California effort to recall Gavin Newsom gets needed signatures to make ballot – as it happened

Last modified: 11: 57 PM GMT+0

Evening summary

We’re wrapping up our live US politics coverage for today. Here’s an updated summary of key developments:

  • Organizers of the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The recall election targeting the Democrat could cost $400m, according to estimates from local officials.
  • After years of unheeded warnings about white supremacists and other extremist groups operating within US law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security will scrutinize whether any its own 240,000 employees have ties to extremist groups.
  • After announcing a federal investigation of Minneapolis police last week, the US Department of Justice will also investigate the Louisville police department, citing the Breonna Taylor case.
  • “America is at a crossroads with policing. We just happened to be the city we’re talking about here today,” Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said, arguing that residents and police officers should be excited about the federal investigation into whether the police been systematically violating citizens’ rights.
  • Louisville’s police chief Erika Shields added that the effort to recruit new police officers was difficult because “numerous self-inflicted wounds that have made our product unappealing, period” and “We have to rebrand our product.”
  • Lawyers representing the family of Andrew Brown, a Black man killed last week by police in North Carolina, accused authorities of “hiding” video evidence of “an execution” after relatives were shown only a 20-second clip of the incident.
  • The US will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine internationally. The Biden administration has been under pressure to share doses contracted to the US for weeks, as the country now has more than enough vaccine for every eligible American older than 16.
  • The news is a bright spot in a worsening pandemic in India. The country has seen the worst peak of Covid-19 cases in recent days, as health authorities documenting up to 350,000 new cases of per day.
  • The US Census will reapportion seats in the US House of Representatives. Six states gained at least one seat, and seven states lost one.
  • The supreme court agreed to take up what could be the most consequential gun rights case in more than a decade. A hearing is scheduled for October. The court’s ruling in the case could further expand the scope of Second Amendment protections for gun ownership and make some types of existing gun control laws unconstitutional.

More on the Department of Homeland Security’s search for extremists in its ranks

Zolan Kanno-Youngs of the New York Times has more details on what the Department of Homeland Security will do to search for white supremacists and other domestic extremists inside the department.

  • A team of senior officials will determine whether “extremist ideology is prevalent” within the Border Patrol, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service and the Coast Guard.
  • That’s a big job, the Times notes: DHS has more than 240,000 employees.
  • A former Customs and Border Patrol commissioner told the Times the search for extremists inside would be “pretty tricky” because many DHS employees communicate via private social media pages and chatrooms.

“The Department of Homeland Security will undergo an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism in its ranks as part of a larger effort to combat extremist ideology in the federal government,” NYT’s ⁦@KannoYoungs⁩ reports. https://t.co/R1KGEHbFty

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 26, 2021

Updated

Rick Santorum comments prompt scrutiny of CNN’s coverage of Indigenous people

The former US senator Rick Santorum has sparked outrage among Native Americans, and prompted calls for his firing as a CNN commentator, by telling a rightwing students’ conference that European colonists who came to America “birthed a nation from nothing”.

On Monday, the Native American Journalists Association cautioned Native American and Alaska Native reporters from working with, or applying for jobs, at CNN in the wake of continued racist comments and insensitive reporting directed at Indigenous people.

Last week, a CNN host incorrectly identified Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, as a white woman. The network has yet to correct its mistake.

The Cherokee writer Rebecca Nagle pointed to CNN’s lack of Native American commentators, while giving a platform to Santorum, who has previously made offensive and false claims about other minority communities.

In a statement, the National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s largest organization representing American Indian and Alaska Native groups, criticized the network.

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” Fawn Sharp, the group’s president, said.

Read the full story here:

Recall election could cost Californians $400m

How much is the effort to remove a sitting governor worth?

In California, the effort to recall Gavin Newsom may cost $18 per registered voter, or a total of $400m, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing local officials across the state.

NEW: California local elections officials estimate the cost of conducting the @GavinNewsom recall at $400 million. More in this morning’s politics newsletter 👇 https://t.co/4HZJSZuuJo

— John Myers (@johnmyers) April 26, 2021

Updated

The effort to recall the California governor Gavin Newsom has traction. What does that mean?

The California secretary of state’s office just announced today that the organizers of the effort to recall Gavin Newsom have collected enough valid signatures to get the recall on the ballot this fall.

This does not come as a surprise: political analysts already dubbed the recall election as basically inevitable.

My colleague Maanvi Singh wrote an in-depth analysis of the recall effort last month:

Capitalizing on the growing frustrations of economically devastated, pandemic-fatigued residents, Newsom’s fiercest critics have mounted a recall campaign and are prepared to submit, by Wednesday, the requisite 1.5m voter signatures to trigger the vote. The campaign’s organizers say they have already found more than enough backers, and they have collected hefty checks from business developers, venture capitalists and Trump loyalists...

