The Food and Drug Administration has officially approved Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use: The authorization allows the federal government to distribute 5.9 million doses of the vaccine across the U.S. Like Pfizer's, Moderna's vaccine uses messenger RNA technology and requires two-dose "booster" regimens. Its approval means up to 150 million Americans can get vaccinated between now and mid-2021—if all goes according to plan.
Tons of politicians got vaccinated today: As Charles Mudede noted in Slog AM, sentient haunted portrait and outgoing vice president Mike Pence got the COVID-19 fighting juice this morning. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and several other rando politicians followed his lead. Joe and Jill Biden will likely get the vaccine on Monday, while Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman-elect Doug Emhoff will get theirs the week after next.
Today, with confidence in science & at the direction of the Office of the Attending Physician, I received the COVID-19 vaccine. As the vaccine is being distributed, we must all continue mask wearing, social distancing & other science-based steps to save lives & crush the virus. pic.twitter.com/tijVCSnJd7
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 18, 2020
Meanwhile: Pfizer says they have "millions" of vaccine doses awaiting delivery instructions from the Trump administration. This comes after governors—including Gov. Jay Inslee—said the CDC unexpectedly cut their vaccine allocation with no explanation. While Trump administration officials tried to chalk it up to production issues, Pfizer says that's not the case. "Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed," a spokesperson explained in a statement.
Incarcerated people should be among those that get the vaccine first: One in every five state and federal prisoners in the U.S. has tested positive for coronavirus, reports the Associated Press. That's more than four times as high as the general population. More than 1,700 have died as a result, and the spread is showing no signs of stopping.
Two arrested in connection to the murder of an Uber driver in Issaquah: Police say Uber driver Cherno Ceesay, 28, was killed almost immediately after picking up the two suspects, stabbed repeatedly in the head and neck seconds after they got into the car. Both are being held in King County Jail as suspects of second-degree murder.
Chinook salmon are back, baby: For the first time in more than 80 years, chinook salmon have spawned in the upper Columbia River system, reports the Spokesman-Review. Though there's no guarantee of a sustainable salmon population, the moment is an important one for the region's tribes who have been fighting for decades for the chinook salmon to return to their native spawning beds on the upper Columbia River. Crystal Conant, a Colville Tribal member from the Arrow Lakes and SanPoil bands, said "I don’t know that I have the right words to even explain the happiness and the healing."
Why is King County Metro canceling dozens of trips every day? Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times says there's an operator shortage for several reasons: COVID-19 exposure and illness, family care, and workers taking precautionary measures.
I can't wait for Biden to immediately shut down the Space Force once he's inaugurated: Today, VP Pence announced that service members in the outer space military agency will be known as "guardians." "Sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines, and guardians will be defending our nation for generations to come," he said. This is so American, it makes me want to puke.
Another business leaves the 14th and Union corner: After nine years, Oola Distillery is bidding adieu to Capitol Hill due to "Covid related challenges." They won't be disappearing forever. They're expanding to two buildings in Georgetown, which will be almost triple the space of its current location, reports CHS Blog. Add it to the list!
The clean-up and maintenance seems to be wrapping up at Cal Anderson Park: After sweeping the homeless, Seattle Parks and Recreation spent the day cleaning up the park. Here's what that looks like according to the Seattle Police Department's media team:
11 additional arrests have been made over the past few hours, bringing the total to 21 for the crimes of misdemeanor trespass, failure to disperse, resisting arrest, and obstructing arrest. Parks Department employees continue their efforts to clean Cal Anderson Park. pic.twitter.com/dP1vT9oDEN
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) December 18, 2020
As of around 4 p.m., most of the work was finished and Parks vehicles began leaving. SPD is still posted up in SUVs around the park's entrances and a crew of bike cops is making sure no one steps past the PARK CLOSED signs.
Here was Mayor Jenny Durkan's take on the sweep from this morning: Parks and Recreation spokesperson Rachel Schulkin said in a statement that "Durkan believes our city can have mutually shared values: individuals experiencing homelessness should be in safer spaces like shelters and hotels especially during the winter, and our parks should not be places with illegal and unsafe conduct like fires, makeshift barricades blocking access to residents and first responders, or individuals who are threatening city workers conducting routine maintenance and breaking into city facilities."
ICYMI: Southern California's ICU bed capacity for COVID-19 patients is full: Southern California's 11 counties have zero beds to spare for the sickest COVID-19 patients. While there are still ICU beds available, hospitals say they have to keep those open for non-COVID-19 patients.
No deal on new stimulus, shutdown looms: Oof, Congress couldn't come together to pass the $900 billion pandemic relief package. They passed a stop-gap measure to continue federal funding through the weekend to avoid a government shutdown. Agencies will keep operating through Sunday night because of the stop-gap measure once Donald Trump signs it. Now, lawmakers will need to pass this fucking stimulus bill, or, ideally, a stimulus bill that gives individuals more financial help than just a $600 check.
Listen to those leaves rustle:
Gusty southerly winds currently across the area as a cold front moves through Western Washington! Gusts should peak in the next few hours. #wawx pic.twitter.com/HvJYGpIApM
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) December 19, 2020
University of Washington says they will not go after a bowl bid in the 2020 season: Due to—you guessed it—COVID-19. Despite "aggressive protocols," the team isn't ready to "safely prepare for and compete in a bowl game," said the team's head physician Dr. Kim Harmon.
Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he won't take the vaccine: Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 skeptic, spewed some nonsense concerns about the vaccine's side effects. He said the vaccine could turn people into crocodiles. He also speculated people could become "superhuman," that women could start to grow beards and men could start "to speak with an effeminate voice."
1,000 Japanese motorists tasted true suffering last night: Around 1,000 drivers in Japan were stuck overnight in a traffic jam that stretched over 9 miles long. A car stuck in snow started the clog. Some drivers waited over 40 hours.
What are you watching this weekend? I'm planning on watching the Danish film Another Round because nothing says "weekend" like watching Mads Mikkelsen get shitfaced with a bunch of other Danes.