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(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- A health care worker who lost everything in a fire is now thanking her hospital colleagues for helping her family during these hard times.

Amanda Rhoney, a nursing assistant and secretary in Wesley Long Hospital's emergency department in Greensboro, North Carolina, was working the evening of Jan. 24 when her 10-year-old daughter Gentry called her with devastating news.

"All I could hear on the other line was her screaming that the house was on fire," Rhoney told "Good Morning America." "She kept saying, 'He's trapped in there.' ... She was talking about one of the dogs that my husband was trying to get out. My mind went to the worst possible place thinking that my husband was trapped."

Rhoney said her husband Michael, a military veteran, was making dinner on the grill for himself, Gentry and son Mychal, 6, when the propane tank apparently caught fire, engulfing their home in flames.

No one was injured in the fire, though one of the family's two dogs did lose consciousness from smoke inhalation. The husky recovered after Thomasville Fire and Rescue administered oxygen to the pup, Rhoney said.

"This lucky pup will live to see another day thanks to the quick work of our firefighters during a structure fire tonight," the fire department wrote in a Facebook post about Rhoney's dog.

Rhoney said everything was lost in the blaze including household items, school supplies and clothing. She and her family are now staying at a hotel.

Rhoney posted an update for her concerned colleagues in a private Facebook group and Joy Ingram, an emergency medical technician, stepped in.

Ingram, who's worked with Rhoney for roughly a decade, told "GMA" that she was on the same shift with Rhoney when the call came in about the house fire.

"In the middle of a pandemic this girl has been working so hard and she actually had COVID and recovered from that. ... Then [to] have her house completely destroyed, my heart went out," Ingram said. "Everybody's hearts went out."

Ingram started collecting donations via GoFundMe, and also asked for people to drop clothing or household items at the hospital's emergency department.

"They're starting from scratch," Ingram said. "Amanda will give you the shirt off of her back. She will do anything for you within her means and if she can't do it, she will find someone that can. She herself has a giving heart and as a coworker she's just phenomenal."

Rhoney said the generosity from her hospital family and the community has been positively overwhelming.

"It's definitely made it a whole lot easier to process," she added. "Just a huge thank you to everyone who donated and who called to check on us."

The Rhoneys also expect to receive help from Off-Road Outreach -- an organization created to assist displaced veterans like Michael Rhoney and his family.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 100.4 million people worldwide and killed over 2.1 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:

Jan 27, 6:01 pm
FEMA seeking up to 10,000 service members to help in vaccine effort

A draft request for assistance between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Defense is under discussion that would seek as many as 10,000 service members to support administering COVID-19 vaccine shots up at 100 sites nationwide, according to a FEMA official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details were not final.

A defense official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed discussions are under way, but the final number of personnel is not settled.

It is also unclear what kind of active duty or National Guard mix it could be, and whether it includes National Guardsmen already helping in the vaccine effort around the country.

ABC News' Matthew Vann and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

Jan 27, 5:01 pm
Fauci: No official recommendation yet on double masks

Dr. Anthony Fauci told Fox News' "America Reports With John Roberts & Sandra Smith" that there’s no official recommendation yet on wearing double masks.

"The CDC doesn't officially recommend wearing double masks," Fauci said. "You know what would be a good start? If everybody wears at least one mask."

ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Jan 27, 1:49 pm
Oregon health officials administer leftover vaccines on side of road

When Oregon health officials found themselves trapped on a road in a snowstorm, they walked car to car to administer leftover vaccine doses.

The staff and volunteers from Josephine County Public Health held a mass vaccination event at a high school Tuesday before getting trapped in the storm, they said.

"The team had six doses of COVID-19 vaccinations left to administer," but the doses would have expired before reaching their next destination, the department said.

"Not wanting to waste any doses, dedicated JCPH staff members began walking from car to car, offering stranded motorists a chance at receiving the vaccine," the department said. "In the end, all six doses were administered," including one to a sheriff’s office employee who had missed the mass vaccination event.

Jan 27, 1:16 pm
Any stockpile of vaccines 'no longer exists': Biden adviser

Andy Slavitt, a senior White House adviser for COVID-19, said Wednesday that any vaccine "stockpile that may have existed previously, no longer exists."

"We are taking action to increase supply and increase capacity. But even so, it will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one," he said. "Our practice is to maintain a rolling inventory of two to three days of supply that we can use to supplement any shortfalls in production and to ensure that we are making deliveries as committed. But we are passing doses directly along to states, very much in real time as they ordered them."

Jeff Zients, the new White House coordinator on COVID-19, said the Department of Health and Human Services will amend its rules to allow doctors and nurses who have recently retired to administer shots. They also plan to allow people licensed to vaccinate in their state to do so across state lines.
Over 23.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jan 27, 11:51 am
UK reports highest transmission, deaths rates in the world: WHO

With 383.1 new cases per 100,000 residents, the United Kingdom is reporting the highest transmission rate and death rate in the world, according to the World Health Organization’s weekly epidemiological report.

But the U.K. is moving in the right direction. With 260,098 new cases reported, this week showed a 24% decrease from the previous week. However, the U.K.'s rate of fatalities increased by 13%.

In the U.S., the rate of transmissions decreased by 20% to 380.6 new cases per 100,000 residents. The death rate went down by 7%.

As of Monday, 70 countries have detected cases of the U.K. variant, while 31 countries have cases of the South African variant. The Brazil variant has been detected in eight countries, the WHO said.

