Tennessee Legislature Passes Sweeping COVID Rules Bill Overnight

After hours of deliberation and the formation of a legislative conference committee, the Tennessee Legislature passed a 21-page omnibus COVID-19 bill early Saturday morning to close its special session.

The bill in its original form gained negative attention from several businesses in the state, including the Ford Motor Company, which was the subject of last week’s special session when the Legislature approved $884 million in spending related to Ford’s $5.6 billion electric truck factory outside of Memphis.

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Nurses in Illinois Win Temporary Restraining Order Against Vaccine Mandate

Woman healthcare worker in purple scrubs and hairnet on

An Illinois judge granted a temporary restraining order to nurses who sued Riverside Healthcare over the hospital system’s vaccine mandate.

Kankakee County Judge Nancy Nicholson granted a temporary restraining order until Nov. 19. She will then hold a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction requested by the nurses.

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Biden’s Approval Hits New Low in FiveThirtyEight Tracker

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden’s approval rating hit a new low of just over 43% in FiveThirtyEight’s polling tracker as he confronts multiple economic and legislative headwinds.

Biden’s approval stood at 43.5%, and has steadily declined since July. His disapproval stood at 50.6%, the highest of his presidency.

Biden’s slide has coincided with another spike in coronavirus cases, a messy Afghanistan withdrawal and economic challenges ranging from supply chain issues to inflation. He has also pinned much of his domestic agenda on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and his sweeping budget, but left-wing and moderate Democrats have yet to agree on a compromise that would give both the votes needed to pass the House, where they hold just a three-vote margin, and the 50-50 Senate.

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Poll: Majority of Americans Think COVID-19 Threat is Getting Less Serious

The majority of Americans believe the threat of the coronavirus is getting less serious, and a plurality believe President Joe Biden and government health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci don’t want lockdowns to end, according to a new poll conducted by the Convention of States Action in partnership with The Trafalgar Group.

“Despite the fact that Big Media and Big Tech are working tirelessly to suppress the truth, this poll reveals that most Americans aren’t fooled in the least,” Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action, said. “They clearly see that the pandemic is on a downward trend, and they also understand that President Biden and Dr. Fauci have no intention of easing restrictions and mandates,””

According to the poll, 63.1% of likely voters believe the threat of the coronavirus is getting less serious, with 25.9% saying it’s much less serious, compared to 26.1% who say it’s getting more serious. Nearly 11% said they weren’t sure.

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‘They Have No Shame’: National Institutes of Health Doubles Down, Says It Didn’t Fund Gain of Function Research after Releasing Documents That Suggest Otherwise

Lawrence Tabak

The National Institutes of Health reiterated its stance Thursday that it did not fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China, despite having released documents on Wednesday showing that it funded the creation of a lab-made SARS coronavirus that was more deadly and pathogenetic towards mice with humanized cells.

EcoHealth Alliance informed the NIH in August that its lab-created rWIV1-SHC014 S coronavirus killed 75% of mice with humanized cells, while the natural WIV1 virus it was based on killed less than 25% of mice with the same humanized cells. The experiments were conducted with the Wuhan Institute of Virology between June 2018 and May 2019.

“These results suggest that the pathogenicity of SHC014 is higher than other tested bat SARSr-CoVs in transgenic mice that express hACE2,” EcoHealth Alliance told the NIH in its progress report.

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NIH Corrects Claims by Collins, Fauci that U.S. Had Not Funded Gain-of-Function Research in Wuhan

The National Institute of Health (NIH) on Wednesday sent a letter to Representative James Comer (R-KY-01), correcting claims that the U.S. had not funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.

The assertions, made by NIH Director Francis Collins and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, detail that EcoHealth Alliance violated certain terms and conditions of the grant.  

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Tennessee Sen. Blackburn and Kansas Sen. Marshall Introduce Bill to Pause Gain-of-Function Research Funding

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is sponsoring legislation with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) to place a moratorium on gain-of-function (GOF) research, problems with which many believe played a role in the outbreak of COVID-19.

GOF experiments enhance the severity or transmissibility of a virus or other biological agent. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have condoned such research “to help us understand the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, assess the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents and inform public health and preparedness efforts.” The NIH have however acknowledged major “biosafety and biosecurity risks” that warrant meticulous oversight.

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U.S. Navy Preparing to Discharge Unvaccinated Sailors

Sailers saluting one another

On Thursday, the United States Navy announced its intentions to discharge any and all sailors who have not yet taken the coronavirus vaccine, according to Fox News.

