As COVID-19 cases skyrocket among teachers, school officials in Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Nevada announced this week that they will temporarily close or switch to learning remotely in a context of worsening teacher shortage.
In Indiana, at least four school districts in Marion County have made the switch to distance learning. Indianapolis Public Schools said on Wednesday the decision “was made based on the number of staff absences, including the isolation of COVID-19 and quarantines at the middle and high school levels.”
North Carolina has moved to allow state employees to use their volunteer days to replace paid substitute teachers, Governor Roy Cooper said on Wednesday. In Nevada, all schools in the Carson City School District were closed for part of this week due to an increase in the number of staff infected with COVID-19.
Maryland’s largest school district has asked the National Guard to replace bus drivers, ABC News reported. New Mexico’s governor said Thursday that she is considering requesting help from the National Guard to also address COVID-19-related staffing shortages at public schools in the state.
Also in the news:
►As some experts say the current wave of COVID-19 could peak, new coronavirus cases have declined slightly for the second time this week. The United States reported some 5.51 million cases in the week ending Thursday, up from 5.53 million revised in the week ending Wednesday, according to USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University .
►About one in five hospitals said they had “critical staff shortages” in data released by the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday, according to an analysis by USA TODAY. One in four predicted critical shortages over the next week.
►British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office apologized to the royals on Friday for hosting a staff party late at night the day before Queen Elizabeth II sat alone and mourned her late prince Philip at a socially distanced funeral service due to the country’s COVID-19 rules.
►New York’s eviction moratorium, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are behind in payment due to hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic from being evicted, expires on Saturday.
►More than half a million people in Israel have received a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the country’s health ministry said on Friday.
► Cruise lines will no longer be required to follow COVID-19 guidelines on ships, as the CDC’s framework for the conditional navigation order, which was extended and changed in October, will expire on Saturday.
??The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 63.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 846,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 319 million cases and nearly 5.5 million deaths. More than 208 million Americans – 62.8% – are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
??What we read: When will this wave of COVID end? Scientists are looking for clues in your wastewater.
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U.S. insurers paid over $100 million for disproved COVID-19 treatment ivermectin, study finds
A new study says U.S. insurers paid the annual equivalent of $129 million for the deworming drug ivermectin, despite the drug not being found to be beneficial for COVID-19 patients.
Ivermectin is used to treat heartworms and mites in cats and dogs and to control parasites in horses, cattle, pigs and sheep. On rare occasions, it is administered to humans infested with parasitic worms.
It’s been touted as a cure for COVID-19, but little data suggests it’s effective.
The researchers excluded the few patients who had been diagnosed with a parasitic infection, ie around 6% of the prescriptions.
Conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and Boston University, it was published Friday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Food and Drug Administration specifically states that ivermectin should not be taken for COVID-19 and cites side effects such as rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, swelling of the face or limbs, seizures and confusion, and liver damage.
Despite this, millions of prescriptions for the drug have been written for patients with COVID-19.
The study found that, on average, insurer reimbursement for the drug was $35.75 for private insurance and $39.13 for Medicare Advantage patients.
– Elisabeth Weise
Biden administration to launch website for free test kits
The Biden administration will launch a website on Wednesday where Americans can order up to four free COVID-19 test kits per person, according to a senior administration official.
The tests, part of the Biden administration’s purchase of 500 million tests last month to help combat a record rise in infections, will be available on COVIDTest.gov and mailed to homes within 7 to 12 days, according to the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the announcement.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this week that the administration would double down on its order with the purchase of an additional 500 million COVID-19 home tests amid a nationwide testing shortage that has resulted in long lines. waiting at test sites and overcrowded hospitals. The second batch of test kits will also be distributed free of charge through the federal website, officials said.
— Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY
Students march on COVID safety, call schools a ‘petri dish’
As teachers’ unions and schools fight for in-person and distance learning, students across the country are asking for a seat at the table. Many are holding walkouts this week, including Boston on Friday.
“It’s us who have been in this environment every day. It’s our bodies that we put at risk,” said Kayla Quinlan, a 16-year-old student activist at the Boston Day and Evening Academy. “Students should have a say in what their learning environment looks like, but our voices are always left out.”
Students at schools in Boston’s public school system walked out around 10:30 a.m. Friday, the Boston Globe and NBC Boston confirmed.
While specific requests vary from district to district, student demands largely consist of allowing remote learning options as an alternative for those fearful of coming to school, rather than shutting down completely. the classrooms. Student coalitions who have pleaded for the complete move to deportation have only called for it to be done temporarily if schools do not enforce stricter COVID-19 precautions, including more frequent testing and better masks. quality.
“It looks like a breeding ground for COVID, like a COVID petri dish,” Quinlan added. “How are you supposed to feel safe?”
Novak Djokovic at risk of deportation again after Australian government revokes visa for second time
Tennis star Novak Djokovic is at risk of deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for the second time.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on Friday he had used his discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serbian’s visa on public policy grounds three days before the start of the Australian Open. Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the annulment to the Federal Circuit and Family Court, as they successfully did after the first annulment.
Djokovic arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his Australian Open title. His exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement to compete has been approved by the state government of Victoria and Tennis Australia, the tournament organizer. This apparently enabled him to receive a visa to travel.
But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa upon arrival in Melbourne. Djokovic spent four nights in a migrant detention hotel before a judge overturned the ruling on Monday.
– The Associated Press
Center for COVID Control to ‘Suspend’ Testing Sites Nationwide
A coronavirus testing company under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice and which has drawn criticism from customers in several states on Thursday announced a “week-long hiatus from all operations.”
The break was scheduled to take effect from Friday to January 21 at all Center for COVID Control test sites. The Illinois-based company’s website says it has more than 300 U.S. locations in multiple states. Two of them, Massachusetts and Washington, took action this week to shut down several of the company’s testing centers in their communities.
In an internal company memo to “all site owners and managers” obtained by USA TODAY, the Center for COVID Control cited “extensive media review of our collection site operations” during last week. The company claims to process 80,000 test requests per day.
“This, coupled with various customer complaints, has caused various state health departments and even the Department of Justice to take a close interest in our business,” the notice reads.
– Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
Supreme Court blocks mandate for COVID-19 vaccine or test for workplaces
The Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the application of one of President Joe Biden’s signature efforts to fight COVID-19, ruling that his administration did not have the power to impose vaccine or testing requirements on employers who would have covered tens of millions of Americans.
The unsigned opinion, which came days after judges heard arguments in the emergency appeal, marked the second time that the country’s highest court has unraveled a pandemic policy of the Biden administration, concluding in again that federal officials had overstepped the power vested in them by Congress. The court blocked the moratorium on Biden’s evictions in August, ruling it was also an overrun.
The issue in the workplace case was whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had the power to impose the requirements under a 1970 statute.
It was not immediately clear what options, if any, the Biden administration has to respond to the decision. In a statement, the president said he was “disappointed” and that it was now “up to states and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees.” Learn more here about what could be Biden’s next vaccination campaign.
– John Fritze, USA TODAY
Contributor: Celina Tebor, USA TODAY; The Associated Press