Denmark expects omicron to overhaul delta this week, a warning for U.S.

People wait on the 14th

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Denmark expects Omicron’s Covid-19 variant to overtake Delta within a week as the number of cases of the new strain increases doubles every two days, according to the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, which conducts infectious disease surveillance for the Scandinavian nation.

Troels Lillebaek, chairman of the Danish Committee for the Evaluation of Covid Variants, told CNBC on Tuesday that Omicron now accounts for at least 10% of sequenced Covid cases, a rapid jump since the end of November when there was not a single sequenced Omicron in Denmark Case gave.

“What we are seeing in Denmark is a very steep increase in the number of omicron cases every day, we see a doubling every other day,” said Lillebaek, who is also director of one of Statens’ surveillance laboratories and a professor at the University of Copenhagen. “And within a week, omicron will take over and be the dominant variant in Denmark.”

Lillebaek said 75% of Omicron patients in the country are fully immunized with a two-dose vaccine, while 9% of Omicron-positive patients received a booster dose.

“We believe that what we see in Denmark is not a particularly Danish phenomenon,” said Lillebaek. “We can’t see any reason why it should be special for Denmark and now we’re getting the same reports, very heavy reports from the UK”

The rapid spread of Omicron in Denmark, where 80% of the population is fully vaccinated, is a dire sign for the US, where only 61% of the population is fully vaccinated and tens of millions of people have still not received a single vaccination. Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said the US had just weeks to take action to stem a wave of omicron infections.

“We’re going to get into trouble,” Lawler told CNBC on Monday. “We already have our hands full with Delta. What we’re likely to get is the triple blow from Delta, Omicron and seasonal influenza.”

Scientists and public health officials are still investigating whether Omicron causes milder or more severe illness compared to Delta. According to the Statens Serum Institute, around 99% of Omicron patients in Denmark have so far not been hospitalized. However, hospital admissions are expected to jump over the holidays.

According to Lillebaek, Denmark expects in the worst case 500 new Covid hospital admissions every day around Christmas in a country with 5.9 million inhabitants. According to the Danish government, a total of 508 people with Covid were in hospital on Wednesday.

“There will be many [hospital] “Admissions and the concern now is that many hospital workers will test positive and have to go home in isolation,” said Lillebaek. “There will always be a part of the population at risk. Some get chemotherapy, some have an immunodeficiency, maybe biological treatment for rheumatism.”

The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned countries against dismissing Omicron as a mild variant. Omicron is spreading faster than any other prior virus strain, according to the WHO.

While there hasn’t been an explosion of Omicron cases in the US like there was in Denmark, the variant is rapidly gaining ground across America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that omicron accounted for 2.9% of the sequenced Covid cases last week, up from 0.4% the previous week. Delta makes up about 97% of the sequences of Covid cases, according to the CDC.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that Omicron could account for up to 13% of cases in states like New York and New Jersey.

“Unless it’s dramatically milder and less prone to hospitalization, it is very likely that it will only cause a sheer number of infections in which you’ll experience enough hospitalizations to place a significant strain or even overflow on health systems,” Lawler said.

The US can’t prevent transmission of the virus, Lawler said, but there are steps the nation can take to limit hospital stays. This includes vaccinating everyone in the country over 5 years old and making sure everyone eligible for a booster gets one.

Pfizer and BioNTech released preliminary data last week showing that Omicron significantly reduced the two-dose vaccine’s ability to fight off infection. However, two doses can still prevent serious illness, the companies said. Booster recordings offer considerable protection against infection, according to the laboratory data.

Lawler said mitigation measures like wearing masks in public places indoors and restricting gatherings indoors, as well as close contact, can also help contain the tide. “You know, there is an old saying – ‘Hope is not a plan.’ Right? ”Said Lawler.

However, the reintroduction of mitigation measures in the US has proven politically controversial. While new York and California Have reintroduced the mask requirement, Texas and Florida have banned local governments and school authorities from implementing them. Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Friday that “the emergency is over” and said mask requirements are no longer required due to the wide availability of vaccines.

