8/14/2020: No Deal
Gone ‘Til September: The Senate departed Washington for August recess yesterday without sealing the deal on a new coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package. The package would free up more funding for individuals and states in desperate need of assistance, including the tens of millions who are still unemployed. Meanwhile, CDC director Robert Redfield warns that things will get much, much worse during flu season. Unless, of course, people start or maintain wearing masks, socially distancing, and taking this thing seriously. [The Hill]
Brothers Deliver Kindness: Meet Hurshneet and Pravneet Chadha. The brothers, aged 15 and 12, have hand-crafted over 1,300 cards for coronavirus patients in and around Peoria, Arizona. As elder brother Hurshneet said, “If we were in the patients’ shoes, we would want someone to make a card and make us feel motivated to keep going in life. There’s going to be a positive light at the end of the tunnel.” In addition to original drawings, the cards have inspirational messages, including Emerson’s famous, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day.” Indeed. [Washington Post]
8/13/2020: B2B Testing
Paper, Plastic, or Test? Kroger and CVS are developing business-to-business coronavirus (COVID-19) testing programs. Since the nation is still struggling to administer and process enough tests, the grocery and pharmacy chains hope to help fill the gap with tests that give results far faster than the methods being used right now. The companies are specifically targeting large corporations and colleges that need to keep their teams safe and informed. Kroger is also trying to develop a saliva test. [CNBC]
Hero Teacher: Teachers are incredible, and that definitely includes a special education teacher in Mexico. Cut off from her students due to the coronavirus, this teacher, known only as Nay, turned the back of her pickup truck into a mobile classroom that she drives around town and countryside to reach her students. When asked why she goes to such great lengths, Nay said it’s all part of the job – and that’s a lesson in humility. [Tank’s Good News]
8/12/2020: Farther Than Six Feet?
New Data, Old Fears: An eye-opening study out of Florida suggests that the coronavirus (COVID-19) can not only live in the air longer than previously thought, but infectious virus can travel further than 6 feet. Much further: according to research, live virus cells that can infect have been found up to 16 feet from patients. Meanwhile, related research shows that social distancing is less effective indoors, where the virus can circulate throughout a room in five minutes. Masks, however, remain the most effective weapon here. [NY Times]
Teen’s Podcast Spreads Info: Faizan Zaidi has a lot of questions about coronavirus. So too do millions of his peers. “They didn’t know what was going on and they were kind of scared of what they were going to have to deal with,” he said. To help himself and them cope, Zaidi, 15, started a pandemic-centric podcast specifically for teens. Called “Infectious: Your Guide to Life,” it features info on the latest research, school-related anxiety, and how to cope if you become infected. Listen here. [CBS 10]
8/11/20: The Most Effective Masks
Best Mask Ever: Researchers at Duke University tested 14 popular types of face masks, from N95 to bandanas, and ranked them best to worst. At the top of the list were N95 and other medical-grade masks, as well as fabric masks with at least three layers. At the bottom, fleece, knitted, or bandanas. The worst: Running gaiters – they actual break larger droplets into smaller particles, distributing the virus even more than if you weren’t wearing a gaiter. [Washington Post]
Sailing Home: This is incredible. 47-year old sailor Juan Manuel Ballestro (far right) was in Portugal when the pandemic struck. His 90-year old father was in their homeland, Argentina. Since there were no flights, Bellestro did what came naturally: he sailed across the entire Atlantic Ocean to be with with his father. It took him three months but he finally made, reuniting with the man who taught him how to sail in the first place. [Tank’s]
8/10/2020: Childhood Infections Rise
Shocking Numbers: As the nation debates sending kids pack to school, and as some officials erroneously claim kids are immune from the coronavirus, there’s now confirmation that almost 100,000 American kids have tested positive for the disease over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, the latest statistics also show that the States have now crossed the five million infected mark – a dubious distinction, to be sure. [NY Times]
Music Meets Medicine: Julia Segal is a true inspiration. Wanting to help others during the pandemic, the 17-year Californian she recruited other talented teens to offer free online classes to people looking to learn new instruments. The classes are free, but the participants are asked to donate to a coronavirus relief fund, and the students are happy to do so: Segal’s organization, Quarantunes, has raised over $25,000 for the CDC Foundation! [Palo Alto Online]
8/7/2020: Kids These Days
Infections Among Young Spike: The World Health Organization warned today that the vast majority of new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the United States are among children and young adults. “The proportion of cases in teens and young adults has gone up six-fold, and in very young children and babies the proportion has increased seven-fold, WHO said.” Meanwhile, models suggest 300,000 Americans may die of the virus by December 1, a number that can be reduced by 70,000 if everyone wears face masks. [CNN]
Teen Spreads Gratitude: Florida teenager Bryce Rose has hand written over 1,000 thoughtful, hopeful letters for elderly people, cops, emergency workers, mail carriers, the Walgreens team and even random townspeople she met on the street, all so they know they are appreciated. And this kindness does more than lift the recipients’ spirits. It lifts Bryce’s, too. As she said, “If you are feeling alone, then give back. It fills your heart. There’s always a rainbow at the end of the storm, even if you can’t see it right away.” [Sun-Sentinel]
8/6/2020: Why U.S.?
All-American Pandemic: The U.S. has more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other developed country. How could a strong, rich, smart nation end up in such a dire, seemingly endless situation? The New York Times counted the many ways, and it is startling. One example, “In no other high-income country — and in only a few countries, period — have political leaders departed from expert advice as frequently and significantly.” There is also a larger, national skepticism of collective action, born from years of “rugged individualism.” [NY Times]
“Modern Segregation”: Nine-year-old Tarek Sarsour of Toledo learned a harsh lesson recently. He moved from Toledo Public School to another, more well-funded district. He saw immediately the discrepancy, especially after the pandemic, when many of his old friends at TPS struggled to keep up or find supplies they needed. He describes it as “modern day segregation.” Hoping to eradicate this inequality, Tarek has spent the past few weeks raising money and materials: to help all students have the same opportunities. If you’d like to help Tarek help others, visit his GoFundMe page. [WTOL-11]
8/5/2020: Coronavirus Forever?
Just Another Cold? Many of us are holding out hope that a coronavirus vaccine can eradicate the disease and return us to normalcy. More and more scientists, however, predict that the virus will become just as everyday as the flu or common cold. “I think this virus is with us to the future. But so is influenza with us, and for the most part, flu doesn’t shut down our societies. We manage it,” said Ruth Karron, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins. [The Atlantic]
Blast from the Past: Giselle Williams and her husband Darin went above and beyond in her quest to make masks. Though the Colorado hairstylist has zero sewing experience, she spent the early part of the epidemic completely restoring her great-great-great grandmother’s old Singer machine so that she could sew face coverings for friends and neighbors. Together they’ve made over 450 masks and made countless friends around the world. [GNN]
8/4/2020: Are Schools Danger Zones?
Bad Education: In a preview of what opening schools could look like nationwide, a public school district in Georgia opened for classes last week and already 260 staff have had to quarantine after testing positive or being exposed to someone with coronavirus. Relatedly: research shows that children are just as effective at spreading the virus as adults, debunking an earlier argument for why it’s safe to open schools. [WaPo]
Couple Overcomes Covid: Here’s a great story: Janice and Robert Beecham have been married for 46 years. They’ve survived children, grandchildren, wars, recessions, strokes, and cancer. And now they’ve survived coronavirus: the couple were diagnosed in February and, though it was a struggle there for a minute, both are well on their way to recovery. So, what is the couple’s secret to surviving so much? Robert explains: “We’re best friends.” [WGHP]
8/3/2020: “Extraordinarily Widespread”
“New Phase,” Old Horror: Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, warned this weekend that the States are in a “new phase” of the pandemic. The virus is now “extraordinarily widespread” in both rural and urban areas and is at this point raging out of control, she said, urging Americans to continue social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds, just as leaders have been saying for months. Meanwhile, the CDC warns that we should expect up to 11,000 American deaths this week alone. [CNN]
Art Therapy: Artist Michael Gittes lives in Los Angeles, but he wanted to show his appreciation for the medical teams and staff who fought so hard during the pandemic’s early days in NYC. To do so, Gittes hand painted nearly 2,000 flower images for the doctors, nurses, janitorial staff, and everyone else at the Interfaith Medical Center.. “Everybody loves you,” Gittes wrote in his message to staff. “You’re loved by millions of people you’ll never meet.” The staff, of course, were touched. [GNN]
7/31/2020: Stimulus Stunted?
Off a Cliffhanger: Things could go from bad to worse for the nation starting this evening. That’s because tonight the extra $600 weekly stipend for 30 million newly unemployed people ends. This money has been essential in helping pay rent, buy groceries, and generally keep the American economy above water as we all grapple with the pandemic. Republicans and Democrats can’t reach an agreement, though, despite having since March to plan for this inevitability. [The Hill]
Off the Field: Kansas City Chiefs football player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif won’t be returning this season. Instead the 29-year old will dedicate his time, knowledge, and training to fighting the pandemic on the frontlines, as a doctor. “Being on the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” he said of his experience over the past few months. [Tank’s Good News]
7/30/2020: In the Heartland
Final Frontier: As the States’ coronavirus death count crosses 150,000, and as Dr. Fauci suggests wearing goggles to protect ourselves, the pandemic appears to be surging in the Midwest. So far that region has been relatively spared compared to the West, East, and South. Now researchers see tell-tale spikes in places like Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, all of which suggests that nation needs to a “do-over.” As one research report read, “Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It is time to reset.” [CNN]
Hero Teacher Delivers: Delivers 7,500 lunches, that is. Zane Powles, a teacher in England, worried his students would struggle to afford lunch during the pandemic, so he made them all lunch and walked 7.5 miles everyday to deliver them, totaling in over 600 miles over 17 weeks. “I can’t believe how far it’s gotten—I never expected to do any of this, but it’s crucial that it doesn’t end here,” said Powles. Now he’s upping the ante: he’s going on a bike tour to England’s castles to raise money to feed even more children. If you would like to help, donate to Powles’ Virgin Money Giving page. [GNN]
7/29/2020: Who Wants a Shot?
Bad Medicine? There’s a lot of bipartisan bickering in America today, but apparently one thing we can agree on is that rushing a vaccine is scary: “More than 60 percent of voters think the U.S. should fully test any coronavirus vaccine — even if that delays rolling it out and allows the virus to keep spreading in the meantime.” Only 22% of respondents said they would be comfortable taking a vaccine that’s released in the next few weeks or months. Brown and black communities are particularly hesitant after years of medical malfeasance against them. [Politico]
Waste Not: The pandemic severely damaged the nation’s food supply chain: on one end you have farmers with food that would have gone to restaurants and schools, and on the other hungry people. There was no way to link the two. That’s changing in Washington State, where a group of volunteers have so far moved 2.4 million pounds of crops from farms to food shelters. And while this effort began during the pandemic, the volunteers plan on staying on once this is all over. To help them keep farmers and families fed, visit EastWest Food Rescue. [Good News Network]
7/28/2020: Vaccine End Date?
Vaccine Heats Up: Good news from the realm of vaccines! Major producers Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech have all moved into phase 3 clinical trials – the final step before they can determine if their respective concoctions will do the trick in ending the pandemic, and, if so, when. Experts say we’ll most likely need a few types of vaccines, based on age and other conditions. Meanwhile, Bill Gates says therapeutics will be key to surviving the next few months. All this said – normalcy is still a long ways away. [NY Times and CNBC]
Fight Pandemic Blues With FB: It’s incredible, if you think about it – the entire world is going through the same experience: fear, isolation, glimmers of hope. It was the isolation, however, that got to 32-year-old Frenchman Andrey Khudyakov. To combat it, he created a Facebook support page to keep in touch with friends and family. That page has now grown to 28,000 people all over the world, all sharing their thoughts on this singular, interlinked event. Here’s the link, if you’d like to join! [Fox 40]
7/27/2020: Military Outbreak Worsens
Okinawa Outbreak: Nearly 1,000 Japanese workers at two of America’s Okinawa military bases have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). In the military more broadly, there are over 20,000 positive cases at U.S. bases worldwide, compared to 7,500 last month. The Japanese cases are raising tensions with local leaders, and perhaps signals enemies: we can’t protect ourselves. [CNN]
$1 Million Donation: Greta Thunberg recently won the $1,000,000 Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity for all of her global climate activism. And, like the thoughtful, generous person she is, the Swedish teen is donating her winnings to COVID-19 relief around the world. “I hope that it will help me do more good in the world,” said Thunberg. [Tank’s Good News]
7/24/2020: Lockdown II?
4,000,000: The United States surpassed four million known coronavirus (COVID-19) cases yesterday and have reached almost 145,000 deaths – in mere months. While a few states are undergoing their own lockdowns at the moment – Washington State, for example – some suggest the whole country needs to shut down en masse and start this process once again. Without collective measures, the virus will continue to rage indefinitely. [CNN]
Hanes x Homeless: Hanes is donating at least 1,000,000 face masks to homeless communities around the world. Their contribution guarantees recipients can access essential services that require masks these days. “It’s very hard to contextualize homelessness for those who are lucky enough not to worry about access to bathrooms or basic needs like food and water,” said Mark Horvath, founder of the homeless advocacy group Invisible People. “The impact is substantial.” [Good News Network]
7/23/2020: More Money, More Debate
Stimulus Rising II: Senate Republicans announced that they’ve come to a “tentative” intraparty agreement on a potential $1 trillion pandemic stimulus check that includes money for testing and to support schools. No word on what a potential direct payment to struggling citizens may include, if anything. Democrats in the House meanwhile have a $3 trillion proposal. Now we wait for both sides, and Congressional chambers, to hammer out a deal. [NBC News]
Mask Maker Makes Smiles: Hats off – and masks on – for Brian Travers. The retired doctor lost his hearing in 2002 and has spent his quarantine creating dozens of clear masks that let people who are hard of hearing read other people’s lips. And, for those who don’t read lips, Travers’ designs provide a window to someone’s smile, which, in a way, is a window into their heart. Of his work, Travers said, “It is not just the product, it is the purpose.” [Today]
7/22/20: Dire Warnings and Deep Respect
“Not Slowing Down”: As Europe and Asia reopen and recover from the pandemic’s first wave, the Pan American Health Organization warns that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is “not slowing down” in North and South America. The two continents have seen a total of 22,000 combined deaths in the past week and 900,000 new cases. Without serious action, i.e. widespread mask wearing, the region will continue to be devastated. [Reuters]
Vaccine Heroes: We usually use this space to highlight an individual or small group doing good during this trying time. Today we’re tipping our hats to the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who are volunteering for vaccine trials, particularly the over 100,000 Americans have signed up for new trials here – they and everyone else volunteering for vaccine trials are putting the whole world’s wellbeing above their own. And that’s really darn nice. [Forbes]
7/21/20: Stimulus Delayed for Testing Cost?
Stimulus When, How? Congressional lawmakers are currently outlining another pandemic stimulus bill to help sustain the economy. While Democrats seem unified in their requests – extending the additional $600 unemployment payment – Republicans are debating over a payroll tax that benefits corporations and are trying to convince President Trump not to cut money from national testing efforts needed to help end the virus’ spread. [NBC News]
Beauty for All: Hair stylist and beautician Shirley Raines founded Beauty2theStreetz three years ago to provide beauty and personal services to Los Angeles’ homeless community, because just because someone doesn’t have a permanent home doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to feel and look good. While the pandemic halted Raines’ team’s efforts at first, they’re back and now more committed than ever. And their city has their back: Beauty2theStreetz was rightfully deemed essential. [Tank’s]
7/20/20: Can Kids Spread COVID?
