Study helps explain declines in death rates from COVID-19

Fewer New Yorkers are dying from the coronavirus than health experts had anticipated, a new study shows. Regional death rates have dropped from the highs seen at the start of the outbreak, partially due to a shift in the population contracting the disease toward those who are more resilient.

After New York became the epicenter for the pandemic in early March, with tens of thousands dying from COVID-19, experts had expected that the infection would remain as deadly in the following months.

Instead, a new investigation showed that by mid-August the death rate in those hospitalized with coronavirus-related illness had dropped from 27 percentage points to about 3 percentage points. Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the study showed that a younger, healthier group of people were getting infected and were arriving at the hospital with less-severe symptoms than those infected in the spring.

However, the researchers’ analysis showed that these factors accounted for only part of the improvement in survival. The rest, they suspect, resulted from health care providers’ growing experience with the coronavirus. For example, physicians learned that resting COVID-19 patients on their stomachs rather than their backs and delaying the use of ventilators as long as possible were more effective practices, say the study authors. Drugs likely helped as well. In addition, other factors such as decreasing hospital volumes, less exposure to infection, and earlier testing and treatment, may have played a role.

“Our findings suggest that while COVID-19 remains a terrible disease, our efforts to improve treatment are probably working,” says study lead author Leora Horwitz, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health. “Even in the absence of a silver-bullet treatment or vaccine, we are protecting more of our patients through a host of small changes,” says Horwitz, who is also director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science at NYU Langone.

New York was among the first states to grapple with a severe outbreak of COVID-19. By contrast, death rates in more recent waves in southern and western regions of the country, which also had younger, healthier coronavirus patients, have been lower, says Horwitz. However, it had remained unclear whether the virus was less deadly due to the different patient demographics or improved care.

Horwitz says the new study, publishing online next week in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, is the most detailed analysis to date of coronavirus death rates over time. By accounting for age, obesity, and other key factors, the researchers were able to eliminate some explanations from the analysis.

For the investigation, the research team analyzed 5,263 patient records of people treated for COVID-19 at NYU Langone hospitals in New York City and Long Island between March 1 and Aug. 8. Using a range of risk factors for the disease as well as indicators of the severity of the illness upon hospitalization, the study authors developed a model that predicted likelihood of death for each patient.

According to the findings, the likelihood of death was on average 22 percentage points lower in August than in March for most critically ill patients.

The average age of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also dropped from 63 to 47. In March, while 73 percent had chronic conditions like lung disease and diabetes, by mid-June only about 65 percent had such risk factors.

“Other pandemic hotspots should take hope from the lessons learned here in New York,” says study senior author Christopher Petrilli, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone. “If we can do better at managing the disease, they can too.”

Still, he adds that the research team next plans to expand the investigation to hospitals outside of New York.

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Iran announces its virus death toll passes 30,000

Iran announced Saturday that its death toll from the coronavirus has passed the milestone of 30,000, in what has been the Mideast region’s worst outbreak.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced that the total death toll from the outbreak had reached at least 30,123.

She said that 4,721 virus patients are in critical condition.

Iran has been struggling with the coronavirus since announcing its first cases in February, with more than 526,000 confirmed cases to date.

In recent weeks, Iran has seen daily death tolls spike to their highest-ever levels, sparking increasing concern even as government officials continue to resist a total lockdown for fear of cratering the economy, which has been hard-hit by U.S. sanctions.

On Wednesday, Iranian officials announced a travel ban to and from five major cities, including the capital of Tehran and the holy city of Mashhad, that they said aimed to contain the virus’ spread.

The coronavirus has also spread to some of the highest levels of Iran’s government, which includes many older men. Among those recently infected is the head of the country’s atomic energy organization, while Iran’s vice president in charge of budget and planning tested positive on Sunday.

After downplaying the outbreak in its first weeks, Iranian officials have more recently begun to admit the scope of the epidemic within the country.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, who had tested positive for the virus in March after playing down its threat and refuting reports of mass deaths, told state TV on Wednesday that the country’s true death toll is about double the reported figures.

According to officials, there are also large numbers of patients in hospitals being treated as COVID-19 cases but who have not been tested, whose tests came out as false negatives or whose symptoms are not the same as those listed by the World Health Organization and who are therefore not counted in the official case numbers.

