600 Physicians Say Lockdowns Are A ‘Mass Casualty Incident’

forbes.com

Grace-Marie Turner 6-7 minutes


224,476 views|May 22, 2020,12:00pm EDT

More than 600 of the nation’s physicians sent a letter to President Trump this week calling the coronavirus shutdowns a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing negative health consequences” to millions of non COVID patients. 

“The downstream health effects…are being massively under-estimated and under-reported. This is an order of magnitude error,” according to the letter initiated by Simone Gold, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist in Los Angeles. 

“Suicide hotline phone calls have increased 600%,” the letter said. Other silent casualties:  “150,000 Americans per month who would have had new cancer detected through routine screening.”

From missed cancer diagnoses to untreated heart attacks and strokes to increased risks of suicides, “We are alarmed at what appears to be a lack of consideration for the future health of our patients.”  

Patients fearful of visiting hospitals and doctors’ offices are dying because COVID-phobia is keeping them from seeking care. One patient died at home of a heart attack rather than go to an emergency room. The number of severe heart attacks being treated in nine U.S hospitals surveyed dropped by nearly 40% since March. Cardiologists are worried “a second wave of deaths” indirectly caused by the virus is likely.

The physicians’ letter focuses on the impact on Americans’ physical and mental health.  “The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.

“It is impossible to overstate the short, medium, and long-term harm to people’s health with a continued shutdown,” the letter says. “Losing a job is one of life’s most stressful events, and the effect on a person’s health is not lessened because it also has happened to 30 million [now 38 million] other people.  Keeping schools and universities closed is incalculably detrimental for children, teenagers, and young adults for decades to come.” 

While all 50 states are relaxing lockdowns to some extent, some local officials are threatening to keep stay-at-home orders in place until August.  Many schools and universities say they may remain closed for the remainder of 2020.

“Ending the lockdowns are not about Wall Street or disregard for people’s lives; it about saving lives,” said Dr. Marilyn Singleton, a California anesthesiologist and one of the signers of the letter. “We cannot let this disease change the U.S. from a free, energetic society to a society of broken souls dependent on government handouts.” She blogs about the huge damage the virus reaction is doing to the fabric of society

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, also warns that restrictions are having a huge negative impact on non-COVID patients. 

“Even patients who do get admitted to hospital, say for a heart problem, are prisoners. No one can be with them. Visitation at a rare single-story hospital was through closed outside window, talking via telephone,” she wrote us.  “To get permission to go to the window you have to make an appointment (only one group of two per day!), put on a mask, get your temperature taken, and get a visitor’s badge of the proper color of the day.”

How many cases of COVID-19 are prevented by these practices? “Zero,” Dr. Orient says.  But the “ loss of patient morale, loss of oversight of care, especially at night are incalculable.”

Virtually all hospitals halted “elective” procedures to make beds available for what was expected to be a flood of COVID-19 patients.  Beds stayed empty, causing harm to patients and resulting in enormous financial distress to hospitals, especially those with limited reserves. 

Even states like New York that have had tough lockdowns are starting to allow elective hospital procedures in some regions.  But it’s more like turning up a dimmer switch. In Pennsylvania, the chair of the Geisinger Heart Institute, Dr. Alfred Casale, said the opening will be slow while the facility is reconfigured for COVID-19 social distancing and enhanced hygiene.  

Will patients come back?  COVID-phobia is deathly real.

Patients still are fearful about going to hospitals for heart attacks and even for broken bones and deep lacerations. Despite heroic efforts by physicians to deeply sanitize their offices, millions have cancelled appointments and are missing infusion therapies and even chemotherapy treatments. This deferred care is expected to lead to patients who are sicker when they do come in for care and more deaths from patients not receiving care for stroke, heart attacks, etc. 

NPR reported about a Washington state resident who had what she described as the “worst headache of her life.”

She waited almost a week before going to the hospital where doctors discovered she had a brain bleed that had gone untreated.  She had multiple strokes and died. “This is something that most of the time we’re able to prevent,” said her neurosurgeon, Dr. Abhineet Chowdhary, director of the Overlake Neuroscience Institute in Bellevue, Wash. 

As the number of deaths from the virus begin to decline, we are likely to awaken to this new wave of casualties the 600 physicians are warning about. We should be listening to the doctors, and heed their advice immediately.

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High SARS-CoV-2 Attack Rate Following Exposure at a Choir Practice …

cdc.gov

Weekly / May 15, 2020 / 69(19);606–610 21-26 minutes


On May 12, 2020, this report was posted online as an MMWR Early Release.

Lea Hamner, MPH1; Polly Dubbel, MPH1; Ian Capron1; Andy Ross, MPH1; Amber Jordan, MPH1; Jaxon Lee, MPH1; Joanne Lynn1; Amelia Ball1; Simranjit Narwal, MSc1; Sam Russell1; Dale Patrick1; Howard Leibrand, MD1 (View author affiliations)

View suggested citation

Summary

What is already known about this topic?

Superspreading events involving SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been reported.

What is added by this report?

Following a 2.5-hour choir practice attended by 61 persons, including a symptomatic index patient, 32 confirmed and 20 probable secondary COVID-19 cases occurred (attack rate = 53.3% to 86.7%); three patients were hospitalized, and two died. Transmission was likely facilitated by close proximity (within 6 feet) during practice and augmented by the act of singing.

What are the implications for public health practice?

The potential for superspreader events underscores the importance of physical distancing, including avoiding gathering in large groups, to control spread of COVID-19. Enhancing community awareness can encourage symptomatic persons and contacts of ill persons to isolate or self-quarantine to prevent ongoing transmission.

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The figure shows representation of 52 people who became sick after exposure to one symptomatic person with text describing ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

On March 17, 2020, a member of a Skagit County, Washington, choir informed Skagit County Public Health (SCPH) that several members of the 122-member choir had become ill. Three persons, two from Skagit County and one from another area, had test results positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Another 25 persons had compatible symptoms. SCPH obtained the choir’s member list and began an investigation on March 18. Among 61 persons who attended a March 10 choir practice at which one person was known to be symptomatic, 53 cases were identified, including 33 confirmed and 20 probable cases (secondary attack rates of 53.3% among confirmed cases and 86.7% among all cases). Three of the 53 persons who became ill were hospitalized (5.7%), and two died (3.7%). The 2.5-hour singing practice provided several opportunities for droplet and fomite transmission, including members sitting close to one another, sharing snacks, and stacking chairs at the end of the practice. The act of singing, itself, might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization (1). Certain persons, known as superemitters, who release more aerosol particles during speech than do their peers, might have contributed to this and previously reported COVID-19 superspreading events (25). These data demonstrate the high transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 and the possibility of superemitters contributing to broad transmission in certain unique activities and circumstances. It is recommended that persons avoid face-to-face contact with others, not gather in groups, avoid crowded places, maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet to reduce transmission, and wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Investigation and Findings

The choir, which included 122 members, met for a 2.5-hour practice every Tuesday evening through March 10. On March 15, the choir director e-mailed the group members to inform them that on March 11 or 12 at least six members had developed fever and that two members had been tested for SARS-CoV-2 and were awaiting results. On March 16, test results for three members were positive for SARS-CoV-2 and were reported to two respective local health jurisdictions, without indication of a common source of exposure. On March 17, the choir director sent a second e-mail stating that 24 members reported that they had developed influenza-like symptoms since March 11, and at least one had received test results positive for SARS-CoV-2. The email emphasized the importance of social distancing and awareness of symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. These two emails led many members to self-isolate or quarantine before a delegated member of the choir notified SCPH on March 17.

All 122 members were interviewed by telephone either during initial investigation of the cluster (March 18–20; 115 members) or a follow-up interview (April 7–10; 117); most persons participated in both interviews. Interviews focused on attendance at practices on March 3 and March 10, as well as attendance at any other events with members during March, other potential exposures, and symptoms of COVID-19. SCPH used Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists case definitions to classify confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 (6). Persons who did not have symptoms at the initial interview were instructed to quarantine for 14 days from the last practice they had attended. The odds of becoming ill after attending each practice were computed to ascertain the likelihood of a point-source exposure event.

