ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Dear Huei-Min et al.

Thanks for sharing those and, yes, we were saddened to see the outbreak in Taiwan and hope that you get it back under control. We have had a recent outbreak again in Fiji stemming from poor quarantine management and security in relation to repatriated Fiji citizens from India. Had a four-day lockdown, 4 new cases yesterday, but were allowed out for part of today. Gain, hope we get through this.

Sincerely

Randy

Dr. Randolph R. Thaman
Emeritus Professor of Pacific Islands Biogeography
The University of the South Pacific
Suva, Fiji
thaman_r@usp.ac.fj

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Thank you for sharing, Godfrey and Bruce.

I also share the case of Taiwan:

Taiwan is now under “the first wave” of community outbreak after the weekend of Mother’s Day (May 8-9) .

I happened has a webinar on April 29 that talked about how small islands in Taiwan keep no confirmed case but blooming tourism (with some figures), however it has been rapidly changed in Taiwan in the past weeks. More than 100 increased cases in Taipei and New Taipei city since May 15, while offshore islands fortunately still keep zero case so far. All offshore islands have announced restrictions of tourist from main island Taiwan two days ago. The attached is a brief update numbers, if you are interested.

For your information: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/17/asia/taiwan-covid-outbreak-intl-hnk/index.html

Today: https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202105190001

Hope it could be contained soon (I hope and believe so)

Best wishes to all,

Huei-Min

****

Huei-Min Tsai, Ph.D.

Professor, Graduate Institute of Environmental Education

National Taiwan Normal University

Taipei, Taiwan

Email: hmtsai

Phone: +886-2-77496565 Fax: +886-2-29325570

From: ISISA@groups.io [mailto:ISISA@groups.io] On Behalf Of Godfrey Baldacchino
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2021 2:20 PM
To: ISISA@groups.io
Cc: Iain Orr; PottersWeal.com; Chile8
Subject: Re: [ISISA] Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Thank you for sharing Bruce.

Malta also has a very high rate of vaccination; meanwhile, reported daily infection rates have gone down into the single digits. (A far cry from the record 510 cases of Covid-19 recorded in 24 hours on March 10.)

Tourism is picking up and restaurants will be able to serve dinner soon; though bars remain closed so far; and no mass gatherings are permitted.

Godfrey

On Mon, 17 May 2021 at 21:26, Bruce Potter <bpotter> wrote:

This effect (runaway COVID-19 infections) has also been seen in the tabulations of coronavirus infections among many global islands in addition to the Seychelles, that Iain Orr has been tabulating every few days since March 21, 2020, and which Godfrey Baldacchinno has been posting and updating on the ISISA.ORG website.

Bruce

Begin forwarded message:

From: The Washington Post <email>

Subject: Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Date: May 10, 2021 at 12:00:06 AM EDT

To: bpotter

The Washington Post
Today's WorldView
Adam Taylor By Adam Taylor
with Claire Parker
f64e26ef3b53afcd222ecc49f65aa958-envelope_byline-40-32-70-8.png Email

A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks.

It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates.

The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination. But that success was undermined last week as the Seychelles found itself with the world’s largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita and was forced to reinstate some restrictions.

imp?s=220945&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220948&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627513&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Though the number of new cases is relatively low — peaking at an average of just under 150 new cases a day — they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in the Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. “These are an upward trend,” said Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon at a media briefing last week. “We do not know how long it will last, but this will depend on what measures are taken and how the new measures are respected.”

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

The Seychelles situation is being watched all over the world. “It is providing a critical case to consider the effectiveness of some vaccines and what range we have to reach to meet herd immunity,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Huang noted that other nations that had vaccinated large proportions of their populations, including Israel and Britain, had seen significant drops in new daily cases. Sherin Francis, chief executive of the Seychelles tourism board, said that while much of the population was vaccinated, there were pockets that were not.

imp?s=220950&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220953&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627512&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Government data released lastweek found that of 1,068 active cases, around 65 percent involved residents who were either completely unvaccinated or had received only one dose. Francis emphasized that even people who have been vaccinated can get infected. “Vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death; they are less good at preventing infection,” Francis said.

So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low — 28 out of more than 6,000 cases, as of last week. Most of those infected have only mild symptoms, Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Sylvestre Radegonde told the Seychelles News Agency over the weekend.But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness.

Roughly 60 percent of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization recently estimated the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78 percent for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so.

Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79 percent effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95 percent.

Jennifer Huang Bouey, an epidemiologist who works with the Rand Corp., estimated that given what was known about the Seychelles’ vaccine rollout and the vaccines used, less than 49 percent of the population could be assumed to have immunity conferred by vaccines. “It is still far below the community-level protection requirement,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that they are not seeing a significant decline in cases,” CFR’s Huang said. “But what is surprising to me is that they’ve seen a significant increase in cases since late April.”

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

That rise in cases arrived after something else: the return of tourists to the Seychelles. But so far, the evidence linking the two is unclear.

After almost a year of strict border controls, the Seychelles announced early this year that it was opening back up to tourists beginning March 25. The government said there would be no quarantine requirements and that visitors would not need to be vaccinated, though they would need to show negative PCR tests taken less than 72 hours before travel. It was an important move for the Seychelles, which relies on tourism for about a quarter of its economy. Economic output declined by 13.5 percent in 2020, largely because of steep drops in tourism revenue, according to the World Bank.

