National News Content

California Set To Open Ballparks, Arenas And Theme Parks In April

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 9:52pm
The state of California updated its plans Friday to allow outdoor events at stadiums, ballparks and theme parks to begin to reopen April 1. Sports facilities and amusement parks will reopen at reduced capacity, contingent on county-level infection rates. The California Department of Public Health released its Blueprint for a Safer Economy guidelines last August, which has dictated the opening and closing of businesses at the county level ever since. For counties in the state's most restrictive Purple Tier, outdoor sports and live performances will be limited to 100 people or less and attendees must live in the region. Reservations will be required and concessions sales won't be available, a CDPH statement said. Attendance is capped at 20% in the Red Tier and 33% in the Orange, both of which can welcome in-state visitors. A similar standard will be applied to amusement parks. Venues in the Red Tier can reopen at 15% capacity, but more in-state guests will be allowed to visit as

New York Legislature Strips Cuomo Of Extraordinary Emergency Powers, With A Caveat

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 7:42pm
New York lawmakers voted to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his extraordinary emergency powers on Friday, saying that current COVID-19 circumstances no longer justify the expansive powers Cuomo was granted last year. But the legislation also allows the governor to extend orders he has already issued. New York's Senate and Assembly , both of which are led by Cuomo's fellow Democrats, approved the move on Friday. The Senate vote was 43-20; the Assembly vote was 107-43. The votes took place as a pair of political crises are undermining the governor's standing. At least three women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, and his administration was found to have undercounted the coronavirus' horrible toll on nursing home residents. Those crises have fueled calls for Cuomo to resign, and for him to be impeached. Earlier this week, Cuomo apologized for acting "in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," but he denied inappropriate conduct and refused to resign. The state's attorney general is

What's An NFT? And Why Are People Paying Millions To Buy Them?

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 7:34pm
The artist Grimes recently sold a bunch of NFTs for nearly $6 million. An NFT of LeBron James making a historic dunk for the Lakers garnered more than $200,000. The band Kings of Leon is releasing its new album in the form of an NFT. The auction house Christie's, bids on an NFT by the artist Beeple are already reaching into the millions. And on Friday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey listed his first-ever tweet as an NFT. How do you make an NFT? Log on to one of the NFT marketplaces and upload a file. This process is called "minting" an NFT. You'll usually be asked if its a one of a kind, or if there are multiple copies, or if it's part of a collection. (A quick glance at an NFT marketplace shows just how easy the process is — maybe too easy. Some people are trying to sell tweets and even colors as NFTs.) Once you're done, collectors can start bidding. Digital artists can build in a royalty into their NFTs, even for future sales, which is why many artists see promise in NFTs: It can cut out

Derek Chauvin, Charged With George Floyd's Death, May Face Additional Murder Charge

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 6:36pm
An appeals court has ordered a Minnesota judge to consider charging former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd last May. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill had dismissed that charge in October , siding with Chauvin's defense team who argued the officer didn't put anyone other than the victim at risk. But a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals said Cahill failed to follow precedent. Last month, the court of appeals, by a vote of 2-1, upheld third-degree murder charges against former officer Mohamed Noor , who shot and killed a woman while on duty in 2017. Noor also had argued his actions were directed at the victim alone. "We reverse the order of the district court and remand for reconsideration of the state's motion," the appeals court ruled . "On remand, the district court has discretion to consider any additional arguments Chauvin might raise in opposition to the state's motion. But the district court

White House To Work With Congress To Replace AUMFs With More 'Narrow' Framework

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 5:54pm
The White House will work with Congress to replace existing Authorizations for Use of Military Force with "a narrow and specific framework" aimed at protecting against terror attacks, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. AUMFs provide legal authority for a wide variety of military operations. The three existing AUMFs have been criticized for being overly broad and sweeping. The first was signed in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. It has since been used as the legal authority for strikes against Islamic State in Syria. Critics, including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., have argued it has been used far beyond its original intent. "We are committed to working with Congress to ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are replaced with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars," Psaki said on Twitter. "Tim Kaine has been a leader on questions of war powers

