COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Number of ICE detainees testing positive for the coronavirus rises as advocates say agency needs robust vaccination program
Hundreds of immigrants in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers tested positive for the coronavirus this week, compared with just 60 inside the much-larger Bureau of Prisons, a stark discrepancy that comes as lawyers and lawmakers urge the Biden administration to swiftly vaccinate all detainees.

Infections in ICE detention have risen from 370 in mid-March to nearly 1,500 this week because more migrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and many are arriving infected, federal officials said. But the American Civil Liberties Union says ICE has not created the type of robust vaccination program that helped the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) drive down infections, and it told the Department of Homeland Security in a letter Thursday that detention centers have been “among the most dangerous” places during the pandemic.

“This is ICE’s clear failure to provide for the health and safety of people in their custody,” Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project, said in an interview, calling the disparity between the agencies’ figures “stunning.”

“There should be no one in detention who wants a vaccine and is unable to get it.”

Individual immigration detention centers in Texas, Georgia and Louisiana each had more positive cases this week than the entire BOP, which holds nearly 130,000 people for criminal offenses and initially was hit hard by the pandemic. ICE is detaining 22,000 immigrants for civil deportation proceedings.
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Researchers held an experimental indoor concert in Spain with no social distancing. No one contracted covid.
In December, hundreds of people packed into a Barcelona arena to dance and sing along to five hours of live music and D.J. sets, gleefully abandoning social distancing guidelines for the night.

The show was a large-scale science experiment, designed to see if large indoor concerts could take place safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. But such scenes could soon become far more common: Researchers found that not one of the concertgoers tested positive for the coronavirus after the event, according to results published Wednesday on the website of the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The safety protocols put in place for the concert could offer a preview of what live music events might look like for the foreseeable future, in some places with relatively low community transmission attempting to balance safety with the drive for a full return to normalcy.

While social distancing wasn’t required, attendees were required to wear N95 face masks throughout the event. The only exceptions were at a designated outdoor smoking area where only 20 people could gather at a time and distancing was mandatory, and an indoor bar area where masks could be briefly removed while drinking.

To make wearing masks more comfortable, temperatures inside the venue were kept under 70 degrees. While the building lacked windows, doors were left open to allow additional ventilation.

The concert took place before coronavirus vaccines were available in Spain, but at a time when the number of infections was relatively low, with roughly 221 cases being reported for every 100,000 people in the Catalonia region. All participants were required to take rapid antigen tests ahead of the concert — a method of testing for the coronavirus that is less accurate than others but delivers results within minutes.
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Chevy Chase, Md., was mostly unscathed by covid-19. But it could get up to $2.5 million in relief funds.
Affluent Chevy Chase, Md., has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus infection in the Washington region. When shops and restaurants shuttered at the start of the pandemic, causing widespread layoffs elsewhere, most residents were able to telecommute. In a place where the average household income exceeds $400,000, there was no need for rent relief or food distribution hubs.

“We’re just people working from home here,” Mayor Barney Rush said.

In the coming weeks, however, Chevy Chase is set to receive the same level of federal relief funding per-capita as dozens of other municipalities far harder-hit by the pandemic. According to early estimates, the town of 2,973 could receive up to $2.5 million, roughly equivalent to its entire annual operating budget.

Unlike the 2020 Cares Act, this year’s American Rescue Plan is sending a significant amount of money— $19.5 billion — into the coffers of the country’s smallest municipalities, a decision that advocates say will help reach needy residents where they are and drive economic recovery. In Maryland, $538 million will be split among 149 small cities and towns, many of which have not received such massive infusions in several decades.

The funding, which will go out in two tranches, is calculated based on a formula created by the federal government that depends on population, without regard for a municipality’s poverty or unemployment level, or how much it was affected by the pandemic.

... “We are not sure that we’d be able to use it for direct covid-related matters because it’s not clear that the town has really been affected,” said Rush, a board chairman for a publicly traded solar company who serves as the town’s unpaid, part-time mayor.

Located just outside the District, Chevy Chase is the home of many prominent Washingtonians, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. When the pandemic hit, the town council moved most of its operations online without having to dip into its $10 million in general reserves, Rush said.

So how is this town, where two-thirds of all adult residents have graduate degrees, planning to spend its federal dollars? Most likely on storm water drainage systems for its tree-lined roads and park.

