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State and city leaders blame social gatherings, not businesses or schools, for coronavirus uptick in New London

Connecticut and local officials said Monday that the recent uptick in coronavirus cases in New London can be traced back to a series of social gatherings and other small social interactions — not to local school or business reopenings, or to the nearby casinos.

“We’re being told by the contact tracers that it’s not coming from any institutional or business setting, it’s coming predominantly from social spread … where people are letting their guard down,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.

He pointed to situations — such as small family gatherings that are well within the state limits on gathering size — where people may feel relaxed enough that they remove their masks or sit nearby one another. But COVID-19 can still spread, even among a small group of people and even from people who aren’t displaying any symptoms.

“The institutional environments — nursing homes, schools, even the casino — they have these strict protocols in place, people are less likely to let their guard down,” Passero said. “So where it’s spreading now is where people are more likely to be relaxed and let their guard down.”

The state issued a COVID-19 alert for New London on Thursday, after a steep increase in cases in the city. New London and the surrounding areas saw relatively few cases in the spring, and by Sept. 25 New London had recorded a total of 229 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March. But from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9, New London’s cases jumped up to 368 — an increase of 139 in just two weeks.

The reported cause of the New London uptick align with comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, during a visit to UConn’s Hartford campus last week.

“This is really a message to everyone in Connecticut: the kind of spread that we’re seeing now is very different from the spread we experienced in March and April,” Birx said.

At the Monday afternoon press briefing in New London, Gov. Ned Lamont pointed back to Birx’s comments.

It’s “informal social events, that’s where we’ve got to the track and trace, that’s where we need families to be particularly careful,” Lamont said.

Dr. Deidre Gifford, the interim commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, listed off a couple specific spreading events that have been identified by contact tracers — including carpooling, lunch breaks and family gatherings that brought together multiple households. (It’s unclear if she was referencing spreading events across the entire state or specifically in New London.)

The state’s response to the spread is “nothing new,” Gifford said. “But it’s just … the vigilance. We keep reminding ourselves: mask on, over the nose and mouth, if you’re with anybody that’s not part of your household.”

Also at Monday’s briefing, Lamont said that he expects to release an executive order “within the next couple of days” that will allow municipalities with rising cases of COVID-19, including New London, to remain

Chrissy Teigen is Back on Social Media For the First Time Since Her Pregnancy Loss

JC Olivera/WireImage, Getty Images

Since sharing the news of her heartbreaking pregnancy loss with her fans and followers on September 30th, Chrissy Teigen has taken a break from posting on social media. On Saturday, however, she chimed in on a post that seems to have given her some much-needed comedic relief.

The post, a screenshot of a tweet shared on the Betches Instagram account, read, “Just booked an eyebrow waxing appointment and I’m excited I’ll be wearing a mask so I don’t have to hear ‘mustache too?'”

“Finally, a giggle. Thank you,” Teigen commented. Many fans responded with supportive messages and well wishes, according to Entertainment Tonight.

Teigen also received an outpouring of support earlier this month after sharing intimate photos from the hospital showing herself and husband John Legend dealing with the tragic loss of their unborn son, who they had named Jack.

“We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before,” she wrote. “We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough.”

While some criticized Teigen for posting about the personal moment online, many parents who had experienced similar grief thanked her for helping to normalize and destigmatize the experience.

Out thoughts are with Teigen, her family, and all those who have lost pregnancies. While we know the grief is ongoing, we are glad Teigen was able to share a laugh and a moment of lightness over some widely relatable upper lip hair realness.

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Social media helps mom spot rare cancer in her baby’s eye

A mom who followed her instincts is the reason her daughter is now being treated for cancer in her eye.

It was July 30, Jasmine Martin told “Good Morning America,” when she saw it. Prior to that day, she said, there had been “a small glow” in her daughter Sariyah’s eye. “But that day, it was like a moon.”

MORE: My son died from open-air carbon monoxide poisoning: Here’s what parents need to know

She posted the photo to Facebook looking for advice. Several people commented it could be cancerous.

Martin took her daughter to the pediatrician, who told the Knoxville, Tennessee, mom it was nothing to worry about. But Martin’s instincts told her otherwise.

“It was going to take weeks to get an ophthalmologist appointment,” Martin told “GMA.” So, she said she emailed the photo to a friend who worked at a hospital, who in turn showed it to a doctor.

MORE:A grandpa’s note, a bucket of baseballs and an emotional tweet

“She was taken to St. Jude’s that night,” Martin told “GMA.”

Since then, little Sariyah has been diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is, according to the St. Jude’s web site, a rare form of cancer affecting about 250-300 children each year. It “typically develops in children before 5 years of age. This cancer develops in the retina — the part of the eye that helps a person see color and light. Retinoblastoma may affect one or both eyes. In about two-thirds of all cases only one eye is affected,” the website reads.

