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Newsom on Covid: ‘There are good things to report’

Hello.

After what appeared to be a near-lightless holiday season and the start of the New Year, California officials in recent days have pointed to signs that the overwhelming coronavirus outbreak in the state is finally easing – or at least not. not get worse.

“There are good things to report,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a video message posted Tuesday evening. “We are starting to see some stabilization in both the ICUs and our positivity rate.”

And he officially announced that a strict home support order affecting the Sacramento area would be lifted, with immediate effect, due to the expected improvement in the capacity of the area’s intensive care unit. This means that some businesses, including hair salons and restaurants with outdoor dining, may be able to reopen.

[Track coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across California.]

It was the first of the four major regions of the state that had been placed under the exit order.

Dr Mark Ghaly, Secretary of State for Health and Human Services, told a virtual press conference on Tuesday that “the biggest signal to me that things are starting to stabilize and potentially improve” is the flattening rate of hospital admissions.

New Covid-19-related hospitalizations increased from around 3,500 per day around Jan.5 to 2,500 and 2,600 in the previous two days, he said.

Still, hospitals in the vast Southern California and Central Valley region, both of which are still on stay-at-home orders, are full.

And according to a New York Times database on Tuesday, officials reported that more than 720 people have died from the virus in California – a daily record.

The state has also fought relentlessly to deploy vaccines, despite what leaders have described for months as a detailed and “fairness-driven” planning process, based on a carefully structured hierarchy of workers and managers. age groups. As of Tuesday, only a quarter of the state’s available doses had been administered.

On Wednesday, however, Mr Newsom announced that the state was opening vaccine eligibility to anyone aged 65 and over, as well as building a new system to alert residents when they were eligible to be vaccinated. . It should start next week.

“There is no higher priority than effectively and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those facing the most serious consequences,” he said in a statement. “For those who are not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccines to the state. “

Some cities and counties are also expected to open mass vaccination centers, such as at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles – although Los Angeles County is set to continue immunizing only healthcare workers at least until the end of the day. end of the month.

The move comes shortly after the federal government ordered states to begin using reserved doses of vaccine for second injections.

[Read the latest story about the shifting federal vaccine rollout guidance.]

Dr David Lubarsky, executive director of UC Davis Health, said on Tuesday that while Governor, Dr Ghaly and others in the state had done their best to navigate a difficult situation, “perfection is there. ‘enemy of good’. The top priority should be getting gunfire – not spending resources to keep people from crossing the line.

“If you are so determined to make sure that Patient A has to come before Patient B before Citizen C, you can’t get people to the door enough,” he said.

He said the state would be better served by allowing healthcare providers a greater share of doses to be administered to patients rather than counties.

Healthcare providers, he said, already have built-in ways to contact regular patients in large groups based on factors such as their age and risk of death. And large healthcare systems, in particular, can quickly create algorithms to factor in things like zip code, which can indicate whether a patient may live in a particularly vulnerable community.

Dr Lubarsky said that as of Tuesday, about 12,000 of the system’s 13,000 staff received at least their first doses of the vaccine by opening the process, and patient vaccinations were due to begin soon.

“We said, ‘If someone skipped the line, shame on them,’ he said. “If they showed us their ID cards and worked in the hospital, it was a bit of an honor system.”

[Read four opinion pieces by experts about how to fix the vaccine rollout.]

As a result, he said, the rate of transmission of Covid-19 among staff has dropped significantly. In recent weeks, an average of 135 employees “were getting Covid and going home.” This week, he says, that number is in the 1920s.

Ultimately, Dr Lubarsky said opening mass vaccination centers and other efforts to expand eligibility were positive steps.

“I think they are 100% moving in the right direction,” he said.

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)


President Trump on Wednesday became the first president in the country’s history to be impeached twice.

In a chamber led by President Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco, 232 members of Congress voted to accuse the president of inciting a violent insurgency against the US government.

This list included each Democratic representative, as well as 10 members of the president’s own party.

Among the Republicans who voted for impeachment was Representative David Valadao, who narrowly took over the Central Valley siege he lost in 2018 in November.

Although he said on twitter that he believed Ms Pelosi had turned “what should be a full investigation into a hasty political coup,” he had to vote his conscience.

“Its inciting rhetoric was anti-American, odious and absolutely unforgivable,” Mr. Valadao said. “It’s time to put the country above politics.”

Patches – a calico cat believed to have been killed alongside his owner in January 2018 when rainstorms sent debris sliding down the Montecito hills in the aftermath of Thomas’ fire – was recently found alive and reunited with its owner’s partner, the Associated Press reported.

“While we don’t know exactly what she’s been doing with her life for the past three years, we can see that Patches and Norm are thrilled to be reunited,” the shelter who found the feline said in a Facebook post.

Maybe that would have been enough heartwarming cat news for a day. But then I came across this report from the Sonoma Index-Tribune, about a woman from Glen Ellen who also recently tracked down her cat, Mordecai Jones, who was also lost for about three years, after missing during the 2017 forest fires.

I’m not sure if this confluence of pet-related good fortune is meaningful, but I think this week we’ll take what we can get.


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has reported statewide, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

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A mask is good. Would two be better?

Football coaches do it. Presidents-elect do it. same senators experts in science do it. As cases of the coronavirus continue to rise globally, some of the country’s most prominent people have started doubling their masks – a move that researchers say is increasingly supported by data.

Double masking is not necessary for everyone. But for people with thin or fragile faces, “if you combine multiple layers you start to get high enough yields” to keep viruses from coming out and entering the airways, said Linsey Marr, expert in virus transmission at Virginia Tech and author of a recent commentary exposing the science behind wearing a mask.

