One year of COVID-19: recalling sights and sounds of pandemic
The nation has endured agonizing moments during the coronavirus pandemic but also witnessed instances to restore our faith in humanity.
Staff Video, USA TODAY
Kentucky reported 1,054 new COVID-19 cases and three additional coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday.
The state’s test positivity rate was again above 5%, at 5.71%.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 2,250,973 Kentuckians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
There have been 471,669 total coronavirus cases and 7,304 related deaths in Kentucky since the start of the pandemic.
There were 347 Kentuckians hospitalized with the virus Tuesday, including 112 in intensive care units and 44 on ventilators.
Indiana coronavirus tracker: Get the latest numbers here
Where are the coronavirus cases in Kentucky?
All of Kentucky’s 120 counties have seen diagnosed cases of the coronavirus.
Because multiple labs are testing for coronavirus, demographic information for patients is not always immediately available. This tracker and map is based on daily updates provided by Beshear’s office each evening. Numbers reported by county and local health departments may differ from what the state is reporting.
SEARCH: Coronavirus cases, deaths and rates for every county in the U.S.
This Universal Credit uplift had been due to last a year, having been first announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. At the 2021 Spring Budget, it was later extended to the end of September this year.
She asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey “what recent progress her Department has made on tackling child poverty”.
Will Quince, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions replied: “Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to protect the most vulnerable, which is why we spent an additional £7.4billion last year to strengthen the welfare safety support for working-age people.
“Our ambition is to help parents return to work as quickly as possible, as there is clear evidence of the importance of having parents in work for reducing the risk of child poverty.
“That is why we are spending over £30billion on a comprehensive plan for jobs.”
Ms Ali replied: “I thank the Minister for his answer, but 60 percent of kids in my constituency are living in poverty, and over 4.2 million live in poverty across the country.
“The numbers have gone up by 700,000 since 2010, and the Government’s limited extension to the local support grants does not make up for the cuts to universal credit, which will mean that families are £1,000 a year worse off from September.
“Is it not time that the Minister reconsidered that decision and made sure that families do not lose £1,000 from September, so that more children are not forced into poverty?”
Mr Quince said: “I thank the hon. Lady for her question. We are wholly committed to supporting families with children.
“We spent an estimated £111billion, including £7.4billion on Covid-related measures, on working-age welfare in 2020-21. In addition, as the hon. Lady referenced, we introduced the Covid local support grant.
“We have now extended that grant with an additional £160 million in funding between 21 June and 30 September. That brings the total funding package to £429 million.
“For the hon. Lady’s constituency—I reference Tower Hamlets London Borough Council—it means an overall funding package of over £3million.”
Labour MP for Rochdale Tony Lloyd also asked about Universal Credit in the Commons yesterday.
Within her response to his question, Dr Coffey said: “As the House will well know, we are absolutely committed not only to making sure that this is a temporary measure, but to helping people get back into work.
“We believe that that continues to be the best way, especially as there are vacancies across the country, and we will strain every sinew to help make that happen.”
The standard allowance for Universal Credit was increased by £20 per week, as was the basic element in Working Tax Credit.
The extension announced in March 2021 was for six months, meaning it will come to an end in September.
The royal looked beautiful in an image released alongside a lengthy statement. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a favourite t-shirt, the “Cotton Blend Puff Sleeve Top” from the Lauren Ralph Lauren line. The top costs around £60.
With the look, Kate wore a pair of pearl and gold earrings.
While still fairly pricey, the gems are a steal by royal standards.
The earrings, a pair of gold hoops with detachable pearl charms, are by British designer Freya Rose.
The earrings, currently on a waiting list, are described by the brand as “beautiful hoop earrings with detachable pearls.
The Duchess launching The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. It is hoped the foundation will drive awareness of and action on the impact of the early years.
It is an issue Kate is passionate about, and she loaned her words to the forwards of the centre’s inaugural report, Big Change Starts Small.
The Duchess wrote: “Our first five years lay important foundations for our future selves. This period is when we first learn to manage our emotions and impulses, to care and to empathise, and thus ultimately to establish healthy relationships with ourselves and others.
“It is a time when our experience of the world around us, and the way that moulds our development, can have a lifelong impact on our future mental and physical wellbeing.
“Indeed, what shapes our childhood shapes the adults and the parents we become.”
It comes just one week after fans were thrilled to see Kate meet with Jill Biden to discuss early years.
The Duchess was joined by the First Lady of the United States, Dr Jill Biden, on a visit to Connor Downs Academy in Cornwall.
The pair visited the school’s Reception Class to hear how pupils are supported through a bespoke Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.
Brexit: Expert discusses UK’s ‘major advantages’ in trade
From July 1, customers will have to pay import charges on all goods entering Germany from countries outside of the continental trading bloc, following a plan from Brussels aimed at coming down hard on VAT fraud. But the move from Germany has added more fuel to the fire between the UK and European Union as post-Brexit tensions continue to intensify following Britain’s full and completed departure from the bloc on December 31. A UK-based SME selling music records has compared Brexit to “death by 1,000 cuts” because of the increasing number of restrictions they are continually faced with, and warned their trade with the EU is already plummeting.