Monroe County reports 150 new cases of COVID-19 and 5 more deaths

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 5:29pm
Monroe County is reporting 150 new cases of COVID-19 as of Friday and 5 more deaths. Those deaths occurred between 2/25 and 2/27. There have been 1,159 deaths to date. The 7-day rolling average of new cases is 127 new cases per day. The 7-day rolling average positivity rate for Monroe County is 1.7% 187 people in the Finger Lakes Region are hospitalized, 55 of them are in ICU. The percentage of total hospital beds available in the Finger Lakes region on a 7-day rolling average is 40%. The percentage of ICU Beds available in the Finger Lakes region on a 7-day rolling average is 35%. Here is the age breakdown of the latest Monroe County COVID-19 cases:

California’s Vaccine Appointment Website Has Glitches. No Surprise?

Latest Updates From Kaiser Health News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 4:10pm

This story also ran on San Diego Union Tribune. It can be republished for free.

California rolled out a statewide covid vaccination website this week aiming to streamline the appointment process after months of criticism, but the site is riddled with its own snags, preventing many from signing up for shots.

The vaccine sign-up website, My Turn, is the state’s answer to a previous hodgepodge of vaccination appointment systems that residents had to log on to through websites belonging to various hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and many of California’s 58 counties.

The site, created by tech giant Salesforce, is being integrated into insurer Blue Shield of California’s $15 million contract with the state to take over its covid vaccination distribution system. My Turn is considered a clearinghouse, allowing most California residents to register for covid vaccinations and then receive an alert when they’re eligible to sign up for a vaccine appointment. The app then directs users on how to sign up for available appointments at certain venues.

The My Turn database, however, does not include information about vaccinations available at most pharmacies, or at Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health hospitals. People who want to get vaccinated at those locations must contact the companies by phone or through their websites.

Like most aspects of state, local and federal government response to covid, My Turn’s rollout has been glitchy. Technology experts say the kinks are not surprising, given the multiplicity of health care information-sharing systems in the state, and a tendency of government officials to overlook the need for consumer usability when building IT systems.

California Department of Public Health spokesperson Darrel Ng said My Turn “is being continually updated to add features to make it easier and more convenient for Californians to make vaccine appointments. If there are technological snafus, they are corrected quickly.” Salesforce did not respond to a request for comment.

So far, more than 650,000 vaccines have been administered via the My Turn system and 600,000 more are scheduled, Ng said. But widespread failures on the site have unleashed a chain of desperate and sarcastic social media responses.

“Here in the Bay Area, with Silicon Valley and all its wealth & technological brilliance, here is how we vaccinate our populace a year into a pandemic,” William Boos tweeted, showing a screenshot of an error message saying an “authentication token” was missing.

Several Twitter users said they were unable to register for the first shot because no slot for a second shot was being shown as available through the system.

“Seeing spots open on 3/1 on @Walgreens for my category, but no second dose appointments are available. And the MyTurn website shows spots, but has an error message after you choose a time,” tweeted Jennifer Lazo.

Others say the system directed them to vaccination sites with no available slots.

“There are no appointments in San Diego County. Try it yourself. Put in that you are 65+. It’ll say you are eligible and bring you to a site in El Cajon where there are 0 appointments available,” tweeted another user.

One irregularity allowed anyone who had registered in the state to book a vaccine appointment in tiny, rural Kings County. Clinics had to turn away residents who had driven in from neighboring counties, and county officials stopped booking appointments through My Turn entirely until the issue was resolved.

Technological issues with vaccination websites have been an issue nationwide.

In New York, hundreds of seniors lined up one chilly mid-February morning after being told to come for second vaccine appointments between 7 and 8 a.m., only to learn the appointment offer was a computer error. Health officials in Georgia resorted to hand-counting vaccine doses to determine how many available appointments there were.

