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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks Shooting

Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks Shooting

 

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Protests intensified in Atlanta after a police officer shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant.  The encounter was caught on surveillance camera and by a witness. Police approached Brooks after he had fallen asleep in his car. The police questioned Brooks, patted him down and gave him a breathalyzer test.  Witness videos, surveillance footage, bodycam and dashcam footage show the officers engaged Brooks without incident for 41 minutes before the encounter turned fatal.

Atlanta Police Department officer Devin Brosnan arrived at the Wendy’s restaurant to investigate a report of a man asleep in a car which was blocking the drive-through lane.  Brosnan awakened Brooks and told him to move the car to a parking space and take a nap.  Brooks fell asleep again without moving the car prompting Brosnan to again wake Brooks and instruct him to park the car.  Brosnan checked Brooks’s driver’s license and radioed for assistance from an officer certified to conduct driving under the influence investigations.  Officer Garrett Rolfe arrived at 10:56 and, with Brooks’s permission, performed a pat-down search for weapons, a field sobriety test, and a breathalyzer test.  Brooks appeared impaired and said he had consumed one to one-and-a-half drinks and denied driving or being too drunk to drive. The Breathalyzer registered a blood alcohol level of 0.108%, above the legal limit of 0.08%.  Brooks asked to leave his car in the parking lot overnight and walk to his sister’s house a short distance away.

At 11:23, Rolfe told Brooks: “All right, I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving. Put your hands behind your back for me”; he and Brosnan then moved behind Brooks to handcuff him.  Brooks tried to break free and he and the officers scuffled on the ground. During the struggle Brosnan drew his Taser, but Brooks wrested from him and fired it toward Brosnan before attempting to run away.  Brosnan says the Taser contacted him and he struck his head on the pavement.  Rolfe drew his own Taser and shot Brooks with it.  Brooks fled through the parking lot with Brosnan’s Taser still in hand as Rolfe pursued him and fired again with his own Taser.  While still running, Brooks turned to fire the second shot of Brosnan’s Taser – capable of two shots before being reloaded – over Rolfe’s head.  According to prosecutors, Brooks and Rolfe were 18 feet apart when Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his handgun and shot Brooks once in the mid-back and once in the buttocks; a third shot struck a nearby vehicle, narrowly missing its three occupants.  According to prosecutors Rolfe then declared, “I got him”.

Within 24 hours of the shooting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that she did not believe it was justified, leading to Rolfe’s firing, Brosnan being placed on administrative duty and the resignation of the city’s police chief, Erika Shields.  The county medical examiner rule Brooks’ death a homicide and Georgia Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation.  The Fulton County District Attorney said Brooks did not present himself as a threat and appeared almost jovial during the encounter.  He announced 11 charges against Rolfe: felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four police oath violations, and damage to property.  He said Rolfe should have been aware that the Taser Brooks had taken posed no danger, as after being fired twice it could not fire again.  He also said that Rolfe and Brosnan did not provide timely medical aid to Brooks and that before they did, Rolfe kicked him and Brosnan stood on his shoulders.  The district attorney said it was a violation of department policy for Rolfe to begin handcuffing Brooks before telling him he was being arrested.

 

 

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Top Editors Resign Amid Backlash Over Bias Reporting of Protests

Top Editors Resign Amid Backlash Over Bias Reporting of Protests

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The New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet has resigned following outrage from staff and readers over the publication of an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton about the protests called “Send in the Troops.” In a statement, The Times said that James Bennet had resigned and that Katie Kingsbury would serve as the acting editorial page editor through the November election. The deputy editorial page editor, Jim Dao, is being reassigned to the newsroom and is stepping off the masthead.

In the opinion piece, Sen. Tom Cotton, advocated for deploying the military for riots. The senator described looting in New York City as “carnivals for the thrill-seeking rich as well as other criminal elements,” and wrote that leftist ntifa movement had infiltrated protest marches despite an earlier Times article that reported Antifa involvement in the protests as misinformation.  The column immediately drew backlash, with dozens of Times journalists voicing their opposition, tweeting the headline, caption and a form of the phrase “Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger.”

