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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: biden vaccine mandates

Fox News Poll Finds Strong Majority Supports Masks, Vaccination

For months, Fox News hosts have been trying to convince Americans not to take basic steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But the network's own polling shows that its disinformation has not swayed most voters.

On Sunday, the network released a poll of registered voters that showed strong support for both mask usage and COVID-19 vaccination. By a 69 percent - 28 percent margin, those polled said they "believe wearing face masks helps reduce the spread of coronavirus" — consistent with scientific evidence — and by a 65 percent - 29 percent margin they agreed that the vaccines are "safe and effective."

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Why Biden’s Approval Ratings Will Rise Again

When President Joe Biden announced his new plan to mandate vaccinations and additional strong measures to curtail the spreading coronavirus, he was refreshingly brisk and blunt. It was a speech that marked an important step toward restoration of American political sanity.

"My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We've made vaccinations free, safe and convenient," the president said. And then he sounded the bass note: "We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us."

Evidently the president now realizes that the great majority of this country's citizens — after enduring the lockdowns, wearing the masks, taking the shots — are frustrated and yearning for effective action against the pandemic and its human accomplices. They see no reason to tolerate collusion in the spread of a deadly disease that has killed hundreds of thousands and threatens to kill many more with surging variants. They are ready to crack down on the selfish, stupid minority who cannot be bothered to protect their neighbors or themselves.

Does that sound angry? Until now, most expressions of rage, not to mention violent threats and acts, have come from the opposite direction. Everyone has seen viral videos of outrageous misconduct and vile assaults from the opponents of masking and vaccination, encouraged by right-wing media outlets that confuse "freedom" with promiscuous infection. This week, millions watched a disgusting person intentionally cough on a woman and her daughter in a grocery store because they were masked. Happily, that person's employers at SAP watched it too, and fired her sorry ass.

Yes, Americans have seen enough of that literally sickening behavior. When Biden said, "our patience is wearing thin," he was putting it mildly. He knows, because recent polls have suggested that patience with him was beginning to diminish too.

While the chaotic U.S. departure from Afghanistan may have influenced the dip in Biden's approval ratings, his deeper problem was the raging wave of coronavirus infections and deaths brought on by the Delta variant. The high ratings he enjoyed since taking office owed much to his deliberate and determined offensive against the pandemic; when he was perceived to falter over the past few months, his numbers slipped. Meanwhile, public support has been rising for vaccine mandates and a tougher approach overall.

The trend first became obvious in California, as so many trends do. The recall campaign against Gov. Gavin Newsom, it should be emphasized, caught fire when he was caught flouting his own COVID-19 regulations at a fancy Napa restaurant. The latest surveys, however, show Newsom pulling ahead because of his own government's vaccination mandates — and because he has rightly warned against the "anti-vax Republican government" that would take over if voters boot him. He has saved his political career by putting vaccine mandates at the center of his administration. If the election were held today, he would likely win by as much as 20 percent, perhaps more.

Even before Biden announced his own new suite of policies, the vaccination rate was steadily increasing again, largely thanks to public and private sector mandates that have gained traction since early summer. By overwhelming majorities, the public approves of those requirements at work and at school — and the result is that vaccine hesitancy has been steadily diminishing, with polls showing resistance at its lowest level since the question was first asked.

The most bracing moment in Biden's speech came when he informed the governors of Texas and Florida, and any others who might follow them, that his administration will financially and legally bolster any school district they attempt to intimidate from protecting teachers and students. In that instant, he confronted the toxic bullying by Republicans who want to prolong the pandemic for partisan gain — and showed who is tougher.

What Americans want from their leaders is usually simple enough. They want compassion, common sense, decency, and above all strength of conviction. In a word, they want the kind of leadership that Biden is providing. His numbers will soon rise again as the infection numbers fall.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Bold Biden Enrages The Right’s Pro-COVID Propagandists

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

President Joe Biden's announcement that federal regulators will seek to compel businesses with more than 100 employees to require their employees to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus weekly isn't the ideal solution to the pandemic. But the right-wing echo chamber sabotaged the ideal solution a long time ago.

