UK investigation into Downing Avenue Covid lockdown events finds ‘failures of management’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement at Parliament on January 31, 2022 in London, England.

Dan Kitwood | News from Getty Images | Getty Images

LONDON – The preliminary findings of an inquiry into Covid-19 lockdown parties at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office and home have sharply criticized Downing Street culture.

The 12-page interim report, released in redacted form on the government website on Monday, makes clear that lockdown parties “should not have happened” while others “should not have unfolded as they did”.

In a series of damning conclusions, senior official Sue Gray’s partial findings said there were “faults in leadership and judgment by various parts of No. 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times” and some of the behavior was “difficult to justify.”

It also noted that excessive consumption of alcohol was “at no time appropriate in a professional workplace” and some employees wanted to raise concerns about behaviors they observed but felt unable to do so.

“At least some of the assemblies in question represent a serious failure to live up not only to the high standards expected of those who work at the heart of government, but also to the standards that were expected at that time from the whole of the British public,” says the report.

Gray said it was unable to produce a meaningful report after the Metropolitan Police controversially asked them to provide “minimal clues” about parties they are also investigating.

The Met’s move provoked a backlash from British lawmakers, who accused the police of trying to influence the political process and “whitewashing” the report.

After multiple reports of various gatherings and alleged parties at government buildings, the latest revelation in recent weeks has been that an event was being held during the lockdown to celebrate Johnson’s birthday on June 19, 2020.

Johnson so far resisted demands for his resignation from across the political spectrum, despite public anger over the long and growing list of alleged lockdown violations.

In response to Gray’s interim report, Johnson told lawmakers assembled in the House of Commons that he regretted the way the matter had been handled and accepted that it was time to review the codes of conduct.

“First, I want to apologize,” Johnson said on Monday afternoon. “I’m sorry for the things we just didn’t do right and also for the way this matter was handled.”

Acknowledging that apologizing is not enough, Johnson said he would set up a prime minister’s office with a permanent secretary.

“I understand it and I will fix it,” Johnson said, prompting a chorus of jeers from opposition lawmakers.

Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer said that “the Prime Minister thought we were all fools by routinely breaking the rules he had laid down”.

“He cheerfully treats what should be a mark of shame as a welcome shield,” Starmer added, noting that Gray’s report shows there are 12 cases that have reached the threshold for a criminal investigation.

The Prime Minister is expected to address all Conservative MPs at a meeting tonight.

What happens next?

Many lawmakers loyal to Johnson, including his closest colleagues, had repeatedly said they would “wait for the results” of Sue Gray’s report before passing judgment on their leader.

Conservative politicians’ oft-repeated phrase has allowed the Prime Minister to buy some time to campaign for support from lawmakers to stave off a no-confidence vote – which will be triggered when 54 Tory MPs send letters of no-confidence to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, one influential group of backbenchers addressing leadership challenges.

Continue reading

Britain’s Boris Johnson is threatened with a vote of no confidence. Here’s what it takes

It is not known how many letters were sent to the 1922 leader, Graham Brady, as the letters are kept secret, although a number of politicians have publicly stated that they no longer have confidence in Johnson’s leadership.

It will now be closely observed whether the required 54 letters from Brady will be declared after Gray’s results are published. If enough no-confidence letters are received, a vote of confidence would be triggered.

If a majority of Tory MPs voted to support Johnson in the vote, current rules mean that no new vote can be called for another 12 months, although the 1922 Committee is reportedly considering changing that rule to include two votes allow per year.

Should Johnson lose the vote, he would be forced to resign and a Conservative leadership contest would begin. In that case, Johnson would not be admitted as a deposed leader.

Of course, another alternative would be for Johnson to resign of his own accord, but he shows no sign of intending to do so.

Some lawmakers may prefer to wait and see how the Conservative Party fares in local elections in May, allowing them to gauge public anger at Partygate. However, opinion polls have already shown that trust and support for Johnson and his administration have fallen.

party over?

Johnson’s leadership was under immense pressure after weeks of media reports (dating back before Christmas) of several parties and gatherings attended by government employees, including at times Johnson.

