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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.
Infant with bandaid on leg from shot
Photo (c) Karl Tapales - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 83,291,791 (83,269,791)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,002,178 (1,002,126)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 525,703,492 (525,430,667)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,277,424 (6,276,826)‌

Pfizer reports vaccine results for very small children

Pfizer and BioNTech, partners that developed one of the first approved COVID-19 vaccines, say three smaller doses of their vaccine are safe and effective when administered to young children between the ages of six months and five years.

The companies plan to cite results that were provided by a clinical trial as the basis for seeking emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this week. According to the researchers who conducted the trial, antibody levels checked one month after the third dose showed that the vaccine produced a similar immune response as two doses in consumers between the ages of 16 and 25.

 “Our COVID-19 vaccine has been studied in thousands of children and adolescents, and we are pleased that our formulation for the youngest children, which we carefully selected to be one-tenth of the dose strength for adults, was well tolerated and produced a strong immune response,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Infection plus vaccination produces ‘super immunity,’ researchers say

Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID-19. But if you do have a “breakthrough” case, researchers say the combination of being vaccinated and infected could have some benefits. Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist and research associate professor at Rockefeller University, says it could produce a “hybrid” immunity.

“The use of the word hybrid is, for lack of a better term, what they are referring to is the immunity that a person acquires after having been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and then vaccinated, essentially trying to describe that you have had two slightly different exposures to the antigen, one via infection and one via vaccination,” she told NPR.

Hatziioannou says one advantage of the hybrid immunity produced by antibodies in the body is that the patient appears to have greater immunity against variants of the coronavirus.

Will monkeypox be the next pandemic?

Over the last two years, scientists around the world have learned how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many are turning their attention to what may be a new public health threat – monkeypox.

So far, there have been only a limited number of cases of monkeypox – a disease that leaves distinctive blisters on the skin but rarely results in fatalities. Scientists are still learning about the disease but say people who have received a smallpox vaccination should have some protection against the disease.

Around the nation

  • New York: New York continues to be the national hot spot for the new subvariants of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies 54 of NY's 62 counties as having a "high risk" for community COVID-19 spread. That number has more than doubled in the last three weeks, and the state's daily case total just hit a number unseen since January.

  • Wisconsin: State health officials say a number of different Omicron subvariants are behind a renewed spread of COVID-19 since late March. The state's seven-day average for new confirmed cases stood at just over 2,000, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

  • Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity is calling for state officials to reinstate mask mandates across the state as cases of COVID-19 spread across New England. Some health experts believe the actual number of new cases is higher than what is being reported.

  • Tennessee: Gov. Bill Lee declined to sign Tennessee’s new “acquired immunity” law that equates a past COVID-19 infection with a vaccination when it comes to mandates imposed by governments and businesses. The legislation became law on Friday without the governor’s endorsement.

  • Arizona: The Arizona Department of Health Services updates its COVID-19 dashboard on a weekly basis, and the number of new cases has risen every week over the last month. However, health officials say the current number is still 96% below the January peak.

BMW logo
Photo source: BMW
BMW of North America is recalling 61,221 of the following vehicles:
  • Model year 2022 4 Series Gran Coupe (430i, 430i xDrive, M440i xDrive);
  • Model year 2019-2022 X5 sDrive40i, X5 xDrive40i, X5 xDrive50i, X5 M50i, X5M;
  • Model year 2021-2022 X5 xdrive45e;
  • Model year 2020-2022 X6 sDrive40i, X6 xDrive40i, X6 xDrive50i, X6M and
  • Model year 2019-2023 X7 xDrive40i, X7 xDrive50i, X7 M50i, X7 xDrive60i, X7 M60i, X7M, Alpina XB7.

The roof function control unit may be programmed incorrectly, allowing the sunroof to close without the key fob present inside the vehicle.

A sunroof that closes without the key fob present inside the vehicle can increase the risk of injury.

What to do

Dealers will reprogram the roof function control unit free of charge.

Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on June 13, 2022.

Owners may contact BMW customer service at (800) 525-7417.

Boy playing outside with magnifying glass
Photo (c) Monika Halinowska - Getty Images
Parents who are looking for ways to get their children outside and active this summer may have a new reason to redouble those efforts. Findings from a recent study suggest that engaging in "adventurous" playtime can help children develop better mental health. 
Helen Dodd, the lead researcher of the study and a professor of child psychology at the University of Exeter, says investing in ways to promote adventurous play can only benefit children in the long run. 

"We're more concerned than ever about children's mental health, and our findings highlight that we might be able to help protect children's mental health by ensuring they have plentiful opportunities for adventurous play," she said. 

"This is really positive because play is free, instinctive and rewarding for children, available to everyone, and doesn't require special skills."

Countering effects of COVID-19 lockdowns

The researchers came to their conclusions after surveying 2,500 parents about their young children's play activities, mental health before the COVID-19 pandemic, and mood during the first COVID-19 lockdown.

The team found that children who were able to spend more time playing adventurously outside had fewer problems linked to anxiety and depression and a more positive outlook during the first lockdown. The team said these results were consistent across a range of factors like age, sex, and family finances.

"This important research shows that this is even more vital to help children thrive after all they have missed out on during the Covid-19 restrictions. More play means more happiness and less anxiety and depression," said Dan Paskins, the director of the UK Impact at Save the Children.

What is adventurous play?

