Leaders in US, Europe divided on response to surging virus

Virus cases are surging across Europe and many U.S. states, but responses by leaders are miles apart, with officials in Ireland, France and elsewhere imposing curfews and restricting gatherings even as some U.S. governors resist mask mandates or more aggressive measures.

The stark contrasts in efforts to contain infections come as outbreaks on both sides of the Atlantic raise similar alarms, including shrinking availability of hospital beds and rising deaths.

Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks.

In Utah, a spike in cases since school reopened has created a dynamic that Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has called “unsustainable.”

But schools remain open and Herbert, who has been pressured by an outspoken contingent of residents opposed to masks, has resisted a statewide mandate. Instead, he announced last week that they would be required only in six counties with the highest infection rates, while leaving it to others to make their own rules. Meanwhile, many hospitals are being pushed to the breaking point.

“We are not just managing COVID. We are also managing heart attacks and strokes and respiratory failure and all those other things that need ICU-level care,” said Dr. Kencee Graves, chief medical officer for inpatient care at the University of Utah Health hospital in Salt Lake City. The hospital’s intensive care unit was filled by the end of last week, forcing the reopening of a backup intensive care unit.

“The sooner we take care of each other, wear masks, physically distance, the sooner we can have some gatherings in a safe way,” Graves said.

In Oklahoma, where the number of people hospitalized for the virus has reached record levels, doctors have called on officials to do more.

“We need face mask mandates to protect more of our Oklahoma citizens,” Dr. George Monks, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said in a tweet Sunday.

But Gov. Kevin Stitt has said repeatedly he has no plans to do so, citing concerns about how such a mandate would be enforced.

Oklahoma health officials reported a record high of 821 people hospitalized Tuesday with the virus or under investigation for the infection. Wyoming also reported a record high number of patients hospitalized for the virus.

New virus cases in the U.S. have surged in recent weeks from a daily average of about 42,000 in early October to about 58,000—the highest level since late July, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In one of the most troubling outbreaks, 10 residents of a nursing home in northwest Kansas have died from the virus, health officials said. All 62 residents of the Andbe Home in Norton County, as well as an unspecified number of employees, have tested positive for the infection.

The surge in new cases prompted a change of heart Monday from the mayor of North Dakota’s largest city, in favor of a mask mandate.

Tim Mahoney, who in addition to being Fargo’s mayor is also a general surgeon, has been largely supportive of Republican Gov. Doug Burgum’s approach of leaving management of the virus to local officials.

Mahoney, himself, cast the deciding vote against a mask mandate at a recent meeting of city officials. But with North Dakota leading the nation in new cases and up to one in four city residents now testing positive, Mahoney said a statewide change is in order.

The dynamic contrasts sharply with Europe, where national officials are battling a similar spike with measures including new lockdowns and smart phone apps that track the virus’ spread.

In Ireland, Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced a lockdown starting at midnight Wednesday that will close all non-essential stores, limit restaurants to carryout service and require people to stay within three miles (five kilometers) of their homes, while banning visits to other households.

It marks a near-return to restrictions imposed by the government in March, although schools, construction sites and manufacturing industries will remain open. If people comply with the restrictions, which will be in place until Dec. 1, the country will be able to celebrate Christmas “in a meaningful way,” Martin said.

But as cases surge, some decisions by European leaders to impose new restrictions are facing stiff opposition at the local level. After a tense faceoff, Britain’s government said Tuesday it had failed to reach agreement with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who has rejected tough new measures without money to support the workers and businesses that will be most affected.


Britain’s Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick expressed disappointment with Burnham, saying the mayor “has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday he would impose the restrictions, drawing criticism from Burnham.

“It cannot be right to close people’s place of work, to shut somebody’s business, without giving them proper support,” Burnham said. He said Manchester had sought 90 million pounds ($117 million) from the national government to help people get through the winter. It was unclear how much the city would receive.

In the Netherlands, which has one of the highest infection rates in Europe, a judge in The Hague rejected an appeal by more than 60 Dutch bars and restaurants to overturn a government four-week closure order.

Source: Read Full Article

Older Adults Turning to Pot for Common Health Problems

TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 — Marijuana is fast becoming a favorite medication among older Americans, a new study finds.

Cannabis is being used to ease problems such as pain, sleep disturbances and psychiatric conditions like anxiety and depression, researchers say.