Jan 27, 11:51 am
UK reports highest transmission, deaths rates in the world: WHO

With 383.1 new cases per 100,000 residents, the United Kingdom is reporting the highest transmission rate and death rate in the world, according to the World Health Organization’s weekly epidemiological report.

But the U.K. is moving in the right direction. With 260,098 new cases reported, this week showed a 24% decrease from the previous week. However, the U.K.'s rate of fatalities increased by 13%.

In the U.S., the rate of transmissions decreased by 20% to 380.6 new cases per 100,000 residents. The death rate went down by 7%.

As of Monday, 70 countries have detected cases of the U.K. variant, while 31 countries have cases of the South African variant. The Brazil variant has been detected in eight countries, the WHO said.

Jan 27, 10:12 am
UK vaccine plant evacuated over suspicious package

Welsh authorities said Wednesday they are responding to "an ongoing incident" after a suspicious package was found at a key factory in the United Kingdom's supply chain for COVID-19 vaccines.

The plant, located in the Wrexham Industrial Estate in Wrexham, Wales, is owned by Indian biotechnology company Wockhardt, who have a partnership with British-Swedeish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine in the U.K.

"Wockhardt UK in Wrexham this morning received a suspicious package to site," the company said in a statement to ABC News. "All relevant authorities were immediately notified and engaged. Upon expert advice we have partially evacuated the site pending a full investigation. The safety of our employees and business continuity remain of paramount importance."

North Wales Police told ABC News in a statement: "We are currently dealing with an ongoing incident on the Wrexham Industrial Estate. The roads are currently closed and we would ask the public to avoid the area until further notice."

Jan 27, 9:53 am
Monoclonal antibody treatments show promising results

American biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced Wednesday that its cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies held up in laboratory experiments against new variants of the novel coronavirus first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic versions of our natural antibody defense to infection. They are being studied as a way to both treat and prevent COVID-19 infection, with promising results. But unlike vaccines, which are thought to offer broader protection, some scientists have been worried that this type of therapy would be less effective against newly emerging variants of the virus.

Wednesday's announcement is good news for Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment, REGEN-COV, though the data is still preliminary and currently under peer review.

Regeneron scientists as well as researchers at Columbia University in New York City have each independently confirmed that the casirivimab and imdevimab antibody cocktail successfully neutralized both the U.K. and South Africa variants when tested against them, according to a company press release.

REGEN-COV has not yet been tested against another variant that was first identified in Brazil. However, Regeneron said the two-antibody cocktail "is expected to remain similarly potent" based on some resemblance which the Brazil variant bears to the South Africa strain. The company said it is pursuing further confirmatory research.

It's the latest piece of promising news about the efficacy of monoclonal antibodies as treatment for COVID-19. On Tuesday, American pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Company announced that a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, was found to be effective in COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe infection, reducing the risk of hospitalization and death by 70%, according to the results of a final-stage trial.

That same day, Regeneron announced its antibody cocktail had shown positive initial results in prophylactic use -- that is, helping ward off COVID-19 in those who may have been exposed to the virus. Regeneron’s chief scientific officer, Dr. George Yancopoulos, said he hopes the drug "may be able to help break this chain" of active infection and transmission.

Last Thursday, Eli Lilly released data showing bamlanivimab may help prevent disease and stop outbreaks among residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

Jan 27, 7:39 am
January becomes deadliest month for COVID-19 in US

January is now the deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic for the United States.

So far this month, 79,261 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the U.S., surpassing December's record 77,124 deaths, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

December still holds the record for the highest number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases.

Jan 27, 7:21 am
Auschwitz survivors mark 76th anniversary online amid pandemic

The official commemoration of the 76th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation will be held online Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Memorial, which is located on the site of the Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, is closed for visitors until at least Jan. 31 under COVID-19 restrictions set by the Polish government.

"Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the commemoration will exceptionally not be held at the Memorial, but in the virtual space," Auschwitz Memorial spokesperson Pawel Sawicki said in a statement Tuesday evening. "The main theme of the 76th anniversary of the liberation will be the fate of children in Auschwitz."

The online events will include testimony from survivors as well as a guided virtual tour of the Auschwitz Memorial, "aimed at enhancing the educational value for visitors from around the globe," according to Sawicki.

Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, was a complex of over 40 concentration and death camps run by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland amid the Holocaust during World War II. It was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps and extermination centers. More than 1.1 million men, women and children lost their lives there, mainly Jews, according to information on the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum's website.

In January 1945, as Soviet Russia advanced deeper into Nazi-occupied Poland toward the end of the war, Nazi officers organized a forced evacuation of the Auschwitz prisoners. Almost 9,000 prisoners, most of whom were sick or suffering from exhaustion, were deemed unfit to join the death march to Germany. The Nazis intended to kill them all as part of attempts to destroy the evidence of their crimes at Auschwitz, but only managed to murder about 700 Jewish prisoners between the departure of the final evacuation column and the arrival of Soviet forces.

Soviet troops entered Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and liberated more than 7,000 survivors, according to the museum's website.

Jan 27, 5:39 am
Gambia vows to name and shame those flouting COVID-19 rules

Forty people in Gambia who tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week have refused to self-isolate or have escaped treatment centers, according to the country's health ministry, which vowed to reveal the identities of those flouting public health regulations.

