Friday, July 31, 2020

CDC: Hundreds sick, 1 dead in nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to chicks, ducklings

Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
,USA TODAY•July 31, 2020

Chicks and ducklings kept in backyards are the likely source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 1,000 people and killed one person, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The outbreak nearly doubled in size since the CDC's last report on June 24. Sick people range in age from 1 to 94-years-old, and more than 150 people have been hospitalized.

A separate salmonella outbreak tied to red onions has caused nearly 400 cases reported in 34 states this month.


3 Georgia inmates are being praised for rescuing their guard after he fell unconscious and split his head open

Michelle Mark)
,INSIDER•July 30, 2020

Three inmates in a Georgia jail have been commended for rushing to save one of their guards who passed out and split his head open.

The incident, which drew attention on social media, has sparked a flurry of donations to the inmates' accounts.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office said the inmates had pounded on their cell doors when they saw the deputy fall — when he awoke, he thought an inmate needed help and released the cell doors to free them.

The three inmates, Terry Loveless, Walter Whitehead, and Mitchell Smalls, then came to his aid and used his phone and radio to call for help.

The inmates later said in a video that they knew the guard would have done the same for them, and that they couldn't just leave him bleeding on the ground.


Irregularities In COVID Reporting Contract Award Process Raises New Questions

As soon as I heard about the new process, I wondered if the company that got the contract benefited the Trumps or their friends, because of their habitual way of doing things.

July 29, 20208:11 PM ET
Dina Temple- Raston
Tim Mak in 2018.

An NPR investigation has found irregularities in the process by which the Trump administration awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a Pittsburgh company to collect key data about COVID-19 from the country's hospitals.

The contract is at the center of a controversy over the administration's decision to move that data reporting function from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which has tracked infection information for a range of illnesses for years — to the Department of Health and Human Services.


Among the findings of the NPR investigation:

The Department of Health and Human Services initially characterized the contract with TeleTracking as a no-bid contract. When asked about that, HHS said there was a "coding error" and that the contract was actually competitively bid.

The process by which HHS awarded the contract is normally used for innovative scientific research, not the building of government databases.

HHS had directly phoned the company about the contract, according to a company spokesperson.

TeleTracking CEO Michael Zamagias had links to the New York real estate world — and in particular, a firm that financed billions of dollars in projects with the Trump Organization.


COVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies

July 31, 20205:00 AM ET
Pien Huang
Selena Simmons-Duffin

Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete, transparent, and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.


The delays and problems with data on the availability of beds, ventilators and safety equipment could have profound consequences as infections and deaths soar throughout most of the country, public health experts say.

"If the information is not accurate, it could cost time — and lives," says Lisa M. Lee, formerly the chief science officer for public health surveillance at CDC, now at Virginia Tech. For instance, knowing which hospitals have the capacity to take on new patients is critical, she explains. "If all the ICU beds are taken up, emergency medical personnel need to take [new patients] to the next town over or to the next county."


Hospitals are supposed to report daily to the federal government the total many beds they have, the number occupied and the availability of intensive care beds. Under the new system, the Department of Health and Human Services aggregates the information at a state level, and shares a daily spreadsheet of the information that has been reported — gaps and all.

But the old CDC approach interpreted the data a step further. CDC posted estimates derived from the data to show an approximation of the actual availability of ICU beds, accounting for the lags and gaps in reporting. These estimates — promised on the HHS website — have not been updated in over a week.

By contrast, the CDC estimates was updated three times a week. And while the data sent to CDC was vetted for accuracy before being posted publicly, the data sent to the new platform appears to be posted as it is received and contains multiple anomalies, analysts note.


The data now available to the public appears to be neither faster nor more complete.

When HHS took over the collection and reporting of this hospital capacity data, it promised to update "multiple times each day." Later, the agency walked that back to say it would be updated daily.

Those daily updates have yet to materialize. On Thursday, an HHS spokesperson told NPR via e-mail, "We will be updating the site to make it clear that the estimates are only updated weekly."


After the data reporting switch, unusual numbers started cropping up in data that show how many hospital beds are filled in a given state, data analysts say. In some states, the bed occupancy rates soared, even though the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients dropped or only increased modestly.

Take, for example, Arizona. Under the old system, in data last collected by CDC on July 14, an estimated 3,205 COVID-19 patients in Arizona occupied 24% of the state's inpatient hospital beds. After the switch to the new HHS reporting system, an analogous dataset posted by HHS showed 82 fewer COVID-19 patients hospitalized, but the bed occupancy rate had jumped to 42%. It's unclear how fewer patients could be occupying more hospital capacity.

There are similar anomalies in the data for other states, including Georgia and New Mexico.


WHO reports record daily increase in global coronavirus cases, up over 292,000

July 31, 2020

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 292,527.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. Deaths rose by 6,812. The four countries have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 284,196 on July 24. Deaths rose by 9,753 on July 24, the second largest one-day increase ever. Deaths have been averaging 5,200 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

Nearly 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the last week, around double the number that did so the previous week, according to a Reuters tally showing a pick-up in the pandemic in every region of the world.


Twitter says spear-phishing attack on employees led to breach

Thu 30 Jul 2020 22.58 EDT

Twitter said a large hack two weeks ago targeted a small number of employees through a phone “spear-phishing” attack.

The social media platform said the hackers targeted about 130 accounts, tweeted from 45, accessed the inboxes of 36, and were able to download Twitter data from seven.

Attackers also targeted specific employees who had access to account support tools, Twitter said. The company added it has since restricted access to its internal tools and systems.


Publicly available blockchain records show the apparent scammers received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

The “spear-phishing” technique is a practice of sending emails ostensibly from a known or trusted sender in order to induce targeted individuals to reveal confidential information.

Night-time exposure to blue light associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer

News Release 29-Jul-2020
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

Blue light has become an increasingly common component of urban outdoor lighting. But how does it impact our health? A team led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation, has conducted the first study of the association between night-time exposure to outdoor artificial light and colorectal cancer. The findings, published in Epidemiology, show that exposure to the blue light spectrum may increase the risk of this type of cancer.

Previous studies have found associations between night-time exposure to artificial light--especially blue light--and various adverse health effects, including sleep disorders, obesity and increased risk of various types of cancer, especially in night-shift workers. Blue light is a range of the visible light spectrum emitted by most white LEDs and many tablet and phone screens. An earlier study by ISGlobal found a link between exposure to blue light at night and increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.


Results from both cities showed that participants with the highest exposures to blue light had a 60% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than the less exposed population. No association was found with full-spectrum light.

"Night-time exposure to light, especially blue-spectrum light, can decrease the production and secretion of melatonin, depending on the intensity and wavelength of the light," explains Kogevinas.


COVID-19 may cause deadly blood clots

News Release 29-Jul-2020
The Endocrine Society

COVID-19 may increase the risk of blot cots in women who are pregnant or taking estrogen with birth control or hormone replacement therapy, according to a new manuscript published in the Endocrine Society's journal, Endocrinology.

One of the many complications of COVID-19 is the formation of blood clots in previously healthy people. Estrogen increases the chance of blood clots during pregnancy and in women taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy. If infected with COVID-19, these women's risk of blood clotting could be even higher, and they may need to undergo anticoagulation therapy or to discontinue their estrogen medicines.


