Biden administration cancels border wall contracts covering a 31-mile section in Texas

In a photo taken on March 28, 2021, ranch owner Tony Sandoval (67) stands before a portion of the unfinished border wall that former US president Donald Trump tried to build, near the southern Texas border city of Roma

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John L. Dorman

In a photo taken on March 28, 2021, ranch owner Tony Sandoval stands before a portion of the unfinished border wall that former US president Donald Trump tried to build, near the southern Texas border city of Roma. ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

  • The Biden DHS is canceling two border wall contracts in the Laredo sector of the US-Mexico border.
  • After taking office in January, President Biden paused ongoing border wall construction.
  • Biden’s 2022 budget proposal allocates $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, sans wall funding.
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The Biden administration is canceling two border wall contracts in the Laredo sector of the US-Mexico border that span roughly 31 miles, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Friday.

Shortly after taking office in January, President Joe Biden paused border wall construction projects that were initiated by former President Donald Trump, calling for “a review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct” the barrier.

Friday’s announcement comes after the Biden administration last month returned to the military more than $2 billion in funding that the Trump administration had diverted for border wall construction.

The Biden administration’s handling of Trump’s border wall projects has unfolded at a slower pace due to funds having been allocated through different government agencies.

The contracts for the Laredo projects planned for 31 miles of border wall to be built along the Rio Grande, funded with DHS Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations.

However, construction on the projects had not yet started, nor had land acquisition been executed.

Read more: Trouble is brewing for a Georgia county’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump

“DHS continues to review all other paused border barrier projects and is in the process of determining which projects may be necessary to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements and where to conduct environmental planning,” the DHS release said. “The Administration also continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”

The Trump administration constructed roughly 450 miles of wall over four years, according to The Associated Press. However, only 52 miles of wall were built in areas where no barrier had previously existed.

The border between the US and Mexico stretches across more than 1,900 miles; some sections already had barriers prior to Trump taking office in 2017.

DHS is utilizing previously-appropriated funds to assess environmental issues that derived from previous wall construction, as well as reviewing land seizure cases to determine if those acquisitions are still necessary.

Biden’s 2022 budget proposal allocates $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, including security technology, but does not set aside funding for additional wall construction.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas last month pledged to continue building a wall at the border, though the legality of the move is being called into question.

“Only Congress and the president can fix our broken border,” Abbott said at the time. “But in the meantime, Texas is going to do everything possible, including beginning to make arrests, to keep our community safe.”

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https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-administration-ends-border-wall-contracts-laredo-texas-immigration-trump-2021-7?amp&__twitter_impression=true

Larimer County officials urge vaccination as COVID-19 case rate doubles, Delta variant spreads

www.coloradoan.com

While COVID-19 cases remain low in Larimer County, the health department is seeing a slight uptick as the fast-moving Delta variant spreads across Colorado and the U.S. 

The county’s seven-day case rate has doubled in less than a month, going from a low of 22 cases per 100,000 people on June 16 to 48 per 100,000 as of Tuesday. 

At the pandemic’s height, Larimer County reported a seven-day case rate of 522 per 100,000 people on Nov. 19, 2020.

“We still have some work to do,” Larimer County Population Epidemiologist Jared Olson said during a virtual COVID-19 update Monday afternoon. “Vaccination is by far our most powerful tool.” 

Given how much more transmissible Delta is compared to previous COVID-19 variants, it quickly overtook the U.S. this spring and summer, becoming the dominant strain in Colorado by the week of June 6, per Colorado’s state health department. 

A vaccine push:With COVID-19 Delta variant spreading in Larimer County, health officials urge vaccination

One month later, it became the dominant strain nationwide, the CDC announced July 6. 

Current evidence indicates that COVID-19 vaccines approved under emergency use in the U.S. are effective against the Delta variant, according to the CDC.

In Larimer County, 97.4% of COVID-19 cases reported since March 1, 2021, have been among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people, health officials said Monday. In the rare breakthrough cases seen in fully vaccinated individuals, most have led to mild symptoms or fully asymptomatic responses, Olson said.  

If you opted to forego your second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, a single dose is less effective against the Delta variant compared to previous variants, Olson said.

From Denver:With kids age 11-17 leading in COVID-19 cases, Polis urges families to vaccinate children

In Larimer County, 7,033 people have not received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine within 42 days, though it’s possible some received a second dose outside of Larimer County, according to the county health department.

Even if you have gone longer than 42 days since your first vaccine dose, the county still recommends getting your second dose.

As August — and a full return to in-person schooling — nears, Olson said one of the health department’s biggest concerns is a fall surge of COVID-19 cases in Larimer County schools. 

Children younger than 12 remained the only age group without an approved COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday.

Since the Delta variant became dominant in Colorado last month, 45 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17 probable cases have been reported among children under the age of 11 in Larimer County, according to the county’s case data. The youngest person to get COVID-19 in that time was 1-year-old. 

Larimer County has not experienced any juvenile deaths related to COVID-19 infection.

When school does start this fall, the county hopes to see 60% of high school-age children have at least one vaccine dose. About 47% of that age group — ages 14-17 — had received one dose of the vaccine as of Monday.

For middle schoolers, the county is shooting for a one-dose vaccination rate of 45%, up from its current 27%.

More information on the fate of masks in schools this fall is expected next week, Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzales said Monday.

Despite the recent bump in COVID-19 cases, Gonzales said Larimer County likely won’t have to revert back to any of the restrictions imposed during the height of the pandemic, citing a good handle on COVID-19 hospitalization rates.

Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a digital subscription to the Coloradoan today. 

https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2021/07/13/covid-19-delta-variant-spreads-larimer-county-colorado-cases-double-since-june/7953668002/

Time for your booster shot 💉

Petition: Support the end of the captive big cat industry

help.four-paws.org

We need your help to protect ALL big cats in South Africa!

Minister Barbara Creecy has recently released a draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros. We are encouraged by the Department’s decisions, but there is no doubt that more needs to be done in South Africa to end the farming and commercial trade in all big cat species.

This change in legislation is more important than ever. The exploitation of big cats in South Africa continues to grow and includes not only indigenous species like lions, but also exotic species such as tigers and jaguars. All big cats deserve protection.

How can you make a difference?

We’re asking you to voice your support of the Government’s decision to close the captive lion industry and furthermore ban ALL breeding and commercial trade of big cats. This is your chance to speak up for the welfare of all captive big cats. You can help with only a few clicks, which will submit a letter to government supporting our recommendations – which you can review in the message to government window..

https://help.four-paws.org/en-ZA/i-support-end-captive-big-cat-industry