America Coronavirus

Can We Stop a Second Wave of Covid-19?

America may have just seen the numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases exceed two million as well as more than 116,000 deaths, but the number of new daily cases are dropping, leading many Americans hoping that we had reached a turning point.

However, with the gradual reopening of some states infectious disease experts are issuing warnings, as they believe a second wave of Covid-19 is on its way, although they are still unsure as to how strong the wave may be.

The theory is that by easing some restrictions coupled with what is seen as a minority of the public ignoring any preventative measures that are in place, a second wave could be far worse than the original peak.

Dr Lawrence Kleinman, MD MPH from Rutgers University agrees saying, “I think people mistake the idea of society reopening with the idea that society is safer, but things are no safer today than they were weeks ago when we were in full lockdown.”

Kleinman continues, “It’s really important for the public to understand that the recipe for their personal safety has not changed and is not changing even as society opens up. I worry that we are going to see that the more social interactions occur, the less care people will take, the more illness there will be, and the more people who will get very sick and die.”

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There are also concerns that if the procedures put in place to protect us are not adhered to – maintaining social distancing, keeping our hands clean and our faces masked as well as symptom screening – the numbers of confirmed cases could be significantly higher than before, which could in turn lead to leaders reinstating stay-at-home orders.

There are others who do not believe that things could get so bad though. Columbia University virologist Dr Vincent Racaniello spoke about his thoughts on the subject saying, “I’m hoping we can continue our lives without having to go back into quarantine in the fall, because we’ve learned that distancing and face masks can really make a difference.”

Whichever stand the experts have taken they do agree on one thing. The way the public chooses to behave will have an instrumental impact on how severe the second wave could be.

Harvard Global Health Institute director and general internist Dr Ashish Jha believes the key way to keep infections low is to increase the number of tests carried out as well as to continue with contact tracing. “Certainly if we go into the fall with the number of tests we have right now, we’re going to get crushed. Because the biggest thing in curtailing this disease is that you’ve got to be able to identify who’s infected and separate them from others so that they don’t spread the virus.”

However there are some experts who are continuing to analyze the behavior of previous cases of respiratory illnesses to enable us to see how we should deal with what may lie ahead. One example being that there are many seasonal ailments including influenza, which is most common during the colder seasons. This is also a common belief for other types of coronaviruses and may be a factor in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that can develop into Covid-19.

According to Racaniello, “In the cooler months with lower humidity, the virus transmits better so we see outbreaks of respiratory infections in those times. I think that’s what COVID-19 will be like in the fall”.

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Another theory is that the viral transmission of the virus could be increased when indoors, which works alongside the colder months theory, as people tend to spend more time inside. Jha explains, “There’s pretty good evidence that a lot of the transmission of this virus occurs when people congregate indoors. And as schools come back along with universities and workplaces, we’re all very worried we’re going to see big spikes in cases that nationally will result in a second wave.”

Furthermore, there are worries that with the flu season still to come a second wave of Covid-19 could put extra strain on an already struggling health care system, however this is something that Racaniello does not believe to be an issue. “I think most health care systems in the U.S. have experienced the outbreak, they know how to handle it, they are going to be ready because now we’re talking about a number of months where they can prepare, they can get protective equipment, they can reallocate spending, space and ventilators.”

It is also a common belief that Covid-19 will continue to be a virus for many more years however with vaccines being developed there may be room for people to build up an immunity to it meaning the virus could diminish into a virus like a cold rather than influenza.

As the virus has spread across the world there has been reports of different mutations of the virus however experts do not believe this would have any impact on how any vaccine could work.

“I’m not worried that there’s going to be a meaningful mutation that will lead to the disease becoming much more severe,” said Jha. “We’ll obviously be paying very close attention to that and we have much better tools for looking at viral genetics, we didn’t have any such tools 100 years ago. Of all the things I lose sleep over, this isn’t one of them.”

However UCLA Department of Epidemiology’s chair Dr Karin Michels, Ph.D. says that when it comes down to it, despite the potential to have the tools in place to prevent a second wave it is up to the public to keep the rates low saying, “It is in our hands and we have all the knowledge required to keep this second wave low, but the relevant measures are unpopular, difficult to maintain and affect many aspects from economy to quality of life”.


Is The Party Over In Europe’s Hotspots?

With travel restrictions still in place across the world due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic, many countries are worrying about their tourism industries.

And with summer fast approaching it is clear that Europe could be severely affected financially.

Although the majority of the 27 countries within the European Union (EU), as well as the United Kingdom, have made it clear that some restrictions will be lifted in June there is a concern that the main tourist areas will struggle to stay open. And this is particularly a worry for those countries with a vibrant party scene.

The Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa, made famous for its nightlife and parties, usually has thousands of young party goers heading to its clubs, however with social distancing looking to continue for many months to come, businesses are already starting to wonder if they will ever be able to reopen.

The lockdown put in place by many countries was also enforced in Cyprus, and the Napa Strip district complied. However owners of nightclubs and party companies are rightly concerned that even when they are allowed to reopen there will continue to be issues.

Charalambos Alexandrou is the spokesperson for a group of local nightclubs, restaurants and bars and agrees:

“We know at nightclubs, young people will go to dance and have a good time. But then you have to tell them that they have to keep 2 meters (6 feet) apart from each other?”

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And it is not just Cyprus who is worried with popular party hotspot Ibiza also raising concerns. The Spanish government has started to implement phase 2 of the country’s move from the State of Alarm back to ‘normality’ and this will affect the holiday island.

The bars and restaurants are able to reopen, albeit only their outdoor spaces at the moment, while groups of friends have been able to meet up again. However nightclubs will only be able to open at around a third of their normal capacity and will have to continue to adhere to social distancing rules, leading Alexandrou to comment that rather than trying to make a profit this year, most tourist areas will be seeing 2020 as “a season of trying to survive.”

It is worth noting that compulsory facemasks must be worn by anyone over the age of six years old making partying that extra bit harder.

With each country bringing in new phases, businesses are trying to determine how and when they are going to be able to encourage visitors back, with many authorities implementing new policies so that when vacationers do head back to their countries, they do so with confidence.

It has been suggested that anyone traveling to Cyprus be forced to take a covid-19 test before they arrive to enable the island to keep their case rate low – at the time of writing Cyprus has had 923 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 17 deaths.

Deputy minister for tourism Savvas Perdios has confirmed that before opening completely to the world Cyprus has been considering only allowing tourists from countries that are both close to them and have had low rates of cases, including Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Greece as well as a few of the Nordic countries and from central Europe.

With such high numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in Russia and the United Kingdom, Cyprus has insisted it will take their time before allowing their two biggest markets into the country.

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Other measures being brought in is the process of all travelers’ luggage being disinfected as soon as it arrives at their accommodation before being placed into the guests’ rooms. All reception areas will have plexiglass screens with staff in protective wear and any checking in/out procedures will be done electronically.

In Portugal, hotels will be awarded “Clean & Safe” seals by tourism officials when they believe the establishment has complied with all safety and hygiene procedures brought in to protect against the virus.

Usually tourism is responsible for 15% of Portugal’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as 9% of all jobs so the prospect of these seals has been welcomed. Currently an establishment has to attend an online class and so far over 4,000 people each week are attending these.

President of Turismo de Portugal Luís Araújo confirmed the strategy saying, “It’s a question of making people feel safe to travel and having confidence in the place where they’re going.”

When discussing the social distancing rules Araújo agreed that, “restrictions scare away any tourist” however he is hoping that these new seals will boost consumer confidence. With these limits in mind it is understandable that while many hotels are planning to reopen in June, nightclubs will have to wait.

The “Clean & Safe” rules will include each hotel room standing empty for 24 hours between each guest to enable sufficient time for deep cleaning as well as airing the rooms out. And while room service is expected to continue it is believed that buffets will be stopped. Sunbeds are another area that will see change. Rather than waiting for a bed to become free, hotel guests will be given one for their own use to stop the spread of germs.

Brazil COVID 19

Trump Considers Travel Ban For Brazil

While White House officials have announced travel restrictions between the US and Europe will continue, President Donald Trump’s administration are also considering whether they should be restricting travel from Brazil following the news that coronavirus cases have increased, with the new cases potentially making it the new pandemic hot spot of the world.

However while such steps are being discussed Trump continues to call Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a ‘good friend’, even while many other countries are blaming Bolsonaro as the reason for the dramatic increase.

Bolsonaro has continued to describe coronavirus as a ‘little flu’ and even encouraged his citizens to continue heading to their places of employment. When his Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta continued to disagree with the president, in particular with his need to reopen the economy too soon, he found himself out of a job.

At the time of writing Brazil has seen over 87,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 with more than 6,000 deaths, surpassing the number of cases China has seen. Officials believe that these figures are much lower than the actual numbers due to the lack of official testing. With a population of around 211 million citizens many experts are predicting that more than 1 million people may have already been affected.

When asked about the increasing numbers of fatalities, Bolsonaro merely shrugged before responding, “So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?” Referring to his middle name he continued, “My name’s Messiah, but I can’t work miracles.”

Aerial images have emerged of what appears to be mass graves, sparking anger against the government for what seems to be a lack of leadership, with many even calling for Bolsonaro to be impeached.

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While the majority of governors have already put stay-at-home orders in place, Bolsonaro has been actively rebelling against their attempts to contain the spread of the disease including leading a protest rally close to the army headquarters in Brasilia.

