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Americans Are Resigning From Their Jobs At Record Rates

It’s been recorded that around 4.4 million American workers have handed in their resignation during the month of September alone. Certain states are experiencing major spikes in job resignations, so much so that it’s being referred to as “The Great Resignation.” 

The increase in resignation is due to a multitude of pandemic and economic factors. Many parents are dealing with the dual demands of childcare and working full time, so many of them are opting to resign and apply for unemployment so they have enough time in the day to take care of themselves and their families. 

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Some employees are able to find better paying jobs as well, as many companies are reacting to this spike in unemployment by offering raised wages and attractive benefit packages. 

Beyond the pandemic, some states are experiencing a shortage in labor due to aging employees, low workforce participation rates, and other long-term issues that have existed long before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“A lot of states with elevated quits are states with higher-than-average COVID cases, but a lot of it is due to labor market tightness. Idaho has an extremely aging population — a lot of the tightness in Idaho is that it’s an older workforce. They also have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, so that means it’s a very good environment if you are a worker” looking for a new job,”  said Liz Wilke, chief economist at Gusto, which provides payroll and other services to small businesses. 

New Hampshire and Indiana are seeing an increase in resignation for similar reasons. Employees are leveraging their benefits and salaries to find more lucrative jobs. Typical hourly earnings increased by 4.9% in October due to these leveraging tactics as well. 

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The top 10 states with the highest resignation rates for the month of September are Hawaii (7.1%), Montana (4.8%), Nevada (4.5%), Alaska (4.3%), Colorado (4.3%), Indiana (4.3%), Idaho (4.1%), Oregon (3.9%), Louisiana (3.8%), and New Hampshire (3.8%).

According to Oxford Economics, for every job opening created in September there were only .74 unemployed people available to take the position, marking the lowest ratio on record. Economists are still confident, however, that America’s workforce will be able to rebuild itself in 2022. 

“One reason for optimism about the labor force re-entry of prime-age workers is that nearly all workers who left the labor force during the pandemic intend to re-enter in the next 12 months, suggesting that most prime-age exiters still view their exits as temporary,” Goldman Sachs analysts noted.

“Workers have ongoing concerns about workplace safety given the ongoing pandemic. It may take some time for some people to feel comfortable returning to work,” they also noted.

Experts Warn Omicron Covid Variant Is A ‘Reason To Be Worried’

The Omicron Covid-19 variant was first detected in South Africa, and has now spread to 14 countries, with some experts claiming the variant has already reached the US. Scientists are working to figure out how much more dangerous and contagious the new variant is when compared to other variants, especially as international governments race to ease travel restrictions. 

The US has been imposing travel restrictions on travelers from South Africa since Monday, as well as other countries around the region. The variant has already been confirmed in Canada, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, discussed the variant on the news recently. 

“The new variant is likely already in the United States, but the government is better positioned to detect cases of the new strain than it was a year ago.”

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As of this week, most travelers from southern Africa are barred from entering the United States, and restrictions have been renewed for all travel from southern Africa to most European countries. Within 36 hours of discovering the new strain, scientists in South Africa alerted the world and began testing current vaccines against the strain immediately. Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the increased risk for unvaccinated Americans when it comes to any variant. 

“The US certainly has the potential to go into a fifth wave of high infections if enough people don’t come forward for vaccination and booster shots.”

South Africa’s government and president, however, are worried that the region is being unjustly blamed for the new variant, when the reality is these variants only have the opportunity to develop due to uneven distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines throughout the world. 

“We want all travel bans to be reversed, as they have no basis in science. These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country,” South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said. 

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“I think there’s good reason to be worried. I don’t think that means that we’re powerless, answers are coming. We need to collect data. We need to investigate and understand this variant,” said Professor Anne Van Gottberg of South Africa’s Institute for Communicable Diseases.

“We should be doing the things that we know work when you’re dealing with a pandemic virus. It’s not the time to panic. We should be concerned, and our concern should spur us to do the things that we know work,” Dr. Fauci said.

