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With six NFL teams having COVID-related fan rules, Vikings continue to monitor the situation

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Vikings treating Sunday’s game with fans back at U.S. Bank Stadium as a ‘grand reopening’

With COVID-19 cases rising throughout the country, a half-dozen NFL teams are requiring fans who attend games to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test. The Vikings do not have similar requirements at U.S. Bank Stadium, but they are continuing to monitor the situation.

Teams that have put in fan restrictions include Las Vegas, New Orleans, Seattle, Buffalo and the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, who share a stadium. Those teams are following local health rules.

“We’ve considered any number of options throughout the offseason and we’ve done extensive prep work with ASM (Global), our stadium operator, with the league, with the other teams (with restrictions),’’ said chief operating officer Andrew Miller, whose Vikings play their regular-season home opener Sunday against Seattle.

“We’ve had people review the Las Vegas operations, we’ve been working with CLEAR (Health Pass), which is the Raiders partner, and we want to be prepared. We want to make sure that if we do end up in a situation where we are required to ask for vaccination status or have a negative COVID test that we have a system that’s ready to go.’’

The Vikings have been dealing with medical experts and government agencies, and Miller said that “as the COVID continues to evolve” they will continue to “follow the guideless of the city and the state.”

After having no fans at games last season due to the pandemic, the Vikings had two home preseason games last month with fans, although the stadium was only about half full. A full house is expected on Sunday.

Miller said the Vikings are continuing to encourage fans at games to wear masks, although there is no requirement in place. He said there is an air purification system that was in place at U.S. Bank Stadium before the pandemic that works well “as it relates to COVID.’’ And he said there has been a new feature added to the stadium this year to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’ve worked with 3M to use their (clear) protective film in some high-touch areas of the stadium,’’ Miller said. “That’s something that 3M has installed in different places within the stadium, and it’s protecting of those microbes.”

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$7.4M Greenwood Village mansion tops September home sales

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$7.4M Greenwood Village mansion tops September home sales

Surrounded by 2.1 acres, a 19,020-square-foot Greenwood Village mansion sold for $7.4 million last month, earning the No. 1 spot on BusinessDen’s monthly top home sale list.

The seven-bedroom, 10-bathroom home at 4030 E. Forbes Court was originally listed for $7.95 million in June. The sellers, Tim and Janice Laney, purchased the property for $4.625 million in 2012, later transferring it to a trust, according to property records.

Tim is the CEO of National Bank Holdings, which operates a network of more than 80 banking centers located in Colorado, Kansas City, New Mexico, Texas and Utah, according to his LinkedIn.

The couple sold the property to the entity 4030 Forbes LLC, managed by John Albright Jr., on Sept. 8.

The Greenwood Village mansion was built in 2007 and features a marble-floored foyer, the central hallway accented by wainscoted limestone, cathedral beamed ceilings and detailed woodwork and paneling, according to the listing.

The home also features a two-story living room, a gourmet kitchen with two islands, a 6,394-square-foot finished basement with a rec room, wine cellar, theater, gym, massage room and storage. Outside, there’s a pool, hot tub and multiple patios with grills and fireplaces.

Gina Lorenzen with Kentwood Real Estate DTC represented the sellers, and Cliff Manley with BSW Real Estate represented the buyer.

Here are the next four priciest local home sales from September, according to MLS data:

902 White Hawk Ranch Drive, Boulder: $5.75 million

Photo provided by WK Real Estate

This six-bedroom, eight-bathroom Boulder mansion sold for $5.75 million in September.

Listing agent:  Barry Remington WK Real Estate

Buyer’s agent: Dena Schultz with Estate Professionals

Description: This home is one of 56 custom residences within Boulder’s White Hawk Ranch community. It sits at the end of a cul-de-sac on 1.2 acres, according to the listing.

The 11,545-square-foot mansion features six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a chef’s kitchen with cherrywood details, huge accordion glass doors, a six-car garage, an outdoor patio with a water feature and fire pit, and a finished basement with two wine cellars, a wet bar, home theater and game room.

6917 Timbers Drive, Evergreen: $5.05 million

This Evergreen estate was originally listed for $7 million in 2019 and sold for $5.05 million in September.

