White House press secretary Sean Spicer is holding an on-camera media briefing on Tuesday afternoon in the West Wing. The top presidential spokesman will be joined at the press conference by Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The event is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. (ET). Watch live video below:
'Worst American stereotype': Unvaccinated US swimmer Michael Andrew ignites backlash after refusing to wear a mask
Although every swimmer U.S. swimmer has worn a mask while doing interviews with journalists at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee decided to allow unvaccinated swimmer Michael Andrew to not wear a mask -- even as the city of Tokyo is in a state of emergency due to COVID-19.
After finishing fifth in the men's 200-meter individual medley Friday morning, Andrew once again did not wear a mask in the mixed zone where press interviews are conducted, prompting a statement from the USOPC.
When asked why he chooses not to wear a mask, Andrew said, "For me it's pretty hard to breathe in after kind of sacrificing my body in the water, so I feel like my health is a little more tied to being able to breathe than protecting what's coming out of my mouth."
"I think it's great that there's procedures, but at the end of the day, all of us here have been under quarantine and in the same testing protocol, so there's a level of safety (that's) comfortable when we're racing," he continued.
When asked again why he is the only American not wearing a mask, he said, "No reason. I'll throw it on when I'm done here, but to speak, it's difficult, probably people can hear me."
Needless to say, Andrew's antics are not winning him many fans on Twitter.
Swimmer Michael Andrew proved the worst American stereotype when he refused to wear a mask (and refused to get vacc… https://t.co/5W3ifnCKh4— Michael J. Stern (@Michael J. Stern) 1627653671.0
Hey @SwimmerMichael way disrespect the rules and the ghost country. You can choose to not vax.. But not wearing a m… https://t.co/lVOBRB5bve— 💙 StevenSensei 💙 (@💙 StevenSensei 💙) 1627629915.0
Watching @SwimmerMichael not get a medal after refusing to wear a mask or get vaccinated was the best part of the Olympics for me.— charlotte (@charlotte) 1627633138.0
Also eff #michaelandrew he’s not vaccinated and won’t wear a mask in the interview zone. We have athletes dropping… https://t.co/Q5jveBUAoU— Denise Huxtable (@Denise Huxtable) 1627648586.0
Not only did he decline #vaccination which could not just protect him and his teammates, but now he is not followin… https://t.co/8x4pA8KnQM— Krutika Kuppalli, MD FIDSA (@Krutika Kuppalli, MD FIDSA) 1627644460.0
michael andrew's willful ignorance and disregard for the rules is NOT the same as someone biles' decision to pull o… https://t.co/a3GWD2R2IG— andy (@andy) 1627617768.0
Unlike the GOP, I don’t relish in rooting against Americans at the Olympics, but learning Michael Andrew is unvaxxe… https://t.co/z4Lx8gHy7r— Scott Six (@Scott Six) 1627646925.0
@USOPC_News If health and safety is your top concern, why is Michael andrew competing, and then not wearing a mask… https://t.co/QHhuPF01YQ— Michael Goldman (@Michael Goldman) 1627652914.0
Former president Donald Trump issued a statement griping about the bipartisan infrastructure deal that appears poised to pass.
The twice-impeached one-term president bashed Republican senators such as Rob Portman (R-OH) working to negotiate the legislation, which Trump fumed would undo tax cuts passed during his administration and amounted to socialism.
"Tax increases on everyone, government run health care, more government run schools, amnesty for illegal immigrants, MASKS, and many more terrible socialist programs," Trump said in a statement. "Nancy Pelosi has said NO INFRASTRUCTURE until they get everything else. Infrastructure is just a "carrot" for a massive socialist expansion. Why are RINOs so desperate to push bad, Radical Leftist policies? And at the same time give a big win to the Democrats."
Pelosi said earlier this week that House Democrats are "rooting for the infrastructure bill to pass," but she has vowed to table it until the Senate also passes a separate $3.5 trillion spending package to fund universal pre-kindergarten, two years of free community college, clean energy requirements, reduced prescription drug prices and expanded Medicare benefits, and green cards would also be extended for some undocumented immigrants.
"This is bad legislation and politically irresponsible," Trump griped. "The Democrats will use it to show they can get anything they want from the Republicans."
An internal slide presentation assembled by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the Delta variant of the coronavirus—now the dominant strain in the U.S. and across much of the world—is as transmissible as chickenpox, could lead to more extreme illness than earlier mutations, and can likely be spread by people who are fully vaccinated.
First obtained by the Washington Post on Thursday, the document (pdf) states that the "Delta variant may cause more severe disease than
Alpha or ancestral strains," citing data on hospitalizations and deaths in Canada, Scotland, and Singapore. While noting that people who are fully inoculated against Covid-19 can still catch and spread the Delta variant, the document stresses that vaccines are extremely effective in preventing severe illness and death.
"Delta is different from previous strains," one of the slides reads, summarizing that the variant is "highly contagious," "likely more severe," and "breakthrough infections may be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases." The presentation says Delta is more contagious than Ebola, the seasonal flu, the flu of 1918, and smallpox.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document in an interview with CNN.
"I think people need to understand that we're not crying wolf here. This is serious," Walensky said. "It's one of the most transmissible viruses we know about. Measles, chickenpox, this—they're all up there."
An unnamed federal official told the New York Times that the CDC is expected to publish additional data on the Delta variant on Friday.
"The CDC is very concerned with the data coming in that Delta is a very serious threat that requires action now," the official said.
Some public health experts who reviewed the CDC document said they are now even more worried about the Delta variant, which was first detected in India in December and has since spread to more than 100 countries. The U.S. is currently averaging around 71,000 new coronavirus cases a day, with more than 80% of those attributable to the Delta strain.
"I finished reading it significantly more concerned than when I began," Robert Wachter, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, told the Post.
But Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said that while the document makes clear the Delta variant is a major issue, he found the presentation to be "largely reassuring."
"Bottom line? Yeah, Delta variant is bad. Like really bad," Jha wrote in a series of tweets late Thursday. But, he added: "Our vaccines are good. Like really good. Breakthrough infections happen, sometimes they may spread to others. But if enough people get the shot, the pandemic does come to an end."
In addition to full vaccination, the CDC document recommends "universal masking" as a way to control the spread of the Delta variant. That advice is significantly more sweeping than the guidance the CDC released to the public earlier this week, which recommended that vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor spaces only in areas of the country where cases are surging.
The agency's presentation surfaced as President Joe Biden announced Thursday that federal civilian employees who do not show proof of vaccination will be required to wear a mask, undergo coronavirus testing once or twice per week, and socially distance. The president also vowed to "continue to do everything I can to encourage the unvaccinated to get vaccinated."
"Last month, a study showed that over 99% of Covid-19 deaths had been among the unvaccinated—99%," Biden said in a speech Thursday. "People are dying and will die who don't have to die. If you're out there unvaccinated, you don't have to die."
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