The researchers point out that there are several activities that children can engage in that qualify as "adventurous play." Some of them include:
  • Camping out overnight;
  • Swimming or paddling in a river or lake;
  • Jumping from a swing;
  • Creating obstacle courses inside or outside; and 
  • Exploring woods alone or with a friend.

"This research emphasises the importance of adventurous play. Children and young people need freedom and opportunities to encounter challenge and risk in their everyday playful adventures," said Jacqueline O'Loughlin, CEO or PlayBoard NI. 

"It is clear from the research findings that playing, taking risks and experiencing excitement outdoors makes a positive contribution to children's mental health and emotional well-being. The rewards of allowing children to self-regulate and manage challenge in their play are widespread and far-reaching. Adventurous play helps children to build the resilience needed to cope with, and manage stress in challenging circumstances."

The full study has been published in the journal Child Psychiatry & Human Development.

Virtual or e-learning concept
Photo (c) Marko Geber - Getty Images
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking a giant leap forward in the protection of children's privacy. The agency announced on Monday that it will strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by cracking down on any education technology company that monitors children illegally.

The FTC’s new policy statement reinforces that it is illegal for companies to force parents and schools to surrender their children’s privacy rights in order to do schoolwork online or attend class remotely. The agency says companies also cannot deny children access to educational technologies when their parents or school refuse to sign up for commercial surveillance.  

“Students must be able to do their schoolwork without surveillance by companies looking to harvest their data to pad their bottom line,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

“Parents should not have to choose between their children’s privacy and their participation in the digital classroom. The FTC will be closely monitoring this market to ensure that parents are not being forced to surrender to surveillance for their kids’ technology to turn on.”

Protecting children's privacy

The specific modifications that the FTC added to COPPA include:

Prohibitions Against Mandatory Collection: Companies cannot require children to provide more information than is reasonably needed for participation in an activity.

Use Prohibitions: Ed tech providers that collect personal information from a child with the school’s authorization are prohibited from using the information for any other commercial purpose including marketing or advertising. 

COPPA was first launched in 2000, and the FTC has used it to protect children's privacy since then. The agency previously imposed a fine on for collecting and selling children's personal data. It also began a probe of YouTube and accused the platform of not doing enough to protect children who use the service.

Stressed woman lying in bed
Photo (c) Boy_Anupong - Getty Images
Previous research has already shown that children who suffer from insomnia have a higher risk of developing anxiety and other mental health problems. But a new study from the University of Helsinki suggests that the condition can be devastating to older consumers too. 
Researchers found that consumers who developed insomnia in midlife experienced problems with their memory, concentration, and ability to learn. These problems persisted well into later life, affecting participants even after they had retired. 

"The findings indicate that severe insomnia symptoms were associated with worse cognitive function among those who were on statutory pension," said researcher Antti Etholén.

Symptoms worsen with prolonged insomnia

The researchers found that study participants who experienced insomnia symptoms over longer periods of time had the worst cognitive outcomes. However, the team noted that mental function improved by retirement age if symptoms eased over the years. 

The team stated that there are several ways for consumers to improve their chances of getting a good night's sleep, including adjusting the temperature and brightness of the sleeping area. Adjusting factors like coffee consumption, diet, and exercise can also help.

"Based on our findings, early intervention tackling insomnia symptoms, or measures aimed at improving the quality of sleep would be justified," said researcher and professor Tea Lallukka.

The researchers hope to continue researching this subject by investigating whether the treatment of insomnia could help slow down the development of memory disorders. The full study has been published in the Journal of Aging and Health.

Online banking concept
Photo (c) imaginima - Getty Images
Online banks, also known as direct banks, have no branches. Most of them don't even have ATMs. But over the last two decades, these banks have grown in popularity by offering most of the services provided by their brick-and-mortar competitors.

“Today, 27% of banking customers in America use an online-only bank,” said Paul McAdam, senior director of banking and payments intelligence at J.D. Power. “As so much of our lives continue to shift to digitally based providers, direct banks have been in prime position to gain market share and mindshare by delivering around-the-clock access, along with products that have attractive fee structures and interest rates.”

Over the years, the top-performing brands have found success by getting the personalization formula right. In addition to reducing bank fees, direct banks have won consumer favor by delivering personalized customer service.

L.C. of Franklin Square, N.Y., had a bad experience with his Ally Bank car loan. After leaving a negative review about the experience, the bank reached out to them and was able to change their whole perception.

“I received a phone call from Sara, an account executive for the customer relations department at Ally Auto,” L.C. wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “She has been with the company for a long time and we had an extremely pleasant conversation. She was patient, empathetic, compassionate, kind, and asked me to give her time to look into my situation.”

L.C. said their issue was resolved within a few days. Their overall takeaway of the bank became positive because of one of its employees.

Customer service can make a difference

Ally Bank ranks third, behind Charles Schwab and American Express, in J.D. Power’s 2022 Direct Bank Customer Satisfaction Survey. The survey found that customer service is the main driver of consumers’ perception of their online financial institution.

Among checking and savings accounts customers, 59% said they have never had a problem or complaint with their direct bank. Among customers who experienced a problem or complaint in the past 12 months, 83% said it was convenient to reach customer service and 88% said their problem was resolved. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said their direct bank is easy to do business with, and 85% said their accounts do not have hidden fees. 

The survey found only a small minority of customers – 6% – who said their direct bank does not put their interests first. American Express, Charles Schwab Bank, Discover Bank, Ally Bank, and Capital One rated near the top of that category, the survey found.