Quick Quotes

"This man's life matters."

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey reacting to the death of a black man, George Floyd, who died in police custody after a white officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest.

“We understand the urgency, but our goal isn’t to be the frontrunner in the early stages — it’s to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective.”

CEO of global pharmaceutical giant Merck, Ken Frazier, speaking about a potential COVID-19 treatment.

“The stock market is like a party animal looking for a reason to celebrate.”

Chief global market strategist Kristina Hooper, Invesco, on the stock market trending higher.

"It tells the industry that tourists likely will be back traveling again soon because no one draws tourists like Disney can."

Editor of ThemeParkInsider.com Robert Niles on Disney World’s proposed July 11th opening, as America crosses a milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

"We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions."

U.S. Dept of Justice announces “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, will go to prison for their involvement in an unprecedented college admissions scandal.

"People really struggle with staying 50 feet away from a bison, let alone six feet from each other. We're social critters."

Garrett Ostler who owns the Madison Hotel on the edge of Yellowstone National Park; Yellowstone starts a limited reopening after a COVID-19 shutdown on Monday.

Stories
Quote of the Day

 

“Everybody can look up and say, ‘Look, the future is so much brighter than the present.'”

Quote of the Day

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the all-American launch of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft - the first time in American history NASA launched American astronauts on a commercially built American spacecraft from American soil. Watch and read more on our source page.

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Health

COVID-19 &
Your Workout

New research on COVID-19 infections from exercise classes as states weigh whether to reopen gyms.

Health

KEEP IN MIND

  • CDC: COVID-19 spreads “mainly” person-to-person via respiratory droplets released when someone talks, sneezes, or coughs.
  • CDC: Questions remain about how effectively the virus spreads on surfaces. Hard, non-porous materials – like metal – in high traffic areas pose a risk for transmission (ex. touching an infected handle on an exercise bike and then wiping sweat from your eyes).
Health

The Latest Science

  • New study on COVID-19 spread among fitness class attendees in South Korea.
  • 27 instructors attended a February 15 workshop before returning to 12 different gyms; unknowingly 8 instructors were infected w/ COVID-19.
  • In the following weeks, 57 of the 217 class attendees developed COVID-19.
  • Additionally, 38 family members and 17 co-workers / friends developed COVID-19. Total infections: 112.
Health

“Because of the increased possibility of infection through droplets, vigorous exercise in closely confined spaces should be avoided during the current outbreak, as should public gatherings, even in small groups.”

The study's authors hypothesized high-intensity workout classes held in small spaces with moist, warm air and many participants can lead to COVID-19 transmission. They noted infected instructors *appear* to not have spread the virus in yoga or pilates classes.
Health

THE LATEST: USA

  • Gyms are open in 25+ states under new rules requiring precautions like social distancing, masks & reduced capacities.
  • Ohio: judge ruled state’s health dept “criminalized lawful businesses” by closing gyms & health clubs, allowing them to reopen as long as they comply w/ safety requirements.
  • Maine: delayed reopening of gyms after seeing the new study out of South Korea highlighted by CDC.
Health

Unlike other industries (ex: schools, restaurants, places of worship), the CDC has not issued specific reopening guidance for gyms. Check out the CDC's guidance for other industries on our source page.

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Uncategorized

MEMORIAL DAY
Honoring Our Fallen

 

 

Today we honor the more than 650,000+ Americans who died in service to our nation, including 9 killed in action so far this year.

Uncategorized

Global War on Terror:
Behind The Numbers

5,462 deaths

We don’t have a final count of the # of fallen in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond because the war isn’t over.

2019 was the deadliest year for U.S. troops in  Afghanistan since 2014.

Uncategorized

“The international military Coalition is capable and credible because of warriors like Juan, Brodie, and Marshal…Our fallen comrades have a legacy that will never be forgotten.”

