Happy 4th Of July 2021!

Wishing everyone a fun and frolicsome 4th of July as the country recognizes the birth of our nation.

We’ve come a ways from last July 4th, when travel was way down and gatherings were – at least supposed to be – kept within our pandemic bubbles.

This year, thanks to COVID vaccines, holiday celebrations can be safer and larger.

Here’s some stats on how far we’ve come:

• According to the CDC, 67% of U.S. adults have gotten at least one vaccine dose. Among Americans 12 and older, 64% have gotten at least one shot.

• According to the results of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index a year ago versus today in regard to how folks feel about returning to pre-coronavirus lives:

June 26-29, 2020: Large to moderate risk – 70%, Small to no risk – 29%

June 25-28, 2021: Large to moderate risk – 28%, Small to no risk – 72%

• AAA projected holiday travel this weekend will be almost back to pre-pandemic levels —  just 2.5% lower than in 2019.

• An expected 43.6 million Americans will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019.

• And air travel is definitely bouncing back – TSA reports it screened more people on July 1 and 2 than it did on those dates in 2019!

Have an awesome holiday and make sure you tune in for PBS’ A Capitol Fourth tonight!

I’ll be holding down the fort at my backyard today 🙂

New Book: Trump Considered Quarantining Americans At Guantánamo

Donald Trump

A new book by Washington Post reporters Damian Paletta and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, sheds new light on the incredible dysfunction in the Trump White House regarding the bungled COVID-19 response.

From the Washington Post:

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as White House officials debated whether to bring infected Americans home for care, President Donald Trump suggested his own plan for where to send them, eager to suppress the numbers on U.S. soil.

“Don’t we have an island that we own?” the president reportedly asked those assembled in the Situation Room in February 2020, before the U.S. outbreak would explode. “What about Guantánamo?”

“We import goods,” Trump specified, lecturing his staff. “We are not going to import a virus.”

Aides were stunned, and when Trump brought it up a second time, they quickly scuttled the idea, worried about a backlash over quarantining American tourists on the same Caribbean base where the United States holds terrorism suspects.

The book is based on interviews with over 180 people including White House senior staff members and government health officials.

NY Gov: Broadway Will Reopen At Full Capacity In September

Broadway's HAMILTON at the Richard Rodgers Theater
Broadway's HAMILTON at the Richard Rodgers Theater
(photo: Sudan Ouyang)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a press conference this morning that Broadway shows will be able to reopen September 14.

Beginning tomorrow, May 6, producers will be able to put tickets on sale – wait for it – at 100% capacity.

More from the New York Times:

Why the four-month wait? With as many as eight shows a week to fill, and the tourists who make up an important part of their customer base yet to return, producers need time to advertise and market. They need to reassemble and rehearse casts who have been out of work for more than a year. And they need to sort out and negotiate safety protocols.

But the biggest reason is more gut-based: individually and collectively, they are trying to imagine when large numbers of people are likely to feel comfortable traveling to Times Square, funneling through cramped lobbies and walking down narrow aisles to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.

The Times mentions that long-running mega-hits Wicked, The Lion King, and Hamilton are already planning their announcements to reopen next week.

Aladdin, Chicago, Come From Away and American Utopia are also looking strong to reopen in September.

News Round-Up: March 10, 2021

Uber driver being assaulted by three women refusing to wear face masks during pandemic

Uber driver being assaulted by three women refusing to wear face masks during pandemic

Some news items you might have missed:

AP News: The European Parliament is scheduled to debate a resolution on Wednesday that would declare the entire 27-member European Union a “freedom zone” for LGBT people. The move is seen as a reaction to actions in Poland, where many local communities have adopted symbolic homophobic resolutions declaring themselves free of “LGBT ideology.”

Pink News: There was widespread shock when LGBT+ Rights Ghana, an advocacy organisation, had its offices raided and shut down by national security forces in February. On Monday, parliamentarian Samuel Nartey George announced that he and seven other MPs will bring forward legislation in an effort to criminalize the promotion of LGBTQ rights.

NowThis News: An Uber driver (above image) in San Francisco, CA, was assaulted by passengers after one of them allegedly refused to wear a mask (warning: distressing). The San Francisco police are now investigating the women for possible charges. A GoFundMe was launched to help the driver here.

Washington Post: President Biden confirmed Wednesday that his administration plans to secure an additional 100 million doses of the single-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. The additional doses will reinforce the supply needed to offer all American adults a vaccine by the end of May.