Provided by LIV Sotheby’s International Realty

This Evergreen estate was originally listed for $7 million in 2019 and sold for $5.05 million in September.

Listing agent: Corinna Bandemer and Douglas D. Kerbs with LIV Sotheby’s International Realty

Buyer’s agent: John Simmons with C3 Real Estate Solutions

Description: Sitting on 32 acres in Evergreen, this estate consists of three separate buildings: the main residence, a guest house with an equestrian center and a full exercise facility. The 12,768-square-foot main residence features four bedrooms, six bathrooms, eight fireplaces, a four-car oversized garage with additional recreational vehicle garage space, three decks and plenty of patios, according to the listing.

The guest house offers two bedrooms and one bathroom, and the equestrian facility has six paddocks and outdoor stalls, a heated tack room, a large horse corral and an RV garage.

The 2,098-square-foot gym includes a 30-foot ceiling and a half-size basketball court.

It was once owned by former NFL player Paul Kruger, who played for the New Orleans Saints and sold it in 2019.

3962 S. Chase Way, Denver: $5 million

The contemporary southwest Denver home features traditional Japanese finishes throughout.

Provided by Kentwood Real Estate

The contemporary southwest Denver home features traditional Japanese finishes throughout.

Listing agent:  Ann Kerr with Kentwood Real Estate DTC

Buyer’s agent: Patty Anton and Greg Card with Kentwood Real Estate Cherry Creek

Description: This 15,987-square-foot contemporary home sits on nearly one acre next to Denver’s Pinehurst Country Club and was once eyed by Elvis Presley. The original owners, John and Elinor Campbell, built the house in 1972, and dubbed it “Utopia” or “Pagoda House” after its extensive oriental gardens.

The 50-year-old mansion has sensational views through walls of windows of the pool, the sixth fairway of Pinehurst Country Club and the Rockies. Visitors entering the home are greeted by an open foyer with 30-foot indoor trees, floor-to-ceiling windows, spiral staircases and numerous terraces overlooking the lot.

3433 E. Kentucky Ave., Denver: $5 million

This mid-century modern Denver home sold for $5 million last month.

Provided by Colorado Realty Source

This mid-century modern Denver home sold for $5 million last month.

Listing agent:  Darren Fogel with MB Denver Colorado Realty Source

Buyer’s agent: Anna Centron with LIV Sotheby’s International Realty

Description: Located in the Belcaro neighborhood on an oversized lot, this five-bedroom, five-bathroom home features a sleek mid-century modern design. There’s vaulted ceilings, four oversized pocketed nano walls with access to multiple private courtyards and the backyard, and walnut hardwood, designer tile and stone floors throughout the main level.

The main suite includes a walk-in closet with a center island and spa-like bathroom. There’s also a mother-in-law living quarters on its own separate wing of the home with exterior access. Downstairs, the finished basement features a game room, wet bar, wine fridge, media room and a workout room or extra bedroom.

 

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Fauci says it’s safe to trick-or-treat this year

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Fauci says it's safe to trick-or-treat this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government’s top infectious diseases expert says families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. decline, especially for those who are vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that it’s an important time of year for children, so “go out there” and “enjoy it.”

He added that people wanting to enjoy Halloween on Oct. 31 should consider getting the shots for that “extra degree of protection” if they are not yet vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines so far have been approved for people 12 years and older. The Food and Drug Administration plans a meeting in late October to consider Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

Nationwide, there are about 95,000 new COVID-19 cases a day. Fauci called the downward trend “good news” but cautioned against declaring a premature victory since cases have bounced back in the past.

He said he’d like to see cases drop to less than 10,000 a day before dropping COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, such as shedding masks indoors in public places.

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Gabby Petito’s family visits Florida memorial for first time

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Gabby Petito's family visits Florida memorial for first time

NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Fatigue from the weekslong investigation into the death of Gabby Petito is being felt, but a recent visit from her family to Florida could rejuvenate search efforts.  

On Sunday, Gabby’s mom Nichole Schmidt tweeted out a photo of a heart shaped cloud in the sky with the caption “Goodbye Florida … thanks for showing so much LOVE.” #justiceforgabby #justiceforgabbypetito #americasdaughter

While in Florida, the family visited a makeshift memorial for Gabby at North Port City Hall. They were able to take some of the items at the memorial, which city officials will be taking down Tuesday.

