States sound alarm over Covid-19 outbreaks among school kids
As school districts across the country reopen, some state officials are voicing concern about the vulnerability of children as the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant takes aim at the unvaccinated.
Covid-19 cases are surging among children as the school year begins — many in districts without mask mandates — continuing to force quarantines and other disruptions.
The latest weekly count of new pediatric cases — 243,373 — is about a 240% increase since July, the American Academy of Pediatrics said Monday.
Everyone 12 years and older is eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine but vaccination among children ages 12 to 17 is lower than in older groups, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The US isn't alone. Covid-19 infections among children and adolescents in the Americas — including the US and Canada — have reached over 1.9 million, Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said on Wednesday.
There were more than 1.5 million Covid-19 cases among children and adolescents reported in the Americas all of last year.
In the US, some state officials are sounding the alarm: In the last 60 days, about 60% of all Covid-19 in Georgia happened in K-12 schools — about a sevenfold increase, state epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek said during a Department of Public Health board meeting Tuesday.
“The most significant epidemiologic trend that we have seen, that was much different than previous waves of this pandemic, is the tremendous impact that we have seen on school-aged children,” she said.CNN
It's always a combination of factors:
- Kids went back to school, where they can't social distance.
- Air filtration is suspect.
- Kids under 12 cannot be vaccinated; 12-17 year olds have the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
- Not all teachers & staff are vaccinated.
- Masks are not mandatory, nor are vaccines.
Do you see the problem?
We were and still are not prepared for this pandemic.
…and we're putting kids on busses, where the air filtration is nil (it's Fall, windows won't be open), and kids are TOUCHING each other (zero social distancing).
Massachusetts Calls On The National Guard To Mitigate A School Bus Driver Shortage
National Guard troops are used to being activated during times of natural disaster or civil unrest — but in Massachusetts, they're being called out to drive students to school.
The office of Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that as many as 250 Guard members would be made available “to address staffing shortages in certain districts,” according to a press release. It said that 90 would be training immediately for service in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn.
The Guard will take over driving duties on some 7D vehicles. Known as “school pupil transport vehicles,” 7D vehicles are generally vans.
The announcement comes amid a nationwide shortage of school bus drivers due to the ongoing pandemic, battles over masks and vaccines. As NPR reported earlier this month, in a recent nationwide survey, half of student-transportation coordinators described their school bus driver shortages as either “severe” or “desperate.”
The Massachusetts governor, discussing his state's shortage, said: “Once it became pretty clear that there were going to be some communities shorthanded — it wasn't going to be a vehicle issue, it was going to be people with [commercial driver's licenses] — we started talking to the Guard.”NPR
Oy! My dream of becoming Ottoman is coming closer.
Religious exemption requests grow as vaccine mandates rise
About 3,000 Los Angeles Police Department employees are citing religious objections to try to get out of the required COVID-19 vaccination. In Washington state, hundreds of state workers are seeking similar exemptions. And an Arkansas hospital has been swamped with so many such requests from employees that it is apparently calling their bluff.
Religious objections, once used sparingly around the country to get exempted from various required vaccines, are becoming a much more widely used loophole against the COVID-19 shot.
And it is only likely to grow following President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates covering more than 100 million Americans, including executive branch employees and workers at businesses with more than 100 people on the payroll.
The administration acknowledges that some small minority of Americans will use — and some may seek to exploit — religious exemptions. But it said it believes even marginal improvements in vaccination levels will save lives.
It’s not clear yet how many federal employees have requested a religious exemption. The Labor Department has said an accommodation can be denied if it causes an undue burden.
In the states, mask and vaccine requirements vary, but most offer exemptions for certain medical conditions or religious or philosophical objections. The use of such exemptions, particularly by parents on behalf of their schoolchildren, has been growing over the past decade.
The allowance was enshrined in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees who object to work requirements because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs.
A religious belief does not have be recognized by an organized religion, and it can be new, unusual or “seem illogical or unreasonable to others,” according to rules laid out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But it can’t be founded solely on political or social ideas.
