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Video: Biden calls White House transition lockdowns irresponsible

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Biden calls White House transition lockdowns irresponsible

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Monday his transition team faced “obstruction” from political leaders in the Department of Defense, after attending a briefing with national security experts.

For some agencies, our teams have benefited from exemplary cooperation from the career staff of these agencies. On the part of others, notably the Ministry of Defense, we have encountered obstacles from the political leaders of that ministry. And the truth is, many organizations critical to our security have suffered tremendous damage. And for now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure nothing gets lost in the transfer between jurisdictions. My team needs a clear picture of our strong position in the world and of our operations to deter our enemies. We need full visibility into ongoing budget planning in the Defense Ministry and other agencies to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our opponents might try to exploit. But as I have said from the beginning, we have encountered obstacles in the political direction of the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. At present, we are simply not getting all the information we need for prosecution – from the outgoing administration in key areas of national security. In my opinion, this is nothing short of irresponsibility.

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California lockdowns go into effect

Hello.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans for new strict stay-at-home orders tied to intensive care unit capacity on Thursday, we knew they would likely go into effect within days. But the speed at which available intensive care capacity in two of the state’s most populous areas fell below the 15% threshold is testament to the horrific trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

On Saturday, the state reported that intensive care capacity in the already hard-hit San Joaquin Valley had dropped to just 8.6%, while the southern California region comprising Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside counties and San Diego had fallen to 12.5%.

In the Bay Area, where local public health officials have carried out some of the most aggressive shutdowns in the country, five counties have preemptively implemented the state’s stay-at-home order, even if he was not yet mandated by the state.

[What to know about California’s stay-at-home order.]

The new lockdowns, which took effect Sunday evening, come after a summer and fall marked by shifting restrictions that many have criticized as being unevenly enforced and of varying effectiveness.

So this time – as state and local health officials have described the spread of the virus as much more frightening and dangerous – the restrictions have been met with more skepticism in some quarters and an outright challenge in d ‘other.

Los Angeles restaurants have fought against outdoor dining closures, which county officials announced ahead of the state’s order. (More information below.)

On Saturday, streets that until recently lived with diners sitting on sidewalks or in parking lots were quieter, but shoppers still flocked to grocery stores and congregated outside restaurants waiting for take-out.

In Orange County, where local officials and residents have been more violently defiant over the restrictions, Sheriff Don Barnes issued a statement saying his office would not enforce state order.

“Compliance with health orders is a matter of personal responsibility, not a matter of law enforcement,” he said.

Restaurants in the sprawling southern suburb of Orange County were serving diners indoors as recently as Friday, though the county was supposed to shut down indoor dining rooms last month.

Gov. Newsom has repeatedly said the state will try to take a slight step in carrying out its warrants, but may withhold aid money from counties that refuse to comply.

Still, experts said the lack of bite built into state orders leaves many workers vulnerable.

[Read more about how the pandemic has shown why health equity is critical.]

Ana Padilla, the executive director of the University of California, Merced’s Community and Labor Center, said in an email that, as in previous state lockdowns, the new order was probably the most effective in controlling the virus. in communities with many intermediaries. class workers who can work remotely.

“It will do less for workers who have no choice but to work in essential low-wage jobs, in which they frequently come into contact with others,” she said.

Over the summer, the center released an analysis that showed a link between counties, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, that have high concentrations of low-wage work and the prevalence of the virus. And communities in the San Joaquin Valley have long struggled to access health care, even before the pandemic cast a harsh light on the region’s scarcity of hospital beds.

[If you missed it, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. picked California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at a crucial time.]

Ms Padilla and other experts have said for months that many low-paid workers have had to choose between making a living and risking their lives in jobs where employers may not be transparent about outbreaks and offer benefits that would allow workers to take. free time to isolate yourself.

She acknowledged that the state had recently taken steps to protect workers, but said the question was whether those policies would be rigorously implemented and enforced.

“It looks like we need a full Covid-19 policy just as much as a home order,” she said.

