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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on NJ Man Mows Lawns For Free To Help Seniors During Pandemic

NJ Man Mows Lawns For Free To Help Seniors During Pandemic

With many unemployed during the pandemic, it’s uplifting to hear about those that have found a way to help others during this stressful time. Brian Schwartz, an advertising executive who lost his job due to the pandemic founded the nonprofit I Want To Mow Your Lawn to help seniors, veterans and the disabled with their lawn maintenance for free.
Schwartz started out small, covering areas in northern New Jersey but he has a vision of helping people on a scale beyond his own part of the country. While he is using his own knowledge to market this idea, he is looking for volunteers from all over to join his crusade. Schwartz welcomes any and all help ranging from kids in school up to professional landscapers.

Schwartz said “It may sound like a bumper sticker, but it’s true: it just feels good to help out, to do something tangible that people need done and can’t quite do themselves, something straight-forward and clean-cut as newly mowed grass. It really is helpful, it makes an immediate difference that people can see, and people are so appreciative because it is free, no strings, no small print, no paperwork at all. We come, we mow, we go.”

The volunteers are the backbone of this non-profit, some also found themselves out of work and looking for some way to give back to their community. Volunteers can have their own shareable profile URL, custom email alias and phone # extension. Any and all help is welcomed, ranging from kids in school up to professional landscapers.
There is no better feeling than helping out someone in need and kindness is contagious. Schwartz is looking to keep growing nationally. Volunteers must have their own landscaping equipment, be able to transport it and be willing to travel within a 5-10-15 mile radius. To volunteer or request free mowing services you can find more information at IWantToMowYourLawn.com or check out the Facebook page.

Schwartz refuses to accept payment or tips, and he says there’s no fine print to this good deed. “I believe in putting some good into the universe. I see what’s going on in the world, and I just want to help.” His decision to not wallow in the loss of his job in a grim job market and instead, find a way to help others is a testament to who he is. He has helped many in his area and given those that want to help those in their community a way to do so.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help

Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help

Like many independent businesses across the country, the beloved NYC book store the Strand is in trouble. A Greenwich Village fixture since 1927, known worldwide for its “18 miles of books,” the Strand is the single remaining establishment out of 48 bookstores that once ran the length of 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing crucial foot-traffic, store proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the store’s original owner, posted a cry for help on Twitter.

In a last-ditch effort to save her beloved family business, Bass Wyden reached out to her customer base with a plea for help. “I’m going to pull out all the stops,” she tweeted, “to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in the Strand’s 93-year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there’s a vaccine.”

The response from the Strand’s loyal clientele came in the form of an avalanche of 25,000 orders over the course of a single weekend that crashed the store’s website and brought in approximately $200,000 in sales. One patron ordered 197 books. That was followed up by round-the-block lines at the store’s flagship location on Broadway and East 12th Street in lower Manhattan when the store opened.

Having suffered heavy financial losses earlier in the year, even with the amazing outpouring of love and a much-needed boost in revenue, the Strand isn’t out of the woods just yet, but Bass Wyden is determined not to give up. Revenue was down 70% since this time last year, the business’ cash reserves had depleted, and the $1 million to $2 million loan the Strand received in government emergency relief in April is running dry.

Bass Wyden started working at the Strand in the mid-’70s, when she was 16, and inherited full ownership of the business, including the building at 828 Broadway, from her father, Fred Bass, after his death in 2017. The bookstore has withstood the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 9/11 terror attacks, but the pandemic could be its downfall. “As the 3rd generation owner,” she said, “I have tried to imagine what my dad and grandfather would do right now after they spent their entire lives—6 days a week—working at the store. I don’t believe they would want me to give up without a fight.” Bass Wyden said.

