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Delta Variant Drives Rising COVID Case Counts in Every State

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

The number of COVID-19 cases is going up in every state as the Delta variant continues to spread across the nation.

An analysis by The New York Times of data from state and local health agencies showed a 7-day average of about 28,000 new cases a day on Thursday, a major jump from around 11,000 daily cases on June 20. That’s still better than the last surge in January, when there was a 7-day average of about 255,000 new cases a day.

“This will definitely be a surge,” Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the Times. “It won’t be as big as what happened in January. But we still have 100 million people in the United States who are susceptible to COVID-19.”

The CDC says the Delta variant is now responsible for about 59% of new COVID-19 infections in the nation.

Hospitalizations are not nearly as high as during the dark days of January, but they’re rising from last month, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.

In Springfield, MO, health officials are seeking state funding to set up a field hospital to handle the overflow of patients, USA Today reported. That was a tactic used in California during the worst days of the pandemic.

“Over the past week, we have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19-related cases,” said Katie Towns, the interim Greene County, MO, Health Department director. “We need help.”

Less than half of the adults in Missouri are fully vaccinated, according to the Times.

The Times said new cases are up 70% in the last 2 weeks in Mississippi, where only 43% of adults are vaccinated. That’s the lowest rate in the nation.

The Mississippi State Department of Public Health is now advising everybody over 12 to get vaccinated, all people to wear masks when indoors in public areas, and everybody over 65 to avoid indoor mass gatherings — whether they’re vaccinated or not.

National health officials keep urging people to get vaccinated, especially because the three vaccines given emergency use authorization have been shown to give strong protection against the Delta variant.

But vaccine hesitancy remains, especially in the Southern and Midwestern states.

The Times said only about 530,000 people in the U.S. are being vaccinated a day, down from 3.3 million a day in April. Less than half the U.S. is fully vaccinated, the CDC says, though 79% of people over 65 — the most vulnerable demographic — are fully vaccinated.

“In March, people flooded to our vaccination sites — all we had to do was open a door,” Ben Weston, MD, the director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management in Wisconsin, told the Times. “Now we have to go out and find people.”

About 48% of people in Milwaukee County are fully vaccinated, The Times reported.

L.A. County Makes Indoor Masking Mandatory

Los Angeles County public health officials are once again making face masks in indoor public places mandatory — not just advisable — regardless of a person’s vaccination status. The new masking order takes effect Saturday.

Because of the Delta variant, case counts have soared since the state government reopened the economy on June 15, L.A. County Public Health said in a news release.

The Health Department reported 210 new COVID cases on June 15, compared to 1,537 new cases on Thursday — the highest number since mid-March. Thursday’s test positivity rate was 3.7%, up from .5% on June 15.

The Delta variant accounted for 71% of all sequenced cases from June 27 to July 3, the Health Department said.

“We expect to keep masking requirements in place until we begin to see improvements in our community transmission of COVID-19,” L.A. County Health Officer Muntu Davis, MD, said in the release.

Sacramento and Yolo counties in California are now recommending, but not requiring, that residents wear masks in indoor public places, according to SFGate. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week there was no immediate plan for a statewide requirement.

Austin, TX, Brings Back COVID Protocols

Because of a surge in infections, the city of Austin, TX, is returning to Stage 3 protocols, the city government said in a news release.

The city recommends that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people wear masks at indoor and outdoor gatherings or while dining, shopping, and traveling. People who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and considered high-risk should avoid those activities altogether.

Vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks during those activities, the news release said.

“While the Delta variant has likely been circulating in our area for a while, we now have confirmation through sequencing that it is here,” said Desmar Walkes, MD, the health authority for Austin-Travis County.

“Disturbingly, we are now experiencing a rise in COVID hospitalizations that could overwhelm our city’s ICUs. Almost all these hospitalizations involve those who have not been vaccinated. This is a plea for people to become vaccinated, so we do not put our ICU capacity at risk,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in the news release.

But the Texas Tribune pointed out that the Stage 3 guidelines don’t carry the weight of law. Last May, Gov. Greg Abbott banned pandemic mandates.

MLB Game Postponed After Six Yankees Test Positive

A Thursday game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees was postponed when six Yankee players tested positive for COVID-19, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, according to CNN.

“We have three positives, and we have three pending that we’ve had rapid tests on,” Cashman said. The rapid tests are being confirmed with other tests, he said.

The three players with confirmed positive tests were all vaccinated, he said. In March, eight “breakthrough” cases were reported with the Yankees.

Sources

The New York Times: “After a Steep Plunge in Virus Cases, Every State Is Seeing an Uptick,” “See How Vaccinations Are Going in Your County and State.”

