D.C expands COVID-19 Vaccination Eligibility to Residents

DC expands the Coronavirus Vaccination eligibility to its residents with chronic conditions: certain heart conditions, cancer, asthma, diabetes. This expansion makes the DC’s transition into the next phase of vaccine distribution, tier 1 of phase 1c that residential property maintenance workers and a variety of additional essential employees receive the vaccine as well.
Since the initial distribution of vaccination in December, D.C has been met short for eligible populations’ demand and available vaccination fills up quickly. According to LaQuandra Nesbitt, the D.C Health Director said in a conference on Feb. 18, Nesbitt said “Initially, we got a lot of feedback, often not positive, about the standing time about when we release appointments,” and “Nine a.m. doesn’t work for everybody. We have people who have jobs that they can’t come off of their job assignment to go to the website and claim appointments and so we’re going to attempt to be flexible for that.”
The updated vaccine registration portal will notify the groups of residents from the week’s priority ZIP codes when appointments become available. Since Feb.25, technical issues have blocked reservations at the vaccination appointment portal to D.C. residents who have wanted to take their vaccination as soon as available. Mayor Murial Bowser’s team states that “We know how stressful of a time this is, and we regret that this unfortunate situation occurred on a day when many of our residents with chronic health conditions were newly eligible for vaccination appointments,”.
Local governments are trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible but still, some states are alarming to reopen and back to businesses.
The 3rd revised stimulus impact payment passed at the Senate floor, scheduled to vote in the House on Tuesday and it will be passed respectively.

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Communist China sentences Zhang Zhan to 4 Years in Prison for Reporting on Covid-19 in Wuhan

On Monday, Chinese court sentences Zhang Zhang, a citizen reporter to 4 years in prison for reporting on the development of Covid-19 in Wuhan in its early days.

Zhan was convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” by Pudong New Area People’s Court in Shanghai. The charge is apparently interpreted “broadly” and used by the police to stifle dissent. The maximum prison sentence allowed by the law is 5 years.

Zhan had travelled to Wuhan in February to report on the outbreak; while there, she posted short video clips to YouTube, some of which included interviews with Wuhan residents and footages of hospitals, crematorium, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

By mid-May however, she was arrested and accused of several charges, including spreading false information; the world knows that information regarding Covid-19 are all true.

The UN Human Rights office voiced its “deep concerns” for Zhan’s sentence, calling it excessive.

Her mother is devastated to hear of her daughter’s sentencing, as what Zhan had said were all true. Zhan’s attorney Ran Quanniu plans to appeal the decision, and explained that she believes she is being persecuted for exercising her freedom of speech. It certainly seems so from an American perspective.

Zhan is also currently physically unwell due to her long-term hunger strike; the Chinese officials had tied her hands to her waist, and nasogastric tube had been inserted into her nose, said Zhan’s other attorney, Zhang Keke.

Those in the Human Rights Watch argued that China had tried to avoid Western coverage of this event by scheduling the trial during the Christmas holiday period. China has also banned foreign media from the trial “due to the epidemic.”

The world has accused China of hiding the true extent of the outbreak in the early days of the Covid-19 breakout, which eventually led to the virus getting out of control and causing a massive global pandemic that has shut down the world in 2020.

Other journalists are still mostly missing from public spotlight: Fang Bin has been unseen since February, Chen Qiushi who is allegedly under close surveillance, and Li Zehua re-emerged after 2 months missing to say he was forcibly quarantined.

Southern California Might Experience Power Shutoffs During Thanksgiving

Southern California utility company named Southern California Edison is warning a possible manual shutoff during the Thanksgiving weekend due to continued gusty and dry conditions which are conducive to wildfires. This would lead to a shutoff for more than 76,000 customers in and near Greater Los Angeles area.

The wildfires have been particularly harsh this year, already killing 30 people and recorded five of the six largest wildfires in California’s recorded history. The National Weather Service has put some parts of Southern California under fire weather watch from Thanksgiving afternoon to Friday evening.

Santa Ana winds are moderate to strong, with gusts of up to 60 mph, and with general low humidity, Los Angeles is highly at risk of another wildfire.

At the moment, those in Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura may be affected; most are in San Bernardino County.

The company serves about 5 million customers and usually issues such warnings three days prior to the possible shutoffs.

