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COVID-19

Beijing Olympics lowers COVID testing standards, otherwise, there would be no Olympics

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How convenient when a bureaucratic body has the power to switch COVID standards at the drop of a hat in order to allow it to continue moving forward and not shut down as the rest of us have been forced to do. COVID Standards around testing and quarantine rules are going from asinine and impossible to achieve to almost gone in the blink of an eye. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week he was doing away with all COVID precautions from vaccine mandates to mask wearing, and instead, would rely on the judgement of its citizens to protect themselves.

Now, the Beijing Olympics organizers and Chinese authorities are lowering the threshold for athletes to participate in the upcoming games. Likely, they realize that just like all other aspects of the world, the mandates and expectations are shutting down businesses and industries left and right.

Specifically, China has lowered the threshold for producing a negative COVID-19 test for participants as they arrive for the Winter Games which will begin next week on February 4th. In a statement, organizers said:

“In order to adapt to the reality of the current environment and further support of Games participants, Beijing 2022 and the Chinese authorities, in consultation with medical experts and IOC, refined countermeasures with the following changes effective 23 January 2022.”

The concern was that athletes could test negative in their home countries after recovering from COVID-19 but still test positive upon their arrival in China, reported the Wall Street Journal. That’s because their testing standards were “tougher than those used by many sports leagues in the U.S. and Europe.”

The CBC reports the communication was sent out by Beijing 2022 on Sunday explaining it was dropping the cycle threshold (Ct) value from 40 to 35. Anyone with a PCR result of less than 35 will be considered positive. The higher the Ct value, the less infectious a person with COVID-19 is. The CBC also reports:

Further changes include that if a positive participant spends 10 days or more in isolation, then that person will be released to their Games time accommodation if they are not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms and if their PCR results have a Ct value greater than or equal to 35 for the past three consecutive days.

Another change is reducing the time in which a person is deemed a close contact, dropping from two weeks to seven days.

“During that period, testing will be carried out twice daily. The close contact will be able to choose whether their PCR test sample is collected as a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab,” the communication explained.

All of these changes will be applied immediately and will also apply retrospectively.

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COVID-19

Watchdog: Pentagon likely rushed denials of COVID-19 vaccine Religious Exemption requests

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The Army only approved just 24 religious COVID-19 vaccine exemption requests out of a total 8,514 requests submitted by active duty soldiers, and  1,602 requests have been rejected while the rest remain pending.

Military.com obtained information showing the Pentagon rushed vaccine exemption denials:

Sean O’Donnell, the Pentagon’s inspector general, wrote in a June 2 memo to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin obtained by Military.com calling attention to a “concerning” trend in which military brass rushed to reject vaccine-exemption petitions rather than giving each request due consideration.

“We found a trend of generalized assessments rather than the individualized assessment that is required by Federal law and DoD and Military Service policies,” he said. “Some of the appellate decisions included documentation that demonstrated a greater consideration of facts and circumstances involved in a request.”

In March, a Texas judge blocked the Navy from dismissing sailors with pending exemption requests and in August, a Florida federal judge ordered class action relief and granted an injunction barring the federal government from enforcing the vaccine mandate for the Marine Corps.

National Review writes, “For the last year, military has been struggling with a recruitment problem. As of July, with only three months left in the fiscal year, the Army had met only 40 percent of its recruitment goal and reduced its active-duty force by 12,000 troops.”

O’Donnell calculated that officials likely gave each appeal a cursory glance rather than a thorough examination, possibly opening the door to litigation from service members who had to resign after they failed to obtain exemptions. Across all the branches, there were about 50 denials per day in a 90-day period, he determined. Over a thousand Coast Guardsmen have already tried to launch a class-action lawsuit in response to their being refused religious exemptions, the publication noted.

“The volume and rate at which decisions were made to deny requests is concerning,” the memo read. “Assuming a 10-hour work day with no breaks or attention to other matters, the average review period was about 12 minutes for each package. Such a review period seems insufficient to process each request in an individualized manner and still perform the duties required of their position.”

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