US Domestic News Roundup: Biden, Harris urge vaccinations as U.S. looks likely to miss July 4 target; U.S. companies rush to change their calendars for new Juneteenth holiday and more
California power grid operators, who have so far been able to keep the lights on, issued their latest "flex alert" for Friday, asking homeowners across the state to conserve energy in the late afternoon and evening when demand surges. U.S. companies rush to change their calendars for new Juneteenth holiday U.S. companies scrambled to put in place policies that would allow employees to take a day off after President Joe Biden signed a bill late on Thursday to recognize June 19, or "Juneteenth", as a federal holiday.
Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday urged Americans to get COVID-19 shots, as the country looks likely to miss the White House's goals for vaccination next month as a new coronavirus variant triggered serious concerns. "Act now, act now," Biden said in remarks at the White House, urging the unvaccinated to talk to their family and friends who have had shots and to their doctors.
'Apocalyptic' heat wave scorches U.S. Southwest again
An extreme heatwave that has already shattered temperature records across the U.S. Southwest threatened on Friday to push power systems to the brink of failure as residents cranked up air conditioners. California power grid operators, who have so far been able to keep the lights on, issued their latest "flex alert" for Friday, asking homeowners across the state to conserve energy in the late afternoon and evening when demand surges.
U.S. companies rush to change their calendars for new Juneteenth holiday
U.S. companies scrambled to put in place policies that would allow employees to take a day off after President Joe Biden signed a bill late on Thursday to recognize June 19, or "Juneteenth" , as a federal holiday. Juneteenth has been a holiday in some U.S. states, but the move has pressured more companies to declare the day a holiday. With Juneteenth, the first new federal holiday created in nearly four decades, falling on a weekend, some companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp, have allowed U.S. employees a floating day off.
Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka against Senator Lisa Murkowski, the three-term Republican incumbent who voted to convict him after his second impeachment trial earlier this year. Tshibaka, the former state administration commissioner, launched her campaign in March with a vow to defeat Murkowski in the 2022 election and has already enlisted the help of former Trump advisers.
California launches digital COVID-19 vaccine pass but won't require it
California officials on Friday unveiled a website to access or download a digital copy of COVID-19 immunization records, though they stressed the state would not make it mandatory to carry the vaccine credentials. Businesses will be able to verify the authenticity of digital "vaccine cards" by scanning a QR code on them using an app that a nonprofit group is expected to launch this month. The nearly 20 million immunized Californians can access their data at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.
U.S. administers more than 316 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines - CDC
The United States has administered 316,048,776 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Friday morning and distributed 377,935,390 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Those figures are up from the 314,969,386 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by June 17 out of 377,215,060 doses delivered.
In-person marches, music and reflection as Americans mark Juneteenth
On Saturday, the United States marks Juneteenth for the first time as a federal holiday commemorating the end of the legal enslavement of Black Americans. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday signed a bill making Juneteenth the eleventh federally recognized holiday, just over a year after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis ignited nationwide protests for racial justice and for ending police brutality.
Colorado leads U.S. states with first look at new congressional districts
An independent commission in Colorado will reveal a preliminary map of new congressional districts next week, putting the state at the forefront of efforts to draw battle lines for the 2022 U.S. election and strip party politics from the process. With Democrats holding a slim 10-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the once-a-decade redistricting underway across the country is being closely watched for clues about which party could gain an advantage heading into next year's high-stakes midterm contests.
NHC says Tropical Storm Claudette forms off Louisiana
Tropical storm Claudette formed in the Atlantic on Saturday and is expected to produce heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash flooding across coastal Mississippi and Alabama through the afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. The storm is located about about 45 miles (75 km) southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (75 km/h), the NHC said.
U.S. bishops vote to draft Communion statement that may rebuke Biden for abortion views
A divided conference of U.S. Roman Catholic bishops announced on Friday that they had voted to draft a statement on Holy Communion that may admonish Catholic politicians, including President Joe Biden, who support abortion rights. The 168-55 decision to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, a holy sacrament in the Roman Catholic faith, came after two hours of debate at the virtual assembly of the United States Catholic Bishops' Conference on Thursday, in which the bishops weighed the merits of reaffirming church teachings against the possibility of sowing partisan division.
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