Kids Don’t Spread? As the States debate the safety of sending kids back to school this summer, a large study shows that while older children, i.e. teens and tweens, spread the coronavirus (COVID-19) just as easily as adults, younger children, i.e. those under the age of 10, do not. This may be because younger children exhale less air, therefore spreading less viral particles, and they are closer to the ground, which also limits their ability to infect others. [NY Times]
Colorful Education: This is great – a quartet of California high school students created a pandemic coloring book to help kids understand the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition to including safety tips, such as social distancing, the book also educates kids on how virus’ are transmitted and offers safe at-home activities, too. Plus, part of each $5 sale goes toward COVID-related research. Everybody wins! [Tank’s Good News]
7/17/2020: Another Record Broken, Sadly
77,000+: We unfortunately have to report that the U.S. broke another pandemic-related record yesterday: over 77,000 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in one day. Hardest hit have been Texas and Florida, which reported over 15,000 and 14,000 cases, respectively. For some perspective on how bad things are getting, in June there were an average of 28,000 new cases a day. In July so far, the average is almost 58,000. [Reuters]
Good Deeds Boost Health: Here’s some good news to bring you into the weekend. Research shows helping others can help your own anxiety or stress levels. It’s believed that helping others provides a sense of control, as well as a distraction for our own personal problems. And plus there’s the residual joy one experiences from making someone else happy. For more information on how you can help others, check out our tip sheet. [CNBC]
7/16/2020: Nationwide Order
Uniform Mask Rules: After weeks of having a hodge-podge of different pandemic safety rules, some of America’s largest retailers are finally enacting nationwide mask rules. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced that it will soon require face masks at all of its stores across the country, a rule that goes for its cousin store, Sam’s Club. Kroger and Kohl’s also unveiled similar requirements for their stores. This would have been much better four months ago, but should hopefully make a different. [Fox Business]
Child Inventor Fights Pandemic: Let’s hear it for Stephen Wamukota! The 9-year old Kenyan boy learned about the pandemic on the news, including the importance of washing one’s hands. Hoping to help others, he created a homemade hand washing station with supplies he found around him home. Wamukota’s invention caught the attention of Kenya’s president, who awarded him one of the nation’s highest awards, and also earned Wamukota a scholarship! [GNN]
7/15/2020: Vaccine Promise
Moderna Making Moves: The drug maker Moderna announced that it’s proposed coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine passed its phase 1 trial with flying colors: 45 people were given the experimental drug and all developed a “promising” immune response to the novel coronavirus. The drug now moves into a larger study and, if all goes well, Moderna says it can make between 500 million and one billion doses a year. [CNN]
Teens Give Back: Maryland teen Michael Zhao put his pandemic time to good use: the high schooler founded Volunteens, an organization that connects high school students with non-profits, including nature preserves and food pantries. Volunteer Camryn Johnson, remarked on the experience, “It’s given me something to do even though COVID has taken away so many things. This is something I can give back and make positive use of my time.” [CBS 13]
7/14/2020: Delta Drops Big
Delta Reports Loss: In business news, Delta Airlines reported a $5.7 billion Q2 loss due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That’s an 88% drop of revenue as the airline says demand is off 30% since last year. That said, executives say they’ve reduced spending and cash burn and hope to break even at the end of the year, thanks to voluntary retirements and buyout programs to shed employee costs. [CNBC]
Rock of Ages: Residents at a senior living facility in England have kept themselves entertained during the pandemic by recreating iconic album covers, including The Clash’s “London Calling,” Adele’s “21,” Taylor Swift’s “1989,” and, included here, Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.” The participants had a blast and hope they can inspire others, old and young, to find creative ways to have fun during this scary time. [GNN]
7/13/2020: Florida Infections Soar
15,000: Numbers have painted grim images of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s spread, and today’s is one of the more gruesome: Florida has reported over 15,000 new cases on Sunday. And these numbers aren’t due to more tests. About 28-30% of people are testing positive in the Sunshine State, rather than the 1-5% being found in states that have already confronted this crisis via masks, social distancing and shutdowns. There are no statewide mask mandates in Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis, continue to downplay the pandemic’s power. [CNBC]
Good Guys: Two Maryland teenagers, Matt Casertano and Dhruv Pai, who created a local shopping service to help seniors and other vulnerable communities during the pandemic. Now the pals have 65 employees and dozens of customers. Not only are the guys helping others, but helping rewrite popular ideas of “kids these days.” As Pai said, “There is a negative portrayal of teens and I think our organization is reversing that stereotype… I think there is still altruism in this generation, and we can spread that. Spreading kindness is a good message.” [CNN]
7/10/2020: Testing Troubles
Backlog: It’s been over five months since the pandemic began, but over a dozen states are still missing reliable tests for COVID-19, as well as the PPE they need to keep their medical professionals and citizens safe. This deadly combination means that the first wave of infection will roll on indefinitely, costing countless otherwise preventable deaths. [ABC News]
Backpacks Fight Hunger: Here’s some good news: the founders of Adventurist Backpack Co. will donate 25 meals for every one backpack they sell. This effort both encourages cooped up families to get outdoors, with a TK backpack of course, while also help alleviate massive hunger and food insecurity that continues to spread in the pandemic’s wake. [CBS News]
7/9/2020: Bad Education
Schools Ordered Open: Even as the the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to explode here in the States, President Trump is so insistent that schools reopen in the fall that he’s threatening to withhold any federal funds they may receive. Meanwhile, many colleges and universities are cancelling their sports programs for fear of spreading the disease. This is a lesson in mixed messages, for sure. [CNN]
Lasagna Love: Michelle Brenner is the definition of a great person. When her community in Washington State was suffering, she volunteered to cook homemade lasagnas for anyone who needed a dinner during this crisis. So far she’s made almost 1,300 trays of lasagna, all for free. Of her lasagna largess, Brenner remarked, “I knew it was my time in my life to give back to the people who paved life’s path for me to have the 45 years of life that I’ve had.” Delicious! [Tank’s]
7/8/2020: So Long W.H.O.?
W.H.O. Who? The Trump Administration’s one-sided feud with the World Health Organization continues to heat up as the White House announced the U.S. is withdrawing from the global heath group. Administration officials claim WHO is too “China-centric,” while medical experts say this decision – which still must be approved by Congress – puts American lives at risk during a pandemic. [WaPo]
Soapy: Twelve-year old Chavis Taylor-Smith found a great way to have fun, make money, and help others during the pandemic: he’s been making his own brand of soap. Though soap-making began as a hobby, it became essential as grocery stores were cleared. Now Taylor-Smith’s creating scented offerings for friends, family, and the broader community, including a homeless shelter. [13WMAZ]
7/7/2020: Immunity Never?
Immunity “Short-Lived”: According to a growing number of researchers, there is no long-term immunity from coronavirus. While someone may have antibodies for a short time, it appears those antibodies will wear off; if true, it means that it’s not only feasible, but quite possible, that someone could be infected again and again. That means, of course, that we must all be wearing masks for longer than anyone imagined. [CNBC]
“Get a Hobby”: This isn’t precisely pandemic related, but recent research shows that having a hobby or outside interest – that is, something unrelated to your family or job – can reduce depression up to 30%. Similarly, people with depression who took up a hobby turned their symptoms around faster than people who didn’t have a hobby. This may be useful for anyone feeling down about the ongoing situation – or anything else. [Good News Network]
7/6/2020: Is It Safe Inside?
Airborne? Nearly 250 doctors from around the world say that coronavirus can be transmitted in circulated air – the kind used in office buildings, malls, schools, and restaurants – and are urging the World Health Organization to confirm their findings. If the virus is indeed airborne, A/C units and other ventilation systems will have to be completely overhauled to fit this new pandemic reality, including being fitted with new filters and UV lights. [NY Times]
Be a (Pen) Pal: Looking for a way to pass the time and be a good person? Consider writing letters to a senior living community. Most are still limiting visitors and residents are thrilled to receive caring, entertaining letters from new friends. “The residents are loving it,” said the organizer of one such program, in North Carolina. “They’re just astonished about how many people are responding from so many different states.” [Today]
7/3/2020: Faster Spread, Less Potent
Rapid Fire: As with so much in life, here’s some good and bad news. The bad news is that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has mutated into a version that spreads faster. The good news, though, is that this new version doesn’t appear to make people as ill as the first, devastating wave. Despite the fact that this new strain is less potent, we’re all encouraged to keep wearing face masks. [CNBC]
Essentially Generous: A group Dartmouth University seniors are going above and beyond to help essential workers: they founded Give Essential, a website that pairs frontline workers, i.e. medical workers, grocery staff, and delivery people, with donors who can provide household items, food, and other necessities. This helps these workers save time and money during a time when the whole world depends on them. [People]
7/2/2020: Wishful Thinking
President Trump continues to insist that the coronavirus (COVID-19) will simply disappear at some point: “We’re headed back in a very strong fashion. … I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear. I hope.” The president’s comments come as the pandemic gains a stronger foothold in the south. [CNN]
N95+ Texas nurse Tommye Austin was worried about her hospital running out of N95 masks, an advanced type of mask that filters 95% of particles in the air. So, Austin created her own model – one that, to her and everyone else’s surprise, is more effective than the N95 mask and more fashionable, too. [GNN]
7/1/2020: It Could Get Worse…
100,000/Day? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says the nation is moving in the “wrong” direction” and warns of 100,000 daily news cases if the federal government, states, and we the people ourselves don’t act now to stop this pandemic in its tracks. We must avoid bars and wear masks or, in Fauci’s words, “It could get very bad,” which is particularly scary because it already seems very bad… [CNN]
Vote Smart: The State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, announced they will open their doors to voters this November, a move that will help people vote while socially distancing. Anthony Ressler, the majority owner of the Hawks, says their decision “make[s] State Farm Arena the safest, most efficient and largest polling location in Georgia—and maybe the country.” [Tanks]
6/30/2020: W.H.O. Warns World
“The Worst Is Yet to Come”: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, warned that the global pandemic is only going to get worse because certain world leaders aren’t doing enough to stop the disease’s spread. And as for governments that say contact tracing is too hard, he says, “If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult, it is a lame excuse.” [Forbes]
Plastic Makes Perfect: Ugandan entrepreneurs Peter Okwoko and Paige Balcom run a plastics company that typically turns recycled plastic into roof tiles and other construction materials. Since the pandemic began, though, they’ve been using their supplies and skills to make 100% recycled PPE for local hospitals. This way they’re saving lives and the planet. Double win! [Good News Network]
6/29/2020: Dire Warning
Window Closing: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday that the U.S.’record-breaking coronavirus (COVID-19) infections are pushing the nation toward a point of no return. “We’ve got the tools to do this. But the window is closing, we have to act, and people as individuals have to act responsibility. We need to social distance, we need to wear our face coverings where we can’t social distance, particularly in these hot zones.” Meanwhile, President Trump insists the virus is “fading.” [CNBC]
A New Hope: Duke University students Anmol Warman and Pranav Warman used their downtime this spring to teach computers how to instantly spot COVID-19 in lung scans. Currently the students’ program is 98% accurate and can successfully distinguish between run of the mill illnesses, such as a cold, and the killer virus. Though lung scans aren’t the primary testing method right now, the students predict their program will be more useful as the pandemic continues into a potential second wave. [Duke]
6/26/2020: Two Paths Diverge…
One Nation, Two Realities: Texas Gov. Abbot has put the brakes on his state’s reopening as infection rate there rises exponentially, turning Texas into the latest pandemic hotspot. Meanwhile, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York are being hailed for finally containing the coronavirus (COVID-19). That said, the infection rate could easily spike again, so everyone everywhere is still encouraged to wear a mask in public. [NY Times and Science Friday]
Sean Penn Aids: Sean Penn is stepping up to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Hollywood actor confirmed that he’s paying for and organizing ten testing sites across the country, including in California, Georgia, Nevada, and Detroit, among other places. This comes as the White House looks to end federal support for testing. [Good News Network]
6/25/2020: Spikes, Lockdowns, and Hope
Record Cases: The States has once again broken a pandemic-related record. Today it’s the “most cases in a single-day” category, and the U.S. won for logging about 36,880 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the highest since April 24th’s then-record 36,739. The new cases are mostly in the South. Relatedly, former hot epicenters New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are now restricting travel for people in new hotspots. [NY Times]
Pioneering Partnership: The non-profit Global-PPE is teaming with the Partnership with Native Americans to distribute 10,000 face masks to tribes across the United States. Native American communities have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, and this collaboration will hopefully turn back the crisis and prevent more suffering, among these communities and others. [Good News Network]
6/24/2020: Warnings and Outreach
No Control: Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci testified before Congress yesterday that the nation is at a tipping point after surging coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the Sun Belt states of Arizona and Florida. He says people need to continue avoiding crowds, such as campaign rallies, and wear masks in public. If we don’t, things will get much, much worse. As it is, the EU is considering banning American travelers until the pandemic ends. [NY Times]
Community Leaders: Hartford-based Men Against Violence typically works with youth to end gun violence. More recently they’ve put their efforts being coronavirus-prevention by distributing masks and other supplies to vulnerable communities. They also hope to turn this moment into a larger movement that brings delivers reliable healthcare to more people in Connecticut, and beyond. [WTNH]
6/23/2020: Bad News, Good Dogs
Lockdown II? More than half of U.S. states are seeing a surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and rising hospitalization rates. Though the Trump administration insists there will be no more lockdowns, individual governors are considering their own processes. Kind of: The Texas governor is suspending the liquor licenses of bars that break social distancing, but still won’t let local mayors write up their own mask requirements. [The Guardian]
Dogs Sniff COVID: When the pandemic began, dog trainers wondered if canines, known for sniffing out cancer and other diseases, could do the same for the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Turns out, yes: studies show dogs can smell the virus in human sweat. That means dogs may become fast, reliable, and cheap tools in fighting this pandemic. [Good News Network]
6/22/20: Largest Single-Day Tally in the World
Record Breaking: Sadly, the planet is still breaking coronavirus (COVID-19) records. The World Health Organization logged its largest daily tally of new positive cases, 183,000 in 24 hours. Most of those cases come from Brazil, where 54,771 cases were identified, and the next highest count comes from the U.S., with 36,617. And this isn’t just because there’s more testing: the rate of positive cases compared to tests administered is also rising. [NBC News]
Connecting Seniors: Even as lockdowns lift, seniors are being advised that it’s safer at home, leaving them to rely on technology to connect with friends and family. Of course, not all seniors have extensive experience with technology. To help them out, Floridian entrepreneur Tiffany DiPanni founded Social Savvy Seniors, a service that teaches them the art of tech, from AOL to Zoom. [WFLX]
6/19/2020: TSA Agents Blows Whistle
TSA Super Spreaders? TSA Federal Security Director Jay Brainard has turned whistleblower and this week spoke out against the Trump Administration’s lack of pandemic preparedness. In his complaint, Brainard claims the government failed to provide PPE, training, and other critical support. This “gross mismanagement” risked the lives of TSA agents and turned the agency into super spreaders who accelerated the impact of the pandemic here in the U.S.A. [NPR]
From KO to ER: Kim Clavel originally worked as a nurse to pay for her boxing training, and things were going so well for the athlete last year that she left the ER to focus on her sport. Then the pandemic hit and Clavel’s back at patients’ sides. She wouldn’t have it any other way, and says she particularly enjoys talking with critical patients about their lives, eliciting happy memories. Now Clavel being awarded the Pat Tillman service award at the ESPYs this weekend. [ESPN]
6/18/2020: Old Refrains
New Epicenter? Almost all southern states are seeing a distressing uptick in new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and hospitalizations, but one stands alone: Florida. The Sunshine State has logged thousands of new cases over the last week, making many wonder if it’s now the nation’s pandemic epicenter, a title formerly held by New York. Regardless, Gov. DeSantis, a critic of quarantines, insists Florida will not shut down again. “You have to have society function,” he said. [CNN]
“Fade Away”: President Trump insisted yesterday that the coronavirus (COVID-19) will simply “fade away” without a vaccine, even as thousands more people across the nation are hospitalized due to complications. Despite Trump’s promises the disease will disappear, he says we’re still on track for a vaccine. He said, “Even without that, I don’t even like to talk about that, because it’s fading away, it’s going to fade away, but having a vaccine would be really nice and that’s going to happen.” [Bloomberg]
Volunteers Feed Body and Mind in California
Fullerton, California has been especially hard hit by the pandemic’s economic repercussions. The California State University Fullerton’s Center for Healthy Neighborhood recently surveyed the largely Hispanic, undocumented population and found that almost 70% of families have at least one adult who’s lost work since the crisis began; another 71.5% of families have had at least one adult’s hours cut. This of course presents a struggle in terms of affording groceries and other supplies.
