running out of vaccines today but more on the way: Cuomo


New York state has used 97% of its allocated vaccine doses so far (for weeks 1 through 5) and will run out of doses by the end of the day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Week 6 doses are currently being delivered, the governor said.

New York’s positivity rate has fallen to 5.65%, Cuomo said. Hospitalizations are also on the decline.

Jan 22, 10:32 am
'Patient No. 1' in US is now 'back to his normal life'


On Jan. 20, 2020, the first COVID-19 patient in the United States, known as "patient No. 1," was brought to a Washington state hospital.

Dr. George Diaz, the head of infectious diseases at Providence Regional Medical Center in Seattle, treated that patient. Diaz would later learn how to isolate COVID-19 patients properly, how to protect hospital staff and how to treat the illness.

"We used Remdesivir, which was a new anti-viral at the time. He was the first patient to receive this drug in the world, and he had a good response to treatment," Diaz told ABC's Nightline.

"Patient No. 1" was treated for five days before being released from the hospital, Diaz said. One year later, he is "doing great," Diaz said.

"He's fully recovered and back to his normal life," Diaz said. "Many people survive the illness but have lots of medical problems afterwards. Fortunately, Patient One recovered well."

Jan 22, 10:10 am
France to require negative COVID-19 test for all arrivals by boat or plane


French President Emmanuel Macron announced that all travelers arriving by boat or plane will have to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country.

The new measure, which goes into effect Sunday, includes visitors from within the European Union as well as those outside the regional bloc. They must take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test up to three days before departure and provide evidence of a negative result before they travel, according to a statement from Macron's office released late Thursday.

People traveling for essential reasons, such as cross-border or ground transportation workers, will be exempt from the requirement. People arriving from other EU member states by train or car will also be exempt.

France has the sixth-highest tally of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the world, after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The European nation of 67 million people confirmed another 22,848 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with an additional 358 fatalities from the disease. That brings the cumulative totals to 2,987,965 cases and 71,998 deaths, according to the latest data from France's public health agency.

Jan 22, 9:03 am
Fauci says lack of truthfulness from Trump administration 'very likely' cost American lives

When asked during an interview Friday on CNN's New Day about whether the Trump administration's lack of truthfulness in some cases regarding the coronavirus pandemic had cost American lives, Dr. Anthony Fauci said "it very likely did."

"I don't want that, John, to be a soundbite, but I think if you just look at that you can see that when when you're starting to go down paths that are not based on any science at all," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's John Berman. "Particularly when you're in the situation of almost being in a crisis with the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths that we have -- when you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful."

Fauci, who was a member of former President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, had disagreed with Trump on how to approach the pandemic. At one point, Trump suggested he was considering firing Fauci.

"There's no secret, we've had a lot of divisiveness," Fauci, who is now the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told CNN. "We've had facts that were very, very clear that were questioned. People were not trusting what health officials were saying."

Jan 22, 9:00 am
NFL invites vaccinated health care workers to Super Bowl


The National Football League announced Friday that it's inviting 7,500 vaccinated health care workers to attend the Feb. 7 Super Bowl in Florida “to thank and honor them for their continued extraordinary service during the pandemic.”

Jan 22, 6:12 am
Reports that Japan is looking to cancel Tokyo Olympics are 'categorically untrue,' government says

Reports that the Japanese government has privately concluded that the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will have to be canceled are "categorically untrue," according to Japan's Cabinet Secretariat of the Headquarters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"The renewed schedules and venues for the Tokyo 2020 Games, starting with the Opening Ceremony on July 23 this year, were determined at the IOC Session in July last year. All parties involved are working together to prepare for the successful Games this summer," the cabinet secretariat said in a statement Friday. "We will implement all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer."

The statement follows a report published Thursday evening by British newspaper The Times, which cited "a senior member of the ruling coalition" who said there is agreement that the Games are doomed and the focus now is on securing the event for the Japanese capital in the next available year, 2032.

