Biden wants fast COVID aid, but minimum wage hike in doubt

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden laid out his case Friday for moving fast to pass $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief, but even as he opened the door to proceeding without Republicans, he conceded that a key element of his plan — hiking the minimum wage to $15 per hour — was unlikely to become law.

Coronavirus cases drop at US homes for elderly and infirm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Coronavirus cases have decreased at U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the past few weeks, offering a glimmer of hope that health officials attribute to the start of vaccinations, an easing of the post-holiday surge and better prevention, among other reasons.

Wisconsin prosecutors seek Rittenhouse arrest, higher bond

MADISON, Wis. — Prosecutors asked a judge Wednesday for a new arrest warrant for an Illinois teen charged with shooting three people, killing two of them, during a protest about police brutality in Wisconsin after he apparently violated his bail conditions.

State epidemiologist Park leaves DOH

HONOLULU — The state epidemiologist who has been blamed for slowing Hawaii’s coronavirus response has left the Department of Health. Dr. Sarah Park’s last day with the department was Dec. 31.

Why US hiring could rebound faster than you might expect

WASHINGTON — Hiring has weakened for six consecutive months. Nearly 10 million jobs remain lost since the coronavirus struck. And this week, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that employment won’t regain its pre-pandemic level until 2024. And yet a hopeful view is gaining steam that as vaccinations reach a critical mass, perhaps by about midyear, and the government provides further stimulus, the economy and the job market will strengthen much faster than they did after previous recessions.

Biden flexible on who gets aid, tells lawmakers to ‘go big’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden encouraged Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday to “act fast” on his $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan but also signaled he’s open to changes, including limiting the proposed $1,400 direct payments to Americans with lower income levels, which could draw Republican support.

Study finds COVID-19 vaccine might reduce virus transmission

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine shows a hint that it might reduce transmission of the coronavirus and offers strong protection for three months on just a single dose, researchers said Wednesday in an encouraging turn in the campaign to suppress the outbreak.