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UK agrees to send France eye-watering £54M in last-ditch deal to tackle new migrant surge

UK agrees to send France eye-wateringHome Secretary Priti Patel and France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin sealed the agreement to crack down on the illegal crossings. More than 8,000 migrants have succeeded in making the dangerous trip so far this year.

The number of crossings has increased in recent days as temperatures rocket in the UK and Europe.

On Monday, at least 430 people made the journey, a new daily record.

Earlier today multiple dinghy boats, mostly carrying young men, were seen arriving at shores in Dungeness in Kent as well as in Dover.

The new deal agreed with the French border force will double the number of police patrolling French beaches.

Officers will patrol wider areas of coastline across the northern coast between Boulogne and Dunkirk and patrols will be expanded further north-west around Dieppe.

There is also set to be improved coverage via surveillance technology of the coast of France and investment in infrastructure is to increase to try and bolster border security at key border crossings.

It comes as MPs began debating the Government’s new proposals for immigration.

Ms Patel said the British people have “had enough of illegal migration and the exploitation of migrants by criminal gangs”.

The Home Office has put forward a Nationality and Borders Bill, which includes clauses to allow the UK to be able to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country”.

They must also submit claims at a “designated place” determined by the Secretary of State.

The legislation would also give border officials the powers to turn migrants away from the UK while at sea, and making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission.

READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: EU handed solution to furious UK row

“Which will enable us to going after the gangs exploiting people, deter illegal entry into the UK, introduce new and tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally and strengthen our ability to remove those with no legal right to be in the UK.”

Despite the rise in recent Channel crossings, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many other European countries.

At least 44,230 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Asylum applications in the UK fell in 2020 to 29,456.

This is significantly lower than the 93,475 asylum applications made in France and the 121,955 made in Germany.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: UK Feed

Does the Delta strain require fully vaccinated people to wear masks? Is it worse than other strains of coronavirus? We tackle these questions and more.

Do vaccines work against the Delta variant?

Yes, research suggests – as long as you’re fully vaccinated and don’t skip a dose.

Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offered 88% protection against symptomatic Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But those who get only one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have just 33% protection against the Delta variant, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.

“The key is: Get vaccinated. Get both doses,” Murthy said.

Moderna’s two-dose vaccine was found in lab experiments to work against new variants such as the Delta strain, the company said. Scientists used serum samples from eight participants taken a week after they received their second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

And researchers say the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine also appears to work against the Delta variant. The researchers studied blood taken from eight vaccinated volunteers and tested it against an engineered version of the spike protein of the Delta variant.

“A single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generated neutralizing antibodies against a range of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, which increased over time, including against the increasingly prevalent and more transmissible Delta (B.1.617.2) variant,” Johnson & Johnson said on July 1.

But the Delta variant is more contagious than both the original strain of novel coronavirus and the Alpha (B.1.1.7) strain that’s currently dominant in the US, the surgeon general said.

“It’s yet another reason to get vaccinated quickly,” Murthy said.

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What is the Delta variant? Is it worse than other strains of coronavirus?

The Delta variant is the B.1.617.2 strain of coronavirus first identified in India that’s now spreading in the US and around the world.

The Delta strain has a cluster of mutations, including one known as L452R, that helps it infect human cells more easily.

“This variant is even more transmissible than the UK (Alpha) variant, which was more transmissible than the version of the virus we were dealing with last year,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.

In addition to increased transmissibility, “it may be associated with an increased disease severity, such as hospitalization risk,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

An analysis of 38,805 sequenced cases in England showed the Delta variant carried 2.61 times the risk of hospitalization within 14 days compared with the Alpha variant, when variables such as age, sex, ethnicity and vaccination status were taken into consideration.

By mid-June, the Delta variant accounted for 99% of Covid-19 cases in the UK, according to Public Health England.

“We don’t want to let happen in the United States what is happening currently in the UK, where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant,” Fauci said.

It’s happened before. The Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant first found in the UK is “stickier” and more contagious than the original strain of novel coronavirus. It spread rapidly and became the dominant strain in the US.

Now the more contagious Delta variant is expected to take over as the dominant US strain in the coming months, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. In recent weeks, the number of known Delta cases has been doubling every two weeks in the US — making up 26.1% of sequenced Covid-19 cases as of June 19, according to CDC data.

The genetic sequencing company Helix said its testing indicates Delta already accounts for 40% of US Covid-19 cases.

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Do fully vaccinated people need to wear masks because of this Delta strain?

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When can younger kids get a Covid-19 vaccine?

One vaccine is already available for children ages 12 and up, and clinical trials are underway for younger children.

Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is the only one currently authorized for people ages 12 and up. The vaccine is now being tested in children between 6 months and 11 years old. If all goes well, Pfizer said, it plans to ask the US Food and Drug Administration in September to authorize the vaccine for children ages 2 to 11 years.

Learn more about why parents volunteered their babies and young children for vaccine trials and why doctors say it’s important to vaccinate kids against Covid-19

Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for adults 18 and older. In May, the company said early trial data showed the vaccine is safe and appears to be effective in 12- to 17-year-olds. In June, Moderna said it has asked the FDA to authorize its vaccine for the 12-to-17 age group.

Moderna is also testing various doses of its vaccine in younger children between ages 6 months through 11 years. If all goes well, Moderna said, children under age 12 could be eligible for the vaccine this winter or in early 2022.

Johnson & Johnson said it plans to start testing its Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents starting this fall. Its single-dose vaccine is currently authorized for adults ages 18 and up.

J&J said it’s planning four late-stage vaccine trials for children. This first trial will focus on 12- to 17-year-olds, and the others will expand to include younger children. In total, J&J plans to enroll a minimum of 4,500 pediatric participants up to age 17.

“To keep children safe, and ultimately to achieve herd immunity, it is imperative that COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials continue to move forward in this population,” J&J said in a July 1 email to CNN.

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What’s the difference between the Delta and Delta Plus variants?

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Why do we keep getting more contagious variants?

The more people who get infected with a virus, the more chances the virus has to evolve through mutation.

Viruses mutate all the time as they replicate in people who are infected. Some mutations aren’t very important. But if the mutations are significant, they can lead to more contagious or more dangerous new variants of a virus.

Think of a virus as a necklace full of different-colored beads,” board-certified internist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said.

“And in position No. 1, you need a red bead. Position No. 2 is a green bead. That’s the genetic code – that sequence of bead colors,” he said.

“When a virus replicates, it is supposed to make an exact replica of those bead colors. But every once in a while, maybe a green bead gets into where a red bead is supposed to be.”

When mutations give the virus an advantage — such as the ability to replicate faster, or to hide from the immune system – that version will outcompete others.

The only way to get rid of variants is to lower the number of infections, said Penny Moore, an expert in viruses at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

That’s a big reason why doctors urge people to get vaccinated as soon as they can. Those who don’t get vaccinated aren’t just risking their own health — they’re also jeopardizing the health of others, infectious disease specialists say.

Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply.”

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Is it true that kids can’t spread coronavirus to others or can’t get very sick from it?

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What should I tell friends, family or coworkers who are hesitant to get vaccinated?

“It is a normal human reaction to be afraid,” pediatrician Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez said. “They’re having a normal reaction, and perhaps they haven’t been able to sit down with their physician.”

She suggests finding a time to have a calm, rational conversation — when neither person is angry or likely to start a fight.

“The first thing I would say is ‘I get it. I totally get where you’re coming from and I understand that you’re concerned about this,’” Bracho-Sanchez said.

It’s also important to cite scientific data — like the truth about side effects, the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and why it’s important for young, healthy people to get vaccinated.

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Is it safe to go on vacation?

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Will we need Covid-19 booster shots? If so, how will we know when we need them?

It’s not clear if or when vaccine booster shots might be needed, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in late May.

As of April, research showed the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines stayed highly effective for at least six months (and counting).

In July, Johnson & Johnson said research shows its vaccine is effective for at least eight months (and counting).

But it’s not clear how long the protection provided by vaccines will last.

“We don’t know if it’s a year. We don’t know if it’s nine months. We don’t know if it’s two years yet,” board-certified internist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said.

“Obviously, the people that were in the (vaccine trial) studies that started in October or so, they’re being followed on a regular basis” to help determine how long vaccine immunity lasts, Rodriguez said.

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How long does immunity last if you recover from Covid-19?

Research is still evolving, but a recent study examining antibodies suggests you could be immune for months after infection.

“Although this cannot provide conclusive evidence that these antibody responses protect from reinfection, we believe it is very likely that they will decrease the odds ratio of reinfection,” researchers from Mount Sinai wrote.

“It is still unclear if infection with SARS-CoV-2 [the scientific name for the novel coronavirus] in humans protects from reinfection and for how long.”

There have been some reports of people getting infected twice within several months. Doctors said a 25-year-old Nevada man appeared to be the first documented case of Covid-19 reinfection in the US. He was first diagnosed in April 2020, then recovered and tested negative twice. About a month later, he tested positive again.

A separate team of researchers said a 33-year-old man living in Hong Kong had Covid-19 twice, in March and August of 2020.

Last year, an 89-year-old Dutch woman – who also had a rare white blood cell cancer – died after catching Covid-19 twice, experts said. She became the first known person to die after getting reinfected.

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If I already had Covid-19, should I still get vaccinated?

“Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19,” the CDC says.

“That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.”

Many doctors believe the immunity you get from vaccination is likely stronger and longer than the immunity you get from previous infection.

“There are actually six other coronaviruses – MERS and SARS and four other viruses that create the common cold. They don’t seem to do very well at creating long-term immunity,” epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant said.

“Many of the vaccines that we’ve made in history are actually stronger than the virus is itself at creating immunity.”

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Could I get coronavirus from the Covid-19 vaccine?

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How good are these vaccines? Why should I get a Johnson & Johnson vaccine if the numbers don’t seem as good as the others?

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Will Americans be required to get a Covid-19 vaccine? What happens if I don’t get vaccinated?

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How much does a Covid-19 vaccine cost?

“It’s all free. The government is paying for this,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

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I know vaccines help prevent people from getting *sick* with coronavirus. But do they also prevent people from *carrying* the virus and infecting others?

There’s growing evidence suggesting vaccines could also help prevent you from spreading coronavirus. But the CDC says there’s not enough data yet to prove whether vaccinated people could still carry the virus and infect others.

Moderna said its vaccine may be able to prevent infection and transmission.

“What Moderna did … is they took some extra samples, or test swabs, from the subject in the clinical trial between the first and second dose of vaccine. Remember, they give you two doses, and after four weeks they get that second dose of vaccine,” said Dr. Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

“They looked at these samples, and they found out that more people who received the placebo dose got infected from the coronavirus than the people who get the vaccine dose. That means the first dose of vaccine actually could be offering some level of protection against infection – not just protection from severe illness,” he said.

“So if this plays out in a larger study, in a larger analysis, it could be very compelling to show that these vaccines could have impact over this protection of infection.”

(But you should not skip your second dose of a two-dose vaccine. Here’s why.)

A study from the UK suggests the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been authorized for use in the US, might also help slow the spread of coronavirus. Researchers measured transmission by swabbing some participants for the virus every week. They found that the rate of positive tests declined by about half after two doses of the vaccine.

The FDA said it’s not yet clear whether the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine prevents people from infecting others.

“Most vaccines that protect from viral illnesses also reduce transmission of the virus that causes the disease by those who are vaccinated,” the FDA said. “While it is hoped this will be the case, the scientific community does not yet know if the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will reduce such transmission.”

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What are the side effects of the vaccines?

Some people have reported feeling temporary, flu-like symptoms. Don’t freak out if this happens to you, health experts say.

“These are immune responses, so if you feel something after vaccination, you should expect to feel that,” said Patricia Stinchfield of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

“And when you do, it’s normal that you have some arm soreness or some fatigue or some body aches or even some fever,” Stinchfield said.

Read more about what to do if you do get side effects and why side effects are often a good sign.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has shown no serious safety concerns, Pfizer said. Pfizer has said side effects “such as fever, fatigue and chills” have been “generally mild to moderate” and lasted one to two days.

Moderna said its vaccine did not have any serious side effects. It said a small percentage of trial participants had symptoms such as body aches and headaches.

With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the most common side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue and muscle pain. While the CDC recommends the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare but increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS),” the agency says. “TTS is a serious condition that involves blood clots with low platelets. There are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.”

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What are the long-term effects of coronavirus?

Some Covid-19 survivors have reported problems weeks or months after testing positive.

Even young adults have suffered long-lasting symptoms such as shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, brain fog, long-term fever, coughing, memory loss, and the inability to taste or smell.

One CDC study found 35% of survivors surveyed still had symptoms two to three weeks after their coronavirus tests:

  • In the 18-to-34 age group, 26% said they still had symptoms weeks later.
  • In the 35-to-49 age range, 32% were still grappling with the effects weeks later.
  • For those 50 and older, 47% said they still had symptoms weeks later.

And the risk of death from coronavirus-related heart damage seems to be far greater than previously thought, the American Heart Association said.

Inflammation of the vascular system and injury to the heart occur in 20% to 30% of hospitalized Covid-19 patients and contribute to 40% of deaths, the AHA said. AHA President Dr. Mitchell Elkind said cardiac complications of Covid-19 could linger after recovering from coronavirus.

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What is aerosolized spread? What’s the difference between aerosols and droplets?

Aerosolized spread is the potential for coronavirus to spread not just by respiratory droplets, but by even smaller particles called aerosols that can float in the air longer than droplets and can spread farther than 6 feet.

Respiratory aerosols and droplets are released when someone talks, breaths, sings, sneezes or coughs. But the main difference is size.

Respiratory droplets are bigger – between 5 and 10 microns in diameter. (For perspective, a human hair is typically 60 to 120 microns wide.)

“If you have droplets that come out of a person, they generally go down within 6 feet,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But aerosols (aka droplet nuclei) are smaller – less than 5 microns in diameter, according to the World Health Organization.

“Aerosol means the droplets don’t drop immediately,” Fauci said. “They hang around for a period of time.”

This becomes “very relevant” when you are indoors and there is poor ventilation, he said.

There’s good enough data to say that aerosol transmission (of coronavirus) does occur,” Fauci said

Multiple case studies suggest coronavirus can spread well beyond 6 feet through airborne transmission, such as during choir practices, said Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence Health System.

