Let's start this evening news round-up with a little hope: Perseverance will get you anywhere—even Mars! NASA's Perseverance rover made a successful landing on Mars this afternoon, joining the American Curiosity rover in studying the red planet. The Mars 2020 mission aims to investigate Mars's ancient environment, hopefully giving us more insight into possible past life. The New York Times has a good live blog from this afternoon. Here, look at Elon Musk's future home:
"This has been an infuriating week for Texans," said Sen. Ted Cruz, from Cancun. The senator has come under extreme heat for fleeing his duties in the frozen and deadly Lone Star State to "escort his daughters to Cancun," as NBC originally characterized the trip early Thursday (it's since been edited). Texas Democrats want Cruz to resign or get expelled from office for his misconduct. Here's part of Cruz's statement:
"With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas."
"We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe."
The texts don't lie, Ted:
And here's what my favorite guest host on The View, Ana Navarro, had to say: She let Rafael have it on CNN this morning.
So far this year, @tedcruz:
Peddled lies that led to an insurrection, which cost lives and left 140 police injured.
Fled to #Cancun during catastrophic weather in TX, while his constituents are sleeping in their cars and burning furniture to stay alive.
Hell of a job, Rafael.
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) February 18, 2021
Can you hear me retching? Well, I am, after reading this quote from former Texas Governor and Energy Secretary (***thhhhroooowwuuppp***) Rick Perry: "Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business." The quote comes from this truly ghoulish blog post published on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's blog.
While much of reasonable media is concerned about Texas, far-right social media has yammered away on this story: Presidents ‘twice impeached’ can’t be buried at Arlington or receive federal funding, House bill proposes
We've got updates on that freaky little virus's Washington travel plans: First off, 90% of this week's vaccine allocation is expected to arrive late due to snowstorms. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is on the horizon. And the state's vaccine rollout has been more equitable than initial analyses indicated. Rich Smith has updates:
• 90% of this week’s vaccine allocation will arrive late due to the snowstorms. Yesterday a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control said bad weather across the country would lead to "widespread delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments and deliveries over the next few days," and they were not lying. WA DOH acting assistant secretary Michele Roberts said the department expects 200,000 doses to arrive late, adding that the Moderna vaccines hadn't yet shipped and the Pfizer vaccines "are limited." In response to delays, the state closed the mass vaccination site in Kennewick and started the process of rescheduling those who signed up for a jab in the Tri-Cities area over the weekend. Roberts said the DOH will launch "a push" to get all that vaccine distributed when it all finally arrives, and they "might open up lanes" at mass vaccination sites to achieve that end.
• In general, vaccine supply is still way low: Though Roberts celebrated the Biden administration's decision to increase supply to the states through the federal pharmacy program, she said the amount "doesn't come close" to meeting the need. This week providers requested over 440,000 doses from the federal government, but the state will only receive a little more than 200,000 doses. Roberts said appointments at mass vaccination sites for first doses "will be limited" while the state tries to administer more second doses. Though the state improved its vaccine administration rate from 29% in early January to 83% this week, Washington is still only vaccinating around 26,000 people per week, falling well short of its goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per week. Starting next week, however, Walmart, RiteAid, and Kroger will join Safeway, Albertsons, and Health Mart Independent Pharmacies in doling out the vaccines. DOH anticipates the expanding federal program to add a “big boost" to the state's efforts.
Read Rich's post for the full skinny.
Portland opened a Gucci store: Great timing, yeah?
Beacon Hill's favorite bookstore, Estelita’s Library, has a new home in the Central District: The brand new building is now on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, with funding provided by the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. Mark Van Streefkerk has more at the South Seattle Emerald.
“Estelita’s founders ... were an integral part of the design process, as well as community members, and 3-year-old Estella herself. It is, after all, named after her.”https://t.co/1xK0JwSrPi
— So. Seattle Emerald (@SoSeaEmerald) February 18, 2021
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has signed a sweeping abortion ban bill into law: Planned Parenthood has already mounted a lawsuit against the bill taking effect, as it would significantly limit abortion rights and is likely unconstitutional.
Amazon has more employees in California than any other state, according to the company's latest numbers: Those numbers show 153,000 employees in California and 80,000 in Washington, although "Amazon is growing so rapidly that its official numbers are often quickly out of date," notes Geekwire.
Ivanka Trump: Says she won't run for Marco Rubio's Senate seat in Florida.
I: Apologize for bringing up a Trump and ruining the good vibes.
Let's end the day with a trailer: Shatara Michelle Ford's excellent first feature film, Test Pattern, drops this Friday. Here's a trailer, and here's a Q&A with Ford. We also recommend Minari, which is streaming right now.
Blair Stenvick contributed to this post.