Beltway Insider: Biden Signs Budget, COVID One Year Later, Vaccine, Totals, Cuomo Hangs On, Royals

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The Coronavirus Pandemic has been an unwelcomed intruder in the United States and around the world for more than one year. Today, the Beltway Insider looks back over this last year from lockdowns, devastations, vaccine, and hope.

The President's job approval rating, according to the website fivethirtyeight.com, for the period ending March 14, 2021, increased by 0.5% to 54.1% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness increased by 1.5% percentage points to 40.1%. A slight 3% of the population polled have no opinion. Ratings are calculated weekly.


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Biden Signs America's Rescue Plan into Law

America's Rescue Plan was signed into law this week by President Biden. Key provisions of the 1.9T dollar spending plan include Support for families, support for businesses, and support for an expended vaccination program. Below is a snapshot of inclusions.

Support for Families

Extends the federal supplemental unemployment benefit of $300 per week through September 6 and makes the first $10,200 per household tax free.

Provides low- and middle-income families with direct payments of $1,400 for each adult and dependent, including children, to help pay bills, buy food and cover rent.

Provides more than $30 billion in funding for families to remain current on rent and mortgage payments; also injects additional funds into homeless assistance programs.

Extends food stamp benefits through September and increases nutrition assistance funding to ensure vulnerable Americans aren't going hungry.

Support for Small Businesses

Adds $7.25 billion to the existing Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses and adds nonprofits and digital news outlets to the businesses that can receive help.

Establishes a $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund that will provide grants to help hard-hit local, independent restaurants remain open and keep workers on payroll.

Adds $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to provide additional help to small businesses.

Reauthorizes the State Small Business Credit Initiative and provides $10 billion in funds to help small businesses.

Adds $1.25 billion to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program to support live entertainment venues that have suffered greatly during the pandemic.

Expanding Access to Vaccines for all Americans

$50 billion for testing, contact tracing, acquisition of personal protective equipment and additional study of virus variants. $20 billion for improving the distribution and administration of vaccines. $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to acquire medical equipment and personal protective equipment. $8 billion for public health workforce development.


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COVID-19, One Year Later

For most U.S. States, especially those with dense urban areas, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, this past week marks one year ago that the nation began an unprecedented lockdown. A shocking and staggering closure of all establishments where individuals gather in proximity, offices closed, gyms, bars, restaurants, theme parks, movie theatres.

Effecting nearly 328.2 million people in the United States alone, and 7.8 billion internationally, the lockdown, shutdown, was extraordinary. The virus, an enemy of unmatched strength, skill, stealth ability, took over cities and towns, without discrimination.

Even the first images of Wuhan, China, had little influence on the global scale, as China is known for martial law and unmotivated crackdowns when its people rise. However, this virus, which even one year later has been traced to the region, refused to be controlled.

By January 31, 2020 cases were reported in 25 nations, including the United States. Uncharted territory even for infectious disease experts, the Center for Disease Control, (CDC) and other World Health Organizations, who had dealt with SARS, another respiratory infectious disease originating from the same region, had ominous warnings.

By February 2, 2020, the world was notified there was no vaccine to counter the quickly approaching doomsday messenger. There predictions, cone charts, expectations were impossible for the common man to grasp and straight out of a Hollywood pandemic film.

Six weeks later, by March 16, the nation's top infectious disease experts announced predictions that were staggering. Announcements of precautionary anti-spreading techniques seemed too simple to counter the devastation that had by now put a knee to the neck of Italy and despite protests, remained, determined to squeeze the life from as many as possible.

With the warnings coming from Europe, a migration pattern appeared, and doomsday would reach the U.S. shores soon.

The New York Times published three estimates on life in the United States over the next 18 months. Looking back from Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. James Lawler and the CDC's top disease modelers, Matthew Biggerstaff.

The New York Times reported, on March 13, 2020, Dr. Fauci as saying, "the United States could have 70 million to 150 million coronavirus cases. What will determine the ultimate number, he said, "will be how you respond to it with containment and mitigation."

In the same article, quoted in Haute-Lifestyle.com, Beltway Insider Dr. James Lawler stated, "Five out of every hundred would need hospitalization, which would mean close to five million hospital admissions, nearly two million of those patients requiring intensive care and about half of those needing the support of ventilators. Dr. Lawler's calculations suggested 480,000 deaths, which he said was conservative." 

CDC projections were also stated in The New York Times article and quoted in the Beltway Insider, "according to a projection that encompasses the range of the four scenarios. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die."

These scenarios by the nation's top infectious disease specialist were enough to motivate a counterattack.

Operation Warp Speed

Two months later, by May 15, 2020, the then President Donald Trump Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice-President Mike Pence launched Operation Warp Speed, which began the foundation for the Pfizer vaccine.

Vaccine production is not common knowledge to most citizen. Not a much talked about topic and with only a few exceptions, those brilliant minds who remained dedicated to finding a cure, a vaccine to counter the devastation of any disease, are only known in certain communities.

Even as The Trump Administration often went off script hoping for the magical pot of gold recovery at the end of the rainbow, they ponied up $4trillion in aid dedicated to vaccine production. Without this effort the worst-case scenarios would have been lived in the United States with more than 100million victim's dead.

"We're grateful for the work that came before us and are doing the best we can to continue it and accelerate it," Slavitt said on Fox News. "I would absolutely tip my hat. … The Trump administration made sure that we got in record time a vaccine up and out. That's a great thing and it's something we should all be excited about," Politco.com reported.

