Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. One year ago today, the House of Representatives impeached then-President Donald Trump for a second time, making him the only president thus reprimanded. Ten Republicans joined Democrats in formally accusing Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

The big idea

New fatalism creeps into remarks from Biden, Fauci about covid

Back in November, I suggested the definition of victory over covid might look something like winning the war on terrorism: it’s still around, but the danger to our lives is much lower; we retain some rituals to reduce the risk, but we’ve given up on early promises to eradicate it.

Now, as we enter Year Three of the pandemic, a new kind of realism has crept into remarks from President Biden, Anthony S. Fauci, and others as they survey the landscape of the pandemic and declare: Covid can be managed. But it’s here to stay, and everyone’s going to get infected.

The rhetorical recalibration may cost Biden dearly in the midterms — he ran on a dual promise of smothering the virus and reviving the economy, polls show Americans don't buy he's done either — but it isn’t a surrender. The vaccines have changed the way we think about covid.

Instead, officials are pushing the Biden administration to right-size its response, saving a health-care system creaking under the weight of covid cases, vaccinating as many people as possible, while shying away from aggressive lockdowns of schools and businesses.

“Virtually everybody is going to wind up getting exposed and likely get infected,” Fauci said in a White House covid briefing on Wednesday. “But if you're vaccinated and if you're boosted, the chances of you getting sick are very, very low.”

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, had said on Tuesday the omicron variant of the coronavirus would “find just about everybody” and infect vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans, the former mostly avoiding “hospitalization and death” while the latter “get the brunt of the severe aspect of this.”

Acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner Janet Woodcock had much the same message in a Tuesday hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, testifying: “I think it's hard to process what's actually happening right now, which is most people are going to get COVID, all right?”

(At the same hearing, Fauci described the chasm between vaccinated and unvaccinated. Americans who have not had their shot(s) are 10 times more likely to get infected, 17 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 20 times more likely to die, he said.)

The remarks confirmed a shift from the days before the availability of cheap and effective vaccines, when many federal and state governments played up mask-wearing and embraced lockdowns at a time when the dominant public health goal was avoiding infection at all costs.

Balancing act

Biden’s public remarks have been more of a balancing act — the president doesn’t want to look like he’s giving up, or shrugging his shoulders, or condemning Americans to suffer with a virus he repeatedly promised to shut down.

Asked Friday whether covid was “here to stay,” the president seemed to suggest it depends on the definition of “here to stay” — the current four-alarm fire of omicron? No. But covid out there, infecting people? Maybe.

“I don’t think covid is here to stay,” he told reporters. “Having covid in the environment, here and in the world, is probably here to stay. But covid, as we're dealing with it now, is not here to stay. The new normal doesn’t have to be.”

“We're going to be able to control this,” Biden promised. “The new normal is not going to be what it is now. It's going to be better.”

His remarks came a day after my colleague Dan Diamond reported: “Six former health advisers to President Biden’s transition team released a series of journal articles on Thursday calling for a ‘new normal’ in the nation’s approach to fighting the coronavirus and other viral threats.”

“Rather than continuing in ‘a perpetual state of emergency’ … the United States must shift to a strategy of seeking to live with the virus by suppressing its peaks, rather than attempting to eliminate it.”

As I often do, I turned to Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, to get his perspective on the shifting tone.

“I never thought the idea of a ‘victory over covid’ made much sense,” he said, noting that the only virus humanity has every truly eradicated from the wild is smallpox (though “we’re pretty close on polio.”)

“The expectations-setting should have been done from the beginning,” Jha added. “The goal was always to take a deadly virus that was incredibly disruptive to our lives and medical system and turn it into a virus that hopefully doesn’t kill as many people and our medical system can manage.”

“I think the military-style ‘we will defeat this virus’ may have set the wrong expectations of what is possible,” he said, and led people to become “zero-covid types” with unrealistic goals and tactics, including those calling for national lockdowns of dubious legal and public health merit.

The new tone isn’t fatalism, though, Jha said. “It’s just the reality of living on this planet with viruses.”

What's happening now

Biden details ‘surge’ of military medical teams to hospitals in 6 states, next week to announce plan for free high-quality masks

“President Biden announced Thursday that the federal government is deploying additional military medical teams to six states — New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico — to help hospitals struggling to respond to the spike in cases of the omicron coronavirus variant,” Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis and John Wagner report

Biden also said his administration will announce a plan within days to get free high-quality masks in the hands of millions of Americans, Eugene Scott reports.

Graham says he won’t support McConnell for GOP leader unless he has ‘working relationship’ with Trump

“‘Elections are about the future. If you want to be a Republican leader in the House or the Senate, you have to have a working relationship with president Donald Trump,’ Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity. He added that Trump was ‘the most consequential Republican since Ronald Reagan’ and that he could handily win the GOP nomination if he wanted it and get reelected president in 2024," Amy B Wang reports.

Abortion grows as priority issue for Democrats: AP-NORC poll

“Thirteen percent of Democrats mentioned abortion or reproductive rights as one of the issues they want the federal government to address in 2022, according to a December poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s up from less than 1% of Democrats who named it as a priority for 2021 and 3% who listed it in 2020,” the Associated Press’s Hannah Fingerhut reports.

Navient reaches $1.85 billion settlement over student loan practices

“The agreement to be announced Thursday puts to rest multiple state probes into the company’s loan servicing and lending practices dating back to when it was known as Sallie Mae. It spans 39 states and the District and will deliver $1.7 billion in private student loan cancellation to 66,000 borrowers nationwide, and another $95 million in payouts,” Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Portraits of fear and loss: Taliban rule through the eyes of four women in Afghanistan

“Nothing is truly the same in Afghanistan for many women whose lives were turned inside out last summer. The spaces that were once theirs in Kabul and other cities — classrooms, jobs, even the streets themselves — are no longer in their hands. The Taliban is now in charge,” Loveday Morris and Ruby Mellen report.