Both Sulzberger and Bennet first defended the decision to run the column but the Times reversed itself and said the column had not met editorial standards. The Times reported that Bennet said in a meeting with staff members that he had not read the essay before it was published. And the paper added an editor’s note to the top of the original column.  “We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,” said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman. “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an op-ed that did not meet our standards. As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds we publish.”

Meanwhile, Stan Wischnowski,  the top editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, has also resigned days after the paper published a piece titled “Buildings Matter, Too.”  The newsroom vet resigned after backlash from staff over that headline on a story that said “there could be a gaping hole in the heart of Philadelphia” amid protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Dozens of journalists signed an open letter to their editors explaining their decision to call out “sick and tired,” CNN reported. “They said they have spent ‘months and years’ trying to gain the public’s trust only to have it “eroded in an instant by careless, unempathetic decisions.”  The paper issued an apology the next day.  But it wasn’t just the article that played a role in Wischnowski’s resignation.  Wischnowski and other editors had scheduled a staffwide Zoom meeting to discuss race at The Inquirer and the pressures in particular faced by journalists of color before the article was published.

The Zoom session started off with Wischnowski telling staffers about the strides made in diversifying its 213-member newsroom but the session turned intense and emotional.  Some journalists could be seen in tears in their Zoom frames. Critics, black and white, denounced the pace of change at the paper, sharply criticizing both coverage and the racial and gender mix of the staff. Several journalists pointed out that the newspaper could muster only one male African American reporter to cover the protests and police response convulsing a city that is majority minority.  Hours after the wrenching Zoom session, about 50 journalists of color signed an open letter calling for faster changes at the paper. The following day, most of the minority staff took the day off from work in protest.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on George Floyd Protests

George Floyd Protests

 

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Protests erupted in Minneapolis, Minnesota after video footage of the death of George Floyd, 46, went viral. Floyd died after being arrested by police outside a shop on May 25th on a report he used a fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes from Cup Foods, a grocery store. The video shows now fired police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck while he was laying on his stomach in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back. Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying “Please, I can’t breathe, please, please officer don’t kill me” for the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that Officer Chauvin held him pinned to the ground with his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck.
In the video of the incident, a bystander tells the police: “You got him down. Let him breathe.” After Floyd says, “I’m about to die,” Chauvin tells Floyd to relax. The police ask Floyd: “What do you want?” Floyd repeats: “I can’t breathe.” Floyd continues: “Please, the knee in my neck, I can’t breathe.” The policemen taunt Floyd to “get up and get in the car,” to which Floyd replies: “I will… I can’t move.” Floyd also cries out: “Mama!” He then says “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts,” and requests water. The police do not audibly respond to Floyd. Floyd begs: “Don’t kill me.” A bystander points out that Floyd is bleeding from the nose. Another bystander tells the police that Floyd is “not even resisting arrest right now.”
The day after Mr. Floyd’s death, the Police Department fired all four of the officers involved and the Hennepin County attorney, Mike Freeman, announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who can be seen most clearly in witness videos pinning Mr. Floyd to the ground. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to the criminal complaint against him. Video show that Chauvin did not remove his knee even after Mr. Floyd lost consciousness and for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene. Floyd’s last words have been compared to those of Eric Garner who uttered the words “I can’t breathe” eight times before he died while being placed in a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo in July 2014.
Derek Chauvin had 18 complaints over his 19 year career as a police officer with 2 resulting in disciplinary actions. Chauvin has been the subject of several internal complaints as well. George Floyd and fired police officer Derek Chauvin knew each other before the fatal encounter. Chauvin worked outside security at a bar for 17 years while Floyd worked security inside the bar. Floyd grew up in Houston Texas and 13 years ago in 2007 he was charged with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston In 2009 he was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents. In 2014 he moved to Minneapolis looking for work and a new start. Videos he posted on social media while under stay at home orders show him denouncing violence and encouraging his community to find another way.
While the protests started in Minnesota, they quickly spread across the globe. Demonstrators gathered in London, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Syria, Brazil, Ireland, Poland, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand, among other places, to protest against police brutality in solidarity with the US crowds. Demonstrators have gathered in the thousands in many major cities worldwide. Many protestors remain peaceful but their message has been marred by the violence, looting and vandalism taking place in cities across the US.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases In US Since Reopenings