Of course, there is a trade-off: at some point, “we run the risk of making it too difficult to breathe,” she says. But there is a lot of wiggle room before mask wearing gets close to that extreme.

One year after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is very different. More than 90 million confirmed coronavirus infections have been documented worldwide, leaving millions dead and countless others with lingering symptoms, amid persistent economic hardship and closed schools and businesses. New variants of the virus have appeared, carrying genetic changes that appear to improve their ability to spread from person to person.

And although several vaccines have now removed regulatory hurdles, the rollout of injections has been slow and slow – and there is no definitive evidence yet to show that vaccines will have a substantial impact on how quickly and where the virus comes from. .

Through all of this change, researchers have maintained the line on masks. “Americans won’t need to wear masks forever,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at the University of California at San Francisco and author of the new commentary. But for now, they’ll need to stay active, offering protection to both mask wearers and those around them.

The arguments in favor of masking span several fields of science, including epidemiology and physics. A multitude of observational studies have suggested that widespread mask wear can curb infections and deaths on an impressive scale, in environments as small as barber shops and at the level of entire countries. A study, which followed state policies requiring face covering in public, found known cases of Covid almost increased and decreased with mask-wearing rules. Another, which followed coronavirus infections among healthcare workers in Boston, noted a drastic drop in the number of positive test results after masks became a universal item among staff. And a study in Beijing found that face masks were 79% effective in blocking transmission from infected people to their close contacts.

Recent work by researchers like Dr Marr is now defining the basis for these links on a microscopic scale. The science, she said, is pretty intuitive: Respiratory viruses like the coronavirus, which travel between people in drops of sputum and spray, need a clear conduit to enter the airways, which are filled with the types of cells infected with viruses. The masks that cover the nose and mouth prevent this invasion.

The goal is not to make a mask airtight, Dr Marr said. Instead, the fibers that make up the masks create a random obstacle course through which the air – and any infectious cargo – must navigate.

“The air has to follow this tortuous path,” said Dr Marr. “The large objects it carries will not be able to keep up with these twists.”

Experiments testing the extent to which masks can diffuse incoming and outgoing sprays have shown that even fairly basic materials, like fabric coverings and surgical masks, can be at least 50% effective in both directions.

Several studies have reaffirmed the idea that masks appear to protect the people around the mask wearer better than the mask wearers themselves. “It’s because you stop it at the source,” Dr Marr said. But, motivated by recent research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that there were also great benefits for those who wear masks.

The best masks remain the N95, which are designed with ultra high filtration efficiency. But they are still rare for health workers, who need them to treat patients safely.

Layering two less specialized masks can provide comparable protection. Dr Marr recommended wearing fabric masks that hug the face over surgical masks, which tend to be made with materials that are easier to filter but fit more loosely. An alternative is to wear a cloth mask with a pouch that can be filled with filter material, like that found in vacuum bags.

But wearing more than two masks, or layering masks that are already very good at filtering, will quickly bring diminishing returns and make normal breathing much more difficult.

Other adjustments can improve the fit of a mask, such as fasteners that secure the fabric to the back of the head, instead of relying on earrings that allow the masks to hang down and hang. ‘to open. Nasal bridges, which can help the top of a mask fit more comfortably, also provide a protective boost.

Getting superb fit and filtration “is really easy,” said Dr Gandhi. “It doesn’t need to involve anything fancy.”

No mask is perfect and wearing a mask does not preclude other public health measures such as physical distance and good hygiene. “We have to be honest that the best answer is one that requires multiple interventions,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, public health expert at Johns Hopkins University.

Wearing a mask remains rare in parts of the country, in part due to the politicization of the practice. But experts noted that the model behavior of the country’s leaders could help turn the tide. In December, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. implored Americans to wear masks during his first 100 days in office and said he would make them a requirement in federal buildings and on planes, trains and buses that cross state lines.

A broad review of the evidence behind masking, published this month in the journal PNAS, concluded that masks are a key tool in reducing community transmission and are “most effective in reducing the spread of the virus when compliance is high. .

Part of the message might also require more empathy, open communication and voice recognition that “people don’t like to wear masks,” Dr Nuzzo said. Without more patience and compassion, it is enough to double the restrictions to “fix” poor compliance: “No policy will work if no one wants to join.”

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These are the precious dinners and hidden haunts that Covid-19 has shut down for good.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.

Le Cantab: A dive bar that has also attracted poets.

Before Cambridge, Massachusetts became a booming tech city, Cantab sat on a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue that was really dirty. The bar only took cash. It was still sticky and you wouldn’t want to use the bathroom.

But if you walk around there on a good night, you might find a poetry slam or a bluegrass night or Little Joe Cook and the Thrillers. Ben Affleck’s father worked there, serving Budweisers to postmen on leave.

In July, when Cantab owner Richard Fitzgerald announced he was putting it on sale after 50 years, a howl of distress rose from this scruffy old Cambridge bohemian. Mr Fitzgerald, known as Fitzy, is hoping to find a new buyer to reopen the place in the summer – hopefully in his old, tacky style. – Ellen barry


NEW ORLEANS

The Cake Cafe and Bakery: Long mornings around crab omelettes and cupcakes.

On Saturday and Sunday in the morning the queue went through the door. People were waiting for French toast, cookies and gravy, and crab omelets the size of a phone book; you can add a cupcake for a dollar.