We asked four health tech experts to explain why My Turn and other systems are not running smoothly. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity:

Arien Malec, senior vice president of research and development at Change Healthcare:

The My Turn website and vaccination dissemination system are products of a reactive, rather than proactive, response that has plagued the medical and tech industries since covid first came on the scene. Everybody is making this up on the fly. My Turn, in particular, is a usability nightmare. The site clearly favors already tech-savvy users and doesn’t appear to have been properly vetted. Tech companies typically spend time and money on testing out software before being released to the general public. My Turn doesn’t seem to pass such muster. There are informal ways of doing usability testing that are relatively cheap. Given all the money that we’re spending on covid vaccination, and given the economic benefit of vaccinating more people, it is cheap at any price.

Hana Schank, director of strategy for the Public Interest Technology program at the New America think tank:

The issues with My Turn and other state-adopted vaccination sites are rooted in government officials’ lack of technological expertise. The people who are making the policy decisions are not equipped to make the tech decisions. Their ultimate goal is less focused on a good consumer experience and more on achieving a tangible result — which, in this case, is getting people vaccinated. Are people signing up? Yes. Are vaccines being distributed? Yes. Done. They think that checks their boxes. A tech issue is never just a tech issue. It’s always a bureaucracy issue, or it’s a silo issue or it’s a lack of expertise. The way the government thinks about success is from another era. Government is really bad at providing a good user experience.

Atul Butte, director of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at the University of California-San Francisco:

Considering where California was just two months ago, when the vaccines first began getting distributed in the state, My Turn should be viewed as a success. While the user interface may contain glitches, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes, trying to get the various counties and their health data aligned in order to get proper vaccination counts for residents. The website draws on four databases: one for ordering the vaccines and tracking shipments; one for inventorying at all sites; the California Immunization Registry, or CAIR; and finally the vaccine appointment scheduler. Each of those databases has many components. CAIR is spread across regions and its system is old; its user-facing website hasn’t been updated since 2013.

Dr. Chris Longhurst, chief information officer at UC San Diego Health:

Even if you had the perfect technology, and everybody was using My Turn, people are still gonna be upset because they can’t get vaccinated. We’re in the valley of despair right now, because we had the weather issues in Texas that impacted not only transportation with the vaccine, but also the manufacturing of some of the vaccine. And then you’ve got the state’s transition to Blue Shield as the new third-party authority, which is bumpy at best. Then you’ve got technology transitions — My Turn, and My Turn integration with electronic health records, that are also bumpy at best. And then you also have the governor opening up a bunch of new tiers for educators and essential workers. There’s no supply to meet that new demand. So that creates tremendous misalignment and frustration.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.


This story can be republished for free (details).

Categories: National News Content

'Tragic': Driving Was Down In 2020, But Traffic Fatality Rates Surged

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 3:30pm
Driving was markedly down in 2020, yet a new report found a surprising and alarming statistic: Traffic deaths actually rose last year. The National Safety Council (NSC) says deaths from motor vehicles rose 8% last year, with as many as 42,060 people dying in vehicle crashes. When comparing traffic deaths to the number of miles driven, the rate of fatalities rose 24% — the highest spike in nearly a century, NSC says. "It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn't reap any safety benefits," Lorraine Martin, NSC's president and CEO, said in a statement. The non-profit organization estimates fatalities from motor vehicles every year, tallying deaths on public roads as well as parking lots and driveways. The group advocates for lower speed limits, stricter seat belt laws and expanded use of driver-assistance features like automatic emergency braking, among other changes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a government agency, has not yet

Legislature curbs Cuomo's power as calls for resignation grow 

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 3:01pm
The New York State Legislature is voting to end Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers granted to him during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the governor faces new developments on two controversies: sexual harassment charges and his handling of nursing homes during the health crisis. Under the measure, many of the current rules and restrictions enacted by Cuomo, such as requiring mask-wearing and restricting indoor dining, will stay in place. But they will need to be reviewed by the Legislature every 30 days going forward. The governor cannot issue any new directives without first getting lawmakers’ permission. Republicans, who are in the minority in both houses, said the bill does not go far enough. They said Cuomo’s current authority was set to sunset on April 30. The new measure will extend the governor’s emergency powers, though in a more limited way, beyond that date. Deputy Senate Minority Leader Andrew Lanza said rules that restrict nearly every aspect of New Yorkers’ lives will

