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tv   Massachusetts Gov. Baker Holds Coronavirus Briefing  CSPAN  December 23, 2020 2:41am-3:26am EST

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morning. be sure to join the cushion with your phone calls, text messages and tweets. >> you're watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government. c-span was created by america's television companies in 1979. today, we're brought to you by these television companies who provide c-span to viewers as a public service. >> massachusetts governor charlie baker gave an update on the state's coronavirus response. the governor announced new restrictions to take effect the day after christmas due to the spike of positive cases after thanksgiving. he also talked about vaccine distribution and the covid relief legislation. this is 40 minutes.
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gov. baker: today, we are going to detail additional measures we are taking in the commonwealth. i want to give a detail -- update on our covid numbers. on over 61,000 tests. 1991 patients currently being treated in hospitals in massachusetts. 410 patients in the icu. this fall, when massachusetts started to see an increase in infections, the commonwealth responded accordingly. we deployed teams in nursing homes. -- and amped up our testing
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there. we rolled back the reopening process. we issued a new stay-at-home advisory, and we strengthened our face covering mandate. we restricted what types of procedures hospitals could perform and worked with them to increase their capacity and opened up two field hospitals. our administration also outlined guidance to urge folks for just this year to celebrate the holiday season with those in their immediate household. if they plan to do anything other than that, to follow the guidance, where, maintain distance, don't share food, wash your hands, and remember that in many respects come with the people you are safest with especially during the season are oing to be the people you live with every day. combined, those steps at the time helped our hospital system add hundreds of beds. n november, these steps were
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effective in stopping the growth f new infections but unfortunately, that progress was temporary. after that, infections and hospitalizations skyrocketed and since then, we have seen that increase slow down slightly, but certainly not enough. before thanksgiving, our hospital beds were 60% percent -- 67% occupied. 83% occupied and we have only recovered one percentage point since that peak. our hospitals are now under significant pressure and we are heading toward another time when we are likely to see another significant increase in cases and hospitalizations unless everybody plays a different game than the one we all played thanksgiving. we think it's appropriate to ake action now to slow the
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spread and we must do so in a way that will avoid overrunning the hospital system. today, we are announcing new statewide restrictions that will be in place for at least two weeks starting saturday, december 26. these will be in addition to our existing orders including the stay-at-home advisory, face mask requirements, and early closures already in place. together, the intent of these restrictions will be to pause activity and reduced mobility, so we can reduce the spread of the virus without closing our schools or businesses. the details, affective saturday, december 26, capacity limits will be lowered to 25% for most industries and the lieutenant governor will talk more about the details shortly. indoor and outgroup -- outdoor limits will be reduced. -- to 25 people outside and 10 people inside including for events.this is part of what we
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must do during this critical time when the vaccine is just a few months away to slow the spread. if we can all agree to do the things that slow the spread over the next two weeks, that will help us work on building the bridge we all need to build to the vaccine. nothing we are announcing today affects k-12 education. that guidance is already in place. and as the science and medical data has made very clear, all school districts even those with high infection rates can and should ring students back to the classroom. in fact, these measures today will help districts bring students back soon. the decision to restrict capacity at so many businesses is an enormously difficult decision.
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we all know that these decisions carry very negative ramifications of people's livelihoods and their amilies. the economic package that was passed by congress will go a long way in addressing some of the financial damage these restrictions will have for individuals, families, and businesses. we also know that more help is needed for businesses that are struggling to keep their lights on and our administration is putting together a significant economic relief fund to the commonwealth small businesses that will be most negatively affected by these decisions. we will present the details on this package tomorrow. let me close by saying we all now that covid-19 is relentless. some people become very sick. others have lost their lives. for many, it is a mild or onevent.
