National News

Ridofranz/iStockBy STEPHANIE EBBS, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- An increasing number of Americans are anxious to get COVID-19 vaccines as the rollout continues, with more than half of Americans saying they plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible or have already received at least one dose.

More than 13% of the adult population has received at least one dose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, and more than 6% are fully vaccinated with the two-dose regimen required for the available vaccines.

The new figures from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll show that anticipation for the vaccines is growing. At least 55% of Americans have received the vaccine or plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible, according to new results released Friday, compared to 47% in January.

The supply of available vaccines still can't meet demand, but the number of doses is expected to increase in the coming weeks, with enough doses for 130 million adults expected by the end of March.

One in five Americans also report they are willing to get vaccinated but plan to wait, a decrease from 31% in January. Black Americans and young adults are more likely to say they want to wait and see how the vaccine works for people who already got it.

But a notable percentage of Americans still have concerns, with one in five saying they are reluctant to get the vaccine. About 7% of adults say they would only get the vaccine if it is required and 15% say they definitely will not get it.

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MarsBars/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Delayed shipments due to last week's massive winter storm has left New York City with an "extra" vaccine supply, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, prompting the city that never sleeps to add some overnight appointments.

De Blasio said the city is adding overnight shifts at three mass vaccination sites: Brooklyn Army Terminal, Bathgate in the Bronx and Citi Field in Queens.

"We're going to blitz this week. This is going to be a very intense weekend," de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday.

De Blasio said the city is also "doubling the number of appointments at some of the key sites in communities where we're focusing on fighting disparity, at Teachers Prep and at Martin Van Buren high schools. We're opening new pop-up sites in communities that need more outreach."

"We get the supply we need, we can take off," he said.

New York City had administered more than 1.6 million vaccine doses -- which equals more than the entire population of Philadelphia, the mayor said.

New York City's seven-day positivity rate stands at 7.12% as of Thursday.

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(NEW YORK) -- A 23-year-old has been charged with second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime after allegedly stabbing a 36-year-old Asian man in the back in New York City's Chinatown, police sources said.

Salman Muflihi, of Brooklyn, allegedly pulled an 8-inch knife on the victim at about 6:20 p.m. Thursday, according to police sources.

The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, sources said.

After the attack Muflihi ran to a security guard outside the nearby Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, allegedly telling the guard, "I just stabbed someone. Where are the police at?" sources said.

Muflih allegedly told detectives that he "didn’t like the way" the victim "looked at him,"

Muflihi was also charged with assault, forgery and criminal possession of a weapon, according to police sources.

Violence against Asians has been growing since the pandemic.

Between March and December last year, the organization Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate recorded nearly 3,000 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents nationwide.

The New York City Police Department reported a 1,900% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes last year.

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(TYLER, Texas) -- A federal judge has ruled the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's pandemic eviction ban is unconstitutional.

J. Campbell Barker, a Trump-nominated judge in the Eastern District of Texas, issued the 21-page ruling Thursday in response to a lawsuit from a group of landlords and property managers.

"The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium," Barker wrote, noting that it did not do so during the Spanish Flu pandemic or during the Great Depression. "The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our nation's history until last year."

Ultimately, Barker deemed the measure unconstitutional, writing: "Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution."

The Trump administration announced the federal eviction moratorium through an order from the CDC last September in response to the pandemic. It was set to expire at the end of January but has been extended through the end of March.

Brian Morgenstern, deputy White House press secretary at the time, said when it was announced that the moratorium "means that people struggling to pay rent due to the coronavirus will not have to worry about being evicted and risk further spreading ... or exposure to the disease due to economic hardship."

The CDC did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on Friday. The Department of Justice, which represented the government, declined to comment.

Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the the National Low Income Housing Coalition, urged the CDC to appeal the ruling "immediately."

🚨Tonight, a federal district court judge in TX ruled the CDC eviction moratorium unconstitutional.

Renters, don’t panic: THE MORATORIUM IS STILL IN EFFECT. The judge did NOT issue an injunction.

But he may in near future. The CDC must appeal immediately.

— Diane Yentel (@dianeyentel) February 26, 2021

Comprehensive, national eviction risk data is scant. An analysis released last month by Moody's Analytics and the Urban Institute said that some 10 million renters are behind on paying rent and risk being evicted. Moreover, the typical delinquent renter is almost four months and $5,600 behind on monthly rent and utility payments as of January, according to the analysis.

