GUN VIOLENCE EXPLODES
The New York City Police Department has tightened security around this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which kicked off Thursday morning with giant balloons, celebrity performers and festive floats.
The annual event came just one day after a night manager at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, opened fire at a routine employee meeting in a break room, killing six people and wounding four others. The shooter took his own life.
“Due to another horrific and senseless act of violence, there are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement on Wednesday.
The United States has suffered more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Archive of Gun Violence. Last year the country saw a staggering 690 mass shootings, up from 610 in 2020 and 417 in 2019.
“We’re not callous, we’re traumatized,” tweeted Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement calling for an end to gun violence in the US at the hands of civilians along with weak gun laws.
“We have made the decision to saturate this nation with weapons, without regard to a person’s fitness to possess a potential tool of mass murder,” US Senator Chris Murphy tweeted Wednesday, echoing Watts’ comments.
Biden reiterated calls to seek an assault weapons ban on Thursday. “The idea that we’re still allowing the purchase of semi-automatics is sick,” he said during a visit to firefighters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he and his family were staying for Thanksgiving.
However, the possibility of such a ban actually passing through Congress is too remote in light of a Republican-dominated House of Representatives next term and the 60-vote threshold to overcome filibuster and pass the legislation in the Senate, where Democrats have been projected to have only a slim majority after the 2022 midterms.
Spending time with family and friends on Thanksgiving continued to be important to Americans, and this year the cost of a meal was top of mind as well.
Nearly every ingredient in the classic Thanksgiving feast is more expensive due to inflation, supply chain disruptions and bird flu, according to the annual Thanksgiving dinner survey conducted by the American Federation of Farm Bureaux (AFBF).
The survey, released earlier this month, found that this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast for 10 people is US$64.05 or less than US$6.50 per person, US$10.74 or 20 percent. more than last year’s average of $53.31.
The centerpiece of most Thanksgiving tables, the turkey costs more than it did last year, at $28.96 for a 16-pound turkey. That’s $1.81 per pound (about 0.45 kilograms), up 21 percent from last year.
“Headline inflation drastically reducing consumers’ purchasing power is a major contributing factor to the increase in the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner this year,” said AFBF chief economist Roger Cryan.
In the US, headline inflation has been running from 7 to 9 percent in recent months, while the most recent report on the Consumer Price Index for Food Eaten at Home shows an increase of 12 percent per year.
Other factors contributing to rising food costs include supply chain disruptions, Cryan said. “The higher retail cost of turkey at the grocery store can also be attributed to a slightly smaller flock this year, higher feed costs, and lighter processing weights.”
The supply of whole turkeys available to consumers, he said, should be adequate this year, although there may be temporary regional shortages in some states where avian influenza was detected earlier this year.
Americans cited inflation as the biggest issue driving their votes in the midterm elections earlier this month, according to an exit poll, with a large portion of voters saying inflation caused them or their families moderate hardship. , while a further 20 percent said it caused them severe hardship. .
Ayalla Ruvio and Forrest Morgeson, professors in the Department of Marketing at Michigan State University‘s Eli Broad College of Business, wrote in the abstract of a new study that, concerned about rising prices, most Americans tend to buy gifts for fewer people or buy fewer expensive items this holiday season.
American families gathered Thursday for a third Thanksgiving in the era of COVID-19, with two other worrisome viruses also spreading rapidly: the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“We are facing an onslaught of three viruses: COVID, RSV, and influenza. All simultaneously,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, quoted by National Public Radio (NPR). “We are calling this a tripledemic.”
The “triple epidemic” is reportedly pushing some hospitals in the United States to the brink as the country struggles to address shortages of pediatric beds, medical staff and even some medicines.
“Our system is stretched thin and without immediate care, the crisis will only worsen,” Mark Wietecha, executive director of the Children’s Hospital Association, said in a statement.
At the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon ceremony at the White House earlier this week, Biden called for flu and COVID-19 vaccines before the winter break.
“We have new COVID vaccine updates to address new variants to protect you and your loved ones. So get it today,” he said. “Get a flu shot, too. This winter can be much happier than past holiday seasons, but you have to do your part.”
The United States has reported 98.5 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 1 million deaths since the pandemic broke out nearly three years ago. The US’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said Tuesday that he never imagined the pandemic would last so long and claim so many lives.
Fauci, who will step down next month as director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases after nearly four decades at the helm and as White House chief medical adviser, also reflected on the US response to the public health crisis.
“When I see people in this country, because of the division in our country, not getting vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with public health but rather division and ideological differences, as a doctor, it hurts me,” he said. he told reporters in his last appearance from the White House briefing room.
“I don’t want to see anyone get infected, I don’t want to see anyone hospitalized and I don’t want to see anyone die of COVID,” the 81-year-old infectious disease expert said, adding that his final message from the podium is to “get your vaccine COVID-19 update as soon as you are eligible to protect yourself, your family, and your community.” ■