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January 3, 2021

News Roundup: As new year begins, a new vaccine and new government on horizon

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. Have students record what they found most significant in the summaries and ask them what they’d like to learn more about. For a transcript of the video, click here

Summary of the top news: Out of many stories that shaped the country in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is the shared event that touched everyone’s life. Since the first reported case of COVID-19 a little more than a year ago, the pandemic has taken a devastating toll in the U.S. — far worse than in many other developed countries.

  • The cumulative death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. by January 1, 2021, had exceeded the total population of cities (ca. 350,000) like Pittsburgh or St. Louis.
  • Vaccines from multiple manufacturers were approved and distributed by the end 2020, offering some hope for a return to normal for many in the coming year.
  • Vaccine doses for COVID-19 were distributed across the United States, mostly to high priority recipients like health care workers and those in long-term care facilities. Though early plans by the federal government targeted at least 20 million doses of vaccine administered before the new year, only a small fraction of that number was reached by January 1, 2021. Experts believe the speed of vaccine administration will have to improve to achieve needed coverage in the coming year.

Also in the news:

Discussion:

Warm up questions: 

  1. Who is first in line to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
  2. What are some of the problems with early vaccine distribution?
  3. Where and When is the vaccine being distributed
  4. Why will it take so long for the vaccine to become available to everyone?
  5. How might people stay safe while waiting for a vaccine?

Focus questions:

  1. Do you think federal, state or local governments should have the most control over vaccine distribution? Why do you think so?
  2. What do you think would be the most fair system for deciding who gets access to vaccines first?

Media literacy: What news do you think was most important from this summary? What important news are you aware of that was left out?

Additional resources:

If there is time, you may want to watch some or all of the following video with your students, which recap major stories from 2020, including the COVID-19 epidemic, school closures, a consequential national election and police and civil rights protests. You can also check out NewsHour EXTRA’s archives for lessons and daily news stories on these topics and more:

 


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