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Global Death Toll From COVID-19 Tops 3 Million

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.

While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Worldwide, deaths are on the rise again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization’s leaders on COVID-19.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

As cases surge, hospitals are running out of critical sedatives. As a result, there have been reports of some doctors diluting what supplies remain and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.

The slow vaccine rollout has crushed Brazilians’ pride in their own history of carrying out huge immunization campaigns that were the envy of the developing world.

Taking cues from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to little more than a flu, his Health Ministry for months bet big on a single vaccine, ignoring other producers. When bottlenecks emerged, it was too late to get large quantities in time.

Watching so many patients suffer and die alone at her Rio de Janeiro hospital impelled nurse Lidiane Melo to take desperate measures.

In the early days of the pandemic, as sufferers were calling out for comfort that she was too busy to provide, Melo filled two rubber gloves with warm water, knotted them shut, and sandwiched them around a patient’s hand to simulate a loving touch.

Some have christened the practice the “hand of God,” and it is now the searing image of a nation roiled by a medical emergency with no end in sight.

“Patients can’t receive visitors. Sadly, there’s no way. So it’s a way to provide psychological support, to be there together with the patient holding their hand,” Melo said. She added: “And this year it’s worse, the seriousness of patients is 1,000 times greater.”

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials. Only 178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the U.N.-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world. Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus’s spread inside the country slows.

The WHO recently described the supply situation as precarious. Up to 60 countries might not receive any more shots until June, by one estimate. To date, COVAX has delivered about 40 million doses to more than 100 countries, enough to cover barely 0.25% of the world’s population.

Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries. While 1 in 4 people in wealthy nations have received a vaccine, in poor countries the figure is 1 in more than 500.

In recent days, the U.S. and some European countries put the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on hold while authorities investigate extremely rare but dangerous blood clots. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has likewise been hit with delays and restrictions because of a clotting scare.

Another concern: Poorer countries are relying on vaccines made by China and Russia, which some scientists believe provide less protection that those by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the country’s vaccines offer low protection and said officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness.

In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.

But progress has been patchy, and new hot spots — most notably Michigan — have flared up in recent weeks. Still, deaths in the U.S. are down to about 700 per day on average, plummeting from a mid-January peak of about 3,400.

In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged Britain and has pushed the continent’s COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.

Close to 6,000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.

Dr. Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the coming weeks.

“There’s exhaustion, more bad tempers. You have to tread carefully because there are a lot of conflicts,” he said. “We’ll give everything we have to get through these 15 days as best we can.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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Angela Yee Officially Leaves ‘The Breakfast Club’ After 12 Years On Radio Show

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Radio show host Angela Yee has bid farewell to Power 105.1′s nationally syndicated show, “The Breakfast Club,” after 12 years.

On Friday, Yee appeared on her final episode of the show, which she hosted with Charlamagne tha God and DJ Envy. Her co-hosts each gave tributes celebrating the media personality’s influence on the radio.

“Job well done,” Charlamagne tha God said on-air. “They can never take away what we built. We’ve all made history together as a radio show.”

“I’m gonna miss my sister,” DJ Envy chimed in.

Yee, Charlamagne tha God and DJ Envy hosted the first episode of “The Breakfast Club” when the show launched in December 2010. The trio interviewed countless notable guests, musicians, actors, and politicians. The show has faced controversy for some of its segments and has had many successes.

In 2020, “The Breakfast Club” was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. President Joe Biden appeared on the show months before he was elected to office that same year.

DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God at the Barclays Center on November 2, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York.

Michael Stewart via Getty Images

Yee announced her plans to leave the show on Twitter in August, writing, “The Breakfast Club as you know it is officially over.”

She’s launching her nationally syndicated show on iHeartMedia called “Way Up With Angela Yee” at the beginning of 2023, she told Variety in an article published Friday. She also co-hosts a podcast called “Lip Service.”

Yee said that she hopes her new role will allow her to support and mentor other Black women breaking into the media industry.

“I think about who is going to be following me and who is next, who I can help mentor, and all of those things are exciting to me,” she told Variety. “I hope later on in life there are a bunch of other Black women radio personalities who can say, ‘Angela gave me my shot,’ or ‘Angela helped me do this,’ or ‘Angela plugged me with this person.’”

She continued, “I think that’s what really means a lot, not just what you did for yourself but for other people, also how you spread the love.”





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Jim Parsons And Ben Aldridge Reflect On The Real-Life Love Story Behind ‘Spoiler Alert’

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After appearing in the seminal queer dramas “The Normal Heart” and “The Boys in the Band,” Jim Parsons was eager to play a character who wasn’t “suffering at the hands of his homosexuality.”