To help the families during this unprecedented period, the Fullerton Center joined forces with with the Mexican Consulate of Santa Ana and the food assistance program Power of One Foundation to distribute assistance kits for anyone who needs one. So far the coalition has helped over 500 families, and plans on keeping their efforts going through summer, at least.
But the kits are more than just food. In addition to chicken, vegetables, and fruits, the packages include books for children and teens – an effort to both entertain kids and to prevent the dreaded summer slide – when students forget what they’ve learned the year before. This becomes particularly problematic in terms of reading skills: studies show that students who don’t catch up by fourth grade are more likely to drop out later in life.
The coalition plans on distributing eight books this summer and has a virtual program where students and parents can discuss the titles. First up: The Hunger Games, which organizers hope students can use both for its thrilling story, but also for the book’s discussions of racial and economic injustice – meaty topics that all ages should engage.
(Story and image via the OC Register.)
6/17/2020: A New Drug
New Treatment? Here’s some – um, is it called “good news”? Oxford researchers found that the common steroid drug dexamethasone reduces death in coronavirus (COVID-19) patients by preventing the body’s immune system from going into overdrive. While many are elated over the news – “I cannot emphasize how important this could be,” – said one doctor others are withholding judgement after recent letdowns, noting recent retractions and walk backs about other “miracle” drugs. [NY Times]
New Records: Nine U.S. states, including Florida, Arizona, and Oklahoma, have reached new personal records in terms of positive coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. While the White House blames the positive cases on more testing being done, the average amount of positive results is a far higher percentage than the increase in tests being conducted. In other words, the virus continues to spread unabated and many government officials are being blasé about it. [WaPo]
Oregon Teen Expands Grocery Delivery Service for Seniors
One thing we love hearing about during the pandemic: teens who are looking out for their communities’ seniors.
Today’s example takes us to Portland, Oregon, where 16-year old Neel Jain operates PDX Concierge, a volunteer-run delivery service for the elderly and other populations vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. And this isn’t some super local organization: Jain’s service started in Portland in April and has since expanded to seven cities across the state.
PDX Concierge is popular for many reasons. Users like the affordability: Jain’s service doesn’t charge a fee to deliver. And customers are attracted to its convenience: the team delivers items right to the door. But most of all it is the personal touch Jain and his team put into each order.
As the young do-gooder told Today, “We sometimes write a handwritten card to let them know we’re here to help them. After the groceries have been delivered, the volunteer will call the recipient to check in and make sure things are going well.”
Customer Regina Brody certainly appreciates these heartfelt gestures. “It was just wonderful. My husband and I married late and we don’t have children or grandchildren, but if we had any I’d want them to be like Neel,” the 73-year old said. “It just is amazing that they would feel for and think about people our age.”
It was in fact someone close to her age that inspired Jain in the first place: his grandmother. “She has asthma and she’s in the at-risk category, and I was glad to help her shop,” Jain said. “But then I realized that there are many other people in the community who don’t have that family support.”
Now they do have that support, and, if Jain has his way, even more people will, too.
But to Jain, PDX Concierge is about more than helping people get groceries. It’s about building friendships: “[We receive] a lot of thank you notes and flowers. You can really see how a small act of kindness can go a long way, and I’ve built a lot of friendships.” And those will last far longer than the pandemic.
(Story via Today; image from Neel Jain)
6/16/2020: Controversial Drug Shunned
So Long, Hydroxy… The FDA yesterday pulled emergency approval for Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus. Originally a malaria drug, hydroxy gained infamy when President Trump touted it as a “miracle” in the pandemic fight. He even claims to have taken it himself, as a preventative measure. FDA data shows, however, that in addition to not treating the virus, the drug creates more problems for patients, like death. [WaPo]
Education Warning: Rarely flush with cash, U.S. public schools have been particularly strapped since the 2008 recession, but things are about to get so much worse: estimates predict states face $615 billion budget shortfall over the next three years. Cleveland schools alone are predicted to have a $127 million loss, which will “devastate” that city’s education system and opportunities. [ABC News]
Librarian Uses Drones to Keep Kids Reading During Pandemic
A little thing like a pandemic can’t stop librarian Kelly Passek from helping kids find the books they need.
Based in Christiansburg, Virginia, one of the only places where Google’s Wing drone service delivers consumer packages, Passek recently asked Wing if they would consider joining forces to make sure kids can receive books while the local library’s closed.
Wing immediately agreed, and the service has been sending out books over the past few weeks – the first time ever drones have been used to deliver the written word: “I’m hoping that we get our students that are already readers and students who are thinking it’s going to be really excellent to get books delivered by drone,” said Passek.
Here’s how it works: Students in the region request a book via a Google form; Passek receives the order and finds it in the local library system. She then packs it up, brings it to Wing’s distribution center, and the drones do the rest.
In addition to guaranteeing book lovers receive the titles they want, Passek hopes the new collaboration will bring new readers into the fold. “I’m hoping that we get our students that are already readers and students who are thinking it’s going to be really excellent to get books delivered by drone.”
Something tells us Passek’s idea will soon take off elsewhere.
(Story and video via The Washington Post)
6/15/2020: Second Wave, or Still the First?
Second Wave Cresting? Over a dozen states have seen alarming upticks in coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Arizona, for example, has almost run out of ICU beds. This all has some experts warning the pandemic’s second wave has already started – It’s because “people have been careless,” said one expert. – but other doctors suggest this uptick’s actually still the first wave. Either way, it’s bad news. [CNBC]
Reclose NY? Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to re-close Manhattan and the Hamptons after residents flouted social distancing rules for cocktail hours over the weekend. “Don’t make me come down there…” Cuomo tweeted in response to images of maskless revelers around the East Village. The governor said restaurants and police need to be on top of this type of behavior or else the entire region could suffer another outbreak. [WaPo]
Teen Uses YouTube to Teach Seniors Karate
A karate student since he was 6 and a black belt since he was 13, Wall spends his free time teaching the sport to seniors – both as a way to keep them fit and asa a way to keep them feeling connected and engaged.
“It gets lonely in nursing homes,” he told CNN. “I felt like they don’t get that much love and attention. I want to make them feel like I’m their grandchild.” But he’s become more than that – Wall’s a compassionate teacher with a dedicated following of people he refers to as “Super Nanas” and “Super Grandpas.”
“It makes me feel joyful and excited to see my seniors — and just love on them as well,” Wall says. “And my seniors feel the same way. To see their faces light up is the best feeling in the world.”
Of course, all of our worlds were rocked by the pandemic. With everyone on lockdown, Wall had no way to meet up with his class. Not in the same way, at least. So, eager to keep the momentum, Wall turned to YouTube and Instagram – two platforms that helped him stay connected with his super seniors and grow his audience. But while Wall’s thrilled about working with new people online, he’s eager to get back to his local senior living community: “I really like being hands on and seeing my students face to face.”
Meanwhile, as if his martial arts work isn’t kind enough, Wall’s been spending his quarantine making intricate notes and cards for his high school classmates.
So, how did Wall become so kind? His parents, of course: “My mom is a nurse and that’s her job to care for other people,” says Wall. “My dad owns a business and he always had to interact with people and was always nice to them… We don’t tolerate meanness in this house—or disrespect.” And that’s clearly something that will never change, pandemic or not.
But most importantly for Wall, his classes and online activities are about showing the world that black teens, specifically black male teens, deserve respect society often denies them.
“We’re all equal and should be treated that way,” he says. “Many people feel like we’re savages or bad, but we’re educated and can help people just like the next person.”
As for what’s next for Wall himself – he plans on studying business management at college and using his newfound knowledge to fight for seniors. And we have no doubt he’ll kick some serious butt.
(Story and image via CNN.)
6/12/2020: New Vaccine, Old Vaccine
Vaccine Already Here? A group of international researchers and scientists propose using the existing polio vaccine to ward off coronavirus. The viruses have a similar genetic structure, which suggests the existing vaccine could work on the novel virus. Meanwhile, the polio vaccine already existed and has distribution channels, as well. [Science Mag]
Mission: Impossible? The drug company Moderna appears to be the furthest along in the international question for a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine: they’re about to enter the third and final phase of testing. If all goes well, they could theoretically have a viable vaccine by the end of the year. Here’s why that may not happen, and, even if it does, why you may not get one. [Axios]
Groups Supply Pet Food for Struggling Families
Though the economy’s slowly restarting across the country, millions of people are still out of work. We’ve previously highlighted some of the community-based efforts to help feed struggling families and stock food pantries, but let’s not forget that families include dogs, cats, and other creatures.
That’s why there’s places like Ellie’s Pet Pantry in Pittsburgh, a non-profit that provides free supplies for families struggling to feed their pets.
Though the pantry has a stream of regulars, demand has spiked since the pandemic began: before the pandemic, they were feeding an average of 80 pets per month; since March, they’ve been supplying food for about 240 animals per month.
“As covid-19 began to hit the Greater Pittsburgh area, we asked our community to help us bolster Ellie’s Pet Pantry to prepare for the greater need. The result was incredible,” said Melissa Smith of the Humane Animal Rescue, which works with Ellie’s Pet Pantry, in an interview with Tribune-Review. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area in need of food for your pets, please reach out to Ellie’s. And if you’d like to help, they accept donations.
Ellie’s isn’t the only pet-centric effort happening right now. The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter outside of Cleveland is also organizing a food drive for families. “We know that even with the lockdown gradually lifting, there are still people struggling financially. We want to make sure families can keep their beloved pets even when times are tough,” organizer Becky Bynum told Cleveland 19.
If you’re struggling to feed your pets, reach out to Generation Wags for a pet pantry near you. Many states also have their own registries. For example, here’s a link to Connecticut’s pet food pantry information.
6/11/2020: Not Great Numbers…
2,000,000: Here’s a grim milestone for America: 2,000,000 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, and there will be more, because numbers are now rising again in 20 states, including Texas, Florida, and Arizona. Experts suggest that Memorial Day events and the ongoing protests against racial injustice may be spreading the virus faster and further than before. [NPR]
9.3%: That’s the estimated unemployment percentage for later this year, according to Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Powell and other economists predict millions of Americans will be out of a job for the foreseeable future: unemployment will be around 9.3% at the end of this year – up from the 3.5% before the pandemic – and will drop to only about 6.5% at the end of 2021. [WaPo]
Principal Prepares, Delivers 10,000 Meals
As a change of pace, here’s an inspiring story of kindness from overseas…
Dr. Sasi Kanta Dash is a principal at Tagore Government Arts and Science College in Puducherry, India. Like all of us, he was worried and stressed when the pandemic began, and especially after India went into lockdown in March. But rather than stress and wallow, Dash wondered, “How can I help?”
“It had been my dream to give back to society and the nation,” said Dash, who also said he wanted to live the old axiom: “A crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things we could not do before.” He had no idea his efforts would become such a phenomenon.
At first Dash started small: he used WhatsApp to deliver prescriptions to elderly people in his community. Then he diversified: he began delivering groceries, and then, with the help of nearly two dozen volunteers, the principal began preparing and sharing hot meals with nearby neighbors, and then entire rural villages.
That was 40 days ago. So far the team have delivered over 10,000 meals to 700 families and 15 villages. And they plan on keeping the campaign alive in the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile, Dash wants to diversify his community service even further: he’s organizing neighborhood cleaning and tree planting initiatives. Even if the crisis ends tomorrow, he wants to continue finding new ways to make a difference. And that’s the mark of a true hero.
(Story and image via Good News Network)
6/10/20: Fauci’s Fears and Vaccine Momentum
Nightmare Goes On: Describing the pandemic as his worst nightmare, Dr. Fauci says coronavirus (COVID-19) is so bad, it’s ultimately worse than ebola, which is the bogeyman of viruses. “I mean, Ebola was scary. But Ebola would never be easily transmitted in a global way.” Coronavirus “took over the planet.” And it ain’t over yet: a vaccine remains illusive and then, once it’s developed, it must be distributed.. [Business Insider]
Meet the Vaccines: Speaking of the vaccine, there are dozens of companies working on various forms of vaccines right now, and it can get confusing trying to keep track. Luckily, the NY Times has compiled a complete guide to the race for a cure. The guide has it all, from Moderna’s genetic vaccine to a protein-based vaccine from the University of Pittsburgh to Vaxart’s oral option. If vaccines were Pokemon, the Times would have them all. [NY Times]
Teens In “Over Drive” To Help Seniors
Ahshaye Shaw has been helping seniors for years – since 2018, the year she founded Generation Drive-Thru, a local organization that delivers meals to seniors. “I actually live with my grandparents,” said Shaw of her motivation to start the group. “I was noticing that a lot of older people are on the roads and just kind of in danger.” So Shaw decided to take the wheel herself – literally and figuratively.
Shaw’s efforts started small – Generation Drive-Thru was just a small arm of a large non-profit, Compound of Compassion – but soon Shaw’s friends joined in, and the group has grown in numbers and reach ever since. And that’s good news these days, because Generation Drive-Thru’s especially busy now that Denver’s pandemic lockdown’s been lifted.
While most people can go out and about, countless seniors are still restricted at home, and Shaw wants to help as many as she can: “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing, there’s no mall I’d rather be at because that’s there at the end of day. Your people are not always going to be here because time stands still for no one.”
But Generation Drive-Thru’s about more than helping vulnerable seniors; for Shaw and many of her peers, it’s about finding personal comfort in giving back and connecting with older generations.
Ahshaye’s mother, Shana, explains: “Whether [they’re] experiencing homelessness, medical situations, abuse, gun violence — they still have the desire and the want to come and give back to the community in terms of bridging the gap between old and new.”
If you would like to help Shaw and Generation Drive-Thru help – and learn from – Denver-based seniors, visit the group’s website.
(Story and image via The Denver Channel.)
6/9/2020: Low Asymptomatic Transmission, Yet Infection Spreads
Asymptomatic A-Okay: Here’s some good news – for weeks researchers feared asymptomatic people were big carriers of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Now the World Health Organization says that while asymptomatic people can spread the disease, it is far more rare than becoming infected from someone who has symptoms. Either way, social distancing should still be maintained. [CNN]
Bad News: While the former epicenter of New York is reemerging from pandemic lockdown, 14 states, including Texas, Florida, and Arkansas, are seeing their highest level of coronavirus cases yet. While some of these higher numbers can be attributed to better testing, experts warn that these and other states may see a fresh outbreak sooner rather than later. [WaPo]
Ghanian Inventor Creates Hand-Washing Stations
One of the things that’s consistently impressed and cheered us during this pandemic is humans’ ability to adapt to change. For example, last week we met Ebrahim Mohammad Eshaq, an Afghan refugee who’s using his tailoring skills to make masks in Minnesota.
Today we meet Richard Kwarteng, a Ghanian shoemaker who’s business was shut during his country’s lockdown. Rather than sit on his laurels, though, Kwarteng used his skills and got to work creating solar powered hand washing stations for his neighborhood.
With just a few pieces – an oil drum, a motherboard, a solar panel and piping – some ingenuity and a whole lot of love, Kwarteng and his brother, Jude Osei, constructed a machine that dispenses water for 26 seconds – the recommended length of time for thorough hand-washing. Word spread almost as soon as the men set it up, and soon the Ghanian government was putting in an order for more.
