(TMU) — As an increasing amount of cities and states across the world clamp down on citizen movement due to the coronavirus, officials have been deploying drones in a bid to scare some sense into social distancing scofflaws.
The trend has seen dozens of law enforcement agencies and municipalities flock to one drone manufacturer based in China to help enforce quarantine rules while cutting costs on traditional public safety services.
One of the latest cities to enlist drones into its arsenal is Daytona Beach, Florida, which now has eight of the flying tools, including two loaned by Shenzhen, China-based drone manufacturer DJI Technology.
Over the past week, the Daytona Beach Police Department has flown upwards of 30 missions to enforce the statewide stay-at-home order in the city’s beachfront parks and on hiking trails. For police management, the use of drones is a common-sense solution to the problem of dissuading law-breakers while maintaining a safe distance amid the ongoing pandemic.
Sgt. Tim Ehrenkaufer, the head of DBPD’s Unmanned Aviation Systems Unit, told WKMG:
“We’re reducing the officer having to go out there, walk into the park property, walking into a crowd of people, share those germs back and forth just to deliver a message that, ‘The park’s closed. Don’t be in here.’”
The drone also has a FLIR thermal camera that can read people’s body temperatures, allowing police to single out those potentially infected by CoViD-19—a tool that Ehrenkaufer says will help officers know from a glance what precautions should be taken.
On Tuesday, the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, announced that it would be deploying five drones, also borrowed from DJI. The drones have voice and siren capabilities and will also be used to restrict potential violators from breaking social distancing orders, reports WNBC.
In a video shared to Facebook, Elizabeth police wrote:
“These drones will be around the City with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home … Summonses HAVE AND WILL CONTINUE to be issued to those found in violation. Fines are up to $1000. You have been advised.”
During Mayor Chris Bollwage daily COVID-19 Updates, he mentioned the Elizabeth Police Department implementing drones around the City of Elizabeth to help combat people not following social distancing.We have been using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) since 2018, however, the new models are equipped with voice capabilities. We were able to secure 5 DJI Mavic 2 UAV, on loan through DJI's Public Safety Disaster Relief Program – thank you to Wayne Baker, the DJI Director of Public Safety Integration. These drones will be around the City with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home. Summonses HAVE AND WILL CONTINUE to be issued to those found in violation. Fines are up to $1000. You have been advised.
Posted by Elizabeth Police Department on Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Unmanned aerial systems had already been in the midst of an upswing in usage across the United States due to their affordability, usefulness, and the ability to deploy them rapidly, especially in states plagued by natural disasters such as California, Texas, and Florida.
According to drone distributor Heliguy USA, which retails DJI drones, the most sought-out models for first responders has included the Chinese company’s Phantom, Inspire, Matrice, and Mavic models.
According to Pandaily, DJI enjoys a commanding lead on drone technology, with the company enjoying an estimated 70 percent share of the global drone market in 2019.
Drones made by DJI Technology have also been increasingly embraced by authorities in the European Union as a simple and cost-effective solution to the challenges presented by the coronavirus, with Spanish, French, and Belgian police among those using the speaker-equipped models to shout at citizens to go home.
In video that recently went viral, Mayor Catena DeLuca of Messina, Italy, can be heard cursing at residents who tried to leave their homes, shouting:
“Where the fuck are you going? Go back home!”
The use of the drones to literally scold residents began to gain steam in China following the outbreak of the new novel coronavirus in December. In one viral video from late January, drones in the People’s Republic can be seen ordering an elderly woman in the Inner Mongolian region for not wearing a mask, adding:
“Auntie … you’d better go back home and don’t forget to wash your hands.”
Walking around without a protective face mask? Well, you can't avoid these sharp-tongued drones! Many village and cities in China are using drones equipped with speakers to patrol during the #coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/ILbLmlkL9R
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 31, 2020
However, the increasingly ubiquitous use of unmanned aerial systems has raised concerns about the state of civil liberties during the ongoing pandemic, with many feeling that the new reality of curfews, lockdowns, and drones hints at the creeping regimentation of society along authoritarian lines.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has also considered issuing an executive order banning federal agencies from buying or using any foreign-made drones on the basis of their potential risk to national security.
Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.
Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.
Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.
Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.
Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.
“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”
However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.
In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact
Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.
And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.
Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.
Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.
Death Toll, by Percent of Population
In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.
Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.
The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.
Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.
History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning
While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.
In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.
What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?
Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics
Republished from ZH with permission.