In a better world, safe, effective vaccines developed under a Republican administration and distributed under a Democratic one would not have become a partisan issue. Politicians from both parties would have worked together to vaccinate communities as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Right-wing, mainstream, and left-wing news outlets would all have pursued whatever messages they deemed most effective in getting their audiences to take life-saving shots. High vaccine uptake would have sent COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths plummeting.

But that's not what happened.

Instead, as Biden made the vaccination campaign a central focus, Fox News hosts decided that their network's self-declared role as Biden's "opposition" did not have a carveout for his effort to vaccinate the public and halt the deadly pandemic. They and many of their right-wing media colleagues decided that their interests lay in fueling skepticism toward the vaccines and undermining the vaccination campaign.

Since Biden took office, right-wing propagandists have falsely suggested that the vaccines are ineffective or unnecessary and that they might be killing thousands of Americans. They have lashed out against the prospects of vaccine mandates, whether imposed by private businesses, universities, or government agencies. They have wailed about requirements for proof of vaccination to enter certain venues.They have raised up vaccine refusers as culture war heroes. And they have denounced door-to-door campaigns to urge residents to get vaccinated as akin to the tactics of the Gestapo.

What if Fox News actually cared about you? www.youtube.com

With the Republican base so firmly ensconced within the right-wing media echo chamber, it was inevitable that these sentiments would spread to the party's political leaders. GOP members of Congress waged misinformation campaigns about the vaccines and denounced the vaccination effort. Republican governors who see themselves as potential presidential candidates fought to prevent businesses, schools, and even cruise ships from requiring proof of vaccination. Meanwhile more responsible party politicians just threw up their hands over why their voters weren't getting shots.

The situation is reminiscent of 2009, when Republicans and right-wing media realized that they could foil President Barack Obama's promise of unity simply by withholding their support for anything he tried to do. But this time, the stakes are bigger than whether a president is viewed as divisive.

You can see the results of the right-wing effort to politicize vaccination all around you. Polls routinely show that Republicans are less likely to say they have been or will be vaccinated. As the Delta wave crested in recent weeks, with hospitals strained to capacity and daily recorded COVID-19 death totals again exceeding 1,500, it's been clear that those claims are neither idle nor irrelevant. As The Washington Post's Philip Bump detailed, state vaccination rates are closely correlated with 2020 vote margins, with increased support for former President Donald Trump consistent with lower vaccination rates. Higher COVID-19 cases, hospitalization, and deaths during this wave are also all correlated with Trump votes.

Republican leaders and right-wing media outlets convinced their supporters not to get vaccinated, and it's killing them and threatening the vaccinated. The powerful hold they have on their supporters has stymied the Biden administration's messaging and policy efforts at cajoling them into voluntary vaccination. The remaining options were to give up and accept that the right-wing vaccine disinformation campaign will keep killing Americans, or try to sidestep that propaganda machine with vaccine and testing requirements. Biden chose the latter.

But the forces that have worked so hard to limit vaccine uptake aren't taking this lying down.

Republican governors are promising to sue the federal government over the vaccine mandates. Ambitious GOP politicians are trying to win primary fights with overheated calls for civil disobedience.

And Fox's propagandists are furious, and they will surely expend far more effort trying to make their viewers angry about vaccine mandates than they ever did to try to cajole them to get shots.

All they had to do was show as much interest in life-saving vaccines as they did in hydroxychloroquine. But they were too devoted to opposing Biden to look out for their audience, and now here we are.

Fox News Urges 'Fight Back' Against Its Own Corporate Pandemic Policies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News' hypocrisy is on full display in its outraged coverage of President Joe Biden's announcement yesterday that large businesses would now be required to have their workers either be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 — something that Fox News has already been doing for months.

Previously, the network had attacked Biden for instituting a similar policy for the federal workforce. But it was also first reported two months ago that Fox News has used an internal program called the "Fox Clear Pass," in which employees who provide their proof of vaccination could bypass daily health screenings — a policy that stands in stark contrast to the network's relentless fearmongering about vaccine passports. And three weeks ago, Fox employees were further required to upload their vaccination status into a human resources database.

Meanwhile, the network's content has relentlessly undermined vaccination efforts, celebrated people who refuse to take the vaccines, and even encouraged the use of counterfeit vaccination cards — all acts that Fox's own human resources department would likely frown upon.

