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Liberal network CNN presses Health Sec. Becerra on his call for vaccinated people to keep wearing masks. He has trouble defending it.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra went on CNN Monday to attempt to explain why fully vaccinated people should continue to mask-up.

And he struggled to make the case to the Democrat-family cable outlet.

What happened?

Becerra is the most recent member of the Biden administration to come out and contradict the latest face mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Late last month, the new CDC guidelines said that fully vaccinated Americans do not need to wear masks outdoors, or even indoors in many cases. Fully vaccinated people, the CDC said, can gather outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and can also gather indoors without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart.

President Joe Biden told NBC’s “Today” just a couple days after the CDC update that he would keep wearing a mask outdoors because “it’s a patriotic duty.” And last Friday he said to reporters who asked about his continued masking that being fully vaccinated and still wearing a mask indoors is “good policy.”

The president’s COVID czar, Jeff Zients, erroneously told CNN that Biden was following CDC guidance by wearing a mask, even after being fully vaccinated since January.

And senior Biden adviser Anita Dunn defended the president’s continued mask-wearing by saying people should follow CDC guidelines.

On Monday, Sec. Becerra attempted to make the case to CNN’s audience for fully vaccinated people to still wear face masks.

CNN host John Berman asked the secretary about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s remarks Sunday that it might be time to relax indoor mask mandates, especially for people who have been vaccinated.

“Who are you protecting, if everyone’s vaccinated, by wearing a mask?” Berman queried.

Becerra responded by claiming that the administration’s guidance “focuses on safety” and is the “best advice possible.”

What does that look like? In Becerra’s mind, it means fully vaccinated people masking up because — well — they could still be carrying the virus and spread COVID-19.

What did Becerra say?

“We still want you to be as safe as possible, that’s why the indoor policy should still be masking,” the HHS chief said. “But clearly, if you’ve been vaccinated fully and you’re with folks who are also vaccinated, John, the risk does diminish radically. But you could end up being a carrier and not know it and if somebody hasn’t been vaccinated and doesn’t wear a mask, guess what, there’s still that potential of getting COVID.”

Berman responded that he and his co-workers are inoculated and their safety is not being “impacted” by wearing a mask. He then indicated that perhaps it’s a matter of personal responsibility and assumption of risk for each person.

“If someone else is not vaccinated, it might be THEIR safety that’s being affected, so there’s two issues here,” Berman said. “Number one: Is that my concern anymore that someone who’s chosen to be unvaccinated is making a bad choice? And question two is maybe there should be laws that allow them to be kept out of the building.”

Becerra responded that he still wants to convince everyone to act in what he says is their own best interests and “be as safe as possible.”

“You know, it’s always difficult to get people on motorcycles to wear helmets — for their own safety. It was tough at times to get people to wear seatbelts — for their own safety,” he said. “What we’re simply saying is the best guidance from those who are the experts in health care is be as safe as possible by wearing a mask, even if you’re vaccinated.”

The CDC experts’ guidance does not agree with Becerra’s assertion.

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Biden admin reverses Trump rule, will force hospitals to provide sex-change procedures

The Biden administration took action Monday to require hospitals to perform sex-change procedures and offer other other transgender medical services or face anti-discrimination lawsuits, restoring an Obama-era policy that had been ended by President Donald Trump.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that its Office of Civil Rights will interpret and enforce laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity, in line with the recent Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Bostock established that federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in employment also protect gay and transgender people. Days before that ruling last year, the Trump administration acted to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals who object to transgender or abortion procedures by interpreting “sex” to mean biological sex in health care law. Trump’s policy was a reversal of an Obama-era rule that interpreted the Affordable Care Act to include gay and transgender people as protected classes. A federal judge blocked the Trump rule from taking effect, but the Trump administration argued that because health care law is a separate matter from employment discrimination law, it still had the power to define “sex” as biological sex in matters related to health care.

