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Sportmix pet food recall issued after 28 dogs died

Pet food company recalls several types of Sportmix brand dry dog ​​and cat food after 28 dogs died and eight others fell ill, likely due to ingestion of lethal levels of a toxin produced by mold.

Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. of Evansville, Indiana, on Wednesday announced a voluntary recall of some of its Sportmix products distributed nationally online and in retail stores after tests showed the toxin levels , aflatoxin, exceeded acceptable limits.

Aflatoxin is produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and grains used as ingredients in pet foods, the FDA said. At high levels, the toxin can cause disease or death in pets, or cause liver damage without symptoms, the department said. The toxin, he says, can still be present even if there is no visible mold.

“Pets are very susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people who eat a varied diet, animals generally eat the same food continuously over long periods of time,” the FDA said. “If an animal’s food contains aflatoxin, the toxin could build up in the animal’s system as it continues to eat the same food.

Midwestern Pet Foods responded to a request for comment Thursday with reference to the company’s recall announcement, which had been shared by the FDA.

No illnesses were reported in cats or people on Wednesday. The FDA said it was “carrying out follow-up activities in the manufacturing plant” where the food is produced, and warned that the number of cases and the scope of the recall could increase. Vets have been encouraged to report any new cases, especially those that have been confirmed by diagnostic testing.

The recall includes Sportmix Energy Plus in 50 and 44 pound bags; Sportmix Premium High Energy in 50 and 44 lb bags; and Sportmix Original Cat in 31 and 15 lb bags. Retailers have been instructed not to sell or give away the affected pet food, which has an expiration date of March 2-3, 2022.

Pets poisoned with aflatoxin may show symptoms such as laziness, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or jaundice – a yellow tint in the eyes, gums, or skin due to liver damage . People whose pets have eaten the recalled foods should stop feeding them and contact a veterinarian, especially if their pets are showing symptoms of the disease, the FDA said.

The FDA also suggested using bleach to disinfect pet food storage bowls, spoons, and containers if the recalled food is consumed.

There is no evidence that pet owners who handle food containing aflatoxin are at risk of poisoning, but the FDA has suggested that they wash their hands after handling their pet’s food.

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42 people in West Virginia are mistakenly given treatment for the virus instead of the vaccine.

Forty-two people in Boone County, southwestern West Virginia, who were due to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday were mistakenly injected with an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment instead, said Thursday the West Virginia National Guard.

None of the 42 recipients have developed side effects so far, the guard said in a statement. The Guard, which leads the state’s vaccine distribution effort, called the mistake a “break in the process.”

The experimental treatment, a cocktail of antibodies made by Regeneron, is the same one President Trump received when he was hospitalized with Covid-19 in November. It is intended to be administered by intravenous infusion and not by direct injection like the vaccine.

Major General James Hoyer, the adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, said the confusion apparently occurred during the delivery of a shipment of the Regeneron cocktail to a distribution center, where the vials were placed among the Moderna vaccine supplies. Workers at the center then apparently included the treatment vials in a vaccine shipment to Boone County.

General Hoyer attributed the situation to “some human error” and said the guard acted quickly as soon as they realized what had happened. “We found a problem, we solve it and we move forward” he said in a radio interview Thursday.

No other vaccine shipments were affected, the guard said in a statement.

The vials for the treatment and the vaccine look a bit alike, but are clearly labeled, as are the boxes that contain them. Both are kept in the refrigerator before use.

The blunder came at a time when a record number of hospitalizations across the country signaled a greater need than ever for antibody treatments, which are scarce and expensive, although some supplies remain unused in refrigerators across the country.

West Virginia officials on Thursday reported 1,109 new cases of the coronavirus and 20 new deaths. There have been at least 85,334 cases and 1,338 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.

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Lockheed growth engineer Daniel M. Tellep dies at 89

Daniel M. Tellep, an aerospace engineer who initiated a merger between Lockheed and Martin Marietta to form the world’s largest military contractor and then became its first general manager, died Nov. 26 at his home in Saratoga, Calif. . He was 89 years old.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Susan Tellep.

Mr. Tellep was the head of Lockheed at the end of the Cold War. Lockheed, based in Calabasas, was struggling and looking to meet potentially diminished demand as global tensions ease, as was Martin Marietta, led at the time by Norman R. Augustine. The merger in 1995 created a giant in the defense industry. In 2019, Lockheed Martin’s net sales were $ 59.8 billion.

“The ‘peer-to-peer fusion’” he orchestrated between Lockheed and Martin “has led to innovations and capabilities that continue to protect our nation, our allies and our highest ideals,” said Marillyn Hewson , Executive Chairman of Lockheed Martin, in a statement after Mr. Tellep’s death.

