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COVID-19 Update: Five Things You Need to Know

We’ve sifted through hundreds of articles and pulled out the most important developments of the last 24 hours.

Emma Fiala



COVID-19 Update

(TMU) — News about the novel coronavirus spreading throughout the United States and across the world is developing rapidly.

It can be difficult and overwhelming to keep up with everything happening so we’ve sifted through hundreds of articles and pulled out what we feel are the most important developments of the last 24 hours so you don’t have to.

Here are five huge developments that you need to know about the global outbreak of COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus.

🦠 The Latest COVID-19 Updates You Need to Know! 🦠

Posted by Emma Leigh on Thursday, March 5, 2020

New Cases Across the US, Yale Professor Warns of ‘Explosion’ of Cases

Yale professor, radiologist, and healthcare management expert Howard Forman warns, “There is absolutely going to be an explosion in the number of identified cases. But how fast that number increases is highly dependent on how fast we can test.” Forman said that testing for coronavirus is an integral part in controlling the spread, adding that the U.S is not doing enough and efforts thus far have been “woefully inadequate.

King County, Washington has encouraged its 2.2 million residents to stay home for the next three weeks. The county that includes the city of Seattle, is suggesting that anyone over the age of 60 stay indoors, that people telecommute rather than physically go into work, and that residents refrain from licking their mail-in ballots for the upcoming March 10 primary. 

Placer County, California declared a local health emergency after reporting a second confirmed case of the virus. The newest case was traced to a Grand Princess cruise ship that had departed San Francisco in mid-February. While the patient had been reported to be “critically ill,” it was later confirmed that the elderly man passed away.

This latest death brings the U.S. official death count to eleven, according to the La Times.

The Grand Princess cruise ship is expected to arrive off the coast of San Francisco on Thursday as the CDC investigates a “small cluster” of coronavirus cases associated with its previous voyage. California’s Governor said in a Wednesday press conference that the ship will be held off the coast and not allowed to dock.

Los Angeles County, California also declared a state of emergency as six new cases of the virus were confirmed on Tuesday night.  

NBC reported that a CDC contractor tasked with screening passengers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) just tested positive for the virus.

California Governor Newson has now declared a state of emergency for the entire state of California after the state confirmed a total of 53 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon. Newsome said in a statement, “The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus. This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.

More than 8,000 people are being monitored in California, according to the Independent.

A New Hampshire hospital worker became the state’s first case on Monday and was ordered to self-isolate. However, the patient who was confirmed to be infected defied orders and instead attended a local event. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement, “The first patient, despite having been directed to self-isolate, attended an invitation-only private event on Friday.” Healthcare works warned all attendees at the event that took place in Vermont to “follow the recommended 14-day self-isolation.”

New Jersey has announced its first COVID-19 case. The patient, a male in his 30s, has been hospitalized since March 3.

And in New York, 1,000 people have been told to self-quarantine following new cases in Westchester, New York.

The U.S military has confirmed two new cases of the virus found in relatives of troops in South Korea. At the same time South Korea has declared what it is calling a “special care zone” around a second city hit by the virus.

Wuhan Seafood Market Reportedly Demolished as Virus Spreads

The Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, China thought to be ground zero for the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 has reportedly been demolished two months after it was shuttered. According to a Lancet study, 66 percent of patients suffering from the virus in Wuhan hospitals as of early January had been exposed to the market. Conflicting reports about the market’s involvement in the outbreak continue to emerge.

Australia has banned travels from South Korea and instituted enhanced screenings of visitors from Italy in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He also indicated there would be a ban on travers from China and Iran.

According to India Today, at least 15 Italian have tested positive while visiting other countries. 

In Israel, around 100,000 people are currently in quarantine. During a press conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We have to understand, we are in the midst of a global epidemic, the most dangerous of these epidemics in the last 100 years.”

Iraq has reported the country’s first two confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the BBC.

Researchers Identify Two Different Strains of COVID-19

As what Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn is now calling a “worldwide pandemic” grows, researchers have identified two different strains of the virus. One strain is reportedly less aggressive than the other. According to the study, 30 percent of strains studied were the aggressive type. Researches say the aggressive virus began to decrease in prevalence in early 2020.