Officials are also aware of a "large number of travelers who recently arrived" in the small West African nation from countries considered COVID-19 hotspots and "have refused to abide to official protocols and/or report to the health authorities for the mandatory test upon arrival," said Modou Njai, director of health promotion and education at Gambia's Ministry of Health.

"The Ministry continues to treat these matters with utmost and grave concern and thus, the Ministry is hereby giving an order and ultimatum to all those concerned, that they are required to report themselves to the health authorities with immediate effect and failure of which will lead to serious consequences, including the publication of names and identifying information of all those at large," Njai said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Ministry would like to stress that this serious and ruthless misconduct will no longer be condoned under any circumstances," he added. "Anyone found not willing to cooperate with COVID-19 regulations will have their names and identifying information published on the media and thereafter, drastic measures will be taken against anyone that is non-compliant."

Gambia, home to some 2.3 million people, has confirmed 4,008 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including at least 128 deaths, according to the latest data from the health ministry.

Jan 27, 4:06 am
US reports over 142,000 new cases

There were 142,511 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Tuesday's case count is far less than the country's all-time high of 298,031 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 3,990 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Tuesday, down from a peak of 4,462 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.

A total of 25,443,700 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 425,216 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before nearing 300,000 on Jan. 2.

So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use -- one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

BlakeDavidTaylor/iStockBy CLAYTON SANDELL, ABC News

(DENVER) -- Three male teenagers were arrested Wednesday in connection with a mysterious six-month-old arson in Colorado that killed five members of a Senegalese family, including a toddler and an infant.

Two of the juveniles are 16 years old and one is 15, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said.

"These are the individuals that we believe are responsible for this horrific crime," Pazen said at an afternoon news conference in Denver.

On Aug. 5 at around 3:30 a.m., police say three suspects in eerie face masks approached a house not far from Denver International Airport in darkness, igniting a fire that trapped people inside and burned so intensely it damaged neighbor's homes on both sides.

Djibril Diol, 29, his wife Adja Diol, 23, and their 2-year-old daughter Khadija were killed, along with Djibril's sister, Hassan, and her infant daughter, Hawa. Friends and family say Adja, Khadija, Hassan and Hawa had recently immigrated to the United States from Senegal.

The suspects, who were not identified because of their ages, are facing a litany of charges including first-degree murder, attempted murder, first-degree assault, burglary and arson. Police say they were taken into custody at their homes in nearby Jefferson County. They are not related, but police say the three knew each other.

Pazen would not discuss the alleged suspects' motives, citing a desire to protect the integrity of the investigation and achieve a successful prosecution. However, Pazen said investigators concluded that race does not appear to be a factor in the crime.

"The evidence that we have uncovered and the circumstances and facts that we have found do not indicate that this is a bias-motivated crime," Pazen said.

The case put the Senegalese community on edge as it went unsolved for months, despite a reward that grew to $50,000 and appeals by friends and family for tips. Police said they assigned two detectives to work the case full time and had help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the U.S. Secret Service.

"They have done an unbelievable job on this. There was very limited information that we had," Pazen said. "This was as complex an investigation as I'm aware of in my entire career. And they did an amazing job."

Community members who had grown increasingly frustrated at the apparent lack of progress praised investigators after Wednesday's arrests.

"We are grateful, but we are still in pain," said Papa Dia, founder of the African Leadership Group and a family representative. "Arrests have been made, but we know it's not going to bring these beautiful people back."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(NEW YORK) -- Liceny Espaillat has worked her entire life toward reaching the middle class and, as an immigration lawyer, she always thought she would be beyond the reach of poverty.

But in an unexpected twist, as the coronavirus spread through the United States last year, Espaillat found herself in the middle of a divorce and suddenly without a job after the courts had shut down.

“I went from almost up the ladder -- I'm getting there, I'm almost there -- and, all of a sudden, this happens, and that's it, no more money,” Espaillat told “Nightline” five months after she had lost her job. “I had to file for bankruptcy because I had no other choice.”

Watch the full story on "Nightline" TONIGHT at 12:35 a.m. ET on ABC

Since then, Espaillat has been through a harrowing journey navigating the COVID-19 relief system. She struggled to stay afloat when the first round of federal supplement of $600 a week in unemployment benefits ran dry in July and then her unemployment benefits were altogether cancelled due to a system error.

“If this is my life and I'm a lawyer -- I have an education, you know, I'm smart, I know where to look for resources -- and I'm struggling, what about those other people that didn't have the luxury to go to college?” said Espaillat. “The ones that didn't have good parents or the ones that have mental health issues, drug problems, homeless -- where are they going?”

Espaillat’s story is all too familiar to the more than 22 million people in the U.S. who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Many of them, like Espaillat, were middle-class earners.

“I don't know if I'm going to get funds before I get evicted,” Espaillat told ”Nightline” in September. “Am I going to find a job in time before everything else becomes a bigger mess? It has been emotionally devastating, physically overwhelming because I'm stressed out.”

President Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion plan earlier this month that includes a one-time stimulus check of $1,400 for those who are eligible, with bonuses for families with children. If approved by Congress, the COVID-19 aid would be the third round of stimulus payments distributed throughout the country since the start of the pandemic.

Espaillat lives in a two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey with her 4-year-old son, Ethan. She said she juggles school, parenting and a few hours of independent legal work from her bedroom while she looks for a full-time job.

Meanwhile, the food that was once so abundant in her fridge has become scarce.

