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Utah officials announce new pandemic strategy, mask mandates

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah is implementing a new strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic as the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations continued to surge, state officials announced Tuesday.

The state will move away from its color-coded health system and instead place counties under restrictions based on their COVID-19 transmission rates, said Gov. Gary Herbert. Each county will be listed as high, moderate or low level transmission areas.

Six counties — Salt Lake, Utah, Cache, Garfield, Juab and Wasatch — have been designated as high transmission areas. Masks will be required in all indoor settings in these counties, and social gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer, said Rich Saunders, acting director of the Utah Department of Health.

In moderate transmission areas, gatherings will be limited to 25 or fewer unless masks are worn, said Saunders. Gatherings will be limited to 50 or fewer in low transmission areas if people don’t wear masks.


As a two-week “circuit breaker,” masks must be worn in all moderate transmission counties until Oct. 29, said Saunders.

Utah has been in the midst of a record-setting surge in reported coronavirus cases over the past month. The state ranks fifth in the country for newly confirmed infections per capita, according to data from Johns Hopkins. Utah’s health department reported a seven-day average of 1,182 new positive test per day on Tuesday, just below Saturday’s record of 1,189.

“We are having one of the worst outbreaks in the country, and this is unacceptable,” Herbert said.

There have been over 87,000 reported virus cases in Utah and 522 people have died, according to state data. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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Trump praises Barrett’s performance on day one of questioning

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwo ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis McGrath: McConnell ‘can’t get it done’ on COVID-19 relief MORE on Tuesday praised Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for her performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee and lashed out at Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate kicks off fight over Trump’s Supreme Court pick Trump pick noncommittal on recusing from election-related cases Debate is Harris’s turn at bat, but will she score? MORE (D-N.J.) in particular for pressing the judge on the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“I think Amy is doing incredibly well. It’s been a great day,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

The president did not take questions as he departed, but it was apparent he spent a portion of his day watching Barrett’s confirmation hearing. Tuesday marked the second day of the hearing but the first time Barrett took questions from senators.

Trump tweeted shortly before he left about Booker’s line of questioning, which focused on the fate of the ACA.

“How dare failed Presidential Candidate (1% and falling!) @CoryBooker make false charges and statements about me in addressing Judge Barrett,” Trump tweeted of Booker, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary months ago.

“Guy is a total loser! I want better Healthcare for far less money, always protecting people with Pre-existing conditions. He has done nothing on Healthcare, cost or otherwise, or virtually anything else. An empty suit!!!” the president added. 

Trump has not presented any health care plan to replace ObamaCare, but his administration is suing to dismantle it. The Supreme Court is slated to hear a case on the health care law next month, something that has been a clear focus for Democrats as they question Barrett.

During his time questioning the judge, Booker pointed to Trump’s tweet while he was campaigning for president that he would appoint only judges who would overturn the Affordable Care Act.

“Is it unreasonable for people to fear… that the ACA would be overturned if you were confirmed to the court?” Booker asked.

“I want to stress to you, Sen. Booker, as I’ve stressed to some of your colleagues today, that I am my own person. I’m independent under Article III, and I don’t take orders from the executive branch or the legislative branch,” Barrett responded.

Booker also asked Barrett whether presidents should commit to a peaceful transfer of power, a clear nod to Trump’s refusal to do so in recent weeks should he lose the election next month. Barrett sought to avoid the question, noting that she felt she may be stepping into a political matter, but said a peaceful transfer of power has been a hallmark of the

Positive Virus Tests, Hospitalizations Surge in Colorado | Colorado News

DENVER (AP) — Colorado is experiencing another surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, prompting Gov. Jared Polis to plead Tuesday with residents to wear masks, stay home as much as possible, and maintain social distancing practices.

As of Tuesday, Colorado’s three-day average positivity rate — the percentage of total tests coming in positive — was 5.4%, and the state recorded 1,000 newly confirmed cases both Saturday and Monday, the highest daily numbers recorded during the pandemic, Polis said.

About 290 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest total since May 31, The Denver Post reported.

During a briefing on the pandemic, Polis didn’t suggest he was contemplating renewed mandatory restrictions on business or other activities to stem the surge. But he insisted: “If this continues, our hospital capacity will be in jeopardy.”

