Madrid starts partial virus lockdown amid political scuffle

Madrid awoke Saturday to its first day under a partial lockdown, with police controlling travel in and out of the Spanish capital that has become Europe’s biggest hot spot for the second wave of the coronavirus.

The two-week ban imposed by Spain’s national government on reluctant regional officials started Friday night at 10 p.m. (2000 GMT).

The measures prohibit all nonessential trips in and out of the capital and nine of its suburbs—affecting around 4.8 million people. Restaurants must close at 11 p.m. and shops at 10 p.m., and reduce occupancy to 50% of their capacity.

Spain’s Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said the steps were “critical” to stop a surging caseload and prevent a repeat of the horrific scenes of March and April that saw hospitals overrun with dying patients.

Even though the measures are light compared with the home confinement mandated across Spain during the first wave of the virus, they have sparked a ferocious political battle between Sánchez’s left-wing coalition government and the Madrid administration, run by a right-wing rival.

The Madrid government led by Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the conservative Popular Party said it would enforce the orders but it has also filed an appeal at the National Court with hopes to annul them. Ayuso and her regional ministers have said the restrictions will cause “chaos,” hurt an already weakened economy and violate their jurisdiction as regional authorities.

Ayuso’s message has reached at least some residents who see the issue as having more to do with politics than public health.

“I think we have gone to the extremes,” said Ángel Davila, a 52-year-old engineer at Atocha train station. “I think that the measures they have put in place aren’t correct. They are not based, according to what I have studied, on medical information. It is a political thing now more than anything else.”

Health experts, however, have been urging Madrid to take stronger action for weeks, but Madrid’s health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero argues they are not necessary.

The health ministry ordered compliance after Madrid refused to accept a set of health metrics to dictate when cities with populations of 100,000 of more need to adopt heavier restrictions to curb the virus. The measures were approved by a majority of regional health authorities from Spain’s 19 regions and autonomous cities, with Madrid in the minority against them.

The government orders only allow people to cross the municipal borders to commute for work, for a medical appointment, legal errands, or appointments with a governmental administration.

The region had already applied similar measures to certain areas, and limited social gatherings to a maximum of six people, but the infections kept rising.

Madrid is leading the resurgence of the virus in Spain, which has Europe’s highest cumulative caseload—770,000 since the onset of the pandemic.

The capital had a two-week infection rate of 695 cases per 100,000 residents Thursday, more than twice the national average of 274 cases and seven times the European average, which stood at 94 per 100,000 residents last week, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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CDC discourages traditional trick-or-treating, costume masks, indoor parties amid coronavirus pandemic

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is discouraging Americans from participating in traditional trick-or-treating and indoor costume parties this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, if trick-or-treaters end up hitting the streets, they should not wear a costume mask as a replacement for their virus-related mask or in addition to one, the CDC said.

Costume masks should only be worn if they have two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the person's face, the CDC said, adding that trick-or-treaters should consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask instead.

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The federal agency issued its Halloween guidelines Monday to help protect families and communities from COVID-19, which has infected more than 6.8 million Americans.

"Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses," the CDC said in its advisory, adding that anyone who may have COVID-19–or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19–should not partake in any in-person activities during the holiday.

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However, the agency noted that there are "several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween" and listed three categories identifying low-, moderate- and high-risk activities.

The CDC said its guidelines "are meant to supplement, not replace" any state or local rules and regulations regarding holiday gatherings.

Low-risk activities have been identified by the CDC as carving or decorating pumpkins with family or at a safe distance with neighbors or friends. The category also includes virtual Halloween costume contests, Halloween movie nights with people in your household as well as trick-or-treat-style scavenger hunts with people in your household.

Moderate-risk activities include attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and guests are socially distanced. One-way trick-or-treating "where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go" is also described as a moderate-risk activity.

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Families and friends can also have an outdoor Halloween movie night or hold a costume parade as long as people are spaced at least six feet apart and are taking proper precautions. Outdoor haunted forests are also a moderate risk activity as long as participants remain socially distanced.