Major climate initiative in the Northeastern US benefits children's health

News Release 29-Jul-2020
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

A new study by researchers from the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health reports that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has been successful in reducing fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions and substantially improving children's health, both major co-benefits of this climate policy. Among the benefits between 2009-2014 were an estimated 537 avoided cases of childhood asthma, 112 preterm births, 98 cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and 56 cases of term low birthweight. The associated economic savings were estimated at $191 to $350 million over the years. These findings are published today in Environmental Health Perspectives,

Initiated in 2009, RGGI is the country's first regional cap- and- trade program designed to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector.


Vaping linked with heart problems

News Release 29-Jul-2020
European Society of Cardiology

Sophia Antipolis, 30 July 2020: In adolescents the use of e-cigarettes doubles the risk of starting to smoke traditional cigarettes, states a position paper published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).


Research has shown that e-cigarettes raise blood pressure and heart rate, change the artery walls so that they become stiffer and less elastic, and inhibit the function of blood vessels by damaging their lining. Each of these four effects are risk factors for blood clots and fatty build-up inside artery walls which can cause heart attacks. A study last year found a link between e-cigarettes and heart attacks.

On top of the heart effects, evidence is accumulating that vaping has negative effects on the lungs and is detrimental to the developing foetus during pregnancy. Preliminary research indicates that e-cigarettes could cause cancer.

It's not clear whether e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, since studies have produced conflicting results. "When these studies are pooled together it does not show that e-cigarettes are more effective than conventional, well-tested stop smoking methods," said Professor Løchen. "In addition, people who use e-cigarettes for smoking cessation often end up being double consumers of both traditional tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes."

"E-cigarettes should only be used for smoking cessation if nothing else has worked and the individual is carefully monitored for adverse effects," she added.


Exposure to environmental chemicals may disrupt sleep during menopause

News Release 29-Jul-2020
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

For menopausal women who have difficulty sleeping, it might be because of chemicals in the environment. A new study based on data from the Midlife Women's Health Study suggests that exposure to various chemicals, such as phthalates, found in hundreds of products used daily, is associated with sleep disruptions in midlife women. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Up to 60% of women in the menopause transition experience sleep difficulties. Women who have trouble falling asleep are at greater risk of developing persistent depression that can lead to worse health outcomes, may require more medical care, and increase absenteeism.

Earlier studies have shown that such sleep disruption is the result of decreasing hormone levels. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), however, is one largely unexplored area that may help to explain the increased prevalence of sleep difficulties in midlife women. Phthalates are common EDCs that are found in industrial plasticizers and chemical stabilizers. Phthalates increase the performance of everything from food packaging and clothing to cosmetics and children's toys. Personal care products, in particular, represent a major area of exposure.

Although everyone is exposed to phthalates, they appear to concentrate more in women than men. A previous study suggested that increased exposure to phthalates from personal care products significantly increased the risk of hot flashes. Other studies have demonstrated associations between phthalate exposure and the likelihood of waking up at night, as well as the risk of suffering from depression.


COVID-19: Social media users more likely to believe false information

News Release 29-Jul-2020
McGill University

A new study led by researchers at McGill University finds that people who get their news from social media are more likely to have misperceptions about COVID-19. Those that consume more traditional news media have fewer misperceptions and are more likely to follow public health recommendations like social distancing.


"Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming the primary sources of news and misinformation for Canadians and people around the world. In the context of a crisis like COVID-19, however, there is good reason to be concerned about the role that the consumption of social media is playing in boosting misperceptions," says co-author Aengus Bridgman, a PhD Candidate in Political Science at McGill University under the supervision of Dietlind Stolle.

Results showed that, compared to traditional news media, false or inaccurate information about COVID-19 is circulated more on social media platforms like Twitter. The researchers point to a big difference in the behaviours and attitudes of people who get their news from social media versus news media - even after taking into account demographics as well as factors like scientific literacy and socio-economic differences. Canadians who regularly consume social media are less likely to observe social distancing and to perceive COVID-19 as a threat, while the opposite is true for people that get their information from news media.


Young kids could spread COVID-19 as much as older children and adults

News Release 30-Jul-2020
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

A study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago discovered that children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of genetic material for the virus in the nose compared to older children and adults. Findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other age groups. The ability of younger children to spread COVID-19 may have been under-recognized given the rapid and sustained closure of schools and daycare during the pandemic.

"We found that children under 5 with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV," says lead author Taylor Heald-Sargent, MD, PhD, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children's and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare."


Academic achievement is influenced by how pupils 'do' gender at school

Some of us don't "defy traditional gender stereotypes", we ignore them, find them silly and irrelevant.

News Release 30-Jul-2020
University of Cambridge

Pupils' achievements at school are often shaped by the way that they 'act out' specific gender roles, according to a new study which warns against over-generalising the gender gap in education.

The study, by researchers at the University of Cambridge, suggests that young people's attainment is linked to their ideas about what it means to be male or female. Those who defy traditional gender stereotypes appear to do better in the classroom.


In reality, most people exhibit a combination of masculine and feminine traits and the researchers found that pupils typically belonged to one of seven gender profiles that blended these characteristics. They classified these as:

'Resister boys' (69% of boys): typically resist traditional ideas about masculinity.
'Cool guys' (21%): competitive risk-takers, but concerned with appearance and romantic success.
'Tough guys' (10%): have an emotionally 'hard' image, self-reliant.
'Relational girls' (32% of girls): shun appearance norms, comfortable connecting with others emotionally.
'Modern girls' (49%): concerned with appearance, but also self-reliant and emotionally distant.
'Tomboys' (12%): uninterested in feminine qualities, often regarded as 'one of the lads.'
'Wild girls' (7%): embrace masculine behaviours, but also display an exaggeratedly 'feminine' appearance.


the researchers also found strong correlations between the specific gender profiles and patterns of engagement, motivation, and attainment. The two groups who resisted conventional gender norms - resister boys and relational girls - were found to be 'better academically adjusted' and typically did well in exams. The lowest overall performers were the 'cool guys' and 'tough guys'.


"Among boys in particular, we found that those who resist gender norms were in the majority, but at school it often doesn't feel that way," Yu said. "Teachers and parents can help by encouraging pupils to feel that they won't be ridiculed or marginalised if they don't conform to traditional gender roles. Our findings certainly suggest that resistance to stereotypes is fast becoming less the exception, and more the rule."

Forty percent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by targeting 12 risk factors throughout life

News Release 30-Jul-2020
University of Southern California - Health Sciences

Modifying 12 risk factors over a lifetime could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an updated report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC 2020).

Twenty-eight world-leading dementia experts added three new risk factors in the new report -- excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life and air pollution in later life. These are in addition to nine factors previously identified by the commission in 2017: less education early in life; mid-life hearing loss, hypertension and obesity; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity and diabetes later in life (65 and up).


Laughter acts as a stress buffer -- and even smiling helps

News Release 30-Jul-2020
University of Basel

People who laugh frequently in their everyday lives may be better equipped to deal with stressful events - although this does not seem to apply to the intensity of laughter. These are the findings reported by a research team from the University of Basel in the journal PLOS ONE.


Your brain parasite isn't making you sick -- here's why

News Release 30-Jul-2020
University of Virginia Health System

More than 30 million Americans are infected with a brain parasite spread by cats and contaminated meat, but most will never show symptoms. A new discovery from the University of Virginia School of Medicine explains why, and that finding could have important implications for brain infections, neurodegenerative diseases and autoimmune disorders.

The UVA researchers found that the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, is kept in check by brain defenders called microglia. These microglia release a unique immune molecule, IL-1α, that recruits immune cells from the blood to control the parasite in the brain, the scientists discovered. This process works so well that very few people develop symptomatic toxoplasmosis, the disease the parasite causes.


