Omicron much less prone to trigger hospitalization, UK authorities examine says

Christmas shoppers in London on December 23, 2021.

Hasan Esen | Agency Anadolu | Getty Images

LONDON – According to a UK government study published Thursday, people with the Omicron-Covid variant are far less likely to be hospitalized than the previous Delta strain.

The UK Health Safety Authority said It is estimated that people with Omicron are between 31% and 45% less likely to go to emergency rooms and 50-70% less likely to be hospitalized compared to those with Delta.

The analysis is “preliminary and highly uncertain” due to the small number of Omicron cases currently in hospital, the inability to effectively measure all previous infections, and the limited spread of the new variant to older age groups, the UKHSA said .

The results are based on 132 people admitted to or relocated to emergency rooms. Of these, 17 people had received their booster vaccinations, 74 were double-vaccinated and 27 were unvaccinated. Eight people had received a single vaccination, the vaccination status of 6 people was unknown.

The study says 14 people, ages 52 to 96, died within 28 days of being diagnosed with Omicron.

“Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people infected with the Omicron variant may have a relatively lower risk of hospitalization than those infected with other variants,” said Jenny Harries, UKHSA executive director. in a statement.

“It should be noted, however, that these are both early data and additional research to corroborate these results.”

The preliminary data are consistent with similar results by scholars in South Africa and research teams from Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh.

A study published Tuesday by the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases found that people infected with Omicron are 80% less likely to be hospitalized than other variants. A 70 percent reduction in the risk of serious illness in those not hospitalized was also seen.

The authors of the study, which was not peer-reviewed, warned that this could be due to increased immunity in the population from previous infection or vaccination. South African health officials also said the data should not be extrapolated to all countries.

In Scotland, researchers found that Omicron was two-thirds less likely to be hospitalized than Delta, and they continued to emphasize that how important it is to get a booster vaccination.

It’s still in its infancy, but preliminary results give hope that the human and economic consequences of the heavily mutated strain will not be as great as initially feared. Omicron has spread like wildfire, which has led to the reintroduction of restrictions in some countries as authorities struggle to contain it.

However, due to the higher transferability of omicron, the risk of overloading the health systems in winter is still quite high, as the high number of infections will likely lead to more hospital stays.

Omicron was first identified in South Africa in November and classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. The US now reports an average of more than 160,000 new infections per day, while the UK reported more than 100,000 cases on Thursday for the second day in a row.

Hong Kong has to maintain zero-Covid coverage for now: Authorities advisor

Hong Kong must stick to its zero-covid strategy until more people are vaccinated, a government adviser told CNBC on Wednesday.

“If 95% of our eligible population are fully vaccinated with three doses, there is a chance we can open our border,” said Yuen Kwok-yung, who is part of the Hong Kong Expert Advisory Committee on Covid-19.

The Chinese city is far from achieving this goal. Only 68.6% of the total population had received two doses of a vaccine by Wednesday. according to government information. About 322,781 people, or about 4.4% of the population, received their third injection.

One way to increase vaccination rates is to require a vaccination certificate for daily living, said Yuen, who also heads the microbiology department at the University of Hong Kong.

“Maybe this is [the] This is the only way to ensure, as in Israel, that a high level of vaccination coverage is achieved, “he said. Fully vaccinated people in Israel are a “green pass” that allows them to enter indoor locations such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas.

Zero Covid Strategy

At the moment, Hong Kong cannot change its strategies, Yuen told CNBC “Squawk Box Asia.”

“At this point it is the same. We have to continue with our current close to zero policy,” he said.

Hong Kong requires people who enter the city to Quarantine for up to 21 days and do multiple Covid-19 tests“Measures, Yuen said, are necessary to control the source of the infection.

But the city’s zero-covid approach is that too biggest frustration for overseas companies operating there, an analyst told CNBC on Tuesday.

However, Yuen said the city has no plans to maintain zero-Covid indefinitely only until it hits “adequate” vaccination rates.