As Managing Director of Lockheed and then Lockheed Martin, Mr. Tellep oversaw the development of military communications satellites, photographic intelligence satellites, the Hubble Space Telescope and more.

As an engineer at Lockheed, he was a pioneer in space systems and missile technology. He was the lead scientist in the country’s first re-entry flight experiments, conducted to determine how a nuclear missile could best pass through the atmosphere, into space, and then back into the atmosphere without being destroyed. He has also worked on submarine-launched ballistic missile systems and the production of thermal tiles to protect space shuttles.

“He had a lot of knowledge of how to keep things from burning, basically,” longtime colleague David Klinger said in a phone interview. “He was very good at math as well as practicing making things work. And he was so good that the company put him in charge of more and more people.

Daniel Tellep was born on November 20, 1931 in Forest City, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles northeast of Scranton, to John and Mary Tellep. His father worked as a coal processor and then as a carpenter. Her mother, who immigrated from Eastern Europe as a child, worked for a threading company. The family then moved to San Diego, where his father worked as a machinist and where Daniel grew up.

Daniel was obsessed with flying from an early age, when he began to develop a passion for model airplanes; in a memoir he wrote for his family, he recalls building his first:

“There is no doubt that the finished model was raw, but it was there, three-dimensional, recognizable as one of the popular planes of the time, and I could hold it on my arm and move it around like it was in flight. I remember watching it for hours.

He studied mechanical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, graduated summa cum laude in 1954, and received a master’s degree in 1955. He joined Lockheed that year. He was the principal scientist of the X-17, one of the first research rockets.

Tellep’s work in return technology and thermodynamics earned him, at age 32, the Lawrence B. Sperry Award from the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was then elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Rising through Lockheed’s ranks, Mr. Tellep was named president in 1984 and president and CEO in 1989. The company had struggled and he helped turn the tide. He was in charge when he won a major contract to build the F-22, the Air Force’s latest generation of fighter jets at the time. The deal resulted in $ 70 billion in revenue for the company and its partners and solidified Lockheed’s rebound.

His leadership was noticed.

“Throughout Lockheed’s struggles of the past few years, Mr. Tellep has retained his characteristic exterior calm and affability,” the New York Times wrote about him in 1991, “though he has proved to be as tough as the most ruthless corporate raider.

Mr. Tellep became Lockheed Martin’s first President and CEO in 1995, as CEO for nine months and as Chairman until 1998.

He met Margaret Lewis at college and married her in 1954. The couple had four daughters and later divorced. He met and married Patricia Baumgartner, psychotherapist, in 1970. They remained together until his death in 2005.

In addition to his daughter Susan, he is survived by his three other daughters, Teresa and Mary Tellep and Patricia Axelrod; his first wife, with whom he remained close; two daughters-in-law from his second marriage, Chris Chatwell and Anne Bossange; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Mr. Tellep’s passion for flight extended to his adulthood, when he soared through the skies aboard motorless gliders, a pursuit requiring a thorough knowledge of wind and thermodynamics. He flew radio controlled airplanes in the early 1980s. And the model airplanes he built as a child, including a treasured plane he lost, are fondly remembered.

“On a hot summer day, I launched the glider,” he wrote in his family memoir, “and it seemed to spin forever, barely coming down. It was then that I learned the “thermals”. This rising column of air takes everything light with it – including my glider. Since I didn’t put my name on it, there was no way to give it back. Now, so many years later, it’s with me in a different way.

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Richard Thornburgh, former governor and attorney general, dies at 88

Dick Thornburgh, two-term Republican Governor of Pennsylvania who faced America’s worst nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 and then served as United States Attorney General under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, has died Thursday in a retirement home in Oakmont. , Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh. He was 88 years old.

His son David confirmed the death.

To the millions of voters who elected him, the five presidents he worked for in the Justice Department and the hundreds of organized crime figures, white-collar criminals and corrupt officials he prosecuted, Mr. Thornburgh was an ambitious man with a formula for success: clean the house, restore order and move to a higher office.

It worked for over two decades. He served as Richard M. Nixon’s Federal Attorney in Pittsburgh (1969 to 1975) and Deputy Attorney General to Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter in charge of the Criminal Division (1975 to 1977). He was the only Republican to serve two consecutive terms as governor of Pennsylvania (1979 to 1987). And he was the attorney general who bridged the Reagan and Bush justice departments (1988 to 1991).

