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Air Pollution

COVID-19 Pandemic Indirectly Leading To A Reduction In Air Pollution

The coronavirus pandemic has been causing a lot of industries to completely shut down, which is indirectly benefiting the environment. A lack of industrial activity is temporarily causing air pollution levels to decrease, according to the European Space Agency which released satellite images showing the fall in global nitrogen dioxide levels. 

The sudden shift in atmospheric levels is being referred to as the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of industrial emission rates in the atmosphere when certain businesses are shut down for long periods of time globally. According to the European Space Agencies (ESA) satellite images, over the past two months, levels of nitrogen dioxide over the planet’s most metropolitan and industrialized areas in Asia and Europe were marked much lower when compared to last year’s data. 

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This is massively significant, as a decrease in these levels is relatively uncalled for, especially considering how fast and advanced the world runs when it’s not in the middle of a pandemic. nitrogen dioxide in general is produced from car engines, power plants, and basically any industrial business that’s known for its gas emissions. nitrogen dioxide is also known to speed up the development of respiratory illnesses.

“We are now, inadvertently, conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen. Are we looking at what we might see in the future if we can move to a low-carbon economy? Not to denigrate the loss of life, but this might give us some hope from something terrible. To see what can be achieved. A reduction in air pollution could also bring some health benefits, though it’s unlikely to offset loss of life from the disease [coronavirus],” said Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester.

While the health benefits of this reduction in air pollution may not offset the number of deaths as a result of COVID-19, it can help reduce the overall spread of the virus, as higher levels of pollution in the air causes those with pre-existing health conditions to have an even more compromised immune system. Additionally, individuals with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, living in these areas that are typically concentrated in nitrogen dioxide will benefit from the cleaner air in the long run. 

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The World Health Organization (WHO) describes nitrogen dioxide as “a toxic gas which causes significant inflammation of the airways,” which is why it tends to intensify preexisting conditions, especially those of a respiratory nature. The biggest drop in pollution levels that also works to support the connection between the coronavirus and the improvement in air quality, comes from Wuhan, China, where the virus initially spread. The city itself has 11 million citizens and is one of the largest transportation hubs in the world, it also has hundreds of thousands of industrial factories throughout it. Now, according to NASA nitrogen dioxide levels have decreased up to 30% when compared to last year!

Other areas of Europe and Asia that support the “largest experiment in history” include South Korea, which is typically dependent on a multitude of power plants and industrial facilities in China. Milan, Italy, one of the most COVID-19 affected countries, has seen a 40% drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions. Many are crediting this to Italy’s current lockdown policy that the country is still enduring.  

In the United Kingdom, road traffic alone accounts for about 80% of all gas emissions, now that the UK has announced their own plans to lockdown, it’s predicted that they’ll see a similar drop as well. While coronavirus may be disrupting a lot of aspects of life right now, at least one small positive is coming out of this entire ordeal, and the planet is healing more and more everyday.

Basketball

NBA Teams Making Pay Cuts And Shifting To Four-Day Work Week Amid Coronavirus Concerns

The sports and entertainment group that owns both the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils has made an announcement in which they notified their teams that all full-time employees and players who are making a set salary will be subject to temporary pay cuts and will be moving to a four-day work week as a result of the coronavirus. The pay cuts will reach up to 20%, and is likely to last into April, when the NBA season is currently projected to start up again. 

“As we navigate this evolving COVID-19 environment, we are mindful of the long-term impact the suspension of live events and games will have on our organization and industry. To ensure we can continue to support and operate our businesses during these uncertain times without reducing our workforce, we are asking our full-time, salaried employees to temporarily reduce their pay by up to 20 percent and move to a four-day week,” said Scott O’Neil, CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns both teams, in a statement sent to the employees. 

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All full-time employees making an annual salary of $50,000 or more will face a pay cut up to 20%, however, cuts that high are only likely to affect individuals making $70,000 or more, according to ESPN. Front-office employees are likely to face cuts to their paychecks as well in the coming weeks, all of it is in an effort to give back to the communities of these teams while they cope with the devastating effects of COVID-19. 

Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment also announced they would be partnering with non-profit organizations in Philadelphia, Camden, and Newark as a means of assisting residents who are suffering from a lack of food and resources due to the excessive amount of panic buying that’s been occurring within the past few weeks. It plans to fund these organizations with the money they’re gaining from the pay cuts.

The NBA predicts all players and employees working behind-the-scenes will be receiving their normal full salaries on April 1st if all goes as planned. However, the league is still unsure as to how concrete of a timeline that actually is. NBA policy states that the company is allowed to withhold 1/93rd of a player’s seasonal salary per canceled game based on “catastrophic circumstances.” These specific circumstances include that of war, natural disasters, or epidemic/pandemics. This policy is what allows groups like Harry Blitzer to make charitable contributions to those who aren’t lucky enough to have a large salary. 

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As previously stated, many professionals working within the NBA predict by mid-April, things will begin to shift back towards normalcy. At this rate, many are keeping their expectations low, as we really don’t know what the world’s going to look like in a month. One of the most notable figureheads and NBA team owner, Mark Cuban, however is remaining hopeful regarding all of it. 

“Hopefully by the middle of May, we’re starting to get back to normal and the NBA is playing games. Maybe not with fans, but we’re playing it because sports play such an important role. You know, people want something to cheer for, people want something to rally around, people want something to be excited about,” Cuban said

A COVID-19 vaccine is the only real way that things like sports games and concerts will be able to resume in their entirety. Both the government and big businesses throughout the country are hoping within two months, enough of the virus has been contained and controlled to find a feasible treatment or vaccine, there’s just no possible way of knowing that yet. For now, the NBA’s contribution to its community does not go unrecognized, and hopefully more major industries throughout the world follow suit in helping and supporting their community during this time of panic.

Astronaut

Famous Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield Offers Self-Isolation Tips During Coronavirus Pandemic

Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut who’s always had an extreme passion for sharing his extensive knowledge with the public on all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Medical Masks

Tim Cook Says Apple Will Donate ‘Millions Of Masks’ To Healthcare Organizations

Tim Cook, the CEO of major tech company Apple, recently tweeted that the corporation will be donating millions of masks to healthcare professionals in the United States and Europe within the following weeks. This effort is a part of the overall initiative to slow the spread of this virus and keep it as contained as possible. 

Vice President Mike Pence also confirmed the collaboration with Apple, along with other multi-billion dollar corporations, that would provide healthcare materials to the brave men and women working in our hospitals everyday to combat this disease. 

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“The president and I literally heard directly from Apple that they’re donating 2 million industrial masks to this effort around the country and working with our administration to distribute those,” Pence said at a White House press briefing.

“Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19. We’re donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you,” Tim Cook tweeted

It’s unclear where the 2 million masks will be coming from and why that number was arrived at specifically, but we do know that the demand for supplies like masks has never been higher worldwide. However, the inventory of supplies does not nearly match the level of demand for them, which is why billion dollar companies such as Apple need to be using their vast amount of resources to benefit the general public. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote a release that he sent to all of his employees this past weekend in which he stated that “masks remain in short supply globally, but the company has placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled.”

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The specific masks that are being distributed most frequently are the N95 respirators, as they are disposable, close-fitting, and are advertised to keep any trace amounts of virus-laden droplets away from the wearers mouth or nose. However, it’s important to note that masks are not the most effective way to prevent the spreading of this virus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even have claimed that the mask’s effectiveness is dependent on the way it fits the wearer. 

Vice President Pence announced that the Department of Health and Human Services has placed an order for hundreds of millions of N95 masks through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, however, as previously stated, it’s still unclear as to where the masks will be coming from and when they would be available to healthcare providers/the general public. 

Mask shortages, however, is a major issue for doctors, nurses, and anyone else working within a healthcare profession. Some are being forced to use less-effective homemade masks when treating patients, while others are opting not to use one at all. While certain government agencies have claimed that medical professionals will be given access to fresh medical supplies soon, the uncertainty of it all is more than unsettling during times of a pandemic. 

