THE ISSUE IS: DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CARLA MARINUCCI, JOHN MYERS
In the past year, Dr. Anthony Fauci has gone from oft-cited immunologist and the long-serving director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, to one of the most recognizable, and controversial, medical figures in the world.
This week, Dr. Fauci, who now also serves as Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, returns to The Issue Is to discuss the future of masking, vaccine passports, and whether states are reopening at the right pace a year into a pandemic which has infected more than 30 million Americans, claiming more than 550,000 lives in the United States.
Host Elex Michaelson is also joined by political reporters Carla Marinucci of Politico and John Myers of the LA Times to talk the potential recall fight of Governor Gavin Newsom, Vice President Kamala Harris’s upcoming visit to Oakland, and the situation at the Southern Border.
THE ISSUE: CA’S HANDLING OF THE PANDEMIC
BACKGROUND: This week, as counties, including Los Angeles and Orange, entered less-restrictive tiers, the California Department of Public Health announced new reopening guidelines for indoor events, parties, and gatherings. But as California, which still has a mask mandate, and was the first state to lockdown, begins to reopen more rapidly, some 30 other states are seeing infections rise. So, with new daily cases up some 17% in the past two weeks, should states, including California, slow down, or even pause, their reopening efforts?
FAUCI’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The decision to just continue to implement public health measures is a good one… if you look at the country as a whole, we had a very large spike in the winter months, December, January, and into February, and then it started to come down rather sharply, but what’s happening now, it’s plateaued at an unacceptably high level, and over the last, maybe two to three weeks, it’s inched up, and when I say ‘it,’ I mean the daily cases have gone from 30, to 40, to 50, and now most recently, over 60,000 a day… that is concerning, because that is usually a forerunner of another surge, which we don’t want to happen because we’re in such a good position with the vaccines rolling out in a really good fashion, where we’re vaccinating, you know, maybe three million people per day, and every day that goes by we get closer and closer to better control, so we get concerned, when, understandably, states want to cut loose, they want to get back to normal, and they pull back a lot on the restrictions, and that just leads to this danger of rebounding… Hang in there a bit longer, we’re going to get through this, and this is going to end, but don’t declare victory prematurely…"
THE ISSUE: TEARING OFF THE MASKS
BACKGROUND: This week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the CDC’s preliminary data suggests that "vaccinated people don’t carry the virus, don’t get sick." This, as more than 150 million doses of the vaccine have been administered so far in the US. If the vaccine does protect individuals from further infection, Michaelson asked Dr. Fauci if vaccinated individuals will need to continue masking up.
FAUCI’S CENTRAL TAKE: "What Dr. Walensky was saying is that the preliminary data that she was talking about, strongly suggests that vaccinated people do not spread it. What we’re waiting for, and what the CDC is waiting for before they pull back on the recommendation of wearing masks, even though you’re vaccinated, is a definitive proof of that. And I think it will be coming soon. What you’re likely going to see, as more data accumulate, is a recommendation, or a statement, that, in fact, if you are vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask, but we’re not there yet. We are getting there quickly, and there are a number of studies going on right now that are going to nail that down…"
THE ISSUE: VACCINE PASSPORTS
BACKGROUND: Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) issued an executive order banning state and local agencies, as well as businesses, from requiring individuals to show proof of vaccination. So-called ‘vaccine passports’ have become a hot-button issue lately, with questions of science, practicality, and legality swirling around whether proof of immunizations should be required to allow entrance to certain venues, businesses, or other activities.
FAUCI’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The fact is, from the standpoint of practicality, there is merit to that. There are a lot of concerns and objections about discrimination for people who don’t, or Big Brother looking over you and giving you the right or not to enter into a theater or into a restaurant, it’s a very controversial issue right now. But you can understand that there may be individual, independent entities, not at the level of the federal government, but there may be some school districts that would say ‘unless you’re vaccinated, you can’t get in,’ or some places of employment that say ‘unless you’re vaccinated, you can’t come in.’ That’s apart from a broad, umbrella concern, or control, of the federal government. I don’t think you’re going to see a federal government mandate about that, it might be at the local level though…"
THE ISSUE: NEWSOM FIGHTS THE RECALL
BACKGROUND: This week, good news for Governor Gavin Newsom. While the California leader is likely to face a recall election later this year, a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California suggests that 56% of likely voters would vote to keep Newsom in office, only 40% would vote to remove him. If those numbers hold, Newsom would avoid becoming only the second Governor in California history to be removed via a recall.
MARINUCCI’S CENTRAL TAKE: "$3.1 million in two weeks, that’s what his campaign has dragged in from donors over California… that’s a big deal, he’s coming up on the $4 million that the Republicans have raised since last February, in two weeks they’ve done that. That was good news for Newsom, and look, this type of money will keep other Democrats from getting into that recall ballot, including Tom Steyer… Right now, it’s looking like, with the Governor’s polls, with that approval rating at 53%, it’s going to be an uphill climb for the GOP, particularly with the money he’s raising…"
MYERS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "Here’s what’s different from 2003, is this Governor comes in with this reservoir of support that Gray Davis did not have… If Newsom is able to keep things, pandemic-wise, in California, where they are, or improving, that’s going to be big for him. But I tell you Elex, these ideas of these reopenings, and here we hear it on Friday this moving into in-door venues, limited populations who can go into those, maybe even showing your vaccination to get in the door of a venue, those are going to be helpful for the psyche of Californians, but if the numbers start to go back, and we have to shut down some, as obviously, some people have talked about that if that could happen, that could be huge for this Governor. So really, it is live or die, politically, I think, on the plight of the pandemic in California…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.