Major depressive episodes far more common than previously believed, new Yale study finds

News Release 30-Jul-2020
Yale School of Public Health

Major Depressive Episodes Far More Common than Previously Believed, New Study Finds

The number of adults in the United States who suffer from major depressive episodes at some point in their life is far higher than previously believed, a new study by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

National survey data currently shows that approximately 17% of women and 10% of men report having a history of major depressive episodes (MDEs) in their lifetimes. But these data are subject to "recall error," or the tendency of people to forget or misreport their health histories when taking a survey.

Researchers led by Jamie Tam, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, created a simulation model to generate corrected estimates of lifetime depression. They found that the proportion of U.S. adults who have had MDEs is actually closer to 30% of women and 17% of men after factoring in recall error.

"Major depressive episodes are far more common than we thought," said Tam. "Our model shows that the probability of someone having a first major depressive episode is especially high during adolescence. We also know from other research that having a first major depressive episode increases the likelihood you'll have a second one. This means that anything we can do to prevent or treat episodes among young people could lead to larger health benefits over the course of their life."

The findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

A major depressive episode is defined as a period of two weeks or longer in which a person experiences feelings of intense sadness and hopelessness, fatigue, weight gain or weight loss, changes in sleeping habits, loss of interest in activities and thoughts of suicide or attempts at suicide. These persistent symptoms cannot be easily changed, even if they are contradictory to a person's circumstances. Depressive episodes typically recur periodically in people diagnosed with major depression.


Implementation of social distancing policies correlates with significant reduction in SARS-CoV-2 transmission

News Release 30-Jul-2020
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

According to researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the implementation of social distancing policies corresponded with significant reductions in transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduced community mobility, both in the U.S. and globally, providing evidence that social distancing is a useful tool in preventing further spread of COVID-19.

The study, published today in PLOS ONE, estimates that social distancing policies enacted nationally in 46 countries prevented an estimated 1.57 million cases of COVID-19 over a two-week period, representing a 65% reduction in new cases. The researchers suggest these data emphasize the significant benefits that can be achieved by individuals practicing social distancing measures.


Indian teenage girls discover asteroid near Mars moving toward Earth

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
,USA TODAY•July 29, 2020

Two teenage schoolgirls in India discovered an asteroid near Mars, a space education institute in India reported recently.

The two girls, Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani, both 14 and in 10th grade, were participants in a project sponsored by Space India and NASA. The project allows students to look at images from a telescope in Hawaii.

Vaidehi and Radhika used specialized software to analyze the images snapped by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, and made the discovery in June, Space India told Reuters.

The asteroid, which is named HLV2514, is slowly shifting in its orbit near the red planet and is moving toward Earth, CNN said. It won't be near Earth for 1 million years, however, and even then will still be 10 times as far away as the moon.

The two girls live in the city of Surat in the state of Gujarat in western India.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Don't blame cats for destroying wildlife – shaky logic is leading to moral panic

Voices my own thoughts about this claim. Cats have been around forever. They haven't suddenly transformed into the reason for the decrease in the numbers of birds, etc. People want to avoid the blame for what we are doing.

The Conversation•July 30, 2020


Conservationists and the media often claim that cats are a main contributor to a mass extinction, a catastrophic loss of species due to human activities, like habitat degradation and the killing of wildlife.

As an interdisciplinary team of scientists and ethicists studying animals in conservation, we examined this claim and found it wanting. It is true that like any other predator, cats can suppress the populations of their prey. Yet the extent of this effect is ecologically complex.


When humans denude regions of vegetation, small animals are particularly at risk from cats because they have no shelter in which to hide.

Small animals are similarly vulnerable when humans kill apex predators that normally would suppress cat densities and activity. For instance, in the U.S., cats are a favorite meal for urban coyotes, who moderate feline impact; and in Australia, dingoes hunt wild cats, which relieves pressure on native small animals.

Add in contrary evidence and the case against cats gets even shakier. For instance, in some ecological contexts, cats contribute to the conservation of endangered birds, by preying on rats and mice. There are also documented cases of coexistence between cats and native prey species.


Even when specific studies are good overall, projecting the combined “results” onto the world at large can cause unscientific overgeneralizations, particularly when ecological context is ignored. It is akin to pulling a quote out of context and then assuming you understand its meaning.


Tropical Storm Isaias sets a new hurricane-season record as it triggers blackouts and flooding in Puerto Rico

It's expected to strengthen to a hurricane by Sat. morning.

Susie Neilson)
,INSIDER•July 30, 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias has already broken a record: It's the earliest named storm starting with "I" ever to form in a hurricane season. Because storms are named in alphabetical order each season, that means nine tropical storms have already formed — the first time that's happened before August 1 since the US began recording hurricane data in the 19th century.


The difference between a tropical storm and hurricane is wind speed: A tropical storm's winds blow at a sustained 39 to 73 mph, whereas a hurricane's winds are 74 mph or greater.


Forceful winds and rain associated with the storm hit Puerto Rico on Thursday morning, where 312,500 people have lost electricity, according to, and about 150,000 have lost water service. The storm was expected to drop 4 to 8 inches of rain on the island, with some areas receiving up to 10 inches.


Florida is currently battling one of the US's largest coronavirus outbreaks, with more than 460,000 total cases and 6,500 deaths. Florida's Division of Emergency Management announced Wednesday that it would close state-run COVID-19 testing sites at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, "out of an abundance of caution to keep individuals operating and attending the sites safe."

The shutdowns could exacerbate existing testing delays and bottlenecks. Some South Florida residents say they've waited two weeks for test results, and some labs have cut back on the sites they service, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel.


For the latest on current and projected conditions, see the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service (NWS)

Six states on Wednesday reported single-day records for coronavirus deaths

Lisa Shumaker
July 30, 2020

Florida reported a record increase in new COVID-19 deaths for a third day in a row on Thursday, with 252 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the state health department.

Arizona also reported a record increase with 172 fatalities on Thursday, bringing that state’s death toll to 3,626. Both states had been hotspots with major outbreaks but new cases have recently slowed in both, according to a Reuters tally.


Florida was among six states on Wednesday that reported single-day records for coronavirus deaths. California, Idaho, North Carolina, Texas and South Dakota also had their biggest one-day spikes in coronavirus fatalities since the pandemic started. California, Florida and Texas are the three most populous state and where about a quarter of all U.S. residents live.

One person in the United States died about every minute from COVID-19 on Wednesday as the national death toll surpassed 150,000, the highest in the world. Deaths are rising at the fastest rate since early June.


Nationally, COVID-19 deaths have risen for three weeks in a row while the number of new cases week-over-week recently fell for the first time since June.

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain dies after battle with coronavirus

Kevin Breuninger
Published Thu, Jul 30 2020


Herman Cain, a former presidential hopeful who was once considered by President Donald Trump for the Federal Reserve, has died after being hospitalized with the coronavirus. He was 74.


Cain was among the highest-profile public figures in the United States to have died from Covid-19. Less than two weeks before receiving his diagnosis, Cain attended Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which had been staged despite concerns about mass gatherings during the pandemic.

Cain, a stage 4 cancer survivor, tweeted a photograph of himself at Trump’s rally showing him surrounded by other attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks or other protective gear.


Cain had been hospitalized in Atlanta on July 1, two days after being told he had tested positive for Covid-19, according to his social media.