Fauci explained that “the concern over the new variant comes from the number and type of mutations found around the spike protein, the part of the virus molecule that allows it to attach itself to human cells. The high number of mutations and where they were found suggests that this would be more transmissible, and also suggests that it might evade some of the immune parameters that we have, such as antibody and plasma treatments, and the current vaccines.”

“It appears to be spreading very readily and has a transmission advantage. One of the key things we don’t know right now is whether the new variant causes more severe COVID-19 symptoms than previous strains.”

Omicron currently accounts for more than 2,000 new daily cases in South Africa. One expert in the nation is worried that the daily infection rate could triple within the next week alone. 

“I am expecting we will top over 10,000 cases by the end of the week per day,” Dr Salim Abdool Karim said during an online press briefing by the Health Ministry.

President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate For 100 Million Workers Officially Being Enforced

Back in September President Biden announced that he would be working on creating multiple vaccine mandates to get more Americans vaccinated. On Thursday, the administration started the process by releasing mandates for over 100 million workers. 

The first rule has been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and covers mandates for companies with 100 or more employees; it’s estimated this rule will apply to 84 million workers. Companies need to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 4th, or they will need to provide a negative test in order to come into work every week. 

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OSHA’s rule also requires employers to pay their employees for the time it takes for them to get vaccinated, and recover from any potential side effects that arise. 

Employers also won’t be required to pay for weekly testing for their unvaccinated employees, or even provide the testing in the first place. This is in an attempt to get more employees to actually receive their vaccines as opposed to remaining at higher risk for exposure. 

Unvaccinated workers will also be required to wear face coverings at all times; this rule will be enforced starting December 6th. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are requiring around 17 million health care workers to be vaccinated by January 4th. However, healthcare workers won’t be given the option to decline being vaccinated to opt for weekly testing. 

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Some employers are worried that the deadlines OSHA provided won’t give some of them enough time to gather the information required to find out who’s already vaccinated and who’s not. However, the Biden Administration asserted their authority in issuing these mandates due to OSHA’s responsibility to provide safe and healthy working conditions for all employees. 

“A virus that has killed more than 745,000 Americans, with more than 70,000 new cases per day currently, is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers,” said a senior administration official.

Companies will mainly be responsible for enforcing the OSHA rule, as there’s only a couple thousand state and federal OSHA inspectors nationwide. It’s expected that OSHA inspectors will more likely be responding to employee complaints regarding their employers or fellow workers who aren’t abiding by the mandates. 

Employers that violate the rule can face fines up to $13,000 per violation, and depending on how severe the violation is that fine could multiply by ten.

Democrats Expected To Pass Biden’s $1.75 Trillion Climate And Social Spending Package This Week 

House Democrats are quickly trying to pass President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social and climate spending package this week. The package would give democrats a head start at making infrastructural changes before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The package has been extensively debated all summer and fall, mainly over the contents of the package and wear specific money will be allocated to. 

Democrats currently feel like they’re on the verge of a huge milestone in the House, where the passage of this package would be seen as a huge victory for the party. House moderate holdouts have promised to support the bill when it’s brought to the floor this week. 

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This Monday, Biden will be signing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as well, so the administration in general is gearing up for pushback, and to get moving on the actual plans within the bills. 

Despite the possibility of new drama in the Senate, we’re confident Congress can send the package to Biden’s desk by the end of the year. I think we’ll get it passed before Christmas,” one senior Democrat, G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Biden and the democratic party in general have been under fire for a recent slew of economic changes, such as general inflation, labor shortages, and a supply chain “clog” that’s preventing our retail markets from thriving. These issues in combination with the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a lot of disagreements among our leaders. 

“Democrats need to reassess their strategy. We need to have legislation that actually, forcefully delivers for working people,”  said progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). 

Moderate Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) is supportive of several key elements of the Biden package, such as “tackling climate change, extending the child tax credit and lowering prescription drug prices, but Democrats have failed to explain how the legislation will help struggling American families.”   

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“People are busy, they have jobs, they have lives, they have worries, they have kids, they have joys. If someone turns on the news and [hears] ‘We really need to make these major investments in human infrastructure,’ and they say, ‘There they go again. What the heck are those Democrats doing?’” 

