No brakes

Pro golfer Tiger Woods was going almost double the speed limit before his crash. Half of COVID-19 cases are in just five states. And did you get that relief stimmy? A little bird (the IRS) told us that stimulus checks were just sent to a whole slew of people. đŸ€‘

👋 HEY. It’s Laura. I’ve got more news than you can shake a stick at.

But first, catch me inside, because I’m never leaving the house again. The very definition of NOPE has been discovered in a 7-Eleven. 🐊 Listen y’all, I’m from deep in the swamps of Florida. It’s pretty safe to say that enormous lizards don’t bother me a whole lot. Usually.

Now, a monitor lizard? That’s a different story. Especially when it’s climbing shelves at the corner store, throwing milk cartons all over the place. Trust me, you want to watch this video. 

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Tiger Woods avoids traffic citation

Driving almost double the speed limit, Tiger Woods was accelerating, not hitting the brakes, before he lost control of his vehicle in a crash that left him hospitalized in February, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday. No charges will be filed in the crash, according to officials, who said they don’t know whether he was conscious or not when he lost control of his Genesis SUV. Black box data from the vehicle showed Woods was traveling more than 82 mph in a 45-mph zone.

  • Tiger Woods crash: Maps, updates, and location of crash site.

A crane lifts a vehicle after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods on Feb. 23 in the Rancho Palos Verdes section of Los Angeles. (Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu, AP)

Half of new COVID-19 cases are in 5 states

In a situation putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing how it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spot, nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states. Not to point any fingers, but it’s New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Together, these states reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 cases, in the latest available seven-day period, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

The U.K. variant is thriving (not in a good way): The CDC has warned since January that the highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in Britain would become the dominant strain in the USA, and that time has arrived. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the B.1.1.7 variant is “now the most common lineage circulating in the United States.” This variant is at least 50% more transmissible than the original virus strain.

  • Brazil COVID-19 deaths exceed 4,000 in a day as mass graves, low oxygen supplies shake the nation.

What everyone’s talking about

  • Six men arrested in sex abuse investigation at a New Hampshire youth detention center.
  • A former NFL and Florida State receiverwas arrested on first-degree murder charges in Florida.
  • “An opportunity for us to rise”:St. Louis elected the city’s first Black female mayor, Tishaura Jones.
  • Donald Trump tumbled nearly 300 spots in Forbes billionaire rankings.
  • Police who shoot civilians can hide their names under a law intended to protect crime victims, court rules.  
  • “Invisibilized”: Asian Americans lead in long-term unemployment amid pandemic, hate attacks.
  • CEO pay doubled, minimum wage stayed the same. But Americans still can’t agree on a federal minimum wage.

Expert: ‘Deadly’ force was used

An expert witness told jurors in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial that the former Minneapolis police officer used “deadly” force on George Floyd and kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. In court Wednesday:

  • Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department testified that the number of officers on the scene outweighed any threat posed by Floyd, who was not actively resisting while he was in the prone position. “No force should have been used after he was in that position,” Stiger said.
  • Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency’s lead investigator in the case, took the witness stand Wednesday and recounted his memory of what happened on May 25, 2020.

More on the trial: 

  • Opinion: The blue wall of silence is crumbling.Police chief’s testimony is a landmark moment.
  • “We have a duty of care”: Did Chauvin and other officers betray their duty by not giving aid to Floyd?
  • Will Chauvin take the standin his trial?

Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, testifies April 6 in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. (Photo: AP)

A preemptive pardon?

As an ardent ally of the former president, did Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., try to get blanket preemptive pardons for himself and others in Congress during the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency? According to The New York Times and Fox News, Gaetz, who is under investigation by the Justice Department over allegations of sex trafficking of an underage girl, asked aides in January for the president to offer pardons for any crimes the lawmaker might have committed, the Times reported, citing two anonymous Trump associates. It is unclear from the reports who else Gaetz allegedly asked a pardon for or whether he spoke with the president about the matter. Gaetz denied wrongdoing, claiming the allegations against him are politically motivated. He has repeatedly said he won’t resign.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., says he's the victim of an extortion plot. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

Real quick

  • “Irreplaceable” 1,000-year-old Native American rock carvingsvandalized in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. 
  • “My human is my human”: JoJo Siwa opens up about being queer and pansexual, her girlfriend.
  • From “Redlegs” to “Red Scare” to “Twilight Zone”:Strange trip of the Cincinnati Reds’ nickname.
  • Unable to sail, Carnival Cruise Linethreatens to remove its ships from U.S. home ports to cruise elsewhere.
  • Doormen fired after not interveningduring attack on Asian American woman.
  • She beat COVID-19 twice. And she’s 104. She received a well-deserved standing ovation while leaving the hospital.
  • “Tantalizing” experiment resultscould change physicists’ understanding of particles and the universe.

More stimulus checks just went out

If you’ve been waiting around for your stimulus to hit, check that bank account. The Internal Revenue Service sent out COVID-19 relief checks to more than 25 million Americans in the fourth round of payments made under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the agency said. That brings the total disbursed payments from the latest stimulus package to more than 156 million payments, worth about $372 billion. The payments, which total up to $1,400 each per individual, were distributed mostly by direct deposits and paper checks. 

  • Stimulus troubles: Many people are making mistakes on their 2020 tax returns. 

A break from the news

  • đŸ» It’s National Beer Day! Celebrate with a shot and a beer: A COVID-19 shot, that is. Here’s how to get a free brew with your proof of vaccine.
  • đŸ„° Shaquille O’Neal pays off engagement ringfor a random man at the jewelry store.
  • 🛍 My pandemic obsession: Why some of us have turned to compulsive shopping (and how to stop).
  • đŸ€© Picture yourself inside the Beverly Hills homewhere parts of “The Godfather” and a BeyoncĂ© music video were filmed. It’s for sale!
  • đŸ„‘đŸ‘đŸ„ŹÂ 27 healthy eating habitsthat can change your life. (Do these life changes involve a certain $89 million Beverly Hills estate? Asking for a friend.)

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

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