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Amtrak suspends Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian train lines due t

fox43.com

Keystone Service will be suspended starting Wednesday, while Pennsylvanian trains will stop on Thursday due to low demand, Amtrak said

Amtrak announced it is suspending all Keystone Service beginning Wednesday, and all Pennsylvanian trains on Thursday as part of the adjustment of services due to COVID-19.

The Keystone Service line travels from Harrisburg to New York City by way of Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania trains travel from New York City to Pittsburgh.

“While Amtrak continues to operate across the nation, we have adjusted some services due to significantly reduced demand in key markets,” Amtrak said on its website.

Amtrak is also adjusting service on its Northeast Corridor, Hartford, Valley Flyer, New York State, Cascades, Amtrak Downeaster, and Winter Park Express service lines.

Other services may also be impacted as circumstances change, Amtrak said. Café service will be suspended on some trains operating between Washington DC and New York City.

Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will be contacted and typically be accommodated on trains with similar departure times or another day, according to Amtrak.

Amtrak is waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30, 2020.

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/health/coronavirus/amtrak-suspends-keystone-service-pennsylvanian-train-lines-due-to-covid-19/521-9c64a0d3-c30c-4705-9966-f089a891a800?__twitter_impression=true

Do I need to worry that my dog has coronavirus?

worldanimalprotection.us

The simple answer is no. It’s understandable that many of us are feeling concerned about the possibility of contracting coronavirus, but to turn our attention towards dogs would be entirely misguided.

Just last month, heartbreaking images of pet dogs and cats emerged from China’s Hubei Province – their eyes glazed over, their bodies lying lifeless on the pavements, some surrounded by a pool of their own blood. The fear of catching the virus had terrified their owners, believing their pets could be carriers – they were thrown from the windows of the high-rise tower blocks. People’s fears were leading to cruel and unnecessary loss of life.

While not common, some authorities have reported pets being killed (either by force or humanely euthanized) or abandoned as a precaution. Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be the common response, and most people realize this is a completely unnecessary reaction to the coronavirus rumor mill.

Coronavirus is frequently being compared to the SARS outbreak of 2003 as it bears striking similarities. Just like with SARS, there were also fears that pets could spread the disease. By the end of the epidemic, just eight cats and a dog tested positive for the virus, but no animal was ever found to transmit the disease to humans.

Now, the world is turning its attention to Hong Kong, where an elderly, 17-year-old Pomeranian dog has tested ‘weak positive’ for coronavirus. A dog of this age might typically be quite vulnerable to infections, yet it is still showing no signs of disease relating to COVID-19. Experts will be monitoring the dog and will be repeating the test in the coming days, although more tests need to be done.

To put it into perspective, consider that there are around 750 million dogs living in the world, mostly alongside people, and of all these, just one single dog, has tested weakly positive for coronavirus. This is an extremely rare and isolated case. We need to prevent a knee-jerk reaction to our canine companions, preventing any drastic measures.

It’s still early days, and experts are unsure how the disease interacts with other animals. There have been questions on whether the dog has actually contracted the disease, or just that the virus is being harbored in its body. After all, the dog was in close proximity to its owner, who does have the disease. For a dog to contract coronavirus, the disease will have had to mutate to enable it to latch on to dog cells. Right now, we don’t know for sure if this is the case, so this example tells us very little.

It’s also important to consider that the genes of dogs are very different from the genes of humans. While it looks as though the coronavirus might have originated in a bat, it’s a mystery how the virus jumped from bats to humans, and if there was another animal in the middle, bridging this gap.

Even if this case does show that the virus can jump to dogs, we don’t know enough at this stage about its possible transmission to other dogs, animals or even back to humans again. Take distemper, canine parvovirus, and heartworms for example – these are all examples of infections that cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans due to the differences in our genetic make-up among other things.

Pets are great companions and they shouldn’t pay the price of our fear by being abandoned or cruelly mistreated. We’re urging people to continue to protect their pets by trying to avoid crowded places for dog walks and keeping their time outdoors to a minimum where possible until we know more about the transmission of the coronavirus. This should also serve as an important reminder to be a responsible pet owner by microchipping, vaccinating and neutering your animals. For pets belonging to a household with COVID-19 infections, we recommend pets are also placed in quarantined facilities where possible or kept isolated from other animals at least.

Our message is clear – we need to look after our animals and not panic. There is no evidence showing that pets can be the source of infection of coronavirus. All around the world, dogs improve and add value to our lives. They keep us company, protect homes and livestock, and can learn to do extraordinary tasks – so let’s make sure we keep them, and ourselves, protected.

https://www.worldanimalprotection.us/blogs/pets-dogs-coronavirus-transmission

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Toilet paper makers: ‘What we are dealing with here is uncharted’

amp.cnn.com
By Parija Kavilanz, CNN Business Updated 6:28 AM EDT, Tue March 17, 2020

New York(CNN Business) As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, households across the country are hunkering down and emptying out store shelves.

Toilet paper has a become the ultimate symbol of the panic buying; it’s seemingly scooped up as soon as new rolls hit the shelves.

Companies that help supply these everyday paper products are stunned and trying to adjust to this rapidly evolving new normal in consumer behavior.

