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(CNN)President Joe Biden signed into law two bipartisan bills on Friday aimed at holding accountable individuals who commit fraud under pandemic relief programs.

The two new laws will extend the time period prosecutors have to prosecute individuals who committed fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program or Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, extending the statute of limitations for criminal and civil enforcement against a borrower to 10 years.
During a signing event held on the balcony of the White House on Friday, Biden underscored that it was "essential to extend the statute of limitations for certain pandemic fraud ... to 10 years to make sure fraudsters can't run out the clock."
    "My message to those cheats out there is this: You can't hide. We're going to find you. We're going to make you pay back what you stole and hold you accountable under the law," the President said.
      In his remarks, Biden squarely blamed his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for failing to promote safeguards against defrauding Covid-19 economic relief programs. Read More"Not only did the Trump administration let the biggest businesses with the teams of lawyers and accountants to the front of the line, my predecessor undermined the watchdogs who were supposed to be on the job to make sure relief went to the mom and pop businesses that were supposed to get in the first place," said Biden, who was delivering remarks outdoors due to a rebound positive case of Covid-19. "In my State of the Union address, I made it clear: The watchdogs are back." "American people deserve to know whether their tax dollars are being spent as intended," he said.
        Along with calling on Congress to pass extensions of the statutes of limitation, the White House has pointed out that the President has also called for additional penalties for those who commit fraud on Covid-19 benefits and signed an executive order focused on identity theft in pandemic relief programs. In the years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, federal prosecutors have continued to identify fraud related to pandemic relief funds.
          The US Secret Service has seized more than a billion dollars in relief funds obtained by fraudsters and, in December, tapped a senior official to work with law enforcement agencies across the country on the issue.In April, federal prosecutors charged 21 people for allegedly seeking to defraud government health care programs of $149 million through a variety of pandemic-related scams, including selling fake Covid-19 vaccination cards and submitting claims for unnecessary medical tests.

          News Source: CNN

          Tags: we’re going pandemic relief programs ’re going federal prosecutors were supposed prosecutors the white house the watchdogs the watchdogs the president to make sure relief funds in pandemic

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          Health | High levels of COVID still circulating in Florida; new BA.4.6 is spreading quickly

          Cindy Krischer Goodman | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

          FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The newest COVID-19 variant, already dominant in four states, has found its way into Florida and is quickly becoming a larger percentage of new cases.

          As of Friday, BA.4.6 is responsible for about 10% of all cases of COVID-19 in Florida, according to Helix, which sequences positive test samples. It had only been responsible for about 2% just three weeks ago.

          The newest subvariant has actually been “circulating for several weeks” in the U.S. and was designated by the CDC as a “variant of concern” for greater transmissibility, reduced effectiveness of treatment, increased severity, or decreased neutralization by antibodies. BA.4.6 has become the dominant COVID variant in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

          Researchers are working to determine if BA.4.6 — a mutation of omicron variant BA.4 — is more contagious. It has become the second most prevalent variant in the Southern region.

          “BA.4.6 is currently the only other variant in the U.S. besides BA.5 that has appreciable growth,” said Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, on Twitter.

          Experts say it is important to do everything you can to prevent getting infected. As COVID continues to circulate, it gives the virus another opportunity to mutate and adapt to vaccines and immunities.

          Meanwhile, the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant still makes up about 80% of all cases in the U.S. and in Florida. Any subvariant that starts with the letter B is a mutation of the omicron variant.

          Florida health officials reported 54,353 new cases for the week ending Aug. 11, a dip from 65,665 new cases the week prior. However, many Floridians are self-testing at home and choosing not to report results to the state. The 65-and-older age group reported the most new cases for the week.

          Statewide test positivity is still at a high level: 18.4%. That does represent a slight drop from 19.4% a week earlier.

          In South Florida, the positivity rate in Broward is 15.2%, Palm Beach is 19.2% and Miami-Dade is 14.9%.

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          The death toll from COVID in Florida is now up to 78,559, which includes 994 additional deaths from the disease during the past two weeks. Overall, 11,083 people have died from COVID-19 in 2022.

          As of Friday, 72% of Florida’s population of 22 million people who are 6 months or older are vaccinated with at least one dose. More than 30,000 people received a booster dose in the past week.

          ©2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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