City officials they’re working on a permanent memorial after some of the items left at the makeshift space were damaged due to the hot and wet weather in southwest Florida.

Meanwhile, the search for Brian Laundire continues, with police saying they wouldn’t be surprised if he was dead or alive at this point in the search. Laundrie has been missing for more than three weeks.

A spokesperson from North Port Police addressed questions this week about how Laundrie was able to get away, saying they had surveillance on him to the extent that it was legal to do so but he was still able to slip through the cracks.

Police have been searching the Carlton Reserve since Laundrie was reported missing after his family said they last saw him wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap heading into the reserve. Authorities say conditions have improved there so they can reach some areas that were previously inaccessible.

Laundrie was declared a person of interest in Gabby Petito’s death after he refused to talk with authorities and his subsequent disappearance. Petito’s body was found at a camping area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming in September, days after a nationwide search was launched.

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At this plant-filled Denver tattoo shop, every artist is either a woman or non-binary

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At this plant-filled Denver tattoo shop, every artist is either a woman or non-binary

Editor’s note: Each week in Staff Favorites, we offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).

It’s not easy to stand out as a tattoo shop on Colfax Avenue.

But step inside The Wolf Den and you’ll find a shop unlike any other in town. Visitors are greeted with warm jewel tones, comfortable furniture and the winding vines of house plants that give the space a serene, verdant vibe. And then your eyes are inevitably drawn to a neon sign on the back wall: “All female studio,” it reads, and suddenly it becomes apparent why this tattoo shop feels so different from its neighbors.

Lead artist Ryane Urie — who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them — first opened The Wolf Den in RiNo in 2017 after years of working in shops largely staffed by male artists. The studio moved to Colfax last year and is currently undergoing a renovation that will add a community art gallery.

Provided by Hailey Wheeler

A small monstera leaf tattoo inked onto Denver Post entertainment editor Beth Rankin by Hailey Wheeler at The Wolf Den Custom Tattoo Studio on East Colfax.

“I wanted it to be where it kind of, like, transports you into like a different world essentially, where you kind of feel like you’re walking into a forest, and you feel safe because your community is in it,” they said of the shop’s colorful and comforting design.

But Urie’s design choices aren’t just about looking cool. Their goal was to create a safe space for women, non-binary and LGBTQIA+ people who may not feel as comfortable getting tattooed in a traditionally male-dominated space. But they also wanted to make tattooing more comfortable for male customers, who make up much of Urie’s own client base.

“(Men) get a safe space to hurt and not feel judged or have a bravado about it,” they said of the tattoo process, which — let’s be honest — is not always the comfiest experience. “I never really thought about that aspect until this space was created.”

The shop also uses only vegan products and is low-plastic, another aspect that makes it stand out.

“Almost all of our products are a compressed wheat stock or corn starch to create the plastic,” Urie said. “We’re trying to have the (smallest) footprint we can.”

The Wolf Den Custom Tattoo Studio, 6640 E. Colfax Ave., 720-917-9406. thewolfdentattoo.com

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Birds of a flipper: As visitors crowd Denver Zoo, African Penguins are living their best life

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Birds of a flipper: As visitors crowd Denver Zoo, African Penguins are living their best life

Seventeen African penguins shimmied and twisted, as if part of a single organism, out of the 65-degree water at their new Denver Zoo enclosure and onto the warm deck above it last week.

Impressively, they never lost their tight formation, pressed shoulder-to-shoulder as they were like an elevator full of stiff-armed and tuxedo-clad (if incredibly cute) commuters.

“They’ll start to spread out and use more of the main area as they get more acclimated,” said John Azua, Denver Zoo’s bird curator, as he watched the Zoo’s tiny human visitors squish their cheeks against a clear acrylic divider to get eye-to-eye with the compact creatures. “For now they’re still clumping together.”

You can’t blame them: at the time of this visit, the African penguins had barely been in the public eye for 24 hours, following zoo workers’ removal of the wall separating their exhibit from the rest of the 84-acre campus, just north of City Park, which hosts another 3,000 or so animals.