High-risk activities include traditional trick-or-treating, where treats are handed to children, or having "trunk-or-treat" events, where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots. Attending crowded costume parties inside is also discouraged.

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Face masks mandatory in northeast Spain amid virus uptick

Authorities in northeast Spain will start fining individuals who do not wear face masks 100 euros ($113) starting Thursday when the use of masks becomes mandatory in Barcelona and the surrounding Catalonia region following a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Spain ended a nationwide lockdown in mid-June after restrictions on movement and public activity succeeded in reining in the country’s virus outbreak after it had pushed the healthcare system to the breaking point and killed thousands of people.

But with most restrictions lifted and some people not following social-distancing rules, the number of confirmed new cases reported daily in Spain has begun to creep up. Confirmed cases doubled between Tuesday and Wednesday amid dozens of small outbreaks.

The biggest increase was in the Catalonia region, with 52 new confirmed cases in a 24-hour period and nearly 2,000 in the past two weeks.

A number of the 500 recent confirmed cases in a rural county around the city of Lleida have been tied to the summer fruit harvest, which draws in migrant day laborers who often work and live in poor conditions. Regional authorities locked down the area on Saturday and have linked 11 of 15 outbreaks there to farm work.

Health authorities warn that the area’s hospitals are already filling up. An inflatable emergency ward has been installed at the gates of a local hospital, a grim reminder of the makeshift medical facilities and morgues set up in Spain when it was among the world’s leading virus hot spots in the spring.

“We are not saturated now, but we could be in the next few days if we don’t reinforce our medical staff and start transferring patients,” regional health official Ramón Sentís said Wednesday.

Masks are mandatory in shared indoor spaces and also outdoors when distance can’t be maintained throughout Spain. Catalonia, which has a population of 7.5 million, is the first region to extend the requirement to situations when people are able to remain 1.5 meters (5 feet) from one another.

The move comes after a notable drop in face mask use in the streets and adherence to social distancing rules.

A county in the northwest Galicia region that is home to 71,000 residents also has been closed off, while masks are now mandatory in a town in the central north Basque Country region. Both Galicia and the Basque Country have regional elections scheduled for Sunday.



The uptick in cases comes as Spain is hoping to salvage its critical tourism industry by encouraging Spaniards to take vacations inside the country and sending the message to foreigners that Spain is a safe place to visit despite the pandemic. Spain had a pandemic death toll of more than 28,390 as of Wednesday.

Neighboring Portugal, which had done well in controlling the virus, is also concerned about an increase in new virus cases in the capital of Lisbon.

Portugal’s Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 443 new cases, 74% of them in the Lisbon metropolitan area.

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Audrina Patridge Celebrates ‘Loving’ Daughter’s 4th Birthday Amid Ex Drama

Setting her troubles aside for a special occasion. Audrina Patridge gave her daughter, Kirra, a birthday to remember amid drama with her ex-husband, Corey Bohan.

“Happiest 4th birthday to my beautiful, smart, silly, fun, loving little mother of a daughter Kirra,” the reality star, 35, captioned an Instagram photo of Kirra holding a balloon on Thursday, June 25. “She is such a shining light, she has always been advanced since the very beginning, taking care of her friends, speaking her mind kindly, standing up for what’s fair (my little boss baby). I am so blessed & grateful to be her mommy. I cannot imagine life without her.”

Patridge later posted pics of her swinging Kirra around outside and her daughter blowing out the candles on her unicorn birthday cake, which had rainbow layers.

The celebration comes after Bohan, 38, requested that the Hills: New Beginnings star pay him child support after he lost his job. According to court documents obtained by Us Weekly earlier this month, the BMX rider was allegedly laid off from his bartender gig in March “due to the stay at home orders and [has] not yet received any unemployment.” He claimed that he made only $2,000 to $3,000 a month when he was working, and she earned in excess of $36,000 per month.

Bohan alleged that Patridge can afford child support because she “also owns real property, is able to fund a retirement account and has various investments.” He claimed that Kirra should be able to adhere to the same standard of living in each home and requested that the TV personality pay $7,500 of his legal fees. A court hearing on the matter is set to take place in August.

