As many as 700 members of the National Guard are ready to fill positions in the nation’s capital amid planned trucker protest convoys that organizers say could cripple the city without entering it.
Bob Bolus, a truck driver from Pennsylvania, says he now leads the Freedom Convoy of trucks from Pennsylvania to Washington. But he told NBC4-TV in Washington that he backed out of blocking the Capital Beltway, a 64-mile road through Virginia and Maryland that circles Washington, D.C. His grievances include vaccine mandates, pandemic-related restrictions and high fuel prices, among other issues.
“We’re not stopping traffic today,” Bolus said. “If we don’t have a government resolution on the rights they take away from us, I predict that in the future it will be closed.”
The convoys were inspired by truckers and others protesting coronavirus restrictions and other issues in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, which brought downtown car traffic to a standstill for three weeks. Similar protests have also closed border crossings for days in a row.
The Pentagon has approved the use of 400 Guardsmen from the District of Columbia and 300 members from other states along with 50 “large tactical vehicles” to help maintain traffic, the DC National Guard said in a statement. communicated.
Guard vehicles will take up positions at strategic intersections from 1 p.m. on Saturday or as soon as possible, the statement said. Guard members will not be armed and they will not be allowed to carry out “internal surveillance activities”, according to the statement.
Personnel from other states will be commanded by the local guard leadership but will remain under the control of their governors. The mission is approved to continue until March 8 if necessary.
Another group, the People’s Convoy, planned to leave California today and pick up other truckers ahead of a March 5 arrival on the Capital Beltway. The band said they have no plans to enter DC proper.
“The message of the people’s convoy is simple,” the organization says on its website. “With the advent of the vaccine and usable therapeutic agents…now is the time to reopen the country.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is monitoring protest plans.
Also in the news:
►The New Jersey Legislature, which meets again on Monday, dropped the requirement to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to enter the State House or adjacent buildings.
►North Carolina’s two largest school districts will drop mask requirements starting March 7. The Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school boards voted separately to comply with Gov. Roy Cooper’s recommendation to end mask mandates.
►The number of new coronavirus cases worldwide fell 21% last week, marking the third straight week of declines in COVID-19 cases, the World Health Organization said.
📈Today’s numbers: The United States has had more than 78.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 939,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 428.6 million cases and over 5.9 million deaths. More than 215 million Americans — 64.8% — are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we read: The CDC has found 21 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adolescents who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Although the report may seem ominous at first glance, experts say a closer analysis of the data highlights the importance of COVID vaccination in children and adolescents, as most cases were in those who were not were not considered fully vaccinated.
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Have you just received your first vaccine? You might want to wait 8 weeks for jab 2
The ideal timing between the first and second shots of Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations is up to eight weeks for most people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday in a guidance update. The previous deadline was four weeks for Moderna, three weeks for Pfizer. CDC officials said these time frames can work, but research shows a longer interval may provide longer-lasting protection. Research suggests that ages 12 to 64 — especially men ages 12 to 39 — may benefit from longer spacing, the CDC said. The agency also said the longer wait could help decrease an already rare vaccination side effect of heart inflammation seen in some young men.
The change won’t affect many people: The CDC says 73 percent of people ages 12 and older have already received two doses.
COVID patients face higher risk of cardiovascular disease, study finds
People who have been infected with the coronavirus are much more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than those who have never been infected, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine. Millions of American COVID-19 patients have battled the long-term effects of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, dubbed “long COVID.” The Nature Medicine article focuses on cardiovascular disease, using data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to study more than 150,000 veterans who contracted COVID-19 up to a year after recovery. Those who contracted COVID-19 were more than 60% more likely to develop a heart problem.
Researchers found that those who had COVID-19 infection were more likely to have inflammatory heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, clotting and other cardiovascular symptoms compared to those who never had. been infected.
Is the lack of data masking children who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Experts worry that a lack of data is obscuring where to target vaccination strategies for children of color, who disproportionately suffer severe illness from COVID-19 but may not have access to the vaccine. Just under a third of children ages 5 to 11 nationwide have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and a quarter are fully immunized, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 67% of children 12 years and older have received a dose and only 57% are fully immunized.
But the CDC does not report childhood COVID-19 vaccination rates by race, and inconsistencies and variations remain in how numbers are broken down and reported from state to state. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that only seven states publish childhood vaccination data by race in a way that allows for statistical comparison. Among these states, black children generally lagged behind white children, and rates of children from other racial groups varied.
– Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY
Contribute: The Associated Press