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Radiation elevated at fracking sites, researchers find

Researchers at Harvard released a new study Tuesday showing elevated radiation levels at fracking sites, citing the concerning levels could pose health risks to residents in the adjacent area.

The study was published in the journal Nature and details how the controversial hydraulic fracturing drilling sites are registering radiation levels above normal background levels, Reuters reported.

Sites within 12 miles downwind of 100 fracking wells were found to have radiation levels that are about 7 percent above normal background levels, according to the study.

Harvard researchers analyzed thousands of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s radiation monitor readings nationwide from 2011 to 2017 for its data.

The study added that readings could ascend much higher in areas closer to drilling sites or locations with higher concentrations of fracking wells.

“The increases are not extremely dangerous, but could raise certain health risks to people living nearby,” said the study’s lead author, Petros Koutrakis.

Koutrakis said the source of radiation is likely naturally occurring radioactive material brought to the surface by the high-pressure water pumps used to break down shale formations.

According to the study, the most significant increases in radiation levels occurred in Pennsylvania and Ohio, which have higher concentrations of naturally occurring radioactive material, compared to Texas and New Mexico, which registered lower readings.

Near conventional drilling operations, the study saw fewer increases in particle radiation levels.

Koutrakis said the study was conducted to determine whether radiation was released during the drilling process, adding, “Our hope is that once we understand the source more clearly, there will be engineering methods to control this.

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 has lauded fracking for its economic benefits, allowing the U.S. to grow as one of the most significant oil and gas producers globally.

Still, the method of fracking is concerning to many environmental advocacy organizations and has been the subject of a proposed national fracking ban by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Federal officials press concerns about proposed mine near Georgia swamp, documents show | Trump falsely claims Green New Deal calls for ‘tiny little windows’ | Interior appeals migratory bird ruling Trump falsely claims Green New Deal calls for ‘tiny little windows’ Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Pence calling her ‘AOC’ during debate MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoHopes for DC, Puerto Rico statehood rise Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Ocasio-Cortez, Velázquez call for convention to decide Puerto Rico status MORE (D-Fla.).

Democratic presidential candidate Biden has vowed to continue allowing fracking if elected, though runs a stiff battle between appeasing his base on environmental issues and allowing the industry to remain.

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Studies find COVID-19 coronavirus can survive 28 days on some surfaces, 11 hours on skin

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can survive on items such as banknotes and phones for up to 28 days in cool, dark conditions, according to a study by Australia’s national science agency. Researchers at CSIRO’s disease preparedness centre tested the longevity of SARS-CoV-2 in the dark at three temperatures, showing survival rates decreased as conditions became hotter, the agency said Monday.

The scientists found that at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, SARS-CoV-2 was “extremely robust” on smooth surfaces — like cell phone and other touch screens — surviving for 28 days on glass, steel and plastic banknotes.

At 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the survival rate dropped to seven days and plunged to just 24 hours at 104 degrees Fahrenheit.


Alarming spike of COVID-19 cases across the U…

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The virus survived for shorter periods on porous surfaces such as cotton — up to 14 days at the lowest temperatures and less than 16 hours at the highest — the researchers said. This was “significantly longer” than previous studies which found the disease could survive for up to four days on non-porous surfaces, according to the paper published in the peer-reviewed Virology Journal.

A separate piece of research published this week by Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan found the new coronavirus  is unusually durable on human skin, too, surviving for up to 11 hours. That compares to about two hours of expected longevity for the influenza A (flu) virus on skin. The Japanese researchers said this durability “may increase the risk of contact transmission… thus accelerating the pandemic.”

The authors said in their study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, that the findings underscore the importance of hand-washing and disinfecting. 

Trevor Drew, director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, said their study involved drying samples of the virus on different materials before testing them, using an “extremely sensitive” method that found traces of live virus able to infect cell cultures.

“This doesn’t mean to say that that amount of virus would be capable of infecting someone,” he told public broadcaster ABC.

He added that if a person was “careless with these materials and touched them and then licked your hands or touched your eyes or your nose, you might well get infected upwards of two weeks after they had been contaminated.”

Critical for “risk mitigation”

Drew said there were several caveats including that the study was conducted with fixed levels of virus that likely represented the peak of a typical infection, and there was an absence of exposure to ultraviolet light, which can rapidly degrade the virus.

Humidity was kept steady at 50 percent, the study said, as increases in humidity have also been found as detrimental to the virus.