But there was no formula for dealing with nuclear fusion. Trained in civil engineering and law, Mr. Thornburgh was used to dealing with cold and hard facts of science and law. But facts were hard to find in the maelstrom of chaos and fear following the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor at the Three Mile Island Power Plant near Harrisburg, Pa. On March 28, 1979.

This happened 10 weeks after he took over as governor and 12 days after the release of “The China Syndrome,” a Jane Fonda-Jack Lemmon film about an uncontrollable nuclear accident, with its speech of a burning reactor. along the planet for China or the explosion in southern California with a layer of radioactivity that “would make an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable,” as one character put it.

Three Mile Island, 10 miles south of the State Capitol on the Susquehanna River, was not a Chinese syndrome. Overheated nuclear fuel pellets melted, a containment was broken, and radiation leaks contaminated the plant and escaped into the air. But the lingering confusion over what had happened and the scale of the danger, compounded by dire warnings from anti-nuclear activists, left the public bewildered.

Taking charge of the crisis, Governor Thornburgh has been a calm voice against the panic and made decisions that have proven to be correct. He ordered a preventive evacuation of pregnant women and young children within a five-mile radius of the factory. About 140,000 people left. And when a false report spread that the factory could explode, he consulted experts, called reporters, and announced that such a danger did not exist.

“You have to reassure people,” he said. “You have to walk past the cameras and the microphones and tell them what you know and what you don’t know. You have to stop the rumors and, of course, you have to make decisions. There is no Republican or Democratic way to deal with a nuclear crisis. No one has ever had to deal with this kind of accident before.

President Carter, visiting the paralyzed plant five days after the accident, praised the governor’s “superlative” performance. “Because of the confidence of the American people in him, and especially those who live in this region, the potential panic and unrest has been minimized,” Mr. Carter said.

It was an impressive start on the national stage for Mr. Thornburgh, a Rockefeller moderate and rising Republican star, elected on a pledge to put Pennsylvania on a solid economic footing and crack down on corruption, which had worsened under a Democratic predecessor, the governor. Milton J. Shapp. (He also offered voters a catchy slogan to remember his name: “Thornburgh is like Pittsburgh.”)

Mr Thornburgh has balanced the budget for eight years in a row, cut 15,000 state jobs, streamlined bureaucracy, cut taxes and state debt and left office with a surplus of $ 350 million. It also reduced unemployment, implemented social reforms and encouraged economic development. The private sector added 50,000 businesses and 500,000 jobs. At the end of his term, he had a 72% approval rating.

He taught at Harvard for a year, and in 1988 President Reagan, nearing the end of his second term, appointed Mr. Thornburgh to succeed Attorney General Edwin L. Meese 3rd, who had resigned under a cloud of allegations of ethics and misconduct. Five months later, newly elected President Bush retained him as attorney general, and he became the administration’s go-to person on criminal justice and civil rights issues.

Mr Thornburgh has reduced organized crime strike forces across the country, arguing that federal prosecutors could do a better job. He has attacked white-collar crime, winning convictions in a savings and loan scandal and against corrupt defense contractors, securities dealers and public officials, and stepped up the fight against drug trafficking , money laundering and terrorism.

He resigned as attorney general in 1991 to run in a special election for the unexpired term of Senator John Heinz, a Republican from Pennsylvania who had been killed in a mid-air plane crash. Harris Wofford, a Democrat and former Pennsylvania labor secretary, had been appointed temporarily, and senior Republicans were eager for Mr. Thornburgh to return to the seat and perhaps use him as a stepping stone to the presidency.

Mr. Thornburgh was much favored. But after a slow campaign, in which he continued to speak of severity on crime, he lost to Mr Wofford, former university president and assistant to John F. Kennedy, in this rarest political rarity, a slip of upset ground. Mr Wofford overcame Thornburgh’s 47 percent lead in the polls and won the start, with a 56-44 margin for the win.

Richard Lewis Thornburgh was born in Pittsburgh on July 16, 1932 to Charles and Alice (Sanborn) Thornburgh. His father was an engineer. After graduating from Mercersburg Academy, a prep school in Pennsylvania, in 1950, he earned an engineering degree from Yale in 1954 and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1957.

In 1959, he joined the Pittsburgh-based law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

Mr. Thornburgh had married Virginia Hooten, his childhood sweetheart, in 1955 and had three sons with her, John, David and Peter. She was killed in 1960 in a car accident that left Peter with permanent brain damage. In 1963, Mr. Thornburgh married Ginny Judson, with whom he had a fourth son, William.

In addition to his son David, Mr. Thornburgh is survived by Mrs. Judson; his other sons; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

For years, Mr Thornburgh and his second wife have championed equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities, a fight they initially joined on behalf of Peter. As Attorney General, Mr. Thornburgh led the Bush administration’s campaign in Congress to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990, which prohibited discrimination against people with physical, mental and sensory disabilities.

