CORONAVIRUS:

 What You Need To Know

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Health care professionals who are facing a shortage of surgical masks and are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic know the importance of how to properly wear and remove personal protective equipment. Now, you can too. Emory University’s serious communicable disease unit has released instructions that show how to properly remove and wear personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and gowns. Health officials are debating the widespread use of face masks to possibly slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changes its policy, officials would recommend people fashion their own masks and not use surgical masks or other types of masks that are currently in short supply across the country.
  • A nurse practitioner’s voice rings out through the halls of AdventHealth Ocala. She’s not barking orders but belting out songs. A socially distant pianist stands nearby, accompanying her on the keys. Nurse practitioner Tabitha Roberson-Newborn and chaplain Leta Kravig make two rounds daily at the hospital, singing in the halls and at the nurses’ stations to provide encouragement and spiritual care to those in need. It’s one way local Central Florida hospitals are working to lift spirits for staff and patients in this time of crisis. Pet therapy dogs are regulars at Orlando Health, but have been put on “paws” due to the coronavirus pandemic. But a hospital spokesperson said members of the Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program have found a way to help from afar. Many of the 90 teams who participate in the program are creating encouraging virtual video messages to share with patients and hospital staff. In the messages, the dogs and their owners pose with encouraging signs reading everything from “Sending Virtual Puppy Kisses” and “You’re Pawsome” to “We Will Get Through This.” “Our pet therapy volunteers are part of what makes Orlando Health so special. Each day our teams visit patients and staff to help ease stress and anxiety,” said Paige Johnson, pet therapy team assistant with volunteer services at Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center. “They bring joy and comfort to those who need it most.”
  • After complaints by workers on the front lines, Amazon is going to give employees face masks and temperature checks at all warehouses in the U.S. and Europe. The safety measures will also be rolled out to Whole Foods stores, Reuters reported. The workplace adjustments will be in play by early next week, company officials said. Some workers in New York and Chicago held a strike saying they were not working in a safe environment, BuzzFeed News reported. One worker, who was told to stay home with pay, picketed outside a Staten Island location. The employee, Chris Smalls, was fired for not staying home, company officials said. Smalls said he ignored the quarantine order. “I stood with my co-workers because conditions at JFK8 are legitimately dangerous for workers and the public. We won’t stop until Amazon provides real protections for our health and safety and clarity for everybody about what it is doing to keep people safe in the middle of the worst pandemic in our lifetimes,” Smalls said via email, according to BuzzFeed News. New York City’s Commission on Human Rights is investigating Smalls’ firing. He also says he is playing on filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The company will supply surgical masks early next week. N95 masks Amazon intended to use will be donated to medical workers or sold to the government at cost, the company said. The company is going to add software that will monitor cameras to make sure employees stay a safe distance from each other. Amazon officials said temperature checks have started at some facilities, checking more than 100,000 employees every day, the company said in a press release. More sites will start checking people for fevers of more than 100.4, sending those who register higher than that number home, according to Reuters.
  • Right now, it’s more important than ever to limit your exposure inside public places like grocery stores. But we still need essential items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies! The last thing you want to do is trek to Walmart—only to find the shelves empty. Check out InStok.org. You type in the search bar the item you’re looking for and your zipcode (to find the store nearest you.) There is a disclaimer saying, 'If an item is not on the shelf, it is possibly at the back or someone must've bought the item since inventory was last updated. This is just a tool to guide you in the right direction instead of randomly trying different stores. If you really need an item, call and speak to a store associate in advance. Please do not buy more than you need.'  ABC News reports InStok was created by two teenage University of Austin students in March to help consumers find products nearby.  You can compare prices from various stores, as well as get text alerts for when products are back in stock. 
  • A former television meteorologist and mayor’s spokesman was arrested after sending threatening emails to a Nebraska county health official, investigators said. Ronald Penzkowski, also known by his on-air name Ron Gerard, sent 15 to 30 hostile emails to Dr. Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department from March 25 to March 31, investigators said Wednesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Douglas County Sheriff’s Capt. Wayne Hudson said Penzkowski attempted to conceal his identity while sending the “threatening and disturbing” emails, the World-Herald reported. The emails were directed at Pour’s response to the coronavirus and threatened to “lynch” and “slice her throat.” They would come from a new email address each time they were blocked. One of the emails was sent from the name Frank Gorshin, an actor who played the Riddler on the “Batman” television show, KETV reported. Investigators traced the emails back to Penzkowski. They are also looking to see if other emails can be traced to him. Penzkowski was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats and stalking, KETV reported. “They make those decisions with one common goal, and that’s to protect the public,” Hudson told the World-Herald. “If we get further reports of public officials being threatened, we’re going to take them seriously and we’re going to investigate them thoroughly.” Pour has worked as director of the health department since 2002, the World-Herald reported. Penzkowski worked as director of communications under Mayor Jim Suttle before resigning in 2010. Before that, he worked as a television meteorologist. There are 249 confirmed coronavirus cases and five deaths in Nebraska, The New York Times reported.

Washington Insider

  • Amid continuing controversy over the best way to rush aid to working Americans, businesses, hospitals, and local governments to deal with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she would move to set up a new special panel in the U.S. House to oversee those efforts, saying it's important to have transparency about the massive amount of relief money. 'We need to ensure those dollars are spent effectively and carefully,' Pelosi said in a press conference by phone with reporters, as she said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) would be in charge of reviewing the $2 trillion in aid approved by Congress in March. 'We have no higher priority than making sure the money gets to those working families struggling to pay rent and put food on the table who need it most,' Pelosi added. 'The fact is, we do need transparency, and we do need accountability,' the Speaker said. In making the announcement, the Speaker said this panel would be different than the call by other Democrats for a '9-11 Commission' about the Coronavirus, saying the emphasis must be on what's happening right now - not what happened before. 'The Select Committee is about the here and now,' Pelosi added. In describing the job of the new panel, the Speaker compared this to the work of the Truman Commission, named for then Sen. Harry Truman, who was put in charge of a panel which held hearings and investigated waste, fraud, and abuse related to the war effort during World War II. The idea - which would need a vote of the House to create the panel and fund its operations - drew immediate opposition from the top Republican in the House. 'This seems really redundant,' said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who told reporters by phone that he did not support the selection of Clyburn to run the panel, as the GOP leader questioned the goal, and said there was no reason to take oversight away from regular committees of the House. 'I'm not quite sure if this is political,' McCarthy added in a news briefing by telephone with reporters.