“It’s impossible to keep it going for more than three years,” he added. “I think the government has to set a deadline for the coming years by which everyone has to have a vaccination certificate … to get around.”

Vaccination is compulsory for some activities in Hong Kong, but the borders for the unvaccinated are much looser than in places like Israel or Singapore.

Hong Kong has reported 12,548 confirmed Covid cases since the pandemic began, including 34 cases of the Omicron variant. according to government information on Wednesday.

– CNBC’s Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.

Knee-jerk omicron shutdown exhibits lack of presidency coordination

The “knee-jerk” reaction from countries imposing border restrictions due to the new omicron Covid variant show that, according to CAPA – Center for Aviation – governments haven’t learned much about how to deal with Covid-19 effectively.

Multiple countries including the USA, Canada, UK and Singapore Postponed last week to restrict travel from southern Africa after the World Health Organization (WHO) flagged Omicron, which was first discovered in South Africa, a Variant of concern.

The newly identified strain has a large number of mutations and worrying properties that health professionals are concerned about.

Israel and Japan led a. a Prohibition for all foreign visitors.

Nearly two years after the pandemic, “we don’t seem to have really learned much,” CAPA chair emeritus Peter Harbison told CNBC “Squawk Box Asia” Thursday.

“There is very little coordination between governments about what we do. It’s like a squat every time,” he said, calling for a “multilateral consensus.”

The Chief Medical Advisor to the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Wednesday defended the U.S. travel restrictions, describing them as a temporary measure designed to buy time for health officials.

The WHO has warned countries against this impose blanket travel bans, argues that it will “worsen inequalities”. The UN health panel called instead for an “evidence-based” approach, including more screenings and possible quarantines.

South Africa has also slammed the travel restrictions as “unjustified”.

From Wednesday, 23 countries worldwide reported cases of the strongly mutated Omicron-Covid-19 variant.

Disastrous prospects for travel

The prevailing disjointed approach is having “catastrophic” effects on global recovery, said Harbison, whose agency provides market intelligence to the aviation and travel industries.

“The industry has to face the fact that it is not going to go away anytime soon and we will inevitably get these reactions every time there is a new burden that it will be very clear,” he said.

A passenger wears a face mask when she saw a coronavirus variant called Omicron on 29. 19.

MOHD RASFAN | AFP | Getty Images

Even before the advent of the Omicron tribe, the outlook for the travel industry – and especially aviation – was bleak.

The International Air Transport Association Forecast in October that next year international air traffic will struggle to approach pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Asia hardest hit

The Asian aerospace industry is expected to be hardest hit in 2022, only reaching 11% of 2019 levels based on pre-omicron estimates. In comparison, 75% in Europe and 65% on the routes Europe-North America.

Compared to other parts of the world, Asia has so far only slowly opened up and lifted travel restrictions.

Singapore pioneered the resumption of travel in the region and took off bilateral travel agreements – known as vaccinated travel routes (VTLs) – with different countries including several neighboring neighbors.

If Singapore goes like this and really starts to close, then I guess [it] sends a very bad signal.

Peter Harbison

Chairman emeritus, CAPA – Center for Aviation

However, Harbison said the country’s response to the Omicron outbreak is being closely monitored.

“If Singapore goes down this path and really begins to close, I think it sends a very bad signal to the rest of the region,” he said.

However, China – Asia’s largest contributor to international tourism – continues to have the greatest impact on the region’s recovery. With little signs of China’s repeal international border restrictions In the short term, the effects on the industry could still be felt for some time.

“China has a massive impact on this region in terms of travel, so if they don’t move, this region in particular suffers,” said Harbison.

Did the Authorities Steal Your Cash? Gary Silverman column

We started last week with a refresher on the three biggest misconceptions I’ve made about social security – pension benefits in particular. Here is a summary of the first two:

Misconception # 1: “The money I put into social security is my money.” Not true … Your social security taxes are a tax that is primarily used to fund current retirees … they become dependent on taxes be that your grandchildren pay.

