Latest news updates: Number of UK retailers facing stock shortages hits 30-year high


South Korea’s economic growth slowed in the third quarter as strong exports were offset by weak domestic consumption due to the country’s toughest Covid-19 restrictions, clouding the Bank of Korea’s prospect for another rate increase this year.

Gross domestic product rose 0.3 per cent in the July-September period, decelerating from 0.8 per cent in the second quarter and missing a 0.6 per cent growth forecast in a Reuters survey.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy expanded 4 per cent from a year earlier, slowing sharply from 6 per cent growth in the second quarter, which was the fastest in a decade.

Weaker quarterly growth was widely expected as health authorities struggled to contain the country’s worst virus outbreak after daily infections surged above 1,000 from July. Exports rose 1.5 per cent in the third quarter from the previous quarter while private consumption fell 0.3 per cent.

The BoK told an online seminar on Monday that consumption was expected to pick up in the current quarter, helped by rising vaccinations and a transition to “living with Covid-19.” More than 70 per cent of the country’s 51m population has been fully vaccinated.

The bank has flagged China’s energy crunch and supply chain bottlenecks as downside risks for the Korean economy although exports remain robust. Overseas shipments jumped 36.1 per cent in the first 20 days of October from a year earlier, according to customs data.

BoK governor Lee Ju-yeol has said the central bank will consider another rate hike in November after South Korea became the first major Asian economy in August to tighten monetary policy since the pandemic hit.

The BoK is widely expected to increase its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to one per cent on November 25 to ease growing financial risks amid rising inflation and household debt.

“While Korea’s recovery lost some momentum last quarter as the virus weighed on growth, the economy should pick up pace again this quarter as high vaccination levels allow the rolling back of containment measures,” Alex Holmes, Asia economist at Capital Economics, said in a report. “[But] the BoK is unlikely to be deterred from tightening further by today’s data.”



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All California Public High School Students Will Soon Have to Take Ethnic Studies


California’s student population is highly diverse — less than a quarter of public K-12 students are white. Through ethnic studies courses, students can learn their own stories as well as those of their classmates, Newsom said.

“America is shaped by our shared history, much of it painful and etched with woeful injustice,” Newsom wrote in his signing message. “Students deserve to see themselves in their studies, and they must understand our nation’s full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.”

Assembly Bill 101 adds one semester of ethnic studies to the state’s high school graduation requirements.

This will introduce high schoolers to concepts that have typically been reserved for the collegiate level.

Not only was ethnic studies born on a Bay Area college campus, but it’s also already a graduation requisite at California community colleges, the California State University system and some University of California campuses.

The specifics of what will be taught in high schools are up to local districts.

The nearly 900-page model curriculum approved by the California Department of Education this year includes dozens of sample lessons, such as “#BlackLivesMatter and Social Change,” “Chinese Railroad Workers” and “U.S. Housing Inequality: Redlining and Racial Housing Covenants.”

The first high schoolers subject to the new mandate are those graduating in the 2029-30 academic year. Schools don’t have to begin offering ethnic studies courses until 2025.

The requirement applies to students at all California public schools, including charters. There are currently about 1.7 million public high school students in the state.

Several districts in California have already added ethnic studies to their high school graduation requirements, including San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno and Los Angeles Unified school districts.

In 2017, Oregon passed a law ordering that ethnic studies concepts be integrated into existing social studies courses for K-12 students. The rule differs from California’s in that it doesn’t create a distinct course focused on ethnic studies.

California has been working for years on developing a model ethnic studies curriculum, but early drafts faced heavy pushback from many quarters. Amid these concerns, Newsom last year vetoed a nearly identical version of the bill.

Previous drafts of the state’s teaching guide were criticized as too left-leaning, filled with jargon and promoting “critical race theory,” an academic concept that argues racism is ingrained in American laws and government institutions.

There was also condemnation from Jewish groups, who felt the curriculum emphasized Palestinian oppression while barely mentioning the Holocaust, as well as other ethnic groups that felt excluded.

The final version of the state’s curriculum, approved this March, deleted references that offended Jewish groups while adding lessons about the experiences of Jews, Arabs and Sikhs in America, The Los Angeles Times reports. It also struck terms such as “cisheteropatriarchy” and “hxrstory,” as well as language connecting capitalism with oppression.

Yet critics remain. Some supporters of the original guidelines feel the scope should not have been expanded beyond the four ethnic groups that lived in America before Europeans arrived.

