Walgreens, CVS book up fast with vaccine appointments. Hannah Buehler has more.
- Associated Press
Malaysian lawmakers and rights groups on Wednesday demanded that the government explain why it violated a court stay order and deported 1,086 Myanmar migrants, saying it put their lives in danger following Myanmar's military coup. A high court on Tuesday ordered a stay of the repatriation of 1,200 Myanmar nationals pending an appeal by Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia, which said there were refugees, asylum-seekers and minors among the group.
- Associated Press
The U.N. refugee agency said the Indian coast guard had answered its plea to look for a boat carrying Rohingya refugees believed to be adrift in the Andaman Sea without food and water for several days. The boat was believed to have left Bangladesh two weeks ago and then broken down at sea, with the U.N. and rights groups reporting many of the about 90 refugees on board now suffering acute dehydration. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Wednesday it does not know the boat’s exact current location.
AstraZeneca will deliver 180 million COVID-19 vaccines to Europe in the second quarter, including 20 million to Italy, the head of its Italian unit was quoted as saying on Thursday, but EU officials remained wary about supply. Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing an EU official directly involved in talks with the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, that AstraZeneca expected to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply the European Union in the second quarter. Lorenzo Wittum, CEO and chairman of AstraZeneca in Italy, told daily Il Corriere della Sera that Italy would receive more than 5 million shots by the end of March, fewer than the 8 million previously agreed, leading to a total of 25 million doses by June.
- The Daily Beast
Mario Tama/GettyIf you’ve tried to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you know how frustrating the process can be. People are spending hours obsessively refreshing websites, hoping an appointment will open up somewhere. They scan Facebook groups for tips and insider information. One writer compared it to Soviet-style queues for cabbage.The competition for slots will only worsen when the COVID-19 vaccination priority list opens to the broader public.It doesn’t have to be this way. Much of this misery comes from poorly designed vaccine sign-up websites, but the problem is more fundamental.As an expert in health care operations and vaccine supply chains, I have closely followed the difficulties in connecting COVID-19 vaccine doses with people. I believe the best solution to vaccine appointment scheduling lies in building a trustworthy one-stop preregistration system. The U.S. has now surpassed half a million deaths from COVID-19, and new fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus are adding to the urgency. As states scramble to speed up vaccinations and try to prevent their limited doses going to waste, a handful of them are testing this approach.The traditional vaccine sign-up model does not work when the demand for vaccines far exceeds supply.Under that model, the only way to get vaccinated is to reserve an appointment slot. Naturally, the fear of being left out drives people to attempt to sign up as soon as appointment slots become available. This leads to a rush of people endlessly refreshing the same websites for the few appointments available.Even if all states had one-stop appointment websites that did not crash under high volume, the limited vaccine supply would mean most appointment slots would quickly be taken. That could make it even harder for people who aren’t tech-savvy to get the vaccine.To fix the broken vaccine scheduling system, we need to break this cycle. 1299353966 Teacher Lily Gottlieb waits in a socially distanced standby line for people hoping to receive leftover COVID-19 vaccine doses in Encino, California. Mario Tama/Getty Most people have fairly realistic expectations about when they will be vaccinated. Their anxiety comes from the fear of being left out. To address this anxiety, the system must be designed to reassure people that they will receive vaccines within a reasonable time frame.In Israel, which leads the world in COVID-19 vaccination, citizens do not need to actively sign up for vaccine appointments. Rather, they are notified when they become eligible via text messages and can then make an appointment.States can echo this “push” system by creating a one-stop preregistration portal where everyone registers once and is notified to schedule appointments when their turn arrives. The preregistration step helps avoid waves of people trying to get appointments at the same time, which can crash computer systems, as Massachusetts experienced on Feb. 18.A good system will make it easy for people to check their position in the vaccine queue at any time, provide an estimated time to vaccination based on frequently updated supply information and then send notifications when their date is getting close. Underlying the system, vaccine doses can be allocated among eligible users on the registry using a lottery system.A well-designed preregistration system can also help avoid vaccine doses going to waste because of no-shows. With an active waitlist, vaccine planners can match supply with demand in an agile manner and offer appointments to people a few days in advance rather than scheduling appointments weeks out when the supply isn’t certain. Research in appointment scheduling has shown that no-shows are more likely under long lead times. People line up in the rain outside the Yankee Stadium for vaccinations reserved for residents of The Bronx. Timothy A. Clary/Getty West Virginia uses a statewide preregistration system and has so far been more successful at vaccinating its population than almost every other state. It controls the process from preregistration to appointment. To get the vaccine, almost all residents, with a few exceptions, are required to use the state system, with options to register either online or by phone.Minnesota just launched a similar system. “We still have a frustratingly limited vaccine supply from the federal government, but every Minnesotan should know their chance to get a vaccine will come. Today, we are connecting them directly to that process,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in announcing the preregistration system on Feb. 18.More states should follow their lead as more of the general population becomes eligible for the vaccine in the coming months.In Massachusetts, where a vaccine sign-up website crashed shortly after launching, nearly every member of the state’s congressional delegation has urged Gov. Charlie Baker to launch a preregistration system. A few other states already have limited preregistration systems that could be expanded.Preregistration can still create confusion if the process isn’t coordinated and users don’t know what to expect.In Virginia, for example, counties created their own preregistration systems, but when the pharmacy chain CVS announced it was taking appointments, users didn’t know what to do. Most Virginia counties are now shifting to a statewide preregistration system. In Santa Cruz County, California, residents have struggled with a preregistration portal that doesn’t provide confirmation or an estimated time to vaccination.“Efficiency-equity trade-off” has become a buzzword in discussing COVID-19 vaccination. With limited vaccine supply, the traditional sign-up model has proven to be both inefficient and inequitable. Moving away from that model and establishing one-stop preregistration systems is one key to resolving the painful vaccine scheduling process.Tinglong Dai is an associate professor of operations management & business analytics, at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University School of NursingRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The lungs tested negative for COVID-19 before the transplant, but three days after the procedure the woman developed a fever and tested positive.
