Georgia state senate runoff election campaign signs
(Matt Bannister/Shutterstock)

Nation Focused on Historic Georgia Senate Runoff Elections; Wisconsin Mobilizes National Guard Ahead of Jacob Blake Announcement; and More

All eyes on today’s Georgia Senate runoff elections which could determine success of Biden’s presidency.

It’s run-off election day in Georgia. The eyes of the nation, and every politician in Washington, will be focused on the state today as two hotly contested elections will ultimately determine which party controls the Senate — a fact that will largely influence exactly how much President-elect Joe Biden will be able to accomplish during his first two years in office, according to the Associated Press.

If either of the incumbent Republicans — Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — hold their seats, the party will maintain its majority control of the chamber. If Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock win, Democrats and Republicans would each hold an equal 50/50 seat count, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris able to provide tie-breaking votes on key legislation that might not otherwise pass. Senator Charles Schumer would also replace Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader of the Senate, freeing movement of a number of key Democratic-endorsed bills that the Kentucky politician had fought to keep from coming up for a vote.

President-elect Joe Biden, VP-elect Harris, President Trump, and numerous other leaders from both parties have been campaigning hard within Georgia over the last few days, trying to sway voters to their party in whatever way they can. Early voting has already set records in the state, which flipped Blue and voted for Biden for the first time in 28 years in the 2020 presidential election. Pundits hoping for a Democratic win believe the state’s ever-growing suburbs could hold the key for an Ossoff and Warnock win, but where final numbers will end up is ultimately anyone’s guess until polls actually close at 7 p.m. today. 

 

Wisconsin calls for National Guard ahead of announcement of charges in police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Residents of Kenosha, Wisconsin are gearing up for what could be a second round of destructive unrest in the city. The fear comes just five months after initial protests broke out within the region over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. 

Blake was shot seven times in the back on Aug. 23, 2020, when Kenosha police responded to a call about a domestic incident, according to CNN. Although he survived the shooting, Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.

On Monday, Jan. 4, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers called for 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to mobilize and move into the city where they could act as support for local law enforcement agencies. The Kenosha city council also unanimously passed a resolution that will allow for the city’s mayor, John Antaramian, to set city-wide curfews in the coming weeks, if needed.

All of this increased anticipation over potential protests and violence stems from the recent announcement that Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely will decide within the first two weeks of January on whether or not he will charge the officer who shot the 29-year-old Black man.

Ben Crump, the attorney representing Blake’s family, has said the police shot Blake after he had tried to end an argument between two women. “Blake was entering his car, where his three young sons were when an officer grabbed his shirt and shot him at point-blank range,” CNN reported.

In related news, the arraignment of Kyle Rittenhouse is also scheduled for today, Tuesday, Jan. 5. The 17-year-old Rittenhouse faces charges of fatally shooting two men and wounding another during the protests in Kenosha that followed Blake’s shooting. Although the entire incident was caught on tape, Rittenhouse’s lawyers have argued that the teen — who drove in from neighboring Illinois to counterprotest — acted in self-defense.

Update (Jan. 5, 2021, 4:27 p.m.) – AP has reported that Gravely will not be filing criminal charges against Rusten Sheskey, the white Kenosha police officer who shot Blake on Aug. 23, 2020.

 

L.A. county forced to “ration” ambulance service for COVID-19 patients.

In an especially grim notice of just how bad the pandemic has become in and around Los Angeles, the county has issued a notice that ambulances should no longer transport individuals to the hospital if they have limited chance of survival.

With COVID-19 infections soaring in the Golden state, new estimates show that about one in five L.A. residents who get tested for the virus are receiving positive results, according to The Washington Post

In a little more than a month, the county doubled its number of infections, climbing from about 400,000 cases on Nov. 30 to more than 800,000 cases on Jan. 2, health officials announced. Public health officials estimate that one L.A. county resident is dying of the virus every 15 minutes, with numbers being especially severe for Black and Brown residents.

The explosive surge in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday and pushing into Christmas has overwhelmed hospitals and reduced intensive care unit capacity to virtually zero. There are nearly 7,600 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, 21% of whom are in the ICU.

With no hospital beds available, and wait times for new patients who do need to be admitted to the hospital taking many hours, EMTs staffing ambulances in the county have now been told in a Jan. 4 memo that they “should not transport cardiac-arrest patients who do not resume spontaneous circulation on the scene.” 

“Many hospitals have reached a point of crisis and are having to make very tough decisions about patient care,” Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director, said at a news conference following the announcement. She then warned that the worst is unfortunately still to come.

 

 

D.I. Fast Facts

11,780

Number of votes lame-duck President Donald Trump begged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” in his (so far) spoiled attempt at overturning the 2020 Presidential Election, which he actually lost by more than 7 million votes.
NPR

 

128,000

Number of people across the United States who were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, Jan. 4. The number was a new single-day record showing just how serious the coronavirus pandemic remains in America.
Washington Post

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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