The staff knew most of the customers on sight, except during the carnival season when tourists flocked. By this time, connoisseurs had already ordered a royal cake, competing with the best in town. It closed in June. – Campbell Robertson


PITTSBURGH

The Original Hot Dog Shop: It was never really about hot dogs

The warnings about fries were as legendary as the fries themselves.

The big one is huge!

Order it with friends.

Seriously, you can’t eat it yourself.

The Original Hot Dog Shop had “hot dog” right there in the name, but it was the fries – perfectly cut, fried twice in peanut oil for extra crunch, served in a huge stack in a basket. in paper, with cups of beef sauce or cheese product – which people have been talking about.

The University of Pittsburgh student newspaper reported that when the O, as the hot dog store was known, closed in April, the owners served another giant order of fries, donating 35,000 pounds of apples. from land to charity. – Scott Dodd


LOS ANGELES

Ma’am Sir Restaurant: A Filipino place with a noisy atmosphere.

When Charles Olalia decided to open a Filipino restaurant in the trendy Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, he wanted to “present the food and the ambiance of my country: beautiful, loud, loving” to a large audience, he declared.

Ma’am Sir opened rave reviews in 2018 for his creative interpretations of signature Filipino dishes, like sizzling pork sisig and oxtail kare-kare.

“Madame Monsieur was different,” said Cheryl Balolong, 41, who grew up visiting traditional Filipino cafeteria-style joints in malls. “It was a place where we felt proud to bring friends who were not from our culture.”

Then the pandemic struck. In August, Mr. Olalia had closed the premises. “Day after day, putting food in a box and seeing an empty dining room, I got further and further away from what the restaurant really was and why I had built it,” a- he declared. – Miriam Jordan

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Good news about coronavirus vaccine becomes contagious

Since the race to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus began last spring, optimistic announcements have been followed by disturbing polls: As encouraging as the news is, a growing number of people have said they will refuse to be vaccinated .

The deadline has been dangerously accelerated, many people have warned. The vaccine was a Big Pharma scam, according to others. A political ploy of the Trump administration, accused by many Democrats. The internet was buzzing with doomsday predictions from longtime vaccine opponents, who decried the new shot as the epitome of all the concerns they had ever expressed.

But over the past few weeks, as the vaccine has turned from hypothetical to reality, something has happened. New surveys show changes in attitude and a clear majority of Americans wanting to be vaccinated.

In surveys from Gallup, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Research Center, the proportion of people who say they are now likely or certain to take the vaccine has risen from around 50% this summer to over 60%, and in a poll 73% – a figure that comes close to what some public health experts consider sufficient for herd immunity.

Resistance to the vaccine certainly does not go away. Misinformation and dire warnings are on the rise on social media. At a December 20 meeting, members of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee cited strong indications that vaccine complaints and acceptance are on the rise, so they couldn’t predict whether the public would gobble up limited supplies or accept a pass.

But the improvement in attitude is striking. A similar change on another heated pandemic issue was reflected in another Kaiser poll this month. He revealed that nearly 75% of Americans now wear masks when leaving their homes.

The change reflects a constellation of recent events: the decoupling of the Election Day vaccine; results of clinical trials showing approximately 95 percent efficacy and relatively modest side effects for vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna; and the alarming spike in new coronavirus infections and deaths.

“As soon as it is my turn to get vaccinated, I will be in the foreground!” I’m very excited and hopeful, ”said Joanne Barnes, 68, a retired elementary school teacher in Fairbanks, Alaska, who told the New York Times last summer that she didn’t would not get.

What changed her mind?

“The Biden administration is coming back to listening to the science and the fantastic statistics associated with vaccines,” she replied.

The allure of modest amounts of vaccines also cannot be underestimated as a driver of desire, much like the inescapable frenzy generated by a limited-edition Christmas present, according to experts at the. public opinion.

This feeling can also be seen in the changing nature of some of the skepticism. Rather than just targeting the vaccine itself, eyebrows are raised across the political spectrum as to who will get it first – which wealthy individuals and celebrities, demographics or industries?

But the grim reality of the pandemic – with more than 200,000 new cases and some 3,000 deaths a day – and the anticipation of this holiday season are perhaps among the main factors.

“More people have been affected or infected with Covid,” said Rupali J. Limaye, a vaccine behavior expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “They know someone who has had a serious case or who has died.”

Dr Limaye concluded: “They are tired and want to return to normal life.”

A barrage of wellness media coverage, including sustained attention to leading scientists and politicians when they get tricked, and joyous scrimmages surrounding local health workers who become the first to be vaccinated, has amplified the enthusiasm , according to public opinion experts.

There are still notable differences between demographic groups. The gap between women and men has widened, with women being more hesitant. Blacks remain the most skeptical racial group, although their acceptance is increasing: In September, a Pew Research poll found only 32% of blacks were ready to get the vaccine, while the latest poll shows an increase to 42%. And while people of all political stripes are warming to the vaccine, more Republicans than Democrats view the shot with suspicion.

The association between attitudes towards vaccines and political affiliation is worrying for many behavior experts, who fear that vaccine use will become linked to partisan views, preventing the realization of broad immunity.

“We’ve seen growth among Democrats and Republicans in their intention to vaccinate,” said Matthew P. Motta, a political scientist at Oklahoma State University who studies political opinions and opinions on vaccines. . “But that’s twice the size for Democrats,” which he added had turned out on the vaccine after President Trump admitted it would arrive on election day.

A clearer indication, he said, is that two-thirds of the public say they are at least fairly confident that a coronavirus vaccine will be distributed fairly, up from 52% in September.