According to the Treasury Department’s latest guidance, dollars from the American Rescue Plan can be used to curb the spread of the coronavirus, shore up revenue losses, fund hazard pay for front-line workers, support needy residents, and invest in “water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.”

Rush said officials are trying to ascertain if the last point means the town can spend its allocated money addressing the flooding complaints that residents have had in recent years.

“We’re obligated to spend money that directly benefit residents of our town. . . . So it’s not like we have free rein here,” he said. “If we ultimately do have extra money, I guess we return it at some point.”
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Idaho’s governor repeals the lieutenant governor’s ban on mask mandates.
Idaho’s governor, Brad Little, said on Friday that he had repealed a ban on mask mandates that a political rival, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, had issued while he was traveling out of state for a conference of the Republican Governors Association.

“Let me offer some advice as Idaho’s duly elected Governor — governing in a silo is NOT governing,” Mr. Little said in a statement announcing the reversal. “The action that took place was an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.”

In the government equivalent of throwing a party while your parents are out of town, Ms. McGeachin, who is also a Republican and recently announced a bid to challenge Mr. Little for governor, had issued an executive order on Thursday banning mask mandates while Mr. Little had traveled briefly to Nashville.

She signed an executive order forbidding the state, municipalities and public schools from requiring masks. It said that wearing masks had done “significant physical, mental, social and economic harm,” that they failed to serve a health or safety purpose and that they “unnecessarily restrict the rights and liberties of individuals and business.”

Mr. Little said in an executive order, which was effective immediately, that the repeal would be applied retroactively to include Thursday, when Ms. McGeachin issued the ban.

... Idaho did not have a statewide mask mandate, but an executive order effective May 21 required masks at long-term care facilities and said they were “strongly recommended” for others.
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These Florida concert tickets are $18 if you're vaccinated, $1,000 if you're not
The promoter behind the discount hopes it encourages people to get their shot.

A concert promoter in Florida came up with a creative way to encourage his community to get vaccinated by offering $18 discounted tickets to an upcoming show for those who have been vaccinated -- and charging $999.99 per ticket for those who have not.

Paul Williams of Leadfoot Promotions in Tampa Bay said he came up with the idea as vaccination appointments in his state opened up to all, and while trying to plan a concert that people could safely enjoy after over a year of living through a pandemic that shut down most live events with crowds.

"I also wanted it to be a vaccine drive to get the fence-sitters off the fence," Williams told ABC News. "I wanted to get the kids that want to go to shows to go out and get their shots."

The concert is set to take place on June 26 at the VFW Post 39 venue in St. Petersburg. It will feature performances from three punk rock banks: Teenage Bottlerocket, MakeWar and Rutterkin.

Some 250 discounted tickets for vaccinated patrons for are sale, compared to just four thousand-dollar tickets. So far, Williams said no one has bought any of the $1,000 tickets.

"We're all vaccinated. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated so we can see you in the pit," Ray Carlisle, singer and guitar player with the band Teenage Bottlerocket, told Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS.

The response to his initiative from the local music scene has been "overwhelmingly positive," Williams said. He has been receiving negative comments, however, from a slew of anti-vaxxers who he said obtained his phone number and have been inundating him with spam messages.

"To care about people being safe is very bad apparently," Williams said.

The promoter said he isn't denying entry to unvaccinated concertgoers, saying, "You can buy a full-price ticket and you'll be treated like everyone else."

The concert comes amid nationwide pushes to encourage widespread vaccinations that could help bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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California to Give $116.5 million to Vaccinated Residents

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced on Thursday a $116.5 million giveaway to residents who have received a coronavirus vaccination in an effort to motivate people to get a shot.

Friday, June 4, on Friday, June 11, the state of California will be conducting a drawing. Everybody that has been vaccinated in the state of California will have their name, put into this drawing. They are all eligible. And all of those of you before those dates that get vaccinated — I hope you’re paying attention — you get the $50 incentive card and you have a chance to be in a drawing where we will be pulling the names of 15 individuals that will receive $50,000 cash prizes. But the vast majority of Californians eligible that have received a first dose, those that seek to get a first dose before June 15, $15 million that night will be distributed, $1.5 million prizes for 10 individuals. Children 12 and up will also be eligible for those prizes. We’re doing that in order to encourage you not only with that $50 gift card, but with this significant prize and incentive program. So it’s multifaceted — $116.5 million we’re setting aside for these efforts, those gift cards, again, those incentive cards will run through till we run out.
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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