While the number of new daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled since tourism restrictions were removed, only 10 percent of positive cases are among visitors to the island, according to Francis. Even so, the rise in new cases threatens to upend the country’s reopening to tourism. In one recent dispute, vaccinated Israeli travelers publicly complained of “false positive” coronavirus tests that disrupted their stay. The Seychelles Tourism Board refuted that claim on Friday.

“While applying restrictions, care has been taken to ensure that the visitor experience is not affected and that our visitors are still able to enjoy an uninterrupted holiday in Seychelles,” said Francis, adding that the country was able to guarantee PCR tests with results within 24 hours.

Huang Bouey said that while vaccines can help prevent deaths, there was increasing agreement among medical professionals that they alone could not stop new cases or outbreaks. “Quarantine, mask-wearing and crowd-avoiding should be part of the public health strategy,” she said.

Senaratne said it was possible that the Seychelles’ ongoing outbreak could drive away tourists and that the government was undertaking a “delicate balancing act between health and wealth management.”

“Covid-19 has starkly outlined the vulnerabilities of an island nation that remains highly dependent on tourism,” she said, adding that the country would need to diversify its economy. “While we hope the spread of the virus will be curbed in the short term, we cannot help but look uneasily towards the future.”

—————————————————
Bruce Potter
764C Fairview Avenue
Severn House Condominium
Annapolis, MD 21403

Bruce’s iPhone: 443/454-9044
" Blog: PottersWeal.com
See also: Kincey.org

E-mail: <bpotter>
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Covid-19 & Islands (Tsai)-19 May 2021 Taiwan (1).pdf

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Thank you for sharing Bruce.

Malta also has a very high rate of vaccination; meanwhile, reported daily infection rates have gone down into the single digits. (A far cry from the record 510 cases of Covid-19 recorded in 24 hours on March 10.)

Tourism is picking up and restaurants will be able to serve dinner soon; though bars remain closed so far; and no mass gatherings are permitted.

Godfrey

On Mon, 17 May 2021 at 21:26, Bruce Potter <bpotter> wrote:

This effect (runaway COVID-19 infections) has also been seen in the tabulations of coronavirus infections among many global islands in addition to the Seychelles, that Iain Orr has been tabulating every few days since March 21, 2020, and which Godfrey Baldacchinno has been posting and updating on the ISISA.ORG website.

Bruce

Begin forwarded message:

From: The Washington Post <email>

Subject: Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Date: May 10, 2021 at 12:00:06 AM EDT

To: bpotter

The Washington Post
Today's WorldView
Adam Taylor By Adam Taylor
with Claire Parker
f64e26ef3b53afcd222ecc49f65aa958-envelope_byline-40-32-70-8.png Email

A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks.

It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates.

The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination. But that success was undermined last week as the Seychelles found itself with the world’s largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita and was forced to reinstate some restrictions.

imp?s=220945&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220948&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627513&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Though the number of new cases is relatively low — peaking at an average of just under 150 new cases a day — they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in the Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. “These are an upward trend,” said Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon at a media briefing last week. “We do not know how long it will last, but this will depend on what measures are taken and how the new measures are respected.”

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

The Seychelles situation is being watched all over the world. “It is providing a critical case to consider the effectiveness of some vaccines and what range we have to reach to meet herd immunity,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Huang noted that other nations that had vaccinated large proportions of their populations, including Israel and Britain, had seen significant drops in new daily cases. Sherin Francis, chief executive of the Seychelles tourism board, said that while much of the population was vaccinated, there were pockets that were not.

imp?s=220950&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220953&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627512&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Government data released lastweek found that of 1,068 active cases, around 65 percent involved residents who were either completely unvaccinated or had received only one dose. Francis emphasized that even people who have been vaccinated can get infected. “Vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death; they are less good at preventing infection,” Francis said.

So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low — 28 out of more than 6,000 cases, as of last week. Most of those infected have only mild symptoms, Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Sylvestre Radegonde told the Seychelles News Agency over the weekend.But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness.

Roughly 60 percent of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization recently estimated the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78 percent for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so.

Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79 percent effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95 percent.

Jennifer Huang Bouey, an epidemiologist who works with the Rand Corp., estimated that given what was known about the Seychelles’ vaccine rollout and the vaccines used, less than 49 percent of the population could be assumed to have immunity conferred by vaccines. “It is still far below the community-level protection requirement,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that they are not seeing a significant decline in cases,” CFR’s Huang said. “But what is surprising to me is that they’ve seen a significant increase in cases since late April.”

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

That rise in cases arrived after something else: the return of tourists to the Seychelles. But so far, the evidence linking the two is unclear.

After almost a year of strict border controls, the Seychelles announced early this year that it was opening back up to tourists beginning March 25. The government said there would be no quarantine requirements and that visitors would not need to be vaccinated, though they would need to show negative PCR tests taken less than 72 hours before travel. It was an important move for the Seychelles, which relies on tourism for about a quarter of its economy. Economic output declined by 13.5 percent in 2020, largely because of steep drops in tourism revenue, according to the World Bank.

