Preparations for the Spring semester are underway, and the Saint Michael’s College administration is mandating the adherence of stricter COVID-19 guidelines this up-coming semester compared to the Fall.
On Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m., the Emergency Planning Group (EPG) hosted a Town Hall to provide students with information about COVID-19 guidelines for the Spring semester.
“New and updated policies are created to benefit the student body,” said Lorraine Sterritt, president of Saint Michael’s College. Though new strains of the virus are more infectious, Sterritt shined light on the anticipated effectiveness of vaccines. “New strains are more infectious. The good news is that the vaccines are expected to be effective against them,” she said.
Mary Masson, executive director of Bergeron Wellness Center, says the virus’ impact in our community and state is being watched carefully. “Although the COVID rate is lower than three percent, we’re watching it with concern,” she said. “Last week’s numbers equaled the total number of cases from May to October. Why we’ve done so well is because we have a very conservative commissioner and governor. It is the reason behind things we’ll do moving forward.” Decision making from the State of Vermont is the reason why many of the College guidelines are in place, Masson explained. She specified that Saint Michael’s College follows directives from the State of Vermont, though there may be discrepancies with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).
For individuals who were diagnosed with COVID-19 over winter break, the College requests a copy of the testing result sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for medical record purposes. Those who were previously diagnosed do not need to undergo surveillance testing for a full 90 days. Administration will notify these individuals when they are due for testing. Though surveillance testing may not be mandatory for this time period, they are expected to follow all other COVID-19 guidelines on campus, Masson explained.
If someone has fallen ill or is a contact of a positive case, quarantine will occur in Ryan Hall, differing from the College’s previous policy of quarantine inside of an individual’s Fall housing. Contacts with a history of a COVID infection within the past 90 days are still required to undergo a full quarantine. This guideline is mandated by the VT Department of Health.
The full duration of isolation is 10 days, with a planned release on Day 11. If symptoms are developed during isolation, “the clock restarts and it becomes 10 days from the start of symptoms,” Masson noted. “There is a new strain coming out of the UK called the B117 strain, which is more contagious. They are finding that because it’s more contagious, it can affect larger communities, increasing the risk for a larger subset of the community to be hospitalized,” she warned. Luckily, testing provided by the Broad Institute can detect this specific strain.
According to Masson, Mark Levine, Vermont Health Commissioner, stated that no plan is in place for college students to receive the vaccine until the late spring or early summer at this point in time. If there is an uptick in doses or more companies approved by the FDA for vaccination administration, then this may change. “The COVID vaccine does not prevent us from being exposed to the virus or potentially sharing it with our community. It won’t be effective until 70% of the population receives it. If you get the vaccine, you must still continue the guidelines of testing, quarantining, masking, etc.” Masson said.
”We learned a lot from the Fall,” said Dawn Ellinwood, vice president for student affairs. A survey conducted by the Student Government Association (SGA) provided the EPG with feedback and data to consider in their Spring semester planning.
“We have received lots of feedback and data recently. The SGA leadership met with the EPG group from a survey they just did. We are continuing to work and there are works in progress. It was important for the EPG to share what we have so far and it may not change a lot, but it may,” she said.
Ellinwood notes the biggest protocol change is the mandate for quarantine in Ryan Hall. “Meals will be delivered, and the hall will have more pantries. We are trying to make that space more than it was in the Fall,” she said. Additionally, are encouraged to only socialize with their households.
Faculty and staff are encouraged to receive testing weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., though testing is not mandatory.
“The configuration of what you experienced last semester will be different. Testing will be conducted around the track, because the numbers of people coming in will be dramatically different.” Students must bring their KnightCards to testing, as they will be swiped upon entry to record attendance. “If you do not show up, we will find you,” Ellinwood warned.
The virus is fully expected to be present on campus upon arrival, therefore, the precaution and vigilance are crucial until the arrival testing is completed.
Mental Health and Wellness
Kathy Butts, director of counseling at Bergeron, encourages students to contemplate whether returning to campus in-person is in their best interest. “When you think about coming back, knowing what the challenges are, think about how that will work for you and if you have the supports and capacities available to take on that challenge,” she said. Butts notes that learning remotely can be beneficial for many students.
If anyone is in need of support in making this decision, reach out to email@example.com.
In addition, individual counseling will be available by appointment, and urgent needs can be accommodated on the same day.
Communication and messaging
Alex Bertoni, director of marketing and communications, explained new changes to the College website. There is a new section titled Information and Resources, with newly integrated alert levels. “Alert levels give people a level of where we’re at. Some of the requirements for orange are spelled out there. If there is a lower incidence of COVID, we can get to yellow.” The administration can’t specify what guidelines can be relaxed with yellow and green levels, as they may be subject to change. To access the dashboard, it will no longer be linked on the landing page. It can be found under COVID Alert Levels.
Additionally, information that defines terms such as “household,” further details of quarantine and isolation, and information about hygiene can be found on this page.
Jeffrey Trumbower, vice president for academic affairs and professor of Religious Studies, reminded students that classes begin virtually on Jan. 25, for those who quarantined both at home and on campus. Classes with in-person components are expected to begin on Feb. 4.
“We didn’t plan break days well in the Fall because we never experienced a semester where the only break day was in the middle of the week. There was a sense of not having any breaks, and we stressed to faculty that break days are actually break days, and no assignments should be due the day after or the day of,” he said. Department and committee meetings should not meet either, as these are meant to be breaks from the normal routine.”
