By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Biden goes the mandate route

On Thursday, a peeved President Biden announced a 6-pronged approach that includes mandates to a nation that is 64.5% fully vaccinated on a day where 3,242 Americans and 50 Hoosiers died of COVID-19 and 152,212 new infections reported. “My message to unvaccinated Americans is this, what more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?” Mr. Biden said. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA-approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. We need to do more. This is not about freedom, or personal choice. It's about protecting yourself and those around you.

Executive Director Christine Stinson of the Wayne County Health Department told the Richmond Palladium-Item of her county with 41% fully vaccinated, "This is so preventable. Our community needs more people vaccinated, or we will have more people die. We all have to come together and help get through this crisis, and this is a crisis." 

How will Biden's new vaccine mandates go over? The July Kaiser Family Foundation Poll found 67% say they will vaccinate. But a Washington Post-ABC poll conducted last week found that many unvaccinated Americans say they’ll try to get exemption (35%) or quit their jobs (72%) if their employer imposes a vaccination mandate. Morning Consult reports that in August while vaccine hesitancy ticked down to 28%, the COVID surge had changed very few minds: "Across the Southeast and Midwest, cases have surged dramatically over the last month and a half. While that has led to a decline in vaccine skepticism in certain hard-hit states, in others – like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee – levels of skepticism remain virtually unchanged." Among the vaccinated, there is palpable growing frustration and anger that the recalcitrant are stalling out the recovery, swamping ERs while 15,000 Hoosier school kids are infected or quarantined. 

2. Hoosier Republicans lash out v. mandates

Gov. Eric Holcomb: “I believe the vaccine is the number one tool that will protect us and our loved ones against COVID-19. It is the tool that will end the pandemic. However, I strongly believe it’s not the state or federal government’s role to issue a vaccine mandate upon citizens and private businesses. This is the approach our administration has taken all along. The announcement from President Biden is a bridge too far. Private businesses should be able to look at their own mission, their staff and their goals and make the decision best for them that will keep their doors open. I believe it is fundamentally a citizen’s right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine. While I wish everyone would get the vaccine, we are a country built on this exact type of freedom.” Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer: "Joe Biden's authoritarian overreach is an admission of his own failures. He's gone from saying vaccines shouldn't be mandated to threatening to get elected officials who don't abide by his authoritarian power grab 'out of the way.'" Attorney General Todd Rokita: “My team and I, along with other like-minded attorneys general, are reviewing all legal action on how to stand against these authoritarian actions by the Biden administration. We will be prepared to file suit if Biden seeks illegal actions restricting Hoosiers' liberties.” Sen. Mike Braun said that Biden is "desperately overstepping his authority." U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski: "As our nation faces a ‘help wanted’ crisis from shore to shore, President Biden’s mandate will continue to weaken our workforce and stunt our economic recovery. Like many Hoosiers, I am concerned by the Biden Administration’s obsession with big-government intervention and will continue to oppose all federal mandates.”

3. Map making Tuesday

General Assembly Republicans will unveil Indiana and U.S. House maps on Tuesday. Tom Davies of AP writes: The big question is whether they will focus on shoring up the suburban Indianapolis district that U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz narrowly kept in Republican hands last year to maintain their 7-2 control of Indiana’s U.S. House delegation. A more aggressive approach could see them try to carve up the northwestern Indiana district now held by U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan with the aim of ending Democrats’ decades long dominance there and gaining another GOP seat as Republicans look to regain U.S. House control in the 2022 midterm elections. Davies notes that due to population shifts, Spartz's 5th CD must shed 51,000 voters (goodbye Marion County), U.S. Rep. Andre Carson's 7th CD has 33,000 too many, while U.S. Reps. Larry Buchson's 8th CD and Greg Pence's 6th CD will need to pick up around 30,000 voters.

4. Rep. Clere faces primary challenge

While Indiana House maps are a work in progress, Floyd County businessman Tom Jones announce he will challenge State Rep. Ed Clere in the HD72 GOP primary. Jones said: "Over the past several months, I've had a growing realization that I may have something additional to offer my community. I've watched a lot of great ideas crumble and potential lost for our community because state leadership wasn't on the same page as our local leaders. I’ve spent my entire adult life in service to Southern Indiana, working with others to build a better community. Community is about all of us, not just one of us. It’s about working together for the common good and moving us all forward.”

5. Pistole remembers 9/11


Anderson University President John Pistole was in Syracuse, N.Y, inspecting an FBI office when he heard about the airliner striking the north tower of the World Trade Center. He tells Rebecca Bibbs of the Anderson Herald Bulletin: “Every once in a while, you hear about a near miss, a small plane," he explained. After the south tower was struck, Pistole, who would become deputy director of the FBI in 2004, said. “My first thought that came to mind is, ‘This changes everything.’"

Have a great weekend, folks, and here's hoping the Colts and Bears will notch their first NFL season wins on Sunday. It's The Atomic!