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California effort to recall Gavin Newsom gets needed signatures to make ballot – as it happened

california-effort-to-recall-gavin-newsom-gets-needed-signatures-to-make-ballot-–-as-it-happened

Evening summary

We’re wrapping up our live US politics coverage for today. Here’s an updated summary of key developments:

  • Organizers of the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The recall election targeting the Democrat could cost $400m, according to estimates from local officials.
  • After years of unheeded warnings about white supremacists and other extremist groups operating within US law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security will scrutinize whether any its own 240,000 employees have ties to extremist groups.
  • After announcing a federal investigation of Minneapolis police last week, the US Department of Justice will also investigate the Louisville police department, citing the Breonna Taylor case.
  • “America is at a crossroads with policing. We just happened to be the city we’re talking about here today,” Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said, arguing that residents and police officers should be excited about the federal investigation into whether the police been systematically violating citizens’ rights.
  • Louisville’s police chief Erika Shields added that the effort to recruit new police officers was difficult because “numerous self-inflicted wounds that have made our product unappealing, period” and “We have to rebrand our product.”

  • Lawyers representing the family of Andrew Brown, a Black man killed last week by police in North Carolina, accused authorities of “hiding” video evidence of “an execution” after relatives were shown only a 20-second clip of the incident.
  • The US will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine internationally. The Biden administration has been under pressure to share doses contracted to the US for weeks, as the country now has more than enough vaccine for every eligible American older than 16.
  • The news is a bright spot in a worsening pandemic in India. The country has seen the worst peak of Covid-19 cases in recent days, as health authorities documenting up to 350,000 new cases of per day.
  • The US Census will reapportion seats in the US House of Representatives. Six states gained at least one seat, and seven states lost one.
  • The supreme court agreed to take up what could be the most consequential gun rights case in more than a decade. A hearing is scheduled for October. The court’s ruling in the case could further expand the scope of Second Amendment protections for gun ownership and make some types of existing gun control laws unconstitutional.

More on the Department of Homeland Security’s search for extremists in its ranks

Zolan Kanno-Youngs of the New York Times has more details on what the Department of Homeland Security will do to search for white supremacists and other domestic extremists inside the department.

  • A team of senior officials will determine whether “extremist ideology is prevalent” within the Border Patrol, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service and the Coast Guard.
  • That’s a big job, the Times notes: DHS has more than 240,000 employees.
  • A former Customs and Border Patrol commissioner told the Times the search for extremists inside would be “pretty tricky” because many DHS employees communicate via private social media pages and chatrooms.

Sahil Kapur
(@sahilkapur)

“The Department of Homeland Security will undergo an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism in its ranks as part of a larger effort to combat extremist ideology in the federal government,” NYT’s ⁦@KannoYoungs⁩ reports. https://t.co/R1KGEHbFty

April 26, 2021

Updated

Rick Santorum comments prompt scrutiny of CNN’s coverage of Indigenous people

The former US senator Rick Santorum has sparked outrage among Native Americans, and prompted calls for his firing as a CNN commentator, by telling a rightwing students’ conference that European colonists who came to America “birthed a nation from nothing”.

On Monday, the Native American Journalists Association cautioned Native American and Alaska Native reporters from working with, or applying for jobs, at CNN in the wake of continued racist comments and insensitive reporting directed at Indigenous people.

Last week, a CNN host incorrectly identified Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, as a white woman. The network has yet to correct its mistake.

The Cherokee writer Rebecca Nagle pointed to CNN’s lack of Native American commentators, while giving a platform to Santorum, who has previously made offensive and false claims about other minority communities.

In a statement, the National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s largest organization representing American Indian and Alaska Native groups, criticized the network.

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” Fawn Sharp, the group’s president, said.

Read the full story here:

Recall election could cost Californians $400m

How much is the effort to remove a sitting governor worth?

In California, the effort to recall Gavin Newsom may cost $18 per registered voter, or a total of $400m, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing local officials across the state.