In Washington state, for example, 53 members of a choir fell sick and two people died after one member attended rehearsals and later tested positive for Covid-19.

In July, 239 scientists backed a letter urging public health agencies to recognize the potential for aerosolized spread.

“There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets (microdroplets) at short to medium distances (up to several meters, or room scale), and we are advocating for the use of preventive measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission,” the letter said.

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This pandemic is taking a toll on my mental health. How can I get help if I’m feeling isolated and depressed?

The Crisis Text Line is available texting to 741741. Trained volunteers and crisis counselors are staffed 24/7, and the service is free.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

For health care professionals and essential workers, For the Frontlines offers free 24/7 crisis counseling and support for workers dealing with stress, anxiety, fear or isolation related to coronavirus.

For more resources, check out CNN’s guide to giving and getting help during the pandemic.

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What “underlying conditions” put people at higher risk of bad outcomes with Covid-19?

More than 40% of US adults have at least one underlying condition that can put them at higher risk of severe complications, according to the CDC.

Those conditions include obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, according to the CDC.

People who have cancer, an organ transplant, sickle cell anemia, poorly controlled HIV or any autoimmune disorder are also at higher risk.

Covid-19 patients with pre-existing conditions — regardless of their age — are 6 times more likely to hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die from the disease than those who had no pre-existing conditions, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

While young, healthy people are less likely to die from Covid-19, many are suffering long-term effects from the disease.

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What are the guidelines for riding in a car with someone from another household?

Unvaccinated people from different households in a car should wear face masks, said Dr. Aaron Hamilton of the Cleveland Clinic.

“You should also wear one if you’re rolling down your window to interact with someone at a drive-thru or curbside pickup location,” Hamilton said.

It’s also smart to keep the windows open to help ventilate the car and add another layer of safety, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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What should I do if I’m wearing a mask but have to sneeze?

If there are tissues nearby, you can take your mask off and sneeze into the tissue before putting your mask back on, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

For kids in school — or anyone else who might have to wear a mask all day — keep a backup mask in a baggie in case the first mask gets dirty. You can put the dirty mask in the baggie.

It’s also a good idea to keep backup masks in your car in case of any mask accidents.

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Are coronavirus and Covid-19 the same thing? How did they get their names?

Coronavirus and Covid-19 are not the same thing, but sometimes the terms can be used interchangeably.

This “novel coronavirus” is novel because it just emerged in humans in late 2019. There have been six other coronaviruses known to infect humans, such as SARS (circa 2003) and MERS (circa 2012).

“Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface,” or coronas, the CDC says. The scientific name for this novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, which stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.”

Covid-19, however, is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The letters and numbers in “Covid-19” come from “Coronavirus disease 2019.”

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If a pregnant woman gets Covid-19, will her baby be infected? Can babies get coronavirus through breastfeeding?

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Can someone who died from coronavirus still have their organs donated?

That’s not recommended right now, according to the US Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

“This guidance may change as more becomes known about the course and treatment of COVID-19,” the network said.

“Donation and transplant clinicians should apply their medical judgment in instances where test results are pending at the time of organ offers.”

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Should we clean our cell phones daily?

Yes, that’s a good idea because cell phones are basically “petri dishes in our pockets” when you think about how many surfaces you touch before touching your phone.

You should regularly disinfect your mobile phone anyway, with or without a coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s probably quite a lot of microorganisms on there, because you’re holding them against your skin, you are handling them all the time, and also you’re speaking into them,” said Mark Fielder, a professor of medical microbiology at Kingston University.

“And speaking does release droplets of water just in normal speech. So it’s likely that a range of microbes – including Covid-19, should you happen to be infected with that virus – might end up on your phone.”

Watch the best ways to disinfect your cell phone here.

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Is it safe to go back to the gym?

There are certainly risks if you’re not vaccinated.

Coronavirus often spreads more easily indoors rather than outdoors — especially if you’re indoors for an extended period of time.

Researchers have also found that heavy breathing and singing can propel aerosolized viral particles farther and increase the risk of transmission.

During one fitness instructor workshop, about 30 participants with no symptoms trained intensely for four hours, according to research published by the CDC. Eight participants later tested positive, and more than 100 new cases of coronavirus were traced back to that fitness workshop.

To help mitigate the risk, many gyms are limiting capacity or requiring masks.

And while health experts have recommended staying 6 feet away from others, it’s smart to keep even more distance than that at the gym.

“With all the heavy breathing, you may even want to double the usual 6 feet to 12 feet, just to be safe,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

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I tested positive for coronavirus weeks ago. How long are people contagious with Covid-19? Do I need to keep isolating or getting retested?

For symptomatic carriers: If it’s been at least 10 days since your symptoms started and at least 24 hours since you’ve had a fever (without the help of fever-reducing medication) and your other symptoms have improved, you can go ahead and stop isolating, the CDC says.

Patients with severe illness may have to keep isolating for up to 20 days after symptoms started.

(But it’s important to note symptoms typically don’t show up until several days after infection — and you can be more contagious during this pre-symptomatic time. Also, symptoms can last for weeks or months — including in young people.)

For asymptomatic carriers: People who tested positive but don’t have any symptoms can stop isolating 10 days after the first positive test – as long as they have not subsequently developed symptoms, the CDC says.

But 10 days is just a general guideline: “Because symptoms cannot be used to gauge where these individuals are in the course of their illness, it is possible that the duration of viral shedding could be longer or shorter than 10 days after their first positive test,” the CDC warned. With viral shedding, a person can infect others with the virus, even if they have no symptoms.

Asymptomatic carriers who have tested positive can also stop isolating if they get two negative test results from tests taken more than 24 hours apart. At that point, it’s very unlikely they are still contagious.

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I heard you can get Covid-19 through your eyes. Should we wear goggles, too?

Doctors say wearing eye protection (in addition to face masks) could help some people, but it’s not necessary for everyone.

Teachers who have younger students in the classroom are “likely to be in environments where children might pull down their masks, or not be very compliant with them,” epidemiologist Saskia Popescu said. “There is concern that you could get respiratory droplets in the eyes.”

If you’re a health care worker or taking care of someone at home who has coronavirus, it’s smart to wear eye protection, said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

(Note: Regular glasses or sunglasses aren’t enough, because they leave too many gaps around the eyes.)

But if you’re vaccinated or not in a high-risk situation, wearing goggles isn’t necessary.

While it’s still possible to get Covid-19 through the eyes, that scenario is less likely than getting it through your nose or mouth, Steinemann said.

He said if a significant number of people were getting coronavirus through their eyes, doctors would probably see more Covid-19 patients with conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye (though having pink eye doesn’t necessarily mean you have coronavirus).

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Should people wear face shields instead of (or in addition to) face masks?

The CDC does not recommend using plastic face shields for everyday activities or as a substitute for face masks. There are a few exceptions, such as for those who are hearing-impaired and rely on lip-reading or those who have physical or mental health conditions that would be exacerbated by wearing a cloth face mask.

“Cloth face coverings are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult,” the CDC says.

Clinical and laboratory studies show cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth – what the CDC refers to as “source control.” And many people are contagious even when they don’t have any symptoms and don’t know they’re infected.

Face shields worn in addition to masks can provide an added layer of protection and can also help people stop touching their faces. Workers who are around people for long periods of time, such as grocery store workers or hospital personnel, may want to wear face shields in addition to masks, to increase their protection.

If someone must use a face shield without a mask, the CDC says the shield “should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.”

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Doesn’t the flu kill more people than coronavirus?

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Could I have the flu and coronavirus at the same time? If so, what does that do to your body?

“You can certainly get both the flu and Covid-19 at the same time, which could be catastrophic to your immune system,” said Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a family medicine physician in Florida.

In fact, getting infected with one can make you more vulnerable to getting sick with the other, epidemiologist Dr. Seema Yasmin said.

“Once you get infected with the flu and some other respiratory viruses, it weakens your body,” she said. “Your defenses go down, and it makes you vulnerable to getting a second infection on top of that.”

On their own, both Covid-19 and the flu can attack the lungs, potentially causing pneumonia, fluid in the lungs or respiratory failure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

“The two (illnesses) together definitely could be more injurious to the lungs and cause more respiratory failure,” said Dr. Michael Matthay, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

And just like with Covid-19, even young, healthy people can die from the flu.

Doctors say the easiest way to help avoid a flu/Covid-19 double whammy is to get vaccinated.

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How can I tell if I have coronavirus or the flu (or both)?

Both the flu and Covid-19 can give you a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, body aches and a runny or stuffy nose, the CDC said.

“Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults,” the CDC said.

But unlike the flu, Covid-19 can cause a loss of taste or smell.

And about half of coronavirus transmissions happen before any symptoms show up. (Many of those people spreading the virus silently are pre-symptomatic and are more contagious before they start showing symptoms.)

So the best way to know if you have the novel coronavirus or the flu (or both) is to get tested. The CDC has created a test that will check for both viruses, to be used at CDC-supported public health labs.

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My kids don’t want to wear a mask. What should I do?

Children can be more reluctant because they’re more sensitive to new things than adults are, said Christopher Willard, a psychiatry lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

“There’s also the weird psychological aspect of not being able to see their own face or other people’s faces and facial expressions,” which can hinder their feelings of comfort or safety, he said.

To ease their mask fears, try buying or making masks with fun designs on them. Or have your child customize his or her own masks by drawing on them with markers.

You can also order children’s face masks with superheroes on them or show your kids photos of their favorite celebrities wearing masks.

It’s also important to set a good example by wearing a mask yourself. Show your children your own mask, and let them know that by wearing one, they’ll be just like Mom or Dad.

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How do I prevent my glasses or sunglasses from fogging up when I wear a mask?

First, make sure the top of your mask fits snugly against your skin (to minimize vapor from your breath from going up toward your eyes). Then put your glasses over the snug-fitting top portion of your mask.

If that doesn’t do the trick, soap and water can create a barrier that prevents glasses from fogging up. Here’s how.

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Are cancer patients at higher risk of severe complications from Covid-19?

Yes. And the increased risk applies to cancer patients of all ages, the CDC says.

“Having cancer currently increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” the CDC says. “At this time, it is not known whether having a history of cancer increases your risk.”

Researchers found that patients whose cancer was getting worse or spreading were more than five times more likely to die in a month if they caught Covid-19.

But there are steps cancer patients can take to stay as healthy as possible:

  • Make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your medications.
  • Don’t delay any life-saving treatment or emergency care during this pandemic.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about your individual level of risk based on your condition, your treatment, and the level of transmission in your community.
  • Don’t stop taking your medicines or alter your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you think you may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
  • Read the CDC’s tips for preventing infections in cancer patients.

Family work/life transmission treatment & prevention

Can central air conditioning spread Covid-19 in public places?

Technically, it can, but HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) systems are not thought to be a significant factor in the spread of coronavirus.

Many modern air conditioning systems will either filter out or dilute the virus. Ventilation systems with highly effective filters are a key way to eliminate droplets from the air, said Harvard environmental health researcher Joseph Gardner Allen.

Filters are rated by a MERV system – their “minimum efficiency reporting value” that specifies their ability to trap tiny particles. The MERV ratings go from 1 to 20. The higher the number, the better the filtration.

HEPA filters have the highest MERV ratings, between 17 and 20. HEPA filters are used by hospitals to create sterile rooms for surgeries and to control infectious diseases. They’re able to remove 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.

For context, this coronavirus is thought to be between 0.06 to 1.4 microns in size.

But “HEPA filtration is not always going to be feasible or practical,” Allen said. “But there are other filters that can do the job. What is recommended now by the standard setting body for HVAC is a MERV 13 filter.”

High-efficiency filters in the 13-to-16 MERV range are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, research labs and other places where filtration is important.

“If you’re an owner of a home, building or mall, you want to have someone to assess your system and install the largest MERV number filter the system can reliably handle without dropping the volume of air that runs through it,” advised Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“In addition, virtually all modern air conditioning systems in commercial buildings have a process called makeup air where they bring in air from outside and condition it and bring it inside,” Bromage said. “It’s worse in regards to energy, but the more outside air we bring in, the more dilution of the virus we have and then the safer you are.”

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What does asymptomatic mean?

Work/life transmission schools/education

How effective are different types of face masks? Which cloth masks work the best?

An N95 respirator provides the best protection. But throughout the pandemic, N95s have been in high demand and short supply.

As for other masks, different types have different levels of effectiveness, according to researchers at Florida Atlantic University.

They compared four types of face masks commonly used by the public: a stitched mask with two layers of fabric, a commercial cone mask, a folded handkerchief, and a bandana. Researchers tested each to see which would likely offer the most protection if someone coughed or sneezed.

— The stitched mask with two layers of fabric performed the best, with droplets traveling only 2.5 inches.

— With a cone-style mask, the droplets traveled about 8 inches.

— A folded handkerchief performed worse, with droplets traveling 1 foot, 3 inches.

— The bandana gave the least amount of protection of the cloth masks tested, with droplets traveling 3 feet.

— Still, any kind of cloth mask is better than none, the researchers found. Without any covering, droplets were able to travel 8 feet.

“People need to know that wearing masks can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as 50%, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Treatment & prevention transmission

What’s so different about coronavirus that made us shut down the economy? Why did we have to practice social distancing when we didn’t during the SARS and swine flu epidemics?

Unlike SARS and swine flu, the novel coronavirus is both highly contagious and especially deadly, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

“SARS was also a coronavirus, and it was a new virus at the time,” Gupta said. “In the end, we know that SARS ended up infecting 8,000 people around the world and causing around 800 deaths. So very high fatality rate, but it didn’t turn out to be very contagious.”

The swine flu, or H1N1, “was very contagious and infected some 60 million people in the United States alone within a year,” Gupta said. “But it was far less lethal than the flu even — like 1/3 as lethal as the flu.”

What makes the novel coronavirus different is that “this is both very contagious … and it appears to be far more lethal than the flu as well.”

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention

When are people with coronavirus most contagious?

“People can be contagious without symptoms. And in fact – a little bit strangely in this case — people tend to be the most contagious before they develop symptoms, if they’re going to develop symptoms,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

“They call that the pre-symptomatic period. So people tend to have more virus at that point seemingly in their nose, in their mouth. This is even before they get sick. And they can be shedding that virus into the environment.”

Some people infected with coronavirus never get symptoms. But it’s easy for these asymptomatic carriers to infect others, said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health.