While the number of new daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled since tourism restrictions were removed, only 10 percent of positive cases are among visitors to the island, according to Francis. Even so, the rise in new cases threatens to upend the country’s reopening to tourism. In one recent dispute, vaccinated Israeli travelers publicly complained of “false positive” coronavirus tests that disrupted their stay. The Seychelles Tourism Board refuted that claim on Friday.

“While applying restrictions, care has been taken to ensure that the visitor experience is not affected and that our visitors are still able to enjoy an uninterrupted holiday in Seychelles,” said Francis, adding that the country was able to guarantee PCR tests with results within 24 hours.

Huang Bouey said that while vaccines can help prevent deaths, there was increasing agreement among medical professionals that they alone could not stop new cases or outbreaks. “Quarantine, mask-wearing and crowd-avoiding should be part of the public health strategy,” she said.

Senaratne said it was possible that the Seychelles’ ongoing outbreak could drive away tourists and that the government was undertaking a “delicate balancing act between health and wealth management.”

“Covid-19 has starkly outlined the vulnerabilities of an island nation that remains highly dependent on tourism,” she said, adding that the country would need to diversify its economy. “While we hope the spread of the virus will be curbed in the short term, we cannot help but look uneasily towards the future.”

—————————————————
Bruce Potter
764C Fairview Avenue
Severn House Condominium
Annapolis, MD 21403

Bruce’s iPhone: 443/454-9044
" Blog: PottersWeal.com
See also: Kincey.org

E-mail: <bpotter>
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

_._,_._,_

Posted in Fun | Comments Off on ISISA Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

This effect (runaway COVID-19 infections) has also been seen in the tabulations of coronavirus infections among many global islands in addition to the Seychelles, that Iain Orr has been tabulating every few days since March 21, 2020, and which Godfrey Baldacchinno has been posting and updating on the ISISA.ORG website.

Bruce

Begin forwarded message:

From: The Washington Post <email>

Subject: Today’s WorldView: A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Date: May 10, 2021 at 12:00:06 AM EDT

To: bpotter

The Washington Post
Today's WorldView
Adam Taylor By Adam Taylor
with Claire Parker
f64e26ef3b53afcd222ecc49f65aa958-envelope_byline-40-32-70-8.png Email

A warning sign from the world’s most vaccinated country

Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)Shoppers wearing masks are seen in Victoria, Seychelles on April 2. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks.

It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates.

The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination. But that success was undermined last week as the Seychelles found itself with the world’s largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita and was forced to reinstate some restrictions.

imp?s=220945&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220948&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627513&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Though the number of new cases is relatively low — peaking at an average of just under 150 new cases a day — they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in the Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. “These are an upward trend,” said Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon at a media briefing last week. “We do not know how long it will last, but this will depend on what measures are taken and how the new measures are respected.”

President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan receives a dose of the Chinese covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria in January. (Photo by Rassin Vannier/AFP via Getty Images)

The Seychelles situation is being watched all over the world. “It is providing a critical case to consider the effectiveness of some vaccines and what range we have to reach to meet herd immunity,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Huang noted that other nations that had vaccinated large proportions of their populations, including Israel and Britain, had seen significant drops in new daily cases. Sherin Francis, chief executive of the Seychelles tourism board, said that while much of the population was vaccinated, there were pockets that were not.

imp?s=220950&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5
imp?s=220953&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5 imp?s=627512&li=todayworld&m=93426bbcac10f9a828619f1c469f2f5e&p=6098aeb79d2fdae3024a3ac5

Government data released lastweek found that of 1,068 active cases, around 65 percent involved residents who were either completely unvaccinated or had received only one dose. Francis emphasized that even people who have been vaccinated can get infected. “Vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death; they are less good at preventing infection,” Francis said.

So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low — 28 out of more than 6,000 cases, as of last week. Most of those infected have only mild symptoms, Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Sylvestre Radegonde told the Seychelles News Agency over the weekend.But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness.

Roughly 60 percent of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization recently estimated the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78 percent for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so.

Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79 percent effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95 percent.

Jennifer Huang Bouey, an epidemiologist who works with the Rand Corp., estimated that given what was known about the Seychelles’ vaccine rollout and the vaccines used, less than 49 percent of the population could be assumed to have immunity conferred by vaccines. “It is still far below the community-level protection requirement,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that they are not seeing a significant decline in cases,” CFR’s Huang said. “But what is surprising to me is that they’ve seen a significant increase in cases since late April.”

Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)Footprints dot the sand on the beach on Mahe island, Seychelles in March 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

That rise in cases arrived after something else: the return of tourists to the Seychelles. But so far, the evidence linking the two is unclear.

After almost a year of strict border controls, the Seychelles announced early this year that it was opening back up to tourists beginning March 25. The government said there would be no quarantine requirements and that visitors would not need to be vaccinated, though they would need to show negative PCR tests taken less than 72 hours before travel. It was an important move for the Seychelles, which relies on tourism for about a quarter of its economy. Economic output declined by 13.5 percent in 2020, largely because of steep drops in tourism revenue, according to the World Bank.

While the number of new daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled since tourism restrictions were removed, only 10 percent of positive cases are among visitors to the island, according to Francis. Even so, the rise in new cases threatens to upend the country’s reopening to tourism. In one recent dispute, vaccinated Israeli travelers publicly complained of “false positive” coronavirus tests that disrupted their stay. The Seychelles Tourism Board refuted that claim on Friday.

