In This Episode
- The Biden administration set a January 4th deadline for companies with 100 or more employees to have their workforce fully vaccinated, or start weekly testing. And this past week, the CDC signed off on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11. That means an estimated 28 million kids are eligible. Epidemiologist and host of “America Dissected,” Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, joins us to unpack the latest news.
- And in headlines: a nearly all-white jury has been selected for the trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, over 40 countries pledged to phase out the use of coal at the COP26 summit, and the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas for a restrictive voting law.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, November 5th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I am Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we are eyeing new peppermint flavored drinks at coffee shops with suspicion, but also a little bit of curiosity.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I’m not going to order it, but I’ll definitely think about it long after I leave the coffee shop.
Priyanka Aribindi: So I’m going to take one for the team here and I will order every single one I come into contact with, just so I could let you all know which is the best.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, a nearly all-white jury is picked for the trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. Plus more from the climate summit in Glasgow.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, an update on vaccines. The Biden administration said yesterday that January 4th is going to be the deadline for companies with 100 or more employees to have their workforce fully vaccinated or to start weekly testing. The rule is expected to cover about 84 million workers. Companies like Tyson Food already impose a mandate and more than 96% of its employees are vaccinated. United Airlines also has one, and it estimates that more than 99% of their workforce is vaccinated. Although despite these companies’ stats, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimated that about 31 million workers under the new rule are not vaccinated.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Additionally, there was another measure from the administration imposed on workers in nursing homes and other similar facilities that get Medicare or Medicaid funds. So all those employees have to be vaccinated by January 4th with no testing option, and that will affect an estimated 17 million workers.
Priyanka Aribindi: As for where we are now, about 67% of the entire U.S. population has received at least one dose, according to the CDC. That number goes up to 78% for people ages 12 and up, but that could soon change. This past week, the CDC signed off on Pfizer’s COVID-9 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. That means an estimated 28 million kids are now eligible, and some even got their first shots on Wednesday. Joining us today with more on what all of this means and to answer some questions from our audience, we have epidemiologist and host of America Dissected, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. Abdul, welcome back to What A Day.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Always a privilege. I feel like this is like a Friday thing. We should just set it on the calendar.
Priyanka Aribindi: I know! I love it. I’m a fan.
Gideon Resnick: We can put it on the books every week. We’ll always do it.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’ll always have questions for you still. What sort of impact could we see from these developments on transmission and cases in the U.S.? What is it expected to have?
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: A lot of the models that have looked at what may happen in the future look a lot better when you factor in the childhood vaccines. And so while we know that the risk of serious infection among children is a bit lower than it is among adults and certainly a lot lower than it is among seniors, we do know that they can transmit the virus, and that itself has an impact on the overall transmission of the virus. And so this is a really positive step, not just for kids themselves, but for our country. The good news here is that when you look at some of these models, there’s one model in particular that takes nine different models and sort of factors them into each other, and it suggests that we’re going to continue to see a reduction in cases through March. But what are the big assumptions that they were making was that these childhood vaccines were going to come online and they have.
Priyanka Aribindi: I also want to know about what impact is this and could this have on schools and, you know, having a regular school day?
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah. As you all well know, schools have become the sort of space for a hot-button debate about, you know, what kind of unencumbered school day do we want our children to have? Now, you know, there are some people who want to wish away the pandemic and pretend like it’s not there, and I think that’s just dangerous and damaging. And there are others who say maybe kids shouldn’t be in school at all. But the evidence suggests to us that school is really, really critical and it benefits kids in some pretty profound ways. And so we really do want to have our kids in school, but we want to do it safely. The good news here is that if you think about COVID prevention in terms of layers of prevention, this adds another layer of prevention for kids aged 5 to 11. And so, you know, you can imagine as the transmission starts to drop, sort of trading vaccines for masks, as I assume you’re going to start seeing in some communities, allowing kids who are vaccinated and in classrooms that are largely vaccinated for kids to take off their masks and have a little bit more of a normal experience. You know, my kid is about to turn four at the end of November, and her experience for half of her life has been the pandemic. She hasn’t been able to see her classmates smile in her preschool classroom and, you know, obviously we take that for granted. And so it is something to look forward to that hopefully this will be one more step in empowering kids to have a relatively normal experience at school, which, you know, I think after the past year and a half plus, nobody should take for granted.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, absolutely. So one of our listeners wrote to us quote, “my five-year old daughter is scheduled for her first shot next Friday here in Kalamazoo, Michigan.” Shout out Michigan. “What side effects are common in kids? Is it the same ones that are in adults?” And then anything we can say to prepare her for how she might feel?
