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Monday, August 31, 2020

VIDEO: Trump's Top 40 broken promises

Hop aboard!

Today's progressive comic.

Price comparison

Helping to make voting safe and efficient

Improving the in-person voting experience amid COVID-19
Get Out The Vote NE Georgia, Georgia 2020 - Community | FacebookProfessor Gretchen Macht, director of the URI Voter OperaTions and Election Systems (URI VOTES) project, has been awarded several grants totaling $700,000 to conduct research and recommend steps to help several polling locations across multiple states execute successful in-person voting.

“Adding necessary safety measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 could potentially impact lines and waiting times in the upcoming election,” said Macht, assistant professor of mechanical, industrial and systems engineering. 

“Our work here at URI will help develop recommendations to make voting as positive an experience as possible in terms of both safety and waiting times.”

Her research results are expected to improve safety and efficiency at voting locations during the upcoming election, and resulting tools will provide valuable planning guidance to others in the future.

The project will explore the implications of designing voting processes, meant to mitigate COVID-19, at certain voting facilities across the country including Rhode Island, Michigan and Los Angeles County.

Still time to sign up for Moonlight Paddle tonight

 Full Moon Paddle
Tonight, August 31st,
Need to extend the weekend? Join WPWA on a gorgeous section of the Wood River. Still spots available. Register here.
We will launch from the WPWA campus onto the Wood River. This wide section of river is great for beginners.  As we paddle out, spot the numerous painted turtles or the frequently sighted Great Blue Herons. Beavers are around at dusk, often gracing us with their stealthy swims or loud tail slaps.
Boats are available to be borrowed, you may reserve them through the registration link.  3 tandem kayaks are also available, great for an adult to share with a child under 11. The registration link will indicate if there are any tandems still available. The group will launch at about 6:30 pm and paddle for over an hour. 
 Face coverings and social distancing are required at the launch and take out, and any time people are closer than 6’ apart. You do not have to wear a face covering while paddling, but you need to have something with you at all times for this purpose. Avoid bunching up at the launch site; wait for other paddlers on the water. Do not attend if you are ill.

Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members.  WPWA members at the Trout level or above have free access to kayaks. *But Dragonfly level and non-members will be charged an additional $20 per boat.
If you are a WPWA Otter, Osprey, or Eagle Member, the program is free and you will not be asked for payment when you register online.
For More Information Contact: Kassi Archambault:
Our Contact Information
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association
203 Arcadia Road
Hope Valley, RI 02832

Video: Anti-vaxxers could monkey wrench pandemic recovery

Current rates of vaccine hesitancy in the US could mean a long road to normalcy
Matt Motta, Oklahoma State University

Poltical scientist Matt Motta studies the social and political determinants of anti-science attitudes. In this Q&A, he answers questions about the current levels of vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. and how that might affect the country’s ability to achieve herd immunity after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

Matt Motta, a scholar who studies political and science communication, explains why herd immunity may be difficult to achieve in the U.S.

How many people plan to take a COVID-19 vaccine?

Our understanding is that the number of Americans who plan to refuse a vaccine for COVID-19, when it becomes available, is quite pervasive. Somewhere between 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 Americans plan to refuse a vaccine depending on the survey and how you ask the questions.

Research that my colleagues and I conducted and wrote about in The Conversation a couple of months ago suggests that the number is close to 1 in 4. And I think that’s a reasonable estimate.

Estimates of refusal have remained relatively steady throughout the pandemic.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

VIDEO: Would you trust Donald Trump with your kid's life?

 To watch this video on YouTube:

Solution to election fraud

Today's progressive comic.


 To watch this video on YouTube:

State Confirms EEE-Positive Deer

Rhode Island’s First Positive Finding in a Mammal in 2020

ImageThe Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are confirming this year’s first positive detection of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a mammal. 

DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) responded to a report of a white-tailed deer – disoriented and walking in circles – in North Kingstown on August 21. 