USA Today: “Health leaders ask for funding to set up ‘alternate care site’ as hospitals strain under new COVID-19 infections.”

Mississippi State Department of Public Health: “Preventing COVID-19: Recommendations and Requirements.”

L.A. County Public Health: “L.A. County Community Transmission of COVID-19 Increases from Moderate to Substantial; Reinstating Masking Indoors for Everyone — 1,537 New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and 3 Deaths.”

SFGate: “LA County requires masks again, 2 California counties recommend.”

City of Austin: “COVID-19 News Update.”

Texas Tribune: “Austin announces stricter coronavirus protocols for unvaccinated residents as cases increase. But it can’t legally enforce them.”

CNN: “Game postponed after 6 New York Yankees have tested positive for Covid-19, team says.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2021/07/14/missouri-delta-variant-surge-springfield-health-leaders-seek-covid-alternate-care-site-hospitals/7969633002/

https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,21866,420.html#prevention

http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/phcommon/public/media/mediapubhpdetail.cfm

recommend ithttps://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Yolo-County-face-mask-recommendation-16316894.php

https://www.austintexas.gov/news/austin-public-health-moves-stage-3-risk-based-guidelines

https://www.texastribune.org/2021/07/15/coronavirus-texas-austin-protocols/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/16/us/new-york-yankees-covid-tests-spt/index.html

https://www.webmd.com/vaccines/covid-19-vaccine/news/20210514/new-york-yankees-report-8-breakthrough-covid-cases

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This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News

Parkinson’s, Cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes Share a Key Element That Drives Disease

Parkin protein (green signal) is in a different part of the cell than the mitochondria (red signal) at time 0 (left image) but then co-localizes with the mitochondria after 60 minutes (right image). Credit: Salk Institute

Enzyme with central role in cancer and type 2 diabetes also activates “clean-up” protein in Parkinson’s.

When cells are stressed, chemical alarms go off, setting in motion a flurry of activity that protects the cell’s most important players. During the rush, a protein called Parkin hurries to protect the mitochondria, the power stations that generate energy for the cell. Now Salk researchers have discovered a direct link between a master sensor of cell stress and Parkin itself. The same pathway is also tied to type 2 diabetes and cancer, which could open a new avenue for treating all three diseases.

“Our findings represent the earliest step in Parkin’s alarm response that anyone’s ever found by a long shot. All the other known biochemical events happen at one hour; we’ve now found something that happens within five minutes,” says Professor Reuben Shaw, director of the NCI-designated Salk Cancer Center and senior author of the new work, detailed in Science Advances on April 7, 2021. “Decoding this major step in the way cells dispose of defective mitochondria has implications for a number of diseases.”

Parkin’s job is to clear away mitochondria that have been damaged by cellular stress so that new ones can take their place, a process called mitophagy. However, Parkin is mutated in familial Parkinson’s disease, making the protein unable to clear away damaged mitochondria. While scientists have known for some time that Parkin somehow senses mitochondrial stress and initiates the process of mitophagy, no one understood exactly how Parkin was first sensing problems with the mitochondria—Parkin somehow knew to migrate to the mitochondria after mitochondrial damage, but there was no known signal to Parkin until after it arrived there.

Shaw’s lab, which is well known for their work in the fields of metabolism and cancer, spent years intensely researching how the cell regulates a more general process of cellular cleaning and recycling called autophagy. About ten years ago, they discovered that an enzyme called AMPK, which is highly sensitive to cellular stress of many kinds, including mitochondrial damage, controls autophagy by activating an enzyme called ULK1.

Following that discovery, Shaw and graduate student Portia Lombardo began searching for autophagy-related proteins directly activated by ULK1. They screened about 50 different proteins, expecting about 10 percent to fit. They were shocked when Parkin topped the list. Biochemical pathways are usually very convoluted, involving up to 50 participants, each activating the next. Finding that a process as important as mitophagy is initiated by only three participants—first AMPK, then ULK1, then Parkin—was so surprising that Shaw could scarcely believe it.

To confirm the findings were correct, the team used mass spectrometry to reveal precisely where ULK1 was attaching a phosphate group to Parkin. They found that it landed in a new region other researchers had recently found to be critical for Parkin activation but hadn’t known why. A postdoctoral fellow in Shaw’s lab, Chien-Min Hung, then did precise biochemical studies to prove each aspect of the timeline and delineated which proteins were doing what, and where. Shaw’s research now begins to explain this key first step in Parkin activation, which Shaw hypothesizes may serve as a “heads-up” signal from AMPK down the chain of command through ULK1 to Parkin to go check out the mitochondria after a first wave of incoming damage, and, if necessary, trigger destruction of those mitochondria that are too gravely damaged to regain function.