John Myers
(@johnmyers)

NEW: California local elections officials estimate the cost of conducting the @GavinNewsom recall at $400 million. More in this morning’s politics newsletter 👇 https://t.co/4HZJSZuuJo

April 26, 2021

Updated

The effort to recall the California governor Gavin Newsom has traction. What does that mean?

The California secretary of state’s office just announced today that the organizers of the effort to recall Gavin Newsom have collected enough valid signatures to get the recall on the ballot this fall.

This does not come as a surprise: political analysts already dubbed the recall election as basically inevitable.

My colleague Maanvi Singh wrote an in-depth analysis of the recall effort last month:


Capitalizing on the growing frustrations of economically devastated, pandemic-fatigued residents, Newsom’s fiercest critics have mounted a recall campaign and are prepared to submit, by Wednesday, the requisite 1.5m voter signatures to trigger the vote. The campaign’s organizers say they have already found more than enough backers, and they have collected hefty checks from business developers, venture capitalists and Trump loyalists…

Republicans had already tried and failed five times to get Newsom recalled, when their sixth try, led by the retired sheriff’s deputy Orrin Heatlie, began to gain momentum last year…. Recallers were able to rally an anti-lockdown base and win over other Californians struggling to cope with the pandemic’s protracted, devastating economic toll. It didn’t help Newsom’s case that around the same time, the governor met up with a dozen of his closest friends and lobbyists for a lavish dinner at Napa’s French Laundry restaurant.

Read the full analysis here:

Updated

Recall effort against the California governor Gavin Newsom will go to voters

Organizers of the recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, the Associated Press reports.

The California secretary of state’s office announced Monday that more than 1.6m signatures had been verified, about 100,000 more than needed to force a vote on the first-term Democrat.

Krysta Fauria
(@krystafauria)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California election officials: Recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom has enough valid signatures to get on ballot.

April 26, 2021

An election is likely in the fall where voters would face two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him? The votes on the second question will only be counted if more than half say yes to the first.

Last week, Caitlyn Jenner joined the list of candidates running to replace Newsom.

In 2003, voters recalled Democrat Gray Davis and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Updated

Supreme court case could massively expand the scope of the second amendment

The National Rifle Association’s investment in backing Donald Trump in 2016 was followed by Trump’s appointment of new conservative, pro-gun majority on the supreme court.

And that new supreme court may bring the struggling gun rights group a massive victory next year: a ruling in a case that the NRA hopes will massively expand the scope of Americans’ gun rights – and make certain types of gun control laws unconstitutional.

NRA
(@NRA)

It is hard to overstate how important this case is. The decision will affect the laws in many states that currently restrict carrying a firearm outside of the home. https://t.co/3GLoPs0Qr1

April 26, 2021

After more than a decade of staying away from second amendment cases, the supreme court agreed to hear a challenge backed by the National Rifle Association to New York state’s restrictions on people carrying concealed handguns in public, Reuters reports.

Some key details, from Reuters:

  • The lawsuit seeks an unfettered right to carry concealed handguns in public. The justices will hear the case during their next term, which begins in October, with a ruling due by the end of June 2022.
  • The New York case centers on a state law that requires a showing of “proper cause” for carrying concealed handguns. Under it, residents may obtain licenses restricted to hunting and target practice, or if they hold jobs such as a bank messenger or correctional officer. To carry a concealed handgun without restriction, applicants must convince a firearms licensing officer that they have an actual, rather than speculative, need for self-defense.
  • The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and two of its members, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, sued in federal court. The men said they do not face any unique danger but want carry a handgun for self-defense.
  • A ruling invalidating New York’s law could imperil similar laws in other states setting criteria for a concealed-carry license. Seven other states and the District of Columbia impose restrictions that give authorities more discretion to deny concealed firearm permits.
  • Gun control advocates are concerned that the conservative justices could create a standard for gun control that could imperil existing policies at the state level including expanded criminal background checks for gun buyers and “red flag” laws targeting the firearms of people deemed dangerous by the courts.

Updated

West Virginia offers $100 savings bonds to young people who get vaccinated

Across the country, local officials are trying to encourage younger people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

West Virginia’s governor is offering a $100 monetary incentive, paid for with federal Cares Act funding, WTAP reports.