Located in the former Benson Predator Ridge, the $1.75 million African penguin habitat, which opened Sept. 30, beckons visitors from just inside the main entrance. The zoo painted and fixed up the Ridge’s brown faux-rocks (now gray) instead of demolishing them, while closing their perimeter to create this state-of-the-art, 2,400-square-foot home for its endangered penguins, who are native to South Africa.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Children visit the new African penguin habitat at the Denver Zoo on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

“Their new pool is about four to five times the size of their swimming space in Bird World,” said Jake Kubié, director of communications for the Denver Zoological Foundation, which operates the nonprofit Denver Zoo.

“The long, linear nature of it also allows them to exhibit some natural behaviors, such as porpoising (i.e. what dolphins do), that they weren’t able to before,” Azua added of the 40-foot-long pool. “Their old exhibit was what we call in the industry a ‘dump-and-fill,’ so no filtration, no circulation and lots of wasted water.”

Pinnacle African Penguin Point, as it’s officially called, solves those problems with technology. The new, 10,000-square-foot water tank is temperature-controlled and filtered every 15 minutes, allowing caretakers to reuse water instead of dumping it once or twice a week to avoid the summertime algae blooms that plagued the Bird World exhibit.

1633951402 94 Birds of a flipper As visitors crowd Denver Zoo African

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

A group of African Penguins stand together at their new habitat at the Denver Zoo on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

There are also heaters under parts of the deck that will allow the penguins easy access to water, even in freezing temperatures, although once it hits 20 degrees or below they’re herded inside regardless. The multiple burrows and nest boxes, and various hardscape and natural substrates, effectively mimic their Cape of Good Hope origins, Kubié said.

It’s modeled specifically after Boulder Beach in South Africa, where Denver Zoo experts have brought their Colorado knowledge to help rehab and save African penguins for most of the last two decades. Animal care experts also return from these overseas trips with new practices that improve the care of Denver Zoo’s captive animals, Azua said.

Vertix Builders, the company that made the exhibit, has plenty of experience in adaptation, having recently finished a major update for the hugely popular Space Odyssey at Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

“Unlike a traditional commercial building, exhibits are singularly unique and the designers, contractors, and Zoo staff had to work closely to develop a vision and then execute to bring it to life,” said Ted Laszlo, Vice President of Vertix, in a press statement.

1633951402 167 Birds of a flipper As visitors crowd Denver Zoo African

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

From left, Holly Samson, 2, and her sister Juniper, 3, of Denver have their picture taken at the new African penguin habitat of Denver Zoo on its opening day, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

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Ouray Ice Park will reopen in December after repairing damage from spring rockfall

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Ouray Ice Park will reopen in December after repairing damage from spring rockfall

The Ouray Ice Park, a destination for ice climbers, will reopen this winter after a March rockfall caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure damage.

According to Operations Manager Pete Davis, crews have been working since the spring to rebuild a trestle bridge and water distribution system, which were destroyed when 12,000 pounds of rock unexpectedly fell from the walls of the Uncompahgre River Gorge where the park is created each year.

The bridge also held a penstock that funnels water from a dam further up the gorge to the Ouray Hydroelectric Power Plant. Both fell more than hundred feet into the river after being knocked down by rock, Davis said.

The Ouray Ice Park, which boasts 150 routes along a 1.7-mile stretch of river gorge, is free for climbers to use and managed by the nonprofit Ouray Ice Park, Inc. And because the town doesn’t have a ski resort, the park is largely regarded as the backbone of the winter economy, attracting 22,000 climbers last season, according to Peter O’Neil, executive director of Ouray Ice Park, Inc.

Initially, O’Neil worried the park may not open for the 2021-2022 season, but an outpouring of community support quickly eased the uncertainty. In March, the nonprofit launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to rebuild and hit its initial $50,000 fundraising goal in 24 hours. By May, supporters showed up to the tune of more than $100,000 helping cover the park’s share of repairs, O’Neil said.

Some of the money also went to building a trail to circumvent the bridge in case it couldn’t be rebuilt by winter. That way avid climbers could still access the School Room, one of the park’s original routes.

“It’s an iconic part of the park,” O’Neil said. “Lots of people come to climb in the School Room.”

