Omicron detected in Florida and Texas because it takes root in 25 U.S. states

Genview Diagnosis Medical Assistants Crystal Leyva (L) and Keitia Perez conduct COVID-19 sampling tests on laboratory technicians at the Foxconn Assembly on August 13, 2021 in Houston, Texas.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Several southern US states, including Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida, have confirmed cases of the Omicron-Covid-19 variant as the heavily mutated strain takes root in half of all US states.

25 U.S. states have discovered cases of the new strain, a number that health officials expect to increase in the coming weeks, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a Covid briefing at White House on Friday. The Omicron cases come as the nation grapples with a wave of delta infections that drove Covid cases to over 100,000 a day, up 16% last week and 23% since before Thanksgiving, the data said from John Hopkins University.

Scientists are still trying to answer questions about the portability, severity, and impact of Omicron on the vaccine’s effectiveness. Meanwhile, government, commercial, and academic laboratories in the United States are stepping up genome sequencing efforts to find more cases of the variant.

Georgia

Georgia public health officials reported three cases of the variant from Thursdaywho all live in the greater Atlanta area.

The first two cases were announced in a press release on Sunday. One patient developed mild symptoms after traveling from South Africa and tested positive for Covid. The state health department also said it was informed on Dec. 3 of the second patient, who tested positive in New Jersey and is currently recovering there.

The department did not provide any information about the symptoms or the severity of their infections.

The third case was confirmed on Thursday in an unvaccinated person with no recent international travel history. The patient suffers from mild Covid symptoms and isolates himself at home.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is conducting contact tracing to identify close contacts among infected patients, according to a press release Thursday.

State Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said vaccination was “key” to preventing the spread of Covid and the occurrence of variants like Omicron, the press release said. She also stressed that Delta is still driving the majority of infections in the US

“It’s also important to remember that even while Omicron is being developed, we are still in the midst of a pandemic currently fueled by the Delta variant,” Toomey said.

Delta still accounts for more than 99% of all genetically sequenced cases in the US, said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walenksy during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday.

Georgia posted a seven-day moving average of 1,334 positive tests for the virus on Thursday, after that number dropped below 1,000 for most of November. according to the CDC. The positive tests have risen steadily since Thanksgiving, but are still well below the 7,000 to 9,000 seven-day averages seen in August.

Louisiana

Public health officials in Louisiana reported 37 cases of the Omicron variant on Thursday. However, only three cases have been confirmed and 34 are still “likely,” said the state health department in a press release.

The first likely case was reported and identified on December 3 in a metropolitan New Orleans resident who had recently traveled within the United States

Another 16 likely cases were reported on Wednesday, while 20 became known on Thursday alone.

At least 28 probable cases and 2 confirmed cases are among residents of the greater New Orleans area. Three likely cases are in patients in the Baton Rouge area. Two likely cases are in patients from northwest Louisiana.

There is also a confirmed case in a resident of Northshore, a neighborhood in Louisiana.

The country’s health department did not provide any further information on the severity of the infections. The department only found that another patient from the Acadiana area had recently traveled internationally but did not need to be hospitalized after testing positive.

“These new cases of Omicron should serve as a reminder of the ongoing threat from COVID, especially as we gather for the holidays,” said state health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter, in the press release, urged the citizens of Louisiana to get vaccinated and reinforced.

Louisiana recorded 439 new cases Thursday. according to the CDC, still below its high in October when the 7-day average hit 530.

Texas

The Texas State Health Department on Monday confirmed its first case of Omicron in a resident of Harris County, where Houston is located. The department determined that the patient was an adult woman but did not provide any further information about her symptoms or when she tested positive.

Harris County Public Health and the Texas Department of State Health Services are currently investigating the case.

“It is normal for viruses to mutate, and given the rapid spread of omicron in southern Africa, we are not surprised it showed up here,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, the officer for the state health department.

Texas posted a 7-day moving average of 2,554 cases on Thursday. according to the CDC. That number is well below the previous months, with the 7-day moving average hitting up to 9,000 in October and 19,000 in September.

Florida

Two cases of the Omicron variant had been reported in Florida as of Thursday, a state health department spokesman told CNBC.

The department was notified of the first patient by the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, the spokesman said, noting that they cannot provide details on the case.

The hospital recorded in a declaration to the WFLA that the patient has mild symptoms and has recently traveled internationally.

“Our vendors were able to quickly identify, test, confirm, and add this data to our evolving understanding of this variety,” said the hospital’s statement, according to WFLA.

The second case from St. Lucie County was reported to the CDC by the state health department, the spokesman added. They did not provide any further details on the case.