Republicans had already tried and failed five times to get Newsom recalled, when their sixth try, led by the retired sheriff’s deputy Orrin Heatlie, began to gain momentum last year.... Recallers were able to rally an anti-lockdown base and win over other Californians struggling to cope with the pandemic’s protracted, devastating economic toll. It didn’t help Newsom’s case that around the same time, the governor met up with a dozen of his closest friends and lobbyists for a lavish dinner at Napa’s French Laundry restaurant.

Read the full analysis here:

Updated

Recall effort against the California governor Gavin Newsom will go to voters

Organizers of the recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, the Associated Press reports.

The California secretary of state’s office announced Monday that more than 1.6m signatures had been verified, about 100,000 more than needed to force a vote on the first-term Democrat.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California election officials: Recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom has enough valid signatures to get on ballot.

— Krysta Fauria (@krystafauria) April 26, 2021

An election is likely in the fall where voters would face two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him? The votes on the second question will only be counted if more than half say yes to the first.

Last week, Caitlyn Jenner joined the list of candidates running to replace Newsom.

In 2003, voters recalled Democrat Gray Davis and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Updated

Supreme court case could massively expand the scope of the second amendment

The National Rifle Association’s investment in backing Donald Trump in 2016 was followed by Trump’s appointment of new conservative, pro-gun majority on the supreme court.

And that new supreme court may bring the struggling gun rights group a massive victory next year: a ruling in a case that the NRA hopes will massively expand the scope of Americans’ gun rights – and make certain types of gun control laws unconstitutional.

It is hard to overstate how important this case is. The decision will affect the laws in many states that currently restrict carrying a firearm outside of the home. https://t.co/3GLoPs0Qr1

— NRA (@NRA) April 26, 2021

After more than a decade of staying away from second amendment cases, the supreme court agreed to hear a challenge backed by the National Rifle Association to New York state’s restrictions on people carrying concealed handguns in public, Reuters reports.

Some key details, from Reuters:

  • The lawsuit seeks an unfettered right to carry concealed handguns in public. The justices will hear the case during their next term, which begins in October, with a ruling due by the end of June 2022.
  • The New York case centers on a state law that requires a showing of “proper cause” for carrying concealed handguns. Under it, residents may obtain licenses restricted to hunting and target practice, or if they hold jobs such as a bank messenger or correctional officer. To carry a concealed handgun without restriction, applicants must convince a firearms licensing officer that they have an actual, rather than speculative, need for self-defense.
  • The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and two of its members, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, sued in federal court. The men said they do not face any unique danger but want carry a handgun for self-defense.
  • A ruling invalidating New York’s law could imperil similar laws in other states setting criteria for a concealed-carry license. Seven other states and the District of Columbia impose restrictions that give authorities more discretion to deny concealed firearm permits.
  • Gun control advocates are concerned that the conservative justices could create a standard for gun control that could imperil existing policies at the state level including expanded criminal background checks for gun buyers and “red flag” laws targeting the firearms of people deemed dangerous by the courts.

Updated

West Virginia offers $100 savings bonds to young people who get vaccinated

Across the country, local officials are trying to encourage younger people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

West Virginia’s governor is offering a $100 monetary incentive, paid for with federal Cares Act funding, WTAP reports.

NEW: WV Gov. Justice announces $100 savings bonds for young people — ages 16 to 35 — who get vaccinated

— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) April 26, 2021

It’s a more substantive offer to young people than the one from officials in New Haven, Connecticut, who posted on Instagram this morning that getting vaccinated “automatically makes you prom king and queen” and “this year at prom, there’s nothing cooler than being vaccinated”.

please let me know when you see a better attempt to convince teenagers to get vaccinated than...this pic.twitter.com/omtQwr3DtW

— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) April 26, 2021

Updated

‘We have to rebrand our product.’ Louisville chief says US policing needs rebrand

Erika Shields, the chief of the Louisville metro police department, said that recruiting and hiring new police officers was “extremely challenging” nationwide because of “numerous self-inflicted wounds that have made our product unappealing, period”.

“We have to rebrand our product,” Shields said.

Shields said that the city would be “pushing for more resources, more training, more tools other than lethal force to help our officers navigate the numerous situations they encounter day in and day out”.

David James, the Louisville metro council president, indicated that there had to be some fundamental changes to police culture in the LMPD.

“Our citizens want to have the best police department in the country, but I think there has to be some cultural change for that to happen,” he said.

