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School buses on a lot at Washington St. and Melnea Cass Blvd. on Aug. 29, 2019 in Boston. Photo: Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Monday activated the state's National Guard to assist with school transportation.

Driving the news: Schools across the country are experiencing a shortage of bus drivers, which has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 80% of school districts reported having issued finding an adequate number of drivers.

State of play: Baker said in a press release that 250 guard personnel will become available for the task.

  • They will need to complete vehicle training "to ensure the safety of children and families."
  • Training is scheduled to start Tuesday, with 90 guard members being sent to help in the cities of Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn.
  • The guard members will operate vans known as "7D vehicles," which are smaller than regular school buses.

What they're saying: "The Guard has a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities. Their frequent side-by-side training with state and local first responders makes them well-suited for a variety of missions," Baker said.

Of note: The governor said that the mission will not interfere with the National Guard's ability to respond to emergencies within the state.

Go deeper

19 hours ago - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

11 hours ago - Health

Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years

Expand chart
Data: Annals of Internal Medicine; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.

20 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

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