FEMA opens vaccine sites in California as weather hampers efforts elsewhere; Biden rallies public on aid

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FEMA opened its first COVID-19 mass vaccination sites Tuesday, setting up in Los Angeles and Oakland as part of an effort by the Biden administration to get shots into arms more quickly and reach minority communities hit hard by the outbreak.

Snow and ice across much of the U.S., meanwhile, forced the cancellation of many vaccination appointments and delayed vaccine deliveries around the country. Houston’s public health agency lost power and had to scramble to give out thousands of shots before they spoiled.

The developments came as the vaccination drive ramps up. The U.S. is administering an average of nearly 1.7 million doses per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the same time, coronavirus deaths are down sharply over the past six weeks, and new cases have plummeted.

In other developments:

  • Joe Biden is making his first official trip outside the nation’s capital as president as he tries to refocus Congress and build public support for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  • Latinos in the U.S. are facing daunting barriers to getting COVID-19 vaccines, creating a risk for public health as the coronavirus mutates and spreads. Many are struggling with a lack of knowledge about the shots, state vaccine websites that don’t have Spanish instructions, ways to find appointments in their communities and fears they could be targeted for immigration enforcement.
  • Biden is extending a ban on housing foreclosures to June 30 to help homeowners struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium on foreclosures of federally guaranteed mortgages had been set to expire March 31.
  • South Africa is preparing to give its first COVID-19 vaccinations — shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still being tested — to health care workers this week.
  • One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of medical-grade N95 face masks are pouring out of American factories and heading into storage, yet doctors and nurses say there still aren’t enough to keep them safe.
  • A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines produced in China has arrived in Hungary, making the country the first among the European Union’s 27 nations to receive a Chinese vaccine.

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