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Cathie Wood’s ETF assets fall below $40bn, but loyal fans hang on | Financial Markets News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



The founder of Ark Investment Management LLC now controls $39.7bn in her US exchange traded funds, down from more than $60bn at a peak in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.With tech’s recent pummeling, the cash Cathie Wood is managing in her ETF lineup has just dropped below $40 billion — but her loyal fan base is largely hanging on for the ride.
The founder of Ark Investment Management LLC now controls $39.7 billion in her U.S. exchange-traded funds, down from more than $60 billion at a peak in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The firm is now the 11th largest issuer in the U.S., compared with seventh place earlier this year.
A huge portion of the loss is due to the value of her holdings dropping sharply, as speculative tech names with soaring valuations and massive runs come back down to earth. Her flagship ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) has fallen about 35% from its high. Still, the mass exodus some had anticipated during a period of underperformance hasn’t yet materialized, with traders pulling just $76 million from the fund in April and $301 million so far in May, compared to the $7.1 billion added in the first three months of the year.
“It appears that investors still believe in Cathie Wood’s philosophy and think possibly the pullback is short term,” said Mohit Bajaj, director of ETFs for WallachBeth Capital.

In fact, the firm’s ETFs have still taken in a net $15.3 billion so far in 2021. The eight-product lineup — six actively managed funds and two tracking indexes — has roughly only lost a net $800 million since the end of February.
While retail activity has declined in the broad market, it seems day traders are ready to stick with Ark. About $1.1 billion of the $28 billion added to the family of funds since November can be attributed to retail investors, according to a report from Vanda Research.
“In periods when Ark ETFs have seen large redemptions, retail investors have actually bought the dip, further highlighting the institutional-retail divide,” wrote analysts Ben Onatibia and Giacomo Pierantoni.
Throughout the downturn, Wood has said repeatedly that her strategies haven’t changed and that she invests with a five-year time horizon. She even added to her stakes in Twitter Inc., Roku Inc., Skillz Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc. last week.
Some are now questioning just how long the funds’ drop will last, especially as dip buyers step in. ARKK rose in early trading before falling 3.3% as of 1 p.m. in New York.
Open interest in bullish call options on ARKK is at an all-time high, and even similarly elevated activity in bearish put contracts has historically come before a bounce, Chris Murphy at Susquehanna International Group wrote in a note.
“It has become oversold on a technical basis,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. “The weak hands have already sold, so we’re now in the ‘wait and see’ mode. If Ark funds can bounce strongly, the all clear flag will be raised.”







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Chief of teachers union is ‘all in’ on full fall reopening From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



The president of the American Federation of Teachers called Thursday for a full return to in-person learning in the fall, saying the union is “all in” on bringing students back to the classroom.In prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press, Randi Weingarten says the wide availability of vaccines and a new infusion of federal education money have removed many obstacles that prevented schools from opening.“Conditions have changed,” Weingarten says in remarks for an address on social media. “We can and we must reopen schools in the fall for in-person teaching, learning and support. And keep them open. Fully and safely, five days a week.”If local unions heed her call, it would be seen as a major stride in the effort to reopen schools. Teachers unions have been blamed for slowing the process with demands for a variety of safety measures. Teachers in some districts have refused to return until ventilations systems are updated, virus tests are given and all teachers are vaccinated.Weingarten said vaccines have been the decisive factor in her vision for a fall reopening. President Joe Biden in March ordered states to prioritize teachers in vaccination rollouts, and by the end of that month, federal health officials said 80% of school workers had been given their first shot.“The fear that they will bring the virus home decreases the moment they get their shot,” Weingarten wrote. Surveys by the union find that 89% of its 1.7 million members have been fully vaccinated or want to be, she says in her remarks.Still, Weingarten isn’t suggesting a quick return to the type of schooling students knew before the pandemic. Schools should continue with mask requirements, social distancing, contact tracing and other measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she writes.“It’s not risk free,” Weingarten says. “But we can manage the threat by encouraging people to get vaccines and following guidance from the CDC.”Story continuesThe union will continue to push for 3 feet of space between students in classrooms, which the CDC recommended in March after reducing it from 6 feet. Weingarten said schools should work over the summer to “find adequate space” to maintain smaller classes through next school year.A $1.9 trillion aid package that Biden signed in March included $123 billion to help schools reopen and recover from the pandemic. Weingarten, who endorsed Biden, wrote that his administration has been “fighting the pandemic with science, truth, transparency and, yes, money.”“The United States will not be fully back until we are fully back in school. And my union is all in,” she says.The CDC has been saying since February that schools can safely reopen with certain safety measures, but many of the nation’s largest districts have remained mostly or entirely online. The latest federal data found that, in March, 54% of public elementary and middle schools were offering five days a week of in-person instruction to all students.Even in districts that have reopened, many students have opted to stay at home, including a disproportionate share of nonwhite students. Weingarten is suggesting that schools create committees of parents and teachers to tackle safety issues. That, along with continued safety measures, would help rebuild with families, Weingarten says.The union is also coming out with a $5 million campaign to push for a fall reopening. The group said it will reach out to teachers, families and communities to highlight the value of getting all students back in the classroom. A local union in Pittsburgh plans to go door to door talking about safety measures in place in schools. Other local groups are helping operate vaccination clinics for students and families.“When I say we’re all in,” Weingarten says, “we’re all in.”