The Navy’s press release on the matter declares that November 14th is the final deadline for sailors to receive the vaccine, while the deadline for reservists is December 14th. In addition to being discharged, sailors who refuse to get the vaccine may also lose some of their veterans’ benefits.

“Those separated only for vaccine removal,” the statement reads, “will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions. This type of discharge could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits.” In addition, the statement said that the Navy “may also seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine.”

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Shuffles Elderly Agencies as Auditor General Nursing Home Death Report Looms

hands of an elderly person

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is reorganizing agencies providing services to the elderly, as an auditor general report on coronavirus-related nursing home deaths looms.

The new Health and Aging Services Administration will reportedly provide better communication between agencies with the goal of increasing efficiency. 

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Watchdog Group Seeks Records from Agencies on Funding of Nonprofit Involved in Wuhan-Based ‘Gain-of-Function’ Research

A watchdog organization has filed requests via the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) this week to obtain information about the U.S. government’s funding of China-based gain-of-function studies that many believe have played a role in the origin of COVID-19.

Gain-of-function (GOF) research is experimentation that enhances the severity or transmissibility of a virus or other biological agent. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have said such work “poses biosafety and biosecurity risks [which] must be carefully managed,” though the NIH have justified funding GOF research “to help us understand the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, assess the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents and inform public health and preparedness efforts.”

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Studies Detail Damaging Mental, Economic, Academic Impacts of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Coronavirus Lockdowns

Economic indicators continue to reveal the damaging impacts of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Internet gaming platform Spider-Solitaire Challenge found 54 percent of study respondents in Michigan reported suffering from “pandemic brain,” which it described as “a decline in your cognitive abilities” during the time in-person learning was banned, businesses were ordered closed, and religious services were restricted, according to the Daily Mining Gazette.

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Gretchen Whitmer Hints Support for Coronavirus Vaccine Mandate

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) hinted Tuesday she may follow President Joe Biden’s lead and support a coronavirus vaccine mandate in the state.

Whitmer was asked about the federal mandate for federal government employees and employers with 100 or more workers, and the Democrat incumbent did not indicate any concern. In fact, she said she would follow Biden’s lead.

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Project Veritas Catches Johnson & Johnson Employees Arguing Against Children Getting Vaccinated

Two Johnson & Johnson employees have admitted on hidden camera that children should not be forced to get injected with a COVID vaccine because of the potential of long-term side effects.

In Part 3 of Project Veritas’ COVID vaccine investigative series, a J&J scientist also voiced support for making unvaccinated Americans feel like second class citizens to coerce them into getting the jab, while at the same time recommending against getting the J&J COVID vaccine. “Don’t get the Johnson & Johnson,” Justin Durrant told a Project Veritas undercover journalist. “I didn’t tell you though,” he added.

Brandon Schadt, J&J’s Regional Business Lead, told the undercover journalist, “J&J is like stepping in the best smelling pile of sh-t you could step in.”

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Chief Medical Advisor Abruptly Resigns Amid Latest Coronavirus Surge

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) chief medical advisor is hitting the exit amid the latest coronavirus surge in the state.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, a deputy director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Whitmer’s point person in the virus, is leaving for a job in the private sector, the Iron Mountain Daily News reported. Khaldun will be replaced by a bureaucrat who temporarily left her state job to work for the World Health Organization.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Leaves Door Open to Statewide Vaccine Mandate

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) refused to say if she would agree to President Joe Biden’s (D) demand to impose a statewide coronavirus vaccine mandate.

Whitmer, facing slumping polls showing her reelection prospects threatened by multiple Republican opponents, including James Craig and Tudor Dixon, sidestepped a question by Fox 2 about if Biden would “like that to be the case in Michigan”:

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Williamson County Board of Education Votes to Continue Mask Mandates in Schools

The Board of Education in Williamson County, Tennessee voted overwhelmingly Monday evening to extend its mask mandate for COVID-19 prevention until January.

At the urging of Superintendent Jason Golden, school directors initially voted on Aug. 10 to impose the requirement on elementary-school students. On Aug. 26, the board enjoined that mandate on middle-schoolers and high-schoolers as well. The rule would have expired this Tuesday but for the prior evening’s vote. 

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Lawsuits Continue to Mount over Governor Lee’s Opt-Out Mask Order for Students

Three similar lawsuits challenging Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt students out of mask mandates are proceeding across the state and are at different points.

A preliminary injunction granted last week in Shelby County against Lee’s order applies to only Shelby County.

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Georgia’s GOP Congresspersons, Along with Pro-Vaccine Governor, Resist Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is leading the charge among Republican officials to litigate against President Joe Biden’s order that all employers with 100 or more staffers ensure that their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they show a negative test weekly.

