The Resurgent Pandemic
The Delta variant’s spread across the U.S. has created a pandemic of the unvaccinated and, like many aspects of the past year and a half, one that each state is experiencing differently.
Some states — New York, California, and North Carolina — have recently introduced mandates requiring that members of certain groups, including health care workers or state government employees, receive a coronavirus vaccine. Following the Justice Department’s determination earlier this week that federal law doesn’t prohibit such mandates, as well as the Veterans Affairs Department’s announcement that frontline health care workers will also be required to be inoculated, President Joe Biden announced a requirement for all federal employees and onsite contractors.
Meanwhile, other states — like Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, and several others — have in recent months put in place restrictions that prevent local entities like cities or school districts from enacting public health measures, or allowing them to overrule health department orders. Multiple regions are struggling with low vaccination rates, and Texas and Florida are seeing the nation’s highest numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Partisan Election Reviews
Of course, it’s not just the coronavirus pandemic to which states have reacted differently. Many lawmakers and officials are promoting a different (and false) political reality, one in which the “big lie” of a stolen election and the myth of widespread voter suppression are driving democracy-undermining election reviews.
Let’s start with the Arizona Senate’s bogus “audit,” which had a turbulent week, even by its own chaotic standards.
Elsewhere, the Wisconsin Elections Commission issued a statement refuting the information that state Rep. Janel Brandtjen used to justify her announcement that the Assembly’s elections committee, which she chairs, would be undertaking a “forensic examination” of the state’s 2020 vote.
This is not to be confused with the problematic investigation initiated by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, for which he has hired retired cops and a former state Supreme Court justice to complete. In fact, Vos appeared to distance himself from Brandtjen’s call for yet another probe, saying that “as far as her launching her own investigation, I don’t know what that would prove.”
Some other related headlines:
Jan. 6 Hearing
The most potent example yet of the big lie’s dire consequences — the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters attempting to prevent the 2020 election’s certification — was top news this week thanks to the Tuesday hearing held by the House select committee investigating the riot.
The Pandemic in Florida GEO Group Prisons
We’re still learning more about extent of the pandemic’s spread in U.S. prisons, where more than half a million people have contracted Covid-19. American Oversight recently obtained communications between GEO Group, one of the largest private prison contractors in the country, and officials at the Florida Department of Management Services, including emails suggesting that last May GEO Group was set conduct targeted testing of people over 65 at three facilities, but dropped the plan after DMS clarified that it wasn’t mandated.
Private-Sector Pandemic Requests
American Oversight continues to uncover records that illustrate the easy access that the private sector, especially large corporations, had to senior Trump administration and White House officials during the disorganized early months of the pandemic last year. The latest batch includes emails from executives at Ford, Gap, General Electric, and Walmart to former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House adviser Jared Kushner.
William Barr’s Texts and Call Logs
Our investigation of the Trump administration’s politicization of the Justice Department has yielded the release of more of former Attorney General William Barr’s call logs and text messages from 2019 and 2020. The records include messages exchanged with U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was tasked with looking into the origins of the Russia investigation, as well as other communications from the time of Trump’s first impeachment inquiry. Details are here and here.
Part of Investigation: