Thursday, September 23, 2021

Wake-Up Call: FDA Supports Pfizer Vaxx Booster

The Food and Drug Administration yesterday authorized Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine boosters for Americans who are age 65 or older, younger adults with underlying health conditions, and those in jobs with high risk of Covid exposure. This comes after an FDA advisory panel made the same recommendation last week. The FDA authorization would allow those eligible to get a booster six months after getting their second Pfizer shot. However, more regulatory approval is needed before the boosters can begin being given. As part of that, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisers began a two-day meeting yesterday before making their own booster recommendations. Regulators will decide later on boosters for those who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

➤BIDEN DOUBLING U.S. GLOBAL DONATION OF COVID-19 VACCINES: President Biden announced yesterday that the U.S. is doubling its purchase of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccines to share with the world to one billion doses. The doubled commitment was made as part of the global vaccination summit Biden convened virtually on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly this week, in which he encouraged wealthy nations to do more to get the pandemic under control. Of the total U.S. vaccine commitment of more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022, about 160 million doses have already been given to more than 100 countries, more donations than the rest of the world combined.

➤BIDEN PUSHES CONGRESSIONAL DEMS TO RESOLVE DIVIDE OVER $3.5 TRILLION PLAN: President Biden met with Democratic House and Senate leaders and lawmakers in private sessions at the White House yesterday as he pushed them to resolve the intra-party divide between centrists and progressives over his $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" plan. The votes of all Senate Democrats is needed in the 50-50 chamber to pass it as Republicans are all opposed. Biden reportedly indicated he wanted progress on the measure soon, and according to Senator Joe Manchin, a key centrist who's opposed to some of the plan and its price tag, told him to come up with a number he could live with it. Manchin stated of Biden, "He just basically said, 'Find it. Just work on it, give me a number.'"

➤BIDEN, MACRON PATCH UP U.S.-FRANCE DISPUTE: President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone yesterday, patching things up after France's anger over the Indo-Pacific security alliance announced last week among the U.S., Australia and U.K. The deal, which cost the French a submarine contract with Australia worth billions, blindsided France. The White House described the call as "friendly," and said the two agreed to meet next month to discuss the way forward. France also agreed to send its ambassador back to the U.S., after pulling him amid the rift. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki sidestepped the question of whether Biden apologized, saying he did acknowledge, quote, "there could have been greater consultation."

➤BIPARTISAN CONGRESSIONAL TALKS ON OVERHAULING POLICING ENDS WITHOUT DEAL: Bipartisan talks in Congress on overhauling policing practices that began in the wake of George Floyd's death last year and the nationwide protests that followed ended yesterday without agreement on legislation. Despite early hopes, the talks had gone slowly in recent months and seemed unlikely to produce a deal. Democratic Senator Cory Booker said he told Republican Senator Tim Scott of his decision yesterday to end talks, saying, "It was clear that we were not making the progress that we needed to make," while Scott said he was "deeply disappointed" that Democrats had walked away from what he said had been agreement on several issues, including banning chokeholds, curbing the transfer of military equipment to police, and more money for mental health programs. Booker had cited continued disagreement over holding officers personally liable for abuses, raising professional standards, and collecting national data on police agencies’ use of force. Booker and Scott are two of the three Black U.S. senators.

➤DOES MY MASK PROTECT ME IF NOBODY ELSE IS WEARING ONE?:  If you’re the only person in a room wearing a mask, are you still protected? The short answer is yes. Experts say the amount of protection depends on the quality of the mask and how well it fits. During a hotel outbreak of COVID-19 in Switzerland, for example, several employees and a guest who tested positive for the virus were only wearing face shields; and those who wore masks were not infected. Also, one study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that wearing a standard surgical mask and knotting the loops and tucking in the sides of the mask reduced exposure to nearly 65% of particles, while covering a surgical mask with a cloth mask reduced exposure to the same particles by 83%.

➤AMAZON PLANNED DEPARTMENT STORE WITH HIGH-TECH DRESSING ROOMS:  After having bought Whole Foods in 2017, and opening Amazon Go cashier-less convenience stories, Amazon has more plans to move into brick and mortar, with the Wall Street Journal reporting the online retail mega-giant is planning to open department stores. The stores, which the Journal said could open next year, will feature Amazon's own private-label clothing brands as well as some brands that sell clothing on its website, and have high-tech dressing rooms. One reported idea is for customers to scan QR codes of items they want to try on by using a smartphone app and for store associates to gather the items and put them in fitting rooms. Once in the dressing rooms, customers could ask for more items using a touch screen, which might be able to recommend other clothing items based on what they liked. The first stores will open near San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio, according to the report.

