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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.
High rent prices concept
Photo (c) Andrii Yalanskyi - Getty Images
The cost of renting an apartment in New York City hit a record high in June, as the median asking price hit $3,500, according to data collected by New York real estate site StreetEasy. It was even higher in Manhatten, hitting a median of $4,100 a month.

But the nation’s largest city is not the only place where the cost of renting a home is now rising faster than home prices. In many major population centers, where jobs pay well and are relatively plentiful, rents are rising through the roof.

Real estate broker Redfin reports that rents in the Cincinnati housing market jumped 39% in June. The median asking price was $1,815, giving the Ohio city the distinction of experiencing the largest percentage increase among the nation’s 50 largest metros. Seattle, Nashville, and Austin were close behind with rent increases of at least 30%.

Supply and demand

Housing economists point to supply and demand as the cause behind these increases – the same factor that has driven home prices to record highs and priced millions out of the home purchase market. Inventory levels of homes for sale remain extremely low, but demand rose dramatically during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People who can’t afford to buy a home must continue to rent, creating another supply and demand imbalance. Lily Liu, CEO of Piñata, a landlord services app, says home prices have slowed their rise. However, she points out that high mortgage interest rates have made a home purchase unaffordable for many people.

“People were looking in the last few months whether prices would drop significantly,” Liu told NextAdviser. “Prices are actually pretty stable on the housing side, which means it still continues to be a difficult market to buy.” 

Rents in some cities are rising faster than the national average

Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin, says rents are rising faster in some markets than others. She sees a slowdown in rent growth because, just like with homebuyers, there is a limit to what renters can pay.

“Rent growth is likely slowing because landlords are seeing demand start to ease as renters get pinched by inflation,” Fairweather said. “With the cost of gas, food and other products soaring, renters have less money to spend on housing.” 

While the rise in rents may slow in the months ahead, Fairweather doesn’t see that happening everywhere. She notes that rents are still climbing at unprecedented rates in strong job markets like New York and Seattle and in areas like San Antonio and Austin that soared in popularity during the pandemic.

Chipotle store location
Photo (c) ablokhin - Getty Images
Chipotle Mexican Grill said it and the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection have come to an agreement to resolve claims regarding the Fair Workweek Law and Earned Safe and Sick Leave Act.

An investigation found that Chipotle violated its Fair Workweek law, including failing to perform requirements like posting work schedules 14 days in advance, paying a premium for those schedule changes, and ensuring that current employees are offered available shifts before hiring new employees.

To resolve the matter, Chipotle has agreed to pay 13,000 current and former workers who were employed by the company between November 26, 2017, and April 30, 2022, $50 for each week they worked. The total amount comes to approximately $20 million.

“We’re pleased to be able to resolve these issues and believe this settlement demonstrates Chipotle’s commitment to providing opportunities for all of our team members while also complying with the Fair Workweek law” said Scott Boatwright, Chief Restaurant Officer, Chipotle.

Boatwright went on to say that Chipotle has implemented a number of compliance initiatives and added new technology to help its restaurants process timekeeping better. 

Chipotle said the average hourly wage for nearly 4,000 employees in its 129 restaurants in New York City rose 11% over the last year, to $17.37 per hour. It also notes that it has raised wages across the country while continuing to offer perks such as tuition reimbursement, health benefits, and quarterly bonuses.

USPS truck in city
Photo (c) georgeclerk - Getty Images
If the United States Postal Service (USPS) gets its wish, Americans will be paying a little more for their holiday mail this year. The agency has filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) regarding a temporary price adjustment for the 2022 peak holiday season.

The rate adjustment will be temporary if it is granted and will apply to domestic packages sent between Oct. 2, 2022, and Jan. 22, 2023. Depending on the weight of a package, the speed of service (e.g. Priority Mail), and where it will be sent, retail customers could see price increases between $0.30 to $6.45. A USPS spokesperson confirmed to ConsumerAffairs that the rate increase will not impact the price of postage stamps or international products.

The USPS said this move is part of Delivering for America, its 10-year plan for achieving financial sustainability and service excellence.

“The Postal Service has some of the lowest postage rates in the industrialized world and continues to offer great values in shipping. These temporary rates will keep USPS competitive while providing the agency with the revenue to cover extra costs in anticipation of peak-season volume,” the agency said in a statement.

The price changes people can expect

The price changes for “retail” consumers are as follows:

Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express

  • $0.95 increase for PM and PME Flat Rate Boxes and Envelopes.
  • $0.30 increase for Zones 1-4, 0-10 lbs.
  • $1.00 increase for Zones 5-9, 0-10 lbs.
  • $0.95 increase for Zones 1-4, 11-25 lbs.
  • $3.20 increase for Zones 5-9, 11-25 lbs.
  • $3.25 increase for Zones 1-4, 26-70 lbs.
  • $6.45 increase for Zones 5-9, 26-70 lbs.

First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select Ground, and USPS Retail Ground

  • $0.30 increase for Zones 1-4, 0-10 lbs.
  • $0.60 increase for Zones 5-9, 0-10 lbs.
  • $0.95 increase for Zones 1-4, 11-25 lbs.
  • $2.70 increase for Zones 5-9, 11-25 lbs.
  • $3.25 increase for Zones 1-4, 26-70 lbs.
  • $5.85 increase for Zones 5-9, 26-70 lbs.

A full list of commercial and retail pricing can be found on the Postal Service’s Postal Explorer website.

