By Kelly Sargent
All of us want life to go back to pre-pandemic normal. You remember what that was like . . . when we didn’t have to wear masks everywhere we went or be afraid of going out to eat or to concerts and movies or any other indoor social gathering.
Just when this back-to-the-future looked reassuring and promising, along comes the delta variant of COVID-19 — and it’s a doozy. The United States Center for Disease Control recently described it as “hypertransmissable,” and now accounts for more than half of the Covid-19 cases in many areas of the US.
Immunologist and former executive director of medical affairs for vaccines at Merck, John Grabenstein, said that because the delta variant is more contagious, it’s more likely to find the people who are not vaccinated. The White House announced that as of the end of June, nearly everyone who died from COVID in the United States was unvaccinated. And just today, July 8, the medical website Medscape reported that 99.5% of those killed by COVID-19 in the last six months had not been vaccinated.
At a July 7 press conference, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, disclosed that all of the 130 people who died of Covid-19 in his state last month were unvaccinated. Unvaccinated people made up 95% of new Covid-19 cases there and 93% of new Covid-19 hospitalizations. Infectious disease experts say that the connection between vaccination status and Covid-19 is not specific to Maryland; their stats are not an anomaly.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, said that there’s “no question that almost all of the deaths and hospitalizations will be in unvaccinated individuals, and therefore we should expect (that) most of severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths will occur predominantly in areas of low vaccination and high Delta.”
The flip side to that is obvious; being vaccinated is highly effective. The Associated Press analyzed government data from the month of May and found that COVID infections in fully-vaccinated people accounted for less than 1200 of more than 107,000 COVID hospitalizations. That’s about 1.1%. And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths that month were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to less than 1%.
On July 6 CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the vaccine is so effective that “nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19 is, at this point, entirely preventable.”
This resonates personally for me. One of my friends has a granddaughter, Amber, who lives in Texas. Young, healthy and ambitious, Amber's husband was in the process of starting his own company. Together they sank every bit of their money into it, but Marc was a hard worker, and they were optimistic about their chances. Neither one, however, had bothered to get vaccinated.
In May Marc came done with COVID-19 and first was hospitalized and then had to be intubated. He died ten days later. Now Amber has to sell their home, find somewhere else to raise the two small children Marc left behind and get a job to support herself and them.
As of now, 606,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. So get the jab, as my British friends refer to it. It could save your life.
July 9 Update:
Today, Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, reported "exponential" growth in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant takes over. The case rate doubled over the last week, and 99.96% of all new infections are in unvaccinated individuals, according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
By Kelly Sargent
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dad. Mine was out of the picture while I was still a baby; my grandpa did his best to sub in.
Of course technically everyone has a ‘father’, but mere genetic contribution doesn’t make for an actual dad.
On this Father’s Day, Tucker Law celebrates all loving dads, stepdads, adoptive dads and substitute dads.
By Erin Tucker
Tucker Law team member, Kelly Sargent, writer that she is, has been scouting agents for a television show concept she developed. Talk about a steep hill to climb.
Any information uploaded to a prospective agent through that site grants . . .
“without any credit or compensation to you, a royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, unrestricted, irrevocable, and fully transferable, assignable and sub-licensable license to use, modify, display, copy, reproduce, disclose, sell, translate, create derivative works of, distribute, and export any of the information, in whole or in part, or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, software or technology of any kind for any purposes whatsoever.”
Wowza. In other words, the purveyors of that site could take her concept, written text, ideas, format or anything else that is her professional work product and use it anyway they want with no credit or compensation to her whatsoever.
You’re probably not going to try pitching a TV show anytime soon, but there are other scams literally right at your fingertips that are easy to fall prey to.
I’m talking about Facebook quizzes. Not all Facebook or other social media quizzes are scams, but the Better Business Bureau warns that some of them are. It might be at fun little personality test offering to match you with a character from a favorite TV show or some other which-something-or-other-are-you quiz. Sounds innocuous and entertaining, but if you’re asked questions such as what the first car was you owned or the name of the street you grew up on or other seemingly trivial personal things, they’re fishing for the answers to common security questions used to provide access to insurance, banking and credit card accounts.
The site Scam Detector warns that the notifications pictured below are a red flag and cautions
To be extra safe, consider changing your privacy settings from “Public” to “Friends” and consider removing details on your profile such as where you grew up, where you went to school, where you live, where you used to live and where you work. Information of that sort can also make you vulnerable to attempted scams.
And if you need help, we’re always here.
By Kelly Sargent
For many of us, bringing planters, flowers, flags and other adornments to decorate the graves of family members on Memorial Day has been a tradition since we were small children. This weekend is also considered the unofficial start of summer; lots of grills are rolled out and fired up for use.