When asked about reports of the new Omicron cases at a news conference Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he would not impose bans in the state.

“In Florida we won’t let them lock you up, we won’t let them restrict you, we won’t let them impose mandates, we won’t let them close schools, we will protect your freedom” Making decisions, “DeSantis told reporters.

“And I have no problem if someone is worried, if they are afraid of Omicron and want to lock themselves up or isolate themselves, that is absolutely their choice in a free society, but you don’t force fauciism on the whole country or the whole state, it’s wrong, “he continued.

As of Thursday, Florida had a seven-day moving average of 1,873 tests positive for the virus. according to the CDC. That number has risen in the past few weeks, most recently reaching 1,800 new cases per day on October 28th.

Texas has spent $7B in federal cash to pay short-term well being care staff throughout COVID pandemic

AUSTIN — The state is trying to wind down an expensive, federally paid program of hiring nurses and other health care professionals to keep its hospitals from buckling under staffing pressures and burnout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the plan could be upended by any spike in COVID-19 cases prompted by gatherings over the upcoming holidays. Already, the state decided to keep up surge staffing at hospitals in El Paso and the Panhandle because of recent outbreaks.

After three huge waves of hospitalizations – in each of the past two summers and the big daddy of them all, last December and January – the state has spent nearly $7 billion of federal COVID-19 money for temporary nurses, respiratory therapists and some doctors to maintain operations at hospitals and “alternate care sites.”

The state set up the alternate care sites, mostly at nursing homes and convention centers, to free up hospital beds for coronavirus patients.

The decision to begin ramping down the “medical surge staffing” could be premature. Some public health officials worry that many Texans will mingle indoors and maskless during the upcoming holidays, among them unvaccinated state residents, creating a spike in both seasonal flu and COVID-19 that strains hospitals to capacity.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has told the three vendors who provide the hospitals with temporary caregivers that it plans to stop doing that in most parts of the state over the next month or so, said spokesman Chris Van Deusen.

“Of course, we’re always flexible about that,” he said. “If the situation changes, we’ll change the direction we’re headed.”

Critics of Gov. Greg Abbott’s management of the public health crisis say he’s used hospital staffing support when he should have used a full range of mitigation measures that are far less expensive, such as mask and vaccine mandates.

While the staffing expense is covered 100% by the federal government, the extravagant spending distorted the marketplace for nursing labor, which was already in short supply, said Rep. Donna Howard, an Austin Democrat and retired nurse who has studied the state’s response closely.

‘Burden on the hospitals’

Early in the pandemic, Abbott ordered hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, which choked off vital revenue streams, Howard said. But the Republican governor only hesitatingly embraced a statewide masking and distancing order, which he fully lifted in early March, she noted.

More recently, Abbott has stressed state provision – again, thanks to Uncle Sam – of COVID-19 treatments and infusion centers, where infected patients receive monoclonal antibodies that reduce the severity of symptoms.

“Those are great,” Howard said. “But again, though, rather than trying to do things to prevent it from happening in the first place, the interventions have been after the fact. And it’s really been a burden on the hospitals.”

Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze, noting that nearly 36 million shots have been administered to Texans, said Abbott has launched “innovative strategies” to combat the pandemic. She cited mobile vaccine clinics and a “Save Our Seniors” program he announced in March. Under the program, modeled on one in Corpus Christi given statewide attention by The Dallas Morning News, local first responders and other volunteers take shots to homebound seniors or set up central drive-through vaccine clinics.

“Governor Abbott has prioritized protecting the safety of Texans from COVID while also safeguarding their livelihoods and personal freedom,” Eze said in a written statement.

Abbott continues to work closely with state Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt and Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd “to get shots in arms and provide support to communities across the state,” she said.

“While the vaccine has proven effective at reducing the severity of COVID cases and slowing the spread of COVID, Governor Abbott also recognizes the right of Texans to refuse the shot, especially those who have acquired immunity, have health conditions, or other reasons to not take the shot.”

Many Texans, though, are still resistant to the shot. Only 59% of Texans age 5 or older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Flu prospects

So far this flu season, Texans haven’t been catching influenza at an alarming rate. Of the nearly 39,000 who’ve been tested since early October, just 0.35% tested positive. At the peak of the 2018-2019 flu season, in February 2019, about one quarter of specimens tested positive for flu, noted epidemiologist Diana Cervantes of the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center at Fort Worth.

Still, on Wednesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control issued an alert warning of a recent increase in flu viruses detected in recent weeks, especially among young adults. The federal agency said it “also is aware of influenza outbreaks in colleges and universities in several states.”