“Most of the stuff in my fridge has been given to us by either my mom or my best friend. ... I've been approved [for SNAP], but I have to wait for the card and that can take weeks,” she said in September. “So, that's why I wanna go to the pantry today.”

Today, four months later, Espaillat is still waiting to receive her SNAP Card, which will give her access to the federal food assistance program formerly known as food stamps. In the meantime, Espaillat has been receiving help from St. James Social Services in downtown Newark, New Jersey.

The private charity relies on donations and grants to help those in need by providing everything from a food pantry and hot meals to free clothing and rent help. With only 11 employees, the charity is trying to meet the growing need in the community.

“I’ve never been to a pantry before to get food, only to donate,” she said.

Forty percent of people who are currently turning to food banks for help never relied on them before, according to an October 2020 study by Feeding America, the country’s largest food relief organization. The nonprofit estimated that with unemployment and poverty on the rise, over 50 million Americans were at risk of food insecurity last year.

“You look at the people in line and it's like, color, career, class -- none of it matters. I'm hungry. My kid's hungry. It doesn't matter,” said Espaillat at the food pantry. “It's humbling, really, to know that that could be me, and today it is me, and yesterday it wasn't and, hopefully tomorrow, it won't be again. But today, that's me.”

“[In] the first three months of the pandemic, we served over 30,000 people,” said Vesta Godwin Clark, who runs St. James Social Services. “Our numbers have quadrupled since the pandemic.”

Clark said that when the pandemic caused shutdowns last March, her staff wasn’t paid.

“We were behind two payrolls because we had no funding coming in, and I think that’s why I love them so much, because they know that somewhere, somehow, that it’s going to work out. But in the meantime, they understand why we do what we do, and it’s not about the money. I always tell [our staff] that the people that we serve, they're in a position far worse than we are. Far worse.”

For St. James employee Kendall Clark, helping others is a way to repay his own personal debt.

“I was a mess. I was on drugs, I was homeless, I came here and they helped me out… This was in 1992 and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.

Before the pandemic, St. James catered mostly to the elderly and low-income families. The charity says it saw a clear shift from serving a majority of working poor and homeless families to helping middle- and upper-middle-class unemployed families.

“You had some who received unemployment, they received stimulus checks, but then without the stimulus checks, they can't last on unemployment,” said Vesta Godwin Clark. “Those who are here, we know they truly have a need and no one gets turned away.”

Kevin Woodley, who had worked in finance for 30 years, is one of those pantry newcomers. He comes to St. James every four weeks to collect enough food to keep his family of four going.

“I work over on Wall Street, so you can imagine that when businesses shut down all our revenue went down,” said Woodley. “I’ve never needed help before. But I do need it now and this pantry has been a blessing to me and my family.”

Similarly, Espaillat said that St. James helped her get out of a deep financial hole.

“St. James was able to help me with my back-rent, so now I’m completely at zero -- a big change from being behind six months in rent,” she said.

After a devastating year of financial and emotional hardship, Espaillat shared some good news: She recently began a full-time job advocating for people facing evictions, an area of focus she knows from personal experience.

“All of this has taught me that I have to have faith, I have to continue to do the work and ask for help,” said Espaillat. “Anyone out there still struggling, I hope they take comfort in my story and know that it does get better.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(KANSAS CITY) -- County officials in Kansas apologized after seniors had to wait for hours in freezing temperatures to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The county expanded vaccine eligibility to residents ages 80 and above this week. Many of those waiting in line outside the Johnson County Health Department-run vaccine clinic in Shawnee on Tuesday could be seen requiring assistance or the use of a walker.

"I thought maybe we could have [been] facilitated better inside with seating," Kristy Coonfield, who waited for an appointment Tuesday, told ABC Kansas City affiliate KMBC. "They did try to accommodate as well as they could."

County officials quickly apologized for the inconvenience.

"We are pleased to see the enthusiasm and interest in vaccines, but I first want to start by apologizing for the logistics in how it was implemented today," County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson said Tuesday during a media briefing. "It was not what our county expects or deserves, and it will be different tomorrow and going forward."

To address the issues, additional staff and "better traffic control" were planned for Wednesday, Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said during the briefing. The department was also working to ensure that people could wait in their car until their appointment.

"You have a right to expect good customer service from us, you have the right to expect comfort while we are providing the vaccines to you," Areola said.

On Wednesday, the experience was the "opposite," officials said.

"We had more staff onsite to assist people, used warming buses, tents and shuttles from the parking lot," Lori Sand, a spokesperson for the county manager's office, told ABC News. "Feedback has been very complimentary and appreciative."

The clinic also opened a half-hour early to accommodate those who showed up over an hour before their appointment, she said.

The vaccination site -- located in a sports complex -- administered 1,778 vaccines on Tuesday and 1,600 on Wednesday. The county has fully booked its 7,584 available slots this week, which are available to those ages 80 and up as well as people from Phase 1 who are receiving their first or second dose of vaccine.

Areola urged residents who do not have an appointment to stay home, after "quite a few" people without one showed up on Tuesday.

"We are asking that you exercise patience with us," he said. "Don't show up without an appointment so that our plans and processes are minimally disrupted."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif.) -- Dangerous mudslides have trapped residents and damaged 20 to 25 homes in the coastal California county of Monterey, fire officials said.

Many have been rescued, but others are in homes cut off by mud and are awaiting help, according to the Monterey County Fire Department. Some houses have lost power.