China has reported that a 36-year-old recovered COVID-19 patient fell ill five days after recovering and being discharged from the hospital and died. It is unclear which strain of the virus he had.

Global Panic Buying Continues

Panic buying across the world continues as people prepare for possible quarantine and shortages of goods. On Wednesday, Australia’s biggest supermarket chain announced a limit on the amount of toilet paper that could be purchased. Woolworths said, “to ensure more customers have access to the products,” customers would be limited to four packs of toilet paper per person. The chain has also moved hand sanitizers behind the service counter and has placed a limit of two per person.

Across social media, Americans are sharing stories of finding empty store shelves but online retailers are also feeling the stress of panic buying. Amazon Prime Now, Instacart, and Walmart have all been overwhelmed by the increase in orders and are expecting delivery delays. Social media users have reported dousing items they’ve ordering online in products like Lysol before opening.

Amidst the increase in buying, the World Health Organization suggested that contaminated money may be spreading the virus that remains on surfaces for days and suggested people use “contactless payment methods” instead.

Schools and Offices Closing Across the World

Italy’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 79 as the country orders all classrooms throughout the country to close until mid-March. Italy also plans to close theaters and ban public events across the country, according to Yahoo.

Almost 300 million students throughout the world are home from school this week.

Greece is the latest country to close schools and universities as well as cancel large public gatherings.

Despite recording the highest numbers of cases and deaths in the United States, Washington officials have not yet ordered schools to close in the state. King County health officer Jeffrey Duchin acknowledged the need to “keep our society functioning, our businesses functioning and schools functioning.” Duchin said schools in county will close only after there is a confirmed case associated with that school.

However, Facebook Inc. has decided to close its Seattle office after a contractor was diagnosed.

Check out yesterday’s update and video if you missed it, look for our next article summarizing recent developments, and be sure to follow @COVID19report on Telegram.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons |

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California Bill Backed by PTSD War Veterans Groups Would Legalize Psychedelics Statewide

Elias Marat



California could soon decriminalize psychedelics statewide if one legislator’s new bill is passed, marking another step by the Golden State to do away with laws seen by critics as antiquated vestiges of the failed U.S. war on drugs.

On Thursday, Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco introduced Bill 519, which would comprehensively decriminalize the use of and possession of psychedelics, following the lead of such places as Oakland, Santa Cruz, the District of Columbia, and Oregon, which have all decriminalized the drugs to varying degrees.

Under the proposed law, a range of psychedelic drugs including psilocybin – the hallucinogen in “magic” mushrooms – psilocyn, 3,4-MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy), LSD, ketamine, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline would all be decriminalized. Like a previous law passed in 2018 that expunged cannabis-related convictions from the records of Californians, Bill 519 would also wipe clean prior convictions for the use or possession of drugs.

While the comprehensive decriminalization measure would open the door to any sort of use of the drugs, not limited to medical, it would also be tied to measures that endorse the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of psychedelics which have gained increased recognition from health experts and researchers in recent years.

Given the severity of our mental health crisis, we shouldn’t be criminalizing people for using drugs that have shown significant promise in treating mental health conditions,” Wiener said in a statement. “People should be able to seek alternative treatment for diseases like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and we need to make science-based treatments available to those in need.”

The bill has also been heavily supported by two groups, the Heroic Hearts Project and VETS (Vets Exploring Treatment Solutions), both nonprofit organizations that assist veterans in addressing mental health challenges stemming from trauma, such as PTSD.

The strategy tout the medical benefits of the drugs is one that has been used with success in past efforts by drug policy reform advocates.

“That’s how it worked with cannabis,” Oregonian drug policy reform advocate Anthony Johnson told the Guardian. Johnson helped lead efforts in his state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of basically all illicit drugs through Measure 110, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November.

“It’s definitely a way to help people that need it first and foremost, but also then to educate the public about these substances of how the drug war has been a failed policy and how there is a better approach,” Johnson added.

In the case of Oregon’s Measure 109, which cleared the way for the all-out legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, petitioners highlighted the need to end the prohibition of the substance as a means toward treating mental health challenges through alternative methods.

