- The United States officially started administering its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. New York nurse Sandra Lindsay is believed to be the first American to receive it.
- During a livestream with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Lindsay said it felt like getting any other vaccine and added, “I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming.“
- The FDA authorized Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine on Friday. The Director of the CDC approved the administration of it on Sunday.
- Trucks are delivering close to 3 million doses of the vaccine from Michigan to all 50 states. It will arrive at 145 vaccine distribution sites by Monday and another 425 on Tuesday.
- Healthcare workers and those in long term care facilities will get it first. The general public will likely have to wait until the spring or summer before being vaccinated.
First Vaccine Administered in New York
A nurse from New York is believed to be the first American to become vaccinated against the coronavirus outside of scientific trials.
Nurse Sandra Lindsay, who works at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York received the vaccine on Monday during a livestream with Governor Andrew Cuomo. It was administered by Northwell Health Director of Employee Health Services Dr. Michelle Chester. This vaccination marks a historic and hopeful moment for the country, which has lost nearly 300,000 lives to the deadly virus.
“Sandra, you didn’t even flinch,” Cuomo said after Lindsay received the shot. “I take it Dr. Chester has a good touch.”
“She has a good touch and it felt like taking any other vaccine,” Lindsay said.
Lindsay is among the many healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines responding to the pandemic. The hospital she works at is located in one of the New York boroughs hit hardest by the virus when it struck the city in the spring.
“I feel hopeful today, relieved,” she added during the live stream. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history.”
Both Lindsay and Cuomo encouraged people to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing as the country continues to ride out the worst wave of the pandemic yet. While healthcare workers and those in long-term care are getting priority access, the general public will likely have to wait until the spring or summer until they get their hands on it.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel,” Cuomo said.
President Donald Trump also celebrated the news of the vaccination on Twitter.
Vaccine Marks Major Medical Triumph
The Food and Drug Administration issued authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. On Sunday, CDC Director Robert Redfield approved it for administration. The vaccine requires two shots and trials proved it to be 95% effective, marking a milestone medical triumph.
The first coronavirus case was reported less than a year ago, and by comparison, vaccines for other illnesses like mumps and measles took four years and nine years respectively.
The timing of this vaccine could not be any more crucial as the pandemic is worsening throughout the country. There have been a total of 16.3 million infections in the U.S. and nearly 300,000 deaths. Cases are on the rise, and experts believe we are nearing a point where we could see over 3,000 deaths a day consistently—the equivalent of losing more lives than a 9/11 a day.
Vaccinations will begin in several states Monday and continue throughout the week. In addition to New York; Iowa, Kentucky, Connecticut, Washington D.C. and other states and cities have vaccinations scheduled.
Nearly 3 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine left a plant in Michigan on Sunday headed to all 50 states. Doses will reach 145 vaccination distribution sites Monday, land at another 425 on Tuesday, and then 66 more on Wednesday.
Distribution will be challenging for states as the vaccine needs to be kept in ultra-cold temperatures. States have also said they lack the federal funding needed to administer the shot and track who has and has not gotten it. Still, federal officials say that by the end of 2020, 20 million doses will have been distributed.
Side effects for the vaccine include fatigue, fever, headaches, injection site pain, and joint and muscle pain, which are generally common vaccine side effects which are said to last only a few days. Two nurses who received it in the U.K. did get allergic reactions, but both had histories of allergic reactions and are recovering well. While health officials are looking into this, experts still believe there are very few people who will not be able to safely take this vaccine.
Four people in Pfizer’s trial also developed Bell’s Palsy, but it is not believed that this is related to or caused by the vaccine. Those cases are still being researched and there is still no reason to believe Bell’s Palsy is a side effect of the vaccine.
See what others are saying: (CBS News) (Washington Post) (New York Times)
SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Police in Two Qualified Immunity Cases
The move further solidifies the contentious legal doctrine that protects officers who commit alleged constitutional violations.
SCOTUS Hears Qualified Immunity Cases
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of police in two separate cases involving qualified immunity, the controversial legal doctrine that shields officers accused of violating constitutional rights from lawsuits.
The topic has become a major flashpoint in debates over police reform and curbing police violence since the protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the summer of 2020.
On one side, supporters of qualified immunity claim it is necessary to ensure that police can do their jobs without worrying about frivolous lawsuits.
However, opponents argue that judicial interpretations of the doctrine over time have given police incredibly broad legal immunity for misconduct and use of excessive force. Under a previous Supreme Court ruling, in order for officers to be held liable, plaintiffs have to show that they violated rights “clearly established” by a previous ruling.
In other words, officers cannot be held liable unless there is another case that involves almost identical circumstances.
As a result, many argue the doctrine creates a Catch-22: Officers are shielded from liability because there is no past precedent, but the reason there is no past precedent is because officers are shielded from liability in the first place.
An Ongoing Debate
Critics argue that the two cases the Supreme Court saw Monday illustrate that double bind, as both involved accusations of excessive force commonly levied against police.
In one case, officers used non-lethal bean bag rounds against a suspect and knelt on his back to subdue him. In the other, police shot and killed a suspect after he threatened them with a hammer.
The justices overturned both lower-court rulings without ordering full briefing and argument because of the lack of precedent. The court issued the decisions in unsigned orders with no dissent, signaling they did not even see the cases as close calls.
Advocates for qualified immunity claim the decisions signal that the current Supreme Court is not open to changing qualified immunity, and the most likely path for opponents of the doctrine is legislation.
While Democrats in Congress have made numerous efforts to limit qualified immunity, including most recently in the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act passed by the House earlier this year, all those attempts have been blocked by Republicans.
At the state level, dozens of bills have been killed after heavy lobbying from police unions. As a result, it remains unclear what path proponents for reform have at this juncture.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.