No choir member reported having had symptoms at the March 3 practice. One person at the March 10 practice had cold-like symptoms beginning March 7. This person, who had also attended the March 3 practice, had a positive laboratory result for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

In total, 78 members attended the March 3 practice, and 61 attended the March 10 practice (Table 1). Overall, 51 (65.4%) of the March 3 practice attendees became ill; all but one of these persons also attended the March 10 practice. Among 60 attendees at the March 10 practice (excluding the patient who became ill March 7, who also attended), 52 (86.7%) choir members subsequently became ill. Some members exclusively attended one practice; among 21 members who only attended March 3, one became ill and was not tested (4.8%), and among three members who only attended March 10, two became ill (66.7%), with one COVID-19 case being laboratory-confirmed.

Because illness onset for 49 (92.5%) patients began during March 11–15 (Figure), a point-source exposure event seemed likely. The median interval from the March 3 practice to symptom onset was 10 days (range = 4–19 days), and from the March 10 practice to symptom onset was 3 days (range = 1–12 days). The odds of becoming ill after the March 3 practice were 17.0 times higher for practice attendees than for those who did not attend (95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.5–52.8), and after the March 10 practice, the odds were 125.7 times greater (95% CI = 31.7–498.9). The clustering of symptom onsets, odds of becoming ill according to practice attendance, and known presence of a symptomatic contagious case at the March 10 practice strongly suggest that date as the more likely point-source exposure event. Therefore, that practice was the focus of the rest of the investigation. Probable cases were defined as persons who attended the March 10 practice and developed clinically compatible COVID-19 symptoms, as defined by Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (6). The choir member who was ill beginning March 7 was considered the index patient.

The March 10 choir rehearsal lasted from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Several members arrived early to set up chairs in a large multipurpose room. Chairs were arranged in six rows of 20 chairs each, spaced 6–10 inches apart with a center aisle dividing left and right stages. Most choir members sat in their usual rehearsal seats. Sixty-one of the 122 members attended that evening, leaving some members sitting next to empty seats. Attendees practiced together for 40 minutes, then split into two smaller groups for an additional 50-minute practice, with one of the groups moving to a smaller room. At that time, members in the larger room moved to seats next to one another, and members in the smaller room sat next to one another on benches. Attendees then had a 15-minute break, during which cookies and oranges were available at the back of the large room, although many members reported not eating the snacks. The group then reconvened for a final 45-minute session in their original seats. At the end of practice, each member returned their own chair, and in the process congregated around the chair racks. Most attendees left the practice immediately after it concluded. No one reported physical contact between attendees. SCPH assembled a seating chart of the all-choir portion of the March 10 practice (not reported here because of concerns about patient privacy).

Among the 61 choir members who attended the March 10 practice, the median age was 69 years (range = 31–83 years); 84% were women. Median age of those who became ill was 69 years, and 85% of cases occurred in women. Excluding the laboratory-confirmed index patient, 52 (86.7%) of 60 attendees became ill; 32 (61.5%) of these cases were confirmed by RT-PCR testing and 20 (38.5%) persons were considered to have probable infections. These figures correspond to secondary attack rates of 53.3% and 86.7% among confirmed and all cases, respectively. Attendees developed symptoms 1 to 12 days after the practice (median = 3 days). The first SARS-CoV-2 test was performed on March 13. The last person was tested on March 26.

Three of the 53 patients were hospitalized (5.7%), including two who died (3.8%). The mean interval from illness onset to hospitalization was 12 days. The intervals from onset to death were 14 and 15 days for the two patients who died.

SCPH collected information about patient signs and symptoms from patient interviews and hospital records (Table 2). Among persons with confirmed infections, the most common signs and symptoms reported at illness onset and at any time during the course of illness were cough (54.5% and 90.9%, respectively), fever (45.5%, 75.8%), myalgia (27.3%, 75.0%), and headache (21.2%, 60.6%). Several patients later developed gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea (18.8%), nausea (9.4%), and abdominal cramps or pain (6.3%). One person experienced only loss of smell and taste. The most severe complications reported were viral pneumonia (18.2%) and severe hypoxemic respiratory failure (9.1%).

Among the recognized risk factors for severe illness, the most common was age, with 75.5% of patients aged ≥65 years. Most patients (67.9%) did not report any underlying medical conditions, 9.4% had one underlying medical condition, and 22.6% had two or more underlying medical conditions. All three hospitalized patients had two or more underlying medical conditions.

Public Health Response

SCPH provided March 10 practice attendees with isolation and quarantine instructions by telephone, email, and postal mail. Contacts of patients were traced and notified of isolation and quarantine guidelines. At initial contact, 15 attendees were quarantined, five of whom developed symptoms during quarantine and notified SCPH.

Before detection of this cluster on March 17, Skagit County had reported seven confirmed COVID-19 cases (5.4 cases per 100,000 population). At the time, SCPH informed residents that likely more community transmission had occurred than indicated by the low case counts.* On March 21, SCPH issued a press release to describe the outbreak and raise awareness about community transmission. The press release emphasized the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and the importance of following social distancing guidelines to control the spread of the virus.

Discussion

Multiple reports have documented events involving superspreading of COVID-19 (25); however, few have documented a community-based point-source exposure (5). This cluster of 52 secondary cases of COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity for understanding SARS-CoV-2 transmission following a likely point-source exposure event. Persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 are most infectious from 2 days before through 7 days after symptom onset (7). The index patient developed symptoms on March 7, which could have placed the patient within this infectious period during the March 10 practice. Choir members who developed symptoms on March 11 (three) and March 12 (seven) attended both the March 3 and March 10 practices and thus could have been infected earlier and might have been infectious in the 2 days preceding symptom onset (i.e., as early as March 9). The attack rate in this group (53.3% and 86.7% among confirmed cases and all cases, respectively) was higher than that seen in other clusters, and the March 10 practice could be considered a superspreading event (3,4). The median incubation period of COVID-19 is estimated to be 5.1 days (8). The median interval from exposure during the March 10 practice to onset of illness was 3 days, indicating a more rapid onset.

Choir practice attendees had multiple opportunities for droplet transmission from close contact or fomite transmission (9), and the act of singing itself might have contributed to SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Aerosol emission during speech has been correlated with loudness of vocalization, and certain persons, who release an order of magnitude more particles than their peers, have been referred to as superemitters and have been hypothesized to contribute to superspeading events (1). Members had an intense and prolonged exposure, singing while sitting 6–10 inches from one another, possibly emitting aerosols.

The findings in this report are subject to at least two limitations. First, the seating chart was not reported because of concerns about patient privacy. However, with attack rates of 53.3% and 86.7% among confirmed and all cases, respectively, and one hour of the practice occurring outside of the seating arrangement, the seating chart does not add substantive additional information. Second, the 19 choir members classified as having probable cases did not seek testing to confirm their illness. One person classified as having probable COVID-19 did seek testing 10 days after symptom onset and received a negative test result. It is possible that persons designated as having probable cases had another illness.

This outbreak of COVID-19 with a high secondary attack rate indicates that SARS-CoV-2 might be highly transmissible in certain settings, including group singing events. This underscores the importance of physical distancing, including maintaining at least 6 feet between persons, avoiding group gatherings and crowded places, and wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain during this pandemic. The choir mitigated further spread by quickly communicating to its members and notifying SCPH of a cluster of cases on March 18. When first contacted by SCPH during March 18–20, nearly all persons who attended the practice reported they were already self-isolating or quarantining. Current CDC recommendations, including maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet and wearing cloth face coverings if this is not feasible, washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when ill, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces remain critical to reducing transmission. Additional information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.

Acknowledgments

Patients described in this report; health care personnel who cared for them; Skagit County Public Health staff members and leaders, particularly the Communicable Disease investigators; Washington State Department of Health.


1Skagit County Public Health, Mount Vernon, Washington.

