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News Wrap: U.S. to send 4 million COVID vaccines to Mexico, Canada

In our news wrap Thursday, the U.S. will send a combined 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine to Mexico and Canada, the European Union’s drug regulatory agency said the vaccine does not pose a significant threat of blood clots, the fight over wearing face masks sparked fireworks at a U.S. Senate hearing, and powerful storms rolled across more of the deep South.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: the U.S. will send a combined four million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine to Mexico and Canada. The Biden administration has stockpiled doses, pending the vaccine's approval here.

    Last week, the White House said President Biden was not ready to share the supply, but that changed today.

  • Jen Psaki:

    Our first priority remains vaccinating the U.S. population. the reality is — but the reality is that border knows no — the pandemic knows no borders. And ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is a mission-critical step, is mission-critical to ending the pandemic.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, Mexico announced travel curbs along its Southern border to contain COVID. Growing numbers of Central American migrants have been heading north toward the U.S.

    The European Union's drug regulatory agency said today the AstraZeneca vaccine does not pose a significant threat of blood clots. A number of European states had suspended use of the vaccine, pending the findings.

    The fight over wearing face masks sparked fireworks at a U.S. Senate hearing today. Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, himself a physician, rejected CDC guidance to keep wearing masks after being vaccinated.

    White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the science shows that virus variants are still a threat.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci:

    When you talk about reinfection, and you don't keep in the concept of variants, that's an entirely different ball game. That's a good reason for a mask.

  • Sen. Rand Paul:

    You want people to get the vaccine, give them a reward, instead of telling them that the nanny state's going to be there for three more years, and you got to wear a mask forever.

    People don't want to hear it. There's no science behind it.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci:

    Well, let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective. And we ask…

  • Sen. Rand Paul:

    If they have immunity, they're theater.

    If you already have immunity, you're wearing a mask to give comfort to others.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Rand Paul:

    You're not wearing a mask because of any science.

  • Anthony Fauci:

    I totally disagree with you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Later, President Biden again pleaded with Americans to keep wearing masks. He also said that his goal of 100 million vaccinations during his first 100 days in office will be met tomorrow, 41 days early.

    The U.S. Senate today confirmed Xavier Becerra as the secretary of Health and Human Services. The California state attorney general squeaked through 50 to 49. Democrats rejected Republican claims that he's too liberal and knows little about health care policy.

    The U.S. House of Representatives moved late today to pass two major immigration bills. They grant legal status and potential citizenship to some two million dreamers, brought here illegally as children, and one million farmworkers.

    The two parties jousted over the need for action vs. border enforcement.

  • Rep. Raul Ruiz:

    Dreamers are doctors, nurses, lab technicians, contact tracers, and job creators. Farmworkers are getting infected and dying from COVID at a much higher rate than the general public. They are literally dying to feed you.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy:

    There are legal avenues to enter our country. Doing otherwise is a violation of our laws.

    Unfortunately, House Democrats are not interested in making any serious attempt to address this crisis. Today, they were voting on two bills that not only do nothing to address the problem, it ignores the problem, but will actually worsen the situation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is unclear what the bills' chances are in the evenly divided Senate.

    The Biden administration's first high-level talks with China have begun in Anchorage, Alaska. Secretary of State Antony Blinken opened the meetings with China's top two diplomats this afternoon. He said he will raise Chinese human rights abuses, economic coercion and other issues.

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin accused President Biden of hypocrisy today. Biden said this week that he believes Putin is a killer. In response, Putin said it's Biden who represents a history of violence.

  • Pres. Vladimir Putin (through translator):

    Regarding the American establishment, its identity was formed in circumstances that are well-known.

    The colonization of the American continent by Europeans was tied with the extermination of the local peoples. This was followed by a brutal, long and difficult period of slavery. All of this continues in history to this day. Otherwise, where would the Black Lives Matter movement have come from?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A U.S. intelligence report this week said that Russia tried to hurt Mr. Biden's chances in the U.S. presidential election. The Kremlin denied that.

    Back in this country, a former ambassador to Russia, William Burns, has won Senate confirmation to be director of the CIA. It came without opposition on a voice vote.

    Powerful storms rolled across more of the Deep South today, with Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas bracing for possible tornadoes. An apparent twister struck Southwest Alabama on Wednesday, tearing out trees and damaging homes. But there were no deaths.

    Claims for unemployment benefits jumped to 770,000 last week, up 45,000.

    And Wall Street was down today on falling oil prices and rising interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 153 points to close at 32862. The Nasdaq fell 409 points, 3 percent, and the S&P 500 slid 58.

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