He began his political career with an unsuccessful race for a Pittsburgh seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1966 and ended it 25 years later with his loss in the Senate in 1991 to Mr. Wofford.

He served a year at the United Nations as Undersecretary for Personnel, Budget and Finance, then returned to practicing law where his career began, in what is today K&L Gates, the one of the largest international law firms in the country.

He has written numerous articles and reports on litigation and public policy, and has authored “Where the Evidence Leads: An Autobiography” (2003) and “Puerto Rico’s Future: A Time to Decide” (2007), which called for self-determination. for the territory of the United States, he described it as a vestige of colonialism.

Alex Traub contributed reporting.

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This year the midnight drag queen arrives at 9 p.m.

Joe Schroeder, owner of a bar in Key West, Florida, was faced with a dilemma.

For 23 years, its New Years Eve tradition in the southernmost city in the continental United States has drawn thousands of people from around the world who flock to see this tourist city’s version of the ball drop in New York City: a drag queen named Sushi, who descends from an eight foot red stiletto at the stroke of midnight. But people were dying all over the world, and to help end the scourge locally, the city known for its alcohol-infused nightlife has imposed a dreaded 10 p.m. curfew.

Hotel bookings across the city have fallen by at least 10%. The party seemed doomed.

Watching comedian Red Skelton for wisdom, Mr. Schroeder moved the midnight celebration to three o’clock.

“Just like it’s 5pm somewhere, we say, ‘It’s midnight somewhere,’” Mr. Schroeder said. “It’s New Year’s Eve somewhere in the world at 9pm, I’m thinking of the Canary Islands.”

In fact, it is South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands, a British territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Much to the dismay of many would-be revelers, the shoe and its dazzled occupant have been moved to the back of the Bourbon Street Pub, and the 9pm shoe show will take place in front of a private audience paying for tickets of around 200 people.

Mr. Schroeder stressed that the people count will allow a great social distance, as the outdoor site can accommodate more than 1,000 people.

“Some people hate the idea, and some people like the idea,” said Gary Marion, 53, the female impersonator who makes the front page of the show every year. “I guess no matter what, there will be people in town. There will be alcohol, whether it is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. or 2 a.m. ”

Mr. Marion started working at the pub as a janitor in the 1990s. His job description grew to include curtain sewing and drag performance. The first New Years Eve event featuring him as a Sushi took place in 1997 and included hostile visits by police and a robed town commissioner, who was dragged out of bed to determine to what it was.

Mr. Marion now runs a drag queen cabaret every night across the street. He passed the pandemic tailoring masks to help support the drag queens during the lockdown, when the bar was closed. It closed again for two weeks last month, when at least five of the 14 drag queens contracted the coronavirus, he said.

For the New Year, Sushi will wear a hand-embroidered 1920s Chinese ceremonial dress, which Mr. Marion has cut and reused.

“The shoe has to continue,” Mr. Schroeder said.

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Sasse denounces GOP efforts to challenge election results as ‘dangerous ploy’

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ben Sasse on Thursday eviscerated the willingness of his fellow Republican Congressmen to challenge the 2020 election results, calling the effort a “dangerous ploy” led by lawmakers “playing with fire.”

In a dazzling open letter to his constituents, Mr. Sasse of Nebraska became the first Republican senator to publicly condemn a decision by Senator Josh Hawley to challenge the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., saying his intention was to ” deprive of his voting rights ”. millions of Americans. “

“Let’s be clear what’s going on here: we have a group of ambitious politicians who believe there is a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without causing real long-term damage,” Sasse wrote. “But they’re wrong – and this problem is beyond anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults do not point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate autonomy. “

Mr Sasse’s scathing remarks came a day after Mr Hawley, Republican of Missouri, announced he would oppose Congressional certification of Electoral College results on Jan.6, the final procedural step in asserting the Mr. Biden’s victory.

Mr Hawley’s decision ensures that the process, usually a formality, will force votes up or down on the House and Senate floors, forcing lawmakers to show loyalty to President Trump and oppose the results or protect the sanctity of the electoral process. .

There is almost no chance that the effort, led by Mr. Hawley in the Senate and a small group of Republican lawmakers in the House, will succeed in reversing the outcome. But Mr Hawley’s decision to challenge the results has exposed the rift within the party between those keen to ignore Mr Trump’s false claims and those clamoring to respond to the president’s request.