If a student is contemplating remote learning for the semester, they must contact Tim Mackin, Associate Dean of the College.
“One caveat is that not every course is available remotely. One-third are fully virtual, one-third are mixed, and one-third are in person. Some mixed and in person models can make accommodations for fully remote students, however. It is not too late to decide if you want to be virtual,” Trumbower stated.
The EPG later addressed specific questions submitted by students, highlighting, re-iterating, and supplementing specific information previously provided in the informational session.
If there’s anything we can learn from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, it’s that spiders are capable of teaching humans valuable lessons. Neuroscience research with the eight-legged creatures at St. Michael’s College now shows that the high volume sound that pumps through many earbuds is causing irreparable damage to hearing in young people.
Through complex experiments with Central American Hunting Spiders, biologist Ruth Fabian-Fine, associate professor of biology and neuroscience, has researched sensory mechanisms in spiders that are strikingly similar to hearing in humans.
Fabian-Fine describes hearing as “one of the least understood sensory modalities that we have.” Therefore, she devised a model system to further explore hearing, and discovered that spiders are similar to mammals.
The hairy legs of spiders are attached to sensory neurons. These sensory neurons are chemosensory, meaning that spiders can smell chemicals with them, she said. For example, pheromones, scents emitted by some animals that trigger a response in members of the same species, are tactile (mechanosensory). If you touch or place pressure on a tactile area of a spider, you are coming in contact with these hairs. What we don’t see are tiny slits in their cuticles hidden inside an exoskeleton (the outer hard part of the spider). “These slit-sense organs are the equivalent to ears in humans. With slit-sense organs, spiders can detect vibration and ‘hear,’’ Fabian-Fine said, explaining that they “hear” the same auditory waves we hear. Through the study of sensory neurons and slit-sense organs, Fabian-Fine offers a new way to study hearing, showing the long-term implications of overstimulation.
You’re driving home one evening from a long day at work, listening to your favorite radio station while a steady breeze brushes upon your face from the open windows. The next morning, you turn on your car radio. You are startled by its volume. “Why does my car always do that?” you question. Fabian-Fine explained that this is not the fault of your vehicle, but rather, changes to your ear’s sensitivity. The sensitivity in your sensory neurons were down-regulated by the central neurons the evening before, as a way of protecting your ear from this loud stimulus. “You’ve had this same experience with vision, and when you suddenly turn on a bright light at night, it hurts your eyes. This is not the case when you’ve adapted to it, because the sensitivity of your photoreceptor cells is down regulated,” she said.
Fabian-Fine then explained how these signals are transmitted from the organ to the brain.
“When you sit in a restaurant, and you talk to the person sitting across from you, which can be done easily, you can hear the conversations of people from neighboring tables. We’ve all done that, right? We had a conversation and sensed something in our environment. We then focus our hearing on what’s going on outside of the conversation,” she said. The reason we can do this, she said, is because the neurons in our brain can signal our ears, and say, “down-regulate the sensitivity of this part of the ear, and up-regulate the frequencies of this other conversation that I want to listen to.”
Risks of hearing loss in youth
According to the American Academy of Audiology, “The average, otherwise healthy person will have essentially normal hearing at least up to age 60,” assuming that one’s unprotected ears are not exposed to high noise levels above 85 decibels. With headphone use prevalent among youth, risks for compromised hearing at an earlier age greatly increase.
“An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This hearing loss is a consequence of damaged structures and/or nerve fibers located in the inner ear that respond to sound. This specific form of hearing loss is known as noise-induced hearing loss, and is a result of excessive exposure to loud sounds. This is often irreversible, and cannot be corrected medically or surgically. This form of hearing loss can occur from exposure to a dangerously loud sound or blast, or listening to loud sounds over an extended period of time.
A study conducted by Siemens Hearing Instruments (SHI) notes that teen hearing loss may be on the rise, with 1 in 6 teens having hearing loss symptoms “often or all of the time,” and nearly 9 in 10 engaged in activities that place them at risk for hearing loss. SHI notes that a survey of 500 teenagers, aged between 13 and 19, found that “46% reported experiencing ringing, roaring, buzzing or pain in their ears after engaging in risky hearing practices, including listening to excessively loud music and using lawn and power tools with no hearing protection.” One in 6 teens admitted to experiencing these symptoms often or all the time.
Interestingly enough, for many teenagers, this information is not new. The study reveals that teenagers are aware of these risks, yet make a conscious decision to not protect their hearing. Almost 88% of teens in this study admitted to engaging in activities they know may lead to hearing damage, with listening to loud music being most popular. “When asked what their parents or teachers would do if they knew how loud their music was, 78% of teens confessed they would tell them to lower the volume or wear protective gear,” the study found.
“Oh no, is my music too loud?”
Music plays an integral role in the lives of many teenagers. This past decade, however, earbuds have been cause for concern among hearing care professionals. So, how do you know if the volume of your headphones is too loud?
Apple has implemented software within the Health app to measure headphone audio exposure, and provides statistical data to show if the volume is too loud.
To access this data, in the Health app, scroll to “Show All Health Data,” “Headphone Audio Levels,” and a range of audio exposure information will appear. This data will explain if the volume of your headphones is unhealthily high, average, or under the health recommendation. Additionally, it provides data surveying your exposure over the past seven days, and notifies you if you are over the limit.