One gathering in particular captured Johnson when it took place in May 2020, at the height of the first lockdown, when the general public was only allowed to meet one other person from outside their household outdoors.

Johnson admitted before Parliament in early January that he had attended the party – dubbed the ‘bring your own boek’ gathering in Downing Street’s garden, to which around 100 people were reportedly invited.

But he told lawmakers he only attended the party for 25 minutes to thank “groups of staff” for their hard work and that he “implicitly believed this was a work event,” a comment made by opposition politicians was mocked.

The opposition Labor Party was scathing at Johnson’s leadership and his comments on his participation in the party in May 2020, calling for the Prime Minister to resign.

As Johnson offered the nation his “sincere apologies” for attending the event, Labor leader Starmer said Johnson’s explanation for his attendance was “so ridiculous that it is actually offensive to the British public” as he urged Johnson to ” do the right thing and resign.”

China’s Covid lockdown guidelines ship costs larger

Freeman H. Shen, Founder, Chairman & CEO of WM Motor, speaks during Fireside Chat on Day 2 of CNBC East Tech West at LN Garden Hotel Nansha Guangzhou on November 28, 2018 in Nansha, Guangzhou, China.

Dave Zhong/Getty Images for CNBC International

BEIJING — Covid-related restrictions have increased production costs for Chinese electric car start-up WM Motor, even as existing chip and battery shortages are driving up costs, CEO Freeman Shen told CNBC.

“Adding all these things together, this industry is a fast-growing industry, but the cost part of the equation is also going to be a challenge,” Shen, also founder and chairman of WM Motor, said Wednesday.

Sales of new energy vehicles — which include battery-only and hybrid-powered cars — more than doubled last year in China, the world’s largest automobile market. The country has become a hotbed for electric car start-ups and a launch pad for many traditional auto giants making the shift to electric.

China quickly controlled the local spread of the coronavirus in 2020 by imposing swift lockdowns on cities and neighborhoods. But after the emergence of the highly transmissible omicron variant, some analysts started to question whether the costs of the zero-Covid policy now outweigh the benefits.

The impact is already being felt by factories. A Chinese ministry overseeing manufacturing said this month the lockdowns would be a drag on industrial production in the first quarter.

Shen laid out the impact of Covid-related restrictions on his start-up:

  • A chip manufacturer in Malaysia had production problems and stopped delivering to Bosch China, which then stopped delivering to WM Motor.
  • Within China, after Covid cases emerged in Nanjing, one of WM Motor’s battery cell suppliers stopped deliveries.
  • In the last few months, similar disruptions affected two of the company’s suppliers in the Shangyu district of Shaoxing city, near Hangzhou.
  • Covid-related restrictions on the Ningbo port area also stopped delivery from three suppliers there.

“So, all these things were killing us,” Shen told CNBC.

Automakers around the world have cut production due to a shortage of semiconductors. Geopolitical tensions and overwhelming demand for chips in the wake of the pandemic contributed to a shortfall in supply that has lasted for more than a year.

Shen said he expects the chip shortage to improve in the second half of this year, based on conversations with his start-up’s 11 chip suppliers.

Electric car battery shortage

However, he pointed to another looming problem that could get worse: Rising raw material costs for batteries.

Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices were up more than 500% year-on-year as of earlier this month, according to S&P Global Platts. The firm’s survey of industry insiders released this week found that 80% of respondents expect those lithium prices to remain high this year — about four times higher than the start of 2021.

The battery shortage will likely worsen as demand for electric cars in China picks up in the second quarter, Shen said. For 2022, he expects electric car sales in the country to nearly double from last year to about 5 million vehicles.

An electric WM Motor car is seen inside a shopping mall in downtown Shanghai, China, April 26, 2021.

Costphoto/Barcroft Media | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Reassessing a Japanese manufacturing model

One of the reasons the pandemic disrupted the supply chain is that factories have historically used a longstanding Japanese model of “just-in-time” or lean manufacturing, in which factories only purchase parts as needed to reduce costs and increase efficiency, Shen pointed out .

But now, the strategy is changing.

“In order to make sure you can deliver your car, you probably will start thinking: We have to waste some of our money to keep some stock,” he said. “For a car company, the biggest loss would be losing the sales to your customer.”

