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Inflatable costume may be the cause of an outbreak at California hospital

An air-inflatable costume, worn by a staff member over Christmas to spread holiday cheer, may be to blame for a coronavirus outbreak that has infected dozens of workers at a hospital in San Jose, Calif., Said a spokesperson for the hospital.

An employee wore the costume “briefly” in the emergency department at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Jose, spokeswoman Irene Chavez said in a statement. The hospital opened an investigation after 44 staff members tested positive for the coronavirus between December 27 and Friday, she said.

Inflatable costumes are usually powered by a battery-operated fan that sucks air into the suit, helping it keep its shape. Among the most popular are the T. rex and sumo wrestler models. Some costumes cover the wearer’s face while others leave it exposed.

Ms Chavez declined to say what kind of pneumatic suit the hospital worker was wearing, but described it as “vacation-themed.” As part of its response to the outbreak, she said, the hospital was investigating “whether the costume, which had a ventilator, was a contributing factor.” Air-powered suits have been banned, she said.

It was not known how long the employee had worn the costume in the ER. The hospital declined to say if any patients had been infected.

It was also not known if any of the infected staff received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but experts said it takes at least two weeks for the vaccine’s protective effects to show. . According to the hospital, 40,000 Kaiser employees in Northern California received the first dose of the vaccine.

“Any exposure, if it had occurred, would have been completely innocent, and quite accidental, as the individual had no symptoms of Covid and was only seeking to boost the morale of those around him during a very stressful time Ms. Chavez said of the costumed worker.

The emergency department will be thoroughly cleaned, Ms. Chavez said, and in addition to protocols already in place, employees will be offered free weekly tests.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus is spread primarily by respiratory droplets and can “sometimes be spread by airborne transmission” of larger droplets and smaller aerosols when people “cough, sneeze, sing, talk or breathe ”.

Dr Jose-Luis Jimenez, aerosol expert and professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, helped investigate the choir epidemic in Skagit County, in which at least 53 infections and two deaths have been attributed to a singing practice in Washington State. In an interview on Sunday, he said the outbreak among staff at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center was most likely the result of airborne transmission.

“It’s kind of like the choir,” Dr. Jiminez said. “There is no way to infect 43 people when you wear a costume other than by airborne transmission, by aerosols, because you are inside a costume and you cannot touch objects or infect. of people by surfaces.

The hospital is in Santa Clara County, California, where there have been 73,493 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database. There have been 2,397,923 confirmed cases in California.

More than 21,000 people were hospitalized in California on Jan. 1, according to the Times database, a 26% increase from two weeks earlier.

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Get your hand sanitizer costume. Halloween is still in progress.

Scott Morris, the co-owner of Morris Costumes in Charlotte, NC, has slept in the office for the past 50 days – but he’s not complaining.

His company, which distributes Halloween costumes and backdrops and operates the Halloween Express channel, has struggled to meet demand for the holidays that earlier this year seemed not to be happening as usual. Retailers who typically place orders between May and July largely resisted, worried about whether people would dress up and go out during a pandemic.

“Then they all woke up in early August and said, ‘Oh my God, Halloween is going to happen,’” Morris said last week in an interview.

So began a mad race for a surprisingly robust company this year – with some twists and turns. Coronavirus-related costumes such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and artwork of the virus itself have exploded, Mr Morris said. People also dress in rolls of toilet paper to nod to the obsessive storage of the item during the first months of the pandemic. With the rise of e-commerce, Morris Costumes is sending up to 30,000 packages per day.

There are fewer costumes related to recent films, however, given that Hollywood is mostly on hiatus. And despite the internet’s enthusiasm for a “sexy hand sanitizer” costume, Morris said the “sexy costume category” had perhaps had the most trouble this unusual year.

“Most of these are worn by academics who frequent the bars, and I think a lot of the bars are going to be closed,” he said.

The outlook for Halloween was as bleak as a grim reaper at the start of the pandemic, with companies like Hershey cutting back on candy wrappers tied to treats and some pop-up retailers for spooky merchandise waiting to secure physical spaces. But over the past two months, many Americans have descended into fictitious fear in an overly terrifying year. They’re embarking on decorations like inflatable witches and hanging skeletons as part of a larger spending blitz on household items, and they take on costumes as they look to celebrate Halloween in a safe way, with many considering it. like a last hurray in the open air before the descent of winter. .