DLE euthanized the animal and its tissues were subsequently tested for EEE by RIDOH’s Rhode Island State Health Laboratories. The state lab today confirmed that the deer tested positive for EEE. 

The animal also will be tested for chronic wasting disease. This finding of EEE in a mammal indicates that there is now an elevated risk of disease transmission from mosquito bites to humans in Rhode Island.

Yesterday, DEM and RIDOH announced that 147 mosquito samples from 44 traps set August 17 tested negative for both EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV). Along with today’s confirmed mammalian case, there has been one EEE finding in a mosquito sample from Westerly, announced August 21, and no findings of WNV in mosquito samples.

To date, Massachusetts has confirmed 3 human cases of EEE, 65 findings of EEE, and 70 findings of WNV. There have been no human cases of EEE or WNV in Connecticut in 2020, but the state has confirmed two EEE findings and 82 WNV findings.

Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that may carry WNV, EEE, or other diseases – and the most effective way to avoid infection. With EEE established in Rhode Island and WNV nearby, DEM and RIDOH remind the public to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds around their homes and yards and prevent being bitten, whenever possible. 


Are all vegetarian diets healthy?
European Society of Cardiology

plant based cooking GIF by Simple Happy KitchenVegetarian foods are not equally healthy, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2020.

"Our study highlights the variable nutritional quality of plant foods," said author Dr. Matina Kouvari of Harokopio University, Athens, Greece. 

"This finding was more evident in women. Prior research has shown that women tend to eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based products than men. But our study suggests that this does not guarantee healthier food choices and in turn better health status."

Most dietary studies define plant-based diets simply as "vegetarian" or "low in meat," thereby treating all plant foods as equal. The unique aspect of this study was that it examined the type of plant-based foods consumed, in addition to the overall amount. 

Healthy plant-based products were principally the least processed foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and tea/coffee. 

Unhealthy plant-based products consisted of juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes, and any kind of sweets (e.g. chocolate, Greek traditional desserts, etc.).

Approval of a coronavirus vaccine would be just the beginning

Huge production challenges could cause long delays
 Bruce Y. Lee, City University of New York

Billions of people are going to need a coronavirus vaccine and
that demand is going to be hard to meet.
Francesco Carta fotografo/Moment via Getty Images
The race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is well underway. It’s tempting to assume that once the first vaccine is approved for human use, all the problems of this pandemic will be immediately solved. 

Unfortunately, that is not exactly the case.

Developing a new vaccine is only the first part of the complex journey that’s supposed to end with a return to some sort of normal life

Producing hundreds of millions of vaccines for the U.S. – and billions for the world as a whole – will be no small feat. There are many technical and economic challenges that will need to be overcome somehow to produce millions of vaccines as fast as possible.

I am a professor of health policy and management at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health and have been working in and studying the worlds of vaccine development, production and distribution for over two decades. 

The issues the world is facing today regarding the coronavirus vaccine are not new, but the stakes are perhaps higher than ever before.

There are four main challenges that must be addressed as soon as possible if a vaccine is to be produced quickly and at a large scale.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

VIDEO: Langevin fights for YOU

 To watch this video on YouTube:

VIDEO: Fore!

Let’s get to work

Phone bank from home for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Wednesday
By Aaron Regunburg

Image may contain: 1 person

We know this is the most important election of our lives.

We know that our democracy and our planet can't survive another four years of escalating fascism.

And we know that Donald Trump is capable of deploying every autocratic trick in the book to disrupt, rig, or suppress our communities from voting in November.

So it's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

The Biden-Harris campaign just launched its new phone platform this week. 

So next Wednesday I'm organizing the first of what can hopefully be a weekly virtual phonebank for Rhode Islanders who are ready to start making calls into battleground states.

You can register for our phonebank next Wednesday, September 2nd at 5:30 p.m. using this link.

We'll start with a short training to make sure everyone is prepared to speak with voters and feels comfortable using the campaign's dialer tool. Then we'll start making calls!

If you have friends or neighbors who are looking for ways to get involved, please feel free to invite them too (here's the Facebook event for sharing). I'm really looking forward to volunteering with you.

