The University of Southern Mississippi will pay some students in tuition and housing costs if they get vaccinated, the school said in a statement Thursday.
The incentive program is intended to encourage students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the next 12 weeks, five vaccinated students will be randomly selected each week to receive rewards. The items students can win include Fall semester tuition, which costs $4,602; $2,000 in housing credits; and $1,000 in dining credits, among other things.
“The best way for our students to stay healthy, stay connected, and stay in class this fall is by getting a COVID-19 vaccine. I urge all of our students to do their part and get vaccinated for COVID-19 now, if they haven’t already done so,” Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, USM Vice President for Student Affairs, said in the announcement.
Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates of any state, with only 34.5% of its residents fully vaccinated, according to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention data compiled by the Mayo Clinic. Only Alabama has a smaller portion of its residents fully vaccinated.
Mississippi is also seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as the Delta variant spreads. Some intensive care units in the state are near capacity, the Clarion Ledger reported.
Some states have offered incentives to getting the vaccine, including vaccine lotteries in states like California and Ohio.
Former President Donald Trump is owed a tax refund of $1 million for his Chicago skyscraper, but local officials are trying to stop it from being issued.
An Illinois tax agency ruled last month that Trump paid too much on his 2011 tax bill after the value of Trump International Hotel and Tower’s rooms and retail space was over-assessed by the Cook County Board of Review, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The ruling by the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board means Trump is owed $1.03 million, which would come from property taxes due to the city and other government agencies. Chicago Public Schools would lose out on about $540,000, according to the Sun-Times.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s has since filed a lawsuit to block the refund. When reached by Insider, the State’s Attorney’s office said it was unable to comment on pending litigation.
The dispute is the latest development in the story of Trump’s taxes in Chicago. Alderman Ed Burke, the longest-serving member of Chicago’s City Council in history, served as Trump’s lawyer for more than a decade. His firm originally filed the tax appeal arguing the value of Trump’s building had been overestimated.
Burke, a Democrat, helped Trump secure $14 million in tax breaks on his Chicago skyscraper before parting ways with Trump’s company in 2018, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Later that year, the FBI raided Burke’s City Hall office and he was later charged with racketeering, bribery, and extortion, among other charges.
Prosecutors say Burke used the power of his office to drive business to his law firm, including blocking permits for people who did not hire them. He has pled not guilty to all charges, WTTW reported.
Florida has broken its record for daily COVID-19 cases, reporting its highest one-day total since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to new numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal health data showed that the state recorded a whopping 21,683 new cases on Friday. The news makes Florida the new COVID-19 epicenter in the US, according to the Associated Press.
The pace of new infections in Florida appears to be rapidly rising; the state recorded just 17,093 cases the previous day and just 13,256 one week before that.
Previously, Florida’s highest number of daily cases was 19,334 on January 7, 2021. Though CDC figures show a spike of 30,531 cases on January 2, that figure actually encompassed January 1 as well, according to The Palm Beach Post.
In just the past week, confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida spiked by more than 50%, according to state health data.
The Florida Department of Health said in a recent report that it recorded more than 110,000 new cases from June 23 to June 29. In the week prior, there were about 73,000 cases reported.
For weeks, Florida has marked continuous surges in the number of positive coronavirus cases. The counts have risen so much that one out of every five coronavirus cases in the United States now comes from Florida.
Amid the rise in cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly criticized mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last week urged vaccinated people to now wear face coverings indoors.
On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order that barred schools from mandating kids wear masks.
“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” he said.
DeSantis brought the point home during a press conference, saying both he and his wife are “not going to do the mask with the kids.”
At the same time as the spike in cases in the past week, vaccinations also shot up, increasing by about 15%, state health data shows. About 50% of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Weekly case counts in Florida are beginning to match some of the worst weeks for the state in the history of the coronavirus pandemic. State data shows that the new coronavirus cases in the past week either match or surpass the rate in January – before vaccines were widely available.
In 2018, Jeff Bezos told Insider that innovators “have to be willing to be misunderstood.” So when Stuart Hoegner, the top lawyer at tether, began an indignant blog post in May citing Bezos, it suggested he saw his product as the unfairly maligned bleeding edge of a crypto revolution.
Others aren’t so sure. Regulators are training their sights on tether, the biggest of the dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies known as stablecoins.
