Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 31, 2021

CDC report suggests fully vaccinated people can sometimes spread COVID-19, Federal eviction moratorium set to expire, and more

1

CDC report suggests fully vaccinated people can sometimes spread COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Friday that suggests fully vaccinated people who contract COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus to others as easily as unvaccinated people. The report, which The New York Times notes was intended to explain the CDC's decision to recommend vaccinated people once again wear masks in indoor public settings, relies heavily on an analysis of an outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in which three-quarters of 470 people infected with the virus were vaccinated. The document was criticized for being misleading by some experts, who explained that vaccines are still incredibly effective at preventing symptomatic illness, especially severe and fatal cases. The CDC acknowledged infections in vaccinated people remain comparatively rare.

2

Federal eviction moratorium set to expire

House Democrats were unable to extend a federal eviction moratorium via unanimous consent late Friday, meaning it's set to lapse Saturday. President Biden previously announced he would allow the moratorium to expire without challenging a Supreme Court ruling signaling that the July deadline would be the final one. Subsequently, on Thursday he turned to Congress to extend the date. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called passing an extension a "moral imperative," but ultimately she could not accrue enough support. No Republicans backed the bid, some arguing that the process was rushed. Per The Associated Press, more than 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction. 

3

Trump's tax returns must be turned over to Congress, DOJ says

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in an opinion Friday said the IRS must release Trump's tax returns to Congress, affirming the House Ways and Means Committee had a legitimate legislative purpose for seeking them, CNBC reports. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) requested six years of Trump's tax returns, which the former president had long refused to release, back in 2019. Then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued the request "lacks legitimate legislative purpose." The DOJ opinion on Friday, though, said Neal has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President's tax information," per CNN. It concluded that the Treasury Department "must furnish the information to the Committee." Neal told CNN, "As I have maintained for years, the Committee's case is very strong and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward." 

4

Ledecky, Dressel take home more gold in Olympic swimming

American swimmers Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel won gold Saturday in Tokyo in the woman's 800-meter freestyle and men's 100-meter butterfly, respectively. It was the sixth individual and seventh overall gold medal of the 24-year-old Ledecky's illustrious Olympic career. She's now won three consecutive 800-meter races. While Ledecky's done competing in Tokyo, she made it clear after the race that her career is far from over. "That was not my last swim," Ledecky said, adding that she's at least aiming for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Dressel, meanwhile, picked up a world record in his race in addition to his second individual gold medal. He'll try for a third in the men's 50-meter freestyle on Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. ET.

5

Jamaican sprinters sweep women's 100 meters

Sprinters Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson took home gold, silver, and bronze, respectively, in the women's 100 meters at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on Saturday. All three women represent Jamaica, giving the country, which has a rich track and field history, a clean sweep. Thompson-Herah posted a time of 10.61 seconds, which broke the late Florence Griffith Joyner's previous Olympic record in the event by just a hundredth of a second. It was the second-fastest mark in history. Griffith Joyner still holds the world record at 10.49 seconds.

6

Biles withdraws from 2 event finals in Tokyo

American gymnast Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the Olympic event finals for vault and uneven bars, USA Gymnastics said in a statement Friday. Biles may still compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam, but she "will continue to be evaluated daily to determine" whether it's the right call. Widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has so far stepped back from the Tokyo Games to focus on her mental health, explaining that she has the "twisties," which CNN describes as "a mental block in gymnastics in which competitors lose track of their positioning in midair."

7

Israel blames Iran for deadly tanker attack

Israel has accused Iran of attacking an oil tanker and killing two crew of its members on Thursday. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement Friday that the incident was an example of "Iranian terrorism." The tanker, which is managed by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer's company, was the target of what appears to be a drone attack off the coast of Oman, the U.S. military said Friday. While Israel is blaming Iran, details remain unclear, and Tehran has not commented on the allegations. Still, analysts said the incident resembled exchanges in the Israel-Iran "shadow war" that's taking place in waters around the Gulf, France 24 reports.

8

New Orleans reinstates mask mandate, requires vaccination for city employees

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has again implemented a mask mandate in the city as COVID-19 infections surge in Louisiana. The latest wave, fueled by the Delta variant, has strained New Orleans' hospital resources and emergency responders, and Cantrell said she will bring on a contractor to help the city's ambulance services. Additionally, Cantrell announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for all city employees and contractors, making New Orleans one of the first places in the United States to do so, along with New York City, California, and federal agencies. Cantrell did not reinstate restrictions on capacity at private businesses, including restaurants and bars, though she indicated that could change depending on the trajectory of the virus.

9

Death toll from Turkey wildfires rises to 6

The death toll from wildfires in southern Turkey rose to six on Saturday after two firefighting personnel reportedly died during efforts to contain the blazes. A total of 98 fires have broken out in the region in the past four days, Turkey's Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said, adding that 88 of those are under control. But weather forecasts indicate heatwaves are set to hit areas along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, threatening hot and dry conditions that can contribute to the start of more fires.

10

Broadway theaters to require proof of vaccination

The Broadway League announced Friday that all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City will require vaccination for audience members, performers, crew, and theater staff, "for all performances through October 2021." Audience members will need to show proof of vaccination and will also be required to wear masks except when eating or drinking. The announcement comes as new COVID-19 cases have been climbing in the United States amid the spread of the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Children under 12, for whom no COVID-19 vaccine has been approved yet, will be asked to provide a negative COVID-19 test result, as will those with "a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination," the Broadway League said. The New York Times notes that the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall will go further, barring children under 12 from attending since they can't yet be vaccinated.

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