1/ The CDC said Americans who are fully vaccinated can safely go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, including indoors or in large groups. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky called the updated CDC guidance an “exciting and powerful moment,” which offered the country a renewed hope that a return to pre-pandemic “normalcy” is achievable as more people get vaccinated. Biden, calling it “a great day for America,” added that “It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we’ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly.” More than 154 million Americans have had at least one shot and 117 million are fully vaccinated – 35% of the population. Under the new guidance, which is based on recent real-world studies from Israel and the U.S., fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel without needing to get tested before or after, and they do not need to self-quarantine. They also do not need to quarantine following exposure as long as they are asymptomatic. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / NPR)
2/ Jobless claims fell to a new pandemic low of 473,000 last week. The 2019 pre-pandemic weekly unemployment average, however, was 218,000. At least 13 Republican-led states, meanwhile, are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early, which include the extra $300-a-week payments. (Wall Street Journal / Axios / The Hill)
3/ A Florida politician – and Rep. Matt Gaetz associate – is expected to plead guilty. Joel Greenberg previously pleaded not guilty to several charges, including stalking, wire fraud, and sex trafficking of a minor, but has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year, providing investigators with information about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex. The investigation into Greenberg spawned the sex-trafficking investigation into Gaetz. Multiple women paid by Greenberg have said they felt pressured to drink, do drugs, and then have sex with him. (Washington Post / Orlando Sentinel / NBC News / Daily Beast)
4/ The Republican, QAnon-supporting congresswoman from Georgia aggressively confronted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and falsely accused her of supporting “terrorists” as they both exited the House chamber yesterday. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly approached Ocasio-Cortez and shouted questions about her support of antifa and Black Lives Matter, falsely labeling them as “terrorist” groups, and accusing Ocasio-Cortez of failing to defend her “radical socialist” beliefs by declining to publicly debate her. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t stop to answer Greene, but instead turned around threw her hands up in the air in exasperation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called Greene’s decision to “verbal[ly] assault” and “abuse” Ocasio-Cortez outside the House chamber “egregious” behavior and “a matter for the Ethics Committee.” Greene later tweeted that Ocasio-Cortez supports “defund the police” but “wants to call the police for security bc she’s afraid of debating with me about her socialist” Green New Deal, adding that Ocasio-Crotez was “a fraud & a hypocrite.” In February, the House voted to remove Greene from her two committee seats for embracing baseless QAnon conspiracy theories and supporting violent rhetoric against Democrats, including the assassination of Pelosi. (Washington Post / NBC News)
5/ [Speculation alert] Florida officials are reportedly preparing “contingency plans” for a Trump indictment as the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation enters its final stages. Law-enforcement personnel in Palm Beach County are preparing for “thorny extradition issues that could arise” from a provision in Florida law that gives the state’s governor the authority to order an investigation into “the situation and circumstances of the person” in question “and whether the person ought to be surrendered” to another state if they’re indicted. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a staunch Trump ally. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.‘s office is currently investigating whether Trump and his businesses committed banking and tax fraud. The Supreme Court also granted Vance’s investigators access to Trump’s tax and financial records. Trump, however, is residing at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which is led by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who would likely be less sympathetic than DeSantis if Trump were indicted while in New Jersey. (Politico / Business Insider / South Florida Sun Sentinel)
poll/ 57% of unvaccinated adults said a $1,000 savings bond would persuade them to get a Covid-19 vaccine. 57% of unvaccinated adults who are employed said they’d get vaccinated if it were required to work in-person. (Morning Consult)
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