Had enough of Covid-19? Nipah is Next.

As the world continues to struggle with the Covid virus (delta variant this year), the scientists are now warning of a resurgence of a different virus.

Although first discovered in 1980s, it first entered human culture in 1998, it arrived in central Malaysia by air, inside furry bats that lived on the fruit trees swaying over pig farms. But The bats dropped some of their half-consumed meals, which the pigs consumed. Then, the pigs coughed and transferred it to the pig workers.

Within 8 months, 105 Malaysians or about 40 percent of those infected, died of the virus, now dubbed Nipah. It caused fevers, brain inflammation, and comas.

It was then traced back to bats for disease investigation. Nipah erupts annually in Bangladesh, killing people at even greater rate as the country increased industrialization. Sometimes, the virus even broke out in India.

This week, the WHO identified Nipah as the Disease X that could potentially cause human epidemics. Up to 75 percent of new infectious diseases impacting humans right now are related to wild animal source, as human population gets closer to wildlife and raise livestock; the livestock becoming the link between wildlife and humans in transferring dangerous diseases.

Initially, the Nipah outbreak had been linked to mosquitoes, so mosquitoes were exterminated; however, pigs were continuously exported, and those outside of Malaysia got sick. Eventually, the scientists realized they’d found a new paramyxovirus that affected the pigs.

When the investigators arrived in Malaysia, the local folks explained the fearful sound of pigs coughing, dubbed “one-mile barking cough” that one could hear a mile away, coming closer and closer to one’s own piggery, before one would also get sick.

To deal with this outbreak, the Malaysian government performed a massive culling, killing one million pigs that spring; it did stop the disease temporarily. However, ultimately, as humans get closer to wild habitats and wildlife, this is only a higher possibility every year. Recently, scientists revealed that more than 47,000 wild animals were sold in markets in Wuhan, China, in the two years prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. Bats unlike other mammals do not have struggle with these quite horrific viruses, which scientists believe is due to their ability to fly, which suppresses inflammation.

Unlike other animals, bats being mammal can pose a problem for other mammals, such as pigs, dogs, and even humans due to the genetic similarity, making humans vulnerable.

Malaysia is therefore, very alert about Covid-19 because they don’t want to deal with Nipah like outbreak again.

Nipah does not yet have a vaccine or treatment.

Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole, or part without the express written permission.

3% of Workforce Quit in August

According to Washington Post, job quitters continue to rise to record highs. In August, 4.3 million people quit jobs, which is about 2.9 to 3 percent of the workforce, as released by data from the Labor Department.

Some of the attributable reasons include less willingness to accommodate inconvenient hours and poor compensation, as well as quitting to find better opportunities. There were 10.4 million job openings by end of August.

Usually, labor market shifts indicate confident workers willing to risk security of the current job for new opportunity; however, Covid times have been more unpredictable than ever. Businesses have reported difficulty finding and retaining qualified employees, while others have succeeded at retention through increased pay and compensation.

Workers who lost their jobs earlier in the pandemic, might have to retrain and add skills for new careers, as those who might be displeased with low-paying jobs may find new more desirable jobs as long as they obtain the new skills necessary.

For example, almost 900,000 workers in restaurant, bars, and hotels quit, 721,000 from retail, 706,000 in professional business services, and 534,000 from health care and social assistance have left in August. In almost every sector, people are quitting, with those at the lowest wage service the most. As job openings outnumber unemployed workers, people are able to reevaluate and seek out what they might want to do instead.

While there is no specified reason for the continued number of quitting in various industries, experts are pointing to loss of confidence in the jobs coupled with stronger bargaining positions than the past.

In fact, the pandemic has brought significant disruption to the industry, with many folks feeling unappreciated by management and finding better pastures. People are now looking to find opportunities that serve them best, such as jobs that provide remote and flexible work, compensation and bonus packages, and even wider range of positions and opportunities for moving up.

In fact, Republican efforts of lessening the benefits of federal unemployment to increase employment has not been successful, as only about 194,000 jobs were added despite the number of openings.

Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole, or part without the express written permission.

Covid Surge Slows Down, but Not Out of the Woods

From early parts of the year until September, US hospitalizations continued to see record highs, including a weekly average of 100,000 in early September, primarily focused in the South and are still at levels unseen since the winter, which is before the widespread availability of vaccines.

New infections plateaued in the first half of September at 150,000 daily cases and has since declined to 100,000 daily, as summer ends, and fall begins.

However, more people are expected to die from the latest surge (possibly at 700,000, which is about the population in Washington, D.C.). At the moment, 1 out of 500 are dying due to the virus.

There is usually a sharp incline seen in the delta variant spread; for example, Alaska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Maine, Alabama, and Indiana all saw a high spike and a quick decline. Experts say that this is likely due to the delta variant quickly wreaking havoc in the unvaccinated population before hitting a wall when it can no longer infect anyone else within that group.

At this point, health officials have accepted that the eradication of Covid is unlikely, and have decided to approach it in similar matters as we do of flu or other respiratory viruses.

The summer since Covid-19 has shown public health officials of what might come thereafter; ICU availability being low due to high infection and critical cases, multiple deaths in a family, As the sad stories of the unvaccinated who inevitably die get around to their communities, more people are choosing to get vaccinated.

Delta variant also was more dangerous to both the younger and the middle age generations, and encouraged people to consider vaccination.

However, flu season is indeed upon us, and the coupling of covid-19 with the flu could pose even more of a threat on an already taxed healthcare system in the U.S. this fall and winter.

Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole, or part without the express written permission.

Influenza season is here, don’t delay getting vaccinated

Last year, the flu season was not an impactful event. That’s because Americans wore masks, schools were closed, many workplaces allowed or recommended working from home, and maintained a 6-foot social distance to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this year is different, as many children are hospitalized due to coronavirus spread from exposure in public spaces and schools. As the Delta strain is shaking the United States once again, it would be good to get vaccinated against the flu in advance and build up immunity.

Especially those who are high risk and vulnerable to flu: such as folks over 65 years old, those with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic kidney diseases. These folks need to get the flu shot or sprays as soon as possible as recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to lower the risk of the impact of flu.

For 2021-2022, CDC recommends the use of any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine as an option for vaccination this season.

These include:

  • Flu shots that are made with inactivated viruses.
  • One flu shot that is made without influenza viruses.
  • A live attenuated influenza vaccine, which is given by nasal spray.

Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as hospitalizations and deaths.

Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people.

There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months old and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older. Flu shots also are recommended for pregnant people and people with certain chronic health conditions.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant people who are 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.

There are many vaccine options to choose from. The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year; although most folks are eligible and should receive the vaccine, there are those who actually cannot take the vaccine, and they will need herd immunity to protect them.

Flu vaccines are covered by most insurances and if you go to the local pharmacy, you should be able to receive one based on availability.

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Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Pres. Biden’s Senses Come Back: Covid-19 Vaccination

Just days ago, Pres. Biden considered offering up to $100 per person, to any unvaccinated individuals choosing to take the Covid-19 vaccine. However, as the nation continues to face higher and higher Delta variant infections, the President seems to have shifted his course, to a more sensible one.

The Biden administration is now considering using federal regulatory powers and withholding federal funds from institutions, long-term-care facilities, cruise ships, and even universities to push more Americans to get vaccinated.

As this area can deal with restrictions on the use of Medicare dollars or other federal funding to require employees to vaccinate, the folks currently advising Biden administration is cautioning careful approach. However, if Biden administration were to implement the plan, this would lead to tremendous efforts in taking a big chunk of the 90 million still unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.

Of course, as the unvaccinated are generally skeptical of the federal government, this could bring in some strong opposition from the Republicans, a group that is already significantly wary of Biden administration’s recent decision to get federal workers and contractors vaccinated or wear masks.

