Daily Digest: April 2, 2021
Confusing times, these.
These three stories were all on the SFGate homepage this afternoon:
• “California sets reopening date and guidelines for indoor concerts.” Key quote about the rule changes, which take effect April 15: “This news comes as cases in the Golden State continue drop to near record lows and reaches the 18 million mark in the number of residents who have received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The move is a sharp turnaround from the slow pace California has taken on lifting restrictions, and comes as the governor urges people to continue being vigilant about wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. To attend these events, people will be required to either be tested or show proof of full vaccination, the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. How many people can attend gatherings will depend on the county’s tier level.”
• “Santa Clara County warns of ‘worrying trend’ in COVID variants, advises against travel.” Key quote: “In a live press conference, (Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s health officer) urged residents to not act as if the pandemic is over. ‘We need people to just hold on a little bit longer,’ she said. ‘Keep wearing your mask. Delay your travel. Don’t indoor dine. Don’t go into indoor bars. Don’t host an indoor gathering at your home. Even if it’s allowed by the state rules, don’t do it. It’s not safe.’ Every variant of concern has been detected in the county and last week Santa Clara was the first county in the Bay Area to identify the variant dominant in Brazil.”
• “This Bay Area county could be bumped back to the purple tier.” Key quote: “Public health officials in Solano County are concerned about increasing COVID-19 cases and are warning that the county could move back from the red tier to the most restrictive purple tier, forcing many businesses to close indoor operations. ‘Too early to call it a surge now but that doesn’t mean it’s not the beginning of a surge; only time will tell,’ Bela Matyas, the county’s health officer told KRON. ‘We are now starting to get uncomfortably close to the level of the disease reported each day that would put us back in purple.'”
From the Independent
By Barbara Feder Ostrov, CalMatters
April 1, 2021
Health experts credit a massive nationwide campaign to vaccinate elderly and frail residents and their caregivers. About 87 percent of the 85,000 people who live […]
April 1, 2021
This week’s comics cover topics including cop culture; talented Black “sidekicks”; and the fate of Mittens the cat.
And Now, the News
• If you’re fully vaccinated, you now have the CDC’s blessing, sort of, to travel. But only sort of. As The Washington Post explains: “Federal health officials said fully vaccinated people may travel as evidence mounts of the shots’ effectiveness at helping to protect against coronavirus infections and their spread. … The agency updated its guidance because of several newly released studies documenting the strong real-world effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines, and the rapid pace of vaccinations, now close to 3 million people a day. On Friday, the United States surpassed the milestone of 100 million people getting at least one shot. But CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cautioned in a White House briefing Friday that while fully vaccinated people can now travel at low risk to themselves, ‘I would advocate against general travel overall. Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so.’”
• Major League Baseball surprised the heck out of everyone today by taking a stand and moving this year’s All-Star Game out of Georgia due to the state’s recently passed voter-suppression laws. The move upset the Atlanta Braves—the team expressed frustrations in a press release with a giant tomahawk on it, proving the continuing need for the word “oblivious” —and all sorts of conservatives, to nobody’s surprise, freaked out. Stacey Abrams, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, took a nuanced view: “Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former gubernatorial candidate, said she was ‘disappointed’ in MLB’s decision to move the game but proud of its stance on voting rights. State Republicans, she said, ‘traded economic opportunity for suppression.’ She urged events and productions to ‘come and speak out or stay and fight.’”
• An awful and baffling incident claimed the life of a U.S. Capitol Police offer today. According to NBC News: “A U.S. Capitol Police officer was killed and another injured after a man drove a car into a security barricade at the Capitol complex on Friday, acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said. The driver was shot after jumping out of the car with a knife and failing to respond to verbal commands and ‘lunging’ at the officers, Pittman said. The suspect was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead a short time later.”
• Closer to home, law enforcement is trying to figure out the motivations behind yet another mass shooting—this one on Wednesday evening in Orange. The Los Angeles Times sets the horrible scene: “The gunman knew his victims. He knew the office park—and how to trap them. He locked the gates to the complex with bike cables before he slipped inside a manufactured homes business called Unified Homes, backpack slung over his shoulder, gun in hand. That’s how police Thursday described the start of a shooting in Orange the night before that left four people, including a 9-year-old boy, dead.”
• If you went to a county facility for a COVID-19 test or vaccine and received a bill, take note. From the county news release: “Riverside University Health System Medical Center and Community Health Center’s patient accounts department has been notified of the COVID-19 vaccine and/or testing appointment billing error and wants to assure community members that all vaccinations and testing appointments are given at no cost to the community. On March 8 through March 22, some patients who received COVID-19 vaccinations/and or COVID-19 testing at the Riverside University Health System Medical Center, or at a Riverside University Health System’s Community Health Center, received bills for the service. Invoices were sent out to patients due to a system error. A total of 5,815 patients were impacted. On March 22, all erroneous charges have been removed, and affected patient’s accounts have been appropriately updated. Additionally, on March 22, the patients’ account department fixed the technical error, ceasing further impact on any future patients. … If a community member has received a bill and did not receive communication about it being corrected, please call the Riverside University Health System’s Customer Service Line at 951-486-5367, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 p.m.”
• March was a good month for jobs. CNBC says: “Job growth boomed in March at the fastest pace since last summer, as stronger economic growth and an aggressive vaccination effort contributed to a surge in hospitality and construction jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 916,000 for the month while the unemployment rate fell to 6%. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for an increase of 675,000 and an unemployment rate of 6%. The total was the highest since the 1.58 million added in August 2020.”
• Bleh. That’s my response to this New York Times lede: “The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that the Federal Communications Commission could relax rules limiting the number of newspapers, radio stations and television stations that a single entity may own in a given market. The decision is likely to prompt further consolidation among broadcast outlets, some of which say they need more freedom to address competition from internet and cable companies. Critics fear that media consolidation will limit the perspectives available to viewers.”
• Here are two related stories that you can bring up the next time someone tries to tell you what’s wrong with this country. First comes this, from The New York Times: “Just as the Biden administration is pushing to raise taxes on corporations, a new study finds that at least 55 of America’s largest paid no taxes last year on billions of dollars in profits. The sweeping tax bill passed in 2017 by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. But dozens of Fortune 500 companies were able to further shrink their tax bill—sometimes to zero—thanks to a range of legal deductions and exemptions that have become staples of the tax code, according to the analysis.”
• Next comes this piece in The Conversation, by a public policy lecturer from the University of Michigan: “President Joe Biden just proposed a roughly $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which he ambitiously compared to the interstate highway system and the space race. He aims to pay for it solely by taxing companies more, including the first increase in the corporate tax rate since the 1960s. Biden said he wants to increase the rate from 21% to 28%—which would still be below the 35% level it was at before the 2017 tax cut—and strengthen the global minimum tax to discourage multinational corporations from using tax havens. Together, he estimates it would raise the necessary funds to finance his plan over 15 years. ‘No one should be able to complain about’ raising the rate to 28%, Biden said in a speech announcing the plan. ‘It’s still lower than what that rate was between World War II and 2017.’ As an expert on tax policy, I believe he’s got a point.”
• And finally … I was again a guest on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast this week, with hosts John Taylor, Shann Carr and Brad Fuhr. Tune in to listen/watch me talk about the weird state of affairs in which our community finds itself these days. I only make a fool out of myself a little!
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