Part of WM Motor’s sales strategy is to work with property developers to open test drive sites in more residential neighborhoods, while building up the cars’ autonomous driving capabilities such as in parking, Shen said.

He said the company will need to raise prices to cope with rising costs, as others in the industry already have.

For one, Tesla raised the price for its Model Y in China by 21,088 yuan ($3,300) in December to 301,840 yuan ($47,450), after subsidies. WM Motor’s cars are about half that price.

Travel restrictions affect business

Economists say China’s Covid-related travel restrictions affect consumer spending more than factories.

Cities frequently change Covid testing requirements for travel, while flights and train tickets can get canceled based on newly reported Covid cases.

These restrictions have also affected WM Motor, Shen said. The company has research and development, factory and other business-side operations in Shanghai, Chengdu, Zhejiang province and Hubei province, in addition to about 500 brick-and-mortar stores across the country.

He said the company had to use more technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality to help employees and customers communicate despite travel restrictions.

“We have to use this kind of technology, because if not, the user experience is going to be terrible, and the efficiency is going to be very bad. And we sometimes cannot even get things done,” Shen said.

Asked if he had any IPO plans, Shen said there was no news to announce on the listing front, and cited the pressing delivery issues.

“Obviously people had a lot of expectation, our investor had a lot of expectation, but we are very busy these days to deliver our product,” he said. “Hopefully we can get something to announce in the near future.”

New York nurses charged with forging Covid vaccine playing cards to earn greater than $1.5 million

Prosecutors said that officers obtained a ledger documenting profits in excess of $1.5 million from the alleged illegal activity.

Office of the District Attorney County of Suffolk

Two nurses on New York’s Long Island are being charged with forging Covid-19 vaccination cards and entering the fake jabs in the state’s database, a scam that allegedly raked in more than $1.5 million.

The Suffolk County District Attorney on Friday arrested Julie DeVuono, 49, the owner and operator of Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville and her employee, Marissa Urraro, 44, according to a complaint.

From November 2021 to January 2022, the pair of allegedly forged vaccination cards, charging adults $220 apiece and $85 per child for a fake record that would land in the New York State Immunization Information System database. Prosecutors said that on one or more occasions, DeVuono and Urrano allegedly created records to indicate a vaccine was given to an undercover detective despite never administering the vaccine.

Julie DeVuono (L) and Marissa Urraro’s booking photos from the Suffolk County Police Dept. on Jan. 29th, 2022

Courtesy: Suffolk County Police Department.

“Forging COVID-19 vaccination cards and entering false information into the New York
State database used to track vaccination records puts the health and well-being of others at risk, and undermines efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” special agent Scott Lampert said in a statement announcing the charges.

During a search of DeVuono’s home, officials said officers seized roughly $900,000. They also allegedly found a ledger documenting profits from the scheme in excess of $1.5 million.

During a search of Julie DeVuono’s home, officials said officers seized roughly $900,000.

Office of the District Attorney County of Suffolk

DeVuono’s husband Derin DeVuono, who is a New York Police Department officer, is being investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau in terms of his possible involvement in his wife’s alleged scheme, sources told the New York Daily News.

DeVuono and Urraro are each being charged with one count of forgery in the second degree. DeVuono is also being charged with an additional count of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. The pair’s legal defense was not immediately clear.

Just a month ago, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law criminalizing fake Covid-19 vaccination cards.

Somerville Board of Well being Votes In opposition to COVID Vaccine Passport-Fashion System – CBS Boston

SOMERVILLE (CBS) — The city of Somerville will not adopt a COVID vaccine passport-style system used in Boston and other communities.

On Thursday evening, the city’s health department rejected the proposal by a score of two to one.

CONTINUE READING: DA: Tyngsboro Police tried to stop a car from a fatal accident involving a garbage truck

In a statement, Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyn said that while she disagreed with the committee’s decision, she respected the considerations that went into it.

“The key takeaway from last night’s hearing is that the board and the city agree that vaccination is critical to getting this virus under control.