How much is out there?

URI students investigate microplastics distribution in Narragansett Bay

URI students Jacqui Roush (left) and Cara Megill collect samples
URI students Jacqui Roush (left) and Cara Megill collect samples
of microplastics from Narragansett Bay. (Photo by Todd McLeish
Dressed in bright orange jumpsuits and matching masks, University of Rhode Island students Cara Megill and Jacqui Roush stood at Conimicut Point in Warwick and flipped a switch to begin pumping about 50 gallons of seawater through a complex filter system designed and built by their advisors, Andrew Davies and Coleen Suckling.

It’s a process they repeated almost daily from mid-July through August at a dozen sites around Narragansett Bay as part of a research project to document the location, concentration and movement of microplastics in the bay. 

With the help of Save The Bay, the students also deployed a manta-trawl net from a boat to skim for plastics at the water’s surface.

Why do some people with COVID-19 never get sick?

Why Do Some People Weather Coronavirus Infection Unscathed?
By Emily Laber-Warren

Can Asymptomatics Infect? Are They The Silent Carriers? | Outlook India  MagazineOne of the reasons Covid-19 has spread so swiftly around the globe is that for the first days after infection, people feel healthy. Instead of staying home in bed, they may be out and about, unknowingly passing the virus along.

But in addition to these pre-symptomatic patients, the relentless silent spread of this pandemic is also facilitated by a more mysterious group of people: the so-called asymptomatics.

According to various estimates, between 20 and 45 percent of the people who get Covid-19 — and possibly more, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — sail through a coronavirus infection without realizing they ever had it. No fever or chills. No loss of smell or taste. No breathing difficulties. They don’t feel a thing.

Asymptomatic cases are not unique to Covid-19. They occur with the regular flu, and probably also featured in the 1918 pandemic, according to epidemiologist Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London. But scientists aren’t sure why certain people weather Covid-19 unscathed. “That is a tremendous mystery at this point,” says Donald Thea, an infectious disease expert at Boston University’s School of Public Health.

The prevailing theory is that their immune systems fight off the virus so efficiently that they never get sick. But some scientists are confident that the immune system’s aggressive response, the churning out of antibodies and other molecules to eliminate an infection, is only part of the story.

We do not need to sacrifice forests to build large scale solar farms

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

This table sums up the findings of a new report on solar-energy potential in Rhode Island. (Synapse Energy Economics)
This table sums up the findings of a new report on solar-energy potential in Rhode Island. (Synapse Energy Economics)

Rhode Island may be small, but according to a new report, it has room to generate lots of solar energy without sacrificing the state’s dwindling green spaces.

A recent report by Cambridge, Mass.-based Synapse Energy Economics Inc. concludes that Rhode Island can produce a greater amount of electricity than it consumes by installing solar arrays on more roofs, landfills, brownfields, gravel pits, and parking lots.

Open space advocates say the analysis, Solar Siting Opportunities for Rhode Island, proves that woodlands, meadows, and farmland don’t need to be cleared and covered to meet state renewable-energy objectives. As such, the 83-page report excludes farmland, residential open spaces, and state and municipal land from Rhode Island’s inventory of solar potential.

Friday, August 28, 2020

VIDEO: Trump's claims on the economy are just not true

How to win, Trump style

So who's in charge of this mess?

Pic of the Moment

America’s Homes Need to Go on an Energy Diet

We are using - and paying for - too much energy in our homes
By Tim De Chant

10 No Cost Ways To Reduce Energy Use In Your Home | The Sietch BlogThe U.S. has a housing problem. Not only are there too few, those that we have are gluttons, using almost twice as much energy per home as those in Europe. Only Canada’s homes, most of which endure long and biting winters, use more.

Our leaky, inefficient homes produce nearly one-fifth of the country’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, a number that has probably crept higher as the pandemic has kept people at home. That’s because most of our homes are stubbornly stuck in a previous generation. The median age of a U.S. home is 37 years, and it’s not getting any younger.

