Pennsylvania State Representative Proposes Bill to Lighten Businesses’ Unemployment Obligations

State Representative Tim Twardzik (R-PA-Frackville) this week proposed legislation to lighten the burden of unemployment compensation (UC) on businesses that have seen major rate increases since COVID-19 hit in 2020. 

Twardzik indicated his bill will be similar to legislation that state Senator David Argall (R-PA-Mahanoy City) has introduced in his chamber. 

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President Biden Tests Positive for COVID-19 Again

President Biden on Saturday tested positive for COVID-19 again, the White House state in a statement.

A statement was from the White House physician and said the 79-year-old president tested positive “late Saturday morning” after multiple negative tests earlier in the week. He returned to in-person work Wednesday, after having tested positive days earlier. The situation of getting COVID soon after having already contracted the virus is frequently referred to as “rebound” COVID.

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Mask Advisory, but No Mandate for Columbus as COVID-19 Cases Climb

Ohio’s largest city is not considering another mask mandate despite recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a growing number of COVID-19 cases.

The city of Columbus has issued a mask advisory, urging masks indoors and in crowded places, despite vaccine statues, until further notice, Columbus Public Health spokeswoman Kelli Newman said.

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Pennsylvania IFO Study: Labor Force Down by 120,000 Since Year Before COVID

A report released this week by Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) indicates that 120,000 fewer residents are working or actively seeking work than in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The study showed the state’s labor force participate rate (LFPR) for those aged 16 and older to be 63 percent in May 2019 and to have declined to 61.9 percent one year later. That percentage has continued gradually decreasing — to 61.8 percent in May 2021 and to 61.7 percent two months ago.

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Connecticut Republican Senators Find Governor’s Oversight of West Haven’s COVID Spending Inadequate

Gov. Ned Lamont (D) this week approved the Municipal Accountability Review Board’s (MARB) request to heighten state oversight of the city of West Haven which is alleged to have misspent COVID-19 relief money, but Republican lawmakers are arguing that the move falls short.

The state now deems West Haven a Tier IV municipality, subjecting it to the most rigorous financial scrutiny for which state law provides. This comes as a result of an audit MARB issued last month which detailed numerous fiscal-management problems the city has incurred. Earlier in April, a separate review by the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management found that the city misused nearly four-fifths of over $1 million in funds it received as part of COVID response efforts.

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Former Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Sues over 2020 Firing

Connecticut’s former Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell filed a lawsuit this week against the state and the Department of Public Health, for Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) decision to fire her in 2020.

Her lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, alleges that Gov. Ned Lamont (D) dismissed her “simply on the basis that he did not prefer to have an older, African American female in the public eye as the individual leading the State in the fight against COVID-19.” The complaint argues that she is entitled to compensatory damages for violations of the anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination components of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the state’s Fair Employment Practices Act.

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Twitter Locks Tennessee Star Account Again After Reposting Same Factual News Story

For the second time in three days, Silicon Valley giant Twitter has locked The Tennessee Star out of its account for posting a factual story. 

The temporary ban comes less than a day after The Star’s account was unlocked. After its account was unlocked Sunday, The Star reposted the story that caused the account to be locked in the first place. 

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Dr. Yan: Trump’s COVID-19 Actions Saved American Lives

Neil W. McCabe, the national political editor of The Star News Network, interviewed former World Health Organization researcher and Wuhan virus whistleblower Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who told him about the actions of President Donald J. Trump saved American lives.

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Wisconsin National Guard Troops Graduate CNA Program, Three Months After Coronavirus Peak

The latest class of National Guardsmen trained to be nursing assistants in Wisconsin has graduated. But just how much work they will do remains to be seen.

Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday said 154 soldiers have now completed their Certified Nursing Assistant training.

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Despite Connecticut Governor Lamont Ending Statewide School Masking, Hamden Keeps Mandate

Although Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) allowed the statewide school-mask mandate to end on Monday, the Hamden Board of Education (BOE) voted that evening to indefinitely extend its requirement.

