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News Wrap: CDC says U.K. variant now the most common strain in the U.S

In our news wrap Wednesday, the CDC says a highly contagious virus variant first found in Britain has now become the most common strain in the U.S., the Biden administration announced it’s resuming aid to Palestinians, at least 144 people are dead in Indonesia following landslides, and authorities say Tiger Woods was going 40 m.p.h. over the speed limit when he crashed an SUV in February.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The European Union's drug regulator has discovered a possible link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and rare blood clots.

    Several dozen cases had been investigated among the 25 million who received that vaccine in the U.K. and Europe. But the agency said the side effects were very rare, and insisted the benefits still outweigh the risks.

  • Emer Cooke:

    COVID-19 is a very serious disease with high hospitalization and death rates. And, every day, COVID is still causing thousands of deaths across the E.U. This vaccine has proven to be highly effective. It prevents severe disease and hospitalization, and it is saving lives.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Britain's vaccine advisory agency said that it would offer people under 30 the choice of an alternate vaccine. AstraZeneca's vaccine has been approved for emergency use in more than 70 countries.

    It's also the main COVID inoculation administered throughout most of the developing world, since it's more affordable and easier to store.

    We will have more on this later in the program.

    Meanwhile, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a highly contagious virus variant first found in Britain has now become the most common strain in the U.S. It is more transmissible and infectious among younger Americans, which has contributed to a recent spike in cases.

    President Biden said today that he's open to compromise on how to pay for his $2.3 trillion infrastructure package. As part of his proposal, the corporate tax rate would increase from 21 percent to 28 percent.

    At the White House, the president said he is willing to negotiate with Republicans for a lower rate, as long as the infrastructure projects are funded.

  • Pres. Joe Biden:

    We have got to pay for this. We have got to pay. There's many other ways we can do it, but I'm willing to negotiate that.

    I have come forward with the best, most rational way, in my view, the fairest way to pay for it. But there are many other ways as well. And I'm open.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will have more on the president's plan and the state of the nation's infrastructure after the news summary.

    The "NewsHour" confirms that President Biden will nominate David Chipman to be head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He is a retired ATF agent and an adviser at the gun control group Giffords. If confirmed, he would be the agency's first permanent director since 2015.

    The Biden administration today also announced that it's resuming U.S. aid to the Palestinians. It will provide $235 million for projects in the West Bank and Gaza and for the United Nations' agency supporting refugees. Former President Trump had cut off nearly all funding to the Palestinians during his tenure.

    In the Derek Chauvin trial today, a use-of-force expert with the Los Angeles Police Department testified that Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd's neck from the time he was handcuffed face down until paramedics arrived. Sergeant Jody Stiger told prosecutors that that type of restraint was excessive.

  • Sgt. Jody Stiger:

    He was not attempting to resist, and the pressure that he was — that was being caused by the body weight would — to cause positional asphyxia, which can cause death.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Stiger also refuted claims from Chauvin's attorney that the officers at the scene were distracted by angry bystanders. He said, from the evidence he'd seen, the onlookers didn't appear to be a threat to police.

    In Eastern Indonesia, at least 140 people are dead and dozens more still missing following days of torrential rainfall that triggered landslides in the region. Cleanup efforts began on Lembata Island, where villagers returned to find their homes damaged and filled with mud.

    Jordan's King Abdullah said his country is now stable after a rare public rift with his half-brother Prince Hamzah. He addressed it for the first time in a statement, saying — quote — "It was the most painful, because those who are party to the sedition were from our own home."

    The prince has denied involvement and is under house arrest.

    Meanwhile, President Biden held a call with King Abdullah to reaffirm U.S. support.

    The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said that Tiger Woods was going 40 miles an hour over the speed limit when he crashed an SUV in February. They blamed the accident solely on excessive speed and the golfer's loss of control behind the wheel on a stretch of road that's notorious for crashes.

  • Capt. James Powers:

    There's two factors. It's the speed and the failing to maintain the straight course — the curvature of the roadway. That's it. There's nothing from his cell phone to indicate any type of distracted driving. Based on all the facts, there was no evidence of any impairment or intoxication.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Woods underwent surgery for multiple breaks in his right leg and is recovering in Florida.

    In economic news, the U.S. Treasury Department today reported that it's issued more than 156 million direct payments as part of President Biden's COVID relief package.

    And trading was light on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 16 points to close at 33446. The Nasdaq fell nine points, and the S&P 500 added six to hit another record close.

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