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An alarming number of Americans would reject a COVID vaccine

An alarming number of Americans say they'd reject a COVID-19 vaccine, posing a risk to the country's ability to achieve widespread immunity.

Why it matters: Vaccine adoption is a matter of trust, and trust in most institutions is at generational lows. Anthony Fauci has said 70-75% of Americans will need to vaccinate to get the country on the road to normality.

Two new polls show trouble brewing:

  • More than half of New York City firefighters (who are 77% white), said in a union poll that they won't get a COVID vaccination when it becomes available to first responders, the New York Post reports.
  • Fewer than half of Black respondents (42%) in a Pew Research poll released Friday said they'd definitely or probably get a COVID vaccine if it were available today.

Trust has risen since early November, Margaret Talev reports from the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • In that stretch, three pharmaceutical trials have returned positive findings on the efficacy of their COVID vaccines.
  • In our poll taken Nov. 20-23, for the first time in months, more than half of Americans (51%) say they're likely to take a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available. College-educated and white Americans and Democrats are driving the trend.
  • 70% overall (55% of Black respondents and 60% of Republicans) say they'd take the vaccine if public health officials say it's safe and effective.
  • Pew finds that overall, 60% of respondents would definitely or probably take the vaccine if it were available today — up 9 points from 51% in September.

The Post reports that 55% of 2,053 firefighters polled last week by the Uniformed Firefighters Association (about 25% of 8,200 active members), answered "No" when asked: "Will you get the COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer when the Department makes it available?"

  • Firefighters union president Andy Ansbro told The Post: "A lot of them probably feel they are not in a risk category, they are younger, stronger, they may have already had it and gotten through it, and feel it's not their problem."

Go deeper: Black Americans are more skeptical of a coronavirus vaccine.

UN human rights chief: At least 54 killed, over 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

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The U.S. may be setting itself up for a fourth coronavirus wave

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.

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Sidewalk robots get legal rights as "pedestrians"

As small robots proliferate on sidewalks and city streets, so does legislation that grants them generous access rights and even classifies them, in the case of Pennsylvania, as "pedestrians."

Why it matters: Fears of a dystopian urban world where people dodge heavy, fast-moving droids are colliding with the aims of robot developers large and small — including Amazon and FedEx — to deploy delivery fleets.

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The biggest obstacle to a wealth tax

Taxing the rich is an idea that's back. An "ultra-millionaire tax" introduced by Elizabeth Warren and other left-wing Democrats this week would raise more than $3 trillion over 10 years, they say, while making the tax system as a whole more fair.

Why it matters: New taxes would be a necessary part of any Democratic plan to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality. But President Biden has more urgent priorities — and Warren's wealth tax in particular faces constitutional obstacles that make it a hard sell.

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House passes For the People Act to expand voting rights

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

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House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

The House voted 220-212onWednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

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Republicans are demanding a full 600-page reading of Biden’s COVID relief bill

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

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Here’s how a single resignation, retirement or death could flip control of the 50-50 Senate

Note: Bernie Sanders is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Data: Axios Research/ProPublica/NCSL; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Nineteen seats in the U.S. Senate could potentially flip parties if there's an unexpected vacancy, according to Axios' analysis of state vacancy rules, which most often allow the governor to appoint a replacement.

Why it matters: Depending on the senator, a single resignation, retirement or death — by accident or old age — could flip control of the 50-50 Senate, or give Democrats a two-vote cushion.

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