Lt. Gen. Pat White, Commanding General of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, speaking of Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias (27), U.K. Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon (26), & Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts (28) who were killed during a rocket attack in Iraq in March.
Uncategorized

Wartime Battle Deaths

  • WWI (1917 – 1918): 4.7M served; 53,402 died in battle
  • WWII (1941 – 1945): 16.1M served; 291,557 died in battle
  • Korean War (1950 – 1953): 5.7M served; 33,739 died in battle
  • Vietnam Era (1964 – 1975): 8.7M served; 47,434 died in battle
  • Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990 – 1991): 2.2M served; 148 died in battle
Uncategorized

DID YOU KNOW? Under the Federal Flag Code, on Memorial Day the U.S. flag is flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon and then raised to the top until sunset.

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Now You Know

MEMORIAL DAY

A day honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice likely began with grieving women honoring their loved ones (and their once-enemies) in the exact same way, at the exact same time.

Now You Know

Did You Know?

  • Memorial Day tradition dates back to just after the Civil War.
  • Specifically honors those killed in action.
  • Commonly called “Decoration Day” at the time, as flowers or other items were used to decorate graves.
  • May 30th reportedly chosen because it’s the time of year when ample flowers bloom nationwide.
Now You Know

Here’s The Backstory

  • About 25 cities claim ties to the first Memorial Day.
  • In one well-publicized story, women in Columbus, Mississippi visited a cemetery in April 1866 to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers and saw neglected graves of Union soldiers. They decided to place flowers on ALL the graves despite the war ending just a year earlier.
Now You Know

“They start to see these Union graves that are just laying there, kind of barren….Their hearts start to feel bad for the mothers who have lost these children. So, they start to throw flowers on the Yankee graves. And then that story gets published everywhere.”

Dr. Richard Gardiner, co-author of "The Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday," argues the women in Mississippi were simply following a proposal by a women's association in Georgia weeks earlier.
Now You Know

The Official Beginning

  • First “Memorial Day” at Arlington was spearheaded by Maj. Gen. Logan – a Civil War veteran & lawmaker who advocated for others who had served.
  • Fmr. Union General & soon-to-be-elected President Ulysess S. Grant attended.
  • About 5,000 people gathered & put small American flags on graves; about the same # of people attend in modern times and do exactly the same thing.
Now You Know

Federal Holiday

  • Memorial Day designated a federal holiday in 1971 ~ last Monday of May.
  • MEMORIAL DAY: “a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.”
  • VETERANS DAY (Nov 11): “largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service…”
Now You Know

"We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance...Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic." Maj. General John A. Logan

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Current Events

Class During COVID?

The CDC updates its guidance for returning Americans to work & play during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the highlights for kids going back to school.

Current Events

Something To Consider

Reminder: CDC is not providing a legal directive – just recommendations.

CDC says its “considerations are meant to supplement—not replace” local laws and guidance.

CDC suggestions include disclaimers such as “when practical” and “if feasible” – we didn’t include these everywhere (redundancy!) but they’re used often.

Current Events

Big Picture

“The more people a student or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.”

CDC's May 19th "Considerations For Schools." This one sentence sums up a guiding principle for all the recommendations issued.
Current Events

Basic Recommendations

  • Temperature & symptom checks daily.
  • Hand washing or sanitizing frequently.
  • Masks for everyone as much as possible.*

*CDC acknowledges this is difficult for younger students, and says masks should be worn when social distancing isn’t possible. Question: How does this apply to small groups of young students in a contained classroom? TBD.

Current Events

Logistics

  • Seating: Students should face forward – not facing each other – and sit separated if sharing tables.
  • Hallways: “One-way” routes in hallways should be implemented to keep children/staff from passing each other face-to-face.
  • New Design: Physical barriers or “sneeze guards” should be installed between bathroom sinks and in high-traffic areas.
Current Events

Learning

Limit sharing – from books to balls to crayons to toys. Students should have their own assigned “gear” and not share.

Cohorts” – this is a key word found in the guidance. The CDC suggests limiting the widespread mixing of students and staff, and emphasizes keeping people in the same small groups (as a way to limit interactions, therefore preventing or slowing transmission of disease).

 

Current Events

Playing & Eating

  • “Close communal use shared spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds with shared playground equipment if possible; otherwise, stagger use.”
  • Avoid spirit nights, assemblies, field trips and opt for virtual activities.
  • Eating: Serve meals in classrooms rather than cafeterias.
  • Sports: CDC advises to “minimize risk” with no specific guidance for different sports. More info. on our source page.
Current Events

Key Word: Staggered

Staggered seating on buses.