According to the CSIRO, the virus appears to primarily spread through the air but more research was needed to provide further insights into the transmission of the virus via surfaces.


CDC says COVID-19 is “sometimes” airborne

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“While the precise role of surface transmission, the degree of surface contact and

Novel coronavirus survives 28 days on glass, currency, Australian researchers find

By Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on banknotes, glass and stainless steel for up to 28 days, much longer than the flu virus, Australian researchers said on Monday, highlighting the need for cleaning and handwashing to combat the virus.

Researchers at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, found that at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) the SARS-COV-2 virus remained infectious for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as plastic banknotes and glass found on mobile phone screens. The study was published in Virology Journal.

By comparison, Influenza A virus has been found to survive on surfaces for 17 days.

CSIRO’s research involved drying virus in an artificial mucus on a range of surfaces at concentrations similar to samples from COVID-19 patients and then extracting the virus after a month.

Experiments done in controlled laboratory environments at 20, 30 and 40 degrees C showed that the survival time declined as the temperature increased.

“Establishing how long the virus really remains viable on surfaces enables us to more accurately predict and mitigate its spread and do a better job of protecting our people,” CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall said in a statement.

Proteins and fats in body fluids can also sharply increase virus survival times.

“The research may also help to explain the apparent persistence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in cool environments with high lipid or protein contamination, such as meat processing facilities, and how we might better address that risk,” said Trevor Drew, director of the CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness.

Australia has fared much better than most other rich nations in combating COVID-19, with a total of about 27,000 infections and 898 deaths in a population of 25 million.

The epicentre of the country’s second wave of infection, Victoria state, reported 15 new cases on Monday, well shy of a target of less than five which the government has set for the easing of a hard lockdown in the state capital Melbourne.

New South Wales, the most populous state, reported six new cases on Monday, five of whom were returned travelers in quarantine.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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Walgreens Launches Find Rx Coverage Advisor to Help Customers Navigate Health Coverage Options

Find Rx Coverage Advisor builds on Walgreens efforts to support patients in maintaining affordable access to medications as health insurance shifts for many

At a time when millions of Americans face unemployment and the loss of health insurance, Walgreens has launched Find Rx Coverage Advisor, a new resource providing personalized guidance to customers seeking information on available health and prescription drug coverage options. With Medicare Part D and individual marketplace open enrollment approaching, Find Rx Coverage Advisor connects eligible customers directly to health plan partners who can assist with questions about enrollment.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201008005277/en/

Walgreens Launches Find Rx Coverage Advisor to Help Customers Navigate Health Coverage Options (Photo: Business Wire)

“Shifts in health insurance coverage because of job loss, life events or as you qualify for Medicare Part D can be a complicated maze of options,” said Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy, Walgreens. “As champions of patient choice and prescription affordability, Walgreens collaborates with and accepts a wide range of health plans and benefits. This allows us to provide our customers with trusted resources to help find the right health insurance option for them.”

Customers can access a personalized report from Find Rx Coverage Advisor by answering a few questions to identify health coverage options. Results include available health plans in their area, including Medicaid, marketplace health plans, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, as well as additional prescription savings resources based on the information provided. In the next month, reports can be emailed to customers for additional research or follow-up needs.

The launch of Find Rx Coverage Advisor builds on Walgreens efforts to support patients in maintaining access to medications. Earlier this year, Walgreens announced lower prices on hundreds of medications available through the company’s Prescription Savings Club, which offers savings of up to 80 percent off cash retail prices to all customers on thousands of medications.* Anyone can join the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club for an annual fee of $20 per individual or $35 per family. Customers can search for savings on medications through the Prescription Savings Club look up tool, and will now also save over 20 percent off the cash retail price for flu shots, where the Prescription Savings Club is available.

Members of Walgreens Prescription Savings Club have saved over $164 million off the cash retail price on prescriptions and immunizations since relaunching the program nationwide.* This adds to a number of efforts to ensure patients have access to affordable medications and health services prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic including:

  • Expanding services like 90-day refills, early refill authorizations and waiving fees for one-to-two day delivery on eligible prescriptions during shelter-in-place orders.

  • Saving qualifying patients $375 million in out-of-pocket costs on medications since the beginning of the year by connecting patients with prescription assistance programs and manufacturer coupons.

  • Providing 200,000 flu vouchers for immunizations at no cost to those in need during the upcoming flu season.

  • Partnering with manufacturers to