“It was amazing to see the shares and likes. We started getting calls left and right. We were so proud of ourselves,” Kwarteng told CNN of all the attention he’s received. More important than the accolades, however, is the knowledge that his invention will help others.
“I pray this pandemic will go away and there are better days ahead. We hope this will help people to practice normal hand-washing etiquette and we are very grateful for everyone’s support,” said Kwarteng.
We’d love to see some of Kwarteng’s Stateside soon!
6/8/2020: Learning from the Past
Hindsight: A research paper found that pandemic lockdowns and social distancing prevented 60 million infections in the United States. What’s interesting is that paper found that different types of lockdowns worked differently around the world. For example, banning large public gatherings was effective in Iran, but may not have been as important in the U.S. Another study meanwhile shows that shutdowns saved at least 3 million people in Europe alone. [WaPo]
Foresight: As hard hit states like Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York continue to open post-pandemic, experts warn of potential upticks in the months ahead. Already there are fresh infections around a Jersey Shore vacation spot, and infection rates continue to grow in the South. The moral of the story: stay safe out there by washing your hands and wearing masks. Oh, and don’t forget the SPF! [NY Post]
Dallas Cafe Helps Teens Help Others
Chef Chad Houser opened Dallas’ Cafe Momentum in 2015 specifically to help teens recently released from juvenile detention. By giving them jobs at his cafe, Chef Houser and his curriculum coordinator, Sais Daniel, taught the teens life skills like personal responsibility while also offering courses on how to write a resume and apply for other jobs.
As with so many things, the pandemic changed Cafe Momentum’s trajectory. The cafe was forced to close, leaving Chef Houser and his teen staff wondering “What’s next?” But the answer came to Houser and Daniel pretty quick: they would raise money to create meal kits for local families – an act that would help others while adding another element of education for his teen staff.
“Sometimes [the teens] get lost in how small their world is, but being able to sit down and pack boxes, they’re like: ‘Man, I’m able to see someone else struggling and I’m a blessing to them. I’m able to help them,” said Daniel.
And the teens agree: De’Monica Dean, 19, told the News-Journal, “That’s my everyday wake-up. It’s like, ‘do you want to get up today?’ OK, we know a family has to eat, so let’s get up.”
So far the cafe’s dedicated team of teens have put together 1,500 meal kits, each of which contains four meals for a family of four, and they plan on keeping the project going even after local restrictions lift, because acts of kindness are needed every day, not just during a crisis.
(Story and image via Dallas’ News-Journal)
6/5/2020: Spikes and Drugs
1,000 Again: The number of coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths continue to hover around 1,000 here in the United States, and unfortunately that number is expected to start ticking back up as states lift distancing rules and as peaceful protestors inadvertently expose themselves to the airborne virus. That’s bad news, of course, but the good news is that the virus does not appear to be mutating, as was originally feared. [CNN]
Vaccine Soon? AstraZeneca announced yesterday that it’s beginning to make 2 billion doses of a potential vaccine that’s still in trials. Yes, it’s a risky move – manufacturing something that may not work – but the company wants to make sure it can hit the ground running in terms of distribution. Right now it’s teaming with the Gates Foundation and Oxford to make sure doses are distributed to low income areas around the world. [BBC]
Baker Donates Over 1,000 Cakes to Graduates
Here’s a story of kindness that’s sweet – literally.
Minnesota-based baker Bill Hanisch donated over 1,000 cakes to graduating seniors. He hadn’t planned on baking so many cakes – the original idea was to bake cakes for graduates of his alma mater, Red Wing High School. Then the school in a neighboring town asked for cakes, then another, and another, and – you get the idea: Hanisch and his staff were busy. And, thankfully, so were other donors: individual donations of supplies and money helped Hanisch keep his entire staff paid through the crisis.
Though his business is still down, Hanisch’s says helping this year’s seniors has been worth the struggles: “We have been able to keep our 21 full-time employees working, bring communities together, and give kids a memory of graduation that they will hopefully remember forever.”
And it’s delicious.
(Story via Today)
6/4/2020: The Pandemic Goes On, and On…
In the Woods: While some states, like Connecticut, are seeing drops in coronavirus hospitalizations, others, such as Arizona and Georgia, are seeing upticks. Since hospitalizations lag a bit behind actual infection, this trend suggests Arizona, Georgia and other places will face more serious outbreaks sooner rather than later. And, either way, we still have a dark winter ahead: “We’re heading into the fall with a lot of infection in this country.” [CNBC]
Attention!: About 1,100 West Point cadets were sent home during the start of the pandemic, for their safety. President Trump recently called them back to campus so he can give them a speech later this month. Fifteen of those cadets have tested positive for coronavirus and now officials are trying to keep a mini outbreak from cropping up before the president’s appearance. [NY Times]
Refugee Makes 150 Masks Daily
Sewing masks to stop a pandemic isn’t what Ebrahim Mohammad Eshaq had in mind when he emigrated to Michigan.
Originally from Afghanistan, Eshaq was a refugee at a young age – when he was fifteen his family fled his home for Iran, where Eshaq and his brother worked as tailors. Then, as Iran became more unstable, Eshaq moved to Turkey.
But Eshaq always wanted to come to America, and last year his dream came true: he, his wife, and four children relocated to Zeeland, Michigan, where Eshaq got a job at Ventura, which manufactures office furniture, auto interiors, and other equipment.
The pandemic changed everything: Eager to help in any way he could, Eshaq dusted off his tailor skills and got to work making masks. He made about 100-per-day when the crisis first emerged; now he’s up to about 150, all of which are distributed to local medical offices and health professionals.
“It makes me feel proud to be able to help the community, to help prevent people from catching the virus,” Eshaq told MLive/Grand Rapids Press through a translator. Eshaq’s wife, Farzana, echoed that sentiment, “We are so grateful and feel so blessed for the opportunity. We want to be able to give to this country for the opportunity we’ve been given.”
And thank you, Farzana and Ebrahim, for helping your new community!
(Story and image via MLive/Grand Rapids Press)
6/3/2020: Potential Vaccine Wears Off?
Short Term: Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested yesterday that any coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine that researchers create may only be a short-term shield that protects for only six months to a year. “It likely isn’t going to be a long duration of immunity,” he said of a potential vaccine, which is still many months away. [CNBC]
Testing Troubles: The FDA has approved half-a-dozen different at-home tests for the coronavirus. The trouble is, many of them are unreliable, meanwhile the tests can’t be trusted, while others are too expensive for average Americans to use on a regular basis. Luckily, many states, including Connecticut, are offering free tests for all. [Axios]
Retiree Uses Poetry To Fight Pandemic Blues and Raise Money
There have been poetic expressions of solidarity and community during the pandemic, but this one’s by far the most literal: Montpelier, Vermont-based retiree Anne Ferguson saw how the pandemic was bringing people down; she also knew that more people were taking walks around her neighborhood and town.
To cheer people up, and take advantage of new audience, Ferguson enlisted locals to write haikus that she then turned into posters and plastered around town and the local Nature Center.
“I feel the arts can express things in different ways, and this project gives people a focus that is fun, interesting and different,” said Ferguson.
But as much as Ferguson believes in the power of arts to uplift, she knows money’s important, too, so each haiku author also donated $5 that will be split between the local food bank and library.
Thirty-two people have participated so far; if you’d like to, too, reach out to Anne Ferguson at email@example.com. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn you’re a poet and didn’t know it.
Here’s one of the haikus from the project, by Michelle Singer:
“How many times
will a walk in the woods save me?
The tally goes up.”
(Story via The Times Argus.)
6/2/2020: Economic Tumult, Medical Hope
8 Trillion: The Congressional Budget Office predicts the pandemic will wipe $8 trillion off of the U.S. GDP and will take us a decade to fully recover from the record low consumer spending and astronomically high unemployment. One of the biggest economic stressors, however, is the energy sector, where reduced rates are taking a bite out of the larger economy. [Boston Globe]
New Treatment: The drug remdesivir has been one of the only things that helps treat coronavirus in a diverse group of patients. Now the drug’s maker, Gilead, is going to experiment with new ways of taking then drug, including via an inhaler, that can make treatment more accessible, manageable, and maybe affordable for people. [WTV]
Recent Grad Raises Money for Those in Need
Jagan Nallani’s mother and sister both work in medicine and have seen the pandemic from the front lines. What they’ve seen hasn’t been pretty: patients dying, friends and family struck down by the virus. And they told Nallani all about it.
“There were days when my mother would come home from work and tell me that another one of her coworkers is on a ventilator fighting for their life,” Nallani said.
It was devastating, but as a 17-year-old, Nallani initially felt he couldn’t do anything to help. But then the Michigan teen realized he had a wide network of friends who could all pitch in.
Determined to use this network for good, Nallani founded 4OurCommunity, a non-profit that’s raising funds and resources for a local homeless shelter.
Thus far the group, made up of mostly of high school students and recent graduates, has raised over $1,200 and donated enough supplies – from wet wipes to clothing to masks – to create 70 gift bags for those in need – and they’re not done yet. The group plans on taking donations until the middle of June, when they’ll deliver them all to Pontiac’s Hope Warming Center in Oakland, Michigan.
If you’d like to help Nallani help others, you can visit 4OurCommunity’s website.
As for Nallani’s future – he plans on attending the University of Michigan to become a neuroscientist. “It’s the power to help people,” he said.
(Photo by Natalie Broda; Story via The Oakland Press.)
6/1/2020: New Info, New Moves
Mystery Solved? Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a conundrum all along. While it looks like a virus that causes flus, the diverse symptoms – strokes, kidney failure, heart attacks – show the disease is more complicated than typical flu. Now researchers are wondering if coronavirus is actually a cardiovascular disease, rather than something closer to the flu. [Elemental]
Moving Out: New York City was the hardest hit of the American cities during the pandemic’s first wave – a fact that has many residents looking for new living options. According to one moving company, move out requests are up 200% in NYC, especially among high income earners. Some people are moving to the South, while others are scattering elsewhere in the region, particularly Connecticut. [Fox Business]
7-Year-Old Throws Prom For Beloved Babysitter
Here’s a sweet story to end the week: 17-year old Rachel Chapman has been 7-year-old Curtis’ babysitter for about a year. She had to stop coming over during the pandemic, which bummed Curtis out – but not as much as the news that Chapman would miss her senior prom for the same reason. Determined to give his favorite babysitter a memorable evening, Curtis planned a replacement event of sorts.
“I planned it out because Rachel probably just wanted to see me a lot and she is one of the best people I’ve known,” said Curtis, who organized flowers, music, decorations and a special dinner for him and Rachel: peanut and apples, Chick-fil-A, and smoothies.
Rachel may have been disappointed to miss her school’s prom, but she’s thrilled to have experienced this unique treat: “I was so surprised. I had no idea he was going to go all out. It was very thoughtful and sweet.”
Let this be a lesson for us all – sometimes things don’t work out as planned, but what does happen can be even better.
Here’s video of the event, via GMA:
5/29/2020: New Frontiers…
The Next Phase: Even as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases decline in early hotspots like New York, cases continue to grow in parts of the American south, as well as in Latin America, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. In other words, the world isn’t out of the woods yet, and likely won’t be for some time. [CNN]
Mismatch? The drugmaker Gilead donated over 600,000 doses of effective coronavirus (COVID-19) drug remdesivir to the government. The Administration then distributed it to hospitals that didn’t need it or didn’t have the proper storage, delaying treatment for thousands. This has many medical officials wondering how they’ll distribute a potential vaccine. [WaPo]
Couple Married 70 Years Reunites After Quarantine
There’s that old stereotype about old married couples – that they bicker and loathe one another. Jean and Walter Willard prove that’s a myth.
The duo have been married for 70 years, and have been together through thick and thin, but Jean, 89, recently broken her hip and developed dementia, so she’s living at an assisted living facility. Walter, 91, has been holding down the fort at home while visiting his beloved wife everyday. The pandemic changed that.
To protect themselves, the couple locked down at their respective apartments, staying in touch via Facetime and text. Jean went down hill fast and her family feared the worst. Thankfully, the couple were finally reunited last week, and they couldn’t have been more thrilled: “Oh, honey I’m so happy to see you see you,” Jean said upon seeing Walter. “I’m feeling better now.”
May we all find love as enduring as Jean and Walter’s!
Here’s video of the touching reunion.
Walter and Jean have been married for 70 years.
“I Love You, Darling.”
Jean is 89 years old and lives in a nursing home. Walter is 91.
Because of the lockdown, they couldn’t see each other. Jean cried every day.
They just reunited.🌎❤️pic.twitter.com/vPHAq1JKAz
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) May 22, 2020
(Story via Tank’s Good News)
5/28/2020: A Grim Milestone
100,000: It’s only been four months since the first confirmed case in the States, but there have now been over 100,000 American deaths from coronavirus (COVID-19). That’s more deaths than all of our post-Korean War conflicts combined, and experts warn we could face tens of thousands more in the months ahead, especially as states reopen and people ignore social distancing rules. [AP]
Survey Says… That only about half of Americans (49%) are willing to get a coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine if one’s developed, according to a new AP/NORC poll. Another 31% of people said they’re unsure they’ll get a vaccine during the first round, mostly because people aren’t sure it’s safe. But, that said, we’re months from a viable vaccine, so these digits may shifts a bit. [NPR]
Siblings Help Sick Kids During Pandemic
Ethan and Ella Wolkofsky may have some sibling rivalry, but they use it for good – specifically by helping the Embrace Kids Foundation.
The Embrace Kids Foundation is a New Jersey-based non-profit that provides financial, medical, and other assistance for sick children and their families while the kids are in hospitals around the area. But the pandemic of course changed everything – now the hospitalized kids are isolated from their families and other potential visitors. This leaves them anxious, frightened, and outright bored.
And in step the Wolkofsky siblings…
Typically the siblings’ free time is filled with sports and other extracurricular activities. Since all those plans have been shelved, Ethan and Ella are using their free time to raise money to send Amazon Kindles to the Embrace Kids Foundation. “These are challenging times and these children need our support the most right now,” said Ethan.
So far the duo have raised about $1,400 of a $2,500 goal. If you’d like to help them meet it you can donate via their GoFundMe page.
And even if they don’t raise the complete amount, Ella says she and her brother are thrilled with the support they’ve received from friends and family. “We’re happy with what we’ve raised so far,” she said. “What we’ve been able to do is definitely a good thing.”
Ethan added that working together has been great for him and his sister: “Being able to do this together has been a great experience.”
(Story via Central Jersey; Image by Matthew Wolkofsky.)
5/27/2020: Summer Stimulus?
Rethinking Stimulus? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday that the nation will most likely need another stimulus package in the next few weeks. McConnell and his Republican colleagues have resisted additional economic boosters and just last week turned away from the Democrats’ $3 trillion proposal that focused on local governments and small business. McConnell wants to see a bill that protects large companies from lawsuits. [CNBC]
“Still Early”: With states and shops opening again, it’s tempting to see the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as a thing of the past, but it’s still very much present, and future. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, says, “We’re going to, unfortunately, see a lot more sickness and, unfortunately, a lot more deaths in the upcoming months.” That said, maintain social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands regularly. [NPR]
School Bus Drivers Honor Graduating Seniors
School bus drivers are often the unsung heroes of the education system, but a group of drivers in Loveland, Ohio, deserve to be sung about from the rooftops.
They knew their district’s graduating seniors were disappointed at having their graduation ceremony canceled, so the drivers used their buses to spell out 2020 – an automotive tribute to the outgoing students – and then filmed a video to share.
“Some of us have been around long enough to transport these kids since Kindergarten,” said one of the drivers, Jennifer Bloom Bowman. “Some of us have only been working with the district for a few years, but the one thing we all have in common is the love for our students. This is a huge accomplishment and anyway we can show them some love, we will do it. So here’s to the Class of 2020! Your bus drivers are proud of all of you.”