The 2020 Summer Olympics were supposed to kick off in Tokyo last year on July 24. But in late March, amid mounting calls to delay or cancel the upcoming Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan's prime minister announced that the event would be held a year later due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Games are now scheduled to open in Tokyo this summer on July 23, but doubt has surfaced as Japan -- and much of the world -- grapples with a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Jan 22, 5:21 am
US reports over 188,000 new cases


There were 188,952 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Thursday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Thursday's case count is lower than the country's all-time high of 298,031 new cases, which were confirmed on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 3,955 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Thursday, down from a peak of 4,462 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holiday weekend and earlier holidays.

A total of 24,631,890 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 410,349 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before nearing 300,000 on Jan. 2.

Jan 22, 4:26 am
'There is no plan B' for Tokyo Olympics, IOC chief says


Despite rising COVID-19 infections in Japan, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Thursday that there is "no reason whatsoever" to believe the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on July 23 as planned.

"This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these games safe and successful," Bach told Japanese news agency Kyodo in an interview Thursday.

However, Bach admitted he could not guarantee that the stands would be full or rule out the possibility that the Games would be held without spectators, according to Kyodo.

The 2020 Summer Olympics were supposed to kick off in Tokyo last year on July 24. But in late March, amid mounting calls to delay or cancel the upcoming Games, the International Olympic Committee and Japan's prime minister announced that the event would be held a year later due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, Japan is facing a resurgence of COVID-19. The country of 126 million people reported the highest number of new cases in the Western Pacific region last week. The infection rate -- currently at 32.8 cases per 100,000 people -- increased by 4% over the previous week, according to the World Health Organization's latest COVID-19 weekly epidemiological update.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare confirmed 5,662 new cases of COVID-19 as well as an additional 87 fatalities from the disease on Thursday, bringing the cumulative totals to 348,646 cases and 4,829 deaths.

Japanase Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and 10 other prefectures due to climbing case counts and growing death tolls.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Turbulent week of weather ahead with 3 different storms tracking across US

ABC News/iStockBY: DANIEL MANZO, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — A turbulent week of weather is ahead with three different major storms expected to track across the United States.

The two biggest takeaways form this extremely active weather pattern includes the increasing likelihood of a long-duration heavy rain and snow event coming to California that could have major impacts to the state.

Already this morning a quick hit of snow is moving through the upper Midwest and is quickly dropping 1 to 3 inches of snow.

The quick round of snow brought hazardous travel conditions to I-80 in Nebraska on Saturday night where ABC News affiliate KETV is reporting an accident caused two deaths and one injury after a car crossed the median and collided with a semi-truck.

There are winter weather alerts being issued this morning with more certainly to be issued in the coming hours.

A storm will bring some more mountain snow and valley rain in the Southern Rockies later Sunday and into Monday.

It will bring snow and ice to parts of the central Plains and Midwest and some additional severe weather will be possible across parts of northern Texas and Oklahoma where, locally, damaging winds and hail will be possible.

By Monday night, the snow and wintry mix will stretch from Iowa to New Jersey with the heaviest snow falling from northern Kansas into parts of Illinois.

Chicago, in particular, could quickly pile up several inches of snow on Monday night and a wintry mix is likely to cause slick roadways from Indianapolis to the Appalachian mountains.

As the storm slides east, it will have some trouble producing snow near the major northeast cities and this likely means that snowfall amounts near Philadelphia and New York will be kept in the low range.

On the snowfall forecast, locally over 6 inches of snow is expected from western Kansas to Chicago and a few areas of 3 to 6 inches is possible from the Kansas-Nebraska Border to Ohio.

It is important to note that the snow totals look quite low near the major northeast Cities and Chicago could easily pick up over 6 inches of snow from this storm on Monday night.

Another storm will quickly move into the western U.S. on Sunday and bring widespread mountain snow and heavy rain from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Locally, 10 inches of snow will be possible in the southern California mountains later Sunday and Monday which could make travel very treacherous.

As this storm moves across the country, it will bring another quick hit of snow to parts of the Midwest.

Once this storm reaches the East Coast, it remains unclear just how intense the storm will be and exactly where this storm will track.