Among more than 550 patients surveyed, 15% had used cannabis within the past three years, and 50% of users said they used it regularly and mostly for medical purposes.

“Pain, insomnia and anxiety were the most common reasons for cannabis use and, for the most part, patients reported that cannabis was helping to address these issues, especially with insomnia and pain,” said researcher Christopher Kaufmann. He’s an assistant professor in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Also, 61% of the patients who used cannabis had started using it after age 60.

“Surprisingly, we found that nearly three-fifths of cannabis users reported using cannabis for the first time as older adults. These individuals were a unique group compared to those who used cannabis in the past,” said researcher Kevin Yang, a third-year medical student at UCSD.

“New users were more likely to use cannabis for medical reasons than for recreation. The route of cannabis use also differed with new users more likely to use it topically as a lotion rather than by smoking or ingesting as edibles. Also, they were more likely to inform their doctor about their cannabis use, which reflects that cannabis use is no longer as stigmatized as it was previously,” Yang said in a university news release.

The report was published online recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“There seems to be potential with cannabis, but we need more evidence-based research,” Kaufmann added. “We want to find out how cannabis compares to current medications available. Could cannabis be a safer alternative to treatments, such as opioids and benzodiazepines? Could cannabis help reduce the simultaneous use of multiple medications in older persons?

“We want to find out which conditions cannabis is most effective in treating,” Kaufmann said in the release. “Only then can we better counsel older adults on cannabis use.”

Source: Read Full Article

Invasive mosquito species could bring more malaria to Africa’s urban areas

A species of mosquito that can carry malaria—known as Anopheles stephensi – has invaded eastern Africa and is quickly moving across the region. Moina Spooner, from The Conversation Africa, asked Jeremy Herren and Clifford Mutero to provide insights into why this invasion is happening and what can be done to protect people from it.

How did Anopheles stephensi come to Africa?

This mosquito species, Anopheles stephensi, is widespread in South-East Asia and parts of the Arabian Peninsula. It is common in India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the last couple of years there have been increasing reports of it in Africa. It was initially reported in Djibouti in 2013.

Recent reports indicate that it is spreading rapidly through the Horn of Africa. It was reported in Ethiopia in 2016 and in Sudan in 2017 and is likely being spread along major transportation routes. As a result, the World Health Organization has issued an alert for intensified surveillance to track the spread. We expect that it’ll eventually be found in other major African cities.

Surveillance data is needed to confirm further spread but, based on the timeline of its travel to Ethiopia and Sudan, we speculate that three years is how long it would have taken to reach Kenya and Tanzania. They are now within that risky time-frame.

Kenya and Tanzania may be at a particularly high risk due to their close proximity to the Horn of Africa. They also have large coastal cities whose weather conditions (warmer and more humid) are similar to the mosquitoes’ native range. Other cities further away, including some in West Africa, are also deemed to have a suitable environment for Anopheles stephensi.

Generally the spread of mosquitoes to new areas is facilitated by by people through ground, air and ocean transport systems. Increased international travel and human migration leads to vectors and pathogens emerging or re-emerging in regions where they’d diminished or been eradicated.

In what ways is this mosquito different from the ones that exist on the continent?

There are over 100 species of Anopheles mosquitoes in Africa, but only six species are considered “primary” vectors of malaria.

Anopheles stephensi is very effective at transmitting malaria. What’s worrying is that it also thrives in urban areas, unlike the various African Anopheles species.

Anopheles mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle: a female mosquito lays its eggs on the surface of a water source, where they hatch and finally develop into adult mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes suck blood from people and other hosts to enable them to lay eggs. It is the blood-feeding that enables mosquitoes to transmit parasites—such as malaria—from one person to another.

Typically, the main African Anopheles vector species are found in rural landscapes—which is why the majority of Africa’s malaria cases are also in rural areas. They breed in various water habitats such as puddles, footprints and hoof prints along the edges of ponds, and irrigated farmland. These habitats do also occur in some urban areas, but they’re often polluted and less suitable for these mosquitoes. Reports do now indicate, though, that some African Anopheles are becoming more adapted to these conditions.

By contrast, while they can also survive in rural areas, Anopheles stephensi thrive in urban areas—such as plastic and cement containers that hold water. This means that this species poses a threat both in cities and in rural areas.

What new challenges does it present?

The main issue is that if the invasion becomes widely established, malaria could become more prevalent in African cities and this would put many more people at risk of infection. Consequently, malaria control efforts will be spread even thinner on the continent as malaria expands into cities.

