Amnesty Int’l: COVID-19 Exacerbates Inequality in Americas as U.S. Policy Drives Refugees to Border

A new Amnesty International report lays out how the pandemic has significantly exacerbated inequality across the Americas over the past year. Over 1.3 million people have died in the region from COVID-19, making the Americas the hardest-hit area in the world. Women, refugees, migrants, underprotected health workers, Indigenous peoples, Black people and other groups historically excluded and neglected by governments have borne the brunt of the pandemic, according to the report, which also points out the rise in gender violence and lethal crackdown on human rights defenders. “It’s not a surprise that the Americas has been the region worst hit by the pandemic,” says Erika Guevara-Rosas, a human…

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Aging Former Black Panthers Mumia Abu-Jamal & Sundiata Acoli Got COVID-19 & Could Die in Prison

We get an update on political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli, who contracted COVID-19 but have yet to be released. Acoli is a former member of the Black Panther Party who is now 84 years old and has been in prison in New Jersey for nearly half a century, even though he has been eligible for parole for almost three decades. He was denied parole again in February. His crime involved the killing of a state trooper. Last year, he contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized, and he reportedly has early-stage dementia. We speak with his longtime advocate, Soffiyah Elijah with Alliance of Families for Justice, about whether…

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Covid-19 case rates for UK nations ‘levelling off’ at six-month low

Covid-19 case rates for each of the four UK nations have dropped to a six-month low, but continue to show signs of levelling off, latest figures suggest. Wales has the lowest rate among the four nations, with 39.1 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the seven days to March 24. Rates have not been at this level in Wales since mid-September. The pace of the drop has slowed considerably, however, with the latest seven-day rate barely changed from 42.6 recorded a week earlier or 40.3 the week before that. It is a similar story in England, where the current rate of 55.9 cases per 100,000 people is down…

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Disabled Advocates Demand Better Vaccine Access as They Face Greater Risks of Dying from COVID-19

As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus tops 465,000, we speak with two disability rights activists about growing calls to prioritize giving COVID vaccines to people with physical and mental disabilities. Some states, including California, are failing to prioritize vaccines for people with serious physical or developmental disabilities, even though studies show they are up to three times more likely to die from COVID-19. “I use a ventilator to breathe, and I have respiratory failure,” says disabled activist Alice Wong, founder of the Disability Visibility Project and host of the podcast “Disability Visibility.” “If I get the virus, I will not survive. That is a certainty.” We…

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NHS staff ‘burned out’ and ‘desperately sad’ after a year of Covid-19

A year fighting coronavirus (Covid-19) has left medical staff “burned out”, “fatigued” and “desperately sad”, according to one nurse. Since the first death in the UK a year ago on Saturday, many doctors, nurses and other frontline workers have been immersed in the battle against Covid-19. Joanne Morrell, an intensive care nurse at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said she would not have believed back in March when she first started working with Covid patients that she and her colleagues would still be dealing with the pandemic nearly a year later. Joanne Morrell is ‘in disbelief’ at how bad the situation still is (Joanne Morrell/PA) Disbelief…

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Tory MP, aged 40, defends decision to accept Covid-19 jab

A Conservative MP who volunteered at a local hospital has defended accepting a dose of Covid-19 vaccine, despite being 40 years old. Brendan Clarke-Smith, who represents Bassetlaw in north Nottinghamshire, was given the AstraZeneca jab on Friday after having done a shift at Retford Hospital vaccination centre. Vaccinations are currently limited to the government’s four priority groups; the over-80s, over-70s, frontline health workers and those people classed as extremely clinically vulnerable. Clarke-Smith said the dose he got was “left over” from that day’s vaccine stock, preventing it going to waste. On Friday he posted about getting the jab on his Facebook account, including a picture of him posing…

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Covid-19 infections ‘may have risen’ at start of current lockdown

Experts tracking the spread of Covid-19 in England say infections may have gone up at the beginning of the current lockdown. Professor Paul Elliot, who is leading the React study at Imperial College London, suggested the current measures may not be strict enough to see a drop in infections and the reproductive rate – the R. The study on 143,000 people, who were randomly selected, looked at the prevalence of coronavirus including in people without symptoms. Infections from January 6 to 15 were 50% higher than in early December, the study found. Elliott told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the current R rate – which represents how many…

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Nine police officers fined for cafe meal in breach of Covid-19 regulations

Nine Metropolitan Police officers have been fined £200 each for breaching Covid-19 regulations for eating in a cafe while on duty, Scotland Yard has said. The officers, members of the South East Basic Command Unit, were investigated after images of them in uniform eating together were posted online earlier this month. The group were spotted by a member of the public in the Greenwich cafe while their patrol vehicles were parked outside. Under current rules, cafes and restaurants are only allowed to provide a takeaway service. The nine officers were issued fixed penalty notices of £200 following an investigation by the force. Chief Superintendent Rob Atkin, South East…

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Nine police officers fined for cafe meal in breach of Covid-19 regulations

Nine Metropolitan Police officers have been fined £200 each for breaching Covid-19 regulations for eating in a cafe while on duty, Scotland Yard has said. The officers, members of the South East Basic Command Unit, were investigated after images of them in uniform eating together were posted online earlier this month. The group were spotted by a member of the public in the Greenwich cafe while their patrol vehicles were parked outside. Under current rules, cafes and restaurants are only allowed to provide a takeaway service. The nine officers were issued fixed penalty notices of £200 following an investigation by the force. Chief Superintendent Rob Atkin, South East…

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Stark warning from Chris Whitty – UK has not yet hit the peak of Covid-19 infection

The UK has not yet hit the peak of the current wave of Covid-19 infection, with the next few weeks being “the worst” of the pandemic for the NHS, England’s chief medical officer has warned.Professor Chris Whitty said the vaccine rollout offered hope that lockdown restrictions could be lifted in the coming months, but described the current UK death rate as “appalling”. During a BBC phone-in on the current high case rates, he said: “I don’t think we’re yet at the peak, I’m afraid.“I think we will be at the peak if everybody can double down and absolutely minimise their contacts.“The point of the lockdown is to bring…

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