"To put that into some perspective, approximately seven million households lost their homes in foreclosure during the five darkest years of the global financial crisis," the researchers wrote. "Here we have 10 million families facing a similar fate over a matter of months."

Those who have fallen behind in their rent "are among the most vulnerable members of society" and are also "more likely to be families of color," the researchers added.

These concerns were echoed in a separate survey released earlier this month by a coalition of advocacy groups including Color of Change, the National Employment Law Project, the TIME'S UP Foundation Impact Lab and the Worker Institute at Cornell ILR that looked at COVID-19-related inequities.

Those researchers found that 42% of Black workers, 39% of Latinx workers and 21% of white workers "expressed some level of concern that their household would face eviction or foreclosure" in the coming year.

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(FILE photo) - jacoblund/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- LaToya Ratlieff, a Florida woman who was shot in the face by a police officer's rubber bullet during a Black Lives Matter protest, said her "heart dropped" when she learned the officer was exonerated but said she wasn't surprised.

"It was expected," Ratlieff said at a news conference Friday. "We've seen this happen too many times ... when it comes to Black life."

"If nothing else, it's invigorating because it reaffirms why we were in the streets marching ... and why this doesn't end today," she added.

On May 31, 2020, Ratlieff was at a George Floyd protest in Fort Lauderdale that turned violent. She was heading to her car to go home when a rubber bullet struck her face, a half-inch above her right eye, shattering her eye socket.

Video showed Ratlieff walking about 30 feet from a group of officers who were wearing riot gear and firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. The footage showed Ratlieff screaming and blood gushing from her wound. The injury nearly cost Ratlieff her eye.

The officer who struck Ratlieff has been exonerated, Fort Lauderdale Police Interim Police Chief Patrick Lynn announced Thursday.

The officer "identified and targeted an individual who hurled a projectile at our officers with an intent to cause them harm" and it was not the officer's "intent" to hit Ratlieff, Lynn said at a news conference.

The department's office of internal affairs conducted an "extensive" review and an external review was conducted as well, Lynn said.

"The department has made every effort to learn from this incident," Lynn said.

"On behalf of the men and women of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, I want to express my sincerest apology," Lynn said to Ratlieff.

Ratlieff on Friday called Lynn's apology "disingenuous ... as if I had a bad dinner at a restaurant."

Ratlieff on Friday also advocated against legislation endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which she said would suppress Black Floridians and allies from protesting for civil rights.

DeSantis is "working to criminalize the first amendment rights of Black people and those who stand with us," she said.

The HB1 bill aims to combat riots with proposals including: prohibiting inciting or encouraging a riot; creating "affirmative defense to civil action where plaintiff participated in riot or unlawful assembly"; revising penalties for burglary or theft during a riot; revising the penalty for assault or battery committed in furtherance of a riot; and revising the minimum sentence for battery on an officer in furtherance of a riot.

"HB1 would criminalize the action of law-abiding citizens simply because strangers attending the same demonstrations might break the law," Ratlieff said. "If HB1 had been the law on May 31, the organizers of that event could have been criminally liable, and even myself as a victim could've been criminally liable."

"My message to the governor is this: You have to take your knees off of our necks. We are tired," Ratlieff said.

DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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(NEW YORK) -- An active weather pattern with several storm systems is moving through the country, from West to East, with heavy snow, damaging winds, severe thunderstorms and flooding rain.

Already overnight severe thunderstorms brought huge hail from Texas to Arkansas.

Hail was as large as 2 inches in diameter just north of Dallas.

On Friday morning, strong thunderstorms will continue to move from Texas to Alabama, threatening to bring with them damaging winds and large hail.

This same storm system will move into the Northeast and the East Coast Friday night into Saturday with icy mix and snow from North Carolina to Maryland, where a winter weather advisory has been issued.

Snow may also fall on Saturday, from central Pennsylvania into upstate New York and New England, which could see 2 to 3 inches.

Along the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston, it should be mild enough for the precipitation to remain as all rain.

Heavy rain will continue off and on across the South through the weekend, from eastern Texas into Tennessee where flooding will be possible.

There, 3 to 5 inches of additional rain could fall through the weekend and into early next week.

Meanwhile, across the West, nine states are on alert, from California to Colorado, for damaging winds, heavy snow and high surf.

On Thursday, more than 16 inches of snow fell just south of Denver.

In Southern California winds gusted at 98 mph just east of Los Angeles, where semi-trucks were overturned by the strong winds.

