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COVID-19

January 20, 2022

White House’s Website for Free COVID Tests Goes Live

Amid criticism for widespread shortages, the White House launched a new federal website to increase the accessibility to COVID-19 rapid tests.

Americans can order free tests at covidtests.gov or usps.com/covidtest. The first shipments are slated for the end of January. According to the White House, “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.”

The Biden administration says that “to promote broad access,” shipments will initially be limited to four tests per household.

Additionally, the Biden administration has required private insurers to reimburse the cost of up to eight at-home rapid tests per month per insured individual.

According to AP, the White House estimates the cost of purchasing and distributing the first 500 million tests at about $4 billion, funded by the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill Biden signed into law last March.


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Website for free virus tests is here. How does it work?

January 19, 2022

Milley Tests Positive for COVID

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

A spokesperson said Milley’s experiencing mild symptoms.

“He is experiencing very minor symptoms and can perform all of his duties [remotely].  He has received the COVID-19 vaccines including the booster,” Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement.

“All other Joint Chiefs of Staff except for one tested negative for COVID-19 [on Sunday].”

Butler added that Milley’s most recent contact with President Joe Biden was January 12, but he had tested negative several days before and after Gen. Odierno’s funeral last week, where he last saw the commander-in-chief.


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Statement by Joint Staff Spokesperson Col. Dave Butler on Gen. Milley testing positive for COVID-19

January 19, 2022

‘Fauci Was Completely Dishonest’: Senator Leaks Unredacted Financial Records

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…
2013: Calcium deposits are discovered on Mars by NASA’s Curiosity Rover

The Republican lawmaker who had a heated exchange with Anthony Fauci over his financial disclosures — culminating with an exasperated Fauci calling him a “moron” under his breath — has released the White House’s chief medical adviser’s financial records.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) claimed that Fauci was dishonest during the Senate hearing when he said his financial disclosures were public knowledge. Marshall wrote a letter to Fauci, formally requesting his records “for the fiscal years covering the pandemic” with only “personal and sensitive information” redacted.

“Dr. Fauci lied to the American people. He is more concerned with being a media star and posing for the cover of magazines than he is being honest with the American people,” Marshall said in a statement.

Fauci “was completely dishonest about his financial disclosures being open to the public – it’s no wonder he is the least trusted bureaucrat in America,” Marshall said.

The records, which are available to view here, show that Fauci and his wife, a top bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health, have a combined wealth of $10.4 million.

Fauci is the highest-paid federal employee, out-earning President Joe Biden, making $434,312 annually. Fauci’s pension will be the largest in U.S. history when he retires, exceeding $350,000 per year.

According to the records, he and his wife made $13,298 to attend four galas and ceremonies in 2020. Fauci’s three Charles Schwab accounts total more than $8.3 million.

During the Senate hearing, the pair’s heated exchange began when Marshall asked the disease expert if he’d be willing to submit his financial disclosures. Fauci replied: “I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question.”

“My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so.”

Earlier, the Kansas Republican announced he’d be introducing the Financial Accountability for Uniquely Compensated Individuals (FAUCI) Act, requiring financial disclosures of administration officials to be publicly accessible online.

“At the end of the day, Dr. Fauci must be held accountable to all Americans who have been suing and requesting for this information but don’t have the power of a Senate office to ask for it. For these reasons, I will be introducing the FAUCI Act so financial disclosures like these are made public and are easily accessible online to every American,” he said.


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How Fauci has profited from the pandemic: Senator he called ‘moron’ leaks his unredacted financial disclosures that show he raked in $5,000 from one virtual event and he and his wife are worth at least $10 million

January 18, 2022

Midwest Hospital Chain Stops Using Race to Determine COVID Treatment After Backlash

The Wisconsin-based hospital chain SSM Health will no longer use race or ethnicity as a factor in determining if a patient receives monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to treat the coronavirus.