“Just ended a call with my fellow Republican governors,” Kemp tweeted Friday. “We are fighting back against @POTUS’ outrageous overreach and attack on individual freedom.”

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The Entrepreneurs Corner: Refined Men’s Salon Owner Julie White Talks What She Did During the Coronavirus Shutdown

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the Owner of Refined Men’s Salon in Franklin, Tennessee, Julie White to reflect upon the onset of coronavirus restrictions.

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Davidson County Council Endorses Indoor Mask Mandate

The Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee voted on Tuesday evening to urge the Metropolitan Public Health Department’s (MPHD) Chief Medical Director Gill Wright to reinstate a citywide mask mandate for public indoor spaces.

Councilpersons Joy Styles (District 32), Burkley Allen (At-Large), Jennifer Gamble (District 3), Sharon Hurt (At-Large) and Sandra Sepulveda (District 30) sponsored the resolution, which passed with 21 councilpersons in favor, nine opposed and five abstaining.

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Left-Wing Website Editor Bites Gretchen Whitmer, Attacks ‘Mealy Mouthed’ School Mask Position

Susan Demas

Left-wing news website editor Susan Demas harshly criticized Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), accusing her of going weak after her refusal to issue a new school mask mandate.

Whitmer has repeatedly claimed she is “following the science” during the coronavirus pandemic, but several of her advisers have recently said their recommendations were to require universal masking in schools and the governor rejected that advice.

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Studies Point to Varied Effects of Masking

Crowded street market with people wearing masks

New research published by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Bangladesh, which tracked mask-wearing among 340,000 Bangladeshi adults, indicates mask usage can considerably reduce the spread of symptomatic COVID-19. 

Some medical professionals, however, remain uneasy about mask mandates in schools because of their possible impact on children’s learning and social health.

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Chamber of Commerce Conference in Michigan to Require Coronavirus Vaccination, Offer Interaction ‘Comfort Level’ Wristbands

Detroit Regional Chamber Conference in 2020

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce conference later this month will require attendees to be vaccinated and offer them interaction “comfort level” wristbands to wear.

The Chamber event, which will take place September 20-23 on Mackinac Island, will also require masking in certain areas, despite the vaccination mandate.

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Michigan State Senators Introduce Bill to Create Exemptions to College Vaccine Mandates

State Senators Kim LaSata (R-MI-Coloma) and Jim Runestad (R-MI-White Lake) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would allow students in Michigan’s colleges and universities the right to opt out of vaccine mandates imposed by those institutions.

The bill would create a range of medical and non-medical exceptions to requirements for students at any higher-education institution in Michigan to get any kind of vaccine.

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Health Department in Uber Conservative Michigan County Threatens Jail, Child Confiscation for Coronavirus Violations

The Allegan County Health Department is threatening jail and child confiscation over alleged coronavirus order violations.

Allegan County voted 61 percent for Donald Trump in the 2020 election and is run entirely by Republicans. Nevertheless, the agency issued a letter August 27 to an unknown parent, who posted it on social media:

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Residents of Democratic Stronghold Genesee County, Michigan Speak to Commissioners Overwhelmingly Against School Mask Mandate

An informal meeting of the Genesee County, Michigan Board of Commissioners on Monday saw residents turn out heavily against a school-mask mandate for students in grades K-6. 

County Medical Health Officer Pamela Hackert told attendees she imposed the requirement only on those lower grades because she wanted to provide protection to students who do not yet have the option of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Michigan Democrats Delete Tweet Pointing Out Gretchen Whitmer ‘Declined’ to Issue Statewide Mask Mandate

The Michigan Democratic Party deleted a tweet pointing out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) “declined” to issue a statewide school mask mandate.

As coronavirus cases rise, Whitmer has refused to exercise the powers she used months ago, despite repeatedly claiming she is “following the science,” leaving some to speculate she is now following polling and “political science.”

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Parents Demonstrate Against School Mask Mandate and Health Officer in Kent County, Michigan

On Thursday, several Kent County commissioners and a packed room of parents expressed outrage over Health Officer Adam London’s mandate that school children wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

London, who issued the requirement mere days before children in the Grand Rapids area headed back to school this Monday, insisted at a board of commissioners meeting that no negative consequences come to children from wearing masks. 

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Demand Soaring in Michigan for ‘Antibody Cocktail’ in Fight Against Coronavirus

Demand is soaring for an “antibody cocktail” that can greatly diminish the severity of coronavirus cases, Michigan Radio reported.

