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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.

Omicron compounds employee scarcity, provide chain woes for retailers

One shelf stands empty while customers shop in Columbus, Ohio.

Matthew Hatcher | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Shorten store opening hours, temporarily close locations, and send letters of apology to customers for long lines and late appointments.

These are some of the unusual steps retailers and restaurants are taking when Covid cases rise across the country, fueled by the fast-spreading variant of Omicron.

Corporations no longer worry about state and local governments shutting down stores.

Instead, companies struggle with labor shortages as people call in sick, become exposed to the virus, or seek childcare. And there is a risk of further supply chain problems as the highly contagious variant spreads around the world.

“There’s no question that staffing is definitely a big issue this time around,” said Stephanie Martz, chief administrative officer and general counsel for the National Retail Federation. “It was perhaps less measurable when we were at one point in the pandemic when so much was closed and everything so scaled down.”

“I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that we have an unprecedented number that can’t work, but it’s high,” she said. “It’s really high.”

Covid cases have increased. According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University through Thursday, the US reports a seven-day average of about 600,000 new cases each day, an all-time high, and up 72% from the previous week.

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

An increasing number of sick, exposed or overworked workers has caused retailers and restaurants to take unusual steps as their existing work problems worsen. Macys Shortening hours of operation in locations across the country for the remainder of this month. Walmart almost 60 stores in coronavirus hotspots temporarily closed in December. And other employers, including Starbucks, Chipotle and Nike have been forced to close some of their doors as they simply don’t have enough people to keep them open.

Walgreens Sent an apology email to customers this week noting customer complaints about long lines, out of stock items, and delays in Covid vaccines or test appointments. In the note, the company’s executives mentioned the many tasks that pharmacy staff juggle – namely dispensing over 55 million Covid vaccines and more than 23 million Covid tests while filling out over a billion prescriptions annually.

“The system has been under heavy load,” said James Kehoe, chief financial officer of Walgreens, on a conference call on Thursday on the company’s results. He said the company will spend around $ 120 million more on workers to help its elongated, thin workforce.

Morgan Harris is the shop owner of the Green Bambino in Oklahoma City. She said the store, which sells baby items from toys to strollers, is facing staff shortages and she feared it could get worse.

Morgan Harris

Regular opening times go ‘out of the window’

For understaffed retailers, reducing working hours is one of the first logical steps, said Craig Rowley, senior client partner at Korn Ferry and director of the company’s retail division. Some stores will be scaled back on weekdays when only a small percentage of sales are happening compared to busier weekends, he said.

He said pandemic-related changes could lead retailers to permanently rethink store opening hours, especially as more sales go online.

“The labor shortage of [Covid] goes to almost any customer-facing business, “said Rowley.

Morgan Harris owns Green Bambino, an Oklahoma City store that sells baby items such as onesies, diapers, and toys. She said she had to ditch one of the most important retail rules as it operates with four employees – less than half of the 10-15 people she would have expected. The store had to change its schedule. It is now open five days a week instead of seven.

Now she sees some corporate giants doing the same when they are hit by the “Great Resignation” and further squeezed by the wave of omicrones.

“In the past, you never changed your opening times in retail,” she said. “That’s out the window.”

Some companies have gotten better at using technology to notify customers of staff shortages or store closures. For example, a understaffed Chipotle location can turn off digital orders through their app and instead focus on in-store transactions while nearby restaurants take delivery and online orders.

Rowley said the good news is that retailers and restaurant chains at least survived the vacation rush. “The workforce is no longer what it was before Christmas, so companies have that advantage,” he said.

Retailers could even ask temporary vacationers to stay in the New Year and work extra hours, he added.

However, Harris said she feared Green Bambino may have to deal with leaner staff even if sales skyrocket. Annual sales rose to nearly $ 900,000 last year – 23% more than in 2020 and 14% more than before the pandemic in 2019.

Applications have slowed down to a trickle despite seeking the help of a recruiter. And she said the omicron wave hasn’t reached the region yet – which could mean more employees calling in sick.

“I assume that our staff will continue to shrink and not get bigger,” she said. “I have very little hope that all of a sudden we will find all these great people and attract them.”

