BIDEN WHITE HOUSE PLANNING ‘VACCINE PASSPORTS’ FOR AMERICANS… EFFORT LED BY VETERAN FINANCE EXEC & FORMER FACEBOOK BOARD MEMBER JEFF ZIENTS… ‘PASSPORTS’ WILL BE ON SMARTPHONES… PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS URGE BIDEN ADMIN TO DOWNPLAY ‘PASSPORT’ INITIATIVE… WAPO: ‘Vaccine passports’ are on the way, but developing them won’t be easy
The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as “vaccine passports” — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen. […]
The administration’s initiative has been driven largely by arms of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology, said five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort. The White House this month took on a bigger role coordinating government agencies involved in the work, led by coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients, with a goal of announcing updates in coming days, said one official. […]
The passports are expected to be free and available through applications for smartphones, which could display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass. Americans without smartphone access should be able to print out the passports, developers have said. […]
One of the most significant hurdles facing federal officials: the sheer number of passport initiatives underway, with the Biden administration this month identifying at least 17, according to slides obtained by The Washington Post.
Those initiatives — such as a World Health Organization-led global effort and a digital pass devised by IBM that is being tested in New York state — are rapidly moving forward, even as the White House deliberates about how best to track the shots and avoid the perception of a government mandate to be vaccinated. […]
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is participating in the WHO’s effort to create “digital vaccination certificates,” also is preparing to help advise on the passport rollout. The health agency says it is expecting to play a role in determining which organizations will credential and issue the certificates, in addition to informing the public, according to CDC documents reviewed by The Post. […]
Public health and ethics experts agreed that the Biden administration needed to strike a careful balance: Encourage shots and support the private-sector initiatives but don’t put too much federal emphasis on the looming passports.
“If it became a government mandate, it would go down a dark road very quickly,” said Brian C. Castrucci, who leads the Bethesda, Md.-based de Beaumont Foundation, a public health group funding Luntz’s research into why some Americans are balking at the vaccine. “It becomes a credential. It becomes a ‘needing your papers,’ if you will. That could be dangerous — and it could turn off people.”
FRIDAY… NY POST: Nation’s first ‘vaccine passport’ coming to New York
The nation’s very first “vaccine passport” is coming to the Big Apple.
The program, dubbed the “Excelsior Pass,” is an app that will allow New Yorkers to prove their vaccination status, or recent history of a negative COVID-19 test, in order to gain entry to events and businesses, Governor Cuomo announced in a news release Friday.
“Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app,” the news release explains.
“Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”
MEANWHILE… Americans Are Becoming More Comfortable In Public Spaces, Traveling, Poll Finds
As COVID-19 cases begin to decrease, more Americans are becoming more comfortable with being in public spaces and dining out, shopping, and traveling, according to a recent poll.
The recent poll by Civic Science shows that 35% of adult Americans are “not at all concerned” with being in public spaces, while 43% are still “somewhat concerned,” and 22% are still “very concerned.”
Additionally, when surveyed on how long they think they will still be following COVID-19 related guidelines and restrictions, 23% of adult Americans expect that they will still be following the guidelines six or more months down the road, while 20% felt like they’d be following the guidelines for an additional four to six months, and 35% expect to still be following the guidelines for four months or less.
NY POST: Dr. Fauci warns parents about children playing together without masks
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that vaccinated parents still need to worry about their children becoming infected while playing with other kids.
“The children can clearly wind up getting infected,” Fauci told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” when asked about the risk of kids playing in groups.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said while adults inoculated against COVID-19 don’t always have to wear masks around each other, children — who are not yet eligible for the jab — should wear them around each other.
“When the children go out into the community, you want them to continue to wear masks when they’re interacting with groups or multiple households,” he said.
IT’S BEEN 3 WEEKS SINCE TEXAS LIFTED ITS MASK MANDATE… It’s Been Three Weeks, Where Are The COVID-19 Surges?
When Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 the state was ditching its mask mandate and lifting COVID-19 restrictions, some of the state’s top doctors warned his decision could result in a new surge of COVID-19 infections.
“I think the governor’s decision was premature and I think it will cause another surge,” James McDeavitt, vice president and clinical affairs dean of the Baylor College of Medicine, told NBC News. Houston Methodist president Marc Boom said he encouraged people to “continue wearing their masks” even after the mandate was lifted.
President Joe Biden and White House press secretary Jen Psaki also bashed state governors who chose to end their mask mandates earlier in March, accusing them of “Neanderthal thinking” and ignoring science. Biden’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci warned “now is not the time to pull back” as state mask mandates were lifted.
