Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested Nicki Minaj should be Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024

Left: Donald Trump in a blue jacket and red tie. Right: Nicki Minaj in a black dress against a green backdrop
Left: Donald Trump; Right: Nicki Minaj

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz in a tweet suggested that Donald Trump and Nicki Minaj run for office together in 2024.
  • Minaj over the course of this week has tweeted skeptical remarks about the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Those remarks led to an anti-vaccine protest and criticism from high-profile figures like Joy Reid.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Matt Gaetz on Friday suggested Nicki Minaj should be former President Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024.

Gaetz was responding to an article from the Daily Beast that said Minaj publicly shared the phone numbers of two reporters who were looking into her claim that an individual got swollen testicles after having received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied,” Minaj tweeted.

“Trump/Minaj 2024,” Gaetz tweeted in response to the Beast article that reported her claim.

Earlier this week, Minaj revealed that she is not yet vaccinated against the coronavirus. She said she would not attend the Met Gala because vaccines were mandated at the event.

“They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. If I get vaccinated it won’t for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now. In the meantime my loves, be safe. Wear the mask with 2 strings that grips your head & face,” Minaj wrote.

Immediately after, she received intense backlash from high-profile figures, including MSNBC host Joy Reid, who blasted her for using her platform with nearly 23 million followers to amplify vaccine skepticism.

“You’ve got that platform. It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing that you got that, that people listen to you,” Reid said. “And they listen to you more than they listen to me. For you to use your platform to put people in the position of dying from a disease they don’t have to die from, oh my god, as a fan, as a hip-hop fan, as somebody who’s your fan, I’m so sad that you did that.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson invited her to speak on his show.

The nation’s topmost coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci also responded, saying there is no evidence the vaccines cause reproductive issues.

Despite efforts from health officials like Fauci to dispel worries about the coronavirus vaccines, Minaj with her tweets has galvanized significant anti-vaxxer impact.

Earlier this week, for example, anti-vaxxers demonstrated outside the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control, where they chanted “down with the CDC, Fauci lies to me.” There a masked man told the crowd, “Nicki Minaj said I’m not going to take your vaccine,” according to a video of the event.

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Pfizer and Moderna have revealed the way they’re tracking how long vaccine protection lasts

A woman receives a COVID-19 booster shot Netanya, Israel, January 19, 2021.
A woman receives a COVID-19 booster shot in Netanya, Israel, on January 19, 2021.

A Friday meeting in Washington got a little messy: An expert panel said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shouldn’t green-light Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot for the general public – but not without some dissent.

Pfizer executive Dr. William Gruber argued that without booster shots the US could face a wave of infections among the vaccinated. But committee members questioned whether it was too soon to tell if boosters offer any more protection to healthy Americans who’ve already received two doses. Members voted 16 to 3 against recommending Pfizer boosters for people ages 16 and up – but unanimously recommended the shots for adults ages 65 and up or those at high risk of severe disease.

Their debate hinged on a key question: When do the first two shots stop offering enough protection?

This week, Pfizer published its most robust data yet about how long its vaccine protection lasts, with results from at least eight studies. The data showed that the vaccine’s effectiveness fell significantly over time – to 47% efficacy after five months, down from 88% in the month following dose two.

Though Friday’s meeting didn’t evaluate Moderna’s booster, the company released data in a press release on Wednesday that also makes a case for boosters.

Both datasets give a look under the hood at how each company is measuring the duration of vaccine protection. Pfizer and Moderna have been tracking participants from their clinical trials, who are divided into two groups: Those who got vaccines as part of the trials (which began in 2020) and those who got a placebo, then the real vaccine once it was authorized.

Pfizer and Moderna each compared the incidences of breakthrough infections between the two groups. Pfizer’s results showed that the risk of breakthrough infections was 26% lower for trial participants who were fully vaccinated roughly five months prior, compared to those who had gotten their second shot approximately 10 months earlier.

Moderna, similarly, said breakthrough infections were more common among trial participants who got vaccinated between July and October 2020 than among those vaccinated between December and March. The company identified 162 breakthrough infections among those who were fully vaccinated 13 months prior, compared to 88 breakthrough infections among those who had gotten their second shot eight months before.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, cited those numbers as support for booster shots.

