Posts

California Positive COVID

California’s Poorest County Is The State’s New Epicenter For Covid-19

Adolphe Edward is the CEO for El Centro regional medical center, which is one of the only two hospitals in the entire county; which houses 181,000 California residents.

California Coronavirus

California Governor Prepares For Second Statewide Lockdown Amid Spikes In Covid-19 Cases

California Governor Gavin Newsom claims that the state is setting daily records this week for new cases of Covid-19.

Test for Coronavirus

Arizona, California, And Florida Among States With Record-Breaking Coronavirus Case Numbers

Arizona, California, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas have all reported state record-breaking single-day increases in coronavirus cases within this past week alone. The numbers are a result of a multitude of states in the South and West that are reporting an increase in new infections and hospitalizations. Most of the states experiencing record-setting case numbers were the ones who aggressively reopened within the past month. 

In Arizona specifically there’s been 2,519 new cases reported for this Thursday alone, which surpassed their previous single-day high of 2,392. Arizona has reported that many of their hospitals are nearing capacity due to this massive spike, and the patients who are currently in the ICU make up about 84% of all sick patients for the state. 

Embed from Getty Images

Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey recently announced a slew of new policies that would require things like masks and gloves to be worn throughout certain establishments/when in public in general; something many other states have been continuously doing since this pandemic began. 

Florida officials announced 3,207 new cases of Covid-19 also appeared this Thursday morning; their previous single-day peak was at 2,783 cases, so this is a huge difference for the state. The total number of cases in Florida is around 86,000, making them one of the most infected states in the country. They also were among the first states to reopen, and generally speaking, they never fully adopted social distancing/lockdown procedures for a majority of its cities and residential areas. 

California officials reported 4,084 new coronavirus cases this Thursday, this is the first time the state has reported more than 4,000 cases in a single day. The state itself has reported a total of 161,099 cases, and around 5,200 deaths due to the virus. Los Angeles County is the epicenter of new cases for California, which reported 2,115 of the 4,084 new cases this Thursday. Governor Gavin Newsom announced a statewide restriction on movement and business re-openings, however, he also allowed for the reopening of restaurants and retail stores back in May. 

Embed from Getty Images

South Carolina only reported 987 new cases this Thursday, however, this is the most cases the state has seen in a single week. In total South Carolina has recorded 21,533, but it’s important to note that these drastic differences in case numbers per state are dependent on population size. So 21,000+ cases in South Carolina for them is just as severe as 80,000+ cases in Florida. 

“There is no vaccine for COVID-19. There are only individual behaviors and actions we must all maintain that help stop its spread. This virus does not spread on its own. It’s spread around our state by infected people who carry it wherever they go – their work, the supermarket, the post office, a friend’s house,” said South Carolina state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell, as she pleaded with residents to continue to wear masks and stay home.

Texas reported 3,516 new cases Thursday, topping their previous record of 3,129. Texas itself is nearing the 100,000 mark for its total number of cases. Governor Greg Abott recently gave a news briefing in which he urged his citizens not to panic and that a majority of this spike likely came from the prison systems in Texas. However, Abott didn’t acknowledge the fact that they ended their stay-at-home order on May 1st, which prompted many residents to return to their normal lives, mask free. 

Case numbers for Covid-19 are continuously rising and that pattern will continue unless everyone agrees to abide by social distancing protocols and personal stay-home orders. Government officials understandably want to reopen so that their economies can begin to recover, however, it’ll be impossible to revive the economy if every citizen is sick in a hospital or worse, dead.

Taking a Test

University Of California To End Using Standardized Test Scores In Admissions Process

The University of California Board of Regents unanimously voted this week to suspend all SAT and ACT testing requirements for college freshman applicants until 2024, and will move to eliminate the requirement completely by the end of that five year period. The plan was originally proposed by the university’s system’s president, Janet Napolitano, and is being viewed as a landmark decision coming from one of the country’s most prestigious universities.

“Today’s decision by the Board marks a significant change for the University’s undergraduate admissions. Instead, the UC system – which includes about 280,000 students across the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, Berkeley, and seven other undergraduate schools – will focus on creating its own test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness” and its values, according to a news release from the university.