There are already many challenges—such as a lack of resources. Currently, about half of the US$6.5 billion needed to meet the 2030 malaria targets is available. There were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 2017 and 92% of these occurred in the WHO African region. The funding shortfall is likely to grow if the Anopheles stephensi increases malaria cases in Africa.

Another major challenge is that both Anopheles stephensi and African malaria vectors are developing resistance to some of the insecticides used against them. These insecticides are deployed on bed-nets or used for indoor spraying.

Finally, the Anopheles stephensi presents a new challenge because it’s harder to access mosquito breeding and resting sites in urban areas and deploy control measures. In particular, it is more challenging to identify and map breeding sites in urban areas, which makes it more difficult to control larvae. In addition, indoor residual spraying is less straightforward due to the high density of dwellings and challenges accessing them all.

Has a mosquito invasion like this happened in the past? If so, what happened then?

The spread of Anopheles stephensi is reminiscent of a similar invasion by Anopheles gambiae, a mosquito species commonly found in Africa, which spread to Brazil in the 1930s and 1940s and caused devastating malaria outbreaks. For example, over a period of just eight months there were 150,000 cases of malaria and 14,000 deaths. This was recognized as one of the most serious threats to health in the Americas and an aggressive eradication campaign was initiated.

The Brazilian government reacted with an integrated control program. Insecticide spraying targeted larvae and adult insects. Cars or trucks leaving endemic areas were sprayed and there was a massive effort to improve drainage and remove the stagnant water that provided breeding sites. This concerted effort is an important example in successful vector control and resulted in the species being eradicated in South America by the 1940s.

Is there anything that can be done to stop the spread?

Action is needed immediately if there is to be a chance of curtailing the spread of Anopheles stephensi. The longer we leave it the harder it will be to contain, and unfortunately there seems to have already been significant spread with reports from across the Horn of Africa. Though mosquitoes can travel long distances and are dispersed on high altitude winds, the pattern of Anopheles stephensi spread suggests the importance of human transportation routes.

Vector surveillance is key. We need to know where Anopheles stephensi has spread and then quickly and strategically focus resources on restricting spread and locally eliminating Anopheles stephensi before it establishes a foothold. Surveillance should be carried out by National Vector and Malaria Control Programs with support from research institutions.

Overall, a combination of environmental management to eliminate larval habitats and eco-friendly biopesticides to control adult and larval stages of the mosquito is considered the most effective strategy for control of Anopheles stephensi.

Source: Read Full Article

Virus, what virus? India gets back to work

India is on course to top the world in coronavirus cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work—and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season.

After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on.

Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalised this year in excruciating pain after catching the coronavirus.

But after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had to return to work at a factory where she earns 25,000 rupees ($340) a month.

“Now that I have recovered, I am no longer so scared of the disease,” she told AFP amid the din of machinery at the Nobel Hygiene plant east of Mumbai.

Worst since 1947

The pandemic’s confirmed fatality rate has been heaviest in richer nations with older populations—the US death toll is double that of India despite having only a quarter of the population.

Poor countries have suffered far worse economic pain, with the World Bank predicting 150 million people could fall into extreme poverty worldwide.

Many children in the developing world are now working to help their parents make ends meet, activists say, while thousands of young girls have been forced into marriage.

In Varanasi in northern India, 12-year-old Sanchit no longer attends school and instead collects cloth discarded from bodies before cremation on the city’s ghats.

“On a good day, I earn around 50 rupees (70 US cents),” the boy told AFP.

The IMF projects India’s GDP will contract by 10.3 percent this year, the biggest slump of any major emerging nation and its worst since independence in 1947.

Lockdown catastrophe

When India went into lockdown, it was a human catastrophe, leaving millions in the informal economy jobless, penniless and destitute almost overnight.

No one wants to go back to that, said Gargi Mukherjee, 42, as she shopped in the New Market area of Kolkata, thronging with festival-season customers, many without face masks.

“For survival, people have to come out and do their jobs. If you don’t earn, you cannot feed your family,” she told AFP.

Experts caution that the October-November season—when Hindus celebrate major festivals such as Durga Puja, Dussehra and Diwali—may trigger a sharp increase in infections, as consumers crowd markets to snap up big-ticket items on discount.

“Of course corona is to be feared. But what can I do? I can’t miss the moments of Durga Puja,” said housewife Tiyas Bhattacharya Das, 25.

