ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Recently, Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland joined the weekly Montana Credit Unions call to discuss member and employee financial well-being in the new normal we are now facing. Below are a few highlights from her presentation, which you can view here.More than half of members (58%) are struggling financially and 39% of households do not have $400 available to afford an emergency expense.Credit unions are in a good position to help their members recover because of how they are built and their operating principles.Credit unions can help both their employees and members move forward by:Leveraging empathy to help them get through the crisis. continue reading »
In a country battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of economics and public health, the government appears to be pinning its hopes on vaccine development, as new cases and deaths continue to soar in what experts have deemed as a never-ending first wave.In a statement on Wednesday to express President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s condolences on the deaths of 100 doctors from COVID-19, presidential spokesperson Fadjroel Rachman ended it by pointing to the government strategy of securing potential vaccines.That includes, Fadjroel said, “looking for vaccines produced by any parties in the world; research and production collaboration between [state company] Biofarma, universities and local and foreign institutions; and the Merah-Putih vaccine research by Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology.” Indonesia is rolling out the trials for Sinovac’s CoronaVac on 1,620 people along with several other countries, while G42 is carrying out trials in its home country on 45,000 participants of 85 ethnicities.However, determining how long immunity resulting from vaccination will last requires not only clinical trial results, but also post-use surveillance after the vaccination program is rolled out next year, said Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) biotechnology researcher Wien Kusharyoto.“No matter what, we still have to monitor, even after the vaccination is rolled out, the efficacy and the impacts among those already vaccinated. It’s too early to say that it will last six months to two years,” he said.Experts have urged the government not to put potential vaccines on a pedestal, saying that whether it can truly rely on the vaccines will depend on their eventual efficacy and safety to be shown in the results of the trials that are still under way, and the government should rather prepare for the “worst-case scenario”.The efficacy threshold would be 50 percent, though ideally it should be around 70 percent, said independent molecular biologist Ahmad Utomo, adding that past vaccine development had shown that failures were not uncommon.Lower than 50 percent, then vaccines would be out of the question, he said. If it hovered just above it then the government should reconsider whether putting in so much money into the vaccination program would be as effective as if the money was to be used on improving public health.This means scaling up tests, enhancing contact tracing, providing financial assistance to those in isolation and improving treatment, he said.”The government should look into which of these will be most cost-effective,” Ahmad said.Read also: Grim picture as Indonesia enters sixth month of COVID-19 outbreakBoth Terawan and Erick have said that the vaccination program could possibly put a strain on the state budget if it were to be made free for all.Erick has suggested those who can afford it pay for it themselves, with current estimated costs ranging between US$25 and $30, as the government expects to cover some 93 million Social Security Agency (BPJS) beneficiaries in a vaccination program expected to start next year.But with the race to find vaccines, the trailing economic and political interests, and the government having secured hundreds of millions of doses, experts have raised concerns that these will all affect decisions by authorities.Wien of LIPI expressed the hope the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) would remain independent from all sorts of intervention in evaluating clinical trial results and issuing permits, otherwise public health would be at stake.”If there are undesired effects [from the vaccines], there won’t be trust among the people; this will put the vaccination program itself at risk and will automatically affect economic recovery efforts too,” he said.BPOM head Penny Lukito hoped the trials would be successful, pointing to the fact that phase III human trials would not start if phase I and II trials were a failure.”The clinical trials we are on now are the phase III trials; this means that the phase I and II trials involved humans and have succeeded,” she told a press briefing on Wednesday. “The phase III is not about whether [the vaccine is] a failure or not, but about gathering more data [on its efficacy and safety].”Topics : The government says it has so far secured 30 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year, in addition to between 290 million and 340 million doses by next year, following state-owned companies’ agreements with China’s Sinovac Biotech, and the United Arab Emirates’ Group 42 (G42) Healthcare.Read also: Vaccines won’t bring back normal life at once: Experts”As a note, the vaccines developed today for COVID-19 [is for an immunity that lasts] six months to two years. It’s not a vaccine shot [for] a lifetime [protection],” said State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir in a meeting last week with the House of Representatives.Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto told the meeting that this meant the vaccine could possibly have to be injected once every six months, or one, or two years.But experts have expressed caution about this estimate, wondering where it came from given that the two potential vaccines are still in phase III clinical human trials, which would determine the vaccines’ efficacy and safety.