On an Android, a warning will appear on your device if the volume is harmfully loud, stating that listening above the level may cause hearing damage.
This information is vital for monitoring volume limits, while encouraging mindful listening to prevent irreversible hearing damage in the future.
If we don’t protect our ears nor understand the sensory systems that impact our hearing, we may face irreversible damage, Fabian-Fine expressed. By educating ourselves and others, we can protect people from the devastating reality that millions of children, teens, and adults will face in their lifetime.
On January 20, 2021, the United States will transfer the power of the presidency from one political party to the other. On this day Donald Trump is scheduled to exit the White House along with his cabinet. Over the next several weeks president-elect Joe Biden will be creating his own cabinet, a group of appointed officials to lead departments in the executive branch. The appointees are rolling in daily as the composition of America’s most diverse presidential cabinet comes together.
Who to choose who to choose The truth is the thought process behind choosing a cabinet varies greatly for each president-elect. Trump’s 2016 appointments were familiar faces to the American public, whether they be former governors or some of the nation’s most prominent business moguls. “The Trump cabinet had more people well known to those who followed politics, they were prominent members of the Republican establishment,” said Paul Heintz of SevenDays VT, who was recently named one of the nation’s outstanding political reporters by the Washington Post. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was a face people knew as being a former opponent of Trump’s during the Republican primaries. More recently, in 2019 Eugene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was appointed Secretary of Labor.
A president-elect’s cabinet appointees give insight into what the executive branch is going to look like. Who an elect chooses reflects on the values and ideologies they are going to take into office with them. We are learning more about Biden’s cabinet each day as we grow closer to that Jan. 20 transition day. What values and ideologies can we gather from his early picks?
“We see Biden’s priorities reflected not only in the personnel but in the offices themselves. There is a clear emphasis on expertise and experience. The choosing of cabinet members is a fascinating process because we learn a lot about the president and how they tend to govern,” said political writer and blogger Steve Benen, who is also the producer for The Rachel Maddow Show.
A new White House position that was created –Climate Envoy– was telling of Biden’s plans for the future. John Kerry was appointed to this position that will lead a national security council. This position is within the executive branch, it is not a cabinet position and does not require Senate confirmation. Kerry will be focusing on foreign policy as it relates to climate change. Gina McCarthy will be taking a similar role as a climate czar taking the role of Biden’s top domestic climate coordinator. Making a point to elevate positions such as these sheds light on the fact that for Biden climate change is a threat to national security and tackling it is a major priority.
In terms of filling the longstanding cabinet positions, Biden’s approach differs greatly from Trump’s. Trump had many of what Heintz refers to as “razzle-dazzle candidates” who were great on camera and who had impressive credentials and name recognition.
Biden’s cabinet does not hold as many recognizable shining stars, in fact, many people might not be familiar with these candidates at all. “Biden’s current appointments and suspected appointments, they know the job pretty well, even if the public doesn’t know them very well,” Heintz said. Many of these people held deputy positions in Obama’s administration. Rather than being in the spotlight, they were behind the scenes. They have experience and an understanding of what the job demands.
Diverse Decisions NPR accused Donald Trump of “breaking a trend towards diversity” with his 2016 cabinet picks and despite some changes made since 2016, the cabinet still mainly consists of white men. Biden’s on the other hand has representation from many demographics. While Trump’s cabinet resembled America’s elite, Biden’s represents the general American public.
“Biden is bringing different voices to the table, voices who usually don’t have a seat at the table,” said Michael Bosia, Professor of Political Science at St. Michael’s. Biden has committed to having half of his cabinet be women. Already the U.S. is seeing a few firsts including Janet Yellen who will be the first woman to serve as the Secretary of the Treasury for the first time in the treasury’s 231 year history and General Lloyd Austin who will be the first person of color to serve as the Secretary of Defense.
“There are certainly constituencies within the Democratic party, particularly communities of color, who have made it clear to the incoming president that they want to see a new administration reflect the diverse communities who supported him getting into office in the first place. The president-elect appears to be listening,” Benen said. One notable community is black women. 90 percent of whom voted for Biden when they showed up to the polls with historic numbers.
On Dec. 15 Biden appointed Pete Buttigieg to be the Secretary of Transportation. Buttigieg will be the first openly gay cabinet member. Buttigieg will be the first millennial added to Biden’s cabinet, this makes him one of the youngest cabinet members in history.
Closing Critiques Some prominent Republicans are not pleased with Biden’s picks. Senator Marco Rubio leading the pack tweeting that Biden’s cabinet picks will be “polite and orderly caretakers of America’s decline.”
“You saw critics early on in this process of the Biden administration saying he is choosing from the same old Washington insiders who are well connected and may not bring independent views to their position,” Heintz said. Critics are coming at Biden not only from the opposing party but his own as well.
Progressive members are watching Biden closely as he has not appointed many progressive Democrats to be a part of his cabinet. Prominent progressives such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders rallied for Biden when he needed the support most. Anticipate that the members will feel a sense of betrayal if Biden does not gather some more left-leaning politicians to serve on his cabinet.
On Dec. 14, Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced the incoming of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. With the recent news of the vaccine, 90.2 percent of the St. Michael’s Community said they would take the vaccine and 9.8 percent said they would not take the vaccine based on a Defender poll with 173 responses.