At the federal level, President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements are for Federal contractor and Private company are currently blocked by federal courts. The president has ruled out lockdownsRelying instead on vaccination and widespread testing that winter.

Denmark, on the other hand, has implemented a number of measures to contain the wave of infection. The national government is encouraging people to work from home and elementary school children will attend classes virtually through January 4th. Masks are required in most indoor public spaces. Night clubs are closed while bars, restaurants and cafes close their doors at midnight. People need to show Covid passports to prove they are vaccinated, recently received a negative test, or have recovered from a previous infection to enter many businesses.

The United Kingdom has also sounded the alarm and his Level 4 Covid threat rating one step below the highest warning on Sunday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday Omicron resulted in hospital admissions and confirmed the first death in the UK from the variant. He warned that Great Britain is facing a “tidal wave” of omicron infections.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC on Monday that Omicron is spreading at a “phenomenal rate”, with cases doubling every few days. England strongly encourages people to work from home, mandating masks in most indoor public spaces and requiring proof of two doses of vaccine before entering nightclubs and large events.

On Wednesday, the UK reported the highest number of new Covid cases since the pandemic began.

CDC director Rochelle Walenksy said she doesn’t think the US will follow the same timetable as the UK. on omikron. “I don’t expect this to be on the same time horizon as the UK and we are continuing to monitor the cases and will look at this carefully,” she said during a Covid update at the White House on Friday.

However, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNBC last week that Omicron will soon overtake the delta in the US.

“It is only a matter of time before omicron becomes dominant here and I think that could happen relatively quickly,” Osterholm told CNBC last week.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Emergency Health Program, said Tuesday that countries must start preparing their health systems for Omicron now. He said governments should ensure that their health systems have adequate staffing, triage and oxygen supplies.

“Health systems are weaker today than they were a year ago,” said Ryan. “So unfortunately you can sometimes get up after the first hit, but it’s very difficult to get up after the second.”

Costco, Nike and FedEx are warning there’s extra inflation set to hit shoppers as holidays method

A worker wearing a protective mask removes

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Delivery bottlenecks, which have led to rising freight costs, are a vacation headache for US retailers.

Cost co This week joined the long list of retailers on the alert about rising shipping prices and the associated supply chain problems. The warehouse clerk who a similar cautionary note in MayThe sportswear giant joined her Nike and economic pioneers FedEx and General mills when discussing similar concerns.

The cost of shipping containers overseas has increased in recent months. Getting a 40-foot container from Shanghai to New York cost about $ 2,000 a year and a half ago, just before Covid pandemic. It is now around $ 16,000, according to Bank of America.

In a conference call with analysts Thursday, Richard Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer, called freight costs “permanent inflationary items” and said these increases are being combined with things that are “somewhat permanent” to add to the pressure. This includes not only freight, but also higher labor costs, increasing transport and product demand as well as scarcity of computer chips, oils and chemicals and higher raw material prices.

“We can’t hold onto all of this,” said Galanti. “Some of it has to be passed on, and it is passed on. We are pragmatic about it.”

To quantify the situation, he said inflation is likely to be between 3.5% and 4.5% for Costco. He noticed that Paper products saw cost increases of 4% to 8% and cited shortages in plastic and pet products that are driving prices up from 5% to 11%.

“We can hold the line on some of these things and do a slightly better job – hopefully a better job than some of our competitors and even more extreme than value,” said Galanti. “So I think all of these things have worked a little in our favor so far, at least despite the challenges.”

Prepare for the holidays

However, the timing is not good.

Persistent inflationary pressures come at a time when retailers prepare for the Christmas shopping season – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, then the New Year. The pandemic brought it about a relentless array of factors After a generation of mostly moderate price pressure, this has made inflation an economic catchphrase.

Companies are forced to deal with the situation before a critical phase.

