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Covid 19 Pandemic

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A federal judge in Louisiana is refusing to end pandemic-related restrictions on migrants seeking asylum on the southern border. The judge on Friday blocked a plan by President Joe Biden’s administration to lift the restrictions next Monday. Migrants have been expelled more than 1.9 million times since March 2020 under federal Title 42 authority. The provision denies migrants a chance to request asylum under U.S. law and international treaty on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Arizona and Louisiana led 24 states in challenging the plan to end the restrictions.

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Over the years, the Monastery of the Angels community has been dwindling as the nuns age and after some died from COVID-19 and other causes, making it difficult to sustain the monastery’s “democratic way of life.” Leaders aim to retain the monastery as a source of “spiritual enrichment,” but preservationists fear it could be sold for private use and are seeking to acquire and take responsibility of the beloved Hollywood home to cloistered Dominican nuns.

Hoosier children ages 5-11 can now receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine following authorization this week from federal health officials. The Indiana Department of Health on Friday advised vaccine providers they can begin administering boosters of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine to children in this age group whose last dose was administered at least five months ago. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one currently authorized for children ages 5-11. Booster doses have been shown to increase protection from hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and the Omicron variant of the virus. To find a vaccine location, go to www.ourshot.in.gov or call Indiana 211.

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COVID-19 emergency declarations for Nevada ended Friday. The public health agency for metro Las Vegas says it will continue to monitor spread of the virus and provide assistance with vaccinating and testing as the pandemic continues. Most of Nevada's pandemic measures, including business restrictions and mask mandates, have already been lifted, but the Southern Nevada Health District said it was important to remind the public that the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to circulate. Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday signed a proclamation ending the emergency Friday, a planned action he announced two weeks ago. His administration is now focused on the state's recovery.

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Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: A photo identified as showing a “doorway” cut into a mountainside on Mars actually captures a tiny crevice in the rocky, barren terrain. U.S. proposals to the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations would not transfer U.S. sovereign authority over health care decisions to the WHO director-general. There were several combat deaths among U.S. service members in Afghanistan during Trump's presidency, and an investment by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ firm did not cause the recent baby formula shortage.

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The top U.S. trade negotiator says with world economies all suffering from more than two years of the coronavirus pandemic and global supply problems exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States has an “incredible opportunity” to engage with other nations and forge new partnerships and agreements. Ahead of a planned announcement with President Joe Biden of a new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told The Associated Press that the time is ripe for the proposal. She says: “I don’t think anybody’s economy is stronger because of COVID and there is a pretty pervasive sense of anxiety about how we recover. I actually think that this presents an incredible opportunity.”

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New legislation in the Senate requires the Justice Department to establish guidelines for the federal Bureau of Prisons and state correctional systems to notify the families of inmates if their loved one has a serious illness, a life-threatening injury or if they die behind bars. The bill was introduced by Sens. Jon Ossoff and John Kennedy. It's the latest maneuver by Congress to further oversight of the beleaguered federal prison system, which has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years. The bill’s introduction on Thursday comes more than two years after The Associated Press reported how the federal Bureau of Prisons had ignored its internal guidelines and failed to notify the families of inmates who were seriously ill with coronavirus.

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Australians will go to the polls Saturday following a six-week election campaign that has focused on pandemic-fueled inflation, climate change and fears of a Chinese military outpost being established less than 1,200 miles off Australia’s shore. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition is seeking a rare fourth three-year term. Recent opinion polls have put the center-left Labor Party narrowly ahead of the coalition. But pollsters’ credibility has yet to recover since their spectacular failure in the 2019 election. The split of votes between the government and Labor in 2019 was 51.5% to 48.5% — the mirror opposite of the result that Australia’s five most prominent polls had predicted.

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U.S. President Joe Biden will meet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol this week as the allies face a growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile program. The North may highlight the threat with a major weapons demonstration, even as it grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak that is ripping through its unvaccinated populace. Both U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials say it’s possible that North Korea will conducts a ballistic or nuclear test around Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan. While North Korea is expected to be at the top of the agenda when Biden and Yoon meet in Seoul on Saturday, it’s unclear whether the meeting will produce a meaningful new approach in handling the nuclear threat.

North Korea says that nearly 10% of its 26 million people have fallen ill and 65 people have died amid its first COVID-19 outbreak. Outside experts question the validity of its reported fatalities and worry about a possible humanitarian crisis. Some observers say North Korea was likely forced to acknowledge the omicron outbreak last week because it couldn’t hide the highly contagious viral spread among its people and suffer possible public discontent with leader Kim Jong Un. Observers also believe North Korea is underreporting mortalities to try to show that its pandemic response is effective, while the country lacks test kits to confirm a large number of virus cases.

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A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit by Arizona challenging the part of President Joe Biden’s massive coronavirus rescue law that bars states from using the federal money to offset tax cuts. Thursday's ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a decision by a federal judge in Phoenix who said Arizona did not have the right to sue. The panel did not rule on the merits of the case. The same Arizona federal judge will now weigh the state’s allegation that Congress overstepped its authority when it tied acceptance of American Rescue Plan Act money to state certification that it would not be used to offset tax cuts.

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U.S. health advisers are urging a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly signed off on the advice. The decision opens a third COVID-19 shot to healthy elementary-age kids, just like what is already recommended for everybody 12 and older. Regulators this week authorized the extra dose to be given at least five months after youngsters' last shot. CDC's advisers endorsed it during a public meeting on Thursday.

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An exhibit in Ohio pairing photographs from two moments of societal crisis — the Great Depression and the COVID-19 pandemic — aims to help visitors see parallels between the human tolls felt across generations. The show, “Chronicles: The Great Depression and the Pandemic,” opens Saturday at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio and runs through Aug. 28. It couples images of day-to-day life gathered by 10 Depression-era photographers and five contemporary Ohio photographers. The 1930s photographers, including Dorothea Lange, were hired by the U.S. government-funded Works Progress Administration’s Farm Security Administration. The Ohio photographers documented the coronavirus' human toll.