Misconception # 2: “The social security system is running out of money.” That is not true, but it is no longer possible to pay what was promised in full, and that is not a good thing. But as long as they keep taxing us, there will be money for some measure of benefit.

Misconception # 3 remains: “The government stole all (or most of) the money in the Social Security Trust Fund, which is why the system goes bankrupt.”

Reality: Okay, let’s answer that with a scenario. Let’s say you deposited money in your bank and bought a five year CD. What do you think the bank is doing with your money? It doesn’t put it in their vault to sit and collect dust.

If they did, they’d have to charge you for holding instead of paying you interest. No, they take your money and lend it to people who buy cars, buy houses, start a business, or for a myriad of other uses. These borrowers pay the bank interest, and so as a depositor, you earn some interest.

If you read “They’re taking your money,” you didn’t think they stole it. This is the agreement you make when you do business with a bank: you can use it and pay you interest in return. However, in very similar transactions with the Social Security Trust Fund, the “bank”, in this case the government, is accused of stealing the money.

Here’s what really happens when it comes to social security. The trust fund contains money. As stewards of the money, the people who run this thing buy government bonds (I remind you that the world has proven time and time again that US Treasuries are the safest place to invest).

These government bonds pay interest just like a bank CD pays interest. The government then uses the money at its own discretion. When the bond matures, the state will pay back the money borrowed to the trust fund.

Just like the bank, the government didn’t steal the money anywhere in the process.

While I’ve dispelled (or at least cleared) some common myths about Social Security, it should be noted that the system is not designed to pay currently promised benefits.

And these promises don’t have to be kept, according to the Supreme Court. If Congress does nothing, the system can still pay out benefits. However, these benefits must decrease by around 25% (on average).

So this means it is time again to pat Congress on the back and remind them to get down to work. I just hope they’ll listen instead of throwing mud at each other – and getting us dirty in the process.

Gary Silverman, CFP®, is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm, and the author of Real World Investing.

Authorities denies Bezos’ Blue Origin protest over NASA HLS contract

Jeff Bezos, owner of Blue Origin, unveils a new lunar module called the Blue Moon during an event at the Washington Convention Center on May 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson | Getty Images

The US government accountability office on Friday rejected protests from companies affiliated with it Jeff Bezos that NASA has wrongly awarded a lucrative lunar lander contract exclusively to astronauts Elon Musks SpaceX.

The complaints were filed by Jeff Bezos ‘Blue Origin and Leidos’ subsidiary Dynetics.

“NASA did not violate public procurement laws or regulations when it decided to award only one award … the evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable and in line with applicable public procurement laws, regulations and the terms of the announcement,” said Kenneth. , Managing Associate General Counsel of GAO Patton wrote in a statement.

The GAO ruling supports the Space Agency’s surprise announcement in April that NASA has placed an order with SpaceX valued at approximately $ 2.9 billion. SpaceX was likely to compete with Blue Origin and Dynetics for two contracts before NASA awarded a single contract due to a lower allocation to the program from Congress.

NASA, in a statement, said the GAO decision will enable the agency “to set a schedule for the first manned landing on the moon in more than 50 years”.

“As soon as possible, NASA will provide an update on the way forward for Artemis, the human landing system, and the return of mankind to the moon. We will continue to work with the Biden administration and Congress to secure funding for a robust and sustainable approach. “For the nation’s return to the moon in collaboration with US trading partners,” the US space agency said.

A spokesperson for Blue Origin told CNBC that the company still believes that “there were fundamental issues with NASA’s decision, but GAO couldn’t address it due to its limited jurisdiction.”

“We will continue to advocate two immediate vendors as we believe this is the right solution,” said Blue Origin. “The Human Landing System program must have competition now instead of later – that is the best solution for NASA and the best solution for our country.”

SpaceX and Dynetics did not respond to CNBC requests for comment. For his part, Musk commented on the GAO’s decision in a tweet with a single emoji for the flexing arm.