Some computer models are indicating that a rather powerful storm will develop near the mid-Atlantic and bring at least some snow to the mid-Atlantic states by Thursday.

Given that the models aren’t in agreement on some of the most important details of this setup, uncertainty remains high at this time.

Also by the middle of the week, another separate storm will arrive in California and, as of Sunday morning, this storm looks to be the most concerning.

The storm will bring an atmospheric river of moisture to California that will bring torrential rain and extreme mountain snow for the second half of the week.

One of the biggest concerns is that California saw five of its top six fires by acreage in its history in 2020 and there is a tremendous amount of land there that is susceptible to debris flows and mudslides.

Additionally, there is an excessive rainfall forecast for the week and the region will become more susceptible to flash flooding with locally over 10 inches of snow possible in California this week alone.

Several feet of snow could make travel through mountain passes impossible and quite dangerous.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


7,000 National Guardsmen to remain in Washington through mid-March

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesBy LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Up to 7,000 National Guardsmen will remain in Washington for about seven more weeks to assist federal law enforcement agencies concerned over potential domestic disturbances, the Guard's top general said.

"We're looking at probably mid-March right now," Gen. Daniel Hokanson told reporters on Saturday.

The size of that force can be adjusted depending on requests from local law enforcement agencies, he added. Whether the remaining guardsmen will continue will be armed decided by federal law enforcement.

A U.S. official told ABC News that the agencies were seeing "chatter" among extremist groups discussing potential disturbances in the nation's capital.

As for the troops making up the 7,000, Hokanson added: "Some of them will be the folks that are already here. Some states are actually going to rotate other folks, and we're working very closely with the states to determine that next."

Hokanson made his comments as he carried out his daily visit with the guardsmen who are securing the Capitol. At the spacious Capitol Visitors Center, he also met with guardsmen from Indiana and Virginia, who were taking a short break, and asked them if they were getting everything they needed.

On Friday, guardsmen were once again allowed to use the facility for rest periods after the public outcry generated by photos that showed them resting inside an unheated parking garage. The use of the garage occurred after a request was made to the Guard that they stop using indoor locations on Capitol grounds.

Hokanson also confirmed that fewer than 200 of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who provided security on Inauguration Day had contracted COVID-19, an infection rate lower than 1%.

"We do everything we can, but we do think that number is low," said Hokanson. The infected guardsmen will remain in Washington while sick as some of the 25,000 who were on hand for Inauguration Day began returning to their home states on Saturday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Larry King remembered by celebrities, politicians: 'A newsman who interviewed the newsmakers'

Rodin Eckeroth/Getty ImagesBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Tributes are pouring in for iconic TV host Larry King, who died Saturday morning at age 87.

Former President Bill Clinton tweeted, "I enjoyed my 20 interviews with Larry King over the years. He had a great sense of humor and a genuine interest in people. He gave a direct line to the American people and worked hard to get the truth for them, with questions that were direct but fair. Farewell, my friend."

 

I enjoyed my 20 interviews with Larry King over the years. He had a great sense of humor and a genuine interest in people. He gave a direct line to the American people and worked hard to get the truth for them, with questions that were direct but fair. Farewell, my friend. pic.twitter.com/Q28Xy4F91W

— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) January 23, 2021


Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, tweeted, "I mourn the passing of Larry King whom I have known for nearly 40 years. He was a great interviewer - sensitivity, humorous and witty. And he actually let you talk! An all around mensch. Millions around the world shall miss him, including myself."

CNN founder Ted Turner said in a statement, "Larry was one of my closest and dearest friends and, in my opinion, the world’s greatest broadcast journalist of all time. If anyone asked me what are my greatest career achievements in life; one is the creation of CNN, and the other is hiring Larry King. Like so many who worked with and knew Larry, he was a consummate professional, an amazing mentor to many and a good friend to all. The world has lost a true legend."

CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement, "We mourn the passing of our colleague Larry King. The scrappy young man from Brooklyn had a history-making career spanning radio and television. His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career in broadcasting, but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him."