“Of all the vaccines that are being developed right now, this is the most rigorously studied and watched,” said Tracy Dolan, Deputy Commissioner for Public Health in a recent interview. “The best minds in the world have been contributing to this. The effectiveness is unprecedented, with a 95 percent effectiveness rate coming out of the gate and we do trust the FDA and CDC in terms of their protocols.”
But college students shouldn’t toss their masks away yet. The vaccine will be given out based on a list of criteria created by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). With initial doses provided to high-risk health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, the typical college student will be far down on the phase list for the vaccine. Based on Oct. 23 Vermont Governor’s press release, college-aged students will be vaccinated in phase three.
It will take time for enough of the public to have the community immunity needed to fight this virus, Dolan explained.“Even though we have a vaccine starting now, which is really the very best news for this virus, it will be months before we see real changes in masking and social distancing.”
“This is just the start of a long process to receive and administer enough vaccines to bring COVID-19 under control,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD in his recent press statement on Dec. 14. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of everyone keeping up their efforts to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus. This is a time for great optimism and even greater vigilance to make it all happen.”
How it works
The vaccine works with two doses, and unlike vaccines such as the flu shot, experts believe that the vaccine will last long-term. “Coronavirus has a very slow mutation and we anticipate that this round of vaccines, getting the first, and then the second will keep you protected for the long term. We anticipate it to be a long-term vaccine like you would get for measles that require usually one or two as a whole,” Dolan said.
According to the CDC, a second shot is applied after the first shot, in order to gain immunity from the disease. Common side effects, similar to any vaccine, include fever, chills, tiredness, and headaches.
St. Michael’s students, attending school on campus this spring, will still need to follow the Vermont guidelines on the vaccine, regardless of their home state. Although some students may have tested positive in the past, the Department of Health will not ask you about your history with COVID.
“Even though you may have tested positive for COVID and you may have an antibody response, you don’t know how strong that response is. With this vaccine, because we are controlling it, we know that this response will be very effective based on the trials we’ve done,” Dolan said. “For students that will eventually mean they will be less likely to get COVID and even more importantly less likely to pass it along to those who are most vulnerable.”
“I think the vaccine is going to make a huge difference with the fear that a lot of people are facing right now,” said Jordy Fenton ’22. “A lot are nervous about what it will mean, but to me, it’s a hopeful start in getting back some of the normalcy that we’re missing. Of course, it won’t happen all of a sudden and we still need to be careful, but it will feel so much better to be able to hug my grandmother without feeling like I’m putting her at risk.”
When students return back to campus in February, even with the vaccine, normalcy should not be expected.
“There is a practical light at the end of this tunnel and where we will come out the other side and hopefully will have a population that has achieved enough immunity that we can go back to what we thought of as normal life before,” Dolan said.
Reducing waste is an important issue to the Saint Michael’s College community. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, faculty, staff, and students are required to wear face masks on campus. Ingrid Boland ’22 has noticed several single-use masks being disposed of improperly. “I’ve noticed masks on the ground more so on campus than at home. When I noticed masks on the ground it was on sidewalks near cars and I don’t know if there could be a correlation there,” she said.
Vermont is one of several states that recently passed a single-use product law. This law prohibits businesses from using single-use products such as plastic bags, foam containers, and plastic straws. According to The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, “Single-use items, paper, and packaging make up almost 1/3 of Vermont’s trash.” This law’s intent is to help protect the environment from harmful wastes.
According to the National Institute of Health, disposable single-use face masks are produced from micro-plastic polymers such as polypropylene, polyurethane, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, or polyester. Some of the materials used in the masks’ layers which are meant to shield us from germs and water vapor are similar to those found in disposable diapers.
Clay Williams, assistant professor of environmental studies and science says that in addition to litter reducing the aesthetic appeal to our environment, improper disposal of masks may harm the wildlife.“They can get tangled in wildlife and pose a choking hazard to wildlife on land and in the water,” said Williams. He added, “They break down into micro-plastics which can harm aquatic life.” Humans may also be impacted by the disposing of these masks. “They likely aren’t able to be recycled in our conventional system, and thus would end up in the landfill, ocean or environment after use. They are likely to release toxins into the environment as they break down,” said Williams.
Wearing disposable face masks is an effective way to filter aerosols that may contain the virus. However, proper disposal of the masks in designated trash bins is necessary to prevent unsightly litter on campus as well as protecting our environment, waterways and wildlife.
“It made me frustrated at not only the effects on the environment in terms of the fact that the masks do not decompose, but also in the people’s lack of following the policies to help prevent the virus. It also made me wonder the reason this might be happening,” said Boland.
Don’t have time to read the thousands of news articles coming out each day? Just don’t want to read the news? Every other day, we’ll summarize a batch of the most important daily news for you.
News RoundUp: May 2, 2020
Today marks the first day of finals for St. Mikes. Today will also be the last news roundup that I will be doing. Thank you for following along with me during our unexpected transition to a strictly online publication. I hope that this has brought you loads of helpful information and that you are all staying healthy and sane.
Now back to the news:
A while back, the SMC mailroom made the call to stop accepting all mail for residents who were no longer living on campus. If you had things sent to your SMC mailbox during the quarantine time, the mailroom either forwarded it to the address on hand or sent it back to the original mailer because it was not forwardable.
SMC will be holding a virtual graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 on May 10, at 10 a.m. It will be about 40 minutes long and have speakers from the undergrad class as well as the graduate class. The link will be added to the SMC website the morning of.
With May 1 behind us, stay at home orders are beginning to be lifted across America. To see what states are lifting the ban and what states aren’t, check out the link below.