“While applying restrictions, care has been taken to ensure that the visitor experience is not affected and that our visitors are still able to enjoy an uninterrupted holiday in Seychelles,” said Francis, adding that the country was able to guarantee PCR tests with results within 24 hours.

Huang Bouey said that while vaccines can help prevent deaths, there was increasing agreement among medical professionals that they alone could not stop new cases or outbreaks. “Quarantine, mask-wearing and crowd-avoiding should be part of the public health strategy,” she said.

Senaratne said it was possible that the Seychelles’ ongoing outbreak could drive away tourists and that the government was undertaking a “delicate balancing act between health and wealth management.”

“Covid-19 has starkly outlined the vulnerabilities of an island nation that remains highly dependent on tourism,” she said, adding that the country would need to diversify its economy. “While we hope the spread of the virus will be curbed in the short term, we cannot help but look uneasily towards the future.”

—————————————————
Bruce Potter
764C Fairview Avenue
Severn House Condominium
Annapolis, MD 21403

Bruce’s iPhone: 443/454-9044
” Blog: PottersWeal.com
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IRF-News Fourth fail in Limetree Bay Refinery (ex-Hovic) since February

Let’s hope it’s shut down for good. ☹

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

From: Bruce Potter
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2021 8:33 AM
To: Friends of the Sunsetted IRF
Cc: Potters Weal Blog; <a href="mailto:CaribEnvMgmt
Subject: [IRF-News] Fourth fail in Limetree Bay Refinery (ex-Hovic) since February

From Juliet Eilperin of the Washington PostL <https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/05/12/limetree-bay-refinery/ >

Who knew that the Hess Oil Virgin Island Refinery would be the “good old days??"

Climate and Environment

St. Croix refinery halts operations after raining oil on local residents once again

Limetree Bay, which received a key permit under Donald Trump, has had several accidents since starting operations on Feb. 1

The Limetree Bay refinery in St. Croix is under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency because of a Feb. 4 flare that spewed oil droplets over nearby homes, contaminating at least 63 cisterns with petroleum. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

By

Juliet Eilperin

May 13, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. EDT

A troubled refinery in St. Croix announced Wednesday evening that it would temporarily halt operations after raining oil on local residents for the second time in just over three months.

Limetree Bay Refining, which showered a fine mist of oil over houses more than two miles away just three days after restarting operations on Feb. 1, spewed oil and sulfur dioxide into the air Wednesday afternoon. The accident triggered an alert from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, which warned residents about a “gaseous odor” and urged those with respiratory illnesses to stay inside.

The company acknowledged in a statement that Wednesday’s “incident resulted in a release of oil droplets which traveled directly west,” affecting the neighborhood of Enfield Green, an affluent, gated community, “as well as some industrial sites.”

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“In response to today’s incident, Limetree Bay has decided to temporarily suspend production activities until further notice,” it added.

The island where it showered oil

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan tweeted Wednesday night, “The repeated incidents at the refinery are unacceptable. EPA has a team on St. Croix and is committed to taking all necessary action to ensure people’s health and safety is protected.”

The plant, which received approval to operate under the Trump administration, has come under close scrutiny since President Biden came into office. In March, the EPA revoked one of the permits the last administration granted the refinery just before Trump stepped down, and it is now investigating whether it poses “an imminent risk to people’s health.”

The refinery has experienced multiple accidents over the past three months that have sickened local residents and forced schools, as well as local government offices, to close. The fire occurred at the same unit that caused the Feb. 4 accident, which contaminated dozens of open cisterns — from which many residents get water they use to drink, cook and bathe — and coated more than 200 cars as well as rooftops and gardens.

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Although the refinery ranks as one of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ largest private employers and sources of tax revenue, many on St. Croix have begun to question its impact on their health.

The company warned residents in the affected community Wednesday “to disconnect downspouts to cisterns if accessible” and not drink the water. It promised to deliver bottled water to those homes.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. (D) called the latest incident “totally unacceptable” in a statement, but expressed hope that the plant will reopen after making improvements.

“Lieutenant Governor Roach and I both have been in contact with the executive team at Limetree Bay and have expressed our concern and frustration with the recent releases that have threatened the health and safety of the residents downwind of the refinery and urged Limetree to step up its efforts to guarantee the safety of its employees and the residents downwind from the refinery," Bryan said. "It is my sincere hope that they can rectify whatever the issues are and resume operations in a manner that protects the health and well-being of its employees and the residents of our community.”

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Jennifer Valiulis, who directs the St. Croix Environmental Association, said in an email that the time had come for officials to take stronger action against the plant.

“Lately we are seeing incidents happening nearly daily with this refinery: Fires, flares, spills, noxious emissions, oil raining down into neighborhoods,” she said. “Each one of these events has impacted our community and disastrous ways — severe illness, loss of food, loss of drinking water. At some point, we need to say that enough is enough and demand accountability from Limetree.”

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Posted in Fun | Comments Off on IRF-News Fourth fail in Limetree Bay Refinery (ex-Hovic) since February

Fourth fail in Limetree Bay Refinery (ex-Hovic) since February

From Juliet Eilperin of the Washington PostL <https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/05/12/limetree-bay-refinery/ >

Who knew that the Hess Oil Virgin Island Refinery would be the “good old days??”