Tiney Ricciardi, The Denver Post

A new bridge (pictured) was recently flown in and installed to replace one taken out by a March rockfall. Crews have been working since the spring to rebuild, repair and replace the Ouray Ice Park’s damaged infrastructure in advance of the 2021-2022 winter season. (Tiney Ricciardi, The Denver Post)

Preparing for winter

Construction is moving swiftly, however. A replacement bridge was recently flown in by helicopter and installation is expected to be completed soon to get the hydro-plant back up and running, the operators said. The next step will be reconnecting the Ouray Ice Park’s water system, which Davis likens to an irrigation system, and saturating the area by dripping water down the north-facing cliffs.

Saturation typically begins in mid-November and ensures the ice will have a solid foundation on which to collect, Davis said. Once saturation is complete and the weather is cold enough, the park’s ice farmers will turn on water spigots nightly to begin creating the signature sheet of climbing ice.

The Ouray Ice Park typically opens in mid-December and closes in late-March. (Official season dates have yet to be announced.)

“Once we get the temperatures right, we kick on the water, then you can build the entire park in one week pretty much, conditions permitting,” Davis said.

Farmers run about 250 gallons of water per minute and ice typically grows to 10 feet thick or more, Davis said. To keep it stable enough for climbing, ice farmers will continue to water the cliffs on nights when it’s cold enough. However, because the Ouray Ice Park shares its water supply with its namesake town, it has to do so carefully.

If the municipal reserve reaches below a certain level, the park is not permitted to run water, O’Neil said, because it’s then only for the town to fight fires and flush toilets, among other necessities. That’s why Ouray Ice Park, Inc. is working to secure a new water source to sustain and even expand the park in future years.

“It’s always a pinch,” Davis said. “We can’t run every sprayer in the park every night.”

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Is Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station kid-friendly? I took mine to find out.

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Is Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station kid-friendly? I took mine to find out.

Somewhere between the glowing, living swamp and the creepy, underground catacombs, my 4-year-old daughter began begging me to leave Meow Wolf Denver.

“It’s too scary!” Lucy half-whined, less than 30 minutes after she, my 9-year-old son, Tom, and I entered the massive, triangular building rising from Interstate 25 and West Colfax Avenue, which opened on Sept. 17.

We showed up for our 5 p.m. slot a few minutes early, joining the back of a long line that moved quickly once our time came. My backpack was searched and water bottles emptied, TSA-style, but otherwise entry was smooth. Just inside, my kids were wowed by the lobby of Convergence Station, as the Denver installation is called, with its airport-like flip boards and wide, echoing walls.

From there we could depart for one of four themed (or “converged,” as Meow Wolf says) worlds, each reflecting Meow Wolf’s trippy, sculptural-immersion aesthetic: an ice world (Eemia); an alien-swamp (Numina); an underground lair (Ossuary); and a futuristic urban dystopia (C Street). They’re all photo-friendly collections of eclectic, interactive elements, such as touch-sensitive lights and panels, mixed with the pleasant confusion of a theme park and the circular exploration of a fun house.

My kids didn’t know, and probably wouldn’t have cared, about the 100-plus local artists who contributed to the installation, or the debates over whether what the company does is art or commerce (surprise: it’s both!).

They just wanted to see “the cool stuff,” which Convergence Station is full of: a sinister pizza palace (inspired by ShowBiz Pizza Place); glowing skulls and death masks; Transformers-like robots; elaborate Indigenous murals; giant, interactive castles; and secret passages discoverable only by trial and error.

The lighting was at times spooky, and the constant sound-bath was disorienting for everyone in my small party. But as Lucy sucked it up and Tom became more comfortable with exploring, we fell into a rhythm that most parents will recognize from museum visits: The kids are always in a hurry, straining at the end of your tightly clasped hands like puppies on their first walk, eager to see the next wonder and skipping over many others in the process. Until they aren’t.

Children explore C Street at Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station. While the maze of interactive sculptures and environments has a definite wow-factor for kids, the intensity may be too much for children 5 and under. (Kate Russell, provided by Meow Wolf)

My kids spent time with the things you could get in and climb through — especially C Street’s collection of steampunk-repurposed vehicles, which gave us the sense of being on a movie set — as well as the hypnotic, interactive projection mapping in the Perplexiplex (Meow Wolf Denver’s music venue). But after about two hours, they felt like they’d seen everything. They hadn’t, but that was OK with me. Lucy split off with my wife to grab a snack in the small café, while Tom and I delved deeper into the mystery for a few minutes more.

