National News Beat: Weekly Recap

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This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows their new antiviral medication. Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. said Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus and that it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize its use. Merck & Co. via AP

This week in the news, Merck & Co. Pharmaceutical requested emergency authorization from the FDA for their pill that reportedly treats COVID-19; Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights and the first significant snowstorm of the season was predicted to hit the Rocky Mountains.  

Merck & Co. requests emergency FDA authorization  

According to the Associated Press, Merck pharmaceutical requested emergency authorization Monday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the distribution of a pill that  can be used to treat COVID-19.  

AP highlighted that, if authorized, this would be the first pill created to combat the virus.  

Merck requested the pill be authorized for usage in adults diagnosed with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms who are at risk for severe hospitalization, AP said.  

“Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutic said they specifically asked the agency to grant emergency use for adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization. That is roughly the way COVID-19 infusion drugs are used,” according to AP.  

No significant side-effects for the pill have been reported yet, and AP noted this will play an important role in the FDA’s review.  

Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights, continues to do so Monday  

NPR reported that Southwest Airlines continued to cancel hundreds of flights Monday, after canceling thousands of flights over the weekend due to weather and air traffic control concerns. 

“The airline has canceled more than 355 flights and delayed another 581 as of Monday morning, according to the online tracker FlightAware,” NPR said. “Those canceled flights make up 10% of its schedule, as compared to 30% on Sunday.”  

There are conflicting reports as to why the cancellations are occurring, ranging from disruptive weather reports, which have been disputed by the Federal Aviation Administration, to reports of pilot shortages, which the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association has rejected.  

Instead, SWAPA blamed the cancellations on a lack of consistency and support from the company.  

“SWA has claimed that the immediate causes of this weekend’s meltdown were staffing at Jacksonville Center and weather in the southeast U.S., but what was a minor temporary event for other carriers devastated Southwest Airlines because our operation has become brittle and subject to massive failures under the slightest pressure,” the union said, according to NPR. 

In this frame grab from cellphone video, passengers look for information on their flights, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, at Dallas Love Field. Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend, blaming the woes on air traffic control issues and weather. AP Photo/Julie March

First snowstorm of the season predicted to hit Rockies  

On Monday, CNN Weather predicted the first snowstorm of the season would hit the Rockies later this week.  

They reported that snowfall totals could range from one inch to 10 inches, depending on  elevation. 

“Depending on elevation and location within the mountain range, the snow totals will vary from an inch or two, all the way up to 8-10 inches in the higher elevations during the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame,” CNN wrote.  

While this is not a predictor of how much or how little snow the West will see this coming winter, it is hopeful for many, as the West is currently experiencing a drought.  

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