Three things to know
— Health officials are on edge as the coronavirus clashes with a Sunday sports event that typically brings millions of people together: the NFL Super Bowl. They fear that the game could seed new COVID-19 cases if fans attend parties to watch Tampa Bay play Kansas City. The new coronavirus strain that spread quickly in the United Kingdom was confirmed in Kansas after turning up in several other states. States, meanwhile, are in a race to vaccinate. The game will be played in front of about 22,000 masked fans in Tampa, many of them vaccinated health workers.
— Virus deaths won’t be reflected in the 2020 census, a step that will have an impact on where congressional seats get apportioned, experts say. The important reference date for answering census questions was April 1, soon after U.S. deaths began. New York state, which has had about 44,000 deaths, is expected to lose a House seat due to population shifts but it could have lost two if the census date was later, said Kimball Brace, a redistricting expert at Election Data Services. The Census Bureau releases apportionment numbers by April 30.
— Make a deal or stick to his guns? President Joe Biden spent decades shaking hands-on bipartisan fixes, first as a senator and then as vice-president. But now the Democrat seems to be favouring quick action in Congress on a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill, even if Republicans get left behind. The administration has encouraged Democratic senators to prepare a plan that combines money to address the virus and vaccines with money to fulfill a progressive agenda that includes a higher federal minimum wage.
According to data through Feb. 5 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. fell over the past two weeks, from 180,489 on Jan. 22 to about 125,854 on Feb. 5. Over the same period, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths rose from 3,088 to roughly 3,250.
On the horizon
Some experts believe rapid tests could be better at identifying sick people when they are most contagious. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University said it crushed the spread of an outbreak by using rapid screening after a Halloween party last fall. Rapid tests might be technically less accurate but they’re fast. The U.S. reports about 2 million tests per day, the vast majority of which are known as PCR, the polymerase chain reaction test. The Food and Drug Administration said it supports “innovation in testing” but has only approved about a dozen rapid tests.