Flu seasons in which the particular strain noticed in the recent uptick – A(H3N2) – is predominant “were associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older,” the alert said.

The CDC urged all Americans six months old and older – if they haven’t already, and many haven’t – to get flu shots.

UNT’s Cervantes explained public health officials’ concern.

“As the COVID vaccine has become available, there are many fewer restrictions and prevention measures directed at COVID prevention such as mask usage, physical distancing this year – so we may likely see a more active flu season compared to last year,” she said.

She continued, “There is a possibility that due to the holidays and increased travel and general contact with others, we could see an increase in COVID cases and flu cases jointly and unfortunately there are always severe cases of both that can require hospitalization leading to dual stresses on our health care system.”

With COVID-19 vaccine widely available and “no new variant of concern” at this point, “I am hopeful we will not see a spike of COVID like we experienced last winter,” Cervantes said.

The surge staffing began in July 2020 with just more than 3,500 visiting health care workers helping Texas hospitals. Peak deployment came after last winter’s surge of cases, with almost 14,000 temporary nurses and other workers used during one week in early February. Last summer, the numbers dwindled. From mid-May to mid-August, no surge staffing was needed.

But then deployments kicked back up with the spike of cases caused by the delta variant. By early October, the department’s three private vendors were supplying nearly 7,800 health care professionals a week. As of Nov. 17, that had dropped to 3,176.

A demobilization ‘pause’

In recent weeks, the department told its three vendors supplying the nurses and other front-line workers – San Antonio-based nonprofit BCFS Health and Human Services, San Antonio-based Angel Staffing Inc. and Columbia, Md.-based Maxim Healthcare Group – that it planned to stop all hospital support in early December.

A flare-up of positive cases in El Paso and the Panhandle has forced the department to keep providing the surge staffing to those two regions, even as it hopes to be able to stop providing nurses and therapists to hospitals in most of the state, said Van Deusen, the state health department spokesman.

“We’ve paused sort of demobilizing staff out in El Paso, for example, because they’ve seen things really start to go up more,” he said. “But yes, that’s been the idea,” to end the program as more Texans are vaccinated and severe cases of the disease taper off.

On Tuesday, the hospital regions where coronavirus patients are taking up the highest percentage of available beds were El Paso (13.3%), Amarillo (11.8%) and Lubbock (9.9%), according to the department’s coronavirus dashboard. Of the four major metros, Dallas had the highest share of its hospital beds devoted to COVID-19 patients – 4.9%. There were 768 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in the Dallas trauma service area’s hospitals. Of them, 94 had been admitted in the previous 24 hours.

From just over a year ago, Dallas has zoomed to account for 28% of the surge staffing statewide, from under 10%. South Texas, which in October 2020 drew 35% of the temporary workers helping Texas hospitals, now is using only 11%. As a share of the statewide deployment, Houston has tapered off (to 21% of the total, from 25% a year earlier), while Austin and Central Texas account for nearly 10% of the statewide staffing help, up from about 1% a year earlier.

President Joe Biden recently said that 100% reimbursement of states’ coronavirus-related response efforts, such as the hospital staffing, would continue through April 1.

Van Deusen said that leaving aside considerations about federal reimbursements, the need for the surge staffing has diminished.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Texas have decreased dramatically from the delta variant-driven spike of confirmed cases in late summer. From nearly 14,000 in late August and early September, hospitalized patients have fallen to under 2,700 as of Tuesday.

“We had started ramping down earlier this month, with the idea that it would take probably four to six weeks to do that,” Van Deusen said.

‘Worth it to them’

Some of the health care workers, such as nurses, have commanded high prices to come work at Texas hospitals.

Howard said at one point, she was told by the state health department that nurses cost the state $100 an hour to $125 an hour. She said she didn’t know if that was the amount being paid to the vendor or the nurses. The online job site Indeed shows the average registered nurse in Texas commanding about $36 an hour, she noted.

Department officials and vendors have declined to discuss wages paid to the temporary hospital workers.

“You had nurses who left their jobs to become traveling nurses because they could make a heck of a lot more money,” said Howard, who said she’s heard from one of her staff members an anecdote about one who gambled on treating COVID-19 patients in order to get a piece of the American dream – a house.

“They knew that it was going to be short term, but it was worth it to them to leave where they were and go wherever they needed to be for the fairly short period of time and bring in an exorbitant salary,” Howard recounted.

