Author Archives: Miami APWU

U.S. COVID Infections, Deaths Drop to Levels Not Seen Since Last Summer

APWU health news

MONDAY, May 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Fewer than 30,000 new coronavirus cases are now being reported daily in the United States, with deaths as low as they have been since last June.

Infection and death rates are dropping dramatically as nearly 50 percent of Americans have now received at least one vaccine shot, Times reported.

“I think by June, we’re probably going to be at one infection per 100,000 people per day, which is a very low level,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” At the moment, that rate is now eight cases per 100,000, down from 22 during the most recent peak in mid-April, the Times reported.

And the number of hospitalized patients has fallen to the lowest point in 11 months, Dr. Eric Topol, of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told the Times.

The United States is reporting about 25,700 new coronavirus cases daily, a 39 percent decrease from two weeks ago, according to a Times database. Deaths are down 14 percent over the same period, to an average of 578 per day.

The million-dollar question now is whether increasing vaccinations can crush the virus or whether it will simmer in areas with low immunization rates and resurface when colder weather returns, David Rubin, director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has been modeling the outbreak for more than a year, told the Washington Post.

“If we’re continuing to have disease reservoirs and we have areas with low vaccinations, it’ll hang on until the fall and start to pick up pace again. It’ll find pockets where there are unvaccinated individuals, and have these sporadic outbreaks,” Rubin said.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci was optimistic about the country’s ability to contain the virus.

“I’m sure that we can control it,” Fauci told the Post. “Somewhere between control and elimination is where we’re going to wind up. Namely a very, very low level that isn’t a public health hazard, that doesn’t disrupt society.”

But although 39 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, rates vary widely, with New England leading the way and much of the South lagging behind, the Times reported.

In five of the six New England states, more than 60 percent of residents are at least partly vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, vaccination rates are all below 40 percent in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Mississippi, at 33 percent, is at the bottom of the list, the Times said.

At the same time, testing rates have fallen around the country, fueling concern that cases could be undercounted in places with high positivity rates, like Miami. And the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the longer the virus has to spread, mutate and possibly change enough to evade vaccines.

“My big concern is that there is going to be a variant that’s going to outsmart the vaccine,” Dr. Thomas LaVeist, dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, told the Times. “Then we’ll have a new problem. We’ll have to revaccinate.”

Approved vaccines show ‘response’ against all COVID variants

Vaccines approved for use in the United States and Europe show protection against all of the more infectious coronavirus variants known to be circling the globe, the World Health Organization said last week.

“All COVID-19 virus variants can be controlled in the same way, with public health and social measures,” European Regional Director Hans Kluge said during a media briefing, CBS News reported. “All COVID-19 virus variants that have emerged so far do respond to the available approved vaccines.”

Since January, four variants of concern, including the one bringing India to its knees at the moment, have been monitored by health officials around the world, Kluge said. Known as B.1.617, the Indian variant has been detected in 44 different countries, according to a recent weekly epidemiological update from the WHO, CBS News reported.

“For the time being, we can say that all the four variants do respond to the vaccines made available, as of today,” Kluge said. “But the best way to counteract is to speed up the vaccination rollout.”

Unknown variants of the virus could still emerge and be resistant to existing vaccines, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine said. And experts noted that variant B.1.351, which first emerged in South Africa, might be resistant to some vaccines in development and that mutations like it are still being studied, CBS News reported.

Luckily, early trial results have shown that the Moderna vaccine provides increased immunity against variants of the virus found in South Africa and Brazil. And Pfizer’s original vaccine has been shown to work against the variant first spotted in the United Kingdom, CBS News reported.

Should existing vaccines fail to protect against any emerging variants in the future, the WHO stated that “it will be possible to change the composition of the vaccines to protect against these variants.”

In the meantime, the news that the vaccines are still working comes as countries around the world start to ease some of the social distancing measures that have been in place for over a year.

Throughout America, states have lifted or eased mask mandates following new guidance from the CDC that says fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear them in many instances.

But Kluge noted that “there is no such thing as zero risk” and warned people to remain cautious.

“Vaccines may be a light at the end of the tunnel but you cannot be blinded by that light,” Kluge said. “We have been here before. Let us not make the same mistakes that were made this time last year that resulted in the resurgence of COVID-19.”

Booster shot likely needed for vaccinated: Fauci

Fully vaccinated people will likely need a COVID-19 booster shot within about a year, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert and Pfizer’s CEO said last week.

“We know that the vaccine durability of the efficacy lasts at least six months, and likely considerably more, but I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so after getting the primary,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.

Fauci also said that variant-specific booster shots may not be needed.

“Instead of having to play whack-a-mole with each individual variant and develop a booster that’s variant-specific, it is likely that you could just keep boosting against the wild type, and wind up getting a good enough response that you wouldn’t have to worry about the variants,” he said. The wild type is the original strain of the virus.

