5 things to know for April 8: Covid-19, guns, immigration, Iraq, Northern Ireland

What are you doing with your stimulus checks? According to a new survey, American households are using most of the money to pay down debt or add to their savings.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

(You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Coronavirus

The coronavirus variant first identified in the UK is now the most common strain of coronavirus in the US, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says. Case numbers in the US have risen over most of the last four weeks in part because of its spread, and that of other dangerous variants. Starting today, the province of Ontario, which is home to 14 million people, will go under a four-week stay-at-home order as a third wave begins to overwhelm Canadian hospitals. Some countries are enacting new travel bans, like in New Zealand, which just restricted entry for travelers from India, or the UK, which issued a travel ban for Kenya. The East African nation hit back at the ban, warning of the consequences of vaccine inequity between countries.

2. Gun control

President Joe Biden will announce a series of executive actions on gun control today in response to major mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado last month. The orders will tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns and pistol stabilizing braces that allow weapons to be used more accurately. They will also direct resources toward community violence prevention. While these executive orders address the calls for gun control action that followed last month’s violence, senior administration officials say they’re just the beginning of Biden’s gun control mission. However, to accomplish his more ambitious goals, like universal background checks or an assault weapons ban, he’ll need a lot of support from an evenly split Senate.

3. Immigration

More than 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children are now in US custody as the Biden administration tries to alleviate overcrowding in Border Protection facilities. The administration is working on building up bed capacities and decreasing the time it takes to release unaccompanied migrant children to sponsors living in the US. They’ve seen a little improvement, but record numbers of children are still crossing the border — 747 on Tuesday alone. Meanwhile, the parents of 445 migrant children separated from their families due to Trump administration policies between 2017 and 2018 have still not been located, according to a new Justice Department filing.

4. Iraq

The Biden administration is considering a withdrawal of troops from Iraq as the threat from ISIS wanes. About 2,500 US troops are currently in the country as part of the global Operation Inherent Resolve, which was created to defeat the ISIS caliphate that controlled parts of Iraq and Syria. The campaign against ISIS is ongoing, but Iraq’s security forces have become stronger, shifting the duties of US troops to training and advisory roles. The timing of the exit will be determined in future “technical talks” between US and Iraqi officials. Along with the upcoming withdrawal in Afghanistan, the Biden administration has now set plans to remove troops from two of America’s longest wars.

5. Northern Ireland

Parts of Northern Ireland have seen six straight days of violence as unionists and nationalists clashed with police and each other. Brexit-related tensions have been simmering for months, and last week, a decision by police not to prosecute leaders of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein for allegedly breaking coronavirus restrictions brought the whole thing to a boil. Now, rioters have clashed along the so-called “peace line” dividing predominantly unionist and nationalist communities. They’ve thrown petrol bombs and set a bus on fire. The arrival of Brexit created the potential of a border between the British-ruled north and the Republic of Ireland in the south, which remains in the European Union. That has been seen as a major breach of trust with Northern Ireland, since the lack of a border had been a key element of the post-1998 peace that followed three decades of violence.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Hollywood actor charged with fraud in alleged multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme

You know, this would make a good movie.

Poet Amanda Gorman featured on the cover of Vogue

Art, art, and more art.

Best Buy is offering a $200 subscription service to challenge Amazon

They’ll install your devices and provide special tech support, so you don’t have to live in fear of your smart remote

Nestlé and other brands bet big on plant-based food in Asia

Milk-free chocolate milk or pork-free pork, anyone?

Woman with the world’s longest nails cuts them after nearly 30 years

What a weight off her fingers!

We have a podcast!

We’re serving up your favorite news fix twice a day so you’ll always know what’s happening. We’ll start your morning smart with the top headlines, and in the evening, let 5 Things be your evening commute home — even when that commute is just to the next room .

You can listen on CNN.com, Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Or, ask your smart home device to “Play CNN’s 5 Things podcast.” We know you’ll love it! 

TODAY’S NUMBER

20 million

That’s how many counterfeit masks have been seized by US Customs and Border Protection since the beginning of the year. Officials say they’ve been a problem throughout the pandemic, but the last few months have seen an “exponential increase” in such counterfeits.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless a**hole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else.”

Former House Speaker John Boehner, who made his feelings on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz perfectly clear in his new book, “On the House: A Washington Memoir.”

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

Your eyes deceive you 

This isn’t a neon sign — it’s spray paint, wielded by a very talented artist.

(Click here to view)

Features

The Offbeat: Going Viral

The gross national creativity is certainly going viral.  Some examples: Let’s face it.  If Hollywood ever makes the Andrew Cuomo story, Al Pacino has to play the lead, and he won’t even need makeup. I plan to become rich just as soon as I figure out how to make hand sanitizer from crude oil. How…

The Offbeat: Do It Yourself… Later On, by Jim Bohannon

I GUESS I MADE MY LAST VISIT TO WALMART THIS MORNING.  I WALKED IN AND SAW WHAT I’VE SEEN A NUMBER OF PLACES BEFORE, AND IT DID NOT PLEASE ME.  THERE WERE SEVERAL NEW…CHECK OUT YOUR GROCERIES YOURSELF..LOCATIONS…REPLACING FULL SERVICE LANES…AND NATURALLY…THE CHECK OUT YOURSELF SPOTS WERE ALMOST EMPTY, WHILE CHECKOUT FULL-SERVICE STYLE TOOK 20…

The Offbeat: TAX DAY, by Jim Bohannon

WELL, THAT DAY HAS COME AGAIN..,,ALBEIT, A BIT LATER THAN USUAL THIS YEAR: TAX DAY…THE DAY WE…RENDER UNTO CAESAR. I’VE ALWAYS LIKED THAT TERM…BOTH BECAUSE OF THE DEFINITION OF RENDER, AS IN, RIP TO PIECES…AND CAESAR…BUT ONLY IF YOU SPELL IT…S-E-I-Z-E..APOSTROPHE-E-R. NONE OF US LIKES TO PAY TAXES, ALTHOUGH, OBVIOUSLY, SOME TAXES MUST BE PAID…FOR…