COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
McDonald’s and Uber to help encourage vaccine-hesitant Americans
McDonald’s to promote vaccine information on coffee cups while Uber and Lyft to give free rides to vaccine sites

Incentivising the vaccine-hesitant in America has reached the fast food and ride-share industries.

Burger chain McDonald’s has announced it is partnering with the White House to promote vaccination information on its coffee cups.

Separately, Joe Biden announced on Tuesday a new program with Lyft and Uber which will offer free rides to anyone going to a vaccination site to get vaccinated.

Starting in July, US customers will see redesigned McCafΓ© cups and delivery-box seal stickers featuring an upbeat message of “We Can Do This”, a slogan created by the US health department.

McDonald’s also said it will unveil a billboard in New York’s Times Square this month displaying vaccine information.

Xavier Becerra, the health secretary, said in a statement the public-private partnership “will help more people make informed decisions about their health and learn about steps they can take to protect themselves and their communities”.

As part of Biden’s goal to get 70% of the US adult population vaccinated with at least one shot by 4 July, the ride-share giants Uber and Lyft will promote rides to and from tens of thousands of vaccination sites through their apps, the White House said.

“People will be able to simply select a vaccination site near them, follow simple directions to redeem their ride, and then get a ride to take them to and from a nearby vaccination site free of charge.”

The vaccine promotion scheme is expected to start in about two weeks and last until the Fourth of July holiday.
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Biden administration reverses Trump-era policy that blocked undocumented students from pandemic aid
The Biden administration is expanding eligibility for pandemic relief aid to include undocumented and international college students, reversing a Trump-era policy that blocked them from receiving federal emergency grants.

Last year, the Education Department said that only those students who were eligible for existing federal student aid would be allowed to receive the new emergency grant. That excluded undocumented immigrants, international students and those who were in default on federal student loans, as well as students who weren't meeting academic standards or were enrolled in ineligible education programs. That interpretation of the law also blocked immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last year in response to the Trump administration's attempt to end it.

"These funds are critical to ensuring that all of our nation's students -- particularly those disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic -- have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate, and pursue their careers," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The Trump-era policy became the subject of court battles in several states and provoked outcry from Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, who now chairs the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
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US hunger rates hit pandemic low following two rounds of direct stimulus
  • Hunger rates in the US have significantly dropped following increased federal aid in recent months.
  • Census data found the percentage of adults facing food insecurity dropped from 11% in March to 8% last month.
  • "Money helps," one economist told Politico: "We're continuing to see improvement."
The percentage of Americans facing hunger reached its lowest level yet last week since the pandemic began last March, suggesting direct federal aid has meaningfully helped families survive the coronavirus crisis, bolstering Democrats' push for another expensive spending package on the horizon.

Data from the US Census Bureau released last week shows the percentage of US adults living in households that sometimes or often did not have enough to eat shrunk from 11% in March to around 8% late last month.

Census data from April also showed a decline in food insecurity rates right around the time millions of Americans began receiving direct stimulus checks from the federal government in mid-March. In just two weeks, hunger rates in the country dropped nearly 18%.

Last week's data suggests that the downward trend in food insecurity is holding, following two rounds of federal stimulus in the last six months.

... Since the pandemic began, the Census Bureau has been conducting surveys to track how Americans are faring when it comes to issues like debt, rent payments, and hunger. It is likely still too early to know how much of the decline in hunger rates have been caused by federal aid versus a bettering economy, but economists have said previous stimulus checks also resulted in less hunger, according to Politico.

In its 2020 Household Pulse Survey, the Census Bureau found that 80% of Americans who had received a stimulus check last spring spent it on food.
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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