Dolphins releasing starting free safety, team captain Bobby McCain 2021

Bobby McCain, who exceeded all expectations as a fifth-round Dolphins pick, first as a slot corner and later as a free safety, is being released by the club.

McCain played six season for the Dolphins and will be remembered as a fiery, scrappy and determined overachiever.

McCain earned a four-year, $27 million contract extension three years ago.

But because the Dolphins could save $5.66 million off the salary cap by releasing him, the team made the decision to let go of a captain.

McCain was scheduled to have a cap hit of $7.1 million in 2021.

Five of Miami’s eight team captains from 2020 are gone: McCain, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ted Karras, Kyle Van Noy and Kavon Frazier.

Jesse Davis, Elandon Roberts and Clayton Fejedelem remain.

McCain did not resist the transition from corner to deep safety implemented by coach Brian Flores and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.

In fact, McCain became a core player in relaying Flores’ messages about trust and accountability to teammates and in the media.

After some rough spots in his first season at free safety, McCain actually performed quite well in 2020.

McCain was generally better in deep ball coverage than open-field tackling. But at times he was put in tough spots as a converted slot playing at 5-foot-11, 192 pounds.

The Dolphins have several other options at safety. Miami has veterans Eric Rowe and second-round pick Jevon Holland as potential starters. The Dolphins also used a third-round pick on Brandon Jones last season.

Miami also recently had a free agent visit with Malik Hooker, a former first-round safety who can play deep safety with range.


Many of us are allowed to take off our masks. Why some of us don’t want to 2021

Last week, the official word came: If you’re vaccinated, you can finally ditch your mask in certain social settings. One might expect the announcement to be met with waves of relief and an immediate shift in behavior. For some there was.

But others remain quietly hesitant — even though it’s safe, they don’t want to take off their masks yet.

According to new guidelines released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask outside except in crowded settings, and can unmask during small outdoor gatherings with vaccinated people.

Masks have offered safety during unprecedented times. They were also divisive and often signaled to which political group you belonged, with studies showing that Republicans were less likely than Democrats to wear or believe in the efficacy of masks.

Wearing a mask meant you were adhering to the CDC and local mandates. The act of stripping off these masks will feel foreign and uneasy for some, and that reaction is not unexpected, experts say.

“Behaviors take time to implement and adopt. They also take time to un-adopt,” says Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Remember, it’s not an on and off switch.

‘Wearing a mask was one of the only forms of agency’ during the pandemic

Normalcy was shattered when the pandemic hit. The pandemic robbed us of control: We couldn’t control when we’d be able to return to our workplaces, when our children would be able to attend in-person school, when we’d be able to safely hug loved ones or when we’d resume gathering in large groups. At the start of the pandemic, with so many unknowns, it seemed we couldn’t even control whether we contracted the virus.

Then experts began recommending masks. Finally, we had agency.

“In the last year, we haven’t had much control, both in terms of the vaccine rollouts or testing done early in the pandemic or sending kids to school. But what everyone can actually control is putting that mask on,” says Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist in San Francisco.

“It’s something everyone and anyone can do, and frankly something most people felt comfortable wearing.”

Coping with uncertainty:We all want to know how the coronavirus pandemic ends
People are scared to take a ‘risk’

Mike Bordieri, an associate professor of psychology at Murray State University, says it’s “predictable” that some people are hesitant to follow the updated guidelines, and their cautionary behavior can be explained by the psychological finding that humans often “overanalyze risk.”

Those who are concerned about the pandemic are more likely to seek out the latest information on news variants and global COVID-19 surges, which might lead to a stronger compulsion to wear a mask, he said.

Karan said the updated guidance may also present a struggle for those who have endured a traumatic experience linked to the pandemic, such as the loss of a loved one. People who suffer from mental health disorders may also struggle to adjust.

“People have already gone through so many losses and tragedies during the pandemic, so it makes sense that some people are wary of adopting these recent recommendations until they feel it out for themselves,” Karan says.
Ditching the pandemic ‘norm’ can be ‘stressful’

Nearly half of Americans say they feel uneasy thinking about in-person interaction once the pandemic ends, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Stress in America report. And Sheriece Sadberry, a psychologist, says masks have served as a “natural barrier” for unwanted social encounters.