Kentucky town hires social workers instead of more officers - and the results are surprising

By David Mattingly | July 28, 2020 at 4:55 PM EDT - Updated July 29 at 7:42 PM

The goal was to provide expertise and immediately connect people in crisis to needed services.

“I’m more the second responder, so the officer responds first,” police social worker Kelly Pompilio said. “There are times that I do go on scene with the officer but that’s only after it’s secured and safe for me to enter. But I try to assist the family in whatever services they need so they don’t have to, whenever they’re having a crisis, or having a situation where they need law enforcement, they don’t have to call 911.”


After four years on the job, Pompilio said there has been a significant drop in repeat 911 calls with approximately 15 percent fewer people going to jail.


“It was close to a $45,000 to $50,000 annual savings from hiring a police officer the first time to hiring a social worker,” Ward said. “They (police social workers) started solving problems for people in our community and for our agency that we’ve never been able to solve before.”


Alexandria doubled down on its commitment and now employs two full-time social workers to work and respond with its 17 officers.


Russia has been publishing English-language articles to spread COVID-19 disinformation to Americans, US officials said. It could skew the 2020 elections as it did in 2016.

Bill Bostock
July 29, 2020

Russia is creating fake news articles about the COVID-19 pandemic and aiming them at Americans, US officials told The Associated Press (AP).

They said that Russia's secretive GRU military intelligence unit runs three websites that have produced 150 articles about the pandemic, many critical of the US response.

The websites —,, and — have also stirred up anti-US sentiment and attacked Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the AP said.


Non-toxic Mosquito Control

June 29, 2020

It’s summertime and mosquito control companies are once again pushing their services to kill mosquitoes in your yard. Although the companies may claim they target only mosquitoes, the products they use have a broader impact. The products kill mosquitoes but they also kill other insects and insect larvae that birds, reptiles and amphibians rely on as essential food sources. Over the last 50 years North America has lost over 3 billion birds. Habitat loss is the primary driver of avian decline, but loss of a food source in an area is also loss of habitat. The good news, if you are plagued by mosquitoes, is that there are easy, non-toxic ways to reduce the population in your yard.


Fortunately, there are non-toxic alternatives that can control mosquitoes. Removing stagnant water and other materials that can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes is not difficult and doesn’t harm other insects or arthropods.

Identify and empty out any outdoor containers that can accumulate water, including saucers under pot plants.

Store other containers that could accumulate water such as wheelbarrows, watering cans and recycle bins in a shed or garage.

Clean out bird baths and replace the water regularly. Adding an aerator also discourages mosquitoes.

Fix any leaking outdoor faucets that can cause puddles.

Clean out clogged roof gutters.

If your yard has any tree stumps with hollowed-out areas, fill them with dirt or mulch.

Eliminate flexible downspout extenders, which accumulate water in the corrugations even if they are pointed downhill. Consider installing a rain garden as an alternative to manage excess storm water runoff. A properly installed rain garden drains in 12 to 48 hours and the absence of standing water prevents breeding mosquitoes.

Cover any rain barrels with screening to prevent mosquitoes from entering to lay eggs.

If your yard has containers that can’t be emptied out, covered or turned over every week, such as septic tanks, pools not in use, or ornamental ponds without fish or amphibians to eat larvae, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests adding Bti, or Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis. Bti is a bacteria found in soil that produces toxins that kill mosquito larvae, blackflies and fungus gnats when they eat it. See the CDC Fact Sheet on Bti. It comes in a variety of forms, including Mosquito Dunks®.

Other possible sources of breeding mosquitoes may not be as obvious.

Thin out heavy ground cover (such as invasive English ivy) which can also provide a mosquito breeding ground.

Manage compost piles to discourage mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are attracted to discarded fruit and nectar-containing flowers. Stir in newly-added materials to the middle of a pile to accelerate decomposition and to avoid attracting mosquitoes and other pests. See "Compost Piles and Mosquitoes.”

Passive mosquito traps can provide additional protection and they do not use pyrethroids. Examples include the Biogents GAT, or the Autocidal Gravid Ovitrap, developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and marketed as the BioCare AGO. They lure and trap egg-laying mosquitoes.

Baghdad sets record with 125-degree day

Tim O'Donnell
,The Week•July 29, 2020

Baghdad, Iraq, has seen high temperatures before, but not like this.

The city recorded its two hottest days ever Tuesday and Wednesday at 125 and 124 degrees, respectively. Per The Washington Post, the situation was exacerbated by the state electricity grid failing, prompting many residents to rely on generators to power their homes. And on Monday, when temperatures reached 123 degrees, two demonstrators protesting against the lack of electricity and basic services, were shot and killed by security forces.

Several other places throughout the Middle East have experienced extraordinary temperatures this week, as well. Beirut, Lebanon, set a record at 113.7 degrees, while Damascus, Syria, tied its previous high at 114.8 degrees. Additional locations broke previous records in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the Post reports.

In Baghdad, temperatures are supposed to hover in the same record-setting area Thursday, before dropping slightly over the weekend and into next week. The Post notes extreme heat can happen randomly and naturally, but climate change has made such instances disproportionately more likely. Read more at The Washington Post.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Trump’s New Favorite COVID Doctor Believes in Alien DNA, Demon Sperm, and Hydroxychloroquine

Will Sommer
,The Daily Beast;•July 28, 2020

A Houston doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus has become a star on the right-wing internet, garnering tens of millions of views on Facebook on Monday alone. Donald Trump Jr. declared the video of Stella Immanuel a “must watch,” while Donald Trump himself retweeted the video.

Before Trump and his supporters embrace Immanuel’s medical expertise, though, they should consider other medical claims Immanuel has made—including those about alien DNA and the physical effects of having sex with witches and demons in your dreams.

Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.


both Facebook and Twitter eventually deleted videos of Immanuel’s speech from their sites, citing rules against COVID-19 disinformation. The deletions set off yet another round of complaints by conservatives of bias at the social-media platforms.

Immanuel responded in her own way, declaring that Jesus Christ would destroy Facebook’s servers if her videos weren’t restored to the platform.

“Hello Facebook put back my profile page and videos up or your computers with start crashing till you do,” she tweeted. “You are not bigger that God. I promise you. If my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name.”


Immanuel was born in Cameroon and received her medical degree in Nigeria.


In sermons posted on YouTube and articles on her website, Immanuel claims that medical issues like endometriosis, cysts, infertility, and impotence are caused by sex with “spirit husbands” and “spirit wives”—a phenomenon Immanuel describes essentially as witches and demons having sex with people in a dreamworld.
She claims various other weird things.


It’s also not clear that Immanuel has abided by her claims that face masks aren’t necessary. In her Washington speech, Immanuel claimed that she and her medical staff had avoided any COVID-19 infections while wearing only medical masks. But in two videos shot at her clinic, Immanuel appears to be wearing an N95 mask, which offers more protection.

Immanuel has also alleged that masks of all kinds are superfluous, because she says COVID-19 can be easily cured with hydroxychloroquine. But in a Facebook video advertising her clinic, Immanuel said anyone seeking treatment should wear a face mask before entering the clinic.

“Wear a mask, or a scarf, or anything to cover your face,” Immanuel said in the video.


More than half of Spanish coronavirus patients suffering from neurological problems: research

By John Bowden - 07/28/20 01:22 PM EDT

More than half of patients in Spain suffering from the coronavirus have reported neurological symptoms including the loss of taste or sense of smell, according to a new study.