Staggered pick-up and drop-off times.

Staggered schedules or rotating schedules (virtual school some days, in-school classes other days).

Staggered use of shared spaces, like playgrounds.

Current Events

During the second week of May, lawmakers during a Senate hearing asked health officials, including CDC Director, for more guidance on getting kids back to school. In addition to the paramount goal of education, schools in America have a dramatic economic impact by providing childcare for working parents.

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Health

One of America’s oldest companies will stop selling one of its most iconic products.

WHY?

Health

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will stop selling its talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada.
  • Thousands of lawsuits challenging its safety have led to mixed outcomes. J&J currently faces approx. 19,400 lawsuits over the product.
  • J&J has lost more lawsuits than it won, but the appealed losses have been reduced, overturned or are working their way through the system.
Health

Talc-Based Baby Powder

  • Talc is a naturally-occurring mineral.
  • Asbestos, also a naturally-occurring mineral, is often found near & can contaminate talc mining sites.
  • Crushed talc is in many personal care products, like makeup, deodorant, and one formula of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
  • Concerns about talc & asbestos cross-contamination began in the 1930s.
  • Questions about links between talc and ovarian cancer date back to the 1960s.
Health

Is Talc Dangerous?

  • A World Health Org. agency: talc containing asbestos is “carcinogenic” (potential to cause cancer) when inhaled.
  • American Cancer Society: studies have been mixed, but notes “some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk.”
  • FDA: no studies have proven a conclusive link between talc and ovarian cancer.
Health

“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”

J&J in a statement, noting it remains "remains steadfastly confident" in the safety of its product, citing "decades of scientific studies by medical experts around the world."
Health

“Today’s victory means that children and families no longer will be endangered by this baby powder.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, led a 14-month investigation into the health risks of asbestos in talc-containing products & said J&J "knew for decades that its product contains asbestos, and the company fought to keep using a testing method that never would have allowed it to be detected."
Health

Not Just The Powder: Johnson & Johnson says it decided to cut 100 products, including talc-based baby powder, after assessing its product line in light of COVID-19. J&J will continue to sell its cornstarch-based powder, but will keep the talc-based product on market shelves until it is sold out. Will you continue using it?

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On This Day

May 19, 1795

Johns Hopkins is born.

The namesake of a research leader in the COVID-19 pandemic started out at a grocery store.

On This Day

Don’t Forget The “S”

  • One of 11 children, Johns was his great grandmother’s maiden name.
  • Born to Quakers in Maryland who were early abolitionists.
  • Hopkins worked his family’s tobacco fields. One of his first jobs? Apprentice at his uncle’s wholesale grocery store.
  • Established himself as a trader (supplying goods), whiskey maker/seller, banker, investor, and leading business man in Baltimore.
On This Day

“It is my wish that the plan…shall provide for a hospital, which shall, in construction and arrangement, compare favorably with any institution of like character in this country or in Europe…”

Nine months before his death, Johns Hopkins wrote that he envisioned his $7M fortune would fund a hospital (and research university) that could provide equal care to the poor and wealthy. Comparable to about $11B in today's money, Hopkins' gift was the largest charity donation in America at the time.
On This Day

Claims To Fame

  • First hospital in America with central heat. Featured special ventilation systems to circulate air and curved corners in rooms to prevent the collection of dust.
  • First hospital to use rubber gloves in surgery.
  • First to discover CPR.
  • First major medical school in America to admit women; Hopkins purposefully also funded a school of nursing.
On This Day

Johns Hopkins never married, reportedly pledging never to do so after falling in love with a cousin as a teenager (his uncle disapproved). Hopkins set aside some of his fortune to also open an orphanage for African American children. Check out the interactive Johns Hopkins research models on our source page.

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On This Day

May 15, 1940

Two brothers open America’s first McDonald’s.

They didn’t start with hamburgers, or even french fries…and there was no “Ronald.”

