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California now has worst spread in USA…

Despite having the toughest restrictions and lockdowns in the nation…

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California now has worst spread in USA…

California is now reporting the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases per capita in the country.

Last week, the state reported the nation’s fourth highest number of daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven day period, but California jumped to first place when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its case per capita tracker Saturday.

According to the CDC update from Saturday, California has reported an average of 100.5 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, which places it comfortably ahead of second-place Tennessee, which saw an average of 89.6 daily cases per 100,000 residents over the same time period.

California’s daily case-per capita figure is actually down from the 109.3 mark it was at last week, which is likely due to reporting delays caused by the Christmas holiday. For reference, Oklahoma recorded the worst spread in the country last week with an average of 151.4 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, and Tennessee was the second-worst with an average of 138.

California’s number has risen dramatically in recent weeks. To put the surge in perspective, when SFGATE last reported on California’s case rate in comparison to other states on Nov. 17, the Golden State was recording 21 new daily cases per 100,000.

The Golden State is in the midst of its worst surge ever, and last week the test positivity rate — another key data point for measuring the pandemic — hit 12%. That’s more than double what it was a month ago. In California’s summer surge, the positivity rate peaked at 7.6%.

Read the rest at SFGate…

Health

Iceland halts Moderna jabs over heart-inflammation fears

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Iceland halts Moderna jabs over heart-inflammation fears

Iceland on Friday suspended the Moderna anti-COVID vaccine, citing the slight increased risks of cardiac inflammation, going further than its Nordic neighbors which simply limited use of the jabs.

“As the supply of Pfizer vaccine is sufficient in the territory … the chief epidemiologist has decided not to use the Moderna vaccine in Iceland,” said a statement published on the website of the Health Directorate.

This decision owed to “the increased incidence of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination with the Moderna vaccine, as well as with vaccination using Pfizer/BioNTech,” the chief epidemiologist said in a statement.

For the past two months, Iceland has been administering an additional dose “almost exclusively” of the Moderna vaccine to Icelanders vaccinated with Janssen, a single-dose serum marketed by America’s Johnson & Johnson, as well as to elderly and immunocompromised people who received two doses of another vaccine.

This will not affect the vaccination campaign in the island of 370,000 inhabitants, where 88 percent of the population over 12 years old is already fully vaccinated.

Since Thursday, Sweden and Finland have also suspended the use of the Moderna vaccine but only for those under 30, because of a risk of inflammation of the myocardium, the heart muscle, and the pericardium, the membrane covering the heart.

Read more on Medical xPress

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Business

More Than Half Million Healthcare Workers Quit Jobs In August

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More Than Half Million Healthcare Workers Quit Jobs In August

More than half a million healthcare workers quit their jobs in August amid a surge of Delta variant COVID-19 cases, according to a report from the Labor Department.

In a job openings and labor turnover survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday, data showed that in August the number of people who quit increased to 4.3 million — the highest on record since December 2000.

About 534,000 healthcare workers quit their jobs in August, up from about 404,000 during the same month in 2020.

The numbers suggest healthcare workers handed in their resignations in droves — fueling ongoing concerns of staffing shortages — as the highly contagious Delta variant caused COVID-19 hospitalizations to soar across the U.S. over the summer, Newsweek reported.

The number of people who quit also rose the most in the South and Midwest, the government said, the two regions with the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in August, ABC News reported.

About 892,000 people quit their jobs in hotels, bars, and restaurants, up about 21% from July and almost twice as many as in August 2020. About 721,000 Americans quit retail jobs.

On Friday, the government said job gains were weak for a second straight month in September, with only 194,000 jobs added, though the unemployment rate fell to 4.8% from 5.2%. Friday’s hiring figure is a net total, after quits, retirements, and layoffs are taken into account, ABC News reported.

Tuesday’s report showed hiring slowed in August, while the number of jobs available fell to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million in July. The largest decreases in job openings included healthcare and social assistance, the figures showed.

The data is not likely to have picked up the impact of vaccine mandates, Newsweek noted.

Read more on Newsmax

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FDA Authorizes First E-Cigarette, Cites Benefit For Smokers

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FDA Authorizes First E-Cigarette, Cites Benefit For Smokers

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette, saying the vaping device from R.J. Reynolds can help smokers cut back on conventional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. for more than a decade with minimal government oversight or research. Facing a court deadline, the FDA has been conducting a sweeping review of vaping products to determine which ones should be allowed to remain on the market.

The agency said in September it had rejected applications for more than a million e-cigarettes and related products, mainly due to their potential appeal to underage teens. But regulators delayed making decisions on most of the major vaping companies, including market leader Juul, which is still pending.

Tuesday’s decision only applies to Vuse’s Solo e-cigarette and its tobacco-flavored nicotine cartridges. The agency said data from the company showed the e-cigarette helped smokers significantly reduce their exposure to the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes.

While the products can now be legally sold in the U.S., the FDA stressed they are neither safe nor “FDA approved,” and that people who don’t smoke shouldn’t use them.

Launched in 2013, Vuse Solo is a rechargeable metallic device that’s shaped like a traditional cigarette. The FDA said it rejected 10 other requests from the company for other flavored products. The agency is still reviewing the company’s request to sell a menthol-flavored nicotine formula.

“Today’s authorizations are an important step toward ensuring all new tobacco products undergo the FDA’s robust, scientific premarket evaluation,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s tobacco center, in a statement.

“The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption.”

E-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S. around 2007 with the promise of providing smokers with a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. The devices heat a nicotine solution into a vapor that’s inhaled.

But there has been little rigorous study of whether e-cigarettes truly help smokers quit. And efforts by the FDA to begin vetting vaping products and their claims were repeatedly slowed by industry lobbying and competing political interests.

In recent years, the vaping market grew to include hundreds of companies selling an array of devices and nicotine solutions in various flavors and strengths. But the vast majority of the market is controlled by a few companies including Juul Labs, which is partially owned by Altria, and Vuse.

Vuse is the No. 2 vaping brand in the U.S. behind Juul, accounting for about a third of all retail sales. Its parent company R.J. Reynolds sells Newport, Camel and other leading cigarettes.

A company spokesperson said in a statement that the FDA decision confirms “that Vuse Solo products are appropriate for the protection of the public health, underscoring years of scientific study and research.”

The company said it is still awaiting an FDA decision on its more popular vaping device, Vuse Alto.

To stay on the market, companies must show that their products benefit public health. In practice, that means proving that adult smokers who use the products are likely to quit or reduce their smoking, while teens are unlikely to get hooked on them.

Kenneth Warner, a tobacco expert at the University of Michigan’s school of public health, said the news was a positive step for reducing the harms of smoking. But he lamented that only a vaping device backed by a Big Tobacco company was able to win the FDA’s endorsement.

“The demands the FDA places on companies filing these applications are so extraordinary difficult to meet that only those with huge resources and personnel — in terms of scientists, lawyers, researchers — are able to file successfully,” said Warner.

He said smaller companies and vape shops should have a separate path to get their products authorized.

The FDA declared underage vaping an “epidemic” in 2018 and has taken a series of measures aimed at the small cartridge-based devices that first sparked the problem, including limiting their flavors to tobacco and menthol. Separately, Congress raised the purchase age for all tobacco and vaping products to 21.

Survey data collected earlier this year showed Vuse was the second-most popular e-cigarette brand among high schoolers who vape, preferred by 10%. Juul was the fourth-most popular e-cigarette, cited by less than 6%.

Read more on AP News

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