The vote came down along party lines, with Republican BOE members Austin Cesare, Kevin Shea and Gary Walsh supporting the mandate’s cancellation; Board Chair Melissa A. Kaplan as well as fellow Democrats David Asbery, Siobhan Carter-David, Mariam Khan and Réuel Parks voted to keep it.

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Minnesota House Approves Bill to Provide Extra Payments to Frontline Workers

Lawmakers in the Minnesota House passed legislation that will utilize funds from a budget surplus to award “bonus checks” to frontline workers throughout the state.

According to a release from legislators, 667,000 individuals in the state will qualify for up to $1,500 in bonus checks, including “responders, nurses, child care providers, janitors and so many others who have sacrificed their health during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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South African Doctor Who Discovered Omicron Refuses to ‘Create Fear’ by Hyping Variant’s Threat

“I cannot make a disease worse, and create fear out there,” says Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who discovered Omicron.

In an interview on Just the News Not Noise, Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, described the pressure she faced from public health authorities worldwide to portray the now-dominant variant of COVID-19 as more severe than she was witnessing in real time.

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University of Wisconsin System Set to Lift Mask Mandate

The University of Wisconsin system will lift its mask mandate for students and faculty in the coming weeks, according to a release from University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson.

According to the statement, Thompson is working with each schools’ chancellor to remove the requirement “as soon as March 1 and no later than spring break.”

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FDA Announces Postponement of Approval of COVID Vaccine for Babies and Young Children

Young girl with a blue shirt on getting a vaccine

Pfizer and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Friday they are delaying their plan for Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its coronavirus vaccine for children under five years old due to insufficient data on the efficacy of a third dose.

Pfizer announced February 1 FDA had asked the drug company, and its partner BioNTech, to submit data on a COVID vaccine series for babies as young as six months old and young children up until age five.

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Commentary: The Longevity of the COVID Emergency

Two years after COVID burst on the American scene, leading to lockdowns, school closures, mask and vaccine mandates, and trillions of dollars in emergency government spending, the question on many minds is: When will the emergency end?

The answer to that question is not an easy one. An examination of past emergencies does not resolve it. Rather, it is clear that emergency situations, including this one, may be understood through various lenses, yielding different perspectives on what the endpoint will be.

Take, by way of comparison, World War II, an emergency that had at least four distinct endings because it had at least four distinct faces:

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Democrats and Media Allies Claim ‘Science Has Changed’ on Mask Mandates as Midterms Approach

As the mid-term elections approach, a number of Democrat governors are now following in the steps of Republican Governors Ron DeSantis (FL) and Glenn Youngkin (VA) in support of dropping mask mandates.

Supported by their political and media allies, the governors of states, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, California, and Oregon are now announcing mask mandates in schools may be dropped soon, as the New York Times reported Tuesday.

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Dozens of Wisconsin National Guard Members Complete Training, Deploy to Medical Facilities

Approximately 70 members of the Wisconsin National Guard have completed their two-week certified nursing assistant (CNA) training and will be deployed to hospitals in the state.

According to a release from Governor Tony Evers, the individuals conducted their training at Madison College.

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Governor Whitmer Touts ‘Delivering for Older Michiganders,’ Despite Newly-Released Report on Nursing Home Deaths

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Saturday touted her record for “delivering for older Michiganders,” ahead of her State of the State address.

Seemingly, the governor ignored a recent report that demonstrated thousands of additional deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that were not reported by her administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.

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Michigan Lawmakers Demand Answers on Nursing Home Deaths Report

Multiple Michigan lawmakers are demanding answers to a report from the Michigan Office of the Auditor General that detailed thousands of additional COVID-related deaths in long-term care facilities across the state.

The analysis discovered more than 2,000 additional deaths than reported by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Department of Health and Human Services.

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Republican Governors Association Blasts Whitmer over Nursing Home Deaths

The Republican Governors Association on Monday blasted Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, after a new analysis detailed thousands of additional deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The Michigan Auditor General explained in a report that roughly 2,400 more individuals died from the virus than previously reported by state agencies.