Mr Trump continued to falsely claim that Mr Biden unfairly won the election due to widespread electoral fraud and demanded that Republicans in Congress make every effort to overturn the results. Attorney General William P. Barr admitted this month that the Justice Department had uncovered no electoral fraud that would have changed election results and the Supreme Court, as well as the courts of at least eight key states in across the country, have refused or dismissed challenges launched by the Trump campaign in an attempt to reject the election results. These challenges did not fail to reverse the results in one state.

While a steady stream of House Republicans have announced their willingness to oppose critical state election votes, Mr. Hawley is the first senator to do so. He hinted on Wednesday that other senators may soon join his efforts, telling reporters “a number of offices have contacted ours through staff and said, ‘We are interested.’

On Thursday, he launched a fundraising pitch highlighting his plan. “We have to make sure that a vote means a vote in America,” read the post, which was placed next to a photo of Mr. Hawley and Mr. Trump. “I intend to oppose the Electoral College results on January 6, but I need your help.”

It is not known how many – if any – of his Senate colleagues will rally to his side.

But this is already creating a sort of test for Republicans and their allies, who are being forced to side with and support Mr. Trump or reject his efforts to overturn the election.

His Wednesday announcement was met with a lack of enthusiasm in many conservative circles. This month Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and majority leader, discouraged lawmakers from opposing the results, arguing that a challenge would force senators to formally declare themselves by challenging Mr. Trump or rejecting the will of the voters.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board called it a “kamikaze mission” this week and said “Republicans should be embarrassed by the commotion in Mr. Trump’s constituency.”

The New York Post, which has supported Mr. Trump for years, proclaimed on Monday: “Give up, Mr. President – for your good and that of the nation.”

Mr Hawley’s objection will force the Senate to debate his claim for up to two hours, followed by a vote on Mr Biden’s victory. Since every Democrat in the Senate is expected to certify the election, along with at least several Republicans, the Senate is likely to affirm Mr. Biden’s victory. The House, which also has to take the same vote, is controlled by Democrats, making certification a certainty.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said he was “curious to see” the evidence behind the objection, but expressed skepticism of the effort, noting that a multitude of courts had already canceled the challenges of the Trump campaign.

“There are a lot of things I don’t want to see that happen,” Mr. Cornyn said. “So you just have to learn to deal with it.” And I think that’s one of them.

“I wonder why he is doing it when the courts have unanimously dismissed the lawsuits the president’s team filed for lack of credible evidence,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. “Senator Hawley is a smart lawyer who served as a Supreme Court clerk, so he clearly understands that.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who questioned whether Mr. Biden had won the election fairly and was often eager to engage in the battles demanded by Mr. Trump, said he supports Mr. Hawley but would not join him in opposing. He left open the possibility of voting to support the objection.

“There is no reason for more people to oppose,” Mr Johnson told reporters. “It only takes one. But I will support its efforts and support the conference’s efforts” to “hear the issues.”

House Republicans were more eager to challenge the results. Eight Republican members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation Thursday ad that they would challenge Mr Biden’s electoral votes, citing the use of electoral procedures that they said were not authorized by state lawmakers. Pennsylvania Republican state lawmakers also wrote to McConnell on Thursday urging him to “challenge certification until an investigation is completed” into allegations of electoral law violations.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, said he believes more than 100 Republican lawmakers could ultimately vote to support the objections in the House. This month 126 Republican lawmakers in the House, including the party leader – representing over 60% of the conference – joined a legal brief supporting an extraordinary trial to overturn Mr Biden’s victory, and dozens have already signed off on the effort to challenge the results on Jan.6.

Mr. Kinzinger, a vocal critic of attempts by Mr. Trump and his allies in Congress to overturn the election, said on “The Bulwark Podcast” that he hoped his colleagues would prove him wrong.

“I am right above the undermining of democracy and the frankly enormous damage that is being done with it,” Kinzinger said.

Some of his colleagues agreed that this effort was an inappropriate undertaking. Representative-elect Nancy Mace of South Carolina told the Post and Courier she would not vote to overturn the results. “I don’t think Congress knows better than voters or better than states,” she said.

But more House Republicans said Thursday they would support the campaign, and none have come forward to condemn it. Four members of the Missouri House delegation followed Mr Hawley’s lead, acknowledging in a joint statement that they knew the effort would eventually fail.

“We have no illusions about the outcome, at the end of the day it’s still Nancy Pelosi’s home,” they wrote. “Our only hope is that more will join us – that more will value protecting the vote of every American living in their state as much as we fight for yours.”

Other lawmakers, led by Representative Louis Gohmert of Texas, are trying a different tactic in an attempt to block Mr Biden’s victory. They have filed a lawsuit against Vice President Mike Pence who is trying to strike down the 1880s law governing Electoral College voting, a move to get a judge to tell Mr Pence that he does not have to accept electoral votes.