Legislature curbs Cuomo's power as calls for resignation grow 

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 3:01pm
The New York State legislature is voting to end Governor Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers granted to him during COVID-19 , as the governor faces new developments on two controversies; sexual harassment charges and his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. Under the measure, many of the current rules and restrictions enacted by Cuomo, like requiring the wearing of masks, and how to distribute the vaccine, and how many people can eat indoors in a restaurant, will stay in place. But they will need to be reviewed by the legislature every 30 days going forward. The governor cannot issue any new directives without first getting lawmakers’ permission. Republicans, who are in the minority in both houses, say the bill does not go far enough. They say Cuomo’s current authority was set to sunset on April 30 th . The new measure will extend the governor’s emergency powers, though in more limited way, beyond that date. Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Andrew Lanza, says rules that restrict

Dallas Officer Ordered Man To Kill Two People, Police Say

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 2:50pm
A Dallas police officer has been arrested on charges that he ordered an acquaintance to kill two people in 2017. Officer Bryan Riser, 36, was charged with capital murder in the deaths of a 61-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman, Dallas Police Chief Eddie García said at a Thursday media briefing. The body of Liza Saenz, which had multiple gunshot wounds, was found on March 1o, 2017, in an area river. The family of the second victim, Albert Douglas, reported him missing the previous month. His remains were never found, the police chief said. García, who was sworn in as head of the department in February, called the two killings unconnected and said that while authorities had no motive, they were both linked to Riser's "off-duty" life. He added that investigators would nonetheless be examining his arrest record and "looking at the activity he conducted as a police officer." According to The Dallas Morning News , Saenz's mother, Mary Hodge, acknowledged Thursday that her daughter and

Are We Raising Unhelpful, Bossy Kids? Here's The Fix

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 2:37pm
It was a simple experiment. Lucia Alcala, a psychologist, built a tiny model grocery store with aisles and different items that she could put on a family's dining room table. She and her colleagues brought the model store to 43 family's homes along California's Central Coast. Each family had a pair of siblings, ages 6 to 10. She gave the siblings clear instructions: Find an efficient route through the store to pick up a list of grocery items and — this was made clear — "work together, collaborate and help each other," says Alcala at California State University, Fullerton. "We gave them very specific instructions." Alcala and her colleagues logged what happened . Did the siblings help each other? Did they boss each other around? Did the older ones exclude the younger ones from the task? For decades, scientists have documented a surprising phenomenon: In many cultures around the world, parents don't struggle to raise helpful, kind kids. From ages 2 to 18, kids want to help their families

Connections: How to help young adults recover from eating disorders

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 2:29pm
More than 28 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Local professor of clinical nursing, Mary Tantillo, has written a new book that explores how to help young adults recover from eating disorders. She calls them diseases of disconnection. We talk to her about that disconnection, as well as how family members can be part of the recovery process. Our guests: Mary Tantillo , professor of clinical nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, founder of The Healing Connection , and author of "Reconnecting for Recovery: Multifamily Therapy Group for Young Adults with Anorexia Nervosa” Alyssa Morales , young adult in recovery from an eating disorder, and private duty licensed practical nurse Michelle Morales, parent peer mentor for the Western NY Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders

Connections: How the pandemic has affected zero-waste programs

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 2:26pm
Zero-waste initiatives in the U.S. gained momentum in 2019 and in early 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic abruptly halted that progress. Now, a year into the pandemic, some of those programs are getting back on track. We talk about the state of food recycling initiatives, and about composting at the local level. If you've considered composting at home, our guests walk you through different ways to do it. Our guests: Robert Putney , CEO of Impact Earth Emily Pacifico , operations manager for Impact Earth

Brazil In Crisis: 'It Feels Like You Are In Stalingrad, in World War II'