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it is been a hard year for our employers and thousands of their workers and families. it has been a hard year for everyone as we try our best to stay apart and to cancel important milestones and celebrations and change the way we celebrate almost everything we do. christmas is obviously a few days away. we are in the heart of the oliday season, and it's normally a time for joy, gathering, and relaxing and hanging around with those we love. this year obviously is different. we all need to hang in there, stay vigilant, and recognize and understand that the work we do now has a lot to do with the kind of bridge we build to get o the vaccine.
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over 26,000 clinical and nonclinical workers in our health care settings have already received their first dose. moderna bank received its authorization last week and the first shipment arrived yesterday with more being delivered today and tomorrow. we have a robust plan to get the vaccine to people as quickly as possible. two dose vaccinating almost 7 million people will take time. in the coming weeks and months, we need to bear down on the virus and keep practicing the prevention that so many have delivered on for months just a little longer. ear a face covering, avoid groups, stay-at-home except if you need to go to work and school. do all you can if you are not going to be with the people you live with to take proper precautions. this will help us all get through the next push and will help suppress the virus and make sure that our health care system
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can withstand the surge and continue to serve the many people who need it to be there for them who aren't dealing with covid. it will also help us keep our schools and our communities open. these messages are hard to deliver and believe me, they are hard to hear. we have a full confidence that the people of this state will dig deep and come together in the final stages of this terrible pandemic. with that, i will turn it over o the lieutenant governor. >> thank you, governor. as the governor said, the decisions we have had to make throughout the pandemic have been incredibly difficult. we note that they have resulted in hardship and difficult times or business owners, operators,
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businesses of all sizes and all places across the commonwealth. for the last 10 months, the downtowns and small businesses have remained top of our minds. mall business owners have been patient and committed to the safety protocols and standards that we put in place to protect workers and customers and to help us get the economy moving again. we are grateful and we are thankful for all that you have done throughout this pandemic. we know it has been a sacrifice, and it has been a ton of hard work. these businesses and workers are our friends, neighbors, we know them well. they need our help now more than ever. we said it before, tough times don't last, but tough people do. these times have been incredibly tough, but we will get through it and we will get through this ogether.
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we will get through this together. i would like to go into more detail on the capacity and gathering guidance we are issuing. the restrictions we are putting in place will be in place for at least two weeks. it is our goal to keep these measures temporary. capacity limits will be lowered to 25% for most industries. restaurants and personal services, theaters and performance venues, casinos, office spaces, places of worship, retail, driving and flight schools, golf facilities or indoor spaces, libraries, lodging for common areas, arcades, fitness centers and health clubs, museums, cultural facilities, and guided tours.
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workers and staff will not count toward the occupancy count for restaurants, personal services, places of worship, and retail businesses such as grocery stores. again, workers and staff will not count toward the occupancy count for restaurants, personal services, places of worship, and retail businesses such as grocery stores. all other rules and restrictions will remain in place. indoor and outdoor gathering limits will be reduced to 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors. this will -- [no audio] as we get into the holiday week, think about supporting -- do more than thinking about in the days leading up to the holidays, buy your gift cards to the restaurant and your local shops, plan on takeout meals, do whatever you can to help support the small businesses, your local
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restaurants, your local retail, the places that are familiar to you, go visit them and do your part as you have been doing. so we can all continue to see these businesses through these challenging weeks ahead and see them on the other side. i know this pandemic has been hard for everyone. but there is light at the end of this tunnel. vaccines are here and thousands -- assachusetts massachusants have received theirs. so fight a little longer. we all know there are better, brighter and healthier days ahead. with that i would like to turn t over to the secretary.
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>> governor, secretary, good afternoon. all hospitals must postpone or cancel all nonessential inpatient elective invasive procedures unless postponement would lead to significant decline for individuals. ospitals should not schedule any new inpatient nonessential procedures by anybody in public health. non-essential elective invasive seizures are those that are scheduled in advance because the procedure does not involve a medical emergency and where delay will not adversely affect an individual's health. to be clear, we are not shutting down healthcare. ambulatory outpatient preventive procedures including mammograms , pediatric opponents,
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radiology, cancer screenings are not impacted. inpatient and emergency services remain open. we take this important next step capacity bed including staffing to redeploy staff as necessary and to prepare for flex surge capacity as they did. it is critical guidance that will guide this on a ase-by-case basis. as with every decision we make, we must ensure that our health care system can meet any acute emand for our residents. as you know, part of our healthcare response to ensure sufficient capacity has been standing up field hospitals or alternate care sites. the field hospital provide acute care for covid-19 patients who need a low to moderate level of are.
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westerfield hospital has 26 patients with a staff capacity of 50 beds. since opening, they have treated and discharged 100 patients with an average stay of just under four days. while the facility has been designed in units which can be stood up independently. -- in 25-pod units. in the coming weeks, the second field hospital will open and except -- accept patients. alternative care units are flexible. and we can modify them by the medical director as needed. these sites pro side top-notch care. as you may recall from the spring. for still calling out recruiting staff for lowell. i am particularly calling out for nurses and patient care associates to apply for this mportant work. ease visit
2:58 am there will be no daily dashboard published this friday or next friday. and next friday new year's day. both daily dashboard will be published the following saturday december 26th and january 22nd representatively. and finally the first vaccine dashboard will be published this thursday. > thank you. . it's my pleasure to hand it over o the secretary. >> well, thank you, governor, lieutenant governor and secretary sutters. back in october, we announced our plan known as partnerships for recovery to stabilize and growth the massachusetts economy. we continue to implement the plan. making targeted investments to revitalize downtowns, support small businesses and get people back to work.
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part of the plan was yesterday's small business grant nnouncement. the $49 million in grants will benefit 1,158 small businesses, who can use these funds to pay their employees and to cover rent and utility payments. this program also offers a stark view of the challenges facing small businesses. we received over 10,000 applications for the program. while we were pleased to award the $49 million, that was just 10% of the $500 million requested. we appreciate the sacrifices of our small businesses and we recognize the need that remains as our virus surges and people stay home. our reopening strategy has always been led by public health metrics, and that is why today's new statewide restrictions are necessary. soon, we will be connecting our cities and towns that apply to
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our local rapid recovery planning program with teams of experts who will help them create effective strategies to stabilize business districts. programs like massdot's shared winter streets and spaces will continue to put funding toward helping communities adjust their commercial districts. where there is a need, we continue to look for ways to direct resources there. our economic development and recovery bill is a key piece of work in many areas, including millions of dollars for small businesses, as well as important support for new housing construction and emerging innovation sectors. finally, we are working to craft a new state fund that will bring additional relief to our struggling small businesses, and that in turn aids the families that operate them and the employees that power them.
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we will have more on this tomorrow. the hope is to deliver funding that meets this moment, is tailored to our local needs, and that complements recent federal action. thank you. gov. baker: questions? >> if gatherings are the biggest gatherings, if that is what is driving this, how will limited capacity in businesses make a difference? gov. baker: a couple things with respect to limiting capacity. one is there are a number of studies that show that if you limit capacity, take it down significantly, you do limit the amount of infection that typically take place inside those organizations. secondly, by limiting capacity, we are sending a message that we would like to see people spend the next couple of weeks between christmas and the week after new
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year's, as regularly as they possibly can, just with those they live with. and if you need to go out and do something, go out, get it done, and come home. you know, before thanksgiving, there were a whole series of metrics out there about travel. and all of them painted a picture that indicated that thanksgiving was not going to be the kind of holiday it had been in previous years. which we viewed as a positive. and then literally seven days after thanksgiving, case counts basically doubled in massachusetts. hospital trends followed. and in the conversations that we have every day with the hospital community generally, you had the heads of a number of hospitals
