Mask Mandates, Starlink Storm, and the Race to Reconnect Tonga Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, Feb. 10, and we're covering a looming end to mask mandates in many areas, a mishap for SpaceX's Starlink program, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



New York Drops Mask Mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said yesterday she would allow an indoor mask mandate for businesses to expire, the latest in a number of state and local governments dropping pandemic-related mandates as the wave of COVID-19 omicron variant infections subsides. The decision comes as the number of new daily cases in the state has dropped by more than 90% from a mid-January peak. A number of states, including Illinois, New Jersey, and California, have announced similar decisions that will go into effect in the coming weeks.


The requirement will remain in effect for certain healthcare facilities, along with schools and daycares. See a map of reported mask policies in schools from around the country


Separately, a Canadian trucker protest against COVID-19-related mandates blocking the Ambassador Bridge entered its third day. Between 50 and 75 vehicles are blocking the bridge, which connects Ontario and Detroit and carries an estimated 25% of merchandise trade between the two countries.


See overall US COVID-19 stats here.

USA Grabs Gold

Team USA notched its first gold medals in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games yesterday after snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis won the women's snowboardcross and Chloe Kim won two in the halfpipe. For Jacobellis, the victory comes 16 years after missing gold due to a premature celebration. She becomes the oldest woman to win gold at the Winter Games at age 36. 


US snowboarding legend Shaun White fell in qualifying before rebounding to reach the men’s halfpipe finals in his last Games. The three-time gold medalist will join Team USA’s Taylor Gold and Chase Josey in the finals Friday. In related news, US alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin crashed out in her first two races and Colby Stevenson won silver in the debut event men’s freestyle skiing big air.


The news comes as athletes continue to criticize the tough COVID-19 restrictions, including quarantines, isolation, and poor living conditions. At least 32 athletes were currently in isolation after testing positive as of Tuesday, with some missing their scheduled events.


See an updated medal count here.

It's Raining Starlink

As many as 40 of the 49 satellites launched by SpaceX's Starlink last week will be falling out of orbit after being hit by a geomagnetic storm (see 101). The satellites have either already burned up upon reentry to Earth’s atmosphere or will do so, the space-based internet company announced.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the storm was created by a solar flare Jan. 29 and they had issued a warning for a likely storm on the day before the Feb. 3 SpaceX launch. The storm hit the day after the launch, causing the atmosphere to warm and its density to increase, the company said. Most of the satellites couldn't reach their final destination as a result. 

Still, SpaceX has about 2,000 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth, providing more than 145,000 users with high-speed internet across the world. The company plans to have a total of about 40,000 satellites in orbit. 

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Disney Plus hauled in nearly 130 million subscribers by the end of 2021, up 37% from 2020 (More) | "Futurama" reboot coming to Hulu in 2023 with several original cast members signed on (More)


> NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says league "fell short" in efforts to hire more minority head coaches (More) | Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan among US women's national team stars accusing US Soccer Federation of failing to protect players from abuse by coaches (More)


> Snoop Dogg acquires iconic hip-hop record label Death Row that helped launch his career (More) | Comedian Bob Saget's death ruled an accident by head trauma (More)

Science & Technology

> UK researchers smash record for sustained fusion energy output, producing the equivalent of 11 megawatts over five seconds; result marks key advance toward self-sustaining fusion energy (More) | Fusion power 101 (More, w/video)


> Archaeologists find evidence modern humans lived in Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, increasing the likelihood of intermixing with Neanderthals (More)


> New processing technique extracts rare Earth elements from coal ash, electronic waste, and more; the elements play key role in smartphones, aerospace applications, and more (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with NowRx

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.5%, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +2.1%) to extend rally (More) | Shares of Uber up in after-hours trading after seeing 83% quarterly revenue growth over Q4 2020 (More)


> Federal Reserve Bank of Boston selects Susan Collins as next president, the Fed’s first female Black regional president (More)


> Securities and Exchange Commission proposes new requirements for private investment funds; funds could be required to disclose compensation, expenses, and performance (More) | Merger between Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia clears US antitrust process (More)

From our partners: Free same-day prescription delivery could be the key to disrupting the $480B pharmacy industry. NowRx brings the pharmacy to you with no added costs, thanks to unique micro-fulfillment centers that boast overhead costs less than 1% of typical retail chains. They generated $26M+ in annualized revenue in December 2021, have saved customers over $2.8M on prescriptions, and earned five-star reviews at every location. Claim your shares in NowRx ahead of its nationwide expansion.

Politics & World Affairs

> Senate, House appropriators reportedly reach topline deal for fiscal year 2021 omnibus spending bill (More)


> National Archives requests Justice Department to probe handling of documents from Trump administration; 15 boxes of papers, including correspondence with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, were returned from Mar-a-Lago last month (More)


> Iran reportedly unveils a 900-mile range missile, putting a number of Israeli and US bases within striking distance (More)



The Metamorphosis of Robert Pattinson

GQ | Daniel Riley. A sit-down with the 35-year-old actor, whose latest surprising career pivot has him taking over the lead role of the Batman franchise. (Read)

Why King Tut is Still Fascinating

New Yorker | Casey Cep. He was a minor pharaoh who ruled during a narrow slice of Egypt's dynastic period. Here's why the 1922 discovery of his tomb—and what we've learned since—remains captivating. (Read, paywall)



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The race to reconnect Tonga.


New Antarctic penguin colonies discovered.


A dozen Revolutionary War-era cannons pulled from the Savannah River

When AI transforms cartoon characters into humans


Researchers create plastic twice as strong as steel.


Ranking Steven Spielberg movies, in reverse order.


Bored guard draws on eyes, ruins painting.


Mazda drivers in Seattle are stuck in radio purgatory.


Clickbait: New Mexico man breaks into home, bathes, eats, leaves reimbursement.


Historybook: French and Indian War ends (1763); Ron Brown elected chair of Democratic National Committee, first African American to head a major American political party (1989); RIP “Roots” author Alex Haley (1992); RIP American playwright Arthur Miller (2005); RIP Hollywood legend and diplomat Shirley Temple (2014).


"Don't forget to tell your favorite people that you love them."

- Shirley Temple

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