400 million free N95 masks are headed to a distribution point near you. And a new study says the Earth is cooler faster than previously expected. Is it becoming "inactive"?
👋 Hey! Laura here. It's Wednesday. I'm feeling a little "inactive," myself. Here's the news you need to know.
But first, happy, happy birthday, Dolly! 🎂 Every word out of Dolly Parton's mouth is gold. Check out some of her best quotes from USA TODAY interviews.
Making it rain masks
Your taxpayer dollars are at work today combating the pandemic. The Biden administration is shipping 400 million N95 face masks out for free distribution to the populace while also unveiling a website to order free at-home coronavirus tests. The intensified effort to halt the most recent, omicron-fueled surge comes as hospitals struggle with spiking caseloads. And the seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been trending upward since mid-November, reaching nearly 1,700 this week. Those much-anticipated free coronavirus tests are now available on a new federal government website, COVIDTests.gov, where users can order four free at-home tests per address. As for the masks, the White House said you'll be able to pick up free N95 masks at one of "tens of thousands" of pharmacies, community centers and other locations across the country beginning next week.
Free COVID test kits website officially launched. How to order free at-home tests.
Questions and answers with President Biden
President Joe Biden kicked off a press conference Wednesday by acknowledging challenges on the eve of his one-year anniversary in the White House. It's a year that has seen inflation soar; COVID-19 dip, then surge with the delta variant, then surge again with omicron; the passage of landmark infrastructure investment legislation and the stalling or failure of other legislative priorities. In opening remarks, Biden touted progress on the economy, lowering unemployment and fighting COVID-19, but conceding that challenges remain. He said the pandemic will improve: “Some people may call what's happening now the new normal. I call it a job not yet finished. It will get better."
👉 Putin, closing schools, Build Back Better: A rundown of what Biden discussed at the news conference.
Is a Russian invasion of Ukraine imminent? Here's what we know.
Biden's approval: More than half of Americans disapprove of Biden's handling of key issues.
What everyone's talking about
A pig's heart has given an ex-con a second chance, but is it ethical?
World's oldest man dies at 112 — about a month before his birthday.
Student loses Rhodes scholarship over allegations of lying about her upbringing.
Britney Spears sends Jamie Lynn Spears cease-and-desist letter over 'outrageous' book claims.
The Short List is free, but several stories we link to are subscriber-only. Consider supporting our journalism and become a USA TODAY digital subscriber today.
University of Michigan reaches $490M settlement in sexual abuse case
The University of Michigan has reached a $490 million settlement with former athletes and other UM students who sued the school, saying they had been sexually assaulted by a former football team doctor. There are 1,050 former athletes and other UM students suing the university in federal court. Many of the suits, including the first filed, were filed anonymously and claim the university failed to act when it knew the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who worked at UM from 1968-2003 and died in 2008, was sexually assaulting students. The settlement will be split between those who have sued the school, and a portion of it will be set aside for future claims.
'An epidemic': 1 in 4 college athletes say they experienced sexual abuse from an authority figure.
Cardi B's generosity is showing
Cardi B is making that money move in a seriously generous way. The Grammy-winning rapper has offered to pay the burial costs for all 17 people killed in a fire that ripped through a New York City high-rise. New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday that Cardi B had offered the financial relief for victims of the fire in the Bronx, where she grew up. Many of the victims had ties to Gambia, and families of several of the victims planned to bury them in their West African homeland. Cardi B has committed to paying the repatriation expenses for the victims who will be buried in Gambia, the mayor’s office said. The fire, which was New York City’s deadliest in three decades, was sparked by a faulty space heater, according to authorities.
Families lost multiple loved ones in the devastating Bronx fire. These are their stories.
City inspectors flagged issues with self-closing doors ahead of deadly Bronx fire.
New York AG says Trump Organization misled banks, tax officials.
3 teenagers found dead in home outside Houston in apparent murder-suicide.
Florida woman attacked and thrown on the ground by bear while walking dogs.
Rutgers athletics rang up a $73M deficit last year. Students, taxpayers were on the hook.
A man was served a cleaning liquid at Cracker Barrel. Now, the restaurant has to pay millions.
Meet the new mobile home: Manufactured houses deliver the American dream amid tough housing market.
Earth's interior cooling faster than expected
After almost two years in a pandemic, I know I might be considered "inactive," but is the Earth becoming "inactive," too? According to a recent study, Earth's interior is cooling faster than we previously estimated, prompting questions about thermal evolution and how long people can live on the planet. There's no exact timetable on the cooling process, which could eventually turn Earth solid, similar to Mars. But results from a new study, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, suggest that Earth, like other rocky planets Mercury and Mars, is cooling and becoming inactive much faster than expected, according to ETH Zurich professor Motohiko Murakami, the lead author of the study. And while the process is moving along pretty quickly, it's a timeline that "should be hundreds of millions or even billions of years," Murakami told USA TODAY.
A break from the news
🟩 Squares pegged: Wordle is the diversion we need now.
🚗 Shopping for a car? First of all, my sympathies. Second, we have some tips. Prepare for little to no negotiation this year.
🧖♀️ What is 'slugging,' the viral moisturizing hack? Aside from a kinda gross name, does it work?
🏅 Olympics countdown: 16 days until the opening ceremony, folks! Sign up today for our (free!) newsletter for updates leading up to and directly from the big games in Beijing.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Free N95 masks, Cardi B helping Bronx fire victims, University of Michigan sex abuse settlement. It's Wednesday's news.