And here’s video of the tribute, shot by Jim Barrett and the Loveland City Schools.
5/26/2020: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Fresh Effort: The drug maker Merck announced today it’s joining the global fight for a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. They will be joining with the non-profit research organization IAVA to see if current ebola vaccines can be reformulated to combat the ongoing pandemic.
Merck is one of the many drug makers looking for a cure or treatment right now. Regardless who discovers it, international officials warn the drug must be distributed to all people around the world, not just the wealthy. [CNBC]
Vulnerable: Despite new safety measures and deep cleanings, meat production plants continue to be hotbeds for new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.
For example, a Tyson plant in North Carolina reported over 400 new positive cases last week after previously closing. And this isn’t just happening at American facilities – it’s a worldwide problem, one that may reshape how we all receive our meat. [WaPo and NPR]
Alaskan Couple Brave Icy Straits – and Costco – to Feed Town
Toshua and Cassia Parker are true heroes. The married couple runs the only grocery store in Gustavus, a small Alaskan town that relies on state-run ferries to reach larger, more established cities. But due to budget cuts and the pandemic, those ferries were discontinued, leaving Gustavus more or less stranded.
And that’s where Toshua and Cassia come in – they’re using their own boat to run weekly trips to the Costco in Juneau to keep the town fed and stocked up during the ongoing crisis. They buy all the food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, essentials and special requests needed for the week and then they head home.
And these aren’t just quick jaunts – the Parkers are braving treacherous, ice-cold waters and must time their 12-hour trips to match the tide, or they face being stranded at sea. They’re very much risking their well-being to keep others safe and secure.
We should all aspire to be as selfless as the Parkers! That doesn’t mean we have to be traversing oceans or climbing mountains to help others – even a trip to the corner store can mean a lot to someone in need, and will make you feel good, too. Everyone wins!
(Story and image via Today.)
To Stimulus, or Not To Stimulus?: While GOP Senators are putting the kibosh on further pandemic stimulus, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin seems to think the economy will need another shot of dough to get things going: he says there’s a “strong likelihood” of a fourth package.
Staying Open: President Trump yesterday said he will not endorse lockdowns or other restrictions when the second wave of coronavirus (COVID-19) crashes upon America. “We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country,” the president said while touring a Ford factory yesterday.
10-Year-Old Helps Others Make Art
Danbury-based 10-year old Chelsea Phaire is an inspiration. She spends her free time creating arts and crafts kits for people in need, and has organized over 1,500 donations for foster kids since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began.
Chelsea’s story begins when she was ten – or, actually, before that: her parents say the Danbury-based teen wanted to start a charity since she was 7, but it was only after she turned 10 last year that they let her start one, called, appropriately, Chelsea’s Charity.
And Chelsea’s made the most of her time: she’s donated hundreds of arts and crafts supplies for diverse groups of people – women’s shelters, kids impacted by gun violence, and, now, kids in the foster care system – all so they have tools they need for creative expression.
And Chelsea’s not done. She told CNN: “I have definitely grown as a person because of this. Now my dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art. Who knows, maybe if we do that and then our kids do that, we’ll have world peace!”
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s mom, Candace, a former educator, also notes, “Art therapy is being prescribed a lot more to support the mental health of young kids, especially those with social and emotional deficiencies. Now with Covid-19, a lot of kids in shelters and also children in foster homes might not have access to art supplies they usually find in school. It’s also mental health awareness month, so that’s definitely motivating us to ramp it up send even more kits.”
If you would like to help Chelsea, please donate via her Amazon Wishlist.
5/21/2020: Second Wave Started?
Southern Spike? Cell phone data shows people in the south are letting social distance slip, leading to a spike of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, which has many wondering, and worried, that a major second wave could start there within four weeks, and then spread elsewhere in the months ahead. [WaPo]
5,000,000: The World Health Organization announced two grim milestones yesterday: first, the most new single-day cases on record (106,000); and, second, that there are now 5 million positive cases around the world. [NBC News]
Paging Dr. Fauci: Once a ubiquitous presence on the television, Dr. Anthony has been conspicuously absent as of late. Some suggest the White House is gagging the infectious disease expert and replaced him with HHS Secretary Alex Azar, whose thinking is more in line with the president’s. [CNN]
No Vote? The Republican-led Senate this week confirmed a new member of the FCC and pushed through some of the president’s judicial picks. They did not vote on another round of stimulus for struggling Americans, especially restaurants, nor do they seemed inclined to do so anytime soon. [WCJB]
Tribe Steps Up in California
The small Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe is going above and beyond in their pandemic outreach. Based in Northern California, and with only 53 enrolled members, the tribe recently donated 500 sheet sets and 70 pillows to emergency homeless shelters in the Humboldt County area, and have also given out over 4,000 meals for people in need.
“The tribe values giving to the community and helping in ways we can during this challenging time – we all must pull together,” said vice-chairperson Arla Ramsey. And local officials couldn’t be more grateful. “The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe has consistently been a critical response partner,” said Ryan Derby, Humboldt County Emergency Operations Center director. “We are thankful to have the Tribe as a partner who always puts the community first.”
As we mentioned yesterday, homeless communities are particularly vulnerable to the ongoing pandemic. If you’re able to help, you can find a local homeless outreach group at the National Homeless Shelter Directory.
Mixed Vaccine News
Good and Bad…: Researchers at Harvard confirmed today they’ve developed a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine that’s proven effective in animal tests. Meanwhile, similar research at Oxford has failed in protecting from the virus, but did prevent pneumonia. So, mixed news on that front, but researchers are still taking a moonshot toward a vaccine by the end of this year. [Harvard and NIH]
Out of Bounds! There’s a reported coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak among stadium workers at the University of Alabama. There are at least 10 known cases among people working on the Bryant-Denny Stadium renovation, but the actual number may be higher. No word on whether construction will be halted – or, for that matter, a college football season at all. [The Spun]
Special Delivery? Despite travel restrictions, international flights from Europe and Asia continue to pour into New York. Travelers said there were no enhanced screenings when they arrived, raising officials’ concerns that travelers may bring more coronavirus (COVID-19) from overseas, exacerbating the pandemic’s spread just as we seem to be managing it. [WLNY-CBS]
New Rules: United Airlines unveiled its new pandemic safety measures, including distributing hand sanitizer on flights and allowing customers to opt out of crowded flights. Meanwhile, JetBlue said it will continue blocking middle seats on Airbus planes until at least July 4; Etihad is going to conduct its own tests; and Frontier said it will encourage customers to screen themselves ahead of time. [MarketWatch]
5/20/2020: Business as Unusual.
50/50: Connecticut’s pandemic reopening plan goes into effect today, meaning all 50 states are now on their road to a new normal of sorts. While different states have different levels of “openness” now – some have only restaurants, others the whole shebang – the danger remains the same, so if you go out, remember to wear a mask and socially distance. [NY Times]
3,116: Speaking of reopening-related dangers – Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona have all seen spikes or outbreaks of the coronavirus (COVID-19) since reopening their economies over the past few weeks. Together, they have 3,116 new known infections. Meanwhile, churches in Georgia and Texas reclosed after becoming new hot spots. [The Hill and WaPo]
75%: A new study shows that wearing a face mask can reduce your chances of coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure by up to 75%. This lends more credence to public health advice that we should all be wearing masks in public. For information how to make your own mask, read our piece The Dos and Dont’s of Homemade Face Masks. [Fox News]
1800+: That’s how many Asian American healthcare workers have reported a racist or derogatory encounter since the pandemic began and since certain officials deemed the virus the “Chinese Virus.” This 1,800 number is a low estimate, since not all cases have been reported, nor will they be. But, really, even 1 is too many. [WaPo]
Group Installs Sinks for Homeless People
Often ignored by mainstream society, homeless people are uniquely vulnerable to the pandemic. Some sleep in encampments, most have no medical access, and almost all lack a place to wash their hands – an essential tool in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Love Beyond Walls wants to change all of that, especially the hand-washing bit.
Based in Georgia, the non-profit has installed dozens of portable sinks around Atlanta so that the city’s homeless can keep themselves safe. Even better, the group organizes volunteers to sanitize the sinks three times a day, guaranteeing a sterile environment for users.
But Love Beyond Wall’s not stopping there: thanks to donations from musician LaCrae and journalist Katie Couric, Love Beyond Walls teaming up with other groups to expand the program to Birmingham, Austin, Columbus, New Orleans, San Bernardino, Baltimore, and New York City.
And, in case you’re wondering, yes, you too can help: just head over to Love Beyond Walls’ website.
No More Stimulus? Republican leaders are trying to avoid another stimulus package aimed at restaurants and local governments. Democrats introduced such a bill last week, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said today “I don’t see the need right now,” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the same last week. [CNN]
Cleaner Air: Global carbon emissions have fallen 17% since the pandemic began – the largest drop since World War II. While this is good news in the short-term, experts say emissions will rise as the world reopens and that this drop will not have a big impact on climate change. [NBC News]
Fever Frenzy: As economies reopen, the ACLU has released a report on the civil liberty issues at stake in temperature screening – the practice of taking consumers’ temperatures before letting them into your business. One issue: many infected people are asymptomatic, so they wouldn’t have a temperature, yet are still contagious. [NY Times]
Can It Swim? With summer almost upon us, many are wondering whether coronavirus (COVID-19) can survive in chlorinated water. The answer? Maybe. While lab results show chlorine can kill the virus, it’s potentially, theoretically possible that the virus could thrive in a pool that’s already so dirty that the chlorine’s “busy.” [KUSA-TV]
5/19/2020: Good Advice, Bad Advice
“Taking It”: President Trump claimed yesterday he’s taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent a coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. This comes after dozens of health professionals warned there is no benefit from this drug and that, in fact, it can cause cardiac complications. But Trump says his business friends said it works, so he’s taking it. [WaPo]
Showdown: Oregon’s pandemic restrictions have become a legal flashpoint there. A rural judge ruled yesterday the restrictions were invalid because the governor never sought legislative approval, but now the state’s Supreme Court is keeping the emergency laws in place until they can further review the case. [CBS News]
Unfunded? President Trump threatened to stop funding the World Health Organization all together. According to the president, the organization doesn’t do enough for America, is too pro-China, and says WHO’s pandemic responses “have been extremely costly for the world.” [NY Times]
“Surcharge”: Take a close look at your receipts in the weeks ahead – many businesses are adding a “coronavirus surcharge” to cover more expensive ingredients, shipping or, in some cases, just to cover their own face coverings. If you’re unsure of a charge, be sure to ask. [KBTX]
Revive & Thrive Teaches Teens To Help Others
Michigan-based non-profit The Revive & Thrive Project is performing two good deeds at once: they enlist teens to teach them vital cooking skills and then delivers those meals to people in need.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced them to limit the amount of teens they invite into the kitchen, they’re still going strong in terms of delivering food: they’ve distributed over 1,000 meals since April 1, and plan on keeping it up.
(Story and images via Wood TV.)
Two Steps Forward
Reopenings: Connecticut Gov. Lamont gave the green light to some restaurants and retailers, while manufacturers and construction companies are the bulk of Massachusetts Gov. Baker’s phase 1. Both states are holding off a few more days on barber shops and salons – in MA, they can open May 25th, while it’s early June in CT. [Courant and NBC Boston]
Play Balls: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is encouraging the state’s many local teams to start playing sans crowds: “I think this is in the best interest of all the people and in the best interest in the state of New York” for sports to return, said Cuomo, who also pledged state assistance in getting things moving again. [CBS News]
90,000+: The nation may be reopening and some semblance of normalcy, but let’s remember that over 90,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus – that’s almost double the number who died in combat during Vietnam. And, unfortunately, there’s more to come: the CDC predicts 100,000 deaths by June 1. [Fox News]
“Major Reallocation”: Even as economies reopen, researchers predict a long road to recovery. “Even if medical advances or natural forces bring an early resolution to the crisis, many pandemic-induced shifts in consumer demand and business practices will persist… 42 percent of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss.” [Yahoo!]
Even as states reopen, the ongoing pandemic is elevating stress levels, especially among families. For advice on how to keep things cool at home, check out our recent piece on coping with family anxiety.
5/18/2020: Vaccine Breakthrough?
“Screwed Up”: President Obama spoke at two online commencement speeches over the weekend and minced no words in lambasting the current administration’s pandemic response: “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.” [NBC News]
“In Trouble”: Norah O’Donnnell interviewed Dr. Rick Bright, the government health official who was fired after speaking out about PPE shortages and for opposing the use of untested drugs to treat the pandemic. An important quote from his interview: “I had industry manufacturers, industry reps sending me emails almost every day, raising alarm bells that the supply chain was running dry, that America and the world was in trouble.” [CBS News]
Gates Crashed: The FDA sent Bill Gates’ Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network a cease and desist letter last week. According to the government, the collaboration between the Gates Foundation and local governments doesn’t have appropriate federal approval and must apply before moving ahead. [NY Post]
Good Vaccine News: The Massachusetts-based healthcare company Moderna announced results from its first vaccine trial this morning, and they are promising: all participants developed antibodies for the virus. That said, more tests must be done, but insiders hope to have a potential vaccine perfected by the end of the year. [Business Insider]
Ain’t No Pandemic High Enough
The pandemic has brought out the good in people: we’ve met volunteers bringing therapy animals to seniors, kids telling to lift spirits, and fishermen giving away food to feed the hungry. But the crisis has also brought out some ingenuity, too.
For example, in Yorkshire, England, a mother named Amy Vickers created a fence window so that her son and his best-friend could see one another in the backyard. As you may see above, it was a big hit.
Meanwhile, here in America, in Ohio, specifically the Meyer family created a plexiglas box so they can visit their grandmother in a nursing home – and so that other families can visit their loved ones, too.
And then there’s the Hug Time Machine: a flexible plastic shield with arm slots created by Illinois mother Carly Mariano so that she and her kids could hug their great-grandmother, Rose Gagnon. And it worked like a charm.
This all just goes to show you: there’s no keeping humans down. We’ll adapt, always.
Vaccine Effort: President Trump today announced a public-private partnership in which pharma executive Moncef Slaoui and Army Gen. Gustave Perna will lead a vaccine development team. They will work at “warp speed” to deliver a vaccine by the end of this year. But even if they don’t, Trump says we’re going to reopen the country regardless. [BBC News]
Oxford Promise? Meanwhile, Oxford University’s ongoing vaccine effort took a giant leap forward: a small trial on monkeys shows the school’s concoction works like a charm. They’re now testing on 1,000 humans. If all goes well, they could have workable solution by the end of the year. As with all vaccines, they then have to figure out how to distribute it to the entire world. [Science Focus]
Not As Usual: The pandemic has forced estimated 100,000 small American businesses have been forced to close permanently, and even the government’s record-breaking stimulus efforts aren’t enough: the government has given 4.4 million small business lines since the crisis began, but at least 30 million small businesses need them. [WaPo]
Beachy: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware announced that their public beaches will be open for Memorial Day in two weeks. Patrons must maintain proper social distance or the beaches will be closed, said NY Gov. Cuomo, who’s leading the regional coalition. That said, maybe summer won’t be a total wash? [CBS News]
5/15/2020: New Truths, Fresh Questions
Test Fail: The world rejoiced when Abbott Laboratories unveiled its “game-changing” fast-results coronavirus (COVID-19) test. It was so promising that the White House even used it. Now we’re learning that the test gives back up to 50% false negatives. The FDA is now warning people against using this test. [Courant]
Guidance: The CDC finally issued public health guidance on how to reopen the age of the economy during the pandemic. Unfortunately, there’s not much new in the info packet. It suggests hand washing and social distancing. This is a version edited at the White House’s request: they thought the CDC’s first draft was too specific. [NY Times]
300,000: That’s the global death toll from the pandemic thus far, while 4.4 million cases have been tallied. Of course, these numbers are likely low estimates, as there’s no enough global testing to have an absolutely accurate count. One thing’s for sure, these numbers are only going to rise. [CNN]
Restriction Wisdom? Countries around the world closed their borders and limited international travel when the pandemic first emerged. While that tactic was good for the 19th century, some experts are wondering if that was worth the global disruption: “Particularly in modern times, when we travel from one end of the globe to the other in 24 hours, the horse is already out of the barn,” said security expert Tara O’Toole. [NPR]
‘Wire’ Actor Raising Money for At Risk Teens
Most often we use this end-of-the-day space to highlight everyday people doing good, but today we’re giving a shoutout to actor Michael K. Williams.