The most pronounced pockets of resistance include those living in rural areas and those aged 30 to 49.

Timothy H. Callaghan, a researcher at the Southwest Rural Health Research Center at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, said people in rural areas tend to be conservative and Republicans, characteristics that also appear among vaccine-hesitant. They also include immigrants and day laborers, many of whom do not have a college degree or even a high school diploma and may therefore be more dismissive of vaccine science.

“They seem less likely to wear masks, less likely to work from home, and there is opposition to evidence-based practices,” said Dr Callaghan.

Resistance also comes from their limited access to health care in remote areas. In addition, the need to remove several hours of work from the inflexible demands of agriculture for travel and recovery from vaccine side effects makes the photos even less convincing, he added.

About 35% of adults between the ages of 30 and 49 expressed skepticism about the vaccine, according to the Kaiser poll. Dr Scott C. Ratzan, whose New York City vaccine surveys at New York University’s Graduate School of Public Health echo findings similar to national polls, noted that this group does not follow either plus the flu shot. They are well outside the age range of routine vaccines.

“There is no standardization or habit for this age group to get vaccinated,” he said.

Blacks remained the most resistant to taking a coronavirus vaccine, in large part because of the history of abusive research on them by white doctors. But their willingness to consider this is accelerating. In the Kaiser poll, the share of black respondents who believe the vaccine will be distributed fairly nearly doubled, from 32% to 62%.

Mike Brown, who is black, runs the Shop Spa, a large barbershop with a black and Latino clientele in Hyattsville, Maryland. This summer, he told The Times he was happy to sit and watch others get vaccinated, as he bided his time.

It was then.

“The news of its 95% effectiveness convinced me,” said Brown. “The side effects are just like how you feel after a bad night of drinking and it hurts the next day. Well I have had a lot of them and I can handle this to get rid of the face masks.

Yet, he says, many customers remain skeptical. He said to them, “What questions do you have doubts about? Just do your survey and follow the science! Because if you just talk about what you won’t do, you become part of the problem.

He sees progress. “A couple of people who were more militant not to take it are calmer now,” he said. “The seeds are planted.”

Health workers, who generally have high acceptance rates for established vaccines, are another group that is unsure of taking the vaccine. In recent weeks, some hospital executives have said many of their staff are reluctant. ProPublica reported that a hospital in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas had to offer some assigned doses to other medical workers in the area because insufficient numbers of their own workers came forward. A sheriff’s deputy and a state senator lined up.

But other hospitals say staff time slots for the vaccine are becoming a hot commodity.

For months, Tina Kleinfeldt, a surgical nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, a Northwell Health Network hospital, had absolutely no intention of getting the vaccine until the science and side effects were established.

Last week she was randomly offered a rare immunization window. Yet she refused, despite warnings from envious colleagues.

Then she started to think about all the Covid-19 patients she had treated and the new ones she would inevitably meet. She thought of her husband and her three children. She thought: Well, I can always cancel the date at the last minute, right?

Then she realized that the doses were still so scarce that she might not have another opportunity soon. So she said yes. She became the first nurse in her unit to be vaccinated.

Then she felt muscle pain at the injection site. But she also felt elated, excited and relieved.

“I felt like I had done a good thing, for myself, my family, my patients, the world,” Ms. Kleinfeldt said. “And now, I hope everyone gets there. Isn’t that crazy?

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Antibodies are good. Are Machine Made Molecules Better?

The coronavirus may be new, but nature long ago gave humans the tools to recognize it, at least on a microscopic scale: antibodies, Y-shaped immune proteins that can cling to agents pathogens and prevent them from infiltrating cells.

Millions of years of evolution have made these proteins the disease fighting weapons they are today. But in the space of a few months, a combination of human and machine intelligence may have beaten Mother Nature at her own game.

Using computer tools, a team of researchers at the University of Washington designed and built from scratch a molecule that, when opposed to coronavirus in the laboratory, can attack and at least sequester it as well as an antibody. When sprayed on the noses of mice and hamsters, it also appears to protect animals from serious disease.

This molecule, called a mini-binder for its ability to glomize on the coronavirus, is small and stable enough to be shipped en masse in a lyophilized state. Bacteria can also be engineered to produce these mini-binders, making them potentially not only effective, but also cheap and convenient.

The team’s product is still in the very early stages of development and won’t hit the market anytime soon. But so far, “it looks very promising,” said Lauren Carter, one of the researchers behind the project, who is led by biochemist David Baker. Eventually, healthy people might be able to self-administer the mini-binders in nasal spray form, and potentially keep incoming coronavirus particles at bay.

“The sleekest app could be something you keep on your nightstand,” Dr. Carter said. “It’s a bit of a dream.”

Mini-binders are not antibodies, but they counteract the virus in broadly similar ways. The coronavirus enters a cell using a kind of lock-key interaction, adjusting a protein called a tip – the key – into a molecular lock called ACE-2, which adorns the exterior of some human cells. Antibodies made by the human immune system can interfere with this process.

Many scientists are hoping that the mass-produced imitations of these antibodies could help treat people with Covid-19 or prevent them from getting sick after being infected. But a lot of antibodies are needed to contain the coronavirus, especially if an infection is in progress. Antibodies are also expensive to produce and deliver to people.

To develop a less capricious alternative, members of the Baker lab, led by biochemist Longxing Cao, took a computational approach. The researchers modeled how millions of hypothetical lab-designed proteins would interact with the peak. After sequentially eliminating the bad results, the team selected the best from the group and synthesized them in the lab. They spent weeks switching between the computer and the bench, tinkering with designs to match simulation and reality as closely as possible.