Like in many other countries, the spiraling outbreak in Iran reflects the government’s contradictory virus response. This week, as the daily recorded death toll hit the record for three times, authorities announced tighter restrictions for the hard-hit capital of Tehran.

Recently reopened universities and schools, as well as libraries, mosques, cinemas, museums and beauty salons, shut down. In the past week, the government mandated that all Tehran residents wear face masks outdoors and in public places, warning violators would be fined. Officials promised those who tested positive would be closely tracked.

Movement restrictions this spring somewhat checked the spread of the disease. Then the government swiftly reopened the country, desperate to boost its stricken economy. Since June, the case count has steadily increased—and spiked to new heights in recent weeks.

Long before the virus hit, Iran’s economy was ailing, pummeled by U.S. sanctions after the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers. As the death toll soared this week, the nation’s currency plunged to its lowest level ever, following the U.S. administration’s decision last week to blacklist Iranian banks that had so far escaped the bulk of re-imposed American sanctions.

As Iran approaches winter, the seasonal influenza could be an added and serious issue for the country, as it has had purchasing the flu vaccine amid new American sanctions on Iranian banks.

Iran’s Red Crescent Society said in a tweet on Tuesday that they were in charge of importing two million flu vaccine doses into the country, but that new U.S. sanctions prevented the import.

Meanwhile on Saturday, the United Arab Emirates has announced its highest single-day total of new cases of the coronavirus amid a spike in the Gulf nation that is home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The country’s Health Ministry said tests found 1,538 new cases of the virus, pushing the overall number of cases to 114,387.

The ministry said another four people died from the virus, pushing the overall death toll to 459. Overall recoveries are at 106,354.

Recorded infections have soared again in recent weeks, as authorities have relaxed restrictions and resumed schools for in-person instruction. Dubai has reopened its airport for international travelers and embarked on an active campaign promoting itself as a tourism destination amid the pandemic.

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'Inspirational' North Carolina Teacher Dies After Contracting COVID-19: She 'Was Truly a Blessing'

A third grade teacher in North Carolina is dead after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to school officials.

Julie Davis, who taught at Norwood Elementary School in Stanly County, died after testing positive for COVID-19, NBC affiliate WCNC reported.

The school learned of Davis' diagnosis on Sept. 27, just two days after she started to experience symptoms and began to self-quarantine, according to the outlet.

"Stanly County Schools is deeply saddened and grieving the loss of Julie Davis, a third grade teacher at Norwood Elementary School," Vicki Calvert, the interim superintendent of Stanly County Schools, said in a statement.

"During her two years in service to the students of Norwood Elementary School, Mrs. Davis earned a well-deserved reputation as an inspirational teacher who was always seeking ways to support every student so that they were able to fulfill their potential," the statement continued. "She implemented creative ways of teaching and her high standards and expectations motivating others to achieve their best."

Calvert said that students "absolutely loved being taught by Mrs. Davis" and the teacher "brought joy into the lives of the students, staff, and community."

"We are extending our deepest condolences to Mrs. Davis’ family," Calvert added. "We were truly blessed by her professionalism and caring spirit."

Stanly County Schools confirmed on Sept. 29 that third grade students at Norwood Elementary School were switching to remote learning after a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. In a letter addressed to families, school officials said that all students were to quarantine themselves and learn remotely from Sept. 30 through Oct. 9.

A representative for the school district told CNN that staff member was Davis, adding that none of the students have developed any symptoms or tested positive of coronavirus.

In addition to teaching, Davis was also a caretaker for her 74-year-old mother and her 2-year-old grandson, WSCO reported.

"Julie Davis was a dedicated mother, sister, wife, friend, and teacher. Help us support her family at this time," a GoFundMe page set up in support of Davis' family read. "Julie was truly a blessing to everyone who knew her.  She was always willing to step up and help in a time of need."

As of Monday, there have been more than 7,453,700 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with at least 209,600 deaths from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to a New York Times database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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Contemplating death can make you happier

If there’s one topic you’re not supposed to dwell on, it’s death. Death has to be the most gloomy subject going.

But apparently, the reverse is true. According to one academic, contemplating death may actually help us to live happier lives.

Steve Taylor, senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, has found that surviving death or seriously thinking about it can have a ‘powerful positive effect’.

