Declaring the U.S. must “move fast” to win the car making future, President Joe Biden announced a pledge from the auto industry to make electric vehicles up to half of U.S. sales by the end of the decade. Biden wants automakers to raise gas mileage and cut tailpipe pollution between now and model year 2026, which would mark a significant step toward meeting his pledge to battle climate change.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution to award Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. It was a somber development that came a day after the news broke that two more officers who faced the crowd that day had died by suicide. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took the opportunity to throw shade at the 21 members of the House who voted against the measure in June. That group includes Georgia Reps. Jody Hice, Andrew Clyde and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will decide in the next few days whether to recommend that President Joe Biden make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops. This signals a major move by the Biden administration to harden the country’s defenses against the highly contagious delta variant. This comes on the heal of Biden announcing last week that all federal employees and on-site contractors must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be required to submit to regular testing and other measures. The requirement extended to the 766,372 civilians working for the Defense Department, but not active-duty service members.
One of the Southeast’s premier medical providers, Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare, has mandated coronavirus vaccinations for all its more than 24,000 employees as the highly contagious delta variant fuels a surge in new COVID-19 infections. Emory’s move follows a similar one last week by Piedmont Healthcare, but it sets a marker for other hospital systems — and, possibly, non-health care employers — to take more aggressive steps to slow the virus’s spread, said experts. Like other large health care providers, Emory Healthcare had been reluctant to order the shots and hoped a majority of employees would voluntarily take them. The recent surge in new cases, combined with Georgia’s low vaccination rate, compelled officials at Emory to act more quickly.
Genesis Healthcare, the nation’s largest nursing home operator, told its workers this week they will have to get COVID-19 vaccinations to keep their jobs — a possible shift in an industry that has largely rejected compulsory measures for fear of triggering an employee exodus that could worsen already dangerous staffing shortages. The new requirement impacts 70,000 employees at nearly 400 nursing homes and senior communities.
Microsoft has reversed course and will now require employees to be fully vaccinated to enter the company’s U.S. offices and other worksites, starting next month. The Washington-based tech giant told employees Tuesday it will “require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors, and any guests entering Microsoft buildings in the U.S.”
Citing the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, former president Barack Obama decided to significantly scale back a celebrity-studded 60th birthday bash that was planned yesterday on Martha’s Vineyard. Per a spokesperson, the outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public guidelines and COVID safeguards in place. “Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends.” The decision followed a spate of news coverage Tuesday that raised questions about both the safety and optics of an event that was expected to draw hundreds of former Obama administration officials, Democratic donors and celebrities, reportedly including George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.
Great Britain is adding Georgia to the “list of red countries”. Starting August 8, Georgian citizens entering the United Kingdom will be asked to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine”, said the statement of the UK government.
Fulton County officials have reinstituted a mask mandate for visitors and employees inside all government buildings, as COVID-19 spread has dramatically increased in recent weeks across metro Atlanta and the nation. Fulton joins the city of Atlanta, which in late July took the mandate one step further when Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered that masks be worn at all indoor public spaces, including inside private businesses. East Point joined Savannah, Atlanta and Athens-Clarke County by requiring indoor mask-wearing across their jurisdictions.
As cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant continue to rise in the community and at the county jail, the Cobb Sheriff’s Office has announced it will return to “strict COVID-19 protocols,” including a mask mandate. In a news release, the sheriff’s office said it has seen an increase in COVID-19 among staff and detainees in the jail as of late. Meanwhile, Cobb County has closed the COVID-19 vaccination and rental assistance call center in Cobb.
The Mexican government sued U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors this week in U.S. federal court. Among those being sued are some of the biggest names in guns, including Smith & Wesson Brands Inc.; Barret Firearms Manufacturing Inc.; Beretta U.S.A. Corp.; Colt’s Manufacturing Co. LLC; and Smyrna-based Glock Inc. The Mexican government argues that the companies know their practices contribute to the trafficking of guns to Mexico and facilitate it. Mexico wants compensation for the havoc the guns have wrought in its country. The Mexican government “brings this action to put an end to the massive damage that the Defendants cause by actively facilitating the unlawful trafficking of their guns to drug cartels and other criminals in Mexico,” the lawsuit said.
