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A pub in Dublin Monday, when Ireland reported 1,031 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total to 50,993. "If we pull together, we'll be able to celebrate Christmas," Taoiseach Micheál Martin said. Photo: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

The Republic of Ireland will return to its highest level of lockdown restrictions this week to combat surging coronavirus cases, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced Monday evening.

Why it matters: The country is the first in Europe to announce a return to a nationwide lockdown. Martin described the measures that'll see non-essential retailers close, home visits banned and a three-mile travel limit imposed from midnight Wednesday as "probably Europe's strictest regime." Bars, cafes and restaurants can only serve takeout meals only under the measures, which will last for six weeks.

Go deeper: In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

Jan 27, 2021 - Health

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

Updated 26 mins ago - Sports

MLB enters first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.