Vaccine protection seems to wane over time

child Pfizer vaccine
A 12-year-old receives their first Pfizer vaccine dose at a Los Angeles County mobile vaccination clinic on May 14, 2021.

Several recent studies have similarly found that Pfizer’s vaccine effectiveness diminishes over time.

The vaccine’s protection against infection fell from 88% in the month following the second dose to 47% five months after that second shot, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente. And real-world data from Israel suggests that the risk of breakthrough infections is significantly higher for people who were vaccinated with Pfizer earlier in the pandemic than for those who received vaccines later.

The Delta variant may pose a particular challenge. Pfizer’s protection against breakthrough infections fell to 53% four months after it was administered, based on data collected from June to July, when Delta was becoming more prevalent in the US. The company thinks these results are due to waning protection, though – not the variant’s ability to evade vaccines.

Moderna’s data showed a smaller dropoff in efficacy against Delta infections. Another Kaiser Permanente study that’s still awaiting peer review found that Moderna’s vaccine was 87% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections after three months – down from 94% prior to the rise of Delta.

While the Pfizer vaccine remains highly effective against hospitalization and death from COVID-19, a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that Moderna may offer better protection against hospitalization. Being fully vaccinated with Moderna lowered recipients’ risk of hospitalization by 93% from March to August, according to the report, compared to an 88% reduced risk of hospitalization among Pfizer recipients.

The report’s findings may “guide individual choices and policy recommendations regarding vaccine boosters,” the CDC authors wrote.

Is it time for boosters yet?

joe biden
President Joe Biden wants to roll out COVID-19 booster shots to most Americans on September 20.

Before the FDA advisory panel made its decision on Friday, the Biden administration had already announced a booster shot campaign for those who’d gotten Pfizer or Moderna. The administration pinpointed September 20 as the date on which most Americans would be eligible for third shots. (The FDA has already authorized boosters for immunocompromised people.)

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, questioned whether the White House got ahead of itself.

“This is the sort of internal, behind-closed-doors argument – inside baseball – that goes on in science being translated into public policy all the time,” Schaffner said. “The reason it’s out in the open is because the White House made that pronouncement.”

Protection wanes over times for all vaccinations, he said, and COVID-19 shots were not designed to prevent mild infections, but rather to prevent hospitalization and death – which they do very well after six or eight months.

“Will we need a booster someday?” Schaffner asked. “Sure. Do we need it today? No!”

Schaffner doesn’t begrudge the scientists at Pfizer and Moderna for pushing boosters, though.

“I don’t think this comes out of marketing division of the company,” he said. “I think the scientists really believe it.”

But he noted that many other concerns are at play. For one, two departing FDA regulators, as well as the World Health Organization, have cautioned against offering third shots to the general population while much of the world remains unvaccinated, and without compelling evidence showing the need for extra shots.

Schaffner doesn’t think that global equity argument holds up. He noted that regulatory and distribution challenges would make it difficult for the US’s vaccine surplus to go directly to poorer countries with low vaccine access.

“It’s a false notion that if you don’t give the boosters, those doses will be delivered to Indonesia,” he said, adding, “The problem is that we haven’t gotten a first dose into people. That’s where we ought to put our energy, time, and resources.”

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Scientists are getting closer to classifying long COVID as an autoimmune disease

coronavirus long hauler
Maria Romero, a coronavirus long-hauler, in Stamford, Connecticut, on December 22, 2020.

  • Long COVID increasingly looks like an autoimmune disease.
  • Research suggests that one auto-antibody in particular may lead to harmful inflammation in long COVID patients.
  • These antibodies attack the body’s own proteins and are a hallmark of many autoimmune diseases.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Long COVID patients may finally get an answer as to why they’re still sick.

The National Institutes of Health announced Wednesday that it’s kicking off a $470 million study to figure out why COVID-19 symptoms persist for so long among many patients.

Already, research has started to coalesce around a theory: The virus may set off an autoimmune reaction that causes lingering symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell, muscle aches, or brain fog.

“We can’t say for sure that it’s an autoimmune disease now, but it’s really starting to look like it,” John Arthur, a researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, told Insider.