Writing in The Conversation, he says that people who have had brushes with death – serious accidents or illnesses, for example – don’t tend to take life or loved ones for granted once they’ve recovered. They finally start to live wholeheartedly in the present and that means appreciating the smaller things in life.

‘They also have a wider sense of perspective, so worries that had oppressed them before no longer seem important. And they become less materialistic and more altruistic. Their relationships become more intimate and authentic,’ he says.

‘And in many cases, these effects don’t disappear. Although they may become slightly less intense over time, they become established as permanent traits.’

These effects aren’t just the preserve of survivors; they also seem to happen to those of us who may have gone through a desperately dark mental spell.

The transformational of death is something cultures have known about since day dot. While we keep our dying locked up in ICUs and nursing homes, other communities keep bodies at home for family and friends to visit.

In Buddhism, monks used to meditate in cemeteries or next to dying bodies found on their travels. Professor Taylor says that they were advised to think about the fact that that would be their fate someday too, so that they understood just how precious life is and how pointless it is to be attached to the physical world.

The more we discuss death, the more we can also benefit from that mindset. We become less afraid, less attached and more fulfilled.

Perhaps that’s why Death Cafes have started popping up, with over 10,000 of them opening since 2011 in 69 countries. That’s a whole load of people having coffee and chatting about The End!

It makes sense when you think about it; death is scary because we can’t contemplate the end of our lives. Once you start to normalise it, it becomes less terrifying and you’re able to seriously assess what you want out of life. The fear of dying can stop us from truly living – and yet, it’s an inescapable inevitability. Death is everywhere, all the time and once we come to accept that fate, we can move on.

‘Becoming aware of our own mortality can be a liberating and awakening experience, which can – paradoxically, it might seem – help us to live authentically and fully, perhaps for the first time in our lives,’ Prof Taylor explains.

So maybe it’s time to get your journal out and have a little think about your own – hopefully far distant – demise.

Do you have a story to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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After grieving mother’s death, teen commits to helping others

Growing up in Wichita, Kansas, Ngoc Vuong had a wide circle of Vietnamese friends to play with in his neighborhood.

His parents had left Vietnam in the 1990s to build a new home in the U.S., making Vuong and his two older sisters first-generation Americans.

“A lot of my summers were spent hanging out with people who looked like me,” Vuong said. “At school, it was a different story. I struggled with my identity. Am I really Vietnamese? Am I really American?”

What Vuong, 20, discovered as he grew up was that he embraced being Vietnamese American. He took on leadership roles, serving in the student council and as student body president.

His guiding force was his mother. In Vietnam, she had to forego college and work to support her siblings after her father was sent to a communist prison camp and her mother was arrested. Despite those hardships, she went on to serve others.

“My mom taught me the importance of kindness and to help those less fortunate,” he said.

When Vuong was only 15 and a sophomore, he lost his role model and nurturer. His mother died at age 46 from a ruptured brain aneurysm. Her death sent him into a depression.

“For a year after, I felt like I was leading a double life,” said Vuong, now a rising junior at Wichita State University, where he studies psychology, with concentrations in public health and economics. “I was still functioning at school, but I would come home and just crash. It was hard to see a way out.”

He was grateful for having a supportive family and teachers, but he also needed professional help for the depression, which he sought after several months in pain.

“In the Vietnamese community, and really in general, there’s that stigma that comes with seeking mental health treatment,” he said.

Although Vuong already had been taking on leadership roles, his focus had been more about being successful as opposed to making a difference, he said. “My mom’s death gave me a new purpose in life. It wasn’t enough to live a successful life; I wanted to live a significant one.”

Since then, Vuong has worked tirelessly on several initiatives to help reduce the stigma around mental health, especially related to drug addiction. Although he hasn’t personally been affected by addiction, he’s seen its effects on students, friends and in the Wichita community.

He’s particularly interested in helping underserved communities because “they are excluded from the decision-making table.”

His first effort resulted in ICTeens in Mind, a student-led coalition that supports youth affected by mental illness and promotes awareness. It has since been folded into the nonprofit Partners for Wichita, where Vuong works part-time as a community mobilizer.

