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Coronavirus update: Many vaccine doses were wasted, report finds

Many PPP loans went to real estate firms

Medical waste concept with syringes in trash
Photo (c) Kanok Sulaiman - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 84,796,633 (84,748,884)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,008,639 (1,008,567)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 532,143,171 (531,720,689)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,299,644 (6,298,476)‌

Millions of vaccine doses were wasted, report finds

U.S. pharmaceutical companies developed COVID-19 vaccines in record time, but the deployment of those vaccines to control the pandemic was not exactly efficient, according to a new report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that pharmacies, states, U.S. territories, and federal agencies threw out 82.1 million vaccine doses from December 2020, through mid-May of this year. That amounts to about 11% of the total vaccines the U.S. government distributed.

The report said two major pharmacy chains – CVS and Walmart – accounted for about a quarter of the discarded vaccine doses, partly because of the scale of the two firms’ operations. The overall amount of waste is consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) estimates for large vaccination campaigns.

Many PPP loans went to real estate firms

Congress authorized the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to make loans to businesses at the beginning of the pandemic so they would not have to lay off employees. Many businesses, including restaurants, faced a battle for survival.

But real estate is one industry that managed to do just fine during the early days of the pandemic. Home sales surged and prices rose during that time, increasing sales commissions. Yet the U.S. government’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) reports that real estate brokers received $3.9 billion in PPP loans.

The average real estate company borrower got $13,000. However, the PRAC data shows that 146 entities got more than $90,000 each.

Consumers are tipping less

Many Americans dug into their pockets and provided generous tips for service workers in the early days of the pandemic to help offset the loss of business. But that practice hasn’t lasted.

A survey from CreditCards.com found that 73% of Americans say they always tip when dining at a full-service restaurant. In 2019, before the pandemic, the percentage was 77%.

“Inflation is cutting into consumers’ purchasing power and a tight labor market has left many service industry businesses understaffed and struggling to provide top-notch customer experiences,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

Around the nation

  • California: Los Angeles County is now dealing with a sharp rise in hospitalizations, and officials say there could be a new indoor mask mandate later this month if that trend continues. “Our weekly case rate and the rate of increase in hospital admissions are of concern,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Los Angeles Times.

  • Maine: Severe COVID-19 cases that require admission to a hospital are on a downward trend. They declined on Sunday, and nine patients were discharged on Saturday. Health officials say only 19 patients are currently receiving critical care.

  • Colorado: In an unusual turn, flu cases in Colorado are spiking heading into summer. State health officials say not only are the number of recording flu cases on the rise, but their symptoms are more severe than those of the current COVID-19 subvariants that are present in the state.

  • Texas: The City of Austin is renewing efforts to encourage residents to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to get booster shots as cases from two Omicron subvariants rise. “These rising numbers and new subvariants are very concerning, especially at a time when many will be traveling and gathering with loved ones,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority.

  • North Carolina: North Carolina has 100 counties, and more than half of them are now classified by federal health authorities as either orange or yellow, denoting high or medium levels of COVID-19 transmission. Granville and Person counties are among the 13 counties now in the orange category.

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