Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus pandemic in the United States on Friday:

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:

– A $ 1.9 trillion package aimed at helping the country rebuild after the coronavirus pandemic appears to be heading for the passage of the House. Now Democrats are also looking for a way to revive their drive to raise the minimum wage. The relief bill embodies President Joe Biden’s willingness to pay money to individuals, businesses, states and cities suffering from the pandemic. But Progressive Democrats are adamant the party continues to try to pass a law that would raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. The Senate parliamentarian says this provision needs to come out of the relief bill, so Democrats are discussing other steps.

– Tennessee has called on federal law enforcement to investigate the suspected theft of coronavirus vaccine doses in the state’s most populous county. Health officials also said at a press conference on Friday that a volunteer improperly vaccinated two children while shooting was not allowed for minors. The details come after the state previously announced that around 2,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been wasted in Shelby County over the past month due to poor communication and insufficient record keeping at within the local health department. The county also had nearly 30,000 excess vaccine doses in its inventory.

– Two US Navy warships operating in the Middle East were coronavirus outbreaks. This is according to Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, spokesperson for the 5th Fleet based in Bahrain. A dozen soldiers aboard the USS San Diego, an amphibious transport dock, have tested positive for COVID-19. The captain says there were also grieving sailors aboard another ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea. The San Diego sails with nearly 600 Sailors and Marines on board, while the Philippine Sea carries 380 Sailors. The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Middle East and often has tense encounters with Iran.

THE NUMBERS: According to data up to Thursday from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day moving average of daily new cases in the United States has not increased in the past two weeks, going from around 101,749 on the 11th. February to nearly 67,880 Thursday. During the same period, the seven-day moving average of daily new deaths in the United States fell from nearly 2,493 on February 11 to about 2,155 on Thursday.

QUOTE: “I would be very disappointed if people thought this is a new model as it would take us away from the essence of Town meeting, which is an opportunity to meet with our fellow voters, to hear directly from our elected officials, to question them, to challenge them, to debate a budget and public questions during an assembled meeting. – Former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, commenting on the postponement and cancellation of New England city meetings during the pandemic.

ICYMI: This is a promotion that could be straight out of the “Mad Men” Don Draper playbook. The iconic Peter Luger Steak House in New York has partnered with Madame Tussauds to have celebrity wax figures including Jon Hamm in Draper Mode mingle with patrons on Friday to promote the easing of dining restrictions at the interior during the coronavirus pandemic. The gadget coincides with a recent decision by Governor Andrew Cuomo to expand indoor catering capacity of restaurants to 35%, up from 25% in response to a drop in coronavirus infections. In business for over 130 years, Peter Luger will keep the models until Monday.

ON THE HORIZON: The United States is on the verge of securing a third vaccine against COVID-19, and health officials are wondering which one is better. If cleared for emergency use, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would offer a single-dose option that could help speed up vaccinations. The challenge will be to explain how protective the J&J vaccine is after the astonishing success of the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. These injections have been shown to be about 95% effective against symptomatic COVID-19. J&J’s numbers aren’t that high, but they’re not an apples-to-apples comparison. Regulators say it strongly protects against serious illness.

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Check out AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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