SSM Health’s announcement came after the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty (WILL) sent them a letter alleging racial discrimination in its policies to determine which patients receive life-saving treatment.

“While early versions of risk calculators across the nation appropriately included race and gender criteria based on initial outcomes, SSM Health has continued to evaluate and update our protocols weekly to reflect the most up-to-date clinical evidence available,” the company said in a statement.

“As a result, race and gender criteria are no longer utilized. The internal memo cited by WILL inadvertently referenced an expired calculator.”

In the letter, WILL lawyers cited a December 31 email the company sent to physicians referencing a risk-scoring calculator, in which non-White patients received a 7-point head start.

“For example, a 50-year-old white female (15 points) suffering from obesity (1 point), asthma (1 point), and hypertension (1 point) would not be eligible for mAbs because she does not receive the 20-point minimum score under the calculator,” the letter stated. “On the other hand, an otherwise healthy 50-year-old African-American female (22 points), without any of these health risks, would be eligible.”

The attorneys argued that SSM’s risk-scoring calculator “is not only profoundly unethical and immoral, it is illegal.”

The timing of the change sparked questions from WILL attorney Dan Lennington.

“We’re encouraged that SSM Health has dropped the racial classifications from their risk-scoring calculator,” Lennington said in a statement. “But if they updated this calculator before today, we have yet to see any communication to Wisconsin physicians on the matter. We still profoundly disagree with SSM’s position that race is an ‘appropriate’ consideration when treating patients for COVID.”

SSM Health is a Catholic not-for-profit healthcare company that operates facilities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma.


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SSM Health will not use race and gender to determine who gets COVID treatment after receiving letter from WILL

January 15, 2022

Michigan Governor Undercounted COVID-19 Deaths, Report Claims

An imminent report from Michigan’s auditor general is expected to show that state health officials undercounted COVID-19 death in nursing homes by roughly 30% — a figure that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is already refuting.

Auditor General Doug Ringler is expected to release the full report next week, alleging a drastic undercount of covid deaths in long-term care facilities, the Detroit Free Press reported.

While the data is expected to show an undercount of around 30%, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff said that figure could be as high as 42%.

But state health officials are already refuting the report’s findings. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel argued that the figures came from combining covid deaths at facilities subject to state or federal reporting requirements and those that aren’t.

“I fear that your letter will be misinterpreted to question the work and integrity of long-term care facilities, local health departments, coroners and other frontline workers who we rely on to report data,” Hertel wrote in a letter to Ringler, the auditor general.

Still, state lawmakers rebuked the Whitmer administration over the auditor general’s preliminary findings.

“The number reported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration was 30 percent lower than what the Auditor General has found. Make no mistake – this is a large discrepancy, and the report makes that clear,” said Rep. Steve Johnson, chairman of the Michigan House Oversight Committee.


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Officials refute report expected to allege undercount in COVID-19 long-term care deaths

January 12, 2022

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Under Fire for COVID-19 Misinformation


ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…

1948: Mahatma Gandhi begins his final fast


Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor received criticism after falsely claiming that there are 100,000 children in the U.S. hospitalized with COVID-19 “in serious condition.”

Sotomayor, appointed by former President Barack Obama, also claimed that omicron is “just as deadly” as the delta variant for the unvaccinated.

“Omicron is as deadly as delta and causes as much serious disease in the unvaccinated as delta did,” the justice said during a hearing on President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. “The numbers—look at the hospitalization rates going up. We have more infected people today than we did a year ago in January. We have hospitals that are almost at full capacity with people severely ill on ventilators. We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition, and many on ventilators.”

According to HHS data, as of January 8, there are roughly 5,000 children hospitalized, either with suspected covid or a confirmed laboratory test. This figure includes patients in observation beds. “So Sotomayor’s number is at least 20 times higher than reality, even before you determine how many are in ‘serious condition,'” The Washington Post reported.

