You are browsing the archive for 2021 January 01.

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Mitt Romney calls the federal government's failure on COVID vaccine distribution 'incomprehensible'

January 1, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Unlike many other Republicans, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has not downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic — and now, the conservative senator is stressing that the new coronavirus vaccines need to be distributed much more quickly.

In an official statement posted on his website on New Year’s Day, Romney explained, “Unlike the development of the vaccines, the vaccination process itself is falling behind. It was unrealistic to assume that the health care workers already overburdened with COVID care could take on a massive vaccination program. So too is the claim that CVS and Walgreens will save the day: they don’t have excess personnel available to inoculate millions of Americans. Nor are they equipped to deal with the rare but serious reactions which may occur. Doctor offices are well-suited, but the rate of patient throughput in doctor offices is predictably slow.”

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and others comes at a time when the pandemic is raging all over the United States. And in his statement, Romney expressed his desire to see Americans vaccinated sooner rather than later.

“That comprehensive vaccination plans have not been developed at the federal level and sent to the states as models is as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable,” Romney complained. “I have experience organizing a major logistical event but nothing on the scale of what is called for today. Nor do I have any relevant medical or public health experience. But I know that when something isn’t working, you need to acknowledge reality and develop a plan — particularly when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.”

President Donald Trump, as he has previously during the pandemic, tried to avoid taking responsibility for the failures in vaccine distribution — which he previously promised could happen immediately — by blaming the states.

Romney went on offer some suggestions.

“First, call on people who have carried out widespread vaccination programs elsewhere or in the past,” the senator wrote. “Learn from their experience. Second, enlist every medical professional, retired or active, who is not currently engaged in the delivery of care. This could include veterinarians, combat medics and corpsmen, medical students, EMS professionals, first responders, and many …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Wisconsin pharmacist arrested for allegedly destroying over 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses

January 1, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

At a time when as many Americans as possible need to be vaccinated for COVID-19, a Milwaukee-based pharmacist has been arrested and accused of intentionally destroying more than 500 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.

The pharmacist’s arrest was confirmed by police officials in Grafton, Wisconsin, according to National Public Radio. The charges the person is facing include criminal damage to property and endangering public safety.

The Aurora Medical Center reported, in late December, that vials containing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine disappeared from a pharmacy refrigerator and were left out overnight — which made them unusable, as the vaccine needs to be stored in cold temperatures. At first, the Aurora Medical Center believed that the vaccine doses were destroyed because of a simple mistake. But on Wednesday night, the Center said that the person who destroyed the doses “acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.” And the Grafton Police Department officials said that the pharmacist who was arrested admitted “to intentionally removing the vaccine, knowing that if not properly stored, the vaccine would be ineffective.”

NPR reporter Vanessa Romo explains, “During a teleconference Thursday, Chief Aurora Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr told reporters that the former employee deliberately removed the vials from refrigeration on two separate occasions — on December 24 overnight, then returning them to proper storage, and then again on December 25 into Saturday morning.”

The Aurora Medical Center, in an official statement, said, “”We are more than disappointed that this individual’s actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine. This was a violation of our core values, and the individual is no longer employed by us.”

The center, according to NBC News, has vaccinated more than 21,000 health workers so far.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Disturbing report finds concerns that some members of the Secret Service are 'politically aligned' with Trump

January 1, 2021 in Blogs

By Hunter

The Washington Post is reporting that there are going to be some changes to the Secret Service’s presidential security detail in the Joe Biden administration. This is not unusual in itself, but the Post says the changes come “amid concerns from Biden allies that some current members were politically aligned with President Trump.”

This is an unpleasant story in every direction. It may be unfairly maligning professionals in a deadly dangerous job. It may not be unfair, and there may truly be issues within the agency that justify what nervous Biden allies fear.

It has been difficult to interpret the behavior of Trump’s own Secret Service detail these last few years. Some members have been quick to bend to Trump’s insistence that those around him not wear masks during the pandemic. There has been no apparent pushback even as Trump has repeatedly infected members of his own security teams forced to attend plainly unsafe rallies and photo ops. You can brush much of this aside as enforced neutrality even in the face of danger, but then again: Despite the seemingly absolute necessity of the agency remaining politically neutral, a member of the service tapped by Trump for a top White House political position—a remarkable situation to begin with—is now being allowed to return to the Secret Service despite taking the most partisan possible of career shifts. That agent, Trump White House deputy chief of staff Anthony Ornato, will not be returning to help guard Biden. But he will be returning to a posh position at the agency’s training center, reports the Post.