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US jobless claims fall to another pandemic low | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits with states kept trending downward last week to a new pandemic low, in a sign that layoffs continue to ebb.The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new coronavirus pandemic low and the latest evidence that fewer employers are cutting jobs as consumers ramp up spending and more businesses reopen.
Thursday’s report from the United States Department of Labor showed that applications declined 34,000 from a revised 507,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has fallen significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January. Instead of cutting jobs, many employers are struggling to attract enough applicants for open positions.
With hiring up, vaccinations increasing and the economy accelerating, consumers have grown more confident and, on average, are flush with cash after limiting their spending during the pandemic. Stimulus cheques have also bolstered many bank accounts.
Now, more Americans are venturing out to shop, travel, dine out and congregate at entertainment venues. The reopening has proceeded so fast that many businesses aren’t yet able to staff up as quickly as they would like.
Economists monitor weekly jobless claims for early signs of where the job market is headed. Since the pandemic started, though, these numbers have become a less reliable barometer than they normally are. States have struggled to clear backlogs of unemployment applications. And suspected fraud has clouded the actual volume of job cuts.
In April, employers added 266,000 jobs, far fewer than expected and a sign that some businesses struggled to find enough workers. The surprisingly low gain raised concerns that businesses may find it hard to hire quickly as the economy keeps improving and that regaining pre-pandemic employment levels could take longer than hoped.
In Thursday’s report, the government said nearly 16.9 million people were receiving unemployment aid during the week of April 24, the latest period for which data is available. That is up from 16.2 million in the previous week. The increase occurred mostly in California and Michigan. More than 600,000 people in those two states were added to the federal jobless benefit programme that was set up for gig workers and contractors.
A number of reasons explain why many people who are out of work might be reluctant to take jobs. Some worry that working in restaurants, hotels, or other service industries will expose them to the virus, according to government surveys. In addition, many women, especially working mothers, have had to leave the workforce to care for children who are still in online school for at least part of the week.
And a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit is likely discouraging some of the unemployed from looking for work. For jobless people who earned less than $32,000 a year at their former jobs, their combined federal unemployment aid plus state benefits means they are receiving at least as much from jobless benefits as they did when they worked, according to an estimate by economists at Bank of America.
President Joe Biden, who included the supplemental payment in his $1.9 trillion rescue package approved in March, earlier this week disputed that the $300 payment is to blame for the drop-off in hiring last month. But he also urged the Labor Department to work with states on renewing requirements that recipients of unemployment aid must search for jobs and take a position if offered. The job search rule was suspended during the pandemic, when many businesses were closed and employment opportunities were few.
“Anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said.