“When you speak, sometimes you’ll spit a little bit,” she said. “You’ll rub your nose. You’ll touch your mouth. You’ll rub your eyes. And then you’ll touch other surfaces, and then you will be spreading virus if you are infected and shedding asymptomatically.”

That’s why health officials suggests people wear face masks while in public and when it’s difficult to stay 6 feet away from others.

Transmission treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

Can you get Covid-19 through sex?

The odds of transmitting coronavirus through sex hasn’t been thoroughly studied, though it has been found to exist in men’s semen.

But we do know Covid-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can spread via saliva, coughs, sneezes, talking or breathing — with or without symptoms of illness.

So three Harvard physicians examined the likelihood of getting or giving Covid-19 during sex and made several recommendations.

For partners who haven’t been isolating together, they should wear masks and avoid kissing, the authors write.

In addition to wearing masks, people who have sex with partners outside of their home should also shower before and after; avoid sex acts that involve the oral transmission of bodily fluids; clean up the area afterward with soap or alcohol wipes to reduce their likelihood of infection.

Transmission treatment & prevention family myths & misinformation

Is it true young people with coronavirus are also having blood clots and strokes?

Yes, some young adults have suffered strokes after getting coronavirus.

“The virus seems to be causing increased clotting in the large arteries, leading to severe stroke,” said Dr. Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Health System in New York.

“Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of Covid.”

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Why has the guidance on wearing face masks changed so much?

work/life myths & misinformation transmission treatment & prevention

How can I stay safe in an elevator?

Doctors say getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent coronavirus infection.

If you’re not vaccinated, it’s best to take the stairs if you can. But if you can’t, emergency room physician Dr. Leana Wen offers several tips:

  • Wear a mask. Not only does wearing a mask reduce your risk of inhaling the virus — which can linger in the air for 8 minutes — it also helps reduce your chances of infecting others if you are an asymptomatic carrier.
  • Use a tissue to push the elevator buttons. If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow, then wash or disinfect that area when you can.
  • Try to keep your distance from anyone else inside the elevator as much as possible.

transmission work/life treatment & prevention

How safe are public restrooms?

For those not fully vaccinated, try to avoid public restrooms if you can, said microbiologist Ali Nouri, president of the Federation of American Scientists. But he acknowledged that’s not always possible: “Sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go.”

Close contact with others is the most significant risk in a public restroom, Nouri said. So if there’s a single-person bathroom available that doesn’t have multiple stalls, using that might be best.

If you do use a multi-stall public restroom, Nouri offers the following tips:

  • Don’t use your freshly washed hands to turn off the water with the germ-laden faucet handle. Instead, use a paper towel to turn off the water and open the bathroom door. Throw away the paper towel immediately afterward.
  • Wear a face mask. “Masks are one of the most effective ways to stop human-to-human transmission,” Nouri said. “If people in a public bathroom are not wearing masks, think twice before going in.”
  • If the restroom looks crowded, wait until it clears out, if you can. “You’re reducing the risk of inhaling aerosolized particles from other people,” Nouri said.

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Is hand sanitizer as effective as soap and water in killing coronavirus?

Yes — as long as you use the right kind of sanitizer and use it correctly.

Hand sanitizers “need to have at least 60% alcohol in them,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

And don’t just put a little dollop in your hand and smear it around quickly.

“You’ve got to use enough and get it all over the surfaces,” Schaffner said. “Rub it all over your hands, between your fingers and on the back of your hands.”

But it’s always better to thoroughly wash your hands, if you’re able to.

“Alcohol is pretty effective at killing germs, but it doesn’t wash away stuff,” said Dr. John Williams, a virologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“If somebody’s just sneezed into their hand, and their hand is covered with mucus, they would have to use a lot more alcohol to inactivate that bacteria or virus.”

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Are some blood types able to fight coronavirus better than other blood types?

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people with Type A blood have a higher risk of getting infected with coronavirus and developing severe symptoms, while people with Type O blood have a lower risk – but the study has caveats.

The researchers cannot say if blood type is a direct cause of the differences in susceptibility. It could be that genetic changes that affect someone’s risk also just happen to be linked with blood type, they said.

The study’s findings, while plausible, may mean very little for the average person, said Dr. Roy Silverstein, a hematologist and chairman of the department of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“The absolute difference in risk is very small,” he said. “The risk reduction may be statistically significant, but it is a small change in actual risk. You never would tell somebody who was Type O that they were at smaller risk of infection.”

The bottom line: “All of us are susceptible to this virus,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 response.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

What’s the risk of having a maid service come to clean your house if you’re not home?

“It’s probably safe if you’re not at home,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician. She suggested leaving the windows open to improve ventilation and asking the cleaners to use your own cleaning supplies so they don’t bring items that have been in other people’s houses.

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Can I disinfect my mask by putting it in the microwave?

That’s “not a great idea,” said Dr. Joseph Vinetz, a professor of infectious diseases at Yale School of Medicine. “We have no evidence about that.”

“If there’s a metal piece in an N95 or surgical mask and even staples, you can’t microwave them,” he said. “It’ll blow up.”

Vinetz said cloth masks can be washed and reused, and even disposable masks can be reused if you let them sit for several days.

To disinfect masks that you can’t wash, Vinetz recommends leaving them in a clean, safe place in your home for a few days. After that, it should no longer be infectious, as this coronavirus is known to survive on hard surfaces for only up to three days.

treatment & prevention work/life myths & misinformation

Is it safe to perform CPR on a stranger?

Doctors strongly recommend performing CPR when someone needs it.

You could be hundreds of times more likely to save that dying person’s life than you are to die from Covid-19 if you contract it after performing CPR, according to a report published by a group of Seattle emergency room physicians in the journal Circulation.

But it’s important to act quickly for CPR to be effective.

“The chance of survival goes down by 10% for every minute without CPR,” said Dr. Comilla Sasson, vice president for science and innovation in emergency cardiovascular care at the American Heart Association. “It’s a 10-minute window to death in many cases.”

If you’re not certified in CPR, performing chest compressions could also buy more time until help arrives. Bystanders should “provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest, with minimal interruptions,” the American Heart Association said.

If you’re not sure how “fast” to do to those chest compressions, singing any of these popular songs will help you get the right rhythm.

Transmission work/life family myths & misinformation

Can I get coronavirus from swimming in open water, like in a lake or seawater? What about in a public pool or hot tub?

It’s not the water you need to worry about. It’s how close you might get to other people.

“Properly maintained pool water will not be a source of spread of the virus. The chlorine that’s in it will inactivate the virus fairly quickly,” immunologist Erin Bromage said.

“The level of dilution that would happen in a pool or an ocean or a large freshwater body would not lead to enough virus to establish an infection. But when you do this, you need to just make sure that we’re maintaining an appropriate physical distance while swimming or sitting in a hot tub.”

That’s because it’s easy for infected people with no symptoms to spread the virus if they’re within 6 feet from each other. If you have an indoor pool or hot tub, even 6 feet might not be enough distance.

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I saw other countries spraying down sidewalks and other public places with disinfectant. Why haven’t we done that in the US?

Randomly spraying open places is largely a waste of time, health experts say.

It can actually do more harm than good. “Spraying disinfectants can result in risks to the eyes, respiratory or skin irritation,” the World Health Organization said.

“Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces, such as streets or marketplaces, is also not recommended to kill the COVID-19 virus or other pathogens because disinfectant is inactivated by dirt and debris, and it is not feasible to manually clean and remove all organic matter from such spaces,” the WHO said.

“Moreover, spraying porous surfaces, such as sidewalks and unpaved walkways, would be even less effective.” Besides, the ground isn’t typically a source of infection, the WHO said.

And once the disinfectant wears off, an infected person could easily contaminate the surface again.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation travel transmission

Will protests increase the spread of Covid-19?

Any large gathering can increase the spread because this coronavirus is transmissible by talking or even just breathing. Carriers of the virus can be contagious even if they don’t have symptoms.

And when people are “shouting and cheering loudly, that does produce a lot of droplets and aerosolization that can spread the virus to people,” said Dr. James Phillips, a physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital.

So doctors and officials say its important to get vaccinated or wear a face mask and try to keep your distance from others as much as possible.

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Do vitamin D levels affect your risk for coronavirus? Is there a correlation between vitamin D and those who test positive for Covid-19?

“To date, there is no evidence that very high vitamin D levels are protective against COVID-19 and consequently medical guidance is that people should not be supplementing their vitamin D levels beyond those which are currently recommended by published medical advice,” wrote Robin May, director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Vitamin D is important for healthy muscles, strong bones and a powerful immune system. The recommended daily dose of vitamin D for anyone over age 1 is 15 mcg/600 IU per day in the US. For anyone over 70 years of age in the US, the recommended daily intake goes up to 20 mcg/800 IU per day.

But too much vitamin D can lead to a toxic buildup of calcium in your blood that can cause confusion, disorientation, heart rhythm problems, bone pain, kidney damage and painful kidney stones.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

Can you get coronavirus from touching money? What about from other objects, like plants?

“Viruses can live on surfaces and objects — including on money — although your chance of actually getting COVID-19 from cash is probably very low,” emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen said.

The new coronavirus can live for up to 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic, up to 24 hours after landing on cardboard, and up to four hours after landing on copper, according to a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health.

So how do you protect yourself? To avoid touching cash or coins, use contactless methods of payment whenever possible, Wen said.

If you can’t use a contactless form of payment, credit cards and debit cards are much easier to clean and disinfect than cash. But remember that anyone who touches your credit card can also leave germs on it.

If you must use cash, “wash your hands well with soap and water” afterward, Wen said.

The same applies for anything else you touch that might have coronavirus on it. If you can’t wash your hands immediately, use hand sanitzier or disinfectant.

And since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, make sure you avoid touching your face.

Transmission work/life treatment & prevention

Can you get coronavirus by touching a dead body or the ashes of someone who had Covid-19?

It appears unlikely, but the CDC advises taking precautions.

Experts believe coronavirus is mainly spread during close contact (about 6 feet) with a person who is currently infected, the CDC said.

“This type of spread is not a concern after death,” the CDC said. But it cautions that “we are still learning how it spreads.”

“There may be less of a chance of the virus spreading from certain types of touching, such as holding the hand or hugging after the body has been prepared for viewing,” the CDC said.

“Other activities, such as kissing, washing, and shrouding should be avoided before, during, and after the body has been prepared, if possible.”

If washing the body or shrouding are important religious or cultural practices, “families are encouraged to work with their community’s cultural and religious leaders and funeral home staff on how to reduce their exposure as much as possible,” the CDC said.

“At a minimum, people conducting these activities should wear disposable gloves. If splashing of fluids is expected, additional personal protective equipment (PPE) may be required (such as disposable gown, faceshield or goggles and N-95 respirator).”

Cremated remains can be considered sterile, as infectious agents do not survive incineration-range temperatures, the CDC said.

Myths & misinformation transmission family

Can UV light kill coronavirus?

While some UV light devices are used for hospital disinfection, UV light only kills germs under very specific conditions — including certain irradiation dosages and exposure times, the World Health Organization said.

But UV light can also damage the body.

Two factors are required for UV light to destroy a virus: intensity and time. If the light is intense enough to break apart a virus in a short time, it’s going to be dangerous to people, said Donald Milton, a professor at the University of Maryland.

UVA and UVB light both damage the skin. UVC light is safer for skin, but it will damage tender tissue such as the eyes.

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention

Do I need to wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water?

No. The US Food and Drug Administration says you don’t need to wash fresh produce with soap and water, but you should rinse it with plain water.

But it’s still important to wash your hands with soap and water frequently because we often touch our faces without realizing it. And that’s a way coronavirus can spread.

You don’t have to worry about getting coronavirus by “eating” it, though. Even if coronavirus does get into your food, your stomach acid would kill it, said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University.

Treatment & prevention work/life transmission

Can coronavirus stay in my hair or in a beard? Should I wash my hair every day?

Coronavirus can stick to hair, said Dr. David Aronoff, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Touching contaminated hair and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose could increase your risk of infection. “Like on the skin, this coronavirus is a transient hitchhiker that can be removed by washing,” Aronoff said.

But that doesn’t mean you have to wash the hair on your head multiple times a day, said dermatologist Dr. Hadley King.

That’s because “living hair attached to our scalps may be better protected by our natural oils that have some antimicrobial properties and may limit how well microbes can attach to the hair,” she said.

“If you are going out into areas that could possibly be contaminated with viral particles, then it would be reasonable to wash the hair daily during the pandemic. But it’s not the same as hand washing – the virus infects us through our mucosal surfaces. If your hair is not falling into your face or you’re not running your fingers through it, then there is less of a risk.”

If your hair does fall into your face, you may want to pull it back to minimize your risk, King said.

As for facial hair, “washing at least daily if not more frequently is wise, depending on how often they touch their face,” Aronoff said.

Transmission treatment & prevention work/life

Could I infect my pets with coronavirus, or vice versa? Can someone get infected by touching an animal’s fur? Should I get my pet tested for coronavirus?

There have been some reports of animals infected with coronavirus — including two pets in New York and eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo.

Most of those infections came from contact with humans who had coronavirus, like a zoo employee who was an asymptomatic carrier.

But according to the CDC, there is no evidence animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans. Therefore, at this time, routine testing of animals for Covid-19 is not recommended.

As always, it’s best to wash your hands after touching an animal’s fur and before touching your face. And if your pet appears to be sick, call your veterinarian.

Family work/life treatment & prevention transmission

Should I wash my hands and laundry in very warm or hot water?

Hot water is best for killing bacteria and viruses in your laundry. But you don’t want to use that kind of scalding hot water on your skin.

Warm water is perfectly fine for washing your hands — as long as you wash them thoroughly (like this) and for at least 20 seconds. (To time yourself, you can hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice or sing a couple of verses from any of these hit songs from the past several decades.)

Cold water will also work, “but you have to make sure you work really vigorously to get a lather and get everything soapy and bubbly,” said chemist Bill Wuest, an associate professor at Emory University. To do that, you might need to sing “Happy Birthday” three times instead of twice.

“Warm water with soap gets a much better lather – more bubbles,” Wuest said. “It’s an indication that the soap is … trying to encapsulate the dirt and the bacteria and the viruses in them.”

Treatment & prevention work/life transmission myths & misinformation

How does soap kill coronavirus? If I don’t have disinfecting wipes, can I use soap and water on surfaces?