As the Covid-19 vaccine is comprised of two vaccines taken 2 weeks apart, even if all unvaccinated Americans got vaccinated tomorrow, it would take at least another 3-4 weeks before they would be fully protected, meaning the delta variant driven infection rate will continue to rise. For example, the U.S. recently reported more than 100,000 NEW coronavirus cases on Wednesday. By Thursday, the rolling seven-day daily average of new infections was at 95,000 cases; these are pre-vaccine numbers.

Many are happy to see the Biden administration take this approach, including Lawrence Gostin, Director of Georgetown University’s O’Neil Institute for National and Global Health Law, of focusing at first, the highest-risk sectors where there lies ethical and legal obligation to keep workers and clients safe.

In recent studies, it is suggested that to achieve herd immunity, the population might require up to 80 percent vaccinated or recovered to protect from further infections due to the highly transmissible delta variant. At the moment, up to a 1/3 of American residents remain unvaccinated. From a 1/3, 1/4 of them are reporting that they planned to get vaccinated, which is still, just 1/12th of the remaining unvaccinated population.

The federal government can’t mandate vaccines, but it can mandate certain actions be taken to receive federal money.

Biden Administration promised war-like response to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, it had been lacking. Now however, it seems like Biden Administration is finally ready to step up.

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Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Everyone but Managers want Remote Work

When Covid-19 pandemic hit the American soil last spring, 2020, workplaces across the country rapidly mobilized to push everyone to full remote work. Until the Delta variant became such a threatening force (and even partially now), workplaces were gearing people up to return to work, while many polls showed that Americans were willing to forfeit both time off and some percentage of income to remain remote. However, managers who usually do not even have offices or commute to work full time, are demonizing remote work, such as CEO and co-founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings. He argued that not being able to get together in person was bad.

What is important to note in the battle of remote work, is that those who would be forced to return are not the ones who would actually be returning to the office regularly. For example, Google’s parent company, Alphabet rolled out a return-to-office plan for more than 130,000 employees, majority having to return to the office three days a week, while others are allowed to fully work from home, such as a senior executive at the company who is allowed to work remotely from New Zealand.

The true problem of remote work is that it shows the problems of corporate America. Remote work positively favors those who produces and negatively impacts those who have succeeded at playing office politics and finding someone to blame for failures. Remote work takes away the “seemingly productive” aspect of office culture that many managers utilize and show just how much the employees actually contribute to the well being of the company compared to that of the managers and the bosses.

Of course, certain jobs do require coming into the workplace, such as kitchen staff, or hospitality workers. Blue-collar workers will likely have to return to the workplace; however, for the other huge swath of white-collar workers that spend 8-10 days a day in front of the computer in an office, there is no difference between working at a desk at home versus working at a desk in the office; except that working in the office necessarily forces you to deal with office politics, irate bosses and managers, and of course, the exhausting commute.

Managers and bosses are having to defend returning to the office by arguing that the office culture and collaboration would suffer, the data simply isn’t supporting it. Furthermore, due to the politicization of Covid-19 vaccine; if a co-worker refuses to get vaccinated, would that be safe for others to return to the office?

94% of employees surveyed reported that remote work did not impact productivity of any nature. In fact, most remote workers are happier working in a home without distractions, annoyances, or drama from co-workers and managers. Workers don’t have do commute and can be graded based on their work product rather than other non-controllable factors of working from the office.

This is more of a problem for management than for workers. In today’s society, management is a position of power and not one that provides skills; in fact, management can sometimes “stamp” their credit onto the work product without having put any effort into it other than by “managing” employees, which is easier to do in an environment with single shared space where certain unspoken code of conduct and displays of authority can be enforced.

But in remote environments, verbal abuses that are done in the moment is easier to record. Any overly harmful statements or abuses can be captured, saved, and sent to HR or to a journalist. If manager’s job is presentation of final work product, when remote work is counted, it is clear who has done what, and the manager might not even be needed, which can prevent managers from stealing the works of their subordinates to climb up the corporate ladder.

Ultimately, most of the arguments provided by management in wanting to see their employees back in the work space is no different than in the movie “Office Space,” where the manager bothers an employee for a TPS report multiple times each day, subtly pressuring an employee to do meaningless work, while presenting himself as a productive, powerful member befitting the role in the company.

