By Andrew J. Whelton and Caitlin R. Proctor
In recent years wildfires have entered urban areas, causing breathtaking destruction.
Survivors left everything to flee the Camp Fire's path. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Wildfires and Water<p>Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were common. The Camp Fire inferno spread at a speed of one football field per second, chasing everyone – including water system operators – out of town.</p><p>After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials</a>.</p>
Pipes, water meters and meter covers after wildfires destroyed them. Caitlin Proctor, Amisha Shah, David Yu, and Andrew Whelton/Purdue University
Dangerous Contamination Levels<p>Benzene was found at concentrations of 40,000 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water after the Tubbs Fire and at more than 2,217 ppb after the Camp Fire. According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, children exposed to benzene for a single day can suffer <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Benzene-Levels-in-Water.pdf" target="_blank">harm at levels as low as 26 ppb</a>.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting children's short-term acute exposure to <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-03/documents/dwtable2018.pdf" target="_blank">200 ppb</a>, and long-term exposure to less than <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations" target="_blank">5 ppb</a>. The EPA regulatory level for what constitutes a hazardous waste is <a href="https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/tclp.pdf" target="_blank">500 ppb</a>.</p><p>In early 2019, California conducted contaminated water testing on humans by taking contaminated water from the Paradise Irrigation District and asking persons to smell it. The state found that even when people smelled contaminated water that had less than 200 ppb benzene, <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Dissipatiion-of-Burn-Related-VOC-From-Water.pdf" target="_blank">at least one person reported nausea and throat irritation</a>. The test also showed that water contained a variety of other benzene-like compounds that first responders had not sampled for.</p><p>The officials who carried out this small-scale test did not appear to realize the significance of what they had done, until we asked whether they had had their action approved in advance by an institutional review board. In response, they asserted that such a review was not needed.</p><p>In our view, this episode is telling for two reasons. First, one subject reported an adverse health effect after being exposed to water that contained benzene at a level below the EPA's recommended one-day limit for children. Second, doing this kind of test without proper oversight suggests that officials greatly underestimated the potential for serious contamination of local water supplies and public harm. After the Camp Fire, together with the EPA, we estimated that some plastic pipes needed <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/opinions/Final-HDPE-Service-Line-Decontamination-2019-03-18.pdf" target="_blank">more than 280 days</a> of flushing to make them safe again.</p>
Plastic pipes can be damaged by heat and fire contact. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Building Codes Could Make Areas Disaster-Ready<p>Our research underscores that community building codes are inadequate to prevent wildfire-caused pollution of drinking water and homes.</p><p>Installing one-way valves, called backflow prevention devices, at each water meter can prevent contamination rushing out of the damaged building from flowing into the larger buried pipe network.</p><p>Adopting codes that required builders to install fire-resistant meter boxes and place them farther from vegetation would help prevent infrastructure from burning so readily in wildfires. Concrete meter boxes and water meters with minimal plastic components would be less likely to ignite. Some plastics may be practically impossible to make safe again, since all types are susceptible to fire and heat.</p><p>Water main shutoff valves and water sampling taps should exist at every water meter box. Sample taps can help responders quickly determine water safety.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9540d7e271306ed417112042a3efc9a4"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GnlrzI1wdAI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Smell Test Doesn’t Work<p>Under no circumstance should people be told to <a href="https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2018/pr122418_voc.pdf" target="_blank">smell the water</a> to determine its safety, as was recommended for months after the Camp Fire. Many chemicals have no odor when they are harmful. Only testing can determine safety.</p><p>Ordering people to boil their water will not make it safe if it contains toxic chemicals that enter the air. Boiling just transmits those substances into the air faster. "Do not use" orders can keep people safe until agencies can test the water. Before such advisories are lifted or modified, regulators should be required to carry out a full chemical screen of the water systems. Yet, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">disaster</a> after <a href="https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2017/ew/c5ew00294j" target="_blank">disaster</a>, government agencies have failed to take this step.</p><p>Buildings should be tested to find contamination. <a href="https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q1/study-your-homes-water-quality-could-vary-by-the-room-and-the-season.html" target="_blank">Home drinking water quality can differ from room to room</a>, so reliable testing should sample both cold and hot water at many locations within each building.</p><p>While infrastructure is being repaired, survivors need a safe water supply. Water treatment devices sold for home use, such as refrigerator and faucet water filters, are not approved for extremely contaminated water, although product sales representatives and government officials may <a href="https://undark.org/2019/09/19/camp-fire-california-drinking-water-carcinogens/" target="_blank">mistakenly think</a> the devices can be used for that purpose.</p><p>To avoid this kind of confusion, external technical experts should be called in assist local public health departments, which can quickly become overwhelmed after disasters.</p>
<div id="71cf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e059d199e8368d282a31601e372e4dda"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1204068265980547075" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee signed off on an effort to expand the city's fire-re… https://t.co/fP8Z8mUq7R</div> — IntlCodeCouncil (@IntlCodeCouncil)<a href="https://twitter.com/IntlCodeCouncil/statuses/1204068265980547075">1575907219.0</a></blockquote></div>
Preparing for Future Fires<p>The damage that the Tubbs and Camp fires caused to local water systems was preventable. We believe that urban and rural communities, as well as state legislatures, should establish codes and lists of authorized construction materials for high-risk areas. They also should establish rapid methods to assess health, prepare for water testing and decontamination, and set aside emergency water supplies.</p><p>Wildfires are coming to urban areas. Protecting drinking water systems, buried underground or in buildings, is one thing communities can do to prepare for that reality.</p>
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Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Childhood lead poisoning is a long-recognized health hazard that has severely negative consequences for the developing brain. A new first-of-its-kind study reveals that lead poisoning is a global problem, affecting far more children than previously thought. The researchers estimate that roughly 800 million children worldwide, or one out of three, suffer from lead poisoning, according to The New York Times.
Children with a blood lead level above 5 micrograms per deciliter need immediate treatment to prevent life-long consequences from the powerful neurotoxin. The report, The Toxic Truth: Children's exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation of potential, says that the bulk of affected children live in South Asia. India is one of the worst affected countries, where more than 275 million children have dangerously high lead levels in their blood, the BBC reported.
"With few early symptoms, lead silently wreaks havoc on children's health and development, with possibly fatal consequences," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a UN statement. "Knowing how widespread lead pollution is – and understanding the destruction it causes to individual lives and communities – must inspire urgent action to protect children once and for all."
Childhood lead exposure has been linked to behavioral problems. It can also eventually lead to kidney damage and cardiovascular conditions, according to Agence-France Presse (AFP). Lead poisoning is estimated to cost low- and middle-income countries almost $1 trillion over children's lifetimes, AFP reported.
The study showed lead poisoning is a major problem in developing South Asian countries since environmental safeguards have not yet been put in place or are poorly enforced. That means that lead in dust and fumes from smelters, fires, car batteries, old peeling paint and water pipes, electronics junkyards, and even cosmetics and lead-infused spices pose an enormous risk to the mental and physical development of a generation of children, The New York Times reported.
"The unequivocal conclusion of this research is that children around the world are being poisoned by lead on a massive and previously unrecognized scale," the study found.
The study also discovered that nearly one million adults die prematurely every year because of lead exposure.
The report's authors say that vehicle batteries are the prime culprit of lead exposure. They based their findings on data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, which obtained blood test results from tens of thousands of children around the world, the BBC reported.
"Vehicles in low and middle-income countries have tripled since 2000 and that has led to a graphic rise in lead acid battery recycling, often in an unsafe way," Dr. Nicholas Rees, one of the report's authors, told the BBC.
The BBC reported that about 85 percent of the world's lead goes into producing lead-acid batteries, with the vast majority coming from recycled car batteries.
"As a result, as much as half of the used lead-acid batteries end up in the informal economy," the report found, according to the BBC. "Unregulated and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spilling acid and lead dust onto the ground, and [there is] smelt lead in open-air furnaces that spew toxic fumes and dust that contaminate surrounding neighborhoods."