Climate and Environment

St. Croix refinery halts operations after raining oil on local residents once again

Limetree Bay, which received a key permit under Donald Trump, has had several accidents since starting operations on Feb. 1

The Limetree Bay refinery in St. Croix is under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency because of a Feb. 4 flare that spewed oil droplets over nearby homes, contaminating at least 63 cisterns with petroleum. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
By Juliet Eilperin

May 13, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. EDT

A troubled refinery in St. Croix announced Wednesday evening that it would temporarily halt operations after raining oil on local residents for the second time in just over three months.

Limetree Bay Refining, which showered a fine mist of oil over houses more than two miles away just three days after restarting operations on Feb. 1, spewed oil and sulfur dioxide into the air Wednesday afternoon. The accident triggered an alert from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, which warned residents about a “gaseous odor” and urged those with respiratory illnesses to stay inside.

The company acknowledged in a statement that Wednesday’s “incident resulted in a release of oil droplets which traveled directly west,” affecting the neighborhood of Enfield Green, an affluent, gated community, “as well as some industrial sites.”

Advertisement

“In response to today’s incident, Limetree Bay has decided to temporarily suspend production activities until further notice,” it added.

The island where it showered oil

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan tweeted Wednesday night, “The repeated incidents at the refinery are unacceptable. EPA has a team on St. Croix and is committed to taking all necessary action to ensure people’s health and safety is protected.”

The plant, which received approval to operate under the Trump administration, has come under close scrutiny since President Biden came into office. In March, the EPA revoked one of the permits the last administration granted the refinery just before Trump stepped down, and it is now investigating whether it poses “an imminent risk to people’s health.”

The refinery has experienced multiple accidents over the past three months that have sickened local residents and forced schools, as well as local government offices, to close. The fire occurred at the same unit that caused the Feb. 4 accident, which contaminated dozens of open cisterns — from which many residents get water they use to drink, cook and bathe — and coated more than 200 cars as well as rooftops and gardens.

Advertisement

Although the refinery ranks as one of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ largest private employers and sources of tax revenue, many on St. Croix have begun to question its impact on their health.

The company warned residents in the affected community Wednesday “to disconnect downspouts to cisterns if accessible” and not drink the water. It promised to deliver bottled water to those homes.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. (D) called the latest incident “totally unacceptable” in a statement, but expressed hope that the plant will reopen after making improvements.

“Lieutenant Governor Roach and I both have been in contact with the executive team at Limetree Bay and have expressed our concern and frustration with the recent releases that have threatened the health and safety of the residents downwind of the refinery and urged Limetree to step up its efforts to guarantee the safety of its employees and the residents downwind from the refinery,” Bryan said. “It is my sincere hope that they can rectify whatever the issues are and resume operations in a manner that protects the health and well-being of its employees and the residents of our community.”

Advertisement

Jennifer Valiulis, who directs the St. Croix Environmental Association, said in an email that the time had come for officials to take stronger action against the plant.

“Lately we are seeing incidents happening nearly daily with this refinery: Fires, flares, spills, noxious emissions, oil raining down into neighborhoods,” she said. “Each one of these events has impacted our community and disastrous ways — severe illness, loss of food, loss of drinking water. At some point, we need to say that enough is enough and demand accountability from Limetree.”

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A Story I’ve Missed Totally . . .

From the VI Source < https://stthomassource.com/content/2021/04/21/tourism-boom-forces-port-authority-to-seek-additional-funds-for-airport-projects/ >

Except for the fact that the Source is totally reliable, if this article was datelined April 1st I would never believe it.

Would love to see the monthly arrivals data for both airports for the past 18 months — well really, since 2017. It’s clear I have no understanding of how the Territory has really been impacted by the several disasters that have passed over the previous three-and-a-half years.

Tourism Boom Forces Port Authority to Seek Additional Funds for Airport Projects
By Bethaney Lee April 21, 2021


Travelers cram together in the line at the Cyril E. King Airport during last month’s Spring Break.
(Photo by Harleigh Stoltz)

Travel into the U.S. Virgin Islands during the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing, and Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe said Cyril E. King Airport is running at three times the capacity its facilities were originally built to handle.

During Wednesday’s monthly Port Authority board meeting, held at the authority’s administrative offices adjacent to the airport, Dowe glanced out the window at the tarmac and said, “In a minute jets will start landing and it’s like J’ouvert morning at the airport.”

While Dowe acknowledged the influx of travelers into the territory is “not a bad problem to have,” he said the situation demands attention from both local and federal instrumentalities, and investments are needed in the aging airport to keep up with heavy demand from vacation-starved visitors.

“That’s why it is important for all the government entities, counsel, the federal government, everybody to recognize and understand that this airport was designed to accommodate 300,000 passengers when it was constructed many years ago,” Dowe said. “Today we are seeing close to 900,000 people going through the very same footprint that was designed to only accommodate 300,000 people.”
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While additional funding may be needed, the Port Authority has begun spending the $27 million it received last year as a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to begin new construction on the Cyril E. King airport. Nearly all the funding, $20 million, is being used for a parking and transportation center that will provide nearly 700 parking spots, in addition to a designated location for ground transportation and a location allocated solely for rental cars.

Port Authority Assistant Executive Director and Director of Engineering Damian Cartwright has previously told the Legislature that Cyril E. King Airport renovations alone will cost an estimated $250 million.