The study, published in early June in the scientific journal Neurology, found that 57 percent of COVID-19 patients in two Spanish hospitals reported at least one neurological symptom, ranging from milder symptoms such as headaches and dizziness to more severe symptoms including psychosis, insomnia and anxiety.

“Some of the symptoms, like myalgia, insomnia and headaches, had not been observed in previous studies,” study co-author Tomás Segura, chief of neurology at University Hospital of Albacete, told the news service El Pais.


Mystery seeds from China are landing in Americans' mailboxes

Updated on: July 29, 2020 / 7:45 PM / CBS/AP

The USDA and agriculture officials across the U.S. have issued warnings about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them. Officials are concerned the mystery seeds, which appear to have originated in China, could be invasive plant species.

CBS News has confirmed that residents in all 50 states have now reported receiving suspicious packages of seeds.


Anyone in Kentucky receiving packages of foreign or unfamiliar seeds should contact the state agriculture department immediately, Quarles said.

"At this point in time, we don't have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism," he said. "Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment."

APHIS said the USDA is collecting seed packets from people who received them and will test the contents to see if they contain anything that "could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment."

But it also said that as of Tuesday, it didn't have "any evidence indicating this is something other than a 'brushing scam' where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales."

In North Carolina, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said it was contacted by numerous people who received seed shipments they did not order. The agency said the shipments were likely the product of the international internet scam known as "brushing."

"According to the Better Business Bureau, foreign, third-party sellers use your address and Amazon information to generate a fake sale and positive review to boost their product ratings," said Phil Wilson, director of the state's Plant Industry Division.


The USDA later urged anyone who receives an unsolicited seed package to contact their state plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director immediately. "Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins," it said Tuesday.


Trump's decision to move troops from Germany slammed as 'a gift to Putin'

By Nicole Gaouette and Ryan Browne, CNN
Updated 8:37 PM ET, Wed July 29, 2020

President Donald Trump's decision to pull nearly 12,000 US troops from Germany triggered an onslaught of disapproval from Republicans, Democrats and former senior military officials, who said the move will benefit Russia, degrade US national security and military readiness, cost US taxpayers billions and undermine US relations with Germany, NATO and Europe.

Trump's explanation to reporters about the withdrawal, announced Wednesday morning by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, misrepresented how NATO works and contradicted his own military officials, raising questions about what strategy -- if any -- drove the decision.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah described Trump's move as "a gift to Russia" and a "slap in the face at a friend and ally." Romney added that the "consequences will be lasting and harmful to American interests."

Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said aspects of the move, including the cap on US personnel in Germany, were "troubling."


Analysts and lawmakers raised the prospect that Trump simply wanted to punish German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he has a chilly relationship and whom he has angrily berated in private phone calls. And they pointed to the benefits gained by Moscow and Putin, who the President has cultivated.


There's also the question of how much this will cost American taxpayers at a time of record-setting US budget deficits. The military move will potentially cost "several billion dollars," Esper said Wednesday.
The Pentagon would be walking away from billions spent between 2004 and 2011 on upgrades to secure and consolidate key US military locations in Germany, Hertling said, only to have to replicate facilities such as housing, schools, HQs and barracks in new locations.


More Than 150,000 People Have Died From Coronavirus In The U.S.

July 29, 20203:52 PM ET
Alana Wise
Bill Chappell

The United States crossed a grim milestone Wednesday, with more than 150,000 lives now lost as a result of the coronavirus.

The tragic number includes around 33,000 people who have died in New York, nearly 16,000 in New Jersey and more than 8,700 in California.

The U.S. death toll is the worst in the world, by a large measure. Despite having less than 5% of the global population, nearly a quarter of the 662,000 deaths reported during the pandemic worldwide have occurred in the United States. The next-worst toll is in Brazil, which is reporting around 89,000 deaths.

Overall, the U.S. has confirmed nearly 4.4 million coronavirus cases – a figure that includes nearly 1.4 million patients who have recovered from COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the massive death toll and alarming spikes in new cases, President Trump continues to push for a national reopening, including a plan to tie federal funds to students' return to in-person classes when the new school year starts.


Minneapolis Police Reportedly Identify Viral 'Umbrella Man' As White Supremacist

Of course, this is no excuse for other people to do the same.

Rachel Treisman Twitter
July 28, 2020

Police say the masked, umbrella-wielding man who smashed windows at a Minneapolis auto parts store two days after George Floyd's death has ties to a white supremacist group and specifically sought to inflame racial tensions.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis police arson investigator Erika Christensen wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed this week that the man's actions created a hostile atmosphere and sparked a series of events that turned previously peaceful protests chaotic. She said she believed his "sole aim was to incite violence."


The Star Tribune reported that the man had also spray painted "free (expletive) for everyone zone" on the doors of the store, which was later burned to the ground.

In the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, roughly 500 businesses were damaged or looted, with nearly 70 of them burned to the ground.

"This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city," Christensen wrote in the affidavit, according to reports. "Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling 'Umbrella Man,' the protests had been relatively peaceful."


Multiple news outlets report that police also linked the man to an incident that took place in Stillwater, Minn., in June, when a group of men wearing white supremacist garb allegedly harassed a Muslim woman who was at a malt shop with her 4-year-old daughter.

The reports also say police link "Umbrella Man" and the Stillwater incident with the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, a small white supremacist prison and street gang primarily based in Minnesota and Kentucky.

Pending Postal Service Changes Could Delay Mail And Deliveries, Advocates Warn

July 29, 2020
On his first day on the job last month, new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy addressed the nearly half-million U.S. Postal Service career employees in a video message.

He talked of a "trajectory for success" and said that "we will focus on creating a viable operating model that ensures the Postal Service continues fulfilling its public service mission."12:01 PM ET
Brian Naylor


DeJoy, the nation's 75th postmaster general — a line that stretches back to Benjamin Franklin — is a major donor to President Trump and other Republicans. He previously headed a North Carolina-based logistics company.


Managers have told postal workers that under DeJoy, the post office is about to embark on what's been called a long-overdue "operational pivot." It means that among other things, late-arriving mail will now be left behind by carriers and delivered the next day. Overtime will be eliminated.

Those moves upset some workers, who take seriously the unofficial motto of the Postal Service that holds: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" — a phrase from the Greek historian Herodotus chiseled into the granite of New York City's general post office.

"There seems to be a sea change here," says Philip Rubio, a history professor at North Carolina A&T State University and a former letter carrier. Rubio says DeJoy seems intent on making the Postal Service more of a business than a service.
Article continues after spo


Trump has frequently criticized the Postal Service, charging that it gives favorable deals to online retailers such as Amazon, whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, another target of Trump's ire.

Actually, a government study found, e-commerce package deliveries are profitable for the Postal Service — although not sufficient to offset the decline in other types of mail.


Dimondstein says the changes could have real-world consequences, including, he says, delays in delivering medicine, census forms — and even mail-in ballots, adding the notion of leaving mail behind "runs counter to everything" postal workers believe.

One postal worker, who asked not to be identified because the person was not authorized to speak publicly, told NPR of a pharmaceutical company that had complained of delays in picking up its outgoing shipments.
Signed, Sealed, Undelivered: Thousands Of Mail-In Ballots Rejected For Tardiness
2020 Election: Secure Your Vote
Signed, Sealed, Undelivered: Thousands Of Mail-In Ballots Rejected For Tardiness

"I am sick to my stomach," the worker said. "How can the United States Postal Service deny the pickup of outgoing mail for any customer — let alone a pharmaceutical company that is mailing medication?"