Now the Trump rule is officially gone and the Obama-era rule has been reinstated by President Joe Biden. Hospitals, clinics, and other medial providers are once again subject to government sanctions if they deny sex-change surgeries, such as hysterectomies, or hormone treatments to people who identify as transgender, while offering those procedures for other medical conditions.

“The mission of our Department is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. All people need access to healthcare services to fix a broken bone, protect their heart health, and screen for cancer risk,” Dr. Rachel Levine, the first transgender person to be confirmed as assistant secretary for health, said. “No one should be discriminated against when seeking medical services because of who they are.”

Reacting to the announcement, social conservative groups warned that hospitals and medical professionals could be forced to provide sex-change procedures to anyone who demands one, even children, or face legal action.

“Make no mistake: the policy announced by HHS today is not about ‘fix[ing] a broken bone’ or ‘screen[ing] for cancer risk.’ No American was being denied access to these treatments for identifying as ‘LGBTQ,'” American Principles Project President Terry Schilling said. “Rather, this policy is really about forcing hospitals and medical professionals to adhere to leftist ideology regarding sexuality and gender—and in particular to provide sex-change procedures to all comers, including children.”

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Sasse humiliates Biden HHS nominee for ‘bullying’ nuns over contraception mandate

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Wednesday grilled California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s radical nominee for secretary of health and human services, demanding to know why he sued the federal government to “bully” nuns.

Acting on behalf of the state of California, Becerra in 2017 sued the federal government to reinstate an Obamacare mandate requiring insurance providers to make contraceptives available. The mandate was previously challenged by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a nonprofit organization run by Catholic nuns that serves the elderly poor, which argued that providing contraceptives violated the group’s religious beliefs. President Donald Trump in 2017 signed an executive order providing regulatory relief for the Catholic nuns, which instigated the lawsuit from Becerra.

During Becerra’s confirmation hearing for HHS in the U.S. Senate, Sasse accused him of “bullying” the nuns.

“Mr. Becerra, you said a while ago that you had never sued the nuns — which is a pretty interesting way of reframing your bullying. You had actually sued the Government, who had given an exemption to the nuns. Can you explain to us what the Little Sisters of the Poor were doing wrong?” Sasse asked.

“So, Senator, as I tried to explain, my actions were against the federal government,” Becerra deflected. “The Little Sisters of the Poor, we never alleged that the Little Sisters of the Poor did anything. Our problem was that the federal government was not abiding by the law as we saw it, and what we did is we took action against the federal government so California could administer its program to make sure that the Affordable Care Act continued.”

Sasse said Becerra had given a “nonsense” answer, demanding to know what the nuns were doing that made it difficult for California to administer the Affordable Care Act.

Becerra again denied that his lawsuit was in any way related to the nuns, insisting that he had taken action against the federal government, but Sasse wasn’t having it.

“What did the federal government do? It was about the nuns. It’s nonsense, like what you’re saying isn’t true,” the senator said. “You say you didn’t sue the nuns. You sued the federal government that was keeping you from making sure that the nuns had to buy contraceptive insurance. Were the nuns going to get pregnant?”

“The federal government took actions to change the way we would have administrated the programs that we had under the Affordable Care Act. Our actions related to how providers are providing services to the people of California. When the federal government took action that we thought was unlawful, we took action to protect the people of California,” Becerra responded.

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DoD: COVID-19 Vaccine Is Making SWIFT Progress

The Department of Defense, which is helping to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine with plans to vaccinate the entire United States population by no later than 2021, has declared the progress to be “swift.” Unprecedented progress has been made recently on Operation Warp Speed, an effort by the Defense Department, Health and Human Services, other federal agencies, and private industry to develop a coronavirus vaccine, an HHS official said today.

According to Defense.gov, HHS policy deputy chief of staff Paul Mango said, “We’re very, very pleased with where we are,” during a telephone briefing with reporters. He was joined on the media conference call by Dr. Janet Woodcock, M.D., the director of the centers for drug evaluation research at the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccine is coming and there will a major push and propaganda campaign designed to get you to take it “voluntarily.”