The findings have wide-ranging implications. AMPK, the central sensor of the cell’s metabolism, is itself activated by a tumor suppressor protein called LKB1 that is involved in a number of cancers, as established by Shaw in prior work, and it is activated by a type 2 diabetes drug called metformin. Meanwhile, numerous studies show that diabetes patients taking metformin exhibit lower risks of both cancer and aging comorbidities. Indeed, metformin is currently being pursued as one of the first ever “anti-aging” therapeutics in clinical trials.

“The big takeaway for me is that metabolism and changes in the health of your mitochondria are critical in cancer, they’re critical in diabetes, and they’re critical in neurodegenerative diseases,” says Shaw, who holds the William R. Brody Chair. “Our finding says that a diabetes drug that activates AMPK, which we previously showed can suppress cancer, may also help restore function in patients with neurodegenerative disease. That’s because the general mechanisms that underpin the health of the cells in our bodies are way more integrated than anyone could have ever imagined.”

Reference: “AMPK/ULK1-mediated phosphorylation of Parkin ACT domain mediates an early step in mitophagy” by Chien-Min Hung, Portia S. Lombardo, Nazma Malik, Sonja N. Brun, Kristina Hellberg, Jeanine L. Van Nostrand, Daniel Garcia, Joshua Baumgart, Ken Diffenderfer, John M. Asara and Reuben J. Shaw, 7 April 2021, Science Advances.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg4544

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This post originally posted here The European Times News

Car drives on train tracks to escape police in horror chase – two officers injured – VIDEO

In alarming footage, a black Range Rover drives along train tracks at Cheshunt Station in Hertfordshire. The driver was involved in a scuffle with police officers before getting away and heading for that station.

Two police officers have been injured during the incident and the driver of the Range Rover has currently not been found but the abandoned vehicle has been recovered.

Police officers tried to speak to the driver as the vehicle was stolen.

After being stopped the man drove away with one officer initially trapped in the door, before hurtling down the open train tracks.

A spokesperson for the force has said: “The vehicle made off, injuring two officers and damaging several vehicles in the process.

“Officers from Hertfordshire also attended to assist with the search and the vehicle was found abandoned on nearby train tracks, in Windmill Lane.

“A search of the area is currently being carried out to locate the driver and officers are working alongside British Transport Police to recover the vehicle.

“It was not struck by a train at any point.

“Anyone who witnessed the incident, or saw the vehicle driving in the area, is asked to contact police on 101.”

The car was not hit by a train.

All trains into Cheshunt station were cancelled as a result of the incident.

Services through the station will experience, cancellations, delays and alternations. 

More to follow…

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: UK Feed

Delta variant drives Spain’s Covid-19 rate to highest in mainland Europe

The Delta variant of Covid-19 and a surge in infections among younger, unvaccinated people have catapulted Spain’s coronavirus rate to the highest in mainland Europe, according to Financial Times research.

Infection rates in the country have rocketed over the past week, surpassing both Portugal and Russia, with the seven-day rate almost tripling from 58 cases per 100,000 on June 29 to 156 on Tuesday. Spain still slightly lags behind Portugal on the 14-day rate more widely used in the EU.

In response to the rise, the Catalonia region — the worst affected in the country — said on Tuesday it was reintroducing restrictions on nightlife, while Castile-León called for a return to a curfew system.

Spain’s rise in infections has been fuelled by a dramatic increase among 12-29-year-olds, among whom infections are roughly 20 times as common as for the over-70s.

The Spanish government has attributed much of the rise to social gatherings — including outdoor drinking sessions where young people share bottles — and to greater mobility at a time when people are travelling within Spain on holiday. The country scrapped almost all of its national Covid restrictions in May.

Chart showing that Spain’s surge in cases is being driven by young adults

But FT research, based on random samples taken by Spanish authorities, indicates that the more infectious Delta variant now accounts for some 30 per cent of all cases and is set to become dominant around July 17. 

Spain’s trajectory is moving it closer to infection levels in the UK — which is ending coronavirus curbs on July 19 — with both countries gambling that the rise in cases among younger and largely unvaccinated people will not lead to graver problems among older, more vulnerable groups.

Chart showing that Spain’s case rate has surged to become the highest in mainland Europe

The EU country with the highest infection rate is Cyprus, with a seven-day rate of 424, while the UK, where Delta is predominant, has a rate of 267.

The jump in cases in Spain comes at a delicate time for its tourism-dependent economy, in which the months of July and August are crucial.

“We still think it is realistic to forecast that by year end we will achieve at least half the [tourism] figures of 2019,” Reyes Maroto, Spain’s tourism minister, told the FT. She argued that Spain’s rising number of inoculations — 41 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated — was more significant than infection rates “to measure country risk” and that Spain remained “a safe tourist destination”.