“It allowed them to actually get a mortgage. That was out of out of sight for them before. They are now able to buy a house because of this, which is great for them. But the distortion in the market is that those very people who are leaving, now, the hospitals are having to find ways to increase what they pay in order to retain their nurses. They’re doing bonuses, they’re doing premium pay, they’re doing whatever they can do, to try to keep the nurses that they have.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has received Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment to help him fight COVID-19, said Saturday that he is wants to see antibody infusion centers opened across the state.

By far the biggest chunk of the nearly $6.9 billion spent since July 2020 has gone to BCFS – $5.3 billion, or 77%.

The state also processed invoices from Angel for $1.14 billion (17% of the total) and from Maxim, the former Medcall Medical Staffing, for $455 million (6%). Angel and Maxim are privately held, for-profit companies.

As of Nov. 15, BCFS had 1,945 medical personnel working in 235 Texas hospitals, said BCFS spokeswoman Evy Ramos. Except for about 300 respiratory therapists, they were all nurses, she said. None was a physician.

Of the $6.88 billion spent, just under $2.4 million was state funds, according to a spreadsheet of vendor payments obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

“The funds obligated are federal, FEMA and CARES Act dollars,” said state health department spokesman Doug Loveday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020.

Another $8.7 million of the money went to alternate care sites.

None of the money spent yet has come from the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March, though state lawmakers last month approved spending up to $2 billion of the American Rescue Plan money on hospital surge staffing, COVID therapeutics and infusion centers.

Texas soon will have spent more than $5.1 billion to hire nurses and other frontline health-care workers at premium rates to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and deter the disease at group residential settings such as nursing homes. The effort will eat up nearly two-thirds of the $8.1 billion in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund money the state has received. In February file photo, three nurses at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital -- one a traveling nurse and two on-staff -- review an intubated COVID-19 patient’s oxygen levels.

Tesla strikes headquarters from California to Texas

Tesla its headquarters are moving from Palo Alto, California to Austin, Texas, CEO Elon Musk announced at the company’s shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.

The meeting took place at Tesla’s vehicle assembly plant under construction outside Austin on property bordering the Colorado River near the city’s airport.

However, the company plans to ramp up production at its California facility regardless of the headquarters move.

“To be clear, we will continue to expand our operations in California,” said Musk. “Our intention is to increase production at Fremont and Giga Nevada by 50%. If you go to our Fremont facility, it will be blocked.”

But he added, “It’s hard for people to afford houses, and people have to come from far … There’s a limit to how big you can scale in the Bay Area.”

Musk’s growing dissatisfaction with California has been evident for some time. In April 2020, on a Tesla winning call, Musk hit California government officials who described their temporary health orders related to Covid as “fascist”.

Later, Muski moved personally to the Austin area of ​​Los Angeles, where he had lived for two decades.

This has enabled Musk, who is also the CEO of aerospace company SpaceX, to reduce his personal tax burden and be closer to a SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

Tesla’s board of directors granted Musk an executive compensation package that can earn him massive stock bonuses due to the automaker’s increase in market capitalization and a few other financial goals. If he sells options that expire in 2021, he could make more than $ 20 billion in revenue this year, according to InsiderScore.

California levies some of the highest personal income taxes in the country on its wealthy residents, but Texas has no personal income tax.

Tesla isn’t the first company to move its headquarters from California to Texas. Oracle and Hewlett Packard, for example, are among the technology giants who took this step last year.

Texas is actively recruiting companies through its Texas Economic Development Act, which provides tax breaks, to help establish new facilities in the state. Austin attracts tech employers with a top tech university and cultural events like South by Southwest.

Such a move is not particularly stressful, said business lawyer Domenic Romano, managing partner of Romano Law in New York City. A Delaware corporation that, like Tesla, operated as a “foreign” corporation headquartered in California could relocate by setting up and hiring a facility in a new state. and relocating key employees.

They wouldn’t have to cease operations in other states, although they usually reduce them.

“From a legal perspective, there are fewer regulatory burdens in Texas,” said Romano. “It’s a more business and employer-friendly state in many ways. In Texas or Florida, as an employer, you have to overcome a lot fewer hurdles than in California in terms of reporting requirements and more.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the Tesla CEO supported those of his state also “social policy”. However, Elon Musk declined to weigh Texas’s restrictive new abortion law after Abbott made that claim.

“In general, I believe that the government should seldom impose its will on the people while trying to maximize their cumulative happiness,” Musk wrote on Twitter at the time. “But I’d rather stay out of politics,” said Musk.

Tesla has generally received tremendous support from the State of California since its inception in 2003. It has grants, tax breaks, incentives, and favorable policies like the California Air Resources Board, and the California Energy Commission California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Finance Authority, among other.