Vuong, who has been awarded several scholarships, including from the American Heart Association’s EmPowered to Serve program, is working on two new grassroots projects. City Voices and Healing Kansas both address mental health and addiction issues through art, storytelling and civic engagement. He also was tapped to serve on the Wichita mayor’s Civil Rights Advisory Council, and he handles social media for school board member Stan Reeser.

Reeser met Vuong in 2018, after hearing Vuong speak at his high school graduation ceremony.

“I was so impressed with his passion, and I reached out to him,” said Reeser, who now uses Vuong as a sounding board on issues relating to youth.

Vuong also helped Reeser with his re-election campaign in 2019, first with social media, but Reeser said his young charge grew into the role of campaign manager.

“He’s definitely wise beyond his years,” Reeser said. “He has this perfect balance of feeling passionate about issues but at the same time he’s very reasonable and loves to look at data.”

Vuong, who hopes to become a clinical psychologist and researcher, is assisting on a project at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita examining disparities in mental health treatment.

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Blood pressure medications decrease death and severe disease in COVID-19 patients

At the start of the pandemic, there was concern that certain drugs for high blood pressure might be linked with worse outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

Because of how the drugs work, it was feared they would make it easier for the coronavirus to get inside the body’s cells. Nevertheless, many national medical societies advised patients to continue taking their medication.

With the potential for a second wave, it was essential to investigate whether patients could safely continue using these drugs. So, our team at the University of East Anglia set out to discover what effect they have on the progress of COVID-19.

Instead of putting patients at risk, we found that these medications actually lower the risk of death and severe disease in COVID-19 patients.

Bad outcomes cut by one-third

We pooled data from 19 relevant COVID-19 studies that included patients taking two particular types of blood pressure medication: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). This allowed us to look at the outcomes of more than 28,000 COVID-19 patients to assess the effects of these drugs.

ACEIs and ARBs work by acting on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), which is essential for regulating blood pressure and the balance of fluids and electrolytes. These drugs were also thought to potentially increase the expression of a protein found on the surface of cells called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).

Apart from helping regulate blood pressure, the ACE2 protein is also what allows the coronavirus to enter the body’s cells. This is why there were concerns about patients using these drugs. If the medications increased the amount of ACE2 present on cells, it was suspected they would make it easier for the virus to infect them, worsening a patient’s condition.

But when we looked at the outcomes of patients taking ACEIs and ARBs compared with those not on these medications, this wasn’t the case.

We found no evidence that these medications might increase the severity of COVID-19 or the risk of death. On the contrary, among patients taking ACEIs and ARBs that had been prescribed to treat high blood pressure, there was actually a significantly lower risk of death, being admitted to intensive care or being put on ventilation. We observed a reduction of such events by one-third in this group.

It may be that these medications actually have a protective role—particularly in patients with high blood pressure.

What’s behind this effect?

It’s not clear why patients taking ACEIs and ARBs experienced less severe disease, but there are a couple of points to consider.

The first is that while theoretically these drugs were thought to increase ACE2 levels, there’s no convincing evidence that this actually happens. We don’t have any clinical data on the effects of these drugs on ACE2 expression in human tissue.

And even if these drugs do increase ACE2 levels in cells, not all of it is surface-bound. Additional ACE2 that appears elsewhere in the cell might not function as an entry point for SARS-CoV-2.

There’s also a second potentially relevant piece of information. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 may also lead to an overreaction of the RAAS pathway – which is what these blood pressure drugs target—and inflammation. This increased inflammatory process is thought to be the culprit for acute lung injury and can lead to worsening pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Hence, it might be that taking medications that inhibit the RAAS system prevents such a sequence of events and improves clinical outcomes in COVID-19.

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Kids Often Hit Hard by Death of Beloved Pet, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23, 2020 — The loss of a pet may be a child’s first encounter with death, and new research suggests no one should underestimate the psychological trauma that the loss can bring.

Previous studies have found that kids form deep emotional attachments to their pets and having a furry companion in your youth has been linked to greater empathy, self-esteem and social skills.

“The effects of pet loss were unique,” said study co-author Erin Dunn, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

To learn more, she and her hospital colleagues looked at a sample of more than 6,000 British children. Almost 9 out of 10 had owned a pet during their youth, and more than half had lost one during their first seven years of life.

Information was collected as a part a long-term study of parents and kids in Britain. When kids were 8 years old, their mothers filled out questionnaires about their youngsters’ mental health symptoms.

