The U.S. breaks its record for daily COVID-19 deaths. Again.
The United States has surpassed 14 million cases of COVID-19 infection (less than a week after hitting the 13-million milestone) and things are looking even grimmer as the country heads into the winter season. More troublingly, The New York Times reported that on Wednesday, Dec. 2, the number of deaths from COVID-19 was officially 2,885 — a figure that surpasses the record set back in April 2020 of 2,752 deaths during the country’s first wave of the coronavirus. To put that in perspective, 2,885 deaths means there is 1 American dying from COVID-19 approximately every 30 seconds. It’s also nearly the equivalent of one 9/11 happening each day, the terrorist attacks that took the lives of 2,977 Americans.
Recognizing the seriousness of the disaster at hand, Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted the country could see upwards of 450,000 Americans dead come February 2021. He said one of the major differences between the current late-November/December surge and the spring peak was that the cases and deaths in April were mostly concentrated in New York and the New England area. While the region has managed to somewhat stabilize their numbers, cases throughout the country have spiked dramatically.
The Times also noted one major difference between spring and late fall: the holidays. If the flagrant traveling during Thanksgiving week was any indicator of what’s to come for Christmas and New Year’s, then Redfield’s estimation will likely come to fruition — or even be surpassed. Some experts fear his death toll figure could go even higher.
It’s not all bad news, though. The Times also points out another difference: “Though coronavirus cases have exploded recently, with new infections topping one million a week, a far smaller proportion of people who get the virus these days are dying from it. National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the share of cases resulting in death has dropped from 6.7% in April to 1.9% in September.”
In addition to the CDC reducing the minimum number of days to quarantine (seven to 10 days, depending on test results and whether a person exhibits symptoms, which is down from the original 14 days), the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are slated to begin being distributed in mid-December to health care workers, as well as vulnerable elderly residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The U.K. has also approved and started distributing vaccinations, and both the U.S. and the U.K. have started engaging in what can be described as a dubious rivalry of vaccine nationalism — as if stopping this horrible pandemic weren’t motivation enough, we now have jingoistic competition to deal with as well.
New hope in reuniting immigrant families separated by Trump administration at the border.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is hopeful that new data just released through a recent federal court filing in California may help officials to reunite more than 600 children with their parents, after being violently ripped away from them when crossing into America over the last four years. The newly released data includes names, addresses and phone numbers of parents and children which had previously thought to have been lost — or never recorded at all.
The unexpected batch of newly released information was collected by the Executive Office for Immigration Review and was released due to a ruling by California Federal Court in a case brought about by advocates representing the separated families.
“The Trump admin withheld addresses and phone numbers of separated families, making it harder to reunite,” tweeted Texas congressman Joaquin Castro, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. “These families belong together here in the United States — and a human rights commission should investigate what happened, even refer prosecutions.”
“We have been repeatedly asking the Trump administration for any additional data they might have to help locate the families and are only finally getting these new phone numbers and addresses,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project to NBC News. “Unfortunately, it took the issue reaching the level of a presidential debate to move them to give us this data.” The ACLU has promised to put the information to use and begin whatever reunited processes they can as soon as the information has been fully reviewed.
President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to end child separation at the U.S. border and has set up a task force to find and reunite separated families early within his term after officially taking office in January.
California Laws focused on Native American rights to go into effect in 2021.
In January 2021, a trio of laws that will strengthen Native Americans’ rights in the state of California will go into effect. James Ramos, the first member of a California Native American tribe to serve in the state legislature, is behind them.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed the measures into law in September 2020. One of these laws will make it easier for tribal members to reclaim artifacts and remains of their ancestors that have been kept in institutions like museums for decades. The second law will focus on increasing Native American voter turnout. It will require the California Secretary of State to assemble a task force to recommend ways to increase voter participation within the state. Some of these likely methods include recruiting Native American poll workers and improving the accessibility of voter information. The third law focuses on the persistent issue of Indigenous women systemically going missing and being murdered at alarming rates. To combat this problem, the new laws also authorizes the California Department of Justice to assist local law enforcement in criminal investigations in Native American communities.
The first law comes on the heels of a state audit revealing that three University of California institutions were holding onto nearly 500,000 ancestral artifacts and remains that hadn’t been returned to their respective tribes despite the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 mandating it.
“When tribal elders are in disagreement with museum directors over what should be repatriated back to the Californian people, up until this point, all of the weight of that knowledge laid with the museum director,” Ramos said on NPR’s All Things Considered this week. “This bill now strengthens the tribal elders [and] their voice, to make sure that they have the last say.”
Since Ramos’s election in 2018, it took him two years to push these pieces of legislation through, despite them plaguing Indigenous communities for decades.
“I think the voice — the true voice of California Indian people — of Indian people in general, has been absent here in the state of California, if not other states in the United States also,” he told NPR.
He attributes these new actions the state is taking to the importance of representation of Native Americans in government.
“For once, we do have someone in the legislature that understands the issues and the plight of the California Indian people,” Ramos said.
D.I. Fast Facts
The amount Americans spent at online retailers on Cyber Monday, making Monday, Nov. 30 the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. Amazon was the big winner of the day, capturing $1 for every $5 spent over the period.
The percentage experts expect to see small-business bankruptcies increase by through the end of the year, following an already dire 2020 in which mom and pop restaurants and shops have struggled to stay afloat.