“Durga Puja comes once in the year, so I cannot miss the enjoyment of the shopping.”

Hunger or virus

Sunil Kumar Sinha, principal economist at the Mumbai-based India Ratings and Research agency, said Indians faced a stark choice.

“People have to choose whether to die of hunger or risk getting a virus that may or may not kill you,” he told AFP.

Indeed India’s relatively low mortality rate—about 1.5 percent of its more than seven million cases—has surprised many who warned coronavirus would lay waste to its crowded cities, beset by poor sanitation and crumbling public hospitals.

Even accounting for some likely undercounting, it is evident that the nightmare scenario of dead bodies piled in the streets as seen during the 1918 flu pandemic has mercifully not materialised.

‘Foot off the brake’

The unexpected reprieve has given Prime Minister Narendra Modi leeway to resist a fresh lockdown, with the human toll—and political cost—of another shutdown higher than seeing case numbers soar.

But Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, warned the government should not simply let the virus run its course.

“In order to open up, you need to intensify public health measures… If you completely take your foot off the brakes, the virus will take off too,” Mukherjee told AFP.

Last month, the Indian Medical Association slammed the Modi government for its “indifference” to the sacrifices of front-line staff in one of the world’s worst-funded health care systems.

“It appears that they are dispensable,” it said.

Back in Kolkata, bookseller Prem Prakash, 67, was philosophical.

“You have to leave some things to fate,” he told AFP.

Source: Read Full Article

Criteria to predict cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients identified

Like a cold front that moves in, setting the stage for severe weather, coronavirus infection triggers showers of infection-fighting immune molecules—showers that sometimes escalate into a chaotic immune response known as a cytokine storm. About 20 to 30 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 develop severe immune manifestations, in some instances leading to cytokine storm, with life-threatening organ damage and high risk of death.

Predicting which COVID-19 patients will develop cytokine storm is challenging, owing to the many variables that influence immune function. But now, in breakthrough work, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) have developed and validated predictive criteria for early identification of COVID-19 patients who are developing hyperimmune responses, raising the possibility for early therapeutic intervention.

“If we can anticipate cytokine storm, we can apply treatment sooner and possibly decrease mortality,” explained Roberto Caricchio, MD, Chief of the Section of Rheumatology, Director of the Temple Lupus Program, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology at LKSOM, and lead author on the new report.

The report, published online in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, is the first to identify criteria that can be readily used in clinical practice to potentially head off the worst of the hyperimmune attack against COVID-19.

The breakthrough is the result of an extensive collaboration between researchers and clinicians across multiple departments in the Lewis Katz School of Medicine and Temple University Hospital, constituting the Temple University COVID-19 Research Group.

According to Dr. Caricchio, large numbers of COVID-19 patients have been treated at Temple since the pandemic emerged in the United States. “We have a significant amount of data in terms of variables to predict cytokine storm,” he said.

Since early March, every patient admitted to Temple University Hospital (TUH) has had data on more than 60 different laboratory variables collected daily until the time of recovery or time of death. Among variables measured every day are factors like white blood cell count, metabolic enzyme activity, and markers of inflammation and respiratory function. Importantly these markers are commonly used in hospitals across the globe and therefore are readily available.

The research group carried out statistical analyses on laboratory data for 513 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at TUH in March and April, 64 of whom developed cytokine storm. A genetic algorithm was used to identify cut-off values for each individual laboratory variable to define the predictive requirements for cytokine storm. Genetic algorithms mimic the processes of natural selection and evolution in analyzing the data, and in this case, over multiple iterations, the algorithm turned up variables indicating which patients are most likely to develop cytokine storm.

Overall, the analyses yielded six predictive criteria comprising three clusters of laboratory results relating to inflammation, cell death and tissue damage, and electrolyte imbalance. In particular, patients in cytokine storm exhibited a proinflammatory status and elevated levels of enzymes indicating significant systemic tissue damage. Moreover, patients who met the criteria had extended hospital stays and were at increased risk of death from COVID-19, with almost half of patients who experienced cytokine storm meeting all criteria within the first day of hospitalization.

The researchers validated the criteria in a subsequent cohort of 258 patients admitted to TUH for COVID-19 infection. “The algorithm correctly predicted cytokine storm in almost 70 percent of patients,” Dr. Caricchio said.