Audi S3
Photo source: Audi
Audi is recalling 2,584 model year 2022 Audi S3 and A3 sedans.
The retention force of the seat belt tensioner on the driver and front passenger seats may be inadequate to properly restrain the occupants in a crash.

Improperly restrained occupants have an increased risk of injury.

What to do

Dealers will replace the driver and front passenger seat belt assemblies free of charge.

Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on September 16, 2022.

Owners may contact Audi's customer service at (800) 253-2834. Audi's number for this recall is 68i2.

American flag and COVID-19 concept
Photo (c) 4x image - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 92,562,436 (91,993,384)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,035,549 (1,035,005)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 587,651,288 (586,897,066)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,428,190 (6,422,057)‌

COVID-19 cases at an inflection points, experts say

After an early 2022 surge, the U.S. appears to be at a plateau when it comes to COVID-19 cases, according to some medical experts. After the sharp increase, hospitalizations and deaths have leveled off in recent weeks.

While the U.S. has admitted 40,000 COVID-19 patients to hospitals, and 400 people are dying each day. But the numbers suggest that’s a much better result than during the winter months when serious cases and deaths were much higher. Looking ahead, few scientists know what to expect.

"We've never really cracked that: why these surges go up and down, how long it stays up and how fast it comes down," Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research,” told CNN. "All these things are still somewhat of a mystery."

CDC says COVID-19 risks are increasing in some areas

While conditions are improving in some areas, other U.S. counties are moving in the wrong direction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In its latest report, the agency said the number of U.S. counties in the high-risk of transmission category jumped 71% in just the last week.

The CDC’s high-risk map shows that 1,143 counties now meet the threshold for that top threat designation. That’s more than triple the number from last month, a move that CDC officials call a clear reversal.

Only about 25% of counties are now considered to be at low risk for COVID-19 spread. In the June 17 update, 60% were in the low-risk category.

AMA gives an outlook for the fall

Despite current worrisome COVID-19 trends, the American Medical Association (AMA) has a more positive outlook for the fall. The good news, the AMA says, is that most of the country has been exposed to the virus either through infection or vaccination, leading to a reduction in hospitalizations and deaths.

While there has been discussion of an updated COVID-19 vaccine that might be ready for boosters by October, some health experts aren’t sure whether it’s wise to change the vaccine to target the emerging subvariants.

“By the time it's ready in the fall, BA.5 may be past us and we may be on to something entirely new,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a virology expert and AMA member.

Around the nation

  • California: School is starting in many school districts across the state, and health officials are expressing relief that it’s coinciding with a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases. The California Department of Public Health this week reported that the statewide COVID-19 case rate is at 33.7 per 100,000 residents, a 19% decline in the past week.

  • Texas: Jazmin Kirkland, a North Texas mother of three, left the hospital this week after being treated for a severe case of COVID-19. Kirkland was admitted to the hospital on Aug. 3, 2021. A few days later, she was placed on a ventilator because the virus had attacked her heart and lungs.

  • Virginia: School classrooms are open all across the state, but many students apparently prefer virtual instruction. Virginia Virtual Academy Executive Director Suzanne Sloane said the school’s full-time enrollment is currently nearing 5,000 students, which is higher than before the pandemic.

  • Ohio: Officials at Ohio State University say they plan to use the same COVID-19 protocols that were in place during the summer sessions for the fall term. Students, faculty, and staff will be required to show proof of vaccination, and masking will be optional.

  • Georgia: Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor, has tested positive for COVID-19. Abrams' campaign spokesperson Alex Floyd said the candidate tested positive Wednesday morning after giving a public speech on the economy Tuesday night in Atlanta.

Sad mom and child
Photo (c) Jose Luis Pelaez Inc - Getty Images
Mothers affect their kids both physically and mentally by how they interact with them. Now, researchers from the University of Houston are exploring how moms’ personal lives can affect their kids’ attachment styles. 
According to their findings, mothers who struggle with their own interpersonal relationships are more likely to have kids who develop an insecure attachment style, which can ultimately affect kids well into adulthood. 

“When mothers struggle in their own interpersonal relationships, the passing on of secure attachment and healthy relationship functioning to adolescent offspring seem to be impeded,” said researcher Carla Sharp. “Maternal interpersonal problems were associated with higher levels of insecure attachment in adolescent offspring such that adolescents would either dismiss the need for attachment with their moms or show angry preoccupation with the relationships with their moms.” 

Developing attachment issues

The researchers interviewed 351 pairs of mothers and children who were receiving inpatient psychiatric care. Children were asked specifically about their attachment to the people in their lives and the effect it has had on them. Mothers were asked to report on what they remembered about bonding with their own mothers. Both groups also answered questions about how close they felt to other people, if they struggled to feel close with other people, or if they tried too hard to please others. 

The study showed that when mothers struggled to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships – platonic, familial, or romantic – their children were more likely to have attachment issues. The researchers also found that this could be generational; mothers involved in the study who had poor experiences with their mothers were more likely to struggle in their relationships with their own kids. 

The researchers explained that all parents are hoping their children develop a secure attachment; this is when kids feel emotionally supported and connected to their parents and view them as comforting figures. However, this study highlighted the other attachment styles – insecure, dismissing, and preoccupied -- often create insecure attachments in kids.

Kids with insecure attachments will either completely reject a connection with their parents or have an unhealthy preoccupation with their relationship. Over time, this can affect mental health by increasing the risk of anxiety and depression. It can also be detrimental to social relationships and increase the risk of substance abuse.