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Amazon Prime Rewards Visa cardholders get 5% back at Whole Foods

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Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed at a Pop-Up store inside the Lakeview Whole Foods Market Inc. store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed at a Pop-Up store inside the Lakeview Whole Foods Market Inc. store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.

Amazon is offering Prime members who use its Visa rewards card 5 percent cash back when they shop at Whole Foods, the company said Tuesday.

The U.S. e-commerce giant launched the the Amazon Rewards Visa Card last year. Prime members in the U.S., who pay $99 a year for a subscription, get 5 percent back on all Amazon.com purchases, 2 percent back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1 percent back on all other purchases.

Now Prime members will get 5 percent back at Whole Foods stores when using the Visa card.

Non-Prime members will get 3 percent back when using their credit card.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods last year for $13.7 billion. Since then it has been looking to integrate the business. The e-commerce titan has been cutting prices and even began selling its Echo smart speaker device in Whole Foods stores.

And earlier this month, Amazon said it will start delivering groceries from Whole Foods via its two-hour Prime Now delivery service.

“We are excited to launch the Amazon Rewards Visa Card in our stores, offering benefits to our customers on all of their purchases at Whole Foods Market,” John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO, said in a press release Tuesday.

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Biden to deploy FEMA, National Guard to set up Covid vaccine clinics across the U.S.

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Spc. Katherine Deskins (L) of the Nevada Army National Guard administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Clark County Fire Department Capt. Jasmine Ghazinour on the first day of Clark County’s pilot vaccination program at Cashman Center on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden plans to use FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics across the United States, according to new details of his Covid-19 vaccination plan released by his transition team on Friday.

The Biden administration will also “quickly jumpstart” efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies across the U.S., which should ensure that Americans have access to doses at facilities only miles from their home, according to the plan. 

“Here’s the deal: The more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones,” Biden said at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday night. “We won’t get out of it overnight and we can’t do it as a separated nation.”

Drug store chains and pharmacies were supposed to take on a larger role in distributing the vaccine once the government expanded access to more people. But the slower-than-expected rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores called on the federal government earlier this week to allow states to send more doses directly to pharmacies as they do with hospitals and health departments. 

The group estimated that the country’s retail pharmacies could administer at least 100 million doses of vaccines each month, which would exceed the incoming administration’s promise of 100 million shots in 100 days.

The Biden administration has said current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population, adding, “We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms.”

The pace of vaccinations in the U.S. is going much slower than officials had hoped. As of Friday at 6 a.m. ET, more than 31.1 million doses of vaccine had been distributed across the U.S., but just over 12.2 million shots have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the plan, Biden will also invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”

The incoming president’s advisors had previously hinted that he would invoke the wartime production law, which allows the president to compel companies to prioritize manufacturing for national security, to bolster vaccine production.  

The plan says the act will increase the supply of necessary equipment that could otherwise cause bottlenecks in the vaccine’s rollout if they were in shortage, including glass vials, syringes, stoppers and needles. It will also increase the capacity to package the vaccines into vials.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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WHO says Covid vaccines aren’t ‘silver bullets’ and relying entirely on them has hurt nations

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Employees store coffins, some marked with “infection risk” as others have “corona” scrawled in chalk, in the mourning hall of the crematorium in Meissen, eastern Germany, on January 13, 2021, amid the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. cremation.

Jens Schlueter | AFP | Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Friday that coronavirus vaccines aren’t “silver bullets” and relying solely on them to fight the pandemic has hurt nations.

Some countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas are seeing spikes in Covid-19 cases “because we are collectively not succeeding at breaking the chains of transmission at the community level or within households,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference from the agency’s Geneva headquarters.

With global deaths reaching 2 million and new variants of the virus appearing in multiple countries, world leaders need to do all they can to curb infections “through tried and tested public health measures,” Tedros said. “There is only one way out of this storm and that is to share the tools we have and commit to using them together.”

The coronavirus has infected more than 93.3 million people worldwide and killed at least 2 million since the pandemic began about a year ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The virus continues to accelerate in some regions, with nations reporting that their supply of oxygen for Covid-19 patients is running “dangerously low,” the WHO said.

