Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The CDC says fully vaccinated Americans can gather indoors without masks.
- Republicans are pushing bills across the country targeting transgender athletes.
- The man who helped Obama ink his Netflix deal is going into the Biden Treasury Department.
1. CDC SAYS MORE HUGS, FEWER MASKS ARE COMING: Vaccinated Americans will have more freedom once their friends and family members receive their shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the recommendations are “just a first step,” but show how the country can slowly reach a new normal.
- Fully vaccinated people can: Hold small, indoor maskless gatherings with each other without having to socially distance, visit unvaccinated friends from a single household that are at low risk for a severe COVID-19 case without having to mask or socially distance, and skip quarantine and testing if they are exposed provided they remain asymptomatic. More on the guidance here.
- What isn’t yet changing: Masks and distancing are still advised to be worn in public. The CDC is also not changing its travel guidance.
- What this means: Grandparents who have been vaccinated can hug their grandchildren without a mask provided no one is at risk for a severe case. It is worth remembering that you’re not fully vaccinated as soon as your final shot goes into your arm. It takes a couple of weeks.
Some experts wanted to see this go further: CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said the guidelines were “too timid and too limited.” She wanted the CDC to say more about how vaccinated Americans should approach returning to church, shopping, and traveling.
President Biden will talk about the pandemic during his first prime-time address on Thursday: He will speak on the one-year anniversary of most of the nation shutting down due to the coronavirus. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will speak about the “many sacrifices the American people have made” and how Americans can help the country move “toward getting back to normal.”
2. Republicans push bills targeting transgender athletes: “Nationwide, at least 37 current state bills aim to curtail transgender athletes from participating in sports using their preferred gender are making their way through state legislatures, according to data provided to Insider by the Human Rights Campaign.”
Lawmakers behind the bills have struggled to point instances where this has occurred in their state or district. More in our exclusive report.
- Republicans, including former President Trump, have supported the effort: “The anti-trans rhetoric grew more heated as House Democrats prepared to pass the Equality Act, which aims to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation … Republican critics say the bill would harm women – who they define as people assigned female at birth, rather than all individuals who identify as women – and infringes on their religious liberties.”
3. White House says it took “courage” for Meghan Markle to discuss her mental health: Psaki applauded Markle for candidly telling Oprah Winfrey about her mental health and efforts to seek help while she was a member of the royal family. More than 17 million Americans tuned into the Sunday’s interview.
- The royal family has still not responded to any of the claims: We do know more about one of the most explosive claims. Prince Harry told Winfrey that it was neither Queen Elizabeth nor Prince Philip who expressed concern about what color skin Harry and Markle’s first child would have.
- Thomas Markle, Meghan’s father, weighed in on the side of the royals in an interview on British morning TV – read Insider’s summary here.
4. Scoop: Obama’s lawyer on his Netflix deal is going into the Biden Treasury Department: Addar Levi the top lawyer for the Obama Foundation and an attorney from the former president’s personal office, is joining the department as deputy general counsel in the coming weeks. More on the 44 to 46 path.
5. Jury selection in Derek Chauvin’s trial will move forward: Proceedings were halted almost immediately on Monday, The Washington Post reports, after prosecutors questioned whether the trial of Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged with killing George Floyd, could continue amid the prosecution’s efforts to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. The judge overseeing the case has decided to press on as questions about the charge remained unresolved.
6. Fifth Senate Republican announces retirement: Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri became the latest GOP senator to announce he will not run for reelection next year. Blunt served seven terms in the House before two in the Senate. He is the No. 4 Senate Republican and was widely expected to run for reelection. The retirements provide a major opportunity for pro-Trump Republicans.
7. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- 11:45 a.m.: Biden visits a D.C. small business that received a PPP loan
- 1:30 p.m.: Psaki holds the White House’s daily news briefing with Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.
8. Democratic lawmaker faces complaints after failing to disclose at least $US671,000 ($871,048) in stock trades: Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey faces two separate congressional ethics complaints from nonprofit groups after Insider reported that he failed to disclose dozens of trades, in violation of the law. Malinowski’s office said this was not “an effort to conceal any trade activities.” More information from our exclusive report. And read the original scoop here.
9. Biden’s German shepherds have been sent home after a “biting incident”: The president’s two dogs, Major and Champ, have been sent back to Delaware after CNN reports that Major displayed aggressive behavior to White House security.
10. A Whopper of an error: Monday was International Women’s Day. Burger King tried to mark the occasion by promoting an initiative to increase the number of women in head-chef roles. The fast-food giant posted a tweet from its UK account saying “Women belong in the kitchen.” Other brands soon jumped in the ensuing backlash. The chain later apologized.
Today’s trivia question: Journalist Katie Couric made her debut last night as the first female host of Jeopardy! during a guest-hosting stint. But do you know the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy for her gameshow hosting? Hint: She would thank you for being a friend. Email your guess and a suggested question to me at [email protected].
- Yesterday’s answer: The Socialist Party of America is credited with helping start International Women’s Day in 1909, though it used to be in February.