Read the full story:

Updated

Did Pete Buttigieg just reveal something about the future of Tiktok in the US?

Under the Trump administration, the future of the popular Chinese video-sharing app Tiktok was in question, with Trump trying to ban it.

Now, as the Guardian’s China affairs correspondent Vincent Ni notes, a tweet by one of Biden’s cabinet secretaries Pete Buttigieg might indicate a very different relationship between Tiktok and the Biden administration.

On Monday, Buttigieg tweeted that “Today at 8pm ET, I’m joining @YahooNews on TikTok to answer your questions about the future of transportation. Watch live!”

Today at 8pm ET, I'm joining @YahooNews on TikTok to answer your questions about the future of transportation. Watch live! pic.twitter.com/Qp2bCymxVS

— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) April 26, 2021

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki also appeared on Tiktok, in an interview where she spoke about America’s gun control and police reform.

Under Donald Trump, Tiktok – along with another Chinese app Wechat – was considered a threat to America’s national security, foreign policy and economy. The Chinese companies have always denied the accusations, but Trump had sought to ban the apps and force them to be sold to American owners.

But in February, the Biden administration paused the legal action against TikTok and WeChat, raising hopes that the new administration may eventually reverse the Trump-era decision.

Tiktok has a global user base of more than 800 million – and one-eighth of them are based in the United States.

Biden’s review is still under way. When asked about Biden’s trade policy towards China, commerce secretary Gina Raimondo responded early this month: “what we do on offense is more important than what we do on defense.”

This post has been updated.

Updated

DHS to review 'possible domestic violent extremism within its ranks'

This is Lois Beckett, picking up our live US politics coverage from our west coast office.

After years of warnings about white supremacists and other extremist groups operating within US law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security will scrutinize whether any its own employees have ties to extremist groups, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will initiate an internal review of possible domestic violent extremism within its ranks, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Monday.

A group of senior DHS officials “will immediately begin a comprehensive review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS,” the department said in a news release.

President Joe Biden singled out U.S. immigration enforcement agencies in his first budget proposal released earlier this month, calling for funding to investigate complaints of white supremacist beliefs at the agencies. The White House did not say what prompted the request.

Mayorkas said in a statement on Monday that domestic violent extremism “poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today,” adding such acts “will not be tolerated.”

Updated

'America is at a crossroads with policing,' Louisville mayor says

“America is at a crossroads with policing. We just happened to be the city we’re talking about here today.”

That was Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, reacting to the announcement today that the Justice Department is investigating whether his city’s police department systematically violates citizens’ rights.

The investigation, which comes more than a year after 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot to death by police in her Louisville home in the middle of the night, was announced less than a week after the Justice Department made public a similar investigation into patterns of unconstitutional policing in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered by a city police officer last May.

Fischer, the Louisville mayor, argued that the news of a major federal investigation into a potential pattern of unconstitutional behavior by the Louisville Police Department was actually “a really exciting, positive thing”.

“It seems like almost every newscast that you’re on there’s something about the police and the community not working right,” he said. “I know that our police force, our police members, they don’t want that. They want change. They want to see the community welcoming their work.”

I strongly welcome the announcement made by Attorney General Garland of a Patterns and Practice investigation into @LMPD. My full statement: https://t.co/WNCgBuBgwm

— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) April 26, 2021

Updated

The US pledged support to India, amid a worsening pandemic

  • The US will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine internationally. The Biden administration has been under pressure to share doses contracted to the US for weeks, as the country now has more than enough vaccine for every eligible American older than 16.
  • The news is a bright spot in a worsening pandemic in India. The country has seen the worst peak of Covid-19 cases in recent days, as health authorities documenting up to 350,000 new cases of per day.
  • The US Census will reapportion seats in the US House of Representatives. Six states gained at least one seat, and seven states lost one.
  • The US Department of Justice will investigate the Louisville police department, citing the Breonna Taylor case.
  • Lastly, the supreme court agreed to take up what could be the most consequential gun rights case in more than a decade. A hearing is scheduled for October.

And that’s it for me. I’m passing off to my colleague Lois Beckett, who will guide you through this afternoon.

Updated

A thought on how the decennial US census has shifted political power over time:

After the 1930 census, NY had 45 House seats, PA had 34 and IL 27

Less than a century later, NY will have 26, PA 17 and IL 17

But WV has it worse -- they'll have gone from 6 to 2

— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) April 26, 2021

And to how conducting a census during a global pandemic can have repercussions for years to come:

So here’s a morbid thought: the Census is a count of population as of April 1, 2020.

