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5 things to know Thursday

5 things to know Thursday

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​​​​Biden to unveil new strategy to stop virus spread

Months after proclaiming the U.S. was on the verge of independence from the coronavirus pandemic, President Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks Thursday on how he plans to combat the spread of the delta variant. The speech, which will include a “six-pronged strategy” focused on containing the variant and boosting vaccination rates in hesitant corners of the country, is a tacit acknowledgement that efforts have so far fallen short of Biden’s campaign promise to bring the pandemic under control. At least 75% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. But tens of millions of Americans remain unvaccinated. More Americans also appear to be unclear about the administration’s path forward. A July Gallup poll found for the first time Americans have not been more positive than negative about Biden’s communication on the virus since he was a presidential candidate.

Tropical Storm Mindy makes landfall in US; Hurricane Larry still presents issues

Tropical Storm Mindy made landfall Wednesday evening in Florida’s Panhandle, bringing strong wind and rain to the area. The storm touched down in St. Vincent Island, about 90 miles southwest of Tallahassee, along the state’s northwest Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for parts of north Florida as the storm made its way across the northern peninsula. The storm’s projected path has it moving across the state and impacting parts of Georgia before it heads out to the Atlantic Ocean Thursday. Meanwhile, Hurricane Larry continues to churn in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm will graze Bermuda Thursday, then take aim on Newfoundland, Canada, by late Friday. Waves from Larry are impacting the beaches along the East Coast with “life-threatening surf and rip currents,” the Hurricane Center said.

Cowboys and Buccaneers kick off the 2021 NFL season

The 2021 NFL season begins Thursday night, when the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off against the Dallas Cowboys (NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET. Thursday’s game is not only the return of the NFL season, but it will be Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott‘s first start since suffering a gruesome ankle injury early in the 2020 season. Dallas is hoping Prescott’s return will also help shift the franchise’s fortunes after the Cowboys finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs last season. On the other side, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady begins his 22nd season in the NFL, and the pursuit of his record eighth Super Bowl title. And at 44 years and 37 days, Brady will be the oldest non-kicker ever to start a Week 1 NFL game. To make another run with Brady, Tampa will return all 22 of its starters from a top 10 offense and defense.

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Unseeded teens take on experienced players for a spot in the U.S. Open final

The magical run of 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez will continue Thursday night when she faces off against No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the women’s semifinals at the U.S. Open (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET). Fernandez has already defeated two Top 5 seeds to reach the semifinals (No. 3 Naomi Osaka first and then No. 5 Elina Svitolina on Tuesday night). What’s amazing is Fernandez probably isn’t the biggest surprise of the tournament. That honor likely would go to 18-year-old Emma Raducanu from Great Britain, who is the first qualifier in the professional era to reach the U.S. Open semifinals. And she hasn’t even dropped a set yet. Raducanu will try to make her first Grand Slam final when she faces No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, a semifinalist at this year’s French Open (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET). The winners will battle for the title in the final on Saturday.

Toronto Film Festival to open with ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

The adaptation of Tony-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” starring Ben Platt and Julianne Moore and directed by Stephen Chbosky, will open the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday. The festival returns to an in-person format after going mostly online during the pandemic in 2020. Other top films in the festival lineup include“The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” starring Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye Bakker; Edgar Wright’s ’60s London-themed “Last Night in Soho” and Barry Levinson’s “The Survivor” starring Ben Foster as WWII-era boxer Harry Haft.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden’s COVID-19 speech, NFL season kickoff: 5 things to know Thursday

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