“The ability to reproduce our results in a second cohort of patients means that our group of variables are effective criteria for cytokine storm diagnosis in COVID-19 patients,” he added. The final step now is to have the criteria validated by other centers where COVID-19 patients are admitted for care.

Dr. Caricchio noted that the criteria could be applied to COVID-19 patients at any hospital or level of hospitalization anywhere in the world. “This makes the criteria very valuable for guiding decisions about how to treat COVID-19 patients worldwide,” he said. Applied more broadly, the criteria could greatly facilitate early diagnosis and intervention, helping save many lives.

Source: Read Full Article

‘Multi-omics’ adds new cell to immune family tree

WEHI researchers have used powerful ‘single cell multi-omics’ technologies to discover a previously unknown ancestor of T and B lymphocytes, which are critical components of our immune system.

Using an approach akin to breaking a sports team’s performance down to the individual player statistics, the researchers looked at multiple aspects of single developing immune cells to define which cells would only give rise to T and B lymphocytes. This revealed a new stage in lymphocyte development, information which could enrich future studies of the immune system. The discovery has also led to new research opportunities, with WEHI establishing of one of Australia’s first dedicated and integrated single cell research platforms in 2018, which is now being used to solve other research questions.

The research, which was published in Nature Immunology today, was led by Dr. Shalin Naik, Dr. Daniela Zalcenstein, Mr Luyi Tian, Mr Jaring Schreuder and Ms Sara Tomei.

Focussing on single cells

Our immune system comprises many different types of cells with different functions, but all immune cells are derived from a single type of cell, a blood stem cell. The development of different immune cell types occurs through a branching ‘family tree’ of immature cells. At earlier stages of immune cell development, individual cells can give rise to several different types of mature cell, but as development progresses, cells become more limited in which final mature cells they can produce.

T and B lymphocytes—which are critical for targeted, specific immune responses—are closely related immune cells, meaning they share many common steps in their development, said Dr. Naik. “Decades of research have defined how T and B lymphocytes develop, and the ‘branch points’ in their family tree when the developing cells lose the capacity to develop into other immune cell types,” he said.

Dr. Zalcenstein said that to gain new insights into questions such as how immune cells develop, the team established Australia’s first ‘single cell multi-omics’ platform, which is now available to all researchers within the Single Cell Open Research Endeavour (SCORE) established by Dr. Naik and Dr. Zalcenstein in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Wilcox of WEHI’s Genomics Hub and Associate Professor Matthew Ritchie.

“Multi-omics technologies combine different biological data sets—such as genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics—to compare different samples in more detail than is possible by looking at one data set. We have applied this approach to study individual cells, in this case developing immune cells, to understand in more detail which cells can give rise to lymphocytes. This approach is called single cell multi-omics,” she said.

“Rather than looking at data combined from many cells in a sample, we focus in on individual cells to understand the differences that exist within a larger population. It’s like looking at a football team—you can average out the number of goals, tackles and kicks per player in a game, but if you look at individual player statistics, you may discover that one player scored lots of goals, while another player was responsible for most of the tackles,” she said.

A new lymphocyte progenitor

SCORE’s study of immune cell precursors revealed a previously unrecognised cell type that could give rise to T and B lymphocytes, but not other immune cells.

“This cell occurred much earlier in lymphocyte development than we had suspected,” Dr. Naik said. “Previous techniques had grouped different immune progenitors together, but by studying individual cells we were able to identify one cell type that was committed to developing into T and B lymphocytes.”

The discovery adds a new layer to the family tree of T and B lymphocytes and could provide a boost to other areas of research.

“Understanding in more detail how T and B lymphocytes develop could lead to better approaches to regenerate these cells as a treatment for certain diseases,” Dr. Naik said. “We also know that many types of leukaemia arise from defects in early stages of immune cell development, so we are curious to know whether this progenitor cell has links to any forms of leukaemia.”

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus pushes classroom online leaving teachers to find new ways to connect with students

Virtual learning creates difficulties for ESL students

For non-native speaking English students, trying to get good grades while learning a new language can be challenging at the best of times, but as classes turn virtual some students are being left behind.

With the coronavirus mounting a resurgence in areas across the U.S., schools not already using a hybrid schedule to teach students may look to begin virtual learning in their districts. But by moving lessons online, teachers will lose the in-person connection they have with some students, which could make it difficult to pick up on cues regarding mental health.