But the airport on St. Thomas is not the only one bustling with visitors.

“It’s interesting what you see at St. Croix,” Dowe said while directing meeting attendees to a photograph taken at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. “You can see what the line looks like and it makes the expansion very critical.”

“We’re seeing an uptick on the [airlift] and an uptick on activity at the St. Croix airport itself … we don’t see that too often,” Dowe said.

While board members seemed encouraged by the arrival of tourists flooding into the territory, Dowe said the authority must confront the need for funding head-on.

“The challenges are real, and they will be there,” Dowe said. “But we just have to make the best, but we definitely have to get that kind of funding, that investment. That investment must come not just from local government, but the federal government must play a critical role to help us expand.”

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Washington Post: Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico

PLEASE READ: From the Thursday, 22 April 2021, Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/04/22/puerto-rico-hurricane-trump-hud/

The Trump machinations to subvert all forms of governance, including humanitarian assistance, is at least disgusting.

Business
Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico
A watchdog report uncovers bureaucratic hurdles the administration erected for the island to receive aid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria

A Puerto Rican flag flies on an empty beach at Ocean Park in San Juan last May. (Carlos Giusti/AP)
By. Tracy Jan and Lisa Rein April 22, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

The Trump administration put up bureaucratic obstacles that stalled approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed an investigation into the holdup, according to an inspector general report obtained by The Washington Post.

Congress requested the investigation into the delays to recovery aid for Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 left residents of the U.S. territory without power and clean water for months. But, the report said, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson and another former HUD official declined to be interviewed by investigators during the course of the 2019 examination.

Access to HUD information was delayed or denied on several occasions. Several former senior administration officials in the Office of Management and Budget refused to provide requested information about decision-making related to the Puerto Rico relief funds.

“Delays and denials of access and refusals to cooperate negatively affected the ability of the [Office of Inspector General] to conduct this review,” the report said.

The 46-page report presents an incomplete picture of the political influence of the Trump White House on delaying disaster relief for the struggling island.

Still, Inspector General Rae Oliver Davis, appointed by Trump as top HUD watchdog, found unprecedented procedural hurdles set by the White House budget office — in addition to an extended partial federal government shutdown that also produced delays.

The OMB required HUD’s notice of grant funds to go through an interagency review process before approval, preventing HUD from publishing its draft notice of funding by its target date. The OMB had never before required such a review process for a notice allocating disaster-recovery funds, according to the inspector general’s report, and there had been no previous discussion about requiring the extra step.

One senior HUD official, Stan Gimont, then the deputy assistant secretary for grant programs, bemoaned the tedious review process imposed by the White House budget office as “kind of like Groundhog Day, just keeps coming back. And that’s … where your frustration will set in. … It’s almost like we’re going to keep bringing this back to you until you just eat it,” the report said.

While investigators interviewed 20 current and former HUD officials and two Puerto Rico housing officials, they had no access to Carson. Several senior political appointees at HUD withheld answers to questions, and White House budget office officials involved in delaying the timing of the aid also refused to cooperate.

The report said Carson and then-HUD Deputy Secretary Brian Montgomery had expressed “mounting concerns and frustrations” to then-acting OMB director Russell Vought about “HUD’s inability to make progress” on disbursing the funds. At one point, Montgomery told Vought that the White House’s actions were tantamount to holding disaster-relief funds “hostage,” the report said.

But the inspector general said given the lack of cooperation, investigators were unable to determine why the extra layer of review was required.

Trump officials hindered at least nine key oversight probes, watchdogs said. Some may finally be released in coming months.

HUD had initially intended to publish a funding notice that would have applied to all 16 jurisdictions receiving hurricane relief, but OMB urged the agency to issue separate notices for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the report said. Carson reluctantly agreed on the grounds that the agency was concerned over alleged corruption and fiscal mismanagement on the island.

The Post had previously reported that President Donald Trump repeatedly told aides that disaster relief allocated for Puerto Rico must be closely monitored because he believed the territory’s government is corrupt and the economy was in poor shape before the hurricanes devastated the island. Trump had also told then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and then-OMB Director Mick Mulvaney that he did not want a single dollar going to Puerto Rico, and instead, he wanted more of the money to go to Texas and Florida.

The White House budget office also insisted on overhauls to Puerto Rico’s property-management records, suspension of its minimum wage on federal contracts, and other prerequisites to access relief funds, prompting Montgomery to question whether HUD had the legal authority to enforce such requirements, the report said.

“How many poison pills are in here?” Montgomery wrote in an email to other senior HUD officials, according to the report.

“Montgomery said he did not believe that HUD could coerce Puerto Rico to fix its property-tax system to receive mitigation funding because the property-tax system was not related to mitigation activities,” the report said. “He also indicated that HUD did not put these types of conditions on other disaster-recovery grantees.”

The report, expected to be released publicly as early as Thursday, comes five months after Trump’s reelection defeat.

It is one of numerous politically sensitive investigations by federal watchdogs who are mandated by Congress to monitor agencies for waste, fraud and misconduct that was impeded by the last administration.

Damaging disclosures about former transportation secretary Elaine Chao, former White House physician Ronny Jackson, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other Trump officials were made public months after they left office.

At least a dozen other investigations have yet to be completed, in part because of unprecedented delays to inquiries by inspectors general.

