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Vaccine ‘shortage’ blamed for delay to offer children jabs – Pfizer and Moderna warning

Vaccine: Costello claims UK doesn’t have enough jabs for children

And Professor Anthony Costello has also issued a warning about the risk so-called long Covid poses to youngsters. The NHS is preparing to roll out the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds with underlying health conditions and those living with vulnerable adults.

Youngsters are expected to be offered the Pfizer jab, which was approved for use in children in that age group by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last month following a “rigorous review”.

The Moderna vaccine is not currently recommended for use in children – but the EU is likely to decide on whether to grant approval next week.

AstraZeneca’s jab, which is widely used in the UK, is not currently recommended for use on children under the age of 18.

Sajid Javid AstraZeneca

Sajid Javid, who has tested positive for Covid, and AstraZeneca’s jab (Image: GETTY)

Professor Anthony Costello

Professor Anthony Costello during Friday’s briefing (Image: Independent SAGE)

Speaking during Friday’s briefing by Independent SAGE, Prof Costello, the former Professor of International Child Health and Director of the Institute for Global Health at the University College London, said: “The child vaccination story is interesting.

“Because although they’re delaying and saying they’re not sure and it’s not really that big a problem, I actually think the real reason is that they don’t have adequate supplies at Pfizer and Moderna.

“And I think we have a supply issue at the moment which is why they’re not giving approval for younger children.”

JUST IN: Havana syndrome – US diplomats struck by mystery illness

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid speaking in the Commons on Monday (Image: GETTY)

AstraZeneca vaccine: Dr Green shares what’s in Oxford jab

Speaking at a time of rising concern about the potential impact of the so-called Beta variant which scientists fear may be immune to existing vaccines, Prof Costello also voiced his concerns at any potential herd immunity approach which the Government might adopt which would involve allowing the disease to “rip through the population”.

Prof Costello, who was also director of maternal, child and adolescent health at the World Health Organisation between 2015 and 2018, warned: “If you look at long Covid, we know that of children in the secondary school age group, about 14 percent, or about one in eight almost, of children will have long Covid symptoms.

“We don’t know what the long term effects are – long Covid is really nasty, you get all kinds of symptoms, it can go for on a long period.”

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Under-18s vaccinations

Those under the age of 18 are not currently being vaccinated in the UK (Image: GETTY)

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca’s jab was developed in conjunction with Oxford University (Image: GETTY)

Speaking a day before it was confirmed Health Secretary Sajid Javid had been tested positive despite having been fully inoculated, Prof Costello added: “Older people who have been double vaccinated, get breakthrough infections.

“I’m one case in point – I got Covid three weeks ago I still have some symptoms, and it was a breakthrough, even though I was double vaccinated.

“And finally, if you have everybody getting an infection, the immunity you get from the infection is about half as good as you get from vaccination.

Covid vaccinations UK

Covid vaccinations in the UK as of Wednesday (Image: Express)

“So, the utilitarian principle would be keep community infections under control, get all people vaccinated, including children down to 12 and then you can you get a much better result in the utilitarian sense.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The government will continue to be guided by the advice of the JCVI and no decisions have been made by ministers on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered COVID-19 vaccines.”

The independent medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 and over as it meets their robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.

The Government is understood to be confident it has sufficient supplies of vaccinations – but AstraZeneca’s jab, which is widely used in the UK, is not currently recommended for use on children under the age of 18.

Vaccinations compared

Vaccinations compared (Image: Express)

Speaking yesterday, Professor Sarah Gilbert, one of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine insisted the benefits of vaccinating children were “much lower and poorer” than inoculating adults.

She added: “With still a limited number of doses available to vaccinate the world, we should be use those doses for healthcare workers and for older individuals in countries that don’t yet have a vaccine.”

Express.co.uk understands the UK has made a “risk-benefit” decision on protecting children rather than a calculation taking into account excess supplies which could be shipped abroad for use in adults.

The UK has administered 80 million vaccine doses so far, with more than 87 percent of the population having received at least one jab.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: UK Feed

Foreign worker shortage clouds hoped-for summer business boom

Businesses depending on a summer boom in tourists, beachgoers and other seasonal clientele to pull them out of the pandemic slump are struggling to bring enough foreign workers to the U.S., holding them back from a recovery.