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)


Marie Tae McDermott wrote this dispatch, on the basis of Los Angeles County’s contested ban on outdoor dining:

Even before the state announced broader restrictions, officials ordered Angelenos to stay home except during essential activities and to ban gatherings of more than one household.

“It’s time to calm down,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week. “It’s time to undo everything.”

This comes in addition to Los Angeles County’s ban on alfresco dining, issued on November 25, which has already affected tens of thousands of restaurant owners and their employees.

“We know that we ask a lot from so many people who have sacrificed themselves for months,” Barbara Ferrer, director of public health, said last week. “Acting with collective urgency now is essential if we are to stop this wave.”

But the decision to close outdoor restaurants met with stiff opposition. The California Restaurant Association challenged the ban in court, saying the county was not providing any scientific basis for the shutdown.

And on Wednesday, a judge ordered Los Angeles County health officials to show evidence that would justify the ban earlier this week.

[Read more about the fight over outdoor dining in Los Angeles.]

Some towns in the county like Lancaster, Whittier and West Covina are now questioning whether they should open their own health services so that they are no longer under county jurisdiction. Beverly Hills City Council voted unanimously to oppose the county health order. Health officials in Pasadena, which already has its own health department, decided not to follow the county’s outdoor dining ban when it was announced. On Sunday evening, restaurants in Pasadena closed all outdoor dining after the stay-at-home state order was ordered.

[Track Covid-19 cases by California county.]

Opponents of the ban claim it will deal a fatal blow to thousands of establishments in an already struggling industry.

But Dr Anne W. Rimoin, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Global and Immigrant Health, said these were difficult but necessary restrictions.

“Restaurants are places where people are together in gathering places without masks for long periods of time,” said Dr Rimoin.

This risk of transmission is compounded, she said, by the fact that dining tables are often made up of people from multiple households.

“We have an incredible increase in cases,” said Dr Rimoin. “We are trying to do everything we can to save lives.”


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has reported statewide, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

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Lockdowns, Round 2: New virus surge invites restrictions and dismissal

The scene was familiar: Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, facing a rapid increase in the coronavirus outbreak in her state, stood in front of a lectern and grimly announced new restrictions intended to prevent the virus from spreading uncontrollably.

Within hours, the reaction began.

As the coronavirus crisis escalates with renewed force in the United States, surpassing 11 million total cases and threatening to overwhelm hospitals across the country, governors, mayors and other officials order restrictions and find themselves again in the cross-streams of public health and economics. crises.

California, Washington state, Michigan and Oregon have closed indoor restaurants, among other measures. In Chicago, a new stay-at-home notice went into effect Monday. In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney introduced a sweeping new set of coronavirus rules, including a ban on most private gatherings indoors, with a call for understanding: “We’re not taking any of this away. lightly, ”he said. “Believe me, more than anything in the world, I wish none of this was necessary.

The new wave of restrictions come at a time when health officials across the country are reporting more new cases and more hospitalizations from the virus than ever before, and experts warn that 100,000 to 200,000 more Americans could die from the virus in the coming months. if no meaningful action is taken.

But the new restrictions are meeting resistance, and it has been particularly fierce in Michigan, where Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, said Sunday night she would shut down restaurants inside, shut down casinos and movie theaters, and would stop learning in person at top schools and colleges for three weeks. A Republican state lawmaker quickly called for his impeachment, and Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s coronavirus adviser, urged residents of the state to “stand up” in protest.

“The only way it stops is for people to stand up. You get what you accept ”, Dr Atlas written on twitter. On Monday, Ms Whitmer said the statement left her “breathless”.

“It’s just incredibly reckless, considering everything that’s happened,” said Ms Whitmer, who faced fierce opposition for her coronavirus restrictions in the spring: Mr Trump tweeted a call for “Free Michigan,” and state Capitol protesters chanted, “Lock her up. She was then the target of an alleged kidnapping plot by an extremist anti-government group, authorities said.

Dr Atlas said later on Sunday that he did not intend to incite violence.

