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COVID-19

September 26, 2021

Wuhan scientists wanted to genetically engineer coronaviruses, infect bats

Scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology wanted to genetically engineer coronaviruses that were more infectious to humans and then experiment on live bats about 18 months before the first COVID-19 cases emerged — but leaked documents reveal that a US Department of Defence agency rejected the funding proposal.

According to a 2018 proposal submitted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Wuhan researchers planned to enhance airborne coronaviruses genetically and release aerosols containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” among cave bats in Yunnan, China.

The proposal said the research’s purpose was to assess the risk of coronaviruses, ways to prevent outbreaks, and vaccinate bats against the virus.

EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit led by British scientist Peter Daszak, spearheaded the $14 million proposal. DARPA rejected the effort, citing fears of gain-of-function research.

“It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk,” DARPA said in its rejection.

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Wuhan scientists wanted to release coronaviruses into bats

September 26, 2021

Public health workers leaving ‘in droves’ amid COVID-19 burnout

Public health, a field already shrinking before the pandemic, is experiencing a sharp downward trend. As of late last year, over 180 public health officials resigned or were fired from their posts in 38 states.

“I worry that the field is going to [keep losing] a lot of people – people who are nearing retirement age, but also the people around my age,” said one anonymous public health data analyst in New York City. “They are already burned out and are leaving the workforce in droves.”

Alexandra worked in the public health emergencies unit in a major north-eastern city at the beginning of the pandemic. She estimates that she and her colleagues worked the equivalent of three full-time years in 12 months.

“There was no overtime, there was no hazard pay,” Alexandra said. She was one of 25 staff members who left the department since the start of the pandemic.

One anonymous public health worker said they face pressure from elected officials to alter data to fit a political agenda.

“When they didn’t like how our [data on] vaccination coverage by race/ethnicity was looking, they actually asked me – the least senior member of the health department – to edit the data to artificially inflate BIPOC categories,” said the anonymous employee, an epidemiologist at a Connecticut health department.

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US public health workers leaving ‘in droves’ amid pandemic burnout

September 25, 2021

Two hosts of ‘The View’ test positive for COVID-19 mid-show, leave before Harris interview

Half of the hosts of “The View” tested positive for COVID-19 and had to leave mid-show before a scheduled interview with Vice President Kamala Harris.

When the show returned from its first commercial break on Friday, a producer approached Ana Navarro and Sunny Hostin and asked them to leave. Joy Behar then started to introduce Harris as the next guest, but a producer interrupted her and said, “No.”

The incident delayed the interview with the vice president, which was supposed to take up the majority of the show. The two remaining hosts, Behar and Sara Haines, fielded questions from the studio audience to fill the time until the show finished setting up a backstage video feed for Harris.

“Sunny and Ana are strong women and I know they’re fine, but it really also does speak to the fact that they’re vaccinated, and vaccines really make all the difference because we would be concerned about hospitalization or worse,” Harris said.

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Two hosts of ‘The View’ test positive for COVID in middle of show, forced to leave before Harris interview

September 21, 2021

Grim: this state saw more deaths than births last year

In a grim first, in 2020, more people died in Alabama than were born.

“Our state literally shrunk,” said Dr. Scott Harris, the state’s top health official.

Alabama saw 64,714 deaths last year, Harris said, compared to 57,641 births. Officials will confirm the preliminary numbers later in the year.

Harris said the state hadn’t experienced this milestone in over 100 years, not even during World War II.

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There Were More Deaths Than Births In Alabama Last Year, A Grim First For The State

September 20, 2021

Laura Loomer tests positive for COVID-19

Laura Loomer, a right-wing political activist, confirmed that she tested positive for COVID-19.

“I had a fever, chills, a runny nose, sore throat, nausea and severe body aches that made my whole body feel like I got hit by a bus,” the Florida House candidate wrote on Gettr.

Loomer said she has not and will not receive the vaccine. The 28-year-old said she “immediately started a treatment of Azithromyacin and Hydroxychloroquine.”

“Can’t even begin to explain how brutal the body aches and nausea that come with COVID are. I am in so much pain.,” she reportedly wrote on Telegram.

Last year, Loomer became the subject of criticism after saying she wished she could get the virus to show everyone it’s overblown.

“I hope I get COVID just so I can prove to people I’ve had bouts of food poisoning that are more serious and life threatening than a hyped up virus. Have you ever eaten bad fajitas? That will kill you faster than COVID,” she wrote on Parler in December.

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Laura Loomer says she’s tested positive for COVID-19

September 19, 2021

FDA overwhelmingly rejects Pfizer booster for anyone 16 and up

An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration resoundingly voted against giving Pfizer-BioNtech’s COVID-19 booster shots to those 16 and up. The panel agreed to distribute them only to people aged 65 and those at high risk of severe illness.