What we know as Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and came into being after the Civil War ended to honor those who had been killed; an estimated 498,332 died in the war. Soon afterward, communities began holding springtime tributes to honor the fallen by decorating their graves and holding prayer services.
In 1868 General John A. Logan, who was a leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a national day of remembrance. His declaration read, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,”
When World War I came along, the holiday evolved to also honor those who died in that war too — and then World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as a federal holiday on the last Monday in May and became effective in 1971.
Unfortunately, many lives have been lost this past year including friends and family members of those of us at Tucker Law. On this Memorial Day, we send our heartfelt condolences to anyone who is grieving and wish you peace and healing.
By Erin Tucker
A work-related injury can have long-lasting, effects on your health and livelihood. If you've been injured on the job, it's essential that you know your legal rights so that you don't risk losing access to the workers' compensation you are legitimately and legally entitled to.
Regardless of the industry, your employer may be reluctant to compensate you if you've been injured at work. Without the aid of an experienced attorney, it can be difficult to obtain full compensation. Here are some important things to know.
At Tucker Law, we are committed to helping you navigate this process. We'll guide you through step by step to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us if you need us.
By Erin Tucker
If you've been injured, or if you've lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, at Tucker Law we know there is no amount of money that can return things to the way they were before the accident. But that doesn't mean that a financial settlement is irrelevant. It's money that can be put toward lost wages, medical bills, car repairs or funeral expenses.
Our entire staff at Tucker Law is committed to helping you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We have more than 30 years of experience successfully handling personal injury cases including:
By Erin Tucker
It seems counterintuitive, but in spite of the coronavirus lockdown and curtailed driving as people work from home and travel less, during the first nine months of 2020 US traffic accident deaths rose 4.6%.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the first three months of 2020, deaths increased only 0.6%. In the second quarter they actually dropped by 1.1%, but in July, August and September the number of automotive deaths jumped 13.1%. The result is that in the first three quarters of last year, an estimated 28,190 people have been killed.
Indications are that although fewer people were driving, with relatively light traffic, those who were on the road tended to drive faster and take more risks. Executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, Jonathan Adkins’ guess is that as the months passed and traffic began to return to more normal levels, speeders didn’t slow down.
Lack of law enforcement was a big factor, he said. "We are hearing from many states that traffic stops have declined during COVID-19. Drivers feel like they can speed and get away with it."
Recent reports from metropolitan areas show a 22% increase in vehicle speeds over pre-pandemic numbers. Another study found that 65% of drivers treated at trauma centers who had been hurt in serious vehicular accidents had drugs or alcohol in their systems, compared to 50.6% before the pandemic. The NHTSA also said fewer people are wearing seat belts.
Once again we (and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) are reminding you to wear your seat belts . . . and slow down! Don’t drive if you have drugs or alcohol in your system, and make sure your children are buckled into appropriately-sized child safety seats.
As always, if you need us, we’re here.
By Rob Tucker
There’s snow on the ground, but it won’t be long before the school year comes to an end, and high school seniors graduate.
Some of you may remember that I enjoy serving on the Rotary Club of Des Moines scholarship committee each year. I want to make sure you are aware of the application deadline for that scholarship as well as several others available in Iowa.
Regardless of the sponsor, most of these opportunities require that a FAFSA — Free Application for Federal Student Aid — be submitted. Here's the link to the FAFSA form.
All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship — Deadline: Monday March 1, 2021
The amount of the AIOS adjusts each year. For reference, the maximum value for the 2020-21 school year was $4,644. Applicants must have graduated from an Iowa high school or completed a high school equivalency diploma and must attend an eligible Iowa college or university.
Visit website to apply
Guardian Scholars Foundation — Deadline: Monday March 1, 2021
In partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Services, this scholarship provides up to $8000 yearly for students who spent time in Iowa foster care between the ages of 14 and 18 to help them attend an Iowa college or university. The number of scholarships varies from year to year depending on available funds.
Visit website to apply
Iowa Tuition Grant — Deadline: July 1, 2021
The amount adjusts each year. For reference the maximum award in 2020-21 school year was $6,200. To quality, the student must be an Iowa resident, enroll in an Iowa college or university and submit the FAFSA form.
Visit website to apply
Prairie Meadows Scholarships — Deadline: Monday, March 1, 2021
Two $2,500 scholarships are awarded to a graduating high school senior at every participating high school in Polk County.
Visit website to apply
Rotary Club of Des Moines — Deadline: Friday, March 5, 2021
An $8,000 scholarship ($2000 per year for four years) is awarded to one recipient from each of the six Des Moines high schools: East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, Roosevelt and Scavo.