Other overdue reports include an inquiry by the Commerce Department watchdog into the administration’s controversial decision to add a question on citizenship to the U.S. Census; two long-running ethics probes of Ryan Zinke, Trump’s first Interior secretary; and an audit of a $400 million contract to build the border wall that was awarded at Trump’s urging to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive was a prominent GOP donor.

After butting heads with Trump administration, top HUD official departs agency

Davis took the unusual step of laying out the administration’s obstruction at the top of the HUD report. The report also notes that Trump administration officials delayed investigators’ access to emails and other electronic documents, invoking the privilege claimed by the president, known as executive privilege, of withholding information in the public interest.
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HUD demanded that agency attorneys sit in on investigators’ interviews with Carson and other political appointees, the report said, a tactic widely used during the Trump administration that watchdogs worried could unduly shape testimony. Davis had previously expressed concern to congressional staffers about HUD attorneys’ desire to be present for witness testimonies.

While Carson was never interviewed, other former political appointees eventually agreed to be interviewed without an agency lawyer, but then refused to answer certain questions, the report said.

HUD did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the inspector general’s findings.

The Biden administration this week removed what it called “onerous restrictions unique to Puerto Rico that limited the island’s access” to disaster recovery funds and announced the obligation of $8.2 billion in federal mitigation funds.

Among the eliminated restrictions are the incremental grant obligations and review by a federal financial monitor to oversee the aid, as well as additional oversight by the U.S. territory’s federally mandated fiscal control board beyond what is already required by law, HUD said in its announcement.

“Since its first days, the Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized action to enable stronger recovery for Puerto Rico,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge in a statement, adding that the new administration’s actions would “unlock access to funds Puerto Rico needs to recover from past disasters and build resilience to future storms, while ensuring transparency and accountability.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Tracy Jan
Tracy Jan covers the intersection of race and the economy for The Washington Post, a beat she launched in December 2016. She previously was a national political reporter at the Boston Globe.

Lisa Rein
Lisa Rein covers federal agencies and the management of government in the Trump administration. At The Washington Post, she has written about the federal workforce; state politics and government in Annapolis, and in Richmond; local government in Fairfax County, Va.; and the redevelopment of Washington and its neighborhoods.

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The Romance of Corporate Tax Rates: US Tax Rates One-third of Other Industrial Nations

Dozens of America’s biggest businesses
paid no federal income tax — again
55 corporations had zero federal tax liability in 2020, including household names like Nike, FedEx and Dish Network, analysis finds

White House press secretary Jen Psaki points to a corporate tax rate chart last week during a news briefing. Last year, 55 of the nation’s largest corporations paid no federal income tax on more than $40 billion in profits, research shows. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

By Christopher Ingraham April 5, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Fifty-five of the nation’s largest corporations paid no federal income tax on more than $40 billion in profits last year, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a progressive think tank.

In fact, they received a combined federal rebate of more than $3 billion, for an effective tax rate of about negative 9 percent.

“Their total corporate tax breaks for 2020, including $8.5 billion in tax avoidance and $3.5 billion in rebates, comes to $12 billion,” according to the study’s authors, Matthew Gardner and Steve Wamhoff.

The findings also underscore the favorable tax environment for big businesses in the wake of the 2017 Trump tax cuts. Twenty-six corporations have paid no federal income taxes since 2017, according to the report, including such household names as Nike, FedEx and Dish Network. Combined, the 26 companies have booked more than $77 billion in profits since 2018, while receiving nearly $5 billion in rebates, for an effective three-year tax rate of negative 6 percent.

A FedEx spokesman shared a statement from the company noting that “FedEx pays all of its taxes owed to local, state, federal, and foreign governments,” and that “through the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, FedEx has paid nearly $2 billion in U.S. federal income tax in the last 10 years.”

Representatives from Dish Network declined to comment, while Nike did not respond to a request for comment.

“By all appearances, the companies described in this report appear to be using entirely legal means to reduce their tax bills,” Gardner, the study’s lead author, said via email. But that doesn’t mean the companies are “blameless,” he added. “Many of the tax provisions these companies are using exist because they themselves have lobbied heavily for their creation.”

Those provisions include tax breaks for stock options given to chief executives as part of their pay packages, credits for research and experimentation, and write-offs for renewable energy and capital investments. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s dramatic cut to the corporate income tax rate, from 35 to 21 percent, also plays a role in the limited tax liabilities facing many major corporations.

But Gardner says the generous carve-outs, not the baseline rate itself, are driving much of the phenomenon.

“We all want to see businesses investing more in the U.S., whether it’s creating productive capacity or just creating jobs,” he said. “Similarly, all Americans want to see businesses engaging in more research and development, and the R&D tax credit is another prominent factor driving the tax avoidance we see here.”

But there’s little evidence demonstrating that these provisions actually boost investment or R&D, Gardner says. Following the Trump tax cuts, for instance, many businesses opted to send cash to their shareholders and lay off employees rather than make long-term investments.

Speaking last month before the Senate Finance Committee, Kimberly A. Clausing, a deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis at the U.S. Treasury, said the Trump tax cuts roughly halved corporate tax revenue as a share of gross domestic product. While other wealthy nations typically raise roughly 3 percent of GDP through corporate taxes, in the United States that share fell to just 1 percent following the 2017 changes to the tax code.

