Right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who once said that food poisoning after eating “bad fajitas” was worse than COVID-19, has said that she has tested positive for the virus.
In a post on GETTR, Loomer told her followers that she now has “fever, chills, a runny nose, sore throat, nausea and severe body aches” and that she feels like she “got hit by a bus.”
She described her symptoms as “brutal” and said she is in “so much pain” in follow-up messages posted on her Telegram channel, The Daily Beast reported. “Just pray for me please,” she wrote.
Loomer said that she has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and added that she doesn’t plan on “ever taking it.”
She said on GETTR, social media platform targeted to American conservatives, that she is being treated with Azithromycin and Hydroxychloroquine and a dietary supplement. Hydroxychloroquine, which was often touted by former President Donald Trump, has proven ineffective in treating the coronavirus.
Per The Daily Beast, she wrote on Parler in December 2020: “I hope I get COVID just so I can prove to people I’ve had bouts of food poisoning that are more serious and life-threatening than a hyped-up virus. Have you ever eaten bad fajitas? That will kill you faster than COVID.”
On Friday, Loomer accused the “leftist media” of relishing in her COVID-19 diagnosis. “Their hopes that i die are a clear reminder that the left’s growing outrage over supposed increased COVID deaths is all for show and political gain,” she wrote.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said he knows of fewer than 10 employees who have resigned over the company’s vaccine mandate.
Kirby told CNN on Thursday that about 90% of United’s US employees had shown the airline proof of their vaccination. He thought the majority of the remaining workers had been vaccinated but hadn’t uploaded evidence yet, he said.
American Airlines removed a family from a flight on Monday, saying they didn’t follow instructions to remain seated and wear face masks “securely.”
Amanda Pendarvis, one of the passengers, posted on her Instagram story that she boarded the flight from Dallas to Colorado Springs with her two-year-old son and her mother, but was later kicked off, Fox News first reported.
Pendarvis said in her Instagram story that a flight attendant told her to pull her mask up when her son kept pulling it down. The flight attendant also told Pendarvis to put a mask on her son because of his age, she said in the post.
Children who are two years old and above must wear face coverings on American flights, the company says on its website. If a passenger refuses to wear one, they could be denied boarding and future travel, the website says.
Pendarvis said in the Instagram story that the three of them were escorted off the plane because her son couldn’t keep his mask on his face.
She tried to put a mask on her son three times, but he kept taking it off, she said.
Her son was agitated, and as a result developed difficulties breathing, she said. He had an asthma attack two months ago, she said.
She gave him an emergency inhaler on the plane, she said.
An American spokesperson told Insider in a statement that the plane returned to its gate at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport because the family refused to “comply with crew member instructions to remain seated while on an active taxiway and to wear face coverings securely over their nose and mouth.”
The American spokesperson said that the flight attendants weren’t made aware that Pendarvis’ son was having breathing problems on board the flight.
Insider has contacted Pendarvis for comment on the incident.
The American spokesperson said that the crew made “multiple attempts to reinforce safety requirements” after they saw “a minor in the party laying in the aisle and moving between seats” when the plane was on the taxiway.
Pendarvis wrote in her Instagram story that she let her son walk between the aisle rows so he could see her mother on the other side of the plane while it was lining up for take-off.
The spokesperson said that it was a legal requirement to remain seated with a seatbelt on when the plane is on the taxiway.
The three passengers were rebooked on the next flight to Colorado Springs on the same day after they agreed to “adhere to policies instituted for the safety of our customers and crew,” the American spokesperson said.
US cities across the country will lose millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars in revenue in 2021 as far fewer people travel for business than before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, new data finds.
The US travel market, especially the hospitality sector, is suffering due to remote work and the coronavirus, according to research published by data analytics firm, Kalibri Labs, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The research was first reported on by Bloomberg.
Business travel revenue, which includes corporate, group, government, and other commercial categories, is down dramatically in cities across the US for 2021 compared to 2019, before the pandemic started.
Ten major cities have taken the biggest hit. The New York market, the highest earner in business travel, is projected to make about $530 million in revenue in 2021, down 88% from $4.5 billion in 2019. The Washington DC and Orlando markets, which both made around $2.7 billion in 2019, also reported an 80% plus drop versus 2019 numbers. San Francisco made the steepest drop, with revenue down 93% since 2019. Las Vegas, which hosts scores of large corporate events, is projected to lose 71.2% of its 2019 revenue this year.
The pandemic is “wiping out a decade’s worth of revenue and job growth” in the hospitality sector, the report concludes.