The antibody cocktail created by Regeneron is the same former President Donald Trump received after he contracted the virus and is intended to be administered only after a patient has contracted the disease.

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Regeneron Proves Effective; Where to Get Treatment at Tennessee Medical Facilities

As confirmed cases of the coronavirus continue to rise throughout the country, monoclonal antibody treatments, such as Regeneron, are becoming a widespread source of treatment.

Across the state of Tennessee, hundreds of locations are providing the treatment to individuals who have tested positive for the virus.

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Top Michigan Health Bureaucrat Inadvertently Admits Gretchen Whitmer Not ‘Following the Science’

When pressed Wednesday, the top health adviser to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) inadvertently admitted the governor is not “following the science,” per her opinion.

“Following the science” has been a staple of Whitmer’s talking points since the COVID pandemic began, but Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Whitmer’s chief medical adviser, was asked if she recommended Whitmer issue an order requiring masks in schools. Khaldun answered affirmatively, claiming, “it would likely decrease the spread of COVID-19 in schools.”

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Retail Sales Dipped in July Amid Spiking Coronavirus Cases

Woman shopping

Retail sales in the U.S. declined in July as the number of coronavirus cases spiked, localities renewed some restrictions and businesses delayed their return to in-person work.

Sales dropped 1.1% in July compared to June and totaled $617.7 billion, according to the Census Bureau report released Tuesday. The decrease was driven mainly by declining used and new car sales, clothing purchases, building materials sales, sports goods sales and furniture purchases.

Economists expected retail sales to fall 0.3%, a relatively modest drop compared to the actual decline, CNBC reported. All major stock market indices declined between 0.5% and 0.8% on Tuesday morning following the worse-than-expected report.

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Science on Mask Usage Indicates Scant Benefit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that all schools require mask-wearing indoors by teachers and students, vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

And many school districts are adopting that requirement, to the dismay of many parents.

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U.S. Senators Call for Investigation into Michigan and Other States that Sent COVID Patients to Nursing Homes

Republican members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Friday urged that committee’s chair to commence an investigation into the decisions of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) and several other governors to discharge COVID-19-infected patients into their states’ nursing homes in 2020.

In addition to Whitmer, Tom Wolf (D-PA), Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Phil Murphy (D-NJ) are specifically criticized in the letter written to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL).

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Number of Homeschooled Students Has Doubled Since Pandemic, Continues to Rise

Student working on school work at home.

As a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the total number of students being homeschooled in the United States has more than doubled from pre-pandemic levels, and continues to rise even as schools begin to slowly reopen, according to Fox News.

By March of 2021, the total number of homeschooled students in America stands at over 5 million, in comparison to just 2.6 million in 2020. Christopher Chin, president of Homeschool Louisiana, said that “interest has exploded,” and that although some students may ultimately return to regular schools after the pandemic, “many parents [are] finding this is a better way of life for them and their children.”

Additionally, Chin says the homeschooling model has proven successful even for households where both parents work, due to the rise in remote work at many companies and places of business.

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Michigan Board of Education Votes to Let Schools Mask or Not Mask

Michigan’s Board of Education passed a resolution Tuesday evening allowing individual school districts to either adopt or reject masking for students and staff to prevent COVID-19’s spread.

The Democrat-run board adopted the resolution instead of another offered by the panel’s two Republican members, Tom McMillin (Oakland Township) and Nikki Snyder (Dexter), who wanted a statewide policy against district mask mandates.

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Commentary: Instead of Tightening Government’s Grip on Healthcare, Give Americans a Personal Option

Healthcare workers

As America begins to put the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview, the lesson from this once-in-a-generation crisis couldn’t be clearer: We need less, not more, central planning in our lives.

For example, a study earlier this year by health economist Casey Mulligan revealed that economic lockdowns mandated by government were counterproductive, given the significant steps workplaces took to prevent the virus from spreading.

The same is true with health care. By now, most folks know the story of how Operation Warp Speed — the previous administration’s unprecedented plan to trim bureaucracy from the vaccine development process — resulted in the creation of multiple safe and effective vaccines in record time. But an equally important storyline is how states took a sledgehammer to their own bureaucracies to expand access to care for those in need.

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Michigan Health Departments Plot New Coronavirus Restrictions as Gretchen Whitmer Complains Her Powers are Curtailed

Michigan’s local health departments are plotting new restrictions as bureaucrats are alarmed by a rise in COVID-19 cases that apparently are not being blunted with vaccinations.

WZZM speculated another lockdown may be “in sight.”