The result was a completely homemade mini binder that easily adhered to the virus, the team reported in Science last month.

“It’s more than just building natural proteins,” said Asher Williams, a chemical engineer at Cornell University who was not involved in the research. If adapted for other purposes, Dr Williams added, “it would be a big win for bioinformatics.”

The team are now playing around with deep learning algorithms that could teach lab computers to streamline the iterative process of trial and error designing proteins, yielding products in weeks instead of months, said Dr Baker.

But the novelty of the mini-binder approach could also be a downside. It is possible, for example, for the coronavirus to mutate and become resistant to the DIY molecule.

Daniel-Adriano Silva, a biochemist at Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company Neoleukin, who previously trained with Dr Baker at the University of Washington, may have come up with another strategy that could solve the resistance problem.

His team also designed a protein that can prevent the virus from invading cells, but their DIY molecule is a little more familiar. This is a smaller, more robust version of the human ACE-2 protein – a protein that has a much stronger hold on the virus, so the molecule could potentially act as a decoy that keeps the pathogen away from cells. vulnerable.

Developing resistance would be in vain, said Christopher Barnes, a structural biologist at the California Institute of Technology who partnered with Neoleukin on their project. A strain of coronavirus that could no longer be bound by the decoy would likely also lose its ability to bind to the real thing, the human version of ACE-2. “It’s a significant fitness cost for the virus,” Dr. Barnes said.

The ACE-2 mini-binders and decoys are both easy to make and will likely cost only pennies on the dollar compared to synthetic antibodies, which can carry prices in the thousands of dollars, Dr. Carter said. And while antibodies need to be kept cold to preserve longevity, DIY proteins can be designed to work very well at room temperature or in even more extreme conditions. The University of Washington mini-binder “can be boiled and it’s always OK,” Dr. Cao said.

This durability makes these molecules easy to transport and administer in a variety of ways, perhaps by injecting them into the bloodstream as a treatment for an ongoing infection.

The two design molecules also both engage the virus in extremely tight pressure, allowing less to do more. “If you have something that ties that together well, you don’t have to use that much,” said Attabey Rodríguez Benítez, a biochemist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the research. “It means you get more for your money.”

The two research groups are exploring their products as potential tools not only to fight infection but also to prevent it outright, much like a short-lived vaccine. In a series of experiments described in their article, Neoleukin’s team misted their ACE-2 decoy into hamsters’ noses, then exposed the animals to the coronavirus. The untreated hamsters got dangerously ill, but the hamsters that received the nasal spray fared much better.

Dr Carter and his colleagues are currently running similar experiments with their mini-workbook and are seeing comparable results.

These findings may not translate to humans, the researchers warned. And neither team has yet found a perfect way to administer their products to animals or humans.

The bottom line is, there may still be opportunities for the two types of design proteins to work together – if not in the same product, at least in the same war, as the pandemic rages on. “It’s very complementary,” Dr. Carter said. If all goes well, molecules like these could join the growing arsenal of public health measures and drugs already in place to fight the virus, she said, “It’s another tool that you could have.”

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Reopening Hawaii may be good for tourism. Is it good for the locals?

Mr McMillan added that he believed that “in some markets, especially for international travel, until a vaccine is more widely available, testing will become part of the norm.”

For Jonathan McManus, the owner of the Wailea Relais & Chateaux hotel in Maui, the tests present a way to safely reopen after months of transporting an empty property. He says this will allow him to keep employees in jobs.

“What the data suggests so far is that here in Hawaii, testing has been key to a safe reopening,” he said. “We now understand the data and the importance of testing. The tests offer a high level of protection to visitors, staff and residents. “

The hotel used to have an in-person greeting process that included staff putting leis on guests upon arrival and checking them in with a cocktail in hand. From now on, a key awaits customers on their arrival and the capacity is capped at 60%. Each of the hotel’s 72 suites has its own heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Gary Moore, managing director of Timbers Kauai in Hokuala, said the reopening was “anything but clear,” but what is clear is, “We have to find a way to live with the disease.” Mr Moore said that despite various challenges, the lessons learned at his property about distancing people, applying masks, checking temperatures and even separating clients and putting them in “bubbles” could be applied in other complexes.

“The resort bubble would allow guests to leave their rooms and enjoy on-site amenities while completing mandatory quarantine while wearing GPS-monitored bracelets,” he said, noting that if Hawaii reinstated mandatory quarantine for all travelers, these bubbles would make it possible. to keep the station operational for inter-island travel and for locals.

Timbers’ staff is made up of locals and their safety is key, Moore said.

“Our employees are coming home, many have large families and they are with their parents, grandparents and children, and ensuring their safety is essential to the well-being of everyone,” he said.

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A good night for Biden

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Joe Biden had another good night in the vote count and looks set to clinch the presidency. But the race is not over and more ballots will arrive today. Here is the latest:

In georgia, Biden took over as President Trump just before 5 a.m. EST. It’s the slimmest of the margins – less than 1,000 votes, at 6 am, out of about 3 million votes – and it’s not guaranteed to hold up. But Biden appears to be a slight favorite in Georgia. If he wins the state – and holds firm in Nevada, where he’s in good shape – he wins the election.

In pennsylvania, Biden is still lagging behind, but Trump’s lead waned throughout Thursday. It is now below 19,000 votes, out of around 7 million votes, and election analysts say the remaining votes – perhaps around 163,000 – appear to be very much in favor of Biden. Pennsylvania officials said they would announce more results today. If Biden wins the state, he won the election.