On This Day

“At first it was a struggle and we didn’t know where our next cent was coming from. But we believed in our enterprise.”

Maurice McDonald, who with his brother Richard opened the first McDonald's. The two brothers left their home state of New Hampshire after the Great Depression, and headed to California to make it in the movie business. When their Hollywood adventure failed, they started with a hot dog stand, & later opened a restaurant in San Bernadino.
On This Day

Did You Know….

  • The first McDonald’s was actually “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q.”
  • 1948: A “revamped” McDonald’s opens, focusing on a limited menu with 15-cent burgers & fast service. Fries appear on the menu the following year.
  • 1954: Milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc visits restaurant, becomes a franchise operator & buys the business in 1961.
On This Day

“I was an overnight success alright, but 30 years is a long, long night.”

Ray Kroc developed the "McDonald's System" which later became the McDonald's Corporation. He focused on consistent, fast service across franchises, which also led to the development of Hamburger University where attendees received their degree in Bachelor of Hamburgerology. The program continues today.
On This Day

The world's largest fast food restaurant (by sales) just released guidance to its franchise owners in light of COVID-19. Some suggestions? Touchless sinks, automatic towel dispensers, and potentially face shields, a long with lingering questions about the expense for owners & the experience for customers.

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Current Events

Flush It Out

How monitoring your *Number 2* may help protect your Number 1.

Current Events

“Wastewater from an entire dorm, or an entire segment of a campus, could be tested to determine whether there is coronavirus in that sewage.”

Adm. Brett Giroir, a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, on "experimental approaches, that look interesting, if not promising" for COVID-19 surveillance, answering a Senate hearing question about how children & young adults can safely return to school.
Current Events

Wait. What?

  • Scientists track viral shedding: how & when a sick person spreads the virus & level of contagion in different scenarios.
  • Genetic evidence of SARS-CoV-2 (virus that causes COVID-19) is present in stool samples (though we don’t know if it can spread that way).
  • Why It Matters: Monitoring wastewater *may* help early detection of COVID-19 cases in communities (without relying on individual tests).
Current Events

What To Know:

  • Precedent: Researchers have looked at city wastewater for presence of opioids, hormones.
  • Vancouver, WA sending daily sewage samples to Arizona State Univ, a leading lab in this field.
  • Bend, Oregon: one of 300+ cities participating in a study with a bio startup aligned w/ Harvard, MIT.
  • CDC to Politico: Gov’t itself considering monitoring sewage but hasn’t yet.
Current Events

Something To Consider:

“There is not a lot of evidence of transmission through stools. I know at least one tabloid in the UK got a lot of coverage by someone speculating that COVID-19 could be spread by flatulence or, to quote the headline, by farting. There really is not a lot of science behind that.”

CDC Deputy Dir. for Infectious Diseases, Dr. Jay Butler.
Current Events

A lead researcher in wastewater surveillance refers to our sewage systems as “the information superhighway under your feet.” Just how much sewage would be needed to get an accurate read of COVID-19 community outbreaks is TBD.

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Current Events

What to know about a first-of-its-kind quick test for COVID-19.

Current Events

What To Know

FDA approved first “antigen test” for COVID-19.

Test looks for “fragments of proteins found on or within the virus” (FDA).

Uses a nasal swab and machines already available in many doctor’s offices.

Results in 15 minutes.

Current Events

“…positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection.”

The FDA advises using an additional test (PCR test) follow negative results. PCR tests read the genetic material of the virus. While rapid PCR tests exist, they can be more expensive, complex and take longer to get results. Bottom Line: Antigen tests can quickly confirm positive cases - negative results need subsequent testing.
Current Events

Context & Concerns

  • The World Health Organization advised against antigen tests in early April.
  • WHO: Significant chance for false negatives: “half or more of COVID-19 infected patients might be missed by such tests, depending on the group of patients tested.”
  • WHO: Antigen tests *could be* important “triage tests” to rapidly identify patients likely to have COVID.
Current Events

Can You Get Tested?

The FDA says this is hopefully the first of many antigen tests.

Antigen tests are widely used for flu and strep.

