- California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling for horse racing at Santa Anita Park to stop until the park’s horses have been evaluated.
- Since late December, 29 horses have died at the park, with the most recent death occurring on Sunday.
- The owners of the track, the Stronach Group, have taken steps to prevent further deaths.
- Prior to Governor Newsom’s statement, they said a serious investigation is underway, and that they plan to work closely with the governor.
Newsom Calls for Racing to Stop
California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling for racing at Santa Anita Park to stop following the track’s 29th horse death since December 26.
“I continue to be troubled by the horse deaths at Santa Anita Park,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement on Tuesday. “Enough is enough. I am calling on the California Horse Racing Board to ensure that no horse races until they are examined by independent veterinarians and found fit to compete. As Santa Anita prepares to host the 2019 Breeders’ Cup in November, we must show the horse racing world that California puts safety first.”
Newsom’s statement follows the California Horse Racing Board’s request over the weekend for racing to be suspended through June 23, which is the last racing day for the park’s season. The request was ignored by Santa Anita Park.
It also comes after the most recent death on Sunday. A three-year-old horse died of a heart attack while racing.
On Sunday, the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park, released a statement about an investigation in the park.
“A detailed and serious epidemiological investigation of all track accidents is underway and will continue with the greatest urgency,” they wrote. “Track management, owners, trainers and veterinarians, are re-doubling their vigilance and close supervision of both training and racing protocols and will consider all enhancements to the sweeping new protocols already introduced.
“We have great respect for Governor Newsom and the CHRB, and we look forward to working closely with them as we continue to discuss these issues,” the group added.
What is Happening in Santa Anita Park?
Santa Anita Park, located in Southern California, is a prominent track that hosts massive racing events. It is reportedly home to close to 2,000 horses, and the deaths of 29 have alarmed officials.
Since the deaths began in December, some measures have been taken to prevent further fatalities. The park has shut down racing twice in 2019.
The first closure was in February so the surface of the track could be evaluated following heavy rain. The second was in March so that the track could undergo testing and evaluation.
“The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” the Stronach group said in a statement at the time.
In March, the park also announced a ban on race-day medication and whips in light of the high amount of deaths. This made them the first park in North American to enforce a race-day medication ban, which is already an international standard.
Following these regulations, the park did see a temporary halt in deaths. No fatalities were reported between April 1 and May 18. Since then, however, the park has seen six more.
What is Causing These Deaths?
Right now, there is no official known cause behind this string of deaths. In some cases, horses have broken down during races. In others, horses have been euthanized after sustaining serious injuries. The roots of these break downs and injuries have not been confirmed.
Some have speculated the causes. Southern California experienced heavy rainfall this year. Some experts believe this could have worsened the track conditions, and made racing harder on the horses.
Others, however, think that there is likely more than just one cause at play. Many have pointed to the medications horses receive, and as well as their training routines and conditions.
Biden Issues Targeted Eviction Moratorium for Counties With High Community Transmission
While more limited than the previous eviction ban, the new policy applies to all areas with “substantial” and “high” COVID transmission, which currently includes 80% of counties that compose 90% of the population.
New Eviction Ban
Three days after the federal eviction ban expired, the Biden administration issued a new, more limited moratorium that will extend until Oct. 3.
Unlike the last freeze, the latest version announced Tuesday only pertains to areas of the country experiencing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled “substantial” and “high” cases of COVID-19.
However, the rule still applies to the majority of the country given the new surges driven by the delta variant.
According to the CDC, 80% of counties that make up 90% of the population are currently experiencing substantial or high community transmission.
While not a full ban, many housing still advocates cheered the Biden administration, which has faced immense pressure to help the millions of Americans who risked losing their homes once the previous freeze expired.
“This is a tremendous relief for millions of people who were on the cusp of losing their homes and, with them, their ability to stay safe during the pandemic,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement Tuesday.
Still, others noted that there are outstanding issues with the new policy.
First and foremost, while the moratorium covers most Americans, it does not cover all. According to reports, there are counties in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York that are protected from evictions while neighboring counties are not.
The county-to-county patchwork also adds another layer of confusion for many people who are on the brink of eviction or who have already been evicted.
Tenants and landlords are now scrambling to see if the freeze applies to them, and because of the temporary lapse in protection, evictions resumed in some states and cities, meaning that some people who would now be covered under the ban have already been evicted.
Perhaps the most notable obstacle is the fact that the new moratorium will almost certainly face legal challenges.
The Biden administration previously argued that it did not have the jurisdiction to extend the eviction freeze unilaterally, citing a recent decision from the Supreme Court, which ruled that the CDC could not extend the ban past July and that Congressional action was needed.
Three days before the moratorium was set to expire, Biden asked Congress to pass legislation to extend it before leaving for their August recess. Republicans blocked the effort by unanimous consent, and Democratic leaders, frustrated with the president’s last-minute demand that left them with few options, said they did not have enough support for a formal vote.
Biden, for his part, has acknowledged that any freeze that comes from his administration would face this obstacle.
“Any call for [a] moratorium based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to face obstacles,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve indicated to the CDC, I’d like them to look at other alternatives [other] than the one that is in existence, which the court has declared they’re not going to allow to continue.”
Any legal proceedings, however, will take time, meaning Congress could act before any disputes are resolved. The extended timeframe would also give state and local governments more leeway to distribute the nearly $47 billion in rental aid approved in the last two stimulus packages.
Only $3 billion of the funding has been distributed due to the numerous delays and hurdles municipalities have faced while struggling to create new systems to dole out the much-needed aid.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (CBS News)
Virtually All Emperor Penguins Doomed for Extinction by 2100, Study Finds
The new study comes as the U.S. The Fish and Wildlife Service moves to submit a proposal Wednesday to add the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species.
Concerns for Emperor Penguins
Nearly all of the world’s emperor penguin colonies may be pushed to the brink of extinction by 2100, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Global Change Biology.
More specifically, researchers behind the study said 98% of the colonies could be gone in the next 80 years if climate change continues causing sea ice to melt at its current pace. About 70% of colonies could die off by 2050, it added.
That is pretty huge news because Emperor penguins — the world’s largest penguin species —are a vital part of the Antarctic food chain. They prey on krill, squid, and small fish, and provide a source of food for leopard seals and killer whales.
However, the birds are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they depend on sea ice for viral activities like breeding, feeding, and molting, along with resting or seeking refuge from predators.
U.S. Moves To Protect the Species
The new study comes as the U.S. government considers adding the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to build off this new research, along with other data, for its proposal on Wednesday. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be open to a 60-day public comment period.
If the classification is granted, the species would receive protections, including a ban on importations of the birds for commercial purposes.
“These penguins are hard hit by the climate crisis, and the U.S. government is finally recognizing that threat,” Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, told the Associated Press.
“Climate change, a priority challenge for this Administration, impacts a variety of species throughout the world,” said Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the wildlife service. “The decisions made by policymakers today and during the next few decades will determine the fate of the Emperor penguin.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (AP News)
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.