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Ohio COVID-19 Vaccination Rate Passes 50 Percent

Man getting COVID vaccine

Ohio crossed a COVID-19 vaccine milestone over the weekend as more than 50% of the state’s eligible population reached partial or fully-vaccinated status while masking and social distancing requirements continued to vary throughout the state.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced over the weekend the state passed 50% of eligible Ohioans at least starting the vaccine process, along with the increase in vaccinations in 85 of the state’s 88 counties. At the same time, Ohio’s reported cases Friday rose to 1,666 new daily cases and 24 deaths.

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Reba McEntire Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Being Fully Vaccinated

Reba McEntire

Country music singer Reba McEntire announced in a recent livestream on TikTok that she has been diagnosed with COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated against the virus.

In the video, McEntire detailed that she and her boyfriend Rex Linn both received positive test results.

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Despite Michigan’s New Status as ‘Substantial’ Center of COVID Spread, Deaths Per Day Remain in Single Digits

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) elevated Michigan’s level of COVID-19 spread to “substantial” on Wednesday, daily death totals statewide due to COVID remain in single digits.

According to the widely cited tracking website worldometers.info, the seven-day moving average of COVID deaths per day in Michigan has stayed under double digits since July 1st.

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GDP Surges 6.5 Percent as Economy Reaches Pre-Pandemic Size

The U.S. economy surged 6.5% in the second quarter of 2021 as states continued to end coronavirus-related restrictions that triggered an economic recession last year.

The U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of net services and goods produced, jumped at a 6.5% annual rate between April and May, according to a Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report released Thursday. GDP plummeted 31.4% in the second quarter of 2020 amid the massive nationwide economic shutdowns that occurred during the first coronavirus outbreak.

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More Than 1,000 Individuals Sign Petition to Reinstate Mask Mandate for Metro Nashville Schools

Man at grocery store wearing a black mask

A petition circulating online with the goal of persuading leaders to reinstate the mask mandate for students attending Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) has gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

Earlier this month, the school system announced that students will have the option to wear masks, but they will not be required to.

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Tennessee Experiences 27 Deaths in More Than 1,000 ‘Breakthrough’ Cases Among Vaccinated Individuals

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey announced on Friday that more than 1,000 individuals throughout the safe have tested positive for the coronavirus after being fully vaccinated.

Of the fully vaccinated individuals who have suffered these numerous “breakthrough” cases, 195 have been hospitalized, with 27 patients passing away.

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Three Texas Democrat State Legislators Who Fled to DC to Avoid Quorum Test Positive for COVID-19

Texas Democrats Test Positive for COVID

After more than 50 Texas Democrats fled the state to avoid a special legislative session, three of the lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19.

After one member tested positive for the virus on Friday, two more lawmakers received additional positive test results on Saturday.

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Analysis: What It Would Look Like If China Had to Pay Reparations for COVID-19

The U.S. and other nations can hold the Chinese government accountable for the 2020 outbreak of coronavirus and ensuing global pandemic through a variety of legal, financial and diplomatic means.

Republican senators and Asian policy experts have proposed a range of options for punishing the Chinese government for its alleged negligence responding to the outbreak and overseeing the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where coronavirus potentially leaked from in late 2019. Since the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic in March 2o20, the virus has killed more than 4 million people worldwide, nations have experienced economic devastation and the prevalence of other health issues such as depression has increased.

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Commentary: An Inside Look at Lockdown Orders from 2020

Person putting hands on glass, inside of home

Life in the United States and in many parts of the world was transformed in mid-March 2020. That was when the great experiment began. It was a test. How much power does government have to rule nearly the whole of life? To what extent can all the power of the state be mobilized to take away rights that people had previously supposed were protected by law? How many restrictions on freedom would people put up with without a revolt?

It was also a test of executive and bureaucratic power: can these dramatic decisions be made by just a handful of people, independent of all our slogans about representative democracy?

We are far from coming to terms with any of these questions. They are hardly being discussed. The one takeaway from the storm that swept through our country and the world in those days is that anything is possible. Unless something dramatic is done, like some firm limits on what governments can do, they will try again, under the pretext of public health or something else. 

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Workers’ Coronavirus Fears Hit Pandemic Low

U.S. workers’ fear of contracting coronavirus while on the job has hit a pandemic low as the economy continues its steady recovery.

The number of Americans not working due to their fear of getting the virus while at their job dipped to 3.05 million by the end of June, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey released Wednesday. The figure hit its peak in July 2020 when 6.24 million unemployed Americans reported not looking for a job due to coronavirus fears, Axios reported.

“People are feeling safer about returning to work, which should help businesses staff-up to meet the tremendous demand we’re seeing right now,” Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House told Axios.

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