“Healthcare professionals, veterans, mothers, people struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and end of life distress, community organizations, and so many others answered to call for a new option to help so many who are suffering,” a coalition of Oregon advocates said in a statement last November following voters’ overwhelming approval of the legal psilocybin therapy bill.

As has been the case in other states, however, the largest obstacle to decriminalization has been law enforcement, who cite concerns over public safety, and the private prison industry which enjoys generous profits from state contracts to incarcerate drug users. However, state Senator Wiener hopes that the testimony of veterans will help convince opponents of the need to shed their preconceptions and biases toward users of psychedelic drugs.

“There’s a stereotype of who’s using psychedelics, but it’s much broader than that and when you have veterans coming into the Capitol talking about how psychedelics help them with PTSD and help them get their lives back, that’s incredibly powerful for legislators,” Wiener explained.

Among those veterans is 38-year-old veteran Juliana Mercer, who spent 16 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including 10 years of active duty service over the course of one tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

As a four-year member of the wounded warriors unit, Mercer saw unspeakable horrors that left an indelible impression on her psyche – ultimately resulting in long-term trauma that she was largely unable to address.

“I lost quite a few friends and just saw a lot of a lot of damage and destruction along the way,” Mercer said. “I put all of that stuff away and kind of forgot about it for a while, and once I slowed down it was all just sitting there and I didn’t know what to do with it.”

While her first experience with psychedelics was recreational, she eventually gained a sense of connectedness that had been absent for years. She eventually reached out to the Heroic Hearts Project a year and a half ago to undergo ayahuasca therapy, which she said had completely exceeded expectations in allowing her to release “years of grief.”

“I kept hearing that when you do some of these plant medicines, you’ll be able to do 10 years worth of work in one session,” Mercer explained. “Just one of my sessions really brought out all of that pain and the grief that I didn’t even know was in there and allowed me to just completely release it and expel it, things that I had no idea were there.”

For licensed clinical social worker Lauren Taus, therapies involving plants such as ayahuasca and psilocybin are simply strong tools rather than cure-alls for mental health challenges. However, with the ongoing pandemic compounding a mental health crisis that has long been felt across the United States, Taus is adamant that such potent tools must be decriminalized.

“The causes of trauma are multiplying way faster than the solutions,” Taus said. “Current treatment is generally not very effective.”

“Psychedelic medicine has been engaged with globally for eons,” she added. “This stuff works and we deserve to have access to solutions that will be sustainable.”

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Michael Jordan Gifts $10 Million to Open 2 More Health Clinics For Uninsured In His Hometown

Elias Marat



NBA superstar and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan is making big philanthropic moves in his hometown community of Wilmington, North Carolina, by donating $10 million to help open a pair of new health clinics for uninsured, under-insured and generally poor members of the community.

The announcement came Monday morning and was made by nonprofit healthcare group Novant Health Clinics, whom Jordan has been working with to help bring much-needed access to primary and preventive care to low-income residents.

“I am very proud to once again partner with Novant Health to expand the Family Clinic model to bring better access to critical medical services in my hometown,” said Michael Jordan in a press release. “Everyone should have access to quality health care, no matter where they live, or whether or not they have insurance. Wilmington holds a special place in my heart and it’s truly gratifying to be able to give back to the community that supported me throughout my life.”

The latest move brings the number of new clinics Jordan has helped build in the Tar Hell State to four. In 2019, the 57-year-old former shooting guard unveiled the Michael Jordan Family Clinic in Charlotte, bringing much-needed access to primary and preventive care to low-income residents. Jordan himself contributed $7 million to the opening of the clinic at the time, which was also being operated by Novant Health.

During the October 2019 opening, the six-time NBA champion tearfully explained that “it’s a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that’s supported me over the years.”

One year later, Jordan opened the second clinic and expressed his family’s “great pride to know that we are making a difference in Charlotte.”

“We’ve been dealt with some very difficult cards in 2020,” he said at the time. “I hope 2021 is going to be much better.”

The Charlotte clinics have already seen over 4,500 patients while also providing crucial support during the ongoing pandemic.