While it appears the majority of the country is against his lacklustre efforts there are also those who are supporting his stance, especially those who have lost work and income due to the restrictions.

Executive director at Doctors Without Borders Brazil, Ana de Lemos, commented:

“At times like this, it is crucial to have a clear orientation, but unfortunately, we have witnessed the diffusion of contradictory guidelines that hinder compliance with the necessary measures.”

Already Rio de Janeiro plus several other major cities are seeing their healthcare systems struggling to cope with the influx of extra patients and officials believe the structure could collapse. Currently Rio de Janeiro has already seen over 9,000 confirmed cases with around 800 deaths, while São Paulo has so far had more than 26,000 confirmed cases with around 2,200 deaths.

Due to the number of civilians living in areas such as Rio and São Paulo, social distancing is virtually impossible, particularly for those living in slums known as favelas. With people living in such close proximity it is easy to see how covid-19 can spread so rapidly.

States closer to the Venezuelan border were already seeing their health systems struggle in response to the hundreds of thousands of migrants that have headed to Brazil to escape the economic and political crisis that has erupted under President Nicolás Maduro.

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Yet even while Bolsonaro has received criticism from around the world for his country’s crisis Trump has appeared to support him saying, “Brazil went a different way than other countries in South America. If you look at the chart, you’ll see what happened, unfortunately, to Brazil.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently spoke to his Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Araújo and ‘discussed the importance of a coordinated response to combat the covid-19 pandemic’. They also looked at “ways to intensify the economic and security partnerships between our two countries’.

When questioned about the way Bolsonaro has chosen to handle his country’s response to the pandemic at a recent briefing, a senior State Department official chose not to answer. However Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Jon Piechowski said that America has been ‘in touch’ with leaders in Brazil ‘on a daily basis’. He also confirmed that America has not provided any aide or medical supplies.

Yet Trump has made it known that he is considering enforcing some sort of travel restrictions for those wishing to enter the US from Brazil, which would be similar to those currently in place for China and the European Union as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland, confirming that the move is something they are considering ‘very closely’.

If a travel ban does not transpire the Trump administration has been considering other means to reduce the risk of covid-19 entering the country from Brazil, including taking the temperatures of passengers attempting to fly to America, or making them do a coronavirus test before allowing them to board any aircraft.

Venezuelan Coronavirus

Venezuelan Elite Test Positive to Covid-19 After Drug-Fuelled Party

While millions around the world are self-isolating or living in lockdown due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, Venezuela’s ‘rich kids’ are seemingly ignoring all advice, causing fury throughout the rest of the poverty stricken country.

The recent acknowledgement of a drug-fuelled party has sparked outrage, especially after Socialist president Nicolas Maduro confirmed that ‘practically everyone at the party is testing positive’ following reports that Covid-19 has spread throughout the Los Roques archipelago throughout the last month.

Reports of a group of artists arriving at Los Roques to film music videos attracted scores of young people who flooded the area in an attempt to be in the videos.

However the artists have denied the partygoers were not guests, even though they were seen in the area.

It is feared that Venezuela’s poor health system could be at risk if a major outbreak occurs in the country, as the majority of hospitals are already struggling for electricity, medical supplies and even water.

The party was hosted in the middle of March and was attended by some of Venezuela’s elite ‘Bolichicos’. The children of the ruling elite, the advantaged generation have been able to pay to travel to the island and party, while the majority of the country is struggling with a food crisis.

While it is still not clear how many people have caught the virus the increase in the amounts of infections has caused members of the government concern.

On state television in March, Maduro confirmed “there was a party, on an island, and practically everyone at the party is testing positive”. However only a few days later he appeared to backtrack saying, “Who is going to criticize a party? They didn’t know they were sick”, leading many to wonder if he had been contacted by the parents of those involved.

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Despite Maduro’s comments, many citizens – especially in the Caracas slum of Petare – are angry with one resident commenting:

“We’re struggling to eat, but they’re running free, drinking, chasing girls without a second thought about the rest of us. Here, we are fighting just to get by.”

Seen as an oasis for those with money, Los Roques attracts the relatives and aides of many of the country’s top officials, many of which travel to the islands via private planes.

And following the travel restrictions placed not only by the White House but also by governments across the world, areas such as Madrid, Miami and New York are off limits to those wanting to continue partying.

It was reported that the recent activities in Los Roques had been arranged by businessmen who are connected to the government including Jesus Amoroso, whose father is the leading anti-corruption official for Maduro. Both Maduro and Amoroso have had problems with the U.S. recently with the former being indicted only last month on narcotics charges while Amoroso has been sanctioned by America following allegations of him undermining Venezuela’s democracy.

It has also been alleged that prostitutes from London and Madrid were flown in specifically for the party shortly before all air travel to Spain was cancelled.