Ana Cabrera
(@AnaCabrera)

NEW: WV Gov. Justice announces $100 savings bonds for young people — ages 16 to 35 — who get vaccinated

April 26, 2021

It’s a more substantive offer to young people than the one from officials in New Haven, Connecticut, who posted on Instagram this morning that getting vaccinated “automatically makes you prom king and queen” and “this year at prom, there’s nothing cooler than being vaccinated”.

Lois Beckett
(@loisbeckett)

please let me know when you see a better attempt to convince teenagers to get vaccinated than…this pic.twitter.com/omtQwr3DtW

April 26, 2021

Updated

Joanna Walters

‘We have to rebrand our product.’ Louisville chief says US policing needs rebrand

Erika Shields, the chief of the Louisville metro police department, said that recruiting and hiring new police officers was “extremely challenging” nationwide because of “numerous self-inflicted wounds that have made our product unappealing, period”.

“We have to rebrand our product,” Shields said.

Shields said that the city would be “pushing for more resources, more training, more tools other than lethal force to help our officers navigate the numerous situations they encounter day in and day out”.

David James, the Louisville metro council president, indicated that there had to be some fundamental changes to police culture in the LMPD.

“Our citizens want to have the best police department in the country, but I think there has to be some cultural change for that to happen,” he said.

Read the full story:

Updated

Vincent Ni

Did Pete Buttigieg just reveal something about the future of Tiktok in the US?

Under the Trump administration, the future of the popular Chinese video-sharing app Tiktok was in question, with Trump trying to ban it.

Now, as the Guardian’s China affairs correspondent Vincent Ni notes, a tweet by one of Biden’s cabinet secretaries Pete Buttigieg might indicate a very different relationship between Tiktok and the Biden administration.

On Monday, Buttigieg tweeted that “Today at 8pm ET, I’m joining @YahooNews on TikTok to answer your questions about the future of transportation. Watch live!”

Secretary Pete Buttigieg
(@SecretaryPete)

Today at 8pm ET, I’m joining @YahooNews on TikTok to answer your questions about the future of transportation. Watch live! pic.twitter.com/Qp2bCymxVS

April 26, 2021

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki also appeared on Tiktok, in an interview where she spoke about America’s gun control and police reform.

Under Donald Trump, Tiktok – along with another Chinese app Wechat – was considered a threat to America’s national security, foreign policy and economy. The Chinese companies have always denied the accusations, but Trump had sought to ban the apps and force them to be sold to American owners.

But in February, the Biden administration paused the legal action against TikTok and WeChat, raising hopes that the new administration may eventually reverse the Trump-era decision.

Tiktok has a global user base of more than 800 million – and one-eighth of them are based in the United States.

Biden’s review is still under way. When asked about Biden’s trade policy towards China, commerce secretary Gina Raimondo responded early this month: “what we do on offense is more important than what we do on defense.”

This post has been updated.

Updated

DHS to review ‘possible domestic violent extremism within its ranks’

This is Lois Beckett, picking up our live US politics coverage from our west coast office.

After years of warnings about white supremacists and other extremist groups operating within US law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security will scrutinize whether any its own employees have ties to extremist groups, Reuters reports.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will initiate an internal review of possible domestic violent extremism within its ranks, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Monday.

A group of senior DHS officials “will immediately begin a comprehensive review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS,” the department said in a news release.

President Joe Biden singled out U.S. immigration enforcement agencies in his first budget proposal released earlier this month, calling for funding to investigate complaints of white supremacist beliefs at the agencies. The White House did not say what prompted the request.

Mayorkas said in a statement on Monday that domestic violent extremism “poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today,” adding such acts “will not be tolerated.”

Updated

‘America is at a crossroads with policing,’ Louisville mayor says

“America is at a crossroads with policing. We just happened to be the city we’re talking about here today.”

That was Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, reacting to the announcement today that the Justice Department is investigating whether his city’s police department systematically violates citizens’ rights.