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Chinese Uyghur policy causes ‘unprecedented’ fall in Xinjiang birthrates | Uyghurs From “World news | The Guardian”



Birthrates in Xinjiang fell by almost half in the two years after the Chinese government implemented policies to reduce the number of babies born to Uyghur and other minority Muslim families, new research has claimed.The figures show unprecedented declines which were more extreme than any global region at any time in the 71 years of UN fertility data collection, including during genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia, according to the authors of the report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Aspi).The data adds to mounting evidence of coercive fertility policies in Xinjiang, including multiple first person accounts of forced sterilisation or birth control, and leaked policing data on the internment of women for violating family planning regulations.They are among Chinese government policies believed to be designed to forcibly assimilate the Uyghur and other Muslim populations. In April, Human Rights Watch determined the Chinese government was committing multiple crimes against humanity but said the extent of coercive birth control and sexual violence, while alarming, needed more investigation. Other governments, including the UK, and legal groups have determined the Chinese government is committing genocide.The authors of the report, Nathan Ruser and James Leibold, said they compiled the report using publicly available Chinese government statistics to create datasets of county-level birthrates from 2011 to 2019, and comparing counties with higher proportions of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities.It covered the period before, during, and after the implementation of the Chinese Communist party’s campaigns against “illegal births” in April 2017, when authorities also stopped publishing statistics on the birthrates of separate minority groups.Aspi’s report found the birthrate across Xinjiang fell by 48.74% between 2017 and 2019. In counties where the population was at least 90% non-Han Chinese, the birthrate dropped by an average 56.5% between 2017 and 2018. By examining county-level statistics, the report provided further evidence of “the systematic targeting” of communities, it said.“Previous research by both Chinese and foreign experts has examined the tightening of birth control policy in Xinjiang and a corresponding drop in natural population growth beginning in 2015, but even more dramatically after 2017,” it said.Among the evidence cited in the report, Aspi also included state media reports about crackdowns on “illegal births”, and the collection of US$1m from 629 families over four months in a single county. In other areas authorities launched hotlines and rewarded people who informed on their neighbours, and punished officials who failed to meet targets.“The crackdown has led to an unprecedented and precipitous drop in official birthrates in Xinjiang since 2017. The birthrate across the region fell by nearly half (48.74 %) in the two years between 2017 and 2019,” said the report.Citing state media, the report said in 2017, 460 party members and state employees were punished for illegal births in Hotan prefecture, where 97% of the population is Uyghur or from other non-Han groups. ‘The memories never leave me’: Uighur teacher describes forced sterilisation – video interviewWhile China’s government enforced a one-child policy for decades, it allowed minority families to have three children in rural areas or two in urban areas. The report said while the overall birthrate for the Xinjiang region remained relatively stable throughout the period, many individual counties, especially in the Uyghur-majority south, had exceptionally high birthrates in the past decade. There were 68 children born per 1,000 people in Kashgar in 2014, compared with 16.5 at the regional level.Aspi said policymakers saw this as “an increasingly urgent problem and source of perceived instability, literally a breeding ground for the ‘three evil forces’ of extremism, terrorism and splitism”.The Chinese government denies the allegations of mistreatment, genocide and crimes against humanity, saying many of its policies – including the mass detention network it says includes vocational training centres – are anti-terrorism efforts. It says birth control is entirely the choice of individuals and there is no agency interference. This claim has been contradicted by multiple women who claim they were coerced into sterilisation or contraception.The crackdown on minority population growth comes at the same time the Chinese government is trying to stave off a demographic crisis due to low birthrates in the rest of the country, and an ageing population.The Aspi report was published a day after the Chinese government released figures from its once-a-decade census, finding the decade to 2020 had the slowest annual population growth since the early 1960s. The census reported a bigger increase to China’s minority population compared with the Han population, however this was not broken down to county levels, and included the seven years prior to the major interventions on fertility in Xinjiang.“One thing we found is that in other provinces of similarly high minority populations … the birthrate climbed by about 3% in the last decade,” said Ruser. “So these policies seem to be very deliberately targeted towards the community of Xinjiang and the Uyghur community. When they talk about those general minority figures, I think you have to keep in mind there’s 55 other minorities.”