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Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers Dispatching National Guard to Fight COVID Surge

Tony Evers

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers will dispatch the National Guard to battle the surge of coronavirus cases in the state, according to a release from his office.

In their capacity, the National Guard members will work to address staffing shortages across the healthcare industry, expanding capacity at hospitals and nursing homes.

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Senator Bill Hagerty Joins GOP Colleagues in Introducing the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2022

Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations Committees, joined 15 of his GOP colleagues in introducing the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2022, according to a Tuesday press release by Hagerty’s office.

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Governor Wolf Working with FEMA to Address Healthcare Staffing Shortages Amid COVID Surge

Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will work with the federal government in order to address labor shortages in the healthcare sector amid another surge in coronavirus cases.

Wolf, who is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will create “strike teams” to be sent to hospitals and long-term care facilities.

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Former Planned Parenthood President Says School Closures Harm Children

Dr. Leana Wen

A former Planned Parenthood president and public health professional argued in a Thursday op-ed for The Washington Post that the rise in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant is not a reason to keep schools closed.

Dr. Leana Wen argued “both sides [of the school reopening debate] are wrong,” in her op-ed. “let’s agree that schools are essential and then work to reduce risk to get students back to in-person learning,” Wen wrote.

Wen called it “astounding” that governors in states like Texas, Georgia and Iowa are fighting against school mask mandates and that Florida’s surgeon general is discouraging testing in schools, attributing ” “low vaccine uptake among children” to “rampant right-wing disinformation.”

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Chicago Public Schools Forced to Cancel School After Teachers Union Votes to Move to Remote Learning

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted Tuesday to move to remote learning Wednesday, citing concerns over safety amid the rise in COVID-19 cases, the union said in a press release.

The CTU’s elected House of Delegates voted in favor (88%) of a resolution to return to remote education amid the surge of COVID-19 cases and the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant, citing a lack of safety guarantees, a union press release said. In the membership-wide vote, 73% of CTU’s members voted in favor of virtual learning, passing the two-thirds threshold required to enact the resolution.

The resolution outlines plans to work remotely until Jan. 18 or until the current COVID-19 wave falls below last year’s threshold for school closures, according to the resolution.

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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey Pledges to Continue In-Person Learning, Provides Funding to Families Impacted by Virtual Instruction

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Tuesday pledged to continue in-person learning for students across the state, even if it requires unconventional methods.

Ducey created the Open for Learning Recovery Benefit program, which will provide financial assistance to families who may face unexpected barriers due to school closures.

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Data From Around the World – Including Antarctica – Show Omicron Favoring the Fully Vaccinated

The coronavirus has reached remote Antarctica, striking most of the 25 Belgian staffers at a research station, despite all of them being fully vaccinated, passing multiple PCR tests, and quarantining before arrival.

Two thirds of the researchers working in Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Polar Station have caught Covid, the Daily Telegraph reported, “proving there is no escape from the global pandemic.”

None of the cases are severe, according to the Telegraph. There are two emergency doctors at the station monitoring the situation.

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Pennsylvania Sales Tax Exempts Many Medical Supplies, But Not COVID Tests; Bill Would Change That

Pennsylvania already exempts many medical supplies from its sales tax, but not COVID tests, a discrepancy legislation by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-East Stroudsburg) would eliminate.

Scavello’s bill would except rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen tests from the state’s six-percent sales levy. Healthcare devices, services and substances all generally don’t get taxed in the Keystone State.

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Pennsylvania State University Pledges to Continue In-Person Learning

Penn State University (PSU) on Thursday announced that all students and staff members will return to campus and begin the semester on time.

Citing mitigation measures that are in currently place, Penn State President Eric Barron pledged to continue in-person learning for students at the university.

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Tennessee Hospital Limits Visitor Policy as COVID-19 Cases Increase

A Nashville-area hospital announced new limits to the number of visitors a patient is allowed to have as coronavirus cases continue to increase.

