Here Are Things Not to Put in Your Vagina

By Jen Gunter, NY Times

From yogurt to oregano oil to lemon juice (OUCH!), the internet is chock-full of suggestions and remedies for women’s sexual health.

June 11, 2018

People always want to know the most unusual object I’ve retrieved from a vagina.

I’ll never tell.

One, because the woman involved could recognize herself and feel betrayed. Yes, some items are that unusual.

The other reason is that the unfortunate sequence of events that ends with a visit to my OB-GYN practice or the emergency room is almost always the unanticipated consequence of sexual experimentation. Lots of objects seem sexually adventurous until the moment one realizes they are not. And realizes that they are stuck.

Sexual experimentation with household items is nothing new, though the nature of the object has changed slightly to match the times — think along the lines of a progression from a soda bottle to a diet soda bottle to an energy water bottle to a Kombucha bottle — over my 25 years of practice.

Another change I’ve noticed in that time is the increased touting of various “natural” and “ancient” vaginal remedies with household items. The reasons could range from “vaginal maintenance” (a term that, as an expert, I struggle to further qualify) to the treatment of yeast infections to contraception to improving sex lives.

There are two themes at play that seem simultaneously opposing yet complementary: that natural is best and that the vagina is so dirty, fragile or in need of nourishment (or all three) that it is one wrong pair of underwear or wet bathing suit away from complete catastrophe.

And this is how lemon juice (ouch), yogurt, garlic (double ouch), cucumber and oregano oil (super, mega ouch) are finding their way into vaginas worldwide. No, you are not reading a recipe for tzatziki sauce.

Many of these supposed natural therapies claim to have supporting science, although what is offered as proof is easily dismissed with a cursory knowledge of reproductive physiology. Lemon juice is recommended to acidify the vagina (it cannot). Yogurt is suggested because its bacteria could help repopulate the healthy, vaginal bacteria (commercial yogurts don’t have the right strains). Sea sponges are recommended for menstrual hygiene (testing has revealed they have bacteria and debris and they could introduce far more oxygen — a bad thing — into the vagina than a tampon or menstrual cup).

What is simultaneously fascinating and depressing is that these “newly discovered ancient therapies” are neither ancient nor effective. Instead they are the result of celebrity wellness sites, social media and even some doctors recycling material from health almanacs and digests that used to be found at the grocery store and repackaging their content under the guise of female empowerment.

What is science with its stodgy physiology and evidence-based medicine against the allure of the patient anecdote and the promise of a cure? Stories and confidence are what sells.

It’s possible that remedies like yogurt, garlic and so on were tried centuries ago as medicine, spermicide or sexual custom. But who cares if something was used historically if it has since been deemed ineffective or harmful? Blood letting for fever, mercury for vitality or syphilis, and animal dung as spermicide are all ancient medicinal practices, but that doesn’t mean we’re revisiting those therapies today.

In other words, all these so-called “ancient” sexual remedies were retired for a reason.

I get the allure. So many women are still uncomfortable speaking openly about genital health, and the internet offers privacy — not to mention community and validation. When all these needs are met, accuracy can seem secondary.

It is always best to see a health care professional for a diagnosis. We women do know our bodies, but there is so much crossover with symptoms that when women attempt self- diagnosis they are likely to misdiagnose more than 50 percent of the time. That’s worse than flipping a coin.

Researching symptoms and treatment options is always good, but to keep your internet hygiene in check (which requires far more effort than vaginal hygiene) these are the things that should send you screaming:

• Run if the therapy is said to be “proven.” The degree to which something is supposedly “proven” to treat a medical condition is inversely proportional to the number of studies supporting that claim.

• Run if something is being sold. Anyone selling a product is by definition biased, whether it is “Big Pharma” or “Big Natural.”

• Run if the recommendation is homeopathic products. A recent study tells us that doctors who recommend homeopathy are more likely to deviate from standard medical guidelines. In other words they are more likely to practice bad medicine.

• Run if the advice relies on testimonials. I would never tell my patient “Well Sarah S. said it worked for her!” Sarah S. is not the same thing as science.