"We are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN, where his newsmaker interviews truly put the network on the international stage," Zucker said. "From our CNN family to Larry’s, we send our thoughts and prayers, and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work."

Here are more tributes to King:

 

 

I am saddened by the news of Larry King’s passing. He was a unique & legendary interviewer with a talent for putting his guests at ease while getting answers to the most important questions of interest to the millions who tuned in each night. He will be greatly missed.

— Al Gore (@algore) January 23, 2021

 

 

 

Larry King was a Brooklyn boy who become a newsman who interviewed the newsmakers. He conducted over 50,000 interviews that informed Americans in a clear and plain way.

New York sends condolences to his family and many friends.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 23, 2021

 

 

I’ve known Larry King since I arrived in LA 42 years ago. Larry King Live changed CNN in the 80s blending entertainment with news & I loved being on the show.
Larry was one of the best interviewers on TV. Always well prepared, asked intelligent questions, & always made the pic.twitter.com/kuDOx6gob5

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 23, 2021

 

 

My friend Larry King has died.

It is literally true that thousands of us can make that sad statement this morning. While he was easily caricatured, I’ve never known anybody who made a bigger deal out of the slightest kindness afforded him. #RIPLarryKing

1) 25 years ago... pic.twitter.com/CrA6tleJDH

— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 23, 2021

 

 

Larry King was a friend through thick and thin. A masterful interviewer and storyteller. He helped put CNN on the map by making news through the art of dialogue.. May he Rest In Peace.

— Dan Rather (@DanRather) January 23, 2021

 

 

Just heard the awful news about Larry King. He taught me so much. He was a true mensch. He probably even taught me that word.
So long pal, thanks for all the laughs. Say hi to Rickles. #RIPLarryKing

— Craig Ferguson (@CraigyFerg) January 23, 2021

 

 

Larry King was a legendary radio and tv pioneer. I always loved doing his tv shows and occasionally he would ask me to guest host while he was on vacation. One with Jack Hanna and animals from the Columbus Zoo remains a favorite. Larry will be missed but he left fond memories.

— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) January 23, 2021

 

 

Thanks for the countless interviews and insights, Larry King. You understood human triumph and frailty equally well, and that is no easy feat. There was no one else like you, and you shall be missed. Rest with the heavens now.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 23, 2021

 

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened by the passing of Larry King and offer their deepest condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/Di0aw7LZ5R

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 23, 2021

 

 

Oh no!!! RIP Larry King...what a Titan you were! One of our true icons. You are no longer in pain. Rest well
💔💛🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/m8gQWgRR0I

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 23, 2021

 

 

RIP Larry King!!!! I loved the easy breezy format of his CNN show, and his amazing voice.

— Andy Cohen (@Andy) January 23, 2021

 

 

I’ve had the honor of being interviewed by Larry King multiple times in my life. It was always a joy and a pleasure. He truly was the King of Talk. On a personal level, I’ll miss him. Professionally, we’ll all miss him. Rest In Peace, my friend. pic.twitter.com/lPt2BZybva

— Jesse Ventura (@GovJVentura) January 23, 2021

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Families say more should have been done after 3 murders at New York City housing complex

WABCBy MEREDITH DELISO and AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Three families mourning the loss of their matriarchs are questioning why more wasn't done to protect the residents of their senior housing complex after a man was arrested for their murders this week.

Kevin Gavin, 66, was charged Friday with three counts of second-degree murder for the killings, which spanned from 2015 to last week and occurred in the victims' apartments, authorities said.

Gavin was identified as a suspect during the investigation of the second homicide, but it wasn't until the murder on Jan. 15 that investigators said they were able to connect him to all three, police said.

The suspect would run errands for some of the elderly tenants who lived in the building, run by New York City's public housing authority, NYCHA, police said.

"He had a relationship with our victims," NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said during a media briefing Thursday.

Investigators believe the killings began as arguments about money. Gavin allegedly confessed to all three murders, prosecutors said in court Friday.