Best known for his role as murderous drug-dealer Omar Little on The Wire, Williams is partnering with the nonprofit NYC Together to help create jobs for the city’s most at risk youth.
“The summer is almost here, y’all. And everybody from the hood knows that when school gets out, the murder rate goes up. It was true when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn and it is still true today. With all of the city budget cuts gutting all of the opportunities for kids in my community to have something to do or to earn a couple of dollars to take care of themselves and sometimes even their families over the summer, I’m afraid this year it’s going to be even worse.”
The GoFundMe campaign will use the funds to pay teens to distribute public health notices about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. From NYC Together’s press release:
“The program will consist of culturally appropriate and informative campaigns that educate members of the Black and Latinx community about COVID-19 and will give youths the opportunity to work in tandem with health experts, law enforcement, and community-based organizations in an immersion program to produce creative solutions to challenges presented by the health crisis.”
If you’d like to help employ the teens, while also helping spread life saving public health information, visit Williams and NYC Together’s GoFundMePage.
Of Airlines and Timelines
No More 777: Delta Airlines today retired its entire fleet of expensive Boeing 777 planes. This is just one of the many signs that the airline industry’s girding itself for a prolonged pandemic-related downturn. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said of the move, “Delta is currently burning about $50 million every day, and steps like this help us stem the bleeding, in an effort to safeguard Delta jobs and our future… This will be an important step to ensure we remain in a relatively strong industry position as demand recovers.” [NPR]
Timeline Impossible? Dr. Rick Bright, the vaccine expert who was fired after he questioned Trump’s pandemic response, testified before Congress that the White House’s vaccine timeline is far too optimistic and that even if it were possible, we don’t have a distribution plan: “We need to have a strategy and plan in place now to make sure that we cannot only fill that vaccine, make it, distribute it, but administer it in a fair and equitable plan. We do not have that yet, and it is a significant concern.” [NBC News]
In Deep…: In January, as it became clear the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak could become a pandemic, mask manufacturer Mike Bowen looked at the national supply of PPE and realized we were running far too low. He emailed Dr. Bright at the time: “U.S. mask supply is at imminent risk. I think we’re in deep s—.” Bright told the Trump Administration but was ignored. [Dallas Morning News]
Military Action: In response to skepticism about a vaccine distribution plan, the President today said he’s mobilizing the military to do the job. “We will have a tremendous force because assuming we get it, then you have to distribute it…. And unless you’re mobilized and ready, you’re not going to be able to do it for a long time. So we’re starting now.” [CBS News]
5/14/2020: Bleak Days Ahead?
Trump v. Fauci: Immunologist Dr. Fauci said this week it would be dangerous to open schools in the fall. President Trump said Fauci’s informed opinion is “unacceptable.” Like many, the president is convinced kids don’t get sick from coronavirus (COVID-19). “We can’t keep going on like this,” he says. [WaPo]
More Kawasaki: As the president pushes for schools to reopen, medical experts are reporting more instances of Kawasaki Syndrome – a mysterious inflammatory afflicting kids who have coronavirus (COVID-19). Symptoms include upset stomach, rash or itchiness, and heart palpitations or cardiac arrest. [NY Times]
“Darkest Winter”: Dr. Rick Bright, the government immunologist fired after questioning the president’s non-expert pandemic policies, will testify before Congress today and is going to say that if we open up too fast, too soon, we risk facing “the darkest winter,” and probably not a great summer either. [AP]
Science v. State: Meanwhile, Wisconsinites rushed to bars and restaurants last night after the state’s Supreme Court overruled Gov Tony Evers’ extended stay-at-home order. While each town can make its own rules, Evers is urging people to stick it out: Just because the Supreme Court says it’s okay to open, doesn’t mean that science does.” [USA Today]
Seniors Helping Seniors
A lot of good news stories recently are about people visiting seniors in isolation or people delivering food for vulnerable seniors or animals bringing smiles to seniors. In all cases the seniors are passive recipients of kindness, but today it’s all about seniors helping seniors.
Meet the Sun City Center Emergency Services, a group who provides emergency medical help for a Florida retirement community. They’re all volunteers and the average age is 72, but they don’t let age get in the way of helping people in need: they get them on stretchers and to the hospital just fine. And it feels great, says volunteer Kent Marchuk:
“That gratification you get when the 92-year-old patient looks up at you, and you’ve just transported her, and she just says, ‘Thank you, thank you so much.’ You walk out feeling like a king, like you really helped somebody.”
But, that said, these are the days of coronavirus (COVID-19), so the crew’s taking some precautions to protect themselves: anyone with symptoms of the virus or who’s traveled is forwarded to the county 911. The volunteers have to stay safe to save others, after all.
(Image by Martha Asencio Rhine, the Tampa Bay Times)
Economic Woes, Medical Hopes
Economic Outlook…: The Federal Reserve urged Congress to pass more stimulus legislation. Without it, we face a prolonged recession because “avoidable household and business insolvencies can weigh on growth for years to come.” Meanwhile, other economists continue painting a dismal picture of the days ahead: we can expect more unemployment, inflation, and slow growth. [CBS News and Yahoo!]
“Superspreader”: Here’s a story that’s indicative of how efficiently coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread: an infected member attended choir practice on March 10; 87% of the people at the practice soon developed the infection. It’s possible that the singing may have accelerated the process, but it’s still informative, and worrisome. [CNN]
Hacking? U.S. officials warn that Chinese intelligence are hacking our medical databases to steal information about a potential vaccine. “The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options,” read the warning. This comes as tensions between China and the U.S. continue to grow. [CISA]
Glimmers: On a positive note, doctors say they feel more confident treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients now than they did two months ago. The past few weeks have been harrowing, but they’ve developed better methods and procedures to make recovery more likely for patients. [WaPo]
5/13/2020: More, More, Less?
Dire: Infectious Disease experts have merged multiple pandemic models and the outlook isn’t great: according to their average projections, about 110,000 Americans will be dead by June 6th. One of the big reasons: a decline of social distancing. [NPR]
LA NO: Health officials in Los Angeles said that city’s stay at home order will remain in effect until August, leading to much sadness in Hollywood. Mayor Eric Garcetti tried to play down resulting panic about it yesterday, but conceded, “I think we know it’s going to be longer than three months.” [Deadline]
Syringe Up: The Trump Administration is upping production on plastic, disposable syringes to be used for the eventual coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine – though, that said, no one knows when that vaccine could be ready or scaleable for mass use. [NBC News]
Less Losses? Okay, here’s a bit of good news: data suggests that the number of pandemic-related layoffs may be flattening a bit. Of course, this comes after over 20 million people have lost their job since the middle of March, so this is a bit of cold comfort. [NY Times]
Fishermen Give Back In Montauk
Montauk Fishermen Chuck “Wheat” Morici and James Foley were on a multi-day fishing trip when pandemic lockdowns went into effect. It wasn’t until they got closer to shore that they heard all the restaurants and many markets had shut – a development left them with 1,000 lbs. of fish on their hands, and many Montauk residents cut off from meals.
Rather than waste the cod and fluke that provides their bread and butter, the men decided to start giving their finds to their local community. So, they parked on the side of Main Street and did just that – they gave away all 1,000 lbs that day, a haul that’s worth about $5,000, and they gave away another 1,700 lbs. a few days ago.
“We’re New Yorkers. We do the right thing,” said Wheat, who credits his mother, Betty, who used to run a local flower shop. “My mom, Betty Morici, God rest her soul, taught me a lot of lessons and the biggest lesson was be kind to your neighbor. So God bless my mom’s soul. I know I have to do the right things if I ever want to see her again. She and my dad taught me to be the person I am.”
Testimony and Stimulus
Uncontrollable? As expected, Dr. Fauci’s Senate testimony included many warnings about reopening the economy too fast. In addition to his earlier warnings of “needless deaths,” the infectious disease expert said we should worry that little spikes will becoming full blown outbreaks “you might not be able to control”. [WaPo]
Big Stimulus? House Democrats today unveiled a $3 trillion pandemic relief package that includes $150 billion for struggling food banks, $10 billion for individualized food assistance, and $915 billion for local and state governments strained by recent medical purchases and lost revenue. [The Hill]
In the Air? We continue to learn more about how coronavirus (COVID-19) could potentially be spread through the air. Factors for potential infection include duration of exposure, proximity, of course, and the room’s ventilation. One big concern: how AC in restaurants may contribute to the virus’ dissemination. [Scientific American]
Grounded? Things still aren’t looking up for the airline industry. While some airlines have seen an uptick in bookings for next year, and some even in the summer, that’s not enough to make up for the millions of consumers avoiding air travel. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun predicts more turmoil ahead, as well as the collapse of at least one major carrier. [CNBC]
5/12/2020: Opposing Views
“Prevailed”: President Trump tried to turn the page on the pandemic during a press briefing when he said that the nation has “prevailed” in its fight. Meanwhile, the U.S. yesterday crossed the grim milestone of 80,000 deaths from the virus. Asked about the remark, Trump said he meant we “prevailed” in testing, which also isn’t true. [Bloomberg]
“Needless Suffering”: Dr. Anthony Fauci will testify before the Republican-led Senate today and is expected to tell lawmakers that opening the country too fast will cause “needless suffering and death.” Fauci was meant to also testify before the Democrat-controlled House, but the president forbade him. [USA Today]
More Heartland Hotspots: An unreleased White House report shows that the pandemic is spiking in middle America at a record clip. Here’s a sample: “The 10 top areas recorded surges of 72.4 percent or greater over a seven-day period compared to the previous week,” including Nashville and Des Moines. [NBC News]
An App for That: Researchers found that an app where people list their symptoms was 80% effective at predicting whether users had coronavirus (COVID-19). They simply list their symptoms, age, and location, and the app does the rest. As with other studies, the number one indicator here was loss of taste or smell – a tell-tale sign of infection. [NY Times]
Animals Bring Joy to Isolated Seniors
Most of our good news stories here have focused on people helping their communities through these unprecedented times. Today, though, we’re going to highlight some animals who are doing their part to lift spirits.
Above is a picture of Sawdust, a miniature horse who’s spreading cheer to isolated seniors at an assisted living facility in Muskego, Wisconsin. “I thought, what better way to spread some cheer during this time than to do some window visits,” said Sawdust’s owner, Alexa Billstrom. And the residents Sawdust met were just as thrilled.
Meanwhile, not far away from Sawdust, in Riverview, Michigan, the Aerius Health Center hosted a “pet parade” that brought goats, bunnies, and sheep for residents to see. “We refuse to allow this virus to stop us from creating memories with the ones we love,” said one resident’s family member.
Finally, out in California, the Helen Woodward Animal Center has been bringing alpacas around to assisted living facilities. Robin Cohen, the animal center’s program manager, justified the seemingly odd choice of an alpaca: “These alpacas are some of our funniest characters. They make us laugh every day and we knew they’d be the perfect key to inspiring smiles right now.”
And, as you can see from the image below, the creature delivered as promised.
WH Masks Up: The White House will now require Secret Service and other West Wing staffers to wear face masks. This comes after two high-level aids tested positive for the virus. The rules, however, do not apply to President Trump, who’s resistant to wearing a mask in public. [ABC News]
NY A Go? Speaking of reopening, New York Gov. Cuomo today said that three upstate regions can start to reopen later this week. They include Rochester, towns near the Pennsylvania border, and an area west of Albany. NYC itself will likely remain closed until June. [NY Times]
New Tests: The FDA has approved two new coronavirus (COVID-19) tests. Today it gave emergency authorization to an anti-body test made by Abbott, and this weekend it gave the green light to a test that detects antigens – tiny pieces of the virus, rather than the virus itself, a process that is faster and cheaper than other tests. [Axios and WaPo]
“Misleading”: Twitter will now label misleading pandemic information as such. If something is misleading, a link will lead readers to reputable, fact-based sources. Meanwhile, if a tweet could harm the public – for example, a tweet claiming face masks hurt you – it may be removed. [NPR]
5/11/2020: New Roads Ahead
No Isolation: Despite expert advice, President Trump and Vice President Pence will not be self-isolating after interacting with two people who tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) last week. According to the White House, both men are being tested for the virus daily. [USA Today]
Rising Again: The push to reopen states is also pushing up new mortality estimates. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now predicts 137,000 Americans will die by August if the nation continues lifting pandemic lockdowns. [CNN]
The Eyes Have It: We’ve known coronavirus (COVID-19) can infect people through the lungs and nasal cavity. Now researchers have confirmed it can also go through your eyes, because eyes contain a protein called ACE-2 to which the virus can attach itself. [NY Post]
On Wheels: With some states lifting pandemic lockdowns soon, you may be using your car for the first time in months. To help you stay safe, here are some tips on how to keep your car coronavirus (COVID-19) free. [WSAV]
“QT Bears” to Help Kids Cope
Connecticut college student Olivia Carlson deserves a high five – from afar.
Enrolled at Central Connecticut State University, she studies business and dance education. When she’s not studying, she teaches local kids dance lessons. All of that was put on hold due to – well, you know.
Rather than wallow or fritter away her free time, Carlson decided to do something nice for her students, and other kids, who may be worried about the pandemic. She created QuaranTine Bears, or QT Bears: adorable stuffed animals that bear – no pun intended – face masks and come with a matching mask for kids, as well as with tips on staying safe and explaining the virus, to reduce fear and anxiety.
Now what began as a small pilot project of 6 bears has blown up into a whole company: Carlson’s sold 140 bears and the orders keep coming. If you’d like to order one, visit Carlson’s Facebook or Instagram pages.
And, one more note that makes Carlson’s generosity especially poignant: she got the QT Bear idea from making teddy bears with her father before he died from cancer last year. He would undoubtedly be proud.
(Story and image via The Hartford Courant.)
Pence Staffer Positive
White House Infection II: There’s another report of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the White House. Yesterday it was one of President Trump’s personal valets; today it’s one of Vice President Mike Pence’s press aides. Now there’s a contact tracer working within the White House to track down anyone this person was near. [Politico]
Lockdown II: Certain German states and towns are imposing fresh lockdown measures or postponing their economic reopenings after a number of positive clusters were discovered across the country. This comes less than a week after the nation began emerging from widespread quarantines. [Barrons]
Mystery: The federal government still doesn’t have an accurate count of nursing home deaths. Last month officials said they would begin coordinating with states to publicly report accurate count – and hopefully stop more outbreaks among a vulnerable population – but no such report’s yet been produced. [NBC News]
14.7% Post-pandemic unemployment now sits at 14.7% – or about 30 million people, which doesn’t include folks who aren’t looking for work. These numbers are the worst since the Great Depression and financial experts say it will take years for the economy to return to where it was only a mere few weeks ago. [CBS News]
5/8/2020: Lock Down Too Late?
