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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90 Bars and Restaurants Ask Michigan Gov. Whitmer to Reopen Indoor Dining ‘as Soon as Possible’

Representatives from approximately 90 bars, restaurants, and other Michigan establishments signed a letter asking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to safely reopen dine-in service “as soon as possible” to prevent additional permanent closures.

The Facebook post announcing the letter has been shared more than 1,000 times.

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U.S. Scientist Who Led Charge Against COVID Lab Leak Theory Admits He Was Trying to Protect Chinese Scientists

The U.S. scientist behind an effort to stymie debate surrounding the possibility that COVID-19 could have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology admitted through a spokesman that he did so to protect Chinese scientists from online criticism.

Dr. Peter Daszak, the president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, orchestrated a statement published in The Lancet medical journal in February, prior to any serious research on the origins of COVID-19, condemning “conspiracy theories” that suggest the virus doesn’t have a natural origin.

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Biden Taps Former FDA Head to Oversee Federal Vaccination Effort

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Dr. David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration and a member of his coronavirus advisory board, to lead the nation’s vaccination effort, the transition team announced Friday.

Kessler, who will become the chief science officer of the COVID-19 response according to a press release from Biden’s transition website, led the FDA under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He will be responsible for ensuring that Biden’s vaccination plan — which calls for 100 million vaccinations in 100 days — is successful.

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U.K. Lockdown Could Last Nearly Three Months

Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the end of lockdown may be delayed beyond mid-February and would last until the end of March, telling MPs the government will be “extremely cautious” about lifting restrictions and reopening schools.

On Monday, Prime Minister Johnson plunged England into a third national coronavirus lockdown. The lockdown includes a strict stay at home orders and the closure of all schools.  Mr Johnson resisted calls from Tory MPs to guarantee the rules will start to be eased after the first review on February 15, the prime minister made it clear that a successful roll-out of the vaccine programme  to the most vulnerable will be key to determining when the lockdown measures can be lifted. Adding on a lag for achieving immunity after vaccination and relieving “the pressure on the NHS”, he then tacked on a further two or three weeks, saying “we should remain cautious of the timetable ahead”, Breitbart reported.

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Michigan Facing Slow, but Improving COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

After months of waiting, the COVID-19 vaccine is out, but a labyrinth lies ahead to get vaccines from the federal government into the arms of Michiganders.

Many of the vaccines were created and approved in less than a year, but it’s unclear how long it will take to immunize all 10 million Michigan residents.

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Rollout Leaves More Than 70 Percent of COVID-19 Vaccines Unused

More than 70 percent of COVID-19 vaccines have gone unused, still sitting in freezers US health officials said on Monday.

In Daytona Beach, hundreds of senior citizens camped out in their vehicles in chilly overnight temperatures in the low 40s to secure a place in a vaccination line Tuesday morning, a day after seniors jammed the roads to the vaccination site,  NBC Miami reported.

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Michiganders Ages 65 and Older, Frontline Workers, and Educators Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Starting Monday

Michigan officials announced Wednesday the state will start to vaccinate a broader group of people starting Monday.

That includes Michiganders age 65 and older, frontline workers including police officers, first responders, jail and prison staff, and PreK-12 teachers and childcare providers.

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Commentary: Three Studies That Show Lockdowns Are Ineffective at Slowing COVID-19

Across America and Europe, many government officials are resuming lockdowns and tightening restrictions in the face of rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The collateral damage of lockdowns, which has been well documented, includes widespread poverty, depression, bankruptcy, and unemployment. Meanwhile, the benefits of lockdowns remain murky.

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Michigan Restaurant Owner Loses Franchise with Big Boy for Breaking Pandemic Restrictions

The owner of a restaurant in Sandusky, Michigan, says it is being “forced to terminate” its contract with the Big Boy franchise over its decision to stay open despite pandemic restrictions. 

A recent order from the state of Michigan has closed indoor restaurant dining in the state from November 18 to December 8. It also closed in-person learning for college and high schools, movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades. The order additionally cancels group fitness classes and organized sports. 

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New Model Will Reduce Medicare Part B Drugs Costs, Save Taxpayers $85 Billion Over Seven Years

President Donald Trump and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a new drug payment model Friday that will significantly lower the cost of Medicare Part B drugs, in a move the president said was a threat to “Big Pharma.”

Beginning in early January, the Most Favored Nation Model will test an innovative way for Medicare to no longer pay high-cost, physician-administered Medicare Part B drugs than the lowest price charged in similar countries.

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Four to Six Week Nationwide Lockdown Could Curb the Pandemic and Jumpstart the Economy, Biden Covid Advisor Says

Dr. Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, said that a 4-6 week lockdown that shut down businesses and compensated workers for lost wages may curb the spread of the virus and get the economy on track until a vaccine is approved and distributed.

Osterholm, the director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Yahoo Finance Wednesday that the strategy would help decrease daily case counts and hospitalizations until an effective vaccine arrives.

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CDC Report Indicates Masks May Increase Chance of Infection with COVID or Other Respiratory Illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report last month in which the nearly 71 percent of individuals infected with COVID-19 reported “always” wearing their mask. This opposed to the 4 percent of infected individuals who “never” wore masks.
The number of individuals infected with COVID-19 positively correlated with the consistency of mask-wearing. The report didn’t address the possible correlation between face mask hygiene and COVID-19 infection, such as proper handling and disposal of masks. It also didn’t differentiate the respondents’ mask types.

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Europe, US Reel as Virus Infections Surge at Record Pace

Coronavirus cases around the world have climbed to all-time highs of more than 330,000 per day as the scourge comes storming back across Europe and spreads with renewed speed in the U.S., forcing many places to reimpose tough restrictions they had eased just a few months ago.

Well after Europe seemed to have largely tamed the virus that proved so lethal last spring, newly confirmed infections are reaching unprecedented levels in Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy and Poland, and most of the rest of the continent is seeing similar danger signs.

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Dr. Simone Gold of America’s Frontline Doctors Responds to Twitter’s Censorship of Her Account

Dr. Simone Gold, a board-certified emergency physician and the founder of America’s Frontline Doctors, has responded to Twitter’s removal of her tweet about treatments for COVID-19 and locking her out of her account.

In her response, Dr. Gold – who also graduated from Stanford Law School after completing her medical degree – called out her temporary Twitter ban, calling the action “another classic case of tech censorship against anyone who speaks out against the media narrative.”

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Ibrahm Bouaichi, Virginia Inmate Released Due to Coronavirus Pandemic, Arrested for Murdering Accuser

A Virginia inmate who was released from jail because of the Coronavirus pandemic is back in police custody for allegedly murdering his accuser.

Ibrahm Elkahlil Bouaichi, a 33-year-old man who was arrested for allegedly raping his ex-girlfriend Karla Elizabeth Dominguez Gonzalez in October 2019 and held without bond, was arrested Wednesday morning for shooting and killing Gonzalez on July 29.

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