It's unclear how many people may be trapped.

MCRFD working with local property owners on damage assessment In the River Rd area. Thank you to all the local ranchers helping with heavy equipment needs.

— Mont. Co. Regional Fire (@mcrfd) January 27, 2021

The mudslides, which are near the burn scar area from last summer's River Fire, come as rain pounds Monterey County. The River Fire burned 48,088 acres and destroyed 30 structures before being brought 100% under control on Sept. 4, 2020.

Burned soil is especially vulnerable to rain and can easily result in flash flooding and mudslides.

Evacuations have been ordered in the area.

With more rain in the forecast, Monterey County Fire Chief Michael Urquides told ABC News, "We're preparing for the worst."

ABC News' Will Carr and Jeff Cook contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(NEW YORK) -- Shayna Zweiback is a survivor of the coronavirus. After contracting the viral infection in March last year, she was sick for weeks. Then, just as she thought she was starting to feel better in May, she says she began experiencing new symptoms.

“All of a sudden, later into June, early July, I just had a slew of new symptoms … namely severe muscle pain,” Zweiback told “Nightline.” “I had body aches during COVID, but [this was] just severe muscle pain to the point that some days I didn’t feel like I could walk. My legs hurt so bad, back pain that was so bad I couldn’t get out of bed.”

Months after Zweiback’s initial diagnosis, the 26-year-old found herself at the Mount Sinai Center for post-COVID Care, where she underwent tests and treatments for symptoms that persisted after the infection had gone away. Zweiback said the center for so-called COVID-19 “long haulers” has been “life-changing.”

“I felt like no one was taking me seriously before, and because there was no … historical medical evidence of COVID long haul, I just didn’t feel like I ever had a voice that people would listen to,” Zweiback said.

For Zweiback, who still experiences these symptoms, a good day now comprises being able to walk down the block without having to recover afterward and not having to nap midday.

“It’s tiny victories for me at this point,” she said.

In the United States, there have been over 25 million COVID-19 cases since it first reached the country last year. Zweiback is one of the estimated 10% of COVID-19 patients who experience long-term symptoms after contracting the virus.

Dr. Dayna McCarthy, a rehab physician at Mount Sinai’s Center for post-COVID Care, says it’s “impossible” to name all of the body systems affected by the virus that go on to have long-term symptoms. She said the medical term for these patients’ condition is post-acute COVID-19 syndrome and that symptoms can include fatigue, headaches, cognitive dysfunction, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath on exertion and feelings of temperature irregularity.

Shaun Evans is another long-hauler. The 40-year-old father of two from Cartersville, Georgia, who had high blood pressure and diabetes before his COVID-19 diagnosis last March, said the virus attacked his lungs and kidneys.

“It got so bad that I couldn’t even walk. I had all kinds of coughing. I would try to lay down at night; it just got to where I couldn’t breathe, [I’d] have coughing spells. … I lost my taste of smell,” Evans said, adding that when he went to the hospital, the main issue was that his lungs had shut down.

Today, nearly a year after getting the virus, he must undergo dialysis three times a week -- an exhausting four-hour-long process each time -- and is waiting for a kidney transplant.

“Dialysis is really hard on your body,” Evans told “Nightline.” “Sometimes, if they take too much fluid out of you, it can cause you to feel dizzy like you’re going to pass out -- nausea -- and one of the worst things is muscle cramps. It’s something I’ve never felt before until dialysis. … Some of them have brought me to tears.”

“I will never be the same,” Evans went on to say. “Even once I get a kidney, even with a transplant, they only last about 15 or 20 years if someone were to donate a live kidney.”

As researchers continue to study the long-term effects of COVID-19 and build data, one study from October 2020 found that approximately 40% of COVID-19 patients reported acute kidney injury. While the data varies widely, another study reported a high recovery rate, finding that 84% of survivors fully regained kidney function.

The full scope of the virus’ long-term effects still remains unknown. Because of this, some people, like former COVID-19 patient Diana Berrent, are working to ensure there is accurate, up-to-date data on the virus available.

Like Evans and Zweiback, Berrent also came down with COVID-19 last March, when she says she experienced pressure in her chest, high fever and other symptoms.

“I just knew it. Even though the first person in all of New York City had only been diagnosed 12 days earlier, I knew that this was it,” she told “Nightline.”

As she quarantined, Berrent realized the lack of available information about the virus and began recording video diaries of her experience in an effort to educate others. As her following grew, she was inspired to launch Survivor Corps, a nonprofit dedicated to crowdsourcing information from its members about the virus.

Berrent said the nonprofit’s goal was to collect data on what she called “the Tylenol and Gatorade variety” of COVID-19 patients -- those whose symptoms were not severe enough to be hospitalized, who recovered from their home.

“As a result, we ended up sitting on the largest data set of non-hospitalized patients in the world,” she said.

Berrent hopes the data her organization collects will help other COVID-19 long-haulers.

“We are designing what we think is a template for best practices to create a foundation for a pathway to recovery for what a post-COVID care center should look like -- what works, what doesn’t,” she said.

Despite a growing number of COVID-19 patients struggling with the virus’ long-term effects, there are still 19 states without centers for post-COVID-19 care, according to Survivor Corps.

McCarthy, who works at Mount Sinai’s center in New York City, says that “the health burden that we’re going to face because of individuals that are requiring so much care with this condition is enormous.”