As of May 1, the day most students have to decide on what college they will attend in the fall, colleges around the country are worried. According to the American Council of Education, which represents more than 1,700 institutions and amongst other organizations, colleges around the country are estimating that a total of $8 billion are being refunded to students across the country.
St. Mike’s has extended their commitment day to June 1st. This gives students the opportunity to figure out financial logistics and also gives the school the chance to bring in more students for the class of 2024.
Headache, sore throat, a new loss of taste or smell, muscle pain, chills, and repeated shaking with chills are all new symptoms the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have added to the COVID-19 list.
As of last week, an additional 4.4 million people filed for unemployment, bringing the total to 26 million people filing for unemployment within the last five weeks.
New York City has started random testing for antibodies within people. Around 3,000 people have been tested and around 14 percent have come back positive. This means that if you were to take that number and project it onto a statewide scale, about 2.4 million people statewide have already been infected with COVID-19, making the 250,000 cases currently on record under-reported.
Additional money for the small business relief package passed in the House this morning. They have come to an agreement of $484 billion extra being added to the package.
In a tweet last night President Trump said that he plans to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” to create less competition for the job market as the economy begins to open up. If done this would mean that people from other countries who are coming for job opportunities would miss out on the opportunities or people would not be able to come live or visit with family.
Additional federal money for the small business funds, which ran out last week, will most likely not pass Congress until Thursday. Discussion about how much will be added has slowed down the process but lawmakers and Trumps Administration are saying around $500 billion will be added to the fund.
For people who are venturing out to stores occasionally and practicing social distancing, it is not to change clothes once they return home. An aerosol scientist from Virginia Tech Linsey Marr told the New York Times, “A droplet that is small enough to float in air for a while also is unlikely to deposit on clothing because of aerodynamics.”
In the United States, there have been 722,761 confirmed cases of COVID-19. While 64,840 people have recovered from the virus, 33,903 people have died.
Governors around the country are feeling the pressure to reopen the country in order to get the economy back up and running. Many governors want better access to more testing to know the extent of who is infected versus who is not. Trump administration officials say that the testing that is in place now is adequate.
Graduation for the SMC class of 2020 has been officially postponed until June 2021. Students will receive their diplomas in May of this year, but the ceremony will take place next summer. More updates to come.
On Thursday the $349 billion relief program that was made to help the small businesses stay afloat during these hard times had run out of money. However, this does not mean that there is no more money for those businesses that have not received relief money yet. Congress and the Trump administration have been talking about adding hundreds of billions to the relief package to help but have not come to a decision yet.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott last week extended the stay home order and only allowed essential travel within the state of Vermont until May 15. This means that some students’ move out dates have shifted. Students whose last names start with A – H’s move out dates have been moved to May 29 through June 1. Starting May 15, people who have I or J as the first letter of their last name can begin to move out. For people who had asked permission to move out earlier between the dates of May 8-10 and earlier than that have been dismissed and the school can no longer honor them.
In recent election news, former President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren have endorsed Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
NYC Mayor de Blasio announced today that New York City will be spending upwards of $170 million to feed residents affected by COVID-19 over the next four months. In a news briefing, Mayor de Blasio said, “I pledge to you and I’m very confident making this pledge: We will not allow any New Yorker to go hungry.”
President Trump today cut funding to the World Health Organization while a review is conducted on how the WHO handled, managed, and covered the spread of coronavirus. The Good News: If you focus on the upsetting things happening all around us here’s a bunch of good things that can ease your mind, such as Dolly Parton reading you a story, cute animal videos, and the Getty Museum holding a recreation of famous artwork contest. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/03/us/the-good-stuff-040420/index.html
News RoundUp: April 13, 2020
As of this morning, there have been 1,870,076 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally. The U.S. has reported 547,627 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 21,662 deaths because of the virus.
Texas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Georgia experienced more than 34 tornadoes Monday morning. The severe weather killed 11 people in Mississippi, six in Georgia, and one in Arkansas. More tornadoes and severe weather are projected to span from Florida all the way up to parts of New York through Monday.
Between May 4-13, the United States Supreme Court will be hearing cases via telephone conference.
A pork processing facility in South Dakota., one of the largest in the nation, has closed indefinitely because workers have fallen ill with COVID-19. The plant produces five percent of America’s pork. The FDA says “Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.”
A: Currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.
If you are concerned about contamination of food or food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat. Consumers can follow CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.
The United States passed Italy in its number of deaths affiliated to COVID-19. The death toll has surpassed 20,000 in the U.s. as of yesterday.
Farmers around the country are destroying thousands of pounds of food because of restaurants closing and slowing down nationwide. Restaurant opportunities for take out for those who are choosing to partake does not make up for the sales and food products that were planted weeks in advance. The consequences: food rotting and farmers destroying crops.
With Easter this Sunday, churches around the country plan to hold in-person services for Easter. According to the New York Times, pastors in Mississippi and Michigan plan to hold in-person services and expect over 2,000 people to attend on Sunday.
The Good News: Need some good news with a broadway surprise in your life? Watch this episode of “Some Good News” with John Krasinski.
Nearly 6.6 million people filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number of people who have filed for unemployment since the of COVID-19 quarantine began to more than 16 million.
Between April 1 to April 5 only 69 percent of renters within America paid their rent, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Last year, between those dates, 82 percent of people paid rent.
