Today's D Brief: US reaches 70% vaxxed adults; US strikes Taliban fighters; Helmand, falling; Eating disorders and the military; And a bit more.
America’s major domestic COVID milestone: The United States has finally vaccinated 70 percent of its adults with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and that includes 90 percent of its most vulnerable population: its seniors, White House officials announced Monday afternoon.
Positively trending: In just the past week, “3 million Americans have gotten their first shot. That’s the highest seven-day total since July 4th,” Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients told reporters.
Positively testing: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., contracted COVID despite being vaccinated, he announced on Twitter on Monday afternoon. “I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms,” he said, and added, “I am very glad I was vaccinated, because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse.”
Are there forever holdouts among us? According to new polling from Monmouth University, 17% of Americans “say they remain opposed to getting the vaccine at all,” researchers announced Monday. “Among those who admit they will not get the vaccine if they can avoid it, 70% either identify with or lean toward the Republican Party while just 6% align with the Democrats,” according to Monmouth.
What’s with the 17%? Unclear precisely (many cite unbending loyalty to POTUS45); but that statistic—similar to QAnon support—is pretty close to estimates of Americans who say they believe in alien abductions or have been abducted themselves.
On a sort of bright side, “The 17% who are opposed to getting the vaccine look slightly lower than past results (which ranged 21% to 24%),” Monmouth notes. But “there is an important caveat,” they add: “Another 4% of those polled did not answer this question (which is up slightly from past polls).”
- Monitor state-by-state vaccinations via this interactive from the Washington Post.
Tyson Foods has joined Google, Facebook, Morgan Stanley and others who are now requiring workers be vaccinated before returning to work, the Wall Street Journal reports.
One big reason this matters: “Meatpacking workers were among the hardest hit as infections began to spread in the U.S. in spring 2020, with tens of thousands of plant workers infected and more than 130 deaths,” the Journal writes.
America’s major foreign coronavirus milestone: “The U.S. has now donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries,” the White House says in a statement this morning, calling it, “a major milestone that cements the United States as the global leader in COVID-19 vaccine donations.”
What’s more, those 110 million doses are “more than the donations of all other countries combined,” according to UN metrics, “and reflects the generosity of the American spirit,” the White House says.
Fine print: “Under Biden’s sharing plan, about 75% of U.S. doses are shared through COVAX, which aims to help lower- and middle-income nations, with the balance being sent to U.S. partners and allies,” the Associated Press notes in its coverage of the White House’s vaccine diplomacy. More here.
Meanwhile in China’s Wuhan, officials have ordered mass testing and flights, trains, and recreation have all been cancelled as the Delta variant of COVID sweeps across the city where the virus is believed to have originated. “While the total number of cases is still in the hundreds, they are far more widespread than anything China has dealt with since the initial outbreak,” AP reports separately this morning, noting, “Most previous outbreaks didn’t spread far beyond a city or province. This time, cases have been confirmed in more than 35 cities in 17 of China’s 33 provinces and regions.”
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The US Needs a Department of Cybersecurity // David Brumley: As the saying goes, when everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1914, and two days after declaring war on Russia, Germany declared war on France in a bold test of Alfred von Schlieffen's plan that a two-front war against France and Russia would benefit Berlin. As his troops moved toward France by marching through neutral Belgium, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm told them in early August, “You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees.” The Kaiser and von Schlieffen were both badly mistaken; and four years later, more than 20 million people were killed before at last the guns fell silent with Germany’s surrender in November 1918.
U.S. aircraft have hit the Afghan Taliban with airstrikes everyday for the past two weeks, U.S. officials told ABC News on Monday. But that hasn’t stopped the group from now taking nine out of 10 districts in Helmand’s provincial capital city of Lashkar Gah, where reportedly intense fighting with the Taliban has raged for several days. The Associated Press reports today from Kabul that “Residents of the [Lashkar Gah], speaking to The Associated Press over the telephone, said the fighting has them trapped, hunkered down inside their homes and unable to step out for basic supplies. They said Taliban fighters were out openly in the streets, and that all but one Lashkar Gah district was under Taliban control.”
An allegedly errant Afghan military airstrike reportedly hit “a private hospital” in Lashkar Gah on Saturday, killing at least one person, Afghanistan’s Pajhwok News reports. “Taliban were hiding in [the nearby] Bust Hospital, which is located 600 meters away from Ariana Afghan Hospital,” but Ariana was the one that got hit, according to hospital director Dr. Mohammad Din Nariwal.
ICYMI: The U.S. joined the Brits and Israel in blaming Iran for a July 29 attack on a Liberian-flagged tanker off the coast of Oman that killed two crew members, including one Briton and one Romanian, Haaretz and Reuters reported Sunday.
“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sunday. “Iran must stop such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law.”
Said U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken on Sunday: “We join our partners and allies in our strong condemnation of the attack against the Mercer Street, a commercial ship that was peacefully transiting through the north Arabian Sea in international waters. Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region.” Blinken said the U.S. is working with partner nations to arrive at the most appropriate response. The Hill has a tiny bit more, here.
Apropos of nothing, get a better grasp on the U.S. military’s “pervasive culture of eating disorders” via Task & Purpose’s Haley Britzky, reporting Monday.
Sadly this week, Jan. 6 insurrection fallout continues with reports that two more Capitol police officers who responded on that chaotic day have now taken their own lives, local USA9 reported Monday evening.
With these newly reported suicides of Officer Kyle DeFreytag and Ofc. Gunther Hashida, the dreadful count now stands at four law enforcement officers who have taken their own lives since that violent and unprecedented day.
Tell anyone who may need to know: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255, and lines are always open.
And finally, here’s what’s happening around D.C. today: The Senate Armed Services Committee is considering POTUS46’s pick to lead U.S. Southern Command, Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, in a hearing that began at 9:30 a.m. EDT.
U.S. Army officials will talk about resilience, base design, and the challenges posed by climate change during a virtual event hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army. Registration required. Details here.
And shortly after that begins, U.S. Space Command’s Army Gen. James Dickinson is speaking today at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Symposium. That’s scheduled for 12:30 p.m. EDT. Details and registration here.