References

  1. Asadi S, Wexler AS, Cappa CD, Barreda S, Bouvier NM, Ristenpart WD. Aerosol emission and superemission during human speech increase with voice loudness. Sci Rep 2019;9:2348. CrossRef PubMed
  2. Wang D, Hu B, Hu C, et al. Clinical characteristics of 138 hospitalized patients with 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia in Wuhan, China. JAMA 2020;323:1061–9. CrossRef PubMed
  3. McMichael TM, Currie DW, Clark S, et al. Epidemiology of COVID-19 in a long-term care facility in King County, Washington. N Engl J Med 2020;NEJMoa2005412. CrossRef PubMed
  4. Ghinai I, Woods S, Ritger KA, et al. Community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at two family gatherings—Chicago, Illinois, February–March 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:446–50. CrossRef PubMed
  5. South Korean city on high alert as coronavirus cases soar at ‘cult’ church. The Guardian, US Edition. February 20, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/20/south-korean-city-daegu-lockdown-coronavirus-outbreak-cases-soar-at-church-cult-cluster
  6. Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. Interim-20-ID-01: standardized surveillance case definition and national notification for 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Atlanta, GA: Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists; 2020. https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.cste.org/resource/resmgr/2020ps/interim-20-id-01_covid-19.pdf
  7. He X, Lau EHY, Wu P, et al. Temporal dynamics in viral shedding and transmissibility of COVID-19. Nat Med 2020;26:672–5. PubMed
  8. Lauer SA, Grantz KH, Bi Q, et al. The incubation period of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from publicly reported confirmed cases: estimation and application. Ann Intern Med 2020;172:577. CrossRef PubMed
  9. van Doremalen N, Bushmaker T, Morris DH, et al. Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1. N Engl J Med 2020;382:1564–7. CrossRef PubMed
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TABLE 1. Number of choir members with and without COVID-19–compatible symptoms (N = 122)* and members’ choir practice attendance — Skagit County, Washington, March 3 and 10, 2020

Attendance No. (row %) March 3 practice March 10 practice Total Symptomatic Asymptomatic Total Symptomatic Asymptomatic Attended 78 51 (65.4) 27 (34.6) 61 53§ (86.9) 8 (13.1) Did not attend 40 4 (10.0) 36 (90.0) 61 3 (4.9) 58 (95.1) Attendance information missing 4 1 (25.0) 3 (75.0) 0 0 (—) 0 (—) Attended only one practice 21 1 (4.8) 20 (95.2) 3 2 (66.7) 1 (33.3)

Abbreviation: COVID-19 = coronavirus disease 2019.
* No choir members were symptomatic at the March 3 practice.
Thirty-seven choir members attended neither practice; two developed symptoms, and 35 remained asymptomatic.
§ Includes index patient; if the index patient excluded, 52 secondary cases occurred among the other 60 attendees (attack rate = 86.7%).

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FIGURE. Confirmed* and probable cases of COVID-19 associated with two choir practices, by date of symptom onset (N = 53) — Skagit County, Washington, March 2020
The figure is a histogram, an epidemiological curve showing 53 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 associated with two choir practices in Skagit County, Washington, by date of symptom onset, during March 2020.

Abbreviation: COVID-19 = coronavirus disease 2019.

* Positive reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction test result.

Attendance at the March 10 practice and clinically compatible symptoms as defined by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Interim-20-ID-01: Standardized surveillance case definition and national notification for 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.cste.org/resource/resmgr/2020ps/interim-20-id-01_covid-19.pdf.

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TABLE 2. Signs and symptoms reported at the onset of COVID-19 illness and during the course of illness among persons infected at a choir practice (N = 53)* — Skagit County, Washington, March 2020

Sign or symptom No. (%) no./No. (%) Reported at onset of illness Reported during course of illness All cases
(N = 53) Confirmed cases
(N = 33) All cases
(N = 53) Confirmed cases
(N = 33) Cough 27 (50.9) 18 (54.5) 47/53 (88.7) 30/33 (90.9) Fever 28 (52.8) 15 (45.5) 36/53 (67.9) 25/33 (75.8) Myalgia 13 (24.5) 9 (27.3) 34/52 (65.4) 24/32 (75.0) Headache 10 (18.9) 7 (21.2) 32/53 (60.4) 20/33 (60.6) Chills or rigors 7 (13.2) 6 (18.2) 23/51 (45.1) 16/31 (51.6) Congestion 4 (7.5) 2 (6.1) 25/52 (48.1) 15/32 (46.9) Pharyngitis 2 (3.8) 2 (6.1) 12/52 (23.1) 8/32 (25.0) Lethargy 4 (7.5) 2 (6.1) 5/52 (9.6) 3/32 (9.4) Fatigue 3 (5.7) 1 (3.0) 24/52 (46.2) 15/32 (46.9) Aguesia (loss of taste) 1 (1.9) 1 (3.0) 11/48 (22.9) 5/28 (17.9) Anosmia (loss of smell) 1 (1.9) 1 (3.0) 10/48 (20.8) 5/28 (17.9) Chest congestion or tightness 1 (1.9) 1 (3.0) 5/52 (9.6) 4/32 (12.5) Weakness 1 (1.9) 1 (3.0) 3/52 (5.8) 2/32 (6.3) Eye ache 1 (1.9) 1 (3.0) 1/52 (1.9) 1/32 (3.1) Dyspnea 0 (—) 0 (—) 8/51 (15.7) 8/31 (25.8) Diarrhea 0 (—) 0 (—) 8/52 (15.4) 6/32 (18.8) Pneumonia 0 (—) 0 (—) 6/53 (11.3) 6/33 (18.2) Nausea 0 (—) 0 (—) 3/52 (5.8) 3/32 (9.4) Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure 0 (—) 0 (—) 3/53 (5.7) 3/33 (9.1) Abdominal pain or cramps 0 (—) 0 (—) 2/52 (3.8) 2/32 (6.3) Malaise 1 (1.9) 0 (—) 1/52 (1.9) 0/32 (—) Anorexia 0 (—) 0 (—) 1/52 (1.9) 0/32 (—) Vomiting 0 (—) 0 (—) 0/52 (—) 0/32 (—)

Abbreviation: COVID-19 = coronavirus disease 19.
* Including the index patient.

Suggested citation for this article: Hamner L, Dubbel P, Capron I, et al. High SARS-CoV-2 Attack Rate Following Exposure at a Choir Practice — Skagit County, Washington, March 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:606–610. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6919e6.

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Michigan priest goes viral for using squirt gun to offer ‘social distance blessings’ | TheHill

May 17, 2020 – 06:32 PM EDT

Michigan priest goes viral for using squirt gun to offer 'social distance blessings'
Larry A. Peplin

By Aris Folley

A priest from Michigan is garnering widespread attention online this week for a unique way he incorporated social distancing guidelines into his services at his parish during Holy Week last month.

In the photos, which were first shared by the St. Ambrose Parish in Grosse Pointe Park last month and have gone viral on Twitter in recent days, the priest, Father Tim Pelc, could be seen donning gloves, a mask and a squirt gun containing holy water.

The church wrote in the April 12 post: “Adapting to the need for social distancing, St. Ambrose continued it’s tradition of Blessing of Easter Food Baskets, drive-thru style. Yes, that’s Fr. Tim using a squirt gun full of Holy Water!” 

https://d-6252475892314059361.ampproject.net/2005151837000/frame.html

In an interview with Today published on Sunday, Pelc said he came up with the idea and decided to go through with it after checking first with a doctor to make sure it was in line with social guidelines advised by health experts and government officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“You can’t double dip into the holy water container,” he told the outlet. “I thought, what could I do that would keep the quarantine restrictions going and give kids the experience of Easter?”

“We didn’t have a lot of notice on it. At noon, the Saturday before Easter, I went out there and there was a line of cars waiting,” Pelc added. 

https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

The church’s initial post detailing the effort by Pelc has racked up several hundred shares and likes over the past few weeks. However, a tweet talking about Pelc’s “social distance blessings” has garnered over half a million likes and more than 125,000 retweets in just two days. The photos also picked up traction in a viral photoshop battle on Reddit not long after.https://d-6252475892314059361.ampproject.net/2005151837000/frame.html

Larry A. Peplin, the photographer who captured the photos, told The Hill on Sunday that he has been working as commercial photographer in the Detroit-area for decades and said he has “never seen anything like this happen to any of my photos.”

“Having covered many thousands of imaging assignments including six presidents and now nearing retirement, this is stunning,” he continued. “I’m quite aware that these things happen, and memes get created then passed around the world, but why did it take five weeks for it to take off?”

“I understand now why it’s called ‘going viral,’ and yes, I’m taking that verbal cue from COVID-19,” he added.

Larry A. Peplin

Courtesy of Larry A. Peplin

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Gigantic new locust swarms hit East Africa, threatening millions with hunger

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Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic Read Caption

New invasions are hitting just as growing season gets underway, threatening millions with hunger.

