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Weekly Overview: Inauguration, Coronavirus, and the University

Photo by Brendan Beale on Unsplash

Written by Dan Mooney

In the week that teaching started at the University of York, there was no shortage of news. Here is your weekly roundup, for you to get all of your news in one place.

This week saw the inauguration of President Biden, the 46th president of the United States. His predecessor, Donald Trump, broke with tradition by snubbing the ceremony in favour of his beach house in Mar-a-lago, Florida. In his final hours as President he pardoned 73 people, including his former advisor Steve Bannon, rapper Lil Wayne and former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Trump left the White House on Wednesday morning and held a rally touting his achievements over the past four years. He wished the new administration ‘great luck and success’ and told supporters ‘We love you. We will be back in some form. Have a good life. We will see you soon’. By the time he landed in Florida he was no longer president.

Kamala Harris made history as she was sworn in as the first woman, first black person, and first person of Asian descent to become the Vice President of the United States. Joe Biden was accompanied by his wife Jill as he was then inaugurated. The ceremony, where Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, was overshadowed by Bernie Sanders sitting on a folding chair cross legged wearing a pair of mittens. In his speech Biden called for unity and declared ‘Democracy has prevailed’. Later, in a bunch of executive orders, Biden undid many of President Trumps policies, lifting the travel ban from Muslim countries and rejoining the Paris Climate Change agreement.

The UK saw its largest daily death toll on Wednesday as 1,820 people died, bringing the total this week to 8,678 and total for the pandemic to 97,939. The government announced that there is some evidence the new strain of the virus is deadlier than the original strain. The ‘R’ rate, the number of people on average each person infects with the virus, reduced to 0.8-1.0, the first time it reduced below one since mid-December. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, also announced that the fines for attending a house party or gathering of over 15 people will be increased to £800 per person. The organisers of Glastonbury festival also announced that for the second year in a row, the festival will not be taking place. In a tweet, Glastonbury announced that tickets for this year will roll over to next year.

The University of York were criticised for removing an image of three wise monkeys from its website, a spokeswoman said ‘it was considered that a monkey, which has been used in a derogatory way in the past, could cause offence in this context’. The River Ouse rose 4.6m above its normal levels as torrential rain from Storm Christoph caused it to flood, threatening almost 100 homes. The city council has since said ‘the worst is over’.