(CNN)The federal government has quietly launched its website to sign up for free Covid-19 tests, allowing people to order a maximum of four tests shipped directly to their household.White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Tuesday that the government website to order free Covid-19 tests is up and running as part of a “beta phase” ahead of the government website’s formal rollout Wednesday morning.“COVIDtests.gov is in the beta phase right now, which is a standard part of the process typically as it’s being kind of tested in the early stages of being rolled out,” Psaki told reporters at the White House. “It will officially launch tomorrow morning.”Have you tried to get a free home test from the federal site? Did it work smoothly or was there an issue? Tell us about it here.
The 400 million newly available masks will be non-surgical N95s that are sourced from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, as part of an effort to ensure Americans can access the more-protective masks during a record surge of Covid-19 cases.
The initiative — which POLITICO first reported Tuesday evening — comes in response to growing pressure on the administration to encourage Americans to abandon cloth masks in favor of more protective versions, amid evidence that the cloth coverings do not work as well against the more transmissible Omicron variant.
Public health experts and former Biden transition advisers had also lobbied the White House in recent weeks to give out masks, arguing that cheap and genuine N95s are still difficult for people to find.
The administration plans to make the masks available at tens of thousands of pharmacies and health centers by early February, the White House official said, which people will then be able to pick up for free.
The supply will not include child-sized masks, though two people with knowledge of the matter said the government is working to procure them.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The omicron variant has now been identified in Allegheny County.
As of Thursday, there are two known cases in the county. Both cases were detected in adult men, with one sample collected on Dec. 7 and the other sample collected on Dec. 13.
Those samples were confirmed to be from the variant on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.
Local doctors expect cases to rise significantly in the area.
“Knowing that it was already in the community in the middle of December and how fast it spreads and how contagious it is, we can pretty much assure that, knowing that it’s dominant already in the rest of America, it’s probably the dominant case that we’re seeing here,” said Brian Lamb, an internal medicine doctor at Allegheny Health Network.
On Wednesday, Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen said it was “only a matter of days” before the variant would be detected, especially since the health department found evidence of the variant in the county’s wastewater.
The confirmed cases come as the omicron variant has become the most dominant in the US, and cases from the variant have overtaken the Delta variant.
A Philadelphia man has tested positive for the omicron variant of coronavirus, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said Friday.
Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt left Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions due to an injury.
The National Institutes of Health has stunningly admitted to funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at China’s Wuhan lab — despite Dr. Anthony Fauci repeatedly insisting to Congress that no such thing happened.
In a letter to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) on Wednesday, a top NIH official blamed EcoHealth Alliance — the New York City-based nonprofit that has funneled US funds to the Wuhan lab — for not being transparent about the work it was doing.
NIH’s principal deputy director, Lawrence A. Tabak, wrote in the letter that EcoHealth’s “limited experiment” tested whether “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers have several injuries on defense as well, including T.J. Watt, Joe Haden, Devin Bush and Alex Highsmith.
Critics have bashed the Biden administration for its latest mistake as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced several Afghan evacuees tested positive for a deadly disease inside the U.S. On Friday, Psaki confirmed an outbreak of measles cases among Afghan escapees has temporarily halted new flights from bringing more people into the U.S.
Critics have continued to slam the Biden administration for seemingly failing at every point in their botched Afghanistan withdrawal. Despite a measles vaccine being required for entry, Psaki said the cases still happened.
“Let me give you the information we have at this point, or I have I should say. Operation ‘Allies Welcome’ flights into the United States have been temporarily paused,” she announced. “…These individuals are being quarantined in accordance with public health guidelines and the CDC has begun full contact tracing. All arriving Afghans are currently required to be vaccinated for measles as a condition of entry into the United States.”
Meanwhile, Americans were still reportedly stranded in Afghanistan as the Biden administration called the Taliban “business-like and professional.”
The president’s executive orders apply to employees of the executive branch and federal government contractors.
Biden issued two executive orders on Thursday requiring vaccination against COVID for federal workers and contractors who work for the federal government. He also asked the Department of Labor to issue an emergency order requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested on a weekly basis.
However, Biden’s order on federal workers applies to employees of the executive branch. The House of Representatives and the Senate belong to the separate legislative branch, and the courts to the judicial branch of the federal government.
(KHN)In Northern California, the pastor of a megachurch hands out religious exemption forms to the faithful. A New Mexico state senator will “help you articulate a religious exemption” by pointing to the decades-old use of aborted fetal cells in the development of some vaccines. And a Texas-based evangelist offers exemption letters to anyone — for a suggested “donation” starting at $25.With workplace vaccine mandates in the offing, opponents are turning to a tried-and-true recourse for avoiding a covid-19 shot: the claim that vaccination interferes with religious beliefs.No major denomination opposes vaccination. Even the Christian Science Church, whose adherents rely largely on prayer rather than medicine, does not impose an official policy. It counsels “respect for public health authorities and conscientious obedience to the laws of the land, including those requiring vaccination.”
DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. —
Protests continued at multiple school districts in Westmoreland County Wednesday as dozens of students and parents voiced their frustrations over the state’s mask mandate in schools.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke with the Derry Area School District about how the district is handling frustrated families.
“I understand that frustration,” Derry Area Assistant Superintendent Greg Ferencak said. “We started off with a masks optional, but highly recommended and now we have to switch and there’s some confusion.”
Ferencak said the district’s original health and safety plan called for a change in policy in the event of a state or federal mandate. A small group of students and parents protested the decision to mandate masks in Derry each of the last two days.
“We are trying to let the voices of the students be heard and trying to be reasonable with them,” Ferencak said.
Ferencak said a failure to comply with the mandate could come with consequences for the district, including a loss of funding.
“We could be held liable for not following them through various complaints, willful neglect of duty, you name it,” Ferencak said.
(CNN)President Joe Biden on Thursday imposed stringent new vaccine rules on federal workers, large employers and health care staff in a sweeping attempt to contain the latest surge of Covid-19.The new requirements could apply to as many as 100 million Americans — close to two-thirds of the American workforce — and amount to Biden’s strongest push yet to require vaccines for much of the country.“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said, his tone hardening toward Americans who still refuse to receive a vaccine despite ample evidence of their safety and full approval of one — the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine — from the US Food and Drug Administration.He said vaccinated America was growing “frustrated” with the 80 million people who have not received shots and are fueling the spread of the virus. And he acknowledged the new steps would not provide a quick fix.“While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact: We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for awhile,” Biden said in an early evening speech from the White House.At the center of Biden’s new plan is directing the Labor Department to require all businesses with 100 or more employees ensure their workers are either vaccinated or tested once a week, an expansive step the President took after consultation with administration health officials and lawyers. Companies could face thousands of dollars in fines per employee if they don’t comply.Biden also signed an executive order requiring all government employees be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt out. The President signed an accompanying order directing the same standard be applied to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government.He also said 300,000 educators in federal Head Start programs must be vaccinated and called on governors to require vaccinations for schoolteachers and staff.And Biden announced he would require the 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated, expanding the mandate to hospitals, home care facilities and dialysis centers around the country.“We have the tools to combat the virus if we come together to use those tools,” Biden said at the outset of what was billed as a major speech to tackle the latest phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.The new rules amount to the most dramatic steps to date to get more Americans vaccinated. Once cautious of vaccine mandates, the Biden administration is now wholly embracing them as vaccine hesitancy persists among certain groups.Administration officials acknowledged the requirement for large employers could be challenged in court. But they said their hope was to provide cover of federal rules to businesses who want to require vaccines for employees.The new rules come as the Delta variant tears through communities across the country, causing upticks in hospitalizations and deaths particularly in areas where vaccination rates remain low.
Jacinda Ardern announced that all New Zealand will be in the toughest, level-four lockdown for at least three days.
New Zealand was ordered into a strict nationwide lockdown Tuesday — after just one COVID-19 case was detected.
It was the first locally transmitted infection in the community in six months.
“The best thing we can do to get out of this as quickly as we can is to go hard,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a televised national address.
“We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance,” she insisted.
Ardern announced that all New Zealand will be in the toughest, level-four lockdown for at least three days from Wednesday, with schools, offices and businesses closed and only essential services operational.
The biggest city, Auckland — where the unidentified 58-year-old man tested positive — would have a longer, seven-day lockdown, as would Coromandel, a coastal town where the infected person spent time.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden left Friday from Delaware for a weekend at Camp David, as the president’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan is becoming a crisis.
- President Biden and first lady Jill Biden left Friday afternoon from Delaware for a long weekend at Camp David
- Biden left and is set to stay until Wednesday while his planned withdrawal from Afghanistan turns into a crisis
- Taliban fighters are closing in on Kabul, while 3,000 American troops are expected to arrive this weekend
- They have been sent in to help evacuate some US personnel from the Kabul embassy as situation deteriorates
- The White House said the president had been briefed about ‘the ongoing efforts to safely drawdown the civilian footprint in Afghanistan’
- A memo sent to embassy staff told them to prepare to destroy sensitive documents and computers
- The first lady was spotted with a walking boot and crutch, marking the first time she’s been seen publicly since she injured her foot on a Hawaii beach
- On Friday the insurgents claimed Kandahar, the country’s second biggest city, Herat, close to the Iranian border, and Ghazni, on the road south from Kabul
Reporter Greg Piper tweeted “Vaccines are not safe for everyone.”