By Haley Cohen Gilliland Photographs by David Chancellor PUBLISHED May 12, 2020

“These…swarms…are terrifying,” Albert Lemasulani narrated breathlessly as he recorded a video of himself swatting his way through a crush of desert locusts in northern Kenya this April. The insects, more than two inches long, whirred around him in thick clouds, their wings snapping like ten thousand card decks being shuffled in unison. He groaned: “They are in the millions. Everywhere…eating…it really is a nightmare.” null

Lemasulani, 40, lives with his family in Oldonyiro, where he herds goats that survive on shrubs and trees. He’d previously heard of locusts only from stories passed down in the community. That changed earlier this year when the largest invasion of the voracious insects in decades descended on East Africa. With their seemingly bottomless appetites, locusts can cause devastating agricultural losses. An adult desert locust can munch through its own bodyweight, about 0.07 ounces, of vegetation every day. Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to blanket New York City more than once—and can destroy 300 million pounds of crops in a single day. Even a more modest gathering of 40 million desert locusts can eat as much in a day as 35,000 people.

A large swarm of locusts descends on acacia trees in northern Kenya in April. Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to cover New York City 1.5 times—and to decimate 300 million pounds of crops in a single day.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic

This is the worst “upsurge”—the category of intensity below “plague”—of desert locusts experienced in Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and in Kenya for 70 years. The region’s growing season is underway, and as the swarms have grown while the coronavirus complicates mitigation efforts, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates up to 25 millionEast Africans will suffer from food shortages later this year. null

Some 13 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea already suffer from “severe food insecurity,” according to the FAO, meaning they may go without eating for an entire day or have run out of food altogether.

“We fear for our future because these kinds of swarms will mean we don’t have anything to feed our animals,” Lemasulani says. Farmers are equally worried about their crops. “We pray God will clear the locusts for us. It’s as terrifying as COVID-19.” null

In the beginning

Desert locusts flourish when arid areas are doused with rain, because they seek to lay their eggs in damp, sandy soil near vegetation that can sustain the young until their wings develop enough for the insects to forage farther afield.

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A dead locust sits on a tree branch. Desert locusts can grow to about four inches long and live for three to five months. Their life cycle consists of three phases: egg, hopper, and adult. Locusts are often solitary, but under the right conditions, they breed exponentially and transform into social, or “gregarious,” creatures, which change color and form large, destructive swarms. Until 1921, people believed that gregarious locusts and solitary desert locusts were two different species.

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Desert locusts tend to feed on green vegetation and can pick plants bare, including this bush in northern Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warns that if they migrate further into agricultural areas, millions of people could face hunger.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic

Albert Lemasulani, a Kenyan pastoralist, has voluntarily tracked locust swarms for the Kenyan government and the FAO since the insects appeared near his hometown of Oldonyiro, in northern Kenya, in January. They’re typically controlled with pesticides, but because locust swarms can move up to 80 miles a day, simply finding them can be a challenge.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic

Usually, when locusts have space to spread out, they actively avoid one another. But in favorable circumstances, desert locust populations can multiply 20-fold every three months. Crowding together as a result of this increased breeding triggers a behavior change. No longer loners, they turn into social or “gregarious” creatures, forming large swarms.

Recently, conditions for procreation and migration have been not just favorable—but ideal. In 2018 and 2019, a series of cyclones that scientists link to unusually warm seas rolled in off the Indian Ocean and soaked a sandy desert in the Arabian Peninsula known as the Empty Quarter. A locust boom followed. null

“We often think of deserts as environments that are very harsh and low productivity, which they are a lot of the time,” says National Geographic grantee Dino Martins, an entomologist, evolutionary biologist, and executive director of the Mpala Research Centre in northern Kenya. The center is working to sequence the desert locust’s genome to to learn what environmental and genetic factors may prompt the locusts’ transformation from solitary to gregarious. “When [deserts] have the right conditions, they can flip, and you can move to a situation with lots of biological activity. That’s basically what we’re seeing now,” he says.

This valley is on the locusts’ route, which is largely determined by the wind.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic

By June 2019, large swarms were on the move, traveling over the Red Sea to Ethiopia and Somalia. Aided by uncommonly heavy rains that buffeted East Africa from Octoberto December, the insects spread south to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

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Frozen desert locusts stored at the Mpala Research Centre are kept on hand to study. Scientists there are working to help sequence the insect’s genome. “The desert locust is an enigmatic creature who leads a two-faced life,” says Dino Martins, executive director of the research center. On the one hand, it’s “a pretty unremarkable, ordinary grasshopper struggling to survive, and, when better conditions allow…[it’s] a voracious, upwardly, and onwardly mobile beast.” Desert locusts have one one of the largest genomes known of any animal, he says.

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Ivy Ngiru, the center’s research lab manager, inspects frozen desert locusts. Scientists hope that sequencing the desert locust’s genome will allow them to better understand what genetic and environmental variables prompt the locusts’ transformation from solitary to wildly social, swarming creatures.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic

Since the locusts first reached East Africa, favorable breeding conditions have continued, and the swarms have expanded. “I can’t tell you if it’s by 20 times, but [the population] is much bigger,” says Cyril Ferrand, Resilience Team Leader for East Africa at the FAO, which monitors the desert locust situation globally.

(Find out how locust plagues begin.)

When the first wave of locusts arrived in the region in late 2019, most of last year’s crops had reached maturity or been harvested. But the timing of the current, so-called “second generation”—an even more massive wave—is especially worrisome.

That’s because East Africa’s primary growing season begins around mid-March, and the emerging plants are particularly vulnerable to locusts, says Anastasia Mbatia, the technical manager of agriculture at Farm Africa, a charity that works with farmers, pastoralists, and forest communities in East Africa. “When [locusts] feed on the germinating leaves, the crop cannot grow,” she says. “Farmers would need to sow seeds again.” But a second planting in the weeks ahead likely would not be successful, as the best growing weather has already passed.

Spraying for relief

To stem the explosion of locusts, governments often spray pesticides—either from the air or directly on the ground. FAO’s Ferrand says sourcing such chemicals during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge. “We have had delays in supply. That means managing the [pesticide stocks] today is a very different reality because there are fewer planes moving globally,” he says.

Desert locusts tend to fly during the daytime and roost in the evening. Lemasulani says he tries to locate them in the afternoons, so pesticide sprayers have the best chance of finding them.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic

Even more difficult in places such as Kenya that have little experience with gigantic locust invasions is deciding where to spray. Depending on the winds, which largely determine locust flight patterns, a swarm might travel 80 miles in a day. (In 1988, desert locusts were found to have crossed from West Africa to the Caribbean in just 10 days.)

To chase down these highly mobile swarms, the FAO is relying increasingly on information provided by local people, including Lemasulani, who began voluntarily tracking locust swarms in January.

Drawing on an extensive network of contacts who call him when they spot pockets of the insects, Lemasulani hires motorbike taxis to speed him to swarms. When he finds them, he enters their coordinates in a mobile phone app called elocust3m that was released in late February by David Hughesand his colleagues at Penn State University’s PlantVillage program, an open access public resource for smallholder farmers. Hughes developed the app at the request of the FAO, whose field staff have operated a similar tracking program on specialized tablets since 2014. The data are then shared with the government, which can decide how best to react.

Until recently, when PlantVillage began paying him a stipend to cover his transport and telephone costs, Lemasulani paid for his locust scouting out of his own pocket. (His travels have been exempted from COVID-19 restrictions, as are training sessions for new elocust3m volunteers—residents in areas where swarms are expected—who nonetheless must wear masks and stay six feet apart.)

As Lemasulani wraps a red shawl around his shoulders to protect himself from the rain that has begun to fall outside his home, he says over video chat, “I come from a poor family background and got sponsored by the Catholic church in Oldonyiro though my primary and high school years. I was sponsored by a person I have never met. There is no way I can pay my sponsor back, but I feel noble giving back to my community.”

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“Millions of Baby Turtles Head to Sea After Beach Closures”

This letter from Pennsylvania’s House speaker blows up the lockdown lie

Dan from Squirrel Hill's Blog

https://www.conservativereview.com/news/horowitz-letter-pennsylvanias-house-speaker-blows-lockdown-lie/

This letter from Pennsylvania’s House speaker blows up the lockdown lie

May 8, 2020

Today, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-E Day. It was the ultimate triumph of grit, determination, and a unified sense of purpose behind liberty that, despite its painful human and monetary cost, freed an entire world and spawned 75 years of America superpower status – not just as a leader globally, but as a nation of freedom and prosperity at home.