Half-Life: A study from the Princeton Medical Centre suggested that the U.S. could have cut its coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll in half had officials started lock downs and other preventative measures a mere four days sooner. Meanwhile, opening up too quickly could see a rapid spike in deaths in the weeks to come. [Yahoo! News]
PA Ban Stays: The Supreme Court declined to lift Pennsylvania’s pandemic-related executive order yesterday. Business leaders had sued Gov. Tom Wolf over the order; PA’s Supreme Court sided with the governor, leading to the SCOTUS request and denial. Meanwhile, Wolf has extended the executive order until June 4 for Philadelphia. [CBS News]
No Benefit: A government-backed medical study shows that hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug President Trump touted as a miracle cure for coronavirus (COVID-19), does more harm than good. In fact, it doesn’t do any good at all. Meanwhile, other studies show the drug can hurt people’s hearts. [AP]
“Despair:” The public health group Well Being Trust warns that the anxiety and unemployment resulting from the pandemic could lead to 75,000 “despair deaths” – that is, deaths fueled by drugs, drink, or suicide by people who feel hopeless. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, read our piece on maintaining mental health during the pandemic or consult a professional. [CNN]
Teen Donors Give Seniors Love, Hope
A group of Atlanta-area teens are doing their part to lift senior citizens’ spirits during quarantine, and the results are heartwarming.
After hearing that local seniors were sequestered to their rooms at a local nursing home, the teens put together gift bags filled with optimistic notes, crossword and word search puzzles, and wristbands bearing artist Jason Kofke’s “Everything is Going to Be Okay” slogan.
The volunteers say they’re having a blast, and the residents have been thrilled, too. One woman remarked, lovingly, “What a wonderful and thoughtful bag of hope awaited us residents this morning! The nicest part was a lovely letter written by a thoughtful teen. The thoughts expressed give us, the older generation, hope the future will be in good hands.”
So far the teens have distributed over 300 smile bags, and intend on sharing hundreds more with seniors in the weeks ahead.
(Story and image via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)
It’s Inside the House…
White House Infection: One of President Trump’s valets – military officials who serve his food and assist in other personal matters – tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) this week. While experts suggest Trump should self-quarantine for two weeks, the White House insists the president is tested regularly and remains in good health. [CNN]
Testing Test: Want to know how well your state is doing in terms of testing for the virus? Now you can, thanks to this automatically adjusting calculator. Spoiler: zero states are where they should be in terms of testing, and will continue to fall behind as more states reopen their economies. [NPR]
Thinner: Every day of the pandemic brings more insight into the coronavirus (COVID-19). Last week we learned that the anti-viral drug remdesivir may be a viable treatment; now a new study says blood thinners could help, too, especially for people on ventilators: “63 percent of patients who did not receive the medications died compared with 29 percent who received the treatment.” [WaPo]
For All? Speaking of Remdesivir – the federal government will be in charge of distributing the Gilead-made drug, which is touted as a break-through in treating the pandemic. Health officials now wonder how the government will do that, and when. One doctor remarked, “Today, the family of a dying patient asked me why we do not have RDV. What am I supposed to say?” [MarketWatch]
5/7/2020: Ups and Downs
66% New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that a “shocking” 66% of recent coronavirus (COVID-19) hospitalizations were people who had stayed home, rather than essential workers or others who are out and about amidst the virus. While this suggests lockdowns aren’t as fool proof as people thought, New York’s hospitalization rate is indeed falling. [NYDN]
Heartland Rising: As New York and some other East Coast states see their coronavirus (COVID-19) cases dropping, many states in the heartland, including Missouri, Kansas, and Texas, are seeing exponential elevation of cases. This comes even as many of these states push to reopen their economies. [Axios]
Shortfall: Hospitals all across the country are facing budget shortfalls as they’re estimated to have lost $500 billion in revenue over the past 100 days. This is because they lost out on elective surgeries and other procedures that bring in big bucks, creating a budget crisis that could make them less capable of fighting the pandemic’s inevitable second wave. [NBC News]
Banned: The Defense Department yesterday banned recruits who survived coronavirus (CVODI-19). Though no specific reason is announced, it’s likely because of permanent lung damage the disease leaves behind and the possibility that the virus may reactivate. This guidance may change in the future. [Military Times]
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heart
There are thousands of people across the nation, and the world, devoting hours and love to making face mask, shields, and other personal protection equipment for frontline workers, including Kaman’s very own Barry Maxwell, who’s 3D printing face shields.
Popular Mechanics today profiled six diverse LA residents who are doing the same. There’s costume designer Phoenix Mellow, who put her work skills to good use making fabric masks; Rob West, a prop maker and carpenter, turned his front yard into face shield production line – “This is one of the most productive things I’ve ever done,” he said. – and Roger Hernandez, pictured above, is also 3D printing face shields. He has cerebral palsy and originally bought the printer to modify his wheel chair, and he’s thrilled to use it to help others. His favorite creation: face shields with bunny ears for pediatricians to put children at ease.
More proof that anyone, anywhere can help keep our communities safe.
(Story via Popular Mechanics; Image by Jenna Schoenefeld.)
The Task Force Returns
Reversal: After much outcry, President Trump reversed course today and said that the White House’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) task force will “continue on indefinitely.” Rather than focusing on preventing the disease’s spread, it will now focus on general safety, reopening the economy, and researching a vaccine. [NBC News]
NJ Extension: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is extending his state’s public health emergency another 30 days, through June 6th, at least. New Jersey is the second hardest hit state in the nation, behind New York, and the governor’s announcement may foretell similar extensions elsewhere in the region. [Fox News]
Rash: There are dozens of new reports of children coming down with an inflammatory syndrome that may be a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. In addition to causing rashes and swelling of the limbs, the disease, called Kawasaki disease, can cause cardiac complications and severe stomach pain. [WaPo]
Round Four: House Democrats are currently hammering out their wish list for the next round of pandemic-related stimulus bill. Potential items include extending loan forgiveness periods for small businesses and $25 billion for the struggling U.S. Postal Service. It’s unclear what their next step will be: call for a vote on a bill they write solo or create a more bipartisan option. [RollCall]
5/6/2020: White House Steps Away
Winding Down: President Trump announced yesterday he’s “winding down” the White House’s coronavirus (COVID-19) task force. This comes even as cases continue to rise nationwide and experts continue to raise the projected death toll. The task force was formed from various agencies to oversee a cohesive federal response. Trump’s decision means those agencies will now work independently. [NPR]
More Meat Woes: The meat industry’s been hit hard by this pandemic: processing plants have become hotspots, employees have died, and production’s been shut down in certain areas, leaving farmers and processors in a lurch. Now there’s word that 150 federal meat inspectors have caught the virus, resulting in three deaths. [Fox News]
No Robo: Well, here’s a spot of maybe good news: robocalls in the U.S. are their lowest they’ve been in two years. According to the prevention service YouMail, Americans reported 2.86 billion robocalls in April, which is about 3 billion less than last fall. This doesn’t necessarily mean there were fewer robocalls – just that there were fewer reports. [CNN]
Alt-Rock: The singer Travis McCready is performing in Arkansas next week in what is being billed as the first socially distanced concert: all attendees will have their temperatures checked, must wear masks, and assigned seats will be distanced into pods, meaning there will be smaller groups of people scattered about the venue, rather than one big mass. [Spin]
Meredith Rivkin was already planning a community project ahead of her upcoming bat mitzvah, but then the pandemic hit and she did a quick pivot: The 12-year-old dropped her old project, picked up 300 yard signs and decorated them with inspirational quotes to bring cheer during these dark days.
One sign reads, “After Every Storm Comes a Rainbow.”, while the reverse says, “Thanks for your support. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay grateful.” and bears the hashtag #brightenthestorm.
But Rivkin wasn’t done: once she created the signs, she sold them to neighbors and nearby businesses, raising nearly $5,000 for local food pantries.
While Rivkin’s signs are now sold out, she’s currently selling PDF versions that you can buy to help raise money for her local charities. Even if you can’t help out, Rivkin hopes her project inspires people “to do something beyond just collecting money and giving it away.”
“I hope it inspires them to be creative and think outside the box. It’s also great to have a project with a lasting impact,” she said.
If you would like to help Rivkin bring smiles and provide meals, reach out via her donor email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel Updates and Mutations
Too Soon? The U.S. State Department is still telling Americans to avoid international travel, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he has no idea when that notice will be lifted. In the meantime, he says the administration is working on opening up domestic travel channels. [USA Today]
Timeline Shift? French doctors have confirmed they treated a coronavirus (COVID-19) patient on December 27, before China first reported the novel virus to international authorities. Considering the patient hadn’t left the country in months, he caught it from someone in France, meaning the pandemic began weeks before we previously knew. [NY Times]
Mutations: There are two reports on potential mutations in the coronavirus (COVID-19). One suggests the current strain is a stronger version of the earlier strain that began circulating late last year. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s a slight possibility the virus is now mutating into a less virulent variety. [LA Times and MarketWatch]
Whistleblower: Dr. Rick Bright became director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in 2016. Last month he warned that the government ignored early warnings about the pandemic and spoke out against hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted by President Trump. Bright was then fired. Now he’s filing a whistleblower lawsuit. [CNN]
From running errands for neighbors to volunteering at a food bank, there are many ways you can help your community through the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. For more tips, check out our piece, “How to Help Your Community During the Pandemic“.
5/5/2020: Pills, Progress, Politics
Trials Start: The drug make Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech began human trials for their potential coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. If the results go well, the companies say they can have their vaccine ready for emergency use by fall. Widespread distribution will take considerably longer, i.e. months. [NY Times]
No Help for “Blue States”? President Trump suggested he’d withhold federal pandemic recovery funds from Democratic-run states, such as Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. It would be, he said, “unfair to Republicans.” This comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested states declare bankruptcy. [NY Post]
Rule Making: The FDA is now stepping in to regulate coronavirus (COVID-19) tests and antibody testes. For the last few weeks they’ve been letting almost any yahoo peddle dubious wares, resulting in countless inaccurate results. [Wired]
Global-ish Effort: World leaders came together yesterday to hammer out an international plan on how to cope with the ongoing pandemic and to collectively donate $8 billion toward researching a vaccine. The U.S. did not participate. [Politico]
Man Donates Stimulus Check For Block Party
Ronald Kearney, a repairman from Killeen, Texas, sees his community suffering under the strain of the pandemic and related unemployment. So, rather than taking his stimulus check for himself, Kearney spent it all on hamburgers, hot dogs, and other BBQ goodies for his neighborhood.
In total he was able to feed 160 families, many of whom he’d never met, but he’s now happy to know.
“My momma raised me right, and this just felt like the right thing to do,” he told his local NBC affiliate, KCEN-TV. And, as he reminded viewers, “Right now is how we define ourselves as a country and a people. Just because we’re poor doesn’t mean we don’t have stress. We’re just like everybody else and we can help our neighbors… Don’t fear each other, care for each other.” Truer words have not been spoken.
If you want to help your community through this crisis, check out our piece, How to Help Your Community During the Pandemic.
(Story via KCEN-TV)
Worst Yet to Come?
3,000: Internal government documents show the Trump Administration expects the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to get worse in the weeks ahead. The statistics predicts that by June 1, there will be 200,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths every day. Even worse, the projections assume U.S. hospitals back to where they were in mid-March, i.e. completely overloaded and overwhelmed. [NY Times]
Another Crisis: Federal and medical experts are warning that the pandemic is taking its toll on Americans’ mental health and the services created to help them. They expect an exponential amount of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and PTSD in the months ahead – far more than an underfunded mental health system can handle. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, read our tips on maintaining mental health during the pandemic or seek professional assistance. [WaPo]
Natural Killer: Here’s some more background on precisely why scientists believe coronavirus (COVID-19) is entirely natural, rather than a bioweapon or something created in a scientific laboratory. Important quote: “Blaming it on genetic engineering overstates the abilities of scientists.” [FiveThirtyEight]
Synthetic Antibody: While scientists didn’t create coronavirus (COVID-19), a group of researchers in the Netherlands may have synthesized an antibody that could be used to treat the virus. So far tests have only be done in a lab and there’s much work to be done, but it’s a promising development. [Bloomberg]
5/4/2020: Predictions, Projections
Blowing Up: The Wharton School of Business found that states reopening their economies now will kill an additional 233,000 Americans by the end of June. It’s a stark number, and so is the school’s director’s summation: “The decision to reopen states is ultimately a ‘normative judgement that comes down to the statistical value of life.'” The White House, meanwhile, revised its “best case” estimate to 100,000 dead by end of summer. [Yahoo! News]
Pres. v Pres: George W. Bush released a rousing video this week urging Americans to come together in times of crisis, rather than bickering across the partisan aisle: “We’re human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together. And we’re determined to rise.” President Trump responded “[Bush] was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!” [The Hill]
No End? Dr. David Nabarro, a global health professor at Imperial College London, worries there may never be a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. He believes the world may have to adjust our societies for this new threat. “It’s absolutely essential that all societies everywhere get themselves into a position where they are able to defend against the coronavirus as a constant threat, and to be able to go about social life and economic activity with the virus in our midst.” [CNN]
Year’s End? President Trump last night said he thinks the U.S. will have a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine by the end of the year. While it’s true researchers may have a vaccine by the end of the year – Oxford’s study in England is very promising – it’s unlikely any potential treatment will be available on a grand scale for regular people any time soon, if at all. [NY Post]
Mailman Delivers Connection, Hope
Here’s a touching story to wrap up the week: Kyle West a 23-year old USPS mailman in Colerain Township, Ohio, where many of the people make under $30,000, are elderly, and/or are disabled.
A few weeks ago, Kyle was at a local store when he saw a 94-year-old man from his route looking at one of the last two toilet paper rolls. The man didn’t buy it because, as he told Kyle, it was too expensive. Kyle wasn’t going to let this man go without, though, so he bought the toilet paper himself and delivered it on his route the next day.
Kyle then realized he could and should help others in the community, so he created a flyer to let people know he’s available to help out in any way he can – from buying small items to picking up medication.
“They’re my people. That’s my route,” Kyle said. “I’m doing this because I feel like I’m part of their neighborhood.” He now hopes that other USPS workers will be inspired to do their part for their routes, too. And we hope Kyle inspires you to do something nice for a friend, neighbor, or even perfect stranger.
A Few Things to Celebrate
1,000,000! Numbers lately have been grim milestones, but here’s one we can celebrate heading into the weekend: 1,000,000 people worldwide have recovered from the coronavirus (COVID-19). While that’s only a third of known cases, it’s a testament to humankind’s innovation, cooperation, and sheer tenacity in the face of daunting odds. That said, there’s still a long road ahead. [NPR]
2022: Apologies, but back to depressing numbers: Experts predict the ongoing pandemic will resurge in waves for another two years. Even if a vaccine is developed, distributing it will be difficult, which means our best bet is building a herd immunity, which requires about 60-70% to become infected and will take about 18-24 months. [Newsweek]
New, Improved: U.S. military researchers with backgrounds in germ warfare have created a new coronavirus (COVID-19) test that can detect the virus before someone shows symptoms, and potentially even before they’re infectious. Now the development team, based in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will send their results to the FDA for potential approval. [The Guardian]
No Pressure: Multiple studies show that two blood pressure drugs, ACE inhibitors and ARBs, do not raise someone’s coronavirus (COVID-19) risk. There had been speculation for months, especially as older people are more susceptible to the disease in general. One of the studies also gave the all-clear for beta blockers, calcium-channel blockers and thiazide diuretics. Hoorah! [NY Times]
Good Eats: Healthy Homemade Snacks
Tired of chips and dip yet? Well, even if not, it’s important to eat well during the pandemic, because maintaining a balanced diet helps keep your immune system strong. To help you eat well while snacking, we’ve rounded up some tips and recipes: “How to Snack Well During the Pandemic“.
