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7 Things: Biden’s vaccine mandate takes another loss, school systems still pretending masks work, another Amazon union vote and more …

7. Biden can’t even say “Omicron”

  • With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus emerging in other countries, President Joe Biden has addressed how he will approach the virus. Biden said that he plans to deal with this “not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more.”
  • Biden advised, “This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” and the World Health Organization has already met about the variant and deemed that it’s one “of concern.” Travel from several countries for non-citizens has already been banned, but these bans have been criticized since there are several countries not included on the ban list that have reported Omicron cases.

6. Ainsworth: Critical Race Theory must be blocked

  • Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth recently spoke about how the Alabama Legislature needs to block Critical Race Theory (CRT). Blocking CRT from being taught in Alabama public schools has become a widely talked about issue within the state, with some bills already being pre-filed.
  • Ainsworth described CRT as “one of the most dangerous things” that could be put in place in schools. He added, “Liberals are trying to infiltrate our schools, change the narrative of history. So, I think we certainly need to go ahead and get that done.”

5. Alabama will push for electric cars

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced her support for electric vehicles as the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs announced its “Drive Electric Alabama” campaign to educate the public.
  • Ivey was asked if she was going to switch to driving an electric vehicle, and she replied, “When my car runs out, I’ll sure look at it and take a drive,” referring to Mercedes planning to make electric vehicles. Ivey went on to say, “[A]utomobile manufacturing is one of Alabama’s key industries, and we want to make sure that this economic engine remains vibrant for Alabama’s workers.” Buying a new car just to go electric is not a smart move, economically or environmentally, even though some reporters think this is a slick question.

4. Montgomery will face $25k fine after changing street name

  • The City of Montgomery has renamed the street Jeff Davis Avenue, which was named for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The street was changed to Fred D. Gray Avenue, who was a civil rights attorney, and now the city is facing a $25,000 fine as is required by the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
  • The Alabama Historical Commission said that this violates the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, and the city has been notified of the fine. Mayor Steven Reed said, “When I see a lot of the Confederate symbols that we have in the city, it sends a message that we are focused on the lost cause as opposed to those things that bring us together under the Stars and Stripes.”

3. New union vote coming for Bessemer

  • At the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, a new union vote is expected after the National Labor Relations Board ordered another. This vote will again be held to decide if workers want to join the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union.
  • In the last vote taken from February through March, the final vote was 1,798 “no” and 738 “yes.” Turnout for the vote was low since there were around 6,200 employees at the time. The previous push for unionizing was given national attention after some like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and President Joe Biden gave their support to the workers joining a union.

2. Some schools will keep trying to justify masking kids

  • It’s expected that Huntsville City Schools will still require masks at the beginning of next semester if there are enough coronavirus cases within the community. The decision will be based on average cases every week.
  • The system will use the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard for Madison County coronavirus cases. If there are six or less of the last 10 business days with high spread of cases, masks won’t be required. If there are seven or more days of the last 10 with high or substantial spread, the schools will require masks.

1. Vaccine mandate for health care facilities halted

  • U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp has ruled in favor of health care workers from Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming to halt President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. Alabama is not a party in this case and is not affected by the ruling, although many other legal challenges are ongoing where Alabama is a plaintiff.
  • Schelp wrote in his order that it’s preferable to have “some unvaccinated employees, staff trainees, students, volunteers and contractors, rather than the swift, irremediable impact of requiring healthcare facilities to choose between two undesirable choices – providing substandard care or providing no healthcare at all.” The mandate required mandates for facilities receiving federal funding.