Embed from Getty Images

The approval plan will specifically make sending all SAT and ACT test scores optional through 2024, a policy that a few other prestigious universities in America have also begun implementing within the past few years; such as American University in Washington DC. By 2025, the board claims that testing requirements in general would be completely eliminated for prospective college students.

“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the University. I see our role as fiduciaries and stewards of the public good and this proposal before us is an incredible step in the right direction,” UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez said in the release.

For the interim years until 2025, the board claims that there will be a “test-blind” process for admissions, which means that SAT and ACT scores won’t be used against a person in terms of admissions, but they still can be used to help students get certain scholarships or course placements.

Embed from Getty Images

The University of California’s system vote could be a major turning point in terms of testing scores being included in all college applications country-wide. It’s been a heavy topic of discussion within the past decade especially, as many universities have been fairly public about how little they actually care about standardized testing scores. They’re more interested in seeing the level of course work students completed in their preliminary education, and what kinds of extra-curriculars they are involved in.

Testing score submissions have also been viewed as archaic and biased against low-income and minority students, since every test taker must check off what race/socioeconomic status they are. Along those same lines there’s been countless arguments that the SAT and ACT favor wealthier students who have access to preparatory courses and can afford to attend them. In fact, last year a civil rights advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the University of California system specifically because of the way they use testing scores for admissions.

“SAT and ACT requirements discriminate against students who can’t afford testing preparation. These tests are incredibly sensitive to socioeconomic status and race and have nothing to say about the individual,” said Alisa Hartz, an attorney with Public Counsel, the Los Angeles-based pro bono firm that filed the suit on behalf of students and advocacy groups.

The University of California system will begin implementing their suspension policy with the start of the fall 2021 semester, and it will be interesting to see what other major universities and colleges also follow suit.

Mothers Day

This California Hotel Is Offering Private Dining Rooms For Families This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and while we’re all busy trying to make the best out of living during a worldwide pandemic, it’s still important to give thanks to the special lady who raised you and made you the individual you are today. 

The Malibu Beach Inn is one of the many businesses throughout the US that’s giving its customers an exclusive Mother’s Day special this year that will make any mom smile while continuing to abide by social distancing policies. If you or your loved ones are currently quarantined in the Malibu/California area, the Malibu Beach Inn will be utilizing its Carbon Beach Club restaurant to provide an elegant Mother’s Day menu for families looking to treat the special lady in their lives to an evening of “dining out” and good food. 

Embed from Getty Images

The packages for the meals start at just $45, and will be available for takeout delivery service all day this Sunday, May 10th. Chef Ryan from the Carbon Beach Club claims that for families in Malibu, he will be preparing a “celebratory to-go menu just for moms that includes tasty treats like crispy fingerling potatoes, heirloom carrots, roasted ora king salmon filet, maple thyme glazed heritage ham, and more.”

The Inn is also providing another dining option for those in the Malibu area this weekend. If you really want to take the dining experience to the next level, patrons can call and reserve an entire private dining suite to themselves for the evening. This way you, your mom, and the rest of your family can take a small trip out for some social distance service and fine dining.

The suites themselves also have a gorgeous view of the private oceanfront terrace that’s been the Inn’s main claim to fame since its opening. 

Embed from Getty Images

For the in-person suite dining experience, the hotel’s personal wine expert will pair a wine with each course, depending on the customers personal taste preferences and what would pair best with the meal itself. However, to start the meal the Malibu Inn’s mixologist will handcraft a signature cocktail using a liquor of your choosing. All service is explicitly meant to abide by social distancing policies as well, and the space itself is set up to accommodate that. 

The Malibu Inn, like other hotel/motel industries in the US currently, is still open and adopting more intensive health, safety, and cleaning procedures to ensure the safety of every guest and all staff as well. If you are currently quarantined to that area and want to book a private dining experience/place a takeout order, you need to give them a 72-hour notice at least, so times running out! You can call them at (310) 460-7509 or check their website for additional information.

For those of us not living in the golden state, California has provided a multitude of 24/7 streaming services so anyone can enjoy the many landscape/beachfront views it has to offer. Beyond that, many hotel/restaurant chains in the United States are uploading their own personal dining room recipes for this Sunday, and there are a ton of online resources available to inspire you to get the perfect gift for your mom this year.