In a study published this month, Arthur and his colleagues suggested that some people who get COVID-19 develop “auto-antibodies” that attack their own proteins – a hallmark of many autoimmune diseases. That process leads to inflammation that could trigger long COVID.

“Everything is sort of fitting together so far – we’re just not quite totally there yet in terms of our understanding,” Arthur said.

If the theory proves true, it would have implications for COVID-19 treatments. Certain blood-pressure medications, for instance, could be used to stifle the harmful cascade of inflammation. And there’s already some evidence that vaccines help alleviate long COVID symptoms – perhaps because the shots help regulate the antibody response.

One particular auto-antibody could lead to inflammation in long COVID patients

coronavirus long hauler
A recovered COVID-19 patient is monitored by a medical staff at the Department of Rehabilitative Cardiology in Genoa, Italy on July 23, 2020.

One-third of coronavirus patients have at least one persistent symptom for 12 weeks or more, according to a recent study that hasn’t yet been peer reviewed. Scientists have wrestled with the mystery of why that happens for more than a year.

“I see a lot of younger patients with chronic COVID symptoms and many of them have not even had any lung problems before COVID,” Dr. Dixie Harris, a pulmonary physician at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, told Insider. “They go from totally active, running marathons, to now on oxygen.”

What scientists do know is that when a person gets infected, their body develops antibodies to neutralize the coronavirus. But some people’s immune systems mistakenly identify those antibodies as a foreign threat themselves, so they produce auto-antibodies to fight them. That appears to be the case for many long COVID patients.

Arthur’s team analyzed blood samples from 32 COVID-19 patients who donated plasma to the University of Arkansas, and another 15 who’d been hospitalized there. Around 81% of the plasma donors and 93% of the hospitalized patients had developed a particular auto-antibody that inhibited their ACE2 enzymes. These enzymes serve as ports of entry for the coronavirus to invade our cells – but they’re also vital to calming the immune system down.

When not enough ACE2 is present, the immune system can produce too much inflammation.

“It’s the inhibition of that ACE2 enzyme that basically is plugging up the system,” Arthur said. “It’s like if you’ve got a bunch of hair in the drain and the water starts to accumulate on top.”

But more research is needed to determine for sure whether these ACE2 antibodies cause long COVID. Researchers also aren’t sure yet whether severe infections produce more auto-antibodies than mild ones. A May study found that to be the case, but Arthur noted that long COVID is also common among people whose infections were initially mild.

Scientists are eyeing blood-pressure medication as a potential treatment

blood pressure medication
Rosalee Jones of Irvington, New Jersey, holds her daily medications at the Home Sweet Home senior center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Arthur’s study offers some evidence that medications used to treat high blood pressure could be effective as long COVID treatments.

ACE2 normally helps regulate blood pressure by a converting a chemical that raises blood pressure into one that enhances blood flow. Long COVID may prevent that conversion process, allowing that first chemical to produce harmful levels of inflammation. But high blood pressure medications can blunt this inflammatory response.

Arthur’s study also suggests that vaccines could balance the levels of coronavirus antibodies and auto-antibodies among long COVID patients. A UK survey from March that hasn’t been peer reviewed found that 57% of people with long COVID saw their symptoms improve after getting vaccinated.

“That’s one of the things that we’re going to look at in the next stage,” Arthur said, “to see what vaccine status does to the abundance of these ACE2 antibodies.”

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At least 7 conservative radio hosts and anti-mask advocates have died from COVID-19 after bashing the vaccines

Demonstrators gather with signs and flags to protest against mandated vaccines outside of the Michigan State Capitol on August 6, 2021 in Lansing, Michigan. There were 44 counties in Michigan at high or substantial levels of community coronavirus transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions case and test positivity criteria as of August 5, 2021.
Demonstrators gather with signs and flags to protest against mandated vaccines outside of the Michigan State Capitol on August 6, 2021 in Lansing, Michigan.