Meanwhile, trials of a Pfizer booster vaccine are ongoing, company CEO Albert Bourla said.
“I believe in one, two months we will have enough data to speak about it with much higher scientific certainty,” he told CNN.

“If they got their second shot eight months ago, they may need a third one,” Bourla said, adding that booster shots could be coming between September and October of this year.

He said Pfizer will have to see what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves, and what its recommendation will be on how best to protect the American people.

Moderna has also been working on a booster shot — a half dose of its vaccine — to fight COVID-19 variants like B.1.351, first seen in South Africa, and P.1, first discovered in Brazil, CNN reported.

In the United States, the vaccination picture is improving by the day. Biden has said there will be enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of this month. As of Monday, 130 million Americans were fully vaccinated and over 58 percent of adults had received at least one dose, according to the CDC. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also recently approved the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15.

As of Monday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 33.1 million, while the death toll neared 590,000, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, nearly 167.2 million cases had been reported by Monday, with nearly 3.4 million people dead from COVID-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.
SOURCES: The New York Times; Washington Post; CNN; CBS News

Anton Hajjar Confirmed to Postal Board of Governors

We are writing with the exciting news that Anton Hajjar, President Biden’s third nominee, was just confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Postal Board of Governors!

Anton is the former General Counsel of the American Postal Workers Union and a strong advocate for workers’  rights and the public service mission of the People’s Post Office.

This would not have been possible without the efforts of APWU members and our allies. Earlier this year, we successfully petitioned the Biden administration to swiftly nominate governors to the Board who would work to restore quality mail service and support an agenda of expanding the role of USPS in our communities.

We look forward to working with Hajjar, along with new Board members McReynolds and Stroman, and will be expressing to the Board the need to make decisions to improve the Postal Service for both the communities it serves and our members.

To read more about the new governors and how APWU members played a crucial role in their appointment, please click here.

In Union Solidarity,

Mark Dimondstein

Judy Beard
Legislative & Political Director

Say no to mail delays

Management is planning to make permanent delays to our mail delivery and it’s up to us to stop it.

As postal workers, we know better than anyone how postal customers depend on fast and reliable service. Will you send a message to the USPS and Postal Regulatory Commission and tell them to stop the mail slowdown?

As part of the USPS 10-Year Plan, postal managers are attempting to change our public Post Office’s first class delivery goals. They want to shift on-time mail delivery from 1-3 days to up-to five days for first class mail and end-to-end periodicals.

This would mean more delays for every single one of us who relies on prompt service from the people’s Postal Service. It would risk driving more customers away.

We have just a short time to stop this from happening.

The Postal Regulatory Commission will soon issue an advisory opinion on the delays. We want to make sure that the commissioners know the public is against delaying our mail.

Together, we can stop these delays. Will you make your voice heard? Submit your comments to the USPS rule making and the PRC here.

In union solidarity,

The American Postal Workers Union

Workers Memorial Day

APWU newsletter

Today, we are marking Workers Memorial Day by taking action together to protect our health and safety at work.

Workers Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the passage of the Oc­cupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which came into effect fifty years ago today. It is a day to remember workers killed or injured at work and to redouble the labor movement’s fight to secure safe workplaces for all.

This year’s Workers Memorial Day takes on special sig­nificance after a year of working through this terrible pandemic which has deeply affected all of us.

As we think of those we have lost and who have suffered, let’s also recommit ourselves to organizing for safe workplaces. The best way to make changes at work is by joining together and demanding management provide a safe work envi­ronment for all employees.

Today we are asking you to work with your union brothers and sisters to identify safety issues in our local facilities/post offices and completing PS Form 1767 (Report of a Hazard, Unsafe Condition or Practice).

We have put together a quick guide for reporting safety issues on Workers Memorial Day.

Together, we will continue pressing management to address health and safety issues and ensure every APWU member has a safe and sanitary workplace to return home from every day.

In union solidarity,

Mark Dimondstein, President
Vance Zimmerman, Industrial Relations Director

1300 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20005 |

John Lewis Voter Advancement Day Votercade – May 8th

John Lewis Voter Advancement Day Votercade

Date and Time: May 8, 2021,  2:00pm – 4:00pm

Venue: MORGAN LEVY PARK | 5300 NW 102nd Ave | Doral, FL 33178

Organizers: Broward For Progress and Labor Community Alliance

The voting rights of America’s Voters of Color and Youth Voters are under attack nationally by state legislators introducing and passing laws to suppress their participation in elections. Meanwhile, big business and billionaires are able to spend unlimited amounts of funding to buy our elections.

Join us as we mobilize as a CAR PARADE on May 8 in the name of John Lewis as part of 100 events across the nation to pass the For the People Act (H.R. 1), the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), D.C. Statehood and address the filibuster to do so.