The World Health Organization recommends trying to keep the positivity rate below 5% of all tests. Higher rates suggest authorities are missing large numbers of infections.

On Monday, the head of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment suggested daily coronavirus caseloads may have surpassed 4,000 in March and April. The numbers weren’t recorded because far fewer people were being tested, said Jill Hunsaker Ryan.

She said the state has experienced three surges: In March and April, after July 4, and after Labor Day, Sept. 7. State data suggest Denver and Adams counties are among those recording the highest numbers of newly confirmed cases.

More than 2,000 people have died and more than 80,000 people have been hospitalized for the disease since the pandemic began.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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U.S. tops 215K COVID-19 deaths; Dr. Anthony Fauci says ‘we’re in a bad place’

Oct. 13 (UPI) — The national death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 215,000, according to updated figures Tuesday from research at Johns Hopkins University.

The data showed about 215,100 coronavirus deaths and an addition of about 41,700 cases nationwide on Monday. The figure is a decrease from about 44,600 cases a day earlier, which followed four straight days over 50,000.

There were an additional 300 deaths on Monday, according to the data, which also showed a total of 7.8 million cases nationwide since the start of the pandemic.

The data came on the same day researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University said U.S. deaths during the first five months of the health crisis may have been undercounted by as many as 75,000.

Over the past week, new cases nationwide have averaged almost 50,000 — a substantial increase over the previous week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told CNBC Monday the United States is in a “bad place” with the colder months approaching.

“We have got to turn this around,” he said.

“We have got to convince Americans that public health measures do not mean shutting the country down,” he added. “It’s actually an avenue to keeping the country open.”

Later Monday, Johnson & Johnson announced it had paused a late-stage human trial for its potential vaccine due to an adverse reaction in one of the volunteers.

Johnson & Johnson executive Joseph Wolk said although it’s a setback, the pause in the trial should reassure Americans that the company is following strict scientific and safety standards.

“We’re letting safety protocol follow proper procedure here,” he said, noting that adverse events in large trials are not uncommon.

In Colorado, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock warned that a surge in cases has brought the city to a “fork in the road,” as its seven-day average reached a record high.

The city, he said, could impose new restrictions if the trends don’t change quickly.

“That means our capacity in restaurants, retail business, event spaces and personal services, among others, get cut in half,” Hancock said. “When so many business right now are struggling just to stay open, that would mean absolute devastation to those businesses.”

In Montana, the state’s most populous county imposed new restrictions as hospital officials warned healthcare facilities are becoming overwhelmed.

Yellowstone County health officer John Felton said places of worship will be capped at 50% of regular capacity and no more than 25 people will be allowed to gather in any one place, indoors or outdoors. The county has a positivity rate of 62 per 100,000 people, among the highest in the nation.

At 54 positive cases per 100,000, Montana’s rate is the third-highest in the United States and trails only North and South Dakota, according to the Brown School of Public Health.

Billings Clinic CEO Scott Ellner has told business leaders the surge is “putting a tremendous strain” on the healthcare system.

“While we remain open and we are making adjustments, our health

How we can help the unemployed keep their health insurance

Keith Prisco is a stagehand at the United Center in Chicago and a proud union member of IATSE Local 2. Like tens of millions of Americans, he receives health insurance through his employer for himself and his family. The security of this coverage is even more important for Keith after he was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago. But when COVID-19 put a screeching halt on live events, that meant Keith was out of work — jeopardizing his health care coverage in the middle of a pandemic.

As COVID-19 continues to threaten the health and safety of Americans, millions of workers have found themselves under threat of losing their jobs, their health coverage, and their financial savings — all through no fault of their own.

It is unconscionable that unemployed or furloughed workers could also lose health coverage during a public health crisis, yet there are an estimated 10 to 15 million Americans who have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance since the pandemic began. Many unemployed Americans would prefer to remain on their employer health plan, known as COBRA, but it is often prohibitively expensive — on average, $1,700 per month for a family.

From the earliest days of this crisis, the Chicago labor movement and Sen. Durbin identified continuing health coverage for working people as a critical issue.

