Vaccine misinformation puts veterans at risk

Thumbs Down: Veterans are being misled. And it could cost them their lives. They are being duped into believing that coronavirus vaccines – which have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective – are not. A recent poll by the Blue Star Families found that almost half of veteran families surveyed do not expect to receive a vaccine, with 75 percent of those families citing concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. The misinformation and disinformation that veterans are receiving is serious enough to prompt a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, to urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the problem. They want the VA to use a portion of unspent funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to counter vaccine misinformation among veterans. “It is crucial that veterans receive clear and accurate information about the vaccine and your agency can play a major role in helping them identify false information and recognize the safety and efficacy of the vaccines,” the senators said. As of March 17, the VA has administered more than 1.8 million doses of the vaccines, and over 1.16 million veterans have been fully vaccinated. But there are still many veterans out there who are hesitant because of misinformation. It’s time for them to separate the lies from the truth, and roll up their sleeves to get the vaccine. They’ve earned it.

Women-owned businesses make strides

Thumbs Up: Here’s good news about women-owned businesses in Minnesota. While men own the majority of companies in the U.S, female entrepreneurship is a growing trend. More people are realizing that women-owned businesses are essential to economic progress and job growth, according to AdvisorSmith, a small business research website. It conducted a study to understand which female entrepreneurs are having the most and least success with their businesses. From its research, AdvisorSmith rated Minnesota as the sixth best state for female-owned businesses. Here’s a look at the key numbers: In Minnesota, the average female-owned employer business had 9.7 employees, while the national average was 9 employees. Female-owned companies in the state had an average payroll of $346,337, compared with the national average payroll of $330,171. The proportion of female-owned businesses in Minnesota with over $100,000 in revenue as a percentage of the female working-age population was 1.8% compared to the national average of 1.7%. While there is still a lot of work to do to improve women’s pay and advancement opportunities in the workplace, the study indicates that Minnesota is at least making progress.

Beware of fake checks

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Thumbs Down: Fake check scams are on the rise. According to Wells Fargo, the method may vary, but the scammer’s goal is always the same: To get you to deposit a counterfeit check into your bank account, and then return a portion of the money to them right away. To help people spot the scam, Wells Fargo offers these warning signs: 1. A prospective buyer sends you a check for more than your asking price “by mistake” and wants the overage back. 2. You receive your first check for a new work-from-home job, and the “employer” asks you to send some money back right away for supplies. 3. You receive a check for sweepstakes winnings that can only be claimed by sending some money back to cover taxes. Don’t let the scammers succeed. Ignore the phony promise of easy money; don’t deposit the check.

Robocalls rising/a possible fix

Thumbs Down/Thumbs Up: Annoyed by robocalls? You’re not alone. The number of robocalls – a computerized auto-dialer that deliver pre-recorded messages – is surging. About 60% of these calls are scams or unsolicited telemarketing, according to Shelly Palmer, CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. What can you do about it? Palmer tried going to donotcall.gov but he said it didn’t work that well, so he turned on "Silence Unknown Callers" on his iPhone. (Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers > On.) On Android, it's "Block Unknown/Private Numbers" in the phone settings. (Open the phone > 3 dot menu > Block unknown/private numbers.) You can also tap "Block spam and scam calls" on some Android phones. (Samsung phones have this feature.) Palmer noted you have to agree to the terms and conditions, but some Android builds use third-party services to analyze and block suspected robocalls. Palmer said this trick sends all unknown callers to voicemail. Most robocalls don't leave voicemail. Palmer said while it's not a perfect fix, it beats getting a dozen robocalls a day.

If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to aedenloff@echopress.com or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.