As of last Friday, infection rates passed the threshold for classifying Spain as “red” according to EU guidelines, which means travel to and from the country should be discouraged.

“I don’t see the Delta variant as a game changer given the high vaccination rate among the vulnerable Spanish population and indeed among the British population as a whole,” said Professor Fernando Rodríguez Artalejo, an epidemiologist at the Autonomous University of Madrid. 

“It is true there are many infections, but neither here nor in the UK is it producing a relevant increase in hospitalisations. The probably very negative impact on tourism is another question,” he said.

Chart showing that the Delta variant is out-competing other variants across mainland Europe, sending cases soaring again in Spain and Portugal

The Spanish government hopes new UK rules, to be unveiled this week, will boost British tourism to mainland Spain despite the surge in cases by dispensing with quarantine requirements for the fully vaccinated.

Both Spain and Portugal reject arguments that opening up to British tourists has led to an increase in the Delta variant. Fernando Simón, the doctor helping lead Spain’s push against coronavirus, emphasised that UK tourists have to show either a negative test or vaccination documentation before entering the country. 

In Portugal, where the Delta variant accounts for 70 per cent of cases, António Costa, prime minister, argues that it arrived not from the UK but through people from the Indian subcontinent who came to work in agriculture and tourism in the country’s south.

Portugal is working to step up vaccination as new cases increase exponentially. Marta Temido, health minister, has warned the daily case number is likely to double over the next two weeks, and doctors say growing pressure on Lisbon hospitals could lead to a reduction in the number of intensive care beds available to non-Covid-19 patients.

Author: Daniel Dombey in Madrid, John Burn-Murdoch in London and Peter Wise in Lisbon
Read more here >>> International homepage

Delta Variant Drives New Lockdowns in Asia and Australia

A drive-through coronavirus testing site in Brisbane, Australia, on Tuesday.
Credit…Darren England/EPA, via Shutterstock

Countries across the Asia-Pacific region are scrambling to slow the spread of the more infectious Delta variant, reimposing restrictions and stay-at-home orders in a jarring reminder — for societies that had just begun to reopen — that the pandemic is far from over.

In Australia, outbreaks of the variant have forced four major cities — Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin — into strict lockdowns. On Monday, the Malaysian government said nationwide stay-at-home orders would be extended indefinitely. And Hong Kong officials banned flights from Britain, where cases of the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, are rising fast.

In Bangladesh, soldiers are preparing to patrol the streets to enforce stay-at-home orders, with new cases rapidly approaching their early April peak. “The Delta variant of Covid-19 is dominating,” said Robed Amin, a health ministry spokesman, adding that testing suggested the strain was responsible for more than 60 percent of new cases.

The lockdowns and restrictions have deflated hopes across the region, where many countries avoided the worst of the pandemic’s initial spread last year. Now, weary residents are frustrated by what some describe as their countries’ pandemic regression, as other parts of the world edge toward normalcy.

Outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city, a restaurant owner, Marcus Low, bemoaned the fourth lockdown of the pandemic. Daily infections in Malaysia peaked in early June, but even after weeks of lockdown, new cases have dipped by only 5 percent over the past two weeks, according to New York Times data. Only 6 percent of the country’s 33 million people are fully vaccinated.

“My restaurant is known for its hospitality and shared dishes, the antithesis of social distancing,” Mr. Low said. For his and other small businesses struggling to survive, this lockdown “might be the last straw,” he said.

Others blamed slow vaccination drives for a return to restrictions.

Credit…Loren Elliott/Reuters

“If we were able to get a really high vaccination rate, that changes the game completely,” said Hassan Vally, an associate professor in epidemiology at La Trobe University in Melbourne. With less than 5 percent of Australia’s population fully vaccinated, he said, “in some ways, where we’re at now is no surprise.”

The Delta strain is one of several “variants of concern” identified by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though estimates of its infectiousness differ, the variant could be 50 percent more contagious than the already faster-spreading Alpha variant, which emerged in Britain last year, health officials say.

Studies have shown that Covid-19 vaccines are still largely effective against the Delta variant, though protection is significantly lower for those who are partially vaccinated. But the experiences of several countries show that the Delta variant can spread rapidly through the unvaccinated, including children.

“Anywhere you carry out vaccination, the disease will be pushed into the unvaccinated population,” said Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Countries that have vaccinated relatively high percentages of their populations are moving ahead with reopening plans. In Britain, where the Delta variant now accounts for almost all new cases, officials say they still plan to lift most remaining pandemic restrictions on July 19. New cases there have more than doubled in the past two weeks, but officials believe that the country remains well protected, with nearly half the population fully vaccinated.