  • At least seven radio hosts and high-profile anti-mask and anti-vaccine advocates have died from COVID-19 in recent weeks.
  • The men are radio hosts Dick Farrel, Phil Valentine, Bob Enyart, and Marc Bernier, as well as former CIA officer Robert David Steele, anti-masker Caleb Wallace, and conservative leader Pressley Stutts.
  • Misinformation around the virus and vaccines remains widespread as cases continue to rise.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At least seven conservative radio hosts and high-profile anti-mask and anti-vaccine advocates have died from COVID-19 in recent weeks.

Before catching COVID-19, the men – radio hosts Bob Enyart, Dick Farrel, Phil Valentine, and Marc Bernier, as well as former CIA officer and conspiracy theorist Robert David Steele, anti-masker Caleb Wallace, and South Carolina GOP conservative leader Pressley Stutts – had shared conspiracy theories about vaccines, told supporters misinformation about the virus, and even held rallies in opposition to mask mandates.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, nearly all of the COVID-19 deaths in the United States are among unvaccinated people, and misinformation around the virus and vaccines remains widespread.

Bob Enyart had refused to get vaccinated before dying of COVID-19.

Enyart, a conservative pastor who hosted a show called “Real Science Radio,” died on Monday, his cohost, Fred Williams, said in a Facebook post.

It’s unclear exactly when Enyart tested positive for COVID-19, but his Facebook page said he was hospitalized with the virus on September 10.

The radio host from Colorado had vocally refused to get vaccinated and actively spread false claims about the COVID-19 virus, saying overcrowding in hospital ICUs was “imagined” and that the severity of the pandemic was “fake news,” according to The Daily Beast.

Amid COVID-19 shutdowns last year, he successfully sued the state of Colorado over its capacity limits and mask mandates in churches.

Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Enyart mocked AIDS victims and called for women who have had abortions to face the death penalty, according to The Guardian.

Florida radio host Dick Farrel had advocated against the COVID-19 vaccine on Facebook before his death.

Farrel Austin Levitt, known publicly as conservative talk show host Dick Farrel, died of “severe damage” caused by COVID-19 in early August, his fiancee and life partner Kittie Farley told the Washington Post. He was 65.

Before getting sick, he had called COVID-19 vaccines “bogus” and called Dr. Anthony Fauci a “power-tripping lying freakbefore his death.

“Why take a vax promoted by people who lied 2u all along about masks, where the virus came from and the death toll?” he wrote in a Facebook post in July.

But his friends said he actually encouraged them to get vaccinated after he got sick.

“He is the reason I took the shot,” Amy Leigh Hair, Farrel’s close friend, told WPTV, an NBC News affiliate. “He texted me and told me to ‘Get it!’ He told me this virus is no joke and he said, ‘I wish I had gotten it!’ “

Radio host Phil Valentine changed his views on the COVID-19 vaccine before his death.

Valentine, a 61-year-old conservative radio host and vaccine skeptic in Tennessee, died of COVID-19 in mid-August.

Valentine, who said his chances of dying from the virus were “way less than one percent” in December 2020, announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 11, and less than two weeks later, he became hospitalized with the virus.

His radio station, 99.7 WTN, announced his hospitalization.

“Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine,’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon,” the station said.

And after Valentine got sick, he changed his view on vaccines, his brother, Mark Valentine, told WBUR.

“Take politics out of it. It’s time for us to get together and fight this thing collectively,” he said. “Just put all the conspiracies and microchips and all that business aside and go get vaccinated and don’t put your family through what his wife and the rest of us are going through.”

Valentine, who was hospitalized with pneumonia caused by COVID-19, died a month after falling ill.

Marc Bernier, a radio host in Florida, said on air that he opposed vaccines before dying of COVID-19.

WNDB radio host Bernier had voiced anti-vaccine opinions on air before his death in late August.

“I’m not taking it,” he said when asked about the COVID-19 during a segment of his show in December 2020, according to USA Today. “Are you kidding me? Mr. Anti-Vax? Jeepers.”

Mel Stack, an attorney and friend of Bernier, told USA Today that Bernier’s anti-vaccine opinions weren’t politically based but instead based on how he believed other vaccines had impacted people close to him.

Former CIA officer Robert David Steele died from COVID-19 after spreading COVID-denial conspiracy theories.

