Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 01, 2021

Covid fight continues for a second year, with progress balanced by a need for patience and precautions

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Summarize what you read about vaccinations or the pandemic this week.
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Share a local or state health official's recent quote.
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Describe your reaction to coverage of people getting or trying to get shots in your area.

News about the pandemic is mixed lately. On the positive side, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are falling and vaccination numbers are rising. California's governor last week lifted a statewide stay-home order. But at the same time, new varieties of the Covid-19 virus spread in some states. "This is not the time to start letting up. This is the time to hunker down for what is likely to be a very difficult two or three months," says Ashish Jha, dean of public health at Brown University in Providence, R.I. "I am hopeful that by late spring into early summer, life will begin to feel really meaningfully different and better."

Encouraging signs include federal plans for increased vaccine shipments to states and movement toward more approved versions of the protective shots. "I'm quite confident that we will be in a position within the next three weeks or so to be vaccinating people at the range of 1 million a day," President Joe Biden said last week. When outdoor temperatures rise this spring, outdoor dining, recreation and other activities should reduce indoor transmission of the virus somewhat.

But at the same time, variants of the virus that appear to be more contagious are turning up from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. "We've seen what happens in other countries that have actually had coronavirus under relatively good control, then these variants took over and they had explosive spread of the virus, and then overwhelmed hospitals," says Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. So health experts stress the need to still wear masks, avoid indoor crowds and wash hands often.

President Biden says: "Once we arrived, [we learned that] the vaccine program is worse shape than we anticipated or expected." – Jan. 26 at White House

White House adviser says: "The best way you prevent the evolution of mutants is to suppress the amount of virus that's circulating in the population. And the best way to do that is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can." – Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Columnist says: "The monster is not dead, and the worst may be yet to come." – Ezra Klein, The New York Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2021

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