Now, in a matter of just two months, we’ve flushed trillions of dollars in a greater investment than World War II, and we have nothing to show for it but a destroyed economy, a destroyed deterrent against a generation of dangerous criminals, a physical and mental health crisis, lost education of a generation of schoolchildren, lifelong dreams of small business owners down the toilet, and the end of freedom itself – all for…

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A Surprise May Snowstorm Pounded Parts Of The Northeast In 1977 | Weather Concierge

Weather Concierge
Weather Concierge

Posted by Tom Moore

In May of 1977,  an unusual snow event occurred across parts of the Northeast. Before it was all over, one to two feet of snow blanketed some higher elevations. The snow was accompanied by high winds. Extensive tree and power line damage kept crews working for days to restore power.

Rare Event

Snow is not unheard of in May over parts of the Northeast, but many residents will refer to the Mother’s Day event in 1977. Actually, Mother’s Day (May 8th) was chilly with rain across much of the region. That night and into the next day, some dramatic changes were occurring in the upper atmosphere which would usher in cold air and change the rain to snow.

From parts of the Mid-Atlantic through Upstate New York and into New England, the landscape became whitened with snow on Monday, May 9th and the following night. The last flake didn’t stop falling until early on the  10th.

Heavy wet snow was accompanied by fierce winds across parts of New England. Massachusetts was particularly hard hit. There were blizzard conditions at times in eastern Massachusetts.  There were wind gusts to 55 mph at times.

Boston only picked up .50 inches of snow but that set a record for the latest measurable snowfall. Foxboro, Massachusetts picked up 10 inches and 7 inches fell down to Providence, Rhode Island.  For Providence, it was their only measurable snowfall in the 20th century. Heavier amounts of snow fell west of Boston with Worcester picking up 12.7 inches from the event.

One driver gave this description on a message board from www.americanwx.com about the storm :

I was out driving around the communities between 128 and 495.. Lincoln, Sudbury, Concord…

It was absolutely crazy.  Tree branches were crashing down, roads blocked, no plows out…  I called my boss and said, “I need to come in the driving is dangerous out here”.  He acted like I was crazy.  I told him we had 8 inches of snow on the ground and it was snowing heavily.

Here is another account:

We lived in Lexington at the time and lost many tree branches. My Dad was at a meeting at my school that evening, a mile and a half away from home, and couldn’t get home for more than a day because all the roads were blocked. He had to stay with friends that night.

Farther west, the Berkshires of Massachusetts picked up 10-20 inches of snow. 500,000  customers were without power across Massachusetts. Extensive power outages also extended westward into eastern New York and down into Connecticut.

In New York, a foot of snow fell in higher elevations west of Albany and 5 inches fell in the Glen Falls area. Parts of the Mohawk Valley saw 2 to 3 inches of snow. A couple of locations in the Finger Lakes region picked up 4 inches of snow. One location in the Catskill Mountains reported a whopping 27 inches of snow.

Crews attempt to restore power in western Massachusetts while snow is falling on May 9, 1977. Credit-WMEC.

The higher elevations of northern Connecticut picked up over a foot of snow. Hartford recorded 1.5 inches.

Photo of snow on the ground at Tolland, Connecticut, on May 9, 1977. Public Domain.

Only a trace of snow fell around New York City but that was the latest snowfall on record. Trace amounts fell over New Jersey and much of Pennsylvania. Thunderstorms in southern Pennsylvania were accompanied by 70 mph winds.

The only good thing about the storm was that temperatures in the lower elevations were above freezing and with the higher sun angle, most of the roads didn’t become snow covered.

Northern New England also saw snow but only light amounts fell.

Snowfall map for the May 9-10, 1977storm. Map Credit-Kocin-Uccellini/Northeast snowstorms.

Meteorological Conditions

On May 8th there were two areas of low pressure that were moving eastward. The first one was moving across southern Ontario while the other was moving into southern Pennsylvania. These systems were responsible for chilly temperatures and areas of rain.

Around the East Coast, there was a deep trough of low pressure developing. At the surface, the Pennsylvania low became the one dominant low around coastal New England, with, with a deep upper-level trough aloft. Coler sir flowed down into the Northeast region from Canada. There was also some very cold air aloft that was manufactured by the upper trough.

Map 0Z May 10, 1977, showing a deep upper-level trough on the East Coast. Map Credit-Kocin-Uccellini/ Northeast Snowstorms.

As temperatures fell on May 9th, the rain changed to snow in many locations. Due to the time of year, it was mainly an “elevation” snow event, but parts of southeast New England was proximate to the upper-level trough so significant snow fell at the lower elevations as well.

Surface weather map for May 9, 1977, shows a strong low-pressure system along the East Coast and associated precipitation. Map Credit- NOAA Central Library (Daily Weather Maps).

With leaves on the trees and heavy wet snow falling all you had to do was add significant wind to create havoc with trees falling on power lines all over.

Even though the main snow event was on Monday, May 9th, this event is still referred to as the “Mother’s Day Snowstorm” and it’s usually the one first that is mentioned when the topic of may snow comes up. CategoriesSomething Moore Tagsdamage, event, may, norttheast, powerlines, record, snowstorm, wind

https://www.weatherconcierge.com/a-surprise-may-snowstorm-pounded-parts-of-the-northeast-in-1977/

Breaking! Humane Society International Saves 70 Dogs From South Korean Dog Meat Farm & Helps Farmer Transition To Growing Vegetables Instead – World Animal News

By Lauren Lewis – May 7, 2020

Photos By: Humane Society International

More than 70 dogs found languishing on a South Korean dog meat farm by  Humane Society International (HSI) have been given a second chance by the farmer’s decision to quit the dog meat industry once and for all. Mr. Nakseon Kim has been breeding dogs for nearly 40 years, but decided to leave dog farming behind when HSI offered to help him start a new life growing cabbages and other vegetables instead.

Dogs are shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

Amid growing South Korean opposition to eating dogs and new regulations and court rulings cracking down on the industry, farmers like Kim are increasingly looking for an exit strategy.

The HSI Animal Rescue Team rescues a dog at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

“I don’t think there are many people in South Korea who are willing to run dog meat farms anymore. There is no future in this dog meat industry. Once HSI helps me close my dog farm, I think I will start to grow crops instead like lettuce, cabbage, or other greens to sell to restaurants,” Kim said in a statement. “That is a business with a future.”

The HSI Animal Rescue Team rescues a dog at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

Tragically, up to two million dogs a year are bred and raised on thousands of dog meat farms across South Korea.

Dogs are shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

On his property in Hongseong, Kim breeds tosas, Jindos, poodles, beagles, huskies, golden retrievers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and Boston terriers for two abusive industries; the meat trade and the puppy mill trade.

Nara Kim, Campaign Manager of HSI Korea, pets a dog at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

In rows of dilapidated cages, surrounded by animal waste, junk, and garbage, some dogs are destined for the slaughterhouse, and others the unscrupulous puppy mill trade. Despite Korea’s dog meat industry attempting to claim a difference between pet dogs and “meat dogs,” they are all just dogs whose fate ultimately depends on where greatest profits can be made.

The HSI Animal Rescue Team rescues a dog at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

“Unfortunately, it is still very common in South Korea to witness live puppies for sale in pet shop windows. But, what most Koreans will be shocked to learn is that these same puppies could easily have ended up being killed for human consumption instead. Whether they live or die, they are all born in this miserable place, their mothers intensively bred over and over until they are exhausted and eventually sold to slaughterhouses,” stated Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner. “I am so glad that this nightmare has ended for these lovely dogs, but until the government commits to phase out this dreadful industry, the nightmare continues for millions more. As Koreans, we need to be their voice and call for an end to the dog farming and dog meat industries.”

A dog is chained to a dog house at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

Marking the 16th dog farm that HSI has closed since its farmer transition program began in 2015, all the dogs will eventually be flown to partner shelters in Canada and the United States to seek adoptive homes.

The HSI Animal Rescue Team rescues puppies at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

First, they are being relocated to a temporary boarding facility in South Korea while the organization waits for COVID-19 travel restrictions to relax. Once safely off the farm, the dogs will immediately receive a full veterinary check-up and settle into their temporary quarters where they can begin their rehabilitation.

Nara Kim, Campaign Manager of HSI Korea, holds a puppy at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

Dog meat consumption has been steadily declining in South Korea, and is banned or severely restricted in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

The HSI Animal Rescue Team rescues a dog at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

In 2018 both Indonesia and Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi pledged an end to the dog meat trade, and most recently in April 2020, the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai banned dog and cat meat consumption following a public statement by the Chinese government that dogs are considered companions and not livestock.