The investigation, which comes more than a year after 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot to death by police in her Louisville home in the middle of the night, was announced less than a week after the Justice Department made public a similar investigation into patterns of unconstitutional policing in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered by a city police officer last May.

Fischer, the Louisville mayor, argued that the news of a major federal investigation into a potential pattern of unconstitutional behavior by the Louisville Police Department was actually “a really exciting, positive thing”.

“It seems like almost every newscast that you’re on there’s something about the police and the community not working right,” he said. “I know that our police force, our police members, they don’t want that. They want change. They want to see the community welcoming their work.”

Mayor Greg Fischer
(@louisvillemayor)

I strongly welcome the announcement made by Attorney General Garland of a Patterns and Practice investigation into @LMPD. My full statement: https://t.co/WNCgBuBgwm

April 26, 2021

Updated

The US pledged support to India, amid a worsening pandemic

  • The US will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine internationally. The Biden administration has been under pressure to share doses contracted to the US for weeks, as the country now has more than enough vaccine for every eligible American older than 16.
  • The news is a bright spot in a worsening pandemic in India. The country has seen the worst peak of Covid-19 cases in recent days, as health authorities documenting up to 350,000 new cases of per day.
  • The US Census will reapportion seats in the US House of Representatives. Six states gained at least one seat, and seven states lost one.
  • The US Department of Justice will investigate the Louisville police department, citing the Breonna Taylor case.
  • Lastly, the supreme court agreed to take up what could be the most consequential gun rights case in more than a decade. A hearing is scheduled for October.

And that’s it for me. I’m passing off to my colleague Lois Beckett, who will guide you through this afternoon.

Updated

A thought on how the decennial US census has shifted political power over time:

Jonathan Martin
(@jmartNYT)

After the 1930 census, NY had 45 House seats, PA had 34 and IL 27

Less than a century later, NY will have 26, PA 17 and IL 17

But WV has it worse — they’ll have gone from 6 to 2

April 26, 2021

And to how conducting a census during a global pandemic can have repercussions for years to come:

David H. Montgomery
(@dhmontgomery)

So here’s a morbid thought: the Census is a count of population as of April 1, 2020.

By that date, New York had reported 447 #COVID19 deaths in the U.S.’s first big wave.

As of then, Minnesota had 17 #COVID19 deaths.

Minnesota got a congressional seat over NY by 89 people.

April 26, 2021

House of Representatives to reallocate seats with results of US Census

Six states will gain additional seats in the US House because of population shifts over the last decade, the US Census Bureau announced Monday. Seven states will lose one congressional seat.

Texas will gain two additional seats in Congress, the Bureau said Monday. Colorado, Montana, Oregon, North Carolina, and Florida will also gain a congressional seat.

Seven states will lose one congressional seat. Those states are: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

The US constitution requires the federal government to take a census of the population every 10 years. That tally is used to allocate seats in the US House and determine how almost $1.5tn in federal dollars are allocated.

The shift of seven seats among 13 states was the smallest shift since 1941, said Ron Jarmin, the acting director of the US census bureau.

Martin Pengelly

The Fox News anchor John Roberts has “clarified” a report last week which implied Joe Biden wanted to cut Americans’ consumption of red meat, as part of his efforts to combat climate change.

“On Friday,” Roberts said in filmed remarks sent to reporters, “we told you about a study from the University of Michigan to give some perspective on President Biden’s ambitious climate change goals. That research from 2020 found that cutting back how much red meat people eat would have a drastic impact on harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“The data was accurate, but a graphic and the script incorrectly implied it was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case.”

Paging Larry Kudlow, of Fox Business:

The former Republican senator Rick Santorum has sparked outrage among Native Americans, and prompted calls for his dismissal as a CNN political commentator, by telling a rightwing students’ conference European colonists who came to America “birthed a nation from nothing”.

Rick Santorum.

Rick Santorum. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

“There was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” Santorum told the Young America Foundation in remarks shared by the group on YouTube.