On Monday, reports circulated that the DOJ was eyeing a criminal bank fraud case against tether execs’ conduct years ago. The next day, further reports indicated a presidential committee led by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was homing in on tether, likening it to an unregulated money-market fund – the kind which caused financial turmoil during the 2008 crisis and again when COVID-19 rattled markets.
But even as tether’s legal troubles reach an apex, the stablecoin has in some ways become less relevant.
So far this year, tether’s share of the overall stablecoin supply has tumbled from 75% to 57%, according to data from The Block. Behind the decline are new challengers, including Circle’s USD Coin, Binance USD, Gemini, and DeFi-focused Dai.
The problem for tether is that the technological barriers around its stablecoin business are not very high.
All the various US dollar-backed stablecoins “are not that different in terms of what they’re representing,” Denelle Dixon, CEO of the Stellar Development Foundation, told Insider. Stellar hosts USD Coin on its network.
“But the companies that support those tokens and what they do behind the scenes is really important,” she added.
And what tether does behind the scenes has become a central focus. Alongside the recent bank fraud allegations, past issues with its parent company’s misconduct have dogged tether, leading New York state to ban trading.
Moreover, there are two sets of complaints about the stablecoin itself: the quality of its reserves and transparency.
First, regulators worry that tether’s reserves – which in principle should back each tether with one dollar – could be of dubious quality. After the company released a reserves breakdown this year, JPMorgan estimated that its $30 billion in commercial paper, a cash-like type of short-term corporate debt, would make tether one of the world’s biggest investors in the asset.
Yet unlike other massive commercial paper holders, tether does not disclose the make-up of what it owns. Hoegner told CNBC his company’s holdings included international paper – leading anchor Jim Cramer to speculate tether could be a “ticking time bomb” holding default-prone Chinese paper. A recent academic paper suggested tether could be subject to bank runs, where the company is unable to meet a wave of dollar redemptions.
Second, some think tether’s disclosures, which were recently beefed up, are still insufficient. The company has not yet produced a full independent audit, though Hoegner told CNBC that one was “months away, not years.” It has, however, produced an independent “attestation” – essentially verification that tether’s balance sheet is what the company says.
Tether has disputed or denied the accusations against it. It says its commercial-paper holdings are highly rated, it has plenty of cash to cover redemptions, and its disclosure efforts are setting a “new industry standard for transparency.”
“It’s a classic entrepreneur’s dilemma,” Sadie Raney, CEO of crypto hedge fund Strix Leviathan, told Insider. Firms operating in scantily regulated industries, like tether, must choose whether to plow ahead and risk blowback or take it slow and give up market share, she said.
For Raney, who also co-founded the SEC-registered crypto robo-advisor Makara, using tether is too risky when her business relies on a government green light.
“If we utilize a stablecoin, we do not use tether, [although] we have in the past,” said Raney, whose company now uses Gemini. “The regulatory uncertainty with tether was what kept us from continuing to use it.”
Not everyone is deterred, though. Valkyrie CIO Steven McClurg told Insider that tether’s public attestation helped soothe some of his prior fears, saying its publication has been “really good for the industry.”
“I don’t think there are really any concerns anymore,” he added.
Agency Vista, the largest marketing agency network of 46.1K+ members, has released its ranking of the top digital marketing agencies worldwide. Their ecosystem unites forward-focused marketing professionals with leading brands to drive extraordinary results.
For months, experts have warned about the prospect of a an entirely different threat unleashed by the coronavirus: a mental health crisis that could sweep the country.
Their concerns are rooted in more than a year of social isolation, the grief and loss, and economic and emotional trauma that the pandemic has inflicted. A new survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan is shedding light on which groups might be most vulnerable to the effects.
Four groups – women, people ages 50 to 64, people with higher levels of education, and individuals in either fair or poor physical health – “are more likely to have experienced worsened mental health during the first nine months of the pandemic,” or to have felt heightened anxiety or sleep problems, researchers found.
As many as one-fifth of all older adults said they felt their mental health had worsened throughout the health crisis, the findings concluded.
Women were found to be likelier than men to have broached the topic with a health provider or considered medication as a treatment option. The research was conducted by surveying more than 2,000 adults across the US in late January in the National Poll on Health Aging.