The post also linked to a report by the higher education news website the College Fix detailing Brigham Young University’s refusal to grant an exception to its vaccine mandate for a student with a potentially complicating medical condition.
Piper’s appended remark is backed up by CDC guidance, which stipulates that “some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them.”
Piper pointed out to Just the News that “every mandate has a medical exemption.”
A government watchdog investigation has uncovered evidence of animal abuse involving the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is led by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The agency used $424,455 in taxpayer dollars to support University of Georgia researchers who performed experimental drug tests on 28 beagles after infecting them with parasites, according to the Daily Caller.
Documents obtained by the White Coat Waste Project showed that some of the dogs “vocalized in pain” upon being injected with an experimental vaccine.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said it will require all its workers — including vaccinated ones — to wear masks in areas with high infection rates of COVID-19. The country’s largest retailer also is encouraging its customers to wear masks in stores in areas with high infection rates from the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and will be adding back signs at entrances announcing its latest policies, according to a memo supplied by Walmart that was sent to its employees Friday. Walmart is also requiring some employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 4.
(CNN)The proportion of schizophrenia cases linked with problematic use of marijuana has increased over the past 25 years, according to a new study from Denmark.In 1995, 2% of schizophrenia diagnoses in the country were associated with cannabis use disorder. In 2000, it increased to around 4%. Since 2010, that figure increased to 8%, the study found.“I think it is highly important to use both our study and other studies to highlight and emphasize that cannabis use is not harmless,” said Carsten Hjorthøj, an associate professor at the Copenhagen Research Center for Mental Health and an author of the study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, via email.“There is, unfortunately, evidence to suggest that cannabis is increasingly seen as a somewhat harmless substance. This is unfortunate, since we see links with schizophrenia, poorer cognitive function, substance use disorders, etc,” Hjorthøj wrote.
Previous research has suggested that the risk of schizophrenia is heightened for people who use cannabis, and the association is particularly driven by heavy use of the drug. Many researchers hypothesize that cannabis use may be a “component cause,” which interacts with other risk factors, to cause the condition.”
Of course, our findings will have to be replicated elsewhere before firm conclusions can be drawn,” Hjorthøj continued. “But I do feel fairly confident that we will see similar patterns in places where problematic use of cannabis has increased, or where the potency of cannabis has increased, since many studies suggest that high-potency cannabis is probably the driver of the association with schizophrenia.”
Around the world tens of millions of people use cannabis. It’s legal for recreational use in 19 US states and Canada. In these and some other places, it’s also approved to treat some medical conditions.
A Greensburg doctor pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to taking kickbacks, health care fraud and conspiring to distribute controlled substances.
Thomas Whitten, 71, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV on Dec. 7.
According to prosecutors, Whitten received kickbacks from Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics from May 2013 to November 2015 in exchange for prescribing Subsys, a powerful opioid containing fentanyl. Subsys, which is a liquid that gets sprayed under a patient’s tongue, is only approved for the “management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients” who have developed a tolerance to other pain killers.
However, investigators said Whitten prescribed the drug to patients for whom it was not medically necessary and, therefore, it was not eligible for insurance reimbursement.
Whitten also pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute phentermine hyrocholoride and diethlpropion to patients at five weight-loss clinics from November 2017 to December 2019.
Cawthorn, a Republican who represents North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, spoke to Newsmax’s Chris Salcedo about his views on the president’s mental state and Jill Biden’s treatment of her husband.
Salcedo said that Biden “has lost control of the pandemic” and cited border crossings by unvaccinated individuals. He asked Cawthorn if Republicans should “hold Biden accountable” for “putting America in reverse” in terms of COVID.
Cawthorn said. “You know, I would love to have a congressional inquiry to understand exactly what Joe Biden’s reasoning is, but unfortunately I don’t think he could find his way to Congress.”
“I’m talking from a very objective standpoint here. I think we should indict Jill Biden – I’m not saying indict in terms of criminal – but I’m saying that we should call her out for being so cruel to her husband,” Cawthorn went on.
By Pete Williams
WASHINGTON — Lawyers for the state of Mississippi urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to overturn Roe v Wade, taking a more aggressive approach than the one presented when they asked the court a year ago to hear the case.
The case for overturning the two main decisions that legalized abortion in the United States — Roe v Wade in 1973 and a later case, 1992’s Planned Parenthood v Casey — is overwhelming, the state said. “The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition.”
By ruling that a state may not impose an undue burden on a right to abortion, the Supreme Court has placed itself “at the center of a controversy that it can never resolve.”
The state is appealing lower court rulings that struck down a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Gestational Age Act would allow later abortions only in medical emergencies or cases of severe fetal abnormality.
DALLAS, Texas (KWTX) – Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) on Friday reported the first case of monkeypox in a resident of Dallas County, a case believed to be the first monkeypox virus infection in a Texas resident.
