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Coronavirus

The Clash Over Testing Funds Between the White House and Senate GOP

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There’s a lot of tension between Senate Republicans and the White House on the issue of testing funds.

What We Know:

  • Senate GOP and the White House are clashing on whether there should be additional funding for COVID-19 testing in the next relief package. Including Democratic demand, it could increase to $2 trillion.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows want to keep the initial Republican offer to around $1 trillion and they disagree with including another $25 billion for COVID-19 because Congress appropriated $25 billion to states for testing in the $484 billion interim relief package Congress passed in April. Nearly $13 billion of that funding remains unspent.
  • Republican Senators like Roy Blunt (Mo.) do not agree with not increasing funding for testing. “I just think that’s wrong,” Blunt said. “We’re in the process of developing tests that would be easier to take and quicker responded to. If you’re going to get people back to school and back to work, having those kinds of tests is really important.”
  • According to a congressional official, the White House is concerned with keeping the initial Republican coronavirus relief proposal cost low while the Senate GOP’s main concern is with the virus and getting a handle on it because of the spikes that have been occurring in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, and Michigan.
  • “I think the straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is this is not going away,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky) said, referring to President Trump’s prediction that the virus is “going to disappear”.
  • Along with opposing new funding for testing, the White House also opposed new funding for the CDC to use for the vaccine distribution while Republican lawmakers think the opposite. However, administration officials oppose it because Trump has already agreed to funding for Operation Warp Speed, which is an interagency program that was created by the federal government to create and distribute the vaccination for COVID-19. Operation Warp Speed includes the CDC. Giving the CDC additional money would be paying for vaccine distribution twice. The CDC has already been given $7.5 billion from previous legislation and $5 billion of it is still unobligated.

Because testing is a major political and policy issue, Senate Republicans don’t want to lose their majority in the November elections. WIth the tension among Republicans, this may give Democrats leverage during the elections.

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I am a third-year Journalism major at Florida A&M University (Go Rattlers!), I am originally from Fort Lauderdale, FL, and I am an Intern at BNA. I previously wrote for the FAMUAN, Journey Magazine, and Society19, and am grateful to be writing for BNA, an experience I love and appreciate. I grew up listening to all kinds of music but mainly Gospel, Country, and Rock. One thing I can promise readers, I will continue to work hard to get the information you want and need out.

Coronavirus

France Imposes Earlier Curfew and Tightens Border Control

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France is preparing to tighten restrictions following an increase in coronavirus cases.

What We Know:

  • Last Thursday, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the country plans to strengthen border controls and bring forward its night curfew, from a previous 8 p.m. to now 6 p.m., in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

“We must do everything to prevent this variant from spreading and ensure that it does not become the dominant variant,” Castex said.

  • The new curfew will come into effect on Saturday, January 16th. Starting Monday, all people traveling to France from outside the European Union will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test and self-isolate for a week upon arrival. A new protocol for countries in the European Union will be worked on ahead of the European Summit approaching on Jan. 21st.
  • The Prime Minister assured that the uptick in cases would not require a complete shutdown of the country. However, if the epidemic worsens, the government will be swift to order a new shutdown. For now, the country is on track to administer more than 1 million COVID-19 shots by the end of the month.
  • According to U.S. News, France has the seventh-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world with nearly 70,000 deaths. The government is particularly worried by the more-transmissible coronavirus strain first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1% of new cases.

Like much of the rest of the world, the French government is trying its best to balance a surviving economy and a surviving population.

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Coronavirus

Disneyland Will Serve As A ‘Super’ Covid-19 Vaccination Site

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Disneyland in Anaheim, California will become a mass Covid vaccine distribution site, according to Orange County officials.

What We Know:

  • Disneyland Resort will become the first of five “super point-of-dispensing” (super POD) locations whose large capacity makes it possible to inoculate thousands of people every day. The decision came as the state reported over 30,000 new cases and 264 deaths on Monday.
  • Orange County supervisor, Doug Chaffee, said in a statement that super POD sites will be “absolutely critical in stopping this deadly virus”. California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed other super POD locations across the state, including Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, Cal Expo in Sacramento, and Petco Park in San Diego which should be opening to the public this week.
  • “We recognize that the current strategy is not going to get us to where we need to go as quickly as we all need to go,” Governor Newsom said. “That’s why we’re speeding up the administration not just for priority groups but opening up large sites to do so.” Newsom said the state’s goal was to vaccinate 1 million people by the weekend.
  • “Disneyland Resort is proud to help support Orange County and the City of Anaheim with the use of our property, and we are grateful for all of their efforts to combat COVID-19,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, told CBS News. “After a year in which so many in our community have faced unprecedented hardship and uncertainty, there is now reason for optimism with the administration of a vaccine.”
  • The park has been closed to the public since mid-March when the pandemic began, which contradicts its sister resort, Walt Disney World in Florida, which has been open since July, with a reduced number of guests.

California ranks 42nd out of 50 states in its vaccination rate per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control data.

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Coronavirus

US Breaks ‘Deadliest’ Day Record with 4,327 COVID-19 Deaths Reported

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Johns Hopkins University has recorded a new record in U.S. coronavirus deaths in a single day.

What We Know: 

  • More than 4,300 U.S. deaths were recorded by Johns Hopkins University Tuesday, a new record. The nation’s death toll surpassing 380,000. In the eighth consecutive day of new cases topping over 200,000, Tuesday recorded 215,000 new cases. The Wall Street Journal reports more than 22.8 million people have tested positive for the virus. 
  • The new record of 4,327 deaths surpasses the previous records. A little less than a week ago, 4,194 deaths were recorded on January 7th. In the spring during New York’s surge, 2,598 deaths were recorded on April 15th. 
  • Hospitals across the county have become overloaded. One hundred thirty-one thousand people were hospitalized for the virus Tuesday. The number of patients in intensive care is 23,881, the 14th day in a row above 23,000. 
  • As numbers continuously rise, the Trump administration attempts to release more vaccines. Reserved booster shots are now big given to anyone over the age of 65 and people with high-risk health concerns. 
  • Dr. Amanda Castel, a professor in the epidemiology department at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, commented on the numbers. “The numbers are not heading in the right direction, and they are an indication that our response has not been adequate.”
  • At the current pace of infection, death tolls are expected to reach above 400,000 by next week. About equal to the number of American military personnel who died in World War II.

Castel believes that social-distancing, mask-wearing, testing, and vaccines will be necessary to see the virus’s decline or stabilization. 

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