BIG SANDY, TX — Houston Texans defensive football star J.J. Watt is no stranger to good deeds and to reaching out to his fans in need. But what he did here helped soothe the grieving heart of one of his biggest fans.

Jesse Bowden of Big Sandy, Texas, is devastated by the loss of his wife, Samantha, who died recently of the coronavirus, according to a FOX 26 Houston report. The couple, both of whom have Down syndrome, were married for seven years.

When Watt found out about Samantha’s death, he wasted no time in reaching out to Bowden, a devout Texans fan.

“I just wanted to send you a very quick message to let you know that I’m thinking about you. I heard about your wife’s passing away recently, and I’m terribly, terribly sorry to hear that,” Watt said in the personalized video shared by FOX. “It’s extremely unfortunate, and I’m so sorry. My thoughts are with you, and I hope you’re staying very, very strong at such a difficult time.”

Bowden was in tears when watching Watt’s video message, his family said.

The Latest

Two of America’s most recognizable companies, Walgreens and Uber, are partnering to help speed up the vaccine rollout in minority communities across the country.

The two said in a joint statement Tuesday that free rides to vaccine sites will be offered as part of a larger effort to address equity.

“By combining Walgreens’ deep experience in community care with Uber’s transportation technology and logistics expertise, we will take bold action to address vaccine access and hesitancy among those hit hardest by the pandemic,” said John Standley, president of Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens.

Vaccinations are scheduled to begin Friday in Walgreens stores for eligible individuals based on state and jurisdiction guidelines, and may include health care workers, people age 65 and older, and persons with pre-existing conditions.

Pilot programs of the Walgreens-Uber effort will soon begin in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and El Paso, according to a news release.

The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic people. Data already shows that people of color are being vaccinated at lower rates than white people, according to a report from Axios.

But as the American coronavirus case total tops 27 million and COVID-19-related deaths inch closer to 500,000, a number of states are easing restrictions that were enacted to slow the virus’s spread.

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has lifted all restrictions, including mask-wearing, social distancing requirements and other mitigation measures, according to the Des Moines Register and other reports.

Iowa in particular has struggled with its vaccine rollout. The state is ranked last in vaccine first-dose distribution, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 7.5 percent of Iowans have received one dose of a vaccine, KCCI reported.

In all, nearly 1 in 10 Americans have now received at least one shot, according to The Associated Press. But just 2.9 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, a long way from the 70 percent or more that experts say must be inoculated to conquer the outbreak.

Reynolds’ office did not explain why restrictions would be lifted so abruptly in a state that has struggled with the virus for months, the Register reported.

The virus has been known to more severely impact patients who have other medical conditions. Those who suffer from dementia are among those with a heightened risk, according to a New York Times report citing a new study of medical records. Dementia patients are about twice as likely to contract the virus as others, the study said.

Black people with dementia are nearly three times as likely to contract the virus as white people with dementia, the report also showed.

“This study highlights the need to protect patients with dementia, especially those who are Black,” according to the authors.

Meanwhile, a report has surfaced showing the prevalence of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant that originated in the United Kingdom. The report, posted on the preprint server MedRxiv and not yet peer-reviewed, says the variant doubles in its prevalence in coronavirus cases every week and a half, according to the Washington Post.

Health experts have already warned the variant could become dominant in the United States by the end of March.

Now that Super Bowl LV is in the history books and NFL stadiums are largely not in use until the fall, many stadiums have already turned into vaccination super sites. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell offered the stadiums’ use for vaccinations to President Joe Biden, who accepted in an interview with CBS News.

“Our efforts will not stop there,” Goodell said in a letter to Biden. “The NFL and our 32 member clubs are committed to doing our part to ensure that vaccines are as widely accessible in our communities as possible.”

Newest Numbers

As of Tuesday evening, the United States had reported more than 27.1 million cases and more than 467,600 deaths from COVID-19-related illnesses, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 2,824 deaths and 93,724 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the United States on Tuesday as of 6:30 p.m. ET, according to a Washington Post database. The Post’s reporting shows that over the past week, new daily reported cases have fallen 23.2 percent, new daily reported deaths have fallen 12.3 percent and COVID-19-related hospitalizations have fallen 13.7 percent.

More than 62.8 million vaccine doses have been distributed and 43.2 million administered in the United States as of Tuesday evening, according to the CDC. More than 32.8 million people have received one dose, and more than 9.8 million have received two.

Currently, 80,055 people are hospitalized with a coronavirus-related illness in the United States, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

As of Tuesday, 31 states and U.S. territories remained above the positive testing rate recommended by the World Health Organization to safely reopen. To safely reopen, the WHO recommends states remain at 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days.

Stay up to date on the latest coronavirus news via The New York Times or The Washington Post.

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