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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A customer riding a bike in front of Taco Bell. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Taco Bell is expanding its benefits program to pay for its employees' education, reports USA Today. The company's package offers employees $5,250 in tuition assistance per year, college credit for on-the-job training, personalized college advisors, and discounts at 80 online universities and programs ranging from high school to master's degrees.

Why it matters: The fast food chain expects to add 100,000 new positions by 2022 and needs a way to retain current and future employees. As unemployment rates steadily decrease and wages finally start to rise, companies have to find ways to edge each other for prospective employees. Aiding employees in education gives Taco Bell and opportunity to do that.

Yes, but: Taco Bell isn't the only employer helping employees with education. The hotel industry began a similar initiative earlier this month. Chipotle also has a college assistance program that they've been operating since 2015 and more than 7,000 employees have opted into the program.

Go deeper: U.S unemployment rate may fall under 3.5% soon.

Go deeper

Updated 21 mins ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbot (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.

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