They’re faced with tradeoffs. Many were already operating their manufacturing facilities 24/7 prior to the pandemic. Now, some are limiting their facilities to essential workers and contractors. It’s unclear, however, what they will do in the event that those workers get sick.

“If you ask me why everyone is grabbing toilet paper, I can’t really explain it,” said Tom Sellars, CEO of Sellars Absorbent Materials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His company is a processor and converter of paper and related products. “It’s not like we are suddenly using more of it. But the surge in demand could strain the supply chain,” he said.

Georgia Pacific, the maker of Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper, said that last week, some orders from retailers nearly doubled. The company managed to ship out 20% more than its normal capacity. And the American Forest & Paper Association, an industry group representing paper product makers, noted the industry is working hard to respond to the sudden spike in demand.

“Rest assured, tissue products continue to be produced and shipped — just as they are 52 weeks each year as part of a global market,” AFPA’s CEO Heidi Brock said in a statement.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy work for the factories.

The toilet paper shelves were nearly empty in this Miami store last week as people stocked up during the coronavirus crisis. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
How toilet paper is made

Toilet paper is made from one of two sources — virgin pulp from trees or recycled pulp obtained from materials like discarded copy paper that’s reprocessed and then turned into pulp.

Virgin pulp comes from Canada and the United States.

The pulp (virgin or recycled) is delivered to paper mills that turn it into large rolls of paper called “parent rolls” that are over 100 inches wide. The rolls then arrive at paper-coverting facilities, like the one run by Sellars.

“We purchase large rolls from mills and our equipment cuts and packages them into the designated end product like toilet paper or kitchen towels, depending on the quality of the paper,” he said. Packaging and shipping are the final steps in the chain.

So what happens when there’s an unexpected demand spike?

“Most mills are 24 hours, 7 days a week operations already. They are running on fixed capacity,” said Sellars. “It’s not like there’s an idle machine that can be cranked up to increase production.”

Retailers also have a set amount of toilet paper inventory. “What I suspect is happening right now is retailers are tapping into toilet paper inventory that’s sitting in their warehouses until they get more shipment from producers,” he said.

For suppliers, rapidly increasing production may not be feasible. So they might instead recalibrate factory production to make more of one type of product and less of another. “For example, less bathroom paper towels and more toilet paper,” said Sellars.

Consumer products company Kimberly-Clark (KMB), whose retail toilet paper brands include Scott and Cottonelle, said it is taking steps to accelerate production and reallocating inventory to meet current demand.

“We want to assure consumers that we are doing our best to ensure a steady supply of product to stores, and will continue to make adjustments to our plans as necessary,” the company said in a statement to CNN Business.

Another way suppliers are responding to the toilet paper craze: Some are cutting out distribution centers, sending trucks directly to and from paper factories to get product onto shelves more quickly, said Scott Luton, founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now Radio, a digital media company focused on supply chain management.

ST Paper & Tissue makes bathroom paper products from 100% recycled materials for businesses, hotels and schools.

Sahil Tak co-owns ST Paper & Tissue with his father Sharad. The company, in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, operates its own paper mills and makes both parent rolls and finished products like toilet paper and folded bathroom tissues.

All of its products are made from recycled paper primarily for commercial customers like hotels, hospitals, schools and offices. Tak calls it the “away-from-home” market, and it’s been less prone to panic buying than the market for toilet paper people use in their homes.

That said, it doesn’t mean his businesses hasn’t been impacted. Tak said he has been getting calls since last week from toilet paper producers for the home market asking if he has extra supply to share.

“Our supply is tight at the moment. We have over 200 employees running a 24/7 operation. So it’s not a question of more staffing to increase production but how to become even more efficient,” said Tak.

His bigger concern, however, is about the health of his employees.

“What we are dealing with here is uncharted,” said Tak, referring to the fast-spreading pandemic. “What if facilities have to shut down if workers become sick?”

That’s also a pressing concern for Rob Baron, CEO of Marcal Paper. The Elmwood Park, New Jersey company produces and markets its branded paper products, including Marcal toilet paper to both residential and commercial customers.

The company just resumed operations in January, a year after a fire destroyed its 80-year-old manufacturing facility.

“Our first step, before we even look at the demand spike, was to think about how to keep our people safe,” said Baron. “No visitors, no customers, no suppliers to the facility.”

Demand for Marcal toilet paper from retail customers is up over 25%, he said. “Paper machines already run 24/7. There’s only so much we can do with any incremental increase in demand because there is no surplus capacity.”

He’s making sure Marcal doesn’t add on any new customers for now. “We have to take care of our existing long-term customers and ensure supply to them first,” he said.

Another big worry: stockpiling toilet paper now could eventually hurt manufacturers’ sales down the road.

“We’ve all seen photos of people carrying shopping carts filled with toilet paper out of stores. They probably won’t buy more for three to four months,” Baron said.

“There will be a demand shock, and it will again strain the system.”

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/17/business/toilet-paper-supply-chain-coronavirus/index.html?__twitter_impression=true

— CNN Business’ Chauncey Alcorn contributed to this report.

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