Scientists predict China will see the largest COVID surge of the pandemic this winter, with hundreds of millions of people infected. But some experts say that it could have been even worse.
Scientists predict China will see the largest COVID surge of the pandemic this winter, with hundreds of millions of people infected. But some experts say that it could have been even worse.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea imposed a nationwide lockdown Thursday to control its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak after holding for more than two years to a widely doubted claim of a perfect record keeping out the virus that has spread to nearly every place in the world.
The outbreak forced leader Kim Jong Un to wear a mask in public, likely for the first time since the start of the pandemic, but the scale of transmissions inside North Korea wasn’t immediately known. A failure to slow infections could have serious consequences because the country has a poor health care system and its 26 million people are believed to be mostly unvaccinated. Some experts say North Korea, by its rare admission of an outbreak, may be seeking outside aid.
However, hours after North Korea confirmed the outbreak, South Korea’s military said it detected the North had fired three suspected ballistic missiles toward the sea. It was its 16th round of missile launches this year, in brinkmanship aimed at forcing the United States to accept North Korea as a nuclear power and negotiate sanctions relief and other concessions from a position of strength.
“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines,” the palace said in a statement Sunday.The 95-year-old monarch is experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the statement.
Hundreds of Canadian police swept through the country’s capital Saturday, arresting protesters and clearing out vehicles in an attempt to bring an end to a three-week protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
At least 170 people were arrested Friday and Saturday, after police began the crackdown of the so-called Freedom Convoy on Friday morning. Officers, some in riot gear, approached the protest zone and scuffles broke out in some areas as police, including some officers on horses, pushed the crowd back.
Protesters were gone from the street in front of Parliament Hill by Saturday morning. Police said on Twitter that protesters were “aggressive and assaultive” throughout their attempts to clear the area, and pepper spray was used to disperse them. They also said children had been brought to the front of the police line.
Feb 11 (Reuters) – A U.S. decision on Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for infants and children 6 months through 4 years of age has been postponed for at least two months after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it needed more data.
The FDA had planned to decide on the vaccine based on early trial data as soon as next week with the government planning to roll it out on Feb. 21. It had asked Pfizer to speed up its application as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus caused a surge of infections, including among children.On Friday, the agency said it had reviewed new trial information that arrived after Pfizer and BioNTech’s request for emergency authorization and decided it needed more data before weighing in on the authorization.
(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.
BRUSSELS (AP) — Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world raced Friday to contain a new coronavirus variant potentially more dangerous than the one that has fueled relentless waves of infection on nearly every continent.
A World Health Organization panel named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant delta variant, which is still a scourge driving higher cases of sickness and death in Europe and parts of the United States.
AMSTERDAM, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Riots broke out in cities across the Netherlands on Sunday, the third night in a row that police clashed with mobs of angry youths who set fires and threw rocks to protest COVID-19 restrictions.
Unrest was reported in locations including Leeuwarden and Groningen in the north, the eastern town of Enschede and Tilburg in the south. In Enschede, where an emergency ordinance was issued, police used batons to try to disperse a crowd, according to video on social media. In Leeuwarden, police vans were pelted with rocks and black-clad groups chanted and set off flares.Responding to the worst disturbances since a full lockdown led to widespread disorder and more than 500 arrests in January, police said five officers had been injured overnight Saturday and at least 64 people detained in three provinces, including dozens who threw fireworks and fences during a soccer match at Feyenoord Rotterdam’s stadium.
The latest unrest began on Friday night in Rotterdam, where police opened fire on a crowd that had swelled to hundreds during a protest that the city’s mayor said had turned into “an orgy of violence”.
Austria imposed a lockdown on people unvaccinated against the coronavirus on Monday as winter approaches and infections rise across Europe, with Germany considering tighter curbs and Britain expanding its booster programme to younger adults.
The origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 remains unclear, but recent revelations reinforce the likelihood that the true source was a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A letter from Lawrence Tabak, the National Institutes of Health’s principal deputy director, to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) confirms that the NIH funded research at the WIV during 2018-2019 that manipulated a bat coronavirus called WIV1. Researchers at the institute grafted spike proteins from other coronaviruses onto WIV1 to see if the modified virus was capable of binding in a mouse that possessed the ACE2 receptors found in humans — the same receptor to which SARS-CoV-2 binds. The modified virus reproduced more rapidly and made infected humanized mice sicker than the unmodified virus.
By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A third Pittsburgh Police officer has passed away from complications of COVID-19.
Pittsburgh Police say Sgt. Timothy Werner, 49, died at UPMC Mercy Hospital Tuesday morning following complications from the COVID-19 virus.
Sgt. Werner was entering his 22nd year with the Pittsburgh Police Bureau.
In a statement, Police Chief Scott Schubert said, “It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Sergeant Tim Werner. Tim has been a friend to many and a dedicated public servant for the City of Pittsburgh for many years. It’s going to be extremely difficult not seeing Tim at Police Headquarters every day. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. He will be truly missed.”
Sgt. Werner worked for many years in Zones 4 and 5. Most recently, the bureau says he worked as a supervisor in the property room at Police Headquarters.
The bureau says Sgt. Werner will be dearly missed by his brothers and sisters in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
His funeral will be private.
Sgt. Richard Howe and Officer Brian Rowland both died in October from COVID-19 complications.
“I’m going to go down fighting.” American Airlines employee fighting back against COVID-19 vaccine mandate just announced by company
More than 18 months into this pandemic, shortages and delays are still everywhere.