That’s why labor unions, health care providers, and consumer organizations are joining with Congress to call for the passage of the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Durbin that would protect millions of unemployed or furloughed workers from losing their health insurance by enabling them to access subsidized COBRA coverage and keep their insurance. The bill would provide a 100 percent subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums owed by unemployed workers, in nearly all employment-based health plans, to ensure that they do not lose coverage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is an emergency measure Congress must take to protect the health and safety of American workers as we all battle the ongoing crisis. In fact, similar federal support for COBRA was provided following the 2008 financial crisis.

The Worker Health Coverage Protection Act would allow workers who have been involuntarily terminated in nearly all employment-based health plans, including private sector plans, multiemployer plans, state and local government plans, and the Federal Health Benefits Program, to access subsidized COBRA coverage.

As we work to safeguard the coverage gains and patient protections of the Affordable Care Act, and expand its reach to help lower costs for consumers, this important legislation is an immediate way to prevent Americans from losing coverage.

If you lost your job because of the pandemic, you should not also lose your health coverage. Not only is that common sense, but it is sound economic policy that will help working people bounce back stronger.

The House of Representatives has already passed the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act as part of the HEROES Act in May, and Senate Democrats introduced the bill last week. We cannot

Amid COVID-19, Pro-Lifers Push to Avoid Abortive Fetal Cel…… | News & Reporting

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Virginia governor critical of Trump’s coronavirus response in first appearance since testing positive

About 65 staff members who had close contact with the Northams were told to ­self-isolate for two weeks. Northam said none tested positive, which he called “a testament” to the value of wearing masks.

He noted that masks protected several staff members who could not physically distance from him before he tested positive, including a press secretary, photographer and security detail who traveled in an SUV and airplane with Northam.

He contrasted that with the largely mask-free Rose Garden ceremony last month that Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, has called a superspreader event. Trump, first lady Melania Trump and several others subsequently tested positive for the virus.

“No masks, no social distancing — and look at the number of people that tested positive,” Northam said Tuesday, referring to the White House event. “We talk about science, it doesn’t get any clearer than that . . . I would remind every Virginian: Masks are scientifically proven to reduce the spread of this disease, plain and simple.”

Northam, a former Army doctor and pediatrician, said his and his wife’s symptoms were mild. He warned Virginians not to let down their guard, particularly as cooler fall temperatures and shrinking daylight hours make outdoor socializing less appealing.

The governor said he is unlikely to ease pandemic-related restrictions in the near term. He acknowledged pressure to return to in-person education at public schools but urged continued caution.

“Numbers are going up in a number of states across this country, so we’re not out of the woods,” he said. “We’re nowhere close to being out of the woods.”

The greater Washington region on Tuesday reported 1,763 additional coronavirus cases and 20 deaths. Virginia added 1,235 cases and 11 deaths, Maryland added 482 cases and nine deaths, and the District added 46 cases and no deaths.

Virginia’s daily caseload was above its rolling seven-day average, lifting that number to 1,089 — the state’s highest daily average since Aug. 13.

The seven-day average in Northern Virginia rose Tuesday to 264 cases, a four-month high in the region.

Daily caseloads Tuesday in Maryland and the District were below their rolling seven-day averages. It’s the third consecutive day that both jurisdictions reported new infections at or below their recent average amid an uptick that began earlier this month.

The recent caseload rise across the region has coincided with the outbreak at the White House, although local health officials have said it’s unclear whether there’s a connection.

Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.

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Houston will be home to the nation’s largest psychiatric hospital in 2021

The UTHealth Behavioral Sciences Center will be making history in Houston.

The facility will be the first public mental health hospital constructed in more than three decades, and will be the largest of its kind in the United States.

UTHEALTH MAKING WAVES IN RESEARCH: UT Health Science Center shows off new high-tech teaching facility

UTHealth enlisted the help of architecture firm Perkins and Will to design the mental health facility near the Texas Medical Center.

The future building will “consist of two buildings connected by a glazed bridge, surrounded by a tranquil green space,” as reported by Jillian Goltzman at Innovation Map.


The facility will be an educational hospital, where future physicians and specialists will be trained. Not only will the facility provide mental healthcare, but substance use intervention, treatment and medical care via integrated treatment programs, according to Innovation Map.

The infrastructure of the new building is being carefully crafted to assist with patient care. Light and sound were both important considerations in the development of the building.

The ultimate goal is to create a “peaceful environment for patients and staff.” The facility will have tunable light fixtures that adjust to the time of day, as well as noise reduction coefficient acoustics to reduce noise impact.