Employers in tourist areas that usually rely on temporary workers from abroad during the surge in seasonal demand say travel restrictions, closed consulates and a limited pool of H-2B seasonal visas are making it even harder to resume operations, just as relaxed Covid-19 strictures and masking rules have allowed for full reopenings in most states.

The squeeze has businesses groups once again lobbying Congress to expand the number of non-immigrant worker visas available, which they warn is essential to the economic recovery this time around.

After absorbing nearly half of the destruction caused by the pandemic shutdowns, the leisure and hospitality industry is still in a deep hole, down 2.5 million jobs from early last year.

“There simply are not enough workers to fill those slots,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, who estimated the industry has about 70,000 openings in the state.
“And there are a number of factors that contribute to that but obviously one of those is the challenge in getting immigrant workers to fill some of the jobs.”

Restaurants and hotels are reducing opening hours, closing for certain days each week and limiting their guests due to a lack of staff, Minges added, which is also resulting in fatigue and burnout among workers who have to pick up the slack.

Robert Melvin, director of government affairs for the The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, said the lack of access to foreign workers is “really holding everyone back in a big way” in the commonwealth.

Kings Dominion, a Virginia amusement park 75-miles south of Washington, D.C., for instance, had to postpone opening its water park until mid-June, a month late, citing a labor shortage and “the availability of seasonal associates.”

“Our folks are getting killed out there with regards to the labor shortages, it’s the biggest impediment to our industry’s recovery at this point,” said Melvin, whose group represents businesses in vacation spots along the state’s coast.

Critics of the temporary seasonal work programs say they take jobs away from American workers, can undercut U.S. wages and may lead to exploitation. A bipartisan pair of senators — Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Ill.) — said a work visa expansion announced by President Joe Biden in April was premature.

But business groups representing restaurants, retailers, theme parks and other industries that rely on summertime demand have been pressing Congress to offer more guest worker visas under the H-2B seasonal guest worker visa program. Employers also use H-2B visas to fill a range of temporary seasonal jobs, from seafood processing and forestry-related jobs to various non-agricultural work like landscaping.

The National Retail Federation argues that the program’s annual cap of 66,000 visas is “well below market demand.”

Another issue is that many U.S. consulates around the world remain shuttered or have reduced hours because of Covid-19 risks. Officials are warning of significant delays in visa processing, preventing many foreign workers and students who would normally visit on J-1 summer work visas from coming to the U.S. for jobs.

Before the coronavirus severely limited foreign travel, there were more than 108,000 people participating in the summer work visa program alone, according to 2019 data from the State Department.

Consulates and embassies have been instructed to process employment visas as a last priority, according to the latest operations update from the agency.

There were nearly 85,000 petitions for temporary, non-immigrant workers pending at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services at the end of March, according to the latest data available from the agency.

“The impact on the economy, it cannot be positive,” said Richard Burke, CEO of Envoy Global, an immigration management company. “All sorts of industries are impacted because of this sort of perfect storm of surging demand, constricted [labor] supply, and uncertainty about supply.”

Fears that the lack of foreign workers could slow down the economic recovery have reignited bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to reform the H-2B program, although lawmakers have been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation in nearly four decades.

A bipartisan group of House members introduced a bill, H.R. 3897 (117), in June that would exempt foreign workers who have previously participated in the program from the 66,000 cap on the number of H-2B visas available each year.

“I decided to go ahead and do the H-2B visa legislation knowing that it’s going to be an uphill battle, but it’s something that a broad [number of] groups support and it’s something that we need to address,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) a co-sponsor of the Returning Worker Exception Act of 2021. “If we don’t get those seasonal workers for a lot of businesses, they won’t be able to totally recover because the two things you need are capital and labor.”

Cuellar said he’s reached out to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to try to get legislation moving in the Senate and that he’s willing to include the H-2B language in must-pass government funding legislation later this session if lawmakers are unable to attract enough support to pass the bill on its own.

The Biden administration has already tried to address the issue, announcing in April it would offer an additional 22,000 H-2B visas this year, citing “increased labor demands.” Of those, the administration set aside 16,000 for returning guest workers and 6,000 for workers from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, often referred to as the Northern Triangle.

But for employers, that extension was a drop in the bucket. Less than two weeks after the visas were made available, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the agency received enough petitions to meet the 16,000 cap for returning workers.