“The regional health care system and Jordan previously partnered to open two Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte, N.C., bringing comprehensive primary care, including behavioral health and social support services, to the area’s most vulnerable communities,” the company said. “Jordan’s gift will help Novant Health bring this same integrated care model to more rural and rural-adjacent communities in his hometown, offering much-needed services to those who are uninsured or underinsured. The two new clinics are slated to open in early 2022.”

So far, the two Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte have administered almost 1,000 vaccines for the disease with plans to ramp up services in coming weeks.

“This pandemic has exacerbated health equity gaps across our state, making our efforts to close them even more emergent,” said Novant president and CEO Carl Armato. “We look forward to standing these clinics up as quickly as possible to ensure all members of the community have access to necessary medical care.”

Monday’s announcement came just one day after Sunday’s historic Daytona 500, which saw the Bulls legend and owner of the Charlotte Hornets make history as the first black principal owner in NASCAR in a half century as driver Bubba Wallace – the only Black full-time driver in the circuit – led by a lap before finishing 17th.

The Brooklyn-born Jordan, who grew up in North Carolina and was an avid fan of NASCAR, is worth $1.6 billion according to Forbes. During his time with the NBA, he earned $90 million as a player and $1.8 billion in endorsements, before taxes.

In recent years, the former pro basketball player has become a prominent philanthropist, donating to various causes including pledging $1 million to relief efforts in the Bahamas following September 2019’s Huricane Dorian. In September 2018, Jordan also donated $2 million to relief efforts in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence devastated the region.

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Florida Man Uses Stimulus Check to Start Thriving Home Garden to Feed His Community

Elias Marat



When millions of people across the United States received their federal stimulus checks to help them cope with the devastating economic repercussions of the novel coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown, most people spent their checks on basic necessities like food, rent, mortgage, utilities, and other basic necessities

However, one man from East Tampa, Florida, decided to use his funds to invest in a much more long-term project: building his own garden at home and using it to help provide food for himself. He’s now teaching his community about the massive benefits of food independence.

Michael Chaney, who goes by the nickname “Spirit Mike,” has long been interested in gardening. It wasn’t until the pandemic struck and local supermarkets were struck by the crisis that he was able to muster the self-motivation and time to fully pursue what began as a hobby and now has turned into his passion.

When he received his first stimulus check, he immediately used the funds to purchase some pots and start growing his first tomato plant. He also spoke to seasoned gardeners at the nearby A Land of Delight Natural Farm to pick up some materials and advice that would enable him to begin growing his own food, he told local radio station WMNF.

Now, Chaney is growing not only tomatoes but also collard greens, ghost peppers, mustard greens, strawberry guava, eggplants, onions, papaya, cashew apples, sugar cane, lemon, yucca, and lettuce, among other plants on his .3 acres of land.

“I do biointensive gardening, which means planting as much as you can in a small space,” Chaney told Atlanta Black Star. “I specifically picked these types of fruits [dwarf plants] because they grow fruit fast.”

Chaney derives the most pride from his moringa trees, which he values for its high viamin C content and celebrated medicinal properties as well as its antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant qualities.

“That is the Michael Jordan and the Kobe Bryant together,” Chaney told WMNF with pride.

“If you were stranded somewhere and all you have his this and water you would not only survive, you would thrive,” Chaney added. “I don’t work out. All I did was add this to my diet and add flax seed fiber and I lost 65 lbs.”

Chaney also has nine chickens that he purchased for only $3 per chick.

“My aim is to make my food cost zero,” he explained. “So, my food scraps go into the soldier fly larvae bin, they eat that and produce more larvae. Those larvae get fed to the chickens. The chicken produces eggs, I sell the eggs and eat the eggs; life is good.”

Chaney made sure to meticulously plan his garden so that actually managing it and ensuring its success would be much easier.

“It’s very important that you plan your garden. Do your research before you put a dollar down because you want your dollar to go as far as it can,” Chaney said.

He is now upholding the garden – which he has named New World Growers – as an example of community self-determination and food independence at a time when food insecurity is sharply on the rise.

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