CONTINUE READING: Bryan Purdie held without bail in Falmouth for alleged home invasion and kidnapping

The question for us is which tools we use to drive this goal forward. Of course, we had hoped that the Board would support the proposed requirement, but I respect their decision and their thoughtful consideration, so today we move on to the next effort. My focus remains fully on applying all the strategies at our disposal to deal with the pandemic.

Since day one in office, I’ve had staff doubling down to increase access to testing, masks, vaccines, information, and financial and health support. This decision will not slow us down, it will only give additional impetus to our efforts to fight the virus on all fronts.”

MORE NEWS: ‘ERs are bursting at the seams’: Nurses ask for help as experts predict long recovery from COVID

Bostons vaccination order started last Saturday. Anyone entering a Boston restaurant, bar or venue must show at least one first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some Individuals blocked from ordering Biden’s free Covid assessments in early web site launch

Take-home COVID-19 self-test kits provided by the District of Columbia government, which is offering city residents four free take-home tests per day, are shown in this illustration dated January 11, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein Reuters

Americans on Tuesday began placing orders for free Covid tests promised by the Biden administration after the federal government launched the site a day earlier than expected – some complained on social media about being blocked from doing so were to order the tests.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the website covidtests.gov is in the testing phase and will officially launch Wednesday morning. Orders placed during the site’s testing period on Tuesday are valid and will be shipped, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz told CNBC.

Each household, based on home address, is limited to four tests. The White House said last week it has limited the number of tests people can order to ensure broad access to the program.

Tests can be ordered here: https://www.covidtests.gov/

After a user clicks “Order free home tests” The website directs the user to a postal service order form where they enter a name and address before checking out.

The Postal Service ships the tests 7 to 12 days after the order is placed, according to the Biden administration. The website said on Tuesday that the orders would be shipped by the end of the month.

While some users said the site was simple and easy to use, others — particularly people who live in apartment buildings — reported problems in social media posts on Tuesday.

“Any website launch, in our view, comes with risks,” Psaki told reporters during a White House briefing on Tuesday. “We cannot guarantee that there will be zero or two errors. But the best technical teams in the administration and the postal service are working hard to make this a success,” she said.

The White House launched the site after a public outcry over the widespread lack of testing during the busy holiday travel season, when the highly contagious Covid Omicron variant swept the country. Pharmacies, large and small, have struggled to stock home tests as demand suddenly surged.

President Joe Biden said the government is getting a total of 1 billion home tests to distribute free to Americans. The Department of Defense awards the tests in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Oxfam on Covid inequality, tax wealthy to pay for vaccines, defend local weather

A pedestrian wearing a face mask delivers food to a homeless man who died on March 23.

Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images

The pandemic has made the rich richer while the income of the rest of the world – about 99% of humanity – has plummeted, according to a new Oxfam report titled “Inequality Kills”.

The wealth of the world’s 10 richest men has doubled from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion during the pandemic, according to the global charity said on Monday.

“It has never been more important to right the violent injustices of this obscene inequality by reclaiming the power and extreme wealth of the elites, including through taxes – to put that money back into the real economy and save lives,” Gabriela said , Executive Director of Oxfam International Bucher.

A 99% windfall tax on the pandemic profits of the world’s 10 richest men would raise enough money to pay for vaccines for the world — and fund various social measures for more than 80 countries, the report said.

Billionaire wealth has risen more sharply since the start of Covid compared to the past 14 years, and a new billionaire has been minted every 26 hours since the pandemic began, Oxfam said.

The CEOs of the Covid vaccine developers Modern and BioNTech earned billions in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

At the same time, the vast majority of the population is worse off after losing income during Covid-19, and 160 million more people fell into poverty, the press release said.

windfall tax

One way to “recoup” the huge gains billionaires made during the crisis is to tax the money billionaires have made since the pandemic began, the report said.

“A one-time windfall tax of 99% on the wealth gains from Covid-19 for the 10 richest men alone would generate $812 billion,” the report said.

“These resources could be enough to produce enough vaccines for the entire world and to fill funding gaps in climate action, universal health and social protection, and efforts to combat gender-based violence in over 80 countries,” it said.

If these ten men lost 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of everyone on the planet.

Gabriella books

Managing Director, Oxfam International

Even after taxes, the world’s 10 richest men would still be billionaires and, as a group, have increased their wealth by $8 billion since the pandemic began, the report said.