Wrestler who made historical past opens Texas Fashion Wrestling

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jaime Garcia became the first Corpus Christi High School wrestler to qualify for the UIL State Tournament in 2000. He recently opened his own wrestling club academy, Texas Style Wrestling.

He’s living his dream of training wrestling. “I’ve always wanted to start this program to give back to children and give them the opportunity to reach their potential in the sport,” said Garcia.

He has dozens of students aged four through high school. Many of them already have a head start in learning the “folk style” wrestling used in UIL competitions. Others just improve their technique.

“There was no certified club where the kids could train and develop their skills after the high school season ended in preparation for the next season,” said Garcia.

“Oh, it’s huge to come here,” said Carroll wrestler Ashton Keller. “This is the time when you can make great strides over your competition. It’s a great place to get better.”

“For me, I want to be a state champion, so it means more time to get there,” said veterans memorial wrestler Abigail Mendoza.

Garcia is still at the start at 40. He won a national tournament in Iowa two years ago and will compete in the US Open in Las Vegas in April.

Robert Cessna: Model factors elude Texas A&M soccer crew, however not victory | Soccer

Calzada struggled mightily through three quarters. The game looked too fast for him as he threw behind, over and behind the receivers and was nearly intercepted a few times. Until the last two drives of the game, he didn’t get much help from his fellow human beings. Fortunately for the misfire, the defense got together just before half time and smothered Colorado in the second half.

“There will be games like this. You have to pull them out, ”said A&M coach Jimbo Fisher. “You have to be able to find a way and that’s one thing this team has done and one thing … the organization keeps learning how to do it.”

The win was A & M’s tenth consecutive win, the country’s second-longest winning streak after Alabama. But it also fits a theme the Aggies created that probably kept them out of last season’s college football playoffs when they finished fifth behind Notre Dame on the final poll. The Aggies ended the regular season with seven straight wins but were often unimpressive. The players have talked about being more dominant and earning “style points”, but they were reminded on Saturday that you have to win first, even if it’s ugly.

“I always say this, you know, all the great teams I’ve been on, no matter what, there are a game or two where you find a way to scratch, scratch and pull them out,” Fisher said. “Yes, you understand why it is difficult and you fix these problems and move on and get better.”

Central Texas scholar raises cash for particular wants dance

A young girl’s hard work at Copperas Cove pays off in the form of a homecoming dance for students with special needs.

House Creek Elementary fourth grader De’Ziyah Gilbert, also this year’s Junior Miss Five Hills, wanted to do something special for students with special needs.

Your idea to give them a very special homecoming dance.

“I know you’ve been through hard things and I want you to know that you are loved too,” Gilbert said.

The dance was free for all participants in the dance and that’s because De’Ziyah was able to raise over $ 900 to fund the dance.

“She used that from her soda daily allowance and bought all of her stuff she needed to dance,” said Shannoda Gilbert, De’Ziyah’s mother. “So that the children can come here for free and they don’t have to pay anything and they can show appreciation here.”

Not only did she raise money to finance the dance, but she also had to use her manual skills.

“She had to father mothers,” said Gilbert’s mother. “Go mothers and buy things and it took hours to make them mothers the way they should be.”

The fourth grader said she had a lot of fun doing the mothers with her big sister, but it was a lot of hard work.

“I had to keep going to the store because I forgot some things and some of them broke, so I had to fix them and I had to be very careful not to get burned,” Gilbert said.

De’Ziyah said she was inspired by her big sister who organized a similar event for students with dyslexia in 2018 when she was a junior miss.

Hundreds of thousands of Aid Cash Obtainable for Texas Utility Clients; Act Now, Says Atmos – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Price

Texans struggling with overdue or high electricity and gas bills can qualify for up to thousands of dollars in aid if they act now.

Atmos Energy urges customers in need to contact their energy supplier and apply for the “Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program”.

The program has been around for decades, but millions of additional federal dollars are now available through COVID relief funding.

“We know there is a need out there,” said Faye Kinner, customer service manager at Atmos Energy. “We know families struggle to pay their current and overdue fees, so we really encourage them to get in touch if they struggle. Contact your energy supplier so that we can point you to the resources you need. “

Time is also of the essence, said Kinner.

The financing in the millions expires at the end of September.

“These funds will expire at the end of September, so we really want to encourage customers to act now,” she said.

All utility customers can apply.

Traditional income qualifications have also eased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even if they weren’t eligible before, they can be eligible now, and it’s supposed to help you with all of your utility bills,” Kinner said.

Eligible customers could get thousands of dollars in relief money on utility bills.

