Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Mississippi commission selects new flag candidate for voters to consider … After protests, Portland mayor says he will leave his condo building … Surge in poll worker applications in Colorado.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking states to be prepared to distribute Covid-19 vaccines as soon as late October. But it’s unclear whether a vaccine will really be ready by then, with many health experts expressing skepticism that either of the two furthest along in clinical trials can be safely approved that quickly. “It’s incredibly important for our country and the world to know which vaccine works, how well it works. They look like they’re going terrifically well, and what we need is to let science take over, because without that, we have no public policy,” said Dr. Larry Corey, the co-leader of coronavirus vaccine clinical trials for the COVID-19 Prevention Network under the National Institutes of Health. Corey doubted there will be sufficient time for volunteers to get the necessary two doses and to be studied by November. Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist based in Arizona, said the timeline floated by the Trump administration raises the specter that officials are trying to rush a vaccine out the door before the Nov. 3 election. “It’s hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine,” she said. The documents sent out to states and several cities say that people who work in health care will be prioritized in the initial distribution of vaccines, as well as older people and essential workers. Lisa Stromme, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Health, said her agency is beginning to develop the necessary infrastructure to distribute a vaccine. [New York Times; McClatchy; Bloomberg; CNN]
NEW FLAG | A state commission in Mississippi has selected a design with a Magnolia—the state flower—for the state's new flag. The design will next go to voters for approval this November.
Lawmakers in the state voted earlier this summer to change the state flag, which featured the Confederate battle flag and was adopted in 1894, nearly three decades after the end of the Civil War. The state received about 3,000 submissions proposing new designs for the flag. Some of the rejected options were more outlandish than others, like one with a giant mosquito on it. The magnolia design was one of two finalists. The other had a shield and wave imagery meant to evoke the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. [Clarion Ledger]
MAYOR MOVING | Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said that he is moving out of his condo for the other building residents’ “safety and peace” following several protests outside the building, including one on Monday where people broke windows and set fires. “I want to express my sincere apologies for the damage to our home and the fear that you are experiencing due to my position,” he told other residents in an email. “It’s unfair to all of you who have no role in politics or in my administration.” Many protests in recent weeks have arrived outside mayors’ front doors. [Oregon Live]
POLL WORKERS | Colorado county clerks say that they have seen a surge of people sending in applications to be election workers. The jobs of running polling places, processing mail-in ballots, and verifying signatures are usually filled by elderly people, but a much broader demographic is applying this year, likely due to the fact that many people are still out of work and the positions pay at least $10 per hour for multiple days. “We’ve seen a remarkable response. We’ve had hundreds per county,” said Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. [Denver Post]
BONELESS CHICKEN WINGS | A man in Lincoln, Nebraska made an impassioned plea before the city council recently, asking them to address the improper use of the term “boneless chicken wings.” He said more appropriate terms might be “chicken tenders” or “saucy nugs.” By changing the name, Lincoln could become “a social leader in this county,” Ander Christensen said. “We’ve been living a lie for far too long, and we know it because we feel it in our bones.” [KVRN]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.