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: The reality is is that from what we understand from the studies is that the side effect profile is almost exactly the same as it is for adults. The expectation is, you know, some soreness at the site of injection, and you know, the feeling of some viral-type symptoms the day after, but largely resolving within 36 to 48 hours. But we also know that some of the symptoms that people had been worried about, in particular some of the heart inflammation that is experienced by a very, very small number of young men that wasn’t observed in the studies—that side effect is so rare that you wouldn’t expect it to show up in the size of the study that they did. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of kids. You know, I know that for a lot of folks, they say, well, the risk of COVID among children is so low. But like, what is the risk that we’re willing to tolerate when we’re talking about our kids? To me, the risk that I’m willing to tolerate when it comes to my little girl is nothing. And particularly when I consider the fact that the side effect profile for this vaccine is so good, it is so safe and it is 91% effective, it is an obvious choice to me. I just wish that she was old enough.
Priyanka Aribindi: According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a third of parents said that they will wait and see how the vaccine works, while another third said they will not get the vaccine for their kids. I wanted to talk to you a little bit more about like why you think maybe people have those attitudes, and then what challenges you foresee arising kind of getting parents to make this decision for their children?
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I understand people being hesitant. I really do. Frankly skepticism is the cornerstone of science, but the way we quell skepticism in science is with evidence, is with data. And so I would encourage these parents to take a look at the data for yourself—you can find it, it’s publicly available—and to make a smart decision for yourself, your loved ones, and most importantly, your kid. I also know that, you know, when it comes to your kid, you don’t want to do anything that anybody even remotely says could possibly hurt them, but we cannot be victims to misinformation and disinformation that would dissuade us from doing the thing that we can do to protect our children. I’m a doctor. My wife, Sarah, is a doctor, and for us, this is a slam-dunk obvious decision. And you know, it has been an obvious decision for most of history. You know, the chicken pox, that used to be a really common childhood illness. It is not anymore. And the number of kids who died of chickenpox is substantially lower than the number of kids who’ve died of COVID-19. And we made a choice as a society to vaccinate our children against the chickenpox because we weren’t willing to tolerate even minimal risk, because they’re our kids. And yet right now we have this misinformation that is being driven out of a political movement that wants to dissuade us from believing any sort of expertise or any sort of science that may in fact allow yet more children to die of a disease that is now largely preventable.
Priyanka Aribindi: And in regards to people who are kind of taking the more wait-and-see approach, what, if any incentive is there to kind of get that done sooner rather than later?
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Well, you don’t know if and when your kid’s going to be exposed.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: You know, I know that the numbers are on their way down and there’s a lot to look forward to, and that’s a great thing. But you can’t guarantee that your kid is not going to be exposed to tomorrow, next week, the week after. So while you have this safe and effective intervention, use it sooner rather than later because it gives your child less possible time where they remain vulnerable to exposure from this virus and the possibility of getting ill from it. And again, this is the thing: you don’t know if your kid is going to be one of the ones who has a bad reaction, who winds up in a hospital and God forbid, dies of what is now a preventable disease. You do not want to be in the situation where you say, you know what? I wish I had.
Gideon Resnick: One of our listeners asked: any insight into how long until under-five are going to be eligible? Are there trials happening right now for that age group? What is the sense there?
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah. Trials are currently being pursued, and I hate to tell folks to hurry up and wait, but I think it’s important to wait until we see where those trials are.
Gideon Resnick: Is it OK for kids to get a flu shot and a first COVID shot basically together, like in one visit to a pediatrician or a pharmacy?
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: It is always helpful, and one of the good things about this rollout is that a lot of the roll out of the pediatric vaccines is moving through pediatricians’ offices because nobody’s more trusted as an arbiter for your kid’s health than your pediatrician. And so I would talk to your pediatrician about that as you’re making that choice, and the important thing is make sure that your kid gets both shots.
Priyanka Aribindi: One more thing that we want to ask you about while you were here: yesterday, the Biden administration said that large companies have until January 4th to make sure that their workforces are fully vaccinated. I wanted to ask you what that could mean for case rates during the holiday season, especially because last year, like the holidays and around that time kind of was like peak COVID like some of the worst levels that we had ever seen.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Well, the good news is that we already have a rather high level of vaccinations amongst eligible adults: 80% have had one shot now, 70% have had both of their shots. And that really is a great thing. It is frustrating, it remains frustrating that you still have the group of folks who choose not to be vaccinated, but we have rather high vaccine-mediated immunity. And then beyond that, the thing about Delta is that it was so efficient at finding vulnerable people that actually, for those who survived this Delta wave, there is a high-level of acquired immunity too. And so we’re watching as Delta is starting to slowly but surely wane. It’s always possible that there may be another variant, but even then, the majority of scientists with whom I’ve spoken believe that it would be very difficult to see another surge soon after the back of Delta. Which does bode well for the holidays. That being said, it is always a possibility, and if we’re going to have a mandate, we should probably hurry up and get on with it.
