Outside Iona

Jocelyn Arroyo-Ariza, News Editor

Throughout our hectic student lives, we should always remain aware of what is happening around us. In this column, I find some of the most significant things around us and provide you with a small blurb and nitty-gritty details. Here are some of the major events that have been taking place: 

General COVID-19 Updates. 

As of last week, the FDA authorized bivalent COVID-19 vaccines or updated boosters. The vaccines are expected to provide additional protection against the original strain and the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. The bivalent vaccines carry instructions to aid cells to make defenses against the strains that cause COVID-19, directing the cells to make antibodies to blind parts of spike proteins that both strains share. Currently, BA.4 and BA.5 are the dominant variants in the country with an average of 91,000 infections every day.  

Updated vaccines are being shipped across the country to community health centers, health departments and pharmacies. CVS and Walgreens have begun administrating the vaccines. The pharmacies are scheduling appointments online and are adding more slots as they receive shipments. It is expected that the demand for bivalent will be high; to find locations near you check Vaccines.org.  

Information from FDA.org, CNN and Vaccines.org.   


Student Loan Forgiveness. Following through with the Biden administration campaign promises, student loan forgiveness has been issued. Individuals who make $125,000 a year or less than $250,000 for couples qualify for the executive order of $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower. Pell grant recipients qualify for an additional $10,000. Eligibility is based on an individual’s adjusted gross income for the 2020 or 2021 tax year. An application is set to open in early October that will take 4-6 weeks to process. A deadline has not been set yet, but the Department of Education recommends submitting applications before Nov 15. Undergraduate loans, graduate loans and Parent PLUS loans are eligible for forgiveness. Private loans do not qualify.  

Thanks to the provision of the American Rescue Plan Act that Congress passed last year, recipients will not have to pay federal income tax on their forgiven debt. However, it is possible that some will have to pay state income tax on the amount of debt forgiven. New York is one state that has decided not to levy income tax.  

Information from NPR, CNN and CNBC.  


Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, dead at 91.  

Last Tuesday, Mikhail Gorbachev died after a prolonged illness at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow. Gorbachev led Russia in significant reform, though his legacy is mixed. Gorbachev is more well-regarded abroad than his home. He was not given a state funeral and Putin was not in attendance. Regardless, the last Soviet Union leader who helped close the Iron Curtain was laid to rest with thousands paying respect. 

Information from BBC, CNN and New York Times.  



General COVID-19 Updates.  




Student Loan Forgiveness.  




Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, dead at 91.