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Senior Swiss diplomat in Iran found dead after fall from high-rise building From “World News”



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Is it safe to travel this summer or fall? Here’s what experts say From “International: Top News And Analysis”



For some homebound travelers yearning for a vacation, the question isn’t whether to book a vacation this year, but when. Enthusiasm for travel is at its highest point in a year, with 87% of American travelers expected to take a trip this summer, according to a survey conducted last week by travel market research company Destination Analysts.But is the summer the best time to travel this year, or is it prudent to wait? Medical professionals present several scenarios of how the rest of 2021 may play out.   1. A summer of low infection ratesDr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said she expects this summer to have lower infection rates than the winter.”When I add in the idea that kids 12 and older will also have access to vaccines this summer, the risk to families will continue to drop, allowing for more activities and with lower risk … to all,” she said.Dr. Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said she thinks there is “a real chance at a summer with much lower rates of disease, however, it means we all have to pull together and do our part” by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing and practicing hand hygiene.Vaccinations are important for safe summer travel, said UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Dr. Anne Rimoin, though she noted they are “no guarantee” against infection.Tetra Images/TGI | Tetra images | Getty ImagesAs to whether traveling is safe this summer, she said it depends on two factors: vaccinations and variants.”It all depends upon how many vaccines we get in arms,” Rimoin said. “The variants are more contagious, so … those that are not vaccinated are more easily infected.”2. A good summer and a ‘mild fall’Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in April that he expects infection rates to be “really low” in the United States this summer, which will likely result in “a relatively mild fall.”After that, things may change, he said.We’re going to have to do things differently as we get into the winter.Scott GottliebFormer FDA commissioner”I think we should be thinking about the late winter,” he said. “I think the overall death and disease from Covid, hopefully, will be diminished, but there’s a chance that it’s going to start to spread again.”Gottlieb said Covid-19 will “transition this year … from more of a pandemic strain to a seasonal strain.” This, however, could change if variants that can “pierce” prior immunity or vaccines develop, though he noted that “right now we don’t see that on the horizon.””I don’t think we’re going to be having holiday parties in the back room of a crowded restaurant on December 20th,” he said. “I think that we’re going to have to do things differently as we get into the winter.””But I think that’s going to be a fact of life going forward for a number of years anyway,” said Gottlieb.  3. Flare-ups and outbreaksDr. Charles Bailey, medical director for infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Providence Mission Hospital, does not view this summer as a safe period for travel before infections return in the fall because he expects outbreaks to continue throughout the year.He said he anticipates the majority of the United States will continue on a path to normalcy, while areas experience “episodic disease flare-ups — local and regional ‘hotspots’ — of Covid activity through the remainder of 2021 and into early 2022.”  Mark Cameron, epidemiologist and associate professor at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, also doesn’t see the summer as a “window of opportunity for perfectly safe travel per se” because of concerns about last summer’s surges and the possibility of variant-fueled outbreaks.He compared the current state of the pandemic to “watching the tick and the tock of an irregular clock pendulum.” “The pandemic could end with the virus circulating unpredictably, with new variants causing outbreaks or epidemics on a semi-regular basis, especially where vaccine availability is low or vaccine hesitancy is high, much like the flu does now,” said Cameron.”The moment we’re in — with vaccination rates, variant spread and Covid-19 fatigue competing with each other — is critically important in putting a lid on this virus and its growing penchant for evading our eradication efforts,” he said.4. The chance of another summer surgeWilliam Haseltine, former professor at Harvard Medical School and author of “Variants! The Shape-Shifting Challenge of COVID-19,” said there is a risk of another summer surge, and traveling during the summer will only exacerbate the problem.  “The more people choose to travel as an escape from the very real pandemic stress and fatigue, the more we risk another surge of cases this summer,” he said.Covid-19 is expected to eventually become a seasonal illness, yet it is unknown when this will occur.Marko Klaric / EyeEm | EyeEm | Getty ImagesHaseltine said many people hope warm summer weather will bring a decrease in Covid cases, due to the seasonality of other coronaviruses and influenza viruses. But as it turns out, this virus is “far less seasonal than many expected it to be,” he said. “If you look back at 2020 and the early part of 2021, you’ll see that there have been fall surges and winter surges, as one might expect, but there have also been spring surges and summer surges.”While the virus that causes Covid-19 is expected to become seasonal at some point, the UN World Meteorological Organization highlighted in a report that “there is no evidence” that this year will be different from 2020.  Read more on summer travel in the age of CovidDr. Supriya Narasimhan, chief of infectious diseases at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, agreed that another summer surge is possible, even in places where vaccines are being aggressively rolled out.She agreed that Covid is “less seasonal than flu” and said the factors which will affect whether another surge occurs are public compliance with masking, vaccine uptake and variants.”It is a game of cat-and-mouse with the virus mutating and the only way to stop it is to stop transmission,” she said. “We may yet hit a vaccine ‘wall’ in that people just don’t want to take it even if available.””In my opinion, we need more data to make travel decisions,” she said.Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health care tech company Aetion Inc. and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel.”







