Commentary: The Other Back to School Story

Back to school stories this year will focus, naturally, on the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on students and families and on remedying these difficulties.

But another story is being shortchanged: it’s about how parents sought new options for their children like homeschooling, small learning pods, and micro-schools, with civic entrepreneurs and their partners creating new organizations or expanding existing ones to meet this demand.

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Americans Support Governors’ Revolt Against Federal Vaccine Mandate, Poll Shows

New polling shows that the majority of Americans do not approve of President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate.

Biden announced the mandate last week, which includes requirements that any business with more than 100 employees ensure they are vaccinated or be tested weekly. Biden’s announcement included a range of other federal rules that are estimated to affect 100 million Americans.

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Georgia’s GOP Congresspersons, Along with Pro-Vaccine Governor, Resist Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is leading the charge among Republican officials to litigate against President Joe Biden’s order that all employers with 100 or more staffers ensure that their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they show a negative test weekly.

“Just ended a call with my fellow Republican governors,” Kemp tweeted Friday. “We are fighting back against @POTUS’ outrageous overreach and attack on individual freedom.”

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Wisconsin Representative Gallagher Calls for Fauci to Resign

Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher (R-08-WI) called for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Chief Medical Adviser, to resign in an interview with Fox News. Gallagher said, “At a minimum he should step down and we should have a full investigation to untangle the complex web of US taxpayer dollars funding this type of research.”

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University of California Doctors Challenge Its COVID Vaccine Mandate as ‘Irrational’

A new category of professional has joined the legal challenges to university vaccine mandates: doctors.

University of California Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine psychiatrist and medical ethicist Aaron Kheriaty is suing the university system to recognize his natural immunity from COVID-19 recovery, and he’s getting help from fellow UC medical professors.

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Real Rebels: Eric Clapton, Van Morrison Defy COVID-19 Groupthink

Comedians like Lenny Bruce once risked jail time to slam the status quo. Rockers routinely mock authority, like Green Day’s Grammy-winning screed against President George W. Bush, “American Idiot.”

Now, as vaccine mandates spring up across the country those rebellious groups are mostly silent about rules insisting citizens get the jab before resuming normal life.

A few, like Dee Snider, are cheering on the regulations.

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COVID Vaccination Status Increasingly Determines Treatment Under American Legal System

Are you vaccinated against COVID-19? The answer to that question may determine how the American legal system treats you, whether an inmate, party or even lawyer.

From custody fights and bail conditions to courthouse access and grooming privileges, vaccination status is playing an outsized role in courts and jails nationwide.

An Illinois judge provoked outrage a month ago by revoking a divorced mother’s visitation rights to her 11-year-old son after Rebecca Firlit told him she couldn’t get vaccinated because of adverse reactions.

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Studies Point to Varied Effects of Masking

Crowded street market with people wearing masks

New research published by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Bangladesh, which tracked mask-wearing among 340,000 Bangladeshi adults, indicates mask usage can considerably reduce the spread of symptomatic COVID-19. 

Some medical professionals, however, remain uneasy about mask mandates in schools because of their possible impact on children’s learning and social health.

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Community Leaders Say Pandemic Widens Disparities in Rural Georgia

Georgia’s rural leaders said communities continue to face a lack of support from the state as the COVID-19 pandemic deteriorates the qualify of life in rural areas.

David Bridges, interim director of the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, said the pandemic has exacerbated hurdles in educational attainment and health care access and shortages in the workforce in rural Georgia. Bridges stressed the need for aid in smaller towns and cities this week to the Georgia Legislature’s House Rural Development Council.

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Police Officers, Firefighters Sue Oregon Governor Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

Police and firefighters are suing Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, arguing her vaccine mandate for state workers conflicts with the U.S. and state constitutions.

The lawsuit filed in Jefferson County by the Oregon Fraternal Order of Police and the Kinglsey Firefighters Association asks the judge seeks to block the state from enforcing Brown’s executive order requiring COVID-19 inoculations fir all executive branch employees.

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Wisconsin Health Provider COVID Vaccine Declination Form Says Employees ‘Endangering Others’

A COVID vaccine declination form from a Wisconsin health provider, Hudson Physicians, says that the employee must understand that by declining they are “endangering” others. The form also states that by signing the form, the employee is acknowledging that “COVID-19 is a serious virus.”

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Roughly One-Third of U.S. Population Had COVID-19 by the End of 2020, New Study

Roughly one-third of the U.S. population had been infected by the coronavirus by the end of 2020, according to a new study that appears to show how widespread but underreported the virus was.