By December 2020, a new president elected, the nation's death toll was nearing 500,000, the Trump initiated Operation Warp Speed and the deal with advance purchase commitments to Pfizer resulted in the FDA approving for emergency use the first vaccine, with a 95% proven effective rate.

The coronavirus countered with variants, new sub-strains, fighting to remain strong in this championship fight, the challengers around the world teemed to introduce additional vaccines, and a rollout of vaccines that have steadily grown.

"While vaccinations and re-openings across the country are providing hope, we must continue to take measures to stop the spread of the virus, including wearing masks, staying away from large gatherings, and avoiding unnecessary travel.  Everyone who can get a vaccine should get one.  If we are careful, we can work together to safely recover from this pandemic and minimize the further loss of life," said California Senator Dianne Feinstein via an e-blast.

The possibility of herd immunity is within sight.


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Vaccine Roll Out

One year from the worst-case scenarios the world is now looking to the future.

Not since World War II and the D-Day invasion has a world come together to defeat an enemy. With a desperate desire to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, which may be nonetheless altered, forever, the need to achieve global herd immunity is paramount. Any nation, people, group who refuses or does not participate in vaccination harms all. A united global world to manage this disease requires total and complete commitment.

"On Inauguration Day, only 8 percent of Americans 65 and over had gotten their first vaccination.  Today, that number is nearly 65 percent.  This is important because 80 percent of COVID deaths have been individuals 65 and over.  So we're making progress, but there's more work to do. Last night, Americans heard the President say that all we — that all of us need to do our part, and that if we do, there's a good chance that families and friends will be able to safely gather in small groups to celebrate Independence Day," President Biden said and reiterated by the White House Covid-19 Response team.

Vaccine Totals

Bloomberg.com has built a vaccine tracker which can be seen here. More than 354million doses have been administered to date across 121 countries. That amounts to just a little more than 9million doses daily.

"In the U.S., more Americans have received at least one dose than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. So far, 106 million doses have been given. In the last week, an average of 2.54 million doses per day were administered," Bloomberg.com reported.

New infections in the United States are dropping, as are deaths. With Dr. Fauci indicating the herd immunity number needed to return life to "normal" would be a vaccination rate of 70% to 85% of the U.S. population, with current daily vaccination rates at 2.5million, the expected time frame is five months.

"In the U.S., the latest vaccination rate is 2,541,597 doses per day, on average. At this rate, it will take an estimated 5 months to cover 75% of the population with a two-dose vaccine," reported Bloomberg.com.

Coronavirus Totals

The infection rates of the coronavirus have continued to decline around the world. The weekly account confirms that a while infection rates have slowed early accounts of deaths may have resulted in additional coronavirus deaths which were never attributed.

A new strain, a mutation, has created global concern for leaders around the world are determining the best direction for the protection of the population. The importance of maintaining personal protective practices is imperative to controlling the spread.

For the week ending March 14, 2021, coronavirus cases globally increased by 2,987,600 confirmed cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases worldwide to 119,488,100 people with a total worldwide death toll of 2,621,700 deaths, an increase of 35,000 over the past week.

COVID US Totals

Infections rates in the United States are also on the rise. For the week ending March 14, 2021, the total confirmed cases rose to 29,423,600 people with new confirmed cases increasing by 429,800 this week alone with an average of 61,400 cases daily. The coronavirus has claimed 533,900 total deaths, a weekly increase of 10,000 deaths. (Data from The New York Times).

NY Governor Accusers Detail Sexual Harassment

While New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to face revelations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and a growing number of lawmakers including Senators Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, and leading Representative Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and 60 other New York lawmakers, have called for the governor to resign.

"Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct. Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign," Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement issued early Friday evening," NBCnews.com reported.

Cuomo is defiant and refuses to resign even as a sixth female has come forward who has accused the governor of grouping her under her blouse. The matter was forwarded to the Albany Police Department for further investigation. An independent investigatory team has been appointed by New York Attorney General Leticia James to review and address the allegations.


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That Interview

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down, one week ago, with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, in an exclusive no holds barred interview, that went into areas that were shocking, damning and in some instances impossible to believe.

The two-hour tell all, has reverberated throughout the week, across continents and created fall out and shockwaves akin to an atomic bomb. This week's French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo depicts Queen Elizabeth with her knee to Markle's neck attempting to end the whole bloody mess.

The allegations of racism seem to be the sticking point. While the unsubstantiated statements made to the couple may be accurate, filtering through sensitivities, feelings, and on her side, the possibility of a lifetime of bi-racial injustice and other family issues which did pop up throughout the courtship and wedding planning, present at least the possibility the couple misinterpreted the statement.

From face value, there is also the possibility of an interpretation error. As the Monarchy has unlimited resource and the counsel of the nation's most brilliant geneticist's, time and history could have provided the skin color cone information with nearly 90% accuracy.

Addressing Mental Illness is a cause undertaken by both Prince Harry and Prince William. Ms. Markle painting herself suicidal was a major no-no. Suicidal is mental illness. Should this marriage ever dissolve she has set herself up for a myriad of character attacks.

The other more damning issue, of course, is Ms. Markle's continued insistence that she had no knowledge of the Royal Family prior to her involvement. Her social media blog, The Tig, discussed the Royal Wedding of her sister-in-law to some extent.

All statements lose credibility when one statement is proven false.

The Palace said "Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members," in a released statement.

For more information on President Joe Biden www.whitehouse.gov.

Sources: Various © Articles covered by Copyright protection

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