“We came here and created a blank slate, we birthed a nation from nothing,” said the former Pennsylvania senator, a two-time failed candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Santorum’s comments, effectively dismissing the millenniums-long presence of Native Americans and the genocide inflicted upon them, angered many.

“The erasure of Native people and histories, which existed before and survived in spite of a white supremacist empire, is a foundational sin of a make-believe nation,” the activist Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe and host of the Red Nation podcast, said on Twitter.

Martin Pengelly

Speaking of the Capitol attack and its fallout, as I was earlier regarding Josh Hawley, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy is still on a bit of a sticky wicket (Britishism) over what was said when he called Donald Trump on 6 January and asked him to call his supporters off.

Kevin McCarthy.

Kevin McCarthy. Photograph: Lenin Nolly/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

On Fox News Sunday, the Republican dodged twice when asked if Trump told him, as reported by a Republican congresswoman: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people were more upset about the election than you are.”

Chris Wallace’s questions concerned Trump’s refusal to act but McCarthy’s refusal to answer was widely noted – and mentioned in a profile in the New York Times.

“He could change the whole course of history,” McCarthy told the paper, discussing Trump’s sway on the party. “This is the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk.”

McCarthy is seeking to keep his balance and become House Speaker in 2022 but critics say he is not doing so elegantly, given his support for Trump’s lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was caused by electoral fraud.

Speaking to the Times, McCarthy said Trump “goes up and down with his anger. He’s mad at everybody one day. He’s mad at me one day.”

In one of the great profile payoffs, meanwhile, author Mark Leibovich wrote that “whenever the former president’s name came up in these interviews, Mr McCarthy would lower his voice and speak haltingly, wary of not casting Mr Trump in a way that might upset him.

‘Is this story going to be all about Trump?’ Mr McCarthy asked, after back-to-back questions on him. He then paused, seemingly bracing for a ceiling fan to drop on his head.”

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Politics

Final victim of Florida condo collapse identified by relative

final-victim-of-florida-condo-collapse-identified-by-relative

The final victim of the condo building collapse in Florida has been identified, a relative said Monday, more than a month after the middle-of-the-night catastrophe that ultimately claimed 98 lives.

Estelle Hedaya, an outgoing 54-year-old with a love of travel, was the last victim identified, ending what her relatives described as a torturous four-week wait.

Her younger brother, Ikey Hedaya, confirmed the identification to the Associated Press. The news comes just days after rescuers officially concluded the painstaking and emotionally heavy task of removing layers of dangerous debris and pulling out dozens of bodies.

“She always mentioned God anytime she was struggling with anything,” he said. “She had reached a different level spiritually, which allowed her to excel in all other areas.”

Her brother said he is drawing strength from God, just as he’d seen his sister do in troubling times. A funeral was scheduled for Tuesday.

The site of the 24 June collapse at the oceanside Champlain Towers South has been mostly swept flat, the rubble moved to a Miami warehouse. Although forensic scientists are still at work, including examining the debris at the warehouse, authorities said there are no more bodies to be found where the building once stood.

In the end, crews found no evidence that anyone who was found dead had survived the initial collapse, fire chief Alan Cominsky has said.

Search teams spent weeks battling the hazards of the rubble, including an unstable portion of the building that teetered above, a recurring fire and Florida’s stifling summer heat and thunderstorms. They went through more than 14,000 tons of broken concrete and rebar before finally declaring the mission complete.

Miami-Dade fire rescue’s urban search-and-rescue team pulled away from the site Friday in a convoy of firetrucks and other vehicles, slowly driving to their headquarters. The fire chief saluted their bravery, saying they had worked 12-hour shifts while camping out at the site and also dealing with the heavy emotional burden.

Estelle Hedaya.
Estelle Hedaya. Photograph: AP

Linda March, a 58 year-old attorney and fellow former New Yorker, was close friends with Hedaya. Oddly the two were among the last three victims to be identified, along with 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova of Canada.

Leah Sutton, who knew Hedaya since birth and considered herself a second mother to her, said she and March were both “forces to be reckoned with”.