However, some doctors may still want to send you to test site. Not all offices will be able to follow protocols required for administering a COVID-19 test (ex: full protective gear for each & every test).

Current Events

COVID-19 Test: Cheat Sheet

3 main types of COVID-19 tests.

  • Antigen: nasal swab test measures for proteins attached to the virus during an active infection (someone sick).
  • PCR (polymerase chain reaction): often a nasal swab test for genetic fingerprint of COVID-19 during an active infection.
  • Antibody: blood tests looking for the presence of an immune response to COVID-19 (AFTER exposure to COVID).
Current Events

Fmr. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Washington Post: “We need these kinds of tests...This is a nice complement to the overall testing platform in this country.” In the past, as testing availability increases, infection numbers *do* rise but mortality rates go down. It's TBD if this will happen with COVID-19.

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Uncategorized

Mother’s Day

The day set aside to honor America’s mothers began celebrating with flags, not flowers.

 

Uncategorized

“I…direct government officials to display the American flag on all government buildings, & do invite people of the United States to display the flag at their home or other suitable spaces on the second Sunday of May as a public expression of our love & reverence for mothers of our country.”

Pres. Woodrow Wilson declared "Mother's Day" a holiday in 1914, but the campaign for it started years earlier.
Uncategorized

The Daughter Behind Mother’s Day

Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her own mother, who founded “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” during the 1860s to provide aid and improve health & sanitation practices for mothers in the Appalachian mountains.

The Clubs also cared for both Union & Confederate soldiers, and encouraged reconciliation after the Civil War ended.

Uncategorized

Mother’s Day Campaign

  • 1908: Jarvis organized the 1st Mother’s Day in West Virginia to honor her mom.
  • 1910: West Virginia made it a holiday, and soon other states followed.
  • 1914: Congress made Mother’s Day the 2nd Sunday in May (the anniversary of Jarvis’ mom’s death).
  • By the 1920s, mothers nationwide were showered with candy, flowers, cards, & other gifts to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Uncategorized

Jarvis, who intended Mother's Day to honor the role mothers play in the family, church, and community, spent the rest of her life fighting against its commercialization. This year Americans will spend on average $205 on Mother’s Day gifts and celebrations.

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Current Events

America’s New Unemployment Rate

14.7%

Better than expected and yet “the most heartbreaking day in the history of the job market.”

Current Events

The Basics

Highest unemployment rate in the history of the survey dating back to 1948; also highest month-to-month increase ever.

20.5M jobs lost. Job losses seen in every category; gains in none.

Hardest hit: leisure and hospitality with more than 7M+ unemployed – nearly half the entire workforce in that category.

 

Current Events

Something To Consider

In order to be counted as “unemployed” in a jobs report, an American has to be able to work, want to work and actively looking for work.

An estimated 9M+ Americans were laid-off but NOT actively looking for work (as their lay-off may be viewed as temporary). The government says *If* they were counted, the unemployment rate would be closer to 20%.

Current Events

“The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces this monthly jobs report, notes women have a higher unemployment rate (15.5%) than men (13%). The Wall Street Journal suggests this is because large job losses occurred in industries where women are "represented in high numbers," such as education and health services.
Current Events

“This has got to be the most heartbreaking day in the history of the job market.”

Austan Goolsbee, former White House economic advisor to Pres. Obama, says "we have to hope that this is not a normal business cycle" and that it doesn't take many years to repair the damage. He says the government (federal and local) should provide more support to taxpayers to make sure they aren't evicted or have to"liquidate" if the job market doesn't improve soon.
Current Events

“We’re going to rebuild it back as fast as we can.”

Pres. Trump on America's economy. While predicting to see a transition back over the next several months he says the stakes are high: "We have to come back otherwise you have a broken country." Over the last several weeks, lawmakers approved $3T+ of stimulus money during what the President referred to as an "artificial" or government-imposed shutdown of the economy. Additional stimulus is TBD as lawmakers have voiced concern about gov't debt.
Current Events

Early estimates for this month's unemployment rate topped 16%, so this report was actually viewed by some as better than expected. For context: The national unemployment rate in March was 4.4%. Lingering questions: Is this report a one-off? How long does a job recovery take?

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