Others find the current version too radical still. Williamson M. Evers, a former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, told The Los Angeles Times that the model curriculum was “permeated” with content that made it “racially divisive and burdened by faddish ideology.”

As districts across the state figure out how to put into place this new mandate, the debate will undoubtedly continue.

Little bits of cream cheese in these pumpkin muffins make for a rich and creamy treat.


Today’s travel tip comes from Barry Goldberg, a reader who lives in Durham, N.C.:

I’ve been coming to California for vacations for over 50 years now. Consistently, my wife and I love Point Reyes National Seashore. Walking on Drakes Beach, hiking up and down the stairs to the lighthouse on a clear day, the glimpse of tule elk in the northern part of the park are all magical experiences. We never get tired of this area.

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.


These 10 new books.


This might get Charlie Brown’s attention: The first-place pumpkin at Half Moon Bay’s annual contest came in at a whopping 2,191 pounds, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Half Moon Bay, a coastal city south of San Francisco that has earned the title “The Pumpkin Capital,” has been hosting the competition for nearly half a century.

Here’s some fun back story from the article:

“Four-time Half Moon Bay Mayor Al Adreveno, 96, addressed the crowd to give a brief history of how the town cemented itself as the ‘pumpkin capital of the world.’

In the 1970s, Adreveno said he was introduced to the mayor of Circleville, Ohio, which also proclaimed itself the world pumpkin capital. The two cities challenged each other to a weigh-off, held in 1974 outside City Hall.

Half Moon Bay won — by one pound, he said.”


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Surprise ending (5 letters).



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COVID-19 particles float and travel longer in high winds as variants evolve – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather


by: Dr. Mary Gillis, D.Ed.

Posted: / Updated:

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – COVID-19 variants are getting better at traveling through the air. This is according to a new study published by researchers at the University of Maryland. Scientists found the alpha variant specifically is gaining speed when an infected person exhales.

The strain disperses 43 to 100 times more coronavirus particles compared to the original. This would suggest that windy weather could work in COVID-19’s favor by allowing the infection to be carried farther and linger longer in the air resulting in a greater risk of infection when outdoors in breezy weather. However, it’s actually the opposite.

“I think the risk of that is incredibly low, Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health, told News 8. “Certainly, the open air with wind blowing or airflow and that nature will disperse the aerosols to a point where the risk would be pretty close to zero.”

Doehring goes on to explain that even though the virus is evolving to float and travel longer in high winds, the wind would offset any danger by scattering the particles so they break apart. 

However, the authors only compared the alpha variant with the original virus. More research is needed to determine if these findings also apply to the delta variant. 



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Referee shortage forces Mount Clemens High School to cancel homecoming game – Macomb Daily


Mount Clemens High School was forced to cancel Friday’s football homecoming game because of a lack of available referees then classes were called off due to a debunked threat of violence.

The high school on Cass Avenue was closed Friday was first attributed to a “building issue,” according to Kirk Duncan, principal of the secondary complex. Later Friday, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said a pair of shooting threats was found and are being investigated.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies met with Mount Clemens High School administrators at 9:30 p.m. Thursday regarding a threats complaint.

Once school had been let out for the day on Thursday, a handwritten threat was located on a desk in a classroom, investigators said. The message indicated there would be a school shooting on Friday, believed to be Oct. 8. This message was believed to have been written on Thursday. A search of the building produced a second similar message on a separate desk. As a precaution, the school was then closed Friday.

The Sheriff’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment on whether the alleged threats were related to the homecoming cancellation.

Also Friday, Mount Clemens Superintendent Monique Beels sent a letter to parents indicating the Sheriff’s Office and school security have determined the note was not a credible threat to students or staff.

She added the school district has requested sheriff patrols at all their schools Friday. The Homecoming tailgate event was moved to next week. But Saturday’s homecoming dance will take place as scheduled.

Anyone with information to provide on this incident is asked to contact the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office at 586-307-9358 or leave an anonymous tip through the “MacombCo Sheriff” app, free on any smartphone.

Students and families received the voicemail about homecoming Thursday afternoon, shortly after teachers were notified about the disappointing developments.

“Unfortunately, (Friday)’s football game against Potterville will not be played as planned due to a shortage of available referees,” Duncan said in the message.

Kirk DuncanTWITTER PHOTO

He added Scott Perryman, the school’s athletic director, had worked since August with the referee assigner to try to make sure Mount Clemens would have Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA)-approved crews of referees on hand.