The Hills alum welcomed Kirra in June 2016 and married Bohan in November of that year. She filed for divorce in September 2017, two days after she was granted a temporary restraining order against him. She received primary custody of Kirra in November 2018, and they finalized their divorce a month later.

Scroll down to see more photos from Patridge’s birthday party for Kirra as she turned 4.

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Jamie Otis Recalls ‘Rough’ Unmedicated Birth Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Baby bliss? Jamie Otis revealed what it was really like having an unmedicated birth for her son, Hendrix, one month after his arrival.

“The only reason why I did the unmedicated home birth was because of the pandemic, the world right now,” Otis, 34, told Us Weekly exclusively on Wednesday, June 17, while promoting her partnership with Align and their launch of a colic relief product. “I just felt like it was safer, because I had a low risk pregnancy, to be able to just offer that home rather than go into the hospital or like most sick people are going. And man, it was going to be painful.”

She explained that although she knew what was coming, having had daughter Henley in 2017 and being a labor and delivery nurse herself, without the meds “it was rough.” On top of that, the entire thing was filmed.

The Married at First Sight alum continued, “Barbaric is a great word, having no control over yourself. Like, I don’t even know what I was saying. I’m, like, if there’s some kind of bleeps, I’m sorry.”

The mother of two prepared for her son’s natural birth and said that although it “almost seems foreign to us” based on the frequency of hospital births using an epidural, “it’s really natural to have a baby.”

Despite the pain that came during her little one’s arrival, the Wifey 101 author noticed a difference between how quickly she bonded with her son during the home birth vs her daughter’s hospital one.

“I had him and I looked at him and I was instantly in love and I didn’t have that type of bond or experience with Henley,” she told Us. “So I mean it’s worth it. It’s worth all the pain and, like, you know, all of that, just to be able to have that overwhelming sense of love for your baby.”

The former Bachelor contestant added: “I wish I could have had that with my daughter. And obviously I love her. I mean, sorry, Henley for watching this later on in life. I love you. I loved it from the moment I saw.”

Otis, who shared both children with husband Doug Hehner, shared photos of her water birth earlier this month. “This absolute hardest, but more MIRACULOUS & rewarding thing I’ve ever done is give birth to my baby unmedicated,” she wrote via Instagram on June 9.

The New York native announced her son’s arrival on May 13, writing, “He’s HERE!”

The couple later announced they decided to switch their baby boy’s name from Hayes to Hendrix upon meeting him.

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Kristin Cavallari: I'm Going 'Stir-Crazy' Parenting 3 Kids Amid Pandemic

A new normal. Kristin Cavallari is struggling to adjust to parenting three young children amid the coronavirus quarantine.

The Very Cavallari star, 33, opened up about the unexpected challenges she’s facing with her sons, Camden, 7, and Jaxon, 6, and 4-year-old daughter Saylor — whom she shares with her estranged husband, Jay Cutler — in an Instagram Live conversation with her stylist Dani Michelle on Saturday, May 16.

“I’m at my friend Justin’s house right now. We’ve been together for the entire quarantine time, literally from day 1,” Cavallari explained, referring to her pal Justin Anderson, with whom she and Cutler, 37, spent three weeks on vacation in the Bahamas in April.

“With my kids, it’s, like, ‘All right, what should we do today?’ We’ve maxed out every creative idea,” the Hills alum said. “I used to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning, work out and then I would get my kids ready for school, take them to school and go to the office. I haven’t set an alarm since all of this has been going on. It’s going to be really hard for me to get back into it. I don’t know that I can go back to that 5 a.m. lifestyle.”

Cavallari noted that she now has a later start to her mornings due to the quarantine and sharing a bed with her children.

“Because of my kids, I get up from anywhere between 6:30 and 8. I don’t normally let my kids sleep with me, but I’ve been rotating my kid for the last week,” she said. “It’s cute but those are the moments that will never be the same, we’ll never get those back. So in that sense, I’ve been trying to really enjoy that time with my kids.”

The Uncommon James designer has also undertaken the “tough” job of homeschooling — a feat that has been particularly difficult for her youngest son.

“I will tell you, the no school thing is tough,” Cavallari said. “With the boys, Jaxon will not listen to me. He refuses to do work. I’m like, ‘I can’t fight with you about doing schoolwork.’ It’s too hard.”

She added, “My kids are young so that’s nice. My boys are 7 and 6 so it’s not the end of the world if they’re not sitting here doing schoolwork every day but everyone’s going a little stir crazy because we really can’t go anywhere.”

Cavallari and the retired NFL quarterback announced their separation in April after seven years of marriage. Us Weekly confirmed on May 1 that the former couple settled on a custody agreement for their children, with each parent receiving 182.5 days a year.

After their split, Cutler penned a sweet Mother’s Day tribute to Cavallari on May 10.

“Happy Mother’s day to all the moms. These 3 little ones picked a good one,” Cutler wrote alongside a photo of Camden, Jaxon and Saylor via Instagram.

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Steep decline in organ transplants amid COVID-19 outbreak

France and the United States, two countries hit hard by the novel coronavirus, have experienced a tremendous reduction in the number of organ donations and solid organ (kidney, liver, heart, and lung) transplant procedures since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study. By early April, transplant centers in both countries were conducting far fewer deceased donor transplants compared to just one month earlier, with the number of procedures dropping by 91 percent in France and 50 percent in the United States.

The international team of transplant scientists, including experts from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Paris Transplant Group, attribute much of the overall decline to a steep reduction in the number of kidney transplants specifically. However, they also reported a substantial drop in the number of heart, lung and liver transplants. The analysis was published today in The Lancet.

“Our findings point to the far-reaching and severe ripple effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on health care, including life-saving organ transplants,” said study co-author Peter Reese, MD, MSCE, an associate professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Penn. “Organs from deceased donors represent a time-limited opportunity, as they must be procured and used rapidly. However, in order to protect the safety of their patients, centers must now carefully vet all donors to ensure there is minimal risk of COVID-19.”

The steep reduction in organ donations and transplant procedures exacerbates the worldwide shortage of transplantable organs and need for transplants. In the United States, there are more than 112,000 people on the national transplant waiting list. While the number of living donor kidney and liver transplants continues to increase, the vast majority of organ transplant procedures involve organs from deceased donors. Of the nearly 40,000 transplants performed in the United States in 2019, more than 32,000 involved organs from deceased donors.

Many transplant centers, including the Penn Transplant Institute (PTI), continue to perform many life-saving organ transplants during the pandemic, but the outbreak has posed unique challenges for both organ procurement and transplantation. A number of centers nationwide, including the PTI, are not using organs from deceased donors with evidence of recent infection or exposure.

To quantify the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on organ donation and transplantation, investigators analyzed validated national data from three federal agencies, including the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), to study trends in France and the United States.

The team observed a strong link between the surge of COVID-19 infections and significant decline in donated organs and overall solid organ transplants. In the United States, the number of recovered organs dropped from more than 110 a day on March 6 to fewer than 60 per day on April 5, investigators found. During the same timeframe, the number of transplanted kidneys dropped from nearly 65 a day to about 35 per day. Researchers also observed that regions with fewer COVID-19 cases, or limited exposure to the disease, also experienced a significant reduction in transplant rates—suggesting a global and nationwide effect beyond the local infection prevalence.

The investigators hypothesize that France may have experienced a larger drop in transplants because of a coordinated national effort to reduce clinical and commercial activity. Whereas, in the United States, individual states had discretion to impose restrictions and hospital practice may have varied to a greater degree.

“These international comparisons of transplant activity will be very important as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves,” said co-author Alexandre Loupy, MD, Ph.D., a nephrologist at the Department of Nephrology and Kidney Transplantation at Necker Hospital in Paris and Head of the Paris Transplant Group. “Some transplant systems may develop best practices to support organ procurement and transplant that can be shared across borders. We have a lot of work ahead to restore our invaluable infrastructure of donation and transplant surgery.”

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