COVID-19 Health Care Workers

Nearly 3,000 Heath Care Workers Have Tested Positive For Covid-19 In California

All across the state of California, over 3,000 health care workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. However, a new report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that transmission between a patient and doctor is “relatively rare” as long as the doctor, nurse, or any other health care worker has brief contact with the patient and is wearing all the proper protective gear. 

Local health departments in California have reported 2,900 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among health care providers as of the beginning of April, which equates to 10% of all reported cases for the golden state. Nationally speaking, however, almost 10,000 of the positive cases for the coronavirus have been reported by health care workers, which is about 3% of the total number of cases (300,000+). 

Embed from Getty Images

The CDC has also reported that about 67 out of every 100,000 California residents have tested positive for Covid-19. To compare, about 178 out of every 100,000 health care workers in California have tested positive. Like any coronavirus statistic, it’s important to take the number with a grain of salt, as it likely doesn’t represent the full skew of the situation. 

The CDC also reported that health care workers were likely to be exposed during the earlier stages of this pandemic when we didn’t know the full scope of how bad this pandemic would truly get. Other more local situations in California have also been due to poor management of the virus in certain facilities. For example, after four nurses all contracted the virus on the same day at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a whistleblower complaint revealed that the center wasn’t abiding by all the proper guidelines to manage the virus in their workplace. 

“Now, the wearing of masks and protective gear is standard, however, health care facilities should emphasize early recognition and isolation of patients with possible COVID-19 and use of recommended PPE to minimize unprotected, high-risk [health care personnel] exposures and protect the health care workforce,” the CDC said.

Embed from Getty Images

One report from the CDC proved that the earlier stages of this pandemic is when a majority of health care workers were exposed to the virus. In Solano County at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital, one patient exposed 121 workers to the coronavirus, however, only three tested positive. Those three had close and prolonged contact for multiple hours with the patient, and since this was before a full on pandemic was declared, the three women weren’t in all the proper protective gear. 

There were 40 other workers out of the 121 who began exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 as well, however, they ultimately tested negative. Once that patient was transferred to a facility that was more properly prepared for individuals who had the coronavirus, no other workers were infected.

The major take away from this specific case for the CDC is that it’s more difficult than we think for these workers in the health industry to contract Covid-19, but that doesn’t make what they’re doing any less dangerous or heroic. 

“As community transmission has increased, it has become harder to tell exactly where each person gets infected. The Solano County case presented a unique opportunity to study how transmission occurs in a health care setting. The case also highlights the importance of testing. As public health officials look to ease shelter-in-place requirements for the Bay Area, testing will be crucial because it’s the only way to know who has had the virus — and who is still at risk of becoming infected,” [CDC].

It’s important to keep all health care providers in our thoughts during this very difficult time. They’re risking exposure to the virus every day, in order to protect us from further 

Veterinarian

Meet The Traveling Veterinarian Who’s Helping Homeless Pets For Free

Stewart is now known as the “Street Vet” in California, as he spends his free time traveling around the golden state in search of homeless people with animals.

Death Valley, California

Where Should You Go On Your Next Road Trip?

In the United States, going on a road trip has been a traditional means of vacationing since the creation of the car. The ability to just get in your car, start driving, and eventually end up in a different state can be such an exhilarating experience, let alone much cheaper when compared to airfare and other means of traveling. So what are some of the best road trip destinations to hit in America?

First, the state of Washington in general is known for its vastly wide array of landscapes, hiking destinations and national parks, all perfect destinations to pass through or stop at on your road trip journey. More specifically, the North Cascades National Park, which is situated right next to the Washington Pass route that will take you between two iconic mountain ranges which will be your view for a majority of the trip. Additionally, the route itself will take you through a multitude of nature preserve sites that you can pull over and enjoy, such as the Liberty Bell Mountain, Early Winters Spires, and Kangaroo Ridge.

Embed from Getty Images

Olympic National Park

Speaking of Washington National Parks, while you’re making your way through the state you should definitely stop at the Olympic National Park, which is arguably the most well-known park in the state, as it’s known for having a diverse range of natural environments to explore, including rainforest hiking trails, mountain territories, and coastal beaches; all of which are located within the park. One of the more popular beach destinations in the park is Rialto Beach, which is known for its massive driftwood “decorations” that are scattered among the shore. 

