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Three Big Things

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  • Alabama has lowest COVID vaccine rate in the nation, CDC says


    Alabama is currently ranked dead last on a CDC dashboard showing the percentage of population in each state that has received the COVID-19 vaccine.

    As of Thursday afternoon, Alabama reported the lowest COVID vaccination rate of any state, and the only state listed as having given the vaccine to less than 2 percent of its population.

    According to the dashboard, Alabama has administered at least the first dose of the vaccine to 92,300 people, about 1.9% of the population.

    The Alabama Department of Public Health, which is administering the vaccine rollout in the state, says they don’t concur with the data.

    “The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) data does not concur with CDC’s data at the moment,” ADPH’s Dr. Karen Landers said by email Thursday. “ADPH is looking into this to ensure that all doses Alabama has administered are counted.”

    The CDC dashboard currently shows Alabama with the lowest vaccination rate of any state, with many other Southeastern states ranked near the bottom. Georgia is second from the bottom, having vaccinated 2.2% of its population, followed by South Carolina at 2.3%. The dashboard reports how many people per 100,000 living in each state have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Alabama’s number was 1,882 people per 100,000, or 1.9% of the total population.

    Many parts of Alabama are only offering the vaccine to people in Phase 1a of the state’s vaccine allocation plan, frontline health care workers and people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

    Beginning on Monday, the state will offer vaccines to people age 75 and older, as well as emergency first responders throughout the state, but there are few places where people can receive a vaccine. However, some states, including Texas and California, already began offering the vaccines to anyone over 65.

    The CDC this week recommended all states immediately open up the vaccines to people 65 and over. The decision rests with the states. However, the CDC also announced plans to reward states that give out vaccines faster by sending them a larger share of the vaccine.

    A statewide hotline to make appointments to receive a vaccine was flooded with 1.1 million calls on its first day of operations, and the department has reported that appointments are no longer available. Instead, the department is taking callers’ information to put them on a waiting list when more appointments are available.


  • Biden proposes spending $1.9 trillion as he unveils ‘rescue plan’ for America

    President-elect Joe Biden will unveil a massive multitrillion dollar stimulus package proposal on Thursday evening that aims to combat the coronavirus and begins to pump up an economy severely battered by the worst pandemic to strike the globe in a century.

    The president, in an address to the nation from his hometown of Wilmington, Del., is expected to spell out his plans to speed up the nation’s COVID vaccination program, boost coronavirus testing capacity to help reopen businesses and schools, provide for $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans and federal funds for state and local governments to use to avoid laying off police officers, fire fighters and other first responders, as well as teachers and health workers.

    “We’re in the teeth of this crisis, and we need to take immediate action to get the virus under control,” Biden emphasized on Twitter on Wednesday.

    But the price tag will be high.

    “It will be in the trillions of dollars,” Biden told reporters on Friday.

    And on Wednesday, hours before the president-elect was set to speak, senior officials from the incoming Biden administration put the overall tab at $1.9 trillion. Over $1 trillion of that total price tag is for direct relief to individuals and families.

    Officials said the package includes “sending $1,400 per-person checks to households across America, providing direct housing and nutrition assistance, expanding access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, and giving families with kids and childless workers an emergency boost this year.”

    Another $440 billion would be targeted to support communities and businesses that are struggling amid the pandemic “by providing support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color, and protecting the jobs of the first responders, transit workers, and other essential workers we depend on,” a senior official said.

    An additional $400 billion would be aimed at directly combating the coronavirus. It includes $20 billion to beef up the speed and scale of the national COVID vaccination program, $50 billion to expand testing, which officials said was critical to the reopening of schools and businesses, $30 billion for the disaster relief fund, which includes providing protective gear to frontline workers, and funding 100,000 public health workers to work in local communities and expanding health services for populations currently underserved.

    Among other things, Biden’s plan would also extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits “so American workers can pay their bills” and would push to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

    The president-elect on Friday emphasized, “If we don’t act now things are going to get much worse and harder to get out of the hole later. So we have to invest now.”

    Biden highlighted that the “overwhelming consensus among the leading economists left, right and center, is that in order to keep the economy from collapsing this year and getting much, much worse, we should be investing significant amounts of money right now to grow the economy. And that’s a pretty wide consensus.”

    His address to the nation comes new cases of the virus continue to surge across the country. More than 385,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic swept the nation nearly a year ago. More than 22.7 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus since it first struck. And on Tuesday, more than 4,300 deaths nationally were linked to the virus, a new one-day high.

    Biden – as he received his second COVID vaccination shot on Monday – said that on Thursday he would be “laying out the plan, the cost of how I want to proceed, the cost of what we have to do to be able to get the entire COVID operation up and running.”

    He lamented that “3,000 to 4,000 people a day dying is just beyond the pale. It’s just wrong.” And the president-elect stressed that “we can do a lot to change it, number one. It’s going to be hard, it’s not going to be easy, but we can get it done.”

    Senior Biden administration officials highlighted that they and the president-elect have “done a lot of consultation with members of Congress and we have spent a lot of time speaking to and listening to governors and mayors and we think there is a broad understanding of the urgency of the moment, of the immediacy of the crisis, and the need to act and so we’re hopeful that the ideas that are laid out here and the action that is reflected here is something that there’s a lot of support for.”

    Looking to the long-stalled COVID relief plan that was passed by Congress late last month – which included $600 payments to Americans – the officials their “strategy is to make the case clearly to the American people about the immediacy of the need and to work to try to build on the spirit of bipartisanship that helped to bring together action in December. But that was just a down payment.”

    President Trump late last year temporarily refused to sign the bipartisan compromise into law, as he called for $2,000 relief payments to Americans. Biden and congressional Democrats also pushed for a increase to $2,000. Biden’s new plans gets the total direct relief to Americans to the $2,000 level.

    The senior Biden administration officials didn’t say when they hoped for congressional passage of the plan, but they stressed that the “need is immediate. And the urgency is increasing.”

    They also emphasized that the $1.9 trillion rescue plan is the first of two proposals, and that Biden would unveil a jobs and economic recovery plan in the coming weeks.

    As he campaigned for the White House last year, Biden pledged to battle the pandemic more seriously than Trump and promised to have a plan ready to go at the start of his administration. And the plan he unveils on Thursday aims to make his pledge a reality.


  • FBI has arrested more than 100 people over Capitol siege, looks now to inauguration

    (NewsNation Now) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested more than 100 people over last week’s violent siege of the U.S. Capitol, and is now looking into individuals who could possibly threaten the safety of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, its director said on Thursday at a special briefing for outgoing Vice President Mike Pence on inauguration security.

    In his first public appearance since the Jan. 6 attack, Vice President Mike Pence said: “We’re going to ensure that we have a safe inauguration and that President-Elect Joe Biden, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are sworn in as the new president and vice president.”

    More than 30 lawmakers call for investigation into ‘suspicious’ access to Capitol Complex ahead of breach 
    Wray said he was “concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protests and rallies planned here in DC and at state capitol buildings around the country.”

    “We’re looking at individuals who may have an eye towards repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week,” Wray said. “From January 6th alone, we’ve already identified over 200 suspects. So we know who you are, if you’re out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you.”


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