However, lead poisoning is rare in more developed countries, suggesting that the problem is solvable with decisive action.
"The good news is that lead can be recycled safely without exposing workers, their children and surrounding neighborhoods," said Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth, the AFP reported. "People can be educated about the dangers of lead and empowered to protect themselves and their children."
He added that the economic and social returns in reducing lead pollution could be enormous.
"Improved health, increased productivity, higher IQs, less violence, and brighter futures for millions of children across the planet," said Fuller, according to the AFP.
German biotechnology company Biontech and U.S. drugs giant Pfizer announced on Tuesday that they would start Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of their BNT162b2 vaccine after getting the go-ahead from regulators.
'The Power of Vaccines'<p>The World Health Organization (WHO) is tracking more than 140 candidate vaccines of which only 5 are in Phase 3 clinical trials. American biotechnology company Moderna has also announced Phase 3 trials this week.</p><p>However, Western countries have also fought to gain rights to the first batch of vaccines, raising concerns that impoverished countries may be the last to receive them.</p><p>Phase 3 clinical trials are the final regulatory hurdle before approval. Amid a rise in disinformation campaigns questioning the safety of vaccines, the WHO has pushed to educate societies on the benefits of such medical treatments.</p><p>"The COVID-19 pandemic is unraveling many of the gains we have made through immunization campaigns ... putting hundreds of millions of people at risk," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last month. "Now is the moment for the world to come together in solidarity to realize the power of vaccines."</p>
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Hand sanitizers are everywhere these days — store counters, car cup holders and even belt loops — as people try to avoid coronavirus germs. The ubiquity of this hygiene staple is not without its problems though, and the concern keeps growing as the FDA recently recalled 77 hand sanitizers for containing dangerous levels of methanol, CBS News reported.
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By Jennifer A. Mallow
COVID-19 has led to a boom in telehealth, with some health care facilities seeing an increase in its use by as much as 8,000%.
Telehealth Technologies<p>There are three main types of telehealth: synchronous, asynchronous and remote monitoring. Knowing when to use each one – and having the right technology on hand – is critical to using telehealth wisely.</p><p><a href="https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth/live-video-synchronous" target="_blank">Synchronous telehealth</a> is a live, two-way interaction, usually over video or phone. Health care providers generally prefer video conferencing over phone calls because aside from tasks that require physical touch, nearly anything that can be done in person can be done over video. But some things, like the taking of blood samples, for example, simply cannot be done over video.</p><p>Many of the limitations of video conferencing can be overcome with the second telehealth approach, remote patient monitoring. Patients can use devices at home to get objective data that is <a href="https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth/remote-patient-monitoring-rpm" target="_blank">automatically uploaded to health care providers</a>. Devices exist to measure blood pressure, temperature, heart rhythms and many other aspects of health. These devices are great for getting reliable data that can show trends over time. Researchers have shown that remote monitoring approaches are as effective as – and in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnr134" target="_blank">some cases better than</a> – in-person care for many chronic conditions.</p><p>Some remaining gaps can be filled with the third type, <a href="https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth/store-and-forward-asynchronous" target="_blank">asynchronous telehealth</a>. Patients and providers can use the internet to answer questions, describe symptoms, refill prescription refills, make appointments and for other general communication.</p><p>Unfortunately, not every provider or patient has the technology or the experience to use live video conferencing or remote monitoring equipment. But even having all the available telehealth technology does not mean that telehealth can solve every problem.</p>
