Wednesday, April 7, 2021
BY SARAH LAZARUS & CROOKED MEDIA
** -NRA ([link removed]) chief Wayne LaPierre ([link removed]) on his convenient Gun Violence Escape Yacht
A more contagious variant has become the official face of Hip Young Coronavirus Outbreak 4.0, which features the slick new upgrade of “fewer people dying” and the problematic bug of “everything else you hate about coronavirus.”
* CDC chief Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that B.1.1.7, the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K., is now the dominant strain ([link removed]) circulating in the U.S. That’s contributing to concerns about a potential fourth surge, as case numbers continue to climb. In a snapshot of how quickly this thing spreads, five states that make up just 22 percent of the country’s population—New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey—accounted for 43 percent of confirmed new infections ([link removed]) over the last week.
* Governors have largely brushed off ([link removed]) President Biden’s exhortations to reinstate mask mandates and restrictions, focusing solely on the vaccination piece of the puzzle. The great news is, those vaccinations are saving a bunch of lives. Even with cases and hospitalizations on the rise daily death numbers over the last seven days dropped by 22 percent ([link removed]) from the prior week, now that more than half of Americans over age 65 are fully jabbed.
* The less great news is, young people are the ones getting walloped this time around. Several states are seeing more hospitalized coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s ([link removed]) , and the problem is particularly bad in Michigan, where youth sports seem to be fueling the state’s surge: Michigan school outbreaks have jumped 23 percent ([link removed]) in the past week. Part of the issue is that the youngs are letting their guard down—a recent Gallup poll ([link removed]) found Americans across age groups have gotten significantly less worried about catching coronavirus as the vaccine rollout improves.
A new study on coronavirus survivors highlights why that mindset is a mistake, even when the most vulnerable populations are better protected.
* Researchers have reported a link ([link removed]) between coronavirus and an increased risk of neurological or psychological disorders, in the largest-yet study ([link removed](21)00084-5/fulltext) of coronavirus patients’ health records. About a third of those patients received a diagnosis for mental or neurological symptoms within six months of their infection, most commonly for anxiety or mood disorders. Coronavirus survivors were more likely to experience those long-term symptoms than people recovering from the flu or other respiratory symptoms, but additional research is needed—particularly about what happens after six months.
* As long as states continue to lift restrictions and young people continue to relax their way into anxiety diagnoses, everything depends on the pace of vaccinations. Fortunately, the U.S. is still crushing it, in spite of the big goof-up at a vaccine factory ([link removed]) : The seven-day average has hit more than three million shots per day ([link removed]) . Biden has moved the deadline for open vaccine eligibility up to April 19, and at least 36 states have already beat him to it ([link removed]) . About one in three Americans have received at least one dose ([link removed]) .
The Biden administration is asking a very tired nation to hold two competing ideas in mind at once: The public-health crisis is nearing an end, and also, we are still in the middle of a public-health crisis. Our national capacity to accommodate those two facts will determine how much more damage we inflict on ourselves between now and normal.
Ira Madison III may have gotten kicked off Twitter ([link removed]) for impersonating a certain Texas politician with a penchant for standing on things, but his important message lives on in our new
line of Texas-inspired merch. Even Twitter moderators have to admit, if we could get Texas to go blue, it would be a pretty grande deal. Shop now at the Crooked Store ([link removed]) →
The Biden administration’s effort to expand health-care access has made some important gains. On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that more than 500,000 Americans have already signed up for ACA health-care coverage ([link removed]) during the special enrollment period. Also this week, the Biden administration rescinded Trump-era waivers ([link removed]) that allowed Michigan and Wisconsin to require Medicaid recipients to show that they’re working or looking for work as a condition of keeping their health insurance. The Democratic governors of both Michigan and Wisconsin opposed those work
requirements, which were put in place by previous GOP administrations and hadn’t yet been implemented. The Biden administration revoked waivers ([link removed]) for New Hampshire and Arkansas back in March; a handful of other states still technically have approval ([link removed]) to kick unemployed people off of their health insurance during a pandemic.
* North Carolina Republicans have introduced a bill that would ban gender-affirming health care for trans people under 21 ([link removed]) , and require state employees to notify parents if their children display “gender nonconformity.” It’s highly unlikely to become law given North Carolina’s Democratic governor, but pretty nauseating in all other respects!
* Former senior national-security officials, members of the military, and elected officials have written a letter urging Congress to establish a January 6 commission ([link removed]) , focusing on the attack as a signal of a larger domestic-terror threat.
* It appears our national vaccine-hoarding tendency is an inherited problem: The Trump administration’s contracts with vaccine companies prohibit the U.S. from sharing surplus doses with other countries ([link removed]) . That was not an obstacle to vaccine donations during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
* Brazil’s new coronavirus surge has surpassed 4,000 deaths per day ([link removed]) , with the death toll on track to overtake the U.S.’s devastating January record.
* Fulton County's district attorney said she would not prosecute Georgia state-Rep. Park Cannon ([link removed]) for knocking on Gov. Brian Kemp’s door as he signed a voter-suppression bill into law, because (to paraphrase) that would make no fucking sense.
* A subatomic particle called a muon might break physics as we know it ([link removed]) and revolutionize our understanding of the universe, which seems like a much-needed win for a particle that scientists also call a “fat electron.”
* Alleged sex trafficker and pardon-requester Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) will deliver the keynote at an event held by the organizers of the January 6 Stop The Steal Rally ([link removed]) at the Trump National Doral on Friday.
* The NRCC is running the Trump campaign’s pre-checked recurring donation-box scam ([link removed]) , with some chill, low-key language: “If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.”
* Tiger Woods was driving 40 miles per hour over the speed limit when he crashed his SUV in February ([link removed]) , according to investigators. Authorities said he showed no signs of impairment or intoxication at the time of the crash.
* A giant monitor lizard ran into a 7-Eleven in Thailand and climbed around looking for snacks ([link removed]) , which we’re gathering from context clues is...not the correct way to behave in a 7-Eleven? It’s been a long quarantine.
Florida’s radioactive-water emergency has underscored the problem of toxic ponds across the country ([link removed]) , which will only get more dangerous with climate change. ICYMI, a huge wastewater reservoir in Piney Point, FL, started leaking over the weekend, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate amid fears that it would collapse completely. That outcome has been averted, but these pools—many of them byproducts of fertilizer production and the industrial scale of U.S. agriculture ([link removed]) —are disasters waiting to happen. Florida’s have been known to collapse into sinkholes, while Hurricane Florence flooded pits of pig manure in North Carolina in 2018. Toxic pools will become more precarious as storms get more extreme—unless the agriculture industry and its regulators make fundamental changes to the quantities of waste produced
and the way it’s stored.
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Washington State ([link removed]) has become the 20th state to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people.
St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones ([link removed]) has been elected the city’s first Black female mayor.
Progressive Jill Underly ([link removed]) has been elected Wisconsin’s next top education official, in a huge win for Wisconsin public schools.
The White House ([link removed]) is considering a pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 50 percent or more by the end of the decade, which would nearly double the Obama administration’s climate commitment.