McCarthy herself was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March last year, and still experiences residual symptoms of the virus.

“Every time I try to exercise, I get crushing fatigue and very severe headaches. … I do feel fortunate because I am treating so many patients and the symptomology is so vast and the spectrum of severity so bad,” she said.

Post-COVID-19 care centers like Mount Sinai’s have been tremendously helpful for long-haulers, McCarthy said, some of whom weren’t sure what to think about their persistent symptoms, like Zweiback.

“At the beginning, we were still in the height of the pandemic in New York and so many [were] still being hospitalized,” she said. “But the people who weren’t were kind of left to their own devices, and normally where they would have gotten care … or may even have been hospitalized in other circumstances, [they] had to stay home and self-isolate.”

“So, from the outset, they were not having access to care, and when these symptoms kind of were prolonged and they would go in and they would have workups … and things were coming back negative, they were getting sent home from the emergency department, their primary care [provider] didn’t know what to do with them. … and it became this rhetoric of ‘it’s all in your head,’ unfortunately.”

At Mount Sinai, McCarthy said she’s seen patients getting better, even if it is happening “extremely” slowly.

“The problem is the educational component of this, and people trying to understand what it takes for them to get better,” she said. “It’s one [thing] hearing it, two, processing [it], and then committing to actually having to change your lifestyle,” she said.

Making those changes helps, though. Evans, who has been working hard to get back to life before COVID-19, had been planning to marry his fiancée Sarah when he fell ill last year. After his recovery, he married her over the summer. He said his experience with the virus has made being with those he loves that much more special.

“Every second counts with them. Even with her, she has to put up with me every day,” he said of Sarah Evans. “But it means a lot more of getting to be with the people you love because you’re not promised tomorrow. When something like that does happen to you, you realize what that means to you. … You don’t want them to doubt how much you truly cared for them.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(WASHINGTON) -- Women in the U.S. Army can soon wear nail polish, lipstick and earrings as well as their hair in more natural hairstyles thanks to what the Army calls "major revisions" to its regulations.

In addition to relaxed grooming standards, women in the Army who are breastfeeding or pumping will also have the option to wear an undershirt.

"We are continuously assessing our policies to identify areas for improvement, then implementing policies that demonstrate our commitment to ensuring all Soldiers feel as though they are valued members of the Army team," Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, Army deputy chief of staff for personnel, said in a statement Monday announcing the changes. "We know that actions speak louder than words when it comes to inclusivity and equity within our ranks, and we believe that the changes we announced today are one example of policies that put our people first."

The changes, which go into effect Feb. 24, will allow for the "optional wear" of earrings, lipstick and nail colors for women and clear nail polish for men.

There will also be no minimum hair length for female soldiers, who will now be allowed to wear multiple hairstyles at once, like braids and twists, wear their hair in a ponytail and have natural-looking highlights.

"In an effort to stop hair damage and loss stemming from hairstyles like the bun, the Army approved healthier hairstyle options that are more inclusive of various natural styles," Sgt. Maj. Mark Anthony Clark, of the Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, said in a statement.

The Army also noted that its revised regulation on hairstyles will "not contain potentially offensive language used to describe several hairstyles ... which will be replaced with alternative verbiage."

Women currently make up around 15% of the Army.

The Army's new guidelines come less than one week after the U.S. Air Force also announced similar changes.

Starting next month, women in the Air Force will be allowed to wear their hair in longer braids, ponytails and bangs.

"In addition to the health concerns we have for our Airmen, not all women have the same hair type, and our hair standards should reflect our diverse force," Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass said in a statement. "I am pleased we could make this important change for our women service members."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

400tmax/iStockBy MIKE LEVINE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Using a federal system designed to warn all Americans about terrorist threats to the U.S. homeland, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning that anger "fueled by false narratives," especially unfounded claims about the 2020 presidential election, could lead some inside the country to launch attacks in the coming weeks.

"Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence," according to a bulletin issued Wednesday through the DHS National Terrorist Advisory System -- or NTAS.

The system was last used to issue a public warning a year ago, when DHS issued a bulletin over potential retaliation by Iran for the U.S. assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq days earlier. A year before that, DHS issued a bulletin through the same system to highlight the threat from foreign terrorist groups like ISIS or al-Qaida.

But over the past year, domestic terrorists "motivated by a range of issues motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force have plotted and on occasion carried out attacks against government facilities," and "long-standing racial and ethnic tension -- including opposition to immigration -- has driven [domestic terrorist] attacks," the bulletin issued Wednesday said.

"DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some [domestic terrorists] may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities," the bulletin added.

Violent supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol three weeks ago, many of them believing -- based on unfounded claims from Trump himself -- that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from Trump through fraud.

Wednesday's public warning echoes what intelligence bulletins sent privately to law enforcement officials in recent weeks have said, underscoring a continued threat from violence-prone individuals who still believe President Joe Biden's election was illegitimate.

The NTAS system "recognizes that Americans all share responsibility for the nation's security, and should always be aware of the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and what they should do," DHS says on its website.

The system was created in 2011, replacing the color-coded alerts that were implemented in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tennessee Bureau of InvestigationsBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(LAKE COUNTY, Tenn.) -- Tennessee authorities are searching for a 70-year-old man accused of shooting and killing two duck hunters, officials said.

The duck hunters, Chance Black, 26, and Zachery Grooms 25, were at Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee on Monday morning when the suspect, David Vowell, approached them, District Attorney Tommy Thomas told ABC News.