Gideon Resnick: Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is an epidemiologist and the host of Crooked’s America Dissected. Thank you so much again. As always, really a pleasure.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Always a privilege. It’s great to spend some time with you on a Friday.
Gideon Resnick: But only Fridays. That’s the only time that we ask—I’m just, I’m kidding. Any time he’s welcome. We’ll keep following the story as it progresses and keep trying to get your questions answered, so keep sending those in. But that is the latest for now.
Priyanka Aribindi: It is Friday, WAD squad, and today we’re doing a segment called This Solution, where we propose a fix to a news story that has created chaos in our world, guiding us through today is our head writer Jon Millstein.
Jon Millstein: Thank you guys for always trusting in me. It means a whole lot.
Priyanka Aribindi: Always.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we wouldn’t go anywhere else.
Jon Millstein: I really appreciate that.
Gideon Resnick: Of course, of course. Years ago, someone challenged us to name a more iconic duo than Kylie and Kendall Jenner. And to our shock and horror that duo has now arisen. Shapewear mogul Kim Kardashian and tattooed comedian Pete Davidson might be dating. Judging by reports of them going out to dinner together both Wednesday and Tuesday night of this week. Plus a recent in-ride photograph of them holding hands on a roller coaster at Knott’s Scary Farm in Los Angeles. You know the one. The seeds of this romance/media blitz were planted on SNL earlier this month. Kim hosted and she and Davidson kissed in a sketch about Aladdin being nervous to hook up with Jasmine. Disney fans should be aware this is now canon for the series. As for this week’s dinners, the first one allegedly took place on Davidson’s home turf of Staten Island on a restaurant’s roof. That’s the most romantic part of a building, according to architects. Wednesday’s dinner was at a private member’s club in Manhattan called Zero Bond.
Priyanka Aribindi: Different, extremely reputable magazines have characterized the relationship in different ways. Page Six quoted one source as saying of Kim and Pete quote, “She’s into him.” Kim broke up with Kanye West months ago, and Pete is somehow the most desirable man of all time, with a list of exes that includes Ariana Grande and Kate Beckinsale. But of course, the Kim-Pete relationship is also a great opportunity for brand synergy, combining the public profiles of two of the most famous people into a media mega-zord, which would either destroy civilization as we know it, or help Kim and Pete make more money off of sponsored posts on Instagram. At this point, it’s impossible to say whether Kim and Pete’s relationship is real or just a mutually beneficial mirage. So for the Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson dating rumors, here is Jon with the highly-anticipated solution.
Jon Millstein: We need to shift away from relationships that are clearly designed to boost celebrity’s careers and get back to what relationships used to be about: clutching each other’s bodies to stay warm in a frozen tundra. In the old days, meaning the days of wood clubs, saber tooth tigers, and no one knowing how to talk yet, we never would have had to ask whether Kim and Pete were really dating or just taking the necessary steps to buy large second mansions next to their already large current mansions. Instead, we would have only had to look at them from across the cave while it was being battered by sub-zero winds. If they had their distinctly more harrier arms around each other and were using their combined body heat to avoid being frozen into the walls or the ceiling, we could safely say that they were a real couple. We would give them one jealous shriek because again, nobody we know has come up with the idea for words yet, and then we would move on with our caveman lives. There’d be no reason for Kim and Pete to use their maybe fake romance to get the upper hand in contract negotiations for a Target commercial because of contract negotiations don’t exist. The only negotiations that these two would be doing would be wooly mammoths. And the gist of the negotiations would be: don’t kill me so that later I can eat you. Of course, this is all probably a fantasy and the only way to get back to an idealized caveman past where Kim and Pete have a pure and perfect love is with some sort of apocalyptic climate event. Thankfully, we are due for one of those in probably the next five years and it will all be worth it because of this.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right. That’s what they’re talking about in Glasgow.
Jon Millstein: This is what Al Gore warned us about.
Priyanka Aribindi: He warned us.
Jon Millstein: But also told us would be good, was that an inconvenient truth that Kim and Pete could just date like normal, and it wouldn’t be weird or fake?
Priyanka Aribindi: She’s certainly more relevant than she was like two weeks ago. Yes, but that is like when you get to that level of relevance, you’re like, what’s like a little more.
Jon Millstein: Right. If you’re God and you date say Jesus—
Priyanka Aribindi: I didn’t, for the record, I did not call them that. That was Jon who did that.