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saying they could see the intergenerational transmission that was taking place in the people that were coming through their emergency room. the average age was going up, where it hadn't for months. not by a year or two, but by literally far more than that, to the point where many of them were back to where the average age of their inpatient population is now, what it was back in the spring. and one of them even said, i could see that transmission from the kid who came home from college delivering it on an asymptomatic basis to the senior members of his family. the most important thing we want out of this is to make
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absolutely clear to people with the best and most safe thing we can do for a few weeks is to spend as much time with those we live with as possible, and to not treat the period between christmas and new year's the way we normally do. which is a constant race to connect with, catch up, grab a meal with, all those people you haven't seen since the last time you saw them last year. and i think we all get the fact that that is a tough message. but it is the right message for the moment. and as i said, we know what this means for a lot of our small businesses, a lot of those in the restaurant and indoor entertainment venue activities, which is why we will be back here tomorrow with a plan for
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them. >> the timing of your protocols, people are going to be saying -- [indiscernible] gov. baker: the main reason, honestly, we picked the day after christmas instead of the day before christmas is that we know that many people hopefully will participate in a faith service of some kind, safely, on christmas eve or christmas day. now, it is perfectly possible to do that safely. peoplewould hope that would follow the rules, follow the guidance, do the things that we have talked about if they choose to do that. >> governor, public health experts, mayors have been calling on you to do this sort of thing for weeks now. can you tell me what changed your mind?
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gov. baker: well, nothing really changed my mind. i just pay attention to the data. and with respect to the data here, we started to see a downturn after we put some of our original restrictions in and then literally seven days, , after said -- as i said all of the messaging and commentary -- [no audio] why it was important for people to try to spend holiday and the days around it with the people in their household. seven days later, we saw a big bump in positive cases than the hospitalizations that came after it, and a significant increase in the age of the people ending up in the hospital. which highlighted the transmission between younger people and older people.
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and here we are coming up to the second big season with respect to the holiday, when we think it is critically important for when we sayar us people really need to spend this in a very conservative and cautious and careful way. and we believe reducing occupancy across the vast majority of venues in willchusetts to 25%, a, accomplish that in any of those places that a bible those rules, because it will dramatically limit the number of people in those places at any one time. and slightly, it sends a loud signal that people really need to take this seriously. >> but by the time you send that signal, the holiday traffic was effectively over.
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[indiscernible] gov. baker: i'm not really sure i would've expected that at the end of the day, we could drive people away from coming home who were planning to come anyway. ok? but we do have all kinds of rules associated with that. associated with quarantining or getting a negative test either 72 hours before you leave or 72 hours after you get here. and i certainly hope that people abide by those rules and that guidance. but it is critically important for the next couple of weeks that people do not do a lot of the things that they would typically do when they come home. or when they celebrate the holiday. i mean, a lot of people do not normally work the week between christmas and new year's. schools are not in the week between christmas and new year's. there is a tremendous amount of the kind of activity that can have a very powerful and significant impact on case counts, and ultimately hospitalizations, that would normally take place.
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we are doing everything we possibly can hear to limit a lot of that and to make clear to the people of massachusetts about why it is important given what just happened in the aftermath of thanksgiving. why casinos still opened? gov. baker: 25% capacity. they are basically managed and the rules they operate under are developed and incorporated by the gaming commission. and i do believe that the 25% limit will have a significant impact on the number of people on site, provide a lot of distance between and among the participants, and they do follow extraordinarily aggressive safety protocols, and they still have to close at the same time everybody else has to close at, which is 9:30. >> [indiscernible]
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gov. baker: that was like 65 questions. sec. sudders: you might have to repeat a few of them. let me give you a quick update on vaccines then you can tell me what i forgot in your questions. at this point, we have 120,000 doses for this month for moderna , and all but 3900 have been allocated. 116,100 doses have been distributed from yesterday to wednesday. which is terrific news. and 59,475 pfizer doses were also distributed. next week starting the 28th, the long-term care pharmacy
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partnership starts. and that is the communication directly from either cvs or walgreens to facilities. i can tell you for the soldiers homes, there has been outreach to family members who are like the guardian, because that does require consent. the good news was both cvs and walgreens modified what the consent requirements were, so we are going to send an abridged form to the guardian, so the guardian could also call the home and the staff to fill out the consent as a verbal consent as well. and those went out. those started going out yesterday. 28th toxpecting on the see skilled nursing facilities in massachusetts vaccinated. what were the rest of your questions? >> [indiscernible] sec. sudders: we cohort patients accordingly.