Although Puerto Rican reggaeton artists Justin Quiles and Zion were spotted on the island, their spokeswoman confirmed they were at the island filming a music video and stayed away from any social events. Both artists have since tested negative for Covid-19.

Fellow artist NakaryNK had also shared photos however she has also confirmed she was only there in a working capacity and did not attend any parties.

It is common knowledge that these sorts of parties have drugs flowing freely, in particular psychedelic 2C-B drugs. Also known as ‘pink cocaine’ due to the powdery substance and the high costs, as well as being pink.

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There were further reports that several larger groups also headed to a local hot spot – known locally as Corrupt Cay – although they have denied they were aware the virus was spreading.

One partygoer has since been unofficially reported as saying that ‘one of the girls had the virus and nobody knew,’ in an audio message that had been leaked across social media.

He also told how both his girlfriend and himself had to leave the party due to them both having high fevers. He also confirmed he knew of six more people who had tested positive for coronavirus.

When the party finally finished everyone got themselves tested and it seems many have since shut down their social media accounts – many believing this is due to their embarrassment of the way they partied during a pandemic.

Yet there are some partygoers who have defended the situation. Jesus Amoroso posted a photograph of himself in front of a luxury SUV, with his middle fingers up, saying “suck it gossipers’. An action that has clearly further angered residents.

Since the outbreak amongst the elite’s children, police have made several arrests of those who were partying in Los Roques. These include a suspected madam who provided the prostitutes for the party.

A raid at a party in Caracas found ecstasy pills, a handgun and eight women who allegedly belong to a prostitution ring.

Sweden COVID-19

Sweden’s Alternative Approach to Covid-19

While the majority of the world has ‘shut up shop’ in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus Sweden has taken a different approach.

News reports have shown scenes of popular tourist areas – including Times Square in New York, Piccadilly Circus in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Seoul in South Korea – completely deserted. The lack of tourists has also seen the canals of Venice become clear again.

Yet in Stockholm, Sweden this is not the case. Although the streets are quieter than normal they are still bustling with activity.

The Swedish authorities have recommended their citizens practice social distancing, work from home where they can and have encouraged residents older than 70 to self-isolate, however they are not imposing the rules as heavily as elsewhere.

The warmer weather has seen outdoor cafes continue to serve the many customers who want coffees, teenagers are not in trouble for hanging out and many more are continuing to greet each other with a hug, completely ignoring social distancing recommendations that are rife throughout the rest of the world.

Bars have seen a ban on drinking at the counter however customers can still be served at tables in restaurants rather than ordering ‘to go’. And while universities and high schools have been forced to close, many primary and pre-schools are continuing to remain open.

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Johan Giesecke, Sweden’s former chief epidemiologist advises the government body the Swedish Health Agency, and admits, “Sweden is an outlier on the European scene, at least. And I think that’s good.” He also believes that other European nations “have taken political, unconsidered actions” rather than making decisions that have been dictated by science.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has confirmed that the country will be dealing with “many tough weeks and months ahead.” In an announcement Lofven confirmed that gatherings would be reduced to only 50 people rather than 500, with many funerals, weddings and even Easter celebrations being affected.

However the Swedish government continues to believe that their citizens will continue to take responsible actions to keep the virus at bay and any who show covid-19 symptoms will stay at home.

The actions of the country may seem to be working at the moment however scientists have slammed the approach, claiming the tactics are irresponsible. Around 2,000 academics have written an open letter to the government asking for more transparency on the situation as well as an explanation for the way they are attempting to reduce the pandemic in their country.

Karolinska Institute professor Sten Linnarsson says the concerns are due to “the assessments and the course that the Swedish government has taken through this epidemic, and especially because there is really a lack of scientific evidence being put forward for these policies.”

In an attempt to show how bad he believes Sweden is dealing with the virus, Linnarsson compares the procedures to letting a house fire continue to burn with the plan of putting the flames out later. “That doesn’t make any sense. And the danger, of course, is that it burns the whole house down.”

However Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s current chief epidemiologist, disagrees, believing that their policies – which could be seen as unresponsive – are designed to protect the health of their citizens in a more sustainable way, rather than the ‘drastic’ moves other countries have introduced, including closing schools for months.

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At the time of writing, Sweden has seen nearly 6,000 confirmed cases and over 100 deaths out of a nation of around 10 million. Yet these figures are thought to be vastly lower than the actual number due to the limited testing available in the country.

Tegnell confirms, “The goal is to slow down the amount of new people getting infected so that health care gets a reasonable chance to take care of them. And that’s what we all do in every country in Europe. We just choose different methods to do it.”