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Biden Announces Cabinet Members for 2021 Presidency

In a newsletter, Biden released six candidates for his new cabinet. He claimed to have found new secretaries for six of the departments. All of the first six secretaries have been nominated for national security and International relations.

Joe Biden has shown intent to nominate and the following individuals: Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Linad Thomas-Greenfield as US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, and Secretary John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

Tony Blinken has experience with Joe Biden as a National Security Advisor while Joe Biden served as VP and as Deputy Secretary of State under Pres. Obama.

Alejandro Mayorkas served as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security under Pres. Obama and is known for implementation of DACA, cybersecurity, as well as protective measures taken against the Ebola and the Zika virus during the Obama administration.

Avril Haines was a Deputy Director of the CIA and has now been assigned to serve as the Director of the CIA. Biden promises that the CIA will behave in a way to protect national security without being undermined or politicized.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield has 35 years of experience within the US Foreign Service and is to serve as the US Ambassador to the United Nations. She also served as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the US Department of States’ Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

Jake Sullivan served as Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor during his Vice Presidency and is deemed to be one of the youngest National Security Advisors if confirmed.

John Kerry previously ran for the US presidency and worked as the Secretary of State under Pres. Obama. He encouraged the signing of the Paris Treaty, which the Trump administration withdrew from. This position is considered to be a new position, as cabinet-level climate change position or policy concerns had not been implemented or considered before.

As Pres. Trump’s term nears its end, Biden administration is beginning to show its form. 2021 is only a little over a month away.

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USPS Contractor Pays $116,513 In Back Wages Due to Wage Violations

U.S. Department of Labor | November 19, 2020

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fames Transport Inc. – a mail-hauling contractor for the U.S. Postal Service in Southern California – has paid $116,513 in back wages and fringe benefits to 67 employees for violating the Service Contract Act (SCA).

The WHD investigation determined that Fames Transport Inc. failed to pay employees on the contract for all of the hours that they worked. Work performed prior to scheduled shifts, and some work time between routes went unrecorded, and unpaid. This unpaid time led to the employer’s failure to pay required prevailing wages and fringe benefits as required by the SCA. Failure to keep accurate records of the hours employees actually worked resulted in record keeping violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

“This investigation demonstrates the Department’s commitment to ensuring that employees are paid the wages they have rightfully earned and to leveling the playing field among all employers who do business with the government,” said Wage and Hour Assistant District Director Skarleth Kozlo, in West Covina, California. “We encourage government contractors, and all employers, to use the wide variety of tools we offer to learn about their responsibilities, ensure their pay practices comply with the law, and avoid violations like those found in this case.”

For more information about the FLSA, SCA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.


Cute Alert: Bride-To-Be Finds Wedding Dress to be like Nothing she ordered!

A Kentucky woman wrote a furious email to a bridal company after her wedding dress arrived at her home. A tulle mermaid style dress with sweetheart neckline she had ordered seemed nothing like the dress she received.

She took photos of her dress and sent the email to the company.

However, when she received a reply, she was mortified and embarrassed to find that the reason she had not received the dress she had ordered was because she was wearing the dress inside out.

She posted the ordeal on her Facebook bridal group, so that everyone could have a laugh at her expense, and also, so that she could make up for the angry e-mail she’d sent to the company.

Ultimately, they did correct the mistake, which was pointing out to Aubrey that the dress was inside out.

In a climate with very little to laugh about, what with the Covid-19 pandemic, the US presidential election (no matter the side, there are still lingering worries), and the global economy, Aubrey brought a little laugh to those she told her story to.

Best of luck to her and her husband as they embark on this new journey.

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First Covid-19 Found in Remote Pacific Island Nation

Photo from Google Images

Vanuatu is a remote island nation in the pacific, one of the few places in the world untouched by the coronavirus. That is until this week, when a 23-year-old man returned from a travel to the U.S. tested positive while quarantining back home. He had flown back to Vanuatu on November 4 and was asymptomatic.

The health ministry confirmed that physical distancing and personal protection measures were applied and maintained during the flight, arrival, and during transport to and during registration at the quarantine facility. The man will remain in isolation until health clearance is given.