“Never did I imagine that the store’s financial situation would become so dire that I would have to write friends and devoted customers for help,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden said in an open letter. “It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament that we are in now.” For the first time since her grandfather founded the store 93 years ago, Bass Wyden said, the time had come to ask customers for help. She’s asking all loyal lovers of the written word to start the holidays early and Shop the Strand to save the Strand.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Neighbors Rally To Help Farmer

Neighbors Rally To Help Farmer

When 57-year-old Lane Unhjem suffered a heart attack while trying to put out a fire on his farm, he never imagined how quickly his rural community would rally to help him. One of his combines, which harvest crops, caught fire while he was working his farm in Crosby, North Dakota. Unjjem had a heart attack while working to put it out and was airlifted to Trinity Medical Center in Minot, North Dakota where he is in critical condition.

Close family friend, Jenna Binde, wanted to organize a group to help out on the farm while Unhjem was recovering. Binde and two local farmers began to organize a harvesting event, but she actually had to do very little to rally the troops. Farmers started calling and asking if they could help,” she said. “Within two hours of him being flown out of Crosby, I had over half the equipment and people already lined up.”

Binde said locals who knew she was close to the Unhjem family reached out to her — she never had to call anyone herself. On September 12, 60 volunteers showed up to the Unhjem farm, bringing 11 combines, six grain carts and 15 semis with them. “We live in a pretty rural area, so anyone within 10 miles can be considered a neighbor. Most were within 10 miles but others traveled farther than that because they are good friends with the Unhjems and wanted to pitch in.”

Most of the volunteers were farmers or their farm hands, she said. Unhjem already had his peas harvested before his heart attack but the group spent over seven hours on his durum wheat and canola crops. “The volunteers that came that day did more than just volunteer their time. They all had their own fields to still harvest but they selflessly put that behind them and made the Unhjems a priority that day.” Binde said. “The family is super thankful and it saved them a lot of headache and frustration of trying to figure out how they would get their crops off without Lane or a combine,” she said. “It was a pretty remarkable day and I was so happy to be a part of it.”

Binde said she didn’t think the gesture was a big deal. “This is just what we do around here when someone in our community is in need of help. What seems completely normal and natural to us here, unfortunately isn’t the case across the nation. I hope others read this story and forget about all the turmoil going on currently and just remember to lend a hand when needed and expect nothing in return. If we could all just do that, we’d be in a better place.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on James Patterson Giving Grants to Teachers

James Patterson Giving Grants to Teachers

Thousands of schoolteachers will receive $500 grants from author James Patterson to help students build reading skills, especially as schools struggle to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. Patterson has donated $2.5 million through his Patterson Partnership program with Scholastic Book Clubs. The grant program which is administered by Patterson and by Scholastic Book Clubs, which will provide teachers 500 club points to go with the $500 from Patterson. Out of more than 100,000 applicants, 5,000 teachers will receive grants and club points.

“Whether students are learning virtually at home or in the classroom, the importance of keeping them reading cannot be underscored enough. Reading teaches kids empathy, gives them an escape when they most need it, helps them grapple with harsh realities, and perhaps most importantly, will remind them that they are not alone — even if they’re unable to see their teachers, classmates and friends in-person,” Patterson said in a statement.

Funds from the Patterson Partnership are awarded directly to individual teachers and are to be used solely for the purchase of books for classroom libraries. Winning teachers had the choice of either a direct deposit into their Scholastic Book Clubs account or a check sent via USPS. The 500 Bonus Points will also be directly deposited into winning teachers’ Book Club accounts. This is the sixth year Patterson Partnership has issued the grants through its’ partnership with Scholastic Book Club.

Patterson, one of the world’s best-selling novelists, has given more than $11 million to teachers, along with millions he has given to bookstores, libraries and literacy organizations. This is the sixth installment in the Patterson Partnership for building home and school libraries. He has been donating and campaigning for donations for several years.

Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs, added, “Teachers are always at the front lines of educating all our children and introducing them to books and reading—no matter what else is going on in the world. As the Covid-19 crisis has shown, the hard work and dedication of America’s teachers—and what is demanded of them—cannot be overstated.”
In April 2020, Patterson helped launch a campaign to save independent booksellers, an industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign called #SaveIndieBookstores, is a partnership between Patterson, actress Reese Witherspoon’s book club, the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Patterson personally contributed $500,000 to that campaign and called for fellow authors and book fans to join him in making donations to the fund.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Dreamweaver Foundation Donates Facebook Portals to Hundreds of Omaha Seniors

Dreamweaver Foundation Donates Facebook Portals to Hundreds of Omaha Seniors

Seniors who are social distancing to stay healthy during the pandemic are now gaining much-needed companionship, thanks to the Dreamweaver Foundation which has provided ultra-loud, easy-to-use devices that connect them directly to loved ones using Facebook Portals. Most seniors who received a Portal were connected to loved ones with a clear picture and sound for the first time in months and the grateful reactions have ranged from “tears of joy” to an overwhelming sense of relief.

Founded in 2012, the eight-year-old nonprofit organization usually grants wishes to seniors with chronic or terminal illnesses, like hot-air balloon rides or race car driving. “We still wanted to serve seniors in a special way” said Cheri Mastny, Dreamweaver Foundation executive director. “Many families had been resorting to window visits or calls on smartphones which can be both expensive and difficult for seniors to operate.”

Staying connected has been difficult for everyone during the pandemic, but especially for seniors. The Dreamweaver Foundation’s donations are changing that for hundreds of seniors in the greater Omaha area. “It looks like an 8×10 picture frame,” Mastny said. “The apps come on it and they are super large, so it is very easy to touch, easy to use. It has a big speaker-subwoofer in the back, so the sound that is produced from the Facebook portal makes it easy for someone that is hard of hearing.”

With a Portal, the buttons are super large, so it’s very easy to touch and use. It has a big subwoofer speaker in the back, so the sound is much better for someone who is hard of hearing. Calls can be made seamlessly to and from smartphones and tablets. Staff and families have continued to see the positive impact on seniors that have received Portals. The portals are giving seniors back their independence and family time.

Since seniors began using them, Dreamweaver has been overwhelmed with requests for more, so they launched a fundraising campaign to purchase more of the Portals. The CONNECTING HOPE CAMPAIGN hopes to continue to spread joy to seniors. They are trying to make Portals possible for seniors and their families to create shared memories, despite the distance. Each Portal is $179 and is purchased through donations.

There are other ways to help by making lower donations which help the “Dream Team” deliver tubs full of fun to care facilities during the pandemic. Playing cards, coloring books, crayons, nail polish, building blocks, board games and more have been delivered throughout the pandemic. The organization is also asking for volunteers who can send postcards, make phone calls and letters of love to seniors.

Their mission is made possible with the help and dedication of Dreamweaver Volunteers and they are always looking for more volunteers. You can make a dream come true and enrich the life of a senior in our community simply by giving of your time. Opportunities to volunteer may include being a Greeter, Personal Shopper, Fundraiser, or Dream Maker. The Dreamweaver organization trains all volunteers to provide the best experience possible. Due to their work involving seniors and sensitive information, they require all potential volunteers to complete orientation and training as well as pass a background check.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Chrissy Teigen Buys Teachers’ Amazon Wishlists, Inspires Others To Help

Chrissy Teigen Buys Teachers’ Amazon Wishlists, Inspires Others To Help

As school is starting for many across the country, Chrissy Teigen has generously bought entire school supply wish lists for many teachers. Chrissy Teigen, who is home schooling her daughter Luna, called on teachers to send her their wish lists so she buy them. “If you are a teacher in need of supplies for the upcoming school year, please drop your amazon wishlist here, I will do as many as I can!” she tweeted. Teigen’s tweet received over 5,000 replies, with many of her followers also chipping in to fund supplies.

The response was overwhelming. Teachers, as well as their friends and family, all reached out to take Teigen up on her generous offer. “Today I cleared 50 entire lists and countless extra items were purchased from lovely people just passing through,” Teigen subsequently posted. “Will do more this week and would love to focus on struggling districts and special needs. Please keep posting in this thread!”