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Picture of two pandemics: Covid cases fall in rich west as poorer nations suffer | Coronavirus From “World news | The Guardian”



The past seven days has been a picture of two pandemics. Among the world’s richest nations, lockdowns and well-resourced vaccine campaigns, which have monopolised the early global supply of doses, have brought down infections and deaths. Economies have slowly opened. Restrictions have been lifted. Life has crept closer to normal, giving the false impression of an end in sight to the global pandemic.In reality, as the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom pointed out, more cases have been reported in the past two weeks than in the entire first six months of the pandemic, with south Asia bearing the brunt..This was echoed by the UN children’s agency Unicef on Friday. “The pandemic is far from over,” it said. “Covid-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate across south Asia, especially in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Entire health systems could collapse, leading to more tragic loss of life. Besides south Asia, we are also seeing alarming situations in other parts of the world.”As India once again broke global records for new cases (414,188) and deaths (3,915), the question of how to characterise and respond to an emerging two-speed world has occupied international leaders.At the forefront has been the vexed question of how to increase vaccine production and delivery to ensure a fairer distribution, with only 0.2% of the 700m vaccines distributed so far going to low-income countries.Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister, speaking at a World Health Organization briefing at the beginning of the week, said: “This is a manmade catastrophe. By our failure to extend vaccination more rapidly to every country, we are choosing who lives and who dies.”By the middle of the week the campaign to waive patents on vaccines, backed by Brown, had drawn the backing of Biden administration and, somewhat less forcefully, the EU.The reality, as experts have pointed out, is that extending vaccine equity to the developing world is likely to be more complicated.The recent catastrophic resurgence of coronavirus in south Asia, and India and Nepal in particular, has been driven by more complex factors than simply a shortage of vaccines, not least in India, whose Serum Institute, the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, is already licensed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine.The spread of the virus at the national level and within countries has been dictated by multiple issues, including demographics, political decisions over prevention and mitigation measures, and the relative strength or fragility of health systems. In the developing world other factors have included the failure to distribute what vaccines have become available and vaccine hesitancy.All of this has been underlined by a WHO warning that African countries were vulnerable to a similar coincidence of circumstances that has led to the current crisis in south Asia.A Covid patient receives oxygen as he lies on a bed outside an emergency ward of a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Friday. Photograph: Niranjan Shrestha/AP“The delay in the delivery of vaccine doses from the Serum Institute of India earmarked for Africa, the delay in the deployment of vaccines and the emergence of new variants, means that the risk of a new wave of infections remains very high in Africa,” the WHO’s Africa regional office said in a statement on Thursday. It said new variants, such as the ones that emerged in India and South Africa, could unleash a “third wave” on the continent.Already there are worrying signs in Egypt, which this week imposed tight new restrictions, after average daily new cases doubled from about 500 in early February to just over 1,000, and epidemic hotspots emerged in the southern province of Sohag and in Cairo.“The tragedy in India does not have to happen here in Africa, but we must all be on the highest possible alert,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director, said. “While we call for vaccine equity, Africa must also knuckle down and make the best of what we have. We must get all the doses we have into people’s arms.”Some African countries had been exemplary in deploying vaccines, the WHO said, without naming them. But it added that in spite of this, only just under “half of the 37m doses received in Africa have been administered so far”.Africa now accounts for only 1% of vaccine doses administered globally, the WHO said, down from 2% a few weeks ago, as other regions’ vaccine distribution programmes are progressing much faster.The first vaccines deliveries to 41 African countries under the Covax scheme began in March, but nine countries have so far administered only a quarter of the doses received, while 15 countries have used less than half of their allocations.There are worries about how errors in anticipating second and third waves of the virus, marked by the emergence of the new and more contagious variants, could affect the most vulnerable countries in the developing world. Writing in the New York Times, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, who won the 2019 Nobel prize for economic sciences for their work on alleviating poverty, said action needed to be taken now to anticipate where Covid-19 would strike next.“Most critically, however, we should anticipate the possibility that the virus will spread through Africa, where a vaccination campaign that had barely started is now endangered by the situation in India, which stopped exporting vaccines many countries were relying on.“This would bring disaster in countries where oxygen supplies and hospital beds are extremely limited. The United States and Europe need to get ready to act quickly when necessary. This means shipping and making vaccines as fast as possible, and perhaps even more urgently, this means investing in global surveillance and testing, and being prepared to ship oxygen and equipment and to provide financial support for people in lockdown.”That message was reinforced by Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s chief medical adviser, who – while welcoming the patent waiver initiative – said that in the interim the west needed to support vaccine companies in increasing production to make vaccines available for the developing world.Workers disinfecting the al-Fateh mosque in Cairo. There are worrying signs the city could become a new virus hotspot. Photograph: Mohamed Hossam/EPA“I am certainly not against anything that can get doses of vaccine quickly into the arms of people in the developing world,” Fauci told Politico. “I feel very strongly that we have a moral obligation as a rich nation, to really put our forces in our resources into helping those who would otherwise die because they happen to be in a country that they were born in.“Having been through a horrible situation, with close to 600,000 people in [the US] having died, we want to feel really comfortable that we have absolutely interrupted the chain of transmission before we do anything else.“You can ramp up production, by investing resources into the companies that are already doing it. And you can do it in a way to say ramp it up, but it’s going to be for the developing world in addition to us,” he said.