The “Big Bang Theory” star found the role he was looking for in “Spoiler Alert,” the movie adaptation of Michael Ausiello’s 2017 memoir. The romantic drama opened in select cities Friday ahead of a nationwide release next week.

“I’m playing a guy who — in the thrust of love, excitement and romance — is on an incredible journey he can’t believe he’s there for, and then, with tragedy, is again on an incredible journey,” Parsons told HuffPost. “It’s a deep-dive journey that these two souls go on together. I felt very hungry to get the chance to portray that as best I could.”

Watch the trailer for “Spoiler Alert” above.

Jim Parsons (left) and Ben Aldridge in “Spoiler Alert.”

Linda Kallerus/Focus Features

Directed by Michael Showalter, “Spoiler Alert” follows Ausiello (played by Parsons), an endearingly nerdy journalist who falls for an aspiring photographer, Kit Cowan (Ben Aldridge), after a dance floor meet-cute. Before long, the two men are living together and hosting dinner parties in their chic New York apartment. Their 13-year relationship is sadly tested, however, when Cowan is diagnosed with a rare form of neuroendocrine cancer.

The real-life Cowan died in 2015 at age 43, and as a love story, “Spoiler Alert” is first and foremost a tearjerker. Still, the movie offers plenty of humor and heart, most notably in scenes that recall the early days of Ausiello and Cowan’s romance. It also boasts a stellar supporting cast, including Sally Field and Bill Irwin as Cowan’s parents, Bob and Marilyn.

Ausiello, who is the founder and editorial director of the entertainment outlet TVLine, began writing “Spoiler Alert” at the suggestion of an editor at the Simon & Schuster book publishing company who had taken note of his Facebook statuses throughout Cowan’s illness.

Writer Michael Ausiello (left) with Parsons and Aldridge.
Writer Michael Ausiello (left) with Parsons and Aldridge.

Kimberly White via Getty Images

A week after the book was published in 2017, Parsons and his husband, Todd Spiewak, approached him at a Q&A in San Francisco to tell him they wanted to adapt the book as a movie.

When it came to translating his story, the writer had just one stipulation for screenwriters David Marshall Grant and Dan Savage.

“I didn’t want the movie to portray Kit as a victim,” Ausiello, also an executive producer on the film, said. “He wasn’t a victim, he didn’t see himself as a victim and never acted like a victim. I also wanted to depict the fact that his parents showed up for their son when he got sick. They didn’t shy away from the hard stuff. They were there for their son.”

In keeping with Ausiello’s advice, Aldridge plays up Kit’s debonair charm even as his body succumbs to cancer. The actor, whose credits include “Fleabag” and “Pennyworth,” described the experience as “very life-affirming and exhilarating.”

“It’s important to risk rejection and risk heartbreak to live your fullest life,” said Parsons (right, with co-star Sally Field).
“It’s important to risk rejection and risk heartbreak to live your fullest life,” said Parsons (right, with co-star Sally Field).

Linda Kallerus/Focus Features

Though “Spoiler Alert” isn’t an overtly political film, its stars are conscious of the fact that it’s being released at a challenging time for the queer community. The Supreme Court’s ultraconservative rulings on abortion and gun control as of late have sparked justifiable concerns among many Americans that LGBTQ rights, including same-sex marriage, could soon be rolled back at the federal level.

“If it changed minds, that would be incredible — I couldn’t ask for more,” Aldridge said. “But we just saw a chance to tell a story that felt real to us. Love is love, and this film is real proof of that.”

As for Parsons, his biggest takeaway from “Spoiler Alert” is personal.

“As we were filming, I realized that one of the most painful things in my life is something I do to myself, which is not telling other people when I love them or when I care about them for fear of rejection or for fear of looking sentimental or caring more than might be cool,” he said. “It’s important to risk rejection and risk heartbreak to live your fullest life.”





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Broadway Actor Quentin Oliver Lee Dead At 34

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Broadway actor Quentin Oliver Lee, best known for playing the title role in the national tour of “Phantom of the Opera,” has died at the age of 34.

“I saw his last breaths, held his hand tight, and felt his heartbeat slowly drift away,” she wrote. “He had a smile on his face, and was surrounded by those he loves. It was peaceful, and perfect.”

She described her late husband as an “incredible man, husband, father, son, brother, friend, singer, actor, and disciple of Christ with great faith in his Father in Heaven.”

The “Phantom of the Opera” show paid tribute to Lee, writing on Instagram it was “saddened to hear of the passing” of Lee who’d “brilliantly lead our North American tour in 2018.”





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Angela Bassett’s Reaction To Keke Palmer’s Popular Impression Of Her Is Priceless

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Keke Palmer finally performed her well-known impression of Angela Bassett in front of none other than the veteran actor herself.

During a conversation in a Vanity Fair video published on Friday, Bassett asked to see Palmer’s impersonation in person, after seeing clips of Palmer imitating her online.