It has been three weeks since Abbott rescinded the mask mandate and relaxed restrictions, but COVID-19 infections in Texas are declining. The state confirmed 7,747 new cases the day of Abbott’s announcement March 2, far higher than the 3,234 cases confirmed Thursday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Former Director Of CDC Is Just The Latest Of Several Top Officials Supporting Lab Leak Theory
The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is just the latest official from the Trump administration to come out in support of the theory that coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Dr. Robert Redfield joins former President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other former administration officials in giving credence to the hypothesis.
Redfield said that, in his opinion, the virus likely leaked from a lab in Wuhan and began spreading in late 2019. Redfield was a key official in the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped,” Redfield told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta for a special on the virus that airs Sunday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser for COVID-19 to President Joe Biden and Trump, responded to Redfield’s comments on C-SPAN: “Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility. But again, there are other alternatives, others that most people hold by.”
NOT NORMAL… BIDEN ADMIN EXPECTS MONTHS-LONG EXPLOSION IN BORDER CROSSINGS…
FRIDAY… WSJ: Border Crossings by Migrant Children to Rise Sharply, U.S. Estimates Show
The Biden administration anticipates that the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the U.S. southern border illegally will rise substantially for at least the next two months, according to internal projections.
The government estimates that about between 18,600 and 22,000 children could cross the border in April. For May, officials are estimating the figure could rise to roughly between 21,800 and 25,000.
Border Patrol officials have said they expect taking more than 16,000 children into custody this month, a record for any month at the border since at least 2010, according to government data. In February, the figure was about 9,300, up from 5,700 in January. […]
The government is planning to begin next week releasing children before sponsors’ background checks have been completed, the internal documents show. In those instances, according to the documents, child welfare officials will conduct welfare checks after a minor is placed with a sponsor—typically a parent, relative or family friend. […]
The Biden administration is facing increasing pressure to respond to the flow of migrant children and families as record numbers of both groups continue to cross the border illegally. More than 381,000 people have been arrested crossing the border since October, the start of the government’s budget year. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has warned that border crossings are on pace to reach a 20-year high.
SUNDAY… AXIOS: Scoop: Kids’ border surge expected to last 7+ months
The Biden administration projects the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border could spiral from more than 16,000 this month to as many as 26,000 in September, according to documents leaked to Axios.
Why it matters: Until this month, the record was 11,475 in May 2019. The minimum projections for each of the next six months are thousands higher than that.
To give a sense of how out of hand the crossings are getting, the administration projected just a month ago the figure for May would be 13,000. The new estimate is 22,000 to 25,000.
The Customs and Border Protection range for September is 22,000 to 26,000. Under any scenario, projections include a peak month that would double the record that stood until this month.
Wallace showed several pictures of crowded conditions in those facilities taken by Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before asking, “So why not allow reporters and camera crews in if on a pool basis safely to take pictures and show the American people what’s happening in those border patrol facilities right now?”
Wallace pressed with a “When?” after Psaki responded that everyone in Biden’s administration is “committed to that.”
The White House press secretary insisted that the administration is “working to get that done as soon as we can” after telling Wallace that footage of shelters had been provided to Fox News.
“But just to clarify, you allowed a camera crew in to see the HHS facilities, but what we’re talking about here are the border patrol facilities, the detention cells,” Wallace pressed. “You know — there is a law — let me just finish — that they are not allowed to be there for more than 72 hours. Many of them are there for 10 days. At this point, in terms of allowing access to border patrol facilities for reporters, you are being less transparent than the Trump Administration.”
Trump Considering Visit To US Border But Wants Biden To ‘Fail On His Own,’ Aide Says
Former President Donald Trump is considering a visit to the U.S. border amidst the migrant crisis, according to a senior aide.
Jason Miller, an aide to Trump, was asked on “The Michael Berry Show” podcast if the former president would be visiting the border to which Miller announced it has been discussed.
“We discussed that recently, I could see him doing that soon,” Miller said on the podcast.
Miller suggested that Trump was waiting for President Biden to visit the border first so he could “go and fail on his own before he goes and steps in on that.”
Wallace introduced the topic by playing a clip of Biden criticizing the Senate procedure, which, if invoked by either party, requires 60 votes to move forward on legislation, followed by the president defending the filibuster while a senator from Delaware.
The Fox News anchor went on to point out that Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s police reform bill was blocked by Democratic filibusters.
“So, is the filibuster racist? Is it wrong?” Wallace asked.