And while there are many around the world that think Sweden’s behavior is ‘reckless’ many within the country believe they are continuing to work in the right way. Retired teacher Susanna Moberg, 63, not only trusts her country’s government but she also believes that the way they are dealing with the pandemic will help keep the situation lower than those in other countries, such as Italy which has one of the highest number of deaths related to the virus in the world.

“I’m not so worried. I’m not 70 years yet. And my children are not sick so we will go to a restaurant on Sunday. We said ‘everybody is well and the restaurant is open’. So we will go there to celebrate. We can’t stay at home the whole day, all week’.

Yet this is exactly what many other citizens around the world are doing in an attempt to stem the spread.

Empty Closed Florida Beach

Coronavirus Hits Spring Breakers

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world, and it has hit the world hard. Yet while the world has closed down in a bid to halt the spread of covid-19, spring breakers continued to head to locations including Cabo throughout March to party with their friends.

Fast forward to April and the partygoers are starting to feel the effects of their decision to defy the advice from White House officials that gatherings of over ten people should be avoided, as well as all non-essential air travel.

In Austin, Texas around 70 students – all in their twenties – decided to charter a plane so they could celebrate spring break in Mexico. Out of those passengers 44 have since tested positive for coronavirus. The students are all studying at the University of Texas at Austin and the university have valid fears that these individuals have spread the virus throughout the campus.

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had a message for those who chose to party instead of stay home: “Quit being an a**. Whether you think this is an issue or not, it is. Whether you think it could affect you or not, it does. The reality of it is, if I’m a college kid who’s going to spring break in Mexico, you’re affecting a lot of people. Grow up.”

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott announced: “The virus often hides in the healthy and is given to those who are at grave risk from being hospitalized or dying. While younger people have less risk for complications, they are not immune from severe illness and death from COVID-19”.

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Although the group chartered their plane from Austin airport to Cabo San Lucas, it is understood some chose to return home using several commercial flights, meaning other passengers on those flights are now having to be monitored.

All passengers have been contacted by the relevant authorities while the University of Texas at Austin is continuing to work with public health officials to locate and isolate all known cases.

“The university is working closely with Austin Public Health to assist in contact tracing,” university spokesman J.B. Bird said. “The incident is a reminder of the vital importance of taking seriously the warnings of public health authorities on the risks of becoming infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others.”

While all students who have tested positive are now in self-isolation, the Department of State Health Services has had to be alerted.

According to reports, the trip was organized by college trip planner JusCollege who had emailed those traveling before the trip regarding the pandemic. One email, sent on 12 March, informed travelers that “we’re currently in our 2nd week of Cabo and have had almost 5,000 travelers, all with no issues.” However a statement was later posted to their website informing all visitors that all remaining spring break trips had been postponed until later in the year.

The university’s president Gregory L. Fenves has called for all students to think about how what they do can affect the greater community saying it “is our responsibility to follow local, state and national public health orders, and use good judgment during this crisis. Our conduct and the decisions we make have direct ramifications on our own health and the health of everyone in our city and beyond. We must do everything we can to limit the spread of this virus — the consequences of reckless actions at this time could not be clearer.”

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Although Mayor Steve Adler had issued a stay-at-home order on 24 March for Austin, Mexico did not have any federal travel advisories in place at the time. However an announcement to suspend all nonessential travel between America and Mexico had been announced on 19 March by the United States.

It is not only those from Texas that flouted the guidelines. Students attending the University of Tampa have also been tested positive after they too continued with their spring break getaways. Meanwhile New York dad Peter Levine has refused to allow his 21-year-old son Matt to return home after he headed to South Padre Island in Texas with friends for their spring break. Even though Levine contacted his son several times asking him to come home, Matt continued to party with his friends. When he returned home he was shocked his dad would not allow him and his friends into the house.

Spring breakers have been heavily criticized for defying warnings and have been spotted continuing to party on crowded beaches in Cabo, Texas, Florida and even in The Bahamas. In fact, there are reports that they see the social distancing rules as just another way to ruin their trip, with Matt Levine himself announcing he felt like the police “were trying to ruin our good time”.

Shocking as it is, Matt is not alone in his thinking. Jawontae Rodgers, 21, claimed he did not believe the virus was a ‘big deal’. Partying in Panama City Beach, Rodgers said that he did not want to ‘stop living my life because you only have one. YOLO: You only live once”.

Sadly, it is attitudes like this that are spreading the virus and causing many to lose their lives.

Medical Protection

Patriots Plane Used To Transport Masks into US

The New England Patriots team plane was used to charter a cargo of 1.2 million N25 masks from Shenzhen, China to the USA to help with coronavirus shortages. A deal to acquire the masks was brokered by the governor of Massachusetts and after a long diplomatic procedure was finally able to enlist the help of the Patriots’ Robert and Jonathan Kraft.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker agreed to the deal with various Chinese manufacturers for the masks but was left searching for a way to transport them into the country. New England Patriots’ president Jonathan Kraft is a lifelong friend of Governor Baker and offered the use of the team’s Boeing 767, which is normally used to transport the players and staff to and from NFL games.

