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California on Thursday became the latest state to announce huge cash prizes to incentivize vaccination against the coronavirus, offering $116.5 million in giveaways — many smaller payments as well as a final drawing for 10 winners of $1.5 million each.

As rates of vaccination slow, more state and local leaders are getting creative to boost an urgent effort to protect Americans from covid-19 and get communities back to normal. Some incentives are more modest: free fries, bouquets or alcohol. (Louisiana, for instance, recently debuted “shots for shots.”) But Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) upped the ante this month when he announced a multimillion-dollar lottery. Soon, other states followed suit.

Some have questioned the strategy’s cost-effectiveness, and one reporter asked Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) at a Thursday news conference whether he ever thought California would have to spend so much to get people to get free vaccinations against a deadly disease.

“The cost of not getting vaccinated is exponentially, incalculably higher,” Newsom said.

Here are some significant developments:

3:00 a.m.
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Woman arrested for allegedly driving through vaccination site in protest

As a coronavirus vaccination tent was set up in hope of inoculating more residents in Maryville, Tenn., sheriff’s deputies working at the site this week saw an SUV speeding their way — and the person behind the wheel wasn’t slowing down for a shot.

Instead, Virginia Christine Lewis Brown was protesting the vaccine by driving her Chrysler Pacifica “at a high rate of speed” through a vaccine tent in a mall parking lot, police said.

“No vaccine!” she yelled Monday as she plowed through the tent, according to witness accounts to sheriff’s deputies.

Brown, 36, was arrested for driving through a vaccination tent and “placing the lives of seven workers in danger,” the Blount County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday. She’s been charged with seven counts of felony reckless endangerment. Tennessee attorneys claim each count carries penalties that include a possible prison sentence of one to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

2:00 a.m.
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Analysis: What a proven lab-leak theory would mean

The mainstream media is engaged in some very warranted soul-searching when it comes to the possibility that the coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, rather than occurring naturally. Reporters often wrote about the theory dismissively, citing scientists who backed that up. There is still no real proof the theory is true, but scientists now regard it as increasingly plausible, as The Post’s Glenn Kessler detailed this week. And the Biden administration says it’s redoubling efforts to get to the truth.

But beyond media accountability, it’s valid to ask: What’s really at stake here? If the theory were somehow proved, what would it change, including for the U.S. government, its top officials, including the current and former presidents, and China?

A big part of the appeal of the theory right now — beyond the chance to apply egg to the face of the popular boogeyman (particularly on the right) that is the media — lies in how intriguing it is. A deadly worldwide pandemic originating from a lab accident — or worse — is basically a Hollywood script. That it would involve a nefarious and powerful foreign government that also happens to be communist is almost a bit too over the top.

1:00 a.m.
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How (not) to pack for your first vaccine-era trip

When we were dreaming of travel for a year and change, we imagined sipping piña coladas on a sunny beach, wandering through the halls of the Louvre or searching for rhinos on an African safari. We chased vaccines, fantasizing about being back on airplanes and trains and cruises safely.

Something that wasn’t a part of this daydream? Packing luggage. At least, not for me.

The pandemic kept us at home, where every modern convenience and all of our belongings surrounded us at the ready. If you needed a shirt, you could go grab one from your closet/drawer/pile on the floor. Toothbrush? Waiting at the bathroom sink where you left it. We grew accustomed to having everything close at hand.

A few weeks ago, I stood staring at two empty carry-on-size suitcases on my apartment floor. I needed to fill them with items that would keep me properly clothed and comfortable throughout a month’s worth of traveling across varying climates. And despite being a travel writer who’s been to 50 countries and every continent, the concept of packing a bag no longer registered in my pandemic-era brain.

It was a herculean task. I could have gone with, say, the Marie Kondo way. But instead, I did … whatever you’d call the following.

12:00 a.m.
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California joins the vaccine lottery trend with $116.5 million in incentives

California on Thursday became the latest state to announce huge cash prizes to incentivize vaccination against the coronavirus, offering $116.5 in giveaways — including a drawing for 10 winners of $1.5 million each.

As rates of vaccination slow, more state and local leaders are getting creative to boost an urgent effort to protect Americans from covid-19 and get communities back to normal. Some incentives are more modest: free fries, bouquets or alcohol (Louisiana, for instance, recently debuted “shots for shots”). But Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) upped the ante this month when he announced a multimillion-dollar lottery, with the first winners picked this week. Soon, other states followed suit.

Some have questioned the strategy’s cost-effectiveness, and one reporter asked Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) at a Thursday news conference if he ever thought California would have to spend so much to get people to take free vaccinations against a deadly disease.

“The cost of not getting vaccinated is exponentially, incalculably higher,” Newsom said. A UCLA study found that about one-third of unvaccinated people said that cash incentives would make them more likely to get immunized, though the study focused on smaller payments.

In addition to 10 top prizes to be awarded June 15, the state is offering $50,000 each to 30 people selected on June 4 and June 11. Californians who are vaccinated are automatically entered into the program. Newsom noted that people are eligible regardless of their immigration status.