Nara Kim, Campaign Manager of HSI Korea, organizes the crates after the dogs were rescued at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

As global pressure builds for countries across Asia to permanently close wildlife wet markets amid coronavirus risks, the array of undeniable human health risks by the dog meat trade in South Korea and across Asia is strengthening calls for action to end the trade across the continent.

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https://worldanimalnews.com/breaking-humane-society-international-saves-70-dogs-from-south-korean-dog-meat-farm-helps-farmer-transition-to-growing-vegetables-instead/

‘Grim Reaper’ attorney haunts Florida beaches to protest their premature reopening

Positive Outlooks Blog

Published by Farah R. | Positive Outlooks 


The grim reaper attorney haunts beaches.

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Florida residents are more than happy to trade their stay-at-home outfits for their swim gear now that some beaches in the state have reopened. After a month-long lockdown because of the COVID-19 outbreak, many Floridians are getting their dose of sunshine by the seaside.

Daniel Uhlfelder, an attorney from the state, is hitting the beaches, too, but he isn’t there to take a dip; he’s there to protest their reopening, which he believes is premature. And he’s doing so complete with a Grim Reaper costume: a raggedy black robe, a black cloth to cover his face, and a scythe.Twitter

The macabre outfit was his way of making people reconsider going to the beach.

“The Grim Reaper represents death. This is a deadly virus. It’s a global pandemic,” he told ABC13.

Uhlfelder is an advocate for public beach access in Florida, even clashing with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, whose Panhandle home was parked on a private beach. This time, however, he thinks allowing anyone on the beach amid a pandemic is a dangerous mistake.

“We aren’t at the point now where we have enough testing, enough data, enough preparation for what’s going to be coming to our state from all over the world from this pandemic,” he told CNN.10247393_305896546226047_7655357214415001829_n(2)

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Wielding a scythe, Uhlfelder traveled to the beaches around Walton County, Florida, that have reopened ahead of the state’s planned May 4 “Phase 1“ reopening. This initial reopening will allow restaurants and retailers to operate at 25% capacity. Bars, salons, and gyms will remain closed until further announcement.

He said the beaches he visited last Friday were “very crowded”.

“I know how beautiful and attractive our beaches are. But if we don’t take measures to control things, this virus is going to get really, really out of control,” he said.

Aside from urging people to go home, the protest is also an effort to bring in funds for the campaigns of Democratic candidates, Phil Ehr and Christy Smith.

On March 20, the ‘grim reaper’ attorney filed a suit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis explaining that the leader’s unwillingness to issue a statewide mandate closing down beaches put Floridians at risk of being infected with the coronavirus. However, this was dismissed by Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll in April. He said that it’s in the governor’s discretion how he would handle emergencies, according to the state’s constitution.EW-Iz36XgAM2cQ3(2)

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This isn’t the first time the attorney has pulled a stunt to get people off the beaches during a pandemic. Last month, he traveled to Florida wearing a less grim outfit – a paintball costume – to promote social distancing, according to NBC News.

He said a woman told him that he was “scaring people,” to which he responded, “OK, that’s good.”

“If people are scared, then they’ll leave. I want to go back to normal as soon as possible, too, but opening our beaches too early is not the way to do this,” he reasoned.TwitterEW9N0xoX0AIL_c5(2)

There are nearly 35,000 coronavirus cases and 1,314 deaths recorded in the state of Florida, according to Johns Hopkins University.

DeSantis defended the reopening of beaches, citing a study conducted by the Department of Homeland Security about sunlight’s ability to kill the virus.

“The DHS study said that sunlight rapidly killed the virus in aerosols, and it said that outdoor daytime environments are lower risk for transmission of the virus than indoor environments,” he said. “In terms of surfaces, when a virus may be left on a surface DHS study concluded that sunlight kills the virus quickly, and that the virus is less stable overall at higher temperatures and higher humidity.”

There is no written report in existence for this study yet, although the results are being submitted for peer review and publication in scientific journals.

Watch the interview of the attorney in the video below.

How Halley’s Comet will spark tonight’s meteor shower

fox43.com

4-5 minutes


The second meteor shower in as many weeks will dazzle the eyes of stargazers around the globe tonight.

The second meteor shower in as many weeks will dazzle the eyes of stargazers around the globe, but the light show will be battling against the glow of a nearly full moon when it reaches its peak.

The Eta Aquarids is an annual meteor shower in early May, and this year, reaches its climax on Monday night and the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning.

“This shower happens to be one of if not the best in the Southern Hemisphere,” AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel said. “It is a moderate shower for the Northern Hemisphere.”

People living south of the equator may count as many as 40 shooting stars per hour at the height of the celestial light show, the American Meteor Society (AMS) said. This includes Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South America.

“From the equator northward, they usually only produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn,” the AMS added.

This year, the meteor shower will be peaking just two nights before the final supermoon of 2020. The bright moon may make it difficult to see some of the fainter meteors, but it should not completely wash out the shower.

Of course, weather and cloud cover will significantly factor into how well sky gazers in different parts of the country are able to witness the meteor shower.

Onlookers across the southern U.S. and the interior West are forecast to have the best viewing contains for 2020’s iteration of the Eta Aquarids. Mainly clear conditions are also on tap for parts of New England and into Quebec.

A storm gathering over the central U.S. will spread disruptive clouds over much of the Midwest and into parts of Appalachia, obscuring the night sky.

Clouds could also spoil the meteor shower over the Pacific Northwest as a storm moves into the region.

The Eta Aquarids will be active on the nights leading up to and immediately following the peak, so people that have cloudy weather on Monday night may be able to spot some shooting stars later in the week when the clouds clear.

No special equipment is needed to watch a meteor shower, although people should pack some patience when heading out to spend some time under the stars.

“Give yourself a solid hour to look for meteors. Get comfortable. Lay down on a blanket, or a reclining chair,” Samuhel said.

People should also avoid looking toward the moon, which will be above the horizon for most of the night. Looking at the moon can make it harder to see meteors, so try to focus in the darkest part of the sky.

Where to see the Aquarids in 2020. AccuWeather

The best time to watch the meteor shower will be after midnight once the shower’s radiant point climbs above the horizon.

The radiant point is simply the part of the sky where the meteors originate, but you do not need to look in this direction so spot meteors. However, as the radiant point climbs higher in the sky, more and more meteors will able to be seen.

Many of the meteor showers throughout the year are caused by debris left behind by comets when they visit the inner solar system. When this debris enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it burns incredibly bright for a few brief seconds.

“The majority of visible meteors are caused by particles ranging in size from about that of a small pebble down to a grain of sand, and generally weigh less than 1-2 grams,” the AMS said.

The debris that causes the Eta Aquarids is actually dust left behind by one of the most famous comets – Halley’s Comet.

Halley’s Comet only orbits the sun once every 75 years, but each year in early May, the Earth passes through some of the debris that it left behind.

“The Eta Aquarids are one of two meteor showers sparked by Halley’s comet. The other being the Orionids in October.”

What are shooting stars? This graphic explains. AccuWeather

People that miss out on the Eta Aquarids will need to wait a few months before the next opportunity to catch a meteor shower.

According to the AMS, the next major meteor shower will not peak until late July.

Why the largest-ever Arctic ozone hole just closed

The weather helped close the largest-ever Arctic ozone hole. Author: John Roach (AccuWeather) Published: 5:37 PM EDT April 29, 2020

Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, ECMWF

An ozone hole over the Arctic that was the largest ever recorded there has closed, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). And its beginning and end have nothing to do with climate change, global warming or a reduction in air pollution because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has to do simply with the weather. null

CAMS monitored the rather unusual ozone hole that formed over the Arctic this spring and was reported closed April 23. Ozone holes are more common over the Antarctic every year, according to CAMS, but “the conditions needed for such strong ozone depletion are not normally found in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The Arctic stratosphere is usually less isolated than its Antarctic counterpart because the presence of nearby land masses and mountain ranges disturbs the weather patterns more than in the Southern Hemisphere, CAMS reports. The total column ozone field (in Dobson Units) from CAMS on 29 March 2020 showing values below 250 DU over large parts of the Arctic. (Source: Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, ECMWF) Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, ECMWF

This year, however, a particularly strong polar vortex helped create the Arctic ozone hole, in which most of the ozone typically found around 11 miles into the stratosphere was depleted, according to CNN. The last time such a strong depletion was observed in the Arctic was almost a decade ago.

So, why did it occur this year?