“If these ten men lost 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all people on this planet,” said Bucher.

Beyond a one-time windfall tax, governments must also introduce or increase permanent wealth and capital taxes to “fundamentally and radically reduce wealth inequality,” the report says.

The Oxfam report was released ahead of this week’s virtual meetings of the World Economic Forum, where world leaders will discuss global challenges.

GE suspends Covid vaccine, take a look at guidelines after excessive courtroom nixes Biden mandate

An employee helps install a traction motor on the truck of a General Electric Evolution Series Tier 4 diesel locomotive at the GE Manufacturing Solutions facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

Luke Sharret | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Electric suspended its Covid vaccine and testing requirements on Friday after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s mandate, a company spokesman told CNBC.

GE, which had 174,000 employees at the end of 2020, has encouraged its employees to get vaccinated, the spokesman said.

The conservative majority of the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision, called the Biden administration’s requirements a “blunt instrument” that “makes no distinctions by industry or risk of exposure to Covid-19.”

In a statement following the court decision, President Joe Biden urged companies to voluntarily implement the vaccination and testing rules.

“The court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this action,” Biden said. “But that doesn’t stop me from using my voice as president to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect the health and economy of Americans.”

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has vowed to use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s existing power to hold companies accountable for protecting workers from Covid.

“We urge all employers to require workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly to most effectively combat this deadly virus in the workplace,” Walsh said in a statement Thursday. “Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers in the workplace.”

The American Medical Association, one of the largest medical associations in the US, contradicted that the Supreme Court blocked “one of the most effective tools in the fight against further transmission and death from this aggressive virus”.

“Workplace transmission has been an important factor in the spread of Covid-19,” said AMA President Dr. Gerald Harmon. “More than ever, workers in all settings across the country need sound, evidence-based protection from Covid-19 infection, hospitalization and death.”

Harmon urged companies to protect their workers from the disease. A number of large companies – including Citigroup, Nike and Columbia Sportswear – have announced plans to lay off unvaccinated workers.

The Covid-Omicron variant is driving new infections to unprecedented levels. The US is reporting an average of more than 786,000 new infections each day, a 29% increase from the previous week, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Additionally, based on federal data going back to the summer of 2020, hospitalizations are at a pandemic high. About 151,000 Americans were in hospitals with Covid as of Friday, a seven-day moving average of health and social services data shows, up 23%. from a week earlier. That number includes both patients who have been admitted to hospital due to Covid and those who have tested positive after admission.

— CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report

Supreme Courtroom blocks Biden Covid vaccine mandate for companies, permits health-care employee rule

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its comprehensive vaccination or testing requirements for large private companies, but allowed a vaccination mandate for medical facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments.

The verdicts came three days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency measures for companies went into effect.

The mandate required workers in companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or present a negative Covid test weekly to enter the workplace. Also, unvaccinated workers were required to wear masks when working indoors.

“Although Congress has undeniably granted OSHA authority to regulate occupational hazards, it has not conferred that agency authority to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.

“Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans selected solely because they work for employers with more than 100 employees certainly falls into the latter category,” the court wrote.

A protester holds a “Freedoms & Mandates Don’t Mix” sign in front of the US Supreme Court Friday, January 7, 2022 while discussing two federal vaccination measures in Washington, DC, United States.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan disagreed, writing that the majority had usurped power from Congress, the President and OSHA without legal basis.

“With the pandemic still raging, this court is telling the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all required workplaces,” they said in dissent.

“As sickness and death continue to rise, this court is telling the Authority that it cannot respond as effectively as possible. Without a legal basis, the court usurps a decision that rightfully belongs to others. It undermines the capacity of appropriate federal officials to act well within their authority to protect American workers from serious danger,” they wrote.

President Joe Biden said in a statement the Supreme Court chose to block requirements that are life-saving for workers. Biden called on states and companies to increase and voluntarily implement vaccination requirements to protect workers, customers and the broader community.

“The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the powers granted to it by Congress to require this action, but that does not prevent me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing, to protect the health and economy of Americans,” Biden said.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh called the court’s decision a major setback to the health and safety of workers and vowed OSHA would use its existing authority to ensure companies protect workers. The American Medical Association, one of the largest medical associations in the country, said it was “deeply disappointed”.