This worker said the Postal Service used to take pride that every piece of mail went out by the end of the day. Now, the worker says, that's changed, adding: "It's crazy."


Americans Dying of COVID-19 at Rate Over 17 Times Higher Than Europeans, Canadians

By Jason Lemon On 7/28/20 at 4:01 PM EDT

More than six months into the U.S. outbreak of the coronavirus, Americans are dying of COVID-19 at a rate over 17 times higher than that in the European Union and Canada, when adjusted for population.

In the U.S., with a population of about 328 million, an average of about three people per million are dying each day, according to data compiled by Our World in Data. That's about 17 times higher than in the European Union, which has a population of about 446 million and less than one (0.18) daily death per million, on average. In Canada, home to about just under 38 million people, less than one (0.16) person per million is dying daily, on average.


Among the countries currently most affected by the pandemic, the U.S. has the fourth highest mortality rate, with 45.24 deaths per 100,000 people in the population, according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins University. The United Kingdom, which formally withdrew from the European Union at the end of January, has the highest mortality rate of the most affected countries, with 68.95 deaths per 100,000, followed by Peru and Chile, with 57.58 and 49.05 deaths per 100,000, respectively.

Despite the surging number of infections and the rising number of deaths across the U.S., the White House has repeatedly insisted, inaccurately, that the U.S. has one of the lowest death rates in the world.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Declining antibody levels do not mean less immunity, experts say

By Apoorva Mandavilli
Published July 26, 2020
Updated July 27, 2020

Your blood carries the memory of every pathogen you’ve ever encountered. If you’ve been infected with the coronavirus, your body most likely remembers that, too.

Antibodies are the legacy of that encounter. Why, then, have so many people stricken by the virus discovered that they don’t seem to have antibodies?

Blame the tests.

Most commercial antibody tests offer crude yes-no answers. The tests are notorious for delivering false positives — results indicating that someone has antibodies when he or she does not.

But the volume of coronavirus antibodies drops sharply once the acute illness ends. Now it is increasingly clear that these tests may also produce false-negative results, missing antibodies to the coronavirus that are present at low levels.

Moreover, some tests — including those made by Abbott and Roche and offered by Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp — are designed to detect a subtype of antibodies that doesn’t confer immunity and may wane even faster than the kind that can destroy the virus.

What that means is that declining antibodies, as shown by commercial tests, don’t necessarily mean declining immunity, several experts said. Long-term surveys of antibodies, intended to assess how widely the coronavirus has spread, may also underestimate the true prevalence.


In Georgia, Athens, Tifton hospitals run out of beds for critical patients

By Ariel Hart - The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionJohnny Edwards - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
July 28, 2020

Georgia hospitals in at least two of the state’s health regions have run out of Intensive Care Unit beds, forcing them to improvise space, scramble for staff and to send some patients on journeys to other parts of the state for care.

As coronavirus cases have soared, all ICU beds of the Athens region’s 12 counties have been full since Friday, according to state figures. In south central Georgia, the state shows Tift Regional Medical Center’s nine-county region down to two ICU beds, but that is outdated, Tift’s CEO said Tuesday afternoon.

“I have no ICU beds,” said Chris Dorman. And for several days, he has been unable to find any anywhere else in the state.

Iron deficiency during infancy reduces vaccine efficacy

News Release 28-Jul-2020
ETH Zurich

Despite the fact that global immunisation programmes are now reaching more people than ever, about 1.5 million children still die every year from diseases that vaccination could have prevented. Vaccination is also less effective in low-?income countries than in high-?income countries, although it is not yet clear why.

Babies have smaller iron reserves

Findings from two clinical studies with children in Kenya now suggest that iron deficiency during infancy may reduce the protection that vaccinations provide.


Prescribed CBD could help people quit cannabis

News Release 28-Jul-2020
University of Bath

Results from the first-ever randomised clinical trial of CBD for cannabis use disorder suggests that prescribed doses of the non-intoxicating constituent part of the cannabis plant could help people kick the habit.

In the MRC-funded trial, published in the Lancet Psychiatry (embargo - Tuesday 28 July 23:30 UK time; 18:30 Eastern Time), researchers administered CBD or placebo to 82 volunteers who were motivated to quit using cannabis but had previously failed to do so.


Their results showed that participants treated with CBD showed lower levels of cannabis in their urine and an increased number of days abstinent compared to those treated with placebo.

CBD was well tolerated at all doses and there were no increases in side effects compared to placebo. 94% of the volunteers completed treatment. Importantly, the doses of CBD tested were significantly higher than CBD products purchased online or from the High Street (typically 25mg per day).

All participants in the trial met a clinical diagnosis of cannabis use disorder, indicating a problematic pattern of cannabis use which had created significant impairment and distress for the individual. All participants had previously failed to quit cannabis use at least once and took part in the trial as part of a cessation attempt.


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Decline of bees, other pollinators threatens US crop yields

News Release 28-Jul-2020
Rutgers University

Crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries across the United States are being reduced by a lack of pollinators, according to Rutgers-led research, the most comprehensive study of its kind to date.


Pollination by wild and managed insects is critical for most crops, including those providing essential micronutrients, and is essential for food security, the study notes. In the U.S., the production of crops that depend on pollinators generates more than $50 billion a year. According to recent evidence, European honey bees (Apis mellifera) and some native wild bee species are in decline.

At 131 farms across the United States and in British Columbia, Canada, scientists collected data on insect pollination of crop flowers and yield for apples, highbush blueberries, sweet cherries, tart cherries, almond, watermelon and pumpkin. Of those, apples, sweet cherries, tart cherries and blueberries showed evidence of being limited by pollination, indicating that yields are currently lower than they would be with full pollination. Wild bees and honey bees provided similar amounts of pollination for most crops.

The annual production value of wild pollinators for all seven crops was an estimated $1.5 billion-plus in the U.S. The value of wild bee pollination for all pollinator-dependent crops would be much greater.


Research suggests combating a pandemic is 500 times more expensive than preventing one

News Release 28-Jul-2020
Boston University

According to new research, the failure to protect tropical rain forests has cost trillions of dollars stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked economic havoc and caused historic levels of unemployment in the United States and around the world.


They discovered that significantly reducing transmission of new diseases from tropical forests would cost, globally, between $22.2 and $30.7 billion each year. In stark contrast, they found that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely end up costing between $8.1 and $15.8 trillion globally--roughly 500 times as costly as what it would take to invest in proposed preventive measures. To estimate the total financial cost of COVID-19, researchers included both the lost gross domestic product and the economic and workforce cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide. They published their findings in a policy brief in Science.

The researchers say disease transmission from wild animals to humans occurs frequently near the edges of tropical forests, where human incursions increase the likelihood of contact with animals. These incursions take the form of logging, cattle ranching, and other livestock businesses, and the exotic animal trade, among others. Tropical forests are often cut down in a patchwork or checkerboard pattern, increasing the amount of land that lies at the edges of the forest and thus increasing the risk for disease transmission between species that would normally live in different ecosystems.

To reduce disease transmission, Kaufman and his collaborators propose expanding wildlife trade monitoring programs, investing in efforts to end the wild meat trade in China, investing in policies to reduce deforestation by 40 percent, and fighting the transmission of disease from wild animals to livestock.


Higher BPA levels linked to more asthma symptoms in children

News Release 28-Jul-2020
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Children in low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore tended to have more asthma symptoms when levels of the synthetic chemical BPA (Bisphenol A) in their urine were elevated, according to a study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine.