The first victim, Myrtle McKinney, 82, was found dead inside her apartment at the Woodson Houses on Nov. 9, 2015, by her home health aide. At first, it was thought she died of natural causes, but a medical examiner discovered a stab wound on her neck, authorities said. The homicide case remained open with few leads, Harrison said. In court documents, prosecutors said that Gavin told them he stabbed McKinney with a steak knife.

The second victim, Jacolia James, 83, was also found dead inside her apartment. Her grandson found her lying face down on April 30, 2019. She had suspicious injuries to her face and neck, and her official cause of death was strangulation. Gavin allegedly told prosecutors he choked her and "stomped on her neck three times."

Based on forensic evidence, Gavin became a suspect in James' murder and, by connection, McKinney's, but there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him at the time, police said. Last year, Gavin moved into his late brother's apartment in the building after he died.

The most recent homicide victim was killed nine months later. On Jan. 15, Juanita Caballero, 78, was found dead on the floor of her apartment with a telephone cord wrapped around her neck, authorities said. Her cause of death was strangulation.

Detectives were able to connect Gavin to all three murders based on evidence from the most recent homicide, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said during the briefing Thursday.

"Prior to that, the pattern of deaths in those houses could not be clearly linked to an individual," Gonzalez said. "After this unfortunate last killing, we were able to make a pretty definitive link to [Gavin]."

Gonzalez said that the arrest "will have a profound impact on public safety in Brooklyn." Though local leaders and the victims' family members are charging that more should have been done to protect residents of the complex following McKinney's murder in 2015.

"We're calling on the city, state and national resources to look into all of these murders, homicides, that were here," Councilwoman Inez Barron said Thursday during a press briefing with the victims' family members. "This has been a string of deaths that have occurred in a senior development, and we're saying the NYPD has been negligent ... and not put resources into solving these crimes in a timely manner."

Juanita Caballero's son, Steven Caballero, who discovered her body, said he is "heartbroken" over her murder and claimed that her building lacked significant security measures, such as cameras.

"NYCHA failed our families. They failed the McKinney family. They failed the James family. They failed my mother," said Steven Caballero. "They had time to do something, they just won't do nothing. I don't know what it's going to take for them to just put these cameras in the building."

His family plans to sue NYCHA over the security measures, the New York Daily News reported. The daughter of Jacolia James also filed suit against NYCHA last year, according to the paper.

"This building has no cameras. We need cameras. We need 'em now," Lamarr Crafton, the grandson of Jacolia James, said Thursday.

ABC News has reached out to NYCHA for comment on the cases and why Gavin was able to move into the building. The housing authority told New York ABC station WABC that the building currently has a security camera in the lobby, security doors and locks, and a security guard.

Harrison said police are now investigating other deaths in the building.

Gavin is being held without bail. His case was adjourned to Jan. 27. ABC News left a message with his attorney.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Police, residents plead for ceasefire after South LA sees 59 shooting victims in 1st 2 weeks of 2021

kali9/iStockBy ROSA SANCHEZ, ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- Police officers and community members gathered at a press conference Friday to discuss the recent rise in gang violence in South LA.

The Los Angeles Police Department shared a report from the press conference, calling the uptick in criminal activity "disturbing," "unacceptable" and "horrific."

These community members demonstrate a commitment to leadership.

Words from one community member—“We are killing ourselves.”

— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) January 23, 2021

Authorities on Friday said there has been more gun violence in the area in the first weeks of 2021 than during the same time last year. In fact, newly released LAPD statistics show murders in the city have more than doubled.

"We are seeing military-style weaponry, with high-capacity ammo rounds," LAPD Deputy Chief Regina Scott said at the press conference, according to a video shared by KTLA. "At one homicide scene alone we collected almost 70 ammo rounds going over four different handguns -- at one scene. That is horrific, what we are seeing."

LAPD statistics show that more than two-thirds of the shootings this year happened in South LA.

The area saw 59 shooting victims in the first two weeks of 2021, compared to seven during the same time last year, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore tweeted on Jan. 16. "Officers have made 105 arrests of individuals with firearms. 130 firearms taken from street. Gang intervention trying, but we need our community and elected officials," he wrote.

