In our news wrap Thursday, the CDC's newly announced eviction moratorium is already facing a legal challenge after the Alabama Association of Realtors asked a federal court for an injunction that would let evictions resume. Also, Iran gets a new president who cements hardliners' control of the government and a wildfire consumes a California town as Turkey and Greece fight separate blazes overseas.
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There's fresh evidence tonight that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is piling up casualties nationwide. Federal health officials say hospitalizations have more than tripled in the last month. And they say the daily average of new infections is the highest since February, driven by a failure to vaccinate.
Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator:
In seven states alone, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, states with some of the lowest vaccination rates account for about half of new cases and hospitalizations in the past week, despite making up less than a quarter of the U.S. population.
Also today, the White House confirmed that it's looking into requiring COVID vaccinations for foreign travelers entering the U.S. And Amazon delayed its return-to-office date for corporate and tech employees until January.
The CDC's newly announced eviction moratorium is already facing a legal challenge. The Alabama Association of Realtors went back to federal court last night, asking for an injunction that would let evictions resume. The judge ordered the Biden administration to respond by tomorrow morning.
A windblown fire in Northern California consumed a gold rush town overnight. The Dixie Fire, largest in the state, torched block after block of Greenville. Buildings that had stood for more than a century burned, but no one was killed. Two other towns were threatened today and thousands of people were under evacuation orders.
In Greece, firefighters carried out evacuations just north of Athens today, ahead of a wildfire fueled by record heat. Meanwhile, in Southern Greece, crews battled a fire that threatened the site of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympics. And, in Turkey, firefighters contained a fire that threatened a power plant.
Iran now has a new president, Ebrahim Raisi, cementing hard-liners' control of the government. Raisi was sworn in today before Parliament. He called for U.S. sanctions to end, but he insisted Tehran will not stop trying to project its power.
Ebrahim Raisi(through translator):
We are the true defenders of human rights. We do not accept silence in the face of tyranny, crime, in violation of the innocent and defenseless people's rights. Whenever there is crime and oppression, we will stand by the oppressed ones.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department pressed Iran to resume negotiations on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. It said the opportunity won't last forever.
The U.S. Justice Department has opened a full-scale review today of police practices in Phoenix, Arizona. The focus is on whether Phoenix officers use excessive force and abuse the homeless. The mayor and police department leaders say they welcome the investigation. Similar federal probes are already under way in Minneapolis and Louisville.
Police who battled pro-Trump rioters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 received Congress' highest honor today. At a White House ceremony, President Biden signed a measure awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the U.S. Capitol Police, Washington, D.C., police and others. The president said their courage helped preserve democracy.
On Wall Street today, new job market data and corporate earnings pushed stock prices higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 271 points to close at 35064. The Nasdaq rose 114 points to a record high. The S&P 500 added 26, also finishing at a record high.
And at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the U.S. women's soccer team beat Australia 4-3 for the bronze medal. And the U.S. men's basketball team downed Australia 97-78 and faces France for the gold medal on Saturday. Americans also won gold in the women's pole vault and the men's shot put.