By that date, New York had reported 447 #COVID19 deaths in the U.S.’s first big wave.

As of then, Minnesota had 17 #COVID19 deaths.

Minnesota got a congressional seat over NY by 89 people.

— David H. Montgomery (@dhmontgomery) April 26, 2021

House of Representatives to reallocate seats with results of US Census

Six states will gain additional seats in the US House because of population shifts over the last decade, the US Census Bureau announced Monday. Seven states will lose one congressional seat.

Texas will gain two additional seats in Congress, the Bureau said Monday. Colorado, Montana, Oregon, North Carolina, and Florida will also gain a congressional seat.

Seven states will lose one congressional seat. Those states are: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

The US constitution requires the federal government to take a census of the population every 10 years. That tally is used to allocate seats in the US House and determine how almost $1.5tn in federal dollars are allocated.

The shift of seven seats among 13 states was the smallest shift since 1941, said Ron Jarmin, the acting director of the US census bureau.

The Fox News anchor John Roberts has “clarified” a report last week which implied Joe Biden wanted to cut Americans’ consumption of red meat, as part of his efforts to combat climate change.

“On Friday,” Roberts said in filmed remarks sent to reporters, “we told you about a study from the University of Michigan to give some perspective on President Biden’s ambitious climate change goals. That research from 2020 found that cutting back how much red meat people eat would have a drastic impact on harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“The data was accurate, but a graphic and the script incorrectly implied it was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case.”

Paging Larry Kudlow, of Fox Business:

The former Republican senator Rick Santorum has sparked outrage among Native Americans, and prompted calls for his dismissal as a CNN political commentator, by telling a rightwing students’ conference European colonists who came to America “birthed a nation from nothing”.

Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

“There was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” Santorum told the Young America Foundation in remarks shared by the group on YouTube.

“We came here and created a blank slate, we birthed a nation from nothing,” said the former Pennsylvania senator, a two-time failed candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Santorum’s comments, effectively dismissing the millenniums-long presence of Native Americans and the genocide inflicted upon them, angered many.

“The erasure of Native people and histories, which existed before and survived in spite of a white supremacist empire, is a foundational sin of a make-believe nation,” the activist Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe and host of the Red Nation podcast, said on Twitter.

Speaking of the Capitol attack and its fallout, as I was earlier regarding Josh Hawley, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy is still on a bit of a sticky wicket (Britishism) over what was said when he called Donald Trump on 6 January and asked him to call his supporters off.

Kevin McCarthy.
Kevin McCarthy. Photograph: Lenin Nolly/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

On Fox News Sunday, the Republican dodged twice when asked if Trump told him, as reported by a Republican congresswoman: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people were more upset about the election than you are.”

Chris Wallace’s questions concerned Trump’s refusal to act but McCarthy’s refusal to answer was widely noted – and mentioned in a profile in the New York Times.

“He could change the whole course of history,” McCarthy told the paper, discussing Trump’s sway on the party. “This is the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk.”

McCarthy is seeking to keep his balance and become House Speaker in 2022 but critics say he is not doing so elegantly, given his support for Trump’s lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was caused by electoral fraud.

Speaking to the Times, McCarthy said Trump “goes up and down with his anger. He’s mad at everybody one day. He’s mad at me one day.”

In one of the great profile payoffs, meanwhile, author Mark Leibovich wrote that “whenever the former president’s name came up in these interviews, Mr McCarthy would lower his voice and speak haltingly, wary of not casting Mr Trump in a way that might upset him.

‘Is this story going to be all about Trump?’ Mr McCarthy asked, after back-to-back questions on him. He then paused, seemingly bracing for a ceiling fan to drop on his head.”

DoJ announces Louisville police investigation

The US Department of Justice is opening a sweeping investigation into policing in Louisville, Kentucky, over the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police during a raid at her home.

Breonna Taylor.
Breonna Taylor. Photograph: AP

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, announced the investigation on Monday. It was the second such announcement by the Biden administration in a week. Garland last week announced an investigation of the tactics of police in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd.

The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Derrick Johnson, welcomed the announcement of the Louisville investigation:

The relationship between law enforcement and our community has been deeply fractured and shattered by the lack of trust and the little-to-no accountability enforced when police commit a crime.

“For far too long, killings at the hands of police have only led to one hashtag after another. But true justice comes with accountability and action … No police officer or police department is above the law.

Taylor, 26 and an emergency medical technician studying to become a nurse, was roused from sleep by police who came through the door using a battering ram. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once. A no-knock warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in Floyd’s death but no one has been charged in the killing of Taylor, whose case also fueled protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Her death prompted a national debate about the use of “no knock” search warrants, which allow officers to enter a home without waiting and announcing their presence. The warrants are generally used in drug cases and other investigations where police believe a suspect might be likely to destroy evidence.