“We’re approaching the holidays, we’ve worked with retailers, and we see that # 1 they need to be flexible with their supply chain,” said Keith Jelinek, executive director of global retail practice at consulting firm Berkeley Research Group. “We noticed an increase in the cost of goods, especially for clothing, including the cost of inbound shipping with the cost of containers, increases in transport, truck transports to get to distribution centers.”

“All of these costs will weigh on operating profit,” he added. “Retailers are currently facing the challenge of how much I can pass on to the consumer, or how I can get other efficiencies out of my operations to meet my overall margin.”

Many companies have signaled that consumers are ready, at least for now, to accept higher prices. Trillions of government incentives during the pandemic helped increase personal wealth Household net worth increased by 4.3% in the second quarter.

In the company’s conference call on Thursday, Nike CFO Matthew Friend referred to the price increases in the second half of the year, as well as “more than expected full price realization” and “additional transportation, logistics and air freight costs to move inventory in this dynamic environment”.

Nobody knows how long consumers will be willing to pay higher prices. Jelinek said he anticipates the current situation will last at least during the holiday season and until early next year

“There is only a limited amount that you can give to consumers,” he said. “What most retailers do is think about theirs [profit and loss statements] and they want to improve performance and optimize efficiency. That means really focusing on your supply chain. “

It also means raising prices.

Corporate warnings

FedEx announced this week that it will add 5.9% to the shipping cost for domestic services and 7.9% for other offers. The company said it was hit by labor shortages and “costs related to the challenging operating environment”.

The head of the company’s main competitor admitted the hurdles the business is facing.

“The job market is tight and in certain parts of the country we have had to make some market price adjustments to respond to market demands.” UPS CEO Carol Tome said on CNBC’s Thursday, “Closing bell. “

She added that the company was also affected by supply chain issues.

“I’m afraid this will continue for a while. These problems have been a long time coming and we must all work together to remove these blockages, ”said Tome.

Federal Reserve officials this week admitted that inflation will be higher in 2021 than they expected. However, you can still see that prices will settle in a more normal range of just over 2% in the years to come.

But Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said in a speech on Friday that she saw “upside risks” for the central bank’s inflation projections.

“Many companies report that cost pressures are mounting and consumers are willing to pay higher prices,” she said. “The combination of strong demand and supply chain challenges could last longer than I expected, leading people and businesses to raise their expectations of future inflation more than we have seen before.”

Fed officials said they were ready to withdraw monetary stimulus They provided during the pandemic, but prices are unlikely to increase anytime soon. However, if prices and expectations stay higher, Mester said, Fed policies would have to be “adjusted” to control inflation.

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Demi Lovato points warning about weight-loss compliments | Leisure

Demi Lovato thinks it is dangerous “to compliment someone on their weight loss”.

The top-charting pop star has warned that compliments on weight loss can have deleterious effects on mental health.

Demi, 28, wrote on Instagram Story: “Idk who needs to hear this but complimenting someone on their weight loss can be just as harmful as complimenting someone on their weight gain when talking to someone who has an eating disorder recovered. “

“If you don’t know the story of someone with food, please don’t comment on their body. Because even if your intent is pure, that person could stay up at 2am and reconsider that statement … (sic)”

Demi – who struggles with addiction and eating disorders – warned fans about the potentially destructive effects of weight loss comments.

The post went on, “Does it feel great? Yes, sometimes. But just to the loud eating disorder voice in my head saying,” See, people like you thinner, “or” If you eat less, you lose even. ” more weight.’

“But sometimes it can suck because then I start to think, ‘Damn it. What did you think of my body before?’ Moral of the story: I am more than the shell for my soul, which is my body, and every day I struggle to remember it, so I ask you not to remind me that sometimes everybody sees this of me . [heart and prayer emojis] (sic) “

Meanwhile, Demi recently came out as non-binary.

Hitmaker “Cool for the Summer” announced the news through a series of Twitter posts and confirmed plans to change their pronouns from “she” to “she”.