“You have some people who have enjoyed being able to keep distance from people,” Sadbery says. “It may suit their personality or be convenient for those who aren’t good at setting boundaries or enjoy the peace of having limited social interactions.”


Judge strikes down federal moratorium on evictions; Biden administration says it will appeal

A federal judge has thrown out a national moratorium on evictions enacted last year to help Americans who have fallen behind on their rent during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia ruled Wednesday the federal government overreached in enacting the ban.

“The court recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis that has presented unprecedented challenges for public health officials and the nation as a whole,” Friedrich wrote in a 20-page decision. “The pandemic has triggered difficult policy decisions that have had enormous real-world consequences. The nationwide eviction moratorium is one such decision.”

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have the authority under the Public Health Service Act to impose a national moratorium, Friedrich said.

The Justice Department “respectfully disagrees” with the ruling and has filed a notice to appeal, Brian Boynton, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Division, said in a statement.

“The CDCs eviction moratorium … protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses. Scientific evidence shows that evictions exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than half a million Americans, and the harm to the public that would result from unchecked evictions cannot be undone,” Boynton said.

The Justice Department has also asked the judge keep the ruling from going into effect until the appeals process is over. In a motion filed late Wednesday, the agency argued that putting the ruling on hold would prevent evictions that could cause COVID-19 to spread.

At the White House, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is reviewing the ruling.

“We recognize, of course, the importance of the eviction moratorium for Americans who have fallen behind on rent during the pandemic,” she said.

Congress enacted a 120-day eviction moratorium last spring as part of the CARES Act, which provided relief for American families and workers suffering from financial hardship because of COVID. When the moratorium expired, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the CDC, issued a broader eviction moratorium that applied to all rental properties nationwide.


States that lifted COVID restrictions early got economic boost. What happened next?

States that lifted business restrictions early during the COVID-19 pandemic benefited from a boost in economic activity, but those gains were limited or short-lived, as other states often caught up within a month, according to a study by Moody’s Analytics.

The aggressive states notched a longer-lasting advantage in employment but even in that critical category, the other states have narrowed the gap, the Moody’s analysis shows.

“I don’t see the states, by reopening aggressively, bought themselves that much additional growth,” says Moody’s economist Adam Kamins.

At the same time, the early reopening states didn’t pay a significant price by falling behind the rest of the country after having to reinstate restrictions – such as barring indoor dining or lowering a business’s capacity limits — because of COVID surges.

With vaccinations rising and infections falling, both the health and economic crises spawned by the virus are on course to abate significantly by summer. The U.S. economy is expected to be fully open by July 4, leading to a swift return to near normal in all 50 states. Nearly one-third of the population has been fully vaccinated and that share is steadily rising, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year, the nation is projected to record its strongest economic growth since 1984 as a result of both the rising vaccinations and trillions of dollars in government aid to households and businesses.

Along the way, however, some states stirred controversy by risking higher infection rates in the name of limiting the economic damage.

“The (states) that are most energetic about opening, they are doing tremendous business and this is what these numbers are all about,” then-President Donald Trump said last June

Reopening early gave boost to 15 states
Fifteen states that reopened early are maintaining an economic edge over the rest. How states fared, by Moody Analytics’ “back-to-normal” index.

Who’s back to normal faster?

Moody’s took a look at the 15 states that lifted all restrictions by the end of March 2021 — Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. That group also imposed fewer constraints when the pandemic began a year ago and eased curbs sooner throughout the crisis, Kamins says.

Moody’s compared their economic performance to that of the more cautious states based on a “back-to-normal” index that includes measures such as hours worked at small businesses, employment, home sale listings, seated restaurant diners and the share of employees who have returned to offices.

On an index that topped out at 100 in late February 2020, before the crisis started, the aggressive states have maintained a lead that on average has kept them about 5% ahead of the rest of the country. Their edge widened during business reopenings in spring 2020 and narrowed during COVID surges last summer and late fall that hit them harder. Both early in the crisis and recently, the more cautious states caught up to the aggressive ones within 30 days, though at other times the bolder states held their advantage longer.