In addition, the recent wave of the pandemic could further delay the return to continuous deliveries of popular baby items such as car seats and strollers. The business is pulling out of the furniture business due to delivery delays and higher freight costs. It stopped accepting deposits for many items because it couldn’t predict if – or when – those large items would be back in stock.

“I don’t feel like I’m reinventing business every two weeks like I was in 2020, but we have no idea what business to do after the pandemic,” she said. “The uncertainty will linger for a few more months, if not longer.”

A customer waits for a contactless roadside pickup at the Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) flagship store in Seattle, Washington, USA on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

Chona Kasinger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Muscle memory

Shoppers, on the other hand, have continued to spend money – even with some browsing online rather than down aisles or switching to roadside pickup or home delivery, which have become part of their muscle memory.

According to a survey by Coresight Research of more than 500 US consumers on December 27, compared to the previous weeks, avoiding some public places has crept in again slightly. An increasing number of consumers said they were withdrawing from activities such as international travel and using public transport. Almost 66% of respondents said they avoid any public place – up from 62% when the survey was conducted on December 13th.

About 38% of respondents said they avoided shopping malls and shopping malls and about 33% said they avoided restaurants, bars and cafes, up from 32% and 30% two weeks ago.

However, the company’s survey showed no significant changes in what consumers were buying or how much they were spending.

The hospitality industry may find itself in another downturn. Restaurant analyst Black Box Intelligence found that restaurant sales declined for the first time since mid-March in the week ending December 26, but the reversal was largely due to Christmas, which fell on a weekend that year, and the rise in omicrones .

OpenTable data shows that in the United States, fewer seats were reserved with online, phone, and walk-in reservations in the first week of 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels, but consumers could have take-away switch or try to stick to New Year’s resolutions.

If that happens, it could mean Americans are spending on things rather than services. Christmas sales were well on their way to hitting a record high of up to 11.5%, according to the National Retail Federation. (The final numbers won’t be released until the end of next week.)

The retail company’s chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said: Increased consumer appetites for goods and reluctance to spend on travel, restaurants and other expenses could fuel inflation.

John Mercer, research director at Coresight Research, said that for the most part, shoppers “roll their eyes, take a deep breath, and sigh, and then move on as much as possible.”

“It’s very different this time,” he said. “Consumers were jabbed twice, three times. You have seen this before. It’s really obvious that Omicron is generally much weaker in other countries. “

Almost three in four Americans are fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, 73 million people have received a booster vaccination – that’s roughly 22% of the US population. And on Wednesday the CDC gave the go-ahead Pfizer and BioNTech‘s Covid Booster Shots for children from 12 to 15 years.

And there is some evidence suggests that Omicron is milder than previous variants, according to World Health Organization officials.

That could begin to change the outlook for Americans who get sick. The country reports an average of around 1,250 deaths per day, Hopkins data shows, well below the record highs after last year’s Christmas season, when the daily average was above 3,000 for about a month from January 2021. The death toll tends to fall, but the number of cases and hospital admissions increases.

Martz of NRF said both retailers and consumers understand the coronavirus better. That has led to a greater emphasis on tools like booster shots, home Covid tests, and better masks, rather than wiping down counters or installing Plexiglas panels.

One way the industry is moving forward is to host their annual conference in person. NRF’s Big Show is next week in New York City at the Javits Center – previously a mega-center for Covid vaccines and possibly the source of the first known case of omicron spread in the United States.

Martz admitted the conference will look different than it did before the pandemic. All participants must wear a mask and present a vaccination card. The booths in the showroom may have fewer staff. And the trading group will distribute Covid tests at home and host a mobile testing unit.

Up to 20,000 visitors are expected – around half of the visitors in 2019.

Still, she said, it feels right to move forward as the frontline retail workers go to work in person, day in and day out.

“We believe this is a reasonable time to somehow get back together,” she said, although “it won’t look like our shows have done in the past.”

CNBCs Nate Rattner, Lauren Thomas, and Amelia Lucas contributed to this report.