“My two beautiful amazing fearless friends saved for last, have to believe there was a reason for them to be last,” she said Monday. “Estelle’s love of God was unbelievable and unwavering.”

The dead included members of the area’s large Orthodox Jewish community, the sister of Paraguay’s first lady, her family and their nanny, along with an entire family of four that included a local salesman, his wife and their two young daughters, four and 11, who were buried in the same coffin.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear what will happen at the collapse site. A judge presiding over several lawsuits filed in the collapse aftermath wants the property sold at market rates, which would bring in an estimated $100m or more. Some condo owners want to rebuild, and others say a memorial should be erected to remember the dead.

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California and New York City to mandate vaccine for government workers

california-and-new-york-city-to-mandate-vaccine-for-government-workers

California and New York City announced Monday that they would require all government employees to get the coronavirus vaccine or face weekly Covid-19 testing, and the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first major federal agency to require healthcare workers to receive the shot.

Meanwhile, in a possible sign that increasingly dire health warnings are getting through to more Americans, vaccination rates began to creep up again, offering hope that people who have previously been reluctant to receive the shot may finally be getting inoculated.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all municipal workers – including teachers and police officers – will be required to get vaccinated by mid-September or face weekly Covid-19 testing, making the city one of the largest employers in the US to take such action.

“Let’s be clear about why this is so important: this is about our recovery,” de Blasio said.

California said it will similarly require proof of vaccination or weekly testing for all state workers and healthcare employees starting next month.

The move comes amid a surge in cases in California, which have risen 218% over the last two weeks, while hospitalizations are up 62%, according to New York Times data. In the month since California lifted all Covid safety restrictions for its “grand reopening”, the state capitol has reinstated a mask requirement after several aides contracted Covid-19, and Los Angeles county is again requiring mask-wearing indoors, even for people who are fully vaccinated. The San Francisco Bar Alliance, which represents almost 500 bars, is recommending that members require guests to show proof of vaccination to enter the establishments.

California saw a 16% increase in vaccinations over last week and is one of the country’s most vaccinated states with 77% of adults having received at least one vaccine dose, but there are still plenty of unprotected people to transmit the virus, experts say.

“Primarily, we’re seeing infections in the unvaccinated,” said George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

The VA’s move came on a day when nearly 60 leading medical and healthcare organizations issued a call through the American Medical Association for health care facilities to require their workers to get vaccinated.

“I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” Veterans affairs secretary Denis McDonough told the New York Times.

The mayor of New York City has announced all municipal workers will be required to get vaccinated or face weekly testing.
The mayor of New York City has announced all municipal workers will be required to get vaccinated or face weekly testing. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Elsewhere, St Louis became the second major city to mandate that face masks be worn indoors, regardless of vaccination status, joining Los Angeles in re-imposing the orders.

“For those who are vaccinated, this may feel like punishment, punishment for doing the right thing,” St Louis county executive Sam Page, a Democrat, said Monday. “I’ve heard that, and I feel that frustration.”

Dr Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, applauded the moves but called on President Joe Biden to “lead by example” and impose similar mandates on federal employees and in public venues where the government has jurisdiction, like on planes, trains and government buildings.

She also said all hospitals and nursing homes need to require all employees get vaccinated.

“We need vaccine mandates and vaccine verification,” Wen said. “We’re well past the time for the Biden administration to get on board with this. What we’re doing is not working. Doing more of the same is not the answer here.”

The White House has so far deferred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on masking guidance, which recommends that those who are unvaccinated wear masks indoors. But officials acknowledged over the weekend that they are considering changing that guidance and recommending that the vaccinated also wear masks indoors.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

Wen, who is also an emergency physician and public professor at George Washington University, said public health experts have been worrying for months about this very scenario.

“We were worried the honor system would not work, the unvaccinated would be behaving as if they’re vaccinated and people would think the pandemic is over,” she said. “That’s precisely what has happened, and it’s incredibly frustrating.”

Dr Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist Yale’s School of Public Health, said the U.S. should not have been caught off guard after watching the Delta variant ravage India in May and then land in the United Kingdom, Israel and other highly vaccinated nations with force last month.