Based on the poll’s findings, which were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the University of Michigan researchers now suggest that health providers look more closely at older adults to spot signs of worsening mental health, they said this week in a blog post on the university’s website.
Stepping up treatment offerings
“We need to continue to look for and address the mental health effects of the pandemic and connect people to treatment resources,” Lauren Gerlach, a doctor and assistant professor at the university’s medical school who was the primary author of the newly-published paper, said in a statement.
“Poor mental health can decrease functioning, independence, and quality of life for older adults but treatment can significantly help,” she added.
There were some bright spots for certain groups who participated in the poll. People ages 65 to 80 were less likely to report declining mental health, the university said, and, overall, two-thirds of respondents viewed their mental health as being “excellent or very good.”
Nearly a third added that they’d taken steps to “improve their mental health” since the pandemic began, like increasing exercise, diet, and meditation.
Other warning signs are emerging
Meanwhile, other research has alluded to the dangers of a looming mental health crisis brought on by COVID-19.
Roughly 40% of US adults have professed to feeling the symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder – about four times higher than those who felt similarly in 2019, prior to the pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation said in February.
As early as May 2020, the World Health Organization sounded the alarm over the potential for “a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months.”
In that warning, which called for increased investments in mental health services, the WHO reported that women were especially at risk of declining mental health, while balancing demands like childcare and home-schooling.
And Insider reported in June that mental health and substance use experts are concerned that this tumultuous year might also have intensified the consumption of alcohol among underage youth.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Thursday attempted to shift blame to President Joe Biden for the state’s low COVID-19 vaccination rate as the highly-infectious Delta variant continues to spread, according to The Associated Press.
While speaking to reporters, Kemp said that Biden needed to push harder to allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to upgrade its emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccines to full approval.
Kemp, who won his first race for governor in 2018, also stated that asking people to wear masks once again sends a “mixed message” and might cause people not to take the vaccine.
He encouraged Georgians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and said he would look into other solutions if hospitals in the state became overwhelmed with patients.
“We know that the vaccines work,” Kemp said on Thursday. “I want to encourage people to get vaccinated if you’re comfortable doing that.”
Democratic state Sen. Michelle Au, an anesthesiologist, told The Associated Press that the state needed to do more to increase access to the vaccine and promote testing among residents who are unvaccinated.
“We aren’t trying hard enough,” Au told the news organization. “We like to blame the unvaccinated.”
On Thursday, Georgia posted over 4,800 positive COVID-19 tests, a high-point that was last reached in early February, when the vaccine wasn’t as readily available to the general public.
With the Delta variant spreading throughout Georgia, similar to the US as a whole, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state rose above 1,800.
COVID-19 infection rates have remained elevated in southeast Georgia.
Charlton County Administrator Hampton Raulerson told The Brunswick News that interest in the vaccines has not been robust.
“There’s a lot of distrust when it comes to the vaccine,” he said. “A lot of people thought (COVID-19) was going away.”
Kemp said that many people are reluctant to take the vaccine since it has still not been fully approved by the FDA.
“I’d love to see the Biden administration put an ‘Operation Warp Speed’ on moving away from the emergency use authorization,” he said on Thursday, referring to the Trump-era public-private vaccine development initiative that manufactured and distributed COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation, told The Washington Post on Friday that the agency is redeploying staff to accelerate their effort in fully approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“This will remove one more layer for the vaccine-hesitant,” Marks said.“If all this does is get five to 10 million more people vaccinations down south, that will save lives.”
The CDC earlier this week shifted their guidelines on mask-wearing, recommending face coverings for vaccinated people indoors in areas with high transmission of the virus.
Kemp said that the CDC’s new guidance didn’t inspire confidence.
“When you tell them they can get vaccinated and then take their mask off and then you turn around weeks later and reverse that, who’s gonna trust anybody, any politician, Republican, Democrat, or otherwise?” he said.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, said he would support a vaccine mandate for an “incredibly deadly disease,” but said he would not support such a mandate for COVID-19.
“No,” Johnson said during a Friday evening appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” when asked whether he would ever support any sort of vaccine mandate. “Not unless there’s some incredibly deadly disease. I mean much higher infection-fatality rates than we have with COVID.”