Bernie Sanders dropped out of the 2020 presidential election today, leaving Joe Biden the presumptive nominee to challenge President Trump.
As of today, two SMC employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine sent a public report to the White House stating that we should not get our hopes of COVID-19 diminishing during the summer, reports the New York Times. Through research reports, the panelist a panelist wrote this? Might just say the Academy concluded that there is no clear sign of it diminishing in the summer, as they initially hoped.
The Good News: Two pandas from the Hong Kong Zoo, who have never been interested in one another, finally mate after 13 years.
Click on the link to read the full article: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/giant-pandas-mate-amidst-covid-zoo-closures/
News RoundUp: April 7, 2020
As of today, there are 1,365,004 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 184 countries/ regions, with 76,507 deaths globally, according to Johns Hopkins.
Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, has been moved into the ICU because of COVID-19.
Today is the first day in which China reports there have been no deaths in the country because of COVID-19.
More than 10 thousand people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, but the New York Times reports that medical officials or coroners from around the country suspect that the deaths from the coronavirus are under-reported because of failed protocols and an inadequate number of tests to accurately test everyone. Coroners are saying that they do not have the test to determine if COVID-19 rather than influenza or pneumonia caused deaths. Medical professionals are now looking back at records from January through early March to see if any patient with coronavirus symptoms might have been misdiagnosed.
“We have to get back to work,” President Trump said in a briefing on Saturday. “We have to open our country again. We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months. We’re going to open our country again. This country wasn’t meant for this.” Despite all this, economists are now saying that we will not have a normal functioning economy until people feel as if they can go about their business without catching the virus.
The Good News: As we slow down our lives, scientists and researchers who monitor the planet’s seismic activity, which detects earthquakes and volcanic activity, have realized that with our slower paced lives they can now detect a 5.5 magnitude earthquake that is on the other side of the earth. During our everyday lives, they would not be able to detect these because of how many vibrations are caused by cars, trains and other human activity.
News RoundUp: April 5, 2020
According to CNN, yesterday marked the most reported deaths in one day because of COVID-19. What this means is that the United States could be nearing the peak. “The next two weeks ar extraordinarily important,” said Deborah Brix, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the six feet distancing, washing your hands.”
As the Democratic convention was postponed by a month, former Vice President Joe Biden offered up the idea of holding a virtual convention during an interview with ABC. “We may have to do a virtual convention. I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding the convention is going to be necessary. But we may not be able to put ten, twenty, thirty thousand people in one place.”
The Good News: No need to fear anymore when leaving the house if you do not have an n95 mask or a medical facemask, make your own from home. The New York Times identified the best household items to make makeshift face masks.
Click the photo below to bring you to the article:
News RoundUp: April 4, 2020
New York City continues to be the epicenter of the United States. With more than 113, 700 COVID- 19 cases and deaths surpassing 3,500, the govern Andrew Cuomo predicts the peak for New York is just shy of a week. According to the New York Times, the Chinese government is planning on donating 1,000 ventilators to NYC.
With Italy being under lockdown for weeks at this point, they are starting to see a decline in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. What’s the next step? Well, the government hopes to slowly allow people out of lockdowns and start getting them back to work. But how does a country do this without setting bringing the numbers back up? According to the New York Times, scientists are going to begin testing people to see if they have the correct antibodies from coronavirus which would make them immune, at least that’s the theory. Scientists aren’t one hundred percent if the antibodies are a true way to show if you are immune but are hopeful.
A COVID-19 vaccine made by the University of Pittsburg Medical Center is ready for clinical trial as soon as the Food and Drug Administration gives permission. As of March 15, another vaccine entered clinical trials and a dozen more are being developed. While vaccines usually take a year in human clinical trials, because of the situations things may be able to get sped up.
1.1 million people have confirmed cases of the coronavirus and at least 62,000 people have died from the virus globally.
The Good News: Reading the news can be stressful. Heck, living during a pandemic can be stressful, so here is a list of the 75 best movies on Netflix. Sit back, relax, take some time to forget about the pandemic around you, and indulge in one of these awesome movies.
Wednesday night a scientific panelist at the White House told the press that they now believe through new research that the coronavirus can be spread through talking and breathing also, not just through sneezing and coughing. The CDC is now recommending that all people should wear nonmedical masks when they venture outside of their homes. “I’m not going to wear a surgical mask, because clinicians need those,” Harvey Fineberg, former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health told CNN. “But I have a nice western-style bandana I might wear. Or I have a balaclava. I have some pretty nice options.”
The FBI has put out a warning on “Zoom bombing.” Schools, in particular, are supposed to watch out because they are most targeted. “Zoom bombing” is when people pop into random zoom calls and share pornographic videos and images in place of people’s video icons, and racial slurs and offensive language in place of people’s names.
The U.S. Navy hospital boat in New York City Habor that has 1,000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients only has 22 patients as of Friday afternoon.
Two months before COVID-19 was believed to start infecting people, President Trump pulled a $200 million dollar program at the Agency for International Development that was in charge of researching potential pandemic diseases. According to the Los Angeles Times, when the program was up and running it helped identify 1,200 different viruses that have the potential to become pandemics. The main duties of this program were to identify these diseases, train scientists around the world to respond to these diseases if they ever became a pandemic.
The Good News: Youtube and the internet are notorious for making jokes and parodies about super serious current events. As you can imagine, just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean people are going to stop now.