Steele, a former CIA officer who pushed baseless QAnon theories and spread COVID-19 misinformation online, also died from COVID-19, his friend Mark Tassi announced on August 29 on Instagram.

But he had spread anti-vaccine and COVID-19-denial conspiracy theories on his blog throughout the pandemic, Vice reported.

“I will not take the vaccination, though I did test positive for whatever they’re calling ‘COVID’ today, but the bottom line is that my lungs are not functioning,” he wrote in a blog post on August 17.

Accompanying the blog post was a photo of Steele apparently hooked up to a ventilator.

“The good news is that I will survive with a few days off. I should be back up and at least functional soon,” he wrote.

Days later, he died from the virus.

Caleb Wallace, an anti-masker who previously protested against COVID-19 safety measures, died after spending a month in the hospital.

Wallace, a 30-year-old father of three, died of COVID-19 in late August.

In 2020, Wallace helped organize rallies to protest against COVID-19 safety measures, including lockdowns and masks, which he called “COVID tyranny.”

His wife, Jessica Wallace, told the San Angelo Standard-Times that Wallace started showing symptoms in July and opted to treat himself with ivermectin – a horse de-wormer that CDC has warned should not be used to treat COVID-19 – as well as high doses of vitamin C, zinc, aspirin, and an inhaler before seeking professional medical care when his condition deteriorated.

He was taken to an intensive care unit at Shannon Medical Centre, where he spent weeks on a ventilator.

His wife said on a GoFundMe page that he died on August 28.

“He was an imperfect man but he loved his family and his little girls more than anything,” his wife wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Pressley Stutts, a South Carolina conservative group leader, died after making fun of masks.

Stutts, chair of the Greenville Tea Party, died from COVID-19 in August after making false statements about the virus and downplaying the importance of mask-wearing.

Among other comments, Stutts called face masks an “illusion” in a Facebook post, cheered on unvaccinated doctors and nurses, and even downplayed the virus while hospitalized with COVID in early August.

“COVID is nothing to fool with and in as much as possible, it is up to you to take the best precautions for you and your family to avoid getting it,” he said from an ICU bed.

Two weeks later, he changed his views and called the virus “hell on earth.”

“When you have to take every single ounce just to get your next breath, you know you are in the battle for your life!” he wrote in that Facebook post. “I IMPLORE YOU….PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD MOVES MIGHTILY IN MY BODY. ISOLATED. DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN ENDURE WITHOUT YOUR PRAYERS. SERIOUSLY!”

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The US ranks second highest among high-income countries in terms of vaccine hesitancy, one chart shows

anti vaccinatino protest california
Anti-vaccination protesters pray and rally near Los Angeles City Hall in California on August 14, 2021.

Unvaccinated Americans are 11 times more likely to die and 10 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Friday.

But despite these elevated risks, nearly 1 in 5 US adults remains unwilling to get vaccinated.

A recent survey by Morning Consult, an intelligence company that specializes in online survey research, found that 17% of US adults don’t intend to get COVID-19 shots, and another 10% aren’t sure if they will get vaccinated – meaning more than one-quarter of Americans are vaccine hesitant.

The US has the second highest vaccine hesitancy rate out of 15 high-income countries, according to Morning Consult’s analysis.

Russia has the highest rate, as shown in the chart below – 28% of residents there are unwilling to get their shots, and another 15% aren’t sure if they will get vaccinated.

vaccine skepticism chart
A chart shows the rates of vaccine hesitancy in 15 countries based on data collected between August 31 and September 6, 2021.

The analysis is based on at least 50,000 interviews with adults in the US and 14 other countries conducted between August 31 and September 6. The company asked respondents if they had been vaccinated, then gave them four different response options: “Yes,” “No, but I will get it in the future,” “No, and I am not sure if I will get it in the future,” or “No, and I do not plan to get it.”

Another chart by Our World In Data suggests a similar ranking: As of August 15, the US had a higher rate of vaccine hesitancy than 13 other high-income nations, according to that data. (The ranking does not include Russia.)

Vaccine hesitancy has been higher in the US throughout the pandemic

A child holds a sign at a protest against vaccine mandates.
A child holds a sign at a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New York City on August 9, 2021.

High levels of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy isn’t a new phenomenon in the US.