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obviously, it stopped, we stopped visitation, but we would not stop vaccination of staff and residents. again, it is voluntary, and the good news was both walgreens and serve -- still have the original consent form, then a short modified form. again, families can call and we can fill out the form for them to try to expedite the process. >> are you still expecting 120,000 moderna doses? sec. sudders: no. appeared and we have allocated 116,000 of them and 3900 -- all but 3900 have been allocated. so, yes. yesterday, today, and tomorrow. feeling good about that. i wonder if you could explain
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the reasoning -- [indiscernible] think at the end of the day, our view is based on the data we saw. you get down below 30%, and you start having a significant impact on infection rates generally. for many businesses, the pure closure of the operation requires shutting all kinds of things down that are then hard to start up again at some point later on. and as the lieutenant governor said, this is deemed to be a temporary move to deal with a very particular and very specific issue associated with what would be the typical approach that most people would take to that period between christmas and new year's. and we will see where the data is and what it says with respect to whether it goes longer than this. but i think this is a much more appropriate way to deal with it than to just lock everything down and tell everybody to stay home.
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>> [indiscernible] if you had a chance to look at that, and are you thinking of moving things around to phase 3? gov. baker: there is an advisory group was set up by the command center to review the decision-making. in fact, several of the members came and presented here when we originally went forward with our proposal. they currently have the cdc recommendations that they made and we expect to hear from them this week on that. you usually you say look at three weeks of data to make a decision. [indiscernible] gov. baker: we do usually look at three weeks of data. and as i said, we have seen a leveling off of the case trend. but the holiday is upon us. and i think from our point of view, the look in the rearview
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mirror at the impact that thanksgiving had made it important for us to put a message out and some guidance changes out prior to the arrival of the next holiday break, which is of course this period between christmas and new year's. >> [indiscernible] gov. baker: so, we sent back to the legislature -- we filed the first police reform bill. i think many of you were in the room when we did that in june. with members of the black and latino legislative caucus. we sent back to the legislature a bill that represented what we would sign. and subsequent to that, we had conversations with the caucus and they raised concerns with a number of issues that we made adjustments on based on those conversations with them, which
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we then shared with the house and with the senate. the senate, as i understand it, adopted the changes that we made based on the conversations we had with the caucus and some of the folks in the senate. if that legislation travels through the process and comes back to our desk, as we believe it left the senate, we would sign that. yeah. >> [indiscernible] is there a staffing problem? is there any way that you can improve that situation? gov. baker: what i can tell you is that i know the average speed to answer at the department of unemployment is. and it is under one minute. so when you say to me there are all kinds of people who can't get through, i have a really hard time reconciling that with
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the information, the data we get from the dua on a pretty regular basis. and what i have said, which i will repeat, is that if people can't get through to the dua, they can call my office, call our constituent service office, which many people have over the course of the past month or so, and they will make sure they find a way to resolve whatever the question is. i will also point out that in many cases, when we dig into these, and i follow every single one of them up that ends up coming through my office, the overwhelming number of issues that we run into is people don't accurately fill out the application in the first place. and i can't express how important it is, if people are having trouble getting their claim processed, that they talk to their employer and they make sure that the information they submitted is consistent with the way their employer is actually accounted for in that system.