There’s been strides forward and steps back for the 17-month-old and her family. Though the toddler was released from the hospital and sent home in late September, there’s cause for concern: a tiny spot in her left eye that had been laser treated has returned. At the same time, the tumor in her right eye, the one with the large glow, is shrinking.

Martin wrote in her most recent Instagram update, “We are so early in this but … days are mentally draining, because you just never know what they are going to find. It’s hard and it’s scary. If I allow myself to really think about it, if something happens to the good eye, then there’s still so many risks with the right eye. It’s a never ending battle of what ifs right now.”

Sariyah is “so happy,” her mom said, “You wouldn’t even know she is going through this,” she said, referring to hospital stays and chemotherapy. “Even when it makes her sick and she has a fever she’s still playing with her siblings,” Martin told “GMA.”

Friends and neighbors have stepped up to help the family through this difficult time, something Martin said has touched her. From meal trains to a car, “there are so many good people in the world,” she told “GMA.”

She’s hopeful sharing her Sariyah’s story, which she does both on Instagram and Facebook. will encourage mothers to follow their instincts when it comes to their

Newsom formally allows social gatherings in California for first time during pandemic

California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. | Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

SACRAMENTO — California health officials late Friday released rules allowing social gatherings for the first time since the pandemic began, enabling up to three households to get together outdoors.

Details: The new rules follow general guidance that has emerged over the last several months.


Participants must stay six feet apart and wear masks except while eating or drinking. Besides requiring gatherings outside, the California Department of Public Health encourages residents to stick to the same three households as much as possible, essentially forming a social bubble. Such occasions can occur at private homes or in parks.

The state says hosts should make sure to log the names of all attendees and their contact info in case of an infection. It says anyone with symptoms should not attend and that anyone who contracts Covid-19 within 48 hours should notify other attendees as soon as possible.

People attending gatherings can go inside to use the bathroom as long as it is regularly sanitized.

Such events should last no longer than two hours to limit exposure. And singing, chanting and shouting are “strongly discouraged,” though if they occur, participants should wear masks and try to keep the volume down.

Context: The state until now has prohibited gatherings of households, though many have gotten together for months.

It comes as California infection rates are on the decline after a summer surge. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has steadily rolled out additional guidelines in the last few weeks for activities that had little clarity until now. In late September, the state released rules enabling playgrounds to reopen.

Newsom and health officials expressed concern this spring about gatherings after some Mother’s Day and graduation get-togethers led to disease spread, particularly those that occurred indoors.

What’s next: The biggest impact is laying out best practices when gathering. Many residents have already formed social bubbles or gotten together outside and faced little risk of enforcement.

The rules come as the weather begins to cool heading further into the fall and winter, potentially testing whether residents will heed the advice to keep social gatherings outdoors.

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The Health 202: Trump returns to White House as CDC says infection possible with social distance

The CDC officially said the virus can spread through aerosols — underscoring how easily it can be transmitted. 

A CDC Web page now acknowledges sometimes people can still get infected with the virus — even when they’re at least six feet apart.

“There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than six feet away,” the updated page states. “These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.

“Under these circumstances,” it says, “scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.” 

The latest guidance underscores the risks as Trump returns home – and residence staff tends to two active coronavirus patients. 

Around 6:30 p.m., the president appeared at the doors of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after a three-night stay to be treated for his own case of covid-19, clad in a suit and mask as he waved and gave a thumbs-up signal. Shortly after arriving at the White House, Trump tweeted a short video depicting himself exiting the helicopter and climbing up the stairs to pose for pictures. 

A few hours earlier, the president told Americans “dont be afraid” of covid-19:

“Trump’s comments… again downplaying the coronavirus came despite evidence that White House decisions to flout public health guidelines and engage in practices viewed as reckless have had dire consequences in the West Wing,” The Post’s Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey write.

More than a dozen White House officials have tested positive in recent days. Trump’s doctor Sean Conley, who said Trump was “not out of the woods yet” said the medical team made “some recommendations for how to keep everything safe down at the White House.” 

“Conley declined to describe what specific steps would be made to ensure a safe environment at a building that doubles as a personal residence and a government office while the president remains contagious, which could be for several more days at least,” Toluse and Josh write. 

White House staff have abandoned the West Wing, but some are already infected.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her deputies reported testing positive for the virus yesterday, prompting a flurry of criticism for briefly removing her mask Sunday while briefing the press. McEnany wrote that she wasn’t in contact long enough with anyone to be considered a “close contact” by the White House Medical Unit. 

CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang:

Other prominent figures who tested positive include former Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway and Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), all of whom attended a Rose Garden ceremony announcing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court 10 days ago.

Carroll Couny passes COVID-19 milestone; health officer concurs with Trump tweet, stresses social responsibility

On the same day President Trump issued a tweet that said, in part, “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” Carroll County passed a milestone with more than 2,000 total cases of COVID-19 reported.

