Fully vaccinated people can gather without masks, CDC says » The CDC now says that if you have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, you can safely gather with others who are also vaccinated without a mask.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky added that vaccinated Americans can also visit with people who have a low risk of serious disease. For example:
WALENSKY: If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family even if they have not been vaccinated.
Walensky called the new guidance on Monday a “first step” toward getting back to normal. She said the agency would OK more activities for vaccinated Americans once caseloads and deaths drop further.
Officials are also waiting to learn more about the ability of those who are vaccinated to get and spread the virus. But in the meantime…
WALENSKY: Everyone, whether vaccinated or not, should continue to avoid medium and large size gatherings as well as nonessential travel, and when in public spaces, should continue to wear a well-fitted mask, physically distance, and follow other public health measures to protect themselves and others.
Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. That would be the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
About 31 million Americans are now fully vaccinated.That’s roughly 9 percent of the U.S. population.
Biden ready to sign relief bill as House prepares to vote » White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president stands ready to sign the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill as soon as it lands on his desk.
PSAKI: The plan that the Senate passed this weekend puts us one huge step closer to passing one of the most consequential and most progressive pieces of legislation in American history.
The bill would provide—among other things—payouts to state and local governments, rental assistance, child tax credits, and $1,400 stimulus payments to most Americans.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told MSNBC…
YELLEN: We expect the resources here to really fuel a very strong economic recovery.
But Republicans maintain the bill is loaded with wasteful spending and that it pours trillions of dollars worth of fuel on a federal deficit that’s already on fire.
And South Carolina Congresswoman Nancy Mace said the bill’s extension of a $300 weekly federal boost to unemployment benefits could do more harm than good.
MACE: My district relies on hospitality and tourism and restaurants to be successful, and we’re having a hard time getting employees to go to work because they found a loophole within the federal unemployment where the work part time, they can make more money on unemployment.
House lawmakers could vote on the Senate bill as soon as today.
Biden signs orders to create Gender Policy Council, review Title IX » President Biden signed two more executive orders on Monday. The first creates a Gender Policy Council.
The first lady’s chief of staff, Julissa Reynoso, will co-chair the panel. She said its job will be to—quote— “ensure we build a more equal and just democracy” …
REYNOSO: By aggressively protecting the rights and unique needs of those who experience multiple forms of discrimination, including people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, and queer people.
The president also ordered the Department of Education to review policies put in place by the Trump administration, including changes to Title IX regulations.
Jennifer Klein will serve as the Gender Policy Council’s other co-chair.
KLEIN: The Title IX E.O. directs the Department of Education to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies to ensure consistency with the Biden-Harris administration’s policy.
The order could pave the way for a major shift in how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct moving forward.
In 2018, Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, installed new rules that bolstered the rights of the accused.
Jury selection paused in Chauvin trial » Jury selection could resume today in the trial of Derek Chauvin. He is the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
Judge Peter Cahill paused proceedings on Monday for at least a day.
CAHILL: We’re going to stand in recess. Let’s come back at 10 o’clock and see where we’re at with the court of appeals.
That was to give time for an appeal as prosecutors hope to reinstate a third-degree murder charge.
Meantime, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the courthouse to call for Chauvin’s conviction.
Chauvin is charged with unintentional second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death in May of last year.
Legal experts say reinstating the third-degree murder charge would improve the odds of getting a conviction.
N.Y. theaters reopen as box office shows signs of life » States and cities continue to reopen, some more slowly than others.
In New York city, moviegoers are buying tickets for the first time in almost a year.
AUDIO: Please be quiet and courteous and silence your cell phones now.
Theaters have reopened in the Big Apple under strict conditions. Movie houses are limited to 25 percent capacity and masks are required.
And ticket sales are slowly showing signs of life. The estimated U.S. box office gross this past weekend was $25 million. That would normally be a paltry number, but it’s the strongest weekend total since the pandemic began.
Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon led the way, taking in nearly $9 million in its debut.
TRAILER: My name is Raya. Our lands have been at war for as long as we can remember. Our people never see eye to eye.
But many theaters remain closed, including Regal Cinemas, the second largest theater chain in the United States.