Since last June, the index has ranged from 80 to 89 in the states lifting constraints early and from 74 to 84 in the rest of the country.

A simpler way to compare the two groups of states is by looking at jobs. Since the aggressive states imposed fewer restrictions in the first place, their total employment at the nadir of the crisis in April 2020 was 12.1% below their February 2020 peak, compared to a 15.5% decline for the other states.
Since that point, however, total payrolls have climbed 10.6% for the more cautious states and just 9.2% for the aggressive states despite their earlier reopening, according to Moody’s and Labor Department figures. That has allowed the more cautious states to partly close the gap. They’re now 6.5% below their pre-pandemic employment, compared to 4% for the aggressive states.


Losing a megaphone: Donald Trump’s Facebook ban could limit fundraising, his work to impact elections

Donald Trump will have to stick to written statements and media appearances to raise money and spread his messages – social media is broadly still not an option, at least for now.

The Facebook Oversight Board’s decision to uphold the site’s ban on Trump deprives the ex-president of a long-range megaphone and an effective fundraising machine, elements that would be central to Trump-backed campaigns in the 2022 congressional races and, perhaps, the 2024 presidential race.

“Should he decide to run again in 2024, it will make it difficult for him to mount a cheap online campaign – as he has done in the past – and make it difficult for him to gain new supporters,” said Jennifer Mercieca, a political communication specialist at Texas A&M University.

Trump and aides indicated they would follow through on plans to start a social media platform but provided few details. They expect Twitter and other social media platforms to follow Facebook’s lead and maintain their bans on Trump as well.

In a written statement after the Facebook decision, Trump called the social media bans “a total disgrace,” and he threatened vengeance on the private companies. He claimed free speech had been taken away from him, because the political left is “afraid of the truth.”

“The truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before,” he said.

Trump’s allies have vowed to make “Big Tech” a major political issue. “These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price,” he said, though he wasn’t specific about what that should be.

Trump can play the victim all he wants, analysts said, but Facebook had little choice but to keep him offline, given his constant violation of its rules.

“He has only himself to blame for actively promoting pernicious lies and conspiracy theories and for being an online bully,” said Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.
Brown said Trump can try to start his own social media company, but “it is unlikely that he would ever be able to garner the attention or generate the reach that he was able to on Facebook.”

Trump aides insisted they can still raise money – his Save American PAC has raised more than $85 million – and his voice will resonate in the 2022 elections and beyond.
A day before the Facebook decision, Trump launched a website on which he posts his written statements, included his comments on the social media prohibitions.

It will be harder for Trump to communicate effectively without social media, which was important in his political rise and presidency.

Trump opponents hailed the Facebook decision, saying the former president continues to lie about his election loss to Joe Biden.

In a written statement Monday, Trump sought to appropriate “The Big Lie,” a term others use to describe his bogus claim that the election was stolen: “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”

Rick Hasen, a professor specializing in election law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, tweeted that if Facebook let Trump back on, “he’d be writing TODAY” about false election claims in states such as Arizona, “further undermining confidence in the American electoral process.”

Underscoring GOP divisions over Trump, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership, criticized the former president’s statement Monday, tweeting that anyone “spreading THE BIG LIE” is “turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

House Republicans who support Trump seek to oust her from congressional leadership.

Shortly after the Facebook decision, Trump issued a statement attacking Cheney, as well as former Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for opposing his election protests.

Though Trump’s Twitter feed was more famous – or infamous – his team made more use of Facebook to raise money and spread messages for the 2016 and 2020 campaigns,

Americans are almost evenly divided over Trump’s ban from social media – and in a familiar pattern, most of the split is along party lines.

“Some 49% of U.S. adults say Trump’s accounts should be permanently banned from social media, while half say they should not be,” according to a Pew Research Center poll.

The majority of Democrats say Trump should be banned from social media; the majority of Republicans say he should be allowed.

Facebook said too many of Trump’s messages were lies and accused him of triggering the insurrection Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol – an incident the Oversight Board cited in upholding the ban.

Mercieca, author of “Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump,” said Trump’s “loyal followers” are the one reason he still has “any political power.”

“So,” she said, “the ban makes it difficult for him to maintain that relationship with his followers and makes it difficult for him to redeem the Trump brand.