Wholesome buildings may also help cease Covid-19, increase employee productiveness

Any C-suite manager looking to get employees back to the office has likely spent more time thinking about indoor air quality and ventilation in the past year and a half than at any other point in their life prior to the pandemic.

Because healthy buildings are the latest incentive to get employees back into the office. Naturally, with people returning to their personal work, they are concerned about how safe they will be. Companies continue to assure their employees that desks, computer keyboards, elevator buttons, and any other public surface are adequately sanitized.

But now they’re also paying more attention to how healthy the air in these buildings is – and what impact this can have on not only preventing the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory diseases, but also how air quality can affect cognitive function.

“I don’t think business people see the power of buildings that not only protect people from disease but also lead to better performance,” said Joseph G. Allen, associate professor and director of the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard of the Harvard Healthy Buildings Program at Executive Council of the CNBC Workforce Summit on Wednesday. “Better ventilation leads to a significantly better cognitive performance of the employees. This is good for the health and productivity of the workers.”

“Droplet dogma is over”

Allen said the increased interest in indoor air quality resulted from a better understanding of the spread of Covid-19. Cleaning surfaces and following the two meter distance rule made sense if it was believed that the virus was spread by droplets that were expelled when coughing or sneezing and that these droplets could not travel further than two meters.

The reality is that Covid-19 is spread through breath aerosols that travel well over two meters, Allen said. “When we talk, cough, sneeze, or just breathe, we are constantly releasing different-sized aerosols,” he added. “When we are infected, these particles carry the virus and can travel through any room and stay in the air for hours. The droplet dogma is over. “

A ventilated room or building means that these breath aerosols can accumulate and infect someone well beyond this 1.80 m distance. “All of the major outbreaks we’ve seen share the same characteristics,” said Allen. “Time indoors in an under-ventilated room. Whether it’s a spin course, choir rehearsals or a restaurant. It’s the same basic factors that drive the transmission.”

Companies can counteract this, said Allen. “Just as we have made great strides in public health in the areas of sanitation, water quality and food safety, indoor air quality will be a part of this conversation,” he said.

Employees wear protective masks in a JLL office in Menlo Park, California, United States on Tuesday, September 15, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Spice up buildings

The first step is for facility managers to determine what systems are in place and whether they are working as intended. “It seems obvious, but a lot of the time we put equipment in and then leave it for 10 or 15 years and never tune it like we do with our cars,” explained Allen.

Maximizing the amount of outside air that enters the building is another step that needs to be taken. And finally, Allen said that air filters should be upgraded to the so-called MERV 13. (MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Report Value.) He explained that a typical building has a MERV 8 filter that captures about 20% of the airborne particulates. A MERV 13 filter captures approximately 90% or more of these particles.

These higher quality filters not only improve air quality to reduce the spread of viruses, but can also help workers improve their performance.

Allen’s team at Harvard recently published a study that looked at workers from around the world for a year. Everyone had air quality sensors on their desks. A specially developed smartphone app enabled these workers to carry out short cognitive function tests. Allen found that people with better ventilation and lower particle concentrations did significantly better on these tests than people who work in areas with poorer air quality.

“The beauty of all of this is that healthy building strategies help protect against infectious diseases, but are also good for the health, productivity and performance of workers,” said Allen.

In his 2020 book, Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, co-authored with Harvard Business School professor John D. Macomber, Allen says they show how better air quality and Ventilation to Win for Business. His Harvard research and financial simulations found that the benefits of increased ventilation alone are estimated to be between $ 6,500 and $ 7,500 per person per year. In an April 2020 article in the Harvard Business Review co-authored with Macomber, Allen cited researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who estimate that improving indoor air quality in offices could add up to $ 20 billion to the US economy annually.

“Since the late 1970s, in response to the global energy crisis, we began to streamline our buildings while cutting off air flow to save energy,” said Allen. We have ushered in the era of sick building.

“It is no surprise that we have high levels of indoor air pollution and sick buildings where people cannot concentrate in conference rooms and feel constantly sleepy at work,” he said.

And contrary to what many think, not only new, modern buildings can be health-oriented. “Any building can be a healthy building, and it’s not heavy and not that expensive,” he added. “In fact, I would say that healthy buildings are not expensive. Sick buildings are expensive. “

To join the CNBC Workforce Executive Council, apply at cnbccouncils.com/wec.