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 2:24pm
As coronavirus numbers improve in many countries, in Brazil, things are getting worse – a lot worse. The country is seeing a surge in cases of a seemingly more contagious variant infecting people who have already been sick. And on Wednesday, Brazil – second only to the U.S. in the number of people who have died – hit their highest death toll number recorded in a single day: more than 1,900. The health-care system is about to collapse – even in Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous city with the largest medical infrastructure in the country, Dr. Miguel Nicolelis , a Brazilian-born Duke University neuroscientist, told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly. He describes a "horrible" situation with hospitals at full capacity, turning people away, with some left to die in ambulances or on the street. "They [hospitals] are refusing to take patients because they cannot find a bed in the ICU. So, let's say you have a heart attack or you have a stroke or you had a car accident ... people are actually dying,

NFL Names Its First Black Female Official

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:57pm
The NFL has named a Black woman as an official for the first time. Maia Chaka, a health and physical education teacher in the Virginia Beach area, has participated in the NFL's officiating development program since 2014 while also officiating at the college level. Next season, she will make history when she takes the field in an NFL game. "I am honored to be selected as an NFL official," Chaka said in a statement . "But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture." As of last November , 40 of the NFL's 121 game officials are Black men. The NFL hired its first Black official, Burl Toler, in 1965 and its first full-time female official , Sarah Thomas, in 2015. The NFL has not announced what officiating position Chaka has been hired for. "Maia's years of hard work, dedication and perseverance — including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program — have earned her a position as an NFL official," Troy

As States Ease Restrictions, Study Says On-Premises Dining Linked To COVID-19 Spread

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:55pm
Updated at 12:55 p.m. ET As several states face criticism for lifting coronavirus-related public health restrictions, a study published Friday confirms that state-imposed mask mandates and on-premises dining restrictions help slow the spread of COVID-19. The study , published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at the impact of state-issued mask mandates and on-premises dining on county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths between March 1 and Dec. 31. It found that mask mandates were associated with "statistically significant" decreases in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation. In contrast, allowing on-premises dining was associated with an increase in daily cases 41 to 100 days after reopening, and an increase in daily death growth rates after 61 to 100 days. "Policies that require universal mask use and restrict any on-premises restaurant dining are important components of a comprehensive

As Schools Reopen, Popular 'PE With Joe' Online Exercise Class Goes Bye-Bye

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:32pm
As hopes increase that life will soon get back to normal, there's one pandemic ritual that a lot of kids and parents are going to miss. A year ago, as the coronavirus began to rage, fitness instructor Joe Wicks, known as The Body Coach, started a daily exercise class for kids on YouTube called "PE With Joe." The idea was to help children stay active during the lockdown. "Because although this is a weird time we're in, we're gonna get through it," he reassured his viewers. "Everything's gonna be fine. We're gonna return to normal and we're all gonna be reconnected again." "PE With Joe" has gotten more than 100 million views on YouTube in the past year. That's in part because parents liked the workout as much as their kids. Wicks drove the enthusiasm with lines like this: "We're gonna do some squats. Show me. Down, up, down, up. Can we spin round like a ballerina? Ready? Spinning like ballerina!" As Wicks told NPR's Michel Martin in March 2020 , "The workouts are very simple. You can do

9 Things To Know About The Unfolding Crisis In Ethiopia's Tigray Region

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:12pm
For months, a conflict in Ethiopia between the government in Addis Ababa and a defiant region has cost thousands of lives and displaced at least a million people . Despite the increasing brutality of the conflict in Tigray, until now, it has been largely overlooked by the outside world. But attention and concern is growing with news of alleged atrocities and a worsening refugee crisis. We've put together nine things you should know about the situation in the Horn of Africa. Where is Tigray and what is going on there? Tigray is Ethiopia's northernmost region. Bordering Eritrea, it is home to most of the country's estimated 7 million ethnic Tigrayans. The ethnic group, which accounts for about 6% of Ethiopia's population, have had an outsized influence in national affairs. A map showing Ethiopia's Tigray region, highlighting key cities. Associated Press In early November, the regional government — controlled by the Tigray People's Liberation Front, a leftist political party — launched a
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