Medical Journal: Get The COVID-19 Vaccine, Or Be Punished HARSHLY

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Mango reminded reporters that four of the six vaccine candidates are in phase III clinical trials, and added that the Food and Drug Administration continues to review vaccine safety information on the candidates.

“For all of these vaccines — all six vaccine candidates — we are already manufacturing at industrial scale,” he said, “Along the way, we’ve encountered the normal what I would say scientific obstacles that had to be overcome. We feel very good about having done that. And now we’re just waiting particularly for those that are in phase III trials for the appropriate number of events to occur so that those vaccines can be evaluated by the FDA.” – Defense.gov

There has also been “progress” made to the plans to distribute this vaccine to public.  “We’re in the process of actively engaging tens of thousands of provider outlets for these vaccines,” Mango said. “We anticipate having collectively 65,000 [to] 75,000 points of potential vaccination. Our [information technology] system is knitting together a lot of the legacy systems that the CDC has had in place for a long time [and] we’re testing that, stress testing it; we feel very good thus far about its capacity and its robustness.”

“We’ve been preparing for implementation of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine programs,” Butler said. “Nationally, we believe it is a crucial next step as part of our overall efforts to protect Americans, reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and help restore some normalcy to our lives in our country.” 

Trump: “The Military Is Ready To Deliver A Vaccine”

The post DoD: COVID-19 Vaccine Is Making SWIFT Progress first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don't Say We Didn't Warn You.

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The Red Cross is facing a ‘severe blood shortage’ because of the coronavirus response

It may seem like most areas of American life are temporarily pausing right now because of the coronavirus — formally known as COVID-19 — but that hasn’t stopped people from needing blood donations. It has, however, stopped a lot of blood drives from taking place and led to a “severe blood shortage,” according to the American Red Cross.

“As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate,” the Red Cross said in a Tuesday news release. So far, the organization says that around 2,700 of its blood donation drives have been canceled around the United States because of “concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak.”

The organization says that those kinds of drives usually account for over 80 percent of the blood they collect and that the recent cancellations have caused them to fall short of an estimated 86,000 donations. And with the number of cancelations expected to continue, the shortage could end up hurting people like cancer patients, emergency victims, and those in need of surgery.

“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of Transfusion Medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, said in the release. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”

The shortage has prompted top U.S. health officials point out that, while some people may be concerned about the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, it is still safe to donate blood and those who can should to take the time to do so.

“To ensure an adequate blood supply we need people to come out and donate blood,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Director Peter Marks told NPR. “Blood donation centers are a very safe place to be. People take precautions to make sure those centers are spotless clean and that people who are sick don’t enter them.”

“It is safe to donate blood,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement last week. “Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply. Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it.”

In addition to its normal sanitation protocols, the Red Cross says that it has taken extra precautions to protect the safety of people at donation centers and blood drives in response to the viral outbreak. These measures include checking the temperature of staff and donors before they enter the location, providing hand sanitizer throughout the process, practicing social distancing with the placement of beds and increasing the disinfection of equipment and surfaces.

The Red Cross says that people can schedule donation appointments on its website or donor app, by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or by using the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

“As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another including those most vulnerable among us in hospitals,” American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern said in Tuesday’s announcement. “One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible.”

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HHS whistleblower says American workers met Wuhan evacuees without taking proper precautions

A government whistleblower told the Washington Post that more than a dozen Health and Human Services employees evacuated Americans from Wuhan, China, without any proper protective gear to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Wuhan, China, was the epicenter of the coronavirus — or COVID-19 — outbreak.

What are the details?

The allegations only get worse: The whistleblower told the outlet that none of the HHS workers reportedly had proper training for infection control, either.

None of the employees showed symptoms of coronavirus, according to the whistleblower — but none of the workers were tested, either.