On Friday and through the weekend, as the storm track remains active, more snow is expected for the Cascades and the Rockies, where 1 to 3 feet of additional snow is possible.

Some computer weather models are hinting a swath of snow is possible for the Upper Midwest and the western Great Lakes this weekend, from the Dakotas to Minnesota and into Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Some areas could even see up to a half a foot.

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(AUSTIN, Texas) -- During a legislative hearing on Thursday, lawmakers expressed their outrage toward the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) after more than four million Texas customers were left without electricity and heat during a deadly cold snap this month.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the energy agency, which manages 90% of the state’s power grid, is responsible for the devastation that resulted from the blackout. He said that it did not take the winter storm seriously.

“They downplayed the severity of it, at the same time telling me and the public that they were fully prepared for it,” Abbott said at the hearing. “Texas suffered last week in ways they shouldn’t have to suffer.”

ERCOT claimed that the scale of forced blackouts, the largest in Texas history, prevented an even larger energy failure.

“We came dangerously close to losing the entire electric system,” ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said. “I’d say [ERCOT] worked from keeping us from going into a blackout that we'd still be in today, that's why we did it.”

According to ERCOT officials in an emergency board meeting Wednesday, the state was just four minutes and 37 seconds away from a complete blackout that could have left Texas without energy for weeks. ABC News has reached out to ERCOT for comment.

Although, for some Texans like Tim Hammond, it wasn’t enough. The church he manages in Arlington, Texas, completely flooded after its pipes burst. He said that they’re focused on healing.

“I hope that lessons will be learned from this whole experience,” Hammond told ABC News. “The shock is gone, and we just have to pick up the pieces and move on, we don’t have a choice.”

State officials said many people died from carbon monoxide poisoning after some used cars or generators to keep warm during the massive power outage, ABC News reported Monday.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to fly to Texas on Friday in his first visit to the state since the major disaster.

Gov. Abbott said that he wants to make sure something like this never happens again. He called for the winterization of the power grid to be both mandated and fully funded.

“Never again can we allow power to go out,” he said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


smolaw11/iStockBy WILL MCDUFFIE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Some students struggling with online learning are being told to return to the classroom or withdraw from their district, a mandate issued or being contemplated by more than 200 districts in Texas and elsewhere in recent months.

The move has prompted complaints from some parents that it is unsafe and lacks compassion for children navigating the difficulties of remote school. In Texas, for instance, there have been thousands of positive staff and student cases a week in the state's public system, which had nearly three million students on campus as of Oct. 30, according to state data.

It is not clear how many school districts across the country have enacted similar return-to-school mandates, but officials surveyed by ABC News say the move appears to be working in terms of improving student performance. They also say that those who require medical exemptions have largely been accommodated.

In December, Jenison Public Schools in Michigan instructed middle and high school students who failed at least one online class last fall to report for in-person learning in January.

"The clock was ticking from Day One," Tom TenBrink, the superintendent, told ABC News of the need to help struggling remote learners.

The district implemented a hybrid model of instruction in the fall. At one point, more than 300 high school students elected to learn exclusively from home.

By the end of the semester, however, more than 30% of them had failed at least one class.

"We soon learned that no matter what we did, some of our high school students were just not being successful in that environment," said TenBrink.

So the district took its virtual option away. Unless students had a medically appropriate reason to remain home -- say, an underlying condition that would make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, or an aging grandparent who lived in the household -- the students would be required to return to the school building.

"Our science was showing that we were not spreading COVID-19 in our classrooms," said TenBrink, who said he alerted parents in the fall that the district wanted to implement the plan. "We felt that bringing them back to a space where our protocols were pretty solid, that our students would be much more successful."

Such policies have been particularly popular among districts in Texas, where the state issued guidance in November stating that schools could "discontinue remote instruction for individual students" who have scored below 70 in a class or have been absent at least three times in a grading period.

The guidance was a swift reversal in course from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), who only three weeks prior had told districts that "discontinuing remote instruction in a way that only targets struggling students is not permitted."

Frank Ward, a TEA spokesman, told ABC News the agency updated its guidance "due to numerous requests from districts across the state who were struggling with remote learning."

Some 260 districts in the state have submitted attestations stating their intention to cancel remote learning for individual students, according to Ward, who did not specify how many have implemented the mandate.

When contacting individual families, districts must offer an appeals process for those who disagree with the mandate. Families must be told they can submit a medical exemption or request a transition meeting to express their concerns, according to the TEA guidance.

