Biden Bits: This Isn’t About Politics

Biden Tweets Logo. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

It’s Thursday.

Throwback Thursday. This song debuted 15years ago today. I feel so old…

For August 19th, 2021, President Biden has received his daily brief. By the time this is published he along with Vice President Harris will have met with their national security team to hear intelligence, security, and diplomatic updates on Afghanistan.

President Biden has not tweeted so far for Thursday; this will likely change before publication.

I was right.

President Biden has tweeted 1 time so far for Thursday. 08/19/2021.

When Biden Bits was published on Wednesday, President Biden had retweeted 1 time. He added 6 tweets giving him a Wednesday Tweeting Total of 6 tweets and 1 retweet.

On Wednesday the White House COVID-19 Response Team held a press briefing. Their full remarks can be found here.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said (6:08): That is why, today, we are announcing our plan to stay ahead of this virus by being prepared to offer COVID-19 booster shots to fully vaccinated adults 18 years and older. They would be eligible for their booster shot eight months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines. We plan to start this program the week of September 20th, 2021. I want to be very clear: This plan is pending the FDA conducting an independent evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence.

Dr. Murthy also posted a detailed Twitter thread.

All 6 of President Biden’s tweets focus on the coronavirus and the coronavirus vaccine.

This is normally where I say how long the video feed is, but for today, I will be using the YouTube video posted below. The YouTube feed is 15 minutes and 35 seconds long and it has better sound quality (for me) than the tweeted out feed. President Biden’s full remarks can be found here.

President Biden (11:48): Earlier today, our medical experts announced a plan for booster shots to every fully vaccinated American — adult American.  You know, this shot will boost your immune response.  It will increase your protection from COVID-19.  And it’s the best way to protect ourselves from new variants that could arise.

President Biden (6:20): That’s why I’m taking steps on vaccination requirements where I can.  Already, I’ve outlined vaccine requirements.  We’re going reach millions of Americans: federal workers and contractors; medical staff caring for our veterans at VA hospitals; and our active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Today, I’m announcing a new step.  If you work in a nursing home and serve people on Medicare or Medicaid, you will also be required to get vaccinated. 

The White House published the following fact-sheet on Wedensday; President Biden to Announce New Actions to Protect Americans from COVID-⁠19 and Help State and Local Leaders Fight the Virus.

Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations for Long-Term Care Workers Who Serve Medicare and Medicaid Enrollees. Today, President Biden is announcing that HHS will develop new regulations requiring nursing homes to require that all of their workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Some states have already taken similar steps to protect nursing home residents, and this action will ensure consistent and equitable standards across the country. These new regulations would apply to nearly 15,000 nursing home facilities, which employ approximately 1.6 million workers and serve approximately 1.3 million nursing home residents.

Since the spread of the Delta variant, there has been a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, especially in those states that have low rates of vaccinated workers. Both CDC and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data confirm a strong relationship between the increase of COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents and the rate of vaccination among nursing home workers.

White 08/18/2021.

President Biden (3:14): For example, last week, at a schoolboard meeting in Tennessee, protestors threatened doctors and nurses who were testifying, making the case for masking children in schools. The intimidation and the threats we’re seeing across the country are wrong. They’re unacceptable. And I’ve said before, this isn’t about politics. It’s about keeping our children safe. This is about taking on the virus together, united.

President Biden (4:41): As I’ve said before, if you aren’t going to fight COVID-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else who is trying. You know, we’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children.

From the fact-sheet:

Directing the Department of Education to Use All Available Tools to Safely Reopen Schools: Today, President Biden will issue a memorandum to the Secretary of Education directing him to use all available tools to ensure that governors and other officials are providing a safe return to in-person learning for the nation’s children. Students have experienced tremendous disruptions in their learning over the past two school years, but with increased access to vaccinations for school staff and students age 12 and older, proven disease prevention and mitigation strategies, and unprecedented resources from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), all schools can and should open safely this Fall for full-time, in-person learning. However, some state governments have adopted policies and laws that interfere with the ability of schools and districts to keep our children safe during in-person learning, with some going as far as to try to block school officials from adopting safety protocols aligned with recommendations from the CDC. State and local leaders must do everything they can to put student health and safety first and comply with their legal obligations to their communities. Today’s Presidential Memorandum will ensure the Department of Education is doing everything it can to prevent anything from standing in the way of local leaders and school leaders taking steps to keep all students safe in full-time, in-person learning, without compromising students’ health or the health of their families or communities.