NASA decision

Prototype spacecraft rocket SN15 launches from Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX

The GAO protest ruling resolves a dispute over NASA’s Human Landing System program, one of the final key elements in the agency’s plan to return US astronauts to the lunar surface.

Prior to the recent award, NASA had placed nearly $ 1 billion in concept development contracts – SpaceX received $ 135 million, Dynetics received 253 million, and Blue Origin received $ 579 million.

When choosing SpaceX for the next round of development, NASA decided to fund a variation of SpaceX Spaceship rocket, the prototype of which SpaceX has tested at its development site in Boca Chica, Texas.

NASA plans to have their astronauts use Starship to transfer from the agency’s Orion spacecraft when the capsule reaches lunar orbit.

Protests from Blue Origin and Dynetics

Shortly after NASA’s announcement in April, Blue Origin and Dynetics each filed protests with the GAOquestioning the space agency’s process and decision.

Blue Origin condemned the award as “flawed” in April, saying NASA “moved the goal posts at the last minute”.

The company also announced that its $ 5.99 billion bid was roughly double that of SpaceX. NASA later announced that Dynetics’ bid was even higher at $ 8.5 billion.

One effect of the protests is that NASA was unable to advance work on HLS with SpaceX, with work on the program essentially being suspended pending the GAO’s decision.

Bezos’ counter

Shortly after he flew into space himself on Blue Origin’s first manned flight, Bezos wrote a letter to NASA earlier this week that he would cover up to $ 2 billion in the space agency’s cost for a lunar landing contract.

“We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and resolve its budget constraints and get the Artemis program back on a more competitive, credible and sustainable path,” Bezos wrote in the letter.

Blue Origin communications vice president Linda Mills told CNBC in an email that Bezos had “made no change to the offering” following the GAO ruling.

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Ed Sheeran receives authorities name throughout podcast | Leisure

Ed Sheeran received a call from the government while on a podcast.

The ‘Bad Habits’ hitmaker was shooting with the ‘Harry Potter’ stars Oliver and James Phelps for their Normal not Normal podcast when he had to resign after an urgent call.

After receiving the call, he had continued filming for a brief moment and you could say, “Wait, wait, wait. Government, government.”

Ed was escorted on the call by his manager, Stuart Camp, who joked that it was “like calling from your teacher” when Ed finally returned. He announced that he had been called to see if he had been quarantined after recently returning to the UK from the US, where he was busy promoting his new single after a couple of years on hiatus.

James joked, “I was just having visions when you went into hiding with your boyfriend and called your mother to ask if you were alone.”

Ed had previously revealed his idea of ​​a “perfect evening” to be in bed by 8:30 pm.

The singer, who has 10-month-old Lyra with her wife, Cherry Seaborn, said, “The other day my wife was in LA and we had a Mexican takeaway and were in bed at 8:30 pm. It was like the perfect evening.

“My work is very structured now. I work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I go to work at 9 a.m. and finish at 5 p.m. no matter what. Some producers work crazy hours and I tell them, ‘What if you don’t show up at 9 a.m.? or between 9 and 10 am I’m free ‘. Either we work or we don’t work. Then after six months I wanted to be present, I wanted to get structure. It was really healing. “

Malaysia lockdown pressures authorities funds, says minister

People wearing face masks walk in front of the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on January 29, 2021.

Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Malaysia’s public finances will be “severely constrained” as a surge in Covid-19 infections has forced the country into lockdown again, Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali told CNBC on Friday.

The Malaysian government has announced a new stimulus package worth 40 billion Malaysian ringgit (approximately $ 9.68 billion) to help businesses and households tackle yet another round of “total lockdown” that began Tuesday.

This latest stimulus came on top of six previous packages worth a total of 340 billion Malaysian ringgit (around $ 82.31 billion) launched last year. The government said the additional spending could push the budget deficit over its target in 2021 of 6% of the gross domestic product.