➤EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE TALKING TO HR ABOUT A PROBLEM AT WORK:  You may have heard you should “never trust Human Resources (HR)”-- but why? First of all, you should know that HR covers a huge range of things: benefits, compensation, personnel policy, legal compliance, investigations, hiring assistance, employee relations, and much more. So should you trust them? Generally, yes-- Vice writes, “Good HR people do care about what’s fair and right… but keep in mind that their job is to assess issues through the lens of what makes sense for the company.” Other things you should know: HR employees are not required to keep anything you tell them confidential (they’re obliged to judge what needs to be shared); You shouldn’t bring a co-worker conflict to HR (you’ll generally be expected to try to solve the problem on your own unless it is an issue like sexual harassment or discrimination); You likely shouldn’t go to HR about a bad boss (unless they’re doing something abusive, unsafe, or illegal); and finally, if your job doesn’t have an HR department you might be stuck talking to your boss about issues that one would normally bring to HR (whether you go over their head is up to you, but you definitely should if you’re being illegally harassed or discriminated against, or if your manager is doing something illegal or seriously shady.)

💚SHERWIN-WILLIAMS NAMES 'EVERGREEN FOG' ITS 'COLOR OF THE YEAR': Paint company Sherwin-Williams has named its "Color of the Year" for 2022, a gray-green shade called Evergreen Fog. The color was chosen by the company after it reportedly analyzed an assortment of trending colors. The company says Evergreen Fog pairs well with natural textures and textiles, deep black shades and metals like champagne gold or warm brass. This is Sherwin-Williams 12th annual Color of the Year. The Pantone Color Institute, which also does this, has yet to name its Color of the Year.

🏈MIAMI QB TAGOVAILOA HAS FRACTURED RIBS, WON'T START SUNDAY: The Miami Dolphins announced Wednesday that what they thought were quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s bruised ribs were actually fractured, and he won't start on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders. It's unclear how long Tagovailoa will be out, but head coach Brian Flores said he's already improving, stating they will "take it week to week." Jacoby Brissett will fill in, after having played almost the entire game in Miami's 35-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills last week when Tagovailoa was injured early.

🏈FIELDS TO START AT QB FOR BEARS WITH DALTON INJURED: Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday that rookie Justin Fields will start at quarterback against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in place of Andy Dalton, who's out with a knee injury. Nagy said Dalton is week to week. Fields, who Chicago took with the Number 11 overall pick in the 2021 draft, took over after Dalton injured his knee early in the second quarter of the Bears' 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday.

🏀WARRIORS OWNER LACOB FINED $50K FOR SIMMONS COMMENTS: The NBA announced yesterday that Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined $50,000 for violating the league's anti-tampering rule with his recent comments about the Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons. Lacob cast doubt in a recent San Francisco Chronicle interview on the Warriors being interested in Simmons, who wants out from Philadelphia, saying, in part, "In some ways, it doesn't really fit what we're doing. . . . The problem is: We have Draymond [Green]. Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the playmaking. That's one issue. The salary structure is another."

➤U-S ATHLETES IN THE 2022 WINTER OLYMPICS MUST BE VACCINATED: U.S. athletes competing in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics next February will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a new policy announced yesterday by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. That will also apply to athletes trying to make the team and others, with AP citing a letter from Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland that said staff, athletes and others utilizing training centers and other USOPC facilities must be vaccinated. The International Olympic Committee has been encouraging vaccines, but didn't require them for athletes who competed in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and neither did the USOPC.

🏈COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF EXPANSION STALLED: A proposal to expand the College Football Playoff format from four teams to 12 stalled yesterday when the administrators who oversee the postseason system were unable to reach consensus. CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock told AP, "There’s still issues that need to be discussed," and among them is the number of teams, with a potential eight-team format discussed yesterday.

🏒NHL..NO EVIDENCE SHARKS' KANE BET ON GAMES, TRIED TO THROW THEM: The NHL released the findings of an investigation yesterday that found no evidence that the San Jose Sharks' Evander Kane bet on NHL games or tried to throw games. The probe was carried out by an outside law firm in conjunction with NHL Security after Kane's estranged wife, Anna Kane, made the allegations in an Instagram post this summer. The league is also investigating allegations of sexual and physical abuse made by Anna Kane in a restraining order application filed this week. Evan Kane has denied the accusation.

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