Check out the videos below to watch popular songs transformed into COVID-19 themed songs.
News RoundUp: April 2, 2020
More than 6.6 million people filed for unemployment claims last week. With last week’s claims coming in around 3 million, that means these past two weeks have set unprecedented records. To put things into perspective, during the recession of ‘08 the number of people who filed for unemployment claims in one given week all stayed well under a million people.
Some reminders and information about COVID-19:
People usually start to show symptoms five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms can also appear after two days all the way up to 14 days.
The most common symptoms people are showing when they have Covid-19 are fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and fatigue.
What should you do?:
Stay home and keep your distance from the people with whom you live.
If you have symptoms that make it hard to breathe, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, confusion, or bluish lips or face, seek medical help.
How does the virus spread?
The virus spreads through droplets in the air or on surfaces from people coughing or sneezing.
Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces regularly.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with disinfecting soap every time you enter your home and regularly throughout the day.
Never touch your face with unwashed hands.
The Good News: Enjoy watching one of our executive editors, Leanne Hamilton ‘20, dancing her way through quarantine.
Check out the video below to watch some stylish dance moves from a safe distance.
News RoundUp: April 1, 2020
Before we begin today’s News RoundUp, The Defender has an important and urgent announcement. We as a publication have come to the hard decision that we will no longer produce news for the remainder of the semester. It is just too hard with everything going on to report in a pandemic and with everyone being stuck inside there’s simply no news to report. We hope you understand. Please stay sane.
APRIL FOOLS!!!! Starting tomorrow The Defender will be putting out two-three articles each day from our third issue. The articles will run from April 2 to April 10. We have articles spanning all topics, so if you want coronavirus coverage, come our way, if you are tired of hearing about coronavirus, come our way.
Now back to the News:
New numbers came out according to the leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator During a briefing yesterday, they said that the number of deaths expected in the United States from the coronavirus will be 100,000- 240,000 people. The two experts pledged they will try to do everything they can to make that number lower.
The stock market continues to plummet each day. S&P fell almost four percent in early trading this morning and the stock market had its worst month since 2008.
“‘Covid-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” said the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres on Wednesday. The world has now entered a global recession according to the International Monetary Fund and it will be unlikely to resolve until 2021. During this time, 25 million jobs could be entirely lost in the United States, meaning $1.3 trillion would be lost on labor income.
The Good News: For some uplifting news John Krasinski put together entries from the internet of good and uplifting news that has been happening in all the chaos.
With hospital beds popping up in Central Park, two other temporary hospitals made an appearance yesterday. A U.S. Navy ship arrived in the New York City Harbor with 1,000 extra hospital beds onboard. In Manhattan, the Javits Center was also converted into a makeshift hospital, opening up even more beds throughout the city. All of this is a part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to have a makeshift hospital in every borough.
According to Johns Hopkins University, coronavirus cases worldwide have surpassed 788,522.
Thousands of retired doctors and nurses are returning to the medical field to help in the Covid-19 battle. According to the Wall Street Journal, medical schools around the country are allowing their students to graduate a couple of months early in order to fill the demand of doctors and nurse’s needs within hospitals around the country.
A new model, according to the White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, says that by mid-April, when coronavirus is supposed to reach peak cases for the U.S. up to 2,000 people here in the U.S. could be dying every single day. That number relates to the prediction of around 82,000 people dying from the coronavirus by August. This was the same model that President Trump based his extension of social distancing and quarantine policies on, according to CNN.
According to Politico, seed sales have been seeing record high sales. As the coronavirus becomes worse, people are becoming warier of food security and the hygiene of where their food is coming from.
The Good News: Need a couple of minutes to forget all the things going wrong in the world? Watch this live feed of jellyfish floating around their enclosure at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
News RoundUp: March 30, 2020
Last week, on the Fox News Channel President Trump said, “I would love to have the country opened back up and just raring to go by Easter.” But in his press conference Sunday, he postponed nonessential travel and social distancing for at least another month until April 30. If needed, the postponement could go until the beginning of June.
The Summer Olympics have been officially postponed from this summer until July 2021. The new dates are planned for July 23-August 8, 2021.
With around 60,000 cases of coronavirus alone in New York City, gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken drastic precautions, including the creation of makeshift hospitals in Central Park, and plans to create temporary hospitals in all NYC boroughs. According to CNN, NYC is now enforcing social distancing by fining people $250-$500 if they break the policies.
In a recent video interview on CNN Business, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which does significant philanthropic work to empower the poorest and combat infectious diseases, said he predicts that the peak of coronavirus infections will be late April.
The Good News: Haven’t left your house in a week? Check out these hilarious coronavirus tweets to lighten your mood. Click on the link below:
According to the New York Times, New York postponed its presidential primary election to June 23. In total this now makes 14 states that have moved the date for their primary election. Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming have all chosen to do their primaries entirely by mail. The new dates span April all the way through July. What this could mean for the general election is unknown.
Yesterday evening, tornadoes popped up around Iowa and Arkansas. The worst one hit at 5 p.m. Saturday in Jonesboro, AR injuring 22 people. There were no life-threatening injuries reported.
As the death toll from coronavirus reaches 2,000 in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday put out a travel advisory warning in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey urging people to not participate in nonessential domestic travel.
The Good News: Being stuck inside can really make a person crave adventure and the outdoors. How does one quench this desire? For nocturnal adventures, click on the link below for a live stream of the aurora borealis from the comforts of your own home.