Revenue per available room for most generic business travel hotels are down 45% from 2019, Insider previously calculated. Business and group travel are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest.
“Corporate groups generally provide a base of occupancy for the market and without that, hotels are really not going to have tremendous pricing power so it’s going to be a challenge for several years on the profitability side,” Evan Weiss, chief operating officer at LW Hospitality Advisors, told NY1 in January.
Travel across the board is still struggling to regain pacing after falling off a cliff during the pandemic.
“Dense urban markets such as New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and San Francisco are still only 20% to 30% recovered,” Hyatt CEO Mark S. Hoplamazian said in a second quarter earnings call.
The hotel and hospitality industry buckled during the COVID-19 pandemic as airline travel stopped, offices closed, and millions of workers went fully remote and virtual. Leisure travel made a slight comeback this past summer as more people got vaccinated and opted to travel.
Analysts expected business travel to recover in September as work began to start up again. But employers are finding it more difficult to get employees to fully return to the office, including commitments to travel for work. Many conferences and trade shows, which are the main opportunities for work and group travel, are still held virtually, further reducing the need for business travel. COVID concerns also linger and the Delta variant is creating further uncertainty with travel.
50% of business travel will go away after the pandemic as in-person meetings become less regular, Bill Gates said in 2020.
Still, executives at large hotel chains have remained hopeful that business travel will bounce back, with some even offering alternative uses for hotel vacancies, such as temporary office space. The CEOs of Hyatt and Hilton both said in their earnings calls that they were seeing business travel revenue recovering, especially among regional small and medium-sized businesses. Congress also introduced the Save Hotel Jobs Act this week, aimed at further dampening the impact of decreased business travel on the hotel industry and its workers.
The pandemic has quickly illuminated teledermatology’s specific applications.
A hybrid approach may ensure the capture of high-quality images for evaluation.
Advances in technology may expand the types of skin conditions assessed with teledermatology.
This article is part of the “Healthcare Innovation” series, highlighting what healthcare professionals need to do to meet this technology moment.
Increased reliance on teledermatology during the COVID-19 pandemic has not only helped patients avoid contracting infection but it’s also given dermatologists a better understanding of how to best employ the technology in daily practice.
“Teledermatology has definitely become more important during the pandemic and has allowed us to keep delivering effective care to our patients while they are in the safe environment of their homes,” Dr. Trilokraj Tejasvi, chair of the American Academy of Dermatology teledermatology task force, chair of the American Telemedicine Association special interest group for teledermatology, and associate professor of dermatology and director of teledermatology at the University of Michigan, said.
As the field scaled up teledermatology in March of 2020, dermatologists quickly learned that the technology has specific applications, Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, chair of the ATA board of directors, professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, and senior advisor of virtual care at Mass General Brigham, said. Patient selection is critical to the success of teledermatology, as is knowing the limitations of some available technologies, he said.
When using teledermatology, understanding the typical workflow of patient care and adhering to HIPAA regulations are also key, Tejasvi said. He adds that professional societies such as the AAD and the ATA offer a variety of online teledermatology educational tools on these topics to their members.
Workflow and HIPAA compliance
Some appointments managed via teledermatology consist of an asynchronous approach with an initial online questionnaire or intake form about medical history and symptoms, Tejasvi said. Patients then take photos of their skin concerns with a smartphone and send images through the online patient portal.
A photo review by the dermatologist is followed by a video telehealth visit with the patient to collect more nuanced information and to provide a diagnosis and recommendations, Tejasvi said. Dermatologists may also prescribe necessary medications and give additional at-home care recommendations.
Video visits have gained popularity during the pandemic because of real-time interaction. However, with the lack of high-quality, static images available through video, a hybrid approach using synchronous and asynchronous elements is becoming the new normal, Tejasvi said.
“You need to use HIPAA-compliant software, whether it is through a system-wide portal or you’re using some private party software,” Tejasvi said. “Patient privacy is paramount.”
Careful patient selection
Patients best suited for teledermatology include those with acne, eczema, psoriasis, or wounds, Kvedar said. These patients may occasionally need to go into a lab for blood work to monitor medications, with follow-up visits via telehealth.
In contrast, patients with skin cancer need in-person visits about every six months to a year, Dr. Kvedar said. Video conferencing apps on phones and laptops are not high enough resolution for this type of monitoring.
However, someone with a new skin growth might be initially evaluated via a teledermatology appointment using photos sent to the patient portal, Kvedar said. Dermatologists can then determine whether the patient needs immediate, in-person follow-up or can wait for a regularly scheduled appointment.