Labor unions push White Home so as to add employee protections to Biden vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden watches as AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler speaks during an event honoring the unions in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2021.

Oliver Contraras | AP

Some of the largest unions in the country are urging the Biden government to expand its vaccine mandate to private companies to include additional protection for workers, including masking requirements and other safety measures to minimize the spread of Covid-19.

The AFL-CIO and about two dozen other major unions representing teachers, service workers, meat processors, auto and steel workers, spoke with the Biden government on an October 18 conference call with White House officials from the Office of Administration and Budget.

“We emphasized the importance of mitigation measures,” Rebecca Reindel, who represented the AFL-CIO on the call, told CNBC. “We really need to be one step ahead of the transmission part of the virus. It takes a while to get vaccinated – we need protection in the meantime, ”said Reindel.

Three of the largest unions, notably the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, told CNBC that they had asked the administration to expand worker protection and urged employers to stop ventilation improve and enforce the mask and social regulations distance. Reindel said companies should also be required to conduct a risk assessment in consultation with workers to determine what combination of mitigation measures are needed to best protect their employees in the workplace.

president Joe Biden ordered the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Department to draft a rule requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that they are all vaccinated or tested weekly Covid-19.

OMB and Labor Department officials have held dozens of calls and meetings with industry lobbyists over the past two weeks while OMB is reviewing the mandate, OMB records show. The vaccine and weekly testing requirements will go into effect shortly after the OMB review is complete.

The AFL-CIO has called for comprehensive measures to protect workers from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. However, OSHA, which oversees workplace safety, has not yet enacted broad-based Covid safety rules.

Instead, OSHA enacted Restrictions in summer limited to healthcare workers. Most healthcare providers have had to develop plans to mitigate the risk of Covid, ensure employees wear masks indoors that keep people 6 feet apart indoors, install barriers in workplaces when employees are less than 6 feet apart , and ensure adequate ventilation – including a number of other requirements.

The AFL-CIO and United Food and Commercial Workers sued the Biden government, arguing that the OSHA standard “does not protect employees outside the healthcare industry who are at a similarly grave risk from occupational exposure to COVID-19” . The unions specially quoted meat packaging, groceries, transportation and corrections as industries where workers need the Department of Labor to issue an enforceable safety standard for Covid.

The unions and the Ministry of Labor tabled a joint application in September pause the case until the vaccination and weekly test mandate is granted to the Biden administration. The court will ask the parties to submit a joint status report on Monday.

“The harsh reality is that current COVID safety guidelines just aren’t enough and have left millions of key workers to their own devices,” said Marc Perrone, President of United Food and Commercial Workers. said in August after OSHA issued voluntary guidelines recommending masks for vaccinated employees working in areas with high transmission. “What we need now is a clearly enforceable COVID safety standard in the workplace that will protect America’s vital workers who are still at the forefront of this deadly pandemic.”

Perrone said his union is now waiting to see if mitigation measures are included in the vaccine and testing mandate. “If we still have concerns, we will move on,” he said, referring to the trial. The group represents 1.3 million employees in the food, retail, meat packaging, food processing, cannabis, chemical and distillery sectors, including employees from Tysons Food, Kroger, Macy’s, Cargill and Pfizer. People in these industries are largely viewed as key frontline workers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The UFCW warned in a letter to the Department of Labor in August that vaccinations – even if important – cannot remove the danger posed by Covid to workers as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads the effectiveness of vaccines over time subsides and new mutations of the virus emerge.

The AFL-CIO, in a May report, found 1,833 Covid outbreaks, nearly 90,000 infections and 378 deaths in the meat packaging, food processing and agriculture industries from the start of the pandemic in April 2020 to April 2020. A report by the House Select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis found infections among meat packing workers almost three times as high as previously reported.

“There will be certain people who won’t take [the vaccine] and get tested, and if you don’t have mitigation measures like masks then you’re defeating your purpose, “Perrone told CNBC.

