Covid-19 Live Updates: Vaccine and Testing News

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

A few days before the first phase of Washington Vaccination entry requirement came into effect on January 15, The Big Board, a family bar in the popular H Street Corridor, tweeted that it would “always” be open to everyone.

The owners of the Big Board kept their promise, at a high cost. This week the bar, a mile from the US Capitol, was closed after refusing to comply with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s order to check that patrons over the age of 12 had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine .

But the bar already seems to have another life, at least in conservative circles.

After a city health inspector posted a closure notice on the door of the Big Board on Tuesday saying the bar “poses an imminent danger to the health of the public,” Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, dined at the bar with members of staffaccording to Washington Examiner and the daily call, two conservative media. But since then, the bar has remained closed to the public.

Mr. Paul has introduced a bill in Congress to overturn Washington’s vaccination requirements. He also previously claimed that “masks don’t work,” despite the consensus among public health officials that they limit the spread of the virus. A California study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week also showed that consistent use of high-quality masks provides strong protection for wearers.

The Examiner and Daily Caller reported that several other Republican House members joined Mr. Paul on Tuesday night, all of whom also publicly criticized the vaccination mandates, including Reps. Thomas MasseKentucky Republican, and Ronny Jackson, Republican of Texas. Smiling and without a mask, some legislators posed for pictures with a co-owner of the bar, Eric Flannery.

In one Youtube video made that evening, Mr. Flannery, with some of the congressional representatives standing beside him, vowed to “keep fighting” and said the mayor’s order should be challenged in DC Superior Court.

Mr Massie then welcomed Mr Flannery’s challenge. “If the mandate is illogical, the only logical thing to do is to challenge it,” Massie said. “If the mandate is unconstitutional, it is constitutional not to follow it. If the warrant isn’t scientific, the only scientific thing to do is ignore it. And so God bless you and thank you for being in the fight.

And Rep. Tim Burchett invited Mr. Flannery to move. “If you want to come to Tennessee, we’re a freedom-loving state, and we’d love to have you, bro,” he said.

The video was uploaded by the Daily Signal, a conservative site, and then shared by The Big Board on its Facebook page.

On Thursday, Glenn Beck, the unvaccinated conservative radio host who was once criticized for spread false information on Covid vaccines, also questioned Mr. Flannery and promoted the bar, directing listeners to a fundraising campaign on GiveSendGo, a self-proclaimed Christian crowdfunding site. Another conservative talk radio show, The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, which took over the time slot previously occupied by right-wing talk radio star Rush Limbaugh, interviewed Mr. Flannery on Thursday and linked to the crowdfunding site. As of Saturday afternoon, this site had registered more than $16,500 in donations.

And a previous GoFundMe campaign for The Big Board owners set up by a Daily Caller correspondent on January 19 and tweeted by Mr. Paul had registered more than $32,700 in donations by Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Flannery and The Big Board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In December, when Mayor Bowser announced the vaccine entry requirement would be put in place, Washington was experiencing a spike in positive Covid test rates as the Omicron variant became dominant.

Covid deaths in the district increased only slightly thereafter, likely because more than 92 percent of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.


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