In Arizona, Biden holds a narrow lead – just over 47,000 votes, out of about 3 million – but his situation appears weaker than in Pennsylvania. The Times’ Nate Cohn says the remaining votes could favor Trump enough to move Trump forward, although the batch released last night is arguably good news for Biden: they haven’t been filling Trump’s deficit at the rate he needs . If Biden wins Arizona and holds on to Nevada, where he’s in better shape, he has won the election.

In North Carolina, Trump remains favored to maintain his lead.

To put it all together: Biden is a big favorite to win the presidency as he remains a big favorite in Pennsylvania. He doesn’t need Arizona or Georgia but could win either.

Why does the vote count take so long? In several states, including Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers have blocked attempts to allow election officials to begin counting mail ballots before election day, as Jamie Dupree of Cox Media Group noted. States that did, like Florida, were able to report their results much faster.

In other electoral developments:

  • Trump, speaking at the White House last night, lied again about the election results and repeated several debunked internet rumors, as BuzzFeed News reported. “A presidency born out of a lie about Barack Obama’s birthplace seemed about to end in a lie about his own hesitant candidacy for re-election,” wrote Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman in The Times.

  • Many Republican officials have refused to echo Trump’s claims, suggesting they might view his cause as desperate. Will Hurd, Congressman from Texas who is retiring after this term, written on twitter that Trump’s comments were “not only dangerous and false, but they undermine the very foundations on which this nation was built.” Others, however, have repeated the lies, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

  • Facebook shut down a group called “Stop the Steal,” which has become a hub for people falsely claiming the election was rigged against Trump.

  • More than 150,000 ballots were captured at US Postal Service processing facilities and were not delivered on polling day, the Washington Post reports. As a result, some ballots could arrive after their states deadlines.

  • A double runoff for Senate seats in Georgia is now likely, giving Democrats narrow but real hope of regaining control of the Senate.

  • House Democrats yelled, swore and traded blame in a three-hour phone call to caucus after their predicted election gains ended in losses that weakened their majority. “We must never use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ again,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who was narrowly re-elected in Virginia. “We lost some good members because of it.”

THE VIRUS

  • The four former Minneapolis officers accused of the murder of George Floyd will be tried together. A judge also ruled that the trial, scheduled for next spring, could be broadcast live.

  • On a bulletin board where New York police officers secretly go to complain about their work, a user named “Clouseau” posted hundreds of racist messages. City investigators linked the account to a senior NYPD official tasked with preventing workplace harassment.

  • The Norwegian Supreme Court will hear a case concerning oil drilling in the Arctic, on the grounds that it violates citizens’ right to a healthy environment.

  • Hurricane Eta, which caused fatal flooding and landslides in parts of Central America, is set to hit southern Florida early next week.

  • A team of astronomers believe they have identified the number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy: up to 300 million.

Morning readings

Modern love: The cook would arrive after midnight and prepare a spread worthy of Michelin. Which was great, until Rebecca Bohanan couldn’t keep her eyes open at work anymore.

From the review: Paul Krugman asks if America is becoming a failed state.

Lives lived: As the first Rolling Stone photographer, Baron Wolman captured enduring images of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and many more from 1967 to 1970. He died at the age of 83.


The Times can help you navigate the election – to separate fact from fiction, make sense of polls, and make sure your ballot counts. To support our efforts, please consider subscribing today.

This week’s most-watched YouTube video is a two-minute ode to a family of sharks. With nearly 7.1 billion views, the catchy children’s song “Baby Shark” shattered the three-year race for the No.1 single “Despacito” in 2017. The song created an empire for its producer, The Brand South Korean educational Pinkfong, which includes merchandise, a live touring show, and an upcoming Nickelodeon TV series.

These facts might not come as a surprise to anyone with young children: the kids’ parts of YouTube are some of the most lucrative. A Pew study found that videos featuring children received on average nearly three times as many views as other types of videos posted by high-subscriber channels.

Repetition is one of the reasons. Children never tire of watching the same video over and over again. Four of the top 10 most watched YouTube videos are children’s shows. And last year the highest paying YouTuber was 9-year-old Ryan Kaji, who reviews new toys and games on his channel. He made $ 26 million in 2019, Forbes reported.

“YouTube is the most popular babysitter in the world,” the CEO of a management company focused on digital stars said in 2019. The pandemic has likely exacerbated this situation, with many families spending more time at home.

What to cook

Yes, there is a hassle-free donut recipe: try these baked apple cider donuts. The most difficult step is to simply acquire a donut pan (but in a pinch, a muffin pan works too).

IN THE MOOD FOR STUNTS

Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde”. Danai Gurira in “Black Panther”. Melissa McCarthy in “Spy”. These female-directed action movies (and more) broke stereotypes. Times film critic Manohla Dargis unveils the story of women and stunts, which begins in the 1910s.

What to watch

This weekend: Two of the NFL’s most exciting young quarterbacks face off in Phoenix on Sunday: Arizona Cardinals ‘Kyler Murray vs. Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa.

Late at night: Late-night host Stephen Colbert accused Trump of trying to “poison American democracy.”

For a shock of joy: A snowball fight of 1897, on repeat.

Now is the time to play

Categories
Travel News

Reopening Hawaii may be good for tourism. Is it good for Hawaiians?

Mr McMillan added that he believed that “in some markets, especially for international travel, until a vaccine is more widely available, testing will become part of the norm.”