She also noted that before the pandemic, corporate profits as a share of GDP were running roughly twice as high as in the period from 1980 to 2000.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say corporations are paying too little in taxes, according to Gallup polling.

President Biden has called for a higher corporate tax rate to fund his package of infrastructure investments, as well as a higher minimum tax on income earned by American companies overseas. Speaking to reporters Friday, Biden said “we are asking corporate America to pay their fair share.”

His proposal “wouldn’t directly repeal any tax breaks,” Gardner said, “but would reduce the cost of many existing breaks. If this is what’s politically doable, it’s certainly better than doing nothing at all.”

Biden’s proposal is already generating opposition among business groups. “By significantly increasing taxes on corporations, the proposal would be counterproductive to the goal of increasing economic growth and job creation,” said Business Roundtable chief executive Joshua Bolten in a statement.

However, progressive groups have been supportive of the plan. In a statement, a group of left-leaning think tanks wrote that “robust taxation of corporations and the wealthy can directly counter damaging inequality, rebalance power in our economy, and increase the competitiveness of American workers.”

Christopher Ingraham

Christopher Ingraham writes about all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center. Follow

—————————————————

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Church Membership in US Continues to Slip

From the Washington Post: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/03/29/church-membership-fallen-below-majority/ >

Religion
Church membership in the U.S. has fallen
below the majority for the first time in nearly a century

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey March 29, 2021 at 6:03 p.m. EDT

The proportion of Americans who consider themselves members of a church, synagogue or mosque has dropped below 50 percent, according to a poll from Gallup released Monday. It is the first time that has happened since Gallup first asked the question in 1937, when church membership was 73 percent.

In recent years, research data has shown a seismic shift in the U.S. population away from religious institutions and toward general disaffiliation, a trend that analysts say could have major implications for politics, business and how Americans group themselves. In 2020, 47 percent of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. The polling firm also found that the number of people who said religion was very important to them has fallen to 48 percent, a new low point in the polling since 2000.

For some Americans, religious membership is seen as a relic of an older generation, said Ryan Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and a pastor in the American Baptist Church. Gallup’s data finds that church membership is strongly correlated with age: 66 percent of American adults born before 1946 belong to a church, compared with 58 percent of baby boomers, 50 percent of Generation X and 36 percent of millennials.

Burge said many Christians still attend church but do not consider membership to be important, especially those who attend nondenominational churches. But no matter how researchers measure people’s faith — such as attendance, giving, self-identification — Americans’ attachment to institutional religion is on the decline.
Image without a caption

Burge, who recently published a book about disaffiliating Americans called “The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going,” predicts that in the next 30 years, the United States will not have one dominant religion.

“We have to start thinking about what the world looks like in terms of politics, policy, social service,” Burge said. “How do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked when Christians are half of what it was. Who picks up the slack, especially if the government isn’t going to?”

Christianity is declining at a rapid pace, but Americans still hold positive views about religion’s role in society

The coronavirus pandemic, which forced most churches to close in March 2020, has caused a major disruption to American religious life, with most people unable to join weekly mass gatherings. But polls have not found a dramatic impact on Americans’ religiosity in the past year. Americans are more likely than people in other countries to say that their religious faith has become stronger during the pandemic, according to the Pew Research Center.

Tara Isabella Burton, author of “Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World,” attributes the national decline in religious affiliation to two major trends among younger Americans. First, she points to broader shifts suggesting a larger distrust of institutions, including police and pharmaceutical companies. Some Americans are disillusioned by the behavior of religious leaders, including the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal and the strong White evangelical alignment with former president Donald Trump.

Southern Baptists see historic drop in membership

The other major trend Burton describes is how people are mixing and matching from various religious traditions to create their own. Many people who don’t identify with a particular religious institution still say they believe in God, pray or do things that tend to be associated with faith.

“Why shouldn’t I pray or meditate or attend a liturgy, or perhaps I feel closer to the divine when I can do something privately rather than something that’s prescribed for me,” she said. “It’s my own spin on it.”

Younger generations that grew up with the Internet have a different kind of relationship with information, texts and hierarchy, Burton said.

“Existing trends in American religious life were exacerbated by generations that grew up in Internet culture that celebrates ownership — the idea that you can re-create a meme or narrative,” she said. “You have ownership over curating your own experience.”

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued in a recent essay for the Atlantic that what was once religious belief has been replaced by political belief in many communities.

On the political right, he said in an interview, conservative Christians focused on Trump as a political savior rather than focusing on their traditional questions of morality. Christians in the Republican Party, he said, are being less defined by their faith than by a set of more narrow concerns.

And on the political left, Hamid said, strains of “wokeism” have taken up religious notions like sin and excommunication and repurposed them for secular ends. Hamid said that because there aren’t clear leaders, such as priests or imams, or a transcendent source that defines belief, the standards for what is considered “woke” continues to change.

“The vacuum [of religion] can’t just remain a vacuum,” Hamid said. “Americans are believers in some sense, and there has to be structures of belief and belonging. The question is, what takes the place of that religious affiliation?”

Scott Clement contributed to this report.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a religion reporter, covering how faith intersects with politics and culture. She runs The Washington Post’s religion vertical. Before joining The Post, she was a national correspondent for Religion News Service.

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