Remote work makes everything more transparent, and that’s the last thing most managers and bosses want in the corporate world. That’s why they want their employees back.

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Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Delta Wreaks Havoc in the South

Delta variant is shown to be as infectious as chicken pox, pushing U.S. back to consider masks indoor, as well as vaccine mandates. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the state of California has recently mandated vaccines (the other option being weekly COVID-19 tests) for its employees.

In other parts of the country, the impacts of the Delta variant is seeing a full impact; for example, Louisiana and Florida are seeing highest levels of infections; governor of Louisiana has implemented statewide indoor mask mandate. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 surge, hospitals in Louisiana and Florida are forced to delay elective surgeries again, having to divert staff resource to treating Covid-19 patients and having to limit visitors. Florida is currently the site of about 1/5 of all Covid-19 positive infections, with at least 10 hospitals in the Jacksonville and Orlando areas hitting all-time peaks in Covid-19 patient admissions. Places like Disney World, New Orleans, and Las Vegas are mandating masks again in light of the Delta variant surge, despite their desire to return to normalcy.

As significant amount of people continue to hold out on the Covid-19 vaccine, the medical field is seeing a new stage of the pandemic unseen before. Specifically, the infections are so fast and so widespread, despite large segments of the population being vaccinated or through natural antibodies from previous infections. Hospitals are not only full, they are struggling with the new influx of variety of patients, from the young to middle-aged unvaccinated adults.

Many experts are now saying that virus elimination is no longer possible; rather, it is now about reducing the impact of the virus.

Currently, average daily U.S. cases have surged past 85,000 just last month, surpassing 2020 records and highest since February 18, 2020. Deaths have risen to about 370 a day, but is below 1,000 daily average of early August last year.

As shown in India this April and now in the U.S., the Delta variant does show more severe symptoms and is FULLY transmissible, even by a vaccinated person, and that there is a high likelihood of the Covid-19 infections going strong until August.

Available research continues to show strong evidence of the vaccine’s effectiveness against serious illnesses and maiming caused by the Covid-19 vaccine. In fact, at this point, some are saying that to reach herd immunity might require 80 percent vaccination in light of all of the variants.

In the meantime, the U.S. has donated more than 110 million doses of vaccines to more than 60 countries; donating the most than all other countries combined.

As most Americans refused to be vaccinated, Washington, D.C. remains focused on Covid-19; CDC was recently found to be engaging in unconstitutional behavior by enforcing the moratorium on rent for tenants; while the White House and Congress attempts to deal with the rent problem associated with Covid-19, the country itself is still dealing with the very real Covid-19 problems, including heightened infection levels.

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Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Pres. Biden offers $100 to newly vaccinated Americans

President Biden announced on Thursday that he wanted the state and local governments to spend the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan funds to give away $100 per individual to encourage vaccinations.

President Biden stated, “I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks that have gotten vaccinated already but here’s the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them,” and “We all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated.” in the announcement Today.

This payment will be offered to the newly vaccinated Americans encouraging get vaccinations to “protect communities and lives.” The Treasury Department has reported that it would be willing to assist the local and state governments to manage this process.

Biden administration has put effort to eradicate this pandemic as soon as possible but has found the Delta variant a huge hindrance to that goal. Biden signed this $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law which includes $350 billion in funding to assist states and local governments battling the coronavirus.

It is not sure whether this will encourage the 30% or so of the unvaccinated Americans from being vaccinated; however, those that have been vaccinated already are voicing their general dissatisfaction at Biden’s new proposal.

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Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Tokyo Reports Record COVID-19 Infections; Olympics Continue

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is underway, with the United States currently trailing behind Japan in gold medals, with 9 gold medals and total 25 medals.

At the same time in Tokyo, covid-19 infection numbers are continuing to rise, with the city still under a state of emergency with restrictive measures. For months, the residents of Tokyo protested against the holding of the Olympics during a pandemic, yet the leadership pushed through, citing the International Olympics Committee as the reason.

