Monday, March 16, 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency approval for a new test of the coronavirus that test patients ten times faster than current methods

The test analyzes a patient’s mucus and saliva to determine if they are infected with COVID-19. Using a later generation of Roche testing hardware, it can test up to 4,128 patients per day, Bloomberg reported. The news comes amid reports on Friday that the Trump administration is working to accelerate coronavirus screenings dramatically. This includes a new 24-hour emergency hotline for private labs and funding awards to two companies that are speeding up the development of tests, which they say could detect the coronavirus within one hour. (Bloomberg)


An Australian teenager has developed a type of plastic made from prawn shells, which can decompose in a little over a month

As a result of her invention, the 17-year-old won a BHP Science and Engineering Award and was awarded the title of Australian Geographic Society’s Young Conservationist of the Year. She is speaking with grocery store chains to roll out the product soon, and has reached the stage of producing “final prototype and would be ready to manufacture the plastic to distribute it commercially.” Unlike other biodegradable products, the prawn plastic is cheap to manufacture and releases nitrogen in the soil while decomposing, which could help with plant growth. (


US census moves online

The federal government has kicked off its once-a-decade count of the population, with respondents encouraged to answer online for the first time in history. U.S. residents will soon start to receive forms by mail, before putting to the test the Census Bureau’s new IT systems for capturing online responses. Analysts are also concerned that the coronavirus outbreak will complicate efforts to collect an accurate reading if people avoid answering their doors for follow-up prompts. (AP News)


Travel industry slammed by virus

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the travel industry particularly hard, with airlines, online booking sites, and hotels suffering from a staggering drop in demand. Travel restrictions by both business and governments, along with fears over contracting the virus have worked to dent demand, a pain that has rippled through everything from travel booking sites to airlines to hotels to tourist attractions. (CNBC)


More states shut schools

Six states that include Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky and New Mexico will close all public K-12 schools statewide for at least two weeks. Several cities and large school districts have announced similar closures across the U.S., and more colleges are closing their doors in attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. According to an Education Week report, K-12 school closures will impact over 850,000 students. (New York Times)


States ban large gatherings

New York and New Jersey have banned most large gatherings, capping groups at 500 and 250 people, respectively. Ohio has banned public gatherings of over 100. States, cities and communities across the U.S. are taking extraordinary measures to stop the global pandemic, from banning public gatherings like concerts and church services to declaring states of emergency in a bid to deploy more resources. (Newsweek)


Two people are expected to recover after being attacked by a mountain lion in northern Colorado

Authorities say a mountain lion attack was reported at an RV park near Loveland, north of Denver, Colorado. First responders arrived on the scene and tried to contain the cat, but it lunged on to a sheriff’s deputy and took her to the ground, biting her shoulder. Officers shot at the animal and scared it away before following it to a nearby home, where it was shot and killed, according to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. Reports note that Colorado has experienced more mountain lion attacks in the past year, including against an 8-year-old old who was seriously injured while playing on a trampoline. (KUSA)


A 22-year-old Wisconsin man was sentenced to 54 years in prison for driving his truck onto the side of the road while under the influence of drugs, killing three Girl Scouts and a mother

The incident occurred in November 2018, when the young man was driving his Ford F-150 pickup truck on a highway and crossed over into a ditch where a Girl Scout troop was picking up trash. He killed a nine and two 10-year-olds along with a 32-year-old mother. He told police they had intentionally inhaled chemical vapors before the crash. Addressing the victims’ families in court, he said, “I screwed up bad. No matter what I say or do, you guys are never going to know how sorry I am.” The Judge said, “You know it’s been called a tragedy — that doesn’t seem to be enough. It’s been called a horrendous tragedy; senseless, thoughtless.” (MSN News)


Many Americans who are sick and seeking a coronavirus test continue to be turned away

The problem persists, doctors and patients across the country say, despite increased production and distribution of the tests in recent days. At a time when U.S. fatalities from the virus have risen, there remain limited numbers of tests and the capacity of laboratories is under strain. The constraints are squeezing out patients who don’t meet rigid government eligibility criteria, even if their doctors want them tested. The federal government’s handling of testing erupted as a political issue with even members of the president’s party venting about not being able to get answers on when the nation would see more commercial tests, faster testing and more widely available tests. So far, more than 1,600 people were infected in the United States, and more than 40 had died, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Since mid-January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health laboratories have tested about 11,000 specimens for the disease. The number of people who have been tested is likely far lower than that tally, however, because labs usually test at least two specimens per person, experts said. In contrast, South Korea has been running 10,000 tests per day. (Washington Post)


Why we like knocking on wood

The common explanation for knocking on wood claims the ritual is a holdover from Europe’s pagan days, an appeal to tree-dwelling spirits to ward off bad luck or an expression of gratitude for good fortune. According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, “traditionally, certain trees, such as the oak, ash, hazel, hawthorn and willow, had a sacred significance and thus protective powers.” Furthermore, the theory goes, Christian reformers in Europe may have deliberately transformed this heathenish belief into a more acceptable Christian one by introducing the idea that the “wood” in “knock on wood” referred to the wood of the cross of Jesus’ crucifixion. However, no tangible evidence supports these origin stories. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the phrase “touch wood” only back to the early 19th century, locating its origins in a British children’s tag game called Tiggy-touch-wood, in which children could make themselves “exempt…from capture [by] touching wood.” Knocking on wood may seem trivial, but it is one small way people quell their fears in a life full of anxieties. (The Conversation)


JetBlue passenger who flew while infected with coronavirus has been banned for life

A JetBlue passenger who flew from New York to Florida while awaiting test results for COVID-19 has been banned from flying with the airline for life. The news comes after JetBlue Flight 253, which arrived at Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA) was held on the tarmac for three hours while medical personnel helped to remove two elderly passengers. The rest of the flight’s 112 passengers were eventually allowed to leave the aircraft at a few hours. JetBlue later said that one of the passengers on the plane had previously been tested for the coronavirus, and that he had boarded the flight knowing that he was awaiting the results. Health and fire officials said the passenger’s test came back positive, though it’s unclear exactly when the passenger learned of the COVID-19 diagnosis. Another traveler aboard the flight said that the passenger learned he was infected with the coronavirus via a text message while still on the flight, and was overheard speaking about the diagnosis by crew members. JetBlue, however, did not say exactly how they were informed of the situation. In a statement, JetBlue confirmed the passenger had been banned from flying with the airline “in the future.” The CDC currently says the risk of infection spreading on airplanes is “low,” as “most viruses and other germs do not spread easily” due to the ventilation systems in place on aircraft. Still, passengers should remain cautious, avoid contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms and wash or sanitize hands often, according to CDC guidelines. (Fox News)


Company rules that backfire

Corporate codes of conduct that use warm, communal language like “we” and “us”“we always put customers first” or “we value integrity” — can do more harm than good, according to research. While it may seem like such language encourages employees to feel a sense of connection with their employer, the researchers found that it sends the message that punishment for breaking the rules will be lenient, if rules are enforced at all. Pairing warm and fuzzy language about values with specific consequences for breaking rules, and then following through. (Kellogg Insight)



Today Comes With:

  • Black Press Day
  • Campfire Girls Day
  • Curlew Day
  • Freedom of Information Day
  • Goddard Day
  • Well-Elderly or Wellderly Day
  • Lips Appreciation Day
  • No Selfies Day
  • Panda Day
  • St. Urho’s Day


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