The Service Employees International Union asked the von Biden government in September to add additional protective measures to the vaccination mandate. The union represents 2 million workers in basic services such as janitorial, health and other professions.

“Layered mitigation measures, including but not limited to masking and distancing, as well as quarantine after exposure or positive testing, are still necessary to protect against outbreaks,” wrote Leslie Frane, the union’s executive vice-president, in a letter to the union in September OSHA chief James Frederick.

The SEIU and UFCW have also called for paid vacations for workers to get vaccinated and recover from the shot, paid vacations for workers to quarantine and recover from the virus, and free Covid tests for Workers with testing facilities at the workplace. The Biden government said in September that it would also require companies with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for vaccination and recovery.

The United Auto Workers declined to expressly comment on whether the vaccine and test mandate should include measures to contain Covid. The big three automakers have already implemented extensive security protocols against Covid. While the union is generally in favor of vaccination, it rejects it under federal or employer mandate. The union will review the vaccine and testing mandate when it is released, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg told CNBC.

“We’re waiting for the standards because we have over 700 contracts and we need to go through them and see how they affect our contracts,” he said.

Ex-postal employee fined for stealing cash from mail

WICHITA (KSNT) – A former postal worker in Lyon County was fined US $ 1,100 and compensation for destroying mail and suspected of stealing cash contained in that mail.

Dennis Tapscott, 24, from Emporia was fined Tuesday by the US District Court in Wichita.

Tapscott was fined $ 500, a refund of $ 575, and a special exam fee of $ 25.


Garth Brooks is coming to Kansas City

He pleaded guilty to delaying the mail last week.

Prosecutors said that between August 2019 and January 2020, Tapscott opened and destroyed mail with cash destined for 12 other people in Greenwood and Lyon counties.

NYC Sued Over Union-Fashion Quick Meals Employee Protections

Law360 (Jun 1, 2021, 5:12 p.m. EDT) – Restaurant associations are suing New York City for blocking two new laws that would provide non-union fast food workers with union protection from dismissal for no good cause or legitimate business reason. say that they are anticipated and unconstitutional by the Federal Labor Act.

The New York State Restaurant Association and the Restaurant Law Center, an independent organization affiliated with the national restaurant trade group, said in a lawsuit on Friday that the laws signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in January were against the National Labor Relations Act and the US violate the Constitution.

“The laws intervene in one area in the collective bargaining process …

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Supervisor claims he helped NY sub store proprietor kill employee over cash dispute

The manager of the sandwich shop in New York state confessed to helping his former boss kill a colleague over a money dispute in 2019.

James Duffy, 35, pleaded guilty to second degree murder last month and is expected to testify against former shopkeeper Giorgios Kakavelos, 52, in a trial for which opening statements are available on Wednesday.

Duffy told authorities he worked with Kakavelos to kill 22-year-old Allyzibeth Lamont on October 28, 2019. Then he helped hide her body and dispose of evidence like the baseball bat he used in the crime.

Kakavelos allegedly owed Lamont money for working at his Johnstown restaurant, the local number 9 substation. Instead of paying her, he hired Duffy, and the two of them planned their murder over three days, according to Duffy reported by the Daily Gazette.

But Kakavelos maintains his innocence and his lawyer said the police played Duffy “like a violin” during the questioning. Duffy admitted smoking crack and drank alcohol in the days leading up to the murder, and he killed Lamont in his own dispute over cash she owed him, said Kakavelos’ attorney Kevin O’Brien.

“Mister. Kakavelos entered a bloody, just terrible scene and Duffy threatened him and his family if he didn’t help get rid of the body,” O’Brien told The Post. Kakaevlos had a wife and children and owed Lamont no money, he said.

“Like a kid, Duffy gave in and tried to get someone else to do it,” he added. “If the government wants to use a drunken crackhead as the main witness, that’s fine with me.”

Duffy’s attorney could not be reached on Tuesday.

Duffy said the night of the murder he attacked Lamont with a bat, while Kakavelos helped with a garbage bag, according to the Gazette. Duffy then used a hammer and choked her, said Duffy’s testimony.

