Idahoans burn masks at State Capitol; police called to quell chaos at overwhelmed Florida vaccine site: Live COVID-19 updates




  • In Business
  • 2021-03-07 18:04:36Z
  • By USA TODAY
 

Idaho State police on Sunday were investigating a protest at the state Capitol in Boise during which scores of Idahoans burned masks to protest coronavirus public health recommendations they view as restrictions on freedom.

Health experts say masks are critical tools against a disease that has killed more than 500,000 Americans, including almost 2,000 in Idaho. Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, has never ordered a statewide mask mandate, but seven counties and 11 cities have them in place.

State police say the protest Saturday drew about 100 people to the Capitol steps. Videos posted on social media showed adults encouraging children to toss masks into a fire.

"During the event, an open flame was ignited in a barrel," police said in a statement. "Those involved with the event were informed both before and during the event that open flames are not allowed on State Capitol grounds. The incident is under review."

Republican lawmakers in Idaho have introduced legislation to prohibit mask mandates across the state. Visitors to the Capitol are asked to wear masks, but they're not required and few Republican lawmakers wear them. Little, however, wore a mask to sign unrelated legislation Friday.

Last week, President Joe Biden dismissed the decision by some Republican governors to end mask mandates as "Neanderthal thinking." White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the comment as a "reflection of his frustration" about Americans refusing to follow public health guidance.

Also in the news:

►A Florida City vaccination site was overwhelmed Sunday after it drew so few eligible takers that is started inoculating any adult to avoid wasting vaccine. Word spread, and police had to calm the crowd when the site again enforced state eligibility rules: 65 and older; medical workers and police officers, teachers and firefighters over 50; and younger people with a physician's note saying the virus would endanger their lives.

►Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency order adjusting the minimum distance between performers and audience members that previously challenged the return of productions in Las Vegas.

►NBA Commissioner Adam Silver touched on a wide range of topics - including vaccinations for players and a potential return to normal for next season - during a Saturday call on Zoom ahead of Sunday's All-Star events.

►Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Saturday received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the first one-dose vaccine offered in the United States.

►The Dalai Lama, the 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, has received the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala.

???? Today's numbers: The U.S. has almost 29 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 524,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 116 million cases and 2.5 million deaths. More than 116 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and about 88 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

???? What we're reading: COVID-19 fueled a domestic violence crisis. Now, the stimulus bill could help women and children leave abusers.

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