• Run if it involves inserting food vaginally for health reasons. This is nonsense.

• Run if they recommend vaginal cleaning of any kind. For instance, I’ve been hearing about “vaginal steaming.” It’s well meaning, but woefully misinformed. If your bottom is sore, use a sitz bath.

It’s stunning that in this great age of information that can we have so much misinformation about our bodies and our sexuality. The internet has changed the speed at which we can acquire medical information, but certainly not the accuracy.

Dr. Jen Gunter is an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in California. The Cycle, a column on women’s reproductive health, appears regularly in Styles.

Once a model, California now struggles to tame COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ambulances waited hours for openings to offload coronavirus patients. Overflow patients were moved to hospital hallways and gift shops, even a cafeteria. Refrigerated trucks were on standby, ready to store the dead.

For months, California did many of the right things to avoid a catastrophic surge from the pandemic. But by the time Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Dec. 15 that 5,000 body bags were being distributed, it was clear that the nation’s most populous state had entered a new phase of the COVID-19 crisis.

Now infections have been racing out of control for weeks, and California has routinely set new records for infections and deaths. It remains at or near the top of the list of states with the most new cases per capita.

Experts say a variety of factors combined to wipe out the past efforts, which for much of the year held the virus to manageable levels. Cramped housing, travel and Thanksgiving gatherings contributed to the spread, along with the public’s fatigue amid regulations that closed many schools and businesses and encouraged — or required — an isolated lifestyle.

Another factor could be a more contagious variant of the virus detected in Southern California, although it’s not clear yet how widespread that may be.

California’s woes have helped fuel the year-end U.S. infection spike and added urgency to the attempts to beat back the scourge that has killed more than 340,000 Americans. Even with vaccines becoming available, cases are almost certain to continue growing, and yet another surge is expected in the weeks after Christmas and New Year’s.

On Friday, the number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million, nearly twice as many as the No. 2 country, India, and nearly one-quarter of the more than 83 million cases globally, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In California, the southern half of the state has seen the worst effects, from the agricultural San Joaquin Valley to the Mexico border. Hospitals are swamped with patients, and intensive care units have no more beds for COVID-19 patients. Makeshift wards are being set up in tents, arenas, classrooms and conference rooms.

Hospitalizations statewide have gone up more than eightfold in two months and nearly tenfold in Los Angeles County. On Thursday, the total number of California deaths surpassed 25,000, joining only New York and Texas at that milestone.

“Most heartbreaking is that if we had done a better job of reducing transmission of the virus, many of these deaths would not have happened,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, who has pleaded with people not to get together and worsen the spread.

Crowded houses and apartments are often cited as a source of spread, particularly in Los Angeles, which has some of the densest neighborhoods in the U.S. Households in and around LA often have several generations — or multiple families — living under one roof. Those tend to be lower-income areas where residents work essential jobs that can expose them to the virus at work or while commuting.

The socioeconomic situation in LA County is “like the kindling,” said Paula Cannon, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Southern California. “And now we got to the stage where there was enough COVID out in the community that it lit the fire.”

Home to a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, LA County has had 40% of the state’s deaths and a third of its 2.2 million cases. The virus has hit Latino and Black communities harder.

Cannon said there’s a moral imperative for people who can follow stay-home orders to help prevent spread that is harder to contain in other areas.

“What you can’t do is say to people, ‘Can you stop living in a house with eight other people, five of whom are working essential worker jobs?’” she said. “This is the structure that we can’t change in LA. This is, I think, contributing to why our levels have suddenly got scarily high and looks like they’re going to keep going up and keep staying that way.”

In March, during the early days of the pandemic, Newsom was hailed for issuing the nation’s first state stay-home order.

The Democrat eased business restrictions in May, and when a broader restart led to another surge, imposed more rules. In early December, with cases out of control, he issued a looser stay-home order. He also closed businesses such as barbershops and salons, halted restaurant dining and limited capacity in retail stores. The latest restrictions apply everywhere except in rural Northern California.

But Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious diseases professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said that while the state managed to flatten the curve of rising cases, it never effectively bent the curve downward to the point infections would die out.

