Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, February 17, 2021:


Nearly 3 million Texas residents are going on 48 hours without power during an historic cold snap. The record cold overwhelmed the state’s power grid, which relies mostly on natural gas and was not weatherized to prepare for temperatures in the single digits. The state’s main utility says the disruption is because most of the coal, nuclear and gas plants were forced offline and it doesn’t know when the outages will end. At least 20 people have died from the far-reaching storm, and another system is now descending on the middle part of the country that will add to the mess. TEXAS TRIB


President Biden said that every American who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by the end of July, a more optimistic timeline than he had previously suggested. FEMA has opened the first federal mass-vaccination sites in Oakland and L.A. as the White House said the weekly supply being sent to states will get a bump from 11 million to 13.5 million doses. According to the WHO, cases were down worldwide by 16 percent last week, giving hope that countries will be able to buy some time for their vaccination efforts to take hold. WASH POST


Last winter, 405,000 Americans were hospitalized with the flu. This winter: 165. Total. The flu season has been almost nonexistent this year, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Millions of schoolchildren -- the superspreaders of all superspreaders -- have been home. The rest of us are wearing masks and social distancing. The good news is that our collective experience with COVID means society could do a better job of stopping a future flu epidemic in its tracks; the bad news is that people are going to be much more susceptible to infection when flu season comes back around. NPR


President Biden made his first official trip as president to speak at a CNN town hall event in Milwaukee. The headline was his comment about vaccine availability in July, but he was ostensibly there to pitch the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, saying “now is the time to go big.” Biden contradicted his press secretary and said that his goal was for most schools to be open full time by the end of his first 100 days, rather than “at least one day a week,” which had been the White House’s official line. The president refused to offer any thoughts on impeachment of his predecessor, referring to Trump as the “former guy” and saying he was sick of talking about him. JOURNAL SENTINEL


Goldman Sachs, the most prestigious of the big Wall St. investment banks that has long been out of reach for all but the very rich, is opening itself up to anyone with $1,000 and a smartphone. Goldman launched a new digital investment service called Marcus Invest that aims to offer the bank’s brand and investment know-how to regular investors. Unlike some of the free brokerage apps, Goldman says its tool won’t recommend specific stocks and is intended more for passive investors looking to buy and hold exchange-traded funds for long-term goals like retirement. CNN


The price of Bitcoin soared past $50,000 for the first time and is currently trading around $51,300. The digital coin is up some 75 percent so far this year. The rally has been helped along by new institutional interest in crypto -- big names like Mastercard and Morgan Stanley warming to the idea of digital currencies not backed by governments -- but the sustained run up also suggests that some of the same retail investors that powered Bitcoin’s last bull run in 2017 are coming back, buying and holding the asset for the long haul. CHEDDAR


No. 1 seed and hometown hero Ashleigh Barty fell to the Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchová, the 25th seed, in the women’s singles quarterfinals. Barty was ahead in the second set when Muchová took a controversial medical timeout and then stormed back to win, but Barty did not blame the timeout for her loss. In men’s singles, Rafael Nadal is fighting for a semifinals berth. Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka face off tonight in the women’s semis. YAHOO SPORTS


...the Acropolis, looking more picturesque than ever under a rare blanket of snow in Athens: SEE PICS

...Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil, on the first poster for Disney’s upcoming Cruella: SEE IT


Have you seen Detective Chinatown 3? Probably not, but it just had the biggest box-office opening of all time. The third installment in the Chinese buddy-comedy series made $397 million in its first weekend in China, beating out the former single-market record -- Avengers: Endgame in North America -- by $40 million. With millions of people home during the usually busy Lunar New Year holiday and the virus more or less defeated there, China’s consumers are starting to open their wallets, powering an economic boom that could see the country overtake the U.S. in terms of GDP within a few years. NY TIMES


A 90-year-old Seattle woman walked 6 miles through nearly a foot of snow to get her first coronavirus vaccine dose, and says the trek was nothing compared to the madness of trying to get the actual appointment. After days of trying to book a slot online with a virtual assist from her daughter, Fran Goldman finally succeeded. Then came the snowstorm, which didn’t keep her from going. Instead, Goldman got her walking sticks, bundled up and walked 3 miles each way to get her shot. Soon, she says, she’ll be able to hold her grandsons. SEATTLE TIMES

Listen to the N2K Podcast! Looking for more context and analysis on the big stories of the day? Check out our podcast! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!

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