“While that’s all well and good, it’s still nowhere near enough to meet the workforce needs of every seasonal employer,” said Jon Baselice, vice president of immigration policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Many of these folks are small businesses, whether it’s amusement parks or a traveling carnival show, or seafood processor, the landscapers, among many others, [they’re having the] same problems… Expansion needs to be more robust.”

Some in Washington are skeptical that tapping into foreign labor will truly help the economy, pointing to the millions of workers still unemployed from the coronavirus pandemic.

Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Grassley, its top Republican, said that Biden’s decision to increase H-2B visas came at the wrong time.

“We’ve long expressed concerns that perverse incentives created by the H-2B program encourage lower wages and poor working conditions for American and immigrant guest workers alike,” the pair said in a statement in April. “We hope that the Biden administration will work with Congress to reform this program to ensure it better serves Americans and guest workers.”

Business groups argue that with workers sidelined from the pandemic and the seasonal demand returning, there are enough jobs to go around.

“The fact of the matter is our retailers have the demand to hire both legal immigrants, and workers of all stripes,” said Ed Egee, vice president government relations at the NRF. “And we welcome the opportunity to [hire] both.”

Author: Rebecca Rainey
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Katy-area hospitals and educators assess nurse shortage

KATY, Texas — As hospitals nationwide face an ongoing nursing shortage, the deficit is top of mind for many Katy-area health care professionals and educators.

Hospitals across the United States reported higher rates of turnover and staff burnout as nurses faced heavier workloads and treated critically ill COVID-19 patients for more than a year, according to a February study from the U.S. Office of Inspector General.

Texas hospitals, however, have faced nursing shortages since long before the pandemic. The Texas Department of State Health Services projects the Gulf Coast region will have a deficit of 21,400 registered nurses by 2032 as the growing demand continues to outweigh supply.

SEE RELATED: Houston has a shortage of healthcare workers, according to new study

“Health care workforce shortages existed before the pandemic. We didn’t have enough doctors; we didn’t have enough nurses; and the pandemic has definitely exacerbated that problem,” American Medical Association President Susan Bailey said.

The median turnover rate for registered nurses in the Gulf Coast region was 17.5% in hospitals and 50% in long-term care facilities in 2019. Since the pandemic began, many nurses have considered leaving the profession due to the anxiety over bringing COVID-19 home to their families and the reality of losing at least 4,000 health care workers to the virus nationally, Bailey said.

RELATED: Hospitals are recruiting more nurses as COVID-19 cases increase

On the other hand, health care workers have been dubbed pandemic heroes, and many have decided to enter the field as they learn more about what the role entails, said Dr. Renae Schumann, the former dean of Houston Baptist University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health, who now serves as District 9 president of the Texas Nurses Association.

“There’s the part of nursing where people are tired; they’re burned out; and they’re having a hard time staying in it. But there’s another part where people are looking at nursing and go, ‘I really want to be a part of that,'” Schumann said.

Local educators, including Kathryn Tart, dean of the University of Houston’s College of Nursing, said the nursing field does not come without its challenges. Still, she said, educators are searching for ways to encourage students to pursue the career path because of the incontestable need.

“It’s very meaningful work, but you have to find the right people to do that work who can overcome a lot of obstacles,” Tart said.

Long-standing shortage

While the pandemic amplified Texas’ nursing shortage, experts said it has been a concern for years.

“There’s been a shortage of nurses for the past several decades-since long before I’ve been a nurse,” said Vicki Brownewell, vice president and chief nursing officer at Houston Methodist West Hospital. “Many people even date the shortage back to World War II.”

In the last decade, the region’s supply of registered nurses has grown by 45%, according to the DSHS, but it is not enough to keep up with the growing population, experts said.

According to the DSHS, about 24% of the region’s nursing workforce in 2019 was older than 55.

And as the nursing workforce ages, so does Texas’ general population, Tart said. New, younger nurses are needed to keep up with the “silver tsunami,” she said, referring to a metaphor used to describe the population aging since older residents require more care.

Nurses today can choose from a more diverse range of career paths than ever before, Brownewell said. Those different options often come without the demands of working in a hospital or clinical setting and offer more regular schedules, she said. For example, many nurses want to work in specialty areas of the hospital, and some have goals to move on to more advanced practices.

With facilities throughout the Houston area, including several Katy locations, Next Level Urgent Care representatives said their practice-which employs nurse practitioners instead of registered nurses-has not been affected by the shortage.