While certain companies and private investors, such as Tesla owner Elon Musk, have personally donated as many supplies as they could, the public shouldn’t have to rely on the likes of big businesses and the world’s richest billionaires to provide basic supplies during a time where human rights and healthcare need to be at top priority; as they always should.

COVID-19 with American Flag

Bill Gates Has Given Over $100 Million To Fund COVID-19 Treatments

The focus on the foundation has always been to improve on impoverished individuals health and wellbeing in order to lift them out of a life of danger that stripped them of any access to basic human needs.

Two Girls Working Out at Home

How To Keep Yourself Entertained During Quarantine

In times of global pandemics, it’s important to remember to do things to keep your mind occupied and distracted from the constant updates and statements about a rapidly spreading virus. Binge-watching your favorite shows and taking on some new hobbies are just two general examples of ways you can keep yourself busy during times of quarantine, so what should you try today?

Thanks to the many art and cultural institutions throughout the world, you can bring the likes of museums, Broadway plays, theatrical productions, and opera performances, right into your living room. Google’s Arts and Culture Department has collaborated with over 500 of the world’s most famous museums to offer virtual tours and lessons on some of the most famous artwork in history. 

In addition, Broadway has its own streaming service, and BBC is offering a digital “Culture in quarantine festival” for fans of all things theater and dance. The Metropolitan Opera is also streaming exclusive versions of some of its most famous performances every night. 

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Another great way to keep yourself occupied, while also feeling like you’re doing something to benefit your physical health, is doing an in-home workout routine. There are plenty of free options covering a multitude of types of exercise on YouTube. Not only will you ensure that you’re keeping your body running to the best of its ability, but exercise also is a great mood-booster, especially when you’re stuck inside. 

Along those same lines, taking an online yoga or meditation course, or simply going on YouTube for free, will also improve your physical health while improving your mental well-being as well. The overall goal of keeping yourself entertained when quarantined and distanced from the outside world, is to do things that are enriching for your mind, body, and soul. 

You don’t want to simply sit in front of the TV and distract yourself with mindless reality shows all day, although that’s not the worst option, you want to do things that will keep you from being in your head too often throughout the day. 

The more time you spend just thinking, the more likely it is that you’ll get trapped in an endless stream of consciousness about all things COVID-19/pandemic related. While it’s important to stay informed, it’s just as important to completely separate yourself from that narrative that we’re constantly hearing about at all hours of the day. 

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Some local entertainers are taking to their community Facebook groups to host online dinner parties, happy hours, hangouts, or even concerts. Just because we can’t all physically spend time with our distanced friends and family, living in a time of advanced technology gives us that ability. We have endless access and communication to whoever we want to talk to, whenever we want to, so might as well take advantage of it. 

“Join us tonight from wherever you are! Social distancing is good for the world right now, but still hard on us as individuals — emotionally, mentally and even physically. So let’s stay connected and, for the love of Pete, let’s keep making music!!” wrote New Jersey local singer Meghan Carey on her artist Facebook page before performing a virtual concert on Saturday.

Finally, make sure you’re going outside and getting some fresh air at least once a day. Just because you need to be socially distancing yourself from others, doesn’t mean you can’t go on a solo walk around town, assuming there’s natural spaces for you to go. Many national parks and services around the US are waiving their fees to encourage people to go for more walks while keeping a safe distance around other people. 

Fresh air is good for your physical and mental health, so like anything, just make sure you’re maintaining those two important aspects over anything. It can be easy to get trapped in a binge-watching marathon but that won’t be good for your mind or body in the long run, so get outside, do some yoga, and take a deep breath, we’re going to get through this.

UK vs Virus

United Kingdom Extends Measures To Combat COVID-19 Outbreak

The world has been rapidly trying to respond to every new development that the World Health Organization and Centers For Disease Control release in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking every recommended step and measure that these officials deliver to us is of the utmost importance right now. The United States and United Kingdom are two of the world’s countries that have been criticized the most for their lack of a response to the coronavirus. Now, the U.S. is quarantining itself more and more every day, and the U.K. has made some major policy changes that will be made official this week.

