Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 3, 2021

U.S. reaches Biden's vaccination goal a month late, White House urges states to prevent evictions, and more


U.S. reaches Biden vaccination goal a month late

The United States on Monday reached President Biden's goal of getting 70 percent of American adults at least one coronavirus vaccine shot, but it hit the milestone a month later than Biden had hoped. The news came as a surge of new infections driven by the virulent Delta variant has filled hospitals, particularly in states with low vaccination rates. The latest outbreak has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urge people to wear masks indoors. Louisiana reinstituted a mask mandate for indoor public places, even for the fully vaccinated. Florida has set records for new cases and hospitalizations in recent days. "As quickly as we can discharge them they're coming in and they're coming in very sick," said Dr. Sergio Segarra, chief medical officer of Baptist Hospital Miami.


White House urges states to prevent evictions after ban expires

The White House on Monday encouraged state and local governments to do whatever they could to prevent evictions following the expiration of the federal moratorium over the weekend. Many Democrats have called on the Biden administration to renew the policy, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established last year to keep people from losing their homes in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, but President Biden has said a June Supreme Court ruling prevents him from doing so. "Given the rising urgency of the spread of the Delta variant, the president has asked all of us, including the CDC, to do everything in our power, to look for every potential legal authority we can have to prevent evictions," said Gene Sperling, a White House adviser. Congress failed to pass a last-minute extension of the ban.


Lindsey Graham gets mild COVID case

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Graham said in a statement released by his office that he developed flu-like symptoms on Saturday, and went to see a doctor on Monday. He said he would quarantine for 10 days. "I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms," Graham said. "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." It was not immediately clear whether he was infected with the highly infectious Delta variant, which is driving a nationwide surge of infections.


2 more officers who responded to Capitol attack die by suicide

Two more police officers who helped defend the Capitol against the deadly Jan. 6 attack by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters have committed suicide, Washington, D.C., police said Monday. With the deaths of Metropolitan Police officers Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag, four officers who responded to the insurrection have now died by suicide. DeFreytag's body was discovered July 10. Hashida, a member of the force's Emergency Response Team, was found dead in his home Thursday. "Officer Hashida was a hero, who risked his life to save our Capitol, the congressional community and our very democracy," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "All Americans are indebted to him for his great valor and patriotism."


Breyer rejects Maine church's challenge of state COVID restrictions

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Monday turned away a Maine church's challenge of the state's reinstatement of COVID-19 restrictions in response to a surge of infections driven by the virulent Delta variant. Lawyers for the Calvary Chapel of Bangor, Maine, argued in the petition that the "so-called Delta variant of the coronavirus and the threat of an unconstitutionally motivated restriction" hangs over the church "like a sword of Damocles." Breyer declined to refer the case to the full court without comment, suggesting that the justices are not interested in stepping in to block efforts to fight the pandemic despite having entertained similar disputes and often sided with houses of worship.


Germany sets trial date for 100-year-old former Nazi guard

A German court on Monday set an October trial date for a 100-year-old man accused of 3,518 counts of accessory to murder connected to his alleged service as a Nazi SS guard at a Berlin-area concentration camp in the state of Neuruppin during World War II. His alleged crimes include complicity in executions by firing squad and poison gas. The suspect's name was not released due to German privacy laws. Prosecutors say the defendant worked at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp between 1942 and 1945. Iris le Claire, spokeswoman for the Neuruppin state court, said that despite the man's advanced age, "A medical evaluation confirms that he is fit to stand trial in a limited way." More than 200,000 people were held at the camp over nearly a decade, and tens of thousands died of starvation, disease, forced labor, and execution.


Ohio special election provides 2nd test of Trump influence

Eleven candidates are competing in a Tuesday GOP primary to fill an Ohio congressional seat in what will be the latest test of former President Donald Trump's influence over Republican voters. Trump is backing coal lobbyist Mike Cary in the special election. He hosted a get-out-the-vote tele-rally for Carey on Monday night. A super PAC operated by Trump allies last week bought $350,000 in text messages and other ads to support Carey. Trump's clout was questioned after Susan Wright, whom he backed in a special congressional election to replace her late husband in Texas last week, lost to a state Republican lawmaker.


Yellen urges lawmakers to raise debt ceiling

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to lawmakers on Monday urging them to "protect the full faith and credit of the United States" by raising or suspending the U.S. debt ceiling. Yellen previously had asked Congress to settle the matter by Aug. 2, Monday. In the letter, Yellen notified congressional leaders that the Treasury Department had begun using "extraordinary measures" — or emergency cash conservation steps — to keep from breaching the federal borrowing limit after it went back into effect over the weekend. "As I stated in my July 23 letter, the period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to heightened uncertainty related to the economic impact of the pandemic," Yellen wrote, saying Congress should act "as soon as possible."


Norway's Warholm smashes 400-meter hurdles record in historic race

Karsten Warholm of Norway shattered his own 400-meter hurdles world record on Tuesday, winning Olympic gold in 45.94 seconds. That was .76 seconds faster than his previous mark, an astonishing margin. Rai Benjamin of the United States obliterated Warholm's old record of 46.7 seconds, too, winning the silver medal with a time of 46.17 in what shocked sports analysts described as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time. Brazil's Alison dos Santos finished third in 46.72, posting the fourth fastest time in the event ever. He was one of six runners in the eight-man final who set a world, continent, or national record. Benjamin said he never imagined he could run so fast and lose. "I'm happy to be part of history," he said.


Simone Biles wins Olympic bronze in balance beam finals

Gymnast Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the individual balance beam finals on Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics. With a score of 14.000, she came in behind Chinese gymnasts Guan Chenchen (gold) and Tang Xijing (silver). Biles, considered the greatest gymnast of all time, has now won seven Olympic medals, tying Shannon Miller's record as the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast. She qualified for six events in Tokyo, but she competed in just one. Biles, 24, has previously dismounted from the beam with a double-twisting double backflip that bears her name, but on Tuesday she landed a double pike. She withdrew from the other individual events and the team competition to focus on her mental health after suffering from what gymnasts call "the twisties."


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