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Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how the race between the vaccines and the variants could leave the nation split into two groups

It has been neck and neck for a while, and honestly, I was ready to cheer a vaccine victory. We nearly dropped to an average of fewer than 10,000 new cases a day, an important number because, according to President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, that number moves the country into “containment” — a time when we would finally get our arms around the spread. We came tantalizingly close: 11,299 cases in late June.
But, then the variants caught some speed, and the vaccine started to fall behind; we are now at an average of 23,472 new cases a day as of Tuesday, and all indications point to that number rising. There are many countries around the world that now are seeing case rates increase against a backdrop of sparse vaccine supply. Here in the United States, we have plenty of vaccine available, a precious commodity almost every country around the world wishes they had. We have the means to distribute vaccines and have even made them totally free of charge.
I believe most of us also fundamentally understand the best way to get a handle on the pandemic and return fully to life as we know it is to vaccinate enough people. What we are lacking is the will.
It may be that some parts of the country really haven’t gotten the memo on the importance of vaccines — or even worse, they are receiving another far more insidious message: that it’s the vaccines themselves that are the problem.
They aren’t the problem. They are our best shot at being rescued from this ongoing pandemic. Research from the Commonwealth Fund estimates the Covid-19 vaccines have already saved about 280,000 lives and averted up to 1.25 million hospitalizations in the United States. A vaccine protects not only the person getting it but those around them as well — including children under the age of 12, for whom the current coronavirus vaccines are not yet authorized, or those who have weakened immune systems that prevent their bodies from generating a strong immune response after vaccination.
That is the very definition of herd immunity: providing a ring of protection around the vulnerable. In order to get there, around 70% of people need to be fully vaccinated. That level of immunity will make it so that we are no longer such willing hosts to the virus and put us on a path to eventually run it out of town.
The vaccines also directly protect us from future variants; mutated versions of the virus that emerge in infected people and can be more contagious than the original strain. Right now, it’s the Delta variant that is wreaking havoc in the United States and elsewhere, but the more the virus spreads, the higher the chances another variant of concern will take its place. Vaccinations slow these mutations from happening because if a person doesn’t get infected in the first place, their body can’t possibly become a breeding ground for a mutation.

A look at the numbers

President Joe Biden set what initially appeared to be an attainable goal: have 70% of the adult population with at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot by July 4th. But after months of steady vaccine progress, the numbers began to dwindle and the goal was missed.
Currently about 59% of the US population has at least one dose and 48% is fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that doesn’t tell the full story. The United States cannot be painted with a single brush stroke, and nowhere is that more true than with this pandemic. As things stand now, the top five states have 60% or more of their population fully vaccinated versus less than 36% for the bottom five states.
According to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University and the CDC, states that have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents reported an average of 2.8 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people each day last week, compared to an average of about 7.8 cases per 100,000 people each day in states that have vaccinated fewer than half of their residents. That’s almost a three-fold difference. It’s in those states with the highest vaccination rates where you can see the vaccines truly work their magic. It’s not just cases decreasing, but more importantly, hospitalizations and deaths plummeting as well. The vaccines accomplished exactly what they were designed to do.
Early data from a number of states suggests that 99.5% of those Covid-19 deaths during the first six months of the year have been in unvaccinated people. Just consider that if a patient in the United States is hospitalized or dies of Covid, 99 times out of 100 they are unvaccinated. Dying at this stage in the pandemic is almost like a soldier dying after a peace treaty has been signed. Heartbreaking and largely preventable.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called any suffering or death from Covid-19 “tragic,” and noted that available vaccines mean that “the suffering and loss we are now seeing is nearly entirely avoidable.”
“We have seen the successes of our vaccination program over the last eight months with cases, hospitalizations and deaths far lower than the peaks we saw in January,” she said. “And yet on the other hand, we are starting to see some new and concerning trends.”
One of those trends is the falling rate of vaccination. An average of 282,143 people are reaching “fully vaccinated” status each day — one of the lowest daily rates since the end of January, when vaccination efforts were just picking up steam. And it’s almost a 50% drop from last week, when an average of about 535,000 people became fully vaccinated each day. At our peak in mid-April, an average of nearly 1.8 million people — more than six times as many — were becoming fully vaccinated every day.