“While cases are now ticking up, the number of deaths remains mercifully low,” the country’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, said on Monday

Experts say that as long as the virus continues to circulate, it can acquire mutations that may present new challenges. In India, where a devastating second wave this spring caused thousands of deaths daily, Maharashtra state has reimposed partial stay-at-home orders in response to the emergence of what has become known locally as “Delta Plus,” described by scientists as a sub-lineage of the Delta variant.

Indian health officials have expressed concern that Delta Plus could spread even more easily. “There is the possibility of the third wave,” said Maharashtra’s chief minister, Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray.

The World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva. The W.H.O. is the world’s largest public health body.
Credit…Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA, via Shutterstock

World Health Organization officials, concerned about the Delta variant, have urged even fully vaccinated people to continue wearing masks and taking other precautions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the other hand, told fully vaccinated Americans in May that they no longer needed to wear masks indoors or to stay six feet from other people. The agency also eased advice about testing and quarantine after suspected exposure.

Asked on Monday about the W.H.O.’s cautions, a C.D.C. spokesman pointed to the existing guidance and gave no indication it would change.

The Delta variant, a highly infectious form of the virus that has spread to at least 85 countries since it was first identified in India, is now responsible for one in every five Covid-19 cases across the United States. Its prevalence here has doubled in the past two weeks, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, has called it “the greatest threat” to eliminating the virus in the United States.

Los Angeles County said on Monday that it strongly recommended that everyone wear masks indoors as a precaution against the Delta variant, adding that it accounted for nearly half of all cases sequenced in the county.

“Until we better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimum interruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions,” county officials said in a statement.

The rise of new variants “makes it even more urgent that we use all the tools at our disposal,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the W.H.O., said at a news briefing on Friday.

Credit…Patricia De Melo Moreira/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Though fully vaccinated people are largely protected, studies suggest the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy against the Delta variant is slightly lower than against other variants, and significantly lower for individuals who have received only one dose.

Britain — where some two-thirds of the population have received at least one dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine and just under half have received two — has seen a sharp rise in cases driven by the variant. And Israel, with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, has partially reimposed mask mandates in response to an uptick in cases.

Given how fast-moving the variant is, “the vaccine approach is not enough,” said Eric Feigl-Ding, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. “We’re not at the level of vaccinations where we can release the brakes on everything else.”

Other scientists disagreed, saying guidance has to be tailored to local conditions.

“The W.H.O. is looking at a world that is largely unvaccinated, so this makes sense,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, adding that parts of the United States might also need different advice.

“If I were living in Missouri or Wyoming or Mississippi, places with low vaccination rates,” he said, “I would not be excited about going indoors without wearing a mask — even though I’m vaccinated.”

Bruce Springsteen in “Springsteen on Broadway” at New York’s St. James Theater on Saturday night.
Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

In a city whose cultural soul had been closed for more than a year, with boarded-up windows and empty streets, Bruce Springsteen called it back to life on Saturday night. His gruff and guttural rasp was the first to echo across a Broadway stage to a paying audience in 471 days.

Of course, “Springsteen on Broadway” is no traditional Broadway production. The show consists of a man alone onstage. His ensemble: a microphone, a harmonica, a piano and six steel strings stretched across a select slab of spruce wood.

“I am here tonight to provide proof of life,” Springsteen called out early on. It was a line from the monologue of his original show — which ran for 236 performances, in 2017 and 2018 — and now it carried extra weight. That proof, he continued, was “to that ever elusive, never completely believable, particularly these days, us.”

For the “us” that packed inside the St. James Theater — 1,721 filled seats, very few masked people, all vaccinated — that first chord from “Growin’ Up” was indeed proof that the rhythms that moved New York City were emerging from behind a heavy, dark and weighty curtain.

The 15 months that Broadway had been closed were its longest silence in history. In years past, strikes, hurricanes, blizzards and blackouts had managed to tamp down the lights on Broadway only for a few days, weeks or a month.

But the pandemic forced the Theater District into an extensive darkness on March 12 of last year, as New York became the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States.

Logs ready to be processed at a saw mill in Arkansas. The price of lumber has come down 47 percent since early May.
Credit…Karen E. Segrave for The New York Times

The cure for high prices is high prices.

That’s an old line used in commodity markets, and it helps explain why the great inflation scare of 2021 has eased some in recent weeks. When the price of something soars because demand outstrips supply, it has a way of self-correcting. Buyers, scared off by high prices, find other options, and sellers crank up production to take advantage of a profit opportunity.

It is an idea simple enough to be taught in the first few weeks of any introductory economics class, but one with powerful implications for the American economy as it aims for a postpandemic reboot.

