What We’re Reading: Former Michigan Governor Charged Over Water Crisis; New COVID-19 Strains in the US; CDC Predicts 90,000 Deaths in Next 3 Weeks

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is charged over his role in the Flint water crisis of 2014; states report new strains of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); the United States could see 90,000 more COVID-19 deaths in 3 weeks.

Former Michigan Governor Charged in Flint Water Crisis

Rick Snyder, a former Michigan governor, was charged for his role in the Flint water crisis that contaminated the city’s drinking water with lead in 2014, NPR reports. Snyder faces 2 counts of willful neglect of duty for the environmental disaster and, if convicted, could face up to a year in prison and a fine. Additional members of Snyder’s administration are expected to face charges. In an effort to save money while a pipeline to Lake Huron was being constructed, officials switched the city’s drinking water source from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River. Young residents of Flint, a majority Black city, are at risk of suffering long-term cognitive health challenges and other issues from being exposed to the contaminated water. Twelve people died from the water and more than 80 individuals became sick.

US States Report New COVID-19 Strains

Researchers at Ohio State University discovered a strain of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with 3 new gene mutations not previously seen, CBS News reports. The strain was more prominent in the Columbus, Ohio, region in recent weeks; similar to the strain recently detected in the United Kingdom, it is likely to make the virus more infectious. However, no evidence has been found showing that approved vaccines will be less effective against the new mutations. In addition, health officials in Wisconsin reported that the UK strain, B117, has been detected in the state. The individual carrying the strain had traveled internationally in the 2 weeks prior to being tested. The variant has also been reported in Colorado, California, Florida, Minnesota, New York, and Georgia.

CDC Forecast: US Could See 90,000 COVID-19 Deaths in 3 Weeks

A CDC forecast shows that another 92,000 Americans are projected to die from the virus over approximately the next 3 weeks, according to CNN. The announcement came as 38,000 Americans have already died of COVID-19 in the first 2 weeks of the new year. Although a new British study found that individuals who have contracted COVID-19 are likely to have immunity for at least 5 months, those with antibodies may still be able to carry and spread the virus. Over 130,300 people are currently hospitalized with the virus as the United States recorded a new daily death record of more than 4300 on January 12. The totals come as officials warn that states have not yet seen the full effect of transmission from the period between Christmas and New Year’s.

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