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Health Experts Warn of Possible “Tripledemic” Amid Skyrocketing Cases of RSV. Here’s What You Need to Know



Officials are worried that the surging frequency and severity of RSV cases coupled with COVID and seasonal viruses will put a large burden on the nation’s hospitals.

A Spike in RSV Cases

Public health experts are warning American about the possibility of a “tripledemic” this holiday season as cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have surged to unusually high numbers in recent months, threatening to overwhelm hospitals already preparing for the expected wintertime spike in other respiratory viruses like the flu and COVID-19.

Although RSV is a common seasonal respiratory infection that typically manifests like a cold with very mild symptoms in healthy adults, it can cause lung inflammation or infections like bronchitis and pneumonia in young children, older adults, and the immunocompromised.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 58,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized each year with RSV, resulting in between 100 to 500 deaths. Among Americans 65 and older, about 177,000 are hospitalized annually, leading to around 14,000 deaths.

This year, however, the CDC has reported that detected RSV cases have tripled nationwide just in the last two months, already reaching peak levels seen in 2021. The caseloads are especially alarming among young children.

Preliminary figures from the agency show that nearly one in every 500 babies six months and younger was hospitalized with RSV since the beginning of October. The numbers overall are likely higher because many who have been infected do not get tested, even if they have been hospitalized.

It is currently uncertain why so many more children than normal are becoming sick — and seriously sick — with RSV. Health experts, however, generally believe the reason is due to the broad rollback of COVID restrictions.

Kids who would have normally been exposed to RSV and able to build up immunities have been insulated because of COVID precautions like masking, social distancing, increased hand-washing, and other measures.

Strain on Hospitals

The tremendous, national wave of young children being hospitalized in emergency rooms and pediatric intensive care units is putting a serious strain on hospitals that are already dealing with seasonal spikes in respiratory viruses like colds, influenzas, and COVID. 

“It is particularly challenging in regions where pediatric units have shrunk or have even been shuttered in recent years, creating bottlenecks in emergency rooms and shifting the strain to children’s hospitals that focus on specialized services like cancer treatment or heart surgery,” The New York Times reported.

The impact is already being seen in some places. Multiple pediatric hospitals are already at capacity, including Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, as well as others in Lubbock, Texas; Seattle; and Orange County, California.

Officials in Orange County declared a public health emergency Tuesday as the rapid spread of viral infections — in part driven by RSV — have caused pediatric hospitalizations and daily emergency room visits to surge to record levels.

Meanwhile, Boston Children’s Hospital has reportedly postponed some elective surgeries so it can make room for more patients that have respiratory illnesses.

Vaccine & Prevention

While there is currently no vaccine for RSV, Pfizer announced Tuesday that it has made an inoculation that can protect babies from the virus.

The pharmaceutical company claims its vaccine is 81.8% effective at preventing severe illness in newborns during their first three months of life and 69.4% effective for six months. Pfizer said that it plans to file for vaccine approval with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, because it takes an average of eight to ten months for the agency to issue a decision on a new vaccine, the product will not be helpful for this year’s surge in RSV. If the shot is approved and all goes as planned, it could be on the market by next year.

In the meantime, health officials say the best way to prevent RSV is through precautions commonly encouraged to mitigate the risk of viral infections and COVID, like handwashing, drinking water, disinfecting surfaces, and avoiding touching one’s face.

Other experts have also said that getting flu shots and updated COVID boosters are also very effective ways for both children and adults to stay healthy during the winter. Protecting against COVID and the flu will further drive down hospitalizations for those illnesses and help alleviate hospital capacity for cases of RSV.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (Vox)


Disney Renders DeSantis-Appointed Oversight Board Powerless



The board is looking into avenues for potential legal retaliation, but Disney maintains its actions were “appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums.”

The Fight For Disney’s Special District 

Disney has stripped powers from the board Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) installed to oversee its theme parks, board members claimed. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, board member Brian Aungst Jr. said Disney’s action “completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.”