Several of the key products whose prices soared in the spring have grown less expensive, as producers have increased output and buyers have held tight. This is particularly evident with lumber; as of Friday, its price was down 47 percent from its early-May peak (though still well above historical norms). Sawmills responded to soaring prices by pushing the limits of their capacity.

The prices of corn, copper and a variety of other economically important commodities are also down by double-digit percentages since early May. This supports the notion that the inflation the world has been experiencing is transitory — set to ease in the months ahead as the laws of supply and demand take hold.

Markets have plenty of flaws and imperfections, but when it comes to allocating scarce goods and sending signals to sellers to make more and buyers to buy less, they work quite well.

But just because markets work doesn’t mean they will work instantly. The complexity of the way many of the goods still in short supply are produced, transported and sold means that people in those markets are reluctant to predict the kind of snapback evident in lumber prices.

At-home rapid Covid tests allow you to swab your own nose and get the results in minutes.
Credit…Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Got the sniffles? Worried about that night out in a crowded club? Or maybe you just want to visit grandma but are concerned about her risk, even though you’re vaccinated.

At-home rapid Covid-19 tests, which give results in minutes, can be useful and reassuring for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Given the availability of vaccines for all people 12 and older in the United States, it may be hard to imagine why anyone would still need a home test. But the coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon, and a rise in infections this fall among the unvaccinated appears inevitable.

In most cases, regular home testing isn’t necessary for someone who is fully vaccinated. The vaccines available in the United States have been shown to be effective against the variants, including Delta. But breakthrough infections, although rare, continue to occur.

A home test can offer reassurance to a vaccinated person who has traveled recently or spent time in a crowded bar. It can be used more frequently for families with young children who aren’t yet eligible for vaccination.

Here are some scenarios in which a rapid home test may be useful:

  • For unvaccinated children, who could be tested periodically before going to camp or school or right before a birthday party.

  • To regularly check and protect the health of a babysitter who spends time with your unvaccinated children, or a home-health aide who is caring for a high-risk individual.

  • As an added precaution for a vaccinated person who wants to spend time with a grandparent or someone who is immune compromised. (An unvaccinated person shouldn’t spend time indoors with a person at high risk.)

  • To be sure a cough or sniffle is just allergies or a common cold rather than Covid-19.

  • To test houseguests before a dinner party or overnight stay, if someone in the group is unvaccinated or at high risk.

  • For guests at weddings or other large gatherings if they can’t provide proof of vaccination.

Author: The New York Times
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

Woman drives off from armed man who impersonated a deputy, Waller Co. Sheriff's Office says

WALLER COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — Law enforcement officials in Waller County believe someone driving an unmarked sedan with red and blue emergency lights on top of its roof is not one of their own.

The county’s sheriff’s office is trying to make that clear in the wake of the mystery driver reportedly pulling a gun on a woman over the weekend, as well as a possible second encounter early Wednesday morning in Brookshire.

According to the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, the vehicle, which is possibly a Dodge Charger, equipped with the emergency lights, pulled another driver over in the 25000 block of Joseph Road, near FM 1488, in Hockley at about 10 p.m. on June 19.

Deputies said the operator of the sedan approached the female victim’s vehicle with a gun drawn and pointed at her while he ordered her to get out.

The woman instead took off and drove to a family member’s home.

The victim may have been followed, but deputies add the mystery driver didn’t follow her all the way to the home.

“We know that it was not a WCSO vehicle and believe that it could possibly be someone impersonating a police officer. Please be aware that the WCSO does not conduct traffic stops using unmarked vehicles,” the sheriff’s office said of the incident on its Facebook page.

Deputies add their vehicles are “clearly and plainly marked” and personnel “will be in clearly identifiable uniforms.”

The sheriff’s office is also looking into another report out of Brookshire involving a vehicle with the same characteristics described in the Hockley incident.

Deputies posted on Facebook about the possible encounter in the area of FM 362 and FM 359. However, the Waller County sheriff told Eyewitness News on Wednesday that it’s not being considered an official incident due to the driver in this latest report not yet submitting a complaint.

Waller County is asking others to remain vigilant. If you are pulled over and are unsure of who it is, deputies advised you to call 911 or dispatch at 979-826-8282.

Follow Erica Simon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Erica Simon

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Underlying Heart Rhythm, Not ICD Shocks, Drives Mortality

Combined data from five implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) trials suggest that it is the underlying arrhythmic disorder, rather than the ICD therapy itself, that affects mortality in these patients.

Analysis of the MADIT II, MADIT-RISK, MADIT-CRT, MADIT-RIT, and RAID trials showed that the major determinant of mortality in patients receiving a primary prevention ICD was the arrhythmic substrate that leads to occurrence of fast ventricular tachycardia (VT), defined as ≥ 200 bpm, or ventricular fibrillation (VF), not adverse effects of the ICD shock therapy itself.

