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Editorial roundup: Collected thoughts from around the nation
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Editorial Roundup

Editorial roundup: Collected thoughts from around the nation

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Manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines say they’re now producing 1.5 billion doses a month and will have made 12 billion doses by the end of the year. In theory, that would be enough to meet the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population. Three things need to happen without further delay.

First, rich-country governments should demand much more information about producers’ plans. That will let them measure their own needs alongside planned supply and enable them to share excess doses more efficiently, instead of at short notice, often too late for shots to be used.

Next, countries that have enough vaccines should speed up their donations and make way for deliveries to go elsewhere. Up to now, the global Covax partnership has fallen short, chiefly because it hasn’t been given the doses it was promised.

Third, rich countries should swiftly provide the $8 billion the WHO says is needed to help poor nations store, deliver and distribute vaccines.

The longer the pandemic goes on, the greater its costs and risks — including for countries that have vaccinated most of their citizens. This is about self-interest as much as benevolence.

— Bloomberg Opinion

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Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are human-made chemicals that break down slowly in the environment, can accumulate in the human body and have been linked to all manner of negative health effects from cancer to high cholesterol.

But these “forever chemicals” are nearly impossible to avoid. They are in consumer products, from cosmetics and cookware to food packaging and firefighting foam; in our food supply; in the soil, air and water; and even running through our veins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found traces of PFAS in the blood of nearly everyone it has tested for the past two decades.

That’s why it was heartening that the Biden administration announced this week a sweeping three-year plan to regulate the 600 PFAS, including testing for contamination in food, soil and drinking water, and setting enforceable limits on the amount of PFAS that can be in drinking water.

Scientists and environmentalists have been sounding the alarm for years about the unregulated use of PFAS, yet EPA officials under both the Obama and Trump administrations did very little. This comprehensive national strategy from the Biden administration to rein in these “forever chemicals” is essential.

— Los Angeles Times

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The Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court last week released draft discussion material that discounted one much-debated idea for fixing it — expanding the court’s size — but took a more positive stance on the idea of term limits for justices. If done right, that could well take the heat out of these occasional, unpredictable and destructive partisan battles over filling vacancies.

The high court is supposed to be above the partisan political squabbles of the moment. It clearly isn’t.

Expanding the court could make it appear even less legitimate than it currently looks to the party out of power, while risking “a continuous cycle of future expansions” with each new majority in Congress. Term limits, on the other hand, could give both parties equal opportunities to affect the court and make each confirmation process a simple, predictable calendar item.

One common suggestion is an 18-year term, staggered for each seat, with a new justice appointed every two years. Critics note that 18 years is still an eternity in politics, opening the possibility that instead of tamping down these occasional confirmation fights to the political death, it would just make them more frequent, while shorter terms could diminish the continuity of the court’s decisions.

Those are valid concerns that should be part of the discussion, but there should be a discussion. The status quo is no longer acceptable.

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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The Biden administration has been forced to make a lot of tough calls in contending with COVID, not all of them to widespread acclaim. There is one ostensible pandemic-response decision for which the president has been way off the mark: continuing his predecessor’s so-called Title 42 expulsion policy, which absurdly invokes public health as a blanket excuse to authorize the removal of migrants who are attempting to apply for asylum at our southern border.

The law itself specifies that U.S. officials can arrest the entry of people and goods in order to prevent the introduction of communicable diseases. Perhaps someone should alert the administration that COVID was long ago introduced here, and in fact made the United States its global epicenter. As at least one federal judge has already pointed out, preventing entry is also a dramatically different power than expelling someone who has already entered.

Public health experts across the board have said that the order serves no clear purpose. During his campaign, Biden pledged to both return some reason and humanity to the immigration system and to follow the science in setting pandemic-response policies. By keeping Title 42 in place, he is managing to break both promises at once.

— New York Daily News

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