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COVID-19 Map Tracker | COVID-19 News Features

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Consumer Daily Reports

Trusted reliable news sources from around the web. We offer special news reports, topic news videos, and related content stories. Truly a birds eye view on news.
Scam and computer concept
Photo (c) Peter_Dazeley - Getty Images
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants consumers to know that COVID-19 test kits are in such short supply that scammers are jumping in the fray to “help” with shortages. Fraudsters are going as far as creating fake COVID-19 testing sites to market fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits. Complicating matters, the FTC says, is that those fake websites are so authentic-looking that they’re hard to spot. 

“They look real, with legitimate-looking signs, tents, hazmat suits, and realistic-looking tests,” said Ari Lazarus, a consumer education specialist with the FTC. “And the damage these fake testing sites can cause is very real.”

The scammers are luring in victims by hawking “free” test kits, but what they’re really after is personal information like Social Security numbers, credit card information, and other health data. All of that information can be leveraged for identity theft or to run up a person’s credit card bill. 

“Worst of all, they’re not giving people the help they need to stay healthy,” Lazarus said.

What to be on the lookout for

The FTC cautions consumers that there are four things to keep in mind when looking into testing sites. Here are the things the agency says to do:

Get a referral. Instead of trying to figure out whether a site is legitimate on your own, the FTC suggests that you go somewhere you have been referred to by your doctor or state or local health department. In short, don’t trust a random testing site you stumble upon while online.

Check the source. Did you hear about a new testing site on a neighborhood social media group or email listserv? That “neighbor” could actually be a scammer. See if the site is also listed on your state or local health department’s website.

Check with officials to see if a site is legitimate. Again, rather than going it alone and playing detective, the FTC says to check with your local police or sheriff’s office to find out if a testing site is legitimate. If the authorities determine that a testing site is fake, they can make an effort to shut it down and keep others from getting conned. 

Dispute scam charges. If you think that you may have already been scammed and shared your credit card information, the FTC says to get in front of the situation by disputing the charge.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Photo source: Nissan
Nissan North America is recalling 24,793 model year 2021 Rogues.
Abnormal wear inside the fuel pump may cause it to overheat and fail.

Fuel pump failure may cause an engine stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

What to do

Dealers will replace the fuel pump assembly free of charge.

Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on January 26, 2022.

Owners may contact Nissan customer service at (800) 867-7669. Nissan's number for this recall is R21B8.

Bridge repair concept
Photo (c) Hal Bergman Photography - Getty Images
The White House has announced that America’s crumbling roads and bridges are up next in its infrastructure agenda. The Biden team says its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will not only rebuild deteriorating roads and bridges, but it will also replace lead pipes and improve the quality of the internet to “every family in America.”

If the administration’s recipe goes according to plan, the offshoot of the infrastructure improvements will create good-paying jobs and bolster the country’s manufacturing and supply chains. However, the plan doesn’t stop there. The White House also pledged that 40% of its investment in climate and clean energy will directly benefit disadvantaged communities.

“With over 44,000 bridges in poor condition around our country, today’s announcement of $27.5 billion in long-overdue funding is great news for rural and urban communities alike,” Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a statement emailed to ConsumerAffairs. 

“These investments will create good-paying jobs in all 50 states, DC, and the territories. Bridges connect communities and are critical to everyday life—helping Americans get to work, visit family, or explore our great country. Thanks to President Biden and Congressional Democrats, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering for the American people and helping ensure they succeed in the 21st century economy.”

Clean energy, cheaper internet, and more

Here’s a quick look at what the White House hopes can be completed in its plan:

Bridge repair: The government is investing $27 billion over the next five years in funding to replace, repair, and rehabilitate bridges across the country to all 50 states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Tribal governments.

EV charging action plan: On top of what General Motors and others are doing to spread the availability of charging stations for electric vehicles, the President’s new goal is to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers.

Clean energy: Biden said the Department of Energy is establishing a new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, which will oversee $20 billion in funding to scale up clean energy, create new, good-paying jobs for American families and workers, and reduce pollution.

Clean water: Also in the works is a lead pipe and paint action plan to replace all of the nation’s lead pipes in the next decade while expanding access to clean drinking water.

Cheaper and wider internet: President Biden's infrastructure law includes what he terms a historic investment of $65 billion that should help close the digital divide and “ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is coming to the table with its own plan to provide broadband subsidies of up to $30/month for low-income households and up to $100 towards the purchase of a computer.

2018 Ford F-150
Photo source: Ford
Ford Motor Company is recalling 57,591 model year 2018 F-150s with manual and power release tailgates.
The tailgate latches may unlatch unexpectedly while the vehicle is being driven.

An unexpected tailgate opening may allow unrestrained cargo to fall out of the truck bed and become a road hazard, increasing the risk of a crash.

What to do

Dealers will replace the left-hand and right-hand tailgate latches free of charge.

Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on January 31, 2022.

Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 21S53.

Inflation and finance concept
Photo (c) Chuck Savage - Getty Images
The cost of living is rising with increasing speed. This week, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices in December were 7% higher than the year before, led by energy, food, and automobiles.