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Big Chinese rocket segment set to fall to Earth From “BBC News – World”



Tracking radars are following closely the gradual fall to Earth of a large Chinese rocket vehicle.







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Governor says Utah won’t mandate masks in schools next fall From “World News Headlines, Latest International News, World Breaking News – Times of India”



Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has previously defended his administration’s decision to mandate masks in schools this school year against parent protests. AP PhotoSALT LAKE CITY: Utah’s governor said Thursday the state has no plans to require masks for students in K-12 schools next fall, following months of mounting pressure from parents calling for the mandate’s end. Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has previously defended his administration’s decision to mandate masks in schools this school year against parent protests, but now says the state’s rising vaccination rates indicate that districts are prepared to limit restrictions. “We now have the ability for those that have concerns about the virus to protect ourselves much more,” Cox told The Associated Press. “We have better masks available and opportunities for people to make those decisions.” Dozens of districts nationwide have already dropped mask mandates and many more districts have indicated they are likely to not require them next fall. At least half of states still have statewide mask mandates in place, and many school districts still require masks. The school-tracking site Burbio found 62% of schools were offering in-person learning every day by late April. As recently as last month, Utah’s governor said that if the state removed masks “there are a whole bunch of vulnerable kids and vulnerable parents who would have to take their kids out of school and we don’t want that to happen,” the Deseret News reported. Cox said Thursday that’s no longer a major concern as cases drop. Cox said that students who are at a higher risk can protect themselves by wearing N95 masks to school or utilizing remote learning if their school offers it. Those decisions will be up to families rather than the government, he said. “There will certainly be opportunities to accommodate those who may be struggling or are worried about that but our hope is that … by the time we’re back in school by the end of August that that won’t be a concern for most families,” Cox said. Requiring masks in schools has been contentious for Utah parents over the last year. Granite School District board members were forced to adjourn a meeting and call police Tuesday after 30 to 40 anti-mask parents began shouting. In November, protesters who characterized masks in school as “child abuse” disrupted another district meeting in American Fork. Lifting mask mandates now would be a mistake, and over the summer there should be serious conversations about safe benchmarks for the fall, said Adam Hersh, a University of Utah professor of pediatric infectious diseases. In some ways, when it comes to Covid-19 precautions, a school is more like a hospital or doctor’s office than a grocery store, he said. Kids don’t generally have choices about where they attend school in the same way adults can choose where to shop. School is also where people spend hours indoors, creating more potential for exposure. “I think there’s a moral obligation to ensure schools are as safe as possible,” he said. Hersh worked on a study that showed transmission rates are very low, under 1%, at schools with precautions like masks and distancing. There’s little data on school settings without masks, but there are troubling indications from earlier in the pandemic, including when Israel lifted a mask mandate during a heatwave in summer 2020 and high transmission rates at a summer camp in Georgia. Some of those risks are lower now as vaccination rates rise among U.S. adults, but shots haven’t been approved for kids younger than 16. That