The costumed, roaming employees, who spout awkward-sounding gibberish as part of their nebulous and scene-setting improv, came on a little strong at times. I found myself avoiding them as I do with clipboard-toting volunteers at a park. While only open for three weeks, the installation is already showing hints of wear and tear, likely from handsy kids like mine. Empty shelves with glue marks showed where a couple of items had been ripped away. A few small sculptures seemed loose in their moorings.

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Merck requests FDA authorization for anti-COVID pill

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Merck requests FDA authorization for anti-COVID pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill against COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic.

If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — a decision that could come in a matter of weeks — it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection.

An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on U.S. hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems. It would also bolster the two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment, by way of medication, and prevention, primarily through vaccinations.

The FDA will scrutinize company data on the safety and effectiveness of the drug, molnupiravir, before rendering a decision.

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutic said they specifically asked the agency to grant emergency use for adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization. That is roughly the way COVID-19 infusion drugs are used.

“The value here is that it’s a pill so you don’t have to deal with the infusion centers and all the factors around that,” said Dr. Nicholas Kartsonis, a senior vice president with Merck’s infectious disease unit. “I think it’s a very powerful tool to add to the toolbox.”

The company reported earlier this month that the pill cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.

Side effects were similar between patients who got the drug and those in a testing group who received a dummy pill. But Merck has not publicly detailed the types of problems reported, which will be a key part of the FDA’s review.

U.S. officials continue to push vaccinations as the best way to protect against COVID-19. But with some 68 million eligible Americans still unwilling to get the shots, effective drugs will be critical to controlling future waves of infection.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts have stressed the need for a convenient pill. The goal is for something similar to Tamiflu, the 20-year-old flu medication that shortens the illness by a day or two and blunts the severity of symptoms like fever, cough and stuffy nose.

Three FDA-authorized antibody drugs have proved highly effective at reducing COVID-19 deaths, but they are expensive, hard to produce and require specialty equipment and health professionals to deliver.

Assuming FDA authorization, the U.S. government has agreed to buy enough of the pills to treat 1.7 million people, at a price of roughly $700 for each course of treatment. That’s less than half the price of the antibody drugs purchased by the U.S. government — over $2,000 per infusion — but still more expensive than many antiviral pills for other conditions.

Merck’s Kartsonis said in an interview that the $700 figure does not represent the final price for the medication.

“We set that price before we had any data, so that’s just one contract,” Kartsonis said. “Obviously we’re going to be responsible about this and make this drug as accessible to as many people around the world as we can.”

Kenilworth, New Jersey-based Merck has said it is in purchase talks with governments around the world and will use a sliding price scale based on each country’s economic means. Also, the company has signed licensing deals with several Indian generic drugmakers to produce low-cost versions of the drug for lower-income countries.

Several other companies, including Pfizer and Roche, are studying similar drugs and are expected to report results in the coming weeks and months. AstraZeneca is also seeking FDA authorization for a long-acting antibody drug intended to provide months of protection for patients who have immune-system disorders and do not adequately respond to vaccination.

Eventually, some experts predict various COVID-19 therapies will be prescribed in combination to better protect against the worst effects of the virus.

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Ask Amy: Mom “unmasks” some schoolchildren

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Ask Amy: Woman should leave abusive relationship

Dear Amy: My 8-year-old daughter, “Jasmine,” started in-person school this fall.

The other day, while waiting to pick her up, I started chatting with the mother of one of Jasmine’s close friends.

This parent confided in me that she had been sending her own daughter to school wearing a mesh mask, so that her child could “finally breathe” and get around the “stupid mask mandates.”

What’s worse, she claimed to have learned about these masks (that look like regular ones) from another parent in the class, which means my child is likely interacting with at least two students who are essentially maskless.

I was appalled. This mother was not only endangering her own child, but also putting her daughter’s classmates at risk of catching a potentially deadly virus. Since Jasmine wears a multi-layer mask with a filter every day (and I trust her to follow all the mask rules at school), could she get COVID from one of her friends who wears a useless mask?