Mole mapping technology is advancing
While teledermatology currently isn’t ideal for evaluating suspicious lesions, high-resolution digital photography has helped with mole mapping in the clinic, Dr. Adam Mamelak, a dermatologist in private practice in Austin, Texas, said. By using high-resolution photos to track moles over time, dermatologists can better recommend interventions, diagnostic testing, and treatment.
High-resolution, total body photography and dermoscopy, or microscopic examination of the skin surface, combined with artificial intelligence is an impressive advance in mole monitoring, Tejasvi said. However, the technology is cost-prohibitive because of the lack of reimbursement and may require more square footage than practices or institutions want to dedicate to the hardware required. Some patients with a history of melanoma or with more than 100 moles may want to pay out-of-pocket for these services.
Cloud-based systems and apps on smartphones can now run AI interpretations of moles and pigmented lesions, Mamelak said. In some cases, these apps can make patient self-evaluations more accurate, he said. Triage is one such example. “I predict that many of the larger hardware-heavy systems will become obsolete as the mobile apps become more developed,” he said.
AI’s application to dermatology will be manifold, but it will also help primary care doctors triage patients for dermatology referral, Kvedar said, who is an adviser to LuminDx, which is developing such a system. “I think that’s the next phase of care we need to prepare for.”
Moderna said new data from its late-stage clinical trial provided proof of waning immunity from its COVID-19 vaccine and a need for a booster dose – but its shot still appears to protect against severe illness.
People who got its vaccine more recently, between December 2020 and March 2021, reported 36% fewer “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections, compared with those vaccinated during its initial trial between July and October 2020, the company said Wednesday, citing an unpublished company analysis.
There were 88 breakthrough cases in the more recently vaccinated group of 14,746 people, and 162 COVID-19 cases in the 11,431 trial participants, eight to 12 months after the second dose, the company said.
Moderna said the findings show evidence of waning immunity from its vaccine, and a “potential benefit” for a booster.
Stephen Hoge, president at Moderna, said on a conference call with investors that “the first six months are great, but you can’t count on that being stable out to a year and beyond,” as reported by Reuters.
He said that “the estimated impact of waning immunity would be 600,000 additional cases of COVID-19” across the US population of 66 million. “We would expect some of those cases to be severe and some could unfortunately result in death,” he said.
But the data also suggested its shot protected against severe COVID-19 long-term. There were only 19 “severe” breakthrough infections overall, and no “significant difference” between the two groups of people, it said. The company didn’t define what it meant by “severe” COVID-19, but usually this means illness that kills or requires hospital treatment.
Moderna’s announcement comes as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is soon to decide whether to give an extra dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to fully-vaccinated Americans to shore up immunity against the highly infectious Delta variant, which can evade the immune response.
The FDA is expected to decide on a potential Moderna booster soon after. But some healthcare experts, including Ellie Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University, have concerns around the quality of data informing the FDA decision: We don’t really know how long booster protection lasts, or when best to give a booster. The World Health Organization argues that we should prioritize people worldwide who haven’t had a first dose before giving boosters to fully vaccinated people.
The Biden administration hopes that fully vaccinated Americans can get a booster dose at six months after their second dose, from September 20. Immunocompromised people in the US can already get an extra shot.
Moderna vaccine’s protection against severe disease
Moderna’s booster shot is half the dose of the original vaccine.
A real-world Qatari study found that Moderna’s shot was 84.5% effective against any infection from 14 days after the second dose, including asymptomatic illness. Pfizer’s was 53.5% effective, the study found. External factors could influence the results, including that Pfizer’s vaccine has typically been given to older people, who tend to produce weaker immune responses.
StubHub will pay at least $16.7 million to refund tickets purchased by thousands of customers who had events canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attorneys general in 10 states and the District of Columbia had filed civil suits against StubHub, the largest global secondary ticketing marketplace, saying the company had refused to honor its own FanProtect Guarantee. The policy promises consumers full refunds of the purchase price and fees customers paid for tickets if their events were canceled.
In a settlement announced Wednesday, StubHub has agreed to honor the FanProtect Guarantee, as well as disclose any future modification to its refund policies and promptly process refund requests it receives from consumers for events going forward.
StubHub notified its customers in May that it was reversing course for those who purchased tickets prior to March 25, 2020, and would issue full refunds of the amount paid. Customers also had the option to receive the refund in account credits.
“Adjusting our refund policy for canceled events during the pandemic was a difficult decision, but a necessary one at the time,” StubHub said in a statement. “As soon as circumstances allowed, StubHub achieved its goal of providing impacted customers the choice to keep the 120% credit they were issued when their event was canceled or receive a cash refund.”
