COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Tagged with COVID-19

48 Miles to Payson, Mazatzal Mountains, Beeline Highway, T… | Flickr
Famous auto insurance giants are being sued by policyholders for providing insufficient financial relief to motorists during the pandemic. Among those accused include: Allstate, Geico, Progressive, Erie Insurance, American Family Insurance, and The Travelers Company. These well-known insurers are currently facing major allegations by Illinois residents for their inappropriate rebates to financially unstable clients.

During the height of the pandemic, companies issued policies for their employees to work remotely from home. As stated in the lawsuits, miles driven by motorists dropped by almost two-thirds during the spring. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that the rate of unemployment rose to 14.7% in April 2020. Previously, the rate was 10.3%, which they claim is the highest rate increase in the history of their data records. At this time, the statistics from the United States Department of Labor show that the number of people who were unemployed increased from 15.9 million to 23.1 million. Also, the governor of Illinois, J. B. Pritzker, announced that residents should stay at home to reduce exposure to COVID-19. As a result, people did not have to use their vehicles as often as they previously did.

However, insurance companies did not reduce premiums or rates during the pandemic. Now, multiple lawsuits are emerging against the insurers. In an Illinois Cook County Circuit Court, people protested that high rates have greatly affected their financial status. Although some of the alleged insurers offered some support to customers, it was not a significant amount that would cause the policyholders to drop the case. Clients state that a community State Farm offered its customers a 25% credit during March 20 to May 31 of this year. In contrast, a local Allstate in Northbrook offered a 15% credit for April, May, and June. Consequentially, the lawsuits accuse the companies responsible to be in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The legislation protects consumers, borrowers, and business workers against fraud or deceptive actions in trade or business activities. As stated in the lawsuits, the clients expect that as long as the disease continues to spread, the abnormal amount of rebates will pursue.

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As the world nears the end of July, new research declares promising results for the latest Coronavirus vaccines. There are more than 3,800,000 confirmed cases in the United States and more than 14,700,000 cases worldwide. The public has been waiting patiently for a vaccination; however, there are multiple steps that must be completed before a vaccine is deemed effective.

Before a vaccination is permitted for public-use, there are several steps and guidelines in order to ensure its success. First, the vaccine must be developed and studied before it can be tested on people. At this stage, the vaccine is considered “preclinical”, which means that it is being changed and updated frequently. There are more than 100 vaccinations that are in this stage, and only 18 have moved to Phase I of the testing stage. Researchers will begin testing a small group of people to monitor the dosage and efficiency of the vaccine. As it becomes available to pass to Phase II, more participants from different ages are involved. Essentially, the trials are expanded from Phase I and are studied more closely in the following phases. The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has declared that the vaccine must protect at least 50% of all vaccinated participants to be labeled “effective” and succeed to the third and final phase of testing. Phase III incorporates testing thousands of people from different age groups and monitoring their results. Once the test trials conclude, official regulators will review the results and determine whether the vaccine will be approved for commercial use.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a global bio-pharmaceutical company, have recently conducted a trial for their prototype vaccine. Researchers have published their data in a general medical journal, The Lancet. Their test vaccine consists of a combination of genetic material from the Coronavirus and a modification of the Adenovirus, which causes mild respiratory illnesses. They tested 1,000 participants between the ages of 18 to 55 in their trial. Overall, the vaccine was mostly accepted by the participants tested; some reported that they experienced mild symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches, but there were no severe reactions.

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Have you noticed your go-to beer or soft drink is hard to come by or completely unavailable?  It may not be coincidence; as the COVID19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States, shortages of a multitude of supplies have occurred.  Everyone remembers the toilet paper panic of March and April, the lack of available Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the beef shortage at fast food restaurants like Wendy’s, and the general uneasiness these shortages and others like them gave us.  However, July has seen the rise of new shortages, most notably: aluminum cans.

You may have seen articles online or news segments that are discussing other prominent July shortages due to COVID19, such as coins or lumber; however, aluminum cans may make the greatest impact on the average American.  As COVID19 impacts rose, many Americans sought to bulk up on goods stored in their homes.  In doing so, consumption of products, including beers and sodas, shifted away from bars, restaurants, and convenience stores, which rarely utilize aluminum cans, and moved towards multi-pack products often purchased for domestic consumption.  These bulk-based products frequently feature aluminum-canned items.

This newfound demand for aluminum cans is pinching supplies for some drinks, and creating a significant disparity between supply and demand.  This disparity has sent the can industry into a tizzy, as manufacturers have already announced plans to build three new manufacturing plants in the next 18 months. Ball Corporation, a popular North American can maker, has also pledged to open two new manufacturing plants in the United States and add two additional production lines to already existing factories.  The corporation had seen an uptick in can demand from specialty drinks like hard seltzers and sparkling waters.  They also noted that the environmental upside of cans, combined with the rise in popularity of newly canned drinks and COVID19 impacts, has created “unprecedented demand and short supplies” of their coveted aluminum product.

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A new study may send a shock to millions of at-risk Americans.  The study, which was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology early this week, claims that taking heartburn medication featuring “Proton Pump Inhibitors” (PPI) could increase your chances of contracting the cause of the current pandemic, COVID-19.  In fact, it claimed the medication could make you between 2 – 4 times as likely to test positive for the potentially deadly virus (compared to non-users).

The study, which was led by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Dr. Brennan Spiegel, surveyed over 86,000 individuals through online communications.  Among them, more than 53,000 people reported taking medication for pain or discomfort associated with gastrointestinal regions of their bodies.  Ultimately, over 3,300 of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Although there is an array of medications to deal with gastrointestinal issues, proton pump inhibitors are extremely popular, and accessible.  Offered both through prescriptions and over-the-counter, popular medicines featuring PPI’s include, but are not limited to: Prilosec, Prilosec OTC, Zegerid, Prevacid, Protonix, Aciphex, Nexium, and Dexilant. These medications act by turning off pumps in cells that release acid into your stomach, and can be taken once or twice daily.  The study also determined the more frequently an individual was to take PPI medication, the more likely they would be to contract COVID-19.

Walmart store exterior | In 2008, Walmart changed it's logo … | Flickr
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our state, our country, and our society.  As the impacts linger and possibly increase, many employees deemed “essential” continue to put themselves at risk of exposure to the virus to fulfill societal needs.  Many companies have gone to great lengths to ensure their employees remain safe during these trying times, but some continue to lag.

If you or someone close to you has been asked to work in a hazardous or dangerous work environment, especially during this pandemic, you may have the right to decline to do certain activities, or to even work at all.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn whenever possible, along with other reasonable precautions.  Details about hazardous work conditions can be found at https://www.osha.gov/right-to-refuse.html.

A great example of legal action surrounding COVID-19 and workers comes from the Chicago, Illinois area.  The family of a Wal-Mart employee, who passed away due to complications from COVID-19, is suing the company because his manager ignored his symptoms and failing to let coworkers know he may have contracted the virus.  Furthermore, the suit also mentions a coworker by name who died from COVID-19 complications just 4 days later.  The family filing suit claimed employees were forced to work without gloves or masks, and social distancing requirements did not exist.  They also claim that a lack of guaranteed paid sick leave forced workers who would’ve otherwise stayed home to come into work.

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