Russia strikes Ukraine schools, Biden meets mayors over COVID funds, Jen Psaki’s last day: 5 things to know Friday

Russian forces assault villages in eastern Ukraine, hit schools in Chernihiv region, Zelenskyy says

Ukraine’s military says that Russian forces staged assaults on multiple villages in eastern Ukraine as they try to expand control there, but not all were successful. In its daily operational note on Friday, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia’s military continued to launch strikes on the embattled port of Mariupol, focusing on blocking Ukrainian fighters at their last holdout at the Azovstal steel mill. In the east, villages were targeted near Donetsk, Lyman, Bakhmut and Kurakhiv, the Ukrainian military said. Nearly 100 Ukrainian children were killed during the month of April alone, UNICEF said Thursday, and the humanitarian agency estimates the death toll is likely much higher. UNICEF official Omar Abdi said earlier this week that hundreds of schools across Ukraine have been bombarded by Russian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported Thursday night that Russian forces also continued their assault on Ukrainian education, striking schools in the Chernihiv region in the north of the country.

Prefer to listen? Check out the 5 Things podcast

Biden to meet with US city officials about coronavirus relief package funds

President Joe Biden is meeting Friday with mayors, police chiefs and other officials to discuss how cities are using funds from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on policing and public safety programs, a source told the Associated Press. In the afternoon, Biden plans to deliver remarks to ask state and local governments to devote more of the relief spending to public safety. The 2021 package included $350 billion for state, local and tribal governments, money that could go to police departments. Among the officials meeting Biden are the mayors and police chiefs of Houston; Detroit; Kansas City, Missouri and Tampa, Florida. Biden’s pivot to this issue comes on the heels of his marking the “tragic milestone” of 1 million American lives lost to COVID-19 Thursday, calling each death an “irreplaceable loss.” Also, the White House late Thursday moved to ease infant formula shortages, such as increasing imports, even as the administration said it didn’t know when customers would see restocked shelves.

Jen Psaki departs role as White House press secretary; TV job likely is next

Jen Psaki will leave her role as the White House press secretary Friday, making way for Karine Jean-Pierre, who will become the first Black woman and openly LGBTQ person to hold the position. Psaki, who has said she looks forward to spending more time with her family, declined to discuss her future professional plans. However, according to multiple reports, Psaki is in line to join NBC News. But it is not yet known if she will jump into hosting her own show right away or if she will start out strictly as a commentator before becoming an anchor later. Her successor Jean-Pierre served as the White House principal deputy press secretary under Psaki and was formerly the chief of staff for Vice President Kamala Harris. Prior to joining the White House, Jean-Pierre worked as chief public affairs officer for and as an NBC and MSNBC political analyst. 

Arguments set on whether pandemic asylum restriction Title 42 can end

A federal judge will hear arguments Friday on whether the Biden administration can lift pandemic-related restrictions on immigrants requesting asylum later this month. Migrants have been expelled more than 1.8 million times since March 2020 under the federal Title 42 authority, which has denied migrants a chance to request asylum on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. The administration’s plan to end the restriction was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention April 1. The plan has drawn criticism from Republicans and some Democrats fearing a flood of new migrants. Louisiana, Arizona and Missouri quickly sued and were later joined by 18 other states in the legal challenge being heard Friday. Texas sued independently. U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette, Louisiana – an appointee of former President Donald Trump – is the judge in Friday’s case.

Nurse who gave patient wrong medication to be sentenced

RaDonda Vaught, a former ICU nurse who was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide after giving the wrong medication to a patient who died is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. Vaught has admitted to the mistake from the outset. Nurses nationwide will watch Vaught’s sentencing closely, and Dr. Michael Ramsey, chief executive officer of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, believes it has the potential to have a chilling effect on workers who would otherwise speak up about patient safety issues they notice. Vaught was indicted in 2019 on two charges – reckless homicide and impaired adult abuse – in the death of Charlene Murphey at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville in 2017. Murphey was supposed to receive a dose of Versed, a sedative, but was instead injected with vecuronium, which left her unable to breathe, prosecutors have said. 

Contributing: The Associated Press