And how do I address this situation with the other parent? Should I speak with her again, or bring this up with Jasmine’s teacher or school administration?

I don’t want to pull Jasmine out of school, since she’s been so happy to see her classmates in real life again, but I would do so if I needed to keep her safe.

Your advice?

— Exasperated Mom

Dear Exasperated: Any mask that allows air to flow through unfiltered obviously does not do what masks are intended to do. Furthermore, if this mask is deliberately made to appear as if it is made of solid and filtering fabric, then the intent is to deceive.

Always rely on your physician’s advice (and the CDC guidelines and recommendations) concerning your child’s risk, but it seems most obvious that your child’s teacher is possibly at an even greater risk than the children in the class.

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Stumo: Why aren’t federal agencies helping to ‘Build Back Better’?

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Biden faces limits of $1.9T COVID aid as some states resist

Polls continually show that U.S. consumers want to buy American-made products. In particular, Americans don’t want to buy from China, and they understand that buying “Made in USA” can support good jobs and economic growth at home.

Unfortunately, federal government programs often incentivize foreign manufacturing. That’s because the United States stands alone among the world’s major industrial nations in lacking a coordinated strategy to grow domestic manufacturing. In fact, the stated goals of many important federal agencies actually serve as a barrier to developing new supply chains in the U.S.

This lack of concern for domestic manufacturing is exemplified by the National Economic Council, the key White House body tasked with coordinating economic policy. Despite frequent presidential rhetoric — such as President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda and former President Trump’s pledges to “Buy American” and hire American — the NEC still lacks any mandate to rebuild supply chains at home.

A look at various federal agencies reveals few goals to reshore important production. For example, the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office provides billions of dollars in loans for power generation projects throughout the nation. However, the DOE doesn’t specify where the resulting power grid infrastructure should be manufactured.

Similarly, the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration focuses on “innovation, emerging technologies, intellectual property — and data.” This betrays a glaring lack of concern for the production side of digital technologies. The EDA simply aims to “Strengthen IP protection” and “Advance Innovation.” However, R&D that the agency funds often ends up being manufactured overseas.

There’s also the recent CHIPS for America Act, which aims to stimulate domestic research and development for semiconductors. Unfortunately, the legislation fails to sufficiently require chipmakers to locate new production in the U.S. And that perpetuates America’s longstanding pattern of inventing groundbreaking technologies — like solar panels and computer chips — and then manufacturing them overseas.

The federal government spends roughly $600 billion annually on procurement. Spending that taxpayer money specifically on American-made products rather than imports could provide a huge boost for domestic companies. But too often, federal agencies simply purchase the cheapest possible goods, regardless of where they’re made.

Most industrialized nations take a different approach. They use government procurement to support their own factories. And they wisely try to sell their goods in the U.S. but avoid buying American-made products in return. For example, India maintains a 125% tariff on imports of cars and trucks — a policy it has used to build the world’s fourth-largest auto market. Virtually every car on India’s roads is made in India. In contrast, the United States imposes a mere 2.5% tariff on car imports. This allows multinational companies to build new auto plants in low-wage countries like Mexico and then sell cars very profitably to U.S. consumers.

Essentially, when policymakers talk about “boosting exports,” they’re missing the big picture. In order to rebuild domestic manufacturing, Washington must finally prioritize America’s home market — and help domestic manufacturers sell more products to U.S. consumers.

An analysis by the Coalition for a Prosperous America found that the domestic U.S. market for manufactured goods totaled $6.8 trillion in 2020. By comparison, exports totaled only $1.2 trillion in 2020. Exports simply pale in comparison to what U.S. manufacturers could gain from reclaiming more of their home market.

Unfortunately, U.S. manufacturers keep losing ground at home. Since 2002, America’s factories have lost 7.7% of their home market. Regaining that slice of the pie could add roughly $500 billion to U.S. manufacturing revenue and create millions of new jobs.

Fixing this will require a concerted, whole-of-government strategy. That means Washington doubling down on domestic procurement and insisting that federal agencies purchase goods from U.S. suppliers whenever possible.


Michael Stumo is CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

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