France's government on Wednesday ordered a weekend lockdown in the Dunkirk area to arrest an "alarming" rise in COVID-19 cases, signalling extra curbs might also be needed elsewhere as daily cases nationwide hit their highest since November. Unlike some of its neighbours, France has resisted a new national lockdown to control more contagious coronavirus variants, hoping a curfew in place since Dec. 15 can contain the pandemic. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the national situation was deteriorating, and "a source of worry in about 10 regional departments".
- Reuters Videos
Attenborough, 94, the world's most influential wildlife broadcaster, addressed a virtual meeting of the 15-member council on climate-related risks to international peace and security, chaired by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson."If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security: food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature and ocean food chains," Attenborough said."And if the natural world can no longer support the most basic of our needs, then much of the rest of civilization will quickly break down," he added.With the world struggling to cut planet-warming emissions fast enough to avoid catastrophic warming, the United Nations will stage a climate summit in November in Glasgow, Scotland.It will be the most important gathering since the 2015 event that yielded the Paris Agreement, when nearly 200 countries committed to halt rising temperatures quickly enough to avoid catastrophic change.
- Associated Press
The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, his second run at the Cabinet post. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same Department of Agriculture for former President Barack Obama's entire administration. “We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans,” Vilsack said after the vote.
- Business Insider
Texas Lt. Gov. says that people getting huge energy bills 'gambled on a very, very low rate' - but suggests they won't have to pay the full amount
Texans on variable-rate energy deals were faced with enormous bills as the wholesale price of electricity spiked 10,000% during the storms.
- Business Insider
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger called out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for hanging a sign declaring binary gender across the hall from a lawmaker with a trans daughter
Greene and Rep. Marie Newman were sparring over the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
A Chinese couple paid $155,000 in fees to have 7 children in violation of the country's 2-child policy
China ended its one-child policy in 2015, but it's still struggling with declining birth rates and an aging population.
- The Independent
The anchor was called out “fatphobic” on social media
- Business Insider
An ex-girlfriend tipped off the FBI about an alleged US Capitol rioter after he called her a 'moron'
Richard Michetti was arraigned Tuesday in Philadelphia over his alleged participation in the January 6 insurrection.
Christopher Cantwell, known as 'The Crying Nazi,' sentenced to 41 months in prison on extortion charges
Cantwell went viral after he posted a YouTube video of himself crying and pleading with police not to hurt him.
- Business Insider
Vaccine makers are testing the safety and efficacy of third doses in anticipation of new coronavirus variants.
- LA Times
Tiger Woods' catastrophic crash in Los Angeles has cast a spotlight on the low-budget documentary series that featured golf's biggest star.