Nurse practitioners typically obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing and often serve as primary health care providers, according to Texas Nurse Practitioners.

Houston Methodist works to retain nurses by giving them a voice in the processes and standards of practice, Brownewell said, as well as providing opportunities for nurses to grow and develop.

“We hire nurses who are going to be a good fit who can integrate well with us, do a good job and want to stay here for the long haul,” she said

COVID-19 complications

Jennifer Mizell, who graduated from the UH College of Nursing in December, said she feels lucky working at a hospital now opposed to one year ago when the pandemic hit. But even when nurses are not grappling with a global health crisis, it is clear why they get burned out, Mizell said.

“It’s constant stress. It’s hard to be on edge everyday, and as a nurse, you are,” she said.

Brownewell said the pandemic has caused some nurses to turn away from the profession over the risks and sacrifices, while others have found a renewed enthusiasm for the difference they can make.

“We have seen a bit of an increase in terms of turnover because of the pandemic but, thankfully, nowhere as high as some other hospitals in other parts of the country,” she said. “On the other hand, we’ve also seen more people who want to be nurses now after living through this.”

Schumann said COVID-19 has led to more registered nurses retiring earlier than usual. Others have transitioned to travel nursing or part-time work to alleviate stress, she said.

“When you are in a full-time position, most of the hospitals will have 12-hour shifts, which sounds great if you’re thinking, ‘Oh, well that means I get to work fewer days,'” Schumann said. “Well, that’s true, but if you’re so tired that you’re sleeping through all your days off, then that’s not very helpful. COVID has been very difficult for nurses and health care workers.”

Though that exhaustion has led some nurses away from the profession, others have chosen to persevere, Brownewell said.

“Some people have moved out of hospital nursing at least temporarily but others, thankfully, want to continue to be nurses,” Brownewell said.

Education’s role

Bailey said applications to both medical and nursing schools are at an all-time high. However, due to a limited number of seats available, the DSHS reported 54% of qualified applicants were not granted admission to one of the region’s 27 prelicensure registered nurse education programs in 2019.

The Texas Legislature approved the creation of the Nursing Shortage Reduction Program in 2001, allowing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to provide funds to nursing programs that increase the number of nursing graduates.

Still, a shortage of qualified nursing faculty and a scarcity of clinical settings also contribute to the nursing shortage, officials with the Texas Board of Nursing said.

But some nursing education programs have found creative ways to offer clinicals and keep students progressing toward graduation even during the pandemic, board officials said.

At the UH College of Nursing, students were able to get paid while meeting clinical requirements this past year thanks to an opportunity through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. They were able to get experience assisting health care workers swamped with patients, Tart said.

“It helped our nurses; it helped our students; and most importantly, it helped the patients,” Tart said.

From an education perspective, addressing the shortage long term will require creating a pipeline in which students are encouraged to pursue the field and current nurses plan to transition into nursing education to train the younger generation, Tart said.”It’s the will of our educators and our nurses to say, ‘I want to be the educators for the future of our profession,'” Tart said. “It’s the will of our … legislators to say we are going to support nursing and nursing education because we know that this is a wonderful way to provide access to care.”

The video above is from a previous story.

This content was provided by our partners at Community Impact Newspaper.

Author: Community Impact Newspaper

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

'Tons of gaps': Supermarkets hit by bottled water shortage amid surging production issues

After it was reported that food shortages were “inevitable” in Britain this summer, there is now a lack of bottled water across the country. Images of empty supermarket shelves were posted on social media this week.

However, the food retailer said the issue had been resolved and availability is expected to improve over the coming days.

Another factor could be an increase in demand for bottled water, a spokesperson for the National Source Waters Association has suggested.

The spokesperson said on-the-go products had experienced a “bounce back” due to the easing of lockdown restrictions coinciding with soaring temperatures in some parts of Britain.

However, shortages were not unique to bottled water and had affected other soft drinks, grocery items, and fresh produce.

A spokesperson for Nestlé Waters added the company had “experienced demand for our products increase beyond our expectations at this point in the season” over past months.

They explained: “We believe this is driven by the easing of national lockdown restrictions, and we have also been enjoying a warm British summer.

“This increase in demand has also had a knock-on effect on the haulage industry and we are experiencing shortages in the network servicing our supply, particularly for our international brands such as S. Pellegrino.”