“Halloween is turning out to be the last potential holiday people can celebrate, either outside under a patio with heat lamps, or making candy or treats, before Thanksgiving hits,” Robert said. Berman, Managing Director of Rasta Imposta, a costume seller. “The whole family comes into the spirit because everyone keeps saying that we need Halloween, that we need something for the kids,” added Mr. Berman, who is closely involved with the Halloween & Costume Association business group.

The National Retail Federation, an industry group, expected Halloween consumer spending to hit about $ 8 billion this year, down from $ 8.8 billion last year, due to fewer Halloween parties, sleight of hand and haunted house calls. But the enthusiasm around the costumes and decorations persisted.

“We’ve sold more decorations, more animated props than we’ve ever had in our business history,” said Morris, who owns the business with his sister Terri. Bate. People “dress the house a lot more,” he says.

Even people who refrain from cheating or treating are wearing new outfits, often for Facebook and Instagram, said Mr Berman, whose sales have also increased. He compared this year’s quest for light costumes to Halloween after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While some customers have avoided costumes that depict images of the coronavirus itself, people have adopted outfits that, he says, reflect “the culture of what we are facing now.”

“They do fun things like the bottle of disinfectant or the disinfectant,” Berman said. “People are going to be toilet paper – you can either be a full roll of toilet paper or the brown cardboard tube with a small piece of toilet paper stuck to it.” He shared a photo of a group costume involving both outfits with a third person dressed as feces.

Still, the popularity of the costumes linked to Covid-19 is somewhat inadvertent.

“The challenge with the costumes is that it’s kind of like the stock market in that you have to buy the product six, eight months before the holidays,” Morris said. “You really don’t know what’s going to sell, you just say ‘yes’. Hand sanitizer – thought that would be OK, but we’re absolutely exhausted.

While traditional Halloween costumes like witches, ghosts, and Disney princesses still sell out, many Americans are buying and making house versions of costumes that reflect 2020.

Jen Dibert, 43, from Silverdale, Washington, has been handcrafting her daughter’s Halloween costume every year for more than two decades. But as the holidays approach this year, Ms Dibert and her daughter Savannah, 26, struggled to find a costume that would suit such a strange and tumultuous time.

Then the idea came to Ms. Dibert.

“This year has been a real mess,” she said. “Why not get dressed in 2020?”

Savannah will wear a placemat around her neck to symbolize the passing of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg and don a “Make America Great Again” cap as a nod to the upcoming election. She will wear a mule wig, mustache and plastic tiger to portray the hit Netflix show “Tiger King.”

Additional touches include a giant papier-mâché murder hornet on his back and felt sticks and flames on his boots to represent the wildfires on the West Coast. And to symbolize the pandemic, she’ll wear a mask under her chin and carry a grocery basket filled to the brim with – what else? – rolls of toilet paper.

She will wear the outfit to a Halloween party at a popular local bar, where she hopes to win the costume contest.

Ms Dibert, who doesn’t wear a mask in public because she says she doesn’t believe the government has a right to tell people what to do, hopes the party will give her daughter a chance to enjoy a night of pleasure after so much. months of being locked inside.

“I hope it’s like it’s another Halloween and nothing is different on this day unlike the rest of this year,” Ms. Dibert said. “I just want her to feel normal and have fun.”

While Mr. Berman, like many other business owners, praised Halloween sales volume given the uncertainty of the timing, he noted that before the pandemic, 2020 was on the verge of be a boon to the holiday and party industry.

“This would be the year Valentine’s Day fell on a Friday, Cinco de Mayo came across ‘Taco Tuesday’, July 4th was a weekend,” Mr. Berman said, adding: “Halloween was a Saturday , summer day. and a blue moon. So it was that crazy perfect Saturday and Halloween, then Christmas and New Year’s Day also fell on Fridays or Saturdays. It was the perfect, perfect, perfect storm for the party industry.

He added: “2020 should have been the best year ever and it turned out a little different. So are the products selling and things better than they could have been? Yes. Could it have been better if Covid had not happened? Yes.”

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Travel News

Hello super moon and howl at a dog costume contest

Here’s a sample of the week’s events and how to log in (all hours are eastern). Note that events are subject to change after posting.