Covid 19 Cases In US Since Reopenings

 

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There are now over 5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 325,000 known deaths around the world. Over 2 million people around the world have recovered from the virus. Despite the US having less than 5% of the world’s population, there are almost 1.5 million confirmed cases with over 100,000 deaths, representing over one-quarter of all fatalities and almost one-third of the confirmed cases. Over 450,000 people have recovered from Covid 19 but there are now cases in the US of people that have been re-infected, meaning they did not develop antibodies to build immunity with their first infection.
Forty-eight states will be at least partially reopened this week as health experts continue to warn of the danger of a hasty end to lockdowns. Each state has their own guidelines on what businesses have reopened and a timeline on further openings. There are 17 states that have seen an uptick in new cases since reopening. Officials from the World Health Organization say those who ignore measures such as social distancing are at risk of seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus. They also advise people to wear face masks when they are in groups. While coronavirus generally doesn’t spread outdoors as easily as it does indoors, there’s still a risk with any cramped crowd — especially because the virus can spread by just talking.
A cluster of new cases emerged after a swim party in Arkansas. In Atlanta, several recent prep school graduates also tested positive for the coronavirus, including one who had friends over for a graduation party. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed new COVID-19 cases are predominantly coming from people leaving their homes to shop, exercise or socialize. Meanwhile, in California, Orange County’s coronavirus cases continue to mount, with over 4,000 cases reported. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Texas, with 1,800 new infections reported last Saturday — the highest single-day increase in Texas so far. South Dakota has also seen a spike in cases since reopening.
Some states are now seeing drops in the number of confirmed cases. New Jersey, one of few states that had one of the strictest and longest stay at home orders, has seen a decrease in cases. This appears to be relatively bright news for hard-hit New Jersey, second in the country only to New York for the number of total reported cases with over 143,600 confirmed and over 10,000 deaths.
Missouri also saw a drop in cases when they began allowing all businesses to reopen May 4, but then an increase during the second week of reopening. Businesses were allowed to reopen provided they could abide by certain social distancing guidelines. Indoor retail businesses must limit their number of customers to no more than 25% of normal capacity, and local communities can choose stricter rules if they choose. Missouri has over 11,000 cases and over 600 deaths. Idaho, which only has around 2,500 cases, also saw a decrease in reported cases.
As each state opened, many leaders stressed the importance of following the social distancing guidelines but left responsibility up to it’s’ citizens. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. They say that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

 

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Physicians caution that amid a desire to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, developers of drugs and vaccines have become overly enthusiastic about the chances their products will work.  Several vaccine developers have issued statements looking into the future — setting possible timetables for study completion and vaccine manufacturing.

Biotech company Moderna said early trials of their coronavirus vaccine show promising results as volunteers developed antibodies against the virus. Eight people took part in the study. The company, which is developing the vaccine with the National Institutes of Health, says it will move on to larger-scale trials and that a vaccine could be made available as soon as January.   Moderna is collaborating on its vaccine development with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, said while Moderna’s numbers were limited, “it was good news” and he was “cautiously optimistic” about the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently over 100 vaccine efforts underway around the world.  There are 10 vaccines in human clinical trials worldwide. There are four teams in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer, Inovio and Novavax.  Five Chinese companies have vaccines in human trials. University of Oxford is the only team in Europe currently running trials.  Inovio and Moderna have said they expect their large-scale clinical trials, known as Phase 3 trials, to last around six months. Pfizer hasn’t given a timetable for its Phase 3 trial.  Worldwide, there are 114 more candidates in pre-clinical trial stages.