TriStar Summit Medical Center will implement a mandate that will only allow one visitor per inpatient, according to a release from the group.

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Tennessee Department of Health Updates COVID Numbers, Adds Thousands of Additional Deaths

Officials within the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) on Wednesday reconciled positive coronavirus cases and deaths throughout the state.

After the updated numbers, the department revealed the total number of deaths related to the virus from Spring 2020 to December 2021 is 20,644 individuals.

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Multiple Ohio Hospitals Postpone Elective Surgeries in Response to Rise in COVID Cases

Multiple hospitals throughout Ohio have postponed elective operations due to the rise of coronavirus cases across the state.

According to the healthcare providers, the decision to postpone some operations will free certain resources in order to combat positive cases.

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FDA Authorized First COVID-19 Antiviral Pill in U.S.

The FDA on Wednesday authorized the first COVID-19 antiviral pill in the U.S.

The Pfizer pill, Paxlovid, will be prescribed for use in adults and children 12 and older who have mild to moderate virus symptom and at risk for severe disease or hospitalization, according to a Food and Drug Administration statement obtained by NBC News.

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center Studying Ivermectin to Treat Symptoms of COVID-19

Woman in lab coat looking through microscope

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is studying the effects of three “repurposed” drugs in treating mild and moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

The study, in partnership with the Duke University Clinical Research Institute, will examine the effectiveness of Ivermectin, Fluvoxamine, or Fluticasone on the symptoms of the illness.

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Former New York Times Reporter and Author of ‘Pandemia’ Alex Berenson Talks Masks, Vaccines, Boosters, and Lockdowns

Alex Berenson

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed former New York Times reporter and author of the new book Pandemia, Alex Berenson to the newsmakers line to answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Tennessee Legislature Passes Sweeping COVID Rules Bill Overnight

After hours of deliberation and the formation of a legislative conference committee, the Tennessee Legislature passed a 21-page omnibus COVID-19 bill early Saturday morning to close its special session.

The bill in its original form gained negative attention from several businesses in the state, including the Ford Motor Company, which was the subject of last week’s special session when the Legislature approved $884 million in spending related to Ford’s $5.6 billion electric truck factory outside of Memphis.

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Nurses in Illinois Win Temporary Restraining Order Against Vaccine Mandate

Woman healthcare worker in purple scrubs and hairnet on

An Illinois judge granted a temporary restraining order to nurses who sued Riverside Healthcare over the hospital system’s vaccine mandate.

Kankakee County Judge Nancy Nicholson granted a temporary restraining order until Nov. 19. She will then hold a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction requested by the nurses.

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Biden’s Approval Hits New Low in FiveThirtyEight Tracker

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden’s approval rating hit a new low of just over 43% in FiveThirtyEight’s polling tracker as he confronts multiple economic and legislative headwinds.

Biden’s approval stood at 43.5%, and has steadily declined since July. His disapproval stood at 50.6%, the highest of his presidency.

Biden’s slide has coincided with another spike in coronavirus cases, a messy Afghanistan withdrawal and economic challenges ranging from supply chain issues to inflation. He has also pinned much of his domestic agenda on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and his sweeping budget, but left-wing and moderate Democrats have yet to agree on a compromise that would give both the votes needed to pass the House, where they hold just a three-vote margin, and the 50-50 Senate.

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Poll: Majority of Americans Think COVID-19 Threat is Getting Less Serious

The majority of Americans believe the threat of the coronavirus is getting less serious, and a plurality believe President Joe Biden and government health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci don’t want lockdowns to end, according to a new poll conducted by the Convention of States Action in partnership with The Trafalgar Group.

“Despite the fact that Big Media and Big Tech are working tirelessly to suppress the truth, this poll reveals that most Americans aren’t fooled in the least,” Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action, said. “They clearly see that the pandemic is on a downward trend, and they also understand that President Biden and Dr. Fauci have no intention of easing restrictions and mandates,””

According to the poll, 63.1% of likely voters believe the threat of the coronavirus is getting less serious, with 25.9% saying it’s much less serious, compared to 26.1% who say it’s getting more serious. Nearly 11% said they weren’t sure.