When cases rose in June and July, California was never able to do enough contact tracing to isolate infected people and those they may have exposed before they spread the disease — often unwittingly — to others, he said. And public health directives were never adequately enforced.

“What California did was to maybe delay the peak,” Riley said. Infections “really just never got low enough. And we started lifting the restrictions, and that just allowed the transmissions to just continue to increase. We never really saw a real decline.”

California’s health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said if state and local leaders had not made difficult decisions early on that saved lives, the current surge might not be the worst the state has seen.

He acknowledged the exhaustion many people feel after enduring months of disruptions to their lives. Public health officials, he said, need to find a way to reach people who have given up or not followed rules on social distancing and masks.

Across California, local officials have reminded people that the fate of the virus lies in their behavior and asked for one more round of shared sacrifice. They reminded people that activities that were safe earlier this year are now risky as the virus becomes more widespread.

“You can practice safety and low-risk behavior from March to October. But all that is erased. Nothing matters except what you are doing to fight the virus right now,” said Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, director of the Institute for Public Health at San Diego State University. “This pandemic is an ultra-marathon. In our culture, we are used to sprints.”

United Airlines working with Centers for Disease Control after suspected COVID-related death during flight to California

By JESSICA SCHLADEBECK, NY Daily News

Health officials are racing to contact those who traveled aboard a United Airlines plane after a passenger exhibiting coronavirus symptoms experienced a “medical emergency” during a flight from Orlando to Los Angeles earlier this week and subsequently died.

United Airlines flight 591 was forced to divert to New Orleans on Monday when a man aboard the aircraft became suddenly ill, according to USA Today. He was dropped off at an area hospital, where he later died, before the plane continued on to California.

United is working with the government to notify passengers who may have been exposed. (Shutterstock)

“At the time of the diversion, we were informed he had suffered a cardiac arrest, so passengers were given the option to take a later flight or continue on with their travel plans,” a United Airlines spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

“Now that the CDC has contacted us directly, we are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection.”

Prior to boarding a flight, United Airlines requires all passengers to fill out a ready-to-fly checklist, promising they had not tested positive for COVID and did not have symptoms. The questionnaires operate on the honor system and travelers are not required to show proof of health.

A fellow passenger posted on social media in wake of the incident that the deceased’s wife had told emergency responders her husband had been suffering coronavirus symptoms, including a loss of taste and smell, before takeoff.

Four flight attendants who worked aboard Flight 591 entered a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival at Los Angeles International Airport, Taylor Garland, a spokesperson for Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told NBC Los Angeles.

The CDC said in a statement that they are in the “process of collecting information and proceeding according to our standard operating procedures to determine if further public health action is appropriate.”

1 in 5 prisoners in the US has had COVID-19, 1,700 have died

BETH SCHWARTZAPFEL AND KATIE PARK OF THE MARSHALL PROJECT AND ANDREW DEMILLO OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times as high as the general population. In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected, according to data collected by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project.

As the pandemic enters its 10th month — and as the first Americans begin to receive a long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine — at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected, more than 1,700 have died and the spread of the virus behind bars shows no sign of slowing. New cases in prisons this week reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August.

“That number is a vast undercount,” said Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer at New York’s Rikers Island jail complex.

Venters has conducted more than a dozen court-ordered COVID-19 prison inspections around the country. “I still encounter prisons and jails where, when people get sick, not only are they not tested but they don’t receive care. So they get much sicker than need be,” he said.

Now the rollout of vaccines poses difficult decisions for politicians and policymakers. As the virus spreads largely unchecked behind bars, prisoners can’t social distance and are dependent on the state for their safety and well-being.

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This story is a collaboration between The Associated Press and The Marshall Project exploring the state of the prison system in the coronavirus pandemic.

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Donte Westmoreland, 26, was recently released from Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas, where he caught the virus while serving time on a marijuana charge. Some 5,100 prisoners have become infected in Kansas prisons, the third-highest COVID-19 rate in the country, behind only South Dakota and Arkansas.

