Top Tennessee Vaccine Official Says She Was Fired Over Shots for Teens
Michelle Fiscus, that state’s immunization leader, was only the latest state public health official to depart amid the pandemic.
In Tennessee, the state’s top immunization official, Michelle Fiscus, said this week that she was forced from her job after writing a memo describing a 34-year-old legal doctrine that suggested that some teenagers might get vaccines without their parents’ permission. Dr. Fiscus’s memo came as conservative lawmakers in the state were lashing out at efforts by her agency to raise awareness of vaccines among teenagers.
One Republican lawmaker, Scott Cepicky, accused the agency of employing “peer pressure” to prod young people into getting immunized.
In a lengthy and searing statement describing her departure, Dr. Fiscus said that the actions of lawmakers have gravely endangered the public by undermining confidence in the vaccines even as virus cases are rising in Tennessee and as concerns about the Delta variant are emerging in parts of the country
For Some, Covid Vaccine Hesitancy Is Being Driven By A Paradoxical Lack Of Access
Lack of access to vaccines, combined with misinformation, are making certain groups less likely to get vaccinated, say experts at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “Typically when we think of hesitancy we don’t think about it from an access point of view,” said Rupali Limaye, who studies vaccine hesitancy, during a media briefing given by the university. “However, the situation in the pandemic that we are in, they are very entangled,” she added.
The online nature of the early vaccine drives may have fueled a distrust in the overall healthcare system, said Limaye. “Earlier in the pandemic, many older individuals gave up trying to get an appointment online, which led to an overall distrust in the system.”
Vermont’s and South Dakota’s covid infection rates are remarkably similar — but their outcomes are not
Two states. Two different paths in responding to covid-19. Together, they offer invaluable lessons about the road ahead for the nation — especially as infection rates creep up because of the delta variant.
The two states are Vermont and South Dakota. Both feature among the three states that Covid Act Now classifies as falling in the lowest-risk category, along with Massachusetts. This may be a surprise. While New England states are known to have done extraordinarily well in vaccinating their populations, South Dakota is in the middle of the pack. So, what explains the fact that South Dakota has infection numbers almost as low as Vermont, the most vaccinated state in the nation?
Government oversight of COVID air cleaners leaves gaping holes
Electronic air cleaners, heavily marketed to gyms, doctors’ offices and hospitals, companies and schools awash in federal COVID relief funds, tend to use high-voltage charges to alter molecules in the air. The companies selling the devices say they can destroy pathogens and clean the air.
But academic air quality experts say the technology can be ineffective or potentially create harmful byproducts. Companies that make the devices are subject to virtually no standardized testing or evaluation of their marketing claims. A KHN investigation this spring found that over 2,000 schools across the country have bought such technology.
“That’s one of the reasons these companies thrive, is that there’s nobody, nobody checking every aspect of what they do,” said Delphine Farmer, a Colorado State University associate professor who specializes in atmospheric and indoor chemistry.
There’s a Word for What Trumpism Is Becoming
The relentless messaging by Trump and his supporters has inflicted a measurable wound on American democracy.
Something has changed for Trump and his movement since January 2021. You can measure the difference by looking back at the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Trump made three statements about those events over four days. He was visibly reluctant to speak negatively of the far-right groups. He praised “fine people on both sides” and spread the blame for “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”
Trump’s evasions triggered a national uproar. As Joe Biden complained in an essay for The Atlantic at the time:
Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.
But if Trump refused to single out the far-rightists for criticism, he also refrained from praising them. Whatever he felt in his heart, he was constrained by certain political and practical realities. His non-Twitter actions as president were filtered through bureaucracies. He had to work with Republican congressional allies who worried about losing seats in Congress in the next election. He himself was still basking in the illusion of his supposedly huge victory in 2016, and hoping for a repeat in 2020. Outright endorsement of lethal extremism? That was too much for Trump in 2017. But now look where we are.
Trump Demands Republicans Embrace the Insurrection
Trump has also begun to rebrand shooting of Ashli Babbitt, who he calls “an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman.” Far from being shot as she broke through the doorway separating the insurrectionists from the evacuating members of Congress he now says she was “fatally shot on January 6 as she tried to climb out of a broken window,” as though she were shot down trying to flee.
He has also begun to claim that the officer who shot Babbitt was working either for Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. On front after front, Trump has returned to the escalating incitements to violence which caused the Jan 6th insurrection in the first place.
I’ve seen numerous journalists and commentators refer to this as Trump’s ‘revisionist history’ of the events of January 6th. That’s the wrong way to look at this. No one, especially Trump’s target audiences, forgets the pictures of Capitol Police officers being struck with flag poles and dragged into the crowd for beatings or insurrectionists marauding through the halls of Congress. The point of his over-the-top claims isn’t to litigate the particulars of any specific encounter. Their very absurdity is less an effort to deceive as a demonstration of power. They are meant to make the case that the whole event was justified, righteous and right.
The Voice of America whistleblowers have been vindicated
The employees — senior executive service executives of the U.S. Agency for Global Media — had been among those deemed not sufficiently loyal by Michael Pack, Mr. Trump’s controversial choice to head the agency that manages VOA and four other international networks. Mr. Pack, a conservative filmmaker who was recommended for the job by alt-right propagandist Stephen K. Bannon, took office in June 2020 and immediately began dismantling and remaking the agency. An institution long respected worldwide as a source of independent news for foreign audiences was fast on its way to becoming just another vehicle for shilling Mr. Trump.