The United Kingdom is projecting to shut down all their schools this Friday until further notice as their main response to the coronavirus pandemic. The only exceptions to this rule will involve any schools that are looking after the children of government officials and key workers involved in the combating of coronavirus, as well as more vulnerable children who lack the proper resources to survive on their own without the aid of school programming. 

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In England and Wales all academic final exams have been cancelled for the time being, it’s predicted that areas in Scotland and Northern Ireland will be making the same type of changes. The death rate in the United Kingdom has reached 104, after an additional 30 people died within a week, prompting more serious restrictive measures to be implemented. 

According to reports, “confirmed cases in the UK rose to 2,626 on Wednesday, from 1,950 on Tuesday. There have been 56,221 tests carried out in the UK for Covid-19, of which 53,595 were confirmed negative. The government says it plans to more than double the number of tests being carried out in England to 25,000 a day.” 

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will all follow the UK’s lead within the coming weeks as well. In terms of industry worker protections, the European government is bringing forward emergency legislation policies to protect private renters from eviction, after multiple complaints. Other policies involved a new advert that’s being spread across the UK’s television, radio and internet media outlets to remind everyone to stay home as much as they can and to continue to practice good hygiene.  

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a series of new key measures that are designed to specifically target individuals with coronavirus currently, and work to maintain their isolation and health. 

England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, told the press that “assessments or exams would not go ahead this year and performance tables would not be published. Officials are working with exam boards to ensure that children get the qualifications that they need, and schools have already been preparing for a shutdown for some time, with some creating homework packs or setting up ways of working online.”

In addition to all of these measures, parts of Europe are enforcing strict travel bans while also working to return tourists to their home countries as smoothly and safely as possible. UK supermarkets are also going to begin placing limits on how much one person can purchase at a time to maintain food rations. 

Closing the schools is the best way to prevent the spread of infection. While young children are the most likely to survive coronavirus and have the least amount of symptoms, their ability to spread it is just as severe as the average adult. Right now, the focus is on maintaining the spread, and curing those infected. Europe is following suit with the rest of the world now when it comes to taking the proper measures to ensure its citizens safety. 

BBC Presents ‘Culture In Quarantine’ For Coronavirus Social-Distancing Initiative

Streaming services all over the internet are thriving during this time of social-distancing and self-quarantining. With Coronavirus shutting down any and all sources of art and culture to the outside world, the internet is all we have to turn to when it comes to watching some of our favorite movies, plays, shows, or visiting some of our favorite museums and theaters. 

Google Arts and Culture has teamed up with the world’s most famous museums to deliver virtual tours of each establishment for those staying at home, as we all should be. Beyond that, BroadwayHD offers online streaming of some of New York City’s most famous productions, and the Metropolitan Opera does the same. 

Most recently, the BBC has announced a plan to keep the world’s most prestigious art and cultural institutions alive through their own means of streaming. The “Culture in Quarantine Festival” will be covering everything from the theater and dance to art and classical music, all as a means of keeping the public a little more sane during this time of complete panic. 

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BBC Radio 3 made the initial announcement, but the festival itself will be covered on multiple platforms including social media and television. The festival will contain guides to closed exhibits or permanent gallery collections. Exclusive music and comedy performances along with pre-recorded versions of certain plays and other theater performances will also be included within the festival. 

The BBC states that this will be “a virtual festival of the arts…rooted in the experience of both voluntary and involuntary isolation. All this will be done hand-in-hand with the wider arts and cultural sector through coverage and collaboration.”

BBC Radio 3 has begun streaming different classical music genres and performers throughout the week, but their main plan is to begin playing recordings from some of Europe’s most famous orchestras to bring some of the cancelled concerts that were meant to take place in the coming weeks, right into peoples homes. 

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In addition, BBC is hoping to shine a major spotlight on the freelance musicians of the world, who are now even more limited in sharing their craft due to the quarantine. There’s a major emphasis on mental health with this festival as well. The many art forms within the umbrella of “Art and Culture” often act as a sort of therapy for people. Not only practicing certain crafts, but being inspired by others is what motivates many artists, so this festival is working to keep those worlds connected and open. 