The wrath of Delta

Another new and concerning trend involves the rise of the Delta variant, which is believed to be much more contagious; it now makes up more than 50% of Covid-19 cases in the US — and in some places, that number tops 80%. Its dominance is making the vaccination issue even more pressing.
Fauci called it “a real bad actor virus” on CBS earlier this week.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, is likely behind the current uptick in cases. The US is now averaging more than 23,000 new Covid-19 cases each day, according to Johns Hopkins University, almost double two weeks ago. The average number of daily cases is rising in 46 states. And we’re seeing 261 new Covid-19 deaths each day — a 21% increase from last week. Again, deaths that are largely preventable.
How contagious is the Delta variant? If you remember back to the start of the pandemic, we measured how infectious a communicable disease is using a mathematical term called R0 (R-nought), also called the reproduction number. It basically estimates the average number of people one infected individual will go on to infect. If the R0 number falls below 1, the disease eventually dies out.
According to estimates, the original virus found in Wuhan, China had an R0 between 2.4 and 2.6. The Alpha variant, which had been the dominant variant and was first identified in the United Kingdom, was between 4 and 5. The Delta variant’s reproduction number is estimated to be somewhere between 5 and 8.
That means the Delta variant is estimated to be two to three times more contagious than the original virus first seen in Wuhan, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said via email.
What does that look like in real life? Unforgiving. A remarkable look at CCTV footage from Australia revealed a simple encounter between two people passing each other at an indoor shopping area that resulted in two separate instances of transmission. The encounter was brief. The premier of New South Wales, where the incidents occurred, even called it “scarily fleeting.”
That is why the rise of the Delta variant coupled with low vaccination areas is really worrying public health experts, just as they were ready to start looking at Covid in the rear view mirror.
A new data analysis by researchers at Georgetown University has now identified 30 clusters of counties with low vaccination rates and significant population sizes that are vulnerable to surges in Covid-19 cases and could become breeding grounds for even more deadly Covid-19 variants. The five most significant clusters are sprawled across large swaths of the southeastern United States and a smaller portion in the Midwest. No surprise, most are already seeing increases in Covid-19 cases.
“We can’t have it both ways; we can’t be both unmasked and unvaccinated. That won’t work,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said Monday.
Or as Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the NIAID and one of the developers of the Moderna vaccine, told me: The country will no longer be split into vaccinated and unvaccinated; it will simply be split into vaccinated and infected.
That’s where this road leads.

How to unstick the stuck vax rate

The simple answer is: Get vaccinated. You know that by now, and again, most people do. The doctors, nurses and health care teams recommending this are not political, but I can understand why you might think otherwise lately.
During the Conservative Political Action Conference’s summer gathering in Dallas last weekend, attendees cheered author Alex Berenson when he pointed out that the Biden administration fell short of its vaccination goal.
At least 34 states as of June have introduced bills that would limit requiring someone to demonstrate their vaccination status or immunity against Covid-19 in certain areas such as workplaces or government buildings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; 13 of those bills have passed into law. That includes at least seven states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma and Utah — that enacted legislation this year that would restrict public schools from requiring either coronavirus vaccinations or documentation of vaccination status.
And in Tennessee Dr. Michelle Fiscus, a pediatrician who has served as the state’s medical director of the vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization for two years, says she was fired after she shared information about a decades-old state policy that allowed some teens to be immunized without parental consent.

Vaccine benefits outweigh risks

It’s true that there have been a few concerning possible side effects associated with the vaccines. They include reports of a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome developing in some who received the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as well as reports of rare blood clots in others; and heart inflammation in a small number of people who received Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
While these are all serious conditions, it’s important to remember these events are very, very rare occurrences out of the almost 185 million people who have received at least one shot in this country. And it’s reassuring to know that in the vast majority of cases, those who developed these side effects recovered. The same can’t be said for Covid-19, which has killed more than 607,000 people in this country, caused almost 34 million infections, and can cause symptoms that linger long after the person has “recovered.”
It’s also true there have been breakthrough cases of Covid-19 among the fully vaccinated, but that is to be expected. Even if an infection occurs, the important thing to remember is that the vaccines offer excellent protection against severe disease and death — the two most important outcomes. And that’s true even for the Delta variant, according to recent data from Israel and the United Kingdom.
Some progress is being made. A new poll released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 20% of Americans who were initially hesitant about or squarely against getting the Covid-19 vaccine have since gotten their shots. Of course, seen from the glass-half-empty perspective, that means 80% haven’t.
Convincing most unvaccinated Americans to get their shots will take more time than initial phases of vaccinations, White House Covid-19 chief Jeff Zients told reporters at a Covid-19 response team briefing earlier in the month.
“Each person in this phase will take longer to reach, but that makes them no less important. And the spread of the Delta variant, which poses a particular threat to our young people, only strengthens our resolve to reach everyone,” he said.
That’s an effort I am 100% behind.