Officials said the individual infected with the virus is a Dallas resident who traveled from Nigeria to Dallas and arrived at Love Field Airport on July 9, 2021.
“While rare, this case is not a reason for alarm and we do not expect any threat to the general public. Dallas County Health and Human Services is working closely with local providers, as well as our state and federal partners,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
The person is hospitalized in stable condition and isolated to prevent the spread of the virus.
By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new medical marijuana dispensary is opening in Pittsburgh.
“goodblend” opened at 10 a.m. Saturday on Baum Boulevard.
People who enter must have a valid Pennsylvania medical marijuana patient card.
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is doing well following intestinal surgery, the Vatican said on Sunday after the 84-year-old pontiff was hospitalized for the first time since his election in 2013.
Spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement that the pontiff “responded well” to the surgery, which was done under general anesthesia and which the Vatican had said earlier had been scheduled and not prompted by an emergency.
He gave no further details about the surgery or how long it lasted and did not say how long the pope would remain in Rome’s Gemelli hospital.
The pope entered the hospital early on Sunday afternoon and the statement was issued just before midnight Rome time.
Francis underwent surgery for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon, a condition where sac-like pouches protrude from the muscular layer of the colon, leading it to become narrow. The operation was carried out by a 10-person medical team.
In addition to causing pain, the condition can lead to bloating, inflammation, and difficulty in bowel movement. It tends to affect older people more.
.(CNN)Some states are making great strides in vaccinating their residents against Covid-19, but the ones that are not may soon be contending with a more transmissible variant, experts say.About 45.1% of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, CDC data showed, and in 16 states and Washington, DC, that proportion is up to half. But some states like — Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming — have fully vaccinated less than 35% of residents.More than 500 days and 600,000 deaths since the first person in the United States was reported to have died from Covid-19, experts have upheld vaccines as the key to reopening the country safely and containing the variants, many of which are more transmissible.
Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician, called on President Biden to immediately undergo a cognitive test so the commander-in-chief can prove to the American public sound mental capabilities.“We can’t sit on this any longer,” Jackson told “Hannity” Thursday night, citing Biden’s “embarrassing” performance overseas this week with world leaders.
“He’s not physically or cognitively fit to be our president right now,” Jackson added.
The freshman Texas congressman and 13 of his GOP colleagues sent a letter to Biden Thursday expressing “concern” with his cognitive state and cited several examples of potential memory lapses, including apparently forgetting the name of his Defense Secretary, telling an Amtrak story with a timeline that didn’t add up and seemingly blanking on the often-quoted first line of the Declaration of Independence.
PITTSBURGH — Police say three people are dead after a car crashed into a plasma donation center on Western Avenue in the Manchester neighborhood.
A Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) notification was issued due to the severity of the damage and the unknown amount of entrapped victims at the time that police and EMS arrived.
Medics pronounced three victims dead, one of them being a person in the vehicle.
There were around 10 employees and five doners in the building at the time, now many of them are left shaken. One witness was inside the building at the time of the crash and says it was a surreal moment for him.
“Just, I mean just shock really, it was just numb, like I, I’m still you know heart racing, just not sure what was happening,” explained donor Shane McDevitt.
A small fire started in the building after the crash and two first responders were treated for smoke inhalation.
Crews managed to pull a red Hyundai out of the building.
In a statement about the incident the Biomat USA Corporate Office said:
Police said two others were also injured. One of them is in critical condition. or center. The safety of our employees and donors is always our first priority. We are grateful to the first responders and our employees who acted quickly to prevent any additional injuries. Biomat USA is cooperating with the local authorities as the investigation continues.” A Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) notification was issued due to the severity of the damage and unknown amount of entrapped victims.
Police continue to interview witnesses about what happened. The next step is to figure out whether the building is structurally sound. Channel 11 will let you know as we get those updates.
Biden administration budget chief Shalanda Young refused to say that Joe Biden would stop funding gain of function research at the Wuhan, China research lab. For clarity, the term gain of function is used to describe any field of medical research that alters an organism or disease in a way that increases transmissibility or pathogenesis.
This comes as mounting evidence shows Chinese scientists manipulated bat coronaviruses while increasing their ability to infect humans. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a Pentagon sub-agency were recently found to be giving money for those risky experiments. This is something Dr. Fauci had previously denied he was aware of regarding the lab in Wuhan.
“And the funds made available by the agency which Fauci heads, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to the tune of $600,000 went to this Wuhan Institute of Virology,” stated Alan Jones, host of Sky News Australia. “This is a lab involved in gain of function research that is creating more dangerous pathogens.
”House Republicans said the remarks by Biden’s budget chief suggest this administration will continue to give taxpayer money to the Chinese lab that evidence increasingly suggests may have played a key role in the emergence of COVID-19 and a pandemic the rocked the entire world.