One big stumbling block for any vaccine trial is that Covid-19 infection rates in many areas of the world are flattening out or declining. The point of Phase 3 is to vaccinate people and then see if they naturally become infected, and with lower rates of circulating virus, the study subjects are less likely to be exposed to the virus in the first place.  For a vaccine clinical trial to be successful, there needs to be sufficiently high levels of the virus circulating in the community. If there isn’t enough virus around, it will be impossible to tell if the vaccine protected the study subjects, or if they were just never exposed to the virus.

The global effort to develop a vaccine is just the beginning of this race. It also takes time to ramp up vaccine production and deciding how it will be distributed will be difficult in a world of more than 7 billion people.  New drugs and vaccines traditionally go first to the wealthiest countries and that’s the expectation in this case as well. But the exact order could depend on where the vaccine is first developed and what that countries priorities are in distribution.  Wealthier countries have been hit hardest by the virus so far. But in many of these nations, COVID-19 cases are leveling off or declining, while they are rising rapidly in the developing world, including countries such as India, Brazil and Peru.  Nations and drug companies are likely to face a range of conflicting pressures with the need to provide the vaccine at home and intense scrutiny to share it widely, fairly and cheaply abroad.

 

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on UFCW Criticizes Reopening Meat Packing Plants Without Mandatory Safety Guidelines

UFCW Criticizes Reopening Meat Packing Plants Without Mandatory Safety Guidelines

 

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The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the country’s largest meatpacking workers’ union, is condemning the reopening of 14 meatpacking plants under a recent executive order by the US Administration.  The union is calling for CDC coronavirus safety guidelines to be made mandatory, as at least 30 meatpacking workers have died of COVID-19 and over 10,000 have been exposed to or infected by the coronavirus. The industry work practices under normal circumstances tend to put workers in close proximity to each other, working at high speed as they cut up animal carcasses.

The pandemic caused at least 30 meatpacking plants to temporarily close over the past two months, resulting in a 40% drop in pork production capacity and a 25% drop in beef production capacity, the union said.  The U.S. Agriculture Department said 14 plants that had closed due to outbreaks of the virus were in the process of reopening this week.  The 14 plants included a Smithfield Foods Inc pork facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that started operating on May 7 and another in Waterloo, Iowa, that Tyson Foods said earlier in the week would resume limited operations.  The agriculture department also said meat facilities operated by JBS USA [JBS.UL] in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and six other Tyson plants were reopening.

UFCW has previously said more protective equipment and testing would be required to open the plants.  But as plants reopened without these measures in place, UFCW International President Marc Perrone criticized the decision.  “Today’s rush by the Trump Administration to re-open 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.  Since the executive order was announced, the Administration has failed to take the urgent action needed to enact clear and enforceable safety standards at these meatpacking plants.”

Health guidelines issued by CDC and OSHA to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 in slaughterhouses includes face coverings, health training in multiple languages, and more distancing between workers. Processing lines in meat plants typically run at high speeds, with employees eviscerating animals inches apart from each other. Slowing lines down and spreading workers out will undoubtedly increase the cost of producing meat, but Perry says it’s a small price to pay to protect their lives.  CDC is also asking meat plants to do away with the contentious practice of offering “attendance bonuses,” in which companies offer hundreds of dollars of incentives to workers on the condition that they don’t miss their shifts.

The common criticism of OSHA and CDC’s Covid-19 guidance to meatpackers is that it’s entirely optional. This has resulted in an inconsistent patchwork of protections by plant and by state which leaves workers at risk for other outbreak.  Unions are asking for standardized workplace protections against airborne diseases like Covid-19.  Such requirements wouldn’t be without precedent.  In 2010, following the H1N1 pandemic, OSHA began to draft mandatory guidelines to reduce the spread of viruses that spread through air and respiratory droplets.  That rulemaking was finalized in 2017 but was halted during the change in US Administration.

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Protests Erupt Again As Michigan Governor Extends Orders to May 28

Protests Erupt Again As Michigan Governor Extends Orders to May 28

 

 

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended a state of emergency declaration until May 28, over the objections of some state lawmakers.  Whitmer signed a series of executive orders hours before the state of emergency was set to expire on April 30 and extended it to May 28, citing the growing number of cases and deaths in the state from the disease. The governor said that in some counties in western and northern Michigan, cases are doubling every six days or faster.

