A shot in the arm for vaccine distribution

A shot in the arm for vaccine distribution

Louisiana’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution has been above average compared to other states since providers first began getting shots into arms in December. But with the virus still rampant throughout the state, recent supply shortages have forced the state’s largest provider to reschedule thousands of vaccination appointments. Now, President Joe Biden is increasing states’ weekly vaccine supply, including a significant bump in the number of vaccine doses sent to Louisiana. This move promises greater access to the inoculation for elders and front line workers in our communities. This increase and the promise of reliable three-week forecasts of vaccine deliveries is a small beacon of hope for healthcare workers and civilians alike after almost a full year of poor planning and general uncertainty. The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sam Karlin lays out the details:

The governor participated in a call with the White House earlier Tuesday about vaccine distribution. Shortly after, President Joe Biden announced his administration was boosting purchases of coronavirus vaccines in an effort to provide enough doses to inoculate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer. Biden said states would see a roughly 16% increase in deliveries in the coming weeks. And he addressed a complaint of state officials and providers that they have little knowledge of what future shipments would hold. Biden said states would know their shipments three weeks out moving forward.

Lawmakers pushing for police reform
Since the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many other Black and Brown people in the United States, millions of people across America have demanded a radical restructuring of the police’s role in solving social problems. Responding to those calls, state lawmakers across the nation are introducing bills to address racism and inequitable enforcement in policing, and the broader racial inequity and economic disadvantage that affect many BIPOC in the U.S. Matt Vasilogambros from Pew Trusts goes over the numbers:

Several governors in the past year have declared racism a public health emergency and established commissions to study institutional racism in state agencies. There is a clear sense of momentum among state lawmakers focused on racial equity and policing this year. Many of them say the timing and the politics are right for change. And some law enforcement experts have a strong piece of advice to legislatures: Think big.

Bill filing in advance of Louisiana’s legislative session is underway.

A fair chance at parole
For years, the office of New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro put its finger on the scales at parole hearings, often opposing applications for release made by incarcerated people eligible for parole. This week, newly installed New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams adopted a new stance on the issue, withdrawing all formal opposition to pending parole cases and committing not to opposing parole based on the nature of the crime. This means that those whose crimes are considered “violent” would receive no formal opposition from the DA’s office, giving more room to a fair and unbiased decision on rehabilitation in each case. John Simerman explains in Nola.com | The Advocate:

Williams took office Jan. 11, joining a national wave of reform candidates who have wrested control of state prosecutor’s offices in cities across the country with an eye to reducing incarceration and improving equity in the justice system. High bail bonds, low-level drug charges and hefty prison sentences are among their targets, though several of those progressive prosecutors have faced stiff political pushback.

Finally, African American Studies for LSU Students
African and African American Studies is a well-established academic field, housed in departments at hundreds of colleges and universities, where scholars have conducted research and taught students about Black life for more than half a century. At Louisiana’s flagship university – in a state where  1 in 3 residents is Black – student demands for an African and African American studies department have been rejected for decades. That has now changed, as the LSU Board of Supervisors made the historic decision this month to create an African and African American Studies department. It follows years of activism by students and faculty beginning in the 1960’s, which were given new fuel after the police killing of George Floyd last spring. JC Canicosa from the Louisiana Illuminator talks to students and faculty:

“‘A program is much smaller and, in many cases, don’t have the resources and it’s harder to get the same level of respect,’ Stephen Finley, the current director of the African and African American studies program, said. ‘Everybody knows when something is a department, the university is committed to that field or discipline’ ‘So it makes a big difference,’ he said.”

Number of the Day: 10 million – The number of vaccine doses each state will receive per week under the Biden Administration’s new distribution plan. (Source: Nola.com | The Advocate)