“I’ve seen you online imitating me,” Bassett said with a laugh. “You do a great job.”

Palmer replied that the impression is one of her “most notable” ones. She explained that Queen Latifah would ask her to imitate Bassett whenever she and Palmer worked on projects together.

The “Nope” actor then carried out her impression of a scene that Bassett performed when she portrayed Katherine Jackson in the 1992 miniseries “The Jacksons: An American Dream.”

Bassett hilariously joined Palmer to recite one of the lines. She then revealed that she’d improvised that bit of dialogue, to which Palmer responded: “Now let’s get into it!”

During a video interview with Wired in July ― where she (of course) did the impression ― Palmer said she often gets told she resembles Bassett.

Palmer and Bassett memorably played a mother and daughter duo in the 2006 film “Akeelah and the Bee.”

Bassett told Palmer in the conversation for Vanity Fair that she was impressed with how “present” Palmer was when she played Akeelah at the young age of 11.

“I’ve worked with a few kids here, and child actors are very serious if they get into it at all,” Bassett said. “But you were always very present, but also just so bubbly, and full of life and energy and spirit.”





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Kate Middleton Makes Bold Fashion Statement In $91 Rented Gown

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Royals! They’re just like us. At least ― this one time.

Kate Middleton showed up to the 2022 Earthshot Awards on Friday in a rental dress from the rental platform HURR.

Attendees of awards were asked to focus on sustainability or wear something recycled or vintage for their red carpet looks, and the Princess of Wales was right on theme.

Kate’s gown was from the designer Solace London. You can rent the Sabina dress, too, as it retails from $91 to $238.

She paired the dress with a necklace from the collection of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Earlier in the day, the Prince of Wales wrote an exclusive essay for HuffPost about why he was “thrilled to bring The Earthshot Prize to U.S.” ― and why he remains a “stubborn optimist” about the planet’s future.

“I believe in the power of human ingenuity, and I’m thrilled to bring The Earthshot Prize to the U.S.,” he wrote. “This week, in Boston, we want to demonstrate what we can all do to help put the world on a path toward a stable climate where communities, nature and oceans thrive in harmony.”

The prince added, “In this critical decade, I invite you all to be optimistic, to support the game-changers, and to believe in the power of human ingenuity.”

See more photos of the royals’ visit to Boston below:





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‘Orange Is The New Black’ Actor Brad William Henke Dies At 56

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Brad William Henke, the former NFL player known for his role as corrections officer Desi Piscatella in “Orange Is the New Black,” died Tuesday at age 56, a representative of the actor told Variety.

“Brad was an incredibly kind man of joyous energy. A very talented actor, he loved being a part of this community…. and we loved him back. Our thoughts are with his wife and family,” his manager, Matt DelPiano, said in a statement to TMZ.

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Henke began a career in acting after injuries forced him to retire from professional football in 1994. Over his career, he appeared in dozens of TV series, including “Law & Order,” “Life on Mars,” “Shameless,” “Criminal Minds,” Bones,” “Lost” and and “The Office.”

His movie appearances included “Pacific Rim” and “World Trade Center.”

He played college football at the University of Arizona before he was drafted in 1989 by the New York Giants. He went on to play for the Denver Broncos and in 1990 played on their defensive line in Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers.





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A Resurfaced ‘Drew Barrymore Show’ Clip Has Twitter Users In Shock

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A clip of a couple’s interaction on “The Drew Barrymore Show” didn’t sit right with Twitter users this week, but the full clip clears up the pair’s complicated love story.

The clip, which depicts part of a “Drew’s News” segment that aired during the show’s last season, shows a woman telling the man sitting next to her in the audience that he’d “ruined everything,” then the woman explains what the man had ruined in their relationship.

The couple were shown in the audience when Barrymore and Ross Matthews asked audience members to respond to a question about what they’d do if they didn’t like a friend’s partner.

Barrymore called on a couple that had been “giggling.” The man in the couple told her that you “have to be honest and also not ruin everything” ― but then the woman chimed in to say that he had “ruined everything.”

The woman then told Barrymore that he had just spoiled her attempt to propose to him while they were on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“He said to me, ‘Oh, no, it’s embarrassing. Get up,’” said the woman, who left Barrymore and the audience in shock.

You can watch the clip below.

“What does this have to do with a friend?” Drew asked the couple.

“Nothing,” they both said.

“I had to do this,” the woman then said to the man.

Twitter users called for the viral clip to receive an “Emmy immediately” while others appeared to celebrate the woman’s on-air comment.

The Twitter clip, however, left out a “happy ending” to the couple’s story.

“I wanted to do it myself, later. Not today,” the man said of the proposal as he received a mix of awww’s and — later — laughter.





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