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East Coast Drivers Start Scrambling for Gas As Colonial Pipeline Shutdown Continues

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The Colonial Pipeline delivers about 45% of the East Coast’s fuel. On Friday, hackers committed a cyberattack on the company’s computer systems. To deal with the threat, the establishment paused all pipeline operations.

What We Know:

  • Drivers waited in long lines at gas stations in Southeast states. According to the travel app GasBuddy, almost 6.5% of Virginia locations ran out of gasoline as of late Monday. In addition, more than 1% of North Carolina and Florida establishments were also out. Furthermore, governors from North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Florida have declared states of emergency and have taken measures to ensure every citizen obtains fuel. For example, Gov. Roy Cooper (NC) discontinued some fuel regulations, and Gov. Brian Kemp (GA) suspended the gasoline tax.
  • The panic surrounding the Colonial Pipeline shutdown will result in economic effects. Several sources, such as Clearview Energy Partners, The American Automobile Association (AAA), and Gas Buddy, say the fuel cost will spike “pretty dramatically.” Prices were already increasing due to growing consumer command and renewed economic growth. They will keep inflating if the shutdown progresses to the end of the week.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that Darkside’s Russian cybercriminal group carried out the ransomware assault. However, President Joe Biden declared on Monday there is no evidence that the Russian government is involved, although the perpetrators are in Russia. Therefore, “they have some responsibility to deal with this.” Biden announced he would meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to discuss the pipeline shutdown. He has not provided an exact date for the meeting.
  • Many private companies and federal government networks like SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline have experienced over-the-computer ambushes in the past year. The most recent shutdown motivated Biden to improve U.S. cybersecurity defenses; thus, he signed an executive order Wednesday. His motion will confront “persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns” that threaten American security. Additionally, Colonial released a statement on Wednesday announcing they would begin pipeline operations once more. The company announced, “all lines, including those lateral lines that have been running manually, will return to normal operations.”

Colonial will conduct pipeline safety assessments in compliance with Federal pipeline safety requirements before resuming normal deliveries. Returning to normalcy may take several days, the company affirmed.

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Senate Prepares to Move Forward with Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

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On Monday, the Senate pushed to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill just hours after its legislative language was completed and unveiled. Senators who created the proposal expect it to clear the upper chamber in the following days.

What We Know:

  • Senate negotiators completed the 2,702-page bill on Sunday night. The bill, known as H.R. 3684, aims to provide $550 billion to fund the nation’s roads, bridges, railways, and public transit systems.
  • Since then, the Senate began taking up two amendments to the proposal. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer previewed three bipartisan amendments for consideration. Currently, it is uncertain how many amendments the Senate will consider. However, Schumer wants to vote on amendments quickly; he also noted that the first three “constitute only the first tranche of potential amendments.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell commented that H.R. 3684’s text lays out “a good and important jumping point for what needs to be a robust and bipartisan process” on the Senate floor. McConnell added that an “artificial timetable” must not affect the Senate’s “full consideration” of the bill.
  • On July 28, the bipartisan group of Senators and the White House reached an agreement on H.R. 3684’s details. Officials also voted 66-28 on the deal, which opened the package to potential changes during the amendment process. After this, Senators worked throughout the weekend to hammer out the legislative language.
  • If the Senate passes H.R. 3684, it will be a significant victory for President Joe Biden. A key proposal in his economic agenda, Biden boasted on the impact H.R. 3684 will hold on the nation. On Sunday, he tweeted that the deal is the most important investment in America’s public transit history. He additionally stated the bill will impact the U.S. just as much as the invention of the Amtrak 50 years ago.

If Congress approves H.R. 3684, it will ensure that Democrats may begin work on a $3.5 trillion proposal that focuses on Biden’s plans for childcare, healthcare, education, the environment, and possibly immigration. Doing so will ensure another success on Pres. Biden’s behalf.

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Coronavirus

Florida Breaks Record for COVID-19 Hospitalizations

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Florida recently saw 10,207 hospitalizations caused by coronavirus cases, the highest number since July 23, 2020.

What We Know:

  • On July 23, 2020, Florida reached a high of 10,170 hospitalizations, just six months before the COVID-19 vaccine became available. The new record makes Florida the leader in per capita hospitalizations for the virus.
  • Most of the new cases come from the highly contagious Delta variant. On average, Florida sees 1,525 adult and 35 children hospitalizations daily. In addition, Saturday revealed a peak in positive numbers, as the stated reported  21,683 occurrences of COVID-19. The day prior, the Sunshine State saw 17,093 cases.
  • Many hospital employees believed the excess hospitalizations would end soon because of an increase in vaccinations. However, the Delta variant changed all this. The Associated Press wrote that several hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic Florida and the UF Health North emergency room, needed to operate overcapacity and put beds in hallways to treat patients; the Mayo Clinic will continue to do so until the current surge ends. In Tampa, some local ambulances already needed to divert ambulances to other locations because of capacity concerns.
  • The higher numbers also are a direct result of a loosening of restrictions and a governor’s stubbornness. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis actively declares he will not enact any more mask mandates and vaccine requirements. Along with the state Legislature, this makes it difficult for local officials to impose restrictions that will ease the positive numbers.
  • Medical officials scorned DeSantis for his adamance on the issue. Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami-based vascular cardiologist and Florida State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, commented that the state would not be in its position now if DeSantis focused more on lowering cases than proving Dr. Anthony Fauci wrong. Gainesville infectious disease expert Dr. Frederick Southwick agreed with Ashby’s statement, saying that DeSantis needed to stop acting like “Florida won the pandemic.”

DeSantis recently announced that Florida would resist any federal authorities’ campaigns to enforce mask mandates inside schools despite the criticism.

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NY Attorney General: Gov. Cuomo harassed women, tried to retaliate against accuser

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NEW YORK — Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday announced the findings of her inquiry into accusations against Andrew Cuomo, concluding that the governor sexually harassed multiple women. James said victims included current and former employees, and that Cuomo tried to retaliate against at least one woman who came forward. Over 179 people were interviewed.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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