Together, we can build a better nation and a stronger democracy.

Alliance for Retired Americans Monday Alert – 4/26/21

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GOP voting reforms would hurt FL voters in nursing homes and ALFs, but that could change

Residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have long cast their paper ballots on-site, getting help from various people who could bring them blank ballots to be completed and then delivered to authorized sites.

But residents may not realize that lawmakers in the Florida Legislature would no longer allow that practice if controversial voting-reform measures get approved in Tallahassee.

One provision would require only immediate family members to get help with residents for on-site balloting.

On Thursday, state Sen. Janet Cruz, a Hillsborough County Democrat, told Florida senators she wants the family-only provision removed for nursing-home and ALF residents. As does AARP Florida.

Sen. Tina Polsky, a Palm Beach Democrat, spoke in support of Cruz’s recommendation.

“It has been very common practice for years and years,” Polsky said. “They’ve been doing it for years. Read More

Florida’s online sales tax is now law. So what does this mean when you click ‘Buy?’

Now that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill (SB 50) that requires out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians, the state is soon poised to collect an estimated $1 billion a year in revenue.

Supporters, such as many Florida brick and mortar businesses and the Florida Retail Federation, applauded the move that made it official on Monday, April 19. But what does that mean for you, the consumer, when you hit “buy” on your laptop or smart phone?

You have questions. We have answers.


July 1, 2021.



Read More

The jobless win one: GOP Senate votes to boost benefits to as much as $375 per week over 14 weeks

The Florida Senate voted unanimously Thursday to raise Florida’s meager unemployment payout to a maximum of $375 per week and extend the benefits period to a minimum 14 weeks, creating a faceoff against the state House and Gov. Ron DeSantis in the waning days of the legislative session.

The Republican House majority and the governor have spurned benefit increases.

But in the Senate, the final vote on the bipartisan measure (SB 1906) was 40-0.

House Republicans earlier in the week voted down amendments to separate legislation that would have improved the state’s miserly benefits, with Republicans arguing that there are plenty of jobs for people who want to work and that boosting benefits might encourage otherwise able-bodied people to sit at home instead of finding a job. Read More

Sen. Romney, Rep. Gallagher Re-Introduce the TRUST Act

On Wednesday, Sen. Mitt Romney (UT) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI) introduced the “Time to Rescue United States’ Trusts” (TRUST) Act as stand alone bills in the U.S. Senate and House (S.1295 and H.R. 2575), reviving a threat to the retirement security of hundreds of millions of Americans.

The legislation paves the way for cuts to Social Security and Medicare by establishing so-called “Rescue Committees” charged with recommending changes to the Social Security, Medicare and Highway Trust Funds in the name of “long-term solvency.” The committees are not required to conduct any public hearings; their recommendations could not be amended by the full House or Senate; and the recommendations must receive an up or down vote on the House and Senate floor. There are no limits to what could be recommended, including benefit cuts, changes to the eligibility age, means testing of benefits, or higher taxes on working Americans.

Senator Romney first introduced this legislation in 2019 and offered an amendment in support of the concept during a debate on the Senate Budget Resolution earlier this year. The Senate voted 71-29 in favor of that amendment but it was dropped from the final version of the bill. Since then, several senators have told Alliance activists that they would not vote in favor of the TRUST Act if it comes for a vote again.

“The Alliance strongly opposes the TRUST ACT. Retirees have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits over a lifetime of hard work and we will fight tooth and nail against any scheme to cut or weaken them,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Every Senator and member of Congress must reject this bill and any future bills or amendments that aim to slash these essential programs. We will make this clear to all members of Congress in the coming weeks and months.”

Rural Seniors’ Lower Vaccination Rates Signal an Urban-Rural Divide

Among people 65 years old or older, urban counties’ vaccination rates outpace rural ones in all but seven states for which there’s complete data, according to NPR. Nebraska, Massachusetts and Louisiana have the largest gaps.

Similar disparities in vaccination rates may be emerging among other age groups. Since the end of March, three-quarters of states have seen urban vaccination rates for all ages grow slightly faster than rural rates.

pharmacist administering a vaccine
A pharmacist administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a worker at a processing plant in Arkansas City, Kan., on March 5.

Experts say the reasons for the gaps are likely a mixture of hesitancy, access and the impact of misinformation from some politicians and media outlets. Rural Americans are 11 percentage points more likely than city-dwellers to say they will definitely not get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to recent Kaiser Family Foundation polling.

Individuals in rural areas tend to be more conservative, and many conservatives are less likely to vaccinate, according to Timothy Callaghan, a health policy researcher from Texas A&M University’s Southwest Rural Health Research Center. Research shows people living in rural communities are also significantly less likely to take preventive measures against COVID-19, including wearing face masks and avoiding restaurant dining.

