Thursday, April 9, 2020

Auto insurance companies return $800 million in premiums because no one is driving

Allstate and American Family are the only two insurance companies so far to announce they will give back money to their clients in what totals to be about $800 million because people are driving far less during the coronavirus crisis:

  • Allstate said it will refund about 15% of premiums paid by its customers in April and May, which comes to a total of about $600 million. Allstate’s payments will go to all US and Canadian customers with personal auto insurance, whether or not their state has any kind of stay-at-home order. Allstate says it is also offering anyone in the United States, whether or not they are an Allstate customer, free identity protection for the rest of the year “since our lives have become more digital.”
  • American Family Insurance said it will give back about $50 per car that a household has insured with the company via a one-time payment. It said that will total about $200 million. American Family, which only serves customers in 19 states, also said its payments would go to all of its customers.

Allstate and American Family also said their customers who are having financial problems because of a loss of income can delay payments on insurance premiums without penalty if they contact the companies. Both are also expanding insurance coverage for customers who use their personal vehicles to deliver food, medicine and other goods. Standard personal auto insurance policies typically exclude coverage that is used for a customer’s car. (KFOR)


Mom raises money for local hospital by baking toilet paper roll cake

A talented mom of two baked a funny cake in the shape of a toilet paper roll to raise money for her local hospital — and ended up raising more than $2,455 in just 24 hours. The 38-year-old mom, from Milton Keynes, England, baked the chocolate fudge sponge cake, iced to look like a toilet roll, and emblazoned with icing letters spelling out “STAY HOME.” By the next morning, she had set up a JustGiving page to auction off the cake to raise money for Milton Keynes Hospital. With the JustGiving page open for donations for just 24 hours, she set her target at just $122. However, by the time she closed the JustGiving page, she was amazed to have received a whopping $2,681 from 260 supporters. She said: “I just can’t believe how crazy it all went. To say I am amazed is an understatement. I am so, so grateful to each and every person that has donated to such an amazing cause.” She said that she was “challenged” on her cake-making business page on Facebook to create a “toilet roll cake.” She decided instead of wasting the cake, she would try and raise $122 for Milton Keynes Hospital. (Fox News)


Oklahoma sheriff: “Get yours and your kids’ burial policy paid up” if you’re not going to stay away from crowds

An Oklahoma sheriff has a warning for those not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously: “People of Choctaw County Oklahoma. If your not going to stay away from crowds. then please get yours and your kids burial policy paid up and get your heart right with God. This C19 virus isn’t going away anyway soon.” The Choctaw County Sheriff Terry Park said in a statement, “Remember this if you get put in the hospital your family cant stay with you. Stop letting your young people go out to the little beer parties I’m hearing about. Stop taking the whole family grocery shopping.” The Sheriff is vocal on his Facebook page about the public following guidelines from the Centers for Disease and Control, such as social distancing. He says a lockdown is needed in order for the public to stay home. He goes on to say “Choctaw County Oklahoma. Running into your family store and other businesses with your family has to stop. Either the governor or whom ever has the power needs to lock our county/state down. You wont do it by yourself. If you must go out be wearing the mask and gloves. Its fixing to get real like we’ve never seen. If you say I’m making you panic I can’t help it. This running around thinking your untouchable is over. I’m not ready to die are you? Pray to God we haven’t spread it worse running in these stores by the thousands. I try to be uplifting and positive but most wont comply. You make a ridiculous statement I will block and delete you. Have a good day at home. My comments are to the people of my county. Ill not debate you over these comments either.” In another post he admitted, “I know I’ve posted some hard comments but I hope it gets your attention in the end. Ive been told by a few people over my comments they wished I’d die with coronavirus and they were going to sue me. Love one another. Play the song ‘Lean On Me.’” (KFOR)


Phone masts that enable the 5G wireless communication are being set on fire in the United Kingdom, apparently by people motivated by a theory that 5G helps spread the coronavirus

The theory that faster 5G internet is either causing or accelerating the spread of the coronavirus is being shared widely on social media despite there being no evidence to support it. Mast fires were reported in Belfast, Liverpool and Birmingham, according to local media. A video of a telecom tower on fire was circulated on a Birmingham community website, and Facebook removed a group that apparently encouraged users to share photos and videos of equipment being destroyed. Concerns about the possible links between 5G and cancer were already slowing the rollout of 5G in countries including Switzerland, despite a lack of scientific support for the claims. In response to the circulating theories, some tech companies are taking action to crack down on the spread. Facebook said that posts claiming a link between 5G and the coronavirus would be subject to “third-party fact checks.” Several sources claimed Wuhan, China (where the coronavirus originated late last year) is also where 5G began to rollout. Under the regulation, conspiracy theories are not banned on Facebook. YouTube said it would remove videos linking 5G and the coronavirus. The UK’s major telecommunication companies, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, released a statement over the weekend calling the theories “baseless” and “harmful for the people and businesses that rely on the continuity of our services.” (KRON)


President Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing U.S. policy on the exploitation of off-Earth resources

