Thursday, April 16, 2020

McDonald’s has apologized after one of its restaurants in China banned black people

A video widely shared on social media showed a notice posted in its Guangzhou branch which read: “We’ve been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant.” The laminated sign was written in poorly-translated English, and appeared to relate to the coronavirus, although it did not specify the exact reason. “For the sake of your health consciously notify the local police for medical isolation, please understand the inconvenience caused,” it read, providing a phone number for the police. On Twitter, the franchised fast food giant said that the restaurant had been closed and the sign taken down. “.. upon learning of this unauthorised and unacceptable communication at a restaurant in Guangzhou, we immediately removed the sign and temporarily closed the restaurant to further educate employees about our company values, diversity and inclusion,” it tweeted. The city is a hub for African traders and boasts one of China’s largest communities from the continent. (BBC)


President Trump announces US will halt funding to World Health Organization over coronavirus response

President Trump announced at the White House coronavirus press briefing that the United States will immediately halt all funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), saying it had put “political correctness over lifesaving measures.” Also at the briefing, the president said plans to ease the national economic shutdown were being finalized, and that he would be “authorizing governors to reopen their states to reopen as they see fit.” At the same time, President Trump made clear that he was not going to put “any pressure” on governors to reopen. President Trump declared that the United States would undertake a 60-to-90 day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus’ spread, including by making the “disastrous” decision to oppose travel restrictions on China. The United States is the WHO’s largest single donor, and the State Department had previously planned to provide the agency $893 million in the current two-year funding period. (Fox News)


Wildfires ‘edge closer to Chernobyl nuclear plant’

Forest fires that have been burning for several days in northern Ukraine are now no more than a few kilometres from the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant, reaching the abandoned town of Pripyat, which used to serve the plant. Officials say it is now around 1.24 miles from where the most dangerous waste from the plant was stored. Greenpeace said the fires were much bigger than the authorities realized. The largest fire covered 34,000 hectares, while a second fire just a kilometre from the former plant was 12,000 hectares in area. Police said the fire had been burning since the first weekend of April after a man set fire to dry grass near the exclusion zone. It has since moved closer to the nuclear plant. More than 300 firefighters with dozens of pieces of special hardware are reportedly working at the site, while six helicopters and planes are attempting to extinguish the fire from above. Chernobyl nuclear power station and the nearby town of Pripyat have been abandoned since 1986, when the plant’s No. 4 reactor blew up. The explosion sent a cloud of radioactive fallout across much of Europe, with the area immediately around the plant worst affected. People are forbidden from living within 18 miles of the power station. Chernobyl continued to generate power until the plant’s last operational reactor was finally closed in 2000. (Express)


Stay 6 Feet Apart, but How Far Can Air Carry Coronavirus?

Being six feet apart in public is supposed to be a safe distance if a person nearby is coughing or sneezing and is infected with the novel coronavirus, spreading droplets that may carry virus particles. And scientists agree that six feet is a sensible and useful minimum distance, but, some say, farther away would be better. Although six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. However, some scientists have been looking at studies of air flow and being concerned about smaller particles called aerosols. They suggest that people consider a number of factors, including their own vulnerability and whether they are outdoors or in an enclosed room, when deciding whether six feet is enough distance. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet according to a recent study. Now scientists are suggesting a wholesale change in behavior, or proposing that some other length for separation from another human, like seven, or nine feet, is actually the right one. (The New York Times)


Social media posts have falsely claimed there’s one catch to this money — that you’ll eventually have to pay it back

Videos and online reports claiming that millions of Americans will have to repay the relief checks they receive from the federal government under the $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic recovery bill are not true. The government began issuing the one-time payments this week. Most adults who earned up to $75,000 will see a $1,200 payout, while married couples who made up to $150,000 can expect to get $2,400. Parents will get payments of $500 per child. The checks will be directly deposited into bank accounts or mailed to households, depending on how you’ve filed your tax returns in the past. The confusion on social media appears to have stemmed from language in the economic rescue bill that refers to the checks as an “advance refund” because the money is being given out in the 2020 tax year, before Americans have even filed their tax returns for the year. The 2020 tax form has not been printed but the relief checks will not have any bearing on your income deductions next year, said Eric Smith, a spokesperson for the IRS. (ABC News)


Americans would wait to resume activities after government lifts coronavirus restrictions

About four out of five Americans say they do not plan to immediately return to their normal schedule once governmental restrictions are lifted, according to a new Gallup poll. A whopping 71 percent of U.S. adults say they would “wait to see what happens” with the spread of the coronavirus before returning to normal life, and another 10 percent say they would continue to restrict their activities indefinitely. Only 20 percent of respondents say they would immediately resume their pre-pandemic schedule. As in previous polls, Republicans were somewhat more eager to get back to “normal” life than Democrats or Independents. (The Hill)


Some level of intermittent social distancing may be required into 2022 to avoid burdens on the U.S. health care system, according to a new model

Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at several scenarios to determine how the pandemic could play out over the next five years. Factors like the potential seasonality of SARS-CoV-2 infections and the average length of immunity for those who have been infected will impact, the researchers say, the level to which intermittent physical distancing will be required in areas that see new outbreaks. The study’s authors recommend extensive serological testing to determine the number of individuals with existing antibodies and the duration of the immune response. (STAT)


A study looking at the efficacy of chloroquine in treating COVID-19 patients was ceased recently after some participants developed irregular heart beats

The small Brazilian study found that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could increase the risk of fatal heart arrhythmia in some patients, though some doctors around the world have found limited success using hydroxychloroquine in combination with an antibiotic called azithromycin. President Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game changer” in the search for COVID-19 treatments. (MedRxiv)


The majority of pregnant women who delivered babies and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during a two week period at one New York hospital were asymptomatic, a study found

Of the 215 women who delivered babies at the New York–Presbyterian Allen Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center between March 22 and April 4, 33 tested positive for the coronavirus, 29 of whom were asymptomatic (neither causing nor exhibiting symptoms of disease). The researchers believe their study highlights the need for more widespread testing to determine the extent of localized outbreaks and the true number of asymptomatic (but COVID-19-positive) individuals. (New England Journal of Medicine)


Kangaroo on the loose captured safely in Austin, Arkansas

A kangaroo that was on the loose earlier this week has been safely captured, according to the Austin, Arkansas Police Department. The department posted a BOLO to its Facebook page. They said the marsupial was considered slightly dangerous due to the sharpness of his claws. According to a post from Cockrill’s Country Critters Mobile Petting Zoo in Cabot, Arkansas, the kangaroo was being relocated to a new farm in Austin, Arkansas. They said that a trailer door slid open and the kangaroo escaped. She was rescued and safely returned home. (KATV)


Florida judge: Get out of bed, get dressed for Zoom hearings

A Florida judge has one request for attorneys showing up for court hearings via Zoom: Get out of bed and put on some clothes! Broward Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey made the plea in a letter published by the Weston Bar Association, news outlets reported. “It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS appear inappropriately on camera,” Bailey said in the letter. “One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers.” The judge isn’t making any exceptions for lawyers lounging in the Florida sunshine, either. “Putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up you’re poolside in a bathing suit,” he wrote. Since courthouses shut down on March 16 to help slow the coronavirus pandemic, Broward County’s judicial system has held about 1,200 Zoom meetings involving some 14,000 participants. Bailey, for one, said he won’t hold a complicated trial over the video conferencing site, given the technology’s shortcomings. “Often, lawyers are not looking at their screens but down at their files, their outlines and notes, or simply out the window, and cannot see the judge is hollering “Stop! Stop!” because an objection has been made and the audio stays with the witness rather than obeying the judge,” he said. (NBC Miami)


Woman arrested for entering New Orleans airport naked amidst coronavirus lock down

A woman was recently arrested after allegedly arriving at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans completely naked after refusing to leave when the airport staff told her that she could not fly with no clothes on. The 27-year-old woman from Pueblo, Colo., walked into the airport naked and approached the Spirit Airlines counter on April 4th. Authorities were called to the scene and by the time they arrived, she had reportedly put on a dress. A deputy on the scene, however, said the woman was not wearing underwear and that the dress did not properly cover her up. This meant that she was still violating public decency laws. Airline officials would not let the woman fly due to her lack of attire and she was asked to leave the airport, which she allegedly refused to do. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says she was charged with obscenity, resisting an officer, battery of a police officer, simple battery and remaining in the airport after being forbidden along with being charged with resisting police and battery of a police officer. (NOLA)


Man Defends Home With Chainsaw

A man and a woman, chased off by a Houghton County homeowner defending his property with a chainsaw, face first-degree home invasion charges. Forty-year-old woman of South Range, Michigan and 32-year-old male of Warren, Michigan were arraigned in Houghton County, Michigan District Court. First-degree home invasion is a felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The man is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon, felonious assault and malicious destruction of personal property. The Houghton County Sheriff’s Office says the male suspect pulled a knife on a man inside his home. The man defended himself with a chainsaw, and the two suspects ran away. Deputies found them at another home in South Range, Michigan. Investigators say no one was hurt. The female suspect’s bond was set at $300 cash. The male’s was set at $5,000 cash. Their preliminary hearings will be set within three weeks. (Upper Michigan Source)


Everyone on exclusive Fisher Island, even the staff, can get tested for coronavirus

Fisher Island is an exclusive enclave of multi-million dollar condos and homes and one of the wealthiest ZIP Codes in the country. It has purchased thousands of rapid COVID-19 blood test kits from the University of Miami Health System for all of its residents and workers. A spokeswoman for Fisher Island, noted that half of the island’s residents are over the age of 65, making them vulnerable to COVID-19. The private island, set along Government Cut and nestled between Miami and Miami Beach and accessible only by boat, worked out a deal with UHealth to make the tests available to the 800 or so families that live there, and all the workers who maintain the property and patrol its streets. The purchase and availability of the testing are in sharp contrast to much of the rest of the state, where only about 1 percent of the population has been tested for the deadly virus that has caused a global pandemic. Most people who want a test have to meet certain criteria during a screening. Then an appointment must be set up, which generally means a lengthy wait in line. Those without vehicles can’t even access drive-thru testing sites. But that wouldn’t cut it on Fisher Island, where memberships in the Fisher Island Club cost about $250,000 and the average annual income was $2.5 million in 2015. It also wasn’t clear whether the easy access to testing on the island has affected residents’ adherence to social distancing measures. According to state data, there are between five and nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Fisher Island ZIP Code, 33109. (Miami Herald)


Thursday Roars Into Action With:

  • Emancipation Day
  • Foursquare Day
  • Get to Know Your Customers Day ( January 16,  April 16, July 16 and October 15 = 3rd Thurs. of Each Quarter)
  • High Five Day (Third Thursday)
  • National Bean Counter Day
  • National D.A.R.E. Day (Third Thursday)
  • National Health Care Decisions Day
  • National Stress Awareness Day
  • National Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day
  • National Orchid Day
  • Save The Elephant Day
  • World Voice Day

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