Monday, March 8, 2021

Last Call For Vaccination Nation, Con't

CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky offered new COVID-19 agency guidance on Monday for small gatherings of fully-vaccinated people, saying that masks should still be considered a precaution even if you are vaccinated and are around others who are vaccinated as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued long-awaited advice to Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19, freeing them to take some liberties that the unvaccinated should not, including gathering indoors in small groups without precautions while still adhering to masking and distancing in public spaces.

The agency offered good news to grandparents who have refrained from seeing children and grandchildren for the past year, saying that vaccinated people may visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household so long as no one among the unvaccinated is at risk for severe disease if infected with the coronavirus.

In practice, that means fully vaccinated grandparents may visit unvaccinated healthy adult children and healthy grandchildren of the same household without masks or physical distancing. But the visit should be local — the agency still does not recommend travel for any American, vaccinated or not.

The agency’s recommendations arrived as state officials move to reopen businesses and schools amid a drop in virus cases and deaths. Federal health officials repeatedly have warned against loosening restrictions too quickly, including lifting mask mandates, fearing that the moves may set the stage for a fourth surge of infections and deaths. According to a New York Times database, the seven-day average of new cases was more than 58,700, as of Sunday, a level that remains near the peaks reported last summer.

“With more and more people getting vaccinated, each day we are starting to turn a corner, and as more Americans are vaccinated, a growing body of evidence now tells us that there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can resume at low risk to themselves,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said at a White House news conference on Monday.

But, she added, “While we work to quickly vaccinate people more and more each day, we have to see this through.”

The new advice is couched in caveats and leaves room for amendments as new data become available. The guidance is a “first step,” Dr. Walensky said. “It is not our final destination.”

The agency did not rule out the possibility that fully vaccinated individuals might develop asymptomatic infections and spread the virus inadvertently to others, and urged those who are vaccinated to continue practicing certain precautions
In other words, even if the vaccine is fully rolled out to everyone tomorrow, the reality is that masks will still be necessary for some. And with the fact that a third of Americans are still refusing the vaccine, it may be a long time before we return to any semblance of normality. 

Things are getting better, but we're still seeing 50,000+ cases per week, back where we were during the July 4th spike. We have a long road to go still, but now we have a path to get there.

That simply wasn't possibly under Trump. Never forget that.

Getting Busted On The Filibuster

House Democratic Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is straight-up calling out Dem Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, saying they will be responsible for the failure of the For The People voting rights act to pass the Senate if they allow the filibuster to remain and Republicans to kill it.

One of the most powerful Democrats in Washington has issued a frank warning to members of his own party, saying they need to find a way to pass major voting rights legislation or they will lose control of Congress.

The comments from Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip, came days after the House of Representatives approved a sweeping voting rights bill that would enact some of the most dramatic expansions of the right to vote since the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Even though Democrats also control the US Senate, the bill is unlikely to pass the chamber because of a procedural rule, the filibuster, that requires 60 votes to advance legislation.

In an interview with the Guardian this week, Clyburn called out two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have opposed getting rid of the filibuster. Republicans across the country are advancing sweeping measures to curtail voting rights and letting expansive voting rights legislation die would harm Democrats, Clyburn said.

“There’s no way under the sun that in 2021 that we are going to allow the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights. That just ain’t gonna happen. That would be catastrophic,” he said. “If Manchin and Sinema enjoy being in the majority, they had better figure out a way to get around the filibuster when it comes to voting and civil rights.”

Clyburn issued that warning ahead of the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the day in 1965 when law enforcement officers brutally beat voting rights activists in Selma, Alabama.

Clyburn and other House Democrats have been hoping the early days of Joe Biden’s administration will be marked by passage of a bill named after the late congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights hero who was nearly killed on Bloody Sunday. That measure would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, gutted by the supreme court in 2013, that required places with a history of voting discrimination to get election changes cleared by the federal government before they took effect.

“Here we are talking about the Voting Rights Act he worked so hard for and that’s named in his honor and they’re going to filibuster it to death? That ain’t gonna happen,” Clyburn said.

