COVID-19 cases, Middle East diplomacy, Southeast heatwave: 5 things to know Wednesday

Coronavirus cases in 2021 are already higher than in 2020 worldwide

Even with 1.7 billion COVID-19 vaccines administered, the number of reported coronavirus cases across the globe in 2021 is already more than all of 2020, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Through Sunday, the world reported 83.62 million cases this year, up from 83.56 million cases last year. The early months of 2020 reflect the gradual rise and spread of the virus around the world. But since the fall of 2020, the global pace of infections hasn’t abated. Confirmed coronavirus cases in India, the United States and Brazil have outpaced the rest of the world in 2020 and 2021, but the U.S, with half of the population at least partially vaccinated, is the only country where the number of cases have fallen this year.

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Blinken continues maiden Mideast trip as US seeks to fix Palestinian ties

A day after arriving in Jerusalem for his first trip to the region, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will on Wednesday visit Egypt and Jordan, which have acted as mediators in the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants. Egypt succeeded in brokering the Gaza truce after the Biden administration pressed Israel to wind down its offensive. While in Israel on Tuesday, Blinken said the Biden administration would reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as a de facto embassy for Palestinians until former President Donald Trump shuttered it in 2019. Biden dispatched Blinken to the Middle East to help ensure the cease-fire sticks and to reassure both Israelis and Palestinians that the U.S. would remain engaged in the region. Biden has vowed to help with a massive recovery effort in Gaza, which bore the brunt of the destruction after being pounded by Israeli missiles for 11 days.

  • Casualty of Israeli-Hamas fighting: The Palestinian two-state solution?
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  • Fact check: Black Lives Matter tweeted in support of Palestinians, not Hamas

Adam Toledo’s family creates sanctuary for at-risk youth in honor of 14th birthday

Adam Toledo would have celebrated his 14th birthday on Wednesday. Toledo’s family announced the creation of Adam’s Place, a rural sanctuary for at-risk youth in honor of Adam, who was fatally shot by a white Chicago police offer on March 29. “This year, as they struggle with their grief, Adam’s parents and siblings are dedicating themselves to helping other families prevent the excruciating sorrow that comes from the loss of a child,” Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn, lawyers for the Toledo family, said in a statement. Adam’s Place will provide a “safe and nurturing haven” in a rural setting where at-risk youth ages 10 to 14 from Chicago and other Midwestern cities can “develop skills, values, and self-worth by learning to care for the natural world, others, and themselves, away from the dangers of urban streets,” the lawyers said.

  • Evolution of a city’s account of a killing: How Chicago’s narrative changed in the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo
  • ‘We failed Adam’: Body camera videos show 13-year-old Adam Toledo put hands up before fatal police shooting

Record temps possible as heat wave scorches Southeast

For much of the South, midsummer-like heat will peak Wednesday, bringing the greatest chance to break daily record highs. More than 70 daily heat records may be broken as a high pressure system dominates the eastern half of the country. “The heat will challenge daily record highs for several days in a row in cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh with afternoon highs around or even slightly above what they normally peak at in July or August,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. Parts of the Southeast could stay hot right through the end of the work week, according to Weather.com.

  • Weather to watch: Tropical Storm Ana exits with a whimper but also a warning as first named storm of year
  • Hurricane season: NOAA predicts another busy Atlantic hurricane season with up to 20 named storms possible

A super blood moon and total lunar eclipse may come to skies near you

It’s the sky spectacle of the year. Early Wednesday, a full “supermoon” will brighten the night sky over the U.S., and a total lunar eclipse will be visible across the West during predawn hours. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is between the full moon and the sun. The Earth’s shadow covers the moon, which often has a red color, hence the “blood” moon nickname. You don’t need special glasses or gizmos to view it, unlike a solar eclipse, so feel free to stare directly at the moon. Binoculars or a telescope improve the view. What does a supermoon mean? It just means the moon looks a bit bigger than usual since it’s closer to the Earth. This will be the second and last supermoon of 2021. Here’s how to see it.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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