Ongoing Care and First Evaluations<p>Generally, telehealth is right for patients who have ongoing conditions or who need an initial evaluation of a sudden illness.</p><p>Because telehealth makes it easier to have have frequent check-ins compared to in-person care, managing ongoing care for chronic illnesses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01057.x" target="_blank">diabetes</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1474515119826510" target="_blank">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1258/jtt.2009.090812" target="_blank">lung disease</a> can be as safe as or better than in-person care.</p><p>Research has shown that it can also be used effectively to diagnose and even treat new and short-term health issues as well. The tricky part is knowing which situations can be dealt with remotely.</p><p>Imagine you took a fall and want to get medical advice to make sure you didn't break your arm. If you were to go to a hospital or clinic, almost always, the first health care professional you'd see is a primary care generalist, like me. That person will, if possible, diagnose the problem and give you basic medical advice: "You've got a large bruise, but nothing appears to be broken. Just rest, put some ice on it and take a pain reliever." If I look at your arm and think you need more involved care, I would recommend the next steps you should take: "Your arm looks like it might be fractured. Let's order you an X-ray."</p>
Balancing Risk<p>With the right technology and in the right situations, telehealth is an incredibly effective tool. But the question of when to use telehealth must also take into account the risk and burden of getting care.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2020.04.016" target="_blank">COVID-19 increases the risks of in-person care</a>, so while you should obviously still go to a hospital if you think you may be having a heart attack, right now, it might be better to have a telehealth consultation about acne – even if you might prefer an in-person appointment.</p><p>Burden is another thing to consider. Time off work, travel, wait times and the many other inconveniences that go along with an in-person visit aren't necessary simply to get refills for ongoing medication. But, if a provider needs to draw a patient's blood to monitor the safety or effectiveness of a prescription medicine, the burden of an in-person visit to the lab is likely worth the increased risk.</p><p>Of course, not all health care can be done by telehealth, but a lot can, and research shows that in many cases, it's just as good as in-person care. As the pandemic continues and other problems need addressing, think about the right telehealth fit for you, and talk to your health care team about the services offered, your risks and your preferences. You might find that that there are far fewer waiting rooms in your future.</p>
By Michael Addonizio
Safely resuming in-person instruction at U.S. public schools is important for the academic, physical, emotional and social well-being of children and their families. It's also a key factor for the nation's economic recovery.
Concerns Expressed<p>In June, a survey of the members of the <a href="https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/June_2020_member_poll_slides_07072020.pdf" target="_blank">American Federation of Teachers</a>, a union with <a href="https://www.aft.org/publicservices/about-aft-public-employees" target="_blank">1.6 million members</a>, found that only 21% of K-12 teachers preferred to resume school on a traditional schedule. Another 42% supported a hybrid approach combining in-person and distance learning and 29% wanted to continue with distance learning exclusively and the rest didn't express a preference.</p><p>Fully 62% of the teachers responding to the survey expressed concerns over school safety tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p>One reason for this trepidation is demographic. More than 1 in 4 of the nation's <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372#PK12_teachers" target="_blank">3.7 million public school teachers</a> are <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2020142" target="_blank">50 years old or older</a>. That means they have a high <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/older-adults.html" target="_blank">risk of getting severe symptoms</a> if they contract COVID-19.</p><p>Countless other teachers live with someone who is in a high-risk category due to their age or have underlying conditions that put them at a greater risk should they get sick.</p><p>A recent effort to at least bring teachers together while they taught young students online over the summer didn't bode well. <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/beloved-arizona-teacher-dies-coronavirus-two-others-sharing-classroom-also-n1233672" target="_blank">Three teachers shared a classroom</a> at an Arizona public school. Although all three wore masks and gloves, used hand sanitizer and socially distanced, they all got infected with the coronavirus. One of them, who was 61, died in June.</p><p>Even experts do not yet have a good understanding of the likely risks tied to <a href="https://doi.org/10.17226/25858" target="_blank">reopening K-12 school buildings</a>. Much remains unknown about the degree to which kids, who appear to be <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/10/politics/do-kids-spread-coronavirus-fact-check/index.html" target="_blank">unlikely to develop COVID-19 symptoms</a>, can spread the coronavirus. It's unclear whether the <a href="https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2020/06/schools-COVID-era-return-air-system-problems-watchdog.html" target="_blank">heating and cooling systems</a> in school buildings function adequately enough to rely on during a pandemic. And no one knows how the <a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/06/25/hybrid-school-schedules-more-flexibility-big-logistical.html" target="_blank">alternative scheduling scenarios</a> taking shape might affect student and staff safety since for the most part they are unprecedented.</p>
