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70 Children Given Expired COVID Vaccines in Prince George’s County

NBC 4 Washington reported:

Medical workers in Prince George’s County, Maryland, gave dozens of children ages 5-11 expired COVID-19 vaccines after they were mistakenly stored in the refrigerator with usable doses, the county health department says.

A provider that wasn’t able to use 300 pediatric Pfizer doses before they expired on Nov. 24 transferred the doses to the clinic at the complex. HealthCare Dynamics International administered all but 70 of the doses before that expiration date, but mistakenly stored the rest in the refrigerator with viable vaccines, the county health department said.

Most Americans Believe COVID Leaked From Wuhan Lab, Support ‘Reparations’ for Cover-Up, Poll Finds

Fox News reported:

A new poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly believed that the coronavirus pandemic stemmed from a lab leak in Wuhan, China, and that the Chinese government subsequently lied about it.

“When asked about the theory that the coronavirus was developed by scientists working at a lab in Wuhan and accidentally leaked, and that the Chinese government then lied about it, nearly three quarters (72%) of Americans believe it is likely, with 42% saying it is very likely,” a report by The Ronald Reagan Institute said, discussing the poll results.

Another pandemic-related question had to do with public trust of health officials. Nearly half did not say they had faith in them.

COVID Hospitalizations Surge Across U.S., Even in Most-Vaccinated States

Newsweek reported:

New COVID hospitalizations are surging across the United States, even in the most-vaccinated states, a day after the president promised that there would be no lockdowns or expanded vaccine mandates planned for the winter break to contain infections.

Vermont, the country’s most-vaccinated state, which is 73% fully vaccinated, has seen its average daily hospitalizations climb by 32% over the last two weeks. That figure is now 75 new hospital admissions a day, the data indicates.

Rhode Island, which is also 73% vaccinated, has seen average daily hospital admissions increase by 55% over the last 14 days. The number now stands at 152.

Omicron Variant of COVID Found in Multiple U.S. States

Fox News reported:

The Omicron variant of COVID-19, which had been undetected in the U.S. before the middle of this week, had been discovered in at least five states by the end of Thursday, showing yet again how mutations of the virus can circumnavigate the globe with speed and ease.

Just a day after the first known U.S. case was found in California, tests showed the Omicron variant had infected at least five people in the New York City metropolitan area, plus a man from Minnesota who had attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November.

A Colorado woman who had recently traveled to southern Africa, a Hawaii resident with no recent travel history, and another California resident who traveled to South Africa last month also were infected by the variant, officials said.

As New COVID Variants Emerge, How Can We Ever Achieve a ‘New Normal’?

Newsweek reported:

Almost two years into a punishing pandemic, as vaccination rates creep higher and the number of COVID-19 deaths declines in many countries, many people are asking how much longer will it be before we can return to normal.

While there have been causes for optimism, this crisis has seen its share of false dawns, not least is the recent emergence of the new Omicron variant, which has revived fears and increased doubt.

Illinois Releases District-Level Data for School Report Cards Showing Declines Across All Demographics. Many Students Didn’t Take the Test.

Chicago Tribune reported:

Illinois families from low-income communities and those living in some of the wealthiest enclaves in the state found common ground this week, with school district results from the state’s 2021 student assessments showing declines in academic proficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic across all demographics.

The data from roughly 90% of Illinois school districts that delivered the mandated Illinois Assessment of Readiness to students in spring in third through eighth grades and the SAT to high school juniors were unveiled this week, revealing a stark yet not unexpected snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on academic achievement.

Want That Free Coronavirus Test Biden Is Promising? You Gotta Buy It First.

The Washington Post reported:

The Biden administration promises to make rapid, at-home coronavirus tests free for the tens of millions of Americans. But it’s working through the private insurance industry to do so — and that alone presents big challenges.

The way things work right now, Americans buy rapid, at-home tests over-the-counter, meaning insurance doesn’t automatically cover it. But under the administration’s plan, shoppers in most cases would need to seek reimbursement from their insurer or health plan. That may mean sending in their receipts, the administration confirmed.

This means shoppers would have to pay for the tests — at least at first.

Millions in Personnel Costs, Overtime Pay Top List of COVID Spending in Connecticut

Associated Press reported:

Employee overtime and personnel costs topped the list of COVID-related expenses that cities and towns paid for using a key source of federal pandemic relief funds, according to interim data submitted to the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.

Of the roughly $41.6 million in total expenditures incurred from July 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021, $10.8 million was spent on “overtime related to response,” and another $10.1 million covered “public safety personnel costs,” while $4.8 million was spent on “public health personnel costs,” as reported by the state’s 169 municipalities.

Key Omicron Findings May Be Known in Days, WHO Scientist Says

Bloomberg reported:

Some 450 researchers around the world have begun work to isolate the highly mutated variant from patient specimens, grow it in the lab, verify its genomic sequence, and establish methods to test it in blood-plasma samples, said Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, who co-leads the WHO’s research and development blueprint for vaccines and innovations during outbreaks and pandemics.

The rapid spread in South Africa of the worrisome variant has raised concern that the immune protection generated by vaccination or a previous bout of COVID is insufficient to stop reinfections or stem a fresh wave of cases and hospitalizations.

Roche Develops New Research Test Kits for Omicron Variant

Reuters reported:

Roche’s (ROG.S) newly acquired subsidiary TIB Molbiol has developed three new test kits to help researchers detect mutations in the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, Roche said on Friday.

Governments around the world are urgently scouring databases for recent cases of COVID-19 infections, screening travellers and decoding the viral genomes of the new variant as they try to measure how far it has spread.

National Health Service Forecasts 230,000 Extra Cases of PTSD in England Due to COVID

The Guardian reported:

The NHS is forecasting there will be 230,000 new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in England as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, official figures show.

COVID-19 has increased exposure to events that could cause PTSD, an anxiety disorder triggered by very stressful, frightening or distressing events, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It says the NHS is already facing the biggest backlog of those waiting for mental health help in its history.

WHO Chief Scientist Urges People Not to Panic Over Omicron

Reuters reported:

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist told the Reuters Next conference on Friday that people should not panic over the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant and said it was too early to say if vaccines would need to be reworked.

WHO’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said there was no evidence that existing vaccines needed to be modified to fight Omicron.

However, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a United Nations briefing in Geneva that vaccine makers should prepare for the likelihood of adjusting their products. read more