Yes, you can use soap and water on surfaces just like you would on your hands to kill coronavirus. But don’t use water alone — that won’t really help.

The outer layer of the virus is made up of lipids, aka fat. Your goal is to break through that fatty barrier, forcing the virus’ guts to spill out and rendering it dead.

In other words, imagine coronavirus is a butter dish that you’re trying to clean.

“You try to wash your butter dish with water alone, but that butter is not coming off the dish,” said Dr. John Williams, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“You need some soap to dissolve grease. So soap or alcohol are very, very effective against dissolving that greasy liquid coating of the virus.”

By cutting through the greasy barrier, Williams said, “it physically inactivates the virus so it can’t bind to and enter human cells anymore.”

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention schools/education

Can coronavirus be transferred by people’s shoes? How do I protect kids who crawl or play on the floor?

Yes, coronavirus can live on the soles of shoes, but the risk of getting Covid-19 from shoes appears to be low.

A report published by the CDC highlighted a study from a hospital in Wuhan, China, where this coronavirus outbreak began.

The soles of medical workers’ shoes were swabbed and analyzed, and the study found that the virus was “widely distributed” on floors, computer mice, trash cans and door knobs. But it’s important to note the study was done in a hospital, where the virus was concentrated.

It’s still possible to pick up coronavirus on the bottoms of your shoes by running errands, but it’s unlikely you’ll get sick from it because people don’t often touch the soles of their shoes and then their faces. Because Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, the CDC advises wearing a mask while in public and washing your hands frequently– the correct way.

If you have small children who crawl or regularly touch the floor, it’s a good idea to take your shoes off as soon you get home to prevent coronavirus or bacteria from spreading on the floors.

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Can I get coronavirus through food? Is it safe to eat takeout from restaurants?

There’s no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted through food, the CDC says.

Even if coronavirus does get into your food, your stomach acid would kill it, said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University.

“When you eat any kind of food, whether it be hot or cold, that food is going to go straight down into your stomach, where there’s a high acidity, low-pH environment that will inactivate the virus,” she said.

But it’s a good idea to disinfect the takeout containers, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, and it’s easy to touch your face without realizing it.

If you don’t have disinfecting wipes, use your own plates or bowls to serve the food. Just make sure to wash your hands after transferring food from the containers.

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Can coronavirus spread through water, like in a swimming pool or hot tub?

“There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs,” the CDC says.

“Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”

But health officials still advise staying at least 6 feet away from others because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. In other words, you probably won’t get coronavirus from the water, but you could get coronavirus from someone close to you in the water.

As for drinking water, doctors say you don’t need to worry about coronavirus in the tap water because most municipal drinking water systems should remove or inactivate the virus.

Transmission work/life

Can mosquitoes or houseflies transmit coronavirus?

“To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes,” the World Health Organization says. There’s also no evidence so far suggesting flies can spread coronavirus.

Transmission myths & misinformation

Can you safely reuse a non-cloth mask that you can’t wash, like a disposable mask?

Work/life treatment & prevention

Will ingesting or injecting disinfectants, like the ones that kill viruses on surfaces, protect me against coronavirus or kill coronavirus if I already have it?

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention work/life

What can we learn from how other countries handled coronavirus?

Singapore was initially praised for its clampdown on the virus. Even people who had no symptoms but tested positive had to be hospitalized until they tested negative.

But Singapore was also relaxed, allowing businesses, churches, restaurants and schools to stay open during its first wave of the virus. And some communities were overlooked by government testing.

The number of cases in Singapore shot up, and the country suffered a strong second wave of coronavirus.

By contrast, Germany, South Korea, Iceland and Taiwan have had among the lowest death rates from Covid-19 in the world.

Taiwan was proactive, launching its Central Epidemic Command Center before the island even confirmed its first infection.

Iceland required all its citizens returning to the country to undergo 14 days of quarantine – regardless of which country they traveled from.

Germany and South Korea quickly launched widespread testing and have some of the highest per-capita testing rates in the world. Their ability to identify and isolate those infected has helped prevent deadlier outcomes.

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Can coronavirus stick to clothes? Do I need to wash my clothes right after encountering other people, like at the grocery store or while jogging?

“I don’t think you need to,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

Coronavirus can stay alive for up to three days on stainless steel and plastic. But clothing “is probably more like cardboard — it’s more absorbent, so the virus is unlikely to stay and last that long,” Gupta said.

While coronavirus can stay alive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, viruses generally don’t stick well on surfaces that are in motion.

“If you look at how viruses move through air, they kind of want to move around objects,” Gupta said. “They don’t want to necessarily land on objects. So if you’re moving as human body through the air … (it’s) unlikely to stick to your clothes.”

Transmission work/life family treatment & prevention

Will an antibody test show whether I’m immune and can go back to work or school?

Work/life treatment & prevention transmission schools/education

Can I use vodka as hand sanitizer?

Please don’t. The CDC advises using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Vodka typically contains between 35% and 46% percent alcohol.

If the stores are out of hand sanitizer and you want to make your own, the Nebraska Medical Center offers this recipe:

What you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon or something for whisking
  • Small container, such as a 3-oz. travel bottle
  • Optional: essential oil to give your hand sanitizer a fragrance

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, stir isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel together until well blended.
Add 8-10 drops of scented essential oil (optional, but nice). Stir.
Pour the homemade hand sanitizer into an empty container and seal. Write “hand sanitizer” on a piece of masking tape and attach to the bottle.

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention

Are smokers or vapers at higher risk? What if I only smoke weed?

This is not a good time to be vaping or smoking anything, including weed.

“Vaping affects your lungs at every level. It affects the immune function in your nasal cavity by affecting cilia, which push foreign things out,” said Prof. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Research Control and Education at University of California San Francisco.

When you vape, “the ability of your upper airways to clear viruses is compromised,” Glantz said.

Tobacco smokers are at especially high risk. In a study from China, where the first Covid-19 outbreak occurred, smokers were 14 times more likely to develop severe complications than non-smokers.

Even occasionally smoking marijuana can put you at greater risk.

“What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause,” said pulmonologist Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.

“Now you have some airway inflammation, and you get an infection on top of it. So yes, your chance of getting more complications is there.”

Work/life family treatment & prevention

My teenagers aren’t taking this seriously. Any advice?

Coronavirus isn’t just infecting young people. It’s killing young, healthy people as well.

We’ve reported many stories about young people getting severely sick with or dying from coronavirus.

Dimitri Mitchell, 18, admits he had a “false sense of security.” But he was later hospitalized with coronavirus and now wants everyone to take it seriously.

“I just want to make sure everybody knows that no matter what their age is, it can seriously affect them. And it can seriously mess them up, like it messed me up,” the Iowa teen said.

“Four days in, the really bad symptoms started coming along. I started having really bad outbreaks, like sweating, and my eyes were really watery. I was getting warmer and warmer, and I was super fatigued. … I would start experiencing the worst headaches I’ve ever felt in my life. They were absolutely horrible.”

Eventually, the teen had to be hospitalized. His mother said she worried he might “fall asleep and never wake up.”

Mitchell is now recovering, but has suffered from long-term effects.

“I just hope everybody’s responsible, because it’s nothing to joke about,” he said. “It’s a real problem, and I want everybody to make sure they’re following social distancing guidelines and the group limits. And just listen to all the rules and precautions and stay up to date with the news and make sure they’re informed.”

Family transmission treatment & prevention myths & misinformation schools/education

Does this pandemic have anything to do with the 5G network?

No. That’s just a hoax going around the internet.

“The theory that 5G might compromise the immune system and thus enable people to get sick from corona is based on nothing,” said Eric van Rongen, chairman of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

Learn more about how 5G really works and why this hoax makes no sense.

Myths & misinformation

My ex and I have joint custody of our kids. Is it safe for them to go between two homes?

Ideally, you should limit your children’s potential exposures to coronavirus and work out the safest plan possible with your ex.

The problem: Some state and county family courts might be closed, or open only for emergencies involving abuse or endangerment. So it might be difficult to formally modify pre-existing custody agreements.

But some states may be offering some flexibility during the pandemic. And there may be creative solutions, such as spending more time with one parent now in exchange for extra time with the other parent after the pandemic ends.

Family work/life travel

How long does coronavirus stay “alive” on surfaces?

Up to three days, depending on the surface. According to a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health:

  • The novel coronavirus is viable up to 72 hours after being placed on stainless steel and plastic.
  • It was viable up to four hours after being placed on copper, and up to 24 hours after being put on cardboard.
  • In aerosols, it was viable for three hours.

Transmission

Will a pneumonia or flu vaccine help protect against coronavirus?

Some cases of coronavirus do lead to pneumonia. But the pneumonia vaccine won’t help.

“Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, only help protect people from these specific bacterial infections,” according to Harvard Medical School.

“They do not protect against any coronavirus pneumonia.”

Transmission myths & misinformation treatment & prevention vaccine

Should I wear a face mask in public? If so, how do I make one?

For unvaccinated people, the CDC “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).”

There are several key points:

transmission work/life myths & misinformation

Why is it so difficult to make a drug to cure coronavirus?

An antiviral drug must be able to target the specific part of a virus’ life cycle that is necessary for it to reproduce, according to Harvard Medical School.

“In addition, an antiviral drug must be able to kill a virus without killing the human cell it occupies. And viruses are highly adaptive.”

Treatment & Prevention

Why have medical workers gotten sick with or died from coronavirus if they’re wearing protective gear? Does the viral load matter?

Many health care workers havent had enough protective gear to handle the growing influx of coronavirus patients.

Some have resorted to using plastic report covers as masks. The CDC said medical providers might have to use expired masks or reuse them between multiple patients.

But it’s not just subpar protective gear that puts medical workers at risk. It’s also the amount of virus they’re exposed to.

“The viral load — the amount of virus – does determine the severity of your illness,” emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen said. “So that could happen in the case of health care workers who are exposed to a lot more Covid-19 as a result of their work — that they get more severely ill.”

Transmission

How many people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms? Are they still contagious?

In one study, about 4 in 5 people with confirmed coronavirus in China were likely infected by people who didn’t know they had it, according to research published in the journal “Science.”

“These findings explain the rapid geographic spread of (coronavirus) and indicate containment of this virus will be particularly challenging,” researchers wrote.

In March 2020, the CDC said almost half of the 712 people with coronavirus who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship didn’t have any symptoms when they tested positive.

Other studies suggest 25% to 50% of coronavirus carriers don’t have symptoms.

In the US, “I think it could be as many as 1 in 3 walking around asymptomatic,” said New Jersey primary care physician Dr. Alex Salerno.

“We have tested some patients that have known exposure to COVID (coronavirus disease). They did not have temperature. Their pulse/(oxygen) was OK.”

Salerno said more testing of people without symptoms is essential.

When asymptomatic carriers test positive, “we isolate them, and we separate them from the people who are not positive,” Salerno said. If more asymptomatic people got tested, “we could get people back to work safely.”

Transmission myths & misinformation work/life

If there’s no cure, why go to the hospital unless you have a breathing problem?

Most coronavirus patients don’t need to be hospitalized. “The vast majority of people – about 80% – will do well without any specific intervention,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Those patients should get plenty of rest, hydrate frequently and take fever-reducing medication.

“The current guidance – and this may change – is that if you have symptoms that are similar to the cold and the flu and these are mild symptoms to moderate symptoms, stay at home and try to manage them,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association.

But about 20% of coronavirus patients get advanced disease. “Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness,” the CDC says.

The CDC also says you should get immediate help if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Sudden confusion
  • Bluish lips or face

“This list is not all inclusive,” the CDC says. “Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.”

Treatment & prevention family

Why are people stocking up on bottled water? Is the water supply at risk?

No, the water supply is not at risk.

“The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water,” the CDC says. “Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”

So there’s no need to hoard drinking water, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci said he and his wife are still drinking tap water.

Work/life myths & misinformation

How do I safely take care of someone who’s sick?

It may be difficult to know whether your loved one has coronavirus or another illness.
So it’s critical to play it safe and not infect yourself and, in turn, others. The CDC suggests:

  • Giving the sick person their own room to stay in, if possible. Keep the door closed.
  • Having only one person serve as the caretaker.
  • Asking the sick person to wear a face mask, if they are able to. If the mask causes breathing difficulties, then the caretaker should wear a mask instead.

Transmission family

What are the symptoms?

Fatigue, fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing and the loss of taste or smell are some of the symptoms of Covid-19.

Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks after exposure, the CDC says. But some people get no symptoms at all and can infect others without knowing it.

The illness varies in its severity. And while many people can recover at home just fine, some people — including young, previously healthy adults — are suffering long-term symptoms.

transmission

What can I do if my loved one thinks he or she has coronavirus?

Don’t visit family members with suspected illness – connect with them virtually.
If that person lives with you, limit contact with them and avoid using the same bathroom or bedroom if possible, the CDC advises.

If the person been diagnosed, he or she might be able to recover at home in isolation. Separate yourself as much as possible from your infected family member and keep animals away, too. Continue to use separate restrooms and regularly disinfect them.

Stock up on groceries and household supplies for them while they can’t travel outside and minimize trips to stores. Wash your hands frequently and avoid sharing personal items with the infected person.

If you think you’re developing symptoms, stay home and call your physician.

family

The stores are all out of disinfectant sprays and hand sanitizer. Can I make my own?

Yes, you can make both at home.

“Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted” if you’re trying to kill coronavirus on a non-porous surface, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC’s recipe calls for diluting 5 tablespoons (or ⅓ cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.

You can also make your own hand sanitizer. The Nebraska Medical Center – famous for its biocontainment unit and treatment of Ebola patients – offers this recipe:

What you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon or something for whisking
  • Small container, such as a 3 oz. travel bottle
  • Optional: essential oil to give your hand sanitizer a fragrance

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, stir isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel together until well blended.
Add 8-10 drops of scented essential oil (optional, but nice). Stir.
Pour the homemade hand sanitizer into an empty container and seal.
Write “hand sanitizer” on a piece of masking tape and attach to the bottle.

Work/life Treatment & Prevention

Can I be fired if I stay home sick?

An employee can be fired if they don’t show up to work and don’t have sick leave that would cover the absence, says Krista Slosburg, an employment attorney at Stokes Lawrence in Seattle.

But there are exceptions. Employers who make workers with Covid-19 come in may be violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] regulations, said Donna Ballman, who heads an employee advocacy law firm in Florida.

