Biden to send more military medics to U.S. hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots

WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Thursday said he was deploying more military health workers to hospitals in six U.S. states, and would give Americans free masks and more free tests to tackle the fast-spreading Omicron variant around the country.

The phased dispatch of 1,000 military health personnel beginning next week comes as U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a record high with Omicron overtaking Delta as the dominant variant of the coronavirus and health facilities facing a staffing crunch.

The move is “part of a major deployment of our nation’s armed forces to help hospitals across the country manage this surge of the Omicron virus,” Biden said.

“I know we’re all frustrated as we enter this new year,” Biden said, while reiterating his message that COVID-19 continues to be a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

In the first wave of the deployment, teams of military doctors, nurses and other personnel will head to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island to support at-capacity emergency rooms and free up overwhelmed hospital staff for non-COVID cases, the White House said.

But with the teams ranging in size from seven to 25, hospitals due to receive the health workers welcomed the assistance but warned it would not be enough to combat the surge.

“There is not a silver bullet solution,” said Bob Riney, president of healthcare operations at Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System, which has already received some federal help and expects to welcome new military medics next week.

“We have systemic challenges (with) incredible volume and very, very tired medical practitioners … and that is true of all health systems that have been in the middle of this surge,” Riney said. The White House’s more aggressive stance follows months of criticism from health experts that the administration was relying too heavily on vaccines alone to stop the spread of the coronavirus, especially given a politically motivated anti-vaccine movement pushed by some Republican officials. About 62% of Americans are considered fully vaccinated, according to U.S. data.

Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, joined Biden during his speech.

She told CNN earlier the top request from states asking for federal aid “continues to be staffing.” Other states are likely to need reinforcements of military and other federal doctors and nurses as well, she said.

Source: Reuters

Christian Singer Natalie Grant Stuns With Powerful National Anthem Performance

Christian singer Natalie Grant stunned audiences with a powerful performance of the national anthem before Monday night’s 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Grant said she was “beyond grateful” for the chance to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Last night was a thrill,” Grant wrote on her Facebook page. “Beyond grateful for the opportunity. Last words in my mind before the first note, ‘Jesus, be glorified.’”

The singer continued, “I know it was the national anthem. But He’s in every moment and can work through every moment. God bless America.”

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Source: CBN

Chiefs’ Quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ Tiktok Star Brother Jackson Is Hit With Anti-Homosexual Chants of ‘Ma-homo’ While Filming Dancing Clip on Sidelines of Broncos’ Game

The TikTok star brother of Kansas Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes was hit by anti-gay chants of ‘Ma-homo’ while filming a dancing clip at the sidelines of a recent game.

Jackson Mahomes, 21, was subjected to homophobic chants during Kansas City’s 28-24 victory over the Broncos in Denver, Colorado, on January 8.

In a video shared on Twitter, an unseen fan can be heard yelling twice, ‘Hey, Ma-homo, Ma-homo,’ while zooming the camera onto Jackson, who was standing on the sideline in a red Chiefs jacket in what appears to be a brief timeout.

He can be observed ignoring the slurs, while taking pictures of his brother’s fiancée, Brittany Matthews, who heard the anti-gay slurs and snapped, saying: ‘How rude.’

Afterwards, Jackson shared a clip of himself dancing on the sidelines of the game with his 990,000 TikTok followers, but the anti-gay slurs weren’t audible, and he made no comment on them.

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Source: Daily Mail

Here We Go: Homosexual Sex Scene on Athens Acropolis Sparks Outcry in Greece; Daniel Whyte III Says Oh Don’t Do the Outcry Now. Churches and Governments Are Responsible for Sanctioning This Abomination in Our Society So It’s Too Late to Outcry Now

A video of lurid sex scenes shot at the Acropolis in the midst of visitors has caused furore in Greece with authorities investigating the incident.

The Ministry of Culture has launched an investigation following the online release of a short film showing two men having sex at the ancient Acropolis in Athens.

The 36-minute film entitled “Xeparthenon” – a wordplay using Parthenon meaning “deflowering” in Greek – was first shown at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in mid-December but came to the attention of the authorities in early January.

The film shows two gay men with their faces covered having sex at the Acropolis archaeological site while it is open to the public and full of tourists.

The other participants of the film have made a circle around the protagonists for cover, pretending they take photographs of the monument. Visitors to the archaeological site can be seen walking close by.

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Source: Greek Reporter

Pope Francis Sends his ‘Heartfelt Condolences’ Over Fatal Bronx Apartment Fire that Killed At Least 17 People and Left Dozens Injured

Pope Francis offered his condolences to the families of the 17 victims of the Bronx fire on Sunday as he delivered the Angelus noon prayer in St.Peter’s Square, at the Vatican

Pope Francis offered his condolences Monday to the victims of the ‘devastating’ apartment fire in the Bronx borough of New York that killed 17 people, nine of them children.

Continue reading “Pope Francis Sends his ‘Heartfelt Condolences’ Over Fatal Bronx Apartment Fire that Killed At Least 17 People and Left Dozens Injured”

U.S. college grads sue Yale, Columbia, other schools over financial aid

NEW YORK, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Five U.S. college graduates have sued 16 major U.S. universities including Yale, Columbia and the University of Chicago, accusing them of colluding to limit financial aid to undergraduate students in violation of antitrust laws.