But an analysis of ConsumerAffairs reviews shows that consumers are feeling the pinch just about everywhere. Even when they are satisfied with a company’s service, they can’t resist noting that costs aren’t what they used to be.

“Customer service is great,” Scott, from California, wrote in a review of Orkin. “Scheduling is an A also and it's done on the computer. But Orkin should be aware of fixed income customers and not go raising prices above the inflation rate. Other than that, they're excellent and they do the job.”

Kathryn, of Riverside, Calif., tells us she has noticed that even the cost of insurance for her pet has gone up in recent months.

“We chose Prudent Pet because it was affordable and covers possible hereditary conditions that a lot of other companies don’t cover,” Kathryn wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “The only complaint I have is that our premium jumped up and is about $20 MORE a month than it was last year, and our dog is not even two years old yet nor has he had any major health issues to cause such a big premium jump. It’s still more affordable than other companies I’ve looked into.”

A big increase since 2008

Michalina, of Clinton, Conn., has noticed a big change since she remodeled her bathroom in 2008. Granted, that was a long time ago, but inflation was practically non-existent during much of that time. 

“The crew was professional, considerate, and truly experts in this craft,” Michalina wrote in a review of Bath Fitter. “The price, however, was surprisingly steep given the amount of work and compared to 2008.”

Despite the price, Michalina gave Bath Fitter a 5-star review. Joe, of Rochester, N.Y., was also favorably impressed with Endurance Auto Warranty – except for the cost.

“The plans were a little pricey, especially for people that are on fixed incomes,” Joe told ConsumerAffairs. “I realized that it’s inflation time, but even so, for some people that need their vehicles, the prices are a little high.”

Difficult for consumers on fixed-incomes

So far, inflation doesn’t seem to have stopped consumers from spending. However, economists are concerned that conditions could change if prices continue to climb. And the latest evidence suggests that they will.

On the heels of the increase in consumer prices, the Labor Department reported this week that producer prices – a measure of costs at the wholesale level – were also higher in December, rising 0.2%.

The cost of services – things like pet insurance, pest control, and auto warranties – rose even faster, gaining 0.5%.

Vaccine mandate in U.S. concept
Photo (c) adamkaz - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 64,084,673 (63,232,336)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 846,506 (844,631)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 320,852,830 (317,485,959)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,523,313 (5,516,175)‌

Supreme Court blocks mandate for businesses

The U.S. Supreme Court, on a six to three vote, has blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mandate for private businesses. Known as “vaccine-or-testing rules,” the mandate required large employers to vaccinate employees or test unvaccinated employees on a regular basis.

At the same time, the justices did allow the administration to require vaccinations for health care workers if their facilities accept Medicare and Medicaid. That edict covers an estimated 10 million employees.

The court’s majority ruled that the Biden administration probably did not have the unilateral power to impose a mandate that employers ensure their workers were vaccinated or tested every week for COVID-19. Biden celebrated the partial victory, declaring that the mandate for health care workers will save lives.

Some pharmacies closing on weekends

If you need a prescription filled, you might have to wait until Monday. Some pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, are reportedly closing on weekends because of COVID-19 induced staff shortages.

"It's been bad before, but right now there's pharmacies closing because everybody in the pharmacy's got COVID," Gallipot Pharmacy pharmacist Mark Villines told KTEN-TV in Denison, Texas.

CVS said a few of its 10,000 stores are curtailing hours, including closing on either a Saturday or Sunday, to maintain efficient operations due to illness among staff.

Polish scientists find genetic link to COVID-19 deaths

Why do some people have mild or no COVID-19 symptoms while others die? Polish scientists report that their findings point to a genetic link.

Researchers at the Medical University of Bialystok estimate that the gene could be present in about 14% of the Polish population. They say the presence of the gene is the fourth most important factor when it comes to determining the severity of the illness after age, weight, and gender.

Marcin Moniuszko, a professor in charge of the study, suggests a genetic test "may help to better identify people who, in the event of an infection, may be at risk of an acute disease, even before the infection develops." 

Around the nation

  • Texas: Officials in Austin-Travis County have issued new orders for businesses. The orders authorize businesses to impose health and safety requirements, provide notice of the protections that are being provided, and display signs requiring customers to wear masks.

  • Ohio: State Attorney General Dave Yost is defending his lawsuit that resulted in the Supreme Court’s overturning of President Biden’s vaccination mandate for private businesses. Yost said it wasn’t about whether vaccines work or if a mandate is a good idea, but that a mandate must be enacted by Congress, not an agency or the Biden administration.

  • Connecticut: With hospitals throughout the state loaded with COVID-19 patients, the  Connecticut Department of Public Health is asking skilled nursing facilities, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and home health agencies to accept hospital transfer patients with COVID-19. 

  • Michigan: Michigan is dealing with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has stopped short of implementing stringent mitigation measures, as she did early in the pandemic. She said those measures aren’t necessary now because vaccines are readily available.

  • Arkansas: Schools across the state are dealing with a rising number of COVID-19 cases among students. The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) reported Thursday that 97% of the state’s school districts have 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period.