“Of course this puts a heavy strain on our fiscal space, but here too … we have no other options than to examine different options to support industry, SMEs and also the informal sector so that they can continue their economic activities”, Azmin told CNBC.Squawk Box Asia. “

During the “total lockdown” from June 1st to 14th, companies offering essential services will remain open, while certain segments of manufacturing will be able to operate at reduced capacity.

Azmin and his ministry have been criticized by Opposition politician and the Malaysian public ensuring that some non-essential businesses – such as a furniture company and a brewery – can operate during the lockdown, according to media reports.

In a statement made on ThursdayAzmin said his ministry is not the only one issuing permits to companies that have requested to stay open during the lockdown. He added that according to the statement translated in Malay by CNBC, only 128,150 companies – with 1.57 million employees – had received approval, out of 586,308 that applied for approval.

Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia has deteriorated significantly Although the government imposed lockdowns of varying degrees over the past year.

Last week, the Southeast Asian country reported record infections five days in a row and on Wednesday recorded the highest daily death toll since early 2020. In total, Malaysia has confirmed more than 595,000 Covid cases and 3,096 deaths, data from the Ministry of Health showed on Thursday.

The Malaysian Director General for Health, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah has urged people to stay home to break the chain of transmission. Noor Hisham, a leading figure in the country’s fight against Covid, warned that the health system could be crippled if cases continue to increase.

Azmin said the government is accelerating its national vaccination campaign. He explained that the strategy is to give more than 200,000 doses a day by the end of this month and double that amount over the next month.

“We assume that the vaccination target of 80% will be achieved by August 2021,” said the minister.

But Malaysia Vaccination progress is slow. Only 6.2% of the country’s 32 million inhabitants have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, according to the statistics page Our World in Data.

UK authorities to focus on cash in Scotland to counter independence drive

A Scottish flag flies next to the British Union Jack flag in front of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, April 24, 2019. REUTERS / Russell Cheyne

The Scottish businesswoman Marie Macklin voted for independence seven years ago. Now she doesn’t see it as a priority.

As the Scottish National Party (SNP) pushes for a second referendum after another election victory this month, Macklin believes economic recovery is the real priority, especially for the fate of their struggling Scottish hometown, Kilmarnock.

In this regard, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration makes a difference.

“I’ve seen a strategic change,” said Macklin, who quickly secured UK government funding to train 200 apprentices for their HALO urban renewal project in Kilmarnock, a deprived SNP stronghold in Scotland.

She has fought for 12 years to raise government funding for her £ 89 million ($ 89 million) HALO Kilmarnock project, a redevelopment of the home of Scottish whiskey giant Johnnie Walker, which owns the 23-acre site in Cyber ​​and digital learning transforms facility at its hub for business and innovation.

She welcomes the funding of her plans to create a “digital army of young people” who once received social benefits as part of a change of direction to support communities.

When asked if the funding was a ploy to buy votes, she is apolitical and says she is focused on helping her community.

“When you say, do you do this to get votes? Don’t all politicians do that?”

Although the SNP triumphed in the Scottish general election, Conservatives gained ground among voters in the region.

It’s a low base, but according to two sources close to making decisions on the government’s Scotland strategy, the government is hoping to build on it, including through targeted project funding.

Controversial bill

Scotland, a nation of nearly 5.5 million people, has long been a problem for the Conservative government, especially Johnson, whose push for Brexit has only fueled hostility towards his government in Westminster, which is hundreds of miles away.

He has virtually no personal relationship with the SNP’s Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, conservative sources say, and she was aware that winning this month’s election only fueled the quest for independence.

Johnson himself is unpopular with many Scots who consider him the epitome of the English upper class elite, and he was largely kept at a distance in the campaign for the Scottish Parliament, in which parties for independence took a majority of the seats.

But he defends himself. In the run-up to the elections, his government advocated investing in Scotland and made a series of announcements in March highlighting the more than £ 800 million newly designated funding.

