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Obama to deliver his last State of the Union on Jan 12

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US President Barack Obama would deliver his last State of the Union Address to the Congress on January 12.

Obama, who is currently on his year-end vacation in Hawaii, announced this in an email to his supporters yesterday. “I’ve got 12 months left to squeeze every ounce of change I can while I’m still in office. And that’s what I intend to do,” he wrote.

Sent through his ‘Obama for America’ organisation, Obama, the 44th US President, indicated that he would use the occasion to highlight the achievements of his presidency to a joint session of the US Congress.

“We’ve done a lot of remarkable things together this year, and it’s because of committed citizens like you that this country keeps moving forward. You keep proving the cynics wrong,” he said.

“When we took office, we were losing nearly 750,000 jobs a month. But over the last 69 months, our businesses have created more than 13.7 million new jobs — the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record — and the unemployment rate is down to 5 per cent,” Obama, who was first elected President in 2008 and then in 2012, wrote.

For the first time more than 90 per cent of Americans are now covered, and more than 17 million people have gained health insurance under Obamacare. Insurance companies can’t discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, or charge women more just for being women, he said.

Affordable healthcare reform is one of the key achievements of his presidency, which comes to end in January 2017.

Stating that America is now leading by example on climate change, Obama said, “The Clean Power Plan will cut carbon pollution from power plants by 32 per cent by 2030. We’ve cut our oil imports by more than half, while doubling clean energy production from wind, solar, and geothermal — creating steady sources of good jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

“Even as our economy is growing, America has cut our carbon pollution overall more than any other advanced nation on Earth. And we just helped secure the most ambitious global climate agreement in history,” said the US President.

“These are your accomplishments, and that’s what I want to celebrate with you on January 12. As long as you’re out there organising, on whatever issue you’re organising around, America has a bright future ahead,” Obama said

Health

Boris Johnson spends second night in intensive care

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Boris Johnson

London, April 8 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spends a second night in intensive care as he continues to receive treatment for coronavirus.

The PM is being kept at St Thomas’ Hospital in London “for close monitoring”, Downing Street said, the BBC reported.

Johnson’s condition is “stable” and he remains in “good spirits”, his spokesman added on Tuesday evening.

Speaking at Tuesday’s Downing Street coronavirus briefing, he said Johnson was receiving standard oxygen treatment and was breathing without any assistance, such as mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.

It is understood there will not be a further update on Mr Johnson’s condition until later on Wednesday.

Downing Street also confirmed that the planned review into whether the UK’s coronavirus lockdown measures could be eased would not go ahead this Monday.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the PM, has said he was “confident” the PM would recover from this illness, describing him as a “fighter”.

Prime Minister was originally admitted to St Thomas’ on Sunday, on the advice of his doctor, after continuing to display symptoms of cough and high temperature 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

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America

COVID19 attack rate 14 in 1,000 in New York City: White House

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COVID-19 cases

New York, April 8 : The coronavirus continues to attack nearly 14 in 1,000 people in New York City and 7 in 1000 across New York State on a day when this COVID-19 hotspot recorded its biggest single-day surge in death toll from the pandemic that has killed more than 12,700 Americans and sickened nearly 400,000 across 50 states.

Despite the sobering numbers, America’s top infectious diseases doctor Anthony Fauci remains confident that America will have the COVID-19 pandemic “under control” by Fall 2020.

New York State reported 731 new coronavirus deaths, taking the state toll to nearly 5,500 since its first COVID-19 death on March 13. The spike comes even as hospital admissions and intubations are slowing, which suggest that the city may be close to its peak death tally and levelling off.

The death tally is a “lagging indicator” that reflects the loss of people hospitalised around the time social distancing rules came into play.

New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus rose past 3,200 Tuesday, which is way more than those killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

“That’s 731 people who we lost. Behind every one of those numbers is an individual. There’s a family, there’s a mother, there’s a father, there’s a sister, there’s a brother. So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers,” Cuomo said at a briefing Tuesday.

Later on the same day, White House coronavirus co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said the attack rate in New York continues to be the country’s highest.

She was speaking at the daily White House task force briefing.

Beyond the New York border, the numbers drop but remain concerning, she said.

The drop off in the attack rate in a series of communities outside the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas are creating “much flatter curves”, according to Birx.

New Jersey is at 4 per 1000, Louisiana 3 per 1000, Massachusetts and Connecticut are 2 per 1000, Michigan, Washington DC and Baltimore are at 1.5 per 1000, Pennsylvania is at 1 per 1000.

“We see across the country a different curve parameter,” Birx said. “It shows the amazing activity of Americans in those cities, following social distancing guidelines.”

Birx called for “less socialisation between households” and urged Americans not to go out for non-essential tasks for as long as they could avoid it. “Let’s do this as a mark of respect for our amazing frontline health care workers,” she said.

When asked about the next school season, Fauci cautioned that COVID-19 “is not going to disappear” but also said he remains optimistic that “we’ll be in good shape”.

By Fall 2020, Fauci said the decisions around re-opening schools and businesses will depend on the country’s ability to “identify, isolate, to contact trace”.

“By that time, with the antibody tests, we’ll have a better sense of the actual penetrance of this in society. How many people have really been infected? How many are vulnerable? All of these things are going to go into the decision on how much back to the normal you can go back to.”

According to Fauci, America’s new normal when it emerges from the worst phase of the crisis will be something “very different to what we are going through now”.

“When we go back to normal, we’ll go back to a way of life where we can function as a society. If you want to get to pre-coronavirus, that might not ever happen because the threat is there,” he said.

Fauci has cautioned that COVID-19 is showing all the signs that it could hit on a seasonal cycle and that a vaccine is the ultimate gamechanger. According to him, the most aggressive timeline could deliver a vaccine in “12-18 months”.

(Nikhila Natarajan can be contacted at @byniknat)

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Health

Trump threatens to stop WHO funding as NY deaths pass 9/11 fatalities

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Donald Trump

In his regular press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed displeasure with the World Health Organization (WHO), saying it was too “China-centric.”

Trump then threatened to withhold U.S. funding because they disagreed with him on his coronavirus travel ban.

But when pressed by reporters afterward, Trump said, “I’m looking at it.”

The president said that the United States might be getting to the top of the “curve” of the coronavirus outbreak and said he did not see an early written warning about the pandemic from a top White House aide.

Trump further added that evidence shows African Americans are having higher rates of COVID-19 infection in the United States and his administration is actively engaging on the problem of increased impacts on the African American community.

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