Beels echoed Duncan’s comments, saying the Potterville match was an extra game, not part of the Charter School Conference schedule, of which Mount Clemens is a member. Both schools had an open date and agreed to play this weekend. Beels said the school district had been looking for officials to staff the game since August but were unable to find a crew.

Perryman contacted other referee assigners throughout the state and down to the border of Ohio, trying to find a crew who could work Friday or even Saturday. School officials said they were willing to delay the game by one day if a team of referees was available.

“Our last hope was for another school to cancel their game, but none have,” the principal told the Battling Bathers community in the voice message.

“Potterville has a long road trip to travel for this game,” Duncan continued. “So we had to make this difficult decision to cancel the game this afternoon.”

“We are definitely very disappointed,” Bathers coach Marcus Cribbs told The Macomb Daily. “My boys are really hurt, especially the seniors. But it looks like we will have a home game next week, and if so we will try to do it up as much as possible for the game and make it exciting and big for the boys, especially the seniors.”

Members of the football team expressed disappointment in the decision, especially for the senior players who won’t be returning to Mount Clemens Community School District next year.

“To have everybody in your city, your town to support you, to help you win,” one unidentified player told WDIV-TV (Channel 4). “Not to mention, we will be the first Mount Clemens team since the 2000s to go to the playoffs.”



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Coronavirus Updates: U.S. infections decline, but hospitals still struggling to meet high demand


NEW YORK (WABC) — The big picture for Covid-19 in the US is looking a little brighter as new infections and hospitalizations are down. But several regions are still struggling with a high number of cases and strained health care resources.

One doctor in Michigan said he’d seen headlines about Covid-19 progress but struggled to feel relief because his hospital remains overwhelmed with patients.

“I had just worked a couple of shifts in a row where I had six, seven people sitting in the emergency department, waiting for beds at other hospitals that didn’t exist, waiting or ambulances that were six, seven hours away from being able to bring them to those places,” Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in West Michigan, told CNN Saturday.

In Davidson’s overwhelmed hospital, he’s seeing unvaccinated Covid-19 patients in their 50s being placed on ventilators, usually for at least a month, and enduring invasive procedures to stay alive.

Davidson noted it’s important for people to understand that “not dying from Covid is a great thing, but that isn’t the only metric we should be using.”

Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:

Virus has taken caregivers of 140,000 U.S. kids
More than 140,000 US children have lost a parent or grandparent who takes care of them to Covid-19, CDC researchers reported Thursday, which is as many as one in 500 US kids. Children from racial and ethnic minorities were far more likely to lose such a caregiver, the CDC-led team found. “The findings illustrate orphanhood as a hidden and ongoing secondary tragedy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and emphasizes that identifying and caring for these children throughout their development is a necessary and urgent part of the pandemic response — both for as long as the pandemic continues, as well as in the post-pandemic era,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which helped pay for the study, said in a statement. National Center for Health Statistics data through June showed children of racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 65% of those who lost a primary caregiver, while White children accounted for 35%, even though minorities account for just 39% of the US population.

New York reaches COVID vaccine milestone
Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Saturday that 85% of adult New Yorkers have now received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. “Yesterday, we hit a major milestone. Eighty-five percent of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, putting us one step closer to ending this pandemic and getting our lives back to normal,” Governor Hochul said. Over 70,000 vaccine doses were administered over last 24 hours.

Busy travel season expected despite pandemic

The White House says 78% of adults have now gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and there is a push to boost vaccinations ahead of what’s expected to be a busy holiday travel season. United Airlines says it plans to fly 3,500 domestic flights in December every single day. That’s almost as many flights were in the air back in 2019. United adds flight searches are up 16% compared to before the pandemic. The CDC is also reminding Americans to get their flu shots, saying it will help reduce strain on already overwhelmed hospitals.

Vice President Kamala Harris visits New Jersey in COVID vaccination push
New Jersey got high-profile reinforcement Friday in its push to encourage more residents to get vaccinated against COVID. Vice President Kamala Harris is in New Jersey as the Tri-State area prepares for the impending expansion of the vaccine eligibility pool. She arrived at Newark Airport where she was greeted by Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, and other officials. The vice president will be at a vaccination center at Essex County College Friday afternoon in the latest push to get people vaccinated.