The tense political atmosphere is a throwback to an earlier pandemic era, when protesters who were angry at business closures shouted without masks in state capitals and Mr. Trump encouraged right-wing protests demanding the reopening of the economy. These tensions eased over the summer after viral outbreaks subsided in many states. Governors have made plans to open businesses and restaurants, and some of the millions of jobs lost in the pandemic have returned.

But now the pandemic arc has returned to crisis levels almost everywhere.

The country is now registering more than 150,000 new cases per day on average, more than ever. More than 69,000 people are in hospital with the virus, the highest number in the pandemic. Reports of coronavirus-related deaths have risen 64% over the past month, to more than 1,100 people per day. And governors and mayors return to lecterns and video feeds where they held daily briefings in the spring, this time to announce urgent new restrictions and plead for respect.

“It sounds a lot like spring,” said Crystal Watson, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Dr Watson said she feared hospitals in many cities would soon be overwhelmed, as they were in New York and other places on the East Coast during the peak of spring.

“But it’s also a lot worse than spring because this virus is now much more widespread,” she said. “It’s not just one part of the country that is experiencing this push. It’s every state.

As in the spring, the latest closure measures were often led by Democratic officials, who tended to be more willing than Republicans to impose restrictions on businesses and issue mask warrants. The governors of Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington who have announced new restrictions in recent days are all Democrats.

The same goes for Governor Gavin Newsom of California, who said Monday his state was “pulling the emergency brake” on its plan to reopen.

It moved most of California’s most populous counties into the most restrictive level of the state’s multi-level reopening plan, meaning restaurants inside and some other businesses that had been allowed to reopen with limits should close again. Mr Newsom added that the state was exploring options to impose a curfew.

But as the pandemic spreads far and wide, reaching more rural areas and large swathes of Republican-ruled states than it touched in the spring, Republican officials hesitated in the face of excessive government action. have also exercised their authority more forcefully. The Republican governors of North Dakota and Utah imposed mask warrants last week; The Iowa governor followed suit on Monday, also announcing curfews at restaurants and bars and restrictions on the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings.

So far, few officials have reverted to the most restrictive measure used in the spring, a full stay-at-home order. But the Navajo Nation has reinstated its stay-at-home order after health officials warned of the virus spreading out of control in dozens of communities across the vast reservation.

The order, one of the most aggressive antivirus measures in the country, went into effect Monday and is set to last for three weeks. During this time, all roads in the Navajo Nation are closed to visitors, residents are required to stay at home except for urgent travel, and most government offices will be closed. Essential businesses like gas stations and grocery stores are allowed to open, but only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Having warned that serious action was needed to prevent another wave of deaths, Philadelphia officials on Monday announced sweeping measures to shut down indoor restaurants, gyms, museums and libraries, shut down learning in person in high schools and colleges until the end of 2020. and ban all indoor gatherings of people from multiple households, even in private homes.

“It means no indoor parties, group meals, football watching groups, no inter-household visits, no indoor weddings, funerals, baby showers,” said Dr Thomas Farley , city health commissioner. “We know this is a very strong policy, but it affects the most important distribution sites.”

The virus killed around 1,700 people in Philadelphia in the first months of the pandemic, overwhelming the city’s funeral homes. As Covid-19 hospitalizations skyrocket in the city again, Dr Farley warned that the virus could kill a similar number of Philadelphians this fall and winter if left unchecked.

Under the new rules, outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people for every 1,000 square feet of space, which Dr Farley said meant banning fans from football games. Sports for youth, community and schools will be canceled. High schools and colleges have been told to switch to distance learning, but daycare centers and elementary and middle schools will be allowed to remain open.

“The bottom line is this: If we don’t do anything to change the trajectory of this epidemic, the hospitals will become full,” Dr Farley said. “They will have a hard time treating people, and we will have between several hundred and a thousand dead by the end of the year.”

Reporting was contributed by Kathleen gray, Marie fazio, Jill cowan, Simon romero and Bryan pietsch.

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Topical Quiz: Amy Coney Barrett, Lockdowns, Anonymous

News Quiz: Amy Coney Barrett, Lockdowns, Anonymous Did you catch the headlines this week? Compiled by Will Dudding and Andrea Kannapell