“In the face of an ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic that poses a grave threat to the health of our nation, the Supreme Court today halted one of the most powerful tools in the fight against further transmission and death from this aggressive virus,” the AMA said said President Gerald Harmon.

In a separate ruling released at the same time on the government’s vaccination rules for healthcare workers, a 5-4 majority sided with the Biden administration.

“We agree with the government that the [Health and Human Services] The secretary’s rule falls within the powers conferred on him by Congress,” said the majority, writing that the rule “fits very well with the language of the statute”.

“Finally, ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangerous virus to their patients is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medical profession: First, do no harm,” says the majority opinion.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, four of the six Conservatives on the nine-seat bench, disagreed.

“I don’t think the federal government is likely to show that Congress authorized the unprecedented move to force over 10,000,000 healthcare workers to be vaccinated under threat of dismissal,” Alito wrote in his dissent.

Biden said in a statement that making vaccinations compulsory for healthcare workers will save the lives of patients, doctors and nurses. “We will enforce it,” the president said of the mandate.

OSHA, which oversees workplace safety for the Department of Labor, granted the business mandate under its emergency powers established by Congress. OSHA can cut short the normal rulemaking process, which can take years, when the Secretary of Labor determines that a new occupational safety standard is needed to protect workers from a serious hazard.

CNBC Policy

Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:

The court’s decision to overturn the business mandate comes as the pandemic rages across the United States and the highly contagious Omicron variant is sparking an unprecedented surge in new infections. The US is reporting an average of 786,000 new infections daily, a pandemic record and a 37% increase from last week, according to CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Hospital admissions have also reached a pandemic peak, according to federal data dating back to the summer of 2020. According to a seven-day average of Department of Health and Human Services data, 149,000 Americans are in US hospitals with Covid, a 27% increase. last week.

The vaccination or testing rules have faced a number of lawsuits from 27 states involving Republican attorneys general or governors, private companies, religious groups and national business organizations such as the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The NRF issued a statement calling the Supreme Court ruling a “victory” and calling on the Biden administration to “reject this unlawful mandate and instead work with employers, workers and public health professionals on practical ways to increase immunization rates and contain it.” the spread of the virus in 2022.”

The mandates were the most extensive use of power by the federal government to protect workers from Covid since the pandemic began. Taken together, the Biden administration estimated that the rules for businesses and healthcare workers would apply to about 100 million Americans.

But both rules were in flux long before the Supreme Court adopted them. The OSHA rules were blocked by a conservative federal appeals court in November, then Reinstated weeks later by another court.

The White House at the time urged companies to follow public safety requirements even if they were not enforced.

Some companies have done this, others have introduced their own rules. A number of large employers, including Citigroup, Nike and Columbia Sportswear, have announced plans to lay off unvaccinated workers in recent days.

— CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.

Delta Air Strains battles with nation’s largest flight attendant union over shortened Covid sick depart

Flight attendants distribute refreshments to a packed Delta Airlines flight departing from Ronald Regan National Airport to MinneapolisSaint Paul International Airport on Friday, May 21, 2021.

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Delta Airlines sent a cease and desist letter to the country’s largest cabin crew union after its president criticized the company’s reduced sick leave policy for employees with Covid-19.

Last Thursday, Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson tweeted that the union had received “multiple reports” that Delta was “notifying workers in all work groups that they should come to work with symptoms, even if someone in the household tests positive.” She also said positive workers were told “to come to work after 5 days if the fever is below 100.9, even if they still test positive.”

A day later, Peter Carter, Delta’s Chief Legal Officer, mailed the letter to AFA.

“This information is not only false, it is criminal offense because it casts Delta in a highly negative light by suggesting that Delta asked employees to work while they were ill,” Carter’s letter said. “Such irresponsible behavior is inappropriate, defamatory and must be stopped immediately.”

Nelson, whose union does not represent Delta flight attendants but started one organize drive there in November 2019, defending her comments and saying Delta’s policies confused flight crews.

