The federal COVID emergency will officially come to an end this spring; winter weather is again grounding flights nationwide; first responders involved in the Tyre Nichols case have been fired; and an appeals court rules that Johnson and Johnson cannot use a subsidiary to protect itself from lawsuits. These stories and more highlight the daily morning rundown for Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023.
COVID emergency to end May 11
President Joe Biden has informed Congress that he is ending the national emergency and public health emergency for COVID-19 on May 11. That means the federal government’s response will move from fighting the coronavirus as a pandemic to an endemic. The public health emergency was first declared on Jan. 31, 2020, the national emergency was enacted that March.
Winter weather hits from Texas to Kentucky
So far Tuesday morning, more than 1,700 flights have been canceled and more than 8,000 delayed due to a winter ice storm that’s moving from Texas through Oklahoma, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. It has the potential to cause dangerous travel conditions and power outages for at least the next 48 hours.
U.S. sending weapons to Korean peninsula
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in Seoul, South Korea, where overnight, he announced the U.S. will send more advanced weapons, including fighter jets and bombers, to the Korean peninsula. This is in response to what the Defense Department says is a growing nuclear threat from North Korea. Austin also said the two countries have agreed to expand military exercises, including live fire demonstrations.
“The U.S. commitment to the defense of Korea is ironclad. You heard us say that a number of times, but that’s not just a slogan, it’s what we are all about,” Austin said. “That commitment is ironclad. And our extended deterrence is at the heart of that commitment.”
The U.S. has more than 28,000 service members deployed in South Korea.
First responders fired in Tyre Nichols case
The Memphis fire department announced two EMTs have been fired for failing to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Tyre Nichols. The department also says a lieutenant was fired for waiting in the engine after their team responded to a report of someone being pepper sprayed.
In addition, the Memphis Police Department says two more officers have been suspended, including one who tased Nichols. The department says there are numerous charges still developing and more personnel actions will be announced in the coming days.
Nichols died Jan. 10 after being beaten by police. Five officers were fired and charged with murder.
Appeals court rules against Johnson & Johnson
An appeals court unanimously ruled that Johnson and Johnson cannot use a subsidiary to protect itself from lawsuits.
J&J created LTL Management LLC in 2021 to make it responsible for liability it is facing in 38,000 lawsuits that claim the company’s talc based powder causes cancer. The plan was to file the subsidiary for bankruptcy.
Johnson & Johnson and other companies have tried to do this using a Texas law, but the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shot that down.
Biden to kick-off NY-NJ tunnel project
President Biden will be in New York City today to kick off a new tunnel project between the Big Apple and New Jersey. This is a key corridor for commuters going in and out of NYC serving about 200,000 passengers per day.
The tunnel flooded during superstorm Sandy, which led to corrosion that continues to get worse.
The federal government will provide $292 million for the initial concrete casing from the bipartisan infrastructure law the president signed in 2021. Ultimately, the full tunnel construction will cost $16 billion.
On Monday, the president announced billions in funding for a 150-year-old rail tunnel in Baltimore. He said every day that tunnel shuts down, it costs the economy $100 million.
“Ninety-nine percent of the weekdays, there’s been a delay here somewhere. Trust me, I know. This tunnel is nearly, as I said, 150 years old. This is Civil War era when Ulysses S. Grant was president. The structure is deteriorating. The roof is leaking, the floor is sinking,” Biden said.
Right now, trains are stuck going 30 miles per hour in the Baltimore tunnel. When the new one is complete, trains will fly through at 120 miles per hour and get from Baltimore to D.C. in 30 minutes.
Boeing delivering last 747 jumbo jet
Since 1969, the Boeing 747 jumbo jet has served as a cargo plane, a passenger jet that can carry 500 passengers, it carried NASA space shuttles, and flew as Air Force One. But today marks the end of an era because Boeing will deliver its final 747 jumbo. The jet revolutionized travel and allowed people to travel overseas distances never before possible. But companies like Boeing and Airbus have since developed far more efficient planes that run on two engines, instead of four.
Humans and dolphin fish in harmony
New research shows that humans and dolphins can successfully work together to catch more fish. Researchers used drones, sound recordings and other tools to show how Brazilian fisherman and bottlenose dolphins help each other to catch mullet.
The researchers say this is a cultural tradition that’s been going on for more than a century in Laguna, Brazil. But they worry new commercial fishing methods could bring it to an end.