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because it is not just your unemployment application when you file it. it is also an unemployment application if you are filing under the traditional system, it is an unemployment application that will booked against your employer, which is why it is so important that both of those things sync up in the system. because the unemployment system filingo -- if you are under the pua program, which is for self-employed people who don't work for an employer, that's different. but if you are filing under the traditional ui program, the traditional unemployment insurance program, the employer name that you enter needs to be the same one that the unemployment insurance system believes you work for in the
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system, so that those two things link up. >> [indiscernible] gov. baker: i would like to wait and see what actually gets to me before i make these decisions. i will make an exception with respect to the police bill because we have had a series of very complicated negotiations and discussions with a lot of different people, and i think it is important for us to make absolutely clear about where we believe we are on that issue at this point in time. but the other one, i am going to wait until it gets to my desk, i will read it, and see what it looks like. >> thank you, everyone. >> [indiscernible]
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gov. baker: so, i think i can answer this one for mike. we believe that the program we are going to come talk to you about tomorrow is very significant for a state-based program for small businesses and those affected by the 25% capacity limit. but, our $775 million economic plan that we announced earlier this fall is dwarfed by the fact that in massachusetts alone, businesses acquired $13 billion in ppp loans. and the numbers the feds are talking about in their current package for small business support of one kind or another nationwide is $325 billion. i mean, the number of zeros they
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play with his profoundly different than the number of zeros we play with. let's get back to the unemployment piece for a minute. the pua program, which is critically important to people who don't actually collect unemployment through the traditional system, and this program was put together specifically to do with the pandemic for self-employed individuals, that thing ended on 12/31 until that stimulus package got passed. unemployment insurance for many people who participate in the traditional program, they would run through their weeks and it was going to end for them on 12/31. in some respects, i said this before, when we talked about the possibility of the feds implementing a stimulus before the end of the year, there's a lot of really important support in there for people who are out of work or who may be out of work going forward, for small businesses of every shape and
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size you can think of, and for additional money for testing, additional money to support the administration of the vaccine rollout, additional resources to support rental assistance during what is a tough time. the legislature has done great work on that. which we have really appreciated to expand the size and scale of the raft program, which is our primary tool through which we support rental assistance. but when the feds come in, the amount of resources that come with those make a really big difference in terms of our ability to leverage what is a much bigger set of tools than the ones we typically have available at the state level, which is why it was so important for them to get that done by the end of the year. >> thank you, everyone. gov. baker: thanks, everybody. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] every day, c-span's
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washington journal takes your calls live on the air on the news of the day and policy issues that impact the you. this week, we feature our annual authors week series, one hour segments every day with a new author. coming up this morning, princeton university's eddie on his new book, begin again, james baldwin's america. then columnist and author christian tate talks about her recent column about what she describes as an exodus from cities in blue states. watching c-span's washington journal come alive at 7:00 eastern this morning. be sure to join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages and tweets. announcer: coming up tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, a look at the political career of
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retiring new york congressman peter king. inc-span, 2 book tv's year review continues with a focus on business and economics. at 8:00, economist and author offers his views on politics and history. and on c-span 3's american history tv, we mark the mayflower's 400th anniversary in a conversation with robert stone, director of the virtual mayflower project. he will show us how they used to virtual reality to re-create the ship that traveled from plymouth, england to america in 1620. announcer: you are watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government. c-span was created by america's cable television companies in 1979. you bywe are brought to these television companies who provide c-span to viewers as a public service.
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announcer: next, indiana governor eric holcomb on the surge in covid-19 cases and the state's continued response to the coronavirus pandemic. he's joined by the state's top health officials, who addressed the distribution of vaccine, and senator todd young, who spoke about the $900 billion relief package agreed upon in congress. gov. holcomb: good afternoon, hoosiers. thank you for joining us again this afternoon. it is tuesday. we will be back at the normal time, same place, same time, on wednesday next week. but we wanted to get this out of the way as the holiday approaches, and approaches fast. so, if you are not done with what you should be done with, get out there and get it done. but we do have a full show, so we will get right at it. dr. box will talk about our positivity rates and new information on that on


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