“The Washington Post interviewed four women over the past four months through weekly phone calls and regular WhatsApp messages … The women are all Shiite, a group long persecuted by the Taliban. As urban, minority women who grew up in the past two decades they had some of the most to gain, with opportunities opening up in education and work. Now that the Taliban is back, they may have the most to lose.

The past seven years have been the hottest in recorded history, new data shows

“2021 was the seventh year in a row in which global temperatures were more than 1 degree Celsius above the preindustrial average. It’s unlikely anyone alive will see the world’s temperature drop below that 1 degree benchmark again,” Sarah Kaplan and John Muyskens report.

… and beyond

A look inside Rikers: ‘Fight Night’ and gang rule, captured on video

“In an unusual decision last month, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ordered the release of one of the men who had been forced to participate in the ‘fight night’ because, she said, the Department of Correction had failed to protect him. The department’s inability to manage the jail system as the man awaited trial on robbery charges, Justice April Newbauer said, ‘was tantamount to deliberate indifference,’" the New York Times’s Jan Ransom reports.

“The New York Times obtained jail surveillance camera footage that was gathered by New York County Defender Services as part of its client’s petition to go free. Depicting the fight night and an attempted stabbing, the videos, along with court records and interviews, offer vivid glimpses of the lawlessness that has taken hold on Rikers Island, where violence has soared to levels not seen since the jails overflowed during the crack epidemic in the 1990s.”

The rise of omicron

Omicron waves appear to slow in New York City, other major metropolitan areas

“Experts caution these are still early data points for predicting the trajectory of a virus that has repeatedly shown to be unpredictable. It’s also too soon to declare a rapid decline in infections following the steep spikes, as was observed in South Africa and London. Cases remain alarmingly high, like a reckless driver slowing from 110 mph to 90 mph,” Fenit Nirappil and Hannah Knowles report.

Kamala Harris estimates COVID-19 tests for all Americans will go out next week

“They’ve been ordered. They’ve been ordered,” Harris told Craig Melvin in an exclusive interview Thursday on TODAY, Drew Weisholtz reports. “I have to look at the current information. I think it’s going to be by next week. But soon. Absolutely soon. And it is a matter of urgency for us.”

The Biden agenda

Biden says separated migrant families deserve compensation. But in court, the Justice Dept. says they’re not entitled to it.

“Two months after President Biden said migrant families separated at the border under the Trump administration deserve compensation, his administration’s lawyers are arguing in federal court that they are not in fact entitled to financial damages and their cases should be dismissed,Maria Sacchetti and Sean Sullivan report.

Biden imposes first sanctions over North Korea weapons program after missile tests

“The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions over North Korea's weapons programs following a series of North Korean missile launches, including two since last week,” Reuters’s David Brunnstrom and Chris Gallagher report.

White House slams Trump’s Iran pullout as prospects to save nuclear deal dim

“The White House sought Wednesday to reframe the Washington debate about the Iran nuclear deal, asserting that former President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the agreement is what has led to an Iran on the verge of an atom bomb,” Politico’s Nahal Toosi reports.

Highest inflation in 40 years, visualized

“Prices rose at the fastest pace in four decades in December, increasing 7 percent over the same period a year ago, and cementing 2021 as a year marked by soaring inflation wrought by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” our colleagues Rachel Siegel and Andrew Van Dam report.

Hot on the left

America’s biggest coronavirus weakness

“The life of a hotel front-desk clerk in a red state can tell you a lot about America’s COVID-19 failures. He doesn’t want to be identified, because he is worried about being fired, but I can tell you this: He doesn’t have paid sick days or health insurance. About a month ago, he got COVID and took four days off, using three of his seven vacation days and going a day without pay. Last week, one of his kids tested positive for COVID, and he thinks he has it again. But when he tried to get tested, the earliest appointment was in a few days. So with a headache, a sore throat, and a runny nose, he went into work anyway. ‘If I need to pay rent and buy food, I gotta go to work,' he told me. 'I was feeling pretty bad earlier, but it’s like, well, I could just take some DayQuil,’” the Atlantic's Olga Khazan writes.

“The federal government offers no services for or payments to people in isolation, and has no one checking in with the sick. Most local and state governments don’t do anything for people in isolation either. Most important, millions of Americans still don’t have paid sick leave, so taking any time off work—five days, 10, or two—can be financially ruinous.

Hot on the right

Trump is eyeing the White House and wants a more compliant Senate for when he gets there

“As Donald Trump charts out his midterm elections strategy, his focus has turned to the contest for the Senate, not just in hopes of getting it back under GOP control but of having more compliant lawmakers there should he become president again,” Politico's Meredith McGraw reports.

Trump’s interest in the chamber stems in part from a lingering aggrievement he had over how his term in office went. Major agenda items were stymied there. And aides say Trump is determined to ensure that, should he end up back in the White House, that doesn’t happen again.”

Today in Washington

Biden will meet with the Senate Democratic Caucus at 1 p.m. at the Capitol to discuss voting rights legislation.

In closing

Is graphic design your passion? Can you help this Missouri county?

Harold Gallaher, the 74-year-old county commissioner who designed St. Francois County's controversial seal, has noted that a “5-year-old kid with a high fever could do a better job than I did.” Now the county is looking for some assistance.

“The commission formally announced a Feb. 28 deadline for entries in the worldwide competition. Participants must agree to allow the county to alter their designs as needed. Seven anonymous judges not employed by the county will select the winner, who will collect a $100 Visa gift card donated by Gallaher,” Andrea Salcedo reports.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.