Many of our houses and apartments are still heated and powered by fossil fuels. If we’re going to meet the Paris Agreement goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050 — as many states and municipalities are still striving to do — we have some work to do.

More than 40 percent of our energy use at home comes from electricity, and the absolute amount has risen seven-fold from six decades ago. Greenhouse gas emissions from household electricity use have dropped 31 percent since 2005. But the dip is largely the result of a decline in coal power plants, not changes in home energy use.

Fortunately, eliminating electricity-based emissions is relatively easy. Many homeowners can put up solar panels today and reap enough energy savings to cover the investment in about eight years, sometimes less.

Starting Sept. 12, wear orange when you go to Burlingame

DEM Reminds State Management Area Users to Wear Daylight Fluorescent Orange For Safety Reasons Starting Sept. 12

hunters become GIFThe Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reminds hikers, bike riders, horseback riders, and all other visitors that, for safety reasons, they must wear solid, daylight fluorescent orange when in state management areas and undeveloped state parks beginning on Saturday, September 12 – the start of deer season. 

With COVID, more and more people are using state parks, wildlife management areas, and other outdoor spaces. Some may not be aware of the law to wear orange to prevent hunting accidents.

Sleeze. Utter sleeze

Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff

Going Under: Potential Side Effects of General Anesthesia - MedShadow
Trump finally figures out how to get Fauci out of the way
On Tuesday, the CDC abruptly reversed itself on earlier statements and revised testing guidelines to suggest that those who were not showing symptoms of COVID-19 did not need to be tested. 

The statement seemed more than simply bizarre, but overtly dangerous, as:

Testing levels in the United States are still very far short of the rates experts have said are necessary to accurately describe and control the pandemic

Rates of positive tests in the United States have been moving upward in many states, with states like Florida and Texas showing double-digit rates of positive tests.

Evidence has long indicated that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 can not only pass along the disease, but do so more effectively that those with obvious symptoms.

Why would the CDC deliberately make testing worse at a time when rates of testing were both already inadequate and declining?

By Wednesday, it was clear that the change was made because pressure was applied directly to CDC Director Robert Redfield by the White House coronavirus task force. Only … not the entire task force.

Because the most incredible—and despicable—part of the whole story may be that the action was taken when task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, was under general anesthesia in an operating room.

The remaining members of the task force literally waited until Fauci was unconscious before making the change, and the “evidence” they’ve offered for the switch appears to be no evidence at all.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Does killing wildlife in a wildlife refuge make sense?

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

Trustom Pond NWR (photo by Will Collette)
Recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approval that expands and, in the case of the John H. Chafee and Sachuest Point preserves allows, hunting in Rhode Island’s five national wildlife refuges has upset a group of neighbors who live near a refuge where crossbow hunting will be licensed next year.

While waterfowl hunting will continue to be allowed in a limited area at the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in South Kingstown, the Fish & Wildlife Service’s final hunting and fishing plan for the refuge allows archery hunting for deer, wild turkey, fox, and coyote throughout much of the 777-acre preserve.

Margaret Bucheit and her husband, William Ohley, have lived at their Coddington Way property that abuts open space next to Trustom for 13 years. They held a physically distanced neighborhood meeting Aug. 15 at the end of their cul-de-sac to discuss concerns about the refuge’s increased hunting opportunities. Eight of the 10 families who live in their Land N Sea development attended.

“In no way does our neighborhood consider this change of use safe. Many of us walk year-round in the woods behind our homes,” Bucheit said. “We do not want hunters with weapons in the woods behind our homes. We truly feel unsafe.”

The subdivision and its 35 acres of open space abuts 270 acres of Trustom that will be open to 35 bow hunters for four months beginning in fall 2021. Both Bucheit and Ohley, who shoots a longbow, are particularly concerned about the use of crossbows to kill game, noting they fire arrows that can move up to 400 feet per second (272 mph) and travel up to 1,500 feet.