For Jonathan McManus, the owner of the Wailea Relais & Chateaux hotel in Maui, the tests present a way to safely reopen after months of transporting an empty property. He says this will allow him to keep employees in jobs.

“What the data suggests so far is that here in Hawaii, testing has been key to a safe reopening,” he said. “We now understand the data and the importance of testing. The tests offer a high level of protection to visitors, staff and residents. “

The hotel used to have an in-person greeting process that included staff putting leis on guests upon arrival and checking them in with a cocktail in hand. From now on, a key awaits customers on their arrival and the capacity is capped at 60%. Each of the hotel’s 72 suites has its own heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Gary Moore, managing director of Timbers Kauai in Hokuala, said the reopening was “anything but clear,” but what is clear is, “We have to find a way to live with the disease.” Mr Moore said that despite various challenges, the lessons learned at his property about distancing people, applying masks, checking temperatures and even separating clients and putting them in “bubbles” could be applied in other complexes.

“The resort bubble would allow guests to leave their rooms and enjoy on-site amenities while completing mandatory quarantine while wearing GPS-monitored bracelets,” he said, noting that if Hawaii reinstated mandatory quarantine for all travelers, these bubbles would make it possible. to keep the station operational for inter-island travel and for locals.

Timbers’ staff is made up of locals and their safety is key, Moore said.

“Our employees are coming home, many have large families and they are with their parents, grandparents and children, and ensuring their safety is essential to the well-being of everyone,” he said.

Categories
Travel News

“ I feel very good, ” President Trump told campaign agents during an election day visit to a Republican office.

President Trump phoned a Republican office in Virginia on Tuesday and, despite falling behind in the polls, predicted “a good night” and rejoiced in the memories of the rallies he held in his run for a second term.

“I’m not thinking about the acceptance or concession speech yet,” Mr. Trump said in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington. “I hope we only do one of these two. You know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy, not for me it is. “

Citing the size of the crowd that has supported his supporters since he began his presidency, Mr. Trump, who flew from rally to rally aboard Air Force One at the end of the campaign, spoke of “the immense love that reigns in this country”.

“I feel very good,” Mr. Trump said. “After doing so many rallies, the voice gets a bit choppy, I think.

With assistants such as Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Kayleigh McEnany, his press secretary, nearby, Mr. Trump thanked party workers and then offered a closing directive for his 2020 campaign. : “Get back to work immediately.”

Categories
Travel News

He already saw the election as good against evil. Then his tractor burned down.

HENDERSON, Neb. – Jonathan Rempel has never been a big mouth in town about his politics, but his opinions are clear when he asks rhetorical questions such as, “Have you ever gotten a job from a poor person?” Or when he says taxes are a form of extortion. They appear on Facebook, where some of his posts support gun rights and criticize a welfare state.

It was even possible to share his political outlook across a field, from the two “Trump 2020” flags he had hoisted above his combine – until a few weeks ago. , when a fire destroyed much of his farm equipment.

In Mr. Rempel’s farming community in Henderson and in the countryside that makes up much of the majority Republican state of Nebraska, people say President Trump represents their deepest beliefs. And these firmly held beliefs exist in a good versus evil framework in which many see issues like abortion, immigration and what to them is the Chinese nation exploiting commerce and spreading the virus on the most austere terms.

Almost four years ago, in his victory speech on election night, Mr. Trump pledged to stand up for “the hard-working men and women who love their country and want a better future and brighter for themselves and for their families ”.

“The forgotten men and women of our country,” he promised at the time, “will no longer be forgotten.”

Presidential supporters in places like rural Nebraska say they feel remembered. For them, these four years have brought a sense of belonging to a country ruled by someone who stands up for and understands their dearest beliefs. For more than 50% of Americans who disapprove of the president, Mr. Trump may represent division and dishonesty. In Henderson, and in many places like it, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign speech that he is fighting for the soul of the nation simply does not resonate. People here would consider his soul to be in danger if he triumphs.

Thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters showed him their dedication last week as they solemnly rushed against a cold autumn wind, a few hours of travel, to hear him speak at a campaign event in Omaha , one of a series of rallies to stop the scares across the country where supporters have come together in one denomination some of the values ​​of each.

“Always watch where I am,” a man coached a young girl in coveralls, telling her to stay close as they held hands and squeezed through the Omaha crowd while waiting for Mr. Trump. “But these are Trump supporters. You do not have to worry.

This feeling of Trumpian kinship permeates rural areas like Henderson, a population of around 1,000, with its two downtown blocks, flaming red oaks, silver grain silos, and artwork on the next to a Main Street building that reads: “Some are bigger, nothing better.” “

This is what made the phone call Mr Rempel received about two weeks ago from firefighters as he and his wife were preparing their children for school all the more shocking. His farm equipment was on fire. The combine, a tractor and two semi-trailers parked in a cornfield south of town had apparently been set on fire.

Keep up with Election 2020

“I said, ‘No it’s not possible,’ recalls Mr. Rempel, a fourth generation farmer, describing his disbelief that his equipment had been destroyed and his corn crop was in. danger.

Mr. Rempel will not speculate on the motive for what he believes is arson; the state fire marshal only said he was investigating the incident.

The charred remains of his farm vehicles lie in a field surrounded by miles of plowed meadow. A blackened Trump flag is crumpled at the base of a burnt tractor. Mr. Rempel had been so sure they were safe, he left the keys in the ignition.