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This post originally posted here CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

The government wants Norway to become better known as a food nation

The Norwegian government wants to strengthen Norway’s international reputation as a food nation. Therefore, it is organizing a conference with the industry to find inspiration and get good advice.

By 2030, food culture should be a visible element in Norway’s tourism offer, the government’s vision for Norway as a food nation states.

“Norway has unique and world-class drink and food treasures that more people should experience. We have invited a wide range of actors who will provide views and inspiration on how to continue the work regionally to make Norway an internationally recognized food nation,” Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad (KrF) noted.

She invited industry players to a digital conference on August 31, where sector representatives will be able to discuss national and regional developments.

The key topics are as follows:

* How the blue and green food sectors can work better together and take advantage of their advantages.

* Strengthen cooperation around food, diet, and enjoyment of meals in the population.

* Build strong food and tourism regions.

* Increase recruitment to the food industry.

In addition to Bollestad, the Minister of Fisheries and Seafood, the Minister of Health and Care Services and the Minister of Trade and Industry will participate.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

Do you have a news tip for Norway Today? We want to hear it. Get in touch at [email protected]

North Dakota among best in the nation for water supply systems, annual report says

BISMARCK — North Dakota’s annual water report gives it a top ranking in the nation, something the state says is nothing new.

The report outlines violations in any of North Dakota’s 315 water systems in 2020.

Drinking Water Program Administrator Greg Wavra said only one major arsenic violation was found for a trailer park in Williams County.

The violation was fixed early this month.

Most violations were for missing a reporting sample.

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Wavra said samples are often provided on a volunteer basis in small towns, and very few miss a month of reporting.

“It’s right on track with what we normally see. I’ve been in the program for 30 years here. We’ve been, you know, year in year out, we’re the highest program in region eight,” Wavra said.

Region eight includes the Dakotas, Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Author: Grace O’ Neil
Read more here >>> usnews

England fans go wild as ‘absolutely glorious’ Euro 2020 win over Denmark ‘lifts the nation

Other fans described the match as “absolutely glorious”.

One wrote on Twitter: “I thought England absolutely dominated extra time by the way, also, how they managed out the last 10 mins, was no Danish onslaught, England incredibly smart [sic].

“Kane was superb at getting England out, Sterling too.”

Footage from Piccadilly and Leicester Square showed over-excited England fans clamber on top of buses to celebrate.

Cheering after the historic win could be heard across the capital, as demonstrated by video footage from high rise flats.

Author: Dylan Donnelly
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Sport

Queen’s brooches: Australian hibiscus represents relationship with both nation and nature

The Sydney Morning Herald even reported before the Queen Mother landed in the country that she would receive “a diamond and ruby brooch unofficially estimated to cost more than £5,000”.

The Queen’s mother wore the brooch for the first time in Brisbane, on February 16, 1958, pinned to a draping white organza dress.

Since her mother’s death, Her Majesty has worn the brooch to various engagements.

The first time she donned the inherited brooch was in 2006, for her grandson William’s passing out parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.

Author: Mared Gruffydd
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Turkey holiday optimism as nation ‘cleans up data’ – ‘Their time is about to come’

Turkey has blossomed into a holiday haven for Britons seeking soaring temperatures and stunning beaches. In 2019, before the pandemic took its hold, approximately 2.29 million trips were made from the UK to Turkey, up from 1.75 million the year before.

This received something of a boost in the summer of 2020 when the nation found its way onto the green list, while some popular European haunts found themselves slapped with quarantine rules.

However, since autumn, Britons have been unable to visit Turkey after the nation was swiftly moved to the red list amid concerns over coronavirus rates, data and variants.

According to Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, things could soon be looking up for holidaymakers itching for a Turkish break.

Mr Charles showed hope that the nation could turn amber as soon as July 15.

“It seems like an alternative to the chaos of Europe at the moment,” said Mr Charles on his weekly Travel Radio show alongside travel expert Simon Calder.

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As a result, Mr Charles believes Britons could be able to return to the nation in the coming months.

“I think their time is about to come actually,” he said.

The experts suggest it is most likely Turkey would move from the red list to the amber list, rather than being listed as green.

However, politicians are currently in talks over whether or not to allow vaccinated Britons to travel without the need for quarantine.

“If that were to happen and you were to get the double-jabbed people able to come in from amber countries without having to quarantine then effectively Turkey would be back on the green list which would be wonderful,” explained Simon Calder.

However, he pointed out some implications this could have for families looking to get away.

“We still don’t know, even if the double-jab thing does come in what that will mean for kids,” he said.

“What sort of testing regime will they have to go through?