Meanwhile, Chief Commercial Officer at Highland Water, Simon Oldham, told The Grocer it had experienced a “huge bounce back” in on-the-go product sales in recent weeks as more lockdown restrictions eased.

Sales of bottles were “higher than expected”, according to Mr Oldham, and had increased by 11 percent compared to 2019 sales.

The news of the bottled water shortage follows reports of other national shortages, mostly food.

Industry leaders have warned that a shortage of lorry drivers in Britain has reached “crisis point”, which will lead to gaps in supermarket shelves.

There is also a lack of workers in the production and manufacturing sectors.

Several factors are to blame, including Brexit, the pandemic, and the dwindling of the furlough scheme.

Since most Britons will be staying at home this summer, demand for food products will be higher than previous years.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Texas sky may not sparkle as fireworks shortage hits for Fourth of July

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fireworks are now for sale in Central Texas before the Fourth of July weekend, but you may find higher prices and a limited selection as you rush out for those pyrotechnics.

A firework shortage is the latest supply chain issue to fizzle out of the pandemic. One of the largest fireworks retailers in Central Texas, American Fireworks, is feeling the side effects.

“You would think after 50 years, I’d learn how to do this,” said Chester Davis, Owner of American Fireworks.

Davis owns and operates 165 fireworks stands and 13 box stores across Central Texas. He says the lack of fireworks is out of his control.

“Little by little, we get a container here and there,” said Davis. “It’s coming on, but slow. We’re working through it.”

Poppers, Roman candles and reloadable fireworks are all coming in from China. Davis say he orders fireworks a year in advance and is still waiting on fireworks to come in that he ordered a year ago.

“You wouldn’t believe…sparklers. We’re having one heck of a time getting some sparklers in here,” said Davis.

His shelves are stocked for now, but that may not be the case by the time the Fourth of July rolls around.

“This is a systemic problem,” University of Texas Supply Chain Professor Mary Ann Anderson said.

Anderson is an expert in supply chain management. While the purchase of goods skyrocketed during the pandemic, the need for plastics and shipping containers did, as well.

“Most of our goods are imported in from China, and China has a backlog at the ports of products they need,” said Anderson.

Plus, not every cargo ship is capable of carrying the explosive devices. Anderson says unfortunately your Fourth of July festivities aren’t the priority at the ports.

“They’re lining up at the port and they’re going priority based,” said Anderson.

If you plan on spelling your name out with sparklers this year, then Davis recommends getting to the stands early.

“We’re going to try our best to have supply on the Fourth of July,” Davis said.

Author: Kaitlyn Karmout
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Low on energy? Coffee bean shortage impacts Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Supply chain challenges are causing cutbacks to caffeine worldwide, and it’s impacting Austin.

Many may have come across alerts on their Starbucks coffee app or signs like the one below at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport over the weekend.

“We are experiencing temporary supply shortages of some of our products. Specific items will vary by market and store, and some stores will experience outages of various items at the same time. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working quickly and closely with our supply chain vendors to restock items as soon as possible,” the company wrote in an email to KXAN.

The company would not provide more information on what products were out and in which locations.

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters said it prepared for this shortage.

To get its beans to Austin, Master Roaster Jack Ranstrom usually plans months ahead of time. This time, he bought his coffee contracts even earlier.

“I noticed that the shortages just were going deep into the year, so I went ahead and planned for a year on my Sumatra coffees,” Ranstrom said.

University of Texas supply chain expert Edward Anderson said one reason behind the coffee bean shortage is due to drought in places like Brazil, which is the world’s biggest producer.

“Some coffee regions… have only had half the rain that they expected during the growing season,” said Anderson.

He said countries are dipping into their stockpiles to make up for that.

“So we’re getting our coffee, but we’re running out of our stockpile,” he explained.

And then there’s another problem: shipping containers.

“Because of the surge in demand post-COVID and congestion in ports, there’s a shortage of those, and without those… can’t transport coffee,” Anderson said.

Ranstrom said while he’s seen impacts on coffee crops from things like bugs and droughts in the past, the shipping container challenges have pushed prices up across the board.

“That’s been totally different than anything I’ve ever experienced,” Ranstrom said.

Mozart’s owner said they’re paying about $ 15,000 more per week for coffee.

