Coronavirus updates: Senate adjourns without securing $2K checks; Army Corps to help LA hospitals; Navajo Nation lays off 1K casino workers

Saturday 2nd January 2021

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In the headlines:

► The Senate adjourned Friday night without securing $2,000 stimulus checks, leaving hopes for another round of payments in the hands of the next Congress. Senate Democrats, some Republicans and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders unsuccessfully pushed for a Senate vote on $2,000 stimulus checks as the clock wound down.

► As hospitals are pushed to the brink, scrambling to provide oxygen to patients, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced the state will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to upgrade outdated oxygen delivery systems at six hospitals in Los Angeles. The news comes as California reported a record 585 coronavirus deaths in one day.

► The Navajo Nation laid off more than 1,100 casino workers Friday because of prolonged closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The tribe operates four casinos in Arizona and New Mexico. "The Nation's vision took years to build but the Nation has been successful," Navajo Gaming Board Chairman Quincy Natay said. "If it allows its gaming industry to fail, a permanent closure will cause a long-term setback for Navajo economic development, even if it eventually reopens."

► Texas set a new record Friday for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. The state reported 12,481 hospitalizations on New Year's Day after setting new high records for five straight days.

► The Japanese capital, Tokyo, and three nearby prefectures have asked the national government to declare a state of emergency to curtail the surging spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Japan has seen a recent rise in reported cases of COVID-19, especially in urban areas. Tokyo saw a daily record of 1,337 cases on New Year's Eve.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 347,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 84 million cases and 1.8 million deaths.

📰 What we're reading: Teachers should be next COVID-19 vaccine schedule, CDC says. Can a shot reopen schools?

The Senate on Friday did not take up whether to increase the $600 stimulus check payments that President Donald Trump demanded be raised to $2,000. Now, Congress will not reconvene until Sunday to end the 116th Congress.

Democrats vowed to swiftly revive the $2,000 checks after the new Congress is sworn in Sunday.

"President-elect Joe Biden has made clear that the pandemic relief bill that Congress passed is simply a down payment on the work that needs to continue," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the chair of the House Democratic caucus. "We're going to continue to fight for a $2,000 direct payment check."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was the one of the few GOP senators pushing for a standalone vote on the $2,000 stimulus checks, saying that in "the new Congress, you could get a vote."

"I'd like a standalone vote in the new Congress on the $2,000 check" he said during an interview on Fox and Friends. "We have seven Republicans who have already said they'd vote for it. We need five more. I think if we had the vote, we would get there." Read more here.

- Savannah Behrmann

Heart failure -- often caused by myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle -- is a rare condition for teens and young adults. It's more common in older people, often the result of heart function declining over a period of years. Yet, since the beginning of the pandemic, a very small subset of young people infected with COVID-19 have developed heart failure.

This summer, doctors in New York reported a 2-month-old boy diagnosed with COVID-19 later suffered from heart failure, signaling yet another COVID-19 complication for kids.

Twenty-six athletes from Ohio State University with confirmed COVID-19 -- who were mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic -- underwent heart testing. Nearly 50% showed heart abnormalities, and 15% met the criteria for myocarditis, according to a study from OSU in September.

- Elinor Aspegren

Ravers at an underground, curfew-busting New Year's Eve party that drew at least 2,500 people in western France attacked the police sent to shut them down, torching one police vehicle and injuring officers with volleys of bottles and stones, officials said Friday. Ravers started converging on a hangar in Lieuron, Brittany, on Thursday night to party into the New Year, the regional government said Friday.

Police were attacked when they tried to stop ravers from installing their party gear, the regional government said.

On Friday morning, 2,500 ravers from France and abroad were still partying, circled by a reinforced police presence, the regional government said. Prosecutors are looking at an array of possible criminal charges. The party also took place despite France's 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. nationwide curfew aimed at dissuading public gatherings during the pandemic.

- The Associated Press

The pandemic has heightened challenges for grandparents and other senior residents, vulnerable to the virus while taking care of children. One in four children living with grandparents are Black, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation KidsCount data using U.S. Census figures. The data was central to a report from Generations United, a nonprofit for multigenerational families.

Black children are also disproportionately represented in foster care, and their kinship caretakers are essential as they fill gaps in child welfare systems, and face a lack of culturally literate family support, GU explains.

Along with a COVID-19 guide for multigenerational families, the group has created a racial equity toolkit to help health and social services providers become more culturally competent regarding family makeup. As the pandemic causes isolation, grandparents -- and resources for them and the children they're raising -- have become even more important than before.

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