Day 77: "Irritating."
1/ All adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19, almost two weeks sooner than Biden’s original May 1 deadline. All but two states – Oregon and Hawaii – are already set to meet the new target date. “That doesn’t mean they will get it that day, that means they can join the line that day if they have not already done that beforehand,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. As of last week, about half of states had already opened vaccinations to everyone 16 and older, which is expected to rise to 36 states by the end of this week. The Biden administration also said that 150 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered to Americans. (CNN / NBC News / NPR / Bloomberg / Associated Press)
😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~132,132,000; deaths: ~2,866,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,832,000; deaths: ~557,000; fully vaccinated: ~19.0%; partially vaccinated: ~32.6%
Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post
2/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned government agencies, private businesses, and organizations that receive state funding from creating “vaccine passports,” saying Covid-19 vaccinations are voluntary and that no one should have to disclose private health information as a condition of engaging in normal activities. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order last week banning businesses from requiring customers to show proof they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to get service. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has said “the government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential” because it doesn’t want vaccine passports “used against people unfairly.” Instead, the administration will provide guidance for private-sector development of credentials. (Texas Tribune / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)
3/ The nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian ruled that Democrats could use budget reconciliation to advance more of Biden’s agenda with a simple majority. Democrats previously used budget resolution to pass the American Rescue Plan. “I always would prefer to do legislation in a bipartisan way, but we have to get big, bold things done,” Chuck Schumer said. “And so we need to have as many options as possible if Republicans continue to obstruct.” All 50 Democratic senators would need support the approach to advance Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package this fiscal year without a single Republican vote. Democratic moderates like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, however, have advised against using the reconciliation process a second time. They also oppose eliminating the filibuster to pass all bills with 51 votes, instead of 60, arguing that the supermajority requirement forces lawmakers to seek broad compromises. (Politico / Vox / New York Times / CNBC / Axios / NPR / ABC News / Associated Press / CBS News)
4/ Mitch McConnell warned businesses critical of state voting restrictions to “stay out of politics.” McConnell called it “quite stupid” for corporations to speak out politically on “incendiary” issues, like Georgia’s new voting law, but said he supports corporations making political donations. McConnell suggested that businesses have “a right to participate in the political process,” specifically noting that he’s “not talking about political contributions.” He added that “Republicans drink Coca-Cola, too, and we fly, and we like baseball. It’s irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.” (The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Forbes / Washington Post)
5/ Arkansas’ Republican-controlled House and Senate enacted a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender children. The override comes a day after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s vetoed the bill. The state is the first to criminalize gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. (Associated Press / Axios)
6/ The Education Department will hold a public hearing on how schools should handle sexual misconduct cases as part of an overhaul of Title IX regulations. During the presidential campaign, Biden promised to dismantle Trump-era rules on sexual misconduct that afforded greater protections to students accused of assault. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formalized rules for how universities and K-12 schools should handle complaints of sexual assault and misconduct in 2020, which created protections for the accused, including the presumption that they’re innocent and the right to cross-examine their accusers. After the hearing, the department will begin the formal process to rewrite the Title IX rules. (NBC News / New York Times)
7/ Carbon dioxide topped 420 parts per million in the atmosphere for the first time – the halfway point to doubling preindustrial CO2 levels. The Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii began collecting CO2 measurements in the late 1950s. At the time, atmospheric CO2 concentration sat at around 315 parts per million. On Saturday, the daily average hit 421.21 parts per million – the first time in recorded history that atmospheric CO2 concentration has been so high. Previously, it had never exceeded 420 parts per million. (Washington Post)
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