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They’re accused of lying to customers, faking results, and even throwing tests in the trash.
Minnesota’s attorney general is suing “The Center for COVID Control” and “Doctors Clinical Laboratory” which received $124 million in federal funding to carry out the tests.
Many patients say they never got results.
Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:
Robin Roberts has COVID
The “Good Morning America” anchor tweeted Thursday night that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She said her symptoms have been mild.
Appreciate the concern about my absence this week on @GMA. Unfortunately I tested positive for Covid. Grateful my symptoms have been mild and that I’m doing well. Looking forward to returning as soon as I can. #ThankfulThursday ?? #HappyFridayEve ❤️
— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) January 21, 2022
Teachers union says Long Island school district not enforcing COVID mask mandate
A teachers union on Long Island says its school district is not enforcing the COVID-19 mask mandate among students.
The allegations are being made by the Connetquot Teachers Association, which operates within the Connetquot School District.
Murphy says NJ mask mandate could end
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state could drop its school mask mandate before the end of the year if omicron numbers continue to drop.
“Yes, I think there’s a real shot at that, I really do, fingers crossed,” Murphy said on Channel 11 Thursday. “We are early days in terms of turning the corner, but it certainly looks like we’ve begun to turn the corner here.”
Austria’s parliament approves COVID vaccine mandate for all adults
Austria’s parliament voted Thursday to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults from Feb. 1, the first of its kind in Europe. Lawmakers voted 137 to 33 in favor of the mandate, which will apply to all residents of Austria aged 18 and over. Exemptions are made for pregnant women, people who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated, or who have recovered from a coronavirus infection in the past six months. Officials say the mandate is necessary because vaccination rates remain too low in the small Alpine country.
3/4 NYC employers delayed return to work
According to a survey by the Partnership for New York City, 75% of employers delayed their return to office plans due to the omicron surge. 38% of employers expect daily office attendance will exceed 50% before the end of March. 22% of companies are unable to provide an estimate of when they’ll exceed 50% attendance.
Starbucks no longer requiring US workers to be vaccinated
Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month. In a memo sent to employees, the Seattle coffee giant said it was responding to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 6-3 vote, the court rejected the Biden administration’s plan to require vaccines or regular COVID testing at companies with more than 100 workers.
Murphy announces vax mandate for NJ health care and other workers
New Jersey is requiring workers in health care and high-risk congregant living settings to be fully vaccinated and boosted, with no test out option. Unvaccinated health care workers must get their first dose by January 22 and must have completed the primary vaccination series by February 28. Unvaccinated workers in high-risk congregate living facilities, including prisons, have a little more time. Those deadlines are February 28 for first does and March 30th for second doses. Those already vaccinated have to get their booster shots by Feb. 28 and March 30.
US begins offering free COVID-19 tests, but doubts persist
For the first time, all Americans can log on to a government website and order free, at-home COVID-19 tests. But the White House push may do little to ease the omicron surge, and experts say Washington will have to do a lot more to fix the country’s long-troubled testing system.
The website, COVIDTests.gov, allows people to order four at-home tests per household and have them delivered by mail. But the tests won’t arrive for seven to 12 days, after omicron cases are expected to peak in many parts of the U.S.
Debunking the idea viruses evolve to become less deadly over time
Scientists warn that omicron’s whirlwind spread across the globe practically ensures it won’t be the last worrisome coronavirus variant. As evidence mounts that the omicron variant is less deadly than prior COVID-19 strains, one oft-cited explanation is that viruses always evolve to become less virulent over time. The problem, experts say, is that this theory has been soundly debunked. The idea that infections tend to become less lethal over time was first proposed by notable bacteriologist Dr. Theobald Smith in the late 1800s. His theory about pathogen evolution was later dubbed the “law of declining virulence.”
When am I contagious if infected with omicron?
When am I contagious if infected with omicron? It’s not yet clear, but some early data suggests people might become contagious sooner than with earlier variants – possibly within a day after infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the few days before and after symptoms develop. But that window of time might happen earlier with omicron, according to some outside experts. That’s because omicron appears to cause symptoms faster than previous variants – about three days after infection, on average, according to preliminary studies. Based on previous data, that means people with omicron could start becoming contagious as soon as a day after infection.
Stay home or work sick? Omicron poses a conundrum for workers without paid sick days
As the raging omicron variant of COVID-19 infects workers across the nation, millions of those whose jobs don’t provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck. While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the beginning of the pandemic, some of those have since been scaled back with the rollout of the vaccines, even though omicron has managed to evade the shots. Meanwhile, the current labor shortage is adding to the pressure of workers having to decide whether to show up to their job sick if they can’t afford to stay home.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Daniel Schneider, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “As staffing gets depleted because people are out sick, that means that those that are on the job have more to do and are even more reluctant to call in sick when they in turn get sick.”
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