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.”

New Musical ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’ Goes Virtual For World Premiere

Amir Levi in ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, artists in the theater are finding new, unconventional ways to bring the vibrancy of live theater to audiences.

Over the past few months, theater fans have enjoyed online streaming concert events by Broadway stars as well as previously recorded original Broadway productions, plus Obie Award-winning off-Broadway plays like David Drakes’ The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me.

And of course, there’s Seth Rudetsky’s daily serving of theater fare with his Stars in the House web series.

The acclaimed Blank Theatre in Los Angeles recently served up the virtual world premiere of the new musical, Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?

The one-man show was written by Vanessa Stewart and Brendan Milburn, based on an idea by Amir Levi, who also stars in the musical. Daniel Henning, of the Blank Theatre, skillfully handles direction for the premiere which was all filmed in quarantine.

I had a chance to chat with Levi about the new musical, the experience of adapting the show for virtual audiences and more.

The Randy Report: What was the inspiration for the play?

Amir Levi: A few things! Thematically, the idea of obsession has always been fascinating to me. I think partly because we all have a little bit of obsessive tendencies in us. Some of us Facebook stalk our exes, some of us constantly re-read texts to make sure we said the right thing, or we look for deeper meaning within the texts that have been communicated or not communicated with a lover/ex-lover/potential lover, etc.

Most of us have the ability to stop ourselves, however. We have that little voice inside our heads telling us to stop because we’re being ‘crazy.’ This show is about someone who doesn’t have that ability.

Structurally, I’ve always loved telling stories through song. I had done a few solo concerts, and the order of the songs that I picked was always important, and there would always be something to talk about between numbers.

I love “Tell me on a Sunday” because we get to see several romances from one person’s perspective, and it’s all singing. This is similar to that because we see one person’s perspective on a romance, and it’s mostly done through song, but this is perhaps a more targeted approach.

Amir Levi in ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

TRR: What moved you to release this during the pandemic?

AL: Our writer, Vanessa Stewart, e-mailed me, the director (Daniel Henning) and the composer (Brendan Milburn) about a week or two into the quarantine and said that since we don’t know how long this will last, and most of the show takes places in Nathan’s apartment, why not have this be our world premiere?

We don’t know when live theater will come back, and each of us is an artist that can’t sit still unless we’re working on a project (or several) at a time.

Just because the physical theatrical spaces are gone for now doesn’t mean theater needs to stop. Stories need to be told and people need to express themselves. Also, many people who are in quarantine (and even before quarantine) can probably relate to Nathan’s loneliness and desperation for companionship and love.

TRR: Do you feel you were able to capture the mood/point of the play via virtual release?

AL: Yes! Daniel is a brilliant director and came up with the different places to set the webcam to give it a more dynamic feel, and to really take advantage of this medium. We were originally planning on doing a live-stream of the whole show, but then we discovered that unless a musician was physically in the room with me, it would be impossible to really do the music justice.

Also, as a performer, it would be hard to stay ‘in it’ while constantly adjusting the camera and doing everything on my own. Through rehearsals, Daniel took note of what times of day the different lighting options were affecting my apt (Daniel directed me via Zoom screen share so he could see what my webcam was seeing).

Brendan and Vanessa wrote a new song (“Friend You”) for this medium that really helps show not only the emotional journey of Nathan but in this medium, is able to get a sort of intimacy that can only be conveyed through film.

Amir Levi in ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

TRR: What’s next for ’Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

AL: Eventually, when live theater comes back, it would be amazing to get a full run of it, and to perhaps tour it! I’m sure 1 or 2 new songs would probably be inspired for a fully staged version. However, since live performance probably won’t return till at least Spring 2021, we want to reach as many audience members as possible and hope this story moves them.

In addition to just overcoming the immense hurdles of creating a piece of theater via Zoom and the internet, the creative team and Levi deserve big props for telling the sometimes obsessive/sometimes touching story of one man’s desire to find love.

Favorite lyric: “Oh Chad, if you break it then you buy it / If you break my heart, you know you have to pay…”

Does Nathan end up with the virtual love of his life? I’m not giving anything away 🙂

You can watch the full one-act musical, Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story? below.

US Breaks Record For Daily Increase With 55K New Cases

When Donald Trump told Americans we’d “hit new highs,” I doubt this is what he was talking about.

From Reuters:

The United States reported more than 55,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the largest daily increase any country has ever reported, according to a Reuters tally.

The daily U.S. tally stood at 55,274 late Thursday, topping the previous single day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19. Just two weeks ago, the United States was reporting about 22,000 new cases a day.

It has now reported more than 40,000 cases for seven straight days and broken records for new cases three days in a row, according to the tally.

The number of new cases has risen in 37 out of 50 states with Florida leading the way with over 10,000 cases reported on Thursday.

As testing has increased, so have positive test results which are up 7% nationally.

Trump Plays Golf As U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Approach 100K

According to Bloomberg News (and other sources), Donald Trump headed to the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia today.

President Donald Trump headed to the golf course for the first time in over two months, engaging in his personal passion as well as attempting to show how the country can return to normal after stay-at-home orders taken against the coronavirus.

Trump arrived at the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. He was spotted earlier wearing a white polo shirt and signature white “Make America Great Again” cap. The White House doesn’t always confirm Trump’s activities while at his golf courses.