Patients experiencing an episode of VT had more than a 2-fold increased risk for death during a follow-up of 2 and a half years; however, ICD therapies for VT less than 200 bpm and inappropriate ICD shocks were not associated with a higher risk for death.

The findings are published online May 17 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“We know that patients receiving an ICD shock have increased mortality during subsequent follow-up,” first author Mehmet K. Aktas, MD, MBA, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology.

Dr Mehmet K. Aktas

“There are conflicting data on the impact of ICD shocks on subsequent mortality, and in this study, we aimed to determine whether shocks per se increase subsequent mortality risk or whether the arrhythmic substrate that leads to ICD therapy results in subsequent risk of death,” Aktas said.

He and his team evaluated the association of ICD therapy with subsequent mortality according to the type of ICD therapy (model I), type of arrhythmia for which ICD therapy was delivered (model II), combined assessment of all arrhythmia and therapy types during follow-up (model III), and incremental risk associated with repeated ICD shocks (model IV).

The study cohort included 5516 patients. Of these, 1001 patients (18%) received appropriate ICD therapy and 561 (10%) received inappropriate ICD therapy during an average of 2.4 years.

Patients receiving an appropriate ICD therapy were more likely to be male and to have prior atrial arrhythmia and nonsustained VT compared with those without ICD therapy.

Patients receiving an inappropriate shock were more likely to be younger, African American, and less likely to have prior nonsustained VT compared with those without ICD therapy.

Most patients (90%) were receiving beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers regardless of device therapy during follow-up, and 10% of patients were treated with amiodarone.

In model I, at 3 years, the cumulative probability of death following an appropriate ICD shock was 38% compared with no appropriate ICD shock (P < .001). Inappropriate shock alone was not associated with mortality risk.

In model II, which looked at the type of arrhythmia for which ICD therapy was delivered, the cumulative death rate at 3 years following the first occurrence of ICD therapy for VT ≥ 200 beats/min or VF was 27%, compared with 10% in patients not experiencing VT ≥ 200 beats/min or VF (P < .001).

In model III, the highest risk for death was observed following shocks delivered after a failed antitachycardia pacing (ATP) for fast VT (hazard ratio [HR], 3.05), followed by ICD shock for VF (HR, 2.86), ICD shock for fast VT without a prior ATP (HR, 2.83), and ICD shock for slower VT (< 200 beats/min) without a prior ATP (HR, 2.39).

In contrast, other types of appropriate and inappropriate shock or ATP therapies were not associated with a significant risk increase.

In model IV, which assessed the association of shock therapy counts with the risk for death, two or more ICD appropriate shocks were not associated with increased risk after the first appropriate ICD shock.

“Our findings shed light on the mechanisms associated with increased mortality risk in primary prevention ICD recipients,” Aktas said.

“Studies that evaluate interventions focused on treating and stabilizing the myocardial substrate which promotes ventricular tachyarrhythmias such as catheter ablation are needed to improve survival in heart failure patients,” he added.

Thoughtful Study Design

In an accompanying editorial, Rajat Deo, MD, MTR, and Naga Venkata K. Pothineni, MD, both from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, praised the researchers for their “thoughtful study design.”

“The take-home message that is most relevant to our clinical practice is clear: sustained ventricular arrhythmias are a prognostic marker of death and heart failure hospitalization,” they write.

The editorialists also comment on the higher rate of inappropriate ICD therapies in African Americans.

“It is concerning to observe that Black patients had a markedly higher rate of inappropriate ICD therapies compared with White patients — and this was in the setting of some of the most respectable, established, and well-funded clinical trials,” they write.

Reasons for disparities in outcomes include access to appropriate and affordable medical therapies, access to specialty clinics and caregivers, remote ICD monitoring, and compliance issues.

“Future work will need to understand how the social determinants of health including race affect the treatment and outcomes of our primary prevention ICD population,” they write.

Identifying and characterizing the arrhythmic substrate will become a key component of sudden cardiac death risk stratification, the editorialists predict.

“Concurrently, we must continue to partner with industry colleagues and work with our professional societies to ensure health equity across our patient population,” they conclude.

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021;77:2453-2462, 2463-2465. ArticleEditorial

Aktas has received research grants from Boston Scientific and Medtronic. Deo and his coeditorialists report no relevant financial relationships. The MADIT trials were funded by an unrestricted research grant from Boston Scientific to the University of Rochester Medical Center. The RAID trial was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

US lumber prices skyrocket 250% as Covid drives home-buying demand higher

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Prices for lumber managed to grab the headlines after an unprecedented sharp increase which currently threatens housing affordability across the United States.