Some have said the COVID-19 pandemic -- which has taken lives, shut down businesses, brought on an economic depression and caused great pain to so many -- is partially to blame for the violence.

"The violence in Los Angeles is really out of control," said LAPD Detective Jamie McBride, speaking on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, KABC reported. "And to be quite honest right now, in Los Angeles we're fighting two pandemics. We're fighting COVID and gun violence."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Maine shifts some vaccine doses away from CVS and Walgreens

Oleksii Liskonih/iStockBy ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(AUGUSTA) -- As frustration mounts over slow COVID-19 vaccine rollouts at CVS and Walgreens around the country, Maine has been shifting supplies away from chain pharmacies to independent ones.

This week, the state transferred 975 doses from Walgreens to an independent pharmacy and next week it plans to transfer 500 doses away from CVS, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The decision was driven by the principles of velocity and equity, which are foundations of Maine's vaccination plan," Robert Long, a Maine CDC spokesperson, told ABC News in a statement. "The doses had not been committed to scheduled clinics, so the Maine Immunization Program redirected them to vaccination sites that had ready and immediate needs."

This week, Maine didn't send any of the doses it received from the federal government to CVS or Walgreens.

But according to Long, the decision to pause the retail pharmacy program isn't a policy shift. Instead, he said, it reflects the fact that CVS and Walgreens already had enough doses to fulfill their commitments for the week.

"This is not an issue of pace," a CVS spokesperson told ABC News. "The 500 doses noted are being moved because the operator of 14 long-term care facilities -- Shalom House in Portland -- wanted to move to Bedard Pharmacy, with whom they have an existing relationship."

"There are several factors that may leave us with more doses than initially planned," a Walgreens spokesperson told ABC News. "For example, the patient population at a long-term care facility has shifted, patients or staff elect not to get the vaccine, or a facility overestimated doses needed."

"We are not messing around with this," Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said during a news conference last week. "We've got doses waiting to be administered and people waiting to receive them. If we see a mismatch there, we are going to continue moving things around in that fashion."

It remains to be seen if Maine will follow in the footsteps of West Virginia, which was lauded for a successful vaccine rollout that relied on partnering with independent pharmacies instead of chains.

As of Jan. 21, West Virginia had vaccinated 9,349 out of every 100,000 residents, among the best per capita rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, Maine's per capita vaccination rate was 5,989 vaccines administered for every 100,000 people.

And while the Maine CDC said that West Virginia's success with independent pharmacies had no influence on Maine's decision to reallocate doses, the two states do have some key similarities.

While slightly more than half of pharmacies in Maine are chains, compared to 41% of pharmacies in West Virginia, both states have a dearth of chains in rural neighborhoods, according to an ABC News analysis of SafeGraph data. In Maine, there are only six chain pharmacies per 100,000 people in rural areas. Rural neighborhoods in West Virginia have roughly eight chain pharmacies per 100,000 people.

John Beckner, senior director of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents independent pharmacies, said that independent pharmacies had wanted to be involved in the initial vaccine distribution effort.

"We had numerous meetings and calls with CDC and HHS. We lobbied," he said. "By and large, states have elected to use CVS and Walgreens. In some cases that worked OK. In other cases, there were a lot of bumps in the road."

And despite the perception that independent pharmacies aren't as well equipped as the big chains to handle vaccinations, Beckner, a pharmacist by training, stressed that independent pharmacists often have decades of experience immunizing patients. There's also the relationship factor: In addition to existing partnerships with nursing homes, in rural communities without a doctor, local pharmacist sometimes double as primary care.

While tricky requirements for storing the Pfizer vaccine make the Moderna a more realistic option for pharmacies "the main challenge for our members has been access to the vaccine," Beckner said.

More states are reaching out to independent pharmacies, according to Beckner, and with the prospect of additional vaccines like Johnson & Johnson's in the pipeline, Beckner is hopeful that independents will have a bigger role to play when vaccinations of the general public start.

"What we've seen in West Virginia is best practice, quite frankly," he said. "Other states have really taken notice."

ABC News' Mark Nichols contributed to this report.

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