Aside from government programs to protect jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the apprenticeship system, ministers hope to move forward with a law that emerged from another “independence” line: Britain’s division from the European Union.

The Single Market Act, which came into force in December 2020, once gave Great Britain the opportunity to suspend its divorce treaty previously agreed with the EU, which infuriated Brussels and was condemned by critics as a betrayal of international law.

After the separation is complete, provisions of the law that were overlooked in the Brexit series will be used to try to hold the UK together so that London can essentially bypass the Scottish government by allowing the government to put projects into the Infrastructure, education, finance directly. Culture and sport.

The government refers to its £ 4.8 billion leveling-up fund over four years, with at least £ 800 million earmarked for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or its £ 220 million Community Renewal Fund for the UK, the topping up existing EU funding to pave the way for a new UK fund for shared prosperity.

This will replace the funds provided by the EU, the government says, adding that decisions about where to invest money are made at “the UK level, not Brussels”.

This has led to cries of opposition at the SNP, who see it as little more than a takeover of power. This would undermine two decades of decentralization, which gives the Scottish Government and Parliament more decision-making power in certain areas and a cut from what it has received from the EU, it said.

But it also represents a challenge for the SNP, which is pushing for a new independence referendum as soon as possible after the coronavirus pandemic. The SNP doesn’t want to be seen refusing money for parts of Scotland just because the funding comes from Westminster.

“They believe that plastering union flags will make a difference. They will obviously be able to do a lot of publicity.” Oh, aren’t we generous, we gave this to you? “Said Philippa Whitford, the SNP legislature in the Westminster Parliament for nearby Central Ayrshire.

“So it’s all about captivating people, but in the long run, people value decentralization.”

The government denies that the act is a takeover. Alister Jack, the UK Scottish Secretary, said this month: “We needed this legislation to protect Scottish businesses and Scottish jobs.”

MISSING PARTS

The dispute, however, underscores the difficulty the UK government will face in building its Scotland strategy – applying too much pressure and reinforcing the desire of some Scots to push for independence. Polls show that Scots split more or less equally for or against independence.

So far, the government has been largely silent about what other tools it is likely to use. Johnson chose a team of advisors just last month when Johnson was leading the union protection team in Sue Gray, a former Downing Street ethics commander.

You and Senior Minister Michael Gove are seen as instrumental in drawing up the next steps in the strategy beyond the broader drive to tackle inequality across the UK.

“I would argue that there has to be a great social, cultural piece that shows the positive side of British identity,” said Luke Graham, a former advisor to Scotland on Downing Street.

For Macklin, it pays to get the government’s ear if it means the UK government is pouring funds directly into the private sector, helping the communities.

She would also see the creation of a joint UK strategy involving business leaders to aid recovery from COVID and meet government environmental goals.

“I don’t care who gets the recognition for this … regeneration project, which was realized after 12 years. It was a lot of sweat and tears. But in the end the community won.”

($ 1 = 0.7053 pounds)

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Authorities cash seen powering U.S. economic system in first quarter

US economic growth is likely to have accelerated in the first quarter, driven by massive government aid to households and businesses. This sets the course for what is likely to be the strongest performance this year in almost four decades.

The United States’ economy is recovering faster than its global rivals thanks to two additional COVID-19 bailouts from Washington, as well as a reduction in pandemic fear that has boosted domestic demand and enabled service businesses like restaurants and bars to rift.

Although the expected revival in gross domestic product in the final quarter would leave production just below its level in late 2019, the economy remains at least a few years away from fully recovering from the pandemic recession that began in February 2020.

The Department of Commerce will release its snapshot of GDP growth for the first quarter on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT).

“It’s going to be a solid GDP number,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “It’s a small milestone, in many cases, that we need to hit before we can say we have fully recovered from the recession.”

According to a Reuters poll of economists, the economy is likely to have grown 6.1% on an annual basis in the first three months of the year. This would be the second fastest rate of GDP growth since the third quarter of 2003 and would follow a rate of 4.3% in the fourth quarter.