Other factors that explain the divide include a shortage of health care providers in rural areas, poor transportation options and language barriers among migrant workers.

“We cannot defeat the coronavirus until the entire country reaches herd immunity,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “Leaders and trusted local health care providers need to make sure everyone has the facts about the vaccine, a chance to have their questions answered, and a simple and convenient way to get vaccinated.”

CFPB Offers Tips for Seniors Seeking a Financial Adviser

Recognizing both the importance of financial advisers and the difficulty in identifying a competent and trustworthy one, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published a new guide called Know your financial adviser.

Financial planning for older adults is complicated and should encompass estate planning, income tax laws, savings, pension and Social Security earnings, and investments. The guide can help seniors ask the right questions and ensure that the adviser they hire has the client’s best interest at heart, not their own.

“The fact is that some financial advisers’ titles and credentials require advanced coursework and passing tough exams, but not all,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “The CFPB guide will definitely help seniors make wise choices about their financial future.”

When interviewing a financial adviser, the CFPB recommends asking about their level of training, the ethical standards of their training, and whether their financial title is accredited. Seniors should also be able to file a complaint easily with the organization that issued an advisor’s credentials, and that organization should discipline or ban members who don’t follow the rules.

KHN: From Rotten Teeth to Advanced Cancer, Patients Feel the Effects of Treatment Delays

By Bruce Alpert, Kaiser Health News

With medical visits picking up again among patients vaccinated against COVID-19, health providers are starting to see the consequences of a year of pandemic-delayed preventive and emergency care as they find more advanced cancer and rotting and damaged teeth, among other ailments.


Dr. Despina Markogiannakis examines a patient at her dental practice in Chevy Chase, MD. Markogiannakis says she has noticed an increase in patients grinding or clenching their teeth, conditions likely caused by pandemic-related stress.

Dr. Brian Rah, chair of the cardiology department at Montana’s Billings Clinic, was confused in the early days of the covid pandemic. Why the sudden drop in heart attack patients at the Billings Clinic? And why did some who did come arrive hours after first feeling chest pains? Two patients, both of whom suffered greater

heart damage by delaying care, provided what came to be typical answers. One said he was afraid of contracting covid by going to the hospital. The other patient went to the emergency room in the morning, left after finding it too crowded, and then returned that night when he figured there would be fewer patients — and a lower risk of catching covid.

“For a heart attack patient, the first hour is known as the golden hour,” Rah said. After that, the likelihood of death or a lifelong reduction in activities and health increases, he said.

Dr. JP Valin, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at SCL Health of Colorado and Montana, said he is “kept awake at night” by delays in important medical tests. “People put off routine breast examinations, and there are going to be some cancers hiding that are not going to be identified, potentially delaying intervention,” he said.

Click to read more.

USPS Update – Tell the Senate to Confirm the nominees to the USPS Board of Governors

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President Biden has sent his 3 nominees for the USPS board of governors to the Senate. Once confirmed, Democrats will have a majority on the board―and can use it to remove the Postmaster General.

The Senate must not delay the confirmation of these nominees! The Postal Service is a critical piece of American infrastructure, and every day DeJoy has control of it is another opportunity to degrade it.

Tell the Senate: Expedite the confirmation of President Biden’s USPS Board of Governors nominees!

Louis DeJoy has been running the USPS into the ground. He has ordered the dismantling of sorting machines, cut hours for letter carriers, and generally offered worse service from something most Americans haven’t had cause to think about.

That’s because DeJoy sees his mission not to continue the USPS’ world class service, but to strip the USPS for parts and sell them to private logistics companies like the one he got rich on.

President Biden’s nominees can literally save the USPS from Louis DeJoy―but every day confirmation is delayed, more damage is done.

Tell the Senate: Expedite the confirmation of President Biden’s USPS Board of Governors nominees!


Progress America

Florida GOP looks to cut vote-by-mail

Gov. DeSantis recently proposed a new measure that would impose new voting restrictions in Florida — one that Florida Republicans are all too willing to implement!

In 2020, more Floridians than ever before cast their ballot using vote-by-mail. Now, Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to make it harder for people to access their ballots by requiring voters to re-enroll every two years.

Voting by mail is proven to be a safe, secure and efficient way of voting. We MUST protect Florida’s voters from DeSantis’ crusade against democracy! Chip in to help us oppose this voter suppression!

DeSantis just welcomed Trump and other far-right politicians into our backyard at the annual CPAC gathering, and now he’s quickly trying to prove just how devout he is by suppressing democracy for far-right GOP gains.

We can’t let the people of Florida be caught in the crossfires while the GOP continues their assault on our democracy! Donate whatever you can to help us oppose this voter suppression.