While some products, including baby bottles, no longer contain BPA, exposures to BPA remain almost universal, and there are still concerns that, especially in childhood, those exposures might have a health impact.

Boys with elevated BPA were found to be at higher risk for having more asthma symptoms, the study found. The researchers found no statistically significant link between BPA levels and asthma symptoms among the girls in the study. The researchers also found that higher levels of two common chemicals closely related to BPA--BPS and BPF--were not consistently associated with more asthma symptoms. Like BPA, BPS and BPF are found in many consumer products, including food cans and beverage bottles.


BPA can activate estrogen receptors on cells, which suggests that it may have hormone-like effects--disrupting human biology even at very small exposure levels. Animal studies have found evidence that the chemical can have pro-inflammatory effects. Epidemiological studies have found that people with higher BPA levels in their urine are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and some other conditions. Children are in principle more vulnerable, to the extent that they use BPA-containing products more often than adults do. Due to consumer concerns, companies stopped making BPA-containing baby bottles and sippy cups more than a decade ago, and have largely switched to non-BPA can epoxies.

BPS and BPF are close chemical relatives, or analogs, of BPA, and are found, for example, in can-linings and thermal-printer receipts--often as replacements for BPA. They too can interact with estrogen receptors, although very little is known about their health impacts at current exposure levels.


Calcium and vitamin D nutrient deficiencies lead to higher risk for osteoporosis

News Release 28-Jul-2020
Pharmavite LLC

Giving birth in the United States is a radically different experience based on race and income, illustrated most brutally by the Black and Indigenous maternal mortality crisis.

Now, a new study from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and the National Partnership for Women & Families finds insurance type itself also plays a role in how mothers are treated, and how much agency they have in maternity decisions.

Published in the journal PLOS ONE, the first-of-its-kind study is part of Listening to Mothers in California, which examined women's experiences giving birth in California hospitals in 2016.

The study finds that, after adjusting for demographics and health conditions, a mother on Medicaid is three times less likely than a mother on private insurance to feel she had a choice about whether she had a vaginal or cesarean birth, or an episiotomy. Compared to private coverage, coverage by Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid program) was also associated with being about half as likely to have a choice of prenatal provider or to be encouraged by maternity care staff to make one's own decisions about labor and birth.


Calcium and vitamin D nutrient deficiencies lead to higher risk for osteoporosis

News Release 28-Jul-2020
Pharmavite LLC


Poverty can be a barrier to routinely acquiring adequate nutrient intakes, specifically for calcium and vitamin D, to ensure bone health with the ultimate goal of preventing of osteoporosis. Age, gender and dietary intake are major factors that contribute to osteoporosis prevalence. This study examined the relationship between markers of poverty with calcium and vitamin D intake and osteoporosis in Americans, 50 years and older.

"This study continues to demonstrate how prevalent nutrient deficiency is among the U.S. population, and even more so, among lower income individuals and those with food insecurities. Yet, we know that nutrient adequacy is imperative in supporting overall health and wellness, including immune health, at a time when that is heavy on everyone's mind," said Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, Vice President of Science & Technology at Pharmavite.

In the U.S., 25% of older Americans live below the poverty line. Within this population, 68% have inadequate calcium intakes, and 46% have inadequate vitamin D intakes. Gender, ethnic, and socio-economic differences impact overall risk for inadequate calcium and vitamin D intakes and subsequent osteoporosis risk, as seen in some of the study key findings:

American women over the age of 50 consistently have inadequate calcium intake regardless of their economic status.
Inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D affects poverty-stricken men more than women with respect to osteoporosis risk.
Non-Hispanic Black men with a low income have two times greater risk for developing osteoporosis.


Five U.S. states see record COVID-19 deaths

Sharon Bernstein, Lisa Shumaker

July 28, 2020

Five U.S. states in the South and West reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths on Tuesday and cases in Texas passed the 400,000 mark as California health officials said Latinos made up more than half its cases.

Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Oregon each reported record spikes in fatalities. In California deaths rose by 171, the state’s largest increase of the pandemic.

The United States confirmed that nationwide more than 1,200 lives were lost on Tuesday, the biggest one-day increase since May, according to a Reuters tally.


Soap dodger: meet the doctor who says we have been showering wrong

(I am modifying the comment because I realized the original one could be misunderstood.)

Of course,as the article says, washing hands before eating and after using the toilet is helpful in preventing the spread of infections such as Covid-19, by helping wash microbes. It is important in medical care to prevent spreading disease among patients.

But from my own experiments, I also suspect that soap can act as food for bacteria in an area which is moist and warm, like the underarms. Especially because there are so many little folds and depressions, so even after rinsing there is a residue of soap.

Amy Fleming
Published on Tue 28 Jul 2020 05.00 EDT


Even if you have not yet read up on our microbiomes – the trillions of microbes that lead symbiotic lives with humans, colonising our skin and our guts – you may have spotted vague statements such as “microbiome-gentle” printed on bottles of shower gel. This because microbiologists – and brands – are learning more and more about the complex relationship we have with our germs. These include their starring roles in developing our immune systems, protecting us from pathogens (by creating antimicrobial substances and competing with them for space and resources) and lessening the likelihood of autoimmune conditions such as eczema. So, there is a growing awareness that scrubbing them off, along with the natural oils on which they feed, or dousing them with antibacterial products may not be the best idea after all.


Hamblin’s new regime got him thinking about modern notions of cleanliness, what is natural and how these two issues are, frankly, all over the shop. Stigmatism of body odour began as an advertising strategy that helped quadruple the sales of Lifebuoy soap in the 20s. A century later, we still live in fear of anyone detecting the slightest hint of BO on us. We are more perfumed, moisturised and exfoliated than ever.

Yet despite advances in skincare and modern medicine, conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis, as well as other autoimmune diseases, have been rising steadily. Also, while we attempt to appear squeaky clean, research has revealed that many of us don’t wash our hands properly – or at all – when it matters most: before eating and after going to the toilet. (That said, awareness of the importance of handwashing has certainly risen as a result of Covid-19.)


15 foods you can eat past their expiration dates [INSIDER] (Zoë Miller) ,INSIDER•July 28, 2020

Zoë Miller)
,INSIDER•July 28, 2020

It's a common misconception that the date printed on packaged food is a firm deadline for when you should toss it.

In reality, one of the only items in the US with a federally-regulated expiration date is infant formula ― which is why "sell by" dates and "best if used by (or before)" dates are more of a guideline than a rule.

As Paul VanLandingham, a senior faculty member at the Center for Food and Beverage Management of Johnson & Wales University explained in an interview with WebMD, these numbers refer to food quality rather than food safety.

Although the former dictates how long a store should display a product to ensure its highest level of quality, the latter refers to long consumers should keep a product before it loses flavor or declines in quality.

When it comes to these 15 food items, you can oftentimes disregard the date on the package.


A man who thought the coronavirus was a 'scamdemic' wrote a powerful essay warning against virus deniers after he hosted a party and got his entire family sick

Ashley Collman)
,Business Insider•July 28, 2020

A conservative man in Texas has written a powerful essay saying he once believed the coronavirus was a hoax, but has now had a dramatic change of heart after he and his entire family tested positive for COVID-19 following a party at his house.


"All the defiant behavior of Trump's more radical and rowdy cult followers, I participated in it. I was a hard-ass that stood up for my 'God-given rights,'" he wrote.


Green's belief that the virus was fake prompted him and his partner to host a house party on June 13 for family members. He did not say how many people attended.