To help transition patients back into everyday life, the facility will include a therapy mall, that “can serve as a salon, boutique, fitness center, movie night spot, or music therapy space.”

The UTHealth Behavioral Sciences Center will be opening its doors in late 2021, and will include 264 inpatient beds.

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How Voting Affects Fitness For You & Your Community, According To Instructors

With the 2020 elections just on the other side of this month, voting is top of mind for a lot of people. There’s a lot at stake in this election, and if you’re turning to fitness to sweat the stress away, you’re probably not the only one. But fitness and voting have even more to do with each other than you’d think.

Your access to workout spaces — whether that’s a local park with a track or a boutique studio — is fundamentally shaped by voting, says Nicole Cardoza, a yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Foster and the newsletter Anti-Racism Daily. “There are systemic issues perpetuated in the studios we hold dear and in the spaces that we occupy when we’re trying to be well,” Cardoza says. “So when we want to feel well in studios, it’s really about looking at that overarching system of racism and dismantling it. A lot of that, especially in the next few weeks, comes down to the actions we take at our polls.”

How Do Politics Shape Fitness Culture?

Pretty much everything about your gym or fitness studio is shaped by who’s in office in your area, Cardoza explains, pointing in particular to access to public transportation, instructor pay, and basic neighborhood safety where studios are located.

T’Nisha Symone, founder of luxury fitness club BLAQUE, tells Bustle that zoning laws have a lot to do with the presence — or lack thereof — of accessible fitness spaces in Black and brown neighborhoods. “State and local governments decide how neighborhoods are constructed and as a result, what kind of fitness and wellness behaviors the people in these communities will have access to,” she explains. “Whether or not these resources are available is something that can and should inform our voting behaviors at the local level.”

Access to fitness resources has to do with both private and public interests. A 2019 analysis conducted by Bloomberg found that franchises like CrossFit, Barry’s Boot Camp, and Pure Barre are usually located in neighborhoods that are over 80% white. Of the other 13 fitness franchises included in the analysis, 12 were also located in areas with an average of 70-80% white people. The data also revealed that clubs like Equinox and SoulCycle are often located in gentrifying neighborhoods, drawing in more affluent and white clientele rather than serving the often BIPOC, low-income communities that have been living there.

“Wellness is political,” says Helen Phelan, a Pilates instructor who specializes in body neutrality and mindfulness. “To serve only one type of person is political. To avoid making a statement or ‘getting political’ is a privilege and a political statement all in itself.”

What people learn, say, and even wear in studios is also political. “If you say ‘namaste’ at the end of your practice or wear Mala beads, you need to be standing up for racial injustice,” says Ali Duncan, a yoga instructor and the founder of Urban Sanctuary, the first women-run, Black-owned yoga studio in Denver, Colorado. “So

Facebook bans ads discouraging vaccines

Facebook on Tuesday announced a ban on ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, in light of the coronavirus pandemic which the social media giant said has “highlighted the importance of preventive health behaviors.”

“While public health experts agree that we won’t have an approved and widely available Covid-19 vaccine for some time, there are steps that people can take to stay healthy and safe,” the company said in a statement.

The platform has already banned disinformation and scams as identified by public health institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

It will continue to allow advertisements either pushing for or against government regulations linked to vaccinations.

And it plans to launch a public information campaign in the United States pushing for people to get vaccinated against seasonal flu.

Coronavirus vaccines are expected to be key to moving beyond the pandemic and several labs are currently working on developing the shots.

The United States has pre-ordered millions of doses of vaccines currently under development by Pfizer and Moderna, but also from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Sanofi, in order to ensure swift delivery from whichever one makes the breakthrough first.

The tech giants have regularly been accused of allowing anti-vaccine movements to flourish.

According to US health authorities, the number of children who make it to age two without any vaccination has reached more than 0.9 percent among kids born in 2011 and 1.3 percent among those born in 2015. 

And the number of applications for vaccine exemptions rose in the year 2017-2018 in the US for the third year in a row. 

Yet a major study of more than 650,0000 Danish children who were followed for more than a decade came to the same conclusion as several previous studies: the vaccine against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) carries no risk of causing autism in children, contrary to a theory advocated by anti-vaccine activists.

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