- The Independent
The Democratic operative criticised the Senator’s daughter for receiving a pay increase as a CEO
- The Guardian
Let’s be clear: whatever he may say, Biden absolutely has the power to unilaterally cancel all federal student debt Students activists at Washington University in St Louis pull a mock ball and chain representing student debt. Photograph: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images At his recent town hall, Joe Biden made a series of convoluted and condescending comments about American student debt. His remarks cast doubt on his ability, or willingness, to confront this country’s ballooning student loan crisis. Within hours, #cancelstudentdebt was trending on Twitter. Biden’s rambling justification of the status quo was peppered with straw men, invocations of false scarcity and non-solutions. He pitted working-class Americans against each other, implying that people who attend private schools aren’t worthy of relief, as though poor students don’t also attend such schools. He said that money would be better spent on early childhood education instead of debt cancellation, as if educators aren’t themselves drowning in student debt, and as if we can’t address both concerns at once. He suggested relying on parents or selling a home at a profit to settle your debt, a luxury those without intergenerational wealth or property cannot afford. And he touted various programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), that have totally failed borrowers: over 95% of PSLF applicants have been denied. In contrast to Biden’s smug comments, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley recently revealed that she defaulted on her student loans. Similarly, at a recent Debt Collective event, congressional hopeful Nina Turner said that she and her son owe a combined $100,000. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has, of course, proudly confessed to being in debt, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that becoming a congressperson was easier than paying off her debt. Philadelphia councilmember Kendra Brooks (who is planning to introduce a city resolution calling on the Biden administration to cancel all student debt) has also spoken out about her own struggles as a borrower. Their experience and candor – and commitment to real solutions including cancellation – demonstrate why we need debtors, not millionaires, in our public offices. Let’s be clear about another thing. Biden absolutely has the legal authority to use executive power to cancel all federal student debt. Congress granted this authority decades ago as part of the Higher Education Act. It’s even been put to the test: in response to the Covid pandemic, Donald Trump and his former education secretary, Betsy DeVos, used that authority three times to suspend payments and student loan interest. As he rambled on, Biden gave the distinct impression that he preferred not to have the power to do so. That way he could blame Congress should his campaign promises go unkept. (The day after the town hall, Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, attempted to clarify her boss’s remarks about whether he will use executive authority to cancel student debt. She stated that the administration was still considering the possibility.) Adding to the confusion, Biden seemed unable to keep his own campaign pledges straight, muddling his student debt cancellation proposals. For the record, he campaigned on two distinct planks. One: “immediate” cancellation of $10,000 for every borrower as a form of Covid relief. Two: the cancellation of all undergraduate student loans for debt-holders who attended public universities and HBCUs and who earn up to $125,000 a year. Keeping these two promises is the absolute minimum the Biden administration needs to do to keep the public’s trust. But the Biden administration should, and can, do much more. Biden should cancel all student debt using executive authority. It is the simplest way the new administration can help tens of millions of people who are being crushed by the double whammy of unpayable loans and an economy-destroying pandemic. Yet, to date, all the Biden administration has done for this country’s 45 million student debtors is extend Trump and DeVos’s federal student loan payment suspension. Continuing a flawed Republican policy is hardly a progressive victory – especially not for the 8 million FFEL borrowers who are unconscionably left out of the moratorium. Biden owes this country debt relief not only because he campaigned on it, but because he helped cause the problem. A former senator from Delaware, the credit card capital of the world, he spent decades carrying water for financial interests and expanding access to student loans while limiting borrower protections. Biden’s brand is empath-in-chief, but on student debt he is alarmingly out of touch Biden’s record shows that he won’t address the problem without being pushed. Indeed, the fact that the president has embraced debt cancellation at all (however inadequate his proposals) is testament to ongoing grassroots efforts. The Debt Collective, a group I organize with, has been pushing for student debt abolition and free public college for nearly a decade. On 21 January, we launched the Biden Jubilee 100 – 100 borrowers on debt strike demanding full cancellation within the administration’s first hundred days. A growing list of senators and congresspeople have signed on to resolutions calling on Biden to cancel $50,000 a borrower using executive authority. (It’s worth noting that the $50,000 figure is based on outdated research. After three years of rapidly rising debt loads, the scholars behind it now recommend $75,000 of cancellation.) A growing chorus of voices from across the country and a range of backgrounds are shouting in unison: cancel student debt. Biden’s brand is empath-in-chief, but on student debt he is alarmingly out of touch. The president has shared that his own children borrowed for college and noted that he was the “poorest man in Congress” – meaning the poorest man in a body of millionaires. He didn’t question the ease with which his well-connected kids got well-compensated jobs enabling them to repay their loans, nor mention that people his age were able to go to college without being burdened by a mountain of debt. All people want today is the same opportunity that Biden and his peers had. Instead of acknowledging this generational disparity, Biden reiterated a common criticism of more generous forms of student debt cancellation – that it would help the privileged, specifically the minuscule subset of debt-holders who attended the Ivy League. But as Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response: “Very wealthy people already have a student loan forgiveness program. It’s called their parents.” As things stand, poor and working people typically pay more for the same degrees than their affluent counterparts due to years or decades of monthly payments and accumulating interest. Our debt-financed higher education system is a tax on poor people who dare pursue a better life. Imagine if, instead of defending the status quo, Biden used his platform to articulate the social benefits of cancelling student debt. He could have said that cancelling student debt will support 45 million Americans and provide an estimated trillion-dollar economic boost over the next decade and create millions of desperately needed jobs. He could have spoken about canceling student debt as a way to help close the racial wealth gap, acknowledging that Black borrowers are the most burdened, or talked about how education should be free and accessible to all if we want to expand opportunity and deepen democracy. He could have acknowledged that cancellation will help struggling seniors, especially those having their social security checks garnished because of student loan defaults. He could have mentioned that debt cancellation is popular, even among many Republicans, and that eliminating it will help his party stay in power. He didn’t say any of that, and so we have to say it. Debtors have to get organized, connecting online and protesting in the streets. We live in a period of intersecting crises. Some of them are very difficult to solve. But cancelling student debt is easy. By refusing to act, the president and his administration are choosing to perpetuate a system that causes profound, pointless, and preventable harm. Astra Taylor is the author of Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, and an organizer with the Debt Collective
- The Independent
New York congresswoman hits out at controversial Republican over Equality Act
Jill Biden assures Kelly Clarkson things will get better after her divorce: 'If I hadn't gotten divorced, I never would have met Joe'
In a new interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," first lady Jill Biden offered the singer advice about healing after divorce and finding love again.