By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. The staggered U.S. vaccine rollout

As of Friday, 851,321 Hoosiers - or 12.6% of the population - have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, and another 5.6% have received both. The U.S. average is 12.8% for one shot and 4.9% for both. Wall Street Journal: The Trump administration invested heavily in rapid vaccine development, but it left the last mile of getting shots into arms to states and localities. That approach resulted in multiple, sometimes contradictory systems, and failed to ensure local sites had information about vaccine shipments that they needed to quickly administer shots. The result: More than 16 million of the 72.4 million vaccine doses distributed by the U.S. government hadn’t been used as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

New York Times: Millions of doses wound up trapped in logistical limbo, either set aside for nursing homes that did not need them or stockpiled while Americans clamored in vain for their first doses. Now a national effort is underway to pry those doses loose — and, with luck, give a significant boost to the national vaccination ramp-up.

Under the Biden administration, distribution has improved, with 78% of vaccine doses distributed were administered. During the last week of the Trump administration, that number stood at 35%. But it's still below the original benchmark of have at least 80% of doses administered at any time. CDC Chief Rochelle Walensky reported this morning that COVID cases have declines 69% since Jan. 11 and hospitalizations are down 56%.

2. GOP'S brutal month

NBC's Meet the Press Daily: Just how brutal have the last two months been for the Republican Party and the conservative movement? The party's biggest donor (Sheldon Adelson) passed away. So did its most influential communicator over the last 25 years (Rush Limbaugh). Its two most recognizable leaders (Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell) are in a feud over the former president’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. State parties are censuring any Republican who dared to vote to impeach Trump or find him guilty. Oh, and the party just lost control of the Senate just a month ago.

3. Bad week for potential 2024 Pence rivals

The next presidential election is still a long ways off, but two potential top tier rivals to Mike Pence have had horrible weeks. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz riled social media when he was caught boarding a flight to Cancun while his state of Texas froze. And former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley torched former president Donald Trump in a Politico  interview, then was rejected for a face-to-face at Mar-A-Lago. Pence has been keeping his head down, house hunting in DC and Indiana.

4. Vouchers gobbling up funding increase

Associated Press: More than one-third of the proposed state funding hike for Indiana schools could go toward the state’s private school voucher program under a Republican-backed plan that could boost the program’s cost by nearly 50% over the next two years. The estimated $144 million cost for the voucher expansion and a new program allowing parents to directly spend state money on their child’s education expenses is included in legislative budget projections, but is more than double what House Republicans discussed in releasing their state budget plan last week. 

5. Carson Wentz becomes a Colt

Will the Indianapolis Colts QB crisis come to an end? On Thursday the Colts traded for Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles, at a minimal cost: A 3rd round draft pick in April and either a 2nd or 1st rounder next year. Some describe that as a steal, but the true QB theft occurred in 2012 when the Colts let Peyton Manning walk to the Denver Broncos for no compensation. Wentz will be reunited with QB whisperer coach Frank Reich. In his four years at the helm, Reich has had four starting QBs.

Winter is about over, right? Right? It's The Atomic!