While teachers have traditionally purchased classroom supplies that school budgets don’t cover, COVID-19 has totally changed the landscape of education. Virtual classrooms or hybrid learning that combines at-home and onsite classes have become the new normal. Although the fundamental educational supplies and equipment needed to meet these changes continue to evolve as we feel our way through the pandemic by trial and error, teachers are still the ones who must often pick up the slack.

The generousness, while wonderful to see, highlights that teachers are regularly forced to resort to crowdfunding their basic classroom needs or more likely, paying out of their own pockets, a fact that Teigen herself alluded to. As teachers head back to their classrooms, their shopping lists are stocked with items that aren’t just for arts and crafts. They now need hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and air purifiers—just to keep themselves and their students safe in what is sure to be one of the most challenging school years any of them have ever experience.

These last few months have given so many a window into how hard teaching is. It’s certainly not going to get any easier now that so many teachers will be facing tasks like keeping their kids socially distanced, helping with masks and hand washing, or teaching a class where some students are in the room and others are joining remotely. Many people were inspired by Teigen’s post and also began purchasing items from Amazon Wishlists posted. Making sure they have everything they need is the least we can do— and if you have the means to help, there are plenty more wish-lists to be found in the thread.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Kansas Mother Fights For Change After Daughter Stalked by 4th Grade Teacher

Kansas Mother Fights For Change After Daughter Stalked by 4th Grade Teacher

The mother of a 10 year old Kansas girl who prosecutors say was stalked by a former Olathe teacher is speaking out about the trauma her family is going through. Her daughter, who attends Meadow Lane Elementary School, is at the center of a stalking case where a former 4th grade teacher, 58-year-old James Loganbill, took hundreds of photos and videos of the child. “You send your kids to school every day thinking they are safe and in great hands. To know that wasn’t the case, I just felt sick,” the local mom said. She quickly made it her mission to push for stricter laws, teaming up with local bipartisan legislators and creating the foundation #NotYourDaughter.


According to court documents, he told leaders at the school he was attracted to the 10-year-old student. “He had admitted to school officials of having an obsession and fixation on my daughter,” the metro mother said. “A few of her friends came up to her and let her know they had been speaking with the counselors and principals the past couple of days. They had seen their 4th grade teacher taking inappropriate pictures and videos of my daughter.”


Loganbill is charged with reckless stalking, which is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year behind bars. According to the criminal complaint, between August 1, 2019 and March 10, 2020, Loganbill targeted the child in a way that would make a reasonable person fear for their safety.. Investigators say they found 210 photos and 31 videos of the same young girl on Loganbill’s phone and Apple iPad, with all the images taken at the school. The complaint also says the act was sexually motivated since Loganbill admitted to school administrators that the photos and videos were used for pornographic reasons. He also allegedly conducted online searches on the girl’s name 39 times, including searching her extra-curricular activities, the report said.Loganbill had taught in the school district for 31 years but resigned in March 2020 shortly after the allegations came to light.


The Olathe mom learned that Loganbill had been transferred to three different schools within the district during his 31 year teaching career for questionable conduct with students. If it weren’t for her daughter’s classmates reporting his behavior, no one would have known it was happening a fourth time. The district received countless complaints from teachers, students and parents for inappropriate conduct such as asking students for massages, taking female students to private rooms in the classroom alone, making sexually charged comments on the appearance of students, taking students pictures without consent, ranking students by who looked “hottest” and writing inappropriate notes to female students.


He had been under several investigations throughout his career and was simple transferred to a new school each time while parents and students believed he had been fired. Despite the trauma this family is going through they are determined to change Kansas laws that are protecting predators in the classroom. They want an outside audit of all teacher’s in the district with special attention to teacher’s who have been found to have shown sexually charged tendencies. They also want policy on how district employees use their personal electronics, a checks and balances on photos taken of students and a zero tolerance policy on teachers, like Loganbill, who have been found guilty of exhibiting inappropriate relations or sexual intent of children resulting in immediate termination.