“For a sector that thrives on bringing people together to share live and shared experiences, and that brings benefits for us all, it raises the urgent question: what is culture in a state of quarantine? For me, a precious ray of sunshine has emerged in the clear determination of artists, performers, curators and producers to keep creating and connecting with audiences whatever the circumstances. Historically, artists thrive on periods of isolation and it seems certain that the current period will result in new plays, poems, books, films, paintings, sculptures and all other forms of art that might not otherwise occur,” said Director of Arts at the BBC, Jonty Claypole.

The amount of streaming services that have come together to deliver at home entertainment for those of us who are stuck and worried about the massive unknown that comes with a global pandemic is astounding. It’s easy to get trapped in an endless thread about all the major and minor facts regarding COVID-19, but more times than not that’s just going to cause more hysteria. Follow the government’s orders, maintain good hygiene, and keep your distance as much as possible. Use this time to focus on you and your mental health and make sure you’re giving yourself everything you need to keep your mind, body and soul in a good place.

Real Estate Meeting

How This Real Estate Agent Is Keeping His Clients Calm During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Eric MastrotaEric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at eric.mastrota@thenationaldigest.com.

COVID-19

Researchers Break Down Potential Impact Of COVID-19 Treatments

Imperial College in London has recently analyzed the measures that the United Kingdom and United States are taking in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Through their research, they wanted to model the impact that these public health measures would actually have on the coronavirus in the long run. 

The analysis has found that we are currently involved in the worst public health crisis in generations, so it’s important to understand the exact estimations in regard to the scale of this threat. 

“We use the latest estimates of severity to show that policy strategies which aim to mitigate the epidemic might halve deaths and reduce peak healthcare demand by two-thirds, but this will not be enough to prevent health systems being overwhelmed. More intensive, and socially disruptive interventions will therefore be required to suppress transmission to low levels. It is likely such measures will need to be in place for many months, perhaps until a vaccine becomes available,” said Professor Neil Ferguson.

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Without a proper vaccine or any concrete drug treatment for coronavirus, all researchers have to work off is the several public health measures that different countries have taken. They’re able to compare and contrast how certain measures are working and how others aren’t. The main conclusion so far is that social-distancing and self-quarantining is the best way to ensure that COVID-19 isn’t spreading as aggressively as it could be. The five specific measures that scientists and researchers have been analyzing go as follows: 

  1. Home isolation of cases – whereby those with symptoms of the disease (cough and/or fever) remain at home for 7 days following the onset of symptoms
  2. Home quarantine – whereby all household members of those with symptoms of the disease remain at home for 14 days following the onset of symptoms
  3. Social distancing – a broad policy that aims to reduce overall contacts that people make
  4. Social distancing of those over 70 years – as for social distancing but just for those over 70 years of age who are at highest risk of severe disease
  5. Closure of schools and universities

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The team concluded that combinations of all five of these measures would likely result in two different scenarios, depending on how intense each measure actually is. In the first scenario, the focus would be to slow the spreading of the virus by using these measures. So while they may not be able to stop it completely from spreading, they could interrupt the fast rate that it’s doing so in the meantime. This would mean that there would be less pressure put on healthcare systems worldwide, and greater protections for those most at risk. 

In the second scenario, the focus is on suppressing the outbreak where it is currently. This would involve implementing the more intense interventions to stop the spread and reduce the number of cases worldwide to much lower levels. However, the risk with this focus would be that while it would give us a lower number of cases today, there’s no telling how much more it could spread in a month or so. 

If the focus was on the first scenario, slowing the spreading itself, then the most optimal policy would be a combination of home isolation/quarantine, and social distancing for any individual above the age of 60. The report states that this could result in a reduction of demand on the healthcare industry, and would likely reduce the amount of deaths by 50%. However, with this scenario there’s still a projected 250,000 deaths, which is staggering. 

On the other end, if the focus was on scenario 2 and suppressing the outbreak with where it is now, the research shows that a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation/quarantine, and college/university closures will likely slow the progression overall, and leave room for those who need treatment. 

Researchers concluded that they’re monitoring this situation constantly, and paying special attention to China and South Korea, where the virus first began spreading and also where the case numbers are beginning to decrease already. Only time will tell which scenario will play out for the rest of the planet.