The Monday Politics Thread Averts a Shutdown, But is Still Being Cheap

The essential COVID-19 vaccine FAQ

The largest vaccination campaign in United States history has begun protecting its first recipients against the novel coronavirus. Yet there are a number of logistics to be mapped out and questions answered before the country can regain control over COVID-19 and restore a semblance of normal life.

This pandemic marks new territory for the governmental regulators, public health officials and private companies working to deploy a safe vaccine to the public — and also design public health campaigns to promote awareness and ease concerns. Potentially viable vaccine candidates have been produced in record speed — months, not years — including some by new technology. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently working to figure out what is safe for approval, and how to immunize the population effectively.

Several polls suggest that roughly half of Americans are hesitant about getting vaccinated for COVID-19 — a significant drop compared to earlier during the pandemic. That’s problematic since more than 60 percent of people may need to be inoculated to develop widespread immunity.

As the U.S. is seeing an explosive growth in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, widespread vaccination is likely still months away, and experts are urging Americans to continue following best practices of wearing a face mask, washing their hands and maintaining social distance. But the possibility of at least one vaccine being ready in December offers hope of a reachable goal at the end of a devastating year.

Here’s a look at what we know so far about who will be able to get inoculated and how soon.

PBS

From Polio To The COVID Vaccine, Dr. Peter Salk Sees Great Progress

When I spoke to Dr. Peter Salk back in May, he told me the tale of receiving an early polio vaccine – the one invented by his father, Dr. Jonas Salk.

“I just hated injections. And my father came home with polio vaccine and some syringes and needles that he sterilized on the kitchen stove by boiling in water, lined us kids up and then administered the vaccine,” Salk said. “Somehow the needle must have missed a nerve, and I didn’t feel it. And so that has fixed that moment in my mind.”

Peter Salk was just 9 when he got that shot in 1953 at the family home outside Pittsburgh.

At that time, polio terrorized the country every summer. In the worst single year, 1952, nearly 60,000 children were infected. Many were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died. Frightened parents kept their children away from swimming pools, movie theaters and other public places.

The vaccine helped eradicate polio, made his father world famous, and shaped Peter Salk’s own life — he also became a doctor of infectious diseases.

NPR

Black doctor’s death becomes a symbol of racism in coronavirus care

A Black doctor who died battling Covid-19 described racist medical care in widely shared social media posts days before her death, prompting an Indiana hospital system to promise a “full external review” into her treatment.

In the past year, public health experts nationwide have acknowledged the role racism plays in health care with dozens of cities, counties and states declaring racism a public health threat. While public health experts have called it a first step, many are skeptical.

Black people, and other members of communities of color, have often died at rates far higher than whites as the coronavirus has roared across the United States and killed more than 300,000 people – by far the highest total in the world.

The case of Dr Susan Moore has become a powerful and stark symbol of that inequity, garnering coverage in publications from the New York Times to USA Today and major television networks.

The Guardian

Lawmakers press Trump on relief bill as jobless aid expires

President Donald Trump appeared no closer to signing an end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill Sunday as unemployment aid expired, the government barrels toward a mid-pandemic shutdown and lawmakers implored him to break the impasse he created after Congress approved the deal.

Trump blindsided members of both parties with a demand for larger COVID relief checks, imperiling not only a massive package of economic and public-health assistance but the basic functions of government itself.

The package passed with wide margins in the House and Senate and with the understanding of members of both parties that Trump supported it. Now, the federal government will run out of money at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday if Trump refuses to sign the bill in time as he spends the holidays in Florida.

AP News

‘I’m Going to Say It From the Heart.’ America’s Reckoning on Race Has Come to High School Speech and Debate

On the night of June 7, the second Sunday after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Bintou Baysmore stood among hundreds of demonstrators on the plaza outside the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn, N.Y. The 17-year-old hadn’t planned to speak at the rally. But when one of the organizers offered the microphone, she took it.

In the middle of a weekday about a year earlier, she told the crowd, she’d been walking with a friend in Crown Heights, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Brooklyn, when a police van pulled to the curb and a white female officer ordered the girls to get in. They explained that they were out for lunch, which was permitted by their school, but the officer insisted. The police took the girls back to school, but Baysmore was shaken by the incident. Speaking to TIME, Baysmore recalls, “I kept thinking, ‘What if this is it for me?’”

Time

Some Republicans plan to challenge Biden’s Electoral College victory. Here’s what happened when Democrats challenged Bush

When Congress met to tally the results of the 2004 presidential election, then-Sen. Barbara Boxer stood alone on the Senate floor to object to President George W. Bush’s reelection victory in Ohio over Democrat John Kerry, forcing the House and Senate to vote for only the second time in a century on whether to reject a state’s Electoral College votes.

It’s the same scenario that could play out next month with President Donald Trump publicly urging his supporters in Congress to object to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in battleground states that expanded mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN

Coronavirus Wisconsin: Experts say experience convinced Midwest of COVID-19 dangers

As much of the country experiences spiking virus rates, a reprieve from a devastating surge of the coronavirus in the Upper Midwest has given cautious relief to health officials, though they worry that infections remain rampant and holiday gatherings could reignite the worst outbreaks of the pandemic.

States in the northern stretches of the Midwest and Great Plains saw the nation’s worst rates of coronavirus infections in the weeks before Thanksgiving, stretching hospitals beyond capacity and leading to states such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin reporting some of the nation’s highest deaths per capita during November.

But over the last two weeks, those states have seen their average daily cases drop, with decreases ranging from 20% in Iowa to as much as 66% in North Dakota, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. Since the middle of November, the entire region has returned to levels similar to those seen in October.

“We’re in a place where we’ve controlled the fire, but it would be very easy for it to flare up again if conditions were right,” said Ryan Demmer, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

For a region that was a harbinger of the virus waves that now plague much of the country, the positive direction in the Midwest offers hope that people can rally to take virus precautions seriously as they await vaccines during what experts think will be the final months of the pandemic.

ABC 7 Chicago