Work/Life

What happens when workers don’t get paid sick leave?

If you work in a city or state that requires sick leave and you use it, you can‘t be terminated or disciplined.

But there is no federal mandate that requires companies to offer paid sick leave, and almost a quarter of all US workers don’t get it, according to 2019 government data. Some state and local governments have passed laws that require companies to offer paid sick leave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can sometimes protect a worker’s job in the event they get sick, but it won’t guarantee they get paid while they’re out.

Employee advocates urge businesses to consider the special circumstances of the Covid-19, and some already have

Work/Life

Can managers send a sick worker home?

Yes, managers can.

The Society for Human Resource Management recommends companies “actively encourage sick employees to stay home, send symptomatic employees home until they are able to return to work safely, and require employees returning from high-risk areas to telework during the incubation period (of 14 days).”

If a manager feels an employee’s illness poses a direct threat to colleagues’ safety, the manager may be able to insist the employee be evaluated by a doctor, said Alka Ramchandani-Raj, an attorney specializing in workplace safety.

Work/Life

If traveling on a plane, how do I stay safe?

Since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, some airlines are now requiring passengers to wear face masks during the flight, except for while eating or drinking.

Health experts suggest eating, drinking and using the restroom before getting on the plane, to eliminate the need to take off your mask or go into a cramped lavatory on board.

And always be mindful of where your hands have been, travel medicine specialist Dr. Richard Dawood said.

Airport handrails, door handles and airplane lavatory levers are notoriously dirty.

“It is OK to touch these things as long as you then wash or sanitize your hands before contaminating your face, touching or handling food,” Dawood said.

“Hand sanitizers are great. So are antiseptic hand wipes, which you can also use to wipe down armrests, remote controls at your seat and your tray table.”

Travel family work/life

What do I do if I think I’m sick?

Stay home. Call your doctor to talk about your symptoms and let them know you’re coming for an appointment so they can prepare for your visit, the CDC says.

Only a Covid-19 test can diagnose you with coronavirus, but if you suspect you have it, isolate yourself at home.

Many patients with coronavirus are able to recover at home. If you’ve been diagnosed and your illness is worsening, seek medical attention promptly. You may need to be monitored in a hospital.

Treatment & Prevention

Should I spray myself or my kids with disinfectant?

No. Those products work on surfaces but can be dangerous to your body.

There are some chemical disinfectants, including bleach, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform, that may kill the virus on surfaces.

But if the virus is already in your body, putting those substances on your skin or under your nose won’t kill it, the World Health Organization says. And those chemicals can harm you.

Treatment & Prevention myths & misinformation

I’ve heard that home remedies can cure or prevent the virus. Is that true?

There’s no evidence from the outbreak that eating garlic, sipping water every 15 minutes or taking vitamin C will protect people from the new coronavirus. Same goes for using essential oils or colloidal silver.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

Why waste a test kit on a person without symptoms?

Some people with coronavirus have mild or no symptoms. And in some cases, symptoms don’t appear until up to 14 days after infection.

During that incubation period, it’s possible to get coronavirus from someone with no symptoms. It’s also possible you may have coronavirus without feeling sick and are accidentally infecting others.

Treatment & Prevention

Why was the US been so far behind other countries with testing?

Experts said cuts in federal funding for public health and problems with early testing forced the US to play catch-up.

Problems with public health infrastructure: Two years ago, the CDC stopped funding epidemic prevention activities in 39 countries, including China. This happened because the Trump administration refused to allocate money to a program that started during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden warned that move “would significantly increase the chance an epidemic will spread without our knowledge and endanger lives in our country and around the world.”

Problems with the testing: Malfunctions, shortages and delays in availability have all contributed to the slowdown.

In the first few weeks of the outbreak in the US, the CDC was the only facility in the country that could confirm test results — even though a World Health Organization test became available around the same time.

Some test kits that were sent around the country were flawed — a move that put the US behind about “four to five weeks,” says Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare.

Treatment & Prevention

If a coronavirus patient gets pneumonia, what antibiotics have proven to be effective?

No antibiotics are effective against Covid-19 because the disease is caused by a viral infection, not a bacterial infection.

“However, if you are hospitalized for the [coronavirus], you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible,” the World Health Organization says.

There is no known cure for the novel coronavirus.

Treatment & Prevention

Did Dean Koontz predict this outbreak in the book “The Eyes of Darkness” almost 40 years ago?

No. There are some interesting coincidences in the 1981 fiction novel, which says “a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread around the globe” around the year 2020. Modern editions of the book call the biological strain “Wuhan-400,” and the current coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, China.

But there are important differences between the book and reality. The original version of the book called the strain the “Gorki-400,” in reference to a Russian locality, before it was later changed to the “Wuhan-400.” In the book, the virus was man-made, while scientists believe the novel coronavirus started in animals and jumped to humans. And in the book, the virus had a 100% mortality rate. Early estimates of the mortality rate for this coronavirus outbreak range from 2-4%.

myths & misinformation

Can the heat from a hand dryer kill coronavirus?

Hand dryers can’t kill the virus, according to WHO. The organization also says that UV lamps shouldn’t be used to sterilize hands or other areas of the body because the radiation can irritate skin.

Drinking hot water or taking hot baths won’t kill it, either.

Myths & misinformation

Can I get coronavirus from a package sent from China?

No. “The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting Covid-19 cases,” the World Health Organization says.

“Even though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures,” WHO said.

Myths & misinformation transmission

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Biden Pushes New Efforts to Tackle Gun Violence

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Biden Outlines Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

President Biden announced new efforts to tackle gun violence on Wednesday, including cracking down on illegal sales and providing new funding for police departments and community-based organizations.

Crime historically rises during the summer. And as we emerge from this pandemic, the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may be more pronounced than it usually would be. For folks at home, here’s what you need to know. I’ve been at this a long time and there are things we know that work to reduce gun violence and violent crime and things that we don’t know about. But things we know about: Background checks for purchasing a firearm are important; ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines; community policing and programs that keep neighborhoods safe and keep folks out of trouble. These efforts work. They save lives. But over time, these policies were gutted and are woefully underfunded. In our conversation today, we talked about our strategy to supercharge what works while we continue to push the Congress to act on sensible gun violence legislation. We know that if there is a strict enforcement of background checks, then fewer guns get into the hands of criminals. Background checks have thus far kept more than three million guns out of the hands of felons, convicted felons, fugitives, domestic abusers and others prohibited from being able to purchase a gun. If you willfully sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with the tracing requests or inspections. My message to you is this: We’ll find you and we will seek your license to sell guns. We’ll make sure you can’t sell death and mayhem on our streets. It’s an outrage, has to end and we’ll end it. Period.

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President Biden announced new efforts to tackle gun violence on Wednesday, including cracking down on illegal sales and providing new funding for police departments and community-based organizations.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden on Wednesday announced new efforts to tackle gun violence and provide money to fund police departments, propelling the White House into the politically contentious debate over how to address a rise in violent crime in many U.S. cities.

The president also directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to revoke the licenses of gun dealers “the first time that they violate federal law” by failing to run background checks.

“We know that if there is a strict enforcement of background checks, then fewer guns get into the hands of criminals,” Mr. Biden said. “If you willfully sell a gun to someone who’s prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with a tracing request for inspections, my message to you is this: We’ll find you, and we will seek your license to sell guns.”

Mr. Biden’s speech at the White House came amid a national reckoning over racism and policing. City leaders are grappling with dueling calls to both improve oversight of their police departments and address soaring homicide rates that administration officials fear will continue through the summer. The president, who ascended to the presidency in part by vowing to prioritize the concerns of Black voters, now must address Republicans who accuse him of being soft on crime, as well as the progressive wing of his own party that is pushing reform.

“This is not a time to turn our backs on law enforcement or our communities,” Mr. Biden said, as he promoted funding for police that included some appropriated through the $ 1.9 trillion economic rescue package that was passed in March. “Congress should in no way take away this funding.”

Mr. Biden does not feel that reforming the police and tackling crime are conflicting goals, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Tuesday. “We believe that a central driver of violence is gun violence,” she said, adding that the president “also believes that we need to ensure that state and local governments keep cops on the beat.”

On Wednesday, the administration announced that state and local governments could use their designated $ 350 billion of coronavirus relief funds to hire police officers to prepandemic levels, pay overtime for community policing work, support community-based anti-violence groups and invest in technology to “effectively respond to the rise in gun violence resulting from the pandemic,” according to a statement from the Treasury Department.

Biden administration officials said the president’s remarks on Wednesday aimed to build on previous executive actions, including orders meant to curb the spread of “ghost guns” easily assembled from kits, expand federal grants for police departments and direct $ 5 billion in his infrastructure proposal to groups that intervene with those most likely to commit violence.

The Biden administration announced earlier this week that the Justice Department would start five “strike forces” to combat gun trafficking in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington and the San Francisco area.

Criminologists have reported that homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average last year, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year, though overall crime figures have been down during the pandemic.

Some criminal justice advocates are concerned about the possibility that raising alarm over crime could undermine momentum to overhaul law enforcement.

“We must not overreact and we must not repeat the mistakes of the past where crime has been politicized and the solutions have been focused on trying to arrest our way out of the problem,” said Udi Ofer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Justice Division. “If there is a lot of jargon in that speech that feeds the tough-on-crime narrative, then yes, we have a problem.”

A bipartisan compromise on a national policing overhaul has stalled in Congress, despite Mr. Biden urging lawmakers to reach a deal by May 25, the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Democrats continue to debate reducing funding for police departments, while Republicans have seized on the “defund the police” slogan to attack them as weak on public safety.

“If they think they’re just going to pass a few gun laws and everything is going to be fine, they’re absolutely not in touch with the reality of what’s going on across our country,” Representative John Katko, Republican of New York and the ranking member of the House Homeland Security committee, told Fox News on Tuesday.

For some, Mr. Biden’s comments on Wednesday will be a reminder of his political baggage. As a senator, Mr. Biden championed a 1994 crime bill that many experts say fueled mass incarceration, prompting questions during his presidential campaign over his commitment to overhauling the criminal justice system.

Mr. Biden has resisted calls by some members of the Democratic Party to defund police departments, calling instead for using Justice Department grants to encourage them to change and eliminating sentencing disparities.

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White House Defends Timing of Harris Trip to Southern Border

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Wednesday defended Vice President Kamala Harris’s upcoming trip to the Southern border. The vice president’s travel plans come amid pressure from Republicans who have seized on a surge of border crossings to criticize the Biden administration.

“Vice President will travel to El Paso, Texas, on Friday. She’ll be accompanied by Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Earlier this year, as you all know, the president asked the vice president to oversee our diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration from El Salvador to Guatemala and Honduras. And as a part of this work, she recently traveled to Guatemala and Mexico last month to have those discussions. And this trip to the border on Friday will be a part of this effort. I will note that I’ve also said here, from this podium, and she has also said that when it was the right time, she may go to visit the border. And I will note that we’re at this point, in part, because we’ve made a great deal of progress. And if you look just to a couple of months ago when 6,000 children were in Border Patrol facilities, we’re now at the point where there is far less than 1,000. If you look to just a couple of months ago when there were children who were waiting in Border Patrol facilities for more than 100 hours, and they were certainly overcrowded, now it’s less than 30 hours. In April, there were 22,000 kids in H.H.S. facilities, and now that number is 14,000. Is there still more work to do? Absolutely, that’s the purview of Secretary Mayorkas. But it’s important every component of our government is coordinated.” Reporter: “Was it important for the White House to have her seen at the border before former President Trump has a trip there next week?” “We made an assessment within our government about when it was an appropriate time for her to go to the border.”

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Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Wednesday defended Vice President Kamala Harris’s upcoming trip to the Southern border. The vice president’s travel plans come amid pressure from Republicans who have seized on a surge of border crossings to criticize the Biden administration.CreditCredit…Carlos Barria/Reuters

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the United States-Mexico border on Friday, a visit that comes after weeks of criticism from Republicans who assailed her for not visiting even though she is in charge of addressing the root causes of migration.

The criticism came after Ms. Harris’s visit to Mexico City and Guatemala this month, when Lester Holt of NBC grilled her about why she had not visited the border. She responded by calling the visit a “grand gesture” and pointed out that she had not visited Europe yet, either — answers that confounded her critics and members of her own administration.

“She said in the same interview she would be open to going to the border at an appropriate time,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said, fielding questions about Ms. Harris’s visit on Wednesday. “We made an assessment within our government about when it was an appropriate time for her to go the border.”

Administration officials did not give a clear answer about what made this week an appropriate time. Ms. Harris has held the role since March, when President Biden tapped her to lead an effort to improve conditions in Central America to deter migration north. But even during this month’s trip aimed at improving conditions in the region, she continued to face questions over her absence from the border.

Ms. Harris and her aides have since been on the defensive, arguing that she is focused on addressing the poverty and persecution that force vulnerable families to leave their homes. Allies have cautioned the White House not to give in to criticism.

The visit, which was first reported by Politico, will come just days before former President Donald J. Trump is set to visit the border with a group of House Republicans and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who has pledged to finish the border wall that became a symbol of Mr. Trump’s restrictive immigration agenda.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, and other senators met with White House officials on Tuesday to discuss infrastructure proposals.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A bipartisan group of centrist senators will head to the White House on Thursday to brief President Biden on their infrastructure framework after lawmakers said they had signed off on an outline for how to fund and finance billions of dollars for roads, bridges and other public-works projects.

After two lengthy meetings with White House officials on Wednesday, multiple senators said they had struck an agreement on the overall framework for an infrastructure plan and would personally update Mr. Biden as they worked to finalize some details. Lawmakers and staff declined to offer any details about the apparent breakthrough, but a previous outline drafted by the group of senators — five Republicans and five Democrats — would provide for $ 579 billion in new spending as part of an overall $ 1.2 trillion package spent over eight years.

“There’s a framework of agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure package,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, told reporters as she left negotiations in the Capitol. “There’s still details to be worked out.”

The bipartisan group previously released a statement announcing an agreement on a framework that the White House had not yet backed. Mr. Biden sent aides to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday for further discussions.

“The group made progress toward an outline of a potential agreement,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement Wednesday evening after what she described as “two productive meetings” with White House officials.

The group has been scrounging for ways to pay for billions of dollars in new spending that would be a critical part of a potential compromise plan to invest in roads, broadband internet, electric utilities and other infrastructure projects.