The next morning, Green woke up sick, and over the following days the virus continued to spread throughout both his and his partner's families — including his father-in-law's mother, who died of COVID-19 on July 1.

Green himself and his father-in-law were both hospitalized for the virus.


Catching the coronavirus has changed Green's mind on the issue, and he's now calling for an end to the politicization over the virus.

"You cannot imagine the guilt I feel, knowing that I hosted the gathering that led to so much suffering," he wrote."You cannot imagine my guilt at having been a denier, carelessly shuffling through this pandemic, making fun of those wearing masks and social distancing. You cannot imagine my guilt at knowing that my actions convinced both our families it was safe when it wasn't."

"For those who deny the virus exists or who downplay its severity, let me assure you: The coronavirus is very real and extremely contagious," he added. "Before you even know you have it, you've passed it along to your friends, family, coworkers and neighbors."


"You do not want your loved ones suffering and dying from this because you are taking a 'political stand' or protecting the economy over their lives," he wrote.

National Guard major tells lawmakers he saw 'excessive' force used on protesters near the White House

Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
,USA TODAY•July 28, 2020

A major in the District of Columbia National Guard told lawmakers he saw "excessive" force used in June when law enforcement cleared protesters gathered near the White House ahead of President Trump's controversial photo opportunity at St. John's Church.

Maj. Adam DeMarco, who served as a liaison between the D.C. National Guard and the Park Police at Lafayette Square, told lawmakers the disproportionate use of force he witnessed against largely peaceful protesters was "deeply disturbing" to him and other Guardsman.

The National Guard was not actively involved in the clearing of protesters on June 1 but was at the scene to "reinforce and relieve" the Park Police if needed, according to DeMarco's written testimony.


"From my observation, those demonstrators – our fellow American citizens – were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights. Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force," DeMarco said.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said what he heard from the Trump administration on its response to protests were "outright lies" and warned of "creeping authoritarianism" in its heavy-handed responses to protests.

MacKenzie Scott, formerly Bezos, says she has given away $1.7 billion of her wealth so far

By Rishi Iyengar, CNN Business
Updated 5:33 PM ET, Tue July 28, 2020

MacKenzie Scott, formerly MacKenzie Bezos, has already donated nearly $1.7 billion of her fortune to a variety of organizations and causes after pledging last year to give most of it away during her lifetime.
Scott on Tuesday provided an update on that effort in a post on Medium and also announced that she has changed her last name to the middle name she grew up with, following her divorce from Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos last year.


Scott signed on to the Giving Pledge initiative last year. The initiative, launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, encourages the world's richest people to dedicate a majority of their wealth to charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.


Siberia’s ‘gateway to the underworld’ grows as record heat wave thaws permafrost

By Richard Stone
Jul. 28, 2020 , 2:35 PM


Global warming is inflicting wounds across Siberia. Outbursts of pent-up methane gas in thawing permafrost have pocked Russia’s desolate Yamal and Gydan peninsulas with holes tens of meters across. Apartment buildings are listing and collapsing on the unsteady ground, causing about $2 billion of damage per year to the Russian economy. Forest fires during the past three summers have torched millions of hectares across Siberia, blanketing the land with dark soot and charcoal that absorb heat and accelerate melting.

Intensifying this year’s fires was a heat wave that baked Siberia for the first half of 2020. On 20 June, the town of Verkhoyansk, just 75 kilometers from Batagay and one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth, reached 38°C, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic. The record-breaking heat “would have been effectively impossible without human-induced climate change,” said the authors of a 15 July study by World Weather Attribution, a collaboration of meteorologists who analyze the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events.

An abiding question is how much carbon the thawing soil will release to the atmosphere, and whether the lusher growth of Arctic plants in the warming climate will absorb enough carbon to offset the release. The Arctic may already have reached a tipping point: Based on observations at 100 field sites, northern permafrost released on average about 600 million tons more carbon than vegetation absorbed each year from 2003 to 2017, scientists estimated in October 2019.


She and colleagues from the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum lodged with Indigenous Siberians—Evens and Sakha—some of whom fear the megaslump. “They say it’s eating their land, swallowing up the trees and their sacred places,” she says.


Many Mississippi lawmakers opted not to wear masks at the Capitol. Now, 26 have COVID-19.

I'm guessing more have have tested positive since then, but couldn't find information.

Giacomo Bologna
Mississippi Clarion Ledger
July 9, 2020

Gov. Tate Reeves is warning the public to get tested for coronavirus if they have been in contact with a state lawmaker.

The number of coronavirus cases linked to an outbreak at the Capitol has grown to 36, which includes 26 legislators, according to the state's top health official.

Many politicians flouted recommendations to wear a mask inside the Capitol in recent weeks. Now, about one in six of Mississippi state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus.


The leaders of both chambers — Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann — have tested positive for coronavirus. On Wednesday, the Enterprise Journal reported that Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, had tested positive for coronavirus. Mims chairs the House Public Health Committee.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Low plasma 25(OH) vitamin D level associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection

This might contribute to the higher rate of Covid-19 infection in people of color.
I wish I did not know from experience that I have to clearly state that this does not mean there are not other reasons, which should be obvious if humans were rational, and weren't looking for an excuse to criticize.

News Release 26-Jul-2020
Bar-Ilan University


"The main finding of our study was the significant association of low plasma vitamin D level with the likelihood of COVID-19 infection among patients who were tested for COVID-19, even after adjustment for age, gender, socio-economic status and chronic, mental and physical disorders," said Dr. Eugene Merzon, Head of the Department of Managed Care and leading researcher of the LHS group. "Furthermore, low vitamin D level was associated with the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, although this association wasn't significant after adjustment for other confounders," he added. "Our finding is in agreement with the results of previous studies in the field. Reduced risk of acute respiratory tract infection following vitamin D supplementation has been reported," said Dr. Ilan Green, Head of the LHS Research Institute.


Flu vaccine could protect against serious heart and stroke complications

News Release 27-Jul-2020
American Heart Association

The rate of seasonal flu vaccinations among high-risk groups such as people over age 50 and nursing home residents is extremely low, and those who do get their flu vaccination significantly lower their cardiovascular risks for heart attack, TIA (transient ischemic attack), death and cardiac arrest,


The stress the influenza infection puts on the body may increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, which researchers note is well-known.


Anti-climate action statements get more visibility in news coverage, study finds

Media is dependent directly and indirectly on funding from fossil fuel companies.

News Release 27-Jul-2020
Brown University

When organizations take a stand against actions to combat climate change, they get more news coverage than their pro-climate action peers, according to a new study by a Brown University researcher.

Rachel Wetts, an assistant professor in Brown's sociology department affiliated with the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, analyzed nearly three decades of climate change-related press releases and national news articles. Approximately 14% of press releases opposing climate action or denying the science behind climate change received major national news coverage, she found, compared to about 7% of press releases with pro-climate action messages.


Women smokers 4 times as likely as non-smokers to harbour brain aneurysm

News Release 27-Jul-2020

Women smokers are four times as likely as their non-smoking peers to harbour an unruptured aneurysm--a weakened bulging artery--in the brain, finds research published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

And this risk is even greater--7 times as high--if they also have high blood pressure, the findings indicate.


Link confirmed between a healthy diet and prostate cancer prevention

News Release 27-Jul-2020
Institut national de la recherche scientifique - INRS

The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that more than 23,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. Among other risk factors, more and more studies point to diet as a major factor in the development of prostate cancer, as it is for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.