So far, they’re absorbing those costs so customers can still enjoy their beverages for the same price; it just may have a slightly different taste that Ranstrom said most people probably won’t notice.

“There’s going to be substitutions in blends and substitutions in single origin coffees, and there are going to be some flavor offsets,” he said.

The owner of Mozart’s Coffee Roasters said they plan to re-evaluate whether or not they will need to increase menu prices in the fall. By that time he expects to shell out about $ 100,000 in extra coffee costs alone.

According to the International Coffee Organization, average prices rose by more than 10% in May, the highest monthly average since 2017.

Author: Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Tinned tomatoes shortage: Shoppers issued warning as supermarkets introduce new rationing

Supermarkets are set to introduce new rationing after tinned tomato suppliers revealed they were running low on the item.

Now, Italy is also facing a shortage of tins which has made the situation worse.

The tin shortage is a consequence of China buying up global steel supplies as part of its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tomato suppliers in Italy began rationing supermarkets in April last year when shoppers started panic-buying during the first lockdown.

Due to the current shortage, companies such as Conserve Italia are also advising supermarkets to remove promotions in order to reduce shoppers’ demand.

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Director at Conserve Italia, Diego Pariotti, said: “We are basically out of stock on every single line because for the last three years we didn’t have enough to satisfy demand.”

Currently, Italy supplies more than three quarters of the UK’s tomatoes.

As a consequence, Britons may not be able to get their hands on tinned tomatoes this summer.

These shortages have also led to an increase of 20 percent on prices.

“Unfortunately, if you want a proper Italian product from a company that is respecting the rules, you need to pay for it. You cannot always use it as an attraction to get your customers into the stores,” he said.

Natasha Linhart, chief executive officer of Atlante, which supplies Italian fine-food retailers in several markets including the US, UK, India, Japan, and Canada, commented on the shortage.

She said: “We cannot find cans. Big multinationals are defaulting on their contracts and the price of cans has increased by more than three times.

“We don’t know how long this shortage will last, there is no end of the tunnel in sight.”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Bicycle shortage affecting Austin may continue for another year

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The bicycling industry experienced a big boom during the coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit, peopleforbikes, says people were riding bikes at unprecedented levels during the pandemic.

“Traffic kind of quadrupled as things really — once people knew that they could come in,” said Timmy Tanner, service liaison at Cycleast on East Cesar Chavez Street.

He says supply has picked up since demand first surged last summer, but they are still seeing impacts.

“We have bikes for them, but we don’t have the whole selection. Some sizes and some price points are limited,” Tanner said.

Customers can also expect wait times for repairs, as parts that used to be on hand now need to be ordered.

“Most of what we need is still available, but we can’t get as much of it as we want right away,” Tanner says, citing weeks or even months of wait times.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that many Americans turned to bicycling to stay healthy during stay-at-home orders when gyms were closed — triggering a bike shortage.

They say supply chain issues contributed to that and will likely continue until mid 2022, citing Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, which tracks bicycle information in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

“They try to get it in as soon as possible but from a consumer standpoint, yeah, things being out of stock longer than normal,” says Michael Olinger, an Austin bicyclist who has been frequenting Cycleeast for about a year.

He’s been cycling since before the coronavirus pandemic– when the parts he needed would be in stock here, but he’s felt the surge in demand since then.

“I think people understood, kind of living in unique times,” Olinger said.

Tanner believes this pandemic growth is permanent.

“I think that we’re riding a permanent market growth in, like, usership of bikes across the board,” he says. “It used to be in six months, you’d sell 80% of them and now in one month, you’ve sold 100% of them.”

The Census Bureau reports more than half of bicycle imports in January came from China, followed by Taiwan and Cambodia.

While manufacturing has picked up, it’s not yet meeting demand.

“They know it’s going to take longer; it’s like finding a good house or a good rental: Everybody knows, everyone’s looking for a good one and you start early and you’re patient and there’s a bike out there for you,” Tanner said.

That means bicycle rentals are also affected– shops like his used to reserve a fleet for them.

“That was a big industry during South by Southwest to have a whole rental fleet and as soon as the pandemic landed, that whole inventory was sold out,” Tanner said.

He’s not sure when inventory will return to those levels, again.

Author: Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Austin police officer shortage forces downsizing at 14 APD departments

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department announced internal moves Friday to shore up its patrol units amid an officer shortage due to retirements, resignations and the lack of new cadet classes.

