5 things to know for September 23: Covid-19, Breonna Taylor, UN, domestic violence

As the US passes a sobering milestone, Covid-19 survivors have a message for those who view the pandemic as politics: The virus is not a hoax.

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

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1. Coronavirus

This time last year, the headline we are facing today would have been unbelievable. Unfathomable. A sick joke. More than 200,000 people have died on American soil of a virus that, mere months ago, was completely unknown to us. Around the world, more than 970,000 lives have been lost. With no vaccine and no widely adopted solutions, the misery won’t be ending soon.

We went back through our archives to see what it was like in those early days before the coronavirus pandemic became an international tragedy and changed nearly every aspect of our lives.

The first time CNN.com reported on the virus was January 8. 

It was part of a so-called “mysterious pneumonia outbreak” in Wuhan, China. At the time, scientists reported no human-to-human transmissions and no deaths. We know now that the virus may have already been in the US at that time, silently lurking and spreading.

The virus was compared to the SARS pandemic that killed 774 people in Asia in 2002 and 2003. To put that in perspective, since the first known US Covid-19 death on February 6, an average of more than 858 people have died in the United States from the disease every day — an entire SARS pandemic every several hours.

The first time you read about coronavirus in 5 Things was January 21. 

“A new virus in China is threatening to become a pandemic,” our subject line said. At the time, the official global death toll was six. By the time you finish reading this newsletter, at least six people in the world will have died of Covid-19 since you began.

That’s not an exaggeration. There were 4,795 worldwide deaths yesterday. That’s three deaths per minute.

To put it in another perspective, the total US coronavirus death toll is equivalent to one 9/11 attack every day for 66 days. The US coronavirus death toll is more than the number of Americans killed in battle in the five most recent wars combined: the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf War.

No matter how you do the math, you’re left with truly horrifying figures. But those figures represent so much more. They represent real lives, real people who leave behind devastated families and unfinished legacies. People who, were it not for this virus, would probably still be alive today. No comparison can properly convey such a loss.

2. Election 2020

How times have changed. Cindy McCain, the widow of longtime Republican Sen. John McCain, has endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. As you might recall, Biden ran on a ticket against her husband in 2008. But the announcement isn’t a total surprise. Cindy McCain appeared in a video at the Democratic National Convention last month about Biden’s relationship with her late husband, whom President Trump often attacked. The move comes as Biden is trying to peel off independents and Republicans alienated by Trump’s rhetoric and actions — including in battleground states such as Arizona. In other news, the first presidential debate will focus on the pandemic, the nation’s racial reckoning and the Supreme Court. It’s set for Tuesday.

3. Breonna Taylor

Six Louisville Metro Police Department officers are under internal investigation for their actions the night Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her home. One of those officers, who fired into the 26-year-old EMT’s home during a March 13 raid, sent a mass email to the department yesterday defending his actions and criticizing the city’s leadership. Meanwhile, Louisville authorities have declared a state of emergency and restricted downtown access ahead of a grand jury’s decision on whether criminal charges should be brought against the officers involved. An announcement is expected sometime soon.

4. United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly has largely been marked by strongman leaders, fraying relations and a sense of international crisis. UN Secretary General António Guterres called the pandemic “our own 1945 moment” — a reference to World War II — and warned that the diplomatic relationship between the US and China was moving “in a very dangerous direction.” World leaders including President Trump, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro used their time to attack other nations. Also on leaders’ minds were coronavirus vaccines, with several touting their own domestic vaccine candidates as a potential solution.

5. Domestic violence

The advice during the pandemic has been constant: Stay at home. But for victims of domestic violence, home is no safe haven. A new study from Rutgers University finds that the pandemic has led to a surge in domestic violence, leaving victims and their children struggling for access to food, transportation and a safe place to live. Faced with the choice of abuse or homelessness, some victims were forced to move back into unsafe situations. Others faced pandemic-related barriers, such as a lack of child care or employment opportunities, that pressured them to live near their abusers.

THIS JUST IN …

Government funding deal reached

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clinched a deal to take the threat of a government shutdown at the end of the month off the table. The bipartisan agreement would fund the government through December 11.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Tropical Storm Paulette is back from the dead in what being called a ‘zombie tropical storm’

What else can we expect from this cursed year?

Elon Musk promises a $25,000 Tesla in about 3 years

Be warned: The Tesla CEO has a history of sometimes under-delivering on promises.

We now know why an entire village lost its broadband at the same time every day for 18 months

Really gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “break the internet.”

Mike Tyson will be voting for the first time ever

His felony conviction previously stripped him of his right to vote. A recent law in Nevada changes that.

Reese’s is putting pretzels in its peanut butter cups

Because, as Hershey’s candy brand said, “The hell with it. It’s 2020.”

TODAY’S NUMBER

64

That’s how many students the University of California unfairly admitted between 2013 and 2019, the state auditor announced. The findings come more than a year after several wealthy parents were arrested in the college admissions scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, signaling that he’s on board with the Senate taking up a new Supreme Court nominee during the current election year. His announcement all but ensures that whoever Trump puts forward will be confirmed.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

The special ingredient in Sriracha 

The secret to the hot sauce we all know and love is actually quite simple. (Click here to view.)

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