appears likely to change by next school year, as the FDA is expected to approve use of the Pfizer vaccine among kids as young as 12. Younger children, though, likely won’t have access by next school year. And though children overall aren’t considered as vulnerable to the coronavirus, there are indications that variants like the one first identified in the U.K. are a bigger threat. While children formed a small portion of cases early on, they’re making up a greater portion of case counts, in line with their share of the population, as more adults get vaccinated and variants become more prevalent. Utah lifted its statewide mask mandate on April 10, but a mask order for K-12 schools ends June 15, when most districts have let out for summer. It is unclear if districts or schools will be able to impose their own mask rules, but Cox said the Legislature could convene to reinstate some restrictions if cases surge again. The Utah Education Association said in a statement that mask requirements for teachers, staff and students “should remain in place until public health experts signal is it safe to remove them.” FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail







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US birth rate sees biggest fall for nearly 50 years | US news From “World news | The Guardian”



The US birth rate has fallen 4% in the largest single-year drop in nearly 50 years, according to a government report.The rate dropped for mothers of every major race and ethnicity, and in nearly all age groups, falling to the lowest point since federal health officials started tracking it more than a century ago, the report due to be published on Wednesday said.Births have been declining in younger women for years, as many postponed motherhood and had smaller families.Birth rates for women in their late 30s and in their 40s have been inching up. But not last year.The US once was among only a few developed countries with a fertility rate above the 2.1 children per woman that ensured each generation had enough children to replace itself. But the rate has been sliding for more than 10 years and last year dropped to about 1.6, the lowest rate on record. “The fact that you saw declines in births even for older moms is quite striking,” said lead author of the report, Brady Hamilton, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The figures suggest that the current generation will not have enough children to replace itself.The CDC report is based on a review of more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year. The findings echo a recent Associated Press analysis of 2020 data from 25 states showing that births had fallen during the coronavirus outbreak.The pandemic contribute to last year’s big decline, experts said. Anxiety about Covid-19 and its impact on the economy likely caused many couples to think that it was not the right time to have a baby.But many of the 2020 pregnancies began well before the US epidemic. CDC researchers are working on a follow-up report to better parse out how the decline unfolded, Hamilton said.Other highlights from the CDC report include:
About 3.6 million babies were born in the US last year, down from about 3.75 million in 2019. When births were booming in 2007, the US recorded 4.3 million births.
The US birth rate dropped to about 56 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age, the lowest rate on record. The rate is half of what it was in the early 1960s.
The birth rate for 15 to 19-year-olds dropped 8% from 2019. It has fallen almost every year since 1991.
Birth rates fell 8% for Asian-American women; 3% for Hispanic women; 4% for Black and white women; and 6% for mothers who were American Indians or Alaska Natives.
The caesarean delivery rate rose slightly to about 32%. It had generally been declining since 2009.
The percentage of infants born small and premature – at less less than 37 weeks of gestation – fell slightly to 10% after rising five years in a row.







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