The Krafts had to work with Governor Baker, the U.S. State Department as well as China’s counsel general in New York to get permission for the plane to land in China, with diplomatic hurdles due to the coronavirus pandemic continuously arising. Eventually permission was granted, with the condition that no member of the flight crew would leave the aircraft while it was grounded in China for just under three hours as the masks were loaded onto the plane before it headed back to Massachusetts.

“I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said to the Wall Street Journal. “In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us.”

The Kraft family agreed to pay $2 million, approximately half the cost of the cargo transported back, and with the agreement of Massachusetts Governor Baker, 300,000 masks were pledged to the state of New York, as well.

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“It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission,” Kraft said in a statement to The Boston Globe. “We knew that purchasing greatly-needed N95 masks and providing the Patriots plane to expedite their delivery to local hospitals would immediately help protect our courageous healthcare professionals.”

“No days off. Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers. Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen,” tweeted Governor Baker.

“The Krafts, our partners Ambassador Huang Ping, Dr. Jason Li, Gene Hartigan and our Covid-19 Command Center Personnel teamed up to get this job done and we eagerly await the plane landing at Logan Airport soon,” Governor Baker went on to say, in an statement provided to CNN.

“Our administration will keep pursuing the PPE (personal protective equipment) necessary to support our brave front-line workers who are working tirelessly to save lives during this pandemic.”

As of Thursday the 2nd of April, the state of Massachusetts reported 7,738 cases of coronavirus, as well as 122 deaths related to the pandemic, according to the figures from the John Hopkins University.

Elsewhere in the NFL, ex-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, now of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has pledged to donate 10 million meals to Feeding America. The 42-year-old is partnering with private aviation company, Wheels Up, as part of their “Meals Up initiative”, which Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara, have been heavily involved in.

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“Proud to partner with @WheelsUp for their #MealsUp initiative to supply 10 million meals to @FeedingAmerica.” Brady, who reportedly is moving into Derek Jeter’s old mansion in Tampa Bay for his time at the Buccaneers, tweeted about the initiative.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, has set up a new initiative, “22 and You”, to help healthcare workers in North and South Carolina.

“Like all of you, I have been watching the COVID-19 public health emergency with shock and sadness. I am moved by the heroic and selfless efforts of our frontline healthcare providers throughout the Carolinas and beyond. As such, I have decided to launch an effort to help them in the life-saving work.”

“I have created a program called “22 and You” to raise much needed funds for our healthcare heroes. My partners at Lowe’s Home Improvement and Bose have stepped up and donated to the program. We will be directing the monies raised to NC Healthcare Foundation and South Carolina Hospital Association Foundation.

“I am personally matching the commitment of these great companies and encourage people to donate whatever you can: $22, $220, or $2,200,” McCaffrey said in a statement.

Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has committed $75,000 to three Minnesota organizations focused on helping youth and families who are suffering from the effects of the pandemic.

On March 15th, the Thielen Foundation made a $25,000 donation to Second Harvest Heartland to help feed students that are struggling to feed themselves during this difficult time.

DIY Home Decor

Home Improvement Projects

Whilst you are sitting at home in isolation, bored and staring at your four walls, why not refresh those four walls? There are plenty of home improvement projects from the large to the small that you could take up, to give your home a new lease of life. Whether you have been meaning to repaint your walls, or replace some of your scratched furniture now is the perfect time to get those improvements underway. Not only would they be great projects to distract you and absorb your time but when self-isolations finally ceases and the world rights itself, think how wonderful it would be to have guests in your new home or simply return from a hard day’s work to a beautifully refreshed home. You may gain a real profound sense of achievement and some improvements could even add value to your home. If you can get the materials required via home deliveries – why not look and see where your home could be revamped?

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Refresh and Repaint
One of the quickest and simplest ways to give your home a new lease of life is to repaint, this does not necessarily mean changing colours but if your walls have not been painted for a few years they may have started to dull from general wear and tear. This is also a great opportunity to get some new pictures or artworks up on the wall to add a touch of something new. If you want to go bold however, look at a new colour completely, think contrast for a really powerful and stylish look. You could even paint your ceiling as a feature wall.

Other quick renovations could be to repaint your cabinets. Consider a bold contrasting colour from the rest of the room to really make them shine. Dark colours can really make those cupboard doors look stylish and modern and transform a space whether the kitchen, bathroom or utility. Paint your staircase, update a fireplace or bring some colour into your kitchen with a bold tiled backsplash. Even moving around your furniture can give your home a fresh look.

