US expands Afghan refugee program; Florida COVID hospitalizations hit record high; MTV marks 40 years

Today is Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. Let’s get caught up.

Here’s what you should know today: The Biden administration is expanding efforts to evacuate at-risk Afghan citizens as Taliban violence increases; Florida sets a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations Sunday; and MTV is marking 40 years with a relaunch.

Keep scrolling for today’s top stories, this date in history and celebrity birthdays.


TOP STORIES

Citing Taliban violence, US expands Afghan refugee program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Monday expanded its efforts to evacuate at-risk Afghan citizens from Afghanistan as Taliban violence increases ahead there of the U.S. military pullout at the end of the month.

The State Department said it is widening the scope of Afghans eligible for refugee status in United States to include current and former employees of U.S.-based news organizations, U.S.-based aid and development agencies and other relief groups that receive U.S. funding. Current and former employees of the U.S. government and the NATO military operation who don’t meet the criteria for a dedicated program for such workers are also covered.

The State Department said the move will mean that “many thousands” of Afghans and their immediate families will now have the opportunity to be permanently resettled in the U.S. as refugees.

***

Florida breaks record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke a previous record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available.

The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The previous record was from July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread, when Florida had 10,170 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

***

MTV marks 40th anniversary with a new ‘Moon Person’ design

MTV is marking its 40th anniversary with a relaunch of its iconic image of an astronaut on the moon, with an MTV flag planted nearby.

On Sunday, the media network unveiled a large scale “Moon Person” during a ceremony at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The new design was inspired by a Moon Person image created this year by Kehinde Wiley, who painted the portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In an interview this week with The Associated Press, MTV Entertainment President and CEO Chris McCarthy said that the image of space travel fit well with the spirit of its young audience.

***

Click on the links below for full version of today’s top stories. Keep scrolling for a look back at this day in history and today’s celebrity birthdays:

***

IMAGE OF THE DAY

***

TODAY IN HISTORY

***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO …