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Federal Agencies Must Test Unvaccinated Workers Weekly Starting in February, Biden Administration Says

The Washington Post reported:

Federal agencies must start testing unvaccinated employees at least weekly for the coronavirus by Feb. 15, the Biden administration said in new guidance issued Tuesday.

The testing, which mainly affects those exempted from President Biden’s vaccination mandate for federal workers, would be required during any week in which those employees “work onsite or interact in person with members of the public as part of their job duties,” the guidance says.

Employees who do not comply with the mandate generally are first to be counseled, then suspended without pay and then, potentially, fired unless they get the vaccines.

School Board Apologizes for Identifying Unvaccinated Staff Members to 400 People

Newsweek reported:

The Durham District School Board (DDSB) of Durham, Ontario, in Canada, has apologized after accidentally sharing the names of staff members who are either unvaccinated or have refused to reveal their vaccination status. The names were shared with a group of almost 400 people.

The accident occurred on Jan. 5. On that day, the board accidentally sent out a “routine email” regarding staff members who had complied with a guideline to get COVID-19 rapid testing.

The email inadvertently had a spreadsheet attached, which contained information about approximately 800 employees who were either unvaccinated or didn’t disclose their vaccination status.

Hundreds Press Maine Lawmakers to Ban COVID Vaccine Mandates

Sun Journal reported:

A bill that seeks to bar Maine from imposing any COVID-19 vaccination mandates for five years drew a slew of worried residents pleading with lawmakers to back the measure despite a lack of evidence their fears have merit.

The bill, pushed by Republicans and who are outnumbered in the Legislature, says the mandate delay is needed to allow more time for research on potential fertility problems from the vaccines, though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and other experts say there is no reason to believe there is any risk.

Federal Lab in New Mexico Pauses Vaccine Mandate

Associated Press reported:

One of the federal government’s national laboratories in New Mexico is pausing a vaccine mandate that was set to go into effect this month.

Sandia National Laboratories had previously issued directives that all employees and subcontractors be fully vaccinated by mid-January. Scott Aeilts, the associate director of mission services at Sandia, told the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday that the decision had been made to pause enforcement.

The decision comes amid an ongoing lawsuit that was filed by a handful of unvaccinated employees.

NYC Students Walk out of Schools to Protest COVID Conditions

New York Post reported:

Students walked out of classes across the city Tuesday to protest school conditions amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

Participants exited buildings just before noon to lobby for remote learning options and more stringent testing procedures with COVID-19 cases spiking.

Sources at several schools said that both administrators and teachers quietly signed off on the walk out and told students that they would not be subject to unexcused absences. Participation was particularly high at some of the city’s most exclusive academic bastions — including Brooklyn Tech High School, Stuyvesant and Bronx Science.

Mexico Has Refused to Close Its Borders During the COVID Pandemic. Does That Make Sense?

The Washington Post reported:

As the coronavirus swept the globe, nervous countries imposed bans on flights, cruise ships and border crossings. But from the beginning, Mexico has stayed open. Radically open.

New arrivals here aren’t required to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test, or to quarantine. When the Omicron variant was detected, the United States slapped a temporary ban on visitors from eight African countries. Mexico didn’t stop a single flight.

No Vax, Pay Tax, Says Canada’s Quebec as Health System Struggles

Reuters reported:

Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province, is planning to force adults refusing to get COVID-19 vaccinated pay a “health contribution” in a move likely to spur a debate about individual rights and social responsibility.

Unvaccinated people put a financial burden on others and the provincial finance ministry is determining a “significant” amount that unvaccinated residents would be required to pay, Premier Francois Legault said, adding that such an amount would not be less than C$100 ($79.50).

Governments globally have imposed movement restrictions on the unvaccinated and few have levied fines on the elderly, but a sweeping tax on all unvaccinated adults could be a rare and controversial move.

German President Calls for Debate Over COVID Vaccine Mandate

Associated Press reported:

Germany’s president called Wednesday for a thorough debate over plans for compulsory coronavirus vaccinations for all adults in the country, saying such a drastic measure needs to be fully justified.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has backed calls for a vaccine mandate and lawmakers are expected to begin debating a bill later this month. Polls show a majority of people in Germany back compulsory vaccination against COVID-19, but a vocal minority opposes the idea.

‘A Protective Bubble’: COVID-Sniffing Dogs Help Scientists — and Metallica — Spot Infection

The Guardian reported:

With a sense of smell up to 100,000 times more sensitive than humans’, dogs have been employed in the service of sniffing out everything from contraband to crop molds to cancer.

Yet while researchers first began exploring whether canines could be effective agents in the fight against COVID-19 early in the pandemic, only in recent months have conclusive, peer-reviewed studies begun verifying the hypothesis that dogs know COVID when they smell it.

China Testing Entire City of 14 Million for COVID a Second Time, Suspends Trains, Buses

Newsweek reported:

Tianjin’s population of 14 million will have to be tested for COVID-19 for the second time as nearly 100 new cases were reported on Sunday.

Around 12 million tests have already been distributed and 7.8 million of those were returned with samples. All citizens have been ordered to shelter in place as the investigation continues.

The outbreak could pose a major problem for one major event. Tianjin is only an hour from Beijing, where the Winter Olympic Games are still scheduled to begin on February 4. With high-speed railways and buses now suspended, it is unclear whether the outbreak could spread to the host city.

Judge Grants FTC Second Chance to Challenge Facebook on Antitrust Grounds

CNBC reported:

A judge granted the Federal Trade Commission a second chance to pursue its charges of illegal monopolization against Facebook, rejecting the company’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in a new filing on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg granted Facebook’s earlier motion to dismiss over the summer, but allowed the FTC a chance to amend its complaint and try again.

While Boasberg maintained the FTC could still face challenges in proving its allegations, he wrote Tuesday that “it has now cleared the pleading bar and may proceed to discovery.”

Boasberg said the FTC achieved this by providing enough alleged facts to plausibly establish Facebook’s monopoly power in the market, claim its market share is protected by barriers to entry and allege it’s “willfully maintained” dominance through anticompetitive behavior, particularly through its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

How to Protect Your Online Privacy With Apple’s iCloud Private Relay

Mashable reported:

If the thought of the big, bad internet slowly building a detailed profile of you gives you the heebie jeebies, we have fantastic news: There’s a way to prevent that on an iPhone.

You can turn on iCloud Private Relay, a beta feature on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey that Apple says will ensure that your web traffic will be encrypted and sent through two separate internet relays. This will protect your IP address, location, and browsing activity from websites and network providers.

The only caveat? You must have an iCloud+ subscription, which ranges from $0.99-$9.99/month.

Facebook Drops 36 Spots on Glassdoor’s Annual Best Places to Work List After a Year of PR Crises

CNBC reported:

Facebook parent Meta Platforms dropped 36 spots on Glassdoor’s annual ranking of the best places to work in the U.S., falling from No. 11 to 47 in a year marked by major public relations crises.

The company, which rebranded from Facebook last year but continues to operate the social media platform by that name, has made the list for 12 years, but this is its lowest spot in the 100-company ranking.