An argument ensued and Vowell allegedly fatally shot both men, Thomas said, citing a witness.

BREAKING: TBI Special Agents are asking for help in locating a person of interest in a homicide investigation in Obion County. David Vowell, 70, of Martin is considered armed and dangerous.

If you have seen him or know where he may be located call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

— Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (@TBInvestigation) January 26, 2021

It is not clear if Vowell knew the victims, Thomas said.

Warrants have been issued for Vowell's arrest on two counts of first-degree murder, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

It appeared Vowell fled the scene on foot. His boat was recovered and the car he drove to the boat ramp has been seized, Thomas said.

The manhunt has been complicated by a large rainstorm which caused the lake to rise into the low lying areas, Thomas said. The area around the lake is heavily wooded, he added.

Vowell, of Martin, Tennessee, is considered armed and dangerous, the TBI said. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

gerenme/iStockBy MINA KAJI and CONOR FINNEGAN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Biden administration is "actively looking" at requiring COVID-19 tests before domestic flights, a senior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said on Tuesday.

"These are conversations that are ongoing," CDC Director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine Marty Cetron told reporters, "and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be. We’re actively looking at it."

This would be an expansion of the administration's mandatory testing requirement for U.S.-bound travelers that took effect on Tuesday. All travelers flying into the U.S. must now provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than three days before their flight, or they will be denied boarding.

The order was initially announced by the CDC on Jan. 12 and formalized in an executive order President Joe Biden signed last week.

"We urge folks to postpone their trips if they're able," acting Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee said Tuesday, "and if they absolutely must travel to equip themselves with information."

Brownlee warned travelers will be responsible for covering their own lodging and medical costs if they test positive or cannot get a test while overseas.

"The bottom line message is this is really not a time for people to be engaging in discretionary travel, and that all travel should be postponed until we get a better handle on getting this virus under control and accelerate our vaccination strategies," Cetron said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(NEW YORK) -- Three storms continue to march across the country with the third storm reaching the West Coast overnight where thousands have been forced to evacuate.

The first storm is leaving the Northeast Wednesday morning and this is the same storm that brought the deadly EF-3 tornado with winds of 150 mph to northern Alabama.

The second storm moved through the Rockies and the Plains overnight and is now expected to bring snow to the Southeast.

On Tuesday, a 17-vehicle pileup shut down I-25 in Colorado due to the slick roads from that second storm with, locally, some areas in the West already getting 3 feet of snow.

On Wednesday, 16 states in the East are under snow and ice alerts for heavy snow and slick roads.

Even Raleigh, North Carolina, is under a winter weather advisory for some slick roads and a winter storm warning has been issued for the North Carolina mountains.

The snowfall totals include a general area of 1 to 3 inches of snow forecast from Missouri to Virginia and North Carolina, but in the southern Appalachians up to a half a foot of snow could accumulate.

In the West, millions are bracing for the third storm to bring mudslides, flash flooding, heavy snow and avalanche danger.

This storm will be fueled by an atmospheric river -- a long plume of moisture moving across the Pacific with the jet stream -- aimed at California over the next few days.

Already, overnight winds gusted in California between 60 to 75 mph bringing down trees into homes north of the San Francisco Bay area.

On Tuesday afternoon and evening, up to 30 inches of snow fell in parts of northern California and more is expected to fall Wednesday.

This atmospheric river will deliver up to 10 inches of rain to parts of California where mudslides are expected in the recent burn areas.

In the Sierra Nevada, up to 100 inches of snow is possible -- more than 8 feet of snow.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

scyther5/iStockBy WILL STEAKIN and JOSH MARGOLIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Working remotely amid a pandemic has been complicated for the average person, but for officials involved in the transition from the administrations of Donald Trump to Joe Biden, it poses a serious national security risk, according to an internal federal intelligence analysis obtained by ABC News.

The report, issued by the Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Mission and Counterintelligence Mission centers in mid-January, warns that based on previous cyberattacks targeting political campaigns between 2018-2020, foreign cyber actors -- specifically American adversaries like Russia -- are "very likely" to target transition officials' "government transition e-mail accounts and associated personal e-mail accounts."

Among the concerns detailed in the report is the risk that nation-state hackers sanctioned by foreign governments will likely look to take advantage of transition officials "conducting a significant portion of the transition remotely rather than in face-to-face interactions as a result of COVID-19 restrictions." The remote environment, the reports says, makes officials more "attractive cyber targets for collection and possibly influence operations" during the sensitive transition period.

While there’s a heightened risk of cyberattacks when working remotely, this report focused on the transition period and details several tactics attackers could employ to compromise transition officials' virtual private networks and other remote work tools in order to "gain initial access or persistence on a victim's network," including targeting official or personal e-mail accounts, posing as trusted associates, and "spoofing domains to increase the appearance that the e-mails are legitimate."

"Beyond serving traditional espionage purposes, these cyber activities could be used by foreign adversaries to enable influence operations, such as the leaking of sensitive or personal information designed to embarrass individuals and organizations -- or affect others' perceptions of those targets -- based on our analysis of prior cyber operations against U.S. Government officials and associated individuals," the intelligence notice says.

The White House and DHS did not respond to requests for comment.

Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security during the Trump administration, told ABC News that while espionage efforts during the transition period have become standard, including during the 2016-2017 transition period, "Operating in a near-virtual environment due to the pandemic creates more vulnerabilities, upon which advanced persistent threat actors may be able to capitalize."

"Basic cyber hygiene and end-user best practices will mitigate many of the attempts these actors undertake," Neumann said.

The report also cited the massive SolarWinds hack, which targeted U.S. government agencies and private corporations and left 18,000 networks compromised. The document noted that the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency "has observed malicious actors using the compromise to access resources in hosted environments, such as email for data exfiltration."

Earlier in January, top national security agencies formally named Russia as the likely source of the SolarWinds hack, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling the hack "a very significant effort" and "pretty clearly" the work of Russians.

Russia has denied responsibility for the hack, which has reportedly affected the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Commerce, and Energy, as well as the National Institutes of Health.

The report also provides transition officials with a number of preventative measures to protect themselves from cyberattacks, including the installation of firewalls and antivirus software, and the use of two-factor authentication.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(NEW YORK) -- A former North Carolina police officer who was fired and criminally charged last year after he allegedly gathered a group of armed people and tried to enter the home of a Black teen who he thought was a suspect in the case of a missing person, was sued by the victim's family Tuesday.

Attorneys for Monica Shepard and her 18-year-old son Dameon filed the civil suit in North Carolina Tuesday contending that their clients were racially profiled and terrorized by former deputy Jordan Kita, and 14 other white defendants, some of whom were armed, who said they were looking for a missing woman.

Kita was off-duty but in uniform and had his sidearm when he came to the Shepard's Pender County home on May 3, 2020, along with the group, according to the suit.

Kita told Dameon he was looking for a Black suspect with a different name than Dameon's and tried to force himself into the home even though the teen repeatedly identified himself and said the suspect didn't live in the address, the suit said. Monica Shepard eventually forced Kita out of the doorway and the crowd dispersed, according to the suit.

The missing girl was eventually found safe, according to the New Hanover and Pender County District Attorney's office.

"When a dozen or more white men and women with guns invade a Black family’s property, terrorize the people that live there, and refuse to listen or leave, the situation can easily spiral into tragic and deadly racial violence and death," Mark Dorosin, an attorney representing the Shepards, said in a statement to ABC News.

The New Hanover County Sheriff's office fired Kita and prosecutors charged him with "forcible trespass, misdemeanor breaking and entering, and willful failure to discharge duties" for his role in the incident.

At least 13 other white men and women were part of the group, including Kita's father Timothy, but none of those persons have been charged, according to the suit. Timothy Kita and a dozen "John and Jane Does" who were allegedly involved in the incident are also named as defendants in the lawsuit

The defendants are being sued for trespass; assault; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional distress; invasion of privacy; and violations of North Carolina’s civil rights and fair housing statutes, according to the court documents.

The Shepards are seeking relief in excess of $25,000 and punitive damages that will be determined by a jury, the court document said.

An attorney who represents the Kitas did not immediately return messages for comment.

Another person charged following the incident was Robert Austin Wood, who was allegedly standing behind Kita and holding an assault rifle when the off-duty officer confronted Dameon at the door, according to the suit.

Wood, who is also a defendant in the suit, was charged with "going armed to the terror of the people," by the DA's office. Wood pleaded not guilty on Dec. 4, according to his attorney.

Woody White, an attorney representing Wood, said in a statement to ABC News that seeking damages from his client "over this huge misunderstanding is racial extortion."

"Nothing bad befell the Shepard family; no racial slurs were used, no voices were raised, no threats were conveyed. It was a brief and seemingly uneventful misunderstanding that lasted less than 2 minutes last May," White said in the statement.

The criminal cases against Kita and Wood are ongoing.

The suit also contends that the Pender County Sheriff’s Office did not do enough to investigate the mob or the incident.

A captain from the sheriff's office allegedly did not attempt to question the members of the mob while they were outside the Shepard home and told the family the next day, "it was complicated to apprehend or arrest anyone who had been there the previous night," the suit said.

A representative from the Pender County Sheriff's office declined to comment about the suit.

"Experiencing this kind of terror at your home – the one place you should feel safe – is simply unconscionable," Jennifer Nwachukwu, an attorney representing the Shepards, said in a statement. "We filed this lawsuit today to make it clear that Black people should not be subject to living in fear at the hands of an armed white mob without accountability."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

vlvart/iStockBy ABBY CRUZ, ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- With California ending a regional stay-at-home order issued because of strained capacity in the state's intensive care units, current COVID-19 data suggests that the local Latino community has been hit the hardest of all.

The state reported 4,131 ICU-related COVID cases last month, which has since increased to 4,475. California, as of Tuesday, also reported more than 27,000 new cases and at least 328 deaths. When broken down by race, the state's death count was at 1,195 Black people, 3,370 white people and 7,443 Latinos.

In Los Angeles, Martin Luther King Community Hospital CEO Elaine Batchlor said the disparity among races isn't entirely unexpected.

"These conditions exist all the time, but we're seeing it more visible during the COVID pandemic because the pandemic is moving so fast," Batchlor explained. "The low-income population are almost all publicly insured or uninsured. ... So that leaves this population without access to health care, and then it leaves them vulnerable to a pandemic like this."

COVID-19 warning signs have been posted in some of LA's highest-risk neighborhoods, many of them with large Latino populations.

Still, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state may be turning a corner.

"California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we've been hoping for," Ghaly said. "Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible, and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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