White 08/18/2021.

The White House issued a Memorandum on; Ensuring a Safe Return to In-Person School for the Nation’s Children.

Section 1. Policy. As the school year starts across the country, a top priority of my Administration is to do everything in our power to ensure a safe return to full-time, in-person school for our Nation’s children. With increased access to vaccinations for school staff and students age 12 and older, proven virus prevention strategies, and unprecedented resources from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2) (American Rescue Plan) and other Federal pandemic relief funds, opening all schools this fall for full-time, in-person learning is essential. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made clear that, with the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant driving an increase in COVID-19 cases nationally, it is critical for schools to protect students against exposure, especially given the number of children who are ineligible to obtain the vaccine at this time. The CDC has provided clear guidance to schools on how to adopt science-based strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the Department of Education has provided guidance to schools on how to reopen safely while addressing the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of our Nation’s students.

Sec. 2.  Department of Education Role in Ensuring a Safe Return to In-Person School.  (a)  In furtherance of the policy set out in section 1 of this memorandum, I direct the Secretary of Education to assess all available tools in taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to ensure that:

(i)   Governors and other officials are taking all appropriate steps to prepare for a safe return to school for our Nation’s children, including not standing in the way of local leaders making such preparations; and

(ii)  Governors and other officials are giving students the opportunity to participate and remain in safe full-time, in-person learning without compromising their health or the health of their families or communities. 

(b) The Secretary of Education’s assessment in subsection (a) of this section shall include consideration of whether to take steps toward the initiation of possible enforcement actions under applicable laws.

White 08/18/2021.

Here’s what we’re doing at ED to deliver on the President’s commitment: 
Standing Up for Students’ Rights 

I want to emphasize this Department’s commitment to protecting the rights of every student in the nation. The Department has the authority to investigate any state educational agency whose policies or actions may infringe on the rights of every student to access public education equally.   

For example, the Department may initiate a directed investigation if facts indicate a potential violation of the rights of students as a result of state policies and actions. The Department will also receive and respond as appropriate to complaints from the public, including parents, guardians, and others about studentswho may experience discrimination as a result of states not allowing local school districts to reduce virus transmission risk through masking requirements and other mitigation measures. As always, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights evaluates allegations of discrimination on a case-by-case basis, looking at the specific facts of each case. 

In addition, the Department’s Office of Special Education Programs monitors states’ implementation of the federal special education law that requires that students with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education. 

Supporting School Districts to Protect Students and Educators 

Following the letters I sent last week to Florida and Texas, today the Department issued communications to six additional states that have also prohibited universal mask mandates – Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act) requires each school district that receives Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to adopt a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. As I wrote in the letters, actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the CDC may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by Federal law.  

In addition, the ARP Act explicitly gives school districts the authority to use ESSER funds for “developing strategies and implementing public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff.” It also specifies that ESSER funds can be used to support “activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies ad continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.” We will take any necessary action to ensure that nothing interferes with a school district’s discretion to make these critical investments, including state policies from a Governor, state legislature, state education agency, or other officials. This also includes paying the full salaries of educators (including superintendents) and school board members if their state moves to withhold their salary or levy financial penalties on their schools. 

Let me be clear—this Department will continue to use every tool in our toolbox to protect the health and safety of students and educators and to maximize in-person learning as the new school year begins. 

You have my word: We will follow the science. We will do what is best for students. And together we will fulfill the extraordinary potential of our public education system in this most challenging of years. Our students deserve it! 

Blog.Ed.Gov. 08/18/2021.

President Biden (15:01): To all those of who are unvaccinated: Please get vaccinated for yourself and for your loved ones, your neighborhood and for your community.

There are no live events from the White House scheduled for today. This could change. In the event this change happens, I will update the thread.

This is an open thread

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Member of the Free Press who is politically homeless and a political junkie.