“Now, if we’re saying, ‘I want to invest in the next generation of America’s children, and I want to do it by ensuring every kid goes to pre-K’ — like, that’s a different discussion, right?”  Spanberger stated. 

“I think this bill will make it over the finish line, but ultimately, this bill may not be identical to what we pass in the House when it does make it over the finish line.” 

Government officials also emphasized that the cost of not passing this bill will be much greater for lower to middle class Americans, who will be forced to deal with inflated costs for their everyday needs. 

“If we don’t act on Build Back Better … we won’t be able to cut child care costs. … We won’t be able to make preschool free for many families starting in 2022, saving many families $8,600. We won’t be able to get ahead of skyrocketing housing costs … and we won’t be able to save Americans thousands of dollars by negotiating prescription drug prices,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. 

“So our view is this makes a strong case for moving forward with this agenda. Because what we’re really talking about is the cost to American families.”

Almost 80% Of Americans Have Been Exposed To Misinformation Online Regarding Covid-19, Survey Says

Between social media and the plethora of news outlets reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, many Americans aren’t sure what information to believe. New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 80% of Americans surveyed said they had heard of at least one of the falsehoods perpetuated by online misinformation and either believed it, or were unsure whether or not it was true. 

“Most commonly, six in ten adults have heard that the government is exaggerating the number of Covid-19 deaths by counting deaths due to other factors such as coronavirus deaths and either believe this to be true (38%) or aren’t sure if it’s true or false (22%).”

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“One-third of respondents believe or are unsure whether deaths due to the Covid-19 vaccine are being intentionally hidden by the government (35%), and about three in ten each believe or are unsure whether Covid-19 vaccines have been shown to cause infertility (31%) or whether Ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 (28%),” the authors wrote.

The survey also found that “between a fifth and a quarter of the public believe or are unsure whether the vaccines can give you COVID-19 (25%), contain a microchip (24%), or can change your DNA (21%).”

Outlandish ideas such as vaccine microchips, trackers, or changes to DNA have been reported by “trusted” media outlets and have made a vast impact on many Americans in their choice to get vaccinated or not. 

“People’s trusted news sources are correlated with their belief in COVID-19 misinformation. At least a third of those who trust information from CNN, MSNBC, network news, NPR, and local television news do not believe any of the eight false statements, while small shares (between 11% and 16%) believe or are unsure about at least four of the eight false statements.”

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These results prove that traditional sources of media are helping people separate facts from falsehoods. However, Republicans have made it clear that sources such as CNN and NPR are not to be trusted. 

The survey found that “nearly 4 in 10 of those who trust Fox News (36%) and One America News (37%), and nearly half (46%) of those who trust Newsmax, saying they believe or are unsure about at least half of the eight false statements.”

The researchers cautioned, however, that “whether this is because people are exposed to misinformation from those news sources, or whether the types of people who choose those news sources are the same ones who are pre-disposed to believe certain types of misinformation for other reasons, is beyond the scope of the analysis.”

Post reporter Aaron Blake followed up with Kaiser and concluded that the overall numbers “obscure just how ripe the right is for this kind of misinformation. That’s because, “in most cases, if you exclude Republicans who haven’t heard the claims and focus on just who is familiar with them, a majority of them actually believe the claims.”

David Leonhardt of The New York Times wrote “Covid vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe Covid, and almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults. In the Kaiser research, unvaccinated adults were more likely than vaccinated adults to believe four or more of the eight false statements.”

White Pill

Experts Are Hopeful Over Covid-19 Antiviral Pill, But Emphasize Vaccines Are Still Our Way Out Of The Pandemic 

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced this past week that they created an antiviral pill that can reduce Covid-19 hospitalization and death by 50%. Experts believe this pill could be a “game-changer” in the way we treat Covid, however, they’re also emphasizing that this pill is not an alternative to getting vaccinated, and vaccinations against the coronavirus arte the most effective way Americans can bring this pandemic to an end. 

Over 255,000 Americans are becoming fully vaccinated every day, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 65% of Americans are now fully vaccinated. On the opposite end, the US surpassed 700,000 Covid-related deaths this week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US is currently the world’s leader in Covid deaths. 

