Posts tagged with "Masks"

‘A matter of life and death’: Scientific American gives Biden its first-ever presidential endorsement

September 16, 2020

Scientific American never has endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history—but, the editors say in the October 2020 issue of the publication, “This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.”

Indeed, they note, “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. The editorial goes on to recount Trump’s many failures in handling the disease. On testing, the editors believe that Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures has led to “catastrophic” results in the United States.

They allege, “He was warned many times in January and February about the onrushing disease, yet he did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines. Testing people for the virus, and tracing those they may have infected, is how countries in Europe and Asia have gained control over their outbreaks, saved lives, and successfully reopened businesses and schools. But in the U.S., Trump claimed, falsely, that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” That was untrue in March and remained untrue through the summer.

“Trump opposed $25 billion for increased testing and tracing that was in a pandemic relief bill as late as July. These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country—particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population.

However, it wasn’t just a testing problem, the editors reveal. “… If almost everyone in the U.S. wore masks in public, it could save about 66,000 lives by the beginning of December, according to projections from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Such a strategy would hurt no one. It would close no business. It would cost next to nothing. But Trump and his vice president flouted local mask rules, making it a point not to wear masks themselves in public appearances.

At virtually every stage of the pandemic, they say, “ … Trump has rejected the unmistakable lesson that controlling the disease, not downplaying it, is the path to economic reopening and recovery.”

What’s more, the editorial goes on to say, “Trump repeatedly lied to the public about the deadly threat of the disease, saying it was not a serious concern and “this is like a flu​” when he knew it was more lethal and highly transmissible,” they write. “His lies encouraged people to engage in risky behavior, spreading the virus further, and have driven wedges between Americans who take the threat seriously and those who believe Trump’s falsehoods.”

The Scientific American editors wrap up the editorial with their endorsement: “That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.”

Research contact: @sciam

Steve Martin reveals a major problem with face masks—and his hilarious solution

September 15, 2020

Celebrities are the one group of people whom you might think would be just fine with wearing face masks. After all, they seem to spend most of their time covered in hats and sunglasses—supposedly seeking to elude the swarm of paparazzi that follows them everywhere.

With fewer people on the streets these days—and that means both fewer photographers and civilians—you would think there would be joy in Hollywood, Malibu, the Hamptons, and other celebrity hangouts. But you might be wrong.

According to a report by NBC-TV’s Today show, some stars are actually starting to appear indistinguishable from the designer-clad bourgeois—not a good look, they would say.

Steve Martin is one celeb who actually has a problem with not being recognized, so much so he created a hilarious solution for himself to circumvent that apparent issue.

“I always wear a mask when I go outside,” he wrote on Twitter to his 8.6 million followers. “But something about it was leaving me anxious and unsettled. I thought about the problem, addressed it, and here is the solution.”

(See photo above.)

On the waterfront during COVID-19: Keeping safe this summer

May 28, 2020

Hot weather is here—and with it, the promise of a refreshing dip at nearby pools, beaches, hot tubs, and water parks. But before you catch a wave, or make a splashdown, you might want to check on whether “freestyle” water sports will be safe this season, The Huffington Post reports.

But there is some good news at the start of the season: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionno evidence has emerged to suggest that you can contract the coronavirus from the water, itself.

“There is no data that somebody got infected this way [with coronavirus],” Professor Karin B. Michels, chair of UCLA’s Department of Epidemiology, stated in a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times.

“I can’t say it’s absolutely 100% zero risk, but I can tell you that it would never cross my mind to get COVID-19 from a swimming pool or the ocean,” agreed Paula Cannon, a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “It’s just extraordinarily unlikely that this would happen.”

That said, the HuffPost notes, some safety measures and health warnings should still be kept in mind before you take a dip. Here’s what you should know:

Some experts suspected at the beginning of the pandemic that the coronavirus could dissipate in the warmer months, similar to the flu and other viruses. However, that’s yet to be determined.

The CDC states that hotter temperatures—those above 75 degrees—do not kill the virus. The disease can also still spread in warmer, humid climates. So don’t use sunbathing at the pool or the beach as an excuse to not practice healthy habits or follow pandemic guidelines.

Being outside and in the water is not completely risk-free, although it is better than staying in a more confined space. The CDC advises that you should avoid “group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water if social distancing of at least six feet between people who don’t live together cannot be maintained.”

Exceptions to this rule only include emergency evacuations and cases where someone is rescuing a distressed swimmer; or providing medical help or first aid, the HuffPost reports.

What’s more, all high-touch surfaces—such as handrails and chairs—should be regularly disinfected. If you’re swimming in your own pool or a family pool, you should make sure to wipe those areas down regularly.

Proper water maintenance also is important. The regular amount of chlorine used to treat pools should be enough to inactivate the virus, The Los Angeles Times reported.

There’s a chance that the virus can be spread when an infected person—even those who are asymptomatic―expels respiratory droplets onto surfaces and then someone else touches the same surface. (Although how easily the virus can spread when touching surfaces has been called into question recently, it’s better to assume right now that you could be susceptible to transmission in such a manner.)

It’s best to limit contact where possible, which means you should absolutely not share items like floats, masks, googles, snorkeling equipment (even with people who are in your own house). Bring or use your own, and be sure to disinfect them regularly.

Pool operators and people who will be in close proximity to others outside of the water are encouraged to wear a maskaccording to the CDC. Take it off once you get in the water—swimming with such a face covering can make it difficult to breathe.

With those safeguards, for now, you can dive on in. The water’s fine.

Research contact: @HuffPostLife

Trump to invoke Defense Production Act for first time during pandemic

March 25, 2020

On March 24, the Trump Administration was set to use the Defense Production Act for the first time since the coronavirus hit the United States in late January.

With millions respirators, ventilators, hospital beds, and masks all urgently needed by the healthcare sector, the president will use the act—which gives him authority to expedite and expand the supply of resources by ordering the U.S. industrial base to manufacture needed goods—only to procure about 60,000 coronavirus test kits, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Administrator Peter Gaynor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday on CNN that the administration had decided to use the Defense Production Act because “there are some test kits we need to get our hands on.”

Gaynor said the federal government was also inserting “DPA language” into its mass contract for 500 million masks.

The president last week issued an executive order invoking the law, but for days resisted calls to use it, saying he is concerned about nationalizing American businesses, the Journal said. Governors have called on him to invoke both the production and the distribution elements of the law, saying states are having to compete against each other for supplies.

“We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business,” President Trump said at a press briefing on Sunday. “The concept of nationalizing our businesses is not a good concept.” He said sufficient numbers of companies were volunteering to manufacture masks and other protective gear, so invoking the Defense Production Act wasn’t yet necessary, though he said “we may have to use it someplace along the chain.”

“We’re going to use it, we’re going to use it when we need it, and we’re going to use it today,” Gaynor said on CNN.

Administration officials have been having tense internal discussions about whether to use the law for weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Research contact @WSJ

DOT provides regulatory relief to commercial drivers delivering supplies during pandemic

March 17, 2020

Keep on trucking! That’s what the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had to say to the drivers of commercial vehicles this week.

The agency issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This declaration is the first time FMCSA has issued nation-wide relief and follows President Trump issuing of a national emergency declaration in response to the virus.

Because of the decisive leadership of President [Donald] Trump and Secretary [of Labor Elaine] Chao, this declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently. FMCSA is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and stands ready to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the American people,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.

FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
  • Food for emergency restocking of stores.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
  • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.

To ensure continue safety on the nation’s roadways, the emergency declaration stipulates that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of ten hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers. 

Research contact: @USDOT