Visit website to apply
In addition to these scholarships, all colleges and universities have their own scholarship programs. A FAFSA application form will be required.
By Kelly Sargent
Ah, the Holidays . . . a chance to overeat, usually several times, and enjoy a little time off from work.
When we think of winter holidays, most of us think of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice and New Year’s. However, there are so many other winter celebrations, festivals and traditions you’ve most likely never heard of. Check these out.
On Christmas Eve in Norway people hide their brooms before they go to bed so that witches and other evil spirits won’t have anything to zoom around on to disturb innocent sleepers.
In the Czech Republic and Slovenia, a single woman who wants to find out if she’ll be getting married in the coming year stands with her back to her house on Christmas Eve and tosses a shoe over her shoulder at the house. It’s bad news if it lands with the heel toward the house and toe pointing away; she’ll stay single another year.
Wearing Bear Suits
Carolers don bear costumes and dance on New Year’s Eve in Romania to drive away evil spirits. That’s dancing bear, not dancing bare — although who knows, maybe there’s a festival somewhere for that too.
Plunging in Icy Water
Polar bear plunges are held in January in many parts of the US and Canada. Frequently hosted to benefit a charity or bring awareness to a cause, participants jump into a lake or river in often sub-zero temperatures wearing nothing but an ordinary swim suit.
As the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, people in many Spanish-speaking countries eat 12 grapes, one to bring good luck to each month of the coming year.
In Denmark smashing a plate against a friend’s door is supposed to bring good luck to your friend in the year ahead. The bigger the pile of shattered dishes on the welcome mat, the luckier the recipient will be next year.
In Cuba and other Latin American countries, throwing a bucket of water out your door or window signifies a fresh start. Extra points if someone who slighted you in the last year is standing below. (Just kidding about the extra points.)
In many Latin American countries, the underwear you choose to wear on New Year’s Eve will influence the upcoming year. Yellow is thought to bring good fortune, red brings good luck in love and black is bad luck.
Held in February, the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous Winter Festival, also known as Fur Rondy or just Rondy, bills itself as the largest winter festival in North America. Events include a snow sculpture competition, figure skating show, dog sled races, a beard and mustache competition, the annual Frostbite Footrace, an outhouse race and the World Championship of ice bowling. What’s not to love?
Speaking of unusual competitions, since all of us are cooped up indoors for a while longer, here’s an entertainment recommendation from Paul and me. If you happen to subscribe to Netflix, check out We Are the Champions. Narrated by Rainn Wilson from The Office, it’s a six-episode, reality TV show that takes you to a different strange competition each episode. From chasing cheese to dancing with dogs, we give it an H+ for hilarious. You’re welcome.
By Rob Tucker
In 2017 the Iowa Legislature changed Iowa's Workers’ Compensation laws. One of the significant changes was the classification of a shoulder as a "scheduled" body part instead of “body-as-a-whole”.
If that elicits a “huh?” and a blank stare on your part, I don’t blame you, but bear with me because it was a meaningful change.
(Click here for an earlier article with a more in-depth explanation of the 2017 changes.)
If a body part is scheduled, it means it’s on a list with a maximum amount of compensation that can be awarded in the event of an on-the-job injury to that particular body part . . . whereas body-as-a-whole injuries aren’t subject to a pre-set limit.
The problem was that the legislature didn’t specifically define “shoulder." At first glance it might seem obvious what a shoulder is, but it’s more complicated than that.
In one of the first shoulder cases evaluated by the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission interpreting the new statute (Chavez v. MS Technology, LLC), my daughter Erin Tucker argued that the legislature’s ambiguity in drafting the new statute meant that rotator cuff injuries should not be limited because they do not fall within the general and previously-understood definition of shoulder: the joint between the arm and the trunk of the body.
The Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner agreed and held that the injured worker was not limited to the scheduled amount of benefits because her injury was to her body as a whole, and only an injury to the shoulder joint itself would be governed by the scheduled, and much more limited, amount of benefits.
It was the first case deciding this issue in favor of the injured worker.
As expected, the insurance company appealed this finding. The Iowa Association of Business and Industry filed a brief in support of the insurance company’s position.
On September 30, 2020 the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, Joseph Cortese, reversed the lower judge’s decision and concluded that the injury was, in fact, a “shoulder” injury, limiting the worker to far less benefits; subsequent cases have gone the same way.
This issue is expected to come before the Iowa Supreme Court in the near future. In the meantime, it's an area of contention that your attorney needs to be thoroughly familiar with. The reality is that shoulder injuries are currently awarded fewer benefits than before the law change, but carefully-crafted arguments taking into account the new law’s ambiguities can result in maximizing the amount injured workers recover.
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