“Fish and Wildlife is letting thirty-five strangers shoot those bows for four months of the year on the border of my neighborhood,” Bucheit said. “The season will be in autumn, during the bird migration, a time when most of us down here love to walk in the refuges, a time that draws visitors, educators, researchers, and families.”

The longtime Rhode Island couple, who have hired a Rhode Island attorney to represent the neighborhood’s interests, recently told ecoRI News that abutter concerns weren’t given enough credence and that the intent of property deeded to help create the refuge was ignored.

Westerly-based attorney Paul Singer has noted that Ann Kenyon Morse, in 1974, donated the refuge’s first 365 acres with the understanding that it would be used as “an inviolate sanctuary for birds and/or as a refuge for wildlife.” 

What's the big deal, huh?

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.

And drink your Kool-Aid

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'I WANT YOU TO BELIEVE 200,000 DEAD AMERICANS IS A SUCCESS'

Monday: Paddling under the moonlight

 Full Moon Paddle
Monday, August 31st,
Enjoy the last days of summer vacation! Join WPWA for a dusk adventure. Moonrise occurs just before sunset this month. We will launch from the WPWA campus onto the Wood River. This wide section of river is great for beginners.  As we paddle out, spot the numerous painted turtles or the frequently sighted Great Blue Herons. Beavers are around at dusk, often gracing us with their stealthy swims or loud tail slaps.
Boats are available to be borrowed, you may reserve them through the registration link.  3 tandem kayaks are also available, great for an adult to share with a child under 11. The registration link will indicate if there are any tandems still available. The group will launch at about 6:30 pm and paddle for over an hour. 
Face coverings and social distancing are required at the launch and take out, and any time people are closer than 6’ apart. You do not have to wear a face covering while paddling, but you need to have something with you at all times for this purpose. Avoid bunching up at the launch site; wait for other paddlers on the water. Do not attend if you are ill.

Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members.  WPWA members at the Trout level or above have free access to kayaks. *But Dragonfly level and non-members will be charged an additional $20 per boat.
If you are a WPWA Otter, Osprey, or Eagle Member, the program is free and you will not be asked for payment when you register online.
For More Information Contact: Kassi Archambault:
Our Contact Information
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association
203 Arcadia Road
Hope Valley, RI 02832

9 reasons you can be optimistic that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available in 2021

A pleasantly hopeful look at prospects for a safe and effective vaccine
 William Petri, University of Virginia

Experts are confident that there will be a vaccine next year.
PenWin /iStock / Getty Images Plus
As fall approaches rapidly, many are wondering if the race for a vaccine will bear fruit as early as January 2021.

I am a physician-scientist and infectious diseases specialist at the University of Virginia, where I care for patients and conduct research into COVID-19. 

I am occasionally asked how I can be sure that researchers will develop a successful vaccine to prevent COVID-19. After all, we still don’t have one for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Here is where the current research stands, where I think we will be in five months and why you can be optimistic about the delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 pandemic death toll may be as bad as or worse than 1918 flu pandemic

Comparison of Estimated Excess Deaths in New York City During the COVID-19 and 1918 Influenza Pandemics

Lessons to be learned from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic in Seattle |  king5.comDuring the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic, there were approximately 50 million influenza-related deaths worldwide, including 675 000 in the US. 

Few persons in the US have a frame of reference for the historic levels of excess mortality currently being observed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

In this study, excess deaths in New York City during the peak of the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic were compared with those during the initial period of the COVID-19 outbreak.

During the peak of the 1918 H1N1 influenza outbreak in New York City, a total of 31 589 all-cause deaths occurred among 5 500 000 residents, yielding an incident rate of 287.17 deaths per 100 000 person-months (95% CI, 282.71-291.69 deaths per 100 000 person-months). 

The incident rate ratio for all-cause mortality during the H1N1 influenza pandemic compared with corresponding periods from 1914 to 1917 was 2.80 (95% CI, 2.74-2.86). 

During the early period of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City, 33 465 all-cause deaths occurred among 8 280 000 residents, yielding an incident rate of 202.08 deaths per 100 000 person-months (95% CI, 199.03-205.17 deaths per 100 000 person-months). 

The incident rate ratio for all-cause mortality during the study period of 2020 compared with corresponding periods from 2017 through 2019 was 4.15 (95% CI, 4.05-4.24). The incident rate ratio for all-cause mortality during the peak of the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the early 2020 COVID-19 outbreak was 0.70 (95% CI, 0.69-0.72).

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The struggle ahead

By Michael de Adder

As America heads into its quadrennial circus of nominating conventions (this year’s even more surreal because of the pandemic), it’s important to understand the real difference between America’s two political parties at this point in history.

Instead of “left” versus “right,” think of two different core competences.

The Democratic Party is basically a governing party, organized around developing and implementing public policies. 

The Republican Party has become an attack party, organized around developing and implementing political vitriol. Democrats legislate. Republicans fulminate.

In theory, politics requires both capacities – to govern, but also to fight to attain and retain power. The dysfunction today is that Republicans can’t govern and Democrats can’t fight.

Donald Trump is the culmination of a half century of GOP belligerence. Richard Nixon’s “dirty tricks” were followed by Republican operative Lee Atwater’s smear tactics, Newt Gingrich’s take-no-prisoners reign as House speaker, the “Swift-boating” of John Kerry, and the GOP’s increasingly blatant uses of racism and xenophobia to build an overwhelmingly white, rural base.

If you can't win, cheat

Today's progressive comic.

The record speaks for itself

Image may contain: text that says 'Just so we're ALL clear OBAMA TRUMP Investigation (and counting) Indicted Paul Manafort Indicted: George Papadopoulos Flynn Indicted: Michael Cohen Richard Indicted: Russian officers indicted: Prigozhin investigations. No Obama Special Counsel investigations. No Obama administration indictments. drama... Obama. Hillary Clinton Benghazi "Investigation" Indicted: Indicted: Bogacheva Indicted: Sergey Indicted: indictments convictions Hillary Clinton Email Investigation" Aslanov Podkopaev indictments 0convictions Research Agency Concord Michael Flynn Guilty Papadopolous Zwaan Criminal Conspiracy Conspiracy (and counting) counts) counts) Subscribing false Failure Unregistered statements counts) counts) accounts counts) counts) counts) counts) 5counts) counts) fraud counts) counts) Subscribing Assisting Conspiracy Conspiracyto commit fraud Aggravated dentity theft'

I agree with Melania

Pic of the Moment

Over $1 million paid to victims of violent crime in RI

State’s Crime Victim Compensation Program Assisted 158 Victims of Domestic Violence in Fiscal 2020

Domestic Violence - Lake County Domestic Relations CourtRhode Island's Crime Victim Compensation Program (CVCP) made over 1,100 payments to victims of violent crimes, including 135 payments to minor children, during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2020. 

Collectively, the CVCP provided victims with over $1 million in financial support during the year.

Among the Rhode Islanders that received assistance from the CVCP were 158 victims of domestic violence, who collectively received $323,000 in emergency relocation funding. 

The CVCP paid for emergency hotel room stays for 35 victims of domestic violence, providing an immediate escape from dangerous and abusive living situations.

"Especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, financial insecurity can be a significant barrier for domestic violence victims, survivors and families," said Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner. 

"The CVCP can provide financial support to victims helping them escape, and recover, from violent crime."

Meatpackers offer a Trumpian excuse

Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19
By Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung for ProPublica

Trump Leads Workers to the Slaughter, Re-Opens Meat Packing Plants | Left  VoiceAt the end of June, with hundreds of his workers already infected with COVID-19 and several dead, Kenneth Sullivan, the CEO of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, sent a pointed letter to two U.S. senators who had launched an investigation into outbreaks in meatpacking plants and industry warnings of an impending food shortage.

In blunt, unapologetic terms, Sullivan chastised critics for suggesting Smithfield had acted too slowly to prevent the disease from spreading among its workers and surrounding communities. These “revisionist historians,” he wrote, refused to be “bound to reality” by saying meatpackers could have spaced workers out, slowed processing lines or stockpiled face masks.