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‘They Have No Shame’: National Institutes of Health Doubles Down, Says It Didn’t Fund Gain of Function Research after Releasing Documents That Suggest Otherwise

Lawrence Tabak

The National Institutes of Health reiterated its stance Thursday that it did not fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China, despite having released documents on Wednesday showing that it funded the creation of a lab-made SARS coronavirus that was more deadly and pathogenetic towards mice with humanized cells.

EcoHealth Alliance informed the NIH in August that its lab-created rWIV1-SHC014 S coronavirus killed 75% of mice with humanized cells, while the natural WIV1 virus it was based on killed less than 25% of mice with the same humanized cells. The experiments were conducted with the Wuhan Institute of Virology between June 2018 and May 2019.

“These results suggest that the pathogenicity of SHC014 is higher than other tested bat SARSr-CoVs in transgenic mice that express hACE2,” EcoHealth Alliance told the NIH in its progress report.

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NIH Corrects Claims by Collins, Fauci that U.S. Had Not Funded Gain-of-Function Research in Wuhan

The National Institute of Health (NIH) on Wednesday sent a letter to Representative James Comer (R-KY-01), correcting claims that the U.S. had not funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.

The assertions, made by NIH Director Francis Collins and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, detail that EcoHealth Alliance violated certain terms and conditions of the grant.  

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Tennessee Sen. Blackburn and Kansas Sen. Marshall Introduce Bill to Pause Gain-of-Function Research Funding

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is sponsoring legislation with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) to place a moratorium on gain-of-function (GOF) research, problems with which many believe played a role in the outbreak of COVID-19.

GOF experiments enhance the severity or transmissibility of a virus or other biological agent. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have condoned such research “to help us understand the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, assess the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents and inform public health and preparedness efforts.” The NIH have however acknowledged major “biosafety and biosecurity risks” that warrant meticulous oversight.

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U.S. Navy Preparing to Discharge Unvaccinated Sailors

Sailers saluting one another

On Thursday, the United States Navy announced its intentions to discharge any and all sailors who have not yet taken the coronavirus vaccine, according to Fox News.

The Navy’s press release on the matter declares that November 14th is the final deadline for sailors to receive the vaccine, while the deadline for reservists is December 14th. In addition to being discharged, sailors who refuse to get the vaccine may also lose some of their veterans’ benefits.

“Those separated only for vaccine removal,” the statement reads, “will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions. This type of discharge could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits.” In addition, the statement said that the Navy “may also seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine.”

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Shuffles Elderly Agencies as Auditor General Nursing Home Death Report Looms

hands of an elderly person

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is reorganizing agencies providing services to the elderly, as an auditor general report on coronavirus-related nursing home deaths looms.

The new Health and Aging Services Administration will reportedly provide better communication between agencies with the goal of increasing efficiency. 

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Watchdog Group Seeks Records from Agencies on Funding of Nonprofit Involved in Wuhan-Based ‘Gain-of-Function’ Research

A watchdog organization has filed requests via the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) this week to obtain information about the U.S. government’s funding of China-based gain-of-function studies that many believe have played a role in the origin of COVID-19.

Gain-of-function (GOF) research is experimentation that enhances the severity or transmissibility of a virus or other biological agent. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have said such work “poses biosafety and biosecurity risks [which] must be carefully managed,” though the NIH have justified funding GOF research “to help us understand the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, assess the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents and inform public health and preparedness efforts.”

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Studies Detail Damaging Mental, Economic, Academic Impacts of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Coronavirus Lockdowns

Economic indicators continue to reveal the damaging impacts of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Internet gaming platform Spider-Solitaire Challenge found 54 percent of study respondents in Michigan reported suffering from “pandemic brain,” which it described as “a decline in your cognitive abilities” during the time in-person learning was banned, businesses were ordered closed, and religious services were restricted, according to the Daily Mining Gazette.

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