A February analysis found that vaccine acceptance rates in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and China – which ranged between 91% and 93% – were nearly double the rates in Italy, Russia, Poland, the US, and France, which averaged 56%. The analysis examined surveys conducted across 33 different countries in December 2020, when vaccines weren’t widely available.

A July study also revealed that COVID-19 vaccine acceptance rates were lower in the US and Russia than in less wealthy countries. On average, the vaccine acceptance rate across 10 low- and middle-income countries – Colombia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and six African nations – was more than 80%. But the average acceptance rates in the US and Russia were 65% and 30%, respectively.

Concerns over side effects drives hesitancy in the US

louisiana covid vaccine
Debbie Bonnett (left) administers a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic at Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans on August 14, 2021.

About 54% of Americans are fully vaccinated as of Friday, up from 48% in mid-July, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In general, concerns over vaccine-related side effects and worry that vaccine clinical trials moved too fast are the top two drivers of vaccine hesitancy across all 15 countries, the Morning Consult survey found.

That said, the percentage of surveyed Americans who are unwilling to get vaccinated has been slowly decreasing since mid-March, when Morning Consult first started polling US adults.

volunteer vaccine COVID
A volunteer passes out vaccination information at a pop-up vaccination center in Halifax, England on July 31, 2021.

Between March 10 and April 19, the percentage of those surveyed who were unwilling to get vaccinated hovered between 20% and 21%. By mid-July, that figure was 19%. By early September, it had dropped to 17% – meaning about one-fifth of formerly unwilling Americans had changed their minds in the last six months.

However, vaccine hesitancy dropped about twice as fast, on average, in the 14 other high-income countries included in the survey.

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Biden challenges Republicans who want to sue over his new vaccine mandates to ‘have at it’

President Joe Biden speaks at Brookland Middle School, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks at Brookland Middle School, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 in Washington.

  • President Biden dared Republicans to “have at it” and sue over his new vaccine requirements.
  • A new federal regulation will mandate vaccines or testing for employers with 100+ workers.
  • Biden announcing the new requirement sparked backlash and threats of lawsuits from GOP figures.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden dared Republican governors and lawmakers to sue his administration over newly unveiled vaccine mandates after speaking at Brookland Middle School in Washington, D.C. on school reopenings.

“Have it at,” Biden told a reporter who asked him about potential legal challenges to the administration’s new, wide-ranging COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

Biden took a firm and assertive tone in a Thursday address announcing a slew of new federal government requirements and mandates to combat the Delta variant and boost lagging vaccination rates, explicitly laying the blame on unvaccinated Americans and some GOP leaders.

In addition to a stricter vaccination requirement for federal employees and contractors, Biden announced his administration will implement new regulations under the auspices of the Department of Labor requiring public and private sector employers with over 100 employees to mandate their employees get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.

The Labor Department is set to draft an emergency temporary standard, or ETS rule, creating the requirement, which will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. The announcement immediately sparked fierce backlash from Republican governors, members of Congress, and conservative media figures.

“I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” Biden said on Friday. “We’re playing for real here. This isn’t a game.”

While Biden hasn’t singled out specific governors, he could be referring to Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who have taken particularly aggressive action to curb local governments, school districts, and private businesses from mandating masks and vaccinations.

Legal challenges to the new Biden administration regulation would likely center around whether OSHA can legally impose such a requirement under the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce, vaccine law expert Brian Dean Abramson told Insider.

Governmental vaccine mandates, more broadly, stand on strong legal footing in the history of US jurisprudence. In the 1905 Supreme Court case of Jacobson vs. Massachusetts, the high court ruled against a man who sought exemption from Cambridge’s smallpox vaccine mandate.

In addition to the new public private-sector vaccine mandates, Biden announced a vaccine requirement for healthcare providers that receive federal funds, a new partnership with the private sector to increase testing capacity in schools, and expanding access to COVID-19 treatments.