While this Olathe mother worries about how the horrifying details and actions of this man will shape her young daughter she added “There’s still more work to be done, starting with Olathe Public Schools. We don’t want any other kid in the district to have to go through these things,” she said. “We need an answer as far as how we are going to keep these kids safe, more than ever.”

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on CDC Drops 14 Day Quarantine On Travel As Campus Cases Rise

CDC Drops 14 Day Quarantine On Travel As Campus Cases Rise

 

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The confirmed U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 180,000, with over 5.7 million recorded infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the U.S. is on track to record its 200,000th death from COVID-19 by the fourth week of September. Public health officials say the true U.S. death toll likely passed that grim milestone weeks ago.
The White House defended a decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend against coronavirus testing for people who lack symptoms of COVID-19 — even if they’ve been exposed to an infected person. The CDC also quietly dropped its recommendation that people quarantine for 14 days after traveling from an area with a high rate of infection. Public health experts say the moves will undermine efforts to control the spread of the disease. The New York Times cited two federal health officials who said the changes were ordered by higher-ups at the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House.
The decision was reportedly made at an August 20 meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, while top public health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was not present because he was undergoing surgery. The changes were backed by the task force’s newest member, Dr. Scott Atlas — a Fox News contributor and radiologist with no expertise in infectious diseases. This comes amid rising concern over outbreaks in schools around the country as at least three dozen states so far have reported cases on college campuses.
A return to campus for the new academic year has colleges and universities struggling to both contain outbreaks of Covid-19 and enforce policies meant to prevent its spread. Across the United States, at least 36 states have reported positive cases at colleges and universities, adding more than 8,700 cases to the country’s tally. Outbreaks have been identified at four different sororities at Kansas State University, according to news releases from the college and the Riley County Health Department. Temple University in Philadelphia announced it is suspending in-person classes for two weeks following the identification of 103 cases on campus. East Carolina reported 370 total positive cases from students as of Aug. 24.
The University of Alabama is receiving backlash after it ordered faculty members to remain silent about students who test positive for the virus, arguing that alerting their classmates would violate federal privacy laws. In an email the professors were admonished, “Do not tell the rest of the class,” with the word “not” underlined. UA currently has confirmed over 1,200 Covid 19 cases since classes resumed August 19th. They continue to urge students to wear masks and socially distance on and off campus. Many schools have limited parties and other gatherings to reduce Covid-19 risks but those rules being violated are why Notre Dame’s outbreak started.
A consensus is building among public health experts that it’s better to keep university students on campus after a Covid-19 outbreak rather than send them home as many are doing. It’s easier to isolate sick or exposed students and trace their contacts if they stay put. While sending students home risks exposing other people there as well as along the way, and makes contact tracing all but impossible. Contact tracing can help manage outbreaks when done correctly. The U.S. has struggled with it for many reasons, including getting people to answer the phone and respond truthfully. That’s even harder at college, when students worry about being disciplined for violating rules on social gathering.

 

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Reaches $600 Million Settlement in Flint Water Crisis

Michigan Reaches $600 Million Settlement in Flint Water Crisis

 

 

 