“We just kept working at it, I’m serious,” Ms. Collins said. “Each of us brought in different ideas that we had researched with our staffs.”

Top White House officials separately met Wednesday evening with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Those discussions were expected to center on infrastructure negotiations as well as a separate effort to move a large chunk of the president’s $ 4 trillion economic agenda through the Senate with no Republican votes using a procedural mechanism known as reconciliation.

Among those expected to attend the meeting were Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council; Steve Ricchetti, a top adviser to Mr. Biden; Louisa Terrell, the director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs; Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Susan E. Rice, who leads the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to an official familiar with the plans.

Rodney S. Scott, the chief of the United States Border Patrol, near a border wall construction site outside McAllen, Texas, in October.
Credit…Sergio Flores for The New York Times

The Biden administration is forcing out the chief of the United States Border Patrol, Rodney S. Scott, who took over the agency during the final year of the Trump administration, a Department of Homeland Security official said on Wednesday.

The move comes as Vice President Kamala Harris plans to visit the southwest border on Friday for the first time since President Biden asked her to lead the administration’s efforts to deter migration from Central America. Republicans have increased pressure on both Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris to visit the border, where a record number of migrants have been trying to cross in recent months.

Mr. Scott, a 29-year veteran of the Border Patrol, took the helm of the agency in February 2020. He was a supporter of President Donald J. Trump’s signature border policy, a plan to complete a wall between the United States and Mexico. The Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that while Mr. Scott had been asked to move on, it was possible he could be reassigned to a new post within the department.

The Border Patrol monitors nearly 6,000 miles of the nation’s borders with Mexico and Canada, in between official points of entry. It has been at the center of a highly polarized national debate over immigration policy, particularly as Mr. Trump employed hard-line tactics against undocumented immigrants.

At Mr. Trump’s direction, the Border Patrol sought to catch and detain hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including migrant families who had fled violence in their home countries.

Earlier this year, Mr. Scott refused to follow a Biden administration directive to stop using the term “illegal alien” in reference to undocumented immigrants. Referring to immigration laws, which use the term, Mr. Scott said that public trust in the Border Patrol would continue to erode if its agents were forced to use terms “inconsistent with law.”

Mr. Scott was in charge of the agency when highly trained Border Patrol agents, assigned to investigate drug smuggling organizations, were deployed to the streets of Portland, Ore., last summer. While their mission was to protect federal buildings during a series of protests against police violence, there were reports of federal agents in riot gear inside the city and away from federal property. Mr. Scott pushed back against those reports, but the episode and others like it last summer left an indelible mark on the Trump legacy.

A pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The first person to be sentenced in connection with the riot at the Capitol — a 49-year-old woman from Indiana — will serve no time in prison after reaching an agreement with the government and pleading guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

At an unusual hearing where she admitted guilt and was immediately sentenced by a judge, the woman, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, expressed remorse for her role in the attacks of Jan. 6. She apologized to the court, her family and the “American people,” saying it was wrong to have entered the Capitol.

In court papers filed last week, prosecutors laid out seven reasons they believed Ms. Morgan-Lloyd should not have to serve time in prison. It is likely to serve as a checklist for other rioters who committed no violence and were accused of only minor crimes. Prosecutors noted that Ms. Morgan-Lloyd was not violent at the Capitol, did not plan her breach in advance, remained inside only briefly and allowed investigators to question her thoroughly about her role in the riot as well as search her cellphone.

Ms. Morgan-Lloyd also submitted a statement to the court saying that she was “ashamed” and suggested that her relatively peaceful part in the breach allowed others to do worse.

“At first it didn’t dawn on me, but later I realized that if every person like me, who wasn’t violent, was removed from that crowd, the ones who were violent may have lost the nerve to do what they did,” Ms. Morgan-Lloyd wrote. “For that I am sorry and take responsibility. It was never my intent to help empower people to act violently.”

At the hearing, the presiding judge, Royce C. Lamberth, made scathing remarks from the bench attacking the handful of Republican politicians who have labeled the assault on the Capitol the work of mere tourists, calling that position “utter nonsense.”

“I don’t know what planet they’re on,” Judge Lamberth said. “Millions of people saw Jan. 6.”

Under the terms of her deal with the government, Ms. Morgan-Lloyd agreed to pay restitution of $ 500 to help defray the estimated $ 1.5 million in damage done to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Cindy McCain, the widow of former Senator John McCain, endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the 2020 presidential election.
Credit…Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

President Biden announced Wednesday that he was nominating Cindy McCain, the widow of former Senator John McCain, as ambassador to the United Nations World Food Programme, giving the post to a longtime Republican friend as he continues to emphasize the importance of bipartisanship in a deeply divided Washington.

Ms. McCain, who participated in a video supporting Mr. Biden’s candidacy during the all-virtual Democratic National Convention last summer, was seen as a “must do” for an ambassador posting in the Biden administration, according to sources familiar with the process, and has been undergoing the vetting process for some time.

In the video, Ms. McCain spoke about Mr. Biden’s “unlikely friendship” with her husband.

“My husband and Vice President Biden enjoyed a 30+ year friendship dating back to before their years serving together in the Senate,” she tweeted before the Democratic convention. “So I was honored to accept the invitation from the Biden campaign to participate in a video celebrating their relationship.”

The U.N. mission is based in Rome.

Mr. Biden also announced on Wednesday that he was nominating Claire Cronin, a Massachusetts state representative, as ambassador to Ireland. Former Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a longtime Biden friend, had taken himself out of the running for that posting because he did not want to move his family out of the country, according to people familiar with the process.

Both nominations had been long expected.

A third nominee was Jack Markell — a former governor of Mr. Biden’s home state, Delaware — who is the president’s choice for U.S. representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the rank of ambassador.

Mr. Biden announced his first slate of ambassador nominations earlier this month, including his picks for key posts to Mexico, Israel and NATO.

But some of his selections for the most significant posts abroad — including R. Nicholas Burns, a veteran Foreign Service officer and a former ambassador to NATO, to serve as ambassador to China; Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles to serve as ambassador to India; and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago to serve as ambassador to Japan — have still not been announced, even though multiple people familiar with the process said their nominations had been finalized internally.

Mark Calabria, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Director, testified on Capitol Hill last June.
Credit…Pool photo by Astrid Riecken

President Biden on Wednesday removed the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, acting immediately after the Supreme Court ruled that the president had the authority to dismiss the agency’s director.

The director, Mark Calabria, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, issued a statement wishing his successor well and noting that he respected the decision of the court and the president’s authority to remove him. Mr. Biden did not immediately name a replacement.

Replacing Mr. Calabria gives Mr. Biden more control over the fate of the mortgage giants, which play an outsize role in the housing market and are central to many homeowners’ ability to afford homes. Fannie and Freddie do not make home loans but instead buy mortgages and package them into securities, providing a guarantee to make investors who buy those securities whole in case of default. That helps keep the cost of 30-year mortgages low.

During his tenure, Mr. Calabria had overseen the enactment of a number of rules that were seen as critical steps toward ending the federal government’s conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie, which was imposed in 2008 at the start of the financial crisis. Mr. Calabria has favored a move toward privatizing Fannie and Freddie and ending the conservatorship.

Many housing advocates and Democrats also favor ending it, but they do not necessarily want Fannie and Freddie put into private hands.

The Supreme Court ruling stemmed from a dispute between shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Treasury Department over $ 124 billion in payments the two lenders were required to make to the government after the 2008 housing crisis.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for a unanimous court on this point, rejected the shareholders’ argument that this so-called profit sweep exceeded the agency’s statutory authority.

But he added, now writing for six justices, that the law that created the housing agency violated the Constitution because it insulated the agency’s director from presidential oversight.

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General Milley Defends Military Teaching of ‘Critical Race Theory’

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back forcefully on Wednesday to objections raised by Republican lawmakers about the teaching of “critical race theory” at service academies.

I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. In the United States Military Academy is a university. And it is important that we train and we understand. And I want to understand white rage, and I’m white, and I want to understand it. So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians, they come from the American people. So, it is important that the leaders now and in the future do understand it. I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, non-commissioned officers of being, quote, woke or something else, because we’re studying some theories that are out there. That was started at Harvard Law School years ago. And it proposed that there were laws in the United States, antebellum laws prior to the Civil War, that led to a power differential with African Americans, that were 3/4 of a human being, when this country was formed. And then we had a Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation to change it. And we brought it up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took another 100 years to change that. So look, I do want to know. And I respect your service, and you and I are both Green Berets, but I want to know. And it matters to our military and the discipline and cohesion of this military.

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Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back forcefully on Wednesday to objections raised by Republican lawmakers about the teaching of “critical race theory” at service academies.CreditCredit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back on Wednesday against suggestions from a Republican congressman that the military was becoming too “woke,” calling such accusations “offensive” and alluding directly to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in which some veterans and active-duty members participated.

Mr. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III were testifying before the House Armed Services Committee when they were questioned about anti-extremism efforts and curriculums about race relations at service academies and beyond.

Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, asked about the teaching of “critical race theory” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and specifically a seminar called “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.”

“This came to me from cadets, from families, from soldiers with their alarm and their concern about how divisive this type of teaching is that is rooted in Marxism,” Mr. Waltz said.

Mr. Austin, who is the nation’s first Black defense secretary, suggested that the teaching of literature concerning white rage, as Mr. Waltz had described it, “certainly sounds like something that should not occur.”

But General Milley, who is white, defended both the seminar and the broader practice of teaching service members controversial or uncomfortable ideas.

“I want to understand white rage, and I’m white,” General Milley said.

“What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America?” he continued, as Mr. Austin looked on. “What is wrong with having some situational understanding about the country we are here to defend?”

Noting that his having read writers like Karl Marx did not make him a communist, General Milley went on a long, impromptu disquisition on the history of racism in the military and the need for cadets and service members alike to study it.

“I do want to know,” he said. “It matters to our military and the discipline and cohesion of this military.”

For the 29th year, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to condemn the Cold War-era American embargo on Cuba, with many diplomats exhorting the Biden administration to resume the reconciliation that was upended by former President Donald J. Trump.

The Biden administration’s “no” vote appeared to signal, at least for now, that it would move cautiously to undo Mr. Trump’s policy on Cuba, which remains a politically contentious issue in the United States — particularly in Florida, home to many Cubans who fled Fidel Castro and his successors.

The U.N. resolution denouncing the six-decade embargo is symbolic only, having no practical effect. But the vote, held since 1992, amounts to a tradition for critics of American policy to vent their anger and express solidarity with Cuba at the United Nations.

The United States had always voted against the resolution until it abstained from the vote during the last year of the Obama administration, while Mr. Biden was vice president, signaling a move to fully repair U.S. relations with Cuba after more than a half-century of estrangement.

But Mr. Trump sought to reverse that direction after he took office, and the United States resumed voting against the resolution during his term. He went much further, adding sanctions on Cuba and — in his final weeks in office — putting the country back on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

A full termination of the embargo, which can only be rescinded by Congress, seems highly unlikely any time soon. But Mr. Biden is still expected to gradually move away from Mr. Trump’s stance on Cuba.

Brandi Levy, a Pennsylvania high school student, had expressed her dismay on Snapchat over not making the varsity cheerleading squad.
Credit…Danna Singer/ACLU, via Getty

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a Pennsylvania school district had violated the First Amendment by punishing a student for a vulgar social-media message sent away from school grounds.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for an eight-member majority, said part of what schools must teach students is the value of free speech. “America’s public schools are the nurseries of democracy,” he wrote. “Our representative democracy only works if we protect the ‘marketplace of ideas.’”

“Schools have a strong interest in ensuring that future generations understand the workings in practice of the well-known aphorism, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” he wrote. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

It has been more than 50 years since a high school student won a free-speech case the Supreme Court.

“The opinion reaffirms that schools’ authority over the lives of students is not boundless,” said Justin Driver, a law professor at Yale and the author of “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court and the Battle for the American Mind.”

“At the same time,” he said, “the decision is intensely, almost painfully narrow, and for that reason it offers little in the way of clarity to students, educators or lower court judges.”

The case concerned Brandi Levy, a Pennsylvania high school student who had expressed her dismay over not making the varsity cheerleading squad by sending a colorful Snapchat message to about 250 people.

She sent the message on a Saturday from a convenience store. It included an image of Ms. Levy and a friend with their middle fingers raised, along with a string of words expressing the same sentiment. Using a swear word four times, Ms. Levy objected to “school,” “softball,” “cheer” and “everything.”

Though Snapchat messages are meant to vanish not long after they are sent, another student took a screenshot and showed it to her mother, a coach. The school suspended Ms. Levy from cheerleading for a year, saying the punishment was needed to “avoid chaos” and maintain a “teamlike environment.”

Ms. Levy sued the school district, winning a sweeping victory from a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia. The court said the First Amendment did not allow public schools to punish students for speech outside school grounds, relying on precedent from a 1969 case.

Here are other key rulings announced Wednesday by the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the mere fact that someone suspected of a minor crime had fled from the police did not justify entering a home without a warrant.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Supreme Court, which has said that police officers do not need a warrant to enter a home when they are in “hot pursuit of a fleeing felon,” ruled on Wednesday that the same thing is not always true when the crime in question is minor.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for a seven-justice majority in the case, Lange v. California, said the mere fact that someone suspected of a minor crime had fled from the police did not justify entering a home. She added that other factors could change the calculus.

“We have no doubt that in a great many cases flight creates a need for police to act swiftly,” she wrote. “A suspect may flee, for example, because he is intent on discarding evidence. Or his flight may show a willingness to flee yet again, while the police await a warrant. But no evidence suggests that every case of misdemeanor flight poses such dangers.”

The case concerned Arthur Lange, a retiree in Sonoma, Calif., who was charged with driving under the influence, a misdemeanor, and playing music too loudly, an infraction, after an officer followed him home and used his foot to stop Mr. Lange from closing his garage door. Mr. Lange moved to suppress the evidence against him, arguing that the officer’s entry into his home had violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

In an unusual move, California did not defend a lower court’s decision in its favor and instead urged the Supreme Court to rule that only felonies justified entering a home without a warrant.

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Austin Backs Plan to Remove Sexual Assault Cases From Commanders

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Wednesday formally endorsed a plan, recommended by a Pentagon commission, that would remove the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command.

