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Planet Fitness, Round1 will bring changes to local malls

MOORESTOWN – New tenants coming to South Jersey malls show the changing face of shopping centers.

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A Planet Fitness gym will open Thursday at Moorestown Mall, occupying more than 22,000 square feet in a complex that’s lost several big retailers in recent years.

And Round1, a “family entertainment center” based in Japan, will debut Oct. 24 at Deptford Mall. The new arrival will offer 12 bowling lanes, five billiards tables and 250-plus arcade games — will occupy more than 50,000 square feet vacated by the struggling Sears chain.



a person walking down a street in front of a building: Shoppers pass Round1, a family entertainment center opening Oct. 24 at Deptford Mall.


© Jim Walsh, Courier-Post
Shoppers pass Round1, a family entertainment center opening Oct. 24 at Deptford Mall.

Mall operators say they’re eager to diversify their tenant mix in the face of a harsh retail environment, particularly for traditional brick-and-mortar chains.

More: Moorestown board approves mall redevelopment study

More: Plan proposes new use for parking lot at Grand Market Place in Willingboro

“Overall, what we’re doing is providing people with more reasons to visit our property,” said a statement from Macerich, a California firm that owns Deptford Mall.

It noted an interest in attracting “exciting entertainment concepts, immersive technology experiences (and) a variety of dining options.”

The statement also pointed to “international brands that are expanding in the U.S. market.”

Recent arrivals at Deptford Mall include two Australian retailers, Lovisa and Cotton On.

Lovisa is described as a “woman’s fast-fashion jewelry and accessories concept,” while Cotton On sells casual clothing, accessories and homewares.

PREIT, a Philadelphia-based firm that owns Moorestown Mall and other shopping centers, wants to attract “healthcare providers, food markets, fulfillment and logistics operators,” Joseph Coradino, the firm’s CEO, said earlier this year.

Both PREIT and Macerich also want to develop housing and hotels at some properties.

“We think of our well-situated properties, like Deptford Mall, as ‘town centers’ for the wide range of activities people enjoy,” said Macerich.



a tree in front of a building: Planet Fitness plans to open Oct. 15 at the Moorestown Mall.


© Jim Walsh, Courier-Post
Planet Fitness plans to open Oct. 15 at the Moorestown Mall.

Similarly, Coradino has said PREIT’s properties could evolve into “commerce districts.”

The mall operators are attempting to ease financial strains that have worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic.

PREIT in August reported a net loss of $49 million for first-half 2020. That compared to a year-before deficit of $33.9 million for the firm, which also owns the Cherry Hill Mall and Cumberland Mall in Vineland.

Macerich had a first-half net loss of $17.6 million. It reported net income of $23.5 million a year earlier.

The Moorestown location is the first in a mall for Billy Olson, who operates 19 Planet Fitness gyms in South Jersey.

“The mall does provide advantages including space, parking, and visibility,” he said Tuesday. “We were able to build a state-of-the-art facility and not be confined by the amount of space to use.”

Planet Fitness occupies six former units at the Route 38 shopping center, which saw closings for a Lord + Taylor department store in January and a Sears store in

Humble ISD prepares volleyball, football events to bring awareness to breast cancer in October

With breast cancer awareness month beginning in October, the Humble ISD athletics department will do their part in the fight to bring awareness to the battle against the deadly disease.

Across the district, several sports will hold special games dedicated to cancer survivors, people fighting cancer and the people that have been lost.

Volleyball teams throughout the month of October will have matches raising money and awareness for breast cancer. Humble ISD has donated all proceeds in the past to the American Cancer Society.


Kingwood Park’s famous Dig Pink at the Park game will be back to raise money for breast cancer on Oct. 20 against Porter at 6:30 p.m.

Schools will hold raffles during volleyball matches to raises money and schools will also make T-shirts as well to donate to charities.

During volleyball matches players will wear pink on their uniforms from hair ties, to knee pads, and even bracelets while the whole crowd is covered with pink.

People are asked to stand and be recognized during the match for those who are cancer survivors and are give standing ovations by the crowd.

The district will also celebrate breast cancer awareness at Turner Stadium during the football season as well in October.

The District 21-6A contest between North Shore and Humble at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 has been named the Breast Cancer Awareness game of the season.