DeSantis has been waging a war against the House of Mouse ever since the company condemned his controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which heavily restricts the discussion of sexuality in classrooms. To retaliate against the company, he took control of Disney’s special status that allowed it to operate as a self-governing district with autonomy over the land encompassing and surrounding Walt Disney World. 

Disney operated under that special status for decades under the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but after DeSantis took over, it was changed to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. DeSantis appointed all members of the board, prompting concerns that it could be used to silence and sway Disney on social and cultural issues, including its content. 

The oversight board gets control over infrastructure, property taxes, issue bonds, road and fire services, and other regulations. When DeSantis seized it, it was considered a big loss for the entertainment giant, but now, board members say the company may have lost little to no power at all. 

As first reported by the Sentinel, Disney and the previous board signed an agreement allowing Disney to retain control over much of its land on Feb. 8, the day before Florida’s House signed the bill that gave DeSantis power to stack the board. Disney now holds veto powers over changes to the park, and any changes must be subject to the company’s “prior review and comment” to ensure thematic consistency. 

The agreement also bars the board from using Disney’s name or trademarked characters like Mickey Mouse.

The Board’s Plan to Fight Back

Board members reportedly did not become aware of this until recently and discussed the issue at a Wednesday meeting. 

“This essentially makes Disney the government,” board member Ron Peri said, via Click Orlando. “This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure.”

The subject of the agreement that has perhaps caught the most public attention is its staying power. The declaration says it will remain “in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England living as of the date of this Declaration.” That means that so long as direct members of the royal family are alive, so is this deal. 

According to BBC News, this is known as a “royal lives” clause and its use dates back to the 17th century, though it is rarely used in the U.S.

The board, however, already has plans to push back against Disney and has voted to hire outside legal counsel to evaluate their options.

“We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it,” Aungst said. “It’s a subversion of the will of the voters and the Legislature and the governor. It completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.”

A spokesperson for DeSantis released a statement claiming that “these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law.”

Disney maintains everything was above board. 

“All agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law,” the company said. 

See what others are saying: (Orlando Sentinel) (Click Orlando) (The Washington Post)

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White Supremacist Propaganda Reached Record High in 2022, ADL Finds



 “We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.

White supremacist propaganda in the U.S. reached record levels in 2022, according to a report published Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center of Extremism.

The ADL found over 6,700 cases of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, which marks a 38% jump from the nearly 4,900 cases the group found in 2021. It also represents the highest number of incidents ever recorded by the ADL. 

The propaganda tallied by the anti-hate organization includes the distribution of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic flyers, banners, graffiti, and more. This propaganda has spread substantially since 2018, when the ADL found just over 1,200 incidents. 

“There’s no question that white supremacists and antisemites are trying to terrorize and harass Americans with their propaganda,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash.” 

The report found that there were at least 50 white supremacist groups behind the spread of propaganda in 2022, but 93% of it came from just three groups. One of those groups was also responsible for 43% of the white supremacist events that took place last year. 

White supremacist events saw a startling uptick of their own, with the ADL documenting at least 167, a 55% jump from 2021. 

Propaganda was found in every U.S. state except for Hawaii, and events were documented in 33 states, most heavily in Massachusetts, California, Ohio, and Florida.

“The sheer volume of white supremacist propaganda distributions we are documenting around the country is alarming and dangerous,” Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL’s Center on Extremism said in a statement. “Hardly a day goes by without communities being targeted by these coordinated, hateful actions, which are designed to sow anxiety and create fear.”

“We need a whole-of-society approach to combat this activity, including elected officials, community leaders, and people of good faith coming together and condemning this activity forcefully,” Segal continued. 

See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (The New York Times)

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Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades



Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company. 

Yeezy Surplus 

Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years. 

Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.

According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes. 

On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.

“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press. 

However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.

The Numbers 

Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million. 

If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.

Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.

As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval. 

Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company. 

“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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