As you know, my first directive as Secretary of Defense issued on my first full day in the office was to service leadership about sexual assault. Yesterday, I received the final recommendations and complete report of the independent review commission, and I want to thank Lynn Rosenthal for her exceptional leadership on this commission, as well as the talented experts who worked so hard and so diligently to support her. The result is a comprehensive assessment across four lines of effort: accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support. And that assessment recommends creative and evidence-based options. In the coming days, I’ll present to President Biden my specific recommendations about the commission’s finding, but I know enough at this point to say that I fully support removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command. We are prepared to work with Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice in this regard. The I.R.C. also recommended the inclusion of other special victims crimes inside this independent prosecution system to include domestic violence, and I support this as well. As we move forward, I believe that it’s important to make changes that are both scope to the problem that we’re of trying to solve, and properly resource.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Wednesday formally endorsed a plan, recommended by a Pentagon commission, that would remove the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III formally endorsed changes on Wednesday to the way the military handles sexual assault cases, a sharp retreat from years of opposition by prior secretaries on the issue.

The changes, which were recommended by a Pentagon commission convened by Mr. Austin, do not go as far as a bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that she intended to put on the floor soon. That legislation would take decisions about prosecuting all serious crimes committed in the military — not just sexual assaults — from the hands of commanders.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has pushed a similar bill for nearly a decade, but she has faced resistance from the chairman and top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“As you know, my first directive as secretary of defense, issued on my first full day in the office, was to service leadership about sexual assault,” said Mr. Austin, who appeared before the House Armed Services Committee with Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“In the coming days, I will present to President Biden my specific recommendations about the commission’s finding,” Mr. Austin said. “But I know enough at this point to say that I fully support removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command.”

The competing visions of how far to go in altering the military justice system set the stage for a potentially intense legislative battle over an issue that has vexed the Pentagon for generations with little progress. Some military leaders have begun to protest such changes.

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Republicans Filibuster Voting Rights Bill

Senate Republicans used the filibuster on Tuesday to block debate on an ambitious Democratic bill aimed at countering a wave of ballot restrictions in G.O.P.-controlled states.

“The For the People Act is about setting basic national standards to make sure that all voters in this country can vote legally in the way that works for them, regardless of what ZIP code they live in, regardless of if they live in a big city or in a suburb or out in a small town in Western Minnesota. It is about reducing the power of big money in our elections by ending secret spending by billionaires and special interests. And it is about making anti-corruption reforms to ensure politicians work for the people, not for themselves.” “The federal takeover elections shouldn’t happen. I urge my colleagues not to support it happening. The American people don’t want to see the things imposed on our election system that are in this bill. And I urge my colleagues to vote against this harmful legislation.” “On this vote, the yeas are 50, the nays are 50. Three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to.” “All we wanted to do here on the floor was to bring up the issue of voting rights and debate how to combat these vicious, oftentimes discriminatory voting restrictions. And today, every single Democratic senator stood together in the fight to protect the right to vote in America. Regrettably, our efforts were met by the unanimous opposition of the Republic — of the Senate minority. Once again, Senate Republicans have signed their names in the ledger of history along Donal — alongside Donald Trump, the big lie and voter suppression, to their enduring disgrace.”

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Senate Republicans used the filibuster on Tuesday to block debate on an ambitious Democratic bill aimed at countering a wave of ballot restrictions in G.O.P.-controlled states.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The demise of the For the People Act — the far-reaching voting rights bill that Republicans blocked in the Senate on Tuesday — is a crushing blow to progressives and reformers, but it opens up more plausible, if still rocky, paths to reform.

The law, known as H.R. 1 or S. 1, was full of progressive wish list measures — from public financing of elections to national mail-in voting — that all but ensured its failure in the Senate.

But there were roads not taken. Reformers did not add provisions to tackle the most insidious and serious threat to democracy: election subversion, where partisan election officials might use their powers to overturn electoral outcomes. Those concerns have only escalated over the last several months as Republicans have advanced bills that not only imposed new limits on voting, but also afforded the G.O.P. greater control over election administration.

Instead, the bill focused on the serious but less urgent issues that animated reformers at the time it was first proposed in 2019: allegations of corruption in the Trump administration, the rise of so-called dark money in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, or the spate of voter identification laws passed in the aftermath of President Barack Obama’s election victories.

Originally, the bill was seen as a “political statement” or a “messaging bill,” not as the basis for a realistic legislative effort.

One narrow, yet possible avenue emerged in the final days of the push for H.R. 1: a grand bargain, like the one recently suggested by Joe Manchin III, the moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia who provoked outrage among progressives when he said he would oppose the bill in its current form.

The Manchin compromise resembles H.R. 1 in crucial ways. It does not address election subversion any more than H.R. 1 does. And it still seeks sweeping changes to voting, ethics, campaign finance and redistricting law. But it offers Republicans a national voter identification requirement, while relenting on many of the provisions that provoke the most intense Republican opposition.

Mr. Manchin’s proposal nonetheless provoked intense Republican opposition. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri derided it as a “Stacey Abrams” bill. And Mitch McConnell, the minority leader from Kentucky, appeared to suggest that no federal election law would earn his support.

The Biden administration plans to extend the national moratorium on evictions through July, officials said. Activists in Brooklyn called in May for an extension of New York State’s eviction moratorium.
Credit…Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Biden administration plans to extend the national moratorium on evictions, scheduled to expire on June 30, by one month to buy more time to distribute billions of dollars in federal pandemic housing aid, according to two officials with knowledge of the situation.

The moratorium, instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last September to prevent a wave of evictions spurred by the economic downturn associated with the coronavirus pandemic, has significantly limited the economic damage to renters and sharply reduced eviction filings.

Congressional Democrats, local officials and tenant groups have been warning that the expiration of the moratorium at the end of the month, and the lapsing of similar state and local measures, might touch off a new — if somewhat less severe — eviction crisis.

President Biden’s team decided to extend the moratorium by a month after an internal debate at the White House over the weekend. The step is one of a series of actions that the administration plans to take in the next several weeks, involving several federal agencies, the officials said.

Other initiatives include a summit on housing affordability and evictions, to be held at the White House later this month; stepped-up coordination with local officials and legal aid organizations to minimize evictions after July 31; and new guidance from the Treasury Department meant to streamline the sluggish disbursement of the $ 21.5 billion in emergency aid included in the pandemic relief bill in the spring.

White House officials, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said that the one-month extension, while influenced by concerns over a new wave of evictions, was prompted by the lag in vaccination rates in some parts of the country and by other factors that have extended the coronavirus crisis.

Forty-four House Democrats wrote to Mr. Biden and the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, on Tuesday, urging them to put off allowing evictions to resume. “By extending the moratorium and incorporating these critical improvements to protect vulnerable renters, we can work to curtail the eviction crisis disproportionately impacting our communities of color,” the lawmakers wrote.

A spokesman for the C.D.C. did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Many local officials have also pressed to extend the freeze as long as possible, and are bracing for a rise in evictions when the federal moratorium and similar state and city orders expire over the summer.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced on Monday that his state had set aside $ 5.2 billion from federal aid packages to pay off the back rent of tenants who fell behind during the pandemic, an extraordinary move intended to wipe the slate clean for millions of renters.

Still, groups representing private landlords maintain that the health crisis that justified the freeze has ended, and that continuing the freeze even for an extra four weeks would be an unwarranted government intrusion in the housing market.

“The mounting housing affordability crisis is quickly becoming a housing affordability disaster fueled by flawed eviction moratoriums, which leave renters with insurmountable debt and housing providers holding the bag,” said Bob Pinnegar, president of the National Apartment Association, a trade group representing owners of large residential buildings.

Eric Adams, a former police officer, rode an anti-crime message to a commanding lead in the initial round of the Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

Facing a surge in shootings and homicides and persistent Republican attacks on liberal criminal-justice policies, Democrats from the White House to Brooklyn Borough Hall are rallying with sudden confidence around a politically potent cause: funding the police.

In the nation’s capital on Wednesday, President Biden put the weight of his office behind a crime-fighting agenda, unveiling a national strategy that includes cracking down on illegal gun sales and encouraging cities to use hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic relief money for law-enforcement purposes. It was his administration’s most muscular response so far to a rise in crime in major cities.

In New York City, the country’s largest metropolis and a Democratic stronghold, it was Eric Adams, a former police officer who is Black, who rode an anti-crime message to a commanding lead in the initial round of the Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday.

The back-to-back developments signaled a shift within the Democratic Party toward themes of public safety. Senior Democrats said they expected party leaders to lean hard into that issue in the coming months, trumpeting federal funding for police departments in the American Rescue Plan and attacking Republicans for having voted against it.

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

Texas lawmakers to tackle updated elections overhaul legislation in Senate Saturday

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Shortly after the release of new language in Texas’ election overhaul legislation Saturday, lawmakers are expected to take up the changes in the Senate.

This is after the two lawmakers spearheading the overhaul of Texas election law announced Friday they reached a compromise on the chambers’ versions of the legislation.

State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, and State Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, made the announcement that they, as the chairs of the conference committee negotiating the changes, had come to a decision on the final version of Senate Bill 7.

“We feel good about it,” said Hughes said in an interview Friday. “It’s still got to come before both Houses to be signed off on,” he explained.

Hughes said the main components of the initially-proposed changes will remain largely the same.

Key aspects of the legislation include a provision to require a paper backup of electronic votes cast, standardizing voting hours and stopping counties from sending out mail-in ballots unsolicited.

Negotiators also agreed to implement rules requiring cameras stream live in central counting rooms and during signature verification.

President Joe Biden released a statement on the bill Saturday, before the committee report was released.

“It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans,” said Biden in part. “In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”

Hughes countered Biden’s statement Saturday, saying the bill gives accessibility and security to the state’s elections. “We would all be better off if the President cared as much about our Southern Border as he does Texas elections,” said a Tweet from him.

“We differ on some things, some big things we differ on, and we try to figure out where we can compromise and where we can’t and ultimately, it’s going to be a majority vote on this bil l— it’s presented to the House and the Senate for one last vote, it’ll be a majority vote — and so we’ll see what happens, but ultimately, the people of Texas are going to have their way,” Hughes said of the negotiations, which involved five lawmakers from each chamber. Seven were Republicans and three were Democrats.

Democrats involved in the negotiations were skeptical of the announcement and said they wanted to see more details.

“It’s important to realize this bill, by itself is unnecessary,” State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, said. He was not part of the conference committee.

“It is a solution in search of a problem,” he said. “There is no voter fraud in the state of Texas — you are much more likely to get struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud in this state, and so this bill is simply an attempt to appeal to far right Republican primary voters and to indulge former President Donald Trump and his big lie.”

The Senate voted 18-13 to suspend chamber rules designed to allow for a 24-hour review period for conference committee reports, in order to take up SB 7 hours after the report’s release.

Sen. Hughes said he’s having a briefing for lawmakers at 8 p.m. in a room behind the chamber to answer questions about the bill.

His intention is to not debate the bill on the floor until at least 10 p.m.

Democrats questioned the process being rushed and making decisions on prominent election legislation late on a Saturday night when constituents might not be watching.

Author: Wes Rapaport
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Austin mayor tells Joe Rogan what he would've done differently to tackle homelessness

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler admitted the City of Austin made mistakes when it ended the city’s camping ban two years ago and explained Tuesday what it should have done instead during a lengthy interview on the podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

Homelessness has been in the spotlight recently, with the majority of Austin voters choosing to reinstate the city’s camping ban, which makes it a criminal offense — a Class-C misdemeanor punishable by a fine — if you sit, lie down, or camp on public property.

“We should have identified at that point where people could go and not go. And we didn’t do that.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler

The stated goal of the reinstated camping ban is to end the tent cities that have popped up across Austin. Adler said the camping ban is not a real solution. While it moves people out of sight, he says it won’t actually solve the larger, underlying problem.

Mayor Adler admits the city made mistakes when it ended the camping ban

Rogan, a comedian and a podcast host known for having millions of followers and interviewing people from all walks of life, is an Austinite himself.

After voters in the largely liberal city overwhelmingly reinstated the city’s camping ban, Rogan asked Mayor Adler if he thinks the city made any mistakes. Adler said they did.

In the wide-ranging 1 hour and 18 minute interview, Adler explained what the city should have done differently when it largely decriminalized camping and panhandling two years ago.

“The mistake that we made, is that when we did something that meant people were going to come out of the woods and the streams, we should have identified at that point where people could go and not go,” Adler said. “And we didn’t do that. We didn’t manage the public spaces, the shared spaces, the way that we should have.”

How do you help the homeless without encouraging that lifestyle?

Rogan said places like San Francisco have tolerant policies for homelessness, which might encourage people who are homeless to move there. He asked Adler about the “fine line” between helping and encouraging a lifestyle.

“They prefer this sort of vagabond lifestyle. Is there a line that you have to make sure you don’t cross over, where you don’t make it easier for them to be homeless?” Rogan said. “You want to encourage them to take advantage of these things you were trying to set up. How do you make that distinction?”

“Generally speaking, the overwhelming number of people experiencing homelessness in our city are people who fell into homelessness here,” Adler said. “The people that are coming into our city, most of them are coming from areas immediately around us.”

“We made it work with veterans, and then I tried to scale up what we did with veterans, but I couldn’t get the resolve to spend the money. And part of the reason was because people didn’t see the challenge.”

“A guy came up to me… and he said, ‘You’re mayor — fix this. And if you don’t, I have a gun, and I will fix this myself.’”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler

No easy solutions, even if Austin goes back to 2019

Mayor Adler said two years ago, most homeless people were crowding around the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, the ARCH, in downtown Austin. Austinites told him to fix that problem, but he said it’s not a problem with an easy fix.

“People wanted that to disappear. The problem with making that disappear, this challenge is not one you can just make go away. You can move it, but if you close it down anywhere, the people don’t disappear.”

Adler said veterans are a little easier because they come with federal resources like rent supplements. With veterans, big apartment buildings can get vouchers, and if they trash one of the units, the apartment complex can get a check to fix it from the federal government.

Adler said it’s more difficult with the larger homeless population because those same resources aren’t there, but he said we still need to act now to fix it so that Austin doesn’t end up like Los Angeles or Portland.

“If you hide this challenge, it’s going to continue to grow until it is so big you can’t hide it anymore, but at that point it’s going to be too big for you to actually meaningfully deal with it.”