Greater Clout<p>This pushback from teachers is in keeping with a recent wave of mass mobilization by educators.</p><p>In <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-behind-the-teacher-strikes-unions-focus-on-social-justice-not-just-salaries-111490" target="_blank">2018 and 2019</a>, tens of thousands of public school teachers, both unionized and not, walked out of their classrooms. In states like Kentucky, Arizona, California and Illinois, they protested low salaries, large class sizes and cuts to school budgets that have forced many teachers to spend their own money on classroom materials.</p><p>From these walkouts, some statewide and others limited to specific school districts, teachers won better pay and working conditions. They also garnered <a href="http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2019/01/los-angeles-deal-end-strike.html" target="_blank">considerable public support</a> that may have bolstered educators' <a href="https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/lausd-will-not-have-in-person-classes-in-the-fall-online-learning-to-continue/2395329/" target="_blank">political clout</a> in decisions being made about how to carry on with K-12 schooling in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.</p>
Major Consequences<p>Teaching is challenging in the best of times. Now teachers are being asked and told to do more than ever: prepare in-person, online and hybrid lessons, allay students' anxieties, and risk their own and their families' health while serving students and families, often in communities where the pandemic isn't anywhere near under control.</p><p>Should school systems not heed teacher safety concerns, there's a risk that large numbers of educators <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/2020/5/9/21252608/older-teachers-heath-concerns-coronavirus-return-to-schools" target="_blank">might retire early or quit</a> until conditions are safer.</p><p>A wave of resignations could have major consequences for school quality. <a href="https://www.shankerinstitute.org/resource/does-money-matter-second-edition" target="_blank">Teacher experience makes a big difference</a>, in terms of both measured student achievement and student behavior. And replacing them with inexperienced substitute teachers and others far less qualified and issued emergency credentials would surely take a toll on the quality of education children get, whether it happens online or in classrooms.</p><p>In my view, the educational costs of losing scores of veteran teachers over personal health concerns would be incalculable.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-addonizio-688882" target="_blank">Michael Addonizio</a> is a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the Wayne State University. <br></em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Michael Addonizio 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.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/until-teachers-feel-safe-widespread-in-person-k-12-schooling-may-prove-impossible-in-us-142358" target="_blank">The Conversation</a></em><em style="">.</em></p>
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By Taison Bell
"Hospital Capacity Crosses Tipping Point in U.S. Coronavirus Hot Spots" – Wall Street Journal
This is a headline I hoped to not see again after the number of coronavirus infections had finally started to decline in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. However, the pandemic has now shifted to the South and the West – with Arizona, Florida, California and Texas as hot spots.
Hard-Hit States Quickly Learned Value of Masks<p>As a respiratory virus, SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted mainly through droplets that leave the mouth and nose as a person talks, sneezes, coughs or exhales. It thrives in environments where there are lots of people in enclosed spaces – <a href="https://theconversation.com/aerosols-are-a-bigger-coronavirus-threat-than-who-guidelines-suggest-heres-what-you-need-to-know-142233" target="_blank">especially if they are laughing, talking, singing</a> or otherwise coming into close contact. It thrives physically in the same settings where we thrive socially.</p><p>This is why the early hard-hit areas were able to crush the curve by closing businesses and implementing stay-at-home orders. Without significant close human interaction, the coronavirus couldn't spread.</p><p>While other states are now seeing hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients, most of the Northeast is maintaining control of community spread as its economies reopen. The difference reflects, at least in part, each state's behavior expectations and the willingness of residents to keep up safety precautions like wearing masks, avoiding large crowds, maintaining social distance of at least six feet and staying isolated when they are ill or may have been exposed to the virus.</p>