Experts explain why lawsuits against COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail
From teachers to airlines workers, some employees who have faced termination for not complying with their company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates have gone to court to fight the decisions. Some of the plaintiffs, such as New York City Department of Education employees, a handful of Los Angeles county public employees and United Airlines workers, have argued that the mandates should be removed, questioning the rules’ constitutionality and some contending their religious rights weren’t observed. So far, these arguments have not swayed judges who have almost all ruled in favor of the employer, or not issued long injunctions while they hear the case. And legal experts tell ABC News they don’t expect different outcomes in courtrooms anytime soon.
What to know about religious exemptions for COVID shots as vaccine mandates roll out
With COVID-19 vaccine mandates proliferating across the country in the public and private sectors as well as some school districts, the pushback from those unwilling or hesitant to get their shots is heating up. The vaccination effort has raised new questions about exemptions because mandates for adults are generally rare outside of settings like healthcare facilities and the military, and the inoculations are relatively new.
While there is no overall data yet on exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, a number of companies and state governments have seen interest in religious exemptions — a protection stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This leaves employers in the difficult and legally precarious position of determining whether the requests are valid. As such, some states have tried to do away with non-medical exemptions overall for their employees.

Hochul announces $125 million for landlord rent relief

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that $125 million in state funding is now available to help landlords who couldn’t participate in the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program due to a federal requirement for tenants to participate in the application process. Administered by the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and accepting applications starting Thursday, Oct. 7, the Landlord Rental Assistance Program provides up to 12 months of past-due rent to landlords who are ineligible for the federally funded program because their tenants either declined to complete an application or vacated the residence with arrears. Priority will be given to those landlords owning small-to-medium-sized properties.

“Getting pandemic relief money out the door to New Yorkers has been a top priority for my administration since day one,” Governor Hochul said. “I am proud that our state’s rental assistance program has already provided much needed relief to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, but there are still many small landlords ineligible for that relief because of federal rules who also need our help. This funding is a critical tool to close that gap and help more New Yorkers recover from the pandemic.”

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Travel to turn dangerous from high winds in Southwest


Gusty winds are expected to blow through the Southwest early next week, threatening to rapidly spread already rampant wildfires and lift dust to turn travel dangerous.

“As a potent storm tracks farther inland along the West coast and its associated frontal boundary shifts southward late Monday into Tuesday, strong widespread winds are forecast to develop across California and southern Nevada,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyssa Smithmyer.

Cities like Los Angeles, Fresno and Sacramento, California, as well as Las Vegas, can be impacted by wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph beginning late Monday. These gusts, accompanied by cooler air, are expected across California and southern Nevada. Higher gusts of 60 to 80 mph are likely across higher elevations of these areas and where wind can be funneled, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 90 mph.

http://news.yahoo.com/

“These winds will bring the threat of difficult travel, blowing dust and the potential to rapidly spread area wildfires,” explained Smithmyer.

This can be dangerous or even deadly in more ways than one. High crosswinds can make it difficult for drivers to maintain control while blowing dust will greatly reduce visibility on roads.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APP

“In a situation like this, driving conditions will become hazardous as crosswinds could potentially reach speeds strong enough to topple tractor trailers,” added Smithmyer, urging drivers of high-profile vehicles to take extreme caution during this event.

Due to these factors, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a high wind watch across parts of California, including in Fresno, Sacramento, Modesto, Stockton, Chico and Bakersfield. This watch covers parts of highways 5, 16, 33, 41, 80, 84, 99 and 180 and recommends that motorists should hold the steering wheel with both hands and slow down.

http://news.yahoo.com/

The winds will be significant and result in widespread travel disruptions, noted AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter.

In addition to the disruption to travel, they can cause downed trees and power outages. The NWS also warns residents to secure loose items like trash cans and Halloween decorations. Residents and visitors should charge their phones in preparation for power outages.

Furthermore, these high winds can fan wildfires across the region and cause them to spread out of control. Critical conditions are likely across most of the California Central Valley, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).

“Due to the current drought situation across the Southwest U.S., the threat for wildfires is already elevated,” said Smithmyer.

Over 45% of California is in exceptional drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor, with Nevada not too far behind, having about 25% in exceptional drought. San Francisco hasn’t recorded any measurable rainfall since last March, and Las Vegas has received under 50% of average precipitation since the beginning of September.