In a video posted on Twitter, Demi stated, “I want to take this moment to share something very personal with you. For the past year and a half, I’ve done some healing and self-reflective work and through that work I had the revelation that I was a identify non-binary.

“With that said, I will officially change my pronouns to them / them. I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to be the person I know about that I am still discovering that I am her, most authentic and most faithful to feel. “

State Officers Challenge Warning About Peer-to-Peer Apps for Cash Transfers – NBC Connecticut

The attorney general urges Connecticut residents to be vigilant when using peer-to-peer apps to avoid losing money, revealing valuable personal information, or falling victim to scammers.

Attorney General William Tong said the apps are safe to use, but it is important that you understand the app’s terms of use and be careful about who you send money to.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad actors out there and you can never be too careful when it comes to your money and privacy,” Tong said in a statement. “If you use P2P apps like CashApp or Venmo to transact, check your account regularly for signs of fraud. Make sure you know the terms of the contract and carefully review all transactions you have made. A little vigilance can save you big bucks and cause trouble down the street. ”

Michelle Seagull, Commissioner for Consumer Protection, said consumers should use strong passwords and two-factor authentication when they are available to better protect themselves from hackers.

“Never send money to someone you don’t know or have never met, and remember that no utility or government agency is asking you to pay your bills through a P2P app,” Seagull said in a statement .

The attorney general said it had received several complaints about P2P apps.

In one case, a man complained that his account had been blocked with $ 3,000 to pay. In another case, a man complained that he sent $ 2,250 through an app to a fake account that fraudsters had disguised as his bank, according to the attorney general’s office.

Another Connecticut woman used an app to pay a breeder for a puppy. When she never received the puppy, she was unable to cancel her transaction within the app and get her money back. Other app users have complained that unauthorized individuals hacked their accounts and stole thousands of dollars. One woman complained about a scam in which she was contacted on her cell phone and said her power would be turned off in 30 minutes unless she could pay $ 150 to one of the apps, according to Tong’s office.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Cash App after a viewer contacted us to report a problem with a payment.

More people than ever are picking up their phones to make payments. And with the coronavirus crisis, more money is changing hands at a social distance thanks to money transfer apps. But one Hartford man has a warning because hundreds of his hard-earned dollars didn’t make it into the right hands.

In a statement, a Cash App spokesperson said: “Fraud prevention is critical to Cash App. We continue to invest in and strengthen anti-fraud resources by both adding staff and introducing new technology. We are constantly improving systems and controls to prevent, detect and report bad activity on the platform. “

A statement on the Venmo website states“Venmo is designed for payments between friends and people who trust each other. Avoid paying to people you don’t know, especially if it involves a sale of goods and services (such as event tickets and Craigslist items). These payments are potentially high risk and you could lose your money without getting what you paid for. Venmo does not offer buyer or seller protection. Business use of Venmo requires application and express permission. “

PayPal urges anyone who notices a transaction that you have not authorized to notify them immediately on the internet Dissolution center.

The attorney general said never give any information over the phone to anyone who claims to be from the company that issued you the account. There are scammers posing as customer service agents.

Be careful when entering addresses when sending money. It’s easy to send money to enter the wrong account address and then very difficult, if not impossible, to get it.

The attorney general said there have been a large number of reports of prepaid accounts hacked and you should run regular checks to look for any suspicious activity.

The officials urged users to carefully review the P2P account terms of use. Do not assume that your rights to contest a transaction using P2P applications are the same as those for your credit card account. You couldn’t be.

They urged people to understand the difference between authorized and unauthorized transactions and to respect all contractual terms, especially registering your account.

They warned that if the account is not registered and / or the suspicious transaction is not reported to the P2P issuer in a timely manner, consumers may forego their rights to company investigations and corrections.

To file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, visit https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint.