“It was like I was sentenced to death,” Westmoreland said.

Westmoreland lived with more than 100 virus-infected men in an open dorm, where he woke up regularly to find men sick on the floor, unable to get up on their own, he said.

“People are actually dying in front of me off of this virus,” he said. “It’s the scariest sight.” Westmoreland said he sweated it out, shivering in his bunk until, six weeks later, he finally recovered.

Half of the prisoners in Kansas have been infected with COVID-19 — eight times the rate of cases among the state’s overall population. Eleven prisoners have died, including five at the prison where Westmoreland was held. Of the three prison employees who have died in Kansas, two worked at Lansing Correctional Facility.

In Arkansas, where more than 9,700 prisoners have tested positive and 50 have died, four of every seven have had the virus, the second-highest prison infection rate in the U.S.

Among the dead was 29-year-old Derick Coley, who was serving a 20-year sentence at the Cummins Unit maximum security prison. Cece Tate, Coley’s girlfriend, said she last talked with him on April 10 when he said he was sick and showing symptoms of the virus.

“It took forever for me to get information,” she said. The prison finally told her on April 20 that Coley had tested positive for the virus. Less than two weeks later, a prison chaplain called on May 2 to tell her Coley had died.

The couple had a daughter who turned 9 in July. “She cried and was like, ‘My daddy can’t send me a birthday card,’” Tate said. “She was like, ‘Momma, my Christmas ain’t going to be the same.’”

Nearly every prison system in the country has seen infection rates significantly higher than the communities around them. In facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons, one of every five prisoners has had coronavirus. Twenty-four state prison systems have had even higher rates.

Not all states release how many prisoners they’ve tested, but states that test prisoners broadly and regularly may appear to have higher case rates than states that don’t.

Infection rates as of Tuesday were calculated by the AP and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the criminal justice system, based on data collected weekly in prisons since March. Infection and mortality rates may be even higher, since nearly every prison system has significantly fewer prisoners today than when the pandemic began, so rates represent a conservative estimate based on the largest known population.

Yet, as vaccine campaigns get underway, there has been pushback in some states against giving the shots to people in prisons early.

“There’s no way it’s going to go to prisoners … before it goes to the people who haven’t committed any crime,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told reporters earlier this month after his state’s initial vaccine priority plans put prisoners before the general public.

Like more than a dozen states, Kansas’s vaccination plan does not mention prisoners or corrections staff, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a non-partisan prison data think tank. Seven states put prisoners near the front of the line, along with others living in crowded settings like nursing homes and long-term care facilities. An additional 19 states have placed prisoners in the second phase of their vaccine rollouts.

Racial disparities in the nation’s criminal justice system compound the disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on communities of color. Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites. They are also disproportionately likely to be infected and hospitalized with COVID-19, and are more likely than other races to have a family member or close friend who has died of the virus.

The pandemic “increases risk for those who are already at risk,” said David J. Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.

This week, a Council on Criminal Justice task force headed by former attorneys general Alberto Gonzalez and Loretta Lynch released a report calling for scaling back prison populations, improving communication with public health departments and reporting better data.

Prison facilities are often overcrowded and poorly ventilated. Dormitory-style housing, cafeterias and open-bar cell doors make it nearly impossible to quarantine. Prison populations are sicker, on average, than the general population and health care behind bars is notoriously substandard. Nationwide, the mortality rate for COVID-19 among prisoners is 45% higher than the overall rate.

From the earliest days of the pandemic, public health experts called for widespread prison releases as the best way to curb virus spread behind bars. In October, the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering released a report urging states to empty their prisons of anyone who was medically vulnerable, nearing the end of their sentence or of low risk to public safety.

But releases have been slow and uneven. In the first three months of the pandemic, more than 10,000 federal prisoners applied for compassionate release. Wardens denied or did not respond to almost all those requests, approving only 156 — less than 2%.

A plan to thin the state prison population in New Jersey, first introduced in June, was held up in the Legislature because of inadequate funding to help those who were released. About 2,200 prisoners with less than a year left to serve were ultimately released in November, eight months after the pandemic began.