Hawley plays down actions at Capitol on 6 January

In a new book, the Republican senator Josh Hawley of Missouri attacks what he calls “woke capitalism” and claims to be a victim of cancel culture over his actions around the Capitol attack of 6 January.

The Tyranny of Big Tech will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

In his introduction, Hawley seeks to defend his actions surrounding what he calls the “grisly riot” at the US Capitol which was stormed by a pro-Trump mob in scenes of violence that shocked the world and cost five lives.

But he does not mention his most controversial act: raising a fist in solidarity with Trump supporters told by the then president to march on the building and “fight like hell” in service of his lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was the result of electoral fraud.

Hawley’s gesture became a worldwide symbol of a riot in which the mob roamed the halls Congress, in some cases looking for lawmakers to kidnap or kill. More than 400 people have been charged.

Publisher Simon & Schuster dropped Hawley’s book, only for it to be swiftly picked up by Regnery, a conservative imprint for which Simon & Schuster handles distribution.

That notwithstanding, Hawley writes: “This is the book the corporate monopolies did not want you to read.”

After the Guardian published its story – which follows – Hawley addressed the matter on Twitter:

Oh dear, I’ve offended the delicate sensibilities of The Guardian! 😂 I didn’t get their approval before I wrote my book. Order a copy today and own the libs https://t.co/CUHpkvMIrI https://t.co/K2ySqK874B

— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) April 26, 2021

Asked by @catherine_lucey
about the Indian government trying to block criticism of its Covid-19 response on social media, @PressSec says: "That certainly wouldn’t be aligned with our view of freedom of speech around the world.”#CovidIndia https://t.co/NidZEZOMAN

— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) April 26, 2021

Biden administration to ship more medical supplies to India

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

The US is working to ship additional health supplies to India as the country experiences the worst surge in Covid-19 cases of the pandemic, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing.

In recent days, health authorities in India have diagnosed more than 350,000 Covid-19 cases per day, and scientists are researching an identified Indian variant.

The US is “in the planning process” now to ship a number of supplies, including personal protective equipment, devices to make oxygen and ventilators. Currently, part of that process involves ensuring the devices can connect to existing health infrastructure in India. The US may also consider re-routing supplies expected to go to other countries.

The news comes on top of the Biden administration’s announcement it will export as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine internationally. It is not yet known where those doses would go, but Psaki said it would most likely be based on “direct” relationships.

“Before any [doses] are shipped from the US, the FDA will confirm any such doses meet its expectations for product quality,” said Psaki.

Psaki also addressed concerns that roughly 8% of people scheduled for a second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are not coming back for their second dose.

“We know people lead busy lives, but getting the second dose is critical,” she said. She said the administration will also work on, “making it easier to get vaccinated,” including working with doctor’s offices and encouraging employers to give workers paid time off.

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese holds a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese holds a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese said the Biden administration would seek to tax the wealthy through equalizing the rates between capital gains tax and ordinary income taxes.

Capital gains is a tax on income generally derived from investments, while income tax is generally on wages such as through paycheck. Very wealthy individuals tend to make much more income from investments, and hence be taxed at the lower capital gains rate.

Bloomberg News reported the proposal would result in the capital gains tax roughly doubling, to 39.6% for wealthy individuals, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The money would then be used to fund social programs.

The change, expected to be described further in Biden’s Wednesday speech before a joint session of Congress, would reward, “work and not just wealth,” Deese said.

He said increasing capital gains tax would also, “help to reduce the kinds of tax avoidance that undermines trust and fairness in the tax code itself,” said Deese.

Deese said the change would impact 0.3% of taxpayers and about 500,000 households.

Biden pledges ‘steadfast support for the people of India’

On a call with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Joe Biden “pledged America’s steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in Covid cases”.

NEW: President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Modi and "pledged America’s steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases," per White House readout. #indiacovid pic.twitter.com/fygOb1h1zw

— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) April 26, 2021

Updated

The US will share up to 60m AstraZeneca vaccines internationally

The US could share as many as 60m AstraZeneca vaccine doses in the coming month, once the vaccines passes an expected safety review, the Associated Press reported.

The move expands on a US commitment to share 4m doses with Mexico and Canada, and comes as it has enough vaccine for every eligible American from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The AstraZeneca vaccine is authorized around the world, but not yet in the US.