5/1/2020: Ups and Downs
Staying Up: Boeing announced that it’s raised $25 billion through a bond offering, creating a lifeline after it was forced to cut 15,000 jobs due to pandemic downturn. According to executives, their successful bond sale means they won’t need any government bailout. That said, its struggles continue: Standard and Poor’s lowered its credit rating this week. [CNBC]
More Meat Woes: Almost 900 workers at a Tyson plant in Indiana have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), forcing the chicken supplier to close the facility for deep cleaning. This is one of a dozen meat processing plants that have become pandemic hotspots, a trend that threatens the supply chain. [The Hill]
Mask Fail: New data shows that thousands of face masks distributed by Massachusetts to police, nursing homes, and others were deficient in a big way: they only filtered 28% of contaminants. All of these deficient masks came from China and were delivered to Massachusetts on the Patriots’ private plane. [NBC Boston]
The Future: The CDC drafted a 17-page document full of recommendations for our forthcoming “new normal.” While the guidance hasn’t been made official, a few suggestions include no more moving students between classrooms, stationary collection boxes at churches, and disposable menus and plates at restaurants. [CNN]
Bringing Music to a Quieted City
Music is as integral a part of New Orleans as Bourbon Street or the Mississippi River. Sadly, much of the music faded away as the city became a pandemic hotspot.
But musicians Anais St. John and Harry Mayronne are determined to keep the beat going: the long-time collaborators are dedicating some of their quarantine afternoons to performing onto a front porch – though still staying six feet apart.
While singer St. John has it relatively easy – she just needs a mic – Mayronne moves his piano in and out of his house for every performance. Sure, it’s not easy on his back, but anything’s worth it to bring music back to the big easy.
“It’s something that’s become really magical and really special,” he said.
(Story via WSET)
Vaccine This Winter?
Vaccine En Route? Dr. Anthony Fauci said that current research suggests a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine could be available by January. Until then, though, he warns states not to open their economies too soon:”You can’t just leap over things and get into a situation where you’re really tempting a rebound,” he said. “That’s the thing I get concerned about. I hope they don’t do that.” [NPR]
Rural Hot Spots? New data shows some likely pandemic new hot spots forming across the country, many in states where governors have already lifted lockdown orders, including Texas and Georgia, and many in rural areas where healthcare systems are already fragile. This potential trend comes as federal stay-at-home guidance expires at midnight tonight. [Daily Mail]
Wal-Mart Outbreak: A Wal-Mart in Worcester, Massachusetts, was closed this week for a deep clean after 23 workers there fell ill with the coronavirus (COVID-19). Massachusetts has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. As of this writing, the Bay State has seen over 60,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,400 dead, with no peak in sight. [NBC 10]
Nurses Cut: Despite the unprecedented health crisis and need for resources, some hospitals are cutting nursing staff to meet their budget goals. One nurse remarked, “People would always say to me, ‘Being a nurse you’ll never have to worry about having a job.’ And here I am, newly 40 years old and unemployed for the first time since I started working.” [BBC News]
“Body Blow”: Boeing announced that it’s laying off 15,000 workers. Chief executive Dave Calhoun described the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis as “the gravest crisis” his company has ever seen, and also said it’s been a “body blow” to the airline industry at large. [BBC]
Airborne, Or Not? Research shows that coronavirus (COVID-19) can linger in the air for hours after an infected person has left the room, but scientists are still unsure whether those viral molecules are in fact infectious or inert. While spread in tight places like prisons suggests they may be infectious, more studies must be done. [WaPo]
New Tests Soon? Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests up to now have tested for the virus itself or antibodies, but scientists are also developing an antigen test, which would detect protein components of the virus, rather than the entire virus itself. Such a test would greatly streamline the testing process, but some wonder if they’re accurate. [NPR]
No Sports Soon? Bad news for people hoping to catch a ball game this summer – or fall, or winter. Dr. Fauci said there may not be any live games until next year: “If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.'” Foul! [CNN]
Gardening Club Makes 30,000 Masks
Natasha Donnelly’s a nurse in North Carolina. When not working at the local hospital, she enjoys gardening with her local garden club, Trauma Focused Therapeutic Community Gardens – well, she did enjoy gardening with the club. That is, until the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit.
Once the pandemic struck, though, Donnelly knew she and her friends needed to use their would-be garden time to help the community – and she knew how: make masks to protect medical professionals. So, that’s just what they did – and the results have been sensational.
In a mere few weeks the garden club, now called Masks for Heroes, has created 30,000 masks for frontline works, including medical and law enforcement professionals, in five states, including North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Above, a nurse named Niya from Virginia’s Inova Loudon Hospital rocks on of the group’s creations.
(Story via WRAL)
Potential Promise, Inevitable Change
New Hope? The drugmaker Gilead announced that clinical trials of its antiviral drug Remdesivir are showing promise in treating coronavirus (COVID-19). Healthcare professionals apparently agree: the FDA will soon approve the pill for emergency use, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the drug could set a “new standard for care.” [CNBC]
GDP Drops: The nation’s GDP dropped 4.8% last quarter, the largest such decline since the Great Recession. It’s for that reason, as well as growing unemployment and widespread fear, that the Federal Reserve announced it’s likely to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future and do whatever else it can to strengthen the U.S. economy. [NY Times]
“Bad Fall”: As promising as Gilead’s drug may be, Fauci also emphasized that the U.S. still has to prepare for the pandemic’s “inevitable” second wave or face a terrible fall and winter: “If we don’t do [prepare] successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.” [The Hill]
“Fading Out”: President Trump said today he will let federal social distancing guidelines “fade out” when they expire tomorrow. Instead he’s leaving pandemic policies in governors’ hands: “They will be fading out. Now the governors are doing it… They are explaining what they are doing. I am very much in favor of what they’re doing. They are getting it going.” [ABC News]
4/29/2020: Good News, Bad News
Early Bird? The latest research suggests that coronavirus (COVID-19) has been in Boston for far longer than previously thought: According to researchers at Northeastern, the virus began circulating in the New England region around January but was given cover by the typical flu season. This is just another example of how much we still don’t understand about this pandemic. [Northeastern]
Kids Not Alright? While children appear to be less susceptible to coronavirus (COVID-19), doctors are warning that those who catch it are developing Kawasaki disease, a typically rare disease that causes inflammation in the heart and intestines. The first symptoms often start with a rash, before evolving into gastro issues. Luckily, the disease appears to be treatable. [CNN]
Vaccine Race: The drugmaker Pfizer said it will soon start American tests for its potential coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The New York-based company is teaming up with German biotech firm BioNTech in Germany, where clinical trials have already started. If results are positive, then the companies may be able to start producing the vaccine by this fall – far faster than the 18 months experts predicted when this crisis began. [The Daily Beast]
Action Heroes: The toymaker Mattel and its family of brands, including Fisher-Price, are creating new lines of action figures honoring the heroes of the pandemic, including doctors, nurses, grocery workers, and delivery drivers. Proceeds from the #ThankYouHeroes lines will go to the organization #FirstRespondersFirst. [WKRN]
Friends’ “Pledge My Check” Idea Becomes Movement
Millions of Americans began receiving their pandemic stimulus checks last week, but not everyone who received one needed one.
Take, for example, Kevin Miller and Jordan Bowman – they’re both still employed and financially stable, yet the friends both received checks. Rather than cashing them, the North Carolina natives decided to donate them to causes close to their hearts. And then they asked their friends to do the same, and their friends asked their friends – and the Pledge My Check movement was born.
If you’re interested and able, you too can participate at Pledge My Check’s website. Donors can donate as much or as little as they’d like, to whichever organization they’d like – a freedom not all donation websites allow.
“The idea is to encourage folks to pledge in a way that is life-giving to them and others,” Bowman told CBS 17. “There is complete freedom in how people pledge, but we are encouraging them to consider local causes and to be creative in how they can use this money to support their neighbors, nonprofits, and small businesses.”
So far Pledge My Check has raised just under $90,000 from 145 people, giving money to St. Jude, the ASPCA, and waiters relief funds.
Thank you, Miller and Bowman, for inspiring so many to do so much good in these unsettling times!
Is The Virus Here To Stay?
Never Gone? Sigh. Chinese research suggests that the coronavirus (COVID-19) could become a permanent part of our lives. “This is very likely to be an epidemic that co-exists with humans for a long time, becomes seasonal and is sustained within human bodies,” said one researcher, who notes that the virus’ asymptomatic spread makes it particularly hard to squash. [Bloomberg]
Meat Up: President Trump will reportedly sign an executive order today requiring America’s meat plants to remain open during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This comes as a number of beef, chicken, and pork plants have closed after epicenters for the virus’ transmission and is meant to shore up the struggling supply chain. The president says the order prevents plant owners from facing “liability.” [NBC News]
Antibody Online: Quest Diagnostics is now selling coronavirus (COVID-19) antibody tests online. The cost is $119; online requests also go through a screening process, and the test requires going into a lab for blood work, but results are available in two days. Tests such as these will be essential to knowing who’s vulnerable as we return to some semblance of normalcy, but, that said, there’s no guarantee antibodies mean someone’s immune to the virus. [Business Insider]
Very Graphic: There are eight methods by which scientists hope to create a coronavirus (COVID-19), including ones made from the virus itself, ones that are completely synthesized, and six others that are too complicated to summarize here. Luckily Nature created easy-to-follow graphics for those interested in how vaccines are made. [Nature]
4/28/2020: Digits and Drugs
Updated Model: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now estimates the U.S. will have 74,000 coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths, up 14,000 from its previous estimate, which we smashed through this week: the nation currently has 55,000 confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths, though experts warn the actual numbers are much higher. [NY Post]
New NASA Gear: NASA’s been on a roll with regard to innovating for the pandemic. The space agency last week announced they’ve developed a new ventilator, and this week NASA’s engineers unveiled an oxygen hood and decontamination unit they hope can help this ongoing disaster, and any other future pandemics, too. [Space]
Simple Fix? With no known treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19), doctors in New York recently began trial testing famotidine, the active ingredient in the heartburn medicine Pepcid. They’re adamant there’s no solid evidence this drug works, and urge people not to take it themselves, but are hopeful there will be positive results in a few weeks. Wouldn’t that be great, if Pepcid ended the pandemic? [Science]
German Downswing: Germany began easing lockdown restrictions last week and is now reporting an uptick in new infections. Currently their infection rate is at a 1.0, which means every one sick person infects another sick person. The goal in any pandemic is to keep the infection rate below 1.0; earlier this month that rate was .7. This is definitely a story to watch as more U.S. states ease their pandemic restrictions.[CNBC]
Once a Kippah, Now A Face Mask
Houston-based brothers Matthew and Jeremy Jason wanted to help others during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but weren’t sure how. Then they looked in their closet, saw dozens of yarmulkes left over from their bar mitzvahs, and knew exactly what to do: transform disused kippahs into life-saving face masks.
The guys reached out to their synagogue for more supplies and together they’ve made over 300 face masks, and look forward to making more a few hundred more. What mensches!
And here’s Jeremy demonstrating how to make your own kippah-turned-face mask:
(Via Good News Network)
Bad Milestones, Good Milestones
3,000,000: There are now 3,000,000 confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases around the world. Over a third, a little over one million, of them are in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins. Experts warn that these numbers are all likely low-balls, due to lack of testing, asymptomatic cases, and some people’s lack of access to healthcare. [Johns Hopkins]
Senate Comeback: U.S. Senators have been working from home since early march, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed they’ll return next week to debate the next coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus bill, one largely for local and state governments. It’s unclear where those debates will lead: McConnell last week suggested cash-strapped states declare bankruptcy. [The Hill]
Connecticut Peaking? A new study suggests Connecticut may finally hit its coronavirus (COVID-19) peak this week, which is great, but that same data also shows deaths will continue to rise, which is not great. Meanwhile, neighboring Massachusetts remains hard hit and its shelter-in-place order will remain in place until into May. [Courant and and NBC Boston]
Reconstruire: If there’s one thing about humankind, it’s that we’re hard to keep down. That said, France announced that Notre Dame’s rebuild work will commence with some new, pandemic-related adjustments, such as more private changing rooms and free masks for construction crews. Over 850 years old landmark, Notre Dame largely burned after a fire last year. [BBC]
4/27/2020: Turning Point
New Symptoms: The CDC has added six new symptoms to the list of coronavirus (COVID-19) warning signs. Joining symptoms like runny nose and cough, the CDC says be on the lookout for chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a sudden loss of taste or smell, the latter of which was already suspected but not yet made official. [CNBC]
Fatigue: As some states inch toward reopening, citizens are clamoring for freedom. New mobile tracking data shows more Americans are breaking lock downs to go out and about, an indication that “quarantine fatigue” is settling in, and raises the potential that all of this isolation may be for not. [NY Post]
WH $hift: The White House will reportedly shift its coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefings from public health to the economy. They will now emphasize “economic success stories,” rather than new details about transmission, testing, and other health-related matters. This comes as the president’s been criticized for his off-message musings. [Axios]
Months: Despite what the more optimistic leaders in the administration say, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator for the White House’s pandemic response team, said this weekend that social distancing will be around at least through the summer. She also suggested getting back to some semblance of normal will require a medical “breakthrough,” so just hang tight for a little longer. [WaPo]
Looking for something creative and kind to do this weekend? Make a card for the Write to Appreciate Project!
Founded by high school junior Sahil Swali, the group makes cards for residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities around New York State, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
“I’m just asking everyone to write one letter, just one, to a nursing home or a doctor or a nurse just to let them know that we care,” Swali told CBS 6. A simple request that’s simply touching.
So far Swali and his fellow card-makers have partnered with over 30 facilities and are branching out more and more every day – that means they need more cards filled with love, optimism and hope for seniors who can’t have visitors right now. So join the fun – it only takes few minutes and can do someone a world of good.[Via Good News Network]
Tragic: The United States’ coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll crossed 50,000 people today, but experts say the true number’s likely far higher, due to inconsistent testing and incomplete data. Even more alarming: the death count was “only” 25,000 just ten days ago. The highest death toll has so far been in New York, where there are 21,283 known deaths. [WaPo]
Meat Shortage? Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks at meat plants around the country is putting the squeeze on the supply chain, leading experts to worry about a forthcoming meat shortage for consumers. Farmers, meanwhile, face the prospect of wasting thousands of tons of meat because there’s nowhere to send it. [MarketWatch]
School’s In: Not yet, but someday – and when schools do reopen, they’re going to look vastly different. Some predictions: smaller classes, which is great; more mental health services, which is also great; more remote learning, which could be good or bad, depending on one’s opinion; and less games like tag, which surely everyone can agree is very sad. [NPR]
Out of This World: A team of NASA scientists designed, produced, and tested a special ventilator for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in 37 days. Called VITAL, or Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally, the new machine offers more oxygen at higher pressures and are designed to be used for shorter periods of time than traditional ventilators. NASA hopes to have production started in the next few weeks. [CNN]
A lot of people are having trouble sleeping because of – well, you know: the global pandemic. If you’re one of them, or if you just want some extra advice on getting proper rest, check out our piece, “Tips for Sleeping Well During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic“.
4/24/2020: The Future Is…
“Years to Come:” Bill Gates doesn’t mince words in a new memo about our forthcoming new normal. Though things will eventually get back to some semblance of the reality we knew, the billionaire computer genius notes, “It is impossible to overstate the pain that people are feeling now and will continue to feel for years to come.” He also described the ongoing battle as “like a world war, except we’re all on the same side.” [Seattle Times]
Concerted Effort? While Gates believes we’re all in this together, The State Department warns China, Russia, and Iran are staging coordinated campaigns to sow distrust about the U.S around the world. For example, the nations are claiming that the U.S. started and spread the pandemic. While China’s state news agency has been airing that message, Russia is reportedly upping its efforts to create havoc online. [Politico]
Bad Record: California just logged its deadliest day since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began. According to officials there, 115 died Wednesday, bringing the Golden State’s total to over 1,500 known virus-related deaths. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the grim milestone serves as “a reminder we’re not out of the woods yet.” No one is, unfortunately. [The Hill]
“Use as Directed:” The maker of Lysol issued a statement last night urging people to not ingest, inject or otherwise imbibe their disinfectants. The statement comes after President Trump wondered aloud whether doctors should inject coronavirus (COVID-19) patients with disinfectant. The president also suggested shining very bright UV lights inside the infected. [NBC News]