CDC EASES MASK GUIDELINES FOR THE OUTDOORS: With more than half of the country now having gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and more than one-third fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines yesterday (April 27th) on wearing masks outdoors. The CDC says that whether people are fully vaccinated or not, they don’t have to wear masks outdoors when walking, biking or running alone or with members of their household. It’s also okay to be maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people. Unvaccinated people, however, should wear masks at small outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people, and should also keep wearing masks when eating at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households. When it comes to crowded outdoor events, everyone, including those fully vaccinated, should still wearing masks.
BIDEN TO DELIVER ADDRESS TO JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS TONIGHT: President Biden will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress tonight, the nationally-televised, State of the Union-like address being delivered later in the year than usual. Unlike past speeches, attendance will be limited because of social distancing, and only some 200 of the 535 members of Congress got tickets to attend. Most of Biden’s Cabinet members also won’t attend because of the restrictions, with only Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to be there, and only Chief Justice John Roberts will represent the Supreme Court. Everyone will be required to wear a face mask. Although First Lady Jill Biden will attend, the tradition of having special guests with her isn’t happening this year. The Republicans’ rebuttal that airs after Biden’s speech will be delivered by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s only Black Republican.
FBI LAUNCHES CIVIL RIGHTS PROBE OF BLACK MAN KILLED BY NORTH CAROLINA DEPUTIES: The FBI launched a civil rights investigation yesterday (April 27th) into the killing by deputies in North Carolina last Wednesday of a 42-year-old Black man, Andrew Brown Jr. Brown was killed in Elizabeth City by deputies serving drug-related search and arrest warrants at his house. That news came as Brown’s family released the results of an independent autopsy that shows he was shot five times, including in the back of the head, with the other wounds in his right arm. The State Bureau of Investigation is carrying out an investigation of the shooting, but North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has now called for a special prosecutor. A court hearing will be held today in response to calls for bodycam video of the shooting to be publicly released.
U.S. WARSHIP FIRED WARNING SHOTS IN IRANIAN INCIDENT: A U.S. warship fired warning shots Monday (April 26th) when Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels came too close to a patrol in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday (April 28th). The Navy said the USS Firebolt fired the warning shots after three fast-attack vessels came within 68 yards of it and a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat in international waters. After that, the vessels moved away. This is the second time this month that the Navy has accused the Revolutionary Guard of operating in a, quote, “unsafe and unprofessional manner,” after these kinds of incidents had declined in recent years.
BIDEN RAISES MINIMUM WAGE TO $15 FOR FEDERAL CONTRACTORS: President Biden signed an executive order Tuesday (April 27th) raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal contractors. The change from the current miniumum of $10.95 will effect hundreds of thousands of workers.