“The behavior of the ozone and the stratospheric polar vortex during the winter into spring is supported by a couple of research papers,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck. “They state that the coldest and strongest polar vortex in the stratosphere and the lowest concentration of ozone over the Arctic are more likely to occur when you have a combination of a solar minimum, which we are in now, and a westerly QBO [quasi-biennial oscillation, meaning lower stratospheric westerly winds over the equator], which we had from last summer through most of this winter.

“These are all naturally occurring processes,” Smerbeck said.

A polar vortex that remained above the polar region without weakening and a strong positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) were among a combination of factors that led the contiguous U.S. to experience higher-than-normal temperatures from December 2019 through February 2020. null

“When you have a strong polar vortex that remains in the polar region, it tends to keep frigid air pent up so that it is difficult for long-lasting outbreaks of frigid conditions to reach the middle latitudes, including portions of the Midwest and Northeast,” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok. null https://d-3112960409381993533.ampproject.net/2004240001480/frame.html

“Dr. Erickson COVID-19 Briefing, Pt. 2”

“Dr. Erickson COVID-19 Briefing”

 

Old School Medicine Looks Promising For COVID-19 Patients

“Fauci: There will be a surprise outbreak” ( This is from 2017)

This is quite an improvement!

https://twitter.com/XposeTrophyHunt/status/1253402315282735105?s=09

Celebrating 50 Years

Congratulations Graduates

Celebrating 50 years

Join them live 2 p.m. EDT April 22

Check out Yosemite National Park Live on Facebook 3p.m. (PDT) April 22

“Born Wild”on National Geographic

Tulane receives $10 million grant to fight COVID-19

Tulane receives $10 million grant to fight COVID-19
Chad Roy, director of infectious disease aerobiology at Tulane National Primate Research Center, will lead the project to evaluate the nation’s most promising vaccines and treatments against COVID-19. Photo by Sally Asher. (Source: Tulane University)

By Chris Finch | April 7, 2020 at 12:59 PM CDT – Updated April 8 at 10:12 AM

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington has been awarded $10.3 million to evaluate the nation’s most promising vaccines and treatments to combat COVID-19.

The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases granted the award Tuesday.

COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, is an emerging infectious disease that has infected over 1.17 million people and claimed more than 64,000 lives in a global pandemic. No vaccines or treatments currently exist to treat the highly contagious disease.

The three-year NIH/NIAID award will initially study three species of nonhuman primates to determine which most closely mimics COVID-19 infection and transmission as experienced by humans. A nonhuman primate model will provide key information about the characteristics of the disease and will help researchers determine which candidate COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are safe and effective.

A nonhuman primate model also helps researchers understand which underlying health conditions, or comorbidities, can make some people more susceptible to complications from the disease.

“The range of biological responses to COVID-19 is incredibly wide,” said lead investigator Chad Roy, professor of microbiology and immunology in the Tulane University School of Medicine and director of infectious disease aerobiology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center. “We know relatively little about the intricacies of the disease — like why some infections result in mild disease, while others experience severe complications or death.”

SEE MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE HERE

Once a reliable nonhuman primate model of disease has been established, Tulane researchers will then test promising vaccines and therapeutics for safety and effectiveness before promoting them for use in human clinical trials.

“We will be a primary site for evaluating the nation’s leading medical countermeasures against COVID-19,” Roy said. “Receiving this award is a testament to the unique capabilities of the Tulane National Primate Research Center and the international reputation of Tulane University as a leader in infectious disease research.”

Copyright 2020 WVUE. All rights reserved.

Chris Finch

Published 1h at 2:10 PM

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Tiger King mauled by real tiger keeper who was horrified by animal abuse

IMG_20190813_151752https://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/tiger-king-mauled-real-tiger-21864552.amp?__twitter_impression=true

mirror.co.uk

by Will Twigger13:20, 14 Apr 2020Updated20:35, 14 Apr 2020 3-4 minutes


Carolyn Mueller Kelly was disgusted by the ‘appalling’ animal abuse in the Netflix hit after she was urged to give it a watch by friends

69026730_1301621583339975_6805219373767196672_n.jpg

A zoo keeper has lashed out at Netflix hit Tiger King for the “appalling” animal abuse committed by the show’s central figure, Joe Exotic.

Joe – real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage – is currently serving time behind bars for 17 federal charges of animal abuse, as well as two counts of murder for hire.

Tiger King focuses on Joe and his collection of exotic animals.

Now, tiger keeper Carolyn Mueller Kelly has given her damning verdict on the show after she finally sat down to watch it on the insistence of her pals.

“The animal abuse was appalling,” she wrote for Huffington Post. The show focuses on the character of Joe Exotic(Image: Daily Mirror)

“Seeing Joe Exotic tear tiger cubs, only minutes old, away from their mother so that they could become props in his ‘cub petting’ scheme is not a scene I will quickly forget.”

Carolyn, though, took more of an issue with Big Cat Rescue founder and Joe’s nemesis Carole Baskin’s claim that she doesn’t hire animal caretakers, as “people will do that stuff for free.”

Carolyn describes the degree of care and attention the animals need, as well as the expertise required for someone to take care of these animals, expressing discomfort with the notion that just anyone would come along to do it. 74336241_1378907645611368_7231688142833582080_n

Carolyn slammed Joe for his cruelty(Image: Daily Mirror)

She continues that Carole’s attitude is even more troubling in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I was prepping to leave my safe space,” she writes, “Potentially risking the safety of my family, to care for the zoo’s animals.”

Mirror Online has approached representatives of Netflix for comment.

Carole responded to calls to pay her volunteers with a video posted to her YouTube channel, in which she explains that the care of the animals at Big Cat Rescue is done by volunteers and interns. 0_CRP_CHP__272JPG

Carole said people would ask as caretakers for the animals ‘for free.

‘(Image: Netflix)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they have had to let go of half their paid staff, and Carole and her husband have taken a pay cut.

She added that the volunteers love being around and caring for the animals, and that she’s offered to pay volunteers in the past – which has been met with refusal.

She also said that Big Cat Rescue receives “excellent ratings” from charity watchdog groups.”

Despite her horror at what is perpetrated during the series, Carolyn ends her piece with a message of hope.

“None of us knows what a post-pandemic world will look like,” she admits, “But I sure hope that there will be a bright future for both humans and tigers.

joe_exotic_mugshot_by_state_of_florida-366x400-1

Please this sign petition.

DON’T Pardon Infamous Serial Animal Abuser – Animal Petitions

You can see the moon shine with Jupiter, Saturn and Mars before dawn this week. Here’s how. | Space

mY2kNCt4TQX4xka4hKPDES-970-80https://www.space.com/spot-jupiter-saturn-mars-near-moon-april-2020.html?utm_source=Selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=9155&utm_content=SDC_Newsletter+&utm_term=3223716&m_i=OguOHLq08fYMS2poQl1JxqUlss2K%2BeT1nTNSdb_FkjNvhHVBqwG8GUBLFMYeXpihw58T4307QfdvsKGL8JXCIHaXZ7CtSY1tNUN6QUeOOa

 

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It happens April 14, 15 and 16!

Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will all dance near the moon this week. (Image: © Starry Night)

The predawn hours this week will sparkle as Jupiter, Saturn and Mars dance around the moon on consecutive mornings.

On Tuesday morning (April 14), the moon will be moving toward the largest planet in our solar system, giant Jupiter. Then, on Wednesday (April 15), the moon will meet up with the ringed wonder of our planetary system, Saturn. Finally, on Thursday (April 16), it will be the turn of the god of war, Mars, to have a summit meeting with the moon

Of course, such alignments are all just a matter of perspective. Our moon will be about 243,000 miles (390,000 kilometers) away from Earth during these encounters, while Mars stands 125 million miles (200 million km), Jupiter is 473 million miles (761 million km) distant, and Saturn is even farther out in space at 936 million miles (1.51 billion km). 

Related: Here’s what to see in the night sky while you’re stuck at home
More:
The brightest planets in April’s night sky: How to see them (and when)Click here for more Space.com videos…

Moon and Jupiter  

Early Tuesday morning at around 3 a.m. local daylight time, look low toward the southeast horizon and you will see the rising of the “half,” or last-quarter, moon. Located about 8.5 degrees to its lower left and shining brilliantly will be Jupiter. By around 5 a.m., both the moon and the planet will be considerably higher up in the south-southeast part of the sky. (Reminder: Your clenched fist held at arm’s length covers about 10 degrees of sky.)