The record seller told freight and logistics industry news website The Loadstar: “It leaves me in a Brexit limbo right now, where I am continuing to sell stuff direct, but only low-value, under €22.
“And it is now beginning to affect our sales, with the percentage of trade with the EU dropping from 25 percent to 17 percent.”
The SME believes conducting businesses through the likes of eBay and Amazon could cut through much of the Brexit trading red tape they are struggling with and offer a more straightforward route to market.
But the record seller warned this could also see costs surge.
Brexit news: Germany introduces tough new rules on U (Image: GETTY)
Brexit news: The VAT move from Germany has been attacked by small businesses in the UK (Image: GETTY)
James Sibley, head of international affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, is hopeful the £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund could help avoid some of the financial and trading issues.
The SME Brexit Support Fund provides firms with £2,000 to help with training or professional advice if the business has up to 500 employees and no more than £100million annual turnover.
Mr Sibley is calling for UK and EU ministers to work together to minimise and trade barriers for smaller firms, warning the new VAT exemption “will hit a lot of firms hard”.
He told The Loadstar: “What we really need to see is policymakers on both sides of the Channel doing their utmost to minimise additional tariff and non-tariff barriers for the smallest firms as we try to get the global economy back on track.
Brexit news: Tensions between the UK and EU have intensified over recent weeks (Image: GETTY)
“Fundamentally though, firms are struggling with the new requirements that have arisen because of the EU-UK trade deal and ending the VAT exemption will hit a lot of firms hard.”
International courier DHL has warned customers of the upcoming VAT exemption changes but added some exceptions would remain in place.
The company, which delivers over 1.5billion parcels each year, said: “Customers will not have to pay import duties if the goods were ordered from an online marketplace already registered in the EU and pays the VAT due in an EU country (the so-called import one-stop shop solution (IOSS).
“If the value of the goods is so low that import VAT due is less than €1 – meaning the goods are worth no more than €5.23 – customs will waive the charges.”
Brexit news: The UK and EU signed a trade deal at the end of last year (Image: GETTY)
Brexit news: The value of imports coming into the UK from EU member states has plummeted (Image: GETTY)
DHL added for customers who fail to pay import charges in advance, it would pay these charges before collecting them from the recipient on delivery when it is picked up at a retail outlet, in addition to a VAT customs clearance fee of at least €6 also included.
The latest post-Brexit change comes after the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed the value of goods imported from the EU has plunged.
In March 2019, imports from the remaining 27 EU member states totalled £25.2billion, compared with £17.8billion for the rest of the world.
But this year, EU imports have plummeted by nearly 30 percent to £18.9billion, while non-EU imports increased slightly by 2.1 percent to £19.3billion.
Brexit news: The key moments that led to the UK’s departure from the EU (Image: EXPRESS)
This first time the latter has outstripped the former since records began.
In a further blow for Brussels following Brexit, the figures, shared by Facts4EU, also reveals a huge year-on-year drop in the value of imports from the EU27.
During the first three months of 2019, more than half (55.9 percent) of all good imported into the UK came from the bloc’s 27 remaining member states.
But that has started to dip since then, to 52.9 percent in the same period last year and to 48.7 percent during the three month period in 2021.
Extra coronavirus testing sites are also being arranged.
But it is feared that the mutant strain could have already spread into the community.
This emerged after staff and customers who visited The Black Lion in Cheddleton and The Three Horseshoes Country Inn and Spa in Blackshaw Moor between May 22 and 23 are also being told to get swabbed.
Fears about the Indian variant spreading across the UK have been rumbling for weeks.
It has killed tens of thousands in India and is more transmissible than the original strain of Covid and its Kent variant counterpart.
This has led to increasing pressure on Boris Johnson to look into delaying lifting all social distancing measures on June 21 – a move which would outrage the libertarian side of his party.
He has so far resisted, even after the government’s former chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir Mark Walport warned about the dangers of not trying to control the Covid variant’s spread.
He told the Guardian it was “not impossible” that the country was in the foothills of a new wave.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also paused the loosening of restrictions for millions of Scots due to rising case rates earlier today.
But, so far at least, Number 10 has stood firm.
A spokesman said: “The prime minister has said on a number of occasions that we haven’t seen anything in the data but we will continue to look at the data, we will continue to look at the latest scientific evidence as we move through June towards 21 June.”
Dubai launched its own cryptocurrency dubbed DubaiCoin. The crypto is only trading on a select number of exchanges and a public blockchain will allow people to generate their own DubaiCoin by mining them. The price of Dubaicoin rose by 1,000 percent in the 24 hours to May 29, with the price as of 5.57pm on May 30 standing at $ 0.2769 with a four percent increase in the last day, according to Coin Ranking. The crypto’s value shot up after a press release circulated claiming it had been named as the official digital currency of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
However, the Dubai Government quickly came out to deny the claims, tweeting that the story was an “elaborate phishing scam”.