For his part, Joe Manchin seems to think the For The People Act can somehow be passed through budget reconciliation

Manchin (D-W.Va.) has previously supported efforts to require senators to filibuster by talking on the chamber floor in order to hold up a bill, an idea he raised on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin said. “I'm willing to look at any way we can, but I'm not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”

However, Manchin did not rule out using the budget reconciliation process to pass a voting rights bill with a simple majority, keeping the door open to a potential workaround for Democrats to push through a voting overhaul while preserving the filibuster. The House on Wednesday narrowly passed a sweeping package of election-related reforms, a proposal they've given the symbolically important designation of H.R. 1.

It's not clear how Manchin envisioned that H.R. 1 could potentially be passed through reconciliation, as it is not budget-related, and Democrats' proposed minimum wage increase was tripped up by the process' strict rules and left on the cutting-room floor.

But Manchin said Democrats need to meaningfully engage with Republicans before going down that path, which they utilized late last week to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package without a single GOP Senate vote.

“I'm not willing to go into reconciliation until we at least get bipartisanship or get working together or allow the Senate to do its job,” Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

I don't know what Manchin is on, but there's not going to be a single Republican senator to vote for expanding voting rights in any fashion.  He's out of his damn mind. He also thinks he'll get 60 votes on a major new infrastructure bill -- as long as Joe Biden raises trillions in taxes to pay for it -- and that Republicans will agree to it.

And as for Sinema, well, who knows?

Cuomo's #MeToo Moment, Con't

NY Dem Gov. Andrew Cuomo says there's "no way" he will resign with "unproven" multiple sexual harassment allegations, saying calls for his resignation from state lawmakers are "undemocratic".

In a potentially crippling defection in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s efforts to maintain control amid a sexual harassment scandal, the powerful Democratic leader of the New York State Senate declared on Sunday that the governor should resign “for the good of the state.”

The stinging rebuke from the Senate leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins — along with a similar sentiment from the Assembly speaker, Carl E. Heastie, who questioned the “governor’s ability to continue to lead this state” — suggested that Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, had lost his party’s support in the State Capitol, and cast doubt on his ability to withstand the political fallout.

Once hailed as a pandemic hero and potential presidential contender, the governor has seen his political future spiral downward over eight perilous days in the wake of a New York Times report about Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo.

In a series of interviews with The Times, Ms. Bennett, 25, said that Mr. Cuomo, 63, had asked her invasive personal questions last spring about her sex life, including whether she had slept with older men, and whether she thought age made a difference in relationships.

Ms. Bennett is one of five women who have come forward in recent days with allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior against Mr. Cuomo, with one predating his tenure as governor.

Mr. Cuomo, however, was adamantly resisting calls for his resignation, arguing he was elected by the people, not “by politicians.”

“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” the governor said, calling the notion “anti-democratic,” and a violation of the due process clause of the Constitution. “There is no way I resign.”

The governor’s statements on Sunday afternoon came not long after Ms. Stewart-Cousins had informed Mr. Cuomo in a phone call that she was about to call for him to step down, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation; the governor then quickly convened his own news conference to pre-empt her announcement.

He told reporters that his remarks were directed at “some legislators who suggest that I resign.”

Undeterred, Ms. Stewart-Cousins fired back, releasing her statement not long after Mr. Cuomo concluded his news conference.

“We need to govern without daily distraction,” said Ms. Stewart-Cousins, citing the allegations of sexual harassment and a “toxic work environment,” and his handling of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic. “Governor Cuomo must resign.”

Ms. Stewart-Cousins is the most prominent New York State official to call for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation, and her statement carries significance: Her Senate would be the jury for any impeachment trial of the governor, if such an action were passed by the Assembly.

It also carries symbolic weight: In 2008, when Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned during a prostitution scandal, his decision was partially precipitated by a loss of support from Albany’s legislative leaders.

Mr. Heastie did not call for Mr. Cuomo to resign, but suggested that it was time for him “to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
I don't think he can effectively meet the needs of anyone other than Andrew Cuomo.
Donald Trump decided to tough it out and he stayed in power after dozens of harassment claims, and then voters removed him. I'd hope New York voters would do the same, but frankly I think that should it become clear Cuomo will be impeached and removed, he'll step down well before an election.

We'll see what happens, but every day Cuomo stays in office is another day it becomes increasingly impossible to punish Republicans for their wrongdoing.


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