“What no one anticipated, and has never happened in our lifetimes, is the scenario we are living through today,” Sullivan wrote. “That is, our harvest facilities, which are the critical linchpin in the supply chain, could be threatened, en masse, by a global pandemic that threatens our ability to produce food.”

Sullivan’s sentiment has been echoed by meatpacking companies across the country: How could anyone have prepared for COVID-19?

But a ProPublica investigation has found that for more than a dozen years, critical businesses like meatpackers have been warned that a pandemic was coming. With eerie prescience, infectious disease experts and emergency planners had modeled scenarios in which a highly contagious virus would cause rampant absenteeism at processing plants, leading to food shortages and potential closures. 

The experts had repeatedly urged companies and government agencies to prepare for exactly the things that Smithfield’s CEO now claims were unrealistic.

School flu vaccine program reduces community-wide influenza hospitalizations

Public Health first, not anti-science hysteria

10 things parents should know about flu shots - Harvard Health Blog -  Harvard Health PublishingA city-wide school influenza vaccine intervention was associated with a decrease in influenza-associated hospitalizations for all age groups and a decrease in school absence rates among students in seasons with an effective influenza vaccine, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Jade Benjamin-Chung of University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues.

Seasonal influenza contributes substantially to hospitalization and mortality, especially among infants and the elderly. 

Because school-aged children are responsible for the greatest proportion of community-wide influenza transmission, efforts to increase vaccination among children are thought to have the greatest potential to prevent influenza epidemics. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

COVID-19: How South Korea prevailed while the United States failed

Short answer: South Korea followed the science; the United States followed Trump
Florida Atlantic University

Image may contain: ‎1 person, ‎text that says '‎COVID-19 DEATHS YESTERDAY: Spain: 24 France: 17 Japan: 16 Canada: 13 Lا UK: 12 Germany: 9 South Korea: UNITED STATES: 1,358 Total population of other countries: 481 million Population of the United States: 328 million AMERICA, THIS IS WHY WE NEED A NEW PRESIDENT WHO BELIEVES IN SCIENCE AND LISTENS TO HEALT EXPERTS! RO KHANNA DEMOCRAT FOR CONGRESS‎'‎‎COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the United States. 

The U.S. accounts for about 25 percent of COVID-19 cases (4.4 million) and deaths (170,000) in the world today while comprising less than 5 percent of the population.

In a commentary published ahead of print in The American Journal of Medicine, researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine and a collaborator, compare responses to the pandemic from two democratic republics: South Korea and the U.S., demonstrating stark differences in public health strategies, which have led to alarming differences in cases and deaths from COVID-19. 

After adjusting for the 6.5 fold differences in populations, the U.S. has suffered 47 times more cases and 79 times more deaths than South Korea.

Breaking the news

Coronavirus fight hampered by lack of national, uniform data system

Will Covid-19 Failures Force Changes to the Public Health System?
animation illustration GIFAFTER TERRORISTS SLAMMED a plane into the Pentagon on 9/11, ambulances rushed scores of the injured to community hospitals, but only three of the patients were taken to specialized trauma wards. The reason: The hospitals and ambulances had no real-time information-sharing system.

Nineteen years later, there is still no national data network that enables the health system to respond effectively to disasters and disease outbreaks. 

Many doctors and nurses must fill out paper forms on Covid-19 cases and available beds and fax them to public health agencies, causing critical delays in care and hampering the effort to track and block the spread of the coronavirus.

“We need to be thinking long and hard about making improvements in the data-reporting system so the response to the next epidemic is a little less painful,” said Dr. Dan Hanfling, a vice president at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit that helps the federal government solve technology problems in health care and other areas. “And there will be another one.”

There are signs the Covid-19 pandemic has created momentum to modernize the nation’s creaky, fragmented public health data system, in which nearly 3,000 local, state, and federal health departments set their own reporting rules and vary greatly in their ability to send and receive data electronically.