How Rhode Island's Daily COVID-19 Case Numbers Fell<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ2MTAwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDE1MDUxMH0.Ce8r6qCwhkJm8D8vUnTl5CblhFPXj_eBIlYqJ5yobqE/img.png?width=980" id="32ce3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f15da39d4dab6393216510dbed678840" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Northeastern states now <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/26/politics/maskwearing-coronavirus-analysis/index.html" target="_blank">lead the nation</a> in mask-wearing and adherence to other best practices. An <a href="https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/26/which-part-of-the-u-s-leads-the-country-in-mask-wearing/" target="_blank">Axios/Ipsos poll</a> showed that in states with high mask use, virus circulation is at <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-19-coronavirus-face-masks-infection-rates-20200624.html" target="_blank">lower levels compared to states with less mask use</a>. Studies on the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-0908-8" target="_blank">effects of how quickly coronavirus restrictions have been lifted</a> around the world have found that slow, careful strategies have led to fewer illnesses and deaths during reopening.</p><p>In many parts of the Northeast, the months of illnesses, deaths and the struggle to turn the COVID-19 tide are still <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/23/most-americans-say-they-regularly-wore-a-mask-in-stores-in-the-past-month-fewer-see-others-doing-it/" target="_blank">fresh in people's minds</a>. The progress isn't uniform, however. <a href="https://gothamist.com/news/coronavirus-cases-among-20-somethings-nyc-rise-prompting-de-blasio-issue-new-mask-guidance" target="_blank">New York City's mayor has expressed concern</a> about an uptick in positive cases among people in their 20s.</p>
The Problems of a Political Divide<p>Elsewhere in the country, the current surge in COVID-19 cases <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-surges-of-the-coronavirus-across-the-nation-could-force-more-shutdowns/2020/06/12/e6985b94-acd9-11ea-a9d9-a81c1a491c52_story.html" target="_blank">began to pick up after Memorial Day weekend</a>, when people in several states that hadn't seen the same toll from the pandemic let their guard down. <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-19-messes-with-texas-what-went-wrong-and-what-other-states-can-learn-as-younger-people-get-sick-141563" target="_blank">Video and pictures</a> showed parties, barbecues, crowded beaches and political rallies – all with very little social distancing or mask-wearing – giving more fuel for the coronavirus to spread.</p><p>Despite the overwhelming evidence for what we should be doing, following the advice of public health experts has also, sadly, become politicized. Depending on the news sources people listen to, they might hear warnings from health officials being taken seriously or being dismissed by pundits and politicians.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.axios.com/axios-ipsos-poll-coronavirus-index-15-weeks-e4eb53cc-9bc8-4cac-8285-07e5e5ef6b2b.html" target="_blank">recent national poll</a> shows that Democrats report consistently wearing a mask 68% of the time, while Republicans reported doing the same only 34% of the time. The national conversation has devolved into a false dichotomy: Either you're on the side of prioritizing safety or you're on the side of personal freedom and opening the economy.</p><p>In reality, the two should be partners, as these preventative measures are the best tools we have to reach our common goals of reopening businesses and schools safely. It's the same reason we stop at stoplights and go through metal detectors at the airport – we make a small sacrifice for the greater public good.</p><p>For the foreseeable future, Americans will have to collectively agree to live life a little differently. Until we can all agree on this, the coronavirus will continue to have the upper hand, and our health and wealth will suffer.</p>
By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Jake Johnson
Public health experts are warning that coronavirus statistics will soon be newly vulnerable to political manipulation after the Trump administration ordered hospitals to send Covid-19 patient data directly to a Department of Health and Human Services system rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which usually receives the information and releases it to the public.
<div id="49bef" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0518b468fbe1a1ca4e77ca17ad161d4d"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1283126654471155713" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Trump has been insistently announcing for weeks he wants to cover up the scale of the epidemic by slowing down test… https://t.co/J1toeskjmJ</div> — Chris Hayes (@Chris Hayes)<a href="https://twitter.com/chrislhayes/statuses/1283126654471155713">1594756208.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="58dc8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5721d4d13b5986e6d7d333de69ce31ab"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1283123929096368128" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">While many governments suppress the virus, the U.S. suppresses information about the virus. https://t.co/Ai6tyW8zIP</div> — James Hamblin (@James Hamblin)<a href="https://twitter.com/jameshamblin/statuses/1283123929096368128">1594755558.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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