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Man shot and killed Thursday morning in Walnut Park West neighborhood

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Man shot and killed Thursday morning in Walnut Park West neighborhood

NEW YORK – Eighteen former NBA players, including East St. Louis high school graduate Darius Miles, have been charged with defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan out of about $4 million, according to an indictment Thursday, the Associated Press, NBC News and The New York Times reported.

Federal prosecutors planned a news conference to describe the case that was brought in Manhattan federal court. It wasn’t immediately clear whether all those charged had been arrested.

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Free access to monoclonal antibodies for high-risk Massachusetts coronavirus patients

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EU regulator authorizes Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for kids 5-11

People at high risk for serious coronavirus infections who have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 can now find free access to monoclonal antibody treatment at three state-run mobile sites, Gov. Charlie Baker announced.

“These mobile sites enable individuals with early COVID-19 or who have been exposed to COVID-19 to be treated quickly and safely with monoclonal antibody infusion,” said Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “While the best protection against COVID-19 is vaccination, these therapies can help prevent hospitalization and severe illness for infected or exposed high-risk individuals.”

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-created antibodies that mimic those naturally generated by the body to fight viruses and can help boost the immune response. The therapies have been shown to be effective in reducing the severity of disease and keeping COVID-19-positive individuals from being hospitalized, officials said.

The new state-run mobile clinics have the capacity to treat a combined 500 patients per week. Two of the clinics are already running in Fall River and Holyoke, where medics began administering monoclonal antibody treatment to patients on Nov. 22. A third clinic will open in Everett on Dec. 3.

The mobile clinic sites can be relocated easily based on demand and officials pointed out they are ready to be deployed to provide monoclonal antibodies in nursing homes, assisted living residences, and congregate care settings that have been hard-hit by coronavirus. Massachusetts residents can now receive monoclonal antibody treatment at 32 publicly available locations. A map of sites can be found using the state’s Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Locator.

Texas-based emergency management company Gothams is operating the mobile clinics in partnership with the Department of Public Health.

The cost of operating the mobile clinics was not immediately known. But officials said treatment is provided at no cost to the patient and offered regardless of immigration status or health insurance.

A similar program in Florida for 25 state-run monoclonal antibody sites has cost $244.8 million since August, according to a Miami Herald report. State lawmakers there have earmarked another $634.3 million in case the state ends up needing more medications for a future coronavirus surge.

The money is reimbursable by federal authorities.

Monoclonal antibodies are administered through a single intravenous infusion into a patient’s arm during a process that takes 20 to 30 minutes, followed by an hour of patient monitoring. Officials say “the one-time therapy is highly effective in neutralizing the virus and preventing symptoms from worsening,” if administered within 10 days of onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-positive or exposed patients age 12 and older at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness are eligible to receive monoclonal antibody treatment, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization. A referral from a health care provider is required.

Cooke encouraged people with questions about whether this treatment is right for them to discuss it with their health care providers.

For more information about accessing this treatment, visit Mass.gov.

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Consumer confidence takes a hit in November

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Consumer confidence takes a hit in November

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer confidence fell to a nine-month low in November, clipped by rising prices and concern about the coronavirus.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index dropped to a reading of 109.5, down from 111.6 in October. It was the lowest reading since the index stood at 95.2 in February.

The survey was completed on Nov. 19 and does not include omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus that has begun to spread with few answers about the damage it might do to the U.S. and global economies.

Even before the omicron variant appeared, consumer optimism was being tested by price spikes across the board, particularly for gasoline and food.

The Conference Board’s present situation index, which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor conditions, fell to 142.5, down from 145.5 in October. The expectations index, based the outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, fell to 87.6 in November from 89.0 in October.

The board said concerns about rising prices and to a lesser degree, lingering worries about the delta variant, were the primary drivers of the November decline.

But economists believe rising prices and any jolt from the omicron variant will not have a major impact on holiday spending this year, something that can have a sizable impact on the U.S. economy.

Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said she expected the omicron variant would have only a “moderate negative impact on growth.” She is looking for the overall economy to expand at an annual rate of 7.9% in the current quarter ending in December, a big improvement from the lackluster 2.1% GDP gain in the July-September quarter.

The decline in the Conference Board confidence index followed an even bigger drop reported last week in the University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment, which fell in November to a decade-low of 7.4, compared to a final October reading of 71.7.

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Ticker: Woburn firm in battery deal with Mercedes, Stellantis; Maine groups take aim at fed permits for hydro lines

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Ticker: Woburn firm in battery deal with Mercedes, Stellantis; Maine groups take aim at fed permits for hydro lines

Automakers Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis announced agreements with Woburn-based Factorial Energy on Tuesday to help develop solid-state battery technology that they hope could make electric cars more attractive to a mass market.

Mercedes-Benz, part of Daimler AG, said it is joining forces with Factorial to jointly develop batteries with the aim of testing prototype cells as early as next year. It said it is “investing a high double-digit million dollar amount in Factorial” that will give it the right to a representative on the battery company’s board of directors.

Stellantis, which combined PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, said it signed a joint development agreement with Factorial and is making a “strategic investment” in the company. It didn’t detail the size of the investment.

Maine groups take aim at hydro lines

Maine environmental groups have requested that the federal government suspend the permits it issued to a billion-dollar electricity project for Massachusetts residents, which Maine voters rejected in a referendum last month.

Three groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, wrote a joint letter on Monday to the federal Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seeking to halt the New England Clean Energy Connect project.

The 145-mile electric transmission corridor would run through western Maine, and is backed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

The letter emphasized that the project could not continue because of the Nov. 2 referendum blocked the project that would be used to transmit power from hydroelectric dams in Canada to the New England grid through Lewiston.

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