Such severe drought conditions mean foliage is dry and brittle, which makes fuel for wildfires, unfortunately. As of early Saturday morning, there were nine large active fires across California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, including the Windy Fire in Sequoia National Forest, which has burned over 97,500 acres and is 82% contained.

http://news.yahoo.com/

A fire weather watch was put in effect in places like Redding, Lakeport and Blue Canyon, California, to prepare residents for the potential rapid spread of fires. Outdoor burning is not recommended, according to the NWS.

Cold air accompanying the high winds can shove temperatures anywhere from 10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit below normal across the region on Tuesday, particularly away from the coast. High temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 60s to lower 70s across much of the region. Lows can even dip into the middle 40s in places, challenging records.

A silver lining to this high wind event is that any pervasive smoke from wildfires that has been sitting across the region is expected to get whisked away as the winds roll through.

http://news.yahoo.com/

Beginning Monday night and by Wednesday, much of the high winds will be moving eastward through the eastern Rockies and Plains, and conditions are anticipated to calm a bit across California and Nevada.

As winds continue to gust across cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lubbock, Texas; Denver; Oklahoma City; Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Cheyenne, Wyoming; travel disruptions and blowing dust are likely to continue in these areas as well.

For the latest weather news check back on AccuWeather.com. Watch AccuWeather Network on DIRECTV, DIRECTVstream, Frontier, Spectrum, fuboTV, Philo, and Verizon Fios. AccuWeatherNOW is streaming on Roku and XUMO.





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At-home COVID-19 tests in high demand for events, travel, school requirements


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Demand for at-home COVID-19 tests is climbing in Northeast Ohio, as more venues and events require a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination for admission.

The increased demand has brought concerns of possible shortages of the rapid at-home tests, said Dr. Christine Schmotzer, vice chair of system pathology operations at University Hospitals.

Tests have sold out online and at pharmacies across the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in September that the temporary shortage of rapid tests could lead to more demand for lab-based testing.

Schmotzer said medical experts aren’t concerned about testing availability for people who have COVID-19 symptoms and need them for medical evaluation or medical procedures at a hospital.

“What has led to kind of this burden on the system is an increased number of places requiring either vaccination or a negative test to go to an event or for some travel,” Schmotzer said. “So that’s the group that might be a little bit more at-risk by the potential decreases in availability of the rapid tests.”

Most of the at-home tests are antigen tests and are not as accurate compared to the PCR tests. Schmotzer said the antigen tests need more of a viral load to detect whether someone is positive. She noted an antigen test is most reliable when people are showing symptoms of COVID-19. A PCR test, though, can detect a positive result at a lower viral load.

Schmotzer emphasized the importance of getting a good nasal swab and following the instructions on the test kit in a previous story with cleveland.com. Also, it’s best to test 3 to 7 days after a COVID exposure or within the first few days after the onset of symptoms for best accuracy.

The delta variant swept through the nation during the late summer, causing an increased number of hospitalizations and deaths. And though data shows case rates are decreasing, thousands of cases are still coming daily in Ohio.

In addition to the pharmacies, folks can also pick up tests for free at branches in the Cuyahoga County Public Library and Cleveland Public Library systems — as long as they’re in stock.

The Ohio Department of Health has been providing free BinaxNow at-home tests to libraries, local health departments, schools and universities and other community partners, Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Alicia Shoults wrote in an email.

Shoults said the state originally bought 2 million tests, and last week the controlling board approved the purchase of an additional 1 million tests, with an option to buy 400,000 at-home tests per month through June 2022.

The tests have been flying off the shelves at libraries, and it’s important people call ahead to make sure tests are available, said Rob Rua, a spokesman for Cuyahoga County Public Library. Rua said 11 branches in the library system are distributing the at-home tests through their drive-through windows where book service is typically done, and the goal is to soon implement curbside service for branches that don’t have a drive-through window.

He said some people have needed multiple kits, as they may have multiple children and parents may need to be tested as well due to potential exposure. Rua said as of Wednesday, the library system had distributed nearly 26,000 at-home tests.

Rua said the initial demand was quiet. “And then within the past month or so, it’s just been huge.”

Rua said the library initially would receive shipments of 2,000 at-home tests in the spring from the Ohio Department of Health, but this week the library received 16,000 tests.

Cleveland Public Library is experiencing similar high demand as people come downtown to pick up tests at the main library’s drive-through window, said Steve Wohl, the library system’s lending manager.

Before the delta variant’s surge, Wohl said the library was distributing 25-50 tests per week. But the week of Aug. 23, the library started seeing an uptick and handed out about 200 tests. Wohl said the number of tests provided “has been growing exponentially from there.”

