What A Day: Hit me w/ ur boost shot

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

 -Kayleigh McEighneighneigh on four years of simultaneous crises

The FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine has triggered a slew of new vaccine mandates and...unconventional mandate-adjacent policies, as vaccine companies pursue authorization for their highly effective booster shots, and parents of young kids stare at their watches.

  • Several major companies have climbed aboard the vaccine-requirement bandwagon (or expanded their requirements) in just a few days: CVS will require all corporate staff and those working with patients to get the jab, Goldman Sachs has said that only vaccinated people will be allowed in its offices, and Disney World has now issued a vaccine mandate for all unionized employees. In 40 percent-vaxxed Louisiana, football fans will need to show proof of vaccination or negative test results in order to attend a game at Louisiana State University’s Tiger Stadium.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued an alternative ultimatum: Get your shots or get your wallet out. In a Wednesday memo, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees that those who decline to get vaccinated by November will have to shell out an extra $200 a month for health insurance. “The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person,” Bastian noted, adding that all Delta employees who had been hospitalized with coronavirus “since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant” (as all of us call it, still) were unvaccinated.
  • While most unions have come around to the idea of vaccine mandates amid the Delta B.1.617.2 surge, there are some notable cop-shaped holdouts. New York City’s largest police union told its members that it would sue the city if subjected to a vaccination requirement. Chicago police unions have also pledged to fight for their plague-spreading freedoms, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a vaccine mandate for all city employees earlier this week, and Massachusetts law-enforcement unions have thrown a fit at Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) over his recent order requiring all public workers to get vaccinated by mid-October. 

As local leaders ramp up their efforts to get first shots into reluctant arms, vaccine makers are looking ahead to shot #3 (or #2, for the J&J crowd).

  • Pfizer and BioNTech said on Wednesday that a third shot of Comirnaty (as all of us call it, already) dramatically increased antibody levels in a new study, and that they were applying for authorization of a booster shot for those aged 16 and up. Johnson & Johnson also announced it has new data showing that a second vaccine dose six months after the first shot boosted antibody levels nine-fold, justifying a booster shot.
  • Those extra doses could be available for the general population sooner than expected: The Wall Street Journal reported that regulators could approve a booster shot for adults starting at least six months after full vaccination, instead of the eight-month gap that health authorities announced last week. Even with a fully approved Pfizer vaccine and a (potentially) accelerated booster-shot timeline, kids under age 12 are still stuck in unvaccinated limbo. NIH Director Francis Collins said Tuesday that children ages five to 11 likely won’t have a fully approved vaccine before late 2021—though an emergency use authorization for Comirnaty Jr. could come sooner.

It remains to be seen whether the Pfizer vaccine’s full approval will inspire vaccine-hesitant Americans to put down the horse medicine and go get their shots, but we’re already seeing it spur businesses, colleges, and cities to ramp up vaccine requirements. If extra peace of mind about the vaccine’s safety doesn’t make a dent in the skeptic population, we can hope that the cost of being walled off from public life will start to do the trick.

This week, the Keep It crew is joined by actress Jurnee Smollett to discuss her role in the HBO series Lovecraft Country, her Emmy nomination, and the many black actors who have mentored her throughout her career. New episodes of Keep It drop every Wednesday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

The House January 6 committee seems to be preparing to kick some ass and take some names, or at the very least, investigate the names of some asses. In its first wave of document requests, the committee sent letters to eight different agencies on Wednesday asking for records of the roles that Donald Trump and members of his inner circle might have played in the attack. Chairman Bennie Thompson asked for all records that speak to what Trump was up to on January 6, as well as documents pertaining to “planning by the White House and others for legal or other strategies to delay, halt, or otherwise impede the electoral count.” Thompson also requested information about Trump’s efforts to involve the Justice Department, his shakeup of leaders at the Pentagon, and any potential coordination between the White House and extremist groups. The requests are a promising indication that the panel really does mean to conduct a thorough, if belated, investigation into Trump’s attempted coup, and leave no line of inquiry off the table.

CORRECTION: Tuesday's What A Day erroneously identified Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) as a Democrat. Burr is, of course, a Republican. Our apologies to North Carolina Democrats and the corrupt POS community.

We’ve got some bad news and good news about that huge rental assistance program that’s been slow to swing into action. The bad news: It’s still slow as hell. State and local governments have yet to distribute around 89 percent of rental assistance funds, with just $5.1 billion out of $46.5 billion in aid successfully out the door. The good news: The Biden administration agrees that’s unacceptable. On Wednesday, the Treasury released new guidance clarifying that tenants can self-assess their income and risk of losing their home, with no need for states and cities to waste time on verification measures. The guidance also allows jurisdictions to work with non-profits who can provide immediate relief in the face of looming evictions, and to send funds directly to landlords and utilities while aid applications are processed. “The guidance could not be more clear in expressing that this is a public health and eviction emergency that requires putting quick and sound rental relief above unnecessary paperwork that will not reach families in time,” said Gene Sperling, who oversees the implementation of the American Rescue Plan.

It’s been over a year since the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And still, police have killed more than 500 people in 2021 already – from Daunte Wright to 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, and far too many others. Meanwhile, the resounding calls to divest and defund the police continue to grow. Calls that Black organizers and advocates led long before now.  

So what does it all really mean for our country? And how does this moment differ from so many past efforts in America to stop racist police practices that have terrorized Black people for centuries?  

The ACLU will dive into these questions and more in our inaugural email course, “Racism in Policing” –and we want you to be a part of it. Sign up for the email course today.

In this four-email course, you’ll receive one lesson every week delivered to your inbox from us, Paige Fernandez and Carl Takei, your course guides and ACLU experts.   

We’ll help you develop a deeper foundational knowledge of U.S. policing institutions, its inseparable ties to white supremacy and systemic racism, and the larger meaning behind police divestment as a solution for the safety of all communities.

By the end of our course, you’ll come away with historical context, learning resources, and the insight needed to take meaningful actions on this critical issue.  

We truly couldn’t think of a more significant topic to delve into and we’re looking forward to having you with us. So don’t wait – sign up and let’s get started.  

Your course guides,  

Paige Fernandez   
She, her, hers  
Policing Policy Advisor, National Political Advocacy Department, ACLU  

Carl Takei  
He, him, his  
Senior Staff Attorney, Trone Center for Justice and Equality, ACLU  

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) said she has no plans to unilaterally disarm in the redistricting process.

Maine has become the latest state to hit an 80 percent vaccination rate.

More than half of Florida students now attend public schools that have given Ron DeSantis’s anti-mask order the middle finger. 

A federal judge in Michigan has sanctioned Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and other “Kraken” attorneys for their lawsuit attempting to overturn the state’s election results.

. . . . . .

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