The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that fully vaccinated people can safely gather together in small groups without masks, as long as everyone involved is at low risk for severe COVID-19. This is CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky: “With more and more people getting vaccinated each day, we are starting to turn a corner. And as more Americans are vaccinated, a growing body of evidence now tells us that there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can resume at low risk to themselves.”
The CDC is still advising against long-distance travel, even for fully vaccinated people. It’s not yet known how likely it is for vaccinated people to spread the coronavirus, perhaps as asymptomatic carriers. The new recommendation came as the number of U.S. residents who have received at least one dose of a vaccine reached 60 million.
Over 700 new COVID-19 deaths were reported across the U.S. Monday, pushing the U.S. death toll over the past year to more than 525,000. Tomorrow, Texas is set to end its statewide mask mandate. We’ll have more on that story later in the broadcast.
Italy has passed 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths — the second European country after the U.K. to reach that toll.
In Peru, a 104-year-old woman on Monday became that nation’s first elderly person vaccinated against COVID. Peru has recorded nearly 50,000 deaths from the disease, though the true number is likely significantly higher.
Vietnam also rolled out its vaccination campaign on Monday. Vietnam has recorded just 2,500 cases and 35 deaths from COVID-19 after running one of the world’s most successful public health campaigns of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its Soberana 2 vaccine — with 44,000 volunteers receiving shots this week. It’s the first vaccine candidate produced in Latin America to make it to a phase III trial.
In Minnesota, jury selection in the murder trial of the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd was called off Monday after an appeals court ordered the trial judge to consider reinstating a third-degree murder charge. The judge plans to move forward with jury selection today, unless ordered by the appeals court to halt the process.
Derek Chauvin, who is white, faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges for killing George Floyd, who was Black, by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020.
Meanwhile, Chauvin is also facing possible federal charges. The New York Times recently revealed a federal grand jury in Minneapolis has been hearing from witnesses. After headlines, we’ll go to Minneapolis for the latest on Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.
In Kentucky, a judge has permanently dismissed all charges against Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker for allegedly shooting and wounding a police officer serving a no-knock warrant in Taylor’s home last March. Walker has said the officers never identified themselves before entering the home, and never attempted to save Taylor as she lay dying after she was struck by a hail of police gunfire. Last September, a grand jury failed to charge any of the three white Louisville police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor with her death.
In immigration news, a record 3,200 unaccompanied children are being detained at U.S. Border Patrol facilities that resemble jail cells, with nearly half of them held for longer than the legal limit of three days. This comes as immigrant justice advocates are denouncing the Biden administration’s ongoing detention of children, who are being held at government facilities, separated from their families for weeks on end. The children usually arrive to the U.S.-Mexico border with a family member but are separated from them until federal officials confirm they’re relatives.
The Biden administration has granted temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans living in the U.S. The relief is expected to impact over 300,000 people. The federal government also plans to review its sanctions on Venezuela. An economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela — greatly exacerbated by sanctions imposed by the U.S. government — has forced over 5 million people to flee in recent years. Last month, a report published by a U.N. special rapporteur said the sanctions “constitute violations of international law” and inflict “a devastating effect … on the broad scope of human rights, especially the right to food, right to health, right to life, right to education and right to development.”
In Brazil, a judge has annulled all convictions against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In 2018, Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison over a disputed corruption and money laundering conviction handed down by conservative Judge Sérgio Moro, a former ally of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Moro allegedly colluded with prosecutors to seek Lula’s conviction. Lula has long maintained his innocence and has vowed to challenge Bolsonaro in the 2022 elections. At the time of his imprisonment, Lula was leading the presidential polls. Click here to see our interview with Lula.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has named two attorneys to lead an inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. They are former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and Anne Clark, an employment discrimination attorney. Governor Cuomo has resisted calls that he step down — including from prominent New York Democrats — after five women accused him of inappropriate verbal and physical conduct.
Meanwhile, the Crown Publishing Group told The New York Times Monday it will stop promoting and printing Governor Cuomo’s book about New York’s coronavirus outbreak. Sales of “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” were already plummeting following reports that Cuomo’s aides pressured state health officials to cover up the true number of COVID-19 deaths in New York’s nursing homes.
Missouri’s long-serving Republican Senator Roy Blunt said Monday he will not run for reelection in 2022 when his term expires. He’s the fifth incumbent Republican senator to announce plans not to run again, with two others — Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Iowa’s 87-year-old Chuck Grassley — still undeclared.
Georgia’s state Senate has approved legislation that would end the right of voters to cast absentee ballots without excuses, while toughening voter ID requirements. It’s one of more than 250 voter suppression laws being pushed by Republicans in state legislatures around the U.S. in the wake of the 2020 election.
On Monday, Iowa’s Republican Governor Kim Reynolds signed a voter suppression bill that limits Iowa’s early voting period and closes polls one hour earlier on Election Day.
In Iowa, a trial got underway Monday for a Des Moines Register reporter who was arrested last year while covering a Black Lives Matter protest. Andrea Sahouri streamed this video from the back of a police wagon on May 31, 2020, shortly after she was arrested while covering clashes between police and protesters in Des Moines.
Andrea Sahouri: “I was saying, you know, ’I’m press! I’m press! I’m press!’ Police deliberately took me, sprayed pepper spray on my face and then put me in a — put me in zip. Zip ties? What are they called? Zip ties. … I’m just doing my job as a journalist.”
A police officer who testified at Sahouri’s trial said he didn’t realize she was a reporter. Meanwhile, prosecutors have said Sahouri’s status as a journalist is irrelevant to her charges and arrest. Amnesty International responded in a statement, “Treating media work as a crime is a human rights violation.”
South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem said Monday she’s “excited” to sign a bill barring transgender women and girls from competing in high school and college sports. Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves has promised to sign similar legislation in his state. South Dakota’s ACLU chapter responded, “The danger this legislation creates is real. The potential harm to South Dakota is significant, and the stakes for transgender students are high. Kids are hurting.”
Massive women-led marches were held around the world Monday to commemorate International Women’s Day. In Mexico, thousands of women from across the country gathered in Mexico City’s Zócalo protesting skyrocketing femicides. They’re also blasting President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for supporting a gubernatorial candidate for the state of Guerrero who is accused of rape. Protesters were met by police who used tear gas and batons to try to disperse the crowd. This is one of the protesters.
Mercedes Yamileth Hernández: “My name is Mercedes Yamileth Hernández. I am proud to be a Mexican woman. I come here for all the women they have taken away from us, for every girl they have killed. I was raped from age 4 to age 9, and my family just defended my attacker. The state also defended him. Today I also come for my friend who is disappeared. I am proud to be here to just scream. This has to end. They have to stop killing us, raping us and assaulting us. And they just keep doing it. The pandemic has not stopped them from acting this way. They just don’t care.”
In Guatemala, hundreds of women and girls led marches and ceremonies in different parts of the country demanding justice for victims of femicides and survivors of violence. Women also marked the fourth anniversary of the death of 41 girls who were burnt alive at an orphanage near Guatemala City after they protested sexual and physical violence at the facility.
Massive marches also took place in La Paz, Bolivia, and in Istanbul, Turkey, where thousands took to the streets, including Uyghur women and girls who led a demonstration protesting China’s treatment of Uyghurs.