The latest COVID-19 news in Boston, Mass., New England and beyond
New England lags as employees flee COVID-laden jobs – 11:43 a.m
The network of hospitals, prestigious universities, and preparatory schools that have fueled New England’s regional economic growth for decades are slowing the job market recovery and fueling historically high unemployment.
After decades of having an unemployment rate below that of the country as a whole, New England is now above the US average. In November, the most recent month for which historical comparisons can be made, the rate was 5 percent versus 4.2 percent for the national figure.
About a third of the decline in payrolls in Massachusetts — the region’s economic powerhouse — and Rhode Island can be attributed to slumps in the health and education services industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the US as a whole, that ratio is only 20 percent.
Canadian PM tests positive for COVID-19 – 11:03am
From The Associated Press
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he had tested positive for COVID-19 but felt “fine” and would continue to work remotely. The announcement came in a tweet in which he urged everyone to “please get vaccinated and strengthened.”
Trudeau said Thursday he would self-isolate for five days after finding out the night before that he had been in contact with someone who had tested positive. He told the Canadian press on Friday that this person is one of his three children. Trudeau had previously been isolating at home in the early months of the pandemic after his wife tested positive.
Canada has one of the world’s highest rates of vaccination against the coronavirus – shots primarily designed to keep those infected from developing serious illness. The announcement followed a weekend of protests in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, against vaccination requirements, masks and lockdowns. Some protesters drove in convoys of trucks and parked on the streets around Parliament Hill, blocking traffic.
Spotify Shares Advance After Addressing Joe Rogan Controversy – 10:16 am
From Bloomberg News
Spotify Technology climbed after the streaming service announced it would add a content recommendation to podcasts dealing with COVID-19 in a bid to quell an uproar over Joe Rogan’s program. In the face of growing pressure from users and musicians regarding the accuracy of virus information being disseminated by the platform’s most popular podcaster, Spotify has released its existing content rules. Rogan, meanwhile, promised that he would present more balanced, better-researched programs on the coronavirus.
Shares were up 5.8 percent as of 9:41 a.m. Monday in New York. That erased the 12 percent decline Spotify posted last week and wiped out the company’s market value by nearly $4 billion. Rock icon Neil Young had his music taken off the service to protest Rogan harboring several outspoken COVID-19 vaccine skeptics. Joni Mitchell followed Young’s example, as did other musicians.
Spotify created rules for acceptable content on its service years ago and built a hub of coronavirus information early in the pandemic, but didn’t release it until Sunday. Rogan thanked his listeners and Spotify and apologized for the controversy. “I’m sorry if I made a fool of you,” he said in an Instagram video over the weekend. He said he’ll “try harder to get people with different opinions on it after that” and “do my best to make sure I’ve researched these topics.”
Potential Scammers Mimic Free COVID Testing Websites – 10:09 am
From Bloomberg News
When a new government website went online to offer free COVID-19 test kits in January, a flood of new domain names was registered. Some had remarkably similar URLs or were almost the same but slightly misspelled.
Cybersecurity experts said the target is likely the same for all: fake domain names that can be used for phishing attacks and other scams.
Suspected scammers have registered more than 600 suspicious domain registrations since Jan. 15, around the time the Biden administration announced details of a program that would see the US Postal Service deliver COVID-19 tests to Americans’ homes , email security firm Proofpoint Inc. told Bloomberg News. The look-alike URLs are often designed to trick COVID-weary Americans into thinking they’re signing up for a free nasal swab, when in reality they may be handing over personal information to a cybercrime syndicate, cybersecurity experts said.
UK ‘Partygate’ report criticizes ‘leadership mistakes’ – 9:54 am
From Bloomberg News
A major report on allegations of irregular gatherings at Downing Street has found “faulty leadership and judgment” at the head of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.
“At least some of the assemblies in question represent a serious failure to live up not only to the high standards expected of those who work at the heart of government, but also to the standards then expected of the British public at large,” she said senior official Sue Gray said in her long-awaited report released on Monday. While a parallel police investigation means Gray has been asked to rule out her conclusions on the most damaging allegations against Johnson and his team, the release of her report still poses a moment of political danger for the PM. He is due to speak in the House of Commons later on Monday, to address the results and will also speak to Tory MPs later.
Johnson is trying to put an end to the constant allegations dubbed “Partygate” by the British media. They have undermined his leadership in recent months, prompting some lawmakers within his own ruling Conservatives to speak openly about ousting the prime minister and causing his party to plummet in the polls. Since December, Gray has been investigating reports of more than a dozen apparently irregular events at Johnson’s office and other government departments in 2020 and 2021, at a time when gatherings were banned under COVID-19 restrictions. She was preparing to release her report last week, before London’s Metropolitan Police said they would launch their own inquiries into the most serious allegations. Police issued a statement Friday saying they asked Gray to provide only “minimal clues” about the events they are investigating.
Joe Rogan Responds to Spotify Protest, COVID Advice – 9:13am
From The Associated Press
Following Spotify protests sparked by Neil Young for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, the music-streaming service said it will add content advisories ahead of podcasts discussing the virus.
In a post on Sunday, in the face of the backlash Young sparked, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek laid out more transparent platform rules, which had his music removed from Spotify on Wednesday after the tech giant refused to get rid of episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience.” which has been criticized for spreading virus misinformation.