The judge asked Mr Pence to respond to the lawsuit before work was completed on Thursday.

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How is the variant of the coronavirus spread? Here’s what scientists know

A more contagious form of the coronavirus has started circulating in the United States.

In Britain, where it was first identified, the new variant has become the predominant form of the coronavirus in just three months, accelerating that country’s skyrocketing and filling its hospitals. It could do the same in the United States, exacerbating a steady rise in deaths and overwhelming the already strained healthcare system, experts have warned.

A variant that spreads more easily also means people will have to religiously adhere to precautions such as social distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene and better ventilation – bad news for many Americans who rub themselves in. already to restrictions.

“The bottom line is that anything we do to reduce transmission will reduce transmission of all variants, including this one,” said Angela Rasmussen, an affiliate virologist at Georgetown University. But “it may mean that more targeted measures that don’t look like a full lockdown won’t be as effective.”

What does it mean for this variant to be more transmissible? What makes this variant more contagious than previous iterations of the virus? And why should we be worried about a variant that spreads more easily but doesn’t seem to make anyone sicker?

We asked experts to weigh in on the evolution of research on this new version of the coronavirus.

Many variants of the coronavirus have appeared since the start of the pandemic. But all the evidence so far suggests that the new mutant, called B.1.1.7, is more transmissible than the previous forms. It first surfaced in September in Britain, but already accounts for more than 60% of new cases in London and neighboring regions.

The new variant appears to infect more people than previous versions of the coronavirus, even when the environments are the same. It is not known what gives the variant this advantage, although there are indications that it could infect cells more efficiently.

It’s also difficult to say exactly how much more transmissible the new variant may be, as scientists have yet to do the type of lab experiments needed. Most of the conclusions have been drawn from epidemiological observations, and “there is so much possible bias in all the available data,” warned Muge Cevik, an infectious disease specialist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and scientific adviser. from the British government. .

Scientists initially estimated the new variant to be 70% more transmissible, but a recent modeling study put the figure at 56%. Once the researchers sift through all of the data, it’s possible the variant will turn out to be only 10-20% more transmissible, said Trevor Bedford, evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Even so, Dr Bedford said, it is likely to spread rapidly and become the predominant form in the United States by March. Scientists like Dr Bedford are closely monitoring all known variants for any additional changes that could alter their behavior.

The new mutant virus can spread more easily, but in all respects it looks little different from its predecessors.

So far, at least, the variant doesn’t seem to make people sicker or lead to more deaths. Still, there is cause for concern: A more transmissible variant will increase the death toll simply because it will spread faster and infect more people.

“In that sense, it’s just a numbers game,” said Dr Rasmussen. The effect will be amplified “in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, where the health system is really at its breaking point”.

The routes of transmission – through large and small droplets and tiny aerosolized particles drifting through congested indoor spaces – have not changed. This means that masks, limiting time with others, and improving ventilation in indoor spaces will all help contain the spread of the variant, as these measures do with other variants of the virus.

“By minimizing your exposure to any virus, you will reduce your risk of getting infected, and this will reduce transmission overall,” said Dr Rasmussen.

Some preliminary evidence from Britain suggests that people infected with the new variant tend to carry greater amounts of the virus in their nose and throat than those infected with previous versions.

“We are talking in the range between 10 times greater and 10,000 times greater,” said Michael Kidd, clinical virologist at Public Health England and clinical adviser to the UK government who has studied the phenomenon.

There are other explanations for the discovery – Dr Kidd and his colleagues have not had access to information on the timing of their illness, for example, which could affect their so-called viral load.

Still, the discovery offers a possible explanation why the new variant spreads more easily. The more viruses infected people harbor in their noses and throats, the more they expel into the air and onto surfaces when they breathe, speak, sing, cough or sneeze.

As a result, situations that expose people to the virus are more likely to sow new infections. Some new data indicates that people infected with the new variant are spreading the virus to more of their contacts.

With previous versions of the virus, contact tracing suggested that around 10% of people in close contact with an infected person – within six feet for at least 15 minutes – inhaled enough virus to become infected.

“With the variant, we might expect 15 percent of these,” Dr Bedford said. “Currently, risky activities are becoming more risky.”

The variant has 23 mutations, compared to the version that erupted in Wuhan, China a year ago. But 17 of those mutations appeared suddenly, after the virus diverged from its most recent ancestor.

Each infected person is a melting pot, offering the possibility for the virus to mutate as it multiplies. With more than 83 million people infected worldwide, the coronavirus is amassing mutations faster than scientists expected at the start of the pandemic.