As of now, the coronavirus is active in 217 countries and territories, with 51 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide. More than 1.3 million have died from the virus since December 2019, when China reported its first case.

Vanuatu had been lucky until now, mostly thanks to its geographic location. Its closest neighbor, Australia, is more than 1000 miles from Australia and Vanuatu itself is made up of many tiny islands.

If a cluster is found within the general population, the health ministry will likely implement travel restriction and implement mask use in those with Covid-19 symptoms.

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Tropical Storm Eta Already Affecting Weather Although Not Quite Here

Photo from Google Images

Tropical Storm Eta is a bit over 300 miles away from the Southwest coast of Florida this afternoon. However, Southwest Florida is already seeing rain and wind. Florida is gearing up for rain with wind gusts above 35 and 40 mph.
Although Eta brings yet another storm into mainland US, the temperature is not expected to be affected. In Florida, temperatures continue to see a high of mid-70’s, despite it being November and generally averages at mid-60’s.
Eta will finally begin its move north on Wednesday, and many southern states will see the impact of yet another Tropical Storm this year.

Another Hurricane, Theta is coming but another disturbance in the Caribbean is worth watching over the next five days. Winter storm will pour few inches of snow in upper mid-west through tonight and head to Canada overnight, according to Weather.com.

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90% Efficacy in Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine

Photo from Google Images

In the trial volunteers without evidence of prior infection of the virus, results from an interim analysis of a phase 3 study demonstrated 90% effectiveness. BTN162b2 is a messenger RNA-based vaccine candidate requiring 2 doses. Global phase 3 clinical trial began on July 27 and enrolled 43,538 participants to date, with 42% of enrollees having racial and ethically diverse backgrounds.

38,955 trial volunteers received the second dose of either vaccine or placebo by November 8, and an independent data monitoring committee (DMC) found the vaccine efficacy rate at above 90% 7 days after the second dose. This means protection was achieved 28 das after the first vaccine dose.

This vaccine has been developed on the genetic strategy, meaning that it introduces the gene that codes for the coronavirus spike protein into the cell. The cells will make the spike protein, which the immune system will recognize and create antibodies for.

About 94 people did get sick, but in general, the 90% effectiveness is a positive news.

So far, there has not been any serious safety concerns.

The study plants to continue to collect safety and efficacy data as planned, and companies plan to apply to the FDA for emergency use authorization soon after the required safety milestone is achieved.

However, the administering of this vaccine may prove to be a challenge, as the vaccine must be shipped and stored at -70 to -80 degrees celsius, meaning the product would have to be shipped on dry ice.

While this is good news, even if everything is done as scheduled, to include Americans being vaccinated later this year, it would still be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in the country.

It is still imperative that Americans use masks, contact tracing, social distancing, and hand washing to keep themselves safe.

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Zuckerberg to Congress: Make Tech Regulation better, Not Ruin Tech Companies

Section 230 is up on the chopping block, as the Senate Commerce Committee, and CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter prepared and released remarks on Tuesday against repealing Section 230. Section 230 is the statute protecting social networks from liability for their users’ posts. Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday.

The issues with social networks and their moderation or failure to moderate content posted by users have become a hot topic in recent years as fake news and misleading information have caused mass issues.

The committee will examine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was in effect since 1990s. Twitter’s choice to block an unverified New York Post story regarding “smoking gun” email related to presidential candidate Joe Biden.  Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter defended the existence of Section 230, claiming that this law allows smaller, less funded companies to compete against the better-funded, larger companies. Should Section 230 be repealed, social networks would further be forced to limit their ability to address harmful content due to legal liability exposure. Twitter has promised to increasing transparency. Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook continues to argue that the government should take a more active role in regulating tech companies. In fact, Zuckerberg explained that platforms could face liability for even basic moderation without Section 230. He encourage Congress to update Section 230 so that it worked better, but acknowledged the public upset behind Section 230. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai equally provided that Section 230 allows Google to provide access to a wide range of information and viewpoints, which has also been foundational to US leadership in the tech sector.

Ultimately, tech sector may require better regulation by Congress, but exposing tech companies to legal liability for user content may ultimately create a barrier for many people from even becoming users and limiting the amount of important information available for view by the public.

Coree ILBO/CoreeDaily.com copyright (c) 2013-2020, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part with out the express written permission.