Biden announced in his speech Thursday that over 175 million Americans are now fully protected by the vaccine, "Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free." He also noted that his policy lined up with what a certain company has been doing for its own workforce.

"Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this," Biden said. "United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Foods, and even Fox News."

But faced with the choice of either acknowledging that fact, or stirring up the fringe who continue to refuse safe, effective vaccines and even the most basic public health measures, Fox News has chosen the latter.

On Thursday night's edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Rachel Campos-Duffy bemoaned that Americans have been compliant for too long, and asked Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich whether Americans would start to "fight back" against these requirements. Neither of the two commentators acknowledged that they work for a network that has already been practicing these rules, which they have both presumably been "compliant" with in one manner or another.

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (HOST): Katie, I've just been really surprised throughout this pandemic of how compliant Americans have been, especially young people. How do we fight back? What is going to be the final straw before Americans say enough is enough?

KATIE PAVLICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think a lot of Americans are fighting back and saying enough is enough.

On a side note, Pavlich then claimed that the U.S. Postal Service union was exempted from the new rule — seemingly based on a false report and a misunderstanding of the legal nature of the USPS workforce — claiming this as evidence to declare that "we do know that people are fighting back."

And on Tucker Carlson Tonight guest host Jesse Watters spoke with former Trump campaign legal adviser Harmeet Dhillon, who said that she already had "multiple clients" asking to file a legal challenge to the regulations once they were formally issued. (The two also discussed the supposed "carveout" for postal workers.)

The two went on to say that this policy would be impossible for companies' human resources departments to actually administer. But then again, any such company that actually does find this task difficult could just ask Fox News for advice.

JESSE WATTERS (GUEST HOST): And I think if you can listen closely, you can hear every HR department in the country go hit the liquor cabinet after this, because it's going to be -- it's going to get rowdy in the workplace.

HARMEET DHILLON (FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LEGAL ADVISER): It's that bad, and I'm an employer.

WATTERS: Yes.

DHILLON: It is going to be impossible to administer this and who are the police going to be policing it? And who is going to pay the cost of it? It is effectively a tax on the American employer, and I think it's not going to fly, frankly.

WATTERS: I would agree.

Fox host Sean Hannity also protested Biden's announcement that "scolded we, the American people," and "vilified the unvaccinated," adding: "Joe, you cancelled all medical freedom today with your broad edict and your mandates, one-size-fits-all medicine. You eliminated medical privacy. You eliminated all doctor-patient confidentiality" — in which case Hannity ought to also speak to his own company's HR department.

And on The Ingraham Angle, Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway compared the vaccine and testing mandates to "fascism," and said it would "require everybody to stand up and resist and fight." (Still no word on whether Hemingway plans to stop going on Fox News, for its own role in having practiced these exact policies even before the "fascist" government order came down to everybody else.)

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (THE FEDERALIST): It's just amazing that for four years, every time there was a mean tweet we were told that it was fascism come to America. And then you actually have the government ordering corporations what to do, telling individuals what to do, and the same people who were hysterical for the last four years don't seem to notice what's happening. This is a tremendous assault on American constitutional governance. It's going to require everybody to stand up and resist and fight. But we can't count on anyone in the media because they believe their job is to support one political party over its political opponents and they will paper over all these things that just a few years ago they would have thought horrific and unacceptable of any president.

This blatant lack of self-awareness continued into the morning. Introducing a news update on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said that Biden's order "could put jobs on the line for millions of hard-working Americans who will not have a choice."

Fox News correspondent Mark Meredith also attempted to turn this into a political gotcha moment, in line with the network's efforts to scaepgoat undocumented immigrants for COVID-19 infections despite a total lack of validity.

"Some people were noting that in the speech last night, there was no mention of requiring migrants crossing into the U.S. to get the jab," Meredith said — though one could suppose that this problem would be solved if any of them were to apply for jobs at Fox News.

Biden’s Vaccine Orders Greeted By Violent Rhetoric From Republicans

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Republicans are up in arms about President Joe Biden's new plan, announcedon Thursday, for what the White House calls a "Path out of the Pandemic."

The plan includes requirements that all federal employees, workers at hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, and workers at companies with 100 or more employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing.