Jon Millstein: You can’t get more famous. Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: If you’re God and you dated Jesus, your kid, that would be basically the same thing as—
Jon Millstein: Exactly. Exactly.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. And that was the solution. We will be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: A nearly all-white jury has been selected in the trial over the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year old Black man. Three white men are accused of killing Arbery from their truck, which happened to have a Confederate flag license plate, while he was out for a jog in suburban Georgia. But on that jury formed on Wednesday, only one person is Black, while the other 11 are white. And the trial is taking place in Glynn County, where a quarter of the population is Black. The judge said that quote, “there appears to be intentional discrimination.” But then he ultimately ruled that there were other valid reasons why some potential jurors were dismissed. That trial begins today. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the judge dismissed a white male juror from the case against Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse faces six charges for killing and injuring several people at protests in Kenosha last year, when people took to the streets after police shot and injured Jacob Blake, a 29-year old Black man. The dismissed juror reportedly made a joke about Blake to a police officer. The judge removed that juror yesterday, saying quote, “It is clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.” In that trial as well all but one person on the jury is white.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. Yesterday, at the COP26 summit, over 40 countries pledged to phase out the use of coal. 23 of those countries did so for the first time and have promised to stop creating new coal plants and issuing new permits, including five of the world’s top 20 power-generating countries. Before you get too excited, though, you should know that several of the world’s most notorious coal users were not a part of the pledge. China, India, and even the US, did not sign on. And on our part, you can thank none other than Joe Manchin. As we all know, two major pieces of U.S. legislation are currently relying on his support. He also happens to represent a state that is rich in coal and gas, and not to mention his own deep financial ties to the industry. So basically, we’re missing out on major international progress as well as progress here at home because of him, which is incredibly—
Gideon Resnick: Great.
Priyanka Aribindi: —concerning to all, should be. Here in the U.S., we still generate a fifth of our electricity from coal. And while we aren’t going to be funding oil, gas and coal overseas, we aren’t quitting development at home quite yet. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg spared no words about the summit’s shortcomings, saying it was, quote, “sort of turning into a green wash campaign for business leaders and politicians” and quote, “since we are so far from what actually we needed, I think what would be considered a success would be if people realize what a failure this COP is.”
Gideon Resnick: Damn. Wow. Everything is bigger in Texas, namely the number of lawsuits that the state has faced over recent bills that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law. Now, the latest came on Thursday, when the Department of Justice filed a suit against the state for a voting law that they passed in September, which happened after some Democrats fled the state to delay it. The DOJ alleges that the new law would disenfranchise voters, including older Americans, as well as people with disabilities, given that it limits the help that poll workers are able to provide to voters. It also alleges that the law is in violation of the Civil Rights Act due to a requirement to throw out particular mail in ballots if they lack certain ID numbers. Those are just two parts of the massive bill, which also ban 24-hour drive-through voting and enabled more partisan poll watchers. In the absence of federal legislation on voting rights, the administration has taken a more aggressive legal approach. Previously, they had filed a suit against a restrictive voting law in Georgia.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that sounds terrible. I hope that is taken care of ASAP. The Strong National Museum of Play announced this year’s inductees for its Toy Hall of Fame: American Girl Dolls, the board game Risk and, of course, the toy that is also the slightly fancier cousin of dirt, sand. You heard us correctly. We’re not talking about sandboxes or fancy ASMR sand or even colored sand in a bottle from a county fair. This is just like plain old sand. The museum’s reasoning behind its decision is that sand, quote “may be the most universal toy in the world.” Something all of us to think about. All three toys were chosen by a panel of experts who voted for them from a competitive group of 12 finalists. Finalists that didn’t make the cut include the toy fire engine, the piñata, and the long-time favorite toy of retired moms who live in Florida: Mahjong. The toys were honored during a ceremony at the hall yesterday, and the class of 2021 joined 74 previous honorees.
Gideon Resnick: I like that by like the transitive property, when we’re talking about sand, we’re telling kids to play it with glass. Glass is a good toy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Yikes. What are we telling the people here with this?
Gideon Resnick: I will say that ruling out sandboxes is good because that’s where cat poop lives, if you know, parks growing up taught me anything,
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow, I don’t think that’s ever happened to me, but that sounds like a traumatizing experience. I’m very sorry you went through that.
Gideon Resnick: It’s OK. I’m better for it. And so is the strong National Museum of Play. We all are. And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: One more thing before we go, the holidays are almost here and we are releasing new merch in the Crooked store every week of November. Wow, that’s a lot. This week we’ve drop gifts for your pets, including toys, accessories and more. Plus, there’s new Vaccinated sweatshirts and gear from your favorite Crooked pods. Shop new holiday arrivals now at Crooked.com/store.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, experiment with a peppermint coffee drink, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just extremely reputable reports from Page Six like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And congrats sand!
Priyanka Aribindi: Geez.
Gideon Resnick: You really did big. Beating a piñata and mahjong? Not bad.
Priyanka Aribindi: Those seem like the most quintessential toys.
Gideon Resnick: Shows that there’s strength in numbers, because there’s a lot of sand out there. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lance. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and myself. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.