Members overwhelmingly voted against the recommendation for everyone 16 and older, citing concerns about the lack of evidence showing boosters are safe and effective for young people.

“We’re being asked to approve this as a three-dose vaccine for people 16 years of age and older, without any clear evidence if the third dose for a younger person when compared to an elderly person is of value,” said committee member Dr. Paul Offit.

The recommendation only applies to those who received the Pfizer vaccine and does not impact those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

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FDA advisory group rejects Covid boosters for most, limits to high-risk groups

September 19, 2021

San Francisco mayor caught breaking her own strict mask mandate

Photographs show San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) breaking her strict mask mandates at a local club. An editor for the San Francisco Chronicle photographed the mayor singing and dancing in a crowded jazz club with nary a mask in sight.

Breed told the Chronicle reporter, Mariecar Mendoza, she felt reassured by the fact that “everyone who comes in here has to show proof of vaccination.”

However, Breed’s citywide mandate requires masks in public buildings regardless of vaccination status.

“She was with friends at her table, not wearing a mask while eating and drinking and enjoying herself. She knows health orders are hard and asks everyone to do their best to follow them,” a representative from the mayor’s office told ABC7.

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed breaks mask mandate at club

September 18, 2021

Massive spike in COVID-19 cases at Duke University despite 98% vaccination rate

Duke University expanded its mask mandate to include outdoor areas on campus, following hundreds of COVID-19 infections among vaccinated students and faculty.

Officials said that 98 percent of students and 92 percent of faculty and staff are vaccinated. The remaining eight percent of employees have until Oct. 1 to get their shots, and Duke will fire those who don’t abide by the deadline.

“We want to be clear: the problem is not our people, the problem is COVID-19. Our Duke community has been extraordinarily united and resilient in fighting, and adapting to, this pandemic over the last 19 months,” university officials said in a notice. “And yet, we must continue to do more. This is a time to be prudent, to take care of ourselves and each other.”

Last year, the university saw only 241 positive cases during the entire fall semester.

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Virus cases among vaccinated students prompt Duke to widen mask mandate, tighten restrictions

September 16, 2021

Jon Stewart ‘surprised’ by liberal pushback over COVID-19 lab-leak theory

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, comedian Jon Stewart said he was surprised at the significant pushback to his espousement of the COVID-19 lab-leak theory.

Stewart raised eyebrows during a June appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” He pontificated on the coincidence that the coronavirus emerged in a city with a lab dedicated to coronavirus research, saying, “The disease is the same name as the lab!”

Stewart’s appearance went viral and inspired sharp criticism from Democrats. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather called it “dangerous and shortsignted.”

During his recent interview, the former “Daily Show” host said he didn’t know how the theory became “politicized.”

“Listen, how it got to be that if it was a scientific accident, it’s conservative, and if it came from a wet market, it’s liberal, I don’t know — I’m just not sure how that got politicized. But it was an inelegant way to get to a bit that I’ve done for years, which is our good-intentioned brilliance will more than likely be our demise. The bit is about the last words that man ever utters, which are, ‘Hey, it worked.’ I guess I was a little surprised at the pushback.”

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Jon Stewart ‘surprised’ at meltdown over his belief in coronavirus lab-leak theory

September 15, 2021

Former Trump advisers warned of government’s ‘critical mistakes’ in early pandemic response

According to recently released correspondence, former President Donald Trump’s top advisers used encrypted emails to warn of the government’s “critical mistakes” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virologist Steven Hatfill, a consultant for the Trump administration, warned White House trade director Peter Navarro in February 2020 that the nation didn’t have an appropriate sense of how many covid-positive cases were in the US.

“In truth we do not have a clue how many are infected in the USA. We are expecting the first wave to spread in the US within the next 7 days,” Hatfill wrote to Navarro on Feb. 29.

“This will be accompanied by a massive loss of credibility, and the Democratic accusations are just now beginning. This must be countered with frank honesty about the situation and decisive direct actions that are being taken and can be seen in the broadcast news.”

Hatfill blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ineffective testing kits. Both advisers expressed frustration with Dr. Anthony Fauci for rebuffing their efforts to promote the use of hydroxychloroquine.

The House select committee on COVID-19 obtained the correspondence as part of an ongoing investigation.

“These exchanges add to the growing body of evidence that the Trump Administration knew the significant risk posed by the coronavirus but failed to execute an effective strategy to reduce the loss of American lives,” committee chairman James Clyburn (D-SC) wrote in a letter to Navarro. “The Select Subcommittee seeks to understand what the leaders in the Trump Administration knew, when they knew it, and how their decisions may have contributed to the catastrophic loss of life.”

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Former Trump advisers used private emails to warn of ‘critical mistakes’ in pandemic response

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