Clayton State University is following the path laid out by Spelman and Clark Atlanta University. The university announced Wednesday it is using American Rescue Plan funds to help nearly 6,000 students resolve current account balances, allowing them to remain enrolled for the fall semester. About $6 million of the funds allocated to Clayton State is being used to assist with the costs for students with the most financial need during fall 2021, university officials said
Richard Trumka, the longtime AFL-CIO President, died at age 72. Trumka rose from the Pennsylvania coal mines to preside over one of the world’s largest labor organizations. Trumka had been AFL-CIO president since 2009, overseeing a federation with more than 12.5 million members, after serving as secretary-treasurer for 14 years.
Delta Air Lines is eliminating its $75 fee for most customers who want to stand by for an earlier flight on the day they are scheduled to travel domestically. The new policy, went into effect on Aug. 4 and applies to all domestic tickets except basic economy. Delta is eliminating the fee as it works to reduce hours-long waits for customer service on its phone lines for travelers who want to change their flights. In another move to reduce call wait times amid an air travel rebound, the airline recently loosened restrictions on basic economy tickets to allow changes for travel through Dec. 31, 2021. For those who want to try to catch an earlier flight, if there are no seats in their fare class available, they can request to stand by for free on Delta’s website or its app within 24 hours of departure.
Metro Atlanta-based Church’s Chicken, with more than 1,500 fast food locations, is slated to be sold by one California-based private equity firm to another. San Francisco-based FFL Partners has agreed to sell the Church’s brand to the owner of the Quiznos subs chain, San Diego based High Bluff Capital Partners, along with support from funds managed by FS Investments. The fate of the company’s local headquarters was not disclosed by a spokesperson, but the current chief executive officer, Joe Christina, is expected to continue leading the restaurant business, according to a press release.
A taxpayer watchdog group has accused former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed of accepting $38,700 in illegal contributions for his latest mayoral campaign. Georgia Ethics Watchdogs founder William Perry filed the complaint with the Georgia Ethics Commission on Tuesday. It accuses Reed’s campaign of violating state law by accepting donations from at least four sets of affiliated companies in amounts exceeding the $4,300 contribution limit. The companies in question include two strip clubs and two firms involved in real estate. Perry submitted a spread sheet documenting the contributions with his complaint.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of 2 million dehumidifiers from major brands because they can overheat and catch fire. The manufacturer, New Widetech, has been notified of 107 incidents of the recalled dehumidifiers overheating and/or catching fire, resulting in about $17 million in property damage. No injuries have been reported. The dehumidifiers were sold at Lowe’s, Costco, Walmart, Menards, and other retailers nationwide from February 2009 through August 2017 for $120 to $430. AeonAir, Amana, ArcticAire (Danby), Classic (Danby/Home Hardware Stores), Commercial Cool, Danby, Danby Designer, Danby Premiere, DeLonghi, Edgestar, Friedrich, Generations (Danby), Haier, Honeywell (JMATEK/AirTek), Idylis, Ivation, Perfect Aire, SuperClima, Whirlpool, and Whynter. The brand name, model number, and pint capacity are printed on the nameplate sticker on the back of the dehumidifier. Consumers should stop using the dehumidifier and contact New Widetech for a refund at 877-251-1512 or go the website, at www.recallrtr.com/nwtdehumidifier, for more information.
According to the recall notice posted on the Food and Drug Administration website, pet food distributor Sunshine Mills is voluntarily recalling multiple dog food brands over concerns that select products may contain “potentially elevated levels” of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a byproduct of mold and can be harmful to pets if consumed in large quantities. The products being recalled were sold at stores nationwide under the company’s brands Triumph, Evolve, Wild Harvest, Nurture Farms, Pure Being, Heart to Tail and Elm. Consumers who have purchased the recalled products should discontinue use of the product and may return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers may contact Sunshine Mills, Inc. customer service at (800) 705-2111
Have a safe and productive week…