5 things to know for Feb. 2: Ukraine, Covid, Build Back Better, HBCU threats, Ecuador

Here is what you need to know
Originally Published: 02 FEB 22 06:33 ET
Updated: 02 FEB 22 06:37 ET

(CNN) — It’s Groundhog Day, and according to tradition, we’ll get six more weeks of winter if furry Phil sees his shadow. Shadow or not, forecasts are showing a powerful storm brewing that threatens to bring a potentially crippling combination of snow and ice across much of the US. More than 90 million people are currently under winter weather alerts from the Rockies to New England.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the US and NATO have “ignored” the Kremlin’s key security concerns over Ukraine. For weeks, Putin had said little publicly about the crisis sparked by Russia’s buildup of tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border, which has raised fears of a possible invasion. At a news conference yesterday, Putin said three key requirements remain unmet and also accused the US directly of attempting to draw Russia into an armed conflict to force “allies in Europe to impose the very tough sanctions” against them, or to “draw Ukraine into NATO.” Putin did not offer any solutions during his comments, but he did say he was open to more talks.

2. Coronavirus

Children younger than 5 in the US could soon begin receiving Covid-19 vaccinations. Pfizer and BioNTech are requesting emergency use authorization for their two-dose Covid-19 vaccine for children age 6 months up to 5 years. The companies are aiming to complete their submission process within the coming days, which will then be reviewed by the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee on February 15. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is already authorized for use in people as young as 5, and the approval would be the first Covid-19 vaccine available for the youngest children. Since the start of the pandemic, at least 11.4 million children have tested positive for Covid-19, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Monday, with over 3.5 million cases reported in January alone.

3. Build Back Better

Key swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia offered a grim update on the status of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better act, calling it “dead.” This is another blow to Biden’s remaining domestic agenda after the legislation hit a wall with no clear path forward following months of negotiations. Democrats, however, remain hopeful to eventually pass some kind of scaled-back version of the legislation. Manchin has raised concerns over inflation and said that passing a government spending bill “has to be done first.” Since Senate Democrats control only a narrow 50-50 partisan split and need the support of every single member of their caucus, Manchin has an outsized influence over the process and the ability to stop the act from moving forward altogether. With Build Back Better stalled, lawmakers are now turning their attention to other pressing agenda items, including an upcoming government funding deadline on February 18.

4. HBCU threat

At least 14 historically black colleges and universities received bomb threats this week — the beginning of Black History Month — disrupting campus operations. Southern University, Spelman College, Howard University, Albany State University, Bethune-Cookman University and Bowie State University were among those that received bomb threats, which prompted lockdowns and shelter in place orders. Classes were canceled and university operations were temporarily suspended to assess the situation. The FBI and local authorities are investigating to determine the credibility of the threats. Students are weighing in about the disturbing situation. “I’m just tired of being terrorized like how my grandparents were,” said Spelman College student Saigan Boyd.

5. Ecuador

At least 23 people have died and nearly 50 were injured after heavy rainfall triggered a landslide on Monday in Quito, Ecuador. Authorities are warning the death toll could rise as workers continue to remove debris, according to Quito’s mayor. The storm that triggered the landslide dropped the largest amount of rainfall the capital has seen in almost two decades, the mayor said. Videos posted to social media showed residents screaming for help as a muddy river flowed through the streets of Quito, carrying trees, vehicles, dumpsters and electricity poles, Reuters reported.


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$30 trillion

That’s the amount of America’s national debt, according to Treasury Department data published yesterday. The Covid-19 pandemic prompted the government to accelerate borrowing to cushion the economic blow from the crisis. The national debt has surged by about $7 trillion since the end of 2019.


“My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”

Brian Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, on his lawsuit filed yesterday against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins organizations alleging racial discrimination. Flores, who is Black, alleges the Giants interviewed him for their vacant head coaching job to demonstrate “falsely to League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large” that they were increasing diversity among their head coaching staff.


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A friendly reminder: Groundhogs are not always friendly

Let’s not forget what Jimmy the Groundhog did to the mayor of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, during a ceremony in 2015. Happy Groundhog Day!

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