Grow your Garden
One great little upcycling trend we have seen in the past few years is using old palettes or wood from furniture to make planters. There is a plethora of ideas out there for outdoor upcycling. Consider a window planter or an inbuilt seating area outside with little expense. You could dedicate an area to barbeque space, drinks bar, make your own fire pit or even lay a patio. Get the kids involved and make a wildlife area to attract local animals.

If you have a green thumb why not develop your own allotment or try your hand at landscaping, or simply make space for some of your favourite plants. Gardening is a great way to get out of the house (however limited) and can be quite therapeutic.

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Practical Improvements
There may be some practical changes that you can undertake that would add value to your home. Perhaps your bathroom tiles really need to be ripped out and replaced. Have you been toying with the idea of an attic conversion? Does your attic really need to be insulated? There are plenty of ways from small to large that can help improve your home for yourself and future buyers. From fixing small faults to renovating to create a more stylish and modern space. Perhaps consider swapping out old flooring, reworking your kitchen layout to gain more space or making an office space now that you may have to work from home.

If you have been thinking about an extension, now could be the time to properly plan and research it. Perhaps you have been wanting to reduce your carbon footprint, so use this time to look into alternative green energy providers and see if you can feasibly install solar panelling or similar. Of course, a lot of this work would likely be undertaken after quarantine but research and planning can still be done now.

If you have any old furniture you were getting rid of and can repurpose, or even furniture you are still using that could use an update, consider finding ways in which you can transform those into something new. Upcycling can be as simple as re-upholstering a chair or repainting a unit and changing the handles. The kitchen can be made to look bigger by taking the cabinet doors off and exposing the shelves. For larger projects, could you make a new coffee table out of an old cabinet, or repurpose the wood for shelving, can a wardrobe be made into a bookshelf? If you need to extend your office space can you build a new desk or desk extension? Even old clothes can be made into statement cushion covers or unique patchwork throws.

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Acts Of Kindness Across The United Kingdom

Amidst such an unprecedented, uncertain and daunting time, it is important to try to maintain positivity and hope and to turn to humanities strengths and kindnesses at a time where everything seems hopeless. A cacophony of news broadcasts alert us to some really hideous acts; we have seen coronavirus used as a weapon, persons breaking down in tears after store shelves had been ravaged by panic buyers and NHS staff being evicted from homes as landlords fear contracting the virus. These are drops in the water though, compared to the utter kindness thousands upon thousands of people have shown. In the United Kingdom, as of the 2nd of April there have been 29,474 reported cases and sadly 2,352 deaths from COVID-19. Criticism on testing is rife towards the UK government as the target of 25,000 tests a day is not being achieved. Yet it is a day where the country will take part in its second clap for carers. As the public, whilst in lockdown, stands on their doorsteps clapping, cheering and banging pans in a collective cry out of appreciation for those health workers on the front line saving lives.

There have been plenty more incredible demonstrations of kindness throughout the country in the past weeks as the pandemic has taken the nation. Grassroots organisations are popping up across the country with volunteers acting like pop-up foodbanks, suppliers and helpers. One of which is ‘Meals for the NHS’ where volunteers have been raising money to provide and deliver hot meals for NHS staff working around the clock with only a vending machine for food. Supermarkets are also donating fresh fruit and vegetables to hospitals where health staff have not had time to shop. This is among many other organisations who are providing food parcels or packs of essentials for those most vulnerable or unable to shop.

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The government and the National Health Service called for an army of volunteers to become responders to help aid the healthcare system. Job roles included, collecting essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, transporting medical supplies between hospitals and pharmacies, transporting patients to and from appointments and calling those who are self-isolating to simply check-in and prevent loneliness. 170,000 volunteers signed up overnight, 405, 000 in 24 hours and recruitment had to be paused after 750,000 applications quickly overwhelmed the system.

Businesses from the large to the small, whether in the same industries or far from it, have been producing much needed supplies, from hand sanitisers to personal protective equipment, to ventilators. Some hotels have been offering free rooms to NHS staff who do not feel safe enough to go back to their family homes after directly fighting the virus, or whom want a shorter commute or a rest. Catteries and Kennels have offered up free support to those who need help looking after their pets in the crisis. Shops from tool makers to travel suppliers are donating items such as visors and compression socks for health workers on their feet all day battling the crisis.

It is not just members of the community who are supporting their peers and the NHS. The NHS worker who was evicted from his home due to his landlord worrying about his contact with the virus, set up a website to help house those other health workers in need of a place to stay. Businesses and individuals are also helping the homeless by offering up essential items such as hand sanitisers.