Medical exemptions can be granted if an individual in the student's household had an underlying health condition as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Days after the guidance was issued, Angleton Independent School District, a district of 7,000 students south of Houston, notified families in a message posted on its website and to Facebook that an "online student who is failing will be required to attend school on campus for the full school day unless he/she provides a medical exemption from a required healthcare provider for the student or someone who lives in the child's home."

Families that lacked an exemption and did not want to send their struggling child back would "need to withdraw his/her child from the [district] and choose to do homeschool or enroll the child in another school," the post said.

The message got pushback in the Facebook comments section, with some parents charging the district with "giving up" on its online learners and "kicking them to the curb" as coronavirus cases were spiking in Texas.

Several parents expressed frustration that the mandate seemed to place blame on students and families. The remote learning system, they said, wasn't set up for students to succeed in in the first place.

"I don't think we've kicked remote learners to the curb," Phil Edwards, the superintendent, told ABC News, stressing that Angleton was "very liberal" in accepting exemptions that would allow a parent to keep their struggling child at home.

"We did not want to get families into a situation in which they had to make a choice on their health," Edwards said.

In all, nearly 200 students in Angleton -- across all age levels -- were identified to return to in-person learning due to a failing grade, according to Edwards. The number of students whose families did not want them to return but lacked a medical exemption -- forcing them to withdraw -- was less than 10.

Edwards believes those students are now being homeschooled.

Many factors have made remote learning difficult this year. Access to technology and reliable internet can be scarce, especially in disadvantaged communities, and younger students may struggle to stay focused, especially if an adult can't be nearby at all times, said David DeMatthews, an associate professor at the University of Texas.

As for older students, they "might be helping their younger siblings with their schoolwork, but at the same time now they're sacrificing their own education," he explained.

Returning to the classroom has appeared to help some of them.

Of the 105 high schoolers Jenison schools (in Michigan) forced back in January, 55 are passing all of their classes this semester, while the other 50 are passing more classes now than they did in the fall, according to TenBrink.

The data in Angleton is scarcer, but Edwards said that some high school students are faring "much better than they were with remote learning."

As for the students whose families withdrew them from their district, they are some of the thousands of students nationwide reported to have unenrolled from school during the pandemic.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/iStockBy MARLENE LENTHANG, ABC News

(HARRIS COUNTY, Texas) -- A $1 billion class-action lawsuit has been filed against Texas wholesale electricity retailer Griddy Energy for allegedly charging exorbitant prices during last week's historic storm that left millions powerless in the freezing cold.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Chambers County resident Lisa Khoury in Harris County on Monday, who claimed her electricity bill soared to $9,340 the week of the storm. According to the lawsuit, her average monthly bills typically range from $200 to $250.

She said Griddy automatically withdrew $1,200 from her bank account from Feb. 13 to 18 and her overall bill from Feb. 1 to 19 was $9,546. The lawsuit states that some customers had bills as high as $17,000.

The complaint accused the company of "overcharging" some 29,000 customers "knowing consumers would be harmed."

Khoury said she was hit with the charges even as she and her husband suffered "mostly without power" in their home from Feb. 17 to 18 when they hosted her parents and in-laws who are in their 80s during the storm.

She claimed that despite expressing concern over the withdrawals and subsequently bouncing checks, she never heard back from Griddy. She ultimately placed a stop payment on her bank account on Feb. 18.

In Texas residents can choose between two electricity bill options: A fixed plan, where their price stays at one rate regardless of market conditions, or a market rate plan, which can fluctuate based on how much electricity is used and the market price of electricity. Griddy offers the latter plan.

“We charge (customers) the wholesale, real-time price of energy, which changes every 5 minutes. You effectively pay the same price as a retail energy provider or utility," Griddyy said in a statement. Griddy boasts on its website that this strategy ends up being cheaper for most customers.

Last week's storm pummeled the state's power grid and led to rolling blackouts. It also led Griddy's wholesale rate to soar to $9,000 per megawatt hour due to a shortage of supply and increased demand for power. Before the storm the rate was $50 per megawatt hour, the suit states.

In the build up to the storm Griddy advised its customers to switch to another provider with a fixed rate and told customers via its website that it was "seeking relief from utility regulators." But many were unable to change due to the impending weather.

The lawsuit seeks $1 billion in monetary relief for Khoury and "on behalf of all others similarly situated."