When the order was extended, the state had 41,379 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,789 deaths, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Wayne County, Michigan, is the fourth-highest county of deaths in the nation with 1,782 coronavirus-related fatalities, according to the data.

Whitmer has faced fierce backlash for her strict stay-at-home mandate.  She extended the order earlier this month until May 15 but eased some restrictions on public activities as the state’s coronavirus cases stabilize.  Whitmer said that while she understands that people are anxious to get back to work and are restless, Thursday’s protests were “disturbing. … Swastikas and the confederate flag, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders.  There is nothing that I want more than to just flip the switch and return to normal, but that’s not how it’s going to work, unfortunately. The only way we can get through this and take the next steps forward is if we all continue to do our part.”

Hundreds of people protested outside the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing-defying social distancing rules, many of them armed with assault rifles and wearing tactical gear.  The crowd packed into the Capitol rotunda and tried to storm onto the floor of the legislative chamber.  Protesters held signs, waved American flags and even carried firearms, while some chanted “Let us in!” and “This is the people’s house, you cannot lock us out.” Others tried to get onto the House floor but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms.

The House and Senate had voted to approve legislation that would allow them to sue Whitmer over her emergency declarations as armed protesters stormed the state capitol.  They also voted on another bill that would extend some of her emergency measures, but crucially not the stay-at-home order. Their bill would also allow restaurants, bars and gyms to reopen. Whitmer vowed to veto the bill.  Amid the chaos Democrat Senator Sylvia Santana was pictured wearing a bulletproof vest and surgical mask while at her desk, as a colleague tweeted an image of rifle-wielding men on a balcony above her.

The governor is claiming authority to rule by executive order under two pieces of legislation – the 1976 Emergency Management Act and a similar 1945 law that allows a governor to declare a state of emergency and assume emergency powers.  Arguments center around the fact that the 1976 law says governors must go to the Legislature if they want to extend the state of emergency past 28 days. The 1945 act says governors decide when the emergency is over.

Whitmer’s extended order bans gyms, theaters, bars and casinos from opening, and limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders only.  Restaurants can allow up to five people inside at a time to pick up orders, but only if they follow social distancing guidelines by staying six feet apart.  The restrictions do not apply to office buildings, grocery stores, markets, food pantries, pharmacies, drug stores, medical equipment/supplies providers, health care facilities, residential care facilities, juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, or industrial and manufacturing sites.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on House Approves Another $484 Billion for Coronavirus Relief Fund

House Approves Another $484 Billion for Coronavirus Relief Fund

 

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The US Senate overwhelmingly approved $484 billion in new coronavirus aid with most of the money replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program, set up to provide forgivable loans to small businesses.  The bill adds another $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, another $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants.

The bill provides no new stimulus checks for U.S. households, no additional money for food stamps, no limits on fossil fuel bailouts, no funds for election security, no bailout for the U.S. Postal Service and no additional funds for hard-hit state and local governments.  Lawmakers were criticized for refusing to take up new assistance to hard-hit U.S. residents — like cash payments and food aid — in the latest relief bill.   They were also criticized for not regulating the disbursement of the initial funds which allowed big businesses like corporate chain restaurants getting tens of millions of dollars in loans meant for small businesses.

They contend lawmakers are failing to provide for millions of unemployed people who are unable to pay rent and increasingly at risk of going hungry.  Progressive lawmakers are demanding $2,000 monthly payments to all U.S. households and open enrollment in Medicare for uninsured and unemployed people, when lawmakers take up another round of funding, the so-called phase four coronavirus bill.

Senators are in talks for a phase four bill with priorities for that legislation including federal assistance for people having trouble paying rent, according to a Democratic source. Schumer also cited the need for funds for election reform, hazard pay for essential workers, including doctors, nurses and grocery store clerks, and funding for the U.S. Postal Service.  Many are skeptical since the virus bailouts have already cost over $2 trillion, pushing our annual deficit this year to close to $4 trillion.

