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7 Things: Omicron continues to surge, Alabama prisons must get it together by mid-2025, Mike Durant may have to fire employees over vaccine mandate and more …

7. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dies

  • Former U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) died at 82 in Nevada. Reid spent 12 years in control of the U.S. Senate. He was remembered as a quiet man with a quick temper. His legislative victory on Obamacare is considered his signature accomplishment as Senate majority leader.
  • Reid’s legacy will most likely be forever linked to former President Donald Trump’s three Supreme Court justices, who would not be on the bench had Reid not removed the filibuster for federal judges when Democrats controlled the U.S. Senate. The unintended consequences of that decision were laid out in real-time by then-future Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said, “You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think.”

6. About those hospitalizations

  • Much is being made about the increase of children in hospitals with the coronavirus, but the details of how those numbers are being obtained changes the story a bit. According to NBC News, while touting the surge of children in the hospital (close to 2,000 nationwide), they noted no kids are headed to the hospital for the coronavirus, but they are kids who are admitted to the hospital for other reasons testing positive.
  • While the Omicron variant is expected to lead to fewer deaths and hospitalizations, at this point, the rules being followed by hospitals and other employers are sidelining personnel and creating staffing issues across the board.

5. Omicron may essentially kill the Delta variant

  • A new study is showing that those who have had the Omicron variant of the coronavirus may be at a lesser risk of catching the Delta variant. The study comes from a team of scientists in South Africa, led by Khadija Khan from the Africa Health Research Institute.
  • In the study, Khan wrote, “These results are consistent with displacing the Delta variant since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes Delta making re-infection with Delta less likely.” Khan also wrote, “[T]he incidence of Covid-19 severe disease would be reduced and the infection may shift to become less disruptive to individuals and society.”

4. Vaccine mandate could force Senate candidate to fire 80 employees

  • Mike Durant, a candidate for U.S. Senate, started the government contractor Pinnacle Solutions. He recently said on a podcast that President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate could force him to fire about 80 employees.
  • The mandate for federal contractors has been blocked by a federal judge, but Durant advised, “Until that happened here recently, I was going to have to fire people that didn’t want to get the vaccine.” He went on to say, “It’s just such a ridiculous overreach and I think one of the best examples of how incompetent the current leadership we have in the White House is in this, their ignorance about what the implications of the decisions actually are.”

3. Judge says Alabama must have more correctional officers by 2025

  • It’s been ordered by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson that there must be more correctional officers hired for Alabama prisons by 2025. Thompson released a 600-page opinion on the prison system in the state. In total, there must be 3,826 full-time employees in prisons by July 1, 2025.
  • Thompson plainly said, “ADOC does not have enough correctional staff to provide constitutionally adequate mental health care to prisoners who need it.” The district judge went on to add, “The absence of security staff prevents people who need treatment from accessing it, stops those whose mental health is deteriorating from being caught before they lapse into psychosis or suicidality, and fosters an environment of danger, anxiety, and violence that constantly assaults the psychological stability of people with mental illness in ADOC custody.”

2. Biden can’t decide if there should actually be a federal plan

  • President Joe Biden said on Monday that there isn’t a “federal solution” to the coronavirus pandemic, but on Tuesday he mentioned his “federal plan” to fight the pandemic. Biden has issued several federal mandates and guidance for the pandemic.
  • As issues with the Omicron variant of the virus grow, the president stated, “My administration has the back of every governor fighting COVID-19 in their state. Last week, I rolled out a federal plan to tackle Omicron by adding vaccination and booster capacity, hospital equipment, staff, and more.” This comes after Biden said, “This gets solved at the state level.”

1. New record for new coronavirus cases nationally

  • As of Tuesday, the United States has seen an average of 254,496 new daily coronavirus cases which passed the 251,989 cases seen on January 11, 2021. Keep in mind, this is not just the United States dealing with the latest coronavirus surge. Europe is also seeing record numbers of new cases.
  • In Alabama, the positivity rate of tests has doubled to 22.1% in less than a week with only six counties in the entire state outside of the “high level of transmission,” according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.