“Teachers are translators of emotion,” Dr. Isaiah Pickens, a clinical psychologist who works with teachers and educators to identify and address racial inequality issues and mental health problems in students, told Fox News. “They are able to see students as an individual and in the context of the classroom.”

HEALTHY YOUNG PEOPLE MAY WAIT FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE UNTIL 2022, WHO OFFICIAL SAYS

Losing the physical classroom, however, doesn’t mean teachers have to lose the connection with their students. Pickens said teachers will still have plenty of information coming their way from students that could signal a larger issue is going on.

“If there’s a change in mood, there’s less engagement, hearing things as the student learns from home like arguments, etc., these allow educators to perk their ears up,” he said.

And while the safety of the physical classroom may be gone, there are many ways educators can provide support to their students virtually that might even be more helpful than before.

“The virtual world gives multiple modes for communicating, so there are multiple ways you can communicate something that you are experiencing,” Pickens said, adding that a chatroom, an email, or a video chat might actually make it easier for a student to approach a teacher with an issue rather than doing so in-person.

Others, however, may feel at a disadvantage to teaching their students remotely, especially those who never had the chance to meet their students in person to establish a baseline for their mood, demeanor or work habits. For those teachers, Pickens recommends looking for the universal signs that could mean emotional distress such as feelings of hopeless, incomplete assignments, low levels of engagement, or not participating in class activities online, or being a disruption like arguing with students in online chats.

“Teachers don’t need to be social workers, but what [recognizing these emotions] does is it normalizes that one, we’re all going through something right now and two, it’s OK to share parts of ourselves in virtual space to use that foundation to continue to connect and open up in many ways,” he said.  

Being direct when communicating with the student can help bolster their emotional being or let them know there is help available. Teachers should reach out directly to the student to let them know they notice a change in attitude, Pickens said.

“Being direct allows students to feel seen,” Pickens said. “Communicating that they are not a burden, whether virtual or in a private chat, saying ‘I’m wondering what it is that has you feeling whatever feeling they are feeling,’ it helps the kids have language to communicate. Think about who is the best ongoing support for the child, it might be a parent, or it might be a peer who can help make the kid feel less lonely – and sometimes it might be professional support.”

On the flip side, Pickens said virtual learning has helped teachers notice students who may have previously slipped through the cracks due to shyness or lack of confidence in the classroom, and those students are starting to blossom through online platforms. It’s also helping to identify students who might need more academic support.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE 

“One of the things teachers have been really praising is multiple ways to engage in class – students are engaging a lot more and it’s very easy to be a student by just participating in the chat,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

Bisexual adults less likely to enjoy health benefits of education

Education has long been linked to health—the more schooling people have, the healthier they are likely to be. But a new study from Rice University sociologists found that the health benefits of a good education are less evident among well-educated bisexual adults.

“Education and health: The joint role of gender and sexual identity” examines health among straight, bisexual, gay and lesbian adults with various educational backgrounds. Authors Zhe Zhang, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice, Bridget Gorman, a professor of sociology at Rice, and Alexa Solazzo, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, were particularly interested in bisexual adults, since they may experience distinctive health vulnerabilities.

The researchers found that while having at least a bachelor’s degree was linked to better health among bisexual adults, they received less benefit than heterosexual and gay or lesbian adults with similar education. This effect was especially true for bisexual women.

“The health benefits of education are well established—so much so that anything we do to promote and improve public education should really be viewed as health policy,” Gorman said. “It’s that impactful on health and well-being. That our analysis showed less health benefit associated with education among bisexual adults compared to heterosexual, gay and lesbian adults is concerning.”

While the researchers could not pinpoint the exact cause, they theorized the problem might be social stigma and additional anxiety among women due to gender discrimination, Zhang said.

“Discrimination of any kind can take a heavy toll on health,” Zhang said. “While we cannot say with certainty that is what is happening in this study, it’s a very real possibility.”

Source: Read Full Article

Cell-type mapping used to identify cellular substrates that underlie two types of thirst

A team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology, Nankai University and the University of California, Berkeley, has found that the cellular substrates that underlie two types of thirst could be identified using a certain kind of cell-type mapping. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group outlines their study of thirst and the way it is processed by the brain.

Prior research has shown that our brains process at least two main kinds of thirst: Osmotic and hypovolaemic. Osmotic thirst is what we feel when we need more water. Hypovolaemic thirst is what we feel when we need minerals and water to replenish blood supplies. The researchers note that this can be easily observed—when people are just thirsty, they will be satisfied with a glass of water. But when they have been working out, they need water with added minerals. This is because we lose minerals through sweat. In this new effort, the researchers wanted to learn more about how the brain processes both types of thirst.