“We don’t know the final infection-fatality rate, but right now it’s looking like it’s not going to be much more than double a bad season of flu,” he added.
COVID-19, which emerged in late 2019, has so far killed more than 613,000 people in the US and more than 4.2 million people across the globe, according to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University. More than 34 million cases of the disease have been diagnosed in the US since the disease was first diagnosed in the US early last year.
New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from the disease declined with the rollout of the vaccines earlier this year, but the disease is facing a resurgence in the US as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.
Also in the interview Friday, Johnson lashed out at CDC after it changed its guidance this week on the wearing of face masks
“The American public is losing faith in our federal health agencies – and that’s a real shame,” Johnson said. “If there’s one part of government, other than the Defense Department, you’d like to have faith in, it’d be the federal health agencies — and they’ve lost the trust of the American public.
“Because they’re not making any sense,” he added. “They’re flip-flopping on issues, whether it’s masks, they’re not backing up their pronouncements with science.”
You won’t find these discounts anywhere else, but act fast, the deals will only last from 12am until 11:59pm EST on August 2.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Every day we scour the web to find the best deals for our readers, but every so often we get the opportunity to actually make the deals. For one day only on August 2, Insider Reviews is hosting a Secret Sale with discounts on nine of our favorite brands – from bedding to alcohol delivery and everything in between. You won’t find these deals anywhere else on the web.
Bookmark this page if you’re planning to shop the sale Monday and if you see something that catches your eye, be prepared to act fast; the deals disappear at 11:59PM EST.
We’re partnering with Goldbelly to offer an exclusive 24-hour discount on nationwide food delivery from America’s favorite restaurants. With Goldbelly, you can order signature dishes from the country’s iconic eateries — like fried chicken from Hattie B’s or Bo Ssäm from Momofuku — and get it delivered right to your door. Save 15% off your entire order with code INSIDER15.
World Famous Banana Pudding Bowl (64 oz.) (small)Half Bo Ssäm Dinner for 4-6 (small)Whole Brisket + Sausage + Texas Barbecue BBQ Sauce (small)
Naked Wines offers a unique business model — winemakers propose their blends and get an advance to produce their wine. It’s kind of like “Shark Tank,” but for wine. The direct-to-consumer model means you get small batch, bespoke wine varieties at a lower cost. On Monday only, take $100 off your first case of 12 bottles (user’s choice: red, white or mixed case) when you buy through our link.
Monday may seem like a strange time to stock up on liquor, but Drizly sure does make it easy, especially with our exclusive discount $10 off Orders of $30+ with code INSIDER10. We named Drizly the best alcohol delivery app for its ease, speed, and selection. Just open the app, enter your ZIP code, and get access to one-hour wine, beer, and alcohol delivery.
Chocolate makes an excellent gift, and our favorite chocolate for gifting is from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Vosges offers inventive flavors in impeccable packaging, and we named it a top pick in our guide to the best chocolates. During our Secret Sale, take 20% off the Grateful Dead collection with code INSIDER20.
Grateful Dead Truffle Collection (small)Dancing Bears in Space Bar (small)
If you’re in the market for affordable custom blinds and curtains, Mesken is a great bet. The retailer offers custom blinds and shades at 50% to 70% less than traditional retailers. On Monday only, Mesken will be offering its first sale ever just for Insider readers. You can take 15% off sitewide with code INSIDER15.
Leesa makes some of the best mattresses, including our top pick for sleepers with back pain. During our Secret Sale, take 25% off our favorite mattress from Leesa, theLeesa Hybrid with code INSIDER25. Made of both foam and springs, the Hybrid offers great support for sleepers of all types, especially those struggling with back pain.
Bidets are becoming more and more popular, and Omigo’s bidet offers a thorough, customized wash with 504 possible wash combinations. If you need another reason to ditch the toilet paper, you’ll get 23% off bidets with code INSIDER23, a $100+ discount during our Secret Sale.
Coop’s Original Pillow is one of those “holy grail” products that stand the test of time. It features shredded memory foam so you can adjust it to the perfect loft for your sleeping position. Its adjustability is why we named it our top pick in our guide to the best pillows. During our Secret Sale, take 20% off the Original Pillow, our top-rated pillow, with code INSIDER20 — a deal we never see outside of deal holidays like Black Friday and Prime Day.