That policy stresses that the current regulatory regime, notably, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, allows the use of such resources. The new executive order makes things even more official, stressing that the United States does not view space as a “global commons” and sees a clear path to off-Earth mining, without the need for further international treaty-level agreements. The executive order, called “Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources,” has been in the works for about a year, a senior administration official said. The order was prompted, at least in part, by a desire to clarify the United States’ position as it negotiates with international partners to help advance NASA’s Artemis program for crewed lunar exploration, the official added. Engagement with international partners remains important, the official said. Artemis aims to land two astronauts on the moon in 2024 and to establish a sustainable human presence on and around Earth’s nearest neighbor by 2028. Lunar resources, especially the water ice thought to be plentiful on the permanently shadowed floors of polar craters, are key to Artemis’ grand ambitions, NASA officials have said. The moon is not the final destination for these ambitions, by the way. Artemis is designed to help NASA and its partners learn how to support astronauts in deep space for long stretches, lessons that will be key to putting boots on Mars, which NASA wants to do in the 2030s. (Space)


Man Spends $900 To Buy Gas For Nurses at Detroit Medical Center, Others Follow His Lead

A Detroit man spent his $900 in savings to provide nurses with free gas as they risk their lives on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. He purchased the gas from a station near the Detroit Medical Center and stood outside with a sign that read “FREE GAS FOR NURSES” on one side and “THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO!!!” on the other. “I just love them and I want them to know that,” he said. Several other residents were moved by his act of kindness and decided to pitch in. “Oh my goodness, that is so nice of him! God bless him,” one nurse said as she received her free gas. (WDIV)


Nearly 20 percent of the New York Police Department’s “uniformed workforce” is out sick

Additionally, 12 members of the NYPD have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Though 6,974 uniformed officers are out sick, only 1,935 have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the NYPD’s data. The department said if the number of sick officers increases, it might become necessary to implement 12-hour shifts. A boost in staffing from recovered officers may make the decision unnecessary. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea previously said that while they were not close to implementing 12-hour shifts, they would do so if necessary. The NYPD said it is cracking down on social and religious gatherings. (CNN)


Millennials caught short in crisis

Millennials are coming into the pandemic-induced downturn with the chips stacked against them. Not only are they carrying unprecedented amounts of student and credit card debt, they’re more involved in the gig economy, which the contagion is disrupting. While Generation X, now from 40 to 55 years old, weathered the financial crisis at the same age that millennials are today (23 to 35), they did so with about twice the total assets. (The New York Times)


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline saw 891 percent more calls last month compared to March 2019

The agency said that the 22,000 calls and texts the helpline received in March were also 338 percent greater than the number that came through in February before most regions of the U.S. were under any form of an economic shutdown. Health officials said this week that major U.S. agencies are unprepared for a developing mental health crisis, due to stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Health leaders in the U.K. also suggested that doctors and nurses around the world would need significant treatment for PTSD, due to intense working conditions and an increase in deaths at hospitals. (ABC News)


Updated predictions by the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) suggest a rosier outlook on the length and severity of the pandemic in the U.S. than previous estimates

The IHME’s revised model predicts approximately 81,766 total deaths in the U.S. (an improvement on other models that suggested death totals in the hundreds of thousands or even millions), and a peak on April 16, earlier than previous estimates. Though the IHME still predicts a shortage of intensive care beds, the model shows U.S. hospitals will be better equipped to handle a short-term influx of patients than in previous analyses. The updated data reflects an increase in available reports of hospital admissions and takes into account decreases in new deaths and cases in European countries that enacted strict social distancing measures. (US News)


One Politician Trying To Help His People

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a trained doctor, is one of some 50,000 former medical professionals that have offered to help with the coronavirus crisis in Ireland. He worked as a doctor for seven years before entering politics and is now working one day a week for the country’s national health service. His office said that he would provide phone assessment services to people who think they may have contracted the virus. “Many of his family and friends are working in the health service. He wanted to help out even in a small way,” his spokesman said. (Irish Times)


The U.S. State Department has added a group of Russian white supremacists to its list of terrorist organizations

This is the first time the United States has ever designated white supremacists as terrorists, and the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator said this illustrates how seriously this administration takes the white supremacist terrorist threat. The designation will bar members of the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) from entering the U.S. and will enable officials to block any American property or assets belonging to the group. The designation comes amid worries that some white nationalist groups are expanding internationally. (Washington Post)


Chinese officials ended the lockdown on Wuhan, where the coronavirus first emerged

The city is profoundly damaged, a place whose recovery will be watched for lessons on how populations move past pain and calamity of such staggering magnitude. After several long months, residents can now leave the city if they display a phone app that measures their contagion risk, based on their home addresses, recent travels, and medical histories. The move comes as China reported its first day since January with no deaths. (365 News)


Thursday Kicks In With:

  • Appomattox Day
  • Holy Thursday (Thursday after Easter)
  • Jenkins Ear Day
  • Jumbo Day
  • National Alcohol Screening Day
  • National Cherish An Antique Day
  • National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day
  • National Unicorn Day
  • Pesach
  • Winston Churchill Day

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