Five national stories of the week

<p>In this April 6, 2020 photo, gravediggers lower the casket of someone who died of coronavirus at the Hebrew Free Burial Association&#x27;s cemetery in the Staten Island borough of New York. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)<br/><br/></p>

In this April 6, 2020 photo, gravediggers lower the casket of someone who died of coronavirus at the Hebrew Free Burial Association's cemetery in the Staten Island borough of New York. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Editor’s Note: This listicle is part of a weekly series by The Ball State Daily News summarizing five stories from around the world. All summaries are based on stories published by The Associated Press.

The U.S. tops 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, Virginia lawmakers vote to abolish the death penalty, Biden boosts pandemic lending to small businesses, the Supreme Court won't halt the turnover of Trump's tax records and the wife of "El Chapo" has been arrested on U.S. drug charges make up this week's five national stories.

In this Jan. 9, 2021 photo, transporters Miguel Lopez, right, Noe Meza move a body of a COVID-19 patient to a morgue at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

US tops 500,000 virus deaths, matching the toll of 3 wars

The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 Feb. 22, a staggering number that all but matches the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined. President Joe Biden held a sunset moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House and ordered American flags lowered at federal buildings for the next five days.

Virginia lawmakers vote to abolish the death penalty

Virginia State Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, front, looks at the vote tally board during a vote on a death penalty abolition bill at the Senate session at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, Va., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. The Senate passed the bill 22-16. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

State lawmakers gave final approval Feb. 22 to legislation that will end capital punishment in Virginia, a dramatic turnaround for a state that has executed more people in its long history than any other. The legislation repealing the death penalty now heads to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he will sign it into law, making Virginia the 23rd state to stop executions.

President Joe Biden speaks to member of the media after exiting Air Force One, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Biden boosts pandemic lending to smallest businesses

President Joe Biden announced changes Feb. 22 to target more federal pandemic assistance to the nation’s smallest businesses and ventures owned by women and people of color. He said changes taking effect Wednesday will provide long overdue aid to these smaller enterprises that he says are being “crushed” by the pandemic-driven economic downturn.

Supreme Court won't hurt turnover of Trump's tax records

Ian Walters, spokesman for the American Conservative Union, confirmed that Trump will be speaking at the group's annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

In a significant defeat for former President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court on Feb. 22 declined to step in to halt the turnover of his tax records to a New York state prosecutor. The court’s action is the apparent culmination of a lengthy legal battle that had already reached the high court once before. The ongoing investigation that the records are part of could also become an issue for Trump in his life after the presidency.

Wife of drug kingpin El Chapo arrested on US drug charges

In this Feb. 12, 2019 photo, Emma Coronel Aispuro, center, wife of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, leaves federal court in New York. Aispuro has been arrested on international drug trafficking charges at an airport in Virginia. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested in the United States and accused of helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar cartel and plot his audacious escape from a Mexican prison in 2015. Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Feb. 22 and is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Tuesday afternoon.


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