Thursday, Sept. 16
THE WORLD TAKES A DELTA DIP, BUT U.S. STAYS ELEVATED The World Health Organization says global coronavirus cases have seen their “first substantial decline” in more than two months after the delta variant sparked widespread havoc, although cases in the U.S. remain high, notably among children.
The agency has called for all countries to inoculate 70% of their populations by mid-2022 to get the pandemic under control. Lower-income nations, however, are far behind, prompting concern that the virus could continue to mutate. [HuffPost]
AT LEAST 1 IN 500 AMERICANS DEAD Johns Hopkins University unveiled stark figures about the ongoing toll of the pandemic: 1 in 500 Americans have now died due to COVID-19. The death toll — officially at least 664,000 people — is likely much higher due to a lack of testing early on, and infection rates are still dramatically high even with vaccines widely available.
SPACE IS A VACATION NOW The future is now. SpaceX launched the first-ever passenger space flight around the world on Wednesday, with a crew of four set to circle the globe for the next three days. The SpaceX Dragon capsule will eventually splash down off the Florida coast, marking a historic moment for rich space tourists and their friends as the star race continues. [HuffPost]
THREE DEMS BOW TO PHARMA ON DRUG PRICES, JOINING GOP Three House Democrats who voted with Republicans against prescription drug-pricing legislation are putting President Joe Biden’s entire budget reconciliation package in jeopardy, writes Daniel Marans. The mutiny shows how the power of the drug industry outranks popular opinion. [HuffPost]
BIDEN’S BOOSTER PLAN UNSETTLED, 1 WEEK BEFORE ROLLOUT The Food and Drug Administration said the Pfizer vaccine remains an effective way to prevent severe cases of COVID-19 just days before a panel of experts is set to weigh if the agency should support a plan to roll out booster shots. Biden’s plan to give millions of Americans a third jab starting next week is under scrutiny after some top scientists questioned the need for an immediate booster program for the general public.
- Here’s what COVID nurses want you to know right now.
- Pope Francis is a little confused why people are still refusing to take COVID-19 vaccines.
- A hospital in Ottawa apologized after it accidentally leaked the names of staff members who haven’t been vaccinated.
- Experts predict how the delta variant will affect travel in the fall.
- Fox told employees it will enforce daily COVID-19 testing for anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated. More than 90% of employees at the company — which includes Fox News — have gotten jabbed.
OPALUMA RUPAUL IS READY FOR THE RUNWAY This new fly species has “legs for days” and shimmers like a rainbow, prompting a scientist to christen it Opaluma rupaul after the “Drag Race” host. “Naming a species is the first step to understanding and protecting them because otherwise they’re invisible to science,” entomologist Bryan Lessard said. [HuffPost]
CALIFORNIA POLS WANT TO CHANGE RECALL RULES Lawmakers in charge of election matters said they want to hold reform hearings after the state spent nearly $300 million on a recall effort that didn’t really do much. Gov. Gavin Newsom easily survived the challenge, and state senators said they’re ready to prevent expensive “gamesmanship of the rules” in the future. Lydia O’Connor has more details. [HuffPost]
GOP DEMANDS FOR FIRING GEN. MARK MILLEY PUT THE FOCUS ON TRUMP’S RIOT Top Republicans demanded the firing of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley for seeking to assure China that Donald Trump wouldn’t launch a nuclear attack after his election defeat. Biden welcomed the discussion, and press secretary Jen Psaki pointed out that Biden is “not fomenting an insurrection.” [HuffPost]
GOP WOLF KILLING PLANS BACKFIRE Red states advocating for the hunting and trapping of rebounding populations of grey wolves may have mucked up. Conservation groups filed a petition saying resurgent threats to wolf populations from humans should warrant the creatures being relisted as endangered. The Fish and Wildlife Service seemed to agree in an initial review Wednesday. [HuffPost]
OLYMPIC GYMNASTS SLAM FBI Decorated Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney castigated the FBI for its botched investigation into USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in a congressional hearing. The athletes said investigators were negligent in their duties, giving wrenching testimony in front of lawmakers. “To not indict these agents is a disservice to me and my teammates; it is a disservice to the system which was built to protect all of us from abuse,” Maroney said. [HuffPost]