“Generally the rule in Europe is parents if you’ve been jabbed you can bring your kids in and either we will probably make them test and then under-fives probably won’t have to but that is going to add cost and inconvenience.”

According to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), as of July 1, in the previous 14 days, Turkey recorded 78,580 new cases.

By comparison, during the same period, the UK recorded 159,015 new cases.

At the time of writing, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is advising against “non-essential travel” to Turkey.

UK citizens and residents travelling from Turkey to England face a mandatory period of hotel quarantine.

Author: Aimee Robinson
Read more here >>> Daily Express

UK Covid cases rise by 27,125 as deaths shoot up by 27 – Delta variant rips through nation

Britain reported on Friday 27,125 new COVID-19 cases and 27 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official government data showed, bringing the UK total to 128,189. That compared to 27,989 cases and 22 deaths reported a day earlier.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

UK cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 have risen almost four-fold in less than a month, new data shows.

Public Health England figures show a total of 161,981 confirmed and probable cases of Delta variant have now been identified in the UK – up by 50,824, or 46 percent, on the previous week.

Of the 161,981 cases, 148,538 have been in England, 10,185 in Scotland, 1,749 in Wales and 1,509 in Northern Ireland.

The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, continues to account for approximately 95% of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the UK.

On June 9, there were 42,323 confirmed and probable cases. The latest figure of 161,981, as of June 30, is nearly four times as high.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist from the University of Warwick, said: “This data is important to consider in the decision to open up on the 19th July.”

“We may have weakened the link between infections, hospitalisations and deaths but this significant increase in infections with the Delta variant raises serious concerns.

“As the virus continues to spread in those who are unvaccinated or have only received one jab, it will result in more disease, including increasing the burden of long Covid.

“We are already seeing some of those who have been fully vaccinated getting infected and some of those become sick.

“And there is another worry – that as the virus spreads it will continue to generate new variants, increasing the risk that one will pop up that is more vaccine-resistant.”

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Cases across the UK continue to rise and it is incredibly important that we do not forget to be careful.

“The best thing we can do to protect ourselves and the people we love is to get the vaccine if eligible, get tested twice a week and practise ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times.”

“Although cases are rising, we are not seeing a proportional rise in the number of people who are being admitted to hospital.

“The data suggest this is testament to the success of the vaccination programme so far and clearly demonstrates the importance of getting both doses of the vaccine.”

It comes as new Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows a rise in the number of people in England with Covid-19.

Roughly one in 260 people in private households in England had Covid in the week to June 26 – up from one in 440 in the previous week.

This is the highest level since the week to February 27.

A new analysis published by PHE last month showed for the first time that two doses of COVID-19 vaccine were highly effective against the Delta variant.

The study indicated the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96 percent effective against hospitalisation after two doses, while  the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 percent effective.

(More to follow)

Author: Ciaran McGrath
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: UK Feed

‘Controlling and suffocating!’ Britons furious at EU plot to bring nation 'to its knees'

The former Brexit Party leader warned Brussels is plotting to bring errant members to heel amid an ongoing row over domestic legislation with Hungary. Currently the Netherlands is leading attempts to rein in the country over its an anti-LGBTQ law which has been championed by the country’s leader Viktor Orban.

It successfully passed through Hungary’s parliament earlier this month.

News that Brussels was allegedly trying to dictate domestic policy to EU members quickly sparked outrage from many Brits.

One raged: “When will this habit of telling another country what it should and should not do (end)?

“Why the EU thinks it is in charge of everything a country does is beyond comprehension.

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“Guess not – it’s still happening today. The EU is trying to bring the UK to its knees just like Hitler tried to.”

And a fourth simply said: “The world has gone crazy and the EU are draconian with their laws. Hungary should leave and trade with us.”

Mr Farage – a leading Eurosceptic who helped bring about the historic 2016 referendum – was equally scathing.

He told GB News: “The other story that’s not making big news but it’s a huge story is a bust-up in the EU of epic proportions between Hungary and in particular the Netherlands.

“The Dutch Prime Minister (is) saying he wants to bring Hungary to its knees over its LGBT policy.

“As ever, there’s often so many stories out there that don’t get covered but that really matter.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned Mr Orban to either ditch the legislation or withdraw his country from the bloc.

Speaking in Brussels, he said: “It was really forceful, a deep feeling that this could not be. It was about our values; this is what we stand for,

“I said ‘stop this, you must withdraw the law and, if you don’t like that and really say that the European values are not your values, then you must think about whether to remain in the European Union’.”

Mr Orban has insisted that the law was not an attack on gay people but aimed at guaranteeing parents’ right to decide on their children’s sexual education.