“It can really make a difference, both for recurring fees and for your overdue fees,” said Kinner. “With the start of the cooler months and winter, we want to ensure that our customers are up to date with their natural gas bills.”

Kinner says customers should call customer service, tell them they’re having trouble, and point them in the right direction for the program.

That includes Atmos and electricity providers like TXU and Reliant, she said.

The customer service number for ATMOS is 888-286-6700.

For information on income limits for the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), see the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website.

Cash issues as Oklahoma, Texas look to leap ship to SEC

What better Missouri 10th anniversary gift to pull the trigger and join the Southeastern Conference than this: justification.

Texas and Oklahoma stole the show every media day this week as news leaked from the Longhorns and Sooners – closer than many initially thought Wednesday – to leave the Big 12 Conference for good.

Missouri and Texas A&M collapsed in 2011 after the uncomfortable 12-team alliance founded in 1996 collapsed under the weight of twin vices – ego and money. Texas and Oklahoma’s public pose to position themselves at the forefront while cashing the biggest checks drove away Colorado and Nebraska first and then the Aggies and the Tigers.

Two founding members of the Big Eight and another long-standing member (the Buffaloes) leave injured: rivalries have been severed, past stories have been muted.

But money has helped everyone move forward, and money is the driving force here too. But 10 years ago when eyes were roaming Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma, Missouri was almost caught, and Sporting Director Mike Alden, Chancellor Brady Deaton, and others had to make sure the Tigers had a chair to sit on when – not if – those Music stopped.

Now? Missouri is gleeful.

On November 6, 2011, the SEC expanded membership to Missouri and has since remained at 14 members. The Tigers found a safe landing spot and could look on in amusement rather than anger if the internal divisions of the Big 12 ever reappeared.

According to some reports, Texas and Oklahoma could give up their commitments and join in time for the 2022 football season to start, while others have suggested that it is more financially likely that both will officially go after 2024-25 when the Big 12’s TV rights deal is finalized as an immediate exit would cost each school up to $ 80 million.

According to Dennis Dodd, who also reported that the other members of the Big 12 are considering giving the Sooners and Longhorns a bigger share of the conference revenue, neither representatives had a conference call on Thursday, highlighting the particular inequality that both Texas A&M as also prompted Missouri to contact the SEC, where both were treated as full members from day one.

If you’re a Missouri fan, I understand you have a few reservations about, uh, Texas specifically joining the SEC.

Texas A&M has taken on its oldest and fiercest rival to join the league: The Aggies like the football recruiting spot of being able to play in the SEC while staying in Texas. The entry of the Longhorns would tarnish that shine. The Aggies have worked hard to escape the pull of the Longhorns’ financial and political might, and now they seem to be withdrawn.

Texas, as always, will do its best to run the show if it joins the SEC, as it did at the Southwest and Big 12 conferences.

Will they be able to do it? Only time can tell. But that’s why I think Missouri won’t be a no to renewing a membership offer if the SEC votes on it. Texas A&M would have to drum up three other “no’s” to override things, but it’s very hard to imagine the other 13 schools rejecting the increased revenue that would come with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma.

The Missouri sports division was safer and financially better off after leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, which made that decision right then and now. It also seems clear that Missouri – and everyone else attending the conference – will be better off financially with Texas and Oklahoma joining.

In this scenario, the SEC would become the nation’s most powerful conference in the greatest sport of college athletics, and be ready to take a leadership role if this talk of breaking with the NCAA materializes.

And isn’t this about money anyway?

Texas will get concerned in Israel’s struggle with Ben & Jerry’s over West Financial institution boycott

A view of the entrance to the ice cream parlor in the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia in southern Israel on July 21, 2021.

Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images

The struggle between Israel and Palestinians spills over to 30 US states whose laws prevent pension funds from investing in companies that refuse to do business with the Jewish state.

The most recent example concerns the socially conscious ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, the West Bank and Texas.

Earlier this week, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors said it would no longer allow sales in areas it believes Israel should not control. The company issued a statement stating, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values ​​for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The company, now owned by global consumer giant Unilever, has been selling its brand in Israel through a local Israeli distributor for decades. Unilever said it would seek a new deal to sell ice cream in Israel, but not in territories claimed by Palestinians for their own state.

In Israel, companies are prevented from treating customers and subsidiaries differently in what Israel calls “disputed territory” from what much of the world recognizes as Israeli territory. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised this week that “act aggressively” against the ice cream parlor, founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield who are Jewish and progressive.

The American flag and the Texas State Flag flutter over the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Now Texas is getting involved.