The pandemic continues to batter the U.S. economy as the Labor Department reported another 4.4 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits over the last week, raising new jobless claims over the past five weeks to more than 26 million — a scale that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression.  As of March 13, there were already 7.1 million unemployed Americans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. When the figures are combined, it would equal more than 33 million unemployed, or a unemployment rate of 20.6%—which would be the highest level since 1934.

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on CA Preliminary Antibody Testing Results Suggest Higher Number of Infected

CA Preliminary Antibody Testing Results Suggest Higher Number of Infected

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Two research teams in California started the first large scale community testing for Covid 19 antibodies The testing of 3,300 people in Santa Clara County found that 2.5 to 4.2% of those tested were positive for antibodies — a number suggesting a far higher past infection rate than the official count. Based on the initial data, researchers estimate that the range of people who may have had the virus to be between 48,000 and 81,000 in the county of 2 million — as opposed to the approximately 1,000 in the county’s official tally at the time the samples were taken.
While the initial findings suggest that the number of those infected is much higher, it also means the fatality rate is lower than originally thought. As more tests are done, we’ll have a better idea of how many were infected and what the fatality rate is. The results also suggest more research and analysis is needed to know how many people who tested positive for antibodies never knew they had the virus because they had no symptoms.
Antibody testing has been touted by public health experts and governors in many states that have extended stay at home orders, as a tool to help determine when Americans can get back to normal life. The tests can determine not just whether someone has recovered but whether a person has been exposed to the virus in the past.
While there is no guarantee of total, long-term immunity even if a person has antibodies, doctors hope that those who do have them may have some degree of immunity protection. Experts hope that could be a tool to help determine who could potentially more safely re-enter the workforce — and just as importantly — when. Public health experts are calling for more antibody tests and, until the U.S. has more widespread testing and contact tracing, say they still believe social distancing is a cornerstone to controlling the pandemic.
States across the US have extended stay at home orders and many have said they can safely reopen once they have the capability to do widespread antibody testing. Scientists say the tests will be critical in the weeks and months ahead, when they may be used for disease surveillance, therapeutics, return-to-work screenings, and more. But the tests must be deployed appropriately, they added, and with an acknowledgment of unanswered questions.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Protest of Stay At Home Orders

Michigan Protest of Stay At Home Orders

 

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Several thousand cars flooded the streets around the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. to protest the governor’s extended stay-at-home order.  Operation Gridlock, as the protest was named, was conceived as a drive-in protest that would block Lansing streets. Organizers said they support some coronavirus restrictions around social distancing, but believed Whitmer has gone too far. As such, they say they planned a protest that would still maintain social distancing guidelines — without contributing to the spread of infection.

At least 200 people broke from the instructions of organizers, getting out of their vehicles to congregate around the steps of the Capitol building, flouting social-distancing guidelines to remain 6 feet apart, and not wearing masks.  Many mask-less protesters, some of whom flew Confederate flags and open-carried AR-15 and AK-47 variants, gathered to demand an end to outbreak-reduction efforts and a premature return to normalcy.

The state of Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases, 32,000 and over 2,400 deaths.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has faced a steady drumbeat of criticism for issuing one of the most stringent stay-at-home orders.  Among other things, it bars landscapers from working and shutters many greenhouses and nurseries.  She extended her original order last week to now end April 30th.  The new version of the order banned travel between homes.   As of Monday, more than a quarter of the state’s workforce had filed for unemployment benefits.  Southeast Michigan and Detroit remain a hot spot — claiming the lion’s share of COVID-19 cases and deaths.  Detroit has more than 7,700 positive cases.

Over the past 10 days, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped 6.7%, to 3,374. During the same period, the number of patients on a ventilator decreased from 1,441 to 1,102, a 24% decline, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical officer, attributed the progress to the governor’s March 24 stay-at-home order that was previously extended to April 13.

Whitmer is expected to extend her stay-at-home order, which expires at the end of the month, until there is a larger testing capacity and a significant decline in the number of new cases and deaths.  Although the numbers are declining, dozens of people are still dying each day.  Some counties that have been hard hit are seeing a decline in new cases but the number of deaths continue to rise.

 

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