May Texas-style blackouts occur in New England? Unlikely, however the disaster is a warning name

Our network also has its weaknesses, thanks in part to its reliance on natural gas. Few people know how close ISO New England has come to implementing rolling power outages – the nonprofit operator prefers to call them “controlled outages” – to protect our stressed network in the winter of 2017-2018. While ISO New England continues to take steps to ensure the juice flows smoothly during the colder months, there are no guarantees.

However, do take into account New England’s relative strengths.

The Texan network is essentially an island that is largely independent of the surrounding states and Mexico in the south. While some power lines cross the borders, they are not suitable for heavy import and export. The New England network is also an island, but one with many bridges to the outside world. Almost 20 percent of our strength in 2019 came from our neighbors: New York, New Brunswick, Quebec. In times of need, ISO New England may reach out to them for help, although they may face similar weather conditions.

Our power plants are simply better prepared for chattering temperatures. Federal agencies warned of catastrophic consequences in Texas when the infrastructure was not properly winterized after a cold snap in 2011. These warnings were largely ignored.

Here the power plants are insulated and heated. Meters and other devices use lubricants that do not freeze. The pipelines that deliver gas to generators are deeper underground here than in Texas, making them less prone to cold weather disruption, said Dan Dolan, executive director of the New England Power Generators Association.

Our water and sewer lines have similar safety precautions that their colleagues in Texas apparently lacked: emergency power generators in sewage treatment plants and pumping stations, and pipes buried below the frost line.

Another key difference is the so-called capacity market. New England power plant owners offer payments in this market so that they can be called three years later in times of peak demand. Texas does not have such a system.

It is an expensive insurance policy for New England Ratepayers and a source of much debate in the energy community. David O’Connor, energy lobbyist for ML Strategies, says: The question has always been whether it is worth the cost. He quotes the old adage: insurance always looks expensive until you need it.

Critics say this system enriches power plant owners without necessarily guaranteeing that the plants can be turned on when they are needed most.

For some experts like Anbaric manager Theodore Paradise, this insurance policy hardly seems worthwhile. Paradise, a former ISO New England attorney whose current firm is a transmission line developer, said the cold weather power plants still in operation could fetch extremely high prices in the Texas wholesale market. This potential windfall should be an incentive for the savvy operator to prepare for the worst.

However, Dolan, the executive director of NEPGA, said the important promise of future payments in the capacity market will facilitate the funding of infrastructure construction in New England, including those that will help ward off winter disruption.

Alicia Barton, managing director of hydropower and solar operator FirstLight Power, is among those concerned that the existing market environment is encouraging too many older fossil fuel systems to stay close. She would prefer rules that eventually push these crops aside in favor of more renewable energy and storage. After all, it is climate change accelerated by fossil fuels trigger extreme weather events like the one in Texas. Better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.

The managing director of ISO New England, Gordon van Welie, knows this well. The ISO warned of insufficient gas pipelines in winter, as heating customers have priority over the power plants. But van Welie said policymakers in New England states are aware of the need to wean the region off of natural gas, and his team is trying to do its part to lead that debate.

It will not be easy. Now the region’s policymakers want to convert cars and heating systems to electricity for similar environmental reasons. New England electricity needs could double in the next 30 years. New generators are planned – especially in offshore wind farms. But will they be enough?

Unlike its Texas counterpart, ISO New England has never resorted to widespread power outages. Nevertheless, there were close calls, for example during a two week cold snap about three years ago. Many natural gas-fired plants were converted to oil fuel at the time, while rarely used “peakers” were put into operation, causing the region to run out of fuel oil.

Over the years, according to Van Welie, ISO New England has incentivized power plants to supply themselves with fuel and improved training and communication protocols to reduce the load on the grid in cold weather. Luck also played a role. But we cannot rely on luck forever.

As with previous massive blackouts, there will be tragedy in Texas. The industry experts will again examine how they can protect their respective network corners from the inevitable wild weather. For the rest of us, the lesson may be this simple: it’s easy to take electricity for granted when you flip the switch, as long as it’s there.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ Jonchesto.