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Week in Review: Jan. 17-21, 2022

Jan. 21, 2022
Some of the week's biggest headlines, and some news you might have missed

It’s been quite the week—again.

Many of us were dealing with the aftereffects of Winter Storm Izzy earlier this week, and now we’re bracing for Winter Storm Jasper.

According to The Weather Channel, “Schools are closed from parts of Texas to the Florida Panhandle to Virginia, emergencies have been declared in at least three states and freezing rain and snow are being reported in several areas.”

Hopefully, your fridge is stocked, your back has recovered from shoveling and you can hunker down this weekend.

Without further ado, here are some of the biggest headlines, and some you might have missed.

Biden Distributes Test, Masks

Back in December, President Joe Biden announced plans to make at-home COVID-19 tests and face masks available to Americans. This week, the rollout began.

Households can receive four free FDA-approved at-home COVID-19 tests delivered straight to their door via the U.S. Postal Service. The website, COVIDTests.gov, actually went live Tuesday, a day early than planned. Tests are expected to be mailed within seven to 12 days.

The government is also making available 400 million non-surgical N95 masks from its strategic national stockpile free to the public starting next week. That program is expected to be fully up and running by early February.

Instead of being mailed to the home, masks will be available at pharmacies and federally funded health clinics. A list of nearby health centers can be found at findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov, and you can see what pharmacies and retailers are participating with this program in your state at  cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/retail-pharmacy-program/participating-pharmacies.html.

More information about the COVID-19 tests is available here and more information about the N95 masks is available here.

Intel Sets Up Shop

Intel officially announced plans today, Jan. 21, that it will invest $20 billion to build two computer chip plans near Columbus, Ohio. This is Intel’s first new manufacturing site in 40 years.

This is big news, not just for us here in Ohio but because they’ll be making semiconductors, which have been in short supply since almost the beginning of the pandemic.

The Columbus Dispatch recounted some of the planning details that led to the announcement.

Intel had some requirements of any potential plant sites. The company wanted a minimum number of acres to build on. They wanted to be close to local community colleges and universities, presumably for recruiting workforce talent and research and development. They also wanted affordable water and other utilities. This last one may be of interest to safety professionals:

“The plants will need 5 million gallons of water a day, and the company is committed by 2030 to recycling all the water the plants use along with powering the operations with 100% renewable energy. It also wants to have zero landfill waste and reduce its carbon dioxide footprint.”

Companies are making sustainability and environmental concerns top priorities. They’re focused on responsible stewardship and doing more with less, which will be essential to combatting climate change.

Read the Dispatch story here. Visit EHS Today's sister publication IndustryWeek for coverage of Intel forthcoming plant.

A Plan to Reduce Wildfires

This week, the Biden administration announced a 10-year, multibillion-dollar plan to help reduce the risk of fire on up to 50 million acres that border vulnerable communities out West. The announcement means a quadrupling of the government’s land treatment efforts.

The administration will focus on thinning and intentional burning, marking a change in approach to fighting fires. For the past century, forest management required all fires to be extinguished, and that accumulation of dead vegetation became a fire hazard in and of itself.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service will contribute, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides nearly $3 billion in funding. 

At a press conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledge the plan wouldn’t prevent wildfires, but it would help them be less catastrophic.

Learn more about the plan, including links to additional information, here.

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