“Lumber prices have skyrocketed nearly 250% since April 2020. This price spike has caused the price of an average new single-family home to increase by more than $ 24,000,” reported the National Association of Home Builders.

On Monday, the May futures contract price per thousand board feet of two-by-fours reportedly surged from $ 48 to $ 1,420. The moonshot reportedly caused lumber trading to halt for the day.

“The market is in trouble. It could spiral out of control in the next few months,” Dustin Jalbert, senior economist at Fastmarkets RISI said as quoted by Fortune.

According to the expert, the backlogged supply is not able to catch up with the demand that keeps growing after the season of home building and home renovation were opened.

Apart from steadily increasing home construction, the price spike is attributed to the supply chain that is getting disrupted by Covid-19-related lumber yard shutdowns, Gary Poulos, lumber division president for Mill Creek Lumber & Supply told one of the local media outlets.

Also on rt.com The great British garden-gnome famine: Elf is on the way after Suez Canal snarl-up & Covid deprive UK of beloved ornaments

The official added that the pandemic-related transportation issues exacerbated the surge in prices. Moreover, extreme winter weather also caused a shutdown of Gulf Coast refineries, causing an unavoidable shortage of other building supplies.

Lumber prices are expected to grow for quite some time amid soaring lumber futures contracts, including those for November, Stinson Dean, CEO of Deacon Lumber, told Fortune.

Prices are expected to correct only if demand cools down, which is not likely to occur until the home building and renovation seasons are over.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Woman drives off after being shot by boyfriend at Houston apartment, police said

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A woman is now in the hospital after police said she was shot in the chest by her boyfriend Friday night.

Officials from the Houston Police Department said officers responded to reports of a shooting near a gas station on Scott Street near Corder around 11:30 p.m.

The 20-year-old victim and her boyfriend were said to have been in an ongoing disagreement before he came to her apartment complex, which was located across the street from the gas station.

The two were reportedly in a heated argument before police say the boyfriend pulled out a gun and shot into her car between 10 to 14 times.

The woman was hit once in the chest but managed to drive across the street to ask for help, according to authorities. She is in the hospital in critical condition.

The boyfriend has not been located, but has a warrant out for his arrest.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: KTRK

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Back pain: F1 Driver Performance Coach details how to reduce back pain during long drives

Simon Reynolds worked at the Formula One Team McLaren for over a decade as a Driver Performance Manager. Now the sports therapist has spoken exclusively to Express.co.uk to detail how to reduce back pain for long-haul drivers. Having managed the athletic development of F1 racers Kevin Magnussen, Alex Albon, Heikki Kovalainen and Stoffel Vandoorne, Reynolds will share his tricks of the trade.

Get set, go

Reynolds expressed the gravity of seat ergonomics when driving long distances.

“The steering wheel height may also need adjusting to help prevent the shoulders from hunching, which may lead to increased tension and/or pain.”

To help prevent stiffness, Reynolds shares his little secret – he awakens the gluteal (bottom) muscles by “squeezing them together 10 times and holding each repetition for two counts”.

“This helps relieve any discomfort in the lower back and means when you step out of the car, you can do so more easily,” Reynolds added.

“Small movements every 20 minutes may help prevent neck and back pain,” he suggested, although he stressed: “Maintain focus on the road at all times.”

For drivers who are really feeling the ache, Reynolds has four exercises which might help. These are:

  • Trunk rotations
  • Arm raises
  • Bottom clenchers
  • Chair squats

Trunk rotations

“Find a bench, sit upright, with knees bent at approximately 90-degrees, feet firmly on the ground, and hands placed on the thighs.

“Gently rotate your torso to the left to a comfortable range, whilst sliding the right hand down the thigh towards the knee. Repeat on the right side. Perform five to 10 reps each side.”

Arm raises

“Perform seated or standing with good posture. If standing, maintain a slight bend in knees.

“Gently raise your arms out to the side and overhead with your palms facing forward.

“If you have difficulty raising overhead, simply raise to shoulder level. Perform: five to 10 reps.”

Bottom Clenchers

“Perform seated or standing. If standing maintain a slight bend in knees.

“Simply clench your bottom muscles and hold for two-five counts, while at the same time tightening the mid-section. Perform five to 10 reps.”

Chair squats

“Place your feet approximately shoulder width or slightly wider, with toes slightly pointing outwards.

“Next, whilst maintaining a neutral spine, tighten the midsection and simultaneously bend the hips and knees to lower down to lightly touch a chair or bench with your bottom.

“Ensure the knees do not collapse inwards and remain inline with toes. Perform five to 10 reps.”

Simon Reynolds is the current director of Formula to Perform Ltd and is working alongside Motorsport Tickets – the UK’s leading motorsport ticket provider.

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