That puts employers in the position of determining what is a legitimate religious belief and what is a dodge.AP
It's all a crock of shit. Show me how these people got vaccines in the past and put up a stink about it then. Especially if you're a healthcare worker or first responder, you shouldn't be allowed any exemptions except for sworn-under-oath-by-your-doctor medical exemptions.
Somebody, anybody, tell me why you should be allowed to make everybody else cover for your bullshit.
FBI's failures in Larry Nassar probe on display as Senate hears testimony from top gymnasts
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony Wednesday from four elite gymnasts — Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman — who say they were abused by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who is now serving a several-decade prison sentence.
The hearing is examining how the FBI mishandled its investigation into the Nassar allegations, which were first brought to the agency in July 2015. Several violations of protocols led to months of delay, as captured in a scathing Justice Department inspector general report released in July.
While the federal investigation languished, Nassar abused scores of victims, the inspector general report said.
FBI officials “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies,” the report stated.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Chris Wray will also testify.
“The FBI's failure in this case led to more athletes being victimized,” Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in July.
Nassar pleaded guilty in 2018 to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in a case brought by Michigan's attorney general. He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, after more than 150 women and girls said in court that he had sexually abused them over the past two decades.
The gymnasts testifying Wednesday have all previously spoken publicly about being the victims of Nassar's abuse. Nassar, who also worked for Michigan State University, touched athletes inappropriately under the guise of performing medical treatments on them.
Biles — a winner of seven Olympic medals, as well as several world and national championships — revealed this year that she was motivated to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics in part because it would force the sport to confront its shortcomings in protecting its athletes.
“I feel like if there weren't a remaining survivor in the sport, they would've just brushed it to the side,” Biles told NBC's Hoda Kotb. “But since I'm still here, and I have quite a social media presence and platform, they have to do something.”CNN
I want to know: What did James Comey know about this, and if he knew nothing, why didn't he? What's wrong with the institution? Andrew McCabe and Christopher Wray need to be interrogated over their white-washing of the case as well.
SpaceX launches Inspiration4 flight of all-civilian crew
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Four amateur astronauts lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center here Wednesday evening, making history by becoming the first all-civilian crew to reach orbit in a fully commercial mission operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and paid for by a billionaire entrepreneur.
The launch, dubbed Inspiration4, was the first step in what is planned to be an audacious three-day journey in orbit around Earth by a group of people who just months ago didn’t know each other and didn’t expect to fly to space.
Just before launch, Jared Isaacman, the billionaire businessman who financed the trip and is its commander, urged action. “Inspiration4 is go for launch,” he said. “Punch it, SpaceX.”
Upon reaching orbit, Isaacman said, “The door is opening now, and it’s pretty incredible.”
SpaceX confirmed late Wednesday that the spacecraft had hit an altitude of about 363 miles, exceeding the intended orbit of just under 360 miles.
The flight marks a new expansion in the growth of the commercial space industry and another leap forward by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has vowed to open the cosmos to ordinary people, not just professionals trained by the government, in a quest ultimately to land humans on Mars.
Civilians have in the past joined professional astronauts on trips to the International Space Station. And Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are working to fly paying customers on suborbital flights that would touch the edge of space before falling back to Earth. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
But never before has a crew made up entirely of civilians reached orbit — two of whom won their seats through a competition and sweepstakes.Washington Post
Nothing at all could go wrong here…
Now, for your feel-good story of the day…
At 101, she’s still hauling lobsters with no plans to stop
ROCKLAND, Maine (AP) — When Virginia Oliver started trapping lobster off Maine’s rocky coast, World War II was more than a decade in the future, the electronic traffic signal was a recent invention and few women were harvesting lobsters.
Nearly a century later, at age 101, she’s still doing it. The oldest lobster fisher in the state and possibly the oldest one in the world, Oliver still faithfully tends to her traps off Rockland, Maine, with her 78-year-old son Max.
Oliver started trapping lobsters at age 8, and these days she catches them using a boat that once belonged to her late husband and bears her own name, the “Virginia.” She said she has no intention to stop, but she is concerned about the health of Maine’s lobster population, which she said is subject to heavy fishing pressure these days.
“I’ve done it all my life, so I might as well keep doing it,” Oliver said.AP