However, the survey was conducted before March durable goods orders, goods trade deficit, and wholesale and retail inventory data. The economists at Goldman Sachs have initially lowered their GDP growth estimate based on the data on durable goods by a tenth of a percentage point to 7.4%.

The estimate based on the goods trade deficit and inventory data was then increased to 7.7%.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration provided nearly $ 3 trillion in aid at the start of the pandemic, sparking record GDP growth in the third quarter of 2020. Additional incentives of nearly $ 900 billion followed in late December. President Joe Biden’s administration offered another $ 1.9 trillion bailout in March that sent one-time checks of $ 1,400 to skilled households and an unemployment benefit of $ 300 through early September. Dollars granted.

The Federal Reserve acknowledged burgeoning domestic activity Wednesday, but the US Federal Reserve gave no indication that it was ready to cut its extraordinary support for the recovery. Continue reading

FOLLOW-UP NEED

The rapidly accelerating economy could dampen some moderate Democrats’ enthusiasm for Biden’s ambitious economic agenda. Biden unveiled a comprehensive $ 1.8 trillion package for families and education in his first joint speech to Congress on Wednesday. Republicans are against more incentives and are now concerned about the growing debt. The new package and a previous infrastructure and employment plan are worth around $ 4 trillion, competing with the annual federal budget.[nL1N2ML15K}[nL1N2ML15K}[nL1N2ML15K}[nL1N2ML15K}

Some economists fear that massive government funding could boost inflation. Many economists, including Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, anticipate temporary higher inflation, arguing that the labor market will remain 8.4 million jobs below its February 2020 high.

According to a Reuters poll, a separate Labor Department report on Thursday is expected to see 549,000 people claiming state unemployment benefits last week. Although claims have fallen from a record 6.149 million in early April 2020, they remain well above the 200,000-250,000 range that is considered compatible with a healthy labor market. Approximately 17.4 million Americans received unemployment benefits in early April.

At the beginning of the second quarter, the economy continued to prevail. Consumer confidence hit a 14-month high in April thanks to fiscal stimulus and the expansion of the COVID-19 vaccination program to all American adults. That helps unleash pent-up demand.

Americans have accumulated at least $ 2 trillion in excess savings. Many economists expect the economy to fully recover from the recession by the end of 2023. They expect growth could top 7% this year, which would be the fastest since 1984. The economy contracted 3.5% in 2020, its worst performance in 74 years.

“Assuming vaccines against new variants of the virus remain effective, the economy should see significant growth for the remainder of the year,” said Kevin Cummins, chief US economist at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut.

“The combination of extraordinarily high fiscal stimulus, extremely accommodative monetary policy, an extremely positive supply shock as the economy reopens, and a pile of excess savings to support consumption makes us extremely optimistic about GDP growth in 2021 and 2022.”

The growth in the first quarter was likely driven by consumer spending, which is expected to accelerate after almost holding back in the last three months of 2020. Another quarter of double-digit growth is expected for equipment business spending as well as recovery from investments in non-residential structures such as mine exploration, shafts and wells.

Residential investment is likely to have contributed to GDP growth for the third quarter in a row. However, trade is likely to be a drag for the third straight quarter as some of robust domestic demand has been saturated by imports. Heavy consumption meant fewer unsold goods in inventory, which likely resulted in inventory being subtracted from GDP growth.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Can giving folks added well being advantages truly get monetary savings? | Authorities

Sometimes it pays off generously.

This is the surprising discovery that comes from a review of the chain of improvement that Navajo County has made in its employee health plan over the past several years.

The county has annually cared for the spouses of workers free of charge, hired a consultant to ensure employees with complicated conditions come into contact with top-notch doctors, paid people extra for sports activities, added free insurance for medical helicopter flights, and offered extra care for people with conditions like diabetes.

But here’s the thing: Navajo County estimates the cascade of franchise benefits cut the cost of coverage nearly in half – saving the county at least $ 4 million in damage annually.