“As the president said just last week, Chris, it’s been abused, and in the first 50 years of the filibuster being around, it was used about 50 times,” Psaki responded, adding that the procedure was used “five times that many last year” while omitting the fact that Democrats were the ones filibustering bills in 2020.
The White House press secretary argued that an “easy solution” would be Republicans agreeing to “come to the table.”
“I just want to point out, because some people noted it after the news conference, if you’re talking about abuse of the filibuster over the last two years, that the Democrats were in the minority, so they were the ones abusing it,” Wallace said before moving to another topic.
IN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE, BIDEN ADMIN PURGES BIPARTISAN HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISERS… TOO MANY WHITE MEN… WAPO: Biden administration fires most Homeland Security Advisory Council members
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fired most members of the department’s independent advisory council on Friday, a purge that included several allies of former president Donald Trump and veteran officials who served under both parties.
Former Department of Homeland Security officials and advisory board members who worked under Democratic and Republican administrations said they could not remember so many members being dismissed at once, as the general practice of past administrations was to allow appointees to serve out their terms before replacing them.
The council is unpaid and includes leaders from state and local government, law enforcement, the private sector and academia who advise the agency on issues such as immigration, terrorism, crime and national disasters. Members serve one- to three-year terms and meet about four times a year. […]
[Current chairman Bill Bratton] said Mayorkas’s goal is to have a bipartisan, diverse council with expertise in the major issues he confronts: domestic and international terrorism, cybersecurity and immigration, which Bratton said “is first and foremost right now.”
The current council also is made up primarily of White men, Bratton said, and new appointees likely will include more women, people of color and other underrepresented groups.
Defense Department Hires A ‘Diversity And Inclusion’ Officer Who Compared Trump To Hitler
The official hired this month to oversee U.S. Special Operations Command’s office of diversity and inclusion compared President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler in a photo posted to Facebook last year.
U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which directs counterterrorism and unconventional warfare operations for the military, announced Thursday that Richard Torres-Estrada took over on March 1 as chief of the Diversity & Inclusion unit.
The Pentagon recently formed the unit as part of its push for more diversity in its ranks and chain of command. […]
On June 2, 2020, Torres-Estrada posted a side-by-side photo on Facebook of Trump and Hitler, both holding Bibles. The photo of Trump was taken a day earlier outside of St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., which was vandalized during protests over the death of George Floyd. […]
A spokesman for USSOCOM said Sunday that the command has opened an investigation into the posts.
“We are aware of the situation, and the command has initiated an investigation,” Ken McGraw, a spokesman for USSOCOM, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Torres-Estrada did not respond to a request for comment sent through Facebook.
‘We Can & Will Silence The Opposition’: Loudoun County Public Schools Committee Posts, Then Deletes, Call For Action Against Opponents
An advisory panel to a northern Virginia public school system that’s been accused of harassment stated in now-deleted social media posts that opponents of the inclusion of critical race theory (CRT) in the school system’s curriculum “can and will” be silenced.
The Loudoun County Public Schools Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee (LCPSMSAAC) posted the declaration on Twitter and Facebook, less than two weeks after a secret Facebook group known as Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County that targeted opponents of CRT was revealed, triggering a recall campaign.
“There is strength in numbers & we believe wholeheartedly, that united, we can & will silence the opposition. We ask that you please support our call to action by engaging in these 5 small, but impactful actions to help us in our mission of Advancing Equity Through Action!” the tweet read.
The tweet was deleted, and LCPSMSAAC posted a new thread on Saturday with an apology.
“We would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who may have felt as though your voice would be silenced or who has been offended by our post as that is not now, nor has it ever been our goal or intention,” the apology said in part.
Biden Nominates Gayle Manchin, Joe Manchin’s Wife, For ‘Key’ Co-Chair Of Federal Commission
The White House announced Friday that President Joe Biden will nominate Gayle Manchin, wife of Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, to serve as the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Biden called the role “key” in the official release announcing the nominations of Manchin and five others.
The White House noted that Manchin has helmed a number of statewide initiatives and “also served as Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Office of Education and the Arts.”
GOP Senators Demand FBI, Secret Service Records On Alleged Hunter Biden Gun Incident
Two Republican senators are asking the directors of the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for details of their alleged investigation into a handgun that belonged to Hunter Biden that was reported missing in 2018. […]
Grassley and Johnson noted in their letter to Secret Service Director James Murray that neither Joe nor Hunter Biden were under Secret Service protection at the time of the incident.
Politico also reported that an anonymous law enforcement official said that Secret Service agents “kept an informal hand in maintaining the former vice president’s security.”
“If true, USSS must explain to Congress why such informal actions were taken and whether they were necessary in light of the circumstances,” the senators wrote.
