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Today’s top stories
Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.
The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.
- Vaccines: The barriers to vaccine passports — U.S. ahead of pace on vaccine.
- Health: Why we need to know COVID's origins— CDC: Easing mask mandates led to higher COVID cases and deaths — A worrying decline in COVID testing.
- Economy: U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February.
- Politics: Senate passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
- World: Coronavirus variants driving another surge across Europe.
- States: California theme parks, sports stadiums can begin reopening April 1 — West Virginia lifts COVID capacity limits on restaurants, many businesses — Oregon governor orders all public schools to reopen by mid-April.
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President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.
Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.
The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.
Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Geopolitical tensions are foiling efforts to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 originated.
Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.
Mexican Americans make up the nation's largest Latino group, yet they remain politically outshined by more recently arrived Cuban Americans.
Why it matters: The disparities in political power between Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans reflect the racial, historical, geographical and economic differences within Latino cultures in the U.S.
Race and identity play into the media platforms people use to advocate their politics, data show.
Why it matters: People of color and Democrats are more likely to take to social platforms like Twitter to advocate for a cause, and to say that seeing something on social media changed their views. Republicans are increasingly turning to partisan outlets on TV, print and audio.
Vaccine passports could become available soon to help people resume their lives — but they face numerous scientific, social and political barriers to being accepted.
The big picture: Reliable and accessible proof of vaccine-induced protection from the novel coronavirus could speed international travel and economic reopening, but obstacles to its wide-scale adoption are so great it may never fully arrive.