The study was conducted by Columbia University researchers and published Thursday in the science journal Nature.

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Showdown Coming at University of Wisconsin Over Coronavirus Rules

Republican lawmakers are talking about suing the University of Wisconsin over mask mandates and test requirements for those who haven’t received a coronavirus vaccine.

State Senator Steve Nass (R-WI) said he will ask permission to begin legal proceedings if the UW System doesn’t change its mind about coronavirus restrictions by next week.

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Biden Investigation into COVID Origins Come to an End, Remains Classified

The 90-day investigation ordered by the Biden Administration into the origins of the Chinese Wuhan coronavirus has come to a conclusion, but remains classified to the general public for the immediate future, according to CNN.

In the month of May, Biden ordered the intelligence community to conduct their own investigation into where the virus originated from, after shutting down previous ongoing investigations that had been initiated by the Trump Administration, and ordered his new investigations to report back in 90 days with their findings. The 90-day deadline was Tuesday.

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Facebook Under Fire from White House, Critics over Lack of Transparency

Facebook is facing backlash over several decisions in August that critics say indicate a lack of transparency, particularly regarding the problem of misinformation.

The tech company drew criticism after it published a report Saturday detailing the most widely-viewed content on the platform for the first quarter of 2021, showing that the most viewed news article was a factual story published by the Chicago Tribune about a doctor dying two weeks after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Facebook had initially shelved the report and published data on the second quarter of 2021 instead, but released it following an investigation by The New York Times that revealed the tech company withheld the report due to fears it would seem like it was promoting misinformation.

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Report on Arizona’s Maricopa County Ballots in 2020 Election Delayed, Auditors Have COVID, Report

The report of ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election in Arizona’s Maricopa County has been delayed because the chief executive and two other employees of the audit team reportedly have COVID-19 and are “quite sick.”

A draft report of the findings was expected to be delivered Monday to Republicans in the state Senate, who hired the Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas to conduct the audit.

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Commentary: Vaccine Mandates and Bribery Are Headed for K-12 Schools

Young girl getting COVID vaccination

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 680 U.S. public and private colleges require students to get a coronavirus vaccine. This is a non-negotiable mandate for students to maintain enrollment status.

The vaccination edicts come even as the coronavirus has an extremely low mortality rate among college-aged students — CDC data attributes only 2.8 percent of coronavirus deaths to those under age 45. Regardless of this reality, those favoring mandated vaccines argue that schools already require students to provide proof of other vaccinations.

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FDA Fully Approves Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval Monday to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, a major step that will likely have significant implications for vaccination mandates nationwide. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not yet received full FDA authorization.

The Pfizer vaccine previously received FDA authorization, which allowed its emergency use but did not give the full approval. Pfizer is the first company to receive full approval in the U.S.

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State Senator from Wisconsin: Governor Evers Has Failed to Raise Refugee Concerns

The Wisconsin state senator who represents the towns around Fort McCoy has issued the strongest objection yet to the still murky plan to bring thousands of Afghan refugees to central Wisconsin.

Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, on Friday sent a strongly worded letter to Gov. Evers asking for answers about who the refugees are and where they will go once they arrive.

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After Recall, Newsom to Require COVID Vaccine Proof or Negative Test at Smaller Indoor Events

Californians wanting to attend events with more than 1,000 people will have to prove they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The California Department of Public Health announced attending indoor events with 1,000 or more guests will require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours. The requirement previously was triggered at events with 5,000 or more attendees.

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Commentary: Massive Nurse Shortage Hits Houston, Weeks After 150 Unvaccinated Nurses and Hospital Workers Fired

Jennifer Bridges knew what was coming when her director at Houston Methodist hospital called her up in June to inquire about her vaccination status.

Bridges, a 39-year-old registered nurse, responded “absolutely not” when asked if she was vaccinated or had made an effort to get vaccinated. She was terminated on the spot.

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McAuliffe Fundraising Prowess Becomes Liability After Vineyard Gala, Disabilities Snub

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe is famous for his voracious fundraising, from his roles as head of the Clinton money machine to his success the last time he was governor. But now his fund-raising is earning him some infamy.

McAuliffe, in a close race to reclaim the Virginia governorship against GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin, has for decades raised millions for his party and some of its marquee candidates including former President Bill Clinton and wife Hillary Clinton, a two-time White House candidate.

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Texas Counties That Requested Disaster Aid for Border Crisis Haven’t Got it, Officials Say

While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this spring allocated $1 billion in border security funds to the state’s Department of Public Safety and 1,000 members of law enforcement to secure the border, counties that made disaster declarations over the illegal migrant crisis say they still haven’t received the resources they sought four months later.

“Kinney County has not received anything that we requested from the governor on April 21,” County Attorney Brent Smith told Just The News. “We have heard promises and have been told that all the resources that we so desperately require are available, but thus far, nothing has been delivered. Empty promises don’t keep our residents safe. Empty promises don’t secure our border.”

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Commentary: Distrust in Television Ratings

While they may not agree on nearly anything else, one issue manages to unite Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN: an archaic television ratings system that is known to wildly misrepresent viewership.

At a time when cord-cutting has brought about many new ways to consume television news and entertainment, the industry’s primary measurement tool, Nielsen Ratings, seems stuck in another era. Those chosen as “Nielsen families” have complained for years about the cumbersome, almost primitive methods used to track their viewership.

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Michigan Bill Aims to Ban Employers from Requiring Vaccines, Masks

Lawmakers heard testimony on House Bill 4471, which aims to ban employers from requiring certain vaccines and wearing masks.

The bill aims to ban employers from firing or discriminating against employees who choose not to get certain vaccinations, including tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, or COVID-19, or making them wear masks or disclosing vaccination status.

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Science on Mask Usage Indicates Scant Benefit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that all schools require mask-wearing indoors by teachers and students, vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

And many school districts are adopting that requirement, to the dismay of many parents.

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College Students Giving Up on Their Degrees in Significant Numbers: Report

Tennessee Star

American colleges continue to face the consequences of COVID, as data show they experienced a significant decrease in returning students this past school year.

Many post-secondary education plans to take classes were canceled in 2020. In August of last year, the US Census Bureau conducted a survey which showed 29.4 percent of households with at least one prospective student had canceled their plans to take classes in the fall of 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic.

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Commentary: Biden’s Approval Rating Is Dropping Fast

Joe Biden

In recent days, conservative media outfits have gleefully presented one of the least surprising headlines of modern times. Namely, that Joe Biden’s presidential approval rating has sunk below the waves.

In the latest Rasmussen poll, Biden is now at a 47 percent approval rating, with 52 percent disapproval. Worse, his Strong Approval number is only 27 percent, compared to a Strong Disapproval of 42. That gives him a minus-15 in Rasmussen’s approval index numbers.

Thursday’s numbers were one point better than Wednesday’s, which is likely statistical noise. The trend, however, is not Biden’s friend.

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Health Officials Less Confident in COVID Vaccine Efficacy with Rise of Delta Variant

Woman in blue hair net and mask

Public health confidence in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine appears to be waning as officials warn of enhanced danger — even for vaccinated individuals — from the “Delta variant” of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

For most of the past year officials have claimed that vaccinations are the only viable path back to normalcy and away from lockdowns and other aggressive mitigation measures. “Look at the folks in your community who have gotten vaccinated and are getting back to living their lives — their full lives,” President Joe Biden said at a May press conference, arguing that the vaccine was “going to help them and their loved ones be safe, get our businesses open again, and get us back to normal.”

The rollout of the vaccines starting last year and continuing throughout the spring and summer of this year has been hailed as the driving force behind the reopening of the economy and the ending of masking mandates and similar restrictions.

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After Testing Positive for COVID, Olympic Athletes Summarily Expelled

Olympics ring logo in dark in Tokyo

Five U.S. athletes have tested positive for coronavirus prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympics, crushing their dreams of competing in the world’s largest sporting event.

U.S. men’s basketball player Bradley Beal tested positive on July 15 which made him unable to travel to Tokyo, USA basketball announced in a tweet.

U.S women’s tennis star Coco Gauff announced on twitter that she tested positive for COVID on July 18. Gauff, 17, received her positive test in Tokyo, and has been barred from competing in the Olympic games, according to the tweet.

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Congressman Clay Higgins Gets COVID for a Second Time

Clay Higgins

Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins said Sunday that he, his wife and his son all tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have COVID, Becca has COVID, my son has COVID,” Higgins wrote on Facebook, adding that he and his wife had already tested positive for the virus early in 2020.

“Becca and I have had COVID before, early on, in January 2020, before the world really knew what it was,” Higgins wrote. “So, this is our second experience with the CCP biological attack weaponized virus… and this episode is far more challenging.”