The 22 new cases announced by the Carroll County Health Department brought the county’s overall number to 2,007. That represents nearly 1.2% of Carroll’s population, a rate that is roughly half the national average. Additionally, 147 Carroll countians have died of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Trump, diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, tweeted Monday afternoon, in announcing he would soon be leaving the hospital and returning to the White House, “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

County Health Officer Ed Singer concurred with the theme of Trump’s message, while emphasizing that everyone has a “social responsibility” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I would agree with the point that Donald Trump makes in that we should not be afraid and let COVID-19 dominate our lives; however, we continue to have a responsibility to protect each other from a potentially deadly virus that has killed over 209,000 Americans,” Singer wrote in an email to the Times in response to a question about the president’s tweet. “Although some people are able to recover from this disease, many people suffer serious complications, are hospitalized, and some people die.

“We have a social responsibility to each other to take common sense steps to avoid getting others sick. Continuing to follow distancing requirements, wearing masks over our mouths and noses, avoiding large gatherings, and washing our hands are critical to doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Of the 22 cases announced Monday, 11 of them were reported before the end of Saturday. The preliminary total of community cases for last week was 58. That was up from 44 the previous week and 54 the week before that.

The county is approaching Carroll County Public Schools’ planned date of Oct. 19 to switch to a partly in-person model. Singer and CCPS officials have said they would like to see Carroll in the “moderate” risk of COVID-19 transmission before reopening schools. That would mean a a weekly rate of 42 cases, based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, and would include cases originating from congregate living facilities, though only six such cases have been reported for September. Carroll has been under 42 community cases in only two of the past 12 weeks. Carroll’s current seven-day rolling positive rate is 2.10.

While Carroll saw an uptick in cases last week, McDaniel College announced Monday morning that it was reducing its COVID-19 alert level after going a week without a case. McDaniel, which has had 15 positive results out of 2,018 total tests of its campus population since Aug. 14, had moved to Yellow level last Monday, Sept. 28, after four positive tests, but has seen none since and is back to Green.

“We are

Border exemptions introduced for families, students and compassionate reasons; Ontario will ‘pause’ social bubbles

COVID-19 In Canada
COVID-19 In Canada

Canada introduces exemptions to border restrictions

Beginning on Oct. 8, certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and people who want to come to Canada for compassionate reasons, will be able to enter the country.

Family members who qualify include:

  • Individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least one year, who have physically spent time with each other, and these individuals’ dependent children

  • Non-dependent children (adult children who do not meet the definition of a dependent child in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)

  • Grandchildren, grandparents and siblings (including half and step siblings)

Pre-arrival approval is required, with more details on the application process set to be revealed next week, and each individual must be staying in Canada for more than 15 days.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said individuals in an exclusive dating relationship must have been dating for a period of at least one year and are required submit a notarized declaration of their relationship status to relevant authorities.

Beginning on Oct. 20, international students who are studying at a designated learning institution, that has been approved by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan, will also be able to enter Canada.

Mendicino stressed that travellers should not make any travel plans until they have received all the necessary pre-arrival authorizations.

Anyone coming into Canada needs to following all the public health measures in place, including the 14-day quarantine requirement.

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, said foreign nationals coming into Canada on compassionate grounds can apply for a “limited release” from the mandatory quarantine.

She explained these “very specific” situations include being with someone you love to say goodbye at the end of their life, or a funeral or end of life ceremony. This exemption will be allowed in coordination with provincial or territorial government and must be approved before arrival.

Hajdu stressed that the COVID-19 cases in Canada, at this point, are largely related to community transmission, not travel.

Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, specified that only about two per cent of cases in Canada are related to travel.

“That isn’t an argument for reducing our efforts at the border and rather, in fact, it’s evidence of the efficacy of the work that we have done, effectiveness of both the public health response…and the efforts of our border service officers,” he said.

“The robust travel restrictions we’ve put into place to protect the health and safety of Canadians remains in effect,” Mendocino stressed. “The pandemic is an ongoing threat and we need to continue to be cautious and restrictive about who can enter into Canada.”

“We recognize, however, that these restrictions shouldn’t keep loved ones apart.”

Canada ‘scaling up’ federal public health presence at border

Blair confirmed Friday that the federal government is “dramatically scaling up” public health presence at the Canadian border to cover 36 points of entry, which

Make mask-wearing a social medicine against COVID-19: Kiran Bedi

In her message to the people through video, she said that after easing of lockdown and the COVID-19 restrictions, people should adopt mask-wearing as it could be a social medicine to stem the spread of the infection.In her message to the people through video, she said that after easing of lockdown and the COVID-19 restrictions, people should adopt mask-wearing as it could be a social medicine to stem the spread of the infection.

Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Kiran Bedi on Sunday called upon the people to make mask-wearing a social medicine to prevent the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

In her message to the people through video, she said that after easing of lockdown and the COVID-19 restrictions, people should adopt mask-wearing as it could be a social medicine to stem the spread of the infection.

She said social gatherings were also becoming a major reason for spreading infections. Hence people should be on guard, she said.

The Union Territory administration was also doing maximum tests to detect the infection early, she said while asking the citizens to also report early if there were symptoms of the virus.

With bars opened, the Excise Department and the police attached to the department should make surprise checks and video-record observance of COVID-19 protocol in the bars and eateries and warned of legal action if there were violations, she said.

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Former CDC director doubles down on importance of masks and social distancing

A top health expert warns US needs a “comprehensive approach” to the Covid-19 pandemic, following a week of several states reporting alarming trends.

a group of people standing on a lush green field: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

© Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

“Testing does not replace safety measures including consistent mask use, physical distancing, and hand washing,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.

His remarks came as a response to the President’s and the first lady’s positive Covid-19 tests. Their diagnoses, Frieden said, serve as “a reminder that Covid-19 is an ongoing threat to our country and can happen to anyone.”

Twenty-four states saw their number of new cases rise at least 10% this week from the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The county’s seven-day average of new daily cases — about 42,400 — is more than 20% higher than where it was September 12, when it was at two-month low of about 34,300.

It’s still below a summer peak of roughly 67,000 from July — but health officials have said even daily cases in the 40,000s are far too high if the country wants to avoid a dangerous surge in the coming months, when cold weather will nudge people indoors more often.

Worrying trends across US

In many states, local and state leaders are reporting worrying milestones.

Kentucky on Friday recorded its second-highest number of cases reported in one day, at 999.

And that caps weeks of increases: Its seven-day average of new cases — more than 800 on Friday — is well above the 500s and 600s of early to mid-September, Johns Hopkins data show.

“This week is going to shatter last week’s record for number of cases,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday. “The situation is getting very dangerous in Kentucky.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week the state was facing a “cluster situation” with about 20 zip codes — many of them in New York City — reporting high positivity rates. That comes as thousands of students in New York City returned to schools.

And in Wisconsin, which reported on Wednesday its highest one-day Covid-19 death count — 27 — Gov. Tony Evers this week urged residents not to try and “live like we’re back to the way things used to be.”

Video: 26 states see increases in coronavirus cases (CNN)

26 states see increases in coronavirus cases



But other US communities pushed further into reopening. Florida cleared the way for bars and restaurants to fully reopen. Mississippi lifted its mask mandate. In California, several counties moved into less restrictive tiers of the state’s reopening plan,

New Study Shows That Playing With Dolls Allows Children to Develop Empathy and Social Processing Skills

Barbie® and neuroscientists from Cardiff University have collaborated on a new study which for the first time uses neuroimaging as evidence to explore the effects of doll play

  • Evidence shows that doll play activates brain regions which are associated with social information processing and empathy, indicating that doll play enables children to rehearse, use and perform these skills even when playing on their own

  • To understand the relevancy of the study, Barbie independently commissioned a global survey in 22 different countries questioning 15,000 parents which showed 91 percent of parents rank empathy as a key social skill they would like their child to develop, but only 26 percent were aware that doll play could help their child develop these skills

  • Today Barbie launches an online hub featuring resources for parents, caregivers, and children, to support them in their social processing skills which has been developed alongside leading empathy expert, writer, and educational psychologist, Dr. Michele Borba

(NASDAQ: MAT): Today, Barbie®, and a team of neuroscientists from Cardiff University, announces findings of a new study conducted using neuroscience for the first time to explore the positive impact doll play has on children, bringing to light new evidence that doll play activates brain regions that allow children to develop empathy and social information processing skills, even when playing by themselves.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:


Over the past 18 months, senior lecturer Dr. Sarah Gerson and colleagues at Cardiff University’s Centre for Human Developmental Science have used neuroimaging technology to provide the first indications of the benefits of doll play at a brain level. Through monitoring the brain activity of 33 children* between the ages of 4 and 8, as they played with a range of Barbie dolls, the team found that the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), a region of the brain associated with social information processing such as empathy, was activated even when the child was playing on their own. These benefits of solo doll play were shown to be equal for both boys and girls.

Dr. Gerson explains: “This is a completely new finding. We use this area of the brain when we think about other people, especially when we think about another person’s thoughts or feelings. Dolls encourage them to create their own little imaginary worlds, as opposed to say, problem-solving or building games. They encourage children to think about other people and how they might interact with each other. The fact that we saw the pSTS to be active in our study shows that playing with dolls is helping them rehearse some of the social skills they will need in later life. Because this brain region has been shown to play a similar role in supporting empathy and social processing across six continents, these findings are likely to be country agnostic“.

To gather the data for the study,