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“This new antiviral pill can be used in conjunction with the vaccine. And it’s not an alternative to vaccination. We still have to try to get more people vaccinated. The antiviral medicine could be effective for those who choose not to get vaccinated, as well as those who catch the virus while fully vaccinated,” explained Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. 

“This is the most impactful result that I remember seeing of an orally available drug in the treatment of a respiratory pathogen, perhaps ever. I think getting an oral pill that can inhibit viral replication — that can inhibit this virus — is going to be a real game-changer.”

Merck is now seeking FDA emergency use authorization for its medication, and if it’s permitted, it will become the first oral medicine that fights viral infection for Covid-19. 

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“If approved, I think the right way to think about this is; this is a potential additional tool in our toolbox to protect people from the worst outcomes of Covid. Inoculation remains our best tool against Covid-19 because the shots can prevent people from getting infected in the first place, and we want to prevent infections, not just wait to treat them once they happen,” White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said.

The FDA is also meeting with its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on October 14th and 15th to discuss booster shots for Americans who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The FDA’s vaccine committee is also set to discuss approving Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The company has already begun submitting data about that specific age group. 

Vaccine mandates are beginning to appear all throughout the country as well as a means of getting more Americans to receive their inoculations so the nation has an actual fighting chance at bringing this pandemic to an end.

Massive Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife, Forces California’s Huntington Beach To Close

A devastating 126,000 gallon (476,910 liters), 13 square-mile oil spill from a pipeline off the California coast has forced Huntington Beach to close for what could end up being weeks or months.

Huntington Beach, affectionately referred to by its locals as “Surf City,” had to cancel planned weekend events and immediately took action against the spill, which occurred around five miles off the beach’s shore on Saturday morning.

Officials have confirmed that the pipeline has been capped, and is no longer leaking. However, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley explained in an ABC News interview that the pipes are old, and the true extent of the damage is not known.

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The cause of the leak has yet to be determined, although investigations are currently ongoing. The pipeline that has unleashed nearly 3,000 barrels of oil slick into the environment is connected to an offshore oil platform known as “Elly.”

Beta Offshore, a division of Amplify Energy Corp. and one of the largest oil producers in the state, is responsible for the leak. Amplify Energy has since halted their production and pipeline operations, and has sent a remotely operated vehicle to confirm and investigate the spill.

A press release stated that 105 government agency personnel conducted shoreside response, and that a 1,000 yard safety zone was enforced by three U.S. Coast Guard boats around the oil spill.

Additionally, four aircrafts performed overflight assessments while fourteen boats conducted recovery operations on Sunday afternoon.

The U.S. Coast Guard has since removed 3,150 gallons (11,922 liters) from the water in a 24/7 effort while deploying 5,360 feet of boom, a floating barrier that is used to contain spills from further spread.

It will be one of the largest spills seen by California in recent memory, and Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr called the incident a “potential ecological disaster.” In an MSNBC interview, Carr discussed the undetermined amount of time a clean up and beach opening will take to develop:

“We don’t know at this time, and we’re assessing that day by day, hour by hour. Really, once we get a better understanding of exactly how that flow is going to hit the shoreline, then we’ll be better to assess exactly how long this beach clean up will take.”

Carr’s eco-disaster statement is ringing true, as the spill is already causing massive ecological repercussions to the area. Dead fish and birds have begun washing to shore, while oil has begun spilling into protected, sensitive preserves such as the Talbert Marsh, a 25-acre coastal wetlands that houses numerous species, some of which are endangered.

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On Twitter, Foley said she spoke with Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery, who saw Dolphins swimming through the oil. Foley called for repair and accountability, and stressed the importance of cleanup in order to prevent the situation from causing further destruction to the coast.

Speaking with ABC News, Foley believes that the fallout from the oil spill cannot be undone, and that Huntington Beach and its delicate ecosystem could be looking at years of unintended but deadly consequences.

“You can’t get wildlife back that are killed in this process, and some of the habitat, the plant species, they’re going to be impacted for years to come.”

Foley also expressed her concerns about the impact the spill will have on the air, which could harm beach-goers and residents. The popular beach brings in nearly eight million visitors a year due to its surfing reputation and scenic views.