There are now 600,000 cases of coronavirus infection around the world. The United States currently has the most reported cases with more than 104,000.
Friday afternoon President Trump signed the $2 billion Stimulus Package to help relieve economic collapse triggered by the pandemic.
President Trump is discussing an “enforceable” quarantine on the state of New York, and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey. The Washington Post said President Trump might make a decision later today.
Severe storms are predicted to hit portions of the midwest sometime Saturday. The severe storms include a high chance of hail and tornados. The further you go south the less likely the severe storms, but the southeast is experiencing record-breaking warmth with highs in the 90s.
Yesterday Saint Michael’s College canceled l in-person classes for the remainder of the semester. They have also decided to postpone graduation, to a later, as yet undetermined date. As for moving-out your belongings from campus, the schedule went up this morning. Starting May 8 people with the last name starting with A and B have from until 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. The schedule follows two letters in alphabetical order for each day expect M, R, and S. T through Z last names will be the final day of pick up on May 24. If you are an international student or live more than 8 hours away, contact Melissa Holzman at firstname.lastname@example.org to plan a day when you can move out.
While the stock market was up the past three days, this morning the S&P 500, Dow, and NASDAQ all fell more than 3 percent.
While initial thoughts were that the Stimulus Package would get through the House with flying colors, it has taken a sudden halt. One Congressional representative, Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), is threatening to vote no on the Stimulus package. The votes planned on being done virtually to stay under quarantine and lockdown guidelines. However, if Massie or anyone else votes no on this legislation, that would result in at least 216 members flying to D.C. to cast a revote in person.
A $1 billion deal was pulled off the table by the Trump Administration sometime yesterday that could supply America with 80,000 additional ventilators. The deal proposed that General Motors use their car parts, while a company called Ventec uses their technology to make the Ventilators. The bill was pulled off of the table because General Motors was asking for large sums of money upfront. The New York Times says that government officials are still talking about the $1 Billion deal but other deals are being discussed as well.
The GOOD News: In spite of a Pandemic, the African Black Rhino has made a significant spike in the population by several hundred through the help of conservation efforts, such as moving individual animals to new areas, protecting them with stricter law enforcement, and guaranteeing to breed. While the coronavirus may have more harmful impacts than good, with the virus raging through the world, it is thought to put a decline in big game hunting said The Guardian. With this decline, it might give the Black Rhino and other endangered species a chance for at least a few months.
News RoundUp : March 26, 2020
A record breaking number of more than 3.2 million people in America filed for unemployment last week.
According to the New York Times, people could be receiving their Stimulus package within three weeks.
An economics professor from the University of Louisiana conducted a recent study that showed that Louisiana may be experiencing the fastest growing rate of new cases of coronavirus in the world.
As India enters its second day of lockdown, people are still heading to the streets looking for work. The BCC reports that people know the risks of the Coronavirus and the fact not many people would be hiring these days, but they are more fearful of watching their families go hungry.
The Good News: Hotels in New York City and the UK are opening up free rooms for hospital workers putting in 18-hour shifts helping to combat COVID-19. The hope is to give those workers a place to sleep that is closer to work than their home.
Click on the link below to view how COVID- 19 has affected popular areas around the country:
Congress has finally come to an agreement on a $2 Trillion Stimulus package that will send money to the Americas during these pandemic times. The package has many stages to it but on an individual level, the first phase is taxpayers who make less than $75,000 will receive $1,200 with an additional $500 per kid. The second phase on the individual level will be taxpayers who make more than $99,000. The other money within the package goes to bailing out small businesses, helping businesses keep employees on the payroll, lending money to businesses, extending unemployment packages, and money that goes to hospitals and medical facilities. The legislation is likely to be passed over from Congress to the White House to make final changes late Wednesday.
New York City and the surrounding suburbs now account for 5 percent of the global cases of Coronavirus.
President Trump said yesterday he hopes to have the “U.S. opened up” by Easter, April 12, 2020. What this means for the country and the world is unknown. According to the New York Times, many public health officials say that if this happens, people will return to normal interactions around the peak of the virus. President Trump, on the other hand, says that the outcome of social isolation and a crippled economy will have worse outcomes than the virus.
As of 5 p.m. March 25, Vermont will have a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” ordinance, ordered by Gov. Phil Scott. All nonessential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations, etc. will be closed until April 15.
What is a “shelter in place”? Shelter in place or “stay home” is a less strict way to urge people to stop leaving their homes unless it is for essentials, such as groceries, pharmacies, etc.
What is a lockdown? A lockdown is much stricter than a shelter in place. Lockdowns usually come with a curfew and consequences following if you are caught without a valid reason.
The following states have either declared a lockdown and/ or shelter in place for certain areas within the state or the whole state itself: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin
The 2020 Summer Olympics taking place in Tokyo, Japan has been postponed until the summer of 2021 by the International Olympics Committee and the Prime Minister of Japan.
Italy remains at the epicenter on COVID-19 with 6,077 deaths and 63,928 active cases. New York City now has 26,000 cases.
According to banking investment firm Goldman Sachs 2.25 million people are predicted to file for unemployment claims as coronavirus cases worsen around the country.
The deadline to file federal taxes, usually on April 15, has been postponed until July 15.
The Good News: According to Johns Hopkins research more than 100,000 people have fully recovered from the COVID-19 infection.
Click on the link to view 20 hilarious TikToks about COVID-19