The president’s most recent golf outing was March 8 at the Trump International course in West Palm Beach, Florida. He teed it up with members of the World Series-winning Washington Nationals baseball team, according to images posted by the players on social media. Trump played at the same course on March 7.

In 2014, Trump criticized President Barack Obama for playing golf when there were TWO cases of Ebola in the U.S.

As of today, there are 1.6 million cases of COVID-19 which has claimed the lives of nearly 100,000 Americans.

And according to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has soared to 14.7 percent.

But in 2014, when the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent and the Ebola outbreak had been contained, Trump took time to criticize Obama…?

‘Rona Rave’ Guests Denounce Social Media Attacks & Gay ‘Cancel Culture’

L-R Chris Weaver, DJ Alec Brian (screen captures)

Two attendees of last week’s now-infamous ‘Rona Rave’ in New York City have posted statements to the community at large admitting attending the shindig was a mistake, but also denouncing social media’s ‘cancel culture’ for the attacks the party-goers have experienced online.

As I reported last week, videos of the party were posted by adult entertainment performer Ian Frost to his Instagram Story during the event. And when I say ‘videos,’ I mean some 31 videos were shared tagging many of the attendees with their Instagram handles.

In the clips, you can see the 30+ party-goers were not of a mind to keep ‘social distancing’ practices in place, nor was anyone seen wearing a face mask amid the purple/pink party light.

Twitter user Phillip Henry downloaded some of the clips and shared them to his followers, and quickly news of the event went viral.

Many were angry that, with New York City being THE hotspot in the U.S. for COVID-19, the party seemed reckless and dismissive of the efforts of frontline workers.

Chris Weaver, who performs drag under the stage name Nedra Belle and is a past contestant on NBC’s The Voice, began his video message on Facebook saying that he respects all those medical and essential workers. In fact, he shares he has friends “serving on the front lines,” and he’s “reached out to a couple of them to let them know that if they need anything, I’m there and would love to help in any way I can.”

He then segues into the social media “dragging” aimed at the party-goers and adds that there’s now a “call for us to be ‘canceled.'”

“I’m a human,” says Weaver. “I make mistakes just like you make mistakes. It’s life.”

“I fully understand that I have to deal with the repercussions of what I did and that it’s just a reality that we have to face,” he adds. “But, I won’t be scared or run into a hole or a box because you don’t agree. Okay?”

Admitting that attending the party was ‘dumb,’ Weaver says in hindsight, “If I had to do it all over again, would I have attended the event? I would have not.”

“Everybody’s all up in arms and so upset – that I can understand,” he continues. “There are thousands and thousands of people who have perished from this, and that is unfortunate.”

“But I didn’t go out with the intent to hurt anyone,” explains the singer. “I didn’t go out with the intent to say, ‘Oh I’m gonna go out to this party and not wear a mask to get the virus and to spread the virus.’ That’s not what I did, that’s not what I plan on doing and that’s not who I am.”

Weaver also shares that he’s suffered a personal loss during the COVID-19 health threat as his 31-year-old cousin succumbed to the disease last week.

“So, for all these negative comments, let me tell you something about the gay community, the LGBTQ+ community. What we do is we are so good at building each other up. But we’re even better at tearing each other down. And the problem with that is, we can drag and drag and drag folks all day and all night, but there’s never a chance – where is the chance for redemption? Where’s the chance for somebody to make up for their mistakes or to get it right? We don’t give that, but we wanna cancel folks.”

“Some people are going to look at this video and say… that’s the thing, people can issue an apology and people are never satisfied,” he continues, although there’s no apology in the 11-minute video. “People just want something to attack people on. If you want to cancel me, cancel me, I mean that’s, it is what it is. And I’m hoping that you open up your hearts, not just for me but for those who you have attacked. Please know that your reaction causes reaction. Think about the person on the other side.”

“And so I love you all,” he says concluding his message. “And for those of you who are still on this train with me, thank you. For those of you who aren’t, I’ll see ya.”

He then sings an a cappella “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and signs off with a call to keep practicing social distancing. “It’s hard, I know. I just needed a moment, y’all.”

The DJ who was captured in one of the videos, Alec Brian, also posted a Facebook video with similar sentiments saying he regrets accepting the gig, he took the job on the spur of the moment, and since then he says he’s been attacked on social media by people who didn’t bother to learn the “whole story.”

Again, there was no ‘apology’ to anyone but he does say he used the money he earned at the party to buy 300 face masks that will be donated to those that need them.

According to the New York City Health Department, at the time of the party, there were 171,723 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city; 43,383 hospitalized, 13,724 confirmed deaths and another 5,383 probable deaths.

Today, those numbers have escalated to 178,766 confirmed cases. 44,812 hospitalizations, 14,753 confirmed deaths, and 5,178 probable deaths related to COVID-19.

Congress Informed To “Expect 70-150 Million” Cases Of Coronavirus

Axios is reporting Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician for Congress, held a closed-door meeting with Senate chiefs of staff, chief clerks, and staff directors for both parties informing them that they “should prepare for the worst” regarding the ongoing coronavirus threat.

According to reports, Monahan said he “expects 70-150 million people in the U.S.” to become infected with the virus. That would constitute roughly a third of the country.

That prediction would align with other health experts even though Donald Trump and the White House have repeatedly told the public there’s little need to worry.

Monahan did share that roughly 80% of those who contract coronavirus eventually recover, according to Axios.