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156 million virus relief payments issued; many students stay remote despite reopenings
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156 million virus relief payments issued; many students stay remote despite reopenings

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President Joe Biden announced that all Americans over the age of 18 will be eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccination by April 19, earlier than the May 1 date his administration had targeted previously.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday it has issued more than 156 million payments as part of President Joe Biden's coronavirus relief plan, including 25 million payments that were primarily to Social Security beneficiaries who hadn't filed 2019 or 2020 tax returns.

The direct payments of as much as $1,400 per person were the cornerstone promise of Biden's $1.9 trillion package to contain the pandemic and revive the U.S. economy. Roughly $372 billion has been paid out since March 12, a sum that likely boosted hiring last month as Americans had more money to spend.

White House officials had previously estimated that 158.5 million households would receive the payments. Wednesday's batch of payments showed how the administration is going beyond IRS filings to get out the money. It included 19 million payments to Social Security recipients who had not submitted tax returns for the past two years and didn't use a tool last year for non-filers to receive the two previous rounds of direct payments.

Here's an update on all developments. Scroll further for in-depth coverage.

  • Large numbers of students are not returning to the classroom even as more schools reopen for full-time, in-person learning, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Biden administration.
  • The EU's drug regulator says it has found a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and a rare clotting disorder but said that the benefits of the shot still outweigh risks.
  • Around the world, it is taking extra effort and ingenuity to ensure the vaccine gets to remote locations. That means shipping it by boat to islands, by snowmobile to Alaska villages and via complex waterways through the Amazon in Brazil. Before it’s over, drones, motorcycles, elephants, horses and camels will have been used to deliver it to the world’s far corners, said Robin Nandy, chief of immunization for UNICEF.
  • President Joe Biden said he's bumping up his deadline by two weeks for states to make all adults in the U.S. eligible for coronavirus vaccines. But even as he expressed optimism about the pace of vaccinations, he warned Americans that the nation is not yet out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic.
  • California is turning to a simpler, statewide approach as it prepares to lift most pandemic restrictions on businesses and workplaces by June 15.
  • The Tokyo Olympic torch relay will not run through the streets of Osaka prefecture next week because of rising COVID-19 cases. The move is a setback for Tokyo organizers, who began the relay two weeks ago from northeastern Fukushima prefecture with 10,000 runners planning to crisscross Japan over the course of four months.
  • Brazil has reported a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths exceeding 4,000 for the first time, becoming the third nation to go above that daily threshold.

For more summaries and full reports, select from the articles below. Scroll further for trending questions and the latest virus numbers.

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