Background Briefing: May 3, 2021


With 30% Resisting Vaccination, the U.S. is Unlikely to Reach Herd Immunity

We begin with the scientific consensus emerging that the U.S. is unlikely to reach herd immunity as the vaccination rate declines with more than half of adults who wanted to be vaccinated now inoculated while vaccine skeptics and anti-vaxxers continue to resist with polls indicating 30% of the population reluctant to get vaccinated. Jeffrey Shaman, a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and the Director of the Climate and Health Program at Columbia University whose research focuses on the environmental determinants of infectious disease transmission and infectious disease forecast, joins us to discuss how one group of Americans influenced by misinformation and political dogma are endangering the other group of Americans trying to end the pandemic. Unfortunately, if not enough Americans are protected, highly contagious variants will evolve and overcome vaccine protection, resulting in Covid at best becoming like the flu and at worst, an even deadlier next pandemic.   


The GOP’s Great White Hope, Florida Governor DeSantis’ Authoritarian Bent

Then with Florida’s Governor DeSantis issuing an executive order today to suspend all Covid-19 emergency orders issued by local governments, we will examine the politician Trump says he wants as his Vice Presidential running mate in 2024 and speak with Amy Hollyfield, senior deputy editor for news at the Tampa Bay Times where she oversees state and national political coverage including the paper’s bureau in Tallahassee. She joins us to discuss DeSantis’ authoritarian bent is suppressing dissent and votes as he appeals to Trump’s base in a way that makes him most likely to be Trump’s successor. 


Mark Bittman’s Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal.

Then finally we speak with the bestselling author of the How to Cook Everything series and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman about his new book, just out, Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal. He joins us to discuss how 60% of the calories available in America today are in the form of ultra-processed food and how Big Food exacerbates climate change, plunders the planet and sickens us all.