It also accuses Griddy of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and requests an injunction to stop the company from collecting payment for "excessive prices".

Khoury's attorney Derek Potts, of the Houston-based Potts Law Firm, told ABC News Griddy has 29,000 customers in Texas that the lawsuit could impact.

"What happened financially to all of the customers of Griddy both in terms of the exorbitant prices charged and the manner in that they were collected from peoples' bank accounts and credit cards literally in the middle of a catastrophe while many were without power, heat, and water, is clearly contrary to Texas laws in place to protect consumers," Potts said.

Griddy has not immediately responded to ABC News' request for comment, but dismissed the lawsuit as "meritless" to Reuters.

Griddy has cast blame on the Public Utility Commission for raising the wholesale market price of electricity in the crisis, saying the company didn't profit from the raised prices.

"We intend to fight this for, and alongside, our customers for equity and accountability – to reveal why such price increases were allowed to happen as millions of Texans went without power," Griddy said in a blog post.

Texas' embattled power grid operator the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is also facing lawsuits after more than 4 million customers lost power in the storm.

ERCOT's top board leaders announced Tuesday that they will step down amid outrage over the corporation's handling of the storm. Four board directors, including the chairwoman and vice chairman, submitted their resignations, which were effective as of Wednesday. A candidate for a board director position also said he was withdrawing his name from consideration. All five live outside of Texas, which only intensified scrutiny of ERCOT.

ABC News' Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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PinkOmelet/iStockBy LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The number of reported sexual assaults and unwanted sexual contact at the three military academies went down last year according to an annual Pentagon report released on Thursday, but only because the coronavirus pandemic resulted in cadets and midshipmen being sent home for the fourth academic quarter of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Sending the cadets and midshipmen home because of coronavirus safety restrictions also prevented Pentagon researchers from carrying out a large-scale anonymous survey undertaken every two years years that determines how prevalent sexual assaults are at the military academies. The most recent version of that report showed a 50% increase in assaults at the military academies.

The data released Thursday includes only the three quarters and parts of the fourth quarter when cadets and midshipmen were still attending classes at the academies.

Quarter to quarter comparisons with the previous academic year indicated that the number of reports of sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact, at least through the third quarter, were going to be similar to last year's numbers, according to Pentagon officials.

But once the order was given to send cadets and midshipmen home because of coronavirus restrictions those numbers dropped in the fourth quarter.

The report said there were 129 reports of sexual assault involving a cadet or midshipman as a victim and/or alleged perpetrator during that timeframe, a decrease from the 149 reported the previous year.

Looking at reports involving cadets and midshipmen as victims, the numbers decreased to 88 in the 2019-2020 academic year from 122 the previous year.

The Pentagon said there were 20 fewer reports at the U.S. Military Academy, three fewer reports at the U.S. Naval Academy and three fewer reports at the Air Force Academy.

Pentagon officials see an increase in reports of sexual assault as an indicator that victims are willing to step forward to seek medical and legal help. They are not an accurate measure of the "prevalence" of sexual assaults, which can only be measured by the anonymous survey carried out every two years.

"While we were poised to conduct our survey for this year, our scientific survey of cadets and midshipmen, the coronavirus pandemic response measures were employed before we could actually conduct the survey in person with the cadets and mids," said Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. "As a result, this year, our report does not include an updated estimate of sexual assault prevalence or sexual harassment. Instead, we do have recording data."

Galbreath told reporters Thursday that his office will have to wait until a prevalence report is released next spring to make comparisons to the 2018 report that showed a concerning 50% increase in assaults.

That prevalence report is always conducted in person at the academies, and Galbreath explained that making it an online survey would have likely resulted in a lower participation rate. Galbreath said that the in-person survey at the academies typically results in an 80% participation rate while historically other online surveys generated by the Pentagon result in only a 20% response rate.

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CasPhotography/iStockBy ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- California became the first state to report 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The state's death toll now stands at 50,994.

The grim milestone occurred after 806 additional deaths were reported in Los Angeles County on Wednesday, due to a backlog from the holidays, with most deaths occurring between Dec. 3, 2020 and Feb. 3, 2021, according to the Los Angeles County Public Heath Department.

"It is heartbreaking to report on this large number of additional deaths associated with COVID-19 and a devastating reminder of the terrible toll the winter surge has taken on so many families across the county. To all of you who have lost a loved one or friend to the virus, we are so sorry for your loss," Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County's director of public health, said in a statement.