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The state of Michigan has reportedly reached a deal to pay out about $600 million to victims of the water crisis in Flint. The crisis began in 2014 when Flint’s unelected emergency manager, appointed by then-Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, switched the source of the city’s drinking water in order to save money. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency said it had found dangerous levels of lead — which can affect the heart, kidneys and nerves — in the water flowing into residents’ homes.
The water source move has been linked to at least 12 deaths from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, as well as widespread lead poisoning in residents, including 12,000 children. Dozens of lawsuits, including class-action cases, filed against Michigan and the city of Flint followed. Many cases emphasize the youngest victims — the children whose exposure to lead and toxins could lead to neurological disorders and learning disabilities, among other conditions.
The Supreme Court this year said it wouldn’t block a lawsuit by Flint residents seeking to hold city officials accountable. Lawyers for the city had asked justices to step in, saying their clients had immunity from such lawsuits. A previous ruling from a federal appeals court also sided with the residents. “Knowing the Flint River water was unsafe for public use, distributing it without taking steps to counter its problems, and assuring the public in the meantime that it was safe is conduct that would alert a reasonable person to the likelihood of personal liability,” the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals held.
In March 2017, nearly three years after the incident first came to light, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded $100 million to fund water infrastructure upgrades in Flint. A few weeks later, city officials declared the city’s drinking water was safe to drink. Six years later, the city has inspected more than 25,000 service lines and has replaced 85 percent of the pipes. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put work on hold. Residents are still scared to drink the water after city, state and federal officials have been accused of ignoring, denying or covering up complaints that started immediately after the switch.
Tens of thousands of Flint residents are expected to be eligible to receive money from the settlement. The settlement will establish a court-monitored victim’s compensation fund that will provide the direct payments to Flint residents. Nearly 80% of the money will go to those who were younger than 18 at the time of the crisis. Besides the state of Michigan, the settlement includes the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the individual defendants, including former Gov. Rick Snyder, according to a news release. Litigation will continue against other defendants, including two private engineering firms charged with professional negligence.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Campuses in US Switch to Virtual Learning Amid Outbreaks

Campuses in US Switch to Virtual Learning Amid Outbreaks

 

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The U.S. reported another 43,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths from COVID-19 on, bringing the official U.S. death toll to nearly 172,000.  Public health officials are expressing alarm as the number of daily COVID-19 tests across the country has dropped 17% since mid-July, making it harder for states to track the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control is warning infection rates are “steadily increasing” in children as millions of students have started or are preparing to return to school.

As global confirmed coronavirus cases topped 22 million, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that young adults and children are increasingly driving the spread of COVID-19. WHO officials said recent outbreaks in Australia and the Philippines were sparked mostly by people younger than 40, while WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove warned younger people are not immune to the worst effects of the virus.

A surge in coronavirus cases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has forced the school to switch to remote learning, after 177 students tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of in-person classes.  The school said in a statement that the Covid-19 “positivity” rate jumped to 13.6% from 2.8% just a week before.  At the time of the announcement, the school had tested 954 students, with 177 in isolation and 349 in quarantine, both on and off campus.

In Indiana, the University of Notre Dame canceled all in-person classes and said it would move to online-only instruction. The university’s sole testing site has been inundated since students returned in early August, identifying a total of 336 coronavirus cases.  Notre Dame contends that most infections stem from two off-campus parties thrown by seniors but cases have surged as students introduce the virus to new social groups, straining the school’s resources.

Michigan State University announced it would require undergraduates to study remotely (graduate students and students who take part in athletics are exempt from the mandate). According to NPR, the directive was issued before many students returned to campus, as classes don’t resume until early September. The university released a statement on Tuesday saying, “Given the current status of the virus … it is unlikely we can prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19 between students if our undergraduates return to campus.”

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native people had an age-adjusted COVID-19 hospitalization rate about 5.3 times that of non-Hispanic white people. COVID-19 hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black people and Hispanic or Latino people were both about 4.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic white people.  While there’s no evidence that people of color have genetic or other biological factors that make them more likely to be affected by COVID-19, they are more likely to have underlying health conditions. Having certain conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, increases your risk of severe illness with COVID-19. But experts also know that where people live and work affects their health. Over time, these factors lead to different health risks among racial and ethnic minority groups.

A summer of waning social distancing restrictions has caused a surge in Covid cases among those under 35.  Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead and an infectious disease epidemiologist warns “We are seeing people, even young people, who are ending up with severe disease. We are seeing young people who are ending up in ICU. And we are seeing young people who are dying from this virus.”

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