The fake statement was going around on Wednesday through a website called DubPay.
The claims said: “DubaiCoin will soon be able to be used to pay for a range of goods and services both in store and online, with the clear intention for the coin to be used in place of traditional bank-backed currencies.
“Circulation of the new digital currency will be controlled by both the city [Dubai] itself and authorised brokers.”
The news was quickly picked up by crypto enthusiasts and investors, driving up the price of DubaiCoin from $ 0.009 on Thursday to $ 1.13, according to data from website Crypto.
This was an astonishing gain in the cryptocurrency world as market leaders bitcoin, ethereum and dogecoin among others dropped by about 10 percent overnight.
The drastic surge in value attracted attention from the Dubai Electronic Security Centre, prompting the organisation to issue a warning to investors.
The UAE Government tweeted: “DubaiCoin cryptocurrency was never approved by any official authority.
As things stand, DubaiCoin is not available to buy on any major exchanges.
However, interested investors who are looking to put their money into the crypto will have to do so by exchanging it for bitcoin or Binance Coin at exchanges where DubaiCoin is still available.
DubaiCoin is unavailable on HitBTC and Cryptopia, while it’s also been removed from market-tracking platforms like CoinMarketCap.
The DubPay website now simply leads users to a “blocked URL” page, indicating it’s no longer in action.
In other news from the crypto world, Iran announced it was banning the energy-consuming mining of currencies following blackouts in a few of its cities.
While this may have been due to a drought affecting hydroelectric power generation, Iran said crypto mining was draining more than two GW (gigawatts) from its grid every day.
Matt Greenspan, CEO and founder of Quantum Economics said: “Bitcoin’s energy consumption, and in particular, the percentage of power coming from renewable energies, has been the source of a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt lately.
“Seeing mining companies volunteering to report publicly on this is a good thing, as long as they don’t try to force any changes to the protocol without first reaching broad consensus across the entire network.”
Help to Save is one type of savings scheme, which is intended for people who are on a low income, and it offers a 50 percent Government bonus on the savings. Meanwhile, the Lifetime ISA offers a generous 25 percent bonus from the Government.
As such, savers who have opened the account before their 40th birthday can continue to save in the account and hence be eligible for the bonus for another decade – until they turn 50.
Once a person turns 50, it’s no longer possible to pay into the Lifetime ISA, or earn the 25 percent bonus.
However, the account will remain open, and savings will still earn interest or investment returns.
To open and pay into a Lifetime ISA, the person must be resident in the UK, unless they’re a crown servant, or their spouse or civil partner.
So, how does the Lifetime ISA bonus work?
Those who save in their Lifetime ISA will see the Government then add a 25 percent bonus to their savings within it.
This is up to a maximum of £1,000 per tax year.
It’s also important to remember this £4,000 Lifetime ISA limit counts towards the annual ISA allowance – which is £20,000 for the 2021 to 2022 tax year.
As the Lifetime ISA is intended to save either for a first home or for later life, there are rules when it comes to withdrawing the money.
If money is withdrawn and it doesn’t meet one of the below circumstances, a penalty charge will apply.
GOV.UK explains: “You can withdraw money from your ISA if you’re:
Buying your first home
Aged 60 or over
Terminally ill, with less than 12 months to live.
“You’ll pay a withdrawal charge of 25 percent if you withdraw cash or assets for any other reason (also known as making an unauthorised withdrawal).”
This recovers the Government bonus received on the original savings, and the amount available to take out is less than what was put in.
Last year, the Government temporarily reduced the charge to 20 percent in response to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning a reduced withdrawal charge of 20 percent applied from March 6, 2020 to April 5, 2021.
If a person is using the money to buy their first home, to ensure the “unauthorised withdrawal” charge doesn’t apply, the following must apply:
The property costs £450,000 or less
The property is bought at least 12 months after making the first payment into the Lifetime ISA
The buyer uses a conveyancer or solicitor to act for them in the purchase – the ISA provider will pay the funds directly to them
According to Yahoo Finance, it means that a $ 1000 (£719.39) investment placed on the cryptocurrency at the start of 2021, when its value was around half of a penny, would now be worth more than $ 100,000 (£71,939.50) Yahoo’s Zack Guzman highlighted the rise in a tweet.
He posted: “If you invested $ 1000 into the following on January 1, 2021, you’d have this much as of May 4: – Tesla: $ 907 – GameStop: $ 8,990 – Bitcoin $ 1,946 – Dogecoin: $ 103,703!!!”
In a report, Mr Guzman added how after the $ 0.56 (£0.40) price that Dogecoin appeared to stabilise around on Tuesday, the bet would now be worth $ 103,703 (£74,603.42).
He cited that the US Census Bureau reported the average American household income is at $ 69,000 (£49,638.25).
It means the $ 1000 (£719.39) bet at the start of 2021 on Dogecoin could have created by about 1.5-times the average US household income in just five months, according to Mr Guzman.