Some GOP elected officials and candidates have called for citizens to "revolt" against the requirements, which are intended to get the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic under control, while others have called Biden's move "authoritarian," even though the U.S. government has been implementing vaccination mandates for more than 170 years, notably for children entering school.

Currently, more than 1,500 people in the United States are reported to be dying of COVID-19 per day, on average, with data showing nearly all of those deaths are among the unvaccinated.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who himself was subject to multiple vaccination requirements during his years of service in the Navy, railed against Biden's new policy.

"Are you people trying to start a full on revolt?" Crenshaw tweeted. "Honestly what the hell is wrong with Democrats? Leave people the hell alone. This is insanity."

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel used violent rhetoric in a Thursday night tweet: "Do NOT comply with the tyranny. When the gestapo show up at your front door, you know what to do."

A number of Republicans are calling Biden's mandate authoritarian and "unconstitutional." Supporters of Biden's orders call that a false accusation, noting that the Supreme Court has ruled that vaccine requirements are constitutional. In its decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905, the court determined that "it is within the police power of a State to enact a compulsory vaccination law."

Attorney Marc Elias tweeted on Thursday from the ruling in Jacobson, "Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others."

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), who served as the White House physician to Barack Obama and Donald Trump before running for Congress, tweeted, "Biden's authoritarian announcement to impose illegal vaccine mandates on businesses is chilling. The decision to get vaccinated should be between you and your doctor, not illegally mandated by President Biden. This is OUTRAGEOUS!"

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) made similar comments, tweeting, "This un-American & tyrannical decision isn't about science; it's about political science in the form of tanking poll numbers. Biden went from saying no mandates by the federal government to this unconstitutional order that would coerce inoculation. [Stop] the authoritarian mandates."

Among those expressing support for Biden's executive orders was the American Medical Association.

"With the rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, alarming increases in COVID-19 related deaths and hospitalizations, and our health system and physicians stretched thin, the AMA is pleased by the Administration's significant efforts to help get this pandemic under control," the AMA said in a statement after Biden's announcement. "Aggressive measures will be needed to prevent further widespread transmission of COVID-19."

And vaccination mandates are popular — despite the vocal opposition from Republican lawmakers and candidates.

A Gallup survey from August found that "majorities of Americans" support vaccine requirements.

The poll found that 61 percent of Americans support proof of vaccination for air travel, 58 percent support it for attendance at events with large crowds, 56 percent support it for dining in restaurants, and 56 percent support it for entering offices and other work sites.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

‘Have At It’: Biden Defiant As Anti-Vax Governors Threaten To Fight Mandates

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Joe Biden has a stern message for Republican governors ready to challenge his "vaccine-or-weekly-testing mandate" as a means of mitigating COVID-19.

On Friday, September 10, the president spoke at a Washington, D.C., middle school where he shared details about his next initiatives to mitigate the spread of the virus in schools. At one point during his speech, Biden addressed Republican governors who have railed against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health recommendations to combat COVID-19.

Toward the end of his speech, one reporter echoed concerns of the president's opponents who oppose his latest attempts to mitigate the virus. According to Mother Jones, the reporter noted that some have deemed Biden's initiative as an "overreach" as they vow "to challenge it in court."

In response to the reporter's remarks, Biden said:

Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. We're playing for real here. This isn't a game. And I don't know of any scientist out there in this field who doesn't think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I have suggested. But you know—let me conclude with this:

One of the lessons I hope our students can unlearn is that politics doesn't have to be this way. Politics doesn't have to be this way. They're growing up in an environment where they see it's like a war, like a bitter feud. If a Democrat says right, everybody says left….I mean, it's not how we are. It's not who we are as a nation. And it's not how we beat every other crisis in our history. We got to come together. I think the vast majority—look at the polling data—the vast majority of the American people know we have to do these things. They're hard but necessary. We're going to get them done.

Of the Republican governors vowing to fight back in court, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) has released a statement on her opposition to the Biden administration's efforts. Speaking to Fox News, Noem insisted that her legal team is already working to push back against what she describes as an "unlawful mandate."

"This is not a power that is delegated to the federal government," Noem said. "My legal team is already working. And we will defend and protect our people from this unlawful mandate."

The United States is facing an accelerated spread of COVID-19 as the Delta variant continues to ravage many states across the country, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates.