The state's new death figure came just days after the United States surpassed 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, more than any other country.

With 40 million residents, California is the most populous state in the U.S. Other large states also have high death tolls. New York, Texas and Florida, each of which have populations of roughly 20 million residents or more, have reported the most COVID deaths after California.

Despite California's high death toll, however, it does not make the list of states with the worst per capita death rates. New Jersey, where 1 in 389 people have died of COVID-19 tops the list, followed by New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

In comparison, 1 in 775 people in California have died from the virus.

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(NEW YORK) -- The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has taken possession of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, a spokesman for the office told ABC News.

The documents were turned over Monday by the former president’s accountants at Mazars USA. The Trump tax documents run into the millions of pages, a source told ABC News.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected Trump’s request to shield his taxes from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

The ruling cleared the way for DA Cyrus Vance to enforce a grand jury subpoena for the records.

Mazars, the former president's accounting firm, told ABC News in a statement, "As we have maintained throughout this process, Mazars will comply with all of its legal and professional obligations."

At issue is whether the Trump Corporation artificially inflated the value of Trump's properties to get the best possible loans. Investigators also want to know whether the company presented different values to tax authorities.

There are also questions about hush payments to women who alleged affairs with Trump, which he has long denied.

After the Supreme Court threw out Trump's claim of "absolute immunity" last year, Trump brought a fresh challenge to the subpoena by arguing that it was overbroad and issued in bad faith. Two lower federal courts dismissed those new claims and ordered compliance.

Trump then filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court in October ... and now, four months later, the justices have voted to deny his request to stay the lower court decisions.

Trump said in a statement on Monday following the ruling, "So now, for more than two years, New York City has been looking at almost every transaction I’ve ever done, including seeking tax returns which were done by among the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the U.S."

"The Supreme Court never should have let this “fishing expedition” happen, but they did," the statement said.

With regard to enforcement of the subpoena, the DA’s office cited a prior filing: "As we have consistently made clear, we do not believe your client’s claims have merit, and we anticipate that the Supreme Court, after briefing, will deny your request for interim relief, at which point our office will be free to enforce the Mazars Subpoena, regardless of whether your client decides to continue to seek certiorari."

"The work continues," the DA's office told ABC News on Monday.

The office also recently brought on a former prosecutor, Mark Pomerantz, to scrutinize the material and present to a grand jury.

After Monday's Supreme Court ruling, Mazars told ABC News in a statement, "We are aware of the Supreme Court’s order. As we have maintained throughout this process, Mazars remains committed to fulfilling all of our professional and legal obligations. Due to our industry’s professional obligations Mazars cannot discuss any clients, or the nature of our services we provide for any client, in a public forum without client consent or as required by law."

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amphotora/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- New York City's highest-ranking uniformed police officer, Terence Monahan, who memorably took a knee with George Floyd protesters in Washington Square Park, is retiring.

The announcement was made Thursday -- NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison will take over as chief of department

"Rodney is a great friend of mine, we've worked together many many years, back to our time in the Bronx. without a doubt, he is the right man for the job," Monahan said.

"Leaving the NYPD is probably the toughest decision I've ever made in my life," he said, adding he was already jealous because he was in a suit now and Harrison was still in his police uniform

Monahan will transition into to a new role, working for Mayor Bill de Blasio as his senior advisor for the city’s recovery, safety and planning.

"This role is so important. It is about answering one of the central questions everyone needs answered. Keeping this city safe … determining what concerns need to be addressed," de Blasio said. "I choose always people who are known for that incredible energy, and work ethic."

Monahan joined the NYPD in 1982 and was named chief of department in January 2018.

He spearheaded the department's neighborhood coordination officer program, but recently came under fire in a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James over his treatment of protesters last summer.

Monahan was named in a lawsuit last month from James that accused him, and others, of failing to address "a pattern of excessive, brutal and unlawful force against peaceful protesters."

Monahan was among the defendants who "knowingly deployed thousands of insufficiently trained NYPD Officers to police the Protests," according to the lawsuit. Monahan has not commented on the lawsuit.

At one point during the protests, Monahan took a knee to indicate the NYPD's solidarity with demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The announcement of his retirement came as a surprise since it was thought Monahan planned to remain in his post through the end of de Blasio's term.

Earlier this month the mayor announced "cutting-edge reform" to police discipline guidelines and pledged a break from past practices.