Football players will wear pink on their uniforms whether it’s a towel, gloves, or socks. Cancer survivors, people fighting cancer and the lives that have been lost to cancer will be recognized along with fans in the stands.

Players will wear pink throughout the month of October to honor and bring awareness to breasts cancer during football games at Turner Stadium.

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Twitter:@MarcG14Line

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Push to bring coronavirus vaccines to those in poverty faces trouble

LONDON (AP) — An ambitious humanitarian project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves — and is running into skepticism even from some of those it’s intended to help most.

In one of the biggest obstacles, rich countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through 2021, and the U.S. and others have refused to join the project, called Covax.

“The supply of vaccines is not going to be there in the near term, and the money also isn’t there,” warned Rohit Malpani, a public health consultant who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders.

Covax was conceived as a way of giving countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth.

It is being led by the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency; Gavi, a public-private alliance, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that buys immunizations for 60% of the world’s children; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, another Gates-supported public-private collaboration.

Covax’s aim is to buy 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, though it isn’t yet clear whether the successful vaccine will require one dose or two for the world’s 7.8 billion people.

Countries taking part in the project can either buy vaccines from Covax or get them for free, if needed.

One early problem that has emerged: Some of the world’s wealthiest nations have negotiated their own deals directly with drug companies, meaning they don’t need to participate in the endeavor at all. China, Russia and the U.S. have said they do not intend to join. Other countries, including France and Germany, will technically join Covax but won’t procure vaccines for their citizens via the initiative.

READ MORE: More than 150 countries sign up for global vaccine distribution plan

Not only that, but firm agreements with Covax came in too late to prevent more than half of all potential doses being snapped up by countries representing 13% of the world’s population, according to an Oxfam study.

“As a continent of 1.2 billion people, we still have concerns,” Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong said Thursday.

He praised Covax for the solidarity it represents but said there are serious questions about allocation, saying African nations’ envoys are meeting directly with vaccine manufacturers to ask “if we came to the table with money, how would we get enough vaccines to cover the gap?”

The European Union has contributed 400 million euros ($469 million) to support Covax, but the 27-country bloc won’t use Covax to buy vaccines. Instead, the EU has signed its own deals to buy more than 1 billion doses, after some member states raised concerns about what was described as Gavi’s “dictatorship” approach to running Covax.

Gavi, WHO and CEPI announced in September that countries representing two-thirds of the world’s population had joined Covax, but they acknowledged they still need about $300 million more from governments or other

Ebola SmartPods bring future of mobile medicine to Harris County

The future of mobile medicine arrived in Harris County Tuesday, focused initially on community-based COVID-19 testing but available for any emergency response or disease care.

The so-called SmartPods, portable aluminum units developed by Baylor College of Medicine for the Ebola outbreak in Africa and envisioned by NASA for the Mars habitat, will be deployed in the United States for the first time in east Harris County’s Precinct 2. The initiative is the brainchild of Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who sees the units as a way to increase health care access and keep people out of hospitals.

“This is the 21st century MASH unit being made available here,” said Garcia, whose precinct is one of the region’s most medically underserved areas. “Tents were the first phase. This is the second phase.”

Each SmartPod is a modular three-bed medical unit — self-contained, fully powered, impervious to outside weather conditions — inside recycled shipping containers that inventor Sharmila Anandasabapathy says is “almost like Ikea.” Anandasabathy, an internal medicine doctor and the director of Baylor Global Initiatives, touts how the units are put together like Legos and can be folded up in minutes.

The pods cost less than 5 percent of the cost of a brick-and-mortar medical unit, said Anandasabapathy. Garcia is spending a total of $2.9 million on the units, which includes design, construction, transport, medical equipment and medical services.

The first of the SmartPods opened Tuesday at Northeast Community Center in Aldine. Others will be stationed at East Harris Activity Center in Pasadena and Flukinger Community Center in Channelview.

It is unclear if other Harris County precincts will purchase the units.