A spokesman for Republican Governor Greg Abbott told CNBC on Tuesday evening: “Ben and Jerry’s decision to boycott parts of Israel is a shame and an insult to America’s closest allies in the Middle East.” The statement went on to say, “Unilever, the parent company of Ben and Jerry, must reverse this ill-conceived decision.”

Abbott signed a bill four years ago that would force Texas pension funds to part ways with companies boycotting Israel.

State auditor Glenn Hegar, who controls billions of dollars in assets for Texas public pension funds, has already urged his office to take action. In a statement to CNBC, he said, “I have directed my employees to determine if certain actions by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever would trigger listing under Chapter 808 of the Texas Government Code,” the law passed in 2017.

It is also possible that sales in states with anti-boycott laws could be affected. If Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever bid for a contract with a public agency, they could be disqualified if the boycott becomes a reality.

Florida State CFO Jimmy Patronis, who controls the public pension funds, told CNBC that his office began discussing the issue Tuesday morning. “I find what is happening very worrying,” he said in a text. But he wasn’t ready to say what action could be taken.

Airbnb was the last company involved in a similar problem. In 2018, the rental site said it bans the listing of Israeli property in the West Bank, territory that the Palestinians claim they should be part of their state.

An Airbnb listing in Israel

Airbnb

But the company turned around a few months later and was now looking at listings on a “case-by-case” basis, according to a statement on its website.

Ben & Jerry’s board of directors, who have a unique agreement with parent company Unilever that allows for an oversized role in decision-making on social issues, initiated the withdrawal from Israel this week.

Following the Ben & Jerry statement, Unilever released its own on Monday saying, “We remain fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our people, brands and business for several decades.” In addition, the company’s CEO spoke to Bennett this week. Following the interview, Israel’s new Prime Minister said: “This is an action with grave consequences, including legal consequences, and it (Israel) will take vigorous action against any boycott directed against its citizens.”

Ben & Jerry chairman Anuradha Mittal has not responded to CNBC about the implications of the decision and the possibility of divesting Unilever’s state pension funds. In a telephone interview on Thursday, Ben & Jerry’s spokesman Sean Greenwood said, “The company has nothing to add beyond the original statement,” which was released Monday.

In conversation with NBC News Mittal took action against Unilever earlier this week for making its own statement on the subject, calling it “deception”. She added, “I can’t stop thinking this is what happens when you have a board with all the women and people of color pushing to do the right thing.”

Unilever did not respond to CNBC calls or emails asking for a response to the possibility of a sale by state pension funds.

Your Shot Texas Boosts Vaccinations With Nonprofit Grant Cash / Public Information Service

Austin, Texas – “Your shot of Texas“Aims to fund additional nonprofit, community-based organizations for programs that improve access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The nationwide philanthropic effort has already invested $ 400,000+ across 12 organizations to fight hesitation and ensure the hardest hit communities can be vaccinated.

Lisa Reeve, director of the Area Aging Agency for the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, said her group used grant funds to create a brochure and hire a sales representative to contact unvaccinated populations, particularly senior citizens who are home-bound.

“None of the seniors knew how to navigate a computer and make an appointment,” says Reeve. “And that’s in our brochure so they know we can help anyone who needs help.”

Reeve pointed out that her group mostly helps seniors in her nine counties, but can help anyone who still needs an injection. Local organizations wishing to initiate their own program have until August 6 to apply for funding through Your Shot Texas.

In the past few days, the delta variant has pushed the COVID-19 Positivity rate to 10% in Texas, compared to less than 3% a month ago.

Brian Sasser, chief communications officer for the Episcopal Health Foundation, said grants, along with seniors and people living in rural areas, prioritize the black, Hispanic / Latin American and other populations hardest hit during the pandemic.

He added that groups that receive the money have a deep connection with their community.

“They know the people they work with, they know their needs, and they know what is stopping people from getting vaccines,” Sasser said. “These are the best people to convince those on the fence.”

In addition to the Episcopal Health Foundation, San Antonio’s Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. and the Meadows Foundation in Dallas have pooled funds to fill the void and support outreach and activities that may not be eligible for public resources. Episcopal The Health Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on health issues, mental health, philanthropy, and poverty issues. If you want to support news in the public interest, Click here.

Disclosure: The Episcopal Health Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on health issues, mental health, philanthropy, and poverty issues. If you want to support news in the public interest, Click here.

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SPRING HILL, Tennessee – Tennessee employers step up efforts to convince their employees to get vaccinated as Delta, a more contagious version of COVID-19, spreads rapidly in regions of the country with low vaccination rates.

