The suspect, an Army recruit who was fleeing from his training center after three weeks there, faces 19 counts of kidnapping, along with charges for armed robbery, carjacking, and other offenses.
School Bus Hijacked
A South Carolina school bus driver who kept his cool during an armed hijacking earlier this month is now being hailed a hero.
The incident happened in the city of Columbia on May 6. Partial video shows the hijacker entering the bus, which was loaded with 18 children, while wearing an “ARMY” shirt and backpack. He then held the driver, Kenneth Corbin, at gunpoint.
“Get out of town, now!” the suspect shouted at Corbin. “Drive!” he continued. “Hurry up! Drive!”
The next town was at least 15 to 20 miles away, and as Corbin followed orders, the gunman allegedly kept asking how much further they needed to go, wanting Corbin to move faster.
But in an interview with “Good Morning America” this week, Corbin said the hijacker was no match for the students onboard.
“As we were traveling, I guess he realized there were several students on the bus — kind of scattered throughout,” Corbin explained. “He decided to move all the students up front so he could keep us all in close proximity, and when he did that, especially some of my kindergarteners, they started asking questions.”
The students asked if the man was a soldier and Corbin said he “hesitantly answered, ‘Yes.'”
“They asked him, ‘why are you doing this?’ He never did have an answer for this one. They asked, was he going to hurt them? He said ‘no.’ They asked, ‘are you going to hurt our bus driver?’ He said, ‘no. I’m going to put you off the bus.'”
Just 6 minutes after he boarded, the hijacker became frustrated and ordered everyone off.
“He sensed more questions coming and I guess something clicked in his mind and he said, ‘enough is enough already,’ and he told me to ‘stop the bus, and just get off,’” Corbin added.
Suspect Identified as Army Trainee
Everyone got off the bus physically unharmed, though scared and traumatized. The suspect drove off alone, then exited on foot. Police said he went through surrounding neighborhoods seeking clothes and a ride before deputies found him.
The suspect was later identified as 23-year-old Fort Jackson recruit Jovan Collazo. He was charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, as well as charges for armed robbery, carjacking, and other offenses.
Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. told reporters earlier this month that Collazo’s weapon lacked ammunition and that the trainee was just trying to get to a transit hub and get home. After three weeks of training in Columbia, Collazo had jumped the center’s fence line and escaped.
Beagle said the incident highlighted “a key failure in our accountability processes, that I will fix, going forward, because the outcome potentially could have been much worse.”
Still, he said, “There is nothing that leads us to believe, through his counseling, through anything in his screening records, that this had anything to do with harming others.”
Corbin Calls Students His Heroes
Since the incident, Corbin has received widespread praise for how he handled the situation, with reports noting that he calmly denied Collazo entry until he presented a weapon.
Corbin, who had just completed training on how to handle a hostage situation before the incident, was recognized last week at a special ceremony, and state Sen. Mia McLeod (D) introduced a resolution commending his courage.
“It was so evident that they were precious cargo and I pretty much just had to just do whatever — to get them off the bus safe and sound,” Corbin told “GMA.”
“It seemed like they were going to do the same thing by me, and that’s why I refer to them as my heroes.”
See what others are saying: (Good Morning America) (Complex News) (The Washington Post)
Inmates Sue Jail for Giving Them Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19 Without Consent
Four detainees who filed the suit allege that the jail’s doctor gave them “incredibly high doses” of the anti-parasite in a “cocktail of drugs” that he said were “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
Washington County Detention Center Lawsuit
Four inmates at an Arkansas jail have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were unknowingly given the anti-parasite drug ivermectin without their consent by the detention center’s doctor after contracting COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless other medical experts have said that ivermectin — commonly used for livestock — can be dangerous and should not be used to treat the coronavirus.
According to the lawsuit, after testing positive for COVID in August, the four men at the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC) were given a “cocktail of drugs” twice a day by the facility’s doctor, Robert Karas.
The inmates claim that Dr. Karas did not tell them that he was giving them ivermectin, but instead said the drugs consisted of “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
The complaint also alleges that the detainees were given “incredibly high doses” of the drug, causing some to experience “vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and/or stomach cramps.”
Use on Other Inmates
The four plaintiffs were far from the only people to whom Karas gave ivermectin.
According to the lawsuit, the doctor began using the drug to treat COVID starting in November of 2020. In August, the Washington County sheriff confirmed at a local finance and budget committee meeting that the doctor had been prescribing the drug to inmates, prompting the Arkansas Medical Board to launch an investigation.
In response, Karas informed a Medical Board investigator in a letter from his attorney that 254 inmates at the facility had been treated with ivermectin.
In the letter, he confirmed that whether or not detainees were given information about ivermectin was dependent on who administered it, but paramedics were not required to discuss the drug with them.
He also admitted that after the practice got media coverage, he “adopted a more robust informed consent form to assuage any concern that any detainees were being misled or coerced into taking the medications, even though they weren’t.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which filed the suit on behalf of the inmates, also claimed in a statement that after questions were raised about the practice, the jail attempted to make detainees sign forms saying that they retroactively agreed to the treatments.
The WCDC has not issued a public response to the lawsuits, but Dr. Karas appeared to address the situation in a Facebook post where he defended his actions.
“Guess we made the news again this week; still with best record in the world at the jail with the same protocols,” he wrote. “Inmates aren’t dumb and I suspect in the future other inmates around the country will be suiing their facilities requesting same treatment we’re using at WCDC-including the Ivermectin.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CBS News) (NBC News)
Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan
The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”
Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify
A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.
Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts.
Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”
“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”
Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation
Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”
“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”
Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)
Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.
In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.
New Cases Flattening
After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.
Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days.
New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.
Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.
Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.
According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.
In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.
Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit.
While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.