“For example, how often does your child feel sad, depressed or anxious — these are the kind of emotional and behavioral indicators that are used to identify and characterize children who might be experiencing some mental health-related challenges,” said Dunn.

The research team found that kids who lost a pet were more likely to have poor mental health. And the link held true after accounting for other distressing factors, including financial hardship, parental physical or emotional abuse, and physical or sexual abuse by anyone.

While a child’s mental well-being can be affected by many other adversities, the effects of pet loss “were not explained by these other hardships,” Dunn said.

And boys seemed to be affected more deeply than girls, the study found.

“The boys had more psychopathology symptoms — or a greater effect of the pet death, as compared to their female counterparts,” said co-author Katherine Crawford, who worked on the study while at Massachusetts General Hospital. She’s now a genetic counselor at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence.

Crawford added that the questionnaire used to evaluate well-being does not serve as a definitive diagnosis of any mental health disorder. But, she said, it asks “a lot of the same questions that one might when evaluating those mental health concerns.”

While the study did not examine how best to help a child cope with losing a furry friend, researchers suggested that being aware and recognizing a child’s emotions is a good start.

George Holden is chairman of the psychology department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He advised parents to talk frankly with their children regarding the loss of a pet.

“All too often parents think, erroneously, that if they don’t mention something, it’s better — it will go away,” said Holden, who wasn’t part of the study. “That’s absolutely wrong. It’s much better to directly recognize what’s going on, talk about it, and hear the child’s perspective.”

He also suggested being proactive and preparing a child for the inevitable if a pet is old or sick.

Struggling with the loss of a pet is entirely normal, Holden added, as they are often very well-loved family members.

Despite the emotional toll of losing a pet, researchers are not suggesting that parents avoid getting one.

Dunn suggested that further research should explore the “positive benefits of pet ownership because that kind of information would help parents in weighing the cost-benefit ratio of having pets.”

The findings were recently published online in the journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Connie Culp, the First Patient in the U.S. to Receive a Face Transplant, Dies at 57


Connie Culp, who made history as the first person to receive a face transplant in the United States, has died, the Cleveland Clinic confirmed. She was 57.

Culp died on Thursday evening, according to WKYC. Her cause of death remains unknown.

"We are saddened by the loss of Connie Culp, the first face transplant recipient in the U.S. She was an inspiration to all of us at Cleveland Clinic," the Cleveland Clinic, where Culp had her 2008 surgery, tweeted on Friday.

Dr. Frank Papay, who was a part of Culp's surgical team, also included a special message in Culp's memory.

"Connie was an incredibly brave, vibrant woman and an inspiration to many," the chair of Cleveland Clinic's Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute wrote. "Her strength was evident in the fact that she had been the longest-living face transplant to date. She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity."

In 2004, Culp's husband, Thomas Culp, pointed a shotgun at her and pulled the trigger, leaving her horribly disfigured. According to Today, Culp's husband was later sent to jail for seven years.

Thirty corrective surgeries later, Culp became the first person in the U.S. — and only the fourth in the world — to receive a near-total face transplant.

During a 22-hour operation at the Cleveland Clinic, eight surgeons replaced 80 percent of Culp’s face, giving her a new nose, upper lip, palate and front teeth, all from the same donor and she later received a prosthetic right eye.

Culp told PEOPLE in 2011 that her new face “made [her] feel stronger” and “more positive about who [she was].”

After her transplant, Culp got a divorce, moved into a new apartment, and began speaking to other victims of domestic abuse and violence.

As a pioneer in medical science, Culp encouraged others who underwent surgery. Following her transplant, about 40 other face transplants have been performed around the world — three of which were at the Cleveland Clinic, Today reported.

"Thinking about Connie is thinking about someone who's not giving up," Dr. Maria Siemionow, who led Culpo's surgery, told Today. "And I'll not give up."

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UK records lowest daily virus death toll since start of lockdown

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient, emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

Younger children went back to schools in England on Monday as Britain began to stir back to life, while the government reported the lowest coronavirus death toll since the start of the national lockdown in late March.