California will also give out 2 million $50 “incentive cards” starting Thursday for as long as supplies last, officials said. Anyone who receives their full vaccine regimen — two shots if applicable — can get a card.

Newsom said that demand in California peaked at nearly 3 million people getting vaccinated over a week. Now the state is seeing roughly 2 million in a seven day period.

“We are mindful that if we continue down this path and this trend, we’re not going to get where all of us need to be,” Newom said. “And that is north of 70 percent of all eligible Californians getting administered doses of this lifesaving vaccine.”

11:00 p.m.
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Here are nine questions about traveling with kids, answered by infectious-disease experts

Across the country, life is returning to normal. People are gathering again without masks, local coronavirus restrictions are dropping and travel is on the rise.

But parents of children who aren’t old enough to get vaccinated yet are in a sort of limbo, watching millions of people reemerge while wondering what they can safely do with their kids this summer.

While children are at lower risk for severe illness than adults in general, 3.9 million cases of covid-19 and 308 deaths had been reported in the United States by mid-May. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends delaying travel until people are fully vaccinated.

“Parents are reading all these articles about singles who are full of savings and planning these ‘YOLO’ trips,” said Katie Stewart, a travel adviser with the family-focused agency Ciao Bambino. She said she recently had a conversation with a client whose mind-set was much different: “I don’t want a YOLO trip. I just want to come home and know my kids aren’t sick.”

10:00 p.m.
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Many couldn’t visit Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day last year because of covid. This woman did it for them.

Last Memorial Day, Emily Domenech was visiting her grandfather’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery when she noticed the military memorial was largely empty. The pandemic was raging and covid restrictions allowed only family members to visit.

Domenech pulled out her cellphone and made an offer on Twitter:

“Does anyone have buddies buried in Arlington who they would like visited today?” she asked. “Since only family members are allowed in, I would be honored to pay respects on your behalf …”

Domenech, 36, said she thought she might hear from one or two friends. Instead, by the end of the day hundreds of people had reached out with requests — mostly strangers — and her tweet went viral.

On a day she planned to spend 30 minutes at her grandfather’s grave, she ended up at the cemetery for six hours to honor soldiers she’d never known and share photos of their gravesites on Twitter for their loved ones.

9:00 p.m.
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A Va. high school put on a spring musical amid the pandemic. The stage? A parking lot.

Singing through surgical masks, the actors walked with slow steps to the edge of their stage, which also was the start of their high school parking lot.

They spread out between parking spot 284, stage left, and parking spot 277, stage right. They raised their voices in the first chorus of the first number of the musical “The Theory of Relativity”: “And we’re all on this marble, that hurdles through space / Our orbits and paths are unique.”

Their song competed with the soft thwack of tennis balls coming from an adjacent court, and with louder thwacks and shouts rising from the football field across the parking lot, where the lacrosse team was sweating through shooting drills. Their audience, roughly 50 parents and close friends, sat on collapsible lawn chairs arranged in clusters six feet apart.

8:04 p.m.
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CDC ‘reforms’ are needed to prepare for next pandemic, key Senate Republican warns

A key Senate Republican on Thursday issued a critical review of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s handling of the coronavirus, faulting “mistakes” at the agency for setting back the nation’s response to the pandemic.

“Structural and cultural reforms at CDC are needed to ensure the organization is modern, nimble, mission-focused, and able to leverage cutting-edge science so that the United States is better prepared for the next threat that will come our way,” Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, wrote in a five-page brief shared with The Washington Post.

Burr blamed poor communication and the agency’s “sprawling structure” for its missteps such as the CDC’s conflicting data on how many coronavirus tests were performed early in the pandemic.

Ahead of the next pandemic, Burr called for the CDC to develop a more robust strategic plan, arguing that its public-facing plans lacked details, and that the agency should pursue “strategic partnerships” with nongovernment organizations. He citied its failure to roll out effective coronavirus tests in February 2020.

“The delays related to the original CDC-developed test put our country days, if not weeks, behind in our ability to test for and track the spread of the novel coronavirus within the United States,” wrote Burr.

Burr’s review is one of multiple inquiries underway by lawmakers of both parties who say they want to ensure the CDC is better prepared to respond to the next pandemic — although with clear partisan splits. Democrats have rallied around shoring up the agency, such as by investing in better data systems and preventing the political interference that occurred during the Trump administration.

Republicans have focused more on how the agency arrived at its recommendations to combat the pandemic, saying it was too slow and too accommodating to special interests such as teachers’ unions.

“I always considered the CDC to be the gold standard; I don’t anymore,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at a hearing earlier this month, citing the agency’s “conflicting, confusing guidance” on whether schools should be open, if masks needed to be worn outside and what protections summer camps should institute.

Burr also has begun a bipartisan effort with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, to craft legislation intended to improve the nation’s public health response.

7:32 p.m.
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Biden criticizes Republicans who touted relief package despite oppposing it

In remarks in Ohio on Thursday afternoon, Biden chided Republicans who have boasted about some parts of the coronavirus relief package to voters in their districts — despite having voted against the measure.

