This piece was originally published in the December 14, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“The fact that we have successfully done what people would find to be the unimaginable.”
— Dr. Anthony Fauci, marking the significance of today’s vaccine rollout when asked to share his proudest moment of 2020
The pandemic is worse now than it has ever been.
But as our leaders continue to shirk their responsibilities, the burden is sadly on each of us to keep ourselves and others safe.
Watch this ER doctor and nurse break down essential holiday safety tips:
IN THE NEWS
- Moments ago, Trump tweeted that Attorney General Bill Barr will be “leaving” the White House “just before Christmas,” supposedly to “spend the holidays with his family.” Okay, sure. Don’t let this cloud your memory — just because Trump appears to be firing him doesn’t make him any less cruel nor does it erase his horrific legacy as Attorney General. Good riddance.
- We have officially lost 300,000 of our friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers, and loved ones to the coronavirus here in the United States. Once again, it did not have to be this way. Such a massive death toll represents a failure of leadership and of policy on the part of the federal government. This shameful and largely preventable outcome will forever be a part of Trump’s legacy — right alongside jailing migrant families, executing 10+ people on his way out of the White House, and using the presidency as a platform to promote white supremacy.
- This morning, health care workers across the United States became the first Americans to receive a coronavirus vaccine in a non-trial setting. Today’s vaccine rollout comes just days after the FDA officially greenlit Pfizer’s vaccine for use in Americans 16 and older. Watch these health care workers in Pittsburgh, Columbus, and New York get vaccinated today and let it sink in that we are FINALLY, finally seeing the light at the end of this tunnel, even though whatever chaotic train we’re on is certainly taking its sweet time.
- New York critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay was one of the first Americans to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this morning. Lindsay, a Black woman, was vaccinated by another Black woman thanks to the work of Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who is, you guessed it, a Black woman. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently recognized Dr. Corbett, who is NIH’s lead scientist for coronavirus vaccine research, for her critical role in developing the Moderna vaccine.
- People were quick to point out the significance of this moment at a time when Black Americans are 37% more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts. Others rightfully noted that we often thank Black women like Sandra Lindsay and Kizzmekia Corbett for “saving” America writ large without acknowledging that they shouldn’t be forced to bear the burden of “saving” America alone.
- Joe Biden won the election again today. No, we’re not in Groundhog Day — it’s the Electoral College. Late this afternoon Biden officially passed the 270-vote threshold needed to win the Electoral College, with even more votes expected to come as the remaining states’ electors finalize their votes this evening. The Electoral College vote may not mean much this year considering it will mirror what a majority of voters supported in last month’s election. But we can’t forget that it has too often failed to align with the will of the people, resulting in the presidencies of George W. Bush and Donald Trump, for example. It’s an institution that was put in place by white, male landowners centuries ago, and one that is widely seen as racist and outdated in a modern context in which Black and brown Americans are legally entitled to the same rights as their white counterparts.
We don’t have an update on stimulus talks for you today (thanks again, McConnell). What we do have is a way for you to make your voice heard in just a few clicks. Make sure your senators are fighting for a bill that will get real, meaningful aid to people ASAP.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- While only health care workers and nursing home residents are generally receiving the vaccine right now, White House staffers are reportedly set to be prioritized for vaccination in the early stages of the rollout. It turns out science isn’t so “fake” when you need it to protect you from a dangerous disease.
- Today marks eight years since the horrific shooting that took the lives of twenty children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. It may feel like nothing has changed in these eight years, which is largely another product of Mitch McConnell’s refusal to sign on to basic, simple reforms like mandatory background checks and a ban on assault weapons. But as Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts pointed out, many non-Congressional lawmakers have passed gun safety measures at the state and local level. “Unfortunately,” Watts wrote, “the system is set up so that change in America takes time. But it’s happening.”
- White supremacists flocked to the nation’s capital this weekend for a pro-Trump rally that resulted in multiple stabbings and vandalism of Black churches. March attendees, including some who identified as Proud Boys, reportedly tore Black Lives Matter flags off of multiple Black churches including Asbury Methodist, the District’s oldest remaining Black church. Activists stressed the lack of police response to these white supremacists in comparison to the heavy and often violent police pushback that anti-racist groups have experienced at their peaceful demonstrations.
- We’re continuing to witness just how many horrific acts Trump can commit on his way out of the White House. Late last week, the country watched in horror as the Trump administration committed its ninth and tenth federal executions since Trump took office, all of which have taken place since July of this year. While the government should not be executing people at all, one case was especially horrific. Brandon Bernard, who was just 40 years old when he was killed last Thursday, became the first person to be executed by the federal government for a crime committed at age 18. A majority of jurors in Bernard’s case say they would not vote to convict him now.
- Attorney General Bill Barr has scheduled multiple executions before Trump leaves office — one just days before inauguration. Biden has pledged to halt federal executions, which was the policy for nearly two decades until Barr ordered the DOJ to resume executions last year.
- Another of Trump’s priorities as he prepares to leave office is (once again!) taking aim at the Affordable Care Act. After Congress failed to repeal the law through legislative means and as we await a Supreme Court ruling on the law, Trump administration officials are proposing changes to HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces that would weaken health care coverage and make it harder for people to get covered. Tell the Trump administration you oppose these changes by clicking here.
WHAT WE’RE READING (AND WATCHING)
- Fighting From Federal Death Row in My Friend Brandon Bernard’s Memory by Billie Allen (The Nation)
- Watching Stacey Abrams preside over Georgia’s Electoral College vote today brought us joy, and we hope it does the same for you. Watch the clip here.
- Americans, service workers need Congress to pass COVID relief stimulus by Sarah May-Seward (Business Insider)
- With executions in final days of presidency, Trump is solidifying his criminal justice legacy by Eugene Scott (Washington Post)
- My son was killed at Sandy Hook by an AR-15. Here’s one thing I’m doing to make sure your child is safe. by Francine Wheeler (Hartford Courant)