The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status, saying the collusion has limited price competition and caused 170,000 financial aid recipients to be overcharged hundreds of millions of dollars over two decades.

The 16 schools are members of the 568 Presidents Group, a consortium of colleges that discuss common financial aid principles.

“Elite, private universities like defendants are gatekeepers to the American Dream,” the plaintiffs wrote. “Defendants’ misconduct is therefore particularly egregious because it has narrowed a critical pathway to upward mobility.”

Yale, Columbia and the University of Chicago did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday. A message sent to a website to the 568 President’s Group was not immediately acknowledged.

Tuition increases at private U.S. universities has outpaced inflation in recent decades, according to the College Board.

Undergraduate tuition at Yale and Columbia for the current academic year is $59,950 and $60,514, respectively, excluding room and board, according to the schools’ websites.

The lawsuit filed in Chicago federal court seeks unspecified triple damages for financial aid recipients who attended the schools since 2003, as for their parents.

Many schools offer financial aid based on family income, known as need-based aid.

Universities in the 568 Presidents Group say they are need-blind, meaning they do not consider financial aid in admissions decisions.

Source: Reuters

As less-lethal Omicron surges, Europeans ease restrictions

MADRID/KAYUNGA, Uganda, Jan 10 (Reuters) – European governments are relaxing COVID-19 rules to keep hospitals, schools and emergency services going as the much more contagious but less lethal Omicron variant changes their approach to the pandemic.

Even though a record surge in infections has yet to peak in Europe, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the time was right to start evaluating the disease’s evolution “with different parameters”. read more

The mass return of children to school after the Christmas holidays is evidence that few wish to see a return to the online-only learning that marked some of the early waves of infection.

Even as France registered a record seven-day average of almost 270,000 cases a day, it eased testing protocols for schoolchildren, saying too many classes were closed. read more

In Uganda, students returned to institutions shut nearly two years ago. The lockout helped to control the pandemic – with only 3,300 deaths recorded – but the government estimates about a third of pupils will never return.

“We faced temptations,” said 16-year-old Rachael Nalwanga, happily returning to classes while many of her former schoolmates worked in new jobs or cared for new babies. “It has not been easy for me to keep safe at home for this long but I thank God,” she told Reuters in the town of Kayunga. read more

Governments in Europe also imposed severe lockdowns in the first phases of the pandemic — with enormous damage to economies — but now want to avoid that, knowing that Omicron is putting far fewer people in hospital, not least because many or most are vaccinated.

STAFFING CRISES

They are also suffering immediate staff shortages in essential services as Omicron drives a surge in positive tests.

In France, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 rose by 767, the biggest increase since last April 2021, although the total number, at 22,749 was still around two-thirds of the peak, set in November 2020.

Britain began using military personnel to support healthcare and alerted its biggest private health company that it might be required to deliver treatments including cancer surgery. read more

Spain was bringing back retired medics. In Italy, the challenge of nearly 13,000 health workers being absent with positive COVID-19 tests was compounded by suspensions for non-vaccination.

Britain, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium have all slashed quarantine periods and eased conditions for staff to return to work.

The Czech Republic followed suit on Monday, saying critical staff including teachers, social workers and doctors could keep working even after testing positive.

Since before Christmas, Spain has let staff return to work without taking a test.

Source: Reuters

Rapid testing for Omicron: is a nose swab enough?

Jan 10 (Reuters) – The fast-spreading Omicron variant has made us more reliant on rapid at-home antigen tests to tell us if we have COVID-19. But should we be swabbing our throats as well as our noses?

For now, the guidance depends on where you live.

Some scientists have said people can transmit Omicron when it has infected their throat and saliva but before the virus has reached their noses, so swabbing the nostrils early in the infection will not pick it up.

A small recent U.S. study backed up that view. PCR tests of the saliva from 29 people infected with Omicron detected the virus on average three days before nose samples were positive in antigen, or so-called lateral flow, tests.

In general, rapid tests have a lower sensitivity than lab-processed PCR tests, meaning they produce more false negatives. But if you test positive, you almost certainly have COVID-19, making antigen tests a powerful tool in tackling the pandemic as demand for PCR tests due to Omicron overwhelms laboratories.

As a result of recent studies, some experts in the United States have now advised antigen test users should swab the throat before swabbing the nose.

All the antigen tests with emergency use authorizations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration use nasal samples and it has expressed concerns over the safety of throat swabbing at home, saying users should follow manufacturers’ instructions.

In Israel, a top health official has said people self-testing for COVID-19 should swab their throat as well as their nose when using rapid antigen tests, even if it goes against instructions issued by the manufacturer.

Some other countries, including the United Kingdom, have approved rapid antigen tests that swab both the throat and nose, or just the nose.

In Germany, the minister for health has said they will study how reliable rapid antigen tests are in detecting the Omicron variant and publish a list of the most accurate products.

Source: Reuters