Last year, as events were canceled, StubHub furloughed two-thirds of its North American workforce, leaving few full-time employees still working at the secondary ticket marketplace, Insider previously reported.
The states and territories involved in the settlement with the District of Columbia are Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Refunds among customers in Indiana, Arkansas, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are estimated at over $16.7 million, according to the states. StubHub did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on the total amount refunded to all customers living in the areas impacted by the settlement.
“Hoosiers have suffered enough from the pandemic without having to pay admission to events canceled due to circumstances quite outside their control,” Indiana Attorney General Rokita said in a statement. “They have every right to expect these refunds, and we will always work diligently to protect consumers.”
For months, dangerous rumors on social media have claimed that getting vaccinated against the coronavirus could hamper male and female fertility. Celebrities too have perpetuated these false concepts.
But doctors and scientists say there’s no evidence or even theory suggesting the shot affects fertility. On the contrary, COVID-19 may.
“We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of COVID-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data,” Dr. Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a January statement.
“There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women’s fertility.”
mRNA vaccines cannot enter cells, and tracking systems haven’t raised red flags
It’s thought the rumors began following a now-blocked Facebook post which incorrectly suggested that the vaccine teaches the body to attack a protein involved in placental development.
In reality, the protein the vaccine spurs the body to make and attack bears little resemblance to the one in the placenta.
Plus, based on the way the mRNA vaccines are made, they are “not going to be able to enter the cell of the baby and cause any problem, mechanistically speaking,” Dr. Zaher Merhi, an OB-GYN, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, and the founder of Rejuvenating Fertility Center, previously told Insider.
And, tens of thousands of people have gotten or remained pregnant after vaccination, according to three safety monitoring systems. That data shows that the vaccine isn’t linked to any increase in adverse pregnancy outcomes like miscarriage, preterm birth, or death.
“You’re much more likely to have fertility issues post-COVID than after the vaccine,” Nicola Stonehouse, a virologist at the University of Leeds, told the BBC. One May study even suggested that COVID-19 can damage penile blood vessels, potentially leading to erectile dysfunction and impotence.
Figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) released Monday found that 0.8% of deaths in fully-vaccinated people were linked to COVID-19 between January and July. These figures covered people who died 21 or more days after the second dose.
For comparison, roughly 37% of deaths in unvaccinated people “involved COVID-19” during the same time period, the data showed.
In total, 57,263 fully vaccinated people in England died at least 21 days after their second vaccine dose, and just 458 deaths “involved” COVID-19. Over the same period, there were 38,964 COVID-19-related deaths in unvaccinated people.
Professor Kevin McConway, professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said in a statement to the Science Media Center on Monday that the data showed vaccines were effective at preventing death from COVID-19, but that they weren’t “perfect.”
“Some people do still die of COVID-19 even though they are fully vaccinated,” he said. “No vaccine is 100% effective,” he said, adding that it was important to get both doses.
The ONS data came from census and family doctor health records, considered to be representative of 79% of people aged 10 or older living in England. It didn’t specifically look at variants.
McConway said the data was evidence that vaccinated people had less chance of dying from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people, but that it couldn’t be used to determine vaccine effectiveness. The population in the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups could differ in important ways – high-risk groups were prioritized for vaccines, for example, he said.
A hospital in Georgia that’s full beyond capacity with COVID-19 patients could soon turn to local firefighters for help.
AdventHealth Gordon hospital in Calhoun, Georgia, has 69 beds but more than 100 patients, most of whom have COVID-19, according to officials.
Jim Ledbetter, county administrator at Gordon County, Georgia, said that the workforce at the hospital was “stretched pretty thin” and that staff were “pretty tired,” the Chattanooga Free Press reported on Thursday. “The hospital came to us for help and we decided to do what we can,” Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter said that local firefighters and people working for the sheriff’s office had already expressed interest in working at the hospital, the Chattanooga Free Press reported.
Anyone working voluntary extra shifts at the hospital would be paid, and would need to be fully-vaccinated, Ledbetter said, per the report. There would be a mandatory 12-hour break between county and hospital shifts, Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter said volunteers would only provide medical care under supervision of a nurse or doctor.
“People’s nerves have been frayed with the pandemic and they don’t always want to mask. Some people have been getting testy about that, so that’s something our police could help with that would take a lot of stress off hospital staff,” he said, as reported by Chattanooga Free Press.
Gordon County has 74.9 new daily cases per 100,000 people, according to Covid Act Now, which uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Georgia as a whole has 67.1 daily new cases per 100,000.