Alex Connor, USA TODAY Published 9:59 a.m. ET June 21, 2021 | Updated 10:04 a.m. ET June 21, 2021
More than 600,000 dead.
As America takes steps toward normalcy amid the pandemic, the toll of coronavirus remains ever present. And falling rates of COVID-19 across the country are masking a harsh reality: the overwhelming majority of those getting sick and being hospitalized today are unvaccinated, while vaccinated patients are becoming rare.
Can your job require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine? While most employers have shied away from mandates, a Houston hospital has become the epicenter of the debate.
Welcome to Your Week. I’m Alex, your guide to the top stories from USA TODAY. Our journalism is powered by your subscription.
When you support USA TODAY, you’re also supporting our national Network of more than 300 local newsrooms. This year, two of our newspapers were recognized for their impactful reporting with one of the top achievements in our industry: the Pulitzer Prize.
- The Indianapolis Star won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its year-long investigation that found police dogs attack people suspected of petty crimes, bystanders and even officers.
- The Louisville Courier Journal was a Pulitzer finalist in two categories, Breaking News and Public Service, for its coverage and relentless investigation into the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor and the 180 days of unrest it spurred.
Thank you for your investment in our reporting.
Now, the stories you can’t miss
- Much of our slang comes from the Black community. Not acknowledging that perpetuates racism.
- New car shopping? A chip shortage could mean traveling to a dealership out of state.
- Andrew Brown Jr. Anthony McClain. Daunte Wright. This company’s permissive policies have been tied to high-profile shootings of Black men.
- A bathroom battle started by a trans teen is back at Supreme Court — years after he finished high school.
- The stock market has soared since President Joe Biden was elected. But can it last?
‘Juneteenth is a way to drive the history home that there was slavery’
For the first time, Americans commemorated Juneteenth as a federal holiday after Congress swiftly passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act last week and President Joe Biden signed it into law.
HISTORY LESSON | On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger informed a reluctant community in Galveston, Texas, that President Abraham Lincoln had freed enslaved people in rebel states two and a half years earlier. Texas was the last Confederate state to have the proclamation announced.
The country as a whole took renewed interested in Juneteenth last year in the wake of 2020’s racial reckoning over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
But this year’s celebrations occurred amid a culture war on the teachings of Black history, writes USA TODAY’s Mabinty Quarshie, and as Congress struggles to pass sweeping legislation that would protect the rights of voters of color and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bolsters police accountability.
STORY EXCERPT | Juneteenth’s increasing popularity coincides with a concentrated effort to limit public relearning of precisely what it asks America to remember: how the nation’s early history of enslaving African Americans affects current legislation that restricts voter access and marginalizes voters of color.
“Talking about Juneteenth is a way to drive the history home that there was slavery. You had to have Juneteenth because of the way African American people were treated; at this time they were seen as chattel,” said Harvard law school professor Annette Gordon-Reed. “I certainly wish these efforts were not going on, but this is a way of being adamant about the institution of slavery and the role that it played in the development of Texas and in where we are now.”
Learn more about Juneteenth:
- Rep. Cori Bush: This Juneteenth, reflect on the full meaning of freedom
- Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom from slavery. But it didn’t mean freedom for all.
- A soccer brotherhood: The story behind Black Players for Change
- ‘Larger than life’George Floyd statues unveiled to mark Juneteenth in US cities
Stories we can’t get enough of
PANDEMIC | Want to signal you’re vaccinated for COVID-19? Try a wristband. For many Americans, how or whether to inquire about and convey to others one’s vaccination status has become a fraught issue. In a nation where mask-wearing quickly was politicized, the COVID-19 vaccine has stirred similar discord. By Marco della Cava.
PRIDE | President Joe Biden’s evolution on LGBTQ rights has been filled with twists and turns, but activists now regard him as an unequivocal ally. But even as they celebrate what he has already done (namely reverse Trump-era policy), there’s still more to be done. On the to-do list: Pass the Equality Act, which Biden vowed during his Pride month video that he would fight to get it passed. By Michael Collins.
SPORTS | When American middle distance runner Shelby Houlihan learned late last year that she had tested positive for an anabolic steroid called nandrolone, she said she had to run a Google search on the substance to learn what it was. In the world of sports doping, however, the substance is both common and well-known. By Tom Schad.
Amazon’s massive Prime Day sale starts today! Want to make sure you’re getting a deal and not a dud? Reviewed’s friendly product nerds will share their expertise to make sure you’re saving money on something worthwhile.
Feel free to respond to this email, or you can reach me directly at email@example.com.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2021/06/21/welcome-back-your-week-usa-today/7620245002/