The vast majority of mutations bring no benefit to the virus and die off. But mutations that improve the ability or transmissibility of the virus are more likely to be felt.

At least one of the variant’s 17 new mutations contributes to its greater contagiousness. The mechanism is not yet known. Some data suggests that the new variant can bind more tightly to a protein on the surface of human cells, allowing it to infect them more easily.

It is possible for the variant to bloom in the nose and throat of an infected person, but not in the lungs, for example – which may explain why patients spread it more easily but do not develop more serious illnesses than those caused. by earlier versions of the virus. Some influenza viruses behave similarly, the experts noted.

“We have to view this evidence as preliminary and accumulating,” said Dr Cevik of the growing data on the new variant.

Yet research to date suggests an urgent need to reduce transmission of the variant, she added: “We need to be much more careful overall and look at the gaps in our mitigation measures. “

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Video: De Blasio pledges to vaccinate one million New Yorkers in January

new video loaded: De Blasio pledges to vaccinate one million New Yorkers in January

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De Blasio pledges to vaccinate one million New Yorkers in January

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set an ambitious resolution for 2021, pledging Thursday to accelerate the city’s efforts to get more doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for residents.

The most important New Year’s resolution I could offer you, in January 2021, we’re going to vaccinate a million New Yorkers. A million people. we will reach in january. This city can do it. This city’s incredible health professionals are ready. We will be setting up new sites throughout the city in addition to the many sites already operational. We are going to move from our hospitals and clinics to community clinics and to locations that we will set up all over the city. Our goal is to reach over 250 locations across the city. It’s going to be a huge effort. It will be part of the largest single vaccination effort in New York City history. It will take a lot of work. It will require enormous urgency and concentration. And we will need the help of the federal government. We will need the help of the state government. We will need the help of the vaccine manufacturers. But we are clearly telling the world that we can do a million vaccinations in January. We get that help, we’ll get there.

Recent episodes of Coronavirus pandemic: latest updates

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Sportmix pet food recall issued after 28 dogs died

Pet food company recalls several types of Sportmix brand dry dog ​​and cat food after 28 dogs died and eight others fell ill, likely due to ingestion of lethal levels of a toxin produced by mold.

Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. of Evansville, Indiana, on Wednesday announced a voluntary recall of some of its Sportmix products distributed nationally online and in retail stores after tests showed the toxin levels , aflatoxin, exceeded acceptable limits.

Aflatoxin is produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and grains used as ingredients in pet foods, the FDA said. At high levels, the toxin can cause disease or death in pets, or cause liver damage without symptoms, the department said. The toxin, he says, can still be present even if there is no visible mold.

“Pets are very susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people who eat a varied diet, animals generally eat the same food continuously over long periods of time,” the FDA said. “If an animal’s food contains aflatoxin, the toxin could build up in the animal’s system as it continues to eat the same food.

Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. responded to a request for comment on Thursday with reference to the company’s recall announcement, which had been shared by the FDA.

No illnesses were reported in cats or people on Wednesday. The FDA said it was “carrying out follow-up activities in the manufacturing plant” where the food is produced, and warned that the number of cases and the scope of the recall could increase. Vets have been encouraged to report any new cases, especially those that have been confirmed by diagnostic testing.

The recall includes Sportmix Energy Plus in 50 and 44 pound bags; Sportmix Premium High Energy in 50 and 44 lb bags; and Sportmix Original Cat in 31 and 15 lb bags. Retailers have been instructed not to sell or give away the affected feed.

Pets poisoned with aflatoxin may show symptoms such as laziness, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or jaundice – a yellow tint in the eyes, gums, or skin due to liver damage . People whose pets have eaten the recalled foods should stop feeding them and contact a veterinarian, especially if their pets are showing symptoms of the disease, the FDA said.

The FDA also suggested using bleach to disinfect pet food storage bowls, spoons, and containers if the recalled food is consumed.

There is no evidence that pet owners who handle food containing aflatoxin are at risk of poisoning, but the FDA has suggested that they wash their hands after handling their pet’s food.

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In minority communities, doctors change their minds about vaccination

Like many black and rural Americans, Denese Rankin, a 55-year-old retired accountant and receptionist in Castleberry, Alabama, did not want the Covid-19 vaccine.

Ms Rankin was worried about side effects – she had seen stories on social media about people developing Bell’s palsy, for example, after being vaccinated. She thought the vaccines had arrived too quickly to be sure. And she feared that vaccinations were another example in the government’s long history of medical experimentation on blacks.