By early July, it was more than 50% of new cases in the United States. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And in Tennessee is the state Health department reported 125 cases of the Delta variant on July 8.

Jeff Lamarche, executive director of General Motors’ Spring Hill facility, said his facility offered on-site vaccinations for employees.

“Two on-site clinics with the Murray County Health Department that brought nurses on-site provided vaccinations to several hundred on-site workers at two different clinics, so both doses were given twice,” Lamarche said.

Other employers have offered bonuses, paid time off, and other incentives to get the vaccinations, but vaccination rates continue to stall. After an analysis of the New York Times, it would take six months for Tennessee to reach 70% of adults on a dose at the current vaccination rate.

Lamarche added that despite relaxed COVID protocols nationwide, his work has been careful about letting go of masks and social distancing.

“Although the CDC changed its policy, the auto industry, essentially the Detroit Three and the UAW, stepped back and took a more cautious approach before we actually start taking our protocols back,” Lamarche said.

He acknowledged that companies are paying the cost of containing infections, but stressed that higher vaccination rates could cut spending to get operations back on track.

“During COVID, we had to deal with higher absenteeism and higher costs for the additional protocols we introduced,” Lamarche said. “There was a lot just to keep things going.”

He reported that thousands of Spring Hill plant workers have been vaccinated so far.

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Arkansas health officials urge residents who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine to change as soon as possible as the Delta variant makes its way through the state.

A little more than 35% of Arkansas residents are fully vaccinated, which means two weeks have passed since their last dose, compared to nearly half of Americans across the country.

Dr. Michelle Smith, director of the Bureau of Health Justice and HIV Elimination for the Arkansas Department of Health, said early on with vaccine rollout it was easy to reconcile people for a vaccine, but now it’s stalled.

“It’s more about persuading people and speaking one-on-one about their fears, hesitations, and the misinformation they’ve received,” said Smith.

Fewer black, brown, and indigenous residents have received the vaccine than white residents, but Smith noted that great strides have been made since the beginning. She stressed that the most important steps were to make sure people have transportation and hold clinics on the weekend or later in the evening for people who cannot miss work.

Smith added that it was important to meet the churches where they are.

“We don’t just go into a community and expect them to come to us,” noted Smith. “The church is involved in our planning from start to finish, and that’s the most important component of making sure it’s fair.”

Smith encouraged unvaccinated residents to have one-on-one meetings with their health care providers who can clear up any misinformation or misunderstanding people may have about the vaccine. She stressed that the approved vaccines are safe and protect communities, especially the elderly and the immunocompromised.

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LANSING, Michigan – A non-partisan bill before lawmakers would allow Michigan residents to buy medicines from Canada, where the prices are much lower.

If passed, patients could save anywhere from 50 to 80% on treatments ranging from diabetes to blood clots or allergies.

Melissa Seifert, assistant state director for government affairs at AARP Michigan, said before the US-Canada border closes due to COVID-19, many people in Great Lakes state will be traveling to Canada to buy prescription drugs instead of pocket go through their home insurance.

“These prices paralyze older people who live on a steady income,” said Seifert. “These recipes won’t work if you can’t afford to take them. And we’re seeing that more and more in older adults.”

Seifert pointed to data showing that EpiPens cost more than $ 600 in the US, for example, but less than half that in Canada. Xarelto, a drug used to treat blood clots, and Januvia, for type 2 diabetes, both cost more than $ 1,300 in the US, but both cost less than $ 500 in Canada.

Seifert claimed that one of the driving factors was that US drug companies set their own prices.

“Drug companies hold the patent, don’t they?” Seifert explains. “They can extend their patents for 20 years at a time by making very small changes to the prescription drug.”

She stressed that most countries do not allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise. In the USA they spend approx. $ 6 billion a year.

Senator Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, the sponsor of the law, stated that it follows FDA regulations. A rule passed by the agency last year paves the way for programs to import certain drugs as long as there is no danger to the health or safety of people.

“We already have the covenant in force,” said Johnson. “We have to go really hard on this, and we all have to do it together. It’s impartial; it only helps people. “

Johnson added that despite the support of Republican and Democratic members of the legislature, the pharmaceutical industry is cracking down on it. However, she argued that the benefits to consumers are worth it, and urged residents to reach out to their lawmakers to express their support. Disclosure: AARP Michigan contributes to our fund for reporting on health issues, decent wages / working families, and seniors. If you want to support news in the public interest, Click here.

Disclosure: AARP Michigan contributes to our fund for reporting on health issues, decent wages / working families, and senior citizens issues. If you want to support news in the public interest, Click here.

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