See the novelist Marlon James discusses his novel “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” a work of science fiction, with Tananarive Due, professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and expert in black horror and Afrofuturism, as part of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – now in its 25th year. Mr. James is also the author of “A Brief History of Seven Killings” of 2014, which won the Man Booker Prize.

When 9 p.m.
Or events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks


Embrace the fall flavors with Milk Street Cooking School’s Free “The New Stew” Course. Videos guide your culinary journey as you learn how to prepare eight stews.

When At any time
Or milk-street-cooking-school.teachable.com

Meditate on the relationship between fashion, politics and power with Robin Givhan, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and critic for the Washington Post. The free conversation, which is part of the Fashion Culture Talk series at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, touches on electoral themes such as wearing PPE and the famous Ruth Bader Ginsburg necklaces. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of the FIT Museum, joins Ms. Givhan. Registration is recommended.

When 18 hours
Or museumatfit.secure.force.com


Enjoy more of New York’s favorite bivalve, the eastern oyster organized by Hudson River Park’s River Project. Oysters are filter feeders and therefore an important part of the ecosystem because they clean the water, making it more habitable for other species. The ‘Shell-ebrate Oysters’ event delves into the history of the shellfish on the city’s shores – before there were hot dog stalls and food carts, the city was packed with oyster stalls – and how scientists are monitoring their growth in the 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary Park.

When 14 hours
Or hudsonriverpark.org

Attend the world premiere of a new work by the choreographer Pam tanowitz during the New York City Ballet New Choreography Virtual Festival. Shot at Lincoln Center, “Solo for Russell: Sites 1-5” stars lead dancer Russell Janzen and is Ms. Tanowitz’s second commission for the City Ballet. The festival continues throughout the week and also features new works from choreographer Jamar Roberts and company resident choreographer Justin Peck.

When 8 p.m.
Or nycballet.com


Get into the spooky spirit and tune into a Halloween contest for the really good boys: The great PUPkin, the 22nd annual (and first virtual) dog costume contest of Fort Greene PUPS, a Brooklyn-based community for local dog owners. After a public vote from October 22-26, see who among the 10 best dressed dogs will take home the top prize.

When 7 p.m.
Or fortgreenepups.org


Jam at a concert Sam smith to celebrate the next album, “Love Goes”, due October 30th. About the new version, Smith told The Times, “I just wanted to do something that feels lighter to me.” Performing from Abbey Road Studios in London, Smith will offer fans favorites such as “Stay With Me” and “Lay Me Down”, and perform new works like “Kids Again”. Tickets start at $ 13.

When 8 p.m.
Or shops.ticketmasterpartners.com

Pay homage to the super moon tonight with a astrological discussion and sound bath by Dynasty Electrik, the musical and spiritual duo Jenny Deveau and Seth Misterka. They use vibrational sounds, chimes, ambient and natural recordings to conduct meditation. A $ 20 donation is recommended and registration is required.

When 10:30 p.m.
Or dynastyelectrik.com/events

For the first time in decades, “It’s the big pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will not be shown on television. But don’t be afraid of the Peanuts fans! You can stream the 25-minute classic for free on Apple TV +.

When Until November 1st
Or apple.com/tv


Take your astronaut costume to the next level by create your own bárány chair, which is commonly used in aerospace physiology training to teach pilots and astronauts about space disorientation. The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia explains how the device works. All you need is a spinning chair.

When At any time
Or fi.edu

Credit…Ka Young Lee

Enjoy Halloween with the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanic Gardens “Strange Science: Tales From the Vault” video series. Staff explore lunar madness, wizarding paintings and carnivorous plants, as well as more appetizing topics like the recipe for “Dracula Bites,” bloody red velvet cupcakes.

When At any time
Or huntington.org/strange-science


See the French artist Pierre Huyghe’s “mental image” works in the online exhibition “Of Ideal” at the Hauser & Wirth gallery. To produce these pieces, Huyghe used a neural network to construct images from MRI scans of subjects who were tasked with reflecting on situations from their past. The results are bizarre and metamorphosing renderings of human memory. The exhibition will remain online until the end of the year.

When At any time
Or vip-hauserwirth.com/online-exhibitions/pierre-huyghe-of-ideal