BEN CLASSON/Herald photoWisconsin tight end Travis Beckum needed to make a statement in Saturday’s game against Michigan State.Ten receptions, 132 yards and one touchdown later, that statement was made.Beckum’s numbers in the team’s 37-34 win over MSU were career bests and drew praise from his fellow teammates.”[He’s] obviously a competitor,” wide receiver Luke Swan said. “He came out, made a bunch of plays. We knew it was just a matter of time before that started to happen for him.”With receivers Kyle Jefferson and Paul Hubbard lost to injuries and receiver Marcus Randle-El ejected for fighting, Beckum stepped up to fill the void. Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said Beckum has always been one of quarterback Tyler Donovan’s main targets, but he elevated his game to the next level with a depleted receiving core, including lining up some plays at wide receiver. “We needed some guys to step up, make some plays, and obviously we need to get him going, and I thought he responded,” Chryst said. “He’s always been one of those [primary receivers], so it’s not like he had to change his role. He just had to get going on it.””I’ve always kind of looked for myself to have [the offense] on my back,” Beckum said. “I think Coach Chryst expects that out of me, and I expect that out of myself, especially in clutch situations.”A look at Swan’s numbers from the team’s game against the Spartans is a telling sign of Beckum’s increased contribution to the Badger offense. Swan, the team’s second leading receiver, had just one catch on the day. Still, the offense was still able to move the ball through the air as Donovan found Beckum 10 times.”Obviously we’re going to take what they give us,” Swan said. “They were giving Tyler looks to Travis. Sometimes that’s the way it works. Different defenses have different holes, and Travis just happened to be in those holes.”What has made Beckum’s success on offense even more notable, perhaps, is that he originally played on the other side of the ball.At Oak Creek High School, besides playing tight end, Beckum excelled as a linebacker and was recruited by the Badgers to play defense. As a freshman, he saw time on special teams and as a reserve on defense, registering two tackles.Last season as a sophomore, Beckum switched to offense and broke out as the team’s leading receiver, grabbing 61 receptions for 903 yards and five touchdowns. His success at the position has continued into this year, as Beckum again leads the team in receptions. At tight end, Chryst explained, there are other nuances of the position that take time to adapt to when transitioning from defense.”The more you get to know about the position and the things that you have to do, those are the things that you continually work on,” Chryst said. “There’s a lot to that position that makes it a neat spot, but there’s a lot of work and a lot of little things.”Swan has noticed improvement in many aspects of Beckum’s game since making the move from defense to offense.”On a daily basis, you can see huge improvements from the day he started,” Swan said. “Just getting a better feel for the position and a better feel for going and catching the ball. He hadn’t done a lot of that before, but he was very natural at it. … He has a real knack for getting open.”Head coach Bret Bielema said last week that he wanted Beckum to become more of a complete player, which involves more than just catching passes. Blocking is essential in the role of a tight end as well, something Chryst and the coaching staff have been working with Beckum on. “You want every guy to be the best they can be,” Chryst said. “Wherever your position is, you want to be able to be as proficient as possible. Tight end involves running routes and catching the ball, but it also involves blocking. You’ve got to make sure everything is getting better.” “He’s a guy that obviously hasn’t played the tight end position that much,” Swan said. “[Blocking] is still an element of his game that he needs to work on. I think he’s really improved since day one.”As the team’s leading receiver, Beckum has been thrust into a leadership role. During practice, he lets his actions speak louder than his words.”I’m not so much of a vocal person,” Beckum said. “I let my pads do a lot of the talking. When you go out there and make plays, I think people see that.”With 30 catches and three touchdowns so far this year behind the team’s 5-0 record, Beckum’s play has once again garnered national attention. Before the start of the season, he was nominated for several awards and was on many watch lists among the nation’s top tight ends. For Beckum, though, none of that matters as long as the team keeps going about its winning ways.”I honestly want the national championships before any of that,” Beckum said. “I just have to go out there and make plays for the team and hopefully help us carry on along the season.”