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How OSHA, the agency tasked with enforcing Biden’s vaccine mandate, works – and how it’ll go about making companies with more than 100 employees require vaccines

Protesters opposing vaccine mandates gather with signs and flags in front of the Capitol.
Protesters opposing vaccine mandates gather at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with ensuring workplace safety.
  • Biden has directed OSHA to require some large businesses to mandate vaccines for employees.
  • Republicans have vowed to fight the mandate, and OSHA’s rule will likely face legal challenges.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction, it would take 129 years to complete the task, according to a 2011 report from AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the US.

The workplace safety agency, commonly known as OSHA, has now been tasked with implementing and enforcing the new vaccine mandate that President Joe Biden announced Thursday. Under the mandate, all businesses with more than 100 employees will have to require COVID-19 vaccinations or submit employees to weekly testing.

The White House said OSHA is drafting the rule, which will affect more than 80 million workers, and will enforce it once it goes into place. The administration did not say under what deadline OSHA will be drafting the rule or when it will go into effect.

OSHA did not immediately respond to questions from Insider about how it plans to enforce the vaccine mandate rule.

What is OSHA?

The mission of OSHA, which is housed in the Department of Labor, is to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers.”

The regulatory agency was established in 1971 after President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The law was created to assure employee health and safety by ensuring employers maintained workplaces that were free from hazards including toxic chemicals, mechanical dangers, and unsanitary conditions.

The act also created OSHA, giving it jurisdiction over most private sector employers in the US and their workers across all 50 states, as well as federal government workers. All employers covered by OSHA are required to comply with the agency’s health and safety standards.

The agency has the power to conduct workplace safety inspections without notifying the business in advance in order to make sure those standards are met.

According to OSHA, on-the-job deaths decreased 63% after it was established, from an estimated 14,00 in 1970 to 5,250 in 2018, despite a doubling of the number of workers in that time.

How will OSHA enforce the vaccine mandate?

OSHA has the authority to issue new health and safety standards. The standards-setting process is typically completed through a series of steps that can include evaluations by committees, consultations with small businesses, and a window for public input.

However, OSHA also has the power to skip the usual bureaucratic process and implement an emergency temporary standard (ETS), according to the agency.

In the COVID-19 action plan announced by the White House on Thursday, Biden specifically directed OSHA to issue an ETS for the private sector vaccine mandate.

Per the agency, if OSHA determines that “workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards,” it can bypass the standard procedure and implement an ETS.

Once set, the new standard has six months to go through the usual process to become permanent, and can be challenged in an appeals court during that time.

What difficulties will OSHA face in enforcing the vaccine mandate?

Republican lawmakers like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp have already vowed to fight the vaccine mandate, so it’s likely the ETS will be challenged in court. If challenged, the ETS will remain in effect unless a court specifically blocks it.

The courts will likely have to determine whether the Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives OSHA the authority to broadly mandate vaccines, Brian Dean Abramson, a vaccine law expert, told Insider’s Erin Snodgrass.

The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among states. Abramson said the clause has historically been applied broadly, allowing the government to act when something is affecting interstate commerce, such as COVID-19.

However, disagreements exist over the extent of the powers it grants to Congress, and Abramson said a successful challenge under this clause “would have the strongest impact toward eliminating the ability of the federal government to require broad vaccination mandates.”

OSHA’s previous role in enforcing pandemic guidelines

OSHA already issued an ETS at the federal level during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June, the agency issued an emergency standard to protect workers in healthcare and related industries from contracting the virus, focusing on workplaces where employees are most at risk, including hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

The June ETS required workplaces to have a written plan to mitigate transmission, provide proper ventilation, implement social distancing, and supply employees with personal protective equipment, among other requirements. It also mandated employers provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.

OSHA said employers would have 14 days to come into compliance after the June rule took effect, though it did not say how it planned to enforce the rules.

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Rep. Ilhan Omar called the governor of Texas a ‘hypocrite’ for defending the ‘right to choose’ on vaccines a week after the state passed a restrictive abortion law

Side by side close up photos of Rep. Ilhan Omar and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Rep. Ilhan Omar and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

  • The White House said it would require some companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott said he would fight the decision, citing Texans’ “right to choose.”
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped Abbott in a reference to the state’s abortion ban that took effect last week.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a “hypocrite” over his contrasting stances on the “right to choose” when it comes to vaccines and abortions.