According to CDC data, there have been less than 100,000 — 82,843 to be exact — hospital admissions of children with confirmed covid since August 1, 2020.

There is data to support that the rate of pediatric admissions is rising, with a caveat. Earlier this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported a sharp increase in pediatric cases — but some children are hospitalized for another reason (i.e., a broken arm) and then test positive for covid through screenings at the hospital.

People quickly took notice of Sotomayor’s false information, with some saying it was “terrifying” to realize a Supreme Court justice could be so misinformed.

“It’s actually terrifying that a Supreme Court justice can be so misinformed. The emperor has no clothes,” Christina Pushaw tweeted.

More inaccurate info from the bench

Meanwhile, Clinton appointed Justice Stephen Breyer false claimed there were 750 million new cases of covid in the U.S. on Thursday.

“750 million new cases yesterday, or close to that, is a lot. I don’t mean to be facetious,” Breyer said.

The actual number was closer to 750,000. On Thursday, the U.S. recorded 786,824 new cases, according to the Daily Mail.


Source:

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor under fire for overstating that 100,000 children are currently hospitalized with COVID and ‘many are on ventilators’ while Stephen Breyer says there have been 750 MILLION cases

January 9, 2022

Judge: FDA Must Turn Over COVID Vaccine Safety Data in 8 Months — Not 75 Years

A federal judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration must release its complete trove of documents it used to license its COVID-19 vaccine in about eight months — a dramatic decrease from the original 75-year deadline.

A group of doctors and scientists with the nonprofit Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FDA, seeking roughly 450,000 documents regarding the vaccine’s creation process. The FDA proposed producing 500 pages a month, but U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman ordered the agency to release more than 55,000 a month.

Under Pittman’s timeline, all of the Pfizer vaccine data should be publicly available by late September. Under the FDA’s original proposal, the documents wouldn’t be available in their entirety until 2097.

“Here, the Court recognizes the ‘unduly burdensome’ challenges that this FOIA request may present to the FDA,” Pittman wrote in his four-page ruling. “But, as expressed at the scheduling conference, there may not be a ‘more important issue at the Food and Drug Administration … than the pandemic, the Pfizer vaccine, getting every American vaccinated, [and] making sure that the American public is assured that this was not rush[ed] on behalf of the United States.”

The judge’s order requires the FDA to produce more than 12,000 pages before January 31. After that, the agency must “produce the remaining documents at a rate of 55,000 pages every 30 days, with the first production being due on or before March 1, 2022, until production is complete.”

Pittman cited a quote from the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that excessive secrecy from a government entity “feeds conspiracy theories and reduces the public’s confidence in the government.”


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Judge scraps 75-year FDA timeline to release Pfizer vaccine safety data, giving agency eight months

January 9, 2022

Children’s Mental Health Declared a National Emergency

Schools across the country are closing again amid a surge of cases from the omicron variant, as the state of children and adolescents’ mental health has been deemed a national crisis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association released a joint “declaration of a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.”

“This worsening crisis in child and adolescent mental health is inextricably tied to the stress brought on by COVID-19 […] represents an acceleration of trends observed prior to 2020. Rates of childhood mental health concerns and suicide rose steadily between 2010 and 2020 and by 2018 suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24. The pandemic has intensified this crisis: across the country we have witnessed dramatic increases in Emergency Department visits for all mental health emergencies including suspected suicide attempts,” the statement read.

The warnings come as many students return to remote learning, which experts believe will “set things back even further.”

“It’s a huge concern,” said Dr. Sara Bode, a member of the AAP Council on School Health. “Kids have been through a lot. What I can tell you through my experiences in schools is that when schools got back to in-person learning, it wasn’t so quick and easy for kids to adjust. They had been out for a long period of time. It took weeks for schools to get back to their routines and positive culture and climate, and now, with another set of disruptions, it [will] just set things back even further.”

Bode said schools that are trying to mitigate coronavirus transmission are some of the safest places for children to be right now, compared to other places in their communities that don’t have such measures.