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President Joe Biden is off to South Korea and Japan on a six-day trip aimed at building rapport with the Asian nations’ leaders. Biden will try to send a message to China that Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine should give Beijing pause about its own saber-rattling in the Pacific. Biden departed Thursday and is set to meet newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Their talks will touch on trade, the global supply chain and North Korea’s nuclear program. Biden will also meet with leaders of the alliance known as the Quad, which includes Japan, Australia and India.

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Britain's Metropolitan Police has told Prime Minister Boris Johnson he faced no further action over officials’ lockdown-breaching gatherings at his official residence and other government sites, after the force said it concluded its investigations into the offenses. Police said they issued a total of 126 fixed-penalty notices to 83 people for gatherings that took place on eight dates between May 2020 — at the height of the first wave of the U.K.’s pandemic — and April 2021. Some people received multiple fines. The scandal, dubbed “partygate” by the media, has dealt a heavy blow to Johnson’s leadership. The conclusion of the police investigation means that results from a highly-anticipated probe by a senior civil servant, Sue Gray, can now be published.

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Germany’s health minister is warning that the coronavirus pandemic is not over yet. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach noted the sharp rise in cases in some Asian countries such as North Korea but also parts of Europe. Lauterbach said that “in Germany, too, an average of 130 to 150 people are dying every day due to the pandemic.” Lauterbach was holding a two-day meeting with his counterparts from the Group of Seven leading democracies on Thursday and Friday. U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra had been due to attend in person but tested positive in Berlin on Wednesday. Separately, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court announced it had rejected complaints against compulsory vaccinations for health care workers.

The World Health Organization has granted an emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s CanSino Biologics. It's the 11th coronavirus vaccine to receive WHO's green light. In a statement on Thursday, the U.N. health agency said the single-dose vaccine was found to be about 92% effective against severe COVID-19 and 64% effective in preventing people from getting symptoms. WHO’s expert vaccine group recommended the CanSino vaccine for everyone 18 and over. Last year, China’s top infectious diseases official acknowledged that the country’s vaccines offered low protection against COVID-19 and that mixing them with booster doses of messenger RNA vaccines might be needed.

The locked-down Chinese metropolis of Shanghai will reopen four of its 20 subway lines Sunday as it slowly eases pandemic restrictions that have kept most residents in their housing complexes for more than six weeks. A transport official said Thursday the city will also restart 273 bus lines connecting major urban centers, airports, train stations and hospitals as it resumes cross-district public transit. The lockdown of China’s largest city has dealt a blow to the economy and frustrated residents. But officials have stuck to a “zero-COVID” approach, saying that lifting restrictions could strain the public health system and lead to more deaths.

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The White House says Ashley Biden, the daughter of President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, has COVID-19 and will no longer accompany her mother to Latin America trip. Her diagnosis was announced just before the first lady flew to Ecuador, the first stop on her three-country tour. It's the second time in recent weeks that the coronavirus has caused Ashley Biden to miss out on traveling with her mother. She backed out of a trip to Eastern Europe earlier in May after learning she was a close contact of someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. The White House says the president had not seen his daughter in about a week.

Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona has cleared health and safety protocols and returned to the team after missing four games with COVID-19. Francona will be back for Wednesday’s game against Cincinnati along with bench coach DeMarlo Hale. They both tested positive with coronavirus last week while the Guardians were in Chicago and returned to Ohio by bus as the team continued its trip to Minnesota. Hitting analyst Justin Toole is also back with the Guardians, who have dealt with two separate outbreaks in recent weeks. First baseman Josh Naylor is the only Guardians player currently sidelined with the virus.

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President Joe Biden’s top health official has tested positive for COVID-19, the latest member of his Cabinet to be infected with the virus. A spokeswoman for U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said he tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday while visiting Berlin. Becerra is fully vaccinated and was experiencing mild symptoms. The spokeswoman said he will continue to work in isolation in Berlin. Becerra was last at the White House last Thursday and is not considered a close contact of Biden. Becerra was in Berlin for a two-day meeting of health ministers from the Group of Seven wealthy nations taking place later this week.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration has agreed to remove the COVID-19 vaccine from the list of vaccines Louisiana students must get to enroll in school in the state next school year. The state health department said in a news release Wednesday that it will continue to strongly recommend the vaccine. Republican state Sen. Fred Mills announced on the Senate floor that the administration agreed to remove the requirement after meeting with legislators. Legislation that would have removed the COVID-19 vaccine from the requirement list had stalled earlier in the session.

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The United Nations is significantly lowering its forecast for global economic growth this year from 4% to 3.1%. In a new report Wednesday, it says the war in Ukraine has triggered increasing global food and commodity prices and exacerbated inflationary pressures, upending the fragile recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The mid-2022 forecast says the downgrade in growth prospects is broad-based, including the world’s largest economies -- the United States, China and most significantly the European Union. It also affects the majority of other developed and developing countries. And it warned that the 3.1% forecast “faces significant downside risks."

Eric Clapton, a critic of coronavirus vaccines and pandemic restrictions, has tested positive for COVID-19 and canceled two upcoming European gigs. Clapton’s upcoming shows in Zurich on Tuesday and Milan on Wednesday will be rescheduled, he announced on his Facebook page and official online site. The 77-year-old rocker tested positive following his concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall on May 8. Clapton has expressed skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine in the past. In 2020, he and Van Morrison released an anti-lockdown song titled “Stand and Deliver.” He hopes to be able to resume the tour starting with two concerts in Bologna on May 20.

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