While it is not known how the fire started, the news about it surprised a community that believes it shares a common value system. The fact that one vehicle was fitted with Trump flags led some residents and some of the more than 1,700 people who commented on Mr. Rempel’s Facebook post about the fire to declare the fire for political reasons.

It is a sentiment also expressed by the best Republicans in the state. Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke of the incident when asked at a press conference about pro-Trump billboard vandalism, calling anyone who would do such a thing “anti-American” and “people who hate our country”. Senator Ben Sasse, whose recently leaked comments criticizing President Trump were viewed by many Republicans in Nebraska as blasphemy, also called the incident “heinous.”

For his part, Mr. Rempel refuses to speculate on a motive, but here in Henderson, a certain fear is whispered: the fire starters are aligned with the antifa, coming from the cities to attack their way of life.

“Anytime you see something on fire that’s been kindled on purpose, or anytime you see a business destroyed, anytime you see someone making a point with violence, it’s wrong,” said Mr. Rempel. “And evil destroyed.”

Like most other states, Nebraska is divided by an urban-rural divide. Mr. Trump has garnered overwhelming support from the state as a whole. But residents of Nebraska’s two major cities tend to vote more liberally than those in rural areas. Mr. Trump won in Omaha’s second congressional district in 2016, but Barack Obama won it in 2008. The district winner collects only one electoral vote in a state that, unlike most others, divides its vote, which could play a central role in an upcoming election.

Omaha is 187 miles from York County, where Henderson is located and where Mr. Trump in 2016 won by a landslide. Most people in the county say they vote for him again – and most plan to go to the polls in person on Tuesday as they always do on Election Day.

“I like what he represents. He is against abortion. He is against evil. He is against higher taxes. said Pat Goossen, who owns The Petal Pusher, a flower shop on Main Street in Henderson. “He shares my values. I don’t want higher taxes. I don’t want our jobs to disappear.

Ms Goossen observed the violence that accompanied some of the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death on the Evening News. The images gave the impression that entire cities were on fire. This summer, violent protests erupted in Omaha, where a black man was killed by a white business owner as people marched against racial injustice. But the protests did not reach Henderson.

Although the president refused to speak out against white supremacy, Ms Goossen, who is white like most of her neighbors in Henderson, said she could not believe the president was linked with violent explosions at rallies against racial injustice.

“Do you honestly think he caused the fire and the riots? Are you out of your still loving mind? He didn’t, ”she said. “He was a victim, just like us.”

Ms Goossen and other Mr Trump supporters speak reverently about the president’s clear speech, the fact that he is not a typical pontificate politician, the way he, a New York real estate mogul, can relate to all strata of society.

The president took to the job sites and spoke to workers “hauling drywall and raising steel,” said Blake Collingsworth, who runs a house building company in Lincoln.

“You have to be for the little guy,” Mr. Collingsworth said. “He understands this part of society and how important the person who works is.”

People like Tim Esch, a rancher from Spalding, remember the pain in the 1980s caused by President Jimmy Carter’s Soviet grain embargo, which brought down prices for corn and wheat. Mr. Trump’s trade policies with China have also been difficult for farmers, he said, but will pay off in the long run.

Some of Mr. Trump’s plans haven’t worked, he said, but his actions show he listened to farmers’ concerns.

“All this China stuff, Trump just supported,” Mr. Esch said.

Like Mr. Esch, many Republicans in Nebraska believe the Democratic Party is using the pandemic as a political tool against the president. Coronavirus cases are skyrocketing here; church prayer lists include long lists of names of those who are suffering. In Henderson, the virus ended up in a nursing home and affected several families.

But on farms where the nearest house is miles away, concerns about the disease seem distant.

“I have bigger problems than a virus that 99.9% of us can overcome without medical intervention,” said Rempel who, like most people in the area, does not always wear a mask. when gathered with others.

Mr. Rempel enjoys the feeling of seclusion of being on the farm, where he can move around in the cab of his combine harvester or behind the wheel of his pickup truck, bouncing on gravel roads.

“I love being in a flying country. I love this. I kiss her, ”Mr. Rempel said, walking through his rows of corn and rubbing each bent stalk. “I lived in Omaha. No one knew who you were. You can do whatever you want. You could go and steal a car, hit a pole and run away without anyone caring.

Rural life, he said, offers responsibilities to people who share a set of values. To be surrounded by parents, grandparents, those “who are proud of you”, is to anchor. It’s something he thinks lost in the big cities.

The fire caused Mr Rempel to focus on dividing the country, which he said he was tired of even though he knows his views are drastically different from those of many who support Mr Biden.

“Everyone wants to put people in a box so that we can decide right away if we hate you. You are a Trump supporter! You are a supporter of Biden! We hate you! “He said.” We have to let go of this as a country. You are who you are, and I am who I am, and I can love you even if I don’t agree with you.

In Henderson, word quickly spread among all the farmers about Mr. Rempel’s burning equipment. Everyone knew that this came at a crucial time when the corn had to be harvested and transported to the market. The urgency was all the greater for Mr. Rempel whose wife was a few days before the due date with the couple’s third child.

Neighbors and church friends brought homemade cinnamon casseroles and buns. Mr. Rempel’s sister created a GoFundMe page titled “Burned Farmer” where donations exceeded $ 100,000.

And under a silvery sky of a recent freezing dawn, a line of combines and tractors rumbled over the horizon and stopped in gravel terrain. About 20 farmers got out of their vehicles and gathered for a prayer before going to work. They came from nearby farms and as far away as Colorado to help Mr. Rempel finish his harvest.

“Welcome to my life,” Mr. Rempel said, taking it all in, “where people are good.”