“Of course, it’s not zero-risk to have kids in school,” she said. “With this increase in transmissibility, we will likely see an increase in cases in schools, but it’s likely not higher risk than many of the other activities kids participate in when they’re not in school.”

CDC data for 2020 shows more than 6,600 suicides among Americans ages 10 to 24. Emergency room visits for suicide attempts rose 51% among adolescent girls during the pandemic and increased by 4% among boys.

“We have definitely still seen a persistent increase in kids at all levels of mental health crisis, [including] those who are needing to go into the hospital or go to the emergency room due to an acute mental health crisis or suicide attempts or thoughts, down to a large number of students that are seeking counseling for mental health concerns,” Bode said.

According to Bode, the AAP is “prioritizing in-person learning and using the available mitigation strategies” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As long as the schools utilize the appropriate measures, the AAP recommends in-person learning — even through the omicron surge.

“We’re saying that because we realize just how critical it is for schools to be in-person learning. Part of that is […] their mental health, social, emotional health. What it means for their academics. We believe school is an essential service,” Bode said.



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US schools close again as children’s mental health declared national crisis

January 7, 2022

LA County Confirms First ‘Flurona’ Case

Officials at a COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles County confirmed the first local case of the so-called “flurona” — a combination of the flu and the coronavirus.

Officials said a child tested positive for Influenza A and SARS-CoV-2, Fox11 reported. The boy’s mother tested positive for COVID-19 the following day. The family had just returned from a trip to Cabo San Lucas.

“Our new year’s resolution was to flatten the curve. And now, simply put, it’s now turned into a nightmare. The technicians are fatigued. Sometimes it feels like there’s no end in sight,” said Steve Farzam, 911 COVID Testing’s chief operating officer.

Roughly 3,000 people are tested daily at Farzam’s site in Brentwood, according to Fox11.

“Our resources have been so inundated with the vast amount of folks who are getting tested. We’re seeing folks who do have some basic cold symptoms, getting repeated tests, showing up almost every day of the week for a COVID test,” Farzam said. “If we can capture influenza-positive early on, then we could presumably prevent them from coming back every day, so we can save those tests for the people who really do need them.”


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‘Flurona’ in California: Testing site in LA County confirms first known local case

January 6, 2022

CDC Causes Confusion After Updating COVID Isolation Guidelines — Again

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 isolation guidelines again, a change that was largely met with incredulity by many Americans who found it “confusing and nonsensical.”

The CDC now says that if someone in an isolation period wants to take a rapid test after five days, they can. However, the CDC doesn’t advise taking a rapid test. But, if someone does decide to take the test and the results come back positive, they should stay in isolation for 10 days total.

If the test comes back negative, people may leave isolation but should wear a mask around others until day 10.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins noted the CDC’s change in a series of tweets, which quickly garnered attention and criticism.

“The CDC has updated its isolation guidance. They still don’t recommend a rapid test after 5 days, but say if you take one and it’s positive, isolated people should continue isolating for 5 more days. Those who leave isolation are urged not to fly on planes or eat in restaurants,” Collins tweeted.

“The updated guidance advising people to stay isolated until day 10 if they have a positive rapid test after five days in isolation appears to contradict Dr. Walensky’s claim to CNN last week that ‘we wouldn’t change our guidance based on the result of the rapid test,'” Collins added.

“If you thought the previous isolation guidance was insufficiently confusing and nonsensical, you’ll *love* the updated isolation guidance,” virologist Angela Rasmussen tweeted.

“We don’t recommend you take a test. They’re hard to find, and they can be expensive. Oh, and the result can only make your life harder, not easier. But maybe take one if it’s possible?” wrote Aaron Carrol, Chief Health Officer at Indiana University.



Source:

CDC sparks outrage with ‘confusing’ updated COVID isolation guidance: ‘Seriously?’

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