He said demand has been from Cleveland Metropolitan School District parents and students, as well as from people attending weddings, concerts and sporting events.

The at-home tests are increasingly needed, particularly for people who need a result relatively quickly. President Joe Biden’s administration invoked the Defense Production Act in September to make 280 million rapid tests available, according to Kaiser Health News.

The administration also completed a deal with Walmart, Amazon and Kroger for the retailers to sell tests for “up to 35 percent less” than current prices for three months. People on Medicaid would have the at-home tests fully covered, Biden said.

BinaxNow at-home tests can be purchased at pharmacies such as CVS or Walgreens for $23.99. Still, tests like Ellume remain relatively expensive, particularly for families that would presumably need multiple tests. Ellume’s testing kit costs $38.99, so a family of four not on Medicaid would pay approximately $156.

Other testing options are still available, though, including at pharmacies like CVS.

Akron Children’s Hospital announced in a news release Wednesday that it’s starting drive-thru testing on its Akron campus for children, regardless of whether they’re patients or showing symptoms. Young adults up to age 26 still in the care of Akron Children’s Hospital can also receive a test, according to the release. Appointments are required and can be scheduled through MyChart.

Mercy Health’s Lorain branch said in a news release Tuesday that it has walk-in clinics at six locations for people seeking a COVID-19 test. The clinics are open seven days a week, and providers at the locations also offer “in-person and virtual visits to safely screen, isolate, and care for patients who may only be experiencing mild symptoms,” according to the release.

Shaker Heights Fire Department has also provided COVID-19 testing throughout the pandemic, partnering with MetroHealth. Nurses from the hospital come weekly to the fire station on Chagrin Boulevard to provide PCR tests at the drive-through clinic. Appointments are required, and people can make them through MetroHealth.

Sweeney said the fire station hasn’t seen a shortage of tests recently, and he said there are other places to go too if people look hard enough.

“I think if somebody is resourceful enough and they’re willing to look around a little bit, I think you can find stuff,” Sweeney said. “I know that there’s been some media attention and there’s been talk about tests are hard to find right now, but I think if you kind of dig in a little bit, you can get things taken care of. That’s been my most recent experience is with people getting stuff from the library, people making appointments at CVS.”



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Norway, Bulgaria Now ‘Very High Risk’ For Travel Due To Covid-19


You may want to say “no way” about any travel to Norway for now. That’s because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just moved the Scandinavian country up to the highest risk level for the CDC’s Covid-19 Travel Recommendations.

Yep, the Land of the Midnight Sun has just leveled up, but not in a good way. The country went from a Level 3, which is “Covid-19 High,” to Level 4, which is “Covid-19 Very High.” Being “High” or “Very High” may be good in a Tal Bachman song but not when it comes to the CDC Covid-19 Travel Recommendations. As I described a couple weeks ago for Forbes, the CDC is saying “avoid travel” to any Level 4 destinations, and, “if you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.” Norway joins locations like Afghanistan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom on the Level 4 list.

Now, if you were to say, “forget Norway, I’ll go to Bulgaria instead,” you’d run into a similar problem. Bulgaria too just made the uh-oh jump from Level 3 to Level 4 on the CDC list. So in other words, Sofia so bad as a travel destination these days from a Covid-19 perspective.

When it comes to the CDC Covid-19 Travel Recommendation levels, it’s all about the numbers. Destinations go from Level 3 to Level 4 when the number of cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days (which is a little over two Scaramuccis) goes from between 100 and 500 to above 500. Level 2, which is the Covid-19 Moderate level, includes destinations that have had 50 to 99 reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 28 days. And Level 1, the Covid-19 Low level, is for destinations where the number of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents has stayed below 50 for the past 28 days. Level 1 currently includes destinations such as American Samoa, Cameroon, the Cayman Islands, the Republic of the Djibouti, Hungary, Madagascar, New Zealand, Poland, and Taiwan.

The main difference between Level 3 and Level 4 is that the CDC recommends that everyone avoid nonessential travel to Level 4 destinations but only unvaccinated people avoid nonessential travel to Level 3 destinations. For Level 2 destinations, the CDC limits the “avoid travel” recommendation to just those who are unvaccinated travelers and “at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19.” For Level 1 destinations, the warning simply is “make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel to these destinations.” Note that the CDC does not say for any of these levels, “don’t get the vaccine because it may make your balls swell.” There is no scientific evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine is likely to make your balls swell, unless, of course, someone is kicking your testicles at the same time.