“We haven’t seen a rise in staff costs since January 2017 – prices have been flat for five years,” Administrator Eric Scott told the county board of directors last week. “It was amazing to see this happen – we made decisions a little outside the box and saw the payoff.”

How is that possible?

Do more services save money?

In fact, it reflects efforts to cope with the world’s most expensive medical system – which means financial rewards for treating sick people, but also for keeping people healthy.

According to a report by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the US spends at least 17% of its gross domestic product on health care, compared to about 9% in most advanced industrial countries. In 2019, we spent $ 11,000 per person on health care compared to $ 5,500 per person in the rest of the developed world.

This partly reflects the much higher cost of procedures in the US – such as MRIs, heart surgery, hospitalizations, and a variety of treatments. The US also spends four times as much on managing its decentralized, mostly private system – around $ 940 per person. Much of this goes to insurance companies that are trying to reduce the claim – often by rejecting claims, squashing benefits, or accumulating large co-payments and deductibles.

Despite wasteful healthcare spending in the US, we remain the only developed nation without universal health coverage – with at least 10% to 20% uncovered for at least part of the year.

Additionally, we remain mediocre when it comes to health outcomes as measured by life expectancy, management of chronic conditions like diabetes, childhood vaccinations, public health infrastructure, and even heart attacks. When it comes to child mortality and prenatal care, we are among the worst in the developed world.

How did Navajo County buck the trend – save money by offering more employee-centric services?

Years of effort began with a decision to hire a consultant to analyze the spending patterns in the system and then suggest ways to save money without harming the health of the county’s 500 or so employees. The health plan includes 874 people, including 418 employees and their families. On average, each employee has two dependents covered by the plan. Employees pay about 21% of health care costs, with Navajo County taking care of the rest.

The analysis showed some surprising trends.

For example, spouses on the plan made twice as many claims each month as the employee – who made about four times as many claims as any child.

This discovery led to the decision to offer free annual exams and other additional prevention services for spouses and children – rather than just for the employee.

A few years later – the results seem clear. The cost per worker rose a modest 13% to about $ 363 per month. That is actually lower than the underlying cost of medical inflation over the same period. However, the cost of the spousal coverage plan decreased 24% to $ 805 per month and the cost per child decreased 25% to $ 89 per month.

Gee: Prevention works. Who would have thought?

Rigorous data analysis yielded some other interesting results. For example, medical claims costs fell 12% over three years – likely due to preventive care, more careful claims management, and other changes. However, the cost of the plan’s drug benefits increased 6% for reasons the counselors continue to investigate.

The data analysis also found a sharp increase in the cost of treating several chronic conditions – particularly diabetes. Diabetes claims this year increased 27% last year. This prompted the county to sign a deal with Virta Health in 2021 based on a treatment, education, and lifestyle change program that the company has sometimes used to actually reverse type 2 diabetes.

The county also adds a contract with Edison Health to manage complicated, costly claims by connecting patients to experts across the country.

“We’ve all heard stories of people who get misdiagnosed and end up paying a lot of money to take care of something they don’t need,” said Scott. “One of the things Edison Health can do. If someone develops an illness, they can have direct access for a second opinion. That can save a lot of money right away. Once they have verified the diagnosis, they will have access to the best care in the country. “

The county has also experimented to pay employees to adopt health habits by adding extra cash to their medical savings accounts.

Scott discussed a number of other innovative changes that have been made in recent years to reduce costs. Some of these ideas are:

• Provision of ambulance insurance in the event that people in the plan need an emergency flight to the hospital – often in the valley. The plan saved the county $ 330,000 in a single year.

• Paying people to be physically provided annually and to participate in the county’s quarterly health challenge – to encourage people to eat healthily, exercise, or make other life changes.

• Introducing a new program to educate people about the importance of their diet and more effectively treat things like heartburn, obesity, stress and other conditions that affect health and nutrition.