5 things to know for May 24: Covid, Biden, hate-related incidents, Belarus, bitcoin

Covid-19 has pushed the public health system to its brink, and public health officials are leaving the field -- some stressed and others fired, like former Riverside County, California public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen investigates.

Posted: May 23, 2021 9:59 AM
Updated: May 24, 2021 7:30 AM


National Guard troops stationed at the Capitol since the January 6 insurrection left the grounds yesterday. But the campus is still closed to visitors.

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

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1. Coronavirus

A US intelligence report found that several researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized. This new detail could fuel further debate about the origins of the virus. The director of the lab has vehemently denied the report's findings, calling them 'a complete lie.' In the US, despite lagging vaccine interest, at least 25 states plus Washington, DC, have now fully vaccinated at least half of their adult residents. Almost half the total US population has now gotten at least one shot. The benefits of more vaccinations is already obvious: The US is recording some of the lowest Covid-19 metrics in roughly a year.

2. White House

President Biden is still hoping for bipartisan support for his wide-ranging infrastructure bill, despite a deepening partisan divide. The White House has dropped the price of the bill from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion in what is widely seen as a concession to Republicans who have balked at its cost and scope. The reduction takes spending on manufacturing, research and development and supply chain out of the talks and drops Biden's proposed spending level on roads, bridges and other projects. White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond says Biden is willing to 'change course' on the future of the bill if negotiations sputter into inaction.

3. Hate-related incidents

The New York Police Department is stepping up its presence among the city's Jewish communities following two hate-related incidents in Brooklyn over the weekend. The episodes were among a handful recently reported across the US as tensions flared over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Also in Brooklyn, a man last week allegedly tried to set a synagogue and Jewish school on fire. He has been charged with arson. In Los Angeles, a man was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after an altercation that began with slurs allegedly yelled at patrons at a restaurant.

4. Belarus

Belarus' government is facing international condemnation after President Alexander Lukashenko ordered a fighter jet to escort a re-routed Ryanair flight carrying a leading Belarusian opposition activist. Accounts of why the plane was diverted differ: Ryanair says it was notified of a potential security threat on board; Belarusian authorities claimed the plane's captain decided to change course after being told of a potential bomb on board. Raman Pratasevich, in exile and a vocal critic of Lukashenko's regime, was detained when the flight landed in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The US and the UK are among those questioning Belarus' motives and accounts of the incident.

5. Cryptocurrency

It's been a rough few days for the cryptocurrency markets, and the woes continued yesterday when Bitcoin prices temporarily fell as much as 13%. The crypto slump began last week when Chinese authorities announced further restrictions on cryptocurrency transactions, resulting in a broad crypto crash that wiped out about $1 trillion in market value. The US has also recently hinted at more restrictions. Cryptocurrencies have always been subject to dramatic ups and downs, but as they become more mainstream, their volatility attracts more scrutiny from experts and investors. Over the long term, however, they're still going strong: Bitcoin, the most prominent cryptocurrency, is still up more than 250% over the past year.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Phil Mickelson became the oldest major winner with an enthralling PGA Championship victory

He's 50 and flourishing!

Here are the winners from last night's Billboard Music Awards 

It was a good weekend to be The Weeknd.

New 'Fast & Furious' film nabs biggest opening of the pandemic so far

For those keeping track, that's 13 (!!!) 'Fast & Furious' films so far. (You'd think it would be nine, but real fans know the truth.)

Simone Biles is the first woman to land a Yurchenko double pike in competition

The move is described as a roundoff onto the springboard, then a back handspring onto the vaulting table and a piked double backflip into the air to land. You know, easy peasy. 

Billions of cicadas are finally emerging in the eastern US

T H E Y ' R E  H E R E . 

TODAY'S NUMBER

$150 billion

That's how much of Iraq's oil money has been stolen and smuggled out of the country in corrupt deals since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi President Barham Salih estimated.

TODAY'S QUOTE

'Our party grew out of the people, so it will exist as long as people support it.'

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de facto leader who was detained at the start of the brutal military coup that upended the country's government in February. The junta-appointed election commission has said it would dissolve her party because of what it claims was election fraud. Suu Kyi appeared today in court for the first time in person since the coup.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

'Garden of Your Mind'

This song, featuring some autotune magic of the inimitable Mister Rogers, never fails to put me in a good mood. (Click here to view.)

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2408593

Reported Deaths: 55188
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings32093610760
Queens30738910177
Suffolk2296953526
Nassau2080873261
Bronx2029976705
New York1628104607
Westchester1413352329
Erie1000941888
Richmond862711908
Monroe789431158
Orange54975887
Rockland51151769
Onondaga46663723
Dutchess34029490
Albany28778370
Oneida26228554
Niagara22399386
Broome22200387
Saratoga18656191
Ulster16501273
Schenectady15473217
Rensselaer13522155
Putnam1194196
Chautauqua11235158
Oswego9920103
Chemung9354146
St. Lawrence9114119
Steuben8697160
Ontario8669100
Cayuga8034104
Sullivan789782
Jefferson764071
Wayne712878
Cattaraugus684999
Genesee6195131
Herkimer6102118
Tompkins607159
Clinton586634
Madison551598
Fulton545298
Livingston528967
Montgomery5213134
Cortland490871
Warren478478
Columbia4727109
Tioga450567
Chenango425986
Otsego422151
Allegany409193
Washington405865
Greene402483
Wyoming396454
Orleans375684
Franklin367016
Lewis326536
Delaware314241
Seneca251459
Schoharie210920
Essex200029
Yates142426
Schuyler132116
Hamilton4093
Unassigned12929
Out of NY0296
Utica
Mostly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 71°
Oneonta
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 68°
Herkimer
Mostly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 71°
Old Forge
Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 71°
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