Moving outside of Washington, California is one of the most popular road trip destinations in America. However, why just make it the final stopping point? California is huge and has a whole slew of different cities, beaches, and nature preserves in general that can occupy an entire week of travel. State Highway 1 is known as “The Lost Coast” in California, and it takes over 650 miles of California coastline without any major access roads, hence its name. You can drive, hike, backpack, bike, and more along the entire trail and because of how huge it is, the possibilities for what you’ll witness while exploring the hidden roads are endless. 

Like the Olympic National Park, Joshua Tree National Park in California near the Barker Dam is one of the more famous road trip spots/getaway destinations for most who visit the golden state. The Dam provides a major source for fresh water in an otherwise extremely dry and arid environment. That fresh water will also draw the attention of many unique species, which can make for some pretty picturesque nature shots. 

Embed from Getty Images

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is on the cusp of California and Nevada and is known as America’s hottest and driest national park due to the fact that it has the lowest altitude when compared to every other park in the country. The desert environment itself isn’t your stereotypical vision of endless sand and cloudless skies, but instead holds a bunch of deep canyons, multicolored rock formations, multi-textured sand dunes for any sort of desert activity like hiking, riding an ATV or dune buggies, etc. and with a name like Death Valley, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.

Finally, it’s appropriate to also mention Arizona in this list. Arizona is located in the perfect place for a road trip, as it has Utah, Nevada, California, and New Mexico on its border, as well as the very famous Grand Canyon National Park in its residence. Beyond that, Arizona also has a myriad of photogenic landscapes, such as the Horseshoe Bend, which is one of the most photographed locations in the United States. The bend itself is located within the Colorado River and is about 100 miles from the Grand Canyon itself. The Saguaro National Park also holds a certain claim to fame in Arizona, as it’s known for holding some of the nation’s largest cacti species within its vast landscape (some can grow to be over 50 feet). 

Regardless of where you want to go on your road trip, make sure you’re remaining present and taking in all the scenery that the open roads of America have to offer. Never be afraid of a spontaneous detour, and pack a camera only for the really special moments so you can spend your time savoring every second of your nomadic journey. 

Plastic Bags

New York Plastic Bag Ban Goes Into Full Effect This Week

New York’s plastic bag ban will go into full effect this Sunday (3/1) and store-owners throughout all five boroughs are preparing themselves by buying paper bags in bulk, and implementing new marketing strategies to encourage customers to bring their own bags. A lot of establishments throughout the state of New York have already begun transitioning out plastic bags from their businesses, however, for others it’s a bit of a scramble. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation last year on Earth Day as a means of reducing litter throughout the state, especially in New York City, but also to combat climate change in general by protecting wildlife from eating said litter, and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions that are directly linked to plastic bag production, distribution, and disposal. 

As previously stated, the ban goes into full effect on March 1st and states that all New Yorkers will either have to bring their own reusable bags when going grocery shopping, or pay a five cent fee per paper bag they need; the fee does not apply to individuals who use SNAP of WIC. Certain bags are exempt from the ban, such as garbage or garment bags, or any kind of bag that’s used to wrap perishable foods. 

Embed from Getty Images

“It’s self-explanatory. It’s the right thing for the environment, and we really care. Our clientele also appreciate the fact that we care about the environment. Yes, it’s going to be a little bit of transition for many stores — being a shortage of bags or whatever it may be — but we wanted to be proactive on it,”  said Carlos Alfara, director of produce for all Union Market stores in NYC.

Union Market has also created their own informational campaign that they’re calling “BYOBag” as a means of informing all NYC residents on the specifics of the new law. Part of their campaign also instructs all sales representatives and cashiers to talk to customers about the new policy, as well as offering a 10 cent discount to every customer who brings their own bag.

For Union Market, however, as a chain making this transition isn’t as financially impactful as it would be for smaller, independently owned businesses who are paying nearly three times the amount for paper bags, hence the fees. Store owners are encouraged to also keep all cardboard boxes they recieve in case customers want to use those for groceries as well. At the end of the day, customers will get used to the change, and the planet will surely thank New Yorkers in the long run.