‘Is He A Living, Breathing Human Being?’: Trump Wants To Know Where John Durham Is
Former President Donald Trump released a press statement Friday asking about former U.S. Attorney for Connecticut and special counsel for the Trump-Russia investigation, John Durham.
“Where’s Durham? Is he a living, breathing human being? Will there ever be a Durham report?” Trump said in the statement.
Teenaged Girls Accused In Botched Carjacking That Led To Death Of 66-Year-Old Man
Two teenaged girls accused of a botched carjacking in the District of Columbia (D.C.) have been arrested, according to a Wednesday press release from the D.C. police department.
“The Detectives’ investigation on the scene revealed that the suspects assaulted the victim with a taser while carjacking the victim which resulted in a motor vehicle accident,” the press release stated.
The two suspects, both 13 and 15 years old, assaulted 66-year old Mohammed Anwar on Tuesday, according to Fox 5 DC.
The suspects tasered him, and his body was dragged and killed in the 1200 block of Van Street, SE, according to the report.
Police stated that the suspects were arrested in Fort Washington, MD, and were “arrested and charged with Felony Murder and Armed Carjacking (Taser).”
A 1:27-minute cellphone video, newly posted to social media, begins with Anwar standing to the side of the parked car, apparently trying to get one of the teens out from behind the wheel while the other, clad in pink, can be seen in the passenger seat.
“They’re thieves!” Anwar can be heard shouting as he leans into the dark-colored Honda, struggling with the teen in the passenger seat. “This is my car!”
Seconds later, with the driver’s side car door open and Anwar half in and half out of the vehicle, the car speeds off.
The car sideswipes a nearby metal barrier and light pole, causing the open driver’s side door to violently slam into Anwar’s body.
The car then races down the block and out of sight, turning a corner onto N Street SE before the sounds of a crash send witnesses who were recording Anwar’s struggle running toward the wreck-in-progress.
The footage continues, showing both girls ably jumping from the vehicle with the help of National Guard troops who were in the area — and Anwar face down on a nearby sidewalk, surrounded by debris and apparently struggling to move.
Fundraiser For Family Of Uber Eats Driver Killed In DC Raises More Than $500,000 In Four Days
The GoFundMe page for the family of 66-year-old Mohammad Anwar, the Uber Eats delivery driver who was killed by two girls trying to steal his car in Washington, D.C., has raised over $500,000 in four days. […]
The GoFundMe page that was created on behalf of Anwar’s family raised $514,354 as of approximately 3:45 p.m. Sunday, four days after it was created. More than 14,500 people have donated and the fundraiser has been shared more than 4,300 times.
Mohammad Anwar was described as a “hard-working Pakistani immigrant who came to the United States to create a better life for him and his family.”
“Anwar was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend who always provided a smile when you needed one,” the GoFundMe page says. “He leaves behind a family, near and far, who cherish, love, and miss him dearly.”
FOX NEWS: DC mayor deletes preventing auto theft tweet after igniting outrage
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday deleted a tweet on ways to “reduce” the risk of carjackings after it provoked outrage online for making no mention of an armed carjacking earlier in the week that resulted in the death of an Uber Eats delivery driver.
The post was a retweet from the D.C. Metro police that offered ways on reducing the chances of getting your vehicle stolen.
“Auto theft is a crime of opportunity,” Bowser wrote. “Follow these steps to reduce the risk of your vehicle becoming a target. Remember the motto, #ProtectYourAuto.”
‘Not My Job’: Scarlett Johansson Hits Back At Idea Actors Need To Share Political Views
Scarlett Johansson hit back at the idea actors need to share their political views and said quite simply it’s “not” her “job.”
“I don’t think actors have obligations to have a public role in society,” the 36-year-old actress told The Gentlewoman in their spring/summer 2021 issue. The comments were noted by Page Six in a piece published Friday.
“Some people want to, but the idea that you’re obligated to because you’re in the public eye is unfair,” she added. “You didn’t choose to be a politician, you’re an actor.”
“Your job is to reflect our experience to ourselves; your job is to be a mirror for an audience, to be able to have an empathetic experience through art,” Johansson continued. “That is what your job is.”
BREAKING OVERNIGHT… NY POST: Massive ship Ever Given ‘re-floated’ after blocking Suez Canal for six days
The massive container ship that has been stuck in the Suez Canal for six days was reportedly back afloat on Sunday night.
A top pilot with the canal authority confirmed to the Associated Press that the Ever Given had been partially refloated after running aground last Tuesday in the crucial global shipping waterway.