Twitter: Donald Trump issued a pathetically lame statement tonight “reminding” people HE should get credit for the COVID vaccines. He notably doesn’t take responsibility for the 529,000+ American deaths that occurred thanks in part to his admitted ‘downplaying’ of the virus.

COVID: Seven-Day Average Of New Cases Drops Below 90K

A man wearing a face mask during the pandemic

A man wearing a face mask during the pandemic

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has (finally) dropped below 90,000 for the first time since early November.

From the Washington Post:

Newly reported coronavirus infections in the United States continued their steep drop, with about 56,000 new cases reported Monday, though the figure may be artificially low due to the holiday. However, the seven-day average, considered a more reliable measure, has dipped below 90,000 a day for the first time since early November.

Scientists have been split about the reasons for the drop, citing increased vaccinations, decreased testing, improved social distancing habits and the seasonal patterns of these kinds of viruses.

Meanwhile, cases of the more contagious variant first identified in Britain are rising: Only 293 cases were reported in late January.By Feb. 4, there were 611, and the number now is 1,168.

Police Break Up Late Night 81-Person Orgy

(stock photo via Pexels/Maurício Mascaro )

French police were called last Friday after neighbors complained about noise that seemed to come from a late night party.

Around 9 pm, the officers arrived at a warehouse in Collegien, around 20 miles from the centre of Paris. They found about 11 people hanging out in the car park.

At 11 pm, after gaining legal entry into the warehouse, police officers discovered a rave/orgy with 81 participants complete with sound and lighting equipment.

The Independent reports the participants were each fined 135 Euros ($161 US) for being in breach of the current coronavirus curfew in effect. France currently restricts outside movement from 6 pm to 6 am.

Police reports also indicated there were “problems with masks and social distancing” as well. Some party-goers were also detained for questioning.

This is just the latest example of folks growing fatigued of COVID lockdown rules as the pandemic enters its second year.

Last December, Belgian police were called to a house party near a COVID clinic where a 52-person orgy was in full swing.

Anti-LGBTQ Hungarian lawmaker Jozsef Szajer was among those arrested and quickly resigned from his position.

While health concerns during a pandemic are definitely a serious issue, folks on the Twitterverse tried to find some humor in the moment.

Jokes aside, during the ongoing pandemic please remember to wear a face mask in public, wash your hands often, and practice social distancing.

Biden Deploys FEMA In 11 States To Help Vaccination Effort

A FEMA healthcare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccination
A FEMA healthcare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccination
A FEMA healthcare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccination (image via FEMA)

President Biden ordered FEMA to jump in a help with vaccination efforts across the country, and things are already happening on the ground in several states.

From NBC News:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is deploying or supporting vaccination efforts in at least 11 states after President Joe Biden ordered the government to get on a war footing in his mission to vaccinate 300 million Americans by summer’s end.

The states are Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, according to a FEMA official. Federal workers are also supporting efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the official said.

FEMA has reportedly already set up vaccination sites in four of those states – Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Washington.

In a statement, FEMA said they are “determining where staff support, supplies and other resource gaps are — and then working to fill them.

Items that are funded can include:

• Supplies and commodities needed to safely store and administer the vaccine.
• Transportation support and reasonable, necessary security for refrigerated trucks.
• Medical and support staff.
• Communication materials that keep the public informed.
• Training personnel on vaccine distribution and administration.

US Economy Could Recover Sooner Than Expected

US economy could recover sooner than expected

US economy could recover sooner than expected

Crediting the monetary and fiscal support provided thus far during the coronavirus pandemic, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in an interview Thursday the U.S. economy may recover to pre-pandemic levels sooner than expected.

From The Hill:

Powell said during a Thursday virtual interview that the unprecedented amount of stimulus approved by Congress and the White House, along with the Fed’s aggressive intervention, has likely prevented the U.S. from suffering deeper long-term economic damage.

The Fed chief stressed that the U.S. economy would not fully recover until the raging coronavirus pandemic is under control. Powell, however, said that a rebound to the historically low unemployment seen before COVID-19 derailed the economy could return quicker than many expected when the pandemic hit.

More than 20 million jobs were lost during March and April thanks to coronavirus-related closures. The unemployment rate skyrocketed from 3.5 percent to a staggering 14.7 percent. By December, around 10 million of those jobs had been recovered as the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent.

That said, the Department of Labor is reporting initial jobless claims soared to 965,000 last week.

That figure is much higher than economists’ forecasts of 800,000 claims. It’s also the largest total since August 22, when the economy began a short recovery during the summer.

In related news, the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December and according to CNN “all of them were held by women.”