Tokyo continues to show high covid-19 infection rates (despite the criticized lackadaisical attitude towards testing), with 2,848 new covid-19 cases, the highest daily count. However, it might be that the Japanese residents are somewhat misunderstanding the role of the Olympians and staff on the infection rate, rather, they themselves might not be as protective or cautious as they think.

For example, over the past three days, only a little more than 9,000 tests were administered in Tokyo on average, positivity rate being around 30 percent. Japan as a whole showed rates of 7,000 infections, which is as high as back in January.

In comparison, more than 37,000 tests were administered to the Olympic arrivals at the major international airports in Japan, with only 30 positive cases. That’s a positivity rate of 0.08 percent. Further, more than 240,000 tests were completed on people related to the Olympics, with just 52 positive cases or 0.02 percent positive cases.

In fact, the behavior of Tokyo residents shows that they themselves are not keeping themselves in social distance. Although the state of emergency and the lack of spectators rules were imposed to protect Tokyo residents, central Tokyo is crowded, with neighborhoods remaining lively at night. The Nikkei newspaper reported more than 50 percent of bars and restaurants in Shinjuku were not following government guidelines, citing the delay in official compensation payments.

Olympians and staff however, are under constant surveillance under the strictest covid-19 cases. For example, they can only remove their mask for 30 seconds during the medal ceremonies.

Another interesting aspect to note is that the Olympians have a higher vaccination rate than the Tokyo residents; 85 percent of competitors and 70 percent of media representatives versus 25 percent national average.

Of course, Japan’s vaccination percentage is focused on the elderly, and PM Suga has stated that those under the age of 40 include a higher percentage hospitalized and to maintain strictest protections.

It seems that Japan should have and should be worried about maintaining enforcement on their own population rather than the mostly vaccinated outsiders there to compete at the Olympics.

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Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Vaccine Mandated by Department of Veterans Affairs

As delta and lambda variants threaten to return the U.S. to the pre-covid vaccine era of 2020, governments and health groups are requiring vaccines for all of its eligible workers. The Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), the state of California, New York City, and the Mayo Clinic are some of the first to be rolling out this mandate.

The VA has the highest impact, as it is one of the nation’s largest health systems. It announced Monday that front-line workers would be receiving mandatory coronavirus vaccines; it is also the first federal agency to be implementing this mandate. This move by the VA is supported by many in Congress, including Republican members who are now afraid that the anti-vax and vaccine-hesitant population will reverse the progress made and force businesses to close down once more.

As the new, more infectious variants enter the population, places like California and New York City which saw the highest infection rates last year are mandating vaccines or weekly testing for its employees.

This is the first concerted effort by all interested parties to get as many people vaccinated. VA mandate will apply to more than 100,000 front-line workers, New York City’s mandate will affect 45,000 workers, and California’s mandate will affect more than 2.2 million employees and health workers. Many are concerned about the uptick of delta infections especially among the unvaccinated, as the unvaccinated often end up with more serious illnesses due to the delta variant than the population that has been vaccinated.

The number increase is no joke. California saw 900 serious covid-19 cases in June. That number has gone up to 3,000. Nationwide, the caseload has again increased from 13,000 cases a day in early July to 54,000 cases a day.

Currently, about 60 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated and the data had been showing a decrease in immunizations since mid-April. According to WebMD, at least 25% of healthcare workers are still not vaccinated by end of May. Most private employers hesitate on putting up vaccine mandates for their workers due to fear of lawsuits or staff loss; only 9% of hospitals in the U.S. currently support a mandate for vaccination.

Given that the vaccine is free for everyone, the President has pleaded with everyone to get the vaccine, and the population has even been cajoled, the slow uptake in vaccination among the rest of the population is worrisome.

Please note that the vaccine is safe for most people and that everyone is given the vaccine, not just any singled out race or gender. Let’s prevent the onset of delta infections and the re-closing of all economies by getting vaccinated. If schools have to be shut down again because of high infection rates, it’ll be a daycare nightmare for many parents again as well.

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Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.