There’s no word on whether the new curriculum will include how to organize events that expose your ex-colleagues to a deadly disease because the president got bored with safety measures, but it seems like it would come up. You can just return from that to a top job within the agency? Really? Huh.

In any event, Biden’s security detail is going to feature some of the same faces that once guarded Biden as vice president, said to be ones Biden “knows well.” But it will also by necessity feature some of the same faces that have guarded Trump, and … boy, it’s hard to know how to feel about that.

On one hand, these are people who have undoubtably watched Trump do or attempt crimes and have done nothing about it, so they take their jobs …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump lashes out at Senate Republicans — just when they need him the most

January 1, 2021 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

President Donald Trump fumed on Friday after the Senate voted by a wide margin to override his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, the legislation that funds the Pentagon.

While Trump has usually touted his push for increased funding of the military, he decided to use the transition period as an opportunity to block the $740 billion bill as leverage to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The provision protects online platforms from liability for posts by users, and the right wing has — for reasons that are not entirely clear — latched on to the idea that repealing it will address their major grievances with tech companies.

But the Senate wasn’t on board with this idea, especially when attached to the NDAA, and it voted 81-13 to override Trump’s veto. Section 230 remains in effect. While a few of those voting against the override were allies of the president, including Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, others were Democrats, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Cory Booker of New Jersey who opposed the bill for their own reasons.

Trump made his dissatisfaction with the GOP senators in particular known on Twitter:

It was particularly notable that Trump referred to “Our Republican Senate,” since partisan control of the Senate is up for grabs in next week’s Georgia runoff election.

Republicans are desperate to hold on to the two seats occupied by Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, but they face a tight challenge from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. If Democrats win, they’ll have a narrow majority in the Senate and trifecta control of the federal government. Democrats appear to be performing well in the early Georgia voting, which means Republicans will have to make up for the difference with Election Day voting on Jan. 5. That’s certainly possible — the state was essentially a dead heat in the general election, with Biden only barely eking out a win over Trump. Under normal circumstances, Republicans would be favored to win in the runoffs.

But this year has been full of surprises. The most notable of which in this case is that control of the Senate …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'The dumbest thing imaginable': New report details how Trump shot himself in the foot in the 2020 race

January 1, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Some pundits have speculated that if President Donald Trump hadn’t downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, there would have been a rally-around-the-president effect — possibly helping him win reelection. But instead, millions of voters went to the polls believing that Trump was asleep at the wheel during a national crisis. The New York Times, in an article published on New Year’s Day, takes an in-depth look at Trump’s coronavirus response in the months leading up to the 2020 election and the ways in the president sabotaged his own reelection prospects.

The article was written by five reporters (Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Noah Weiland, Sharon LaFraniere and Mark Mazzetti) and examines some of Trump’s many coronavirus blunders during the summer and early autumn. Discouraging mask wearing, according to the journalists, was one of the worst.

“Efforts by his aides to persuade him to promote mask wearing, among the simplest and most effective ways to curb the spread of the disease, were derailed by his conviction that his political base would rebel against anything that would smack of limiting their personal freedom,” they note. “Even his own campaign’s polling data to the contrary could not sway him.”

A former White House senior adviser, quoted anonymously, told the Times, “Making masks a culture war issue was the dumbest thing imaginable.”

Other missteps on Trump’s part, the journalists explain, ranged from making Dr. Scott Atlas the dominant voice on his White House coronavirus task force to marginalizing Dr. Deborah Birx, a well-respected medical expert. Atlas, according to the Times, did nothing but make Trump look bad.

“(Atlas’) theories, some of which scientists viewed as bordering on the crackpot, were exactly what the president wanted to hear — the virus is overblown, the number of deaths is exaggerated, testing is overrated, lockdowns do more harm than good,” they explain.

Trump himself was hospitalized with COVID-19 in early October, and according to the Times, his actions after being discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center also hurt him politically.

“His own bout with COVID-19 in early October left him extremely ill and dependent on care and drugs not available to most Americans, including a still-experimental monoclonal antibody treatment — and he saw firsthand how the disease coursed through the White House and some of his close allies,” the Times reporters recall. “Yet his instinct was to treat that experience not as a learning moment or an …read more

Source: ALTERNET