University warns about college students trying to contract COVID-19 to make money donating plasma with antibodies

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Brigham Young University-Idaho warned on Monday about accounts of college students “intentionally” trying to contract COVID-19 in order to make money by donating plasma with antibodies. 

The Idaho university issued a statement saying officials were “deeply troubled” by the alleged behavior and “is actively seeking evidence of such conduct among our student body.”

Students who are determined to have intentionally exposed themselves or others to the virus will be immediately suspended from the university and may be permanently dismissed,” the university stated.

“The contraction and spread of COVID-19 is not a light matter,” the statement continued. “Reckless disregard for health and safety will inevitably lead to additional illness and loss of life in our community.”

University officials noted that they had previously cautioned last month that if Idaho or Madison County continue to experience surges in cases, the university may have to switch to fully online learning. 

The release also encouraged students who are participating in this behavior to consult financial and mental health resources, saying, “There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety in order to make ends meet.”

Brigham Young University-Idaho has confirmed 109 COVID-19 cases among students and 22 cases among employees.

The Food and Drug Administration permitted convalescent plasmas from COVID-19 survivors to be used as an emergency therapy for those with coronavirus. The FDA states that the plasma that has antibodies “may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks.”

Two potential plasma donation locations near the university are the Grifols Biomat USA Rexburg location and the BioLife Plasma Services, NPR reported. The first’s website says it gives donors $100 per visit and East Idaho News reported the latter provides $200 for each of the


Le’Veon Bell’s Career Earnings After Early Release from Jets Contract | Bleacher Report

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New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Le’Veon Bell’s short stint with the New York Jets proved extremely lucrative, even if his production didn’t match his salary. 

The Jets released Bell on Tuesday, less than two years into the four-year, $52.5 million contract he signed in March 2019. The $28 million he earned in 17 games with New York is nearly double the $16.2 million he earned as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers over five seasons.

Bell was a key cog in the Steelers’ offense from 2013-2017, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2014 and 2017 while tallying more than 1,200 yards rushing three times. After his second All-Pro season, Bell sat out the entire 2018 campaign due to a contract dispute with Pittsburgh. 

The Steelers handed off to Bell a career-high 321 times in 2017, and the tailback was looking to sign an extension before becoming a free agent following the 2018 season. When Pittsburgh instead franchise-tagged him, Bell elected to remain on the sidelines rather than risk his health in a contract year. 

From a financial standpoint, there’s no question the decision made sense. The Jets gave Bell a four-year, $52.5 million contract with $35 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $61 million overall, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

He didn’t come close to justifying that contract, though. Across the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Bell carried the ball 264 times for 863 yards and three touchdowns to go with 500 receiving yards and one touchdown.

Spotrac.com puts Bell’s career estimated earnings at nearly $44.1 million. That number could jump up again in the near future if Bell signs elsewhere as a free agent. 


Cleveland Heights-University Heights teachers union declines ‘last, best, final’ contract offer, with more talks set

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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education and district teachers are set to return to the bargaining table Nov. 5 after the union overwhelmingly rejected the latest contract offer last week.

What was implemented by the school board on Sept. 29 as the district’s “last, best and final offer” was voted down by the nearly 500-member Cleveland Heights Teachers Union by a tally of 437 to 11, with one abstention.

There were also 41 members who either did not return their ballots or turned them in late. Factoring them in as well, that worked out to 89 percent of the membership voting to decline the board’s offer, CHTU President Karen Rego said.

“Of the ones who voted, it was 97.5 percent” rejecting the contract offer and further authorizing the American Federation of Teachers Local 795 executive board to strike.

That, in turn, would require a 10-day advance notice of intent to strike being presented to the school board, which has not happened. Another round of negotiations has been scheduled.

“We are planning to negotiate Nov. 5, so that is positive movement,” Rego said. “We always want to stay at the table until we come to an agreement.”

While the school board voted to implement the one-year contract so that it would otherwise go into effect on Jan. 1, board President Jodi Sourini said earlier that the district remains under a “continued duty” to negotiate.

“We will also meet any continuing bargaining obligation in the event the union shows a willingness to make meaningful change,” Sourini said on Oct. 2.

The teachers union remains receptive to surmounting the impasse that the school board cited in its Sept. 29 contract vote.

“In order to come together, both sides are going to have to come up with a creative


University of Illinois nurses vote to approve new contract, following week-long strike

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More than 1,300 nurses voted overwhelmingly Wednesday evening to approve a new contract with the University of Illinois Hospital and clinics, after a weeklong strike.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: University of Illinois Hospital RN Christine Sichuan listens at a rally as more than 4,000 SEIU represented hospital workers joined hospital nurses on strike, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

© E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
University of Illinois Hospital RN Christine Sichuan listens at a rally as more than 4,000 SEIU represented hospital workers joined hospital nurses on strike, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

The nurses voted 842-13 in favor of the new, four-year contract. The nurses’ union, the Illinois Nurses Association, had reached a tentative agreement with the hospital Sept. 24 after the strike ended Sept. 19.

A major sticking point in contract negotiations had been nurse-to-patient ratios. The nurses wanted ratios and the hospital did not, saying it preferred a model that matched nurses’ skills with patients’ needs.

Ultimately, the hospital committed to hiring the equivalent of at least 160 full-time nurses, “creating natural nurse-to-patient ratios that improve core staffing and quality of care,” according to a union news release. The hospital also agreed to raises of 1% the first year, 1.5% the second year, 1.75% the third year, and 2% the fourth year of the contract, as well as the implementation of various safety and protective measures.

“This contract represents a vast improvement compared to where we were before the strike and we are happy to see that the hospital recognized the importance of supporting the nurses,” said Doris Carroll, Illinois Nurses Association president, in a news release.

Michael Zenn, CEO of University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics, said in a statement last week that he was pleased the strike had ended and believed the new agreement was in the best interests of patients and employees.

During the strike, the hospital worked with an agency to bring in temporary nurses, asked ambulances to take new patients elsewhere, didn’t take


Astros extend first baseman Yuli Gurriel’s contract following career-worst season

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros

The Houston Astros are scheduled to kick off the postseason on Tuesday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins. Hours before first pitch, the Astros announced they had signed first baseman Yuli Gurriel to a one-year extension with a club option for the 2022 season. Gurriel, who was set to become a free agent after the season, will make $7.5 million guaranteed, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. That figure includes a $500,000 buyout in lieu of the club option.

Gurriel, 36, just wrapped up his fifth season in the majors, all of them spent with the Astros. Over that time, he’s hit .287/.324/.468 (111 OPS+) with 71 home runs and 9.3 Wins Above Replacement. It’s notable that Gurriel is coming off the worst year of his career. In 230 plate appearances, he recorded a 76 OPS+ and finished below Baseball Reference’s replacement level. It’s unclear if or how much the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal played into his previous production. Gurriel did, however, have one of the highest “bang” percentages on the roster, per independent analysis of their 2017 season.

Still, Gurriel’s underlying metrics suggest he was better than the topline results indicate. His exit velocity (89.3 mph) was identical to his 2019 mark, and his launch angle and contact rates were closer than not to his past figures. He’s still regarded as a good defensive first baseman, too. 

Even with Gurriel in tow, the Astros and general manager James Click will have more work to do this winter. Outfielders George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick are all set to hit the open market. The Astros are also unlikely to have starter Justin Verlander at their disposal until late next season at earliest after he underwent Tommy John surgery.

Gurriel originally joined the Astros in July 2016 after defecting from Cuba.