Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 12, 2021

FDA eyes 3rd vaccine dose for immunocompromised, California to require teachers be vaccinated, and more

1

FDA expected to approve 3rd vaccine dose for the immunocompromised

The Food and Drug Administration will revise its emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, allowing immunocompromised adults to get a third dose, several news organizations report. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines involve two shots, but there is evidence that people who are immunocompromised may only develop low levels of antibodies after being vaccinated, if any at all. A recent study at Johns Hopkins University of organ transplant recipients, who take medicine to suppress their immune systems, showed that a third vaccine dose increased their antibody levels. In July, an advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said extra doses must be approved for immunocompromised adults, who make up about 2.7 percent of the U.S. population.

2

California requires teachers to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Wednesday that school employees in the state must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. California is the first state to enact such requirements. "We think this is the right thing to do," Newsom said, "and we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the No. 1 anxiety that parents like myself have for young children — and that is knowing that the schools are doing everything in their power to keep our kids safe." The California Teachers Association pushed hard to get its members access to COVID-19 vaccines when they were first made available, the Los Angeles Times reports, and said at least 90 percent of its ranks report being vaccinated. The state's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, is requiring all students and employees — vaccinated or unvaccinated — get tested weekly, as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread. 

3

Ex-U.S. attorney: Trump wanted to fire me amid election fraud push

During closed-door testimony on Wednesday, Byung J. Pak, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he resigned suddenly in January after being told that then-President Donald Trump was going to fire him for refusing to say there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia, a person familiar with the testimony told The New York Times. Pak said the warning came on Jan. 3 from top Justice Department officials, who relayed that Trump wasn't happy when Pak announced he investigated Trump's claims of voter fraud in Fulton County and found no evidence. Earlier that day, audio was leaked to The Washington Post of a Jan. 2 phone call Trump had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), during which Trump asked Raffensperger to find the number of votes needed to overturn the state's election results and deliver him a victory. The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the last weeks of the Trump presidency and the pressure his administration put on the Justice Department to falsely claim the election was stolen.

4

Rand Paul belatedly discloses wife's COVID-19 drugmaker stock

Sixteen months past a legal deadline, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday filed a disclosure with the Senate revealing that on Feb. 26, 2020, his wife, Kelley, purchased stock in Gilead Sciences, a company that produces an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19. Under the STOCK Act, the disclosure should have been filed within 45 days of the purchase. The Justice Department last year launched investigations into several senators who sold stock shortly before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Paul's spokeswoman said the senator did not attend any confidential briefings about COVID-19, and he just recently found out that while he filled out the proper stock reporting form last year, it was never transmitted. 

5

Judge allows Dominion lawsuit against 3 Trump allies

A federal judge in Washington ruled Wednesday that Dominion Voting Systems can proceed with three billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against former Trump campaign lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, all of whom accused Dominion of rigging the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, rejected the three defendants' motions to dismiss Dominion's suits, writing that Powell and Lindell in particular made claims about the voting machine company "knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth." Dominion has filed seven defamation lawsuits against Trump allies and news organizations that spread their allegedly defamatory claims.

6

CDC: COVID-19 vaccine doesn't increase miscarriage risk

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday urged pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after new research found that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not increase the risk of miscarriage. "The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. A study of 2,500 pregnant women who got the vaccine found a 13 percent miscarriage rate, versus the average miscarriage rate of 11 percent to 16 percent, the CDC said. The CDC has advised pregnant women to get vaccinated since April, after previously recommending they talk to their doctors first.

7

Judge allows House panel access to some Trump tax records

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled Wednesday that former President Donald Trump's accountants have to give Trump's tax returns and other financial records from 2017 to 2018 to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but rejected the panel's request for Trump's returns from 2011 through 2016. Mehta originally ruled that Trump's accountants, Mazars USA, had to turn over all the subpoenaed documents, but the Supreme Court stepped in and said the courts must take into account separation of powers concerns. With those in mind, Mehta said the House did not need the records to fix broad flaws in federal ethics legislation but could have access to financial documents that would help it oversee Trump's foreign business interests and lease of the federal Old Post Office Building. Trump and Mazars could appeal the ruling again.

8

Pacific Northwest braces for 2nd deadly heat wave

The National Weather Service has issued heat warnings and advisories through Friday for parts of the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions, but the Pacific Northwest is bracing for a second round of dangerously high heat. Temperatures are projected to top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Portland on Thursday and Friday and hit the mid-90s in Seattle, which would break records in both cities if not for an even more extreme heat wave that hit in late June. Portland and other Oregon cities have set up cooling stations, and Gov. Kate Brown (D) has declared a state of emergency. Temperatures in the region typically top out in the 80s during the summer, and few people have air conditioning. Oregon officially recorded 96 heat-related deaths from the June onslaught and Washington registered 95 deaths, but a New York Times analysis of excess deaths suggests the real numbers were nearly 160 deaths in Oregon and 450 in Washington.

9

U.S. inflation rises at slower pace

Inflation slowed in July, the Labor Department reported Wednesday, giving economists more confidence that this year's sharp rise is temporary, sparked largely by booming car prices. The consumer price index rose 0.5 percent in July, or 5.4 percent from a year earlier, but core CPI — which strips out volatile food and energy prices — rose just 0.3 percent, below expectations. The Federal Reserve has maintained that the high inflation rate is "largely transitory," but some Fed officials are urging the central bank to announce next month a curtailing of bond buying in the fall. "The July inflation report appears to give a little something to both the hawks and the doves within the Fed," says Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

10

'Jeopardy!' names Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik permanent hosts

Sony Pictures Television announced Wednesday that long-running game show Jeopardy! will have two permanent hosts to replace the late Alex Trebek. Mike Richards, the show's executive producer, will host the daily syndicated show while actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik will take on the prime-time specials and tournaments, starting with next year's Jeopardy! National College Championship. Richards, 46, and Bialik, 45, were among the 16 guest hosts who participated in what amounted to public tryouts over the past year. "Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude," said Richards.

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