Then, one recent weekend, her niece, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University in Atlanta, came to town. Dr Zanthia Wiley said one of her goals while making the trip was to talk to her friends and family at their home in Alabama, getting them to hear the truth about vaccines from someone they know, someone. ‘one that is black.

Across the country, black and Hispanic doctors like Dr Wiley are speaking to Americans in minority communities who are often wary of Covid-19 vaccines and are often suspicious of officials they see on TV telling them to get the vaccine. Many reject public service announcements, say doctors, and the federal government.

Although acceptance of the vaccine is increasing, black and Hispanic Americans – among the groups hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic – remain among the most reluctant to roll up their sleeves. Even health workers in some hospitals have refused vaccines.

But insurance from black and Hispanic doctors can make a huge difference, experts say. “I don’t want us to benefit the least from it,” Dr. Wiley said. “We should be the first to get it.”

Many doctors like her now find themselves not only urging their friends and relatives to get the shots, but also posting on social media and conducting group video calls, asking people to share their concerns and offering advice. reliable information.

“I think it makes all the difference,” said Dr Valeria Daniela Lucio Cantos, infectious disease specialist at Emory. She has hosted town halls and online immunization-themed webinars, including one with black and Hispanic employees of the university’s cleaning staff.

She thinks they’re listening, not only because she’s Hispanic and speaks Spanish, she said, but also because she’s an immigrant – her family is still in Ecuador. “Culturally, they have someone they can relate to,” said Dr. Cantos.

Many of those who hesitate to get vaccinated are mainstays of health in their own families. Ms Rankin, for example, helps take care of Dr Wiley’s grandmother, who is blind, and her grandfather, who cannot walk. Ms Rankin looks at Dr Wiley’s mother, whose health is fragile. And she is the single mother of three daughters, including a 14-year-old daughter who still lives at the home.

“If my aunt were infected my family would be in dire straits,” said Dr Wiley.

Dr Wiley met Ms Rankin, her daughter and mother in the living room of a brick ranch house on a quiet street – socially remote and wearing masks. Dr Wiley answered questions and explained the science behind the vaccine.

No, she said, the vaccine is not made from live coronaviruses that could infect people. No, just because someone was vaccinated and got sick doesn’t mean the vaccine made them sick.

And yes, the vaccine has been tested on tens of thousands of people and the data scrutinized by scientists with nothing to gain and everything to lose by pushing it prematurely.

Dr Wiley told them she was looking forward to being vaccinated herself.

Dr Virginia Banks, an infectious disease specialist in Youngstown, Ohio, who is black, understands the community’s long-standing distrust of the medical establishment.

But she has seen too many people – and not all of them elderly – suffer and die in the pandemic, she said. And Dr. Banks worries about her own risks when caring for patients. “I feel like I’m playing Russian roulette,” she says.

So she tells stories to those who are reluctant to get vaccinated, like that of a patient she recently treated, breathless. He asked her, “Am I going to make it out alive?” She told him she didn’t know.

“We have to tell these stories” to black Americans, she said. “And it has to come from someone who looks like them.”

“My friends and family say, ‘Even if the risk is one in a million, I’m not taking it,’” she added. “I said, ‘I understand your distrust, but this is beyond Tuskegee. It’s beyond “The Immortal Life of Henrietta is Missing.” We are currently in a pandemic. We have to trust science. “”

Dr Banks stresses the ripple effects of individual decisions: “If you don’t take this vaccine and it’s safe, we’ll be wearing masks for a while. If you want to get your life back, if you want to get back to normalcy, you have to rely on trusted messengers like me.

Dr Leo Seoane, an intensive care doctor at Ochsner Health in New Orleans who is Hispanic, has already been vaccinated. When he started talking to his friends, family and other members of the community, virtually everyone said they would not get the shot.

They were concerned that the vaccine was developed too quickly, that it was not safe, that it was not effective, or that it could infect them with the coronavirus. Now, after a gentle persuasion, “for one person, they’ve all changed their minds.”

But few believe that it will only take one or two conversations with a trusted doctor to convert vaccine skeptics into believers.

“When they started talking about the possibility of a vaccine in April, I said, ‘Not at all,’ said Phelemon Reins, a 56-year-old federal government employee. He was wary of the rapid development of vaccines and knew all too well the history of the mistreatment of blacks by the medical system.

“The Trump administration has done nothing to make anyone trust anything that comes out,” he added. “I reject everything they say.”

But Dr Banks, a friend, made him rethink his reluctance. “At the end of the day, it will be people like her that I will depend on,” Mr. Reins said. “I believe her.”

“How to convince the African-American community?” he said. “They might need people who look like him.”