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Opponents of Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf’s COVID Orders Present Case to Third Circuit Court

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia on Thursday, legal counsel for several Pennsylvania counties as well as numerous public officials and private companies, argued Governor Tom Wolf (D) abused his police powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the private-sector compainaints charge that the governor’s shutdown of and other demands on businesses during parts of 2020 and 2021 violate the takings clause and the due-process clause of the U.S. Constitution. All plaintiffs, governmental and private, further insist that the governor’s restrictions on public gatherings over the past year violated the rights of assembly, association and religion secured by the First Amendment. 

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Judicial Watch Sues Biden Administration over Cover-Up of Illegal Aliens’ COVID Information

Last week, the watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration over the administration’s refusal to disclose information regarding how it is handling the coronavirus among illegal aliens who are flooding the southern border, Breitbart reports.

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Economy Added 559,000 Jobs in May, Below Expectations for Second Straight Month

Walmart Hiring Sign

The U.S. economy reported an increase of 559,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate declined to 5.8%, according to Department of Labor data released Friday.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 559,000 in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, and the number of unemployed persons dropped to 9.3 million. Economists projected 671,000 Americans would be added to payrolls prior to Friday’s report, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We think it will take several months for frictions in the labor market to work themselves out,” Barclays chief U.S. economist Michael Gapen told the WSJ. “That just means we shouldn’t be expecting one to two million jobs every month. Instead, it will be a more gradual process.”

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Analysis: Deficit Will Top $3.6 Trillion in Fiscal Year 2021 as $7.27 Trillion of the National Debt Comes Due in the 2022

United States currency

The annual budget deficit has already hit $1.9 trillion and counting for the fiscal year that will end in September, according to the U.S. Treasury’s April statement, and it will reach as high as $3.6 trillion this year, says the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Comparatively, in 2020, the deficit totaled about $3.1 trillion for the entire year.

This comes amid the massive government spending in response to the Covid pandemic, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March 2020, the $900 billion phase four legislation in Dec. 2020 and then President Joe Biden’s additional $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus bill in March 2020. Another $2.1 trillion infrastructure plan is in the works. And now, Biden is offering his $6 trillion budget, which will blow another $1.8 trillion hole in the deficit in 2022.

As a result, 33 percent of marketable national debt, or about $7.27 trillion of the $22 trillion of publicly held debt, will be coming due within the next year, according to the latest data by the U.S. Treasury. For perspective, that’s more debt than existed as recently as 2003.

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Commentary: The Left Will Not Let Go of COVID

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden

COVID’s grip on America is relaxing, not so the Left’s. The Left seized COVID as an unprecedented statist opportunity to advance their agenda. Unsurprisingly, they now resist relinquishing it. Since the Left refuse to let go of America, America must let go of the Left.

Last week the CDC relaxed its guidelines for outdoor mask-wearing by those fully vaccinated against COVID. It was more a rearguard action than a vanguard one, but at least it was a start. Several states are well ahead in their return to normalcy.

America’s virus statistics demonstrate the remission of the virus and validate accelerating relaxation of the lockdowns. On a seven-day moving average, active cases, daily new cases, and daily deaths have been plummeting since the beginning of the year.
On the ledger’s other side, vaccinations began in the U.S. in December, averaging over two million a day since February; as a result, around 31 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated at this writing.

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Fauci Admits Biden Administration is Flouting CDC Guidance in Border Facilities

White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci on Thursday conceded in a tense exchange with Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise that the Biden administration is violating major Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus guidelines by packing countless illegal immigrants into relatively small facilities without enforcing social distancing or masking measures. 

The CDC has aggressively pushed those guidelines over the past year, directing that Americans should work to remain six feet apart from each other in public spaces and wear face coverings when away from the home. 

Images from U.S. border facilities over the past several weeks, however, have shown little enforcement of those guidelines among illegal immigrants detained amid the current surge of unlawful migration at the southern border.

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Commentary: The American Jobs Plan and the China Conundrum

President Joe Biden’s new spending plan amps up rhetoric on national competition with China, maintaining the confrontational approach established by the previous administration. But whereas the 45th president championed what he called American energy dominance as a key element of grand strategy, the 46th seems bent on eschewing America’s natural resource advantages and playing to China’s strengths.

The White House fact sheet on the American Jobs Plan refers to China five times directly, claiming that the plan will “position the United States to out-compete China,” that China’s ambitions are one of “the great challenges of our time,” that the U.S. is “falling behind countries like China” on infrastructure, that “countries like China are investing aggressively in R&D,” and that the U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is one-third of that in China — something President Biden “believes that must change.”