The whistleblower — a senior HHS official based in Washington, D.C., according to the outlet — is seeking federal protection. The female employee says that she was unfairly reassigned after sounding the alarm on the alleged evacuation protocol. The unnamed employee says that she was notified on Feb. 19 that she will be terminated if she does not accept the new assignment.

She filed a complaint against the department on Wednesday with the Office of the Special Counsel.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Special Counsel told the outlet that it has, indeed, received the woman’s complaint and is reviewing the case.

Ari Wilkenfeld, a lawyer for the whistleblower, told CNN that his client will not be intimidated into silence.

“We are hopeful that Congress and the OSC will investigate this case in a timely and comprehensive manner,” Wilkenfeld said in a statement. “This matter concerns HHS’s response to the coronavirus, and its failure to protect its employees and potentially the public. The retaliatory efforts to intimidate and silence our client must be opposed.”

What else?

The news comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar, who is accused of mishandling the response to the coronavirus epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control warns that it’s only a matter of when, not if, the coronavirus spreads throughout the U.S.

Azar, however, has continually insisted that the coronavirus is of low risk to Americans — directly contradicting advisories from the CDC. The CDC reports that the “potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and to the United States.”

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President Trump requests $2.5 billion in coronavirus emergency funding; Pelosi and Schumer complain it’s not enough

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the coronavirus is under control in the United States a day after the White House sent Congress a request for billions of dollars in taxpayer money to combat the virus’ spread.

On Monday evening, the White House formally asked the legislative branch to approve $2.5 billion in emergency funding to address the public health situation created by the deadly, fast-spreading virus, according to Fox News:

The request included $1.25 billion in new money, with the rest coming from unspent funds. The measure would help the federal government, as well as state and local agencies, potentially prepare to respond to an outbreak and allocate cash for vaccine development, a senior administration official told Fox Business.

One source familiar with the request told Fox News that the administration was careful “not to sound alarm bells” over the supplemental spending request, but added, “It is better to have, certainly with finite funds.”

The Department of Health and Human Services already has tapped into an emergency infectious disease rapid response fund and has been seeking to transfer more than $130 million from other HHS accounts to combat the virus but was pressing for more.

MarketWatch also pointed out that, in addition to the $1.25 billion in new funding, the request also asks for the administration to shift more than $500 million in federal funds from an Ebola virus account as well as redirect money from other accounts and agencies in order to get to the total request.

In response, some Congressional Democrats argued that the amount of funds requested by the White House was simply not enough to address the virus’ spread, with some criticizing the request to redirect federal funding.

“Americans need a coordinated, fully-funded, whole-of-government response to keep them and their loved ones safe. The President’s request for coronavirus response funding is long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted in the wake of the request.

“Weeks after the #TrumpBudget called for slashing the CDC budget during this coronavirus epidemic, this undersized funding request shows an ongoing failure to understand urgent public health needs,” the speaker added in a later tweet.

“Too little too late,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote of the request, “That President Trump is trying to steal funds dedicated to fight Ebola is indicative of his towering incompetence and further proof that he and his administration aren’t taking the Coronavirus crisis as seriously as they need to be.”

In a statement put out Tuesday, retiring House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said that House Democrats would work to pass more money than requested to address the coronavirus outbreak without giving Trump the ability to redirect funding.

“The Trump administration’s request for emergency funding is woefully insufficient to protect Americans from the deadly coronavirus outbreak,” the statement said. “Despite urgent warnings from Congress and the public health community, the Trump administration took weeks to request these emergency funds. It is profoundly disturbing that their answer now is to raid money Congress has designated for other critical public health priorities. Worse still, their overall request still falls short of what is needed for an effective, comprehensive government-wide response.”

During a Tuesday morning news conference in India, President Trump took a reassuring stance on the state of the outbreak in the United States, saying that the virus was “very well under control in our country.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Monday that there were 53 cases of coronavirus in the United States, the bulk of which came from Americans evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship, according to the New York Post.

CNBC reported Tuesday that the total confirmed number of global cases is now over 80,000 and there have been at least 2,704 deaths.

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