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About 40 inmates are still being held at Guantánamo Bay. Photo: Maren Hennemuth/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Pentagon is pausing a plan to offer coronavirus vaccines to Guantánamo Bay detainees, Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said Saturday.

Driving the news: The Pentagon had planned to begin vaccinating detainees on a volunteer basis, several media outlets reported earlier this week. The plan angered some Republicans, who called it "inexcusable and un-American."

What he's saying: "No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated," Kirby tweeted.

  • "We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols. We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe."

The big picture: It is unclear how many people at Guantánamo have been infected with COVID-19.

  • "Lack of vaccinations has been a major obstacle to resuming war crimes hearings at the base’s Camp Justice compound," including that of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other defendants accused of helping carry out the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times reported.
  • About 40 inmates are still being held at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, military prison.
  • President Biden said during his campaign that he supported closing the prison, but he did not offer any concrete plans on how he would do so.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 30, 2021 - Health

We're selling the coronavirus vaccine short

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against disease and death has been remarkable, but too much emphasis on the unknowns about transmission could discourage people from getting vaccinated.

Why it matters: The best vaccine in the world won't stop the pandemic if too few people take it.

Jan 30, 2021 - Health

CDC orders mask mandate for planes and public transportation

Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health order late Friday requiring face coverings on airplanes, trains and other public transportation to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Details: The order will go into effect on Monday at 11:59 p.m. and extends beyond the previous guidance announced by the White House.

Jan 30, 2021 - Health

COVID forces Coachella to cancel for the third time

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was called off Friday due to coronavirus concerns, according to a tweet from Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for Riverside County where the annual festival is held.

The state of play: Coachella was among the first major events canceled in April 2020, in the early days of the pandemic. It was rescheduled to October, and again pushed back to April 2021. Riverside County health officials also canceled Stagecoach Country Music Festival. New dates for the festivals have not been announced.