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WABE’s Week In Review: Biden’s Visit, New CDC Guidance, Federal Indictments

On Thursday in Duluth, President Joe Biden greets Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., left, as first lady Jill Biden and Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., watch during a rally at Infinite Energy Center to mark his 100th day in office.
On Thursday in Duluth, President Joe Biden greets Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., left, as first lady Jill Biden and Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., watch during a rally at Infinite Energy Center to mark his 100th day in office.
Credit Evan Vucci / Associated PRess

To celebrate his 100 days in office, President Joe Biden held a drive-in rally in Duluth with supporters in more than 300 cars in attendance.

“I’ve never been more optimistic about the future in America,” Biden told the rally. “America’s on the move again. We’re choosing hope over fear. Truth over lies. Light over darkness. And we’re working again.”

Biden also paid tribute to the Georgia voters who sent him, and Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to Washington, sealing a narrow majority for Democrats in the Senate.

Cautiously optimistic … 

kids in a line at school
The American Families Plan, proposed by President Joe Biden this week, includes free preschool for kids ages 3 and 4. (Johnathan Kelso/For WABE)

Child care and education advocates in Georgia are cautiously optimistic about Biden’s new American Families Plan. It would budget $225 billion for child care nationwide over 10 years and include free preschool.

“You really couldn’t get away from the fact, over the course of the past year, how essential child care is to us as a country and is to families,” Sarah Rattling of the First Five Years Fund, a nonprofit focused on increasing child care access, told WABE’s Martha Dalton.

In addition to free preschool, Biden’s proposal would subsidize child care for younger children. For low-income families, it would be free.

“The average cost of child care in Fulton County, for example, is about $8,500,” said Pam Tatum with Quality Care for Children, a Georgia-based organization that helps parents find child care.” If you have an infant, you can easily spend $10-to-12,000 a year. So that’s a big burden on families.”

But Tatum is also concerned because the plan would require centers to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour.

“In Georgia right now, the average is about $11,” said Tatum. “So to increase the wages for child care workers would put many of them out of business. They simply can’t afford it.”

The president’s plan is just an idea right now. It could change significantly as it moves through Congress. Meanwhile, lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill have introduced their own bills addressing problems with child care.

To mask, or not to mask, the CDC has guidance … 

(Ada daSilva/Getty Images)

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can relax some coronavirus prevention measures, according to Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the science shows if you are vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

But the CDC warns large, crowded gatherings like outdoor concerts, still carry risk of coronavirus infections. The agency considers someone “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving their final vaccine dose.

The coronavirus and animals … 

In the latest episode of our coronavirus podcast “Did You Wash Your Hands?” Sam Whitehead talks to Thomas Gillespie, a disease ecologist at Emory University, about why animals getting infected isn’t just a quirky news item. 

Clayton County Sheriff indicted and pleads not guilty … 

victor hill
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was released on $50,000 bond and will be allowed to keep a service weapon. (Gene Blythe/Associated Press file)

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal civil rights charges after he allegedly ordered pretrial detainees to be strapped to chairs for hours.

Hill is accused of ordering multiple people, including a 17-year-old, to be strapped to chairs for hours after they were arrested, reported WABE’s Johnny Kauffman.

“In so doing, he caused injury and pain to the individuals under his care at that particular time,” said Kurt Erskin, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Hill is also accused of ordering a fugitive team to arrest a man in another county after that man had a dispute with a Clayton County deputy over landscaping work.

Hill has called the charges politically motivated. He was released on $50,000 bond and will be allowed to keep a service weapon.

Hill was first elected in 2005, making him Clayton County’s first Black sheriff. In 2013, a jury acquitted him of corruption charges in separate case.

Hate crimes added to murder charges in the Arbery case… 

Gregory and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan are all charged with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)
Gregory and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan remain in jail. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)

The Justice Department brought federal hate crimes charges Wednesday in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, charging a father and son who armed themselves, chased and fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man after spotting him jogging in their Georgia neighborhood.

The three men remain jailed on state murder charges and are due back in court this month.

Morehouse, Spelman and others pull out of tournament over racial taunts … 

More than 20 schools pulled out of a national debate championship over reports that Atlanta’s Morehouse College debate team endured racist taunts.

The tournament was later canceled after vocal opposition from Morehouse and Spelman students.

The teams from the historically Black colleges say they withdrew after some were mocked by rival debaters, including opponents using a “racist caricature” of Morehouse students’ voices.

The tournament’s organizers released a statement, taking full responsibility for the “anti-Blackness and racism” that transpired at the tournament.

“It’s gonna take a lot more than just the tournament putting out a statement condemning what we experienced,” said Morehouse debate coach Ken Newby. “We’re going to have to come together as a debate community to come up with things that they can put in place to mitigate the emergence of these types of issues.”

One solution would be to have more Black participants, judges and administrators in the debate space, said Newby.