5 things to know for March 18: Ukraine, Texas crash, immigration, Covid-19, Cuba

Here is what you need to know

By Alexandra Meeks

Smoke rises after an explosion in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

1
Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is showing no signs of letting up, with at least one Russian missile striking a location in Lviv — less than 50 miles from the Polish border. Elsewhere in Ukraine, the city of Mariupol is under siege and suffering 50 to 100 attacks daily, its city council said. Casualties were also reported in Kyiv today after debris from a downed rocket sparked a fire at a residential building. In addition to the Ukrainian lives lost since the attack began, thousands of Russian troops have also been killed, US and NATO officials told CNN. Russia now appears to be struggling to resupply those forces as troop morale is dropping. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian resistance is holding on, backed by world leaders who are condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression. In his latest pointed attack against Putin, President Joe Biden called him a “murderous dictator” and “pure thug.” Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to suspend normal trade relations with Russia, the latest effort by US lawmakers to inflict economic pain on the Kremlin for its unprovoked invasion. Follow CNN’s full coverage of Russia’s attack on Ukraine here.

2
Texas crash

A 13-year-old boy was behind the wheel of a pickup truck involved in a head-on collision in Texas that killed nine people, including six University of the Southwest golfers and their coach, a National Transportation Safety Board official said yesterday. The crash occurred after the college students were returning home from a golf tournament. Two survivors of the crash, both students, are still hospitalized. Preliminary reports indicate a spare tire on the pickup truck failed, causing the vehicle to pull into oncoming traffic on a two-lane roadway. Both vehicles were likely moving close to the posted speed limit of 75 mph, an official said. The University of the Southwest — a small Christian school with an enrollment of about 1,100 students — is planning a memorial assembly for next week.

3
Immigration

The Biden administration is preparing for the potential of mass migration to the US-Mexico border when a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule ends. The influx is expected because officials are considering the possibility of terminating a public health order known as Title 42, which border authorities have relied on to turn away migrants, sources familiar with the discussions said. Internal documents, first reported by Axios, estimate around 170,000 people may be coming to the US border and some 25,000 migrants are already in shelters in Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security has asked department personnel to volunteer at the Mexico border in response.

4
Coronavirus

Only about 1.7 million people in the United States — less than 1% of the total population — live in counties where the CDC still recommends universal indoor masking. While this is a positive step toward normalcy, scientists are paying close attention to the uptick in Covid-19 cases in Europe and Asia as a possible indicator of what could happen in the US. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN yesterday that the US “generally follows what goes on in the UK by about two to three weeks.” In the UK, cases are rising due to the increased transmissibility of the virus and the waning immunity of vaccines, Fauci said. Covid-19 is also making a resurgence in China, and the country’s leader vowed to ‘minimize’ the economic impact of the spike in cases. Separately, Moderna said it has asked the FDA to allow a fourth vaccine dose for any adults who’ve gotten an initial vaccine booster.

5
Cuba

Cuba’s Supreme Court has sentenced more than 100 protesters in Havana to prison terms that ranged between four and 30 years for violence committed during demonstrations last year. Last July, hundreds of Cubans across the country defied the communist-run government and took to the streets to protest chronic shortages and lack of basic freedoms. The Cuban government is now handing out lengthy prison sentences to those who participated. Shortly after the protests started, police and special forces went door to door looking for those who took part. Cuban courts are now trying hundreds of protesters in mass trials that have been criticized by international observers for their lack of transparency and due process.