At the beginning of the pandemic the US contracted with multiple pharmaceutical companies to buy vaccines, not knowing which would eventually make it through safety reviews. As a result, the Biden administration has faced increasing pressure to share unneeded vaccine doses internationally.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will begin sharing its pipeline of vaccines from AstraZeneca once the vaccine clear federal safety reviews, the White House said, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.https://t.co/ZgYrrt5sa7

— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) April 26, 2021

Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the U.S. already has and that have been authorized by the FDA, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use in the US, we do not need to use the AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next several months,” said White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, according to the AP. “Therefore the US is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca doses with other countries as they become available.”

The news comes as India is experiencing its worst peak in the pandemic, and in recent days has diagnosed more than 350,000 cases of Covid-19 per day. Such widespread Covid-19 spread not only endangers people in India, but around the world as more transmissible or deadly variants may emerge.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious diseases expert, said on Sunday several measures are being considered, including sending over oxygen supplies, tests, drug treatments and personal protective equipment.

“Bottom line, it’s a terrible situation that’s going on in India and other lower middle-income countries, and there is more we can do,” he said.

The White House press briefing is expected to start at 1pm ET. Watch along with us here.

The Supreme Court accepted what will be a closely watched gun rights case today –it could have a major impact on gun rights across the country.

Here’s more from the AP:

The case marks the court’s first foray into gun rights since Justice Amy Coney Barrett came on board in October, making a 6-3 conservative majority.

The justices said Monday they will review a lower-court ruling that upheld New York’s restrictive gun permit law. The court’s decision to take on the case follows mass shootings in recent weeks in Indiana, Georgia, Colorado and California and comes amid congressional efforts to tighten gun laws.

President Joe Biden also has announced several executive actions to combat what he called an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.

The case is especially significant during the coronavirus pandemic, said Eric Tirschwell, the legal director of Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Gun violence has only worsened during the pandemic, and a ruling that opened the door to weakening our gun laws could make it even harder for cities and states to grapple with this public health crisis,” Tirschwell said.

The court had turned down review of the issue in June, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

New York is among eight states that limit who has the right to carry a weapon in public. The others are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. In the rest of the country, gun owners have little trouble legally carrying their weapons when they go out.

...

The issue of carrying a gun for self-defense has been seen for several years as the next major step for gun rights at the Supreme Court, following decisions in 2008 and 2010 that established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.

In June, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, complained that rather than take on the constitutional issue, “the Court simply looks the other way.”

But Barrett has a more expansive view of gun rights than Ginsburg. She wrote a dissent in 2019, when she was a judge on the federal appeals court in Chicago, that argued that a conviction for a nonviolent felony in this case, mail fraud shouldn’t automatically disqualify someone from owning a gun.

She said that her colleagues in the majority were treating the Second Amendment as a “second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.”

"The outlook does not look good for gun safety laws at the Supreme Court...the Court could issue a radical Second Amendment ruling that jeopardizes future progress as well as lifesaving gun laws already on the books." @GiffordsCourage says in a statement.

— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) April 26, 2021

Republican Alaska lawmaker Lora Reinbold is banned from Alaska Airlines flights, after she has repeatedly refused to wear a mask. Masks can help protect other people from exposure to Covid-19 and other illnesses, if worn properly.

The ban is a major problem for the lawmaker, because Alaska Airlines operates the only flight to and from the capital, Juneau. Instead, she had to make a 14-hour trek to get to work

We have notified Senator Lora Reinbold that she is not permitted to fly with us for her continued refusal to comply with employee instruction regarding the current mask policy,” airlines spokesman Tim Thompson told the Anchorage Daily News.

“This suspension is effective immediately, pending further review. Federal law requires all guests to wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times during travel, including throughout the flight, during boarding and deplaning, and while traveling through an airport,” he said.

This is Reinbold in 2020 May, when she refused to wear a mask in the Alaska capital. FILE - In this May 18, 2020 file photo, Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, center, is shown on the Senate floor in Juneau, Alaska. “It didn’t make sense to me,” Reinbold said. “I saw no research on cloth, silk, cotton face coverings ... that they prevent COVID.” In fact, there is research to show they can protect others from Covid, especially when people double-mask.
This is Reinbold in 2020 May, when she refused to wear a mask in the Alaska capital.

FILE - In this May 18, 2020 file photo, Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, center, is shown on the Senate floor in Juneau, Alaska.

“It didn’t make sense to me,” Reinbold said. “I saw no research on cloth, silk, cotton face coverings ... that they prevent COVID.”

In fact, there is research to show they can protect others from Covid, especially when people double-mask.
Photograph: Becky Bohrer/AP

The Biden administration will create a task force to promote union membership, the New York Times reports.