Attacking Anti-V​​accine Obstruction, Biden Mandates Widespread COVID Shots

By Jeff Mason, Ahmed Aboulenein and Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden took aim on Thursday at vaccine resistance in America, announcing policies requiring most federal employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations and pushing large employers to have their workers inoculated or tested weekly.

The new measures, which Biden laid out in remarks from the White House, would apply to about two-thirds of all U.S. employees, those who work for businesses with more than 100 workers.

"We've been patient," Biden told the tens of millions of Americans who have declined to get coronavirus shots. "But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us."

Taken together, the policies and speech represented Biden's most aggressive steps yet to prod Americans resistant to getting shots as the fast-spreading Delta variant sparks a new wave of sickness and death.

The surge has posed increased risk not just to the country but to a president who ran on promises to get control of the pandemic. Biden's approval ratings have sagged since he said in July the United States was "closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus."

Biden's latest moves are expected to be the subject of political and legal challenges.

Despite a full-throttled campaign by the Biden administration urging Americans to get the free and widely available vaccines, just over 62 percent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Thursday, Biden warned that "we're in a tough stretch and it could last for a while."

Infectious disease and health policy experts said the mandates are unlikely to significantly change infection rates quickly.

Still, they would help against potential future waves of the virus, reducing deaths and hospitalizations and alleviating the stress on the healthcare system, said Georgetown University's Dr. Jesse Goodman, a former chief scientist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"It's absolutely the right thing to do," he said. "Ideally everyone would have been vaccinated already."

'Fear, Control, And Mandates'

In a televised speech running a bit under half an hour, the Democratic president accused "a distinct minority of elected officials" who have resisted mask and vaccine mandates on freedom-of-choice and economic grounds as "making people sick."

The White House COVID-19 recovery plan was based on the vast majority of eligible Americans being vaccinated this year. But the public health issue has become politicized, with a vocal minority refusing the shots and mask mandates.

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in July blocking mask mandates in schools.

Administration medical officials have said over 97 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated, and those people account for an even higher share of deaths.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the senior Republican on the House of Representatives committee that oversees health policy, said Biden "is using fear, control, and mandates."

The Republican National Committee said it intends to sue the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate.

Under Biden's plan, the administration will also require vaccinations for more than 17 million healthcare workers at hospitals and other institutions that participate in Medicare and Medicaid social programs for poor, disabled and older Americans.

Biden previously required that federal employees be vaccinated or get tested. Federal workers now have 75 days to get vaccinated, or face termination unless they fall into limited exemption categories.

Federal workers unions suggested on Thursday they would accept the vaccine mandate.

Substantial Fines

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to take enforcement actions against private companies that do not comply with the vaccine mandate, with substantial fines of nearly $14,000 per violation.

The administration is also calling on entertainment venues to require tests or shots and for states to adopt mandates for school employees. It is also multiplying the fines https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-doubling-fines... charged to people who fail to wear masks on airplanes, trains and buses.

It plans as well to ramp up testing capacity for the virus.

Biden will use authority under the Defense Production Act to spur industry to accelerate production of the tests, and big retailers including Walmart Inc , Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O> and Kroger Co are expected to sell the tests at cost for the next three months to make them more affordable.

Critics have said the Biden administration has not done enough on testing during its seven months in office. Still, the new demand for tests could tax already strained suppliers.

Administration officials believe the full recovery of the U.S economy depends on blunting the spread of the virus, the key focus of the president since entering office in January.

The disease has killed more than 654,000 people in the United States, and deaths and hospitalizations have been rising sharply as the easily transmissible Delta variant of the virus spreads.

The spread of the Delta variant has raised concerns as children head back to school, while also rattling investors, upending company return-to-office plans and tamping down hiring.

The White House also plans to offer booster shots providing additional protection to those who are fully vaccinated. But supplies are limited and the World Health Organization has begged rich countries to pause booster programs until more people worldwide are inoculated.

But with Delta causing more symptomatic breakthrough infections among fully inoculated individuals, most vaccinated Americans want a booster, a recent Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll found. Boosters could begin the week of September 20.

"Get vaccinated," Biden urged in closing his speech.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Ahmed Aboulenein and Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, David Shepardson and Susan Heavey; Writing by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, Howard Goller and Peter Cooney)