U.S. Attorney General William Barr is receiving backlash after saying state lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus is like “house arrest”, calling it a civil rights intrusion and compared the lockdowns to slavery.
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black member, said the comments by Barr are “the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I’ve ever heard. It is incredible that (the) chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives. Slavery was not about saving lives, it was about devaluing lives.”
Several Senate Republicans commented on Barr’s reference to slavery.
“I don’t think that’s the analogy I would use,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said on CNN. “I think what he’s trying to say is that … it’s been tough. We’ve had to shelter-in-place, our lifestyles have changed dramatically.”
Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn agreed with Graham but added the lockdowns did raise some concerns of civil liberty violations.
Senator Ted Cruz, however, backed Barr’s comments, adding that the shutdowns were not rooted in medical science but were aimed to defeat Trump in the upcoming election.
Clyburn continued by criticizing the administration’s response to the pandemic, saying he believes Trump and Barr are “absolutely tone-deaf to what it takes to be great leaders. They are driving this country into a direction that no one ever thought they would see in our lifetime.”
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
Last week, another 860,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits, representing another week of declining jobless claims. Despite the improvement, the economic recovery overall is beginning to slow, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters during Wednesday’s monetary policy update.
Claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits stood at over 658,000 last week, down from the prior week.
On Wednesday, Trump again said nationwide distribution of a coronavirus vaccine would happen before the end of the year. This contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, who testified earlier in the day that a vaccine would not be widely available until next spring or summer.
Redfield added that it could take six to nine months to get every American vaccinated. Trump said Redfield had “made a mistake” in his statement, and “misunderstood” the question.
“The vaccine is going to have tremendous power. It’s going to be extremely strong. It’s going to be extremely successful. We’re not going to have a problem,” Trump said. “And the mask may help. And I hope it helps. I think it probably does. But again, the mask is a mixed bag. There are some people, professionals … that don’t like the masks because of the touchiness.”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that a Covid-19 vaccine will not be effective if not enough Americans get it. Even a third of Americans receiving the vaccine won’t be enough, he added.
A report on the pandemic’s threats to minority voting rights is being shelved for now. This is because Conservative commissioners recently appointed by Trump say a majority-vote threshold to make the information public was not met.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ report analyzes threats to minority voting rights during the coronavirus pandemic, which include problems with in-person and mail-in balloting faced by voters of color, people with disabilities, and those with medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus.
Almost 30 teenagers in a Massachusetts high school are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after parents sent their child to school despite the family’s Covid-19 infections.
According to the Attleboro, Massachusetts Mayor Paul Heroux, the parents told the local health department that although their child tested positive on September 11, they believed that the child could go to school after quarantining for several days.