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(NEW YORK) -- The beautiful and tranquil weather around the country is over on Thursday as several storms systems are expected to move from West to East with heavy rain, strong to severe thunderstorms, heavy snow and damaging winds.

In the West, a snowstorm hit Colorado overnight with Denver getting 6 to 12 inches of snow which caused numerous accidents, spinouts and stalled vehicles.

On Thursday morning, 10 states are on alert from California to Montana with damaging winds, heavy snow and avalanche danger as a winter storm warning continues for Denver early Thursday.

Gusty, damaging winds are even expected in southern California with local gusts of up to 50 to 70 mph possible in Los Angeles County.

In the Rockies and the Cascades, locally 1 to 3 feet of snow is possible over the next several days as these storms continue to move through.

A combination of gusty winds near 80 mph and heavy snow will continue to produce dangerous avalanche conditions, especially for the northern Rockies and the Cascades.

Some of this wild western weather will move into the South Thursday with heavy rain and a chance for strong to severe thunderstorms and a chance for damaging winds and hail.

Some of the strongest storms are expected to fire up Thursday from Dallas to Shreveport, Louisiana and into northern Mississippi.

Over the next several days, storms will continue to move through the South over the same areas, increasing chances for flooding and locally some areas could see up to a half a foot of rain from eastern Texas into northern Alabama and Tennessee.

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(NEW YORK) -- COVID-19 has killed more than 500,000 people in the United States -- an unimaginable toll that has had ripple effects across the country.

But some families have endured that loss multiple times over, with the virus taking parents, children and siblings, often in quick succession.

The deaths have come across the U.S., early on in the pandemic and later, and affected those of various ages and backgrounds.

Surviving family members -- some of whom were battling COVID-19 as they lost or mourned their loved ones -- are often left questioning why they lost so much to the virus. Many also suffer from deep, lingering grief and have forged a bond to help each other through this devastating time.

"It's not fair," Erika Martinez, of Fresno County, California, who lost her father and brother to COVID-19 this month, told ABC News. "Why did my dad and brother have to go? That's how I feel."

In Michigan, Kelly Styers' mother, father and brother died from the disease last spring.

"COVID's so wicked. It just, you know, hits everybody differently," she told ABC News. "That's a hard thing too, because why was our family so hard-hit? We don't want that for anybody else."

'Takes everything away'

At the beginning of the pandemic, sisters Cathrine Solomon and EmyLou Solomon Rodriguez, of New York, recalled not realizing how serious COVID-19 was.

Then their parents contracted the disease in mid-March, were both hospitalized and put on ventilators.

"They could not say their final goodbyes to each other, so it was very traumatic, very quick and sudden," Solomon Rodriguez, 43, told ABC News. "I don't know what the word is, but I think a lot of other families were going through the same thing that we were going through -- where it was slow, the symptoms were just slow-coming, and then all of a sudden, COVID turns your whole life upside down and takes everything away."

Their father, Antonio "Tony" Solomon, 71, died first on March 26. A dedicated public servant, he enlisted in the Navy and served for 23 years, then worked as a U.S. postal worker for 15 years before retiring.

His wife of 43 years, Estelita "Estie" Solomon, 72, died two weeks after him, on April 10. A retired nurse, she worked for 36 years at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. Like her husband, she had immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines to pursue the American dream, "and I believe they achieved it," Solomon Rodriguez said.

COVID-19 struck the Solomon family again, when Antonio Solomon's younger brother, Nazario Solomon Jr., of Roselle, New Jersey, 67, died from the virus on April 17. Within a month, the sisters lost their parents and uncle.

"In our family, our grandparents live to the 90s," Solomon Rodriguez said. "We were expecting my parents to live out a long, fulfilling life. And if it wasn't for COVID, they would still be here today. Their life was cut short."

'Our life will never be the same now'

When her parents and eldest brother were hospitalized with COVID-19 last year, Kelly Styers didn't fear the worst.

"Never in a million years, even when the tests came back positive, I never thought they were gonna die, ever," Styers, 54, said. "That never crossed my mind."

But in a little over a week, all three would die from COVID-19. Her parents, Dan Cruz, 78, and Irene Cruz, 71, died on April 2 and April 7, respectively. Her brother, Keith Cruz, 46, died on April 11.

"Our life will never be the same now," Styers said.

Dan and Irene Cruz were married for 52 years and were devoted to their children and 11 grandchildren. They were a tight-knit Michigan family, said Styers, who would talk with her mother multiple times a day. Dan Cruz, a Vietnam veteran, worked at the Ford Motor Company, and Irene Cruz worked at Marshalls before they both retired.