Every Republican in Congress opposed the $1.3 trillion stimulus package when it passed the House and the Senate in March. Yet in the months since its passage, some Republican lawmakers have touted its benefits.

“Even my Republican friends in Congress, not a single one of them voted for the rescue plan,” Biden said Thursday during remarks at Cuyahoga Community College’s Manufacturing Technology Center in Cleveland. “I’m not going to embarrass any one of them, but I have here a list of how back in their districts, they’re bragging about the rescue plan.”

As he spoke, he held up a sheet of paper, prompting laughter from those in the crowd.

Some Republican lawmakers, he noted, have touted the relief legislation’s inclusion of aid for restaurants. Others have hailed grants to community health-care centers.

“Some people have no shame,” Biden said, prompting more laughter. “But I’m happy. I’m happy they know that it benefited their constituents. That’s okay with me. But if you’re going to try to take credit for what you’ve done, don’t get in the way of what we still need to do.”

Biden’s remarks come amid a stalemate between the White House and Congress over his sweeping jobs and infrastructure package.

6:44 p.m.
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One barrier to getting vaccinated may be people’s concerns about missing work

Nearly half of adults in the United States who have not received a coronavirus vaccine are concerned about missing work as a result of side effects from the shot, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this month. The findings highlight a key obstacle to vaccination, particularly for the 25 percent of American workers who do not have any paid sick leave.

Economic stimulus legislation created tax credits that reimburse some employers for granting time off to get vaccinated or recover from side effects. But employers are not required to provide this leave. Although many employers are offering time off for employees to receive a vaccine, it’s the recovery that has workers more worried.

Concerns about missing work were particularly acute among Black and Hispanic workers. According to Kaiser Family Foundation polling, Black and Hispanic adults are less likely to have received a coronavirus vaccine than White adults.

About a quarter of Americans in private industry did not have paid sick leave as of March 2020, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An earlier study, which broke this data down by race, ethnicity and education, found that Black and Hispanic workers, as well as workers without college degrees, were less likely to have paid leave than the country as a whole.

5:47 p.m.
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Intelligence community puts out rare public statement saying coronavirus origin probe is ongoing

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Thursday released a rare statement assessing its ongoing work investigating the origins of the coronavirus.

Biden had quoted from the statement the day before, and the statement itself did not provide any new details beyond what the president said Wednesday.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus was transmitted initially but has coalesced around two likely scenarios: either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident,” the statement says.

As previously stated by Biden, the intelligence community does not “believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” the statement said.

Biden told reporters Thursday that he would release the results of the intelligence review unless there is something he is “not aware of.”

5:00 p.m.
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Olympic Games could create an ‘Olympic strain,’ warns head of Japan Doctors Union

The chairman of the Japan Doctors Union, a lead critic of the holding of the Olympic Games amid the pandemic, warned Thursday that an “Olympic strain” of the coronavirus could emerge if the sports event goes forward.

Naoto Ueyama has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee’s decision to hold the Tokyo Olympics in July despite rising cases in the country and an increasingly burdened health-care system.

“It is dangerous to hold the Olympics here in Tokyo this July,” he warned in a news conference, saying that with people coming into Japan from over 200 nations around the world, “all of the different mutant strains of the virus that exist in different places will be concentrated and gathered here in Tokyo.”

Ueyama said that “a Tokyo Olympic strain of the virus” could develop as a result.

4:51 p.m.
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Beijing slams Biden’s call for harder look into origins of coronavirus

China reacted angrily to the Biden administration’s calls for a harder investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic by accusing the United States of hypocrisy and suggesting it needed to open its own biological laboratories to international inspection.

Speaking at a media briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that President Biden’s push for more scrutiny of the still-disputed origins of the coronavirus was politically motivated and showed that United States “does not care about facts and truth, nor is it interested in serious scientific origin tracing.”

Zhao, one of the country’s most notoriously hawkish diplomats, referenced a U.S. military location that has been baselessly linked to the coronavirus outbreak by Chinese media.

Describing Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., as “full of suspicion,” Zhao said the United States needed to open it up to international scrutiny. “There are more than 200 U.S. biological laboratories scattered around the world. How many secrets are there?” he said.

3:28 p.m.
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Maryland adds hundreds of previously uncounted covid deaths to official tally

Maryland on Thursday announced it is adding 517 previously uncounted covid-19 deaths to its official tally, bringing its total toll above 9,500.

Officials said they are also reclassifying 21 cases to list covid-19 as a probable cause of death. This accounting change caused a sudden spike in the state’s daily fatality numbers, which have averaged between nine and 12 in recent weeks.

The Maryland Department of Health said these deaths were inaccurately classified by medical certifiers during the past year. The errors were caught during “maintenance exercises” by the department’s statistics administrators.

“When necessary, our epidemiologists make adjustments to reported health data as information is reviewed, verified, and corrected,” Jinlene Chan, Maryland deputy secretary for public health services, said in a statement. “It is important for medical certifiers to closely follow CDC guidance when reporting COVID-19 deaths.”