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Future Care, Inc. Partners With 1Health.io to Bring Easy and Convenient COVID-19 Testing to the Maritime Industry

Saliva Tests Can Be Administered Anywhere, Helping the Shipping and Cruise Line Industries Return to Sea

Future Care, Inc., an international medical management and cost containment service provider exclusively to the maritime industry, today announced it has partnered with 1Health.io, the leading technology company that provides precision testing as a service, to provide saliva-based COVID-19 tests to ship owners, managers and crew members traveling to United States ports.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201001005103/en/

1Health.io empowers partners with the ability to offer convenient, non-invasive, and remote options for precision diagnostic testing. Partners can offer patients, customers or employees diagnostic testing that eliminates inconvenient or even risky visits to testing centers while also eliminating long wait times for results. 1Health.io’s platform allows partners, like Future Care, to launch their private, secure and scalable testing portal quickly, and to have tracking and reporting that is essential for supporting a large distributed team.

“Given that many of our clients are not based in the United States and their ships spend only a brief time in a US port our ability through 1Health.io to have the crew self-administer the test while here and see their results onboard ship or at home via the individual secure portal in 48 hours is a welcome resource for our clients,” said Christina DeSimone, Future Care’s President and CEO. “The 1Health.io testing platform has proved to be a gamechanger in maritime COVID-19 testing, and we fully expect that it will help the cruise ship crews return to work, safely, when the time comes.”

1Health.io provides testing as a service, enabling partners to easily deploy, manage, and personalize testing at scale. The company pioneered the concept first in the field of DNA testing with a simple self-administered COVID-19 saliva test that was authorized by the FDA under EUA earlier this year.

Early in the pandemic, cruise ships sitting in United States ports were identified as a high-risk environment due to the high density of passengers and crew. As cruise lines prepare for reopening in late 2020 and 2021, Future Care is prepared to assist the industry through the use of 1Health.io’s test kits both in promoting infection-free re-boarding through easy to administer self-testing conducted prior to boarding.

“We aim to make precision testing easy and accessible for everyone and have developed the first technology infrastructure that makes precision testing into a service that our partners can use to launch testing in days to any of their customers anywhere in the country,” said Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of 1Health.io. “Crew members in the maritime industry, both of private cruise lines and commercial shipping, are often dispersed across the country before they meet for departure. Our saliva-based COVID-19 tests allow the crew to take the test wherever they are in the United States, so they can get back to work quickly and safely, without any delays from trying to find a testing site in a new city or lab lag times.”

The tests can be taken

Push to bring coronavirus vaccines to the poor faces trouble

LONDON (AP) — An ambitious humanitarian project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves — and running into skepticism even from some of those it’s intended to help most.

In one of the biggest obstacles, rich countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through 2021, and the U.S. and others have refused to join the project, called Covax.

“The supply of vaccines is not going to be there in the near term, and the money also isn’t there,” warned Rohit Malpani, a public health consultant who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders.


Covax was conceived as a way of giving countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth.

It is being led by the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency; Gavi, a public-private alliance, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which buys immunizations for 60% of the world’s children; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, another Gates-supported public-private collaboration.

Covax’s aim is to buy 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, though it isn’t yet clear whether the successful vaccine will require one dose or two for the world’s 7.8 billion people. Countries taking part in the project can either buy vaccines from Covax or get them for free, if needed.

One early problem that emerged: Some of the world’s wealthiest nations negotiated their own deals directly with drug companies, meaning they don’t need to participate in the endeavor at all. China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. don’t intend to join.

And so many rich countries bought vaccines from manufacturers — before the shots have even been approved — that they have already snapped up the majority of the vaccine supply for 2021.

The European Union has contributed 400 million euros ($469 million) to support Covax, but the 27-country bloc won’t use Covax to buy vaccines, in what some see as a vote of no-confidence in the project’s ability to deliver. Instead, the EU has signed its own deals to buy more than 1 billion doses, depriving Covax of the bulk negotiating power of buying shots for the continent.

Gavi, WHO and CEPI announced in September that countries representing two-thirds of the world’s population had joined Covax, but they acknowledged they still need about $400 million more from governments or elsewhere. Without it, according to internal documents seen by The Associated Press before the organization’s board meeting this week, Gavi can’t sign agreements to buy vaccines.

Covax did reach a major agreement this week for 200 million doses from the Indian vaccine maker Serum Institute, though the company made clear that a large portion of those will go to people in India.

By the end of next year, Gavi estimates, the project will need $5 billion more.

Covax said negotiations to secure vaccines are moving forward despite the lack of funds.

“We are working with the governments who have expressed interest earlier