Adler said when you put them into a home with resources, there’s a 90-95% success rate that the person can reintegrate back into society and sustain themselves in a positive way. He added, you can’t get rid of homelessness altogether, but you can find a balance where the rate of people entering homelessness is the same as people coming out of homelessness.

Author: Jaclyn Ramkissoon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Analysis-To tackle climate change, China must overhaul its vast power grid

Analysis-To tackle climate change, China must overhaul its vast power grid© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Power lines and wind turbines are pictured at a wind and solar energy storage and transmission power station of State Grid Corporation of China, in Zhangjiakou of Hebei province, China, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

By Muyu Xu and John Geddie

BEIJING/LONDON (Reuters) – One of the most pressing challenges for China to meet its pledge to cap carbon emissions this decade and pivot toward renewables is overhauling its electricity grid, the world’s largest, officials and analysts say.

    Beijing’s surprise announcement last year that it would hit peak emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060 could presage the biggest reduction in projected global warming of any climate commitment to date, researchers say.

    But building new solar plants and wind farms is the easy part, analysts say. Upgrading the system that transmits that green power to faraway consumers could be five times more costly, and depends on rapid technological progress.

    “When we talk about the challenges, most people focus on the (electricity) grid,” said Chunping Xie, an expert on China’s policies on climate change and energy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “It’s the first step in this long journey.”

Investments in China’s grid and other associated costs are expected to exceed 6 trillion yuan ($ 896 billion) over the next five years, Mao Weiming, former chairman of State Grid, said in a speech in October.

China, the world’s biggest electricity generator, power consumer and carbon emitter, has said it is aiming for renewable power to account for more than 50% of its total electricity generation capacity by 2025, up from 42% now.

    This mainly involves pivoting to solar and wind energy and away from coal, of which China is the biggest global consumer. Beijing plans to more than double its solar and wind power capacity to 1,200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, from 535 GW now.  

    Such a drastic swing from coal, which generates a stable baseload power supply, to renewables, which can fluctuate with weather conditions, could play havoc with China’s electricity network, officials say.

    A senior manager in charge of dispatch at China’s State Grid – the world’s largest utility, which manages 75% of the country’s network – told Reuters the system had already “reached its ceiling” of how many renewable sources it could handle and still maintain stable operations. The official asked to remain anonymous as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

But China, which runs the world’s largest power system, with a total installed capacity of 2,201 GW compared with 1,107 GW in the United States, is pressing on.

By 2030, it has said it will force grid operators to buy at least 40% their of power from non-fossil fuel sources, up from around 28% now.

MAJOR COSTS

    Alex Whitworth, a research director at Wood Mackenzie, said that the pace of grid investment would most likely be maintained until the end of the decade, and would be five times higher than the cost of building additional renewable plants in that period.

    The major costs involve new power lines, re-tooling hundreds of coal plants as backup generators, and ramping up storage capacity, analysts and officials say.

    At least seven new ultra-high voltage power lines would be built over the next five years to better connect the country’s far western regions, where solar, wind and hydropower plants are mainly located, to China’s big cities, the State Grid said. China has 29 such lines already.

    That buildout could cost an estimated $ 34 billion.

    “We have reached a consensus that China will preserve coal plants, but only for emergency uses,” said Shu Yinbiao, president of Huaneng Group, China’s second-largest power generation firm, and a former State Grid president.

    But China is struggling to promote costly modifications to coal plants allowing them to offset gyrations in renewable power. It typically costs 150 million yuan ($ 23.27 million) to upgrade a 300-megawatt coal plant.

    Only about 10% of coal-fired power plants in China have been modified, according to data from State Grid and China Electricity Council.

“China will need to establish a mechanism to make coal power unfavourable in the renewables’ booming moment,” said Zhang Shuwei, a director at Draworld Energy Research Centre. “Otherwise China is not able to advance its green agenda.”

TECH PROBLEMS

    Power storage is another obstacle.

Bing Han, a senior research analyst at IHS Markit, expects China to need about 120 GW of energy storage to support additional solar and wind power needs by 2030. That is four times more than the 32.3GW capacity in place as of 2019, according to China Energy Storage Alliance.

    For battery storage, Wood Mackenzie’s Whitworth said China is expected to install 47 GWh by 2030, more than four times the total global storage capacity today.

    But it is not just a question of cost. Chinese officials have said they are worried about slow technological developments.

    “Power storage technology has not realized revolutionary progress,” said Li Gao, director of Climate Change Department at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment at a media briefing in April.

    Michal Meidan, director of the China Energy Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, said “geopolitical tensions” and “technological rivalry” between China and Western countries could also hinder the collaboration needed to improve Beijing’s storage capacity.

    “It’s not to say China cannot innovate, but it could take longer until China has its home-grown innovation,” she said.

    Other analysts questioned China’s commitment to renewable power plans given its lack of clarity on phasing out coal and continued expansion of new power plants. China put 38.4 GW of new coal-fired power capacity into operation in 2020, more than three times the amount built elsewhere around the world.

    But all agreed tackling the power system is an essential first step of a project critical to the future of the planet.

    “The world just can’t achieve climate targets without China,” said LSE’s Xie. “China’s role in the world is now of a magnitude that makes its actions in the immediate future critical to how the world goes forward.”

($ 1 = 6.4463 renminbi)

Author: Reuters
This post originally appeared on Stock Market News

'RIP London!' Sadiq Khan re-election sparks backlash – calls to tackle knife crime plague

Mr Khan’s road to victory was by no means an easy stroll as the challenge of Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey exceeded expectations. But the Labour incumbent was forced to rely on votes redistributed from smaller parties to see him over the line.
His re-election with a reduced mandate leaves memories of his record-setting vote tally of 2016 long lost.

He won 55.2 per cent to Mr Baileys 44.8 per cent, much to the dismay of Londoners online.

Mr Khan has been repeatedly criticised for crime rates across the capital, most recently by journalist Dan Wootton in a stinging column for Mail Online.

He summed up the views of many, writing: “The quality of life in the world’s greatest city has been decimated these past five years and it’s impossible to cry foul any longer when it’s referred to as Lawless London.”

And the sentiment was echoed by residents on Twitter after learning of his victory on Friday.

One wrote: “@SadiqKhan please do something about violent crime now.

“As the single mother of two boys, living in the borough of Lewisham, not a day goes by when I don’t fear them leaving my home and not coming back safely.”

Another wrote: “RIP London, more deaths on your hands at the hands of knife crime. You’ll never be fit for office, London’s finished.

One more wrote: “You need to deal with knife crime ASAP.”

Another added: “Start by doing something about the knife crime please!

READ MORE: UK election results LIVE: Starmer faces wipeout– Tories gain 194 seats

“You’ve done nothing for too long.”

Another city resident wrote: “Please, please, please do something about the high crime in London.

“The criminals do it because they are not scared of the consequences.

“Bring back more police stations in our towns and on the street. Make the city safe, a priority.”

A teacher wrote: “@SadiqKhan doesn’t speak for me or for all the young students in my school who live in fear of gang violence and knife crime.

“It’s a very sad result for them.”

Following the closer than anticipated victory, Mr Khan thanked Londoners for their support, saying: “Thank you London. It’s the absolute honour of my life to serve the city I love for another three years.

“I’ll leave no stone unturned to get our city back on its feet.

“A brighter future is possible, and we’ll deliver it together.”

DON’T MISS:
Nick Knowles savages Sadiq Khan’s ‘unfathomable’ actions toward police [REVEAL]
Sadiq Khan takes five-point lead in London mayoral election [SPOTLIGHT]
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He added: “If you voted for me, from the bottom of my heart—thank you. If you didn’t, please know that I’ll never ignore your voice, your concerns or your worries.

“I’ll always be a Mayor for all Londoners—working to improve the lives of every single person in this city.”

Pollsters and bookies saw Mr Khan as the favourite throughout the campaign.

Voter turnout was lower than expected at 42.2 per cent.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

RT’s Boom Bust takes a look at how G7 plans to tackle rising China… without upsetting Beijing

As leaders from the world’s seven most industrialized nations gathered in London, the US has called on the G7 club to challenge the increasing power of China.

“What we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

He added that neither the US nor its allies are trying to contain China or hold it down.

READ MORE:Tell the truth, America… the G7 meeting is all about trying to contain the rise of China

RT’s Boom Bust is joined by the program co-host Ben Swann to explore how the group of seven plans to deal with the rise and growth of China.

“Secretary Blinken is really trying to play both sides with this,” the investigative journalist said, stressing that the US is calling for a tougher stance towards Beijing.

“But at the same time, they don’t want to upset China,” he added, highlighting that none of the G7 nations were taking any steps to decouple their dependency on China.

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

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Man Utd launch SEE RED campaign to tackle racism and discrimination

Manchester United have today launched SEE RED – a campaign to tackle racism and discrimination.

The new initiative builds on the work of United’s ‘All Red All Equal’ anti-discrimination programme and features a video challenging the club’s fans to think about diversity.

The video highlights Andy Cole’s title-clinching goal in the 1999 Treble season, Jesse Lingard’s FA Cup-winning strike in 2016 and Marcus Rashford’s added-time penalty to seal an epic comeback win at PSG in 2019.

The aim is to make United fans think about key moments in their team’s glittering history that could not have happened without diversity and the contribution of black and Asian players.

The campaign also encourages fans to report incidents of racism or other hate crimes and to stand up for those who may suffer discrimination.

Man Utd are urging fans to report any incidents of racism or discrimination
Man Utd are urging fans to report any incidents of racism or discrimination

United players, including Rashford, Anthony Martial, Fred and Axel Tuanzebe, have been subjected to racist abuse on social media in recent months, and the club are determined to call out such abhorrent conduct, with the launch of a new online reporting system.

Richard Arnold, United Group Managing Director, said: “We are proud that players of all ethnicities, religions and nationalities have pulled on the Manchester United[1] jersey over the years.

“We challenge our fans, and indeed fans of every club, to watch this and think about their own favourite memories, their top teams and their most celebrated players.

“How different would those memories be without the diversity of some of the best players in the world who have graced our game and our club?

“Sadly, footballers across the country continue to receive abuse online, seemingly without fear of censure.

“United has been, and always will be, a club for all. We do not believe real fans are racist and today, we call on those fans to join us in the battle against discrimination.

“We are proud of the rich diversity of our players and our fans. This club is open for all and we count on the support of our fans to keep it that way.

“It’s not good enough for us all to sit silently on the sidelines when we see or read racist remarks or behaviour. Inaction has a consequence. We must call it out. We must not tolerate it. If you see it or read it – report it.”

United players past and present feature in the SEE RED video, including Dwight Yorke, Rio Ferdinand, Ji-Sung Park and Lauren James.

United have also set up a new online reporting system for fans to use. A new user-friendly reporting form, available via manutd.com/seered, can be used to report any instances online.

As well as the video and online reporting system, the giant seat wraps in the lower tiers at Old Trafford have also been replaced ahead of the match against Brighton[2] to promote SEE RED.

Fans can engage with the SEE RED initiative on social media using #SeeRed. Instances of racist abuse on any social media platform can be reported via manutd.com/seered.

References

  1. ^ Manchester United (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ Brighton (www.mirror.co.uk)

[email protected] (David McDonnell)

Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook, Instagram

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook, Instagram House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs MORE[2][3][4][5][6][1] (D-Va.) on Friday pressed Facebook to do more to combat the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on both its platform and Instagram. 

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook, Instagram The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden shifts on filibuster MORE[9][10][11][12][13][8], Warner detailed his concerns that the social media giant is not doing enough to get a handle on the increasing tide of misleading information around the safety of the vaccines. [7]

“Anti-vaccination groups and other health conspiracy groups have long utilized – and been enabled by – Facebook’s platforms to disseminate misinformation,” Warner wrote. “Studies show a rapid increase in the spread of health misinformation online since the start of the pandemic.”

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Warner noted that recent top-ranked search results on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, for the phrase “covid vaccine” are anti-vaccine accounts. He also warned of recent findings from the Center for Countering Digital Hate that Instagram’s algorithm may be pushing misleading and harmful COVID-19 related content to users, comparing the consequences of this to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. [14]

“There are real-world consequences when harmful misinformation is allowed to run rampant online, and I am concerned that Instagram – a platform which has generally escaped the level of scrutiny directed at Facebook, itself – is similarly enabling the spread of harmful misinformation that could hinder COVID-19 mitigation efforts and, ultimately, result in lives lost,” Warner wrote.

The senator asked that Zuckerberg respond to questions around procedures in place to filter out misinformation from Instagram’s algorithm, how often he is briefed on misinformation on both Facebook and Instagram, and whether the company would provide free advertising for state and local health authorities working to combat misleading health information.  

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Hill in a written statement Friday night that “working with leading health organizations, we’ve updated our policies to remove millions of pieces of misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines from Facebook and Instagram–including 2 million since February alone–and take stronger action against accounts that break our COVID-19 and vaccine rules.”

“We’ve also labeled more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content rated false by our fact checking partners, and now are rolling out labels to any post that discusses vaccines,” the spokesperson added. “But since research shows that the best way to combat vaccine hesitancy is to connect people to reliable information from health experts, we’ve connected over 2 billion people to resources from health authorities. We know that conversations about vaccines tend to be nuanced, so we’re continuing to work with health experts to make sure that our approach and our policies are in the right place.”

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The letter was sent the day after Zuckerberg testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the topic of misinformation on Facebook, particularly around COVID-19 and the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. [15]

Zuckerberg detailed Facebook’s efforts to combat coronavirus vaccine misinformation on both Facebook and Instagram in his prepared testimony, noting that “we have made fighting misinformation and providing people with authoritative information a priority for the company.”

Steps the company has taken to tackle misinformation include creating a COVID-19 Information Center on both Facebook and Instagram, removing around 12 million pieces of misleading content around the COVID-19 pandemic, banning accounts spreading misinformation, and removing ads that might create “panic” around the virus, according to Zuckerberg. 

Despite these steps, Warner on Friday wrote that he was “deeply concerned” that Facebook’s recent efforts to address misinformation were not enough in the face of an ongoing pandemic. 

“Health misinformation on social media platforms like Facebook is a serious threat to COVID-19 mitigation efforts and could ultimately prolong this public health emergency,” Warner wrote. “Given the urgency and severity of these consequences, I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.”

-Updated at 10:05 p.m.

[email protected] (Maggie Miller)