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Humanitarian Crises

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NEW YORK (AP) — Children ages 12 and older can now roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., offering parents and schools a chance to relax their pandemic precautions and bringing the country a step closer to controlling the virus.

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As a lengthy, bitter fight over mask requirements for students neared its conclusion, the chairperson of a Florida school board announced that she would agree to lift a mandate that had been in place since September even though she preferred leaving it in place until the end of the academic year. Parents hurled insults in response.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers pushed back Wednesday against local coronavirus restrictions, passing legislation limiting the duration of public health orders that have shut down businesses and schools and limited how many people can gather.

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A prominent Venezuelan opposition activist said Wednesday that his movement’s recent offer to negotiate with President Nicolás Maduro’s administration was prompted by the country’s urgent humanitarian crisis and prolonged political stalemate.

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Sandra Kunz had been worried for her safety while working as a cashier at a Walmart in Aurora, Colorado, during the pandemic, said her sister, Paula Spellman.

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LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Wednesday that an independent public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic will start hearing evidence next year. While welcoming the announcement, a leading group representing the bereaved thinks it should begin sooner.

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BERLIN (AP) — The German government has agreed to let travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from infection avoid testing and quarantine when entering the country, unless they come from areas where variants of concern are prevalent.

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GENEVA (AP) — A panel of independent experts who reviewed the World Health Organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic says the U.N. health agency should be granted “guaranteed rights of access” in countries to investigate emerging outbreaks, a contentious idea that would give it more powers and require member states to give up some of theirs.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare will require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff, the government said Tuesday. Officials hope to nudge facilities to keep giving shots as the worst ravages of the pandemic ease, but the danger of a rebound still lurks.

ROME (AP) — A top World Health Organization official has strongly denied making false statements to Italian prosecutors about a spiked U.N. report into Italy’s coronavirus response, doubling down on his assertions in court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Two amateur computer coders taken by police from their Beijing homes last year were standing trial Tuesday in a case that illustrates the Chinese government's growing online censorship and heightened sensitivity to any deviation from the official narrative on its COVID-19 response.

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MADRID (AP) — Spain’s top coronavirus expert on Monday delivered a stern warning to citizens who are acting as if the pandemic has ended now that the government has relaxed measures against the spread of the coronavirus amid an accelerating rollout of vaccines.

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BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's top economy official said Monday that the recovery measures the EU and its 27 member states have in the works to emerge from the pandemic total around $5.85 trillion.

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