Some countries, including the U.S., have focused heavily on the use of vaccines to combat their outbreaks. While vaccines are a useful tool, they will not end the pandemic alone, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said at the news conference.

“We warned in 2020 that if we were to rely entirely on vaccines as the only solution, we could lose the very controlled measures that we had at our disposal at the time. And I think to some extent that has come true,” Ryan said, adding the colder seasons and the recent holidays also may have also played a role in the spread of the virus.

“A big portion of the transmission has occurred because we are reducing our physical distancing. … We are not breaking the chains of transmission. The virus is exploiting our lack of tactical commitment,” he added. “We are not doing as well as we could.”

Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO’s director-general, echoed Ryan’s comments, saying, vaccines are not “silver bullets”

“Things can get worse, numbers can go up,” he said. We have vaccines, yes. But we have limited supplies of vaccines that will be rolled out slowly across the world. And vaccines are not perfect. They don’t protect everyone against every situation.”

In the U.S., the pace of vaccinations is going slower than officials had hoped. As of Friday at 6 a.m. ET, more than 31.1 million doses of vaccine had been distributed across the U.S., but just over 12.2 million shots have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, cases are rapidly growing, with the U.S. recording at least 238,800 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,310 virus-related deaths each day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using Johns Hopkins data.

On Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. While his administration will invest billions in a vaccine campaign, it will also scale up testing, invest in new treatments and work to identify new strains, among other measures.

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Foreign Amazon sites named in U.S. ‘notorious markets’ list for counterfeit goods

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Peter Endig | AFP | Getty Images

A handful of Amazon‘s foreign websites were included in the U.S. government’s annual “notorious markets” list due to concerns they host some counterfeit goods.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) office released its 2020 review of notorious markets on Thursday. The list identifies e-commerce sites and companies that are believed to be facilitating the sale of counterfeit goods, engaging in intellectual property violations or piracy.

Amazon sites in the U.K., Germany, Spain, France and Italy were named in the report. Complainants against the foreign sites alleged that Amazon’s counterfeit removal process is slow, even for companies that are enrolled in its brand protection programs. They also argued that Amazon doesn’t thoroughly vet third-party sellers on its marketplace or make it clear to brands and consumers “who is selling the goods.”

Amazon disputed the trade representative’s report, which didn’t include Amazon’s U.S. site, and pointed to its extensive programs and tools that are designed to stop counterfeiters.

“Including Amazon in this report is the continuation of a personal vendetta against Amazon, and nothing more than a desperate stunt in the final days of this administration,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. “Amazon does more to fight counterfeit than any other private entity we are aware of.”

Representatives from the USTR didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly been critical of Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos during his four-year term. Bezos owns The Washington Post, which Trump has criticized for its unfavorable coverage of his administration. Amazon has also claimed it didn’t win a Pentagon cloud-computing contract, which could be worth as much as $10 billion, as a result of attacks from Trump against the company and Bezos.

Amazon sites were added to the USTR’s notorious markets list for the first time in 2019. The American Apparel & Footwear Association in 2018 urged the trade representative to include some Amazon sites on the list.

Beyond Amazon, other companies named on the list include Chinese e-commerce site Pinduoduo, South American e-commerce company Mercadolibre and file sharing site The Pirate Bay.

Amazon has stepped up its efforts to curtail counterfeits as the third-party marketplace has grown. The marketplace now accounts for more than half of the company’s overall sales and hosts millions of third-party merchants.

While it remains a critical component of Amazon’s business, the marketplace has also faced a number of issues related to the sale of counterfeitunsafe and expired goods. In 2019, Amazon began mentioning counterfeit products as a risk factor in its annual filing.

The company has pursued counterfeiters in court, rolled out various programs to seek and detect sales of counterfeit goods, and in June launched the Counterfeit Crimes Unit, made up of former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts, to mine the site for fraudulent activity.

As a result of these and other efforts, 99.9% of pages viewed by customers on the site have never had a valid report of counterfeit, the spokesperson said.

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