COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
An American detained in Russia got infected with COVID-19 after being denied a vaccine, his family said
  • Trevor Reed, a former US Marine, has been detained in Russia since 2019.
  • His family said Russian officials refused to vaccinate him, and now he has COVID-19.
  • The family said Trevor's illness was "a result of a toxic mix of incompetence, recklessness and spitefulness."
Trevor Reed, a former US Marine, was detained in August 2019 after being accused of assaulting police officers.

His family said in a Tuesday statement that Reed had complained of COVID-19 symptoms, including losing his sense of smell, and tested positive, but a judge refused extra medical tests or a postponement of a court hearing.

"It is completely unacceptable that Trevor contracted COVID in the first place. Some time ago, [US] Embassy officials requested permission to vaccinate Trevor and Russian officials refused," the family said.
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Coronavirus booster shots are a strong possibility, Fauci says
The nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday that people may need additional shots, at some point, to bolster immune defenses against the coronavirus. “I don’t anticipate that the durability of the vaccine protection is going to be infinite — it’s just not,” Fauci said. "So, I imagine we will need, at some time, a booster. What we’re figuring out right now is what that interval is going to be."
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Resistance to vaccine mandates is building. A powerful network is helping.
A New York firm has filed suit or sent letters to employers in several states as part of an effort spearheaded by one of the largest anti-vaccination groups in the country.

A law firm with close ties to the anti-vaccine movement is trying to stop employers from mandating vaccines. Siri & Glimstad, a firm in New York, sent letters to Rutgers University in New Jersey, a Wisconsin nursing home and other places to discourage compulsory vaccination. This effort is being pushed by one of the firm's clients: the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network, run by anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree.
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U.S. to ‘Redouble’ Efforts Into Coronavirus Origin Investigation

The Biden administration announced that it has called on intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China as a way to prevent future pandemics.

Today, the president asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to him in 90 days. Back in early 2020, the president called for the C.D.C. to get access to China to learn about the virus so we could fight it more effectively. Getting to the bottom of the origin of this pandemic will help us understand how to prepare for the next pandemic, and the next one. As we have done throughout our Covid response, we have been committed to a whole of government effort to ensure we’re doing everything to both understand and end this pandemic, and to prevent future pandemics. This is why the president is asking the U.S. intelligence community, in cooperation with other elements of our government, to redouble efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring the world closer to a definitive conclusion on the origin of the virus and deliver a report to him again in 90 days. And we will continue to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation with the needed access to get to the bottom of a virus that’s taken more than three million lives across the globe.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren grilled Jamie Dimon over Chase charging nearly $1.5 billion in overdraft fees during the pandemic
  • The four major Wall Street banks collected a combined $4 billion in overdraft fees during the pandemic.
  • Sen. Warren said Chase was "the star of the overdraft show," charging customers nearly $1.5 billion.
  • Warren asked the four banks' CEOs if they would refund the fees. All said no.
Senator Elizabeth Warren singled out JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon during a banking committee hearing, grilling him over Chase's decision to continue collecting nearly $1.5 billion in overdraft charges from customers during the pandemic.

Joining Dimon were the CEOs of Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, which took in a combined $4 billion in fees from checking customers who had no money in their accounts during the pandemic, against the recommendations of bank regulators.

At the start of the pandemic, Warren explained, the bank regulators told financial institutions that they would not be charged a fee if their accounts at the Federal Reserve were overdrawn. The regulators also recommended the banks extend the same automatic protection to their customers.

Senator Elizabeth Warren asked the CEOs to raise their hands if they had followed that guidance.

"I'm not seeing anyone raise a hand, and that's because none of you gave the same help to your customers that the bank regulators extended to you — help that the regulators recommended that you give," Warren said.

Instead, the four leading Wall Street banks, which handle tens of millions of retail checking accounts , charged customers a combined $4 billion in fees during the pandemic when their balances hit zero.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, those customers were more likely to be African American or Hispanic, or be earning less than $50,000 per year. Figures from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau show that just 8% of account holders are responsible for three-quarters of overdraft fees.

Singling out Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan, whom she called "the star of the overdraft show," Warren asked if waiving the nearly $1.5 billion it collected in overdraft fees would have put the bank into financial trouble.

"We waived the fees every time a customer asked because of Covid," Dimon replied.

"Your profits would have been $27.6 billion," Warren said. "I did the math for you."

"Mr. Dimon, will you commit right now to refund the $1.5 billion you took from consumers during the pandemic?" she continued.

"No," he said.

The other three executives also declined Warren's request.

"Last year, when customers said they were struggling, we waived fees on over 1 million deposit accounts, including overdraft fees – no questions asked," Chase spokesperson Amy Bonitatibus said in a statement to Insider.

A previous study found Chase charges more than average for overdraft fees, generating more than $35 per account, compared with Citi, which charges less than $5 per account, according to Aaron Klein, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"Overdraft is an expensive fee they charge only on those people who run out of money that goes straight to short-term profits," Klein told the New York Times in April.
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New Outbreak in Malaysia Is Linked to Ramadan Gatherings
Malaysia on Wednesday recorded nearly 7,500 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths, its highest tolls since the pandemic began, and has joined several other Southeast Asian nations in introducing new restrictions to curb a resurgence of infections.

With a population of nearly 33 million, Malaysia is now seeing more infections per capita than almost any country in Asia, with 21 cases per 100,000 people, according to a New York Times database.

Part of Malaysia’s surge appears to be the result of prayer gatherings this month around Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, despite restrictions. The health minister, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said on Wednesday that a dozen clusters with a total of 470 cases had emerged from prayer gatherings that were held 14 days earlier.

The Malaysian government imposed new restrictions that took effect on Tuesday, including shortening operating hours for businesses and requiring more people to work from home. Residents were encouraged to limit their social contacts and to stay at home as much as possible.
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia