Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Taking virus fight to the sewers

As public health systems around the world contend with limited coronavirus testing resources, some public health experts are using wastewater to predict potential outbreaks. The virus can be found in human waste, and testing water samples can help governments determine when it’s safe to ease social distancing rules. In March, Massachusetts-based startup Biobot analyzed the state’s wastewater and found the virus’ impact was far greater than the number of confirmed cases suggested. Now, it’s working with more than 100 sewage facilities in 30 U.S. states on similar efforts. (The Verge)


A new way to treat virus with blood

Researchers from Rockefeller University in New York are looking to give a century-old medical treatment an upgrade to fight COVID-19, with the help of blood from those who have recovered from the coronavirus. The researchers are looking to isolate and then clone the most potent antibodies in the blood of those who have recovered. Identifying these “elite antibodies” could increase the effectiveness of such blood plasma therapy. And the use of cloning could help treat a much larger portion of patients than current methods allow. (New Atlas)


Coronavirus may cause strokes in younger patients

COVID-19, the disease causing the coronavirus pandemic, has largely been associated with symptoms such as fatigue, a persistent cough, fevers and, recently, lesions. However, it may also cause strokes in patients under 50, according to a Mount Sinai Health System neurosurgeon. He added that the virus is causing clots in arteries, resulting in “severe strokes.” The report shows a seven-fold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks. Most of the patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of COVID. The research team tested five patients at the hospital, all with mild symptoms, and noted that they all tested positive for the virus, with two delaying in calling an ambulance. Strokes are caused by a loss of blood to the brain and can result in severe damage, even death, if not treated right away, either by surgery or medication. Urgency is of the utmost importance if a stroke is suspected. (CNN)


NASA team developed a ventilator tailored for coronavirus patients in 37 days

The engineers at NASA have developed a high-pressure ventilator prototype specifically tailored to help coronavirus patients, according to the agency. It’s called VITAL, or Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally and after passing a critical test at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, NASA is hoping for fast-track approval of the ventilator in the coming days so it can be used to help coronavirus patients. The prototype works like traditional ventilators, where sedated patients rely on an oxygen tube to help them breathe, but it’s built to last three or four months unlike ventilators in hospitals that were designed to last for years and help patients with other medical issues. The engineers hope that more traditional ventilators can be freed up for patients with the most severe cases of coronavirus if VITAL is put into place. The innovative ventilator was also designed to offer more oxygen at higher pressures than typical models because some of the patients he’s treating needed that capability. The intention with VITAL is to decrease the likelihood patients will get to that advanced stage of the disease and require more advanced ventilator assistance. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena developed the ventilator, which can be built quickly using fewer parts, most of which are available in current supply chains, the agency said. But it won’t compete with the existing supply chain for ventilators. It was also designed to be flexible with easy maintenance, meaning it can be used in the diverse settings hosting field hospitals, including hotels and convention centers. (NASA)


Millions of gallons of beer could go to waste

The coronavirus pandemic has completely shut down some of the biggest spring events where people gathered to celebrate, including March Madness, the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, the beginning of the MLB season, The Masters, SXSW, Coachella, and St. Patrick’s Day. These massively popular events were big drinking occasions, whether at the event or watching at a bar. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, all of those kegs at stadiums and bars are going stale. The national emergency gets worse every day. There are currently millions of gallons of beer just sitting around and not being tapped because of stay-at-home orders. Non-pasteurized draft beer typically lasts about 45-60 days, and pasteurized draft beer will stay fresh for approximately 90-120 days. Many of the state-mandated lockdowns went into effect in mid-March, meaning there is a real concern for beer companies that all of those kegs of brew could go to waste. (The Blaze)


Virginia senator blames Canada for his ‘extra moist’ microwave tuna melt

Virginia Senator Mark Warner is standing behind the culinary creation that he alleges is a tuna melt. The Democratic lawmaker posted a video on Instagram walking people through his old family recipe that involves slapping huge blobs of mayonnaise on white bread, topping it with undrained canned tuna and processed cheese, and heating in the microwave. He’s since had to face scorn and disgust from his colleagues, his constituents, and even his own children. What generated it was a number of politicians, famous people had been making videos of them singing a song, playing the piano or baking their grandmother’s favorite brownie recipe. “And I thought, well, I can’t do any of that. But I did make something when I was 12. And my 25-year-old daughter who is cooped up here with us decided that we would film it. And maybe I did stretch a little bit. I knew I would get some reaction with the excess mayo, the white bread, the processed cheese, the tuna straight from the can without draining the can, and the microwave. But even all those things combined, I didn’t think I would get the kind of literal meltdown that occurred,” he said. “I think the genius of the tuna melt that I prepared was it was less than 2 1/2 minutes. And that even included the 20-second hand wash I performed while the sandwich was in the microwave.” (CBC)


Embarrassment for journalist as half-naked ‘other woman’ walks past during videocall

A spanish journalist was on a videocall where he was talking about the coronavirus crisis and the footage has gone viral, but not for his opinions on the situation. It went viral because a half-naked woman, wearing only underwear, walked past in the background. This woman wasn’t the woman who he has been dating since the end of last year. It was another woman. “I’m strong and I’m fine and don’t want to make any declarations,” he said when asked about the scandal. “Things are being said that are not true.” (Marca)


Back to work for the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service is calling thousands of its workers back to the office this week and encouraging them to bring their own masks, in some cases home made ones. The IRS had closed its processing and taxpayer assistance centers over the pandemic to protect its workforce, but is now scrambling to dole out stimulus payments and implement a rescue package. The IRS said it is offering incentive pay but isn’t forcing anyone to return. (Politico)


Millions stop paying credit cards

Millions of U.S. credit card users aren’t paying their bills after the pandemic put them out of work. As unemployment soars, many households are struggling, and repayments are one of the first expenses people skip when money is tight. Making payments in June and July may be even tougher. Large card issuers including Capital One, Discover, and Synchrony Financial are offering to temporarily suspend payments, but cardholders may need to ask for a reprieve. U.S. credit card debt is roughly $1.2 trillion. (The Wall Street Journal)


CDC Adds 6 Symptoms To Its COVID-19 List

You’ve probably gotten used to hearing those three symptoms for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — fever, cough and shortness of breath. But the CDC has added six more symptoms: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell. The expanded symptoms list could prove important because with a limited number of test kits available, typically those seeking a test must first show symptoms. There is anecdotal evidence for some of those newly listed symptoms. The symptoms usually appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, the CDC says. It stresses the “emergency warning signs” for COVID-19 are trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse. and bluish lips or face. People with any of these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, the CDC says. The coronavirus has proved highly contagious and potentially deadly, but the vast majority of people who become infected will show either no symptoms or only mild ones. (NPR)


All coronavirus patients in Wuhan have been discharged from hospitals

The local government announced the milestone five months after the outbreak began. More than half of all cases in China were in Wuhan, along with more than 80% of fatalities. The novel coronavirus is believed to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan and first emerged in December before spreading quickly worldwide. The latest news is that the number of new coronavirus patients in Wuhan was at zero, thanks to the joint efforts of Wuhan and medical staff from around the country, according to the Chinese National Health Commission spokesman. The city had reported 46,452 cases, 56% of the national total. It saw 3,869 fatalities, or 84% of China’s total. China’s health authority had earlier reported 11 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on April 25, down from 12 the previous day, with no fatalities. (Reuters)


Indian Police Officer Dons ‘CCP Virus Helmet’ to Warn Motorists to Stay Home

A police officer in India is donning a special CCP virus-themed helmet in a creative effort to convince citizens to stay at home during a 21-day government-imposed lockdown. The Police inspector from the city of Chennai, has been wearing the specially designed helmet during traffic stops to raise awareness about the seriousness of obeying the lockdown orders and social distancing rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The CCP virus-style headgear upcycled from old newspapers and a broken helmet is effectively helping spread the word around about the ongoing epidemic. When he stands at checkpoints wearing this helmet “the thought of coronavirus comes into the minds of the commuters.” So far, the unique helmet, designed by a local artist, has been an effective way to convey the message. “Especially, the children react strongly after seeing this and want to be taken home,” the cop said. (Nation And State)


Two teenage siblings plan to host a national spelling bee in May

The siblings from The Woodlands, Texas, were upset when the Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled due to coronavirus because hundreds of kids had been preparing for the finals in earnest and many of them won’t be able to take part next year due to age limits. That’s why the pair, who had competed in the Scripps event in the past, decided to organize their own spelling bee. They say that more than 200 participants have registered for the online event, which is scheduled for May 23rd to May 28th.  (The New York Times)


Wednesday Bumps Us Up With:

  • Denim Day (Last Wednesday)
  • International Dance Day
  • International Guide Dogs Day (Last Wednesday)
  • International Noise Awareness Day
  • “Peace” Rose Day (The flower)
  • World Wish Day
  • Zipper Day

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