The White House’s new plan to fight subvariants sounds familiar

Covering COVID-19 is a daily Poynter Briefing of story ideas on coronavirus and other hot topics for journalists, written by Senior Professor Al Tompkins. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

The White House has a new plan to protect against BA.5, a subvariant of the omicron variant of the coronavirus that is now responsible for the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the United States

The plan didn’t make a big splash because it’s pretty much the same as the old plan. The plan promises easy access to tests and vaccines. It promises easy access to reminders and antiviral drugs. And it promises a lot of free tests:

To help ensure Americans have tests when needed, the administration opened for a third round of ordering before the summer, meaning 16 free tests were made available to every household. since the launch of the program. To ensure equitable access for visually impaired people, the Administration has also made more accessible home testing available to households for households with visually impaired people.

The “new” plan also promises plenty of free high-quality masks but does not suggest mandatory masking.

Politics reports:

Top Biden administration officials said Wednesday they are reminding tens of thousands of pharmacies across the country that they risk violating civil rights laws if they refuse to fill birth control orders or abortion drugs or discriminate based on a person’s pregnancy status.

The action comes weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and has given more than a dozen states the go-ahead to ban abortion, and aims to address a flurry of reports that pharmacies in those states are not only refusing to fill prescriptions for abortion pills and contraceptives, but also for other drugs which, according to them, could be used off-label to terminate a pregnancy.

The new consumer inflation rate of 9.1% caused enough concern on Wednesday that there were many rumors that the Federal Reserve could try to shock the economy with one blow to make a sufficient difference. It could reach an increase of one percentage point, which would affect mortgage and credit card rates and, possibly, commercial and auto loan rates. Bloomberg reports:

Persistent inflation comes after the Fed raised its benchmark rate by 75 basis points in June, the biggest increase since 1994, and monetary policy tightening is cooling rate-sensitive sectors of the economy like US currency sales. houses. Another three-quarter point increase in July was already priced into swap contracts ahead of the CPI data; thereafter, contracts weighed the chances of an even bigger move.

The Daily Caller focuses on a dozen Democrats in Congress pushing for student loan forgiveness when they also have loans of $15,000 to $300,000. As the story points out, “Biden’s plan would waive a minimum of $10,000 per borrower. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the president to forgive $50,000 in debt, but Biden said in April he was “not considering” such a large amount.

Every year, a group called Smart Growth America ranks cities based on how safe their sidewalks are for pedestrians. Here are the latest discoveries:

(Smart Growth America)

(Smart Growth America)

(Smart Growth America)

In this file photo from May 9, 2011, the Louisiana Angola State Penitentiary is seen in West Feliciana Parish, La. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

US prisons are overcrowded, populations are aging, and climate change is overheating facilities. The Marshall Project reports that in many states prisons are not air-conditioned, and some lawmakers have stated emphatically that it is fine with them if the prisons remain that way. About 80% of the 150,000 people living in Texas prisons today don’t have air conditioning, even though courts in Arizona, Wisconsin and Mississippi have sided with jailers to lower the temperature in facilities.

According to the Vera Institute, Texas estimated it would cost $5 million to install air conditioning in a prison, then spent $7 million in a legal battle to avoid installing it. Vera says:

Texas isn’t alone in forcing people to endure extreme heat in prisons. Many states, including most southern states, lack universal air conditioning in prisons. Reports dating back decades show that people and staff incarcerated in California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan and elsewhere have tried to get corrections to fix the problem. Now, as global temperatures rise, climate projections are only getting worse, as places unaccustomed to hot, humid weather will experience temperature extremes more frequently.

Take, for example, the searing heat dome that engulfed the Pacific Northwest last summer. When temperatures in Oregon reached 117 degrees, inmates in its state prisons, some of which lacked functioning central air, had few options for cooling off and even lacked drinking water. At the Washington State Penitentiary, dozens of people spent 23 hours a day locked in their cells in The Hole, the prison’s solitary confinement unit, even as the air conditioning stopped working and temperatures soared. soared.

Prisons were unprepared at the time and little has been done since (the Office of the Ombudsman for Corrections in Washington released a report with recommendations that have been largely overlooked). Meanwhile, as another record-breaking summer continues, the high temperatures are particularly dangerous for those incarcerated who may be older, have pre-existing medical conditions like asthma or diabetes, or whose health has been affected. by COVID-19 (which raged behind bars). Some medications, such as psychotropics, which treat certain mental health conditions, have side effects that can also make people sick in hot weather.

A 2017 investigation by The Marshall Project and The Weather Channel found:

A growing segment of the prison population is particularly sensitive to heat. Prisons and prisons house increasing numbers of people with mental illness; as many as one in five Texas prisoners are prescribed mind-altering drugs, which make the body more vulnerable to heat. A similar number are receiving medication for high blood pressure, which can cause the same problem. And the increase in longer sentences in the 1980s and 1990s produced an increase in older inmates, who are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

There is of course a way to prevent heatstroke in prison: to cool the premises during the hottest months. But in most states there is little political will to do so. On its Department of Corrections website, Florida lists the availability of air conditioning as one of many “misconceptions” about its prison system, along with cable television. “We couldn’t afford to do that if we wanted to,” State Senator John Whitmire, who chairs the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, told an interviewer in 2011 about air conditioning in the jails. “But number one, we just don’t want to.” Whitmire, a Democrat, did not respond to a request for comment.

The article references a 2015 Columbia Law School report that prisoners often live without air conditioning in areas where temperatures exceed 100 degrees for days and where the heat index, which records the heat felt with the humidity, reached 150 degrees. .

Even if you don’t care about the health of imprisoned people, keep in mind that nearly 400,000 people work in jails and prisons in the United States.

A tweet from an Ohio ER doctor:

Since 1997, this index has shown how Democratic or Republican each congressional district fare on presidential politics based on previous voting cycles and relative to the nation as a whole. The latest edition of the index has just been released.

The Children’s National Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety just released a report that says farming is the deadliest and most dangerous job for young people in America. Here are some of the findings, which are not so surprising to those of us who grew up in farming communities.

(Children’s National Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety)

Here’s the best news: In general, agricultural injuries among young people are on the decline. Maybe it’s because there are fewer children on the farms? The study indicates that “the number of large farms is increasing, small and medium farms are decreasing and lifestyle farms (with children) are increasing”.

The company logo shines on the hood of a used 2016 M4 Coupe outside a BMW dealership on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Remember the good old days when, if you had the luxury of heated car seats, you didn’t have to pay a monthly fee to warm your back? Several news outlets in South Korea are reporting that BMW is trying to charge $18 a month to unlock software that activates heated seats in cars.

It seems that if you pay between $60,000 and $85,000 for a car, you should be able to own the heated seats.

BMW says it hasn’t decided for sure if it will continue to try this idea, but The Verge reports:

BMW has been slowly putting features behind subscriptions since 2020, and heated seat subs are now available from BMW’s digital stores in countries including the UK, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa. South. That doesn’t seem to be an option in the US, however – yet.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a new edition of Covering COVID-19. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here to receive it straight to your inbox.

About Donald Martin

Check Also

Cooling centers serve as shelters for homeless residents and those without A/C

When Patrick woke up on Tuesday, one of the hottest days in Portland’s prolonged heat …