Prior research has shown that circumventricular organs located in the lamina terminalis are the parts of the brain that process the two kinds of thirst, but how they do so has not been clear. To find out, the researchers used stimulus-to-cell type mapping which involved the use of single-cell RNA sequencing. The goal was to figure out which of the cellular components were involved with processing thirst types. They then forced test mice to experience either of the two types of thirst. That allowed them to see which cells were responding to which type of thirst. They also used optogenetics, in which the cells were engineered to respond to a light source. Shining a light on the cells then produced one kind of thirst or the other depending on how they had been engineered as evidenced by the water source the mice chose to use—one that was just water, or one that contained minerals, salt and sugar.

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus outbreak linked to spin studio in Canada: officials

Fox News Flash top headlines for October 14

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on Foxnews.com.

More than 60 cases of the novel coronavirus have been linked to a spin studio in Canada, according to public health officials there. 

Some 61 people have been infected with the virus in connection with an outbreak at the cycling studio Spinco in Hamilton, which is located in the province of Ontario. 

Exposure dates range between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4.
(iStock)

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, the medical officer of health in Hamilton, said 44 of the cases have been reported among spin studio patrons, while 17 are secondary cases linked to the primary cases. 

"We haven't kept an exact count on how many of those [secondary cases] have had contacts," she said. "In general, we're up to having people having 20 to 25 contacts per case that we investigate … we haven't specifically tracked contacts for this outbreak and don't do that generally,” she said when warning the outbreak could grow larger, according to the Canadian outlet CBC News. 

CLOTH CORONAVIRUS FACE MASKS WORK — BUT ONLY IF YOU DO THIS AFTER WEARING THEM, STUDY FINDS

Exposure dates range between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4. 

It’s not currently clear how the outbreak began, as the studio reportedly has taken “proper pandemic protocol” since reopening, per the outlet. 

"Gyms are a higher risk place because of the fact generally people are taking off their masks, breathing at a higher rate and more deeply, and especially in classes where there's coaching going on, that tends to be a louder tone to speak over music," Richardson said. 

On its website, Spinco lists the precautions it has taken, including enhanced sanitation and social distancing measures. Both staff and members are required to wear masks at all times while in the studio, but class participants are, however, allowed to remove their masks once they are clipped into their bike. 

RISKIEST BEHAVIORS TO AVOID DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, ACCORDING TO AN EXPERT

“Instructors must request all riders put their masks back on prior to getting off their bikes at the end of class, and must wear them out of the studio,” the website notes. 

In a statement posted to Instagram earlier this week, the owners of the Spinco studio in Hamilton said that everyone who has tested positive is doing well. 

"We love you and we miss you!" the statement reads in part. "When we started the journey to open a SPINCO franchise in Hamilton, we had a dream of building an inclusive space for everyone to exercise. We got the green light to reopen in July, like everyone we were hesitant, but we took all the measures public health offered, even added a few, and still the pandemic struck us again!" 

"It started September 28 and spread amongst specific classes until October 5th," the post reads. "SPINCO Hamilton has been closed from the moment the outbreak was identified. As of today, everyone who has tested positive, are well. Our team, alongside Public Health has notified everyone. "We have been following all the procedures set in place by public health. We have been in constant contact with our riders and we will continue to do so, if not daily, then every few days, with updates." 

The owners vowed to come back stronger once it's deemed safe to do so. 

"So we are at a point, where either we let this pandemic own us, or we take ownership back. We are determined to switch the script! We can and we know the power of our community," the post read. "So while we wait and remain closed, you have our commitment that we will not re-open until it is safe to do so, we need to show our city and the rest of our province that the SPINCO community is not going anywhere! We are strong, we are tough and we fight together.."  

CLICK FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE 

In other parts of Ontario, namely Peel, Ottawa, and Toronto, gyms are facing a second closure. But Richardson said officials are continuing to review the outbreak in Hamilton before again shutting down fitness studios there. 

"If we saw something that extended beyond this one particular instance we would definitely move to do something more quickly, but right now … saying make sure you're wearing a mask, make sure you're distancing, turn that music down, don't be yelling …while we look at this and see what more could be done,” she said, according to CBC News. 

Source: Read Full Article