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Acts of kindness range from these large or noteworthy gestures to the small and personal. Families and friends are reaching out to each other, sending support and love. Neighbours are collecting essentials for those who are vulnerable in the area and walking their dogs. Neighbours and strangers are singing Happy Birthday to those in isolation, digitally or from their windows. Professional and hobbyist sewers are using free time to make Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers facing the shortage. Shops are giving free flowers to the NHS and community members are baking thank you cakes. Children are placing rainbows in windows to generate smiles and thank the NHS.

All of the acts of kindness across the UK are almost impossible to include in one article and it does not even cover those who are offering entertainment and free classes online for those self-isolating. Of course, acts of kindness can be seen world-wide, some even producing smiles in other countries as those acts wend their way through the internet. Italians on balconies giving the gift of music to their neighbours. A doctor in Spain asked for letters to be sent to those hospitalised with the illness and received an overwhelming response from well-wishers. Stars in America have been donating funds to charities to help those most vulnerable. Overall, the best of humanity is definitely shining through.

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How Businesses Have Reacted to Coronavirus

Companies around the world are struggling to cope with the effects of coronavirus, with many forced to lay off staff due to closures as well as illness.

Like governments, the CEOs are trying to put together packages that will see not only the staff but also the business stay afloat. However the number of American citizens currently unemployed has hit numbers not seen before.

PayPal are one of the companies that have announced they will not be sacking any of their employees in relation to the pandemic. CEO Dan Schulman confirmed the move stating, “We don’t intend to do any layoffs as a result of covid-19. This is the right thing to step up, to make sure they know that we’ve got their back.” He continued, “If they’re sick, we pay them. If an office closes, we pay them. We really need to be sure that we have their health and their finances at heart as we deal with this crisis right now.”

Matt Murphy, CEO of Marvell Technology, has also confirmed there are currently ‘no plans’ for staff to lose their positions due to the pandemic. “I want the team to be totally focused on the mission at hand, which includes taking care of customers and their own families.”

Both companies join a list of organizations that have offered assurances to staff about job safety. Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Starbucks have also tried to ease their staffs fears during the economic crisis that covid-19 has created throughout the world.

Brian Moynihan is CEO of BofA and backed his company’s stance saying “we don’t want our teammates to worry about their jobs during a time like this. We told them all, there’s no issue, you’re all going to be working now through year-end. No layoffs, no nothing.”

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Meanwhile James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s CEO, sent his staff a memo announcing the company’s workforce will not be reduced as a result of coronavirus during 2020. And Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson confirmed his company would continue to pay their staff for the next 30 days as America’s ‘stay-at-home’ orders have impacted their stores.

Alongside PayPal’s vow to retain their staff, the company has also pulled a plan together to help the business customers who use their service and have already seen their businesses struggle.

As well increasing the length of time merchants are allowed to respond to customer disputes and waiving the instant withdrawal fees on business accounts, they have also made a provision for all business customers to delay any repayments on cash advances or business loans – at no extra cost.

Schulman explains, “We’re basically trying to give small businesses the flexibility to deal with the issues they have right now. We’re one of the largest providers of working capital to small businesses, and we’re going to continue to provide that where we can.”

Schulman has also stated that he believes “companies that have a degree of financial strength” should be doing what they can to help employees and customers, enabling them to push through the global pandemic as painlessly as possible.

“We need to obviously take care of our shareholders, but I think the way we do that best is by taking care of our employees, taking care of our customers and stepping up and doing the right thing. That’s, I think, at least how we build businesses that are enduring and an economy that can be strong. And a strong economy is helpful for everybody.”

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Not all businesses have been so generous to their staff. An Amazon employee led a strike over the alleged conditions the company had been forcing their staff to work in during the outbreak, leading to the company firing him.

Assistant manager and organizer Clive Smalls led a walk out over protective equipment and salary demands however he discovered his contract had been terminated. “It’s a shame on them. To fire someone after five years for sticking up for people and trying to give them a voice.”

However Amazon dispute not only the reasons for Smalls’ termination but also his version of the walk out – Smalls’ claim 60 workers joined him while Amazon says only 15 did. They have even disputed his title amongst other things.

According to Amazon, Smalls failed to comply with company policy after coming into contact with an infected colleague. Something that Smalls also disputes. His termination is now being investigated by New York City’s human rights commissioner, as per the orders of New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio.

It is not just in America that companies are seeing their reputations improve – or become tarnished – over the way they have handled the situation. British tycoon billionaire Richard Branson has also been called into question. Following the grounding of all non-essential air travel Branson forced his staff to take an eight-week leave of absence, unpaid, leading to calls of boycotting the company when the sanctions are lifted.

However many retailers have been vocal of their support of their staff, particularly in countries that are in lockdown. Grocery store staff are seen as ‘key workers’ and as such are required to stay at work. Stores across the United Kingdom have been thanking their workers with bonuses, free lunches and vouchers.