If you have a telescope, the best time to check out Jupiter will be just after the break of dawn, when the planet will appear at its highest above the horizon. The gas giant provides a feast of detail, especially in moderately large telescopes, and provides at least a few grey cloud belts (not to mention its four large Galilean moons) even for small telescopes.

In fact, if you check out Jupiter Tuesday morning, you’ll see all four moons “strung out” in a nearly straight line on one side of the big planet. They are, in order of distance from Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Add our own moon and you’ll have five for the price of one!Image 1 of 2

Jupiter will come close to the moon in the early hours of April 14, 2020.
(Image credit: Starry Night)

Jupiter will come close to the moon in the early hours of April 14, 2020.

Jupiter and its moons in a "string of pearls" formation on April 14, 2020.
(Image credit: Starry Night)

Jupiter and its moons in a “string of pearls” formation on April 14, 2020.

Jupiter will come close to the moon in the early hours of April 14, 2020.
(Image credit: Starry Night)

Jupiter will come close to the moon in the early hours of April 14, 2020.

Jupiter and its moons in a "string of pearls" formation on April 14, 2020.
(Image credit: Starry Night)

Jupiter and its moons in a “string of pearls” formation on April 14, 2020.

Moon and Saturn 

On Wednesday, if you can stay up until the last lonely hours before dawn again, you’ll see a slightly slimmer, waning crescent moon rise low in the southeast at 3:30 a.m.; sitting about 3 degrees to its upper right will be a star-like object shining with a sedate yellowish-white tint. That will be Saturn.

At a magnitude of -2.2 Jupiter stands out like the proverbial sore thumb, even when close to the bright moon. Saturn, at magnitude +0.6, is about 13 times dimmer. The ringed planet might not immediately call attention to itself, although it will be the brightest object in the moon’s vicinity Wednesday morning. You might notice that Jupiter, Saturn and the moon combine to make a rather eye-catching isosceles triangle, with the lengths of the Jupiter/Saturn and Jupiter/moon “legs” equal to 5.5 degrees, while the Saturn/moon “base” is 3 degrees wide. 

As with Jupiter, you should wait until 5 a.m. to check Saturn out with a telescope, although the planet will appear lower than Jupiter and as such its image might appear a bit distorted due to atmospheric turbulence. The great ring system is tilted 22.5 degrees to our line of sight and can be glimpsed in a small telescope or high-powered binoculars with magnifications as low as 25 power. 

Saturn will come close to the moon in the early hours of April 15, 2020.
Saturn will come close to the moon in the early hours of April 15, 2020. (Image credit: Starry Night)

Moon and Mars 

Finally, on Thursday morning, the moon will visit Mars, passing 3.5 degrees below and to the left of the Red Planet. Start looking low to the east-southeast horizon soon after 4 a.m. as the pair slowly ascends. 

Have you noticed how much brighter Mars is becoming as it continues to approach Earth? Currently, Mars shines at magnitude +0.6, but it will increase nearly 20-fold in brightness between now and early October, as it comes roughly 500,000 miles (800,000 km) closer to us each day. 

Related: Best night sky events of April 2020 (stargazing maps)

Mars will approach the moon on April 16, 2020.
Mars will approach the moon on April 16, 2020. (Image credit: Starry Night)

Looking ahead to a once-in-a-lifetime event 

As we have previously noted, Jupiter and Saturn are currently separated by 5.5 degrees in our sky, but in the coming months, this situation is going to change dramatically. At roughly 20-year intervals, Jupiter and Saturn engage in a conjunction, coming quite close to each other in Earth’s sky, after Jupiter’s faster motion around the sun allows it to overtake Saturn in our sky. 

The last time this happened was in May 2000; later this year it will happen again. Usually, when Jupiter and Saturn “meet,” they approach to within a degree or two of each other in our skies. But what will happen in December will be nothing short of extraordinary. On Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn will come to within six arc minutes, or 0.1 degree of each other.

That’s just one-fifth the apparent diameter of the moon. It will be by far the closest that these two planets have appeared relative to each other since the year 1623 — and so close together that if you use a telescope and a high-power eyepiece, you will be able to fit both planets in the same field of view!

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers’ Almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

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Slowing the Spread

Brooklyn man arrested for hoarding masks, coughing on FBI agents

 

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nypost.com

Brooklyn man arrested for hoarding masks, coughing on FBI agents

By Carl Campanile 4 minutes


Metro

March 30, 2020 | 9:31pm

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The scene where 80,000 N95 face masks were confiscated during an FBI raid at a warehouse in New Jersey. Christopher Sadowski

The scene where 80,000 N95 face masks were confiscated during an FBI raid at a warehouse in New Jersey. Christopher Sadowski

The scene where 80,000 N95 face masks were confiscated during an FBI raid at a warehouse in New Jersey. Christopher Sadowski

The scene where 80,000 N95 face masks were confiscated during an FBI raid at a warehouse in New Jersey. Christopher Sadowski

The scene where 80,000 N95 face masks were confiscated during an FBI raid at a warehouse in New Jersey. Christopher Sadowski

A Brooklyn man claiming to be infected with the coronavirus coughed on FBI agents who were investigating him for hoarding medical supplies, the US Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, is facing charges of assault and making false statements to the feds on Sunday outside his Borough Park home where he allegedly peddled and stored massive amounts of N95 respirator masks, federal officials said.

Feldheim is also accused of price-gouging. On March 18, he’s suspected of selling a New Jersey doctor about 1,000 of the masks for $12,000, a markup of roughly 700 percent, authorities said.

The accused fraudster also directed another doctor to an Irvington, NJ, auto repair shop to pick up another order. There, the doctor reported to investigators that Feldheim was allegedly hoarding enough medical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”

The materials included hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, chemical cleaning agents and surgical supplies.

By last Monday, Feldheim was operating from his Brooklyn home, offering to push surgical gowns to a nurse, the feds said.

Two days later, the suspected hoarder received a gigantic shipment at his home of about eight pallets of face masks.

FBI agents then staked out his house, first noticing empty boxes of N95 masks outside.

On Sunday, they said they witnessed “multiple instances” of people approaching Feldheim’s residence and walking away with what appeared to be medical supplies.

The agents confronted Feldheim outside his house, keeping a safe social distance over coronavirus fears.

“When the agents were within four to five feet of him, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth,” the US attorney’s release said. “At that point, Feldheim told the FBI agents that that he had the Coronavirus,” the statement said.

Feldheim then allegedly lied to FBI agents regarding his possession and sale of medical supplies.

He falsely told the agents that he worked for a company that bought and sold PPE and that he never took physical custody of the materials.

Following Feldheim’s arrest, the FBI on Monday night raided a warehouse on Pennsylvania Avenue in an industrial section of Linden, NJ, that housed Feldhim’s suspected stash of 80,000 masks, a source said.

Mask-wearing agents and other workers placed the eight pallets of medical supplies into a box truck.

The arrest comes after President Trump claimed that some medical supplies were being swiped from New York City hospitals, which Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed as insulting.

Don’t forget the face mask

“See the World From an Eagle Eye’s View | Super-powered Eagles | BBC Earth”

This site calculates your toilet paper supply | Absolute News

(UnitedVoice.com) – The coronavirus pandemic has raised a lot of questions over the past few months but none has been more absurd than: Do I have enough toilet paper to last me through this crisis? As crazy as it may seem, suppliers around the world can’t keep up with local demand as people stampede their way through store aisles panic buying up as much toilet paper as they possibly can. Most of the fear and panic comes as local, state, and federal authorities are asking folks to stay home to help stop the spread of this deadly disease. And for some people, it seems the thought of running out of toilet paper during a mandatory quarantine is just too overwhelming. Recently, a video of a Florida couple buying up all the toilet paper in the store was shared on the internet.

 This is happening in stores all across the world as people fear for the worst. To help stop the “toilet paper madness of 2020,” a London-based student and software developer, Ben Sassoon, and artist Sam Harris created the site howmuchtoiletpaper.com to help calculate how long your current stash of toilet paper will last and how much toilet paper you’ll actually need to endure a mandated quarantine. The site says it’s also making a plea for people to stop panic buying saying, “Not everyone is able to get to a store and stock up on toilet roll. Don’t be selfish.” It’s never been a more important time for human beings to remain united as the nation struggles in a time of crisis. Buying up more than your fair share of essential supplies is wrong and plain selfish. Be kind, be caring, and remember…we’re all in this together. Copyright 2020, UnitedVoice.com

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