“Delta’s policy now addresses being asymptomatic before returning to work, which was a serious concern since those CDC policies were originally omitted from Delta’s policy announcement,” she wrote to Delta CEO Tuesday Ed Bastian. “But we still get questions from Delta flight attendants about returning to work with a low-grade fever and the fact that Delta’s current policy only recommends testing before returning to work and doesn’t require testing.”

Delta updated its Covid sick leave policy on Dec. 28 to five days off with wage protection — reduced from 10 days — that doesn’t require employees to spend days in their medical banks. Employees can get two extra days if they test positive again on the fifth day.

“Delta has always looked to science to formulate our policies regarding COVID-19,” a Delta spokesman said Tuesday. “We have sent a cease and desist letter because we believe institutions and leaders must speak carefully, truthfully and factually.”

The airline had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to halve the recommended isolation time for breakout Covid infections to five days, warning of staff shortages and flight cancellations coming later. JetBlue Airways and other airlines asked for the same change. CDC updated its guidance Dec. 27 after relaxing recommendations for healthcare workers.

Cancellations from staff ill with Covid and a series of winter storms topped 20,000 between Christmas and the first week of the year. United Airlines, which has 10 days of wage protection left for crews with Covid, said Tuesday it would further cut its schedule, with 3,000 workers, about 4% of its US employees, testing positive for the coronavirus.

Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines Give employees 10 days of wage protection if they test positive for Covid.

WEF report warns of Covid inequalities fueling social tensions

Protesters hold up a banner reading “Covid slave ticket” as they protest against the mandatory vaccination campaign against SARSCoV2, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images

New research by the organizers of the annual meeting in Davos in the Swiss Alps warn of inequalities due to the Coronavirus Pandemic that could spark domestic and cross-border tensions around the world.

This year’s Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum describes a “global divergence” – where poorer countries have much lower Covid-19 vaccination rates and therefore have longer-lasting economic problems.

“Covid-19 and its economic and societal consequences continue to pose a critical threat to the world. Vaccine inequality and the resulting uneven economic recovery risk exacerbating social rifts and geopolitical tensions,” the report said on Tuesday.

“The resulting global divergence will create tensions – within and across borders – that could exacerbate the cascading effects of the pandemic and complicate the coordination needed to address common challenges.”

Aside from the catastrophic death toll, one of the most immediate effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been the resulting increase in inequality, many economists said. They found that many people have faced job insecurity or were unable to attend online training due to bans.

Richer countries used to have access to Covid-19 vaccines and many are already giving their citizens their third or even fourth dose of the vaccine. Meanwhile, poorer countries are struggling to get their populations even a first dose.

In Ethiopia, only 1.3% of people are fully vaccinated against Covid. In Nigeria it is 2.1% according to Our World in Data. By comparison, 62% of Americans in the US are fully vaccinated. In the United Arab Emirates and Portugal, that number is around 90%.

“There are big worries about existential crises – that’s actually number two on this list, so big worries about jobs and what’s going on in the labor market,” said Saadia Zahidi, Executive Director of the World Economic Forum, about the result of the Global Risk Report.

Speaking to CNBC’s Julianna Tatelbaum, she added, “There is this concern about mental crisis and it is eroding social cohesion. For example, there are 53 million new cases of depression, particularly due to Covid. “

Dark prospects

In the report, nearly 1,000 global experts and leaders from academia, business, civil society, government and other organizations said that societal risks “have deteriorated the most since the pandemic began.”

These specific risks included social cohesion and deterioration in mental health.

In addition, only 16% of respondents said they were positive and optimistic about the outlook for the world. In addition, only 11% said they believe the global recovery will accelerate.

The International Monetary Fund already estimated a global growth rate of 5.9% for 2021 and 4.9% for 2022. These projections were made before concerns about a new variant of Covid-19 known as Omicron arose.

Since then, the IMF has admitted that these numbers could be revised downwards because of new restrictions. However, the institution has stated that vaccinations will remain crucial to boost economic performance around the world.

“We screamed from the top of a mountain that [the] Pandemic is the greatest risk to the global economy. And we worked very hard to vaccinate the world. Progress is being made, not enough, “IMF executive director Kristalina Georgieva told CNBC in December.