Outdoor markets also swung open their gates and car showrooms tried to lure back customers and recoup losses suffered since Britain effectively shut down for business to ward off a disease that has now officially claimed 39,045 lives in the country.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Britain was making “significant progress” against the virus after its daily toll dropped to 111—the lowest since the stay-at-home order was issued on March 23.

Reporting of virus cases and fatalities is often lower after a weekend and many people still appeared hesitant to start using public transport or shop.

“It’s very different from usual,” Danish Londoner John Jellesmark said on a visit to the usually bustling Camden Market in the north of the capital.

“It’s still pretty slow. It looks like the market is basically waking up.”

Too much, too soon?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a timeline that allows two million younger children in England to return to school on Monday and older ones from June 15.

The devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland are eyeing a return in August and September, while Wales is still weighing the benefits of human contact against the dangers of children catching the disease and bringing it home.

A survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that primary school leaders expect about half the families to keep their children home.

Principal Claire Syms at the Halley House School in east London said children who do turn up need to feel comfortable in an unfamiliar setting where the desks are spaced out and many around them wear masks.

“We’ve been really conscious about keeping things as normal and as consistent as we can for our children,” Syms told AFP.

“We’re really mindful of their wellbeing and their mental health.”

The UK government has been encouraged by the positive experience of other European countries that have started to return to something resembling normal life.

The House of Commons will debate a government push to get everyone to start voting in person instead of remotely when parliament returns from a break on Tuesday.

But critics of the easing believe the so-called R rate of transmission—estimated nationally at between 0.7 and 0.9—was still dangerously close to the 1.0 figure above which the virus’ spread grows.

‘Unenforceable’

Scientists and lawmakers are not the only ones to express concern that the government’s “cautious and phased” reopening is moving too quickly.

“We’re only able to take these steps because of what we have achieved together so far,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said as he toured Tachbrook Market in central London.

London’s Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said current rules such as those allowing people to gather in groups of six in England were unenforceable.

“I don’t think the public are taking much notice of what is laid down in front of them,” Marsh told The Daily Telegraph. “They are doing it how they want to do it.”

English parks and beaches have been inundated with people over two successive May weekends that came on the sunniest month ever recorded in Britain.

Police had warned after seeing growing numbers ignore social distancing measures a week ago that they were serious about sanctioning those who gather in large groups.

But some London parks looked like one giant party on Sunday and police issued just a tiny fraction of the fines they had handed out before people were allowed to leave their homes more freely on May 13.

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How Celeb Parents Are Educating Kids About Racism After George Floyd's Death

Open and honest conversations. Thomas Rhett, Katherine Heigl and more stars have shared the ways they’re educating their children about racism following George Floyd’s May 25 death.

“As the father of a black daughter and also two white daughters, I have struggled with what to say today,” the “Marry Me” singer, 30, captioned a Sunday, May 31, Instagram post featuring the Romans 12:9 Bible verse. “We have navigated forms of racism directly and while there is mostly overwhelming support and love for our family, sometimes there is just the opposite. Because of that fear, it can be a lot easier to choose silence, but today I’m choosing to speak.”

The Georgia native, who shares Willa, 4, Ada, 2, and Lennon, 3 months, with his wife, Lauren Akins, went on to write that he felt “heartbroken and angry” after watching the video of a police office killing Floyd pressing a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes.

“I get scared when I think about my daughters and what kind of world they will be growing up in and how my JOB as a father is to show them how to lead with love in the face of hate,” the Grammy nominee added. “To know their worth and value as not only women but human beings.”

Rhett and Akins, also 30, adopted Willa from Uganda in May 2017, three months ahead of Ada’s birth.

“My heart has always been driven to [adoption],” the Live in Love author told Us Weekly exclusively the following year. “It just started as this calling in my life, to speak for these children who don’t have a voice. This is what I was really here to do. It lined up perfectly with my heart.”

Heigl, 41, who adopted her now-8-year-old daughter, Adalaide, in 2012 with her husband, Josh Kelley, shared that she has been struggling to tell her daughter about Floyd’s death.

“I can’t sleep,” the actress wrote via Instagram on May 31. “And when I do, I wake with a single thought in my head. How will I tell Adalaide? How will I explain the unexplainable? How can I protect her? How can I break a piece of her beautiful divine spirit to do so? I can’t sleep.”

Keep scrolling to see how more celebrity parents are having open dialogues with their children about racism.

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