The CDC also raised the risk level for three other destinations. Singapore and Slovakia went from Level 2 to 3. And Equatorial Guinea jumped up to 3 from Level 1.

Not all the CDC travel news was bad. Bangladesh, Panama and Saint Barthelemy (St. Barts) moved from Level 4 to Level 3.

Keep in mind that the destinations in each level and the associated travel recommendations could change with time. After all, while your travel may be more limited these days, that’s not the case with the Covid-19 coronavirus. As long as people don’t practice appropriate Covid-19 precautions, the virus will keep thinking, “where are we going next?” So it’s a good idea to maintain fairly flexible travel plans. Opt for refundable reservations and tell your friends and colleagues, “I may perhaps, potentially, possibly see you if the conditions are right.” In other words, level with your friends and colleagues, and make sure that they aren’t in destinations that are at the wrong levels.



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US Travel Reaches All-Time High Amid Rise in Covid Variants


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A spike in US travel has coincided with rapidly spreading coronavirus variants.

Pent up demand for travel – combined with rescheduled trips and historically busy summer months – led to the highest number of American travelers in recent history. Travel insurance comparison site, squaremouth.com, reported record sales in August, with an increase of over 120% from 2019.

By September, at least two new major variants had already impacted countries across the world. That same month, Squaremouth reported 40% of its travelers were heading to Europe, the location that currently leads the world in Delta variant cases.

The parallel may have travelers wondering what to do if history repeats itself. Squaremouth answers travelers’ top questions about insurance coverage as Covid variants evolve.

Can I buy coverage for new coronavirus variants?

  • Travel insurance can still be purchased to cover concerns surrounding Delta, Mu, and other variants of the coronavirus
  • Most travel insurance policies on squaremouth.com provide cancellation and medical benefits for contracting Covid-19, including all variants

What if I no longer want to travel because of the new variants?

  • Not wanting to travel due to a concern of getting sick is not a covered reason to cancel a trip under the standard Trip Cancellation benefit
  • Travelers who want this flexibility must have purchased a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policy
  • Travelers who haven’t booked yet, or who have booked a trip within the past 2 weeks, may be eligible for this upgrade. Trips booked several weeks or months ago are likely ineligible for CFAR

What if the new variants cause my destination to close its border?

  • Border closures are not covered under standard Trip Cancellation coverage
  • The Cancel For Any Reason upgrade is also the best option for travelers who want cancellation coverage should their destination close their border to US tourists

What if I contract Covid-19 while traveling?

  • Most travel insurance policies on squaremouth.com provide medical benefits for contracting Covid-19, including any of its variants
  • Most policies can also provide additional travel-related benefits for travelers who are quarantined and unable to return home as scheduled

Notes to editors
Available Topic Expert: Megan Moncrief, Chief Marketing Officer, is available for comment and interview. [email protected]

Squaremouth maintains a list of country insurance requirements here: https://www.squaremouth.com/destinations

Other Relevant Research:

ABOUT SQUAREMOUTH
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Coupled with verified customer reviews and the largest portfolio of products, Squaremouth allows travelers to instantly purchase a travel insurance policy from every major provider in the US.

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CDC designates Antigua, Bermuda, Guyana as “very high” COVID-19 travel risks


Sept. 20 (UPI) — A pair of popular island travel destinations were added to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “very high” risk category on Monday.

The CDC designated Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean and Bermuda in the Atlantic along with the South American country of Guyana on its “Level 4: Very High” COVID-19 travel advisory.

People are encouraged to avoid traveling to locations designated Level 4, according to the CDC. The agency also advises that anyone who must travel to such locations be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Destinations designated as Level 4 have reported more than 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents within the past 28 days.

As of Monday, a total of 90 destinations have been designated as “very high” risk for COVID-19.

All three of the destinations elevated to Level 4 Monday had previously been designated “Level 3: High,” which indicates they have reported between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents within the past 28 days.

Also Monday, the CDC upgraded Bonaire, Sao Tome and Principe and Ukraine from “Level 2: Moderate” to Level 3, while New Caledonia, was raised from “Level 1: Low” to Level 3.

Andorra, Colombia and Kuwait were all downgraded from Level 4 to Level 3.

The CDC broadly recommends that Americans avoid international travel entirely unless they are fully vaccinated.



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