The Biden administration announced Thursday it would require businesses with more than 100 employees to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for their employees, or submit them to weekly testing. The announcement prompted swift backlash from many Republicans, including the lone star state’s governor.

“Biden’s vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses. I issued an Executive Order protecting Texans’ right to choose whether they get the COVID vaccine,” Abbott said in a tweet. “Texas is already working to halt this power grab.”

But Omar was quick to pounce on the governor’s support of the “right to choose” when it comes to vaccines.

“Don’t pretend like you believe in the right to choose, you hypocrite,” the Minnesota Democrat said in a retweet of Abbott, in apparent reference to a new abortion law in Texas.

The new law went into effect in Texas last week after the Supreme Court declined to block it. The law bans all abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Abbott signed the bill in May, saying it would ensure “that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”

Critics of the law argue that most women do not even know they are pregnant at six weeks. One worker at an abortion clinic in Houston said they had to turn away 70% of women who came in seeking care in the week after the law went into effect.

The Justice Department sued Texas on Thursday in an attempt to block the law.

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Biden is reportedly set to require vaccines at any health facility that gets government funding. That’s nearly all of them.

COVID 19 vaccine
  • Biden is expected to announce a COVID-19 vaccine requirement at healthcare facilities that get federal funding, sources told Politico.
  • Staff at hospitals that require Medicare or Medicaid funding would be required to be vaccinated.
  • The move is part of the president’s larger plan to stop the spread of COVID-19, the sources said.
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President Joe Biden plans to require COVID-19 vaccines for staff at all healthcare facilities that receive federal funding, two people with knowledge of the matter told Politico.

The move is part of a larger plan to stop the spread of COVID-19 that Biden is set to unveil on Thursday afternoon, the sources told Politico.

The new policy would extend the COVID-19 vaccine requirement to hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, which would cover a large proportion of them.

Biden last month announced that he was requiring nursing home staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and he also implemented a vaccine mandate for federal workers.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Trump says he ‘probably won’t’ get a COVID-19 booster shot after denouncing them as a money-making ploy for pharma companies: WSJ

trump vaccine operation warp speed
Trump greets the crowd before he leaves at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on December 08, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Trump told the Wall Street Journal he “probably won’t” get a COVID-19 booster shot.
  • Trump previously denounced boosters as a “money-making operation for Pfizer” to Fox Business.
  • The former president urged his supporters to get the shot at a rally in Alabama late last month.
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Former President Donald Trump says he will likely not get a COVID-19 booster shot as the Biden administration weighs proposals to roll out boosters to already-vaccinated Americans.

“I feel like I’m in good shape from that standpoint-I probably won’t,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender. “I’ll look at stuff later on. I’m not against it, but it’s probably not for me.”

In an August interview on Fox Business, Trump denounced booster shots as “a money-making operation for Pfizer,” the maker of one of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the US.

The New York Times reported on Friday that leaders of the Food & Drug Administration – which already greenlit boosters for some immunocompromised Americans – and the Centers for Disease Control are urging the White House to pump the brakes on its plans to roll out boosters to all Americans, saying they need more time to collect data.

The former president suffered a bad bout with COVID-19 in October 2020 after repeatedly flouting public health guidance, and was treated with monoclonal antibodies at Walter Reed Hospital. He and former first lady Melania Trump were fully vaccinated in January, but Trump didn’t publicly acknowledge getting the shot until months later.

Trump has previously cast doubt on vaccines, including pushing debunked theories that vaccines cause autism in children. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, though, Trump has demanded that he get more credit for the development and funding of COVID-19 vaccines through his administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative and encouraged his supporters to get vaccinated at various points.

At an August 23 rally in Cullman, Alabama, however, Trump was booed by the crowd for urging them to get the shot.

“I believe totally in your freedoms, I do, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Trump said. “But I recommend that you take the vaccines.”

The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant is a major setback for the US’s fight against COVID-19 and particularly devastating in communities with low vaccination rates.

Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to resist getting vaccinated, leading some GOP leaders to launch a full-court press to get more of their supporters to take the shots.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had polio as a child, has consistently urged Republicans in his home state of Kentucky and nationwide to get the shot, and recently put out a new public service announcement promoting vaccination.

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