Their dad could be counted on to fix anything, his son, Kevin Cruz, 42, told ABC News.

"Whenever we had a problem, you know, we just called him," he said.

Kevin Cruz and his brother were very close from a young age and would often go to baseball and football games. Keith Cruz, who also worked at Ford, was very proud of his four young children and had a "heart of gold," his sister said. He loved motorcycles, though never had a chance to ride his newest Harley-Davidson before he died.

In the months since their passing, the family has honored their parents and brother at every holiday and birthday. On Dan Cruz's birthday in December, they had his favorite foods -- tamales and Twinkies. The last time Styers saw her mother before she was hospitalized with COVID-19 was for her 71st birthday last March. Her upcoming birthday will be particularly hard because of that, Styers said.

"They're not physically there, but they're literally a part of everything that we do," Styers said. "They're in our heart all the time."

'My dad was my rock'

While the first wave of COVID devastated East Coast cities, California was hit with a crushing surge in the fall and winter months.

Earlier this month, Erika Martinez, of Clovis, Fresno County, lost her father and brother to the virus within hours of each other.

Her dad, Thomas Martinez, 57, died on Feb. 6, days after being hospitalized. About eight hours later, her oldest brother, Antonio Martinez Garcia, 33, died at his home, she said.

"I dropped my dad off at the hospital. I thought I was gonna pick him up again and I didn't, and that hurts," Erika Martinez said. "Our last conversation we had on text, he's like, 'I got 45 more years left in me.'"

Thomas Martinez had a special bond with each of his four children, his only daughter said.

"My dad was my rock," Erika Martinez, 29, said. "Whatever I wanted my dad did for us."

She already knew what song she and her dad would dance to one day at her wedding -- "You're a Big Girl Now" by the Stylistics.

Thomas Martinez was a "huge" Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams, she said, and shared that passion with his children.

Like his dad, Garcia was dedicated to his family. "He loved family," Erika Martinez said. Both Garcia and her dad had worked at Chukchansi Park, home to the Fresno Grizzlies.

The pandemic was already challenging as the family navigated restrictions, said Erika Martinez, before she had to plan her father's funeral.

"I really hate COVID," she said. "But the fact that it took my dad and brother from me, I hate it even more so."

'There's no escape'

As the number of COVID-19 deaths has continued to go up, now surpassing half a million people, families are confronted with their loss daily.

"You can't turn on the television or do anything without seeing stories about the virus," Styers said. "There's no escape."

The pandemic is creating what psychologists refer to as prolonged grief, according to Camille Wortman, a grief and bereavement expert.

"You grieve very intensely for a long time and you have a lot of symptoms -- depression, anxiety and so forth," Wortman told ABC News.

COVID-19 itself has also impacted the grieving process. Styers waited a couple of months before holding a funeral for her parents.

"When they die you grieve terribly," she said. "Then it feels like they died again."

Some, like Kevin Cruz, were by themselves when their family members were dying because they, too, had COVID-19.

"That was very rough, just being down here all by myself. All the stuff that's going on and I can't even get a hug from my wife or my kids or even see anybody because I'm stuck in the basement," he said. "Not being able to embrace anyone -- it's crazy how you make it through something like that."

Cathrine Solomon, 35, was suffering from COVID-19 as well while her parents were hospitalized. She went to the hospital herself three times but was afraid of what might happen to her there.

"I was scared that I was gonna get intubated and die," she told ABC News.

A COVID-19 long-hauler, she still has lingering effects of the virus.

When they buried their father, she and her sister had to socially distance themselves.

"We couldn't touch each other," Solomon Rodriguez said. "We had to stay 6 feet apart."

Finding support for grief during this time is key, Wortman said. The Cruz and Solomon families have become involved in COVID Survivors for Change, which holds weekly meetings for those impacted by the virus, providing an opportunity to meet others who know what they're going through. Martinez has found some solace through her church.

Solomon Rodriguez and her sister are also working to hold a memorial this spring to honor Queens, New York, residents, like their parents, who have died from COVID-19.

"Our parents were [not] just numbers," Cathrine Solomon said. "They were real people with good lives, who had so much life in them."

They want to share their parents' story to encourage others to take the virus seriously "so that we could stop the spread," Solomon Rodriguez said. "So that my parents didn't die in vain."

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