According to the City of Huntington Beach, the Oiled Wildlife Care Center has already begun the rescue and cleaning of wildlife that have been affected by the spill. Officials have urged residents to not interfere with any oil-covered wildlife, and instead contact the OWCN via their hotline.

However, the clean-up and wildlife rescue efforts will require additional help, as Foley explained the need for equipment such as cardboard carrying boxes, tyvec suits, feeding tools, and N-95 masks.

Study Says Merck COVID-19 Pill Cuts Risks Of Hospitalization, Death In Half

According to results of a clinical trial released, an experimental COVID-19 pill known as molnupiravir could assist in cutting the chances of hospitalization or death for at-risk patients by up to 50%.

Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company that developed the pill in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, announced in a press release that it is planning to submit an application for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Merck stated that it expects to produce 10 million courses of molnupiravir by the end of 2021, with more courses on the way in 2022.

Back in June, Merck announced a procurement agreement with the U.S. Government, where the company would supply 1.7 million molnupiravir courses at the cost of $1.2 billion. Merck is also discussing supply and purchase agreements with other governments worldwide.

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If the EUA is approved by the FDA, molnupiravir will be the first oral medicine made available to combat the risks of COVID-19. The pill will require a prescription, and is intended for those with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.

ScienceDaily detailed how molnupiravir works, with the agent targeting the RNA genomes of the COVID-19 virus:

“When it [Molnupiravir] enters the cell, it is converted into RNA-like building blocks. In the first phase, the viral copying machine, called RNA polymerase, incorporates these building blocks into the RNA genome of the virus. However, unlike Remdesivir, which slows down the viral RNA polymerase, Molnupiravir does not directly interfere with the function of the copying machine. Instead, in the second phase, the RNA-like building blocks connect with the building blocks of the viral genetic material.”

Thanks to multiple mutations in the replications of viral RNA, pathogens are thus rendered unreproducible.

Merck noted that in their “MOVe-OUT” study, which consisted of 1,550 patients with varying COVID-19 symptoms and underlying conditions, only 7.3% of participants (28 out of 385) who received molnupiravir were hospitalized or died.

That number was significantly lower than the 14.1% of participants (53 out of 377) who were hospitalized or died while being treated with placebo. Additionally, no molnupiravir patients died through the 29th day, as opposed to eight placebo deaths.

Wendy Holman, the chief executive officer of Ridgeback, stressed how important it is to have a form of antiviral medicine that isn’t intertwined with healthcare facilities, which are currently swamped with COVID-19 related cases.

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According to Our World In Data, there are over 71,000 COVID-19 patients that are currently hospitalized in the United States. Despite hitting just around the 12,000s in July, the lowest hospitalization total in over a year, the U.S. saw that number skyrocket to nearly 99,000 in early September.

For a country that has dealt with wave after wave of the virus for months on end, it is hard not to be excited by the game-changing developments that molnupiravir could bring. It’s easy-to-obtain, practical nature could be attractive to those who have been hesitant of vaccination, or cannot take the vaccine for medical or personal reasons.

While vaccines remain the best method of protection against COVID-19, alternatives in any form are sorely needed in order to help speed up recovery processes and assist in preventing deadlier cases.

Merck and Ridgeback are not the only pharmaceuticals that have been developing COVID-19 oral drugs. Pfizer Inc., which started the first phase of their oral agent in March, is close to reporting clinical trial results, as is Swiss Roche Pharmaceuticals.

According to Retuers, Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Pardes Biosciences, and Japan-based Shionogi & Co. are all in the processes of producing oral treatments as well. Rest assured, there should be no shortage of medicine such as molnupiravir.

Dr. Fauci Claims It May Take ‘Many More Vaccine Mandates’ To End Covid-19 Pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently spoke about the current rate of vaccination in America, claiming that millions of Americans still need to get their vaccinations in order to slow or stop the spread of Covid-19.

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Weekly Jobless Claims In US Hit 18-Month Low

The Labor Department revealed this week that weekly jobless claims have decreased to almost pre-pandemic levels. People on state unemployment have also hit March 2020 levels when the pandemic was initially starting and shutting down multiple businesses.