According to Georgios Kakavelos' attorney Kevin O'Brien, James Duffy allegedly killed Allyzibeth Lamont over cash she owed him
According to Georgios Kakavelos’ attorney Kevin O’Brien, James Duffy allegedly killed Allyzibeth Lamont over cash she owed him
Facebook

The two allegedly buried Lamont’s body after midnight in Malta in a shallow grave covered with cement, manure and sticks.

In the days leading up to the murder, Kakavelos was charged with reloading supplies such as duct tape, bleach, and laundry detergent quoted by the Leader-Herald. He also paid Duffy $ 1,600 for three days, the newspaper said.

O’Brien said the items mentioned in the indictment were bought for routine maintenance at Kakavelos’ store but were used for cleanup because he was “afraid” of what Duffy would do if the shopkeeper didn’t help.

After Lamont’s disappearance, the two disposed of evidence and Kakavelos had the trunk of his Volkswagen Passat relined, cleaned and deodorized, according to the Leader-Herald.

Duffy and Kakavelos were arrested within days of Lamont’s disappearance, and Duffy led police officers to their body, reports say. On their first charges, they faced life in prison without parole.

Duffy’s April 30 plea came in return for a life sentence of 18 years. Fox 23 reported.

East St. Louis dwelling well being care employee sentenced after authorities say she stole aged sufferers’ IDs, cash | Regulation and order

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS – An East St. Louis woman was sentenced to one year and one day in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to stealing identity and money from elderly patients.

Erica Rose, 31, pleaded guilty in November of a conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and escalated identity theft, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the southern district of Illinois.

According to authorities, Rose worked as a home nurse for a company called CareLink that looked after elderly patients.

In addition to her jail term, Rose will be sentenced to two years of judicial surveillance and pay nearly $ 10,000 in restitution when she is released.

Rose’s co-defendant Ashley McKinney has a pending arrest warrant. Prosecutors say Rose gave the McKinney patient information.

Arizona Dept. of Ed makes use of federal reduction cash to fund counselor, social employee positions at public faculties

The Arizona Department of Education is using a portion of its state aid to help more students access the mental health care they need.

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Education uses some state aid to fund school counselor and social worker positions in school districts across the state.

The aim is to give more students access to the mental health care they need after the pandemic.

The money will be used to finance 140 new jobs at the Arizona locations

Arizona public education superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced Monday that the state is allocating $ 21.3 million to fund mental health workers in public schools.

This money comes from the Arizona Department of Education’s COVID relief funds.

Funding will help expand the ADE School Safety Grant program, which has helped bring counselors, social workers and school officials onto school grounds.

The $ 21.3 million will fund 140 new jobs in locations across the state.

71 of these positions are for school counselors, the other 69 for school social workers.

“I keep hearing from our students that they need, not just want, but need more school counselors and mental health professionals on school premises to support their needs,” said Hoffman.

The money will support the positions for the next two years, and then Hoffman said they will ask Arizona state law to fund the positions in full after that.

Students say they need additional mental health help

Claire Novak, senior high school, says it has been difficult for her and her colleagues to be a high school student amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I definitely think some of my classmates have lost their meaning in the process of distance learning,” said Novak.

Novak, who attends Arizona School for the Arts, said her colleagues and those she worked with in middle school were grateful to be back in face-to-face classes.

Students had concerns such as food insecurity, how the pandemic has affected students’ families and the safety of their families and peers.

Novak said these worries persist to this day.

“I am also concerned about the ongoing impact of this pandemic on our students,” Novak said.

Novak added that she believes the additional positions will help her colleagues.

“Our teachers and fellow students have offered so much support to the students, but they need additional support from professionals like counselors and social workers,” Novak said

Positions to start next school year

Hoffman said the goal is to fill the positions by the 2021-2022 school year.

Kyrene Elementary School District is a district that will get a few of the 140 positions these are spread across Arizona counties.

“There will be problems that children come back to school with that we have never dealt with before,” said Laura Toenjes, superintendent of Cyrene.

Toenjes said the pandemic affected not only the students but also the district’s funding.

“We run the risk of potentially scaling back so we can stay at the level we have and possibly add some additional counselors and social workers,” Toenjes said.