States scrambling to fend off scammers in unemployment programs; 4 million J&J doses shipped

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — With the floodgates set to open on another round of unemployment aid, states are being hammered with a new wave of fraud as they scramble to update security systems and block scammers who already have siphoned billions of dollars from pandemic-related jobless programs.

The fraud is fleecing taxpayers, delaying legitimate payments and turning thousands of Americans into unwitting identity theft victims. Many states have failed to adequately safeguard their systems, and a review by The Associated Press finds that some will not even publicly acknowledge the extent of the problem.

The massive sham springs from prior identity theft from banks, credit rating agencies, health care systems and retailers. Fraud perpetrators, sometimes in China, Nigeria or Russia, buy stolen personal identifying information on the dark web and use it to flood state unemployment systems with bogus claims. Read more:

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US begins distribution of nearly 4 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses

WASHINGTON — Nearly 4 million doses of the newest COVID-19 vaccine are being delivered to U.S. states for injections starting on Tuesday.

The White House said the entire stockpile of the newly approved single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will go out immediately. J&J will deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June, but the distribution would be backloaded.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted overwhelmingly Sunday to recommend the vaccine for adults 18 years old and up. It adds to the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that were authorized in December.

Here’s an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.

  • The Senate could move as soon as this week to pass their own version of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill.
  • Across Africa and Southeast Asia, governments and aid groups, as well as the World Health Organization, are calling on pharmaceutical companies to share their vaccine patent information more broadly to meet a yawning global shortfall in a pandemic that already has claimed over 2.5 million lives.
  • Infectious disease experts are expressing concern about Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Iraq, given a sharp rise in coronavirus infections there, a fragile health care system and the unavoidable likelihood that Iraqis will crowd to see him.
  • India is expanding its coronavirus vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk.
  • A shipment of 20,000 Russian Sputnik V vaccines has arrived in the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia that has launched inoculation separately from the rest of the Balkan country.

For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for the latest virus numbers.

Highlights of the COVID-19 relief bill passed by the House

Virus by the numbers