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New Poll Shows Strong Support for Great Lakes Restoration

Healing Our Waters — Great Lakes Coalition

Ohioans of all political colors agree that the federal government should be protecting and spending money to restore Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes, according to a new poll released today by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents indicate support for continued funding of Great Lakes restoration, and for an expansive view of the Clean Water Act. Further, far more Ohioans support than oppose building a barrier in the Chicago canals to prevent an Asian carp invasion into the Great Lakes.
 
“Although it is unusual to find an issue that brings voters together across the values and beliefs that divide us, such issues do exist, and in Ohio, protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes is one,” said Paul Fallon, president of the Columbus-based Fallon Research & Communications, Inc., which conducted the survey. “Our polling indicates that protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes is one issue that unites Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Ohioans across the political spectrum want the federal government to continue its effort to restore the Great Lakes.”
 
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition released the poll as it calls on White House aspirants to commit to supporting Great Lakes restoration and action on Asian carp.
 
“This should be a wake-up call to both Presidential campaigns that are so focused on the Buckeye State,” said Emma White, senior director at Belden Russonello Strategists, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm that wrote the poll questions. “To be successful in Ohio and other swing states candidates must not only hold their base vote but also attract independent, unaffiliated voters. From our polling, it is clear that standing up to protect Lake Erie and taking action to beat back the invasive Asian carp are winning issues among this critical constituency.”
 
“Millions of people are counting on the next president of the U.S. to stand up for Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Great Lakes programs are producing results in communities around the region—but there is more work to do. Cutting restoration funding and failing to take action on the Asian carp will cost taxpayers more money because problems will only become more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.”
 
The survey of 804 general election voters was conducted by Fallon Research & Communications, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio, from questions written by Belden Russonello Strategists LLC in Washington, D.C. Highlights of the poll include:

1) A large majority of Ohio voters (72 percent) supports continuing Great Lakes restoration funding, including 63 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of independents, and 79 percent of Democrats.  Nearly half overall (47 percent) strongly support continued funding, including a majority of men (55 percent). A majority of voters (54 percent) rejects the idea that the Great Lakes should take a budget cut along with everything else.  
 
2) Although the potential entrance of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes is not something most Ohio voters have heard a great deal about, a brief description of the problem leads fully 90 percent of Ohio voters to say they would be concerned if the fish got into Lake Erie, and a majority (57 percent) to say they would be very concerned if the fish got into Lake Erie. Familiarity and concern are both higher among men, while political party makes little impact.
 
3) Half of Ohio voters (49 percent) support erecting a barrier in the Chicago River to keep out the Asian Carp while only three in ten (29 percent) oppose that idea. Two in ten (22 percent) are unsure, not a surprising finding given the unfamiliar issue. Men are more likely to favor the barrier (53 percent), but views are equal across parties (Republicans 49 percent, independents 50 percent, Democrats 48 percent).
 
4) There is broad bipartisan support for an expansive reading of the Clean Water Act. When presented with arguments on both sides, 68 percent overall say that the Clean Water Act should cover wetlands and small streams, including 55 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats.

“Ohio voters understand how important Lake Erie is to the environment and economy,” said Kristy Meyer, director of Agricultural & Clean Water Programs, Ohio Environmental Council. “We need the next president to show leadership on this issue. Great Lakes restoration is not a Democratic or Republican issue—it is an issue of national significance and utmost urgency.”
 
For decades, Lake Erie has been a bellwether for the health of the Great Lakes. Once declared “dead,” the lake improved following the passage of landmark environmental protections like the Clean Water Act and an infusion of federal investment to help cities modernize sewage treatment facilities.
 
Recent federal investments are producing results across Ohio:

• Removing contaminated sediments and restoring habitat along the Ashtabula River created jobs, improved water quality and made the river suitable again for maritime commerce, fishing and recreational boating.

• Restoring one mile of Big Creek in Cleveland provided a home for fish and wildlife, curtailed flooding and reduced pollution and sediments flowing into the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.

• Dredging and disposing of PCB-contaminated mud and dirt in Toledo’s Ottawa River led to improved water quality and the lifting of some fish consumption advisories.

But there is still work to do. Sewage pollution, invasive species, loss of wetlands and run-off of manure and excessive fertilizer into waterways that feed the Lakes have led to a resurgence of problems, most notably harmful algal blooms that pose a risk to people, fish and wildlife.
 
“The problems facing Lake Erie impact me and my business,” said Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. “If President Obama and Governor Romney only want to talk about jobs and the economy, then I’ve got news for them: Lake Erie is my job. If the next president drops the ball on Great Lakes restoration or allows Asian carp to get in, then I am out of a job. And so are many others. End of story.”
 
Great Lakes restoration has played prominently in the last two presidential elections. In 2004, President George Bush called on the region to craft a plan to restore the Lakes. The $20 billion plan—the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy—has been widely credited with galvanizing support restoration among conservation, business, industry and civic leaders in the eight-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
 
In 2008, then-candidates Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney all committed their support to restore the Great Lakes.  In his first year in the White House, President Obama launched the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-year investment aimed at confronting urgent problems such as invasive species, habitat destruction, toxic pollution and run-off from farms and cities.
 
“Presidential leadership,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, “has been essential in the effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes. We’re counting on the next president to carry the torch and continue to stand and deliver for the Great Lakes. The nation cannot afford not to restore the Great Lakes—more than 30 million people depend on them for drinking water.”

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The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

 

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By Sherry H-Y. Chou, Aarti Sarwal and Neha S. Dangayach

The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.

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We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.

Some patients may not seek timely medical care for neurological symptoms like prolonged headache, vision loss and new muscle weakness due to fear of getting exposed to virus in the emergency setting. People need to know that medical facilities have taken full precautions to protect patients. Seeking timely medical evaluation for neurological symptoms can help treat many of these diseases.

What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.

Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.

To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.

Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.

The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.

Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.

The first reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in COVID-19 pandemic originated from Italy, Spain and China, where the pandemic surged before the U.S. crisis.

Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?

The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.

Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.

It is certainly possible that there are other cases that have not been reported. The Global Consortium Study of Neurological Dysfunctions in COVID-19 is actively underway to find out how often neurological problems like Guillain-Barre Syndrome is seen in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Also, just because Guillain-Barre Syndrome occurs in a patient diagnosed with COVID-19, that does not imply that it was caused by the virus; this still may be a coincident occurrence. More research is needed to understand how the two events are related.

Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.

Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.

Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.

Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.

Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.


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"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."

 

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Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.

Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.

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Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."

 

Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."

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"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."

"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.