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.
Second Amendment supporters are expressing concern over President Biden’s move Thursday forcing large employers to vaccinate their employees, fearing that the logic behind the federal edict could be applied to confiscating guns or drastically limiting gun rights.
Biden announced that he is instructing the Department of Labor to mandate that all companies with 100 or more workers must vaccinate their employees or force them to be tested weekly.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden said. “It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.”
Some supporters of the Second Amendment fear that Biden’s comments, downplaying freedom and touting federal government control of public health, represent a danger to the rights of gun owners.
“If Biden is allowed to impose regulations without a vote by Congress simply because he decides it helps ‘public safety,’ there is no limit to what he can do,” gun advocate John R. Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told Fox News. “He could use this same reasoning to impose any gun control regulation that he wanted.”
Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, also expressed concern over Biden’s announcement.
Biden announced a sweeping plan that could force millions of unvaccinated Americans to get the COVID-19 shot
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Biden said of the roughly 80 million Americans who have yet to get the shot. “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.”But Biden stopped short of mandating the vaccine for illegal immigrants attempting to cross America’s border, even though about 30% of immigrants held at federal detention facilities are refusing to be vaccinated — and they have the option to refuse
Meanwhile, more than 18% of migrant families who recently crossed the border tested positive for COVID before being released by Border Patrol. Another 20% of unaccompanied minors tested positive for the virus.
(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.
BY ANDREW GOLDSTEIN
The Pittsburgh Public Schools district’s plan to open for in-person instruction five days a week got a major boost Monday as members of the city’s teachers union ratified a contract that includes a provision giving district officials the power to adjust school start and end times.
The issue became a flashpoint in negotiations as the district sought the ability to modify the times so that school buses could run extra routes in the morning and afternoon — providing transportation to thousands of city students who may have not had a ride to school otherwise — but the union initially fought back against the idea.
“We’re hopeful that the district is able to get many students back in their seats,” Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, said in an interview at the union offices on the South Side. “This was a very difficult part of the contract, but we’re hoping to bring lots of students back, and that this will be something that we continue to work on together.”
The contract will now go before the school board Wednesday night for final approval.
Dr. Anthony Fauci walked back his prediction Monday that it will take the United States more than one year to get control of COVID-19.
During an appearance on CNN, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser offered an apology and said he meant to say the goal is actually within reach sooner — the spring of 2022 instead of the fall of next year as he said earlier in the day — but only if people holding out on getting vaccinated decide to get the jab.
“No, Anderson, I have to apologize,” he told anchor Anderson Cooper. “When I listened to the tape, I meant to say the spring of 2022, so I did misspeak. And in the conversation with Mary Louise Kelly, she was saying, when do I think we can get some control? I said if we can get through this winter and get really the overwhelming majority of the 90 million people who have not been vaccinated, vaccinated, I hope we could start to get some good control in the spring of 2022. I didn’t mean the fall. I misspoke, my bad.”
Earlier, on NPR , Fauci made the comment about the fall of 2022. He said it was contingent on widespread vaccinations, a contentious issue lingering more than eight months after the jabs became available to the public, as the more contagious delta variant causes a new spike in cases and health officials push for booster shots.
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (WJAC) — A Philadelphia man is facing charges for refusing to wear a mask on an Amtrak train in Johnstown, officials say.
According to charging documents, 22-year-old Damier Bingham faces two misdemeanor charges related to disorderly conduct and delaying a train.
The Amtrak Police Department says the incident happened in June when Bingham refused to comply with the Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate.
According to the federal requirement, Americans must wear masks while on public transportation to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s annual financial disclosure shows that she made thousands of dollars in rental income last year, despite being a co-sponsor of a bill to cancel rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.Tlaib joined fellow “Squad” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and other progressives in April 2020 to co-sponsor Rep. Ilhan Omar’s, D-Minn., bill to “institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.”
She tweeted during the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 that there should be a “moratorium” on mortgage and rent payments to “combat this public health crisis.”
“I’m joining Rep. @IlhanOmar and fellow colleagues for a press conference on the Rent & Mortgage Cancellation Act,” Tlaib tweeted earlier this year amid the re-introduction of the bill. “Our residents need help during this ongoing pandemic & this legislation seeks to provide that help to ensure our neighbors have the housing they need.”
PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle is looking to hire more than 1,000 people across the Pittsburgh area.
To fill those positions, the company will host an in-store job fair at all of its supermarket locations.
During the job fair, candidates will meet with recruiters and could possibly get job offers the same day.Giant Eagle is looking to fill a number of positions across all shifts including personal shoppers, pharmacy technicians, deli and prepared food clerks, cashiers, bakers and more.
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Those interested in taking part in the job fair are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering.
Giant Eagle offers benefits like flexible scheduling, competitive wages, weekly pay, advancement opportunities, and paid time off.
Candidates who are interested should submit their applications in advance on Giant Eagle’s website to expedite the in-person interview process.
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.
A federal appeals court has dismissed a judge’s ruling that threw out Gov. Tom Wolf’s sweeping COVID-19 restrictions, saying the issue is now moot because statewide mitigation measures have expired and Pennsylvania voters have since constrained a governor’s emergency powers.
It’s not just food establishments that are having a tough time finding employees. Help wanted signs are posted outside of all kinds of businesses in the Pittsburgh region.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Many businesses in the Pittsburgh region are still struggling to keep their doors open because of a lack of employees.
Restaurants in the Pittsburgh region are bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic closures, but many aren’t getting enough applications for their job openings.