“No previous administration has taken a comprehensive approach to determining how the executive branch can advance worker organizing and collective bargaining,” the document states,” a fact sheet obtained by the Times said.

Biden, continuing his unusually pro-labor stance (for a president), is creating a White House task force to promote union membership. VP Harris will chair it, top cabinet officials are on it. https://t.co/SMsUbhioYm

— Noam Scheiber (@noamscheiber) April 26, 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to tell United Nations members today that now is the time to start prepping for the next global pandemic, including how to increase capacity for personal protection equipment and support women.

Here’s more from the Associated Press:

The virtual address, Harris’ second to a UN body since her inauguration, will come as the United States makes progress on vaccinating the public and much of the world struggles to acquire vaccines.

“At the same time that the world works to get through this pandemic, we also know that we must prepare for the next,” Harris will say, according to excerpts of the speech obtained by The Associated Press. The speech will be co-hosted by UN permanent representatives of Argentina, Japan, Norway and South Africa.

The Biden administration will mark its first 100 days in office this week. President Joe Biden is scheduled to address Congress on Wednesday and is certain to highlight the headway his administration has made in responding to the worst public health crisis in the U.S. in more than a century.

Harris, according to the excerpts, will broadly outline how the administration thinks the U.S. and other nations should consider focusing their attention. The steps include improving accessibility to health systems, investing in science, health workers and the well-being of women, and surging capacity for personal protective equipment and vaccine and test manufacturing.

Harris says much has been learned over the last year about pandemic preparedness and response but that it would be unwise to rest easy

“We have been reminded that the status quo is not nearly good enough, and that innovation is indeed the path forward,” Harris says.\

Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to call on world leaders to prepare for the next global pandemic now.
Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to call on world leaders to prepare for the next global pandemic now. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The Biden administration is facing intensifying pressure from Democrats to include health reform in his “human infrastructure” plans, expected in a speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

Advocacy groups such as Public Citizen and the Center for Popular Democracy have both met with the Biden administration as part of the push, Politico reported.

Seventeen senators also pushed for expansions of Medicare in a letter over the weekend, calling for dental, hearing and vision benefits for seniors on the publicly run government insurance program. Medicare provides health benefits to adults older than 65, as well as some smaller groups such as people on dialysis.

“We have an historic opportunity to make the most significant expansion of Medicare since it was signed into law. We look forward to working with you to make this a reality and, in the process, substantially improve the lives of millions of older Americans and persons with disabilities,” the group wrote.

Leading progressive senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were among the group. They also called on Biden to consider lowering the age at which people can qualify for Medicare.

Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 could expand Medicare coverage to 23 million people, including nearly 2 million uninsured people, while lowering it to 55 could give over 42 million people access to the program, and lowering it to 50 could cover 63 million Americans.

Importantly, vaccine hesitancy may not only impact the speed with which the US can tamp down on Covid-19 cases. The resources which have been diverted to fight Covid-19 have also impacted lead testing, childhood vaccination rates, substance abuse services and sexually transmitted disease testing.

Here’s more from a story co-authored by the Guardian’s @ninalakhani and your liveblogger:

“This is either the second or first worst pandemic in modern human history,” said Dr Howard Markel, a pandemic historian and pediatrician at the University of Michigan. “We knew there would be repercussions and unintended consequences.”

Now, there is a “whole menu of neglect” to address as a national vaccine campaign allows people to slowly emerge from a year of lockdowns and social distancing. “There is no historical precedent for this,” added Markel.

In the first few months of the pandemic alone, at least 400,000 children missed screenings for lead, a toxic heavy metal. Doctors and nurses ordered 3m fewer vaccines for children and 400,000 fewer for measles specifically.

For the first time, clinics were forced to ration lab tests for sexually transmitted diseases as lab capacity and supplies were diverted to test for Covid-19. Contact tracers were also re-deployed from tracking chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases to finding people in contact with Covid-19 patients.

Data from one large commercial lab showed 669,000 fewer HIV tests were processed. Compared to 2019, the lab diagnosed nearly 5,000 fewer cases of HIV. Delayed diagnosis can lead to people unwittingly transmitting the virus.

Last year, more than 87,000 Americans died of drug overdoses as substance abuse clinics shuttered – the highest death toll since the opioid epidemic began. Some of those clinics never fully reopened, as funding dried up.

While some of these metrics have rebounded since the most severe lockdown in March and April 2020, most have failed to fully catch up as health services remain stretched due to ongoing Covid outbreaks and budget cuts. Meanwhile millions of Americans have lost employer health insurance, slipped into poverty or had lives thrown into upheaval.