The president asserts that this plan will simultaneously reduce the risks posed by climate change and by China’s rise, but the evidence suggests his approach to energy will undermine the United States’ strategic positioning, not reinforce it.

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More Than 700 Kids Currently Detained in Border Patrol Custody, Report Shows

More than 700 migrant children are currently detained in Customs and Border Patrol facilities, according to an internal government report.

At least 200 children had been held in the facilities for over 48 hours and nine had been held more than 72 hours, according to an internal Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) report dated Feb. 21, Axios reported. The CBP is not allowed to hold children more than 72 hours, according to a previous agreement.

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FDA Panel Votes to Recommend Johnson & Johnson’s Coronavirus Vaccine for Emergency Authorization

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel voted Friday evening to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency approval, clearing the way for its authorization, distribution and administration nationwide.

The vote followed hours of the panel live-streaming its process of scouring over data from the pharmaceutical company in order to reaffirm that the vaccine was safe for the millions of Americans who will receive it. The FDA also released the vaccine’s clinical trial data on Wednesday showing that the vaccine was effective in fighting the virus itself.

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Vaccinations Slow After Storms Delay Shipments of 6 Million COVID-19 Doses

The extreme cold weather across much of the country has delayed 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, slowing a vaccination rate that has been steadily rising since the Biden administration took office last month.

The backlogged doses account for roughly three days’ of delayed shipments affecting all 50 states, due to road closures, snowed-in workers and power outages, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House’s COVID-19 response, during a news conference Friday.

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Johnson & Johnson Files for Emergency Authorization for Its Coronavirus Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson filed for emergency use authorization from the FDA on Thursday for its coronavirus vaccine.

The drug maker’s application followed its announcement that its vaccine was 72% effective in combating the virus. Although that’s slightly lower than Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s requires one dose instead of two.

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Newt Gingrich Commentary: Small Business Will Continue to Suffer Unless We Reopen Society

Small businesses have been decimated by the pandemic shutdowns. Many have struggled to survive. Many have had to lay off employees. If they haven’t closed their doors yet, the next six to nine months will be a real challenge.

There is some help on the way. The Small Business Administration has released a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a forgivable loan program designed to assist small businesses with money to stay afloat. Part two of the PPP opened on Jan. 15.

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Nearly 20 Percent of American Renters Are Behind on Payments, Analysis Shows

About 18% of renters, or roughly 10 million people, in the U.S. are behind on their monthly payments as of early January, according to an Urban Institute analysis.

Researchers Jim Parrott, a fellow at the Urban Institute, and Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, calculated that 18% of U.S. renters were behind on payments and warned that if lawmakers didn’t act fast, there could be a major eviction crisis. The average delinquent renter is four months behind on payments and owes $5,600, the researchers estimated using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.

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Chinese Media: COVID Originated in U.S. Military Lab

A Chinese state broadcaster revived a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a US military lab, and told its millions of viewers  there is “something fishy” happening at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

A female anchor on China’s Central Television Station ​Thursday asked viewers: ​​”Exactly what fishy businesses were going on?​,” the Daily Mail reported.

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New Jobless Claims Decrease to 900,000, Economists Expected 925,000

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims decreased to 900,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) figure released Thursday represented a decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Jan. 16, in which there were 965,000 new jobless claims reported. Roughly 16 million Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, according to the BLS report Thursday.

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Biden to Extend Student Loan Payment Freeze Until September 2021

President-elect Joe Biden will order the Department of Education to extend the student loan payment moratorium through September in one of his first presidential moves.

Joe Biden is set to sign the executive order on Wednesday following his inauguration, extending the current pause on student loan payments, which has been in effect since March, according to CBS News. The order is a fulfillment of Biden’s campaign promise to prioritize the U.S. student loan debt crisis.

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Commentary: Five Ways Hospitals Can Help Fix Vaccine Rollout Debacle

Hospitals have come under sharp criticism for their part in the chaotic COVID-19 vaccine rollout. That’s because in the rush to get the vaccine out quickly, many hospitals were shipped more vaccine than anticipated and fewer staff took it than anticipated. As a result, hospitals accrued a vaccine surplus and offered it to their low-risk grad students and young administrative staff working from home and are now scrambling to figure out what to do with the rest. The answer should be simple: give it to older members of your community, but a recent letter from the American Hospital Association cited a number of important barriers to effective vaccine distribution including a lack of coordination and guidance from federal, state, and local governments. 

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