Embed from Getty Images

New York has now become the third state in America to fully ban plastic bags statewide; California and Hawaii being the other two. According to Riverkeeper, a water advocacy nonprofit, New Yorkers use more than 23 billion single-use plastic bags every year, and the average life cycle of each bag is about 15 minutes long, before being improperly disposed of. Riverkeeper has also been outspoken about their discontent with this specific ban, stating that it’s simply not enough, especially when compared to the massive amounts of single-use plastic that New Yorkers go through in general annually. 

Plastic containers used for take out throughout the hundreds of thousands of places to eat in New York contributes to some of the most plastic waste for the state. Additionally, critics of the ban claim that while it is a step in the right direction, the amount of fossil fuels required to transport containers and paper bags is just as much as it would be for regular plastic bags. 

“They’re [plastic bags] cheap, convenient, waterproof, strong enough to hold groceries but thin and light enough to make and transport using scant energy, water or other resources. Though they’re called single-use, most people reuse them, typically as trash can liners. When governments ban them, consumers buy thicker substitutes with a bigger carbon footprint,” wrote John Tierney in The Wall Street Journal.

The Department of Sanitation for New York City will be scattered throughout the five boroughs this Friday handing out reusable bags as preparation for the change. While it may not be the biggest accomplishment in terms of combating climate change, it’s this type of systematic action that we need worldwide if we want a shot at saving our dying planet and all its inhabitants. 

Weedy seadragons

Rare Weedy Seadragons Hatch In Captivity For The First Time

After many years of attempted breeding, two weedy seadragons were hatched at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, to the surprise of all working there. Weedy seadragons get their name because of their resemblance to seaweed, they’re also cousin species to regular seahorses and are notoriously difficult to breed when in captivity, hence the rejoicing from everyone working at the Birch Aquarium. 

Birch made an official statement this past week, in which they announced the births and credited themselves as one of the few aquariums in the world to have been able to successfully breed weedy seadragons.  

Embed from Getty Images

“[This is] a momentous occasion, seadragons are charismatic, sensitive, and require detailed husbandry. We have spent over 25 years working with these animals and love that we have made the next steps to conserve this delicate species. Birch Aquarium has bred 13 types of seahorses since 1995 and started its weedy seadragon program because of that track record of success,” said Jennifer Nero Moffatt, the aquarium’s senior director of animal care, science and conservation, in the official statement.       

Moffatt went on to explain that the babies were only one-inch long, currently, but will likely grow to be up to 18 inches long, they’re already feeding on tiny shrimp as well, which is a good sign in regards to their survival. It’s still unclear if the babies are male or female, and the seadragons caregivers will likely not know until they’ve reached sexual maturity in a few years.

Weedy seadragons are native to Australia; their long, thin snouts and tiny paper-thin fins allow them to propel themselves through the water at fast rates. Their fins give them an overall seaweed-like texture (as pictured), so when their quickly moving throughout the water they mimic that of drifting seaweed, which is good when it comes to protecting themselves from predators.

Embed from Getty Images

As previously mentioned, seadragons are cousins to the seahorse, and like the sea horse, the males carry the eggs after the females deposit them on the males tail. According to reports, the eggs then incubate and hatch in five to six weeks from the day the eggs are initially deposited. Their mating ritual, however, is unique when compared to their relatives, as seadragons are known for their “spinning dance” which eventually leads to a “snout to snout” exchange while the eggs are being transferred, which happens to look like a seadragon kiss.

Seadragons are a near-threatened species, meaning they’re practically endangered. However, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources deemed the threat to be a “minimal concern” due to the limited knowledge scientists have on the species and their contribution to overall ecosystem health. For this reason, more and more aquariums have been attempting to breed the species as a means of maintaining its population, but it hasn’t been an easy feat; Birch Aquarium is one of the first to do it successfully.

Captive breeding of seadragons has been near impossible due to a multitude of reasons, including the fact that they’re near impossible to find. Their habitat in Australia allows for easy camouflage within large bushels of seaweed and coral. Nonetheless, efforts have only become more urgent to preserve the species, as climate change is threatening their habitat, which prioritizes efforts such as seadragon breeding and any other captive protections aquariums can provide for rare aquatic species that we don’t know much about.

For now, the two new additions to the Birch Aquarium will remain out of the public eye while conversationalists and aquarium workers alike work hard to raise the babies and learn more about them, so that there’s a better shot at saving the species all together.