Importantly, experts warn that the pandemic is likely to widen health inequalities for those who already had disproportionately worse health – including racial and sexual minorities, the poor and the rural Americans.

“Just as this has accelerated all of the disruptive movements of American society, this has really exposed vulnerability based on poverty, poor access to healthcare, housing issues – the social determinants of health we’ve been talking about for years,” said Markel.

CBS This Morning asked White House senior advisor on Covid-19 response, Andy Slavitt, whether vaccine hesitancy was a “political problem” because of high levels of hesitancy among Republicans.

We think that people want to be informed and want to be educated, we know some people have questions,” said Slavitt. He went on to add that vaccine distribution “won’t be as fast,” as the first 100 days.

White House Senior Adviser on Coronavirus Response @ASlavitt joins us to discuss the Biden administration’s response to vaccine hesitancy in America. pic.twitter.com/zIetYJGLWz

— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) April 26, 2021

Here’s more on states with the highest levels of vaccine hesitancy. They have a couple things in common. First, they are Republican-leaning. Second, they tend to rank high on the “social vulnerability index”. This index generally measures vulnerability to natural disasters, but has been used widely in the context of Covid-19.

That is because counties with higher social vulnerability, “including poverty and crowded housing units, have more adverse outcomes during and following a public health event,” according to a recent CDC study.

The 10 outlier states with 2 things in common.
They're all red and vulnerable.
And that makes the country vulnerable for future outbreakshttps://t.co/0JLA20EsAn
by @randyyeipWSJ @joshulick @linds_huth pic.twitter.com/yYNhXJHhsM

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) April 26, 2021

Supreme Court to take up case that could expand gun rights

The Supreme Court will take up an important gun rights case in the coming session, focused on whether people can carry guns outside the home in New York. The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v Corlett, will come before a conservative-leaning court.

Here’s a brief description of the case from SCOTUS Blog:

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Corlett, 20-843, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch applied for New York licenses to carry firearms outside the home. The licensing officer denied their requests after determining that, under New York law, they had “failed to show ‘proper cause’ to carry a firearm in public for the purpose of self-defense, because [they] did not demonstrate a special need for self-defense that distinguished [them] from the general public.” Nash, Koch and the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association argue that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a firearm outside the house for self-defense, and they say that the state abridges “a right that the Constitution guarantees to all ‘the people’” when carrying a firearm for self-defense is “deemed a crime unless one can preemptively convince a state official that she enjoys an especially good reason for wanting” to do so.

The last important gun rights case that came before the court was in 2010.

The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, DC.
The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, DC. Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

While the CDC is reportedly expected to release new mask guidance, there is another big story with the pandemic – a slowing vaccination rate and an increasing presence of highly transmissible variants.

Below is Dr Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. The graph shows the rate of US vaccinations. As of this morning, about 28% of the US population is fully vaccination, and 42% have one dose.

But demand is waining in some states, especially rural and conservative places such as Wyoming and Mississippi.

In partially building a vaccine wall, the US is on the case descent path and winning the race vs B.1.1.7.
But now the momentum has slipped, despite abundance of vaccines. Time to double down. There's much more that can be done to promote trust, accessibility, and uptake pic.twitter.com/COX96C9c0o

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) April 25, 2021

We’re going to get one of the first looks at the decennial count of all Americans today – the census.

The US Census Bureau is expected to release “apportionment” numbers today, the figures which decide how many representative seats each state gets in the US House of Representatives. Seats are based on population.

As experts are already pointing out, this year’s census was especially challenging, with pressure from both the pandemic and the Trump administration.

Here’s more from Michael McDonald, an expert in US elections:

The @uscensusbureau is releasing apportionment numbers this morning. They'll show up in this visualization of apportionment changes over time https://t.co/Xb3cip77bc

— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) April 26, 2021

Potential seat gains and losses from projections of the annual population estimates: Will NY lose 1 or 2 seats? Will CA lose a seat? Will Montana gain a seat? Etc.

But, population estimates are never spot on, and a potential added wildcard is the accuracy of the Census itself

— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) April 26, 2021

Officials to announce new guidance on mask-wearing

Welcome to the Guardian US politics liveblog. This morning there’s news that the Biden administration is expected to announce a change to US mask policy for vaccinated people, an important move as the nation moves toward the new “normal” the president has promised by the Fourth of July.

Here’s more:

President Biden is expected to announce tomorrow that the CDC has updated its guidance for wearing masks. Multiple people say that new guidance will pertain to whether vaccinated people should wear masks outdoors, though the final language is still unclear.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 26, 2021

Contributors

Lois Beckett in Los Angeles and Jessica Glenza in New York

The GuardianTramp

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