It’s Thursday, January 20th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:
1) Exclusive Poll: Fauci Losing Support
The Topline: A new poll from Trafalgar Group and Convention of States Action, provided exclusively to Morning Wire, reveals that a growing number of Americans now think Dr. Anthony Fauci should resign from his post.
Quote Of The Day: “We really cannot have the CDC adjudicating on every aspect of American life using policies that were based on previous variants that were more dangerous.”
– Dr. Marty Makary, Johns Hopkins University
While Dr. Fauci was generally held in high regard at the beginning of the pandemic, his popularity has waned in the past year. A new poll from the Trafalgar Group and Convention of States Action, exclusively for Morning Wire, shows that 46.3% of Americans say he should resign his position and allow new leadership.
Only 17% of Democrats said Fauci should resign, but 76% of Republicans want him to leave his job.
Many people have said that the displeasure with Dr. Fauci is based on party affiliation, but 58% of Independents said they think he should resign.
A lot of the frustration aimed at Dr. Fauci appears to stem from a perception of shifting standards, such as his rhetoric on masks, vaccines, and social distancing. His popularity also seems to have dropped after his contentious appearances before Congress where he appeared to lie about the government’s role in funding Gain of Function research in China.
In general, many Americans say they feel as if Dr. Fauci and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have moved the goalposts on what it will take to end the pandemic. When the vaccine was introduced, their initial messaging was that as more people got the vaccine, cases would go down and society would start reopening. Last week, however, as millions of Americans continued to test positive, the CDC issued new guidelines.
Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University told Morning Wire the medical community has also started to become frustrated with Dr. Fauci as he and other public health officials focus on political talking points instead of spreading information about alternative treatments and natural immunity.
2) Tensions Rise Between Russia And Ukraine
The Topline: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is holding meetings in Ukraine this week, as European leaders unite against the threat of an impending Russian invasion.
Quote Of The Day: “Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We are now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack.”
– White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
Russia has continued to move military equipment and personnel to the Ukrainian border, with no immediate signs of changing course as diplomatic efforts to diffuse the situation have not yet been successful.
Last week, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said the threat of a Russian military invasion is high, and that both the U.S. and its allies are prepared for any contingency.
The White House holds the view that conflict could happen at any time, which is shared by other European nations. At a recent security meeting in Austria, Poland’s foreign minister said Europe was closer to war than at any time in the last three decades.
There is some indication Russia’s military actions might be part of a “false flag” operation, as part of their wider efforts to use disinformation to benefit their foreign policy.
Russia is saying their military buildup along the Ukrainian border is a response to provocation from the West.
On Sunday, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia only mobilized along the border because they could no longer tolerate NATO’s alleged expansion to the east, in what they’re calling a gradual invasion of Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently in Kiev, and said the U.S. will stand with Ukraine if Russia attacks.
Wednesday’s talks were the first in a series regarding European crises, and Blinken will be meeting his Russian counterpart on Friday.
Wider Disinformation Effort
On Friday, hackers targeted around 70 Ukrainian government websites, and authorities blamed Russia for the attack.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website was brought down, with a message posted in three languages reading, “Ukrainians! All your personal data was uploaded to the internet. All data on the computer is being destroyed. All information about you became public. Be afraid and expect the worst.”
3) FDA Advises Factoring Race Into Covid Treatments
The Topline: The FDA released new guidance saying health care providers should factor in a patient’s race when deciding whether to administer certain COVID treatments, noting that a patient’s race or ethnicity may put them at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
The Fact Sheet
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a fact sheet on certain COVID treatments, including monoclonal antibodies. The fact sheet discussed the emergency use authorization of the drug Sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody, for treatment of mild to moderate COVID cases.
The FDA listed some conditions that place people at higher risk for developing severe COVID, such as being 65 years of age and up, pregnancy, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular disease, or neurodevelopmental disorders like cerebral palsy.
The FDA added “other medical conditions or factors (for example, race or ethnicity)” as a risk factor, as well.
States Following Suit
At least three states — New York, Minnesota, and Utah — have issued similar guidance at the local level about considering race as an indicator of the risk of severe COVID.
In New York, the health department released guidance in December saying only COVID-19 patients at a certain risk level were eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies or oral antiviral treatment. Race was listed as one of the factors that increases a person’s risk, which is supposedly due to “systemic inequity.”
The guidance from New York stated, “Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.”
In Utah, health officials use a point system to calculate a COVID patient’s “risk score” to determine whether to administer monoclonal antibody treatment. Being of “Non-White race or Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity” moves a patient’s risk score up by two points, which is the same amount the risk score is raised for “highest-risk comorbidities” like diabetes, obesity, or being severely immunocompromised.
The Minnesota health department specifically cited the FDA in their state guidance, saying healthcare providers may consider whether a patient has a heightened risk of severe COVID due to their race when determining whether to give them monoclonal antibodies.
CDC: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has echoed the FDA’s position, saying COVID has “unequally affected many racial and ethnic minority groups, putting them more at risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”
Other Stories We’re Tracking
President Joe Biden gave a speech Wednesday on the eve of his first year in office. He admitted that more needs to be done in handling COVID, but said it’s been a year of great progress. When questioned, he insisted he is a mainstream Democrat and he doesn’t believe the negative polling about his handling of the job.
Biden was asked, “How do you plan to win back moderates and Independents who cast a ballot for you in 2020 but polls indicate are unhappy with the way you are doing your job now?” He answered, “I don’t believe polls.”
SCOTUS Report Debunked
U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch issued a joint statement Wednesday saying that a recent report from NPR was “false.” The report stated that Sotomayor, who has diabetes, is socially distancing from the courtroom because Gorsuch won’t wear a mask after the Justices were asked to do so.
The statement reads, “Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.” Chief Justice John Roberts also put out a statement, saying, “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench.”