“We have learned multiple times to not take anything for granted with CovidO,” he said.

The US is around 67% immune from Covid-19 when prior infections are factored, but it will need to get closer to 85% to crush the resurgent virus, said Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.

“So we need a lot more vaccinations. Or a lot more infections,” he tweeted Sunday.

Jha said the nation has to brace for another rough few months. The disease has killed almost 611,000 people in the US since the pandemic started last year.

Vaccinations ticked up over the weekend, with about 657,000 vaccines reported administered Saturday and nearly 780,000 on Sunday, according to CDC data. The seven-day rolling average on Sunday was about 583,000 vaccinations a day, up from about 525,000 a week prior.

A mobile vaccine clinic in Los Angeles, California.
A mobile vaccine clinic in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Étienne Laurent/EPA

Public health experts on Monday said the uptick in vaccinations is encouraging but warned that it’s far too early to say if the numbers mean that millions of unvaccinated people are finally beginning to overcome their reticence.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the country shot up over the past two weeks, from more than 19,000 on 11 July to nearly 52,000 on 25 July , according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Some prominent conservative and Republican voices that have spent months casting doubt on the vaccination effort have recently started sounding a different tune.

House minority whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was among the members of the GOP Doctors Caucus who held a press conference at the Capitol late last week imploring their constituents to lay lingering doubts aside.

A week ago, on 19 July, Fox News host Sean Hannity declared: “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccinations.”

And in Tennessee, the brother of a popular local conservative radio host who had been a vaccine skeptic urged listeners to get vaccinated as his brother was in critical care in the hospital battling Covid-19.

“For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories,’” Mark Valentine said of his brother, Phil Valentine, Thursday on WWTN-FM in Nashville.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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Arizona secretary of state tells Trump before election lie rally: get over it

arizona-secretary-of-state-tells-trump-before-election-lie-rally:-get-over-it

Arizona’s secretary of state had a message for Donald Trump before he appeared in Phoenix on Saturday: “Take your loss and accept it and move on.”

Trump was set to speak at an event organised by Turning Point Action, a conservative group, and called the “Rally to Save Our Elections!”

Republicans in the most populous county in Arizona continue to pursue a controversial audit of ballots in an attempt to prove Trump’s claim that his loss to Joe Biden in the state, and nationally, was caused by widespread voter fraud. It was not.

Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, spoke to CNN on Friday. Asked what she wanted to tell Trump, she said: “Well, I mean, like most grownups, take your loss and accept it and move on … Nothing that’s going on here is going to change the outcome, and, really, this is nothing more than being a sore loser.”

Hobbs also said Trump’s appearance – like support for his lies from local Republican officials, office holders and congressional hopefuls lining up to speak at Saturday’s event – was dangerous.

“The bottom line is it doesn’t matter what he says or does,” she said. “Nothing is going to change the outcome of the 2020 election. But it also doesn’t change how dangerous this is.”

Trump’s lie about electoral fraud stoked the deadly attack on the US Capitol in Washington on 6 January this year. He retains power in the Republican party, which has swung behind him in seeking to obstruct investigations of the assault.

“The bottom line is that Arizonians are tired of being led by conspiracy theorists,” Hobbs said. “They don’t support this fake audit, and they’re ready for leaders who are going to put those partisan games aside and deal with real issues.”

Hobbs is hoping to become governor of Arizona. Midterm elections will also see a key Arizona Senate seat up for grabs again. Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and a prominent campaigner for gun control reform, won the seat on Biden’s coattails last year. But that was to complete a term and he must run again to secure a full six years in the seat.

On Friday, the former president blasted “Rinos”, or “Republicans in Name Only” whom he regards as insufficiently loyal. One GOP Arizona state senator offered a pithy reply.

“If he hadn’t started an insurrection in DC and gotten kicked off here,” Paul Boyer wrote on Twitter, “I could’ve responded directly to him. So there’s that.”

Trump said his remarks would be broadcast by networks including Newsmax and One America News, upstart rightwing operations which have sought to challenge Fox News on the right of the political spectrum.

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