5 things to know for July 12: Coronavirus, extreme heat, Haiti, Ethiopia, Cuba

5 things to know for July 12: Coronavirus, extreme heat, Haiti, Ethiopia, Cuba

He did it. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson rocketed to outer space, becoming the first person to ride into space on a rocket he helped fund.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

The US averaged about 19,455 coronavirus cases over the last seven days, a 47% increase over the previous week. According to a CNN medical analyst, a third of those are coming from five hot spots: Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Nevada. In these states, ICUs are packed and ventilators are sometimes hard to come by — a chilling echo of the darkest pandemic months. Experts say vaccine hesitancy is one reason for these regional spikes. Pfizer will virtually brief US government officials today about the potential need for booster shots of its Covid-19 vaccine, but Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans don’t need to worry about an additional dose just yet.

2. Extreme heat

Lots of high temperature records were broken in the western US this weekend, and triple-digit temperatures continue to threaten the region. In California’s Death Valley, the temperature hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit. But high temperatures aren’t the only problem in extremely hot areas like this — it’s also the lows people have to watch. The forecasted low in Death Valley this morning is 103, which is more than 10 degrees above average. High low temperatures don’t allow the body to cool down after a day of taxing heat. In British Columbia, the heat wave is being blamed for a massive die-off of mussels, clams and other marine animals along beaches in Western Canada. As if heat weren’t enough, on the opposite coast, slow-moving weekend thunderstorms triggered flash flooding in New York and New Jersey.

3. Haiti

Haitian authorities have arrested a man they say helped orchestrate last week’s assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Police did not say what the 63-year-old’s motives may have been but said he arrived in the country in June with “political intentions” and was in touch with a Florida-based Venezuelan security firm to recruit 26 Colombian mercenaries and two Haitian-Americans. Police previously said a group of at least 28 people are suspected in the killing. At least 20 of those suspects have been detained, including two Americans. Agents from the US and other nations have joined the criminal inquiry into Moise’s death. With some Haitians and local politicians not ready to trust the government’s version of Wednesday’s events, international cooperation in the investigation could boost public confidence.

4. Ethiopia

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ruling Prosperity Party won the country’s general elections in a landslide, ensuring another term for the controversial leader. Ahmed received the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, but his administration has drawn criticism during the past year for delaying elections twice and taking military action in the Tigray region, where thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed. Opposition movements say the process, which marked Ethiopia’s first multiparty elections in 16 years, was fraudulent. Beforehand, both the US and the European Union expressed concern about the conditions under which the elections were held.

5. Cuba

Thousands of Cubans gathered to protest a lack of food amid a grave economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and US sanctions. Such demonstrations are rare in Cuba, but a steep drop in tourism and imports, a lack of Covid-19 protections and a recent run of long power outages have weighed heavily on the public. Some protesters called for President Miguel Díaz-Canel to step down and demanded access to Covid-19 vaccines. (Cuban health officials yesterday reported a record single-day increase for new coronavirus cases and deaths.) The White House and some US officials have expressed support for protesting Cubans, saying they have the right to demonstrate.


Italy won the Euro 2020 final over England on penalty kicks

As if a whole game and two extra-time periods weren’t anxiety-inducing enough, it had to come down to the last round of shots.

Novak Djokovic wins record-equaling 20th Grand Slam after winning Wimbledon

All in all, a very exciting sports weekend.

7-Eleven Day is canceled again. But you can still get a free Slurpee

It wouldn’t be summer without some frosty, mouth-numbing — and most importantly, FREE — Slurpee sips.

Engagement ring sales soar as Americans recover from the pandemic

Well, if you make it through the pandemic together, you can probably make it through anything.

Mystery buyer spends $12.3 million on a 101-carat diamond — and pays in cryptocurrency

Well, if we’re talking engagement rings



That’s the proportion of Americans who say they’re thriving, according to a new Gallup poll. That marks a more than 10-year high for American optimism.


“I bring back into mind the families and friends that want some closure and are just desperately waiting for any information. And that gives me the strength and motivation to keep digging.”

Chief Nichole Notte of Florida Task Force 2, describing the emotional and physical toll of rescue efforts at the Surfside condo collapse and how she and others on the scene find the will to keep digging


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Defying gravity

It’s called a gymwheel, and my mind can barely comprehend how gymnasts make using one look so easy and beautiful. (Click here to view.)

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