CDC Director Walensky Testifies Before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Any mandates in the U.S. to require people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 will be set at the local level by companies and institutions such as colleges, the CDC said this week. Photographer: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg / Contributor
Photographer: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

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Federal Government Changes Its Covid Messaging

It’s Tuesday, January 11th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Federal Government Changes Its Covid Messaging

The Topline: With the Omicron variant driving a surge in COVID cases, President Joe Biden is struggling to deliver on his campaign promise of ending the pandemic.

Quote Of The Day: “There’s a huge credibility crisis for the CDC … it just causes people, if they hear all these mixed messages and all this confusion, it’s all too complicated, they just move on and ignore it.”

– CNN’s Brian Stelter

Tom Williams/Contributor/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Shift In Strategy

President Biden took office with a promise to “shut down the virus,” but is now facing an ongoing surge in COVID cases and more COVID deaths since entering office than happened under the Trump administration.

The Biden administration and other prominent figures within the federal government appear to be changing their strategy on messaging when it comes to COVID-19.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky now says that the vast majority of vaccinated people who died from COVID-19 had multiple comorbidities.

This weekend, Fox News’ Bret Baier asked Walensky if she knew how many of the more than 800,000 COVID deaths in the U.S. were people “with” COVID, as opposed to those who died “from” COVID. Walensky effectively said the CDC didn’t know. However, in a later interview, when asked about vaccinated individuals who died, she said “The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities. So, really, these are people who were unwell to begin with.”

Walensky also admitted that COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission, despite the continued messaging that getting vaccinated will stop the spread of the virus.

The Media Reacts

While some members of the media are helping to support the changing narrative, there are others who are pointing out that institutions like the CDC are collapsing in terms of public trust.

A few months ago, for example, the idea that the vaccines were having an impact on women’s menstrual cycles was widely rejected as a conspiracy theory, but multiple news outlets are now reporting new studies which show strong evidence that they do.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Contributor via Getty Images

2) NYC To Allow 800,000 Noncitizens To Vote

The Topline: More than 800,000 “non-citizens” living in New York City will now be able to vote in local elections, making New York the first major city in the country to allow non-American citizens to vote. 

NYC Voting Measure 

The city’s new measure will allow those who have been “lawful permanent residents of the city” for at least 30 days to vote in the mayor’s race, city council races, and other local elections. They still won’t be allowed to vote in statewide or federal elections. 

Non-citizens, including some illegal immigrants, green card holders, and “Dreamers” make up roughly one in nine voting age New Yorkers.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams previously hinted that he might veto the legislation, but ultimately allowed the measure to pass on Sunday when the 30-day veto window expired. He issued a statement saying while he “initially had some concerns” about the bill, he believes the law will “bring millions more into the democratic process.”

Each Side

Supporters of the bill – mainly progressive Democrats – say everyone living in the city, including noncitizens, should have a say in who controls the government. They argue that because permanent residents and green card holders pay some form of taxes and are involved in the local community, they should be entitled to a vote, whether they’re an American citizen or not. 

Opponents of the bill – mainly Republicans – say the bill is illegal. They point out how the constitution says the right to vote belongs only to “citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older.” 

Even some Democrats have opposed the measure because of the constitutionality argument. Councilman Kalman Yeger (D) from Brooklyn said “It’s unconstitutional under state law. It’s very clear. We do not have the legal authority to do this.”

Some states, including Arizona, Alabama, Colorado, and Florida have already passed laws preemptively restricting non-citizens from voting. 

AlessVatican Pool/Vatican Pool / Contributor / Getty Images

3) Pope Francis Addresses Cancel Culture And Vaccine Policies

The Topline: Pope Francis made headlines with statements he made about cancel culture and COVID-19 vaccines on Monday.

Quote Of The Day: “Under the guise of defending diversity, it ends up canceling all sense of identity with the risk of silencing positions that defend a respectful and balanced understanding of various sensibilities. A kind of one-track thinking is taking shape. One constrained to deny history, or worse yet, to rewrite it.”

– Pope Francis

Pope Francis

In his annual address to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps, Pope Francis made comments about cancel culture and COVID-19 vaccines. 

Several weeks ago, the European Union moved to essentially cancel the word “Christmas.” Francis called this “watered-down secularism” and a form of “ideological colonization.” Yesterday, he said cancel culture “leaves no room for freedom of expression.” 

Pope Francis said we live in a world of strong “ideological divides” and this divide has discouraged some people from getting vaccinated. In particular, he pointed to a lack of “clear communication” that “generates confusion, creates mistrust, and undermines social cohesion.”

Win McNamee/Staff/Getty Images

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