Austin Police Assistant Chief Joe Chacon. (Courtesy: City of Austin website)

In an internal memo from interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon to the department that KXAN obtained, Chacon outlined 82 officer positions from 14 departments that will move to cover patrols over the summer. These moves will take place on June 1 and Aug. 1 as outlined below.

“Patrol remains the ‘backbone’ of the department and performs the most essential work of the department — answering 911 calls,” Chacon said in the email to staff.

The department that will be impacted the most is the Motors Unit, which will be downsized on June 1 and completely suspended on Aug. 1. KXAN first reported on those changes Thursday.

“As a law enforcement agency, we are faced with making many difficult decisions as we work to maintain appropriate staffing levels within patrol and ensure a prompt response to emergency calls for service,” Chacon said in the email. “Our core function is to answer the call whenever it arises, and as the peacekeepers of this community, we will remain committed to serving while we navigate changes across our Department.”

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said the officers and the community will start to feel the impact of these changes over the summer.

“These officers are going back to a job that they haven’t done in many years, and it’s mostly older officers, so it’ll be a physical and mental challenge for them,” Casaday said. “The challenge is going to be for the community, because these are officers [the Motors division] that run radar here on 35 and school zones, when the kids start going back to school.”

Earlier this month, the Greater Austin Crime Commission said since the start of the fiscal year, which was Oct. 1, APD lost 130 officers due to retirements and resignations.

“We’re behind, and we need to catch up, because right now, there’s often no units available to respond to less urgent calls,” said Cary Roberts, executive director of the Greater Austin Crime Commission.

The department’s next cadet class will start June 7. The full academy is about 34 weeks long, and the new officers won’t be ready for patrol until early next year.

“By the time they graduate we’ll have lost probably double that amount. We are thankful for it, but we are still losing a lot more people than we are bringing on,” Casaday said.

Changes to APD patrols on June 1

Effective June 1, 33 officers from specialized units will be temporarily returning to patrol.

Department Status Officer reallocations
DWI Suspended -Officers will be assigned to patrol shifts throughout the city to help with priority calls
-When time allows, will continue DWI enforcement
Motors Downsized -Reduced by 19 officers
Auto Theft Downsized -Duties performed by 4 officers will be reassigned to Auto Theft detective

Changes to APD patrols on Aug. 1

Effective Aug. 1, another 49 officers from specialized units will be temporarily returning to patrol.

Department Status Officer reallocations
Detectives Downsized -32 detectives assigned to patrol
-Current detectives will not be moved to patrol, only newly-promoted Cpl./Det. will be part of the “Promote in Place Plan”
-Currently 19 employees who have been promoted/assigned to patrol
-More to be added as more promotions occur
ARIC/Strategic Intel Downsized -Downsized by 1 officer
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Downsized -Downsized by 3 officers
Continuing Education Downsized -Downsized by 1 officer
Explorers/PAL Downsized -Downsized by 5 officers
-Sergeant and newly-assigned Cpl. will continue PAL, Explorer Programs
Lake Patrol Downsized -Downsized by 2 officers
Met Tac Downsized -Downsized by 16 officers
Motors Suspended -All motors unit suspended, assigned to patrols
-Traffic enforcement will be every officer’s duty
Recruiting Downsized -Downsized by 2 officers
SOAR Downsized -Downsized by 2 officers
-Duties will go to detectives/overtime initiatives
Special Events/EMU Downsized -Downsized by 1 officer
Crisis Intervention Downsized -Downsized by 2 officers

Author: Wes Wilson
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Who is at fault for causing the recent US fuel shortage? RT’s Boom Bust wants to know

21 May, 2021 12:41

In a fresh twist to the ongoing US fuel shortage saga, executives at Colonial Pipeline may be responsible for the shutdown which led to a gasoline crisis on the US East Coast, not the hackers.

It reportedly took the company an hour to shut down the conduit that remained inoperable for six days. The step was allegedly taken to prevent the damage from spreading to the pipeline’s operational control.

READ MORE: Colonial Pipeline hackers reportedly bagged $ 90 MILLION in bitcoin before shutting down

RT’s Boom Bust is joined by the show’s co-host and investigative journalist Ben Swann to find out how the company could make a decision that had such a massive impact on US energy supply.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News