When introduced it would see the Government ban the use of material in schools seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change.

Both the EU and UN are calling for it to be repealed.

Independent expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz said that the legislation was challenging the “values base” of the EU.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Queen Elizabeth has visited Canada more than any other nation but it isn't her 'favourite'

Queen Elizabeth II is one of the most well-travelled monarchs in the world. According to royal historian Kate Williams, if all of her International journeys were added together, Her Royal Highness has flown around the entire world a whopping 42 times.

During this time, however, it seems she has visited Canada more than any other country.

Queen Elizabeth has visited the North American nation, of which she is ceremonial Head of State, 27 times in total.

However, not all of these visits were official.

In fact, a couple of these stops were merely for convenience.

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The Queen has often spoken of her love of the country, having lived there for two years with Prince Philip in the early days of their marriage.

The young couple lived at Villa Guardamancia on the island between 1949 and 1952.

It was here that the Queen was able to enjoy something close to a “normal life”, according to Lady Pamela, who was one of the Queen’s bridesmaids.

She told MailOnline: “The Princess really loved Malta because she was able to lead a normal life, wander through the town and do some shopping.

In her book Philip Revealed: A Man of His Century, author Ingrid Seward quoted another Lady Abel Smith, one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, writing: “There were some very wild parties with spoons and buns being thrown, though luckily not butter. She was amazed by the spoons though.”

The author added: “Apparently when the games became too boisterous, Philip would lift his wife on to the piano together with ladies-in-waiting to keep them out of the firing line.”

Queen Elizabeth has since returned to the island, in 2007, when it is reported she asked to see the villa again.

Sadly, the new owners refused.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Andrea Yates: 20 years since the tragedy that shocked the nation

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — It was a tragedy that saddened the nation and brought postpartum illness into the spotlight. On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her five small children one by one in the bathtub of her Clear Lake home.

Yates, who is now 56, was tried twice for the deaths of her children.

In 2002, she was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Her conviction was later overturned based on false testimony.

A second trial in 2006 resulted in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Yates was sent to Kerrville State Hospital, a mental health facility, where she remains today. She has now spent a third of her life institutionalized.

Twenty years after the tragedy, ABC13’s Jessica Willey is hearing from those who saw the case unfold in the ABC13 Original “Andrea Yates: 20 Years Later”.

Yates’ former attorney and friend George Parnham shares how the case changed his career and gives a glimpse into her life now. Former paramedic John Delbosque also talks about why he will never forget that dark day, and Joe Owmby, lead prosecutor in both of Yates’ trials, discusses the testimony that led to her murder conviction being overturned.

“She’s where she wants to be. Where she needs to be,” said Parnham. “And I mean, hypothetically, where would she go? What would she do?”

Yates, a former nurse, called 911 for help after she drowned her children. She laid out John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2 and 6-month-old Mary in the bed. Noah, 7, was still in the bathtub.

“He was face down and kind of bobbing in the water, and that’s when I realized she drowned them,” said Delbosque.

Delbosque has never spoken publicly about that day.

“I’d say it was my worst call,” he said.

In interviews with HPD, the 36-year-old said she killed the children because she was not a good mother. Yates also told a Harris County psychiatrist she wanted to save them from Satan.

Her husband, Russell “Rusty” Yates was at work at NASA when the drowning happened. Despite losing all of his children, he stood by her.

“She loved those kids,” Rusty said to a throng of media in 2001.

Yates had attempted suicide twice, was admitted to psychiatric hospitals and treated for postpartum depression and psychosis before the drownings. A doctor warned the couple about having more children, in light of Andrea’s illness. However, Mary was born in November 2000.

In 2005, an appeals court overturned the conviction based on false testimony by one of the state’s expert witnesses.

Dr. Park Dietz testified that Yates got the idea about drowning her children from an episode of Law & Order, however no such episode existed.

Owmby said he and his team were blindsided by the testimony but did not expect it to have such a great impact.

There was a new trial in 2006 with a very different outcome.

“Thank goodness Dr. Dietz did what he did,” said Parnham.

For 14 years, Kerrville State Hospital has been Yates’s home. Parnham said he thinks of her like a daughter and still talks to her often. She comes up for review for release every year and waives it every single time.

At 80 years old, Parnham is still practicing law. He said Andrea’s case has changed how people view mental illness, especially when it comes to the law.

As he reflects on the last 20 years, his only wish for Yates is that she is comfortable. He said she is happy and still remembers her first words to him.

“She said, ‘Please don’t leave me alone,’ and I haven’t at all,” he said.

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Author: KTRK

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed