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The ‘could be better, could be worse’ COVID wave is here

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Duaa Eldeib/ProPublica:

They Were the Pandemic’s Perfect Victims

The pandemic killed so many dialysis patients that their total number shrunk for the first time in nearly half a century. Few people took notice

Then COVID-19 struck. Nearly 18,000 more dialysis patients died in 2020 than would have been expected based on previous years. That staggering toll represents an increase of nearly 20% from 2019, when more than 96,000 patients on dialysis died, according to federal data released this month.

The loss led to an unprecedented outcome: The nation’s dialysis population shrank, the first decline since the U.S. began keeping detailed numbers nearly a half century ago.

They were COVID-19’s perfect victims.

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That’s great but we’re not done. And it is hitting the kids. 

STATNews:

Claims of vaccine hesitancy in African countries are at odds with the reality on the ground

Our work serves as a continuous reminder that local demand for vaccines is high and access is the biggest barrier to increasing full vaccination rates — less than 3% for Uganda and 9% for the entire continent of Africa.

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Amelia Nierenberg/NY Times:

Can Schools Handle Omicron?

The looming wave is shaking the rickety infrastructure that has kept schools running.

Across the nation’s 13,000 districts and 98,000 public schools this week, there are about 600 shuttered schools or districts, according to data from Burbio, a company that has tracked how schools have operated through the pandemic. There are fewer closures now than in November.

But the Omicron variant appears contagious enough to upend the shaky equilibrium that has allowed schools to stay open. Many are in dire need of substitute teachers and bus drivers, and can ill afford an outbreak that would send many staff members home.

Staff outbreaks are the key, from hospitals to airlines to schools.

Hugo Lowell/Guardian:

Capitol panel to investigate Trump call to Willard hotel in hours before attack

The chairman said the select committee intended to scrutinize the phone call – revealed last month by the Guardian – should they prevail in their legal effort to obtain Trump White House records over the former president’s objections of executive privilege.

“That’s right,” Thompson said when asked by the Guardian whether the select committee would look into Trump’s phone call, and suggested House investigators had already started to consider ways to investigate Trump’s demand that Biden not be certified as president on 6 January.

Randall D. Eliason/WaPo:

Here’s why a criminal referral for Trump by the Jan. 6 committee is a bad idea

At other times, during the course of its legislative or oversight work, Congress uncovers facts suggesting past criminal conduct unrelated to Congress itself. Again, here a referral alerts the Justice Department to the conduct so it can consider whether investigation and prosecution are appropriate.

But the Justice Department does not need a referral from Congress to be aware of the potential crimes surrounding Jan. 6 — including those potentially committed by Trump himself.

The events leading up to the assault on the Capitol are widely known. They have been the subject of numerous media reports and books, not to mention a full impeachment proceeding. The riot is the subject of what is likely the largest and most complex federal criminal investigation in history, with hundreds of people already indicted. The Justice Department is deeply enmeshed in investigating the events of Jan. 6 and does not need a congressional heads-up.

A criminal referral would be worse than unnecessary — it would be counterproductive.

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Mark Joseph Stern/Slate:

The One Thing Biden Is Doing Exceptionally Well

He is getting judges confirmed at a record pace, and his selections have been incredible.

There are two defining features of Biden’s push to remake the federal judiciary: speed and diversity. Let’s start with speed. In his first year, just 19 of Trump’s judicial nominees had received Senate confirmation. For President Barack Obama, that number was 13; for Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it was 28. Biden, by contrast, has seen 40 of his judges confirmed already—the most since President Ronald Reagan. Eleven of Biden’s judges sit on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals, where most federal cases are resolved. (For comparison, Obama placed just three judges on the Court of Appeals in his first year.)

Now turn to the other extraordinary aspect of Biden’s judicial nominees: their unprecedented demographic and professional diversity. In a comprehensive report, Alliance for Justice has highlighted the many firsts among this crop of judges: the first openly lesbian judge on the Court of Appeals (Beth Robinson); the first Korean American to sit on the Court of Appeals (Lucy Koh); the first Muslim federal judge (Zahid Quraishi); the first Black judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Tiffany Cunningham); the first woman of color to serve on the U.S. District Court in Maryland (Lydia Griggsby); the first Native American federal judge in Washington state (Lauren J. King)—the list goes on. According to Alliance for Justice, nearly 75 percent of Biden’s judicial nominees are women, and nearly 65 percent are people of color. For comparison, only 24 percent of Trump’s judicial nominees were women, and just 16 percent were people of color.

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