California used a similar strategy to release 11,000 people since March. But state prisons stopped accepting new prisoners from county jails at several points during the pandemic, which simply shifted the burden to the jails. According to the state corrections agency, more than 8,000 people are now waiting in California’s county jails, which are also coronavirus hot spots.

“We call that ‘screwing county,’” said John Wetzel, Pennsylvania’s secretary of corrections, whose prison system has one of the lower COVID-19 case rates in the country, with one in every seven prisoners infected. But that’s still more than three times the statewide rate.

Prison walls are porous even during a pandemic, with corrections officers and other employees traveling in and out each day.

“The interchange between communities and prisons and jails has always been there, but in the context of COVID-19 it’s never been more clear,” said Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, a professor of social medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill who studies incarceration and health. “We have to stop thinking about them as a place apart.”

Wetzel said Pennsylvania’s prisons have kept virus rates relatively low by widely distributing masks in mid-March — weeks before even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending them for everyday use in public — and demanding that staff and prisoners use them properly and consistently. But prisoners and advocates say prevention measures on the ground are uneven, regardless of Wetzel’s good intentions.

As the country heads into winter with virus infections on the rise, experts caution that unless COVID-19 is brought under control behind bars, the country will not get it under control in the population at large.

“If we are going to end this pandemic — bring down infection rates, bring down death rates, bring down ICU occupancy rates — we have to address infection rates in correctional facilities,” said Emily Wang, professor at Yale School of Medicine and co-author of the recent National Academies report.

“Infections and deaths are extraordinarily high. These are wards of the state, and we have to contend with it.”

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Schwartzapfel reported from Boston and Park from Washington.

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This story has been corrected to remove a reference to infection rates for prison employees nationwide that undercounted staff populations in at least one state. The number of staff infected in North Dakota is one in four, not four in five.”

States will start getting COVID-19 vaccine Monday, US says

By MATTHEW PERRONE, MIKE STOBBE and MARK SCOLFORO

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine will begin arriving in states Monday morning, U.S. officials said Saturday, after the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.

Trucks will roll out Sunday morning as shipping companies UPS and FedEx begin delivering Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centers across the states, said Army Gen. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program. An additional 425 sites will get shipments Tuesday, and the remaining 66 on Wednesday.

Initially, about 3 million doses were expected to be shipped nationwide. It was unclear exactly who would receive the first shots, though health care workers and nursing home residents were the priority. Perna said health authorities would decide.

A similar number of shots will be held back for those recipients’ second dose, which is needed for full protection from COVID-19.

The announcement Saturday kicks off a massive logistical operation involving the federal and state governments, private companies and health care workers to quickly distribute limited vaccine supplies throughout the U.S. It offers hope in a country grappling with surging COVID-19 infections and deaths, which are overwhelming hospitals and raising fears that things will only get worse as people gather over the holidays.

Perna compared the vaccine distribution effort to D-Day, the U.S.-led military offensive that turned the tide in World War II.

“D-Day was the beginning of the end and that’s where we are today,” Perna said a news conference. But he added that it would take months of work and “diligence, courage and strength to eventually achieve victory.”

MaineHealth, a network of 12 hospitals based in Portland, plans to provide an expected first delivery of nearly 2,000 vaccines to doctors, nurses and others facing risk as they treat COVID-19 patients, said Dr. Dora Mills, chief health improvement officer.

“It’s almost hard for me to talk about without tearing up,” Mills said Saturday. “This vaccine gives us some glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.”

The first shipments will leave Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by truck and then be flown to regional hubs around the country. Medical distributor McKesson and pharmacy chains, including CVS and Rite-Aid, also are involved in the initial rollout and vaccinations at nursing homes and assisted living centers.

In a key distribution challenge, the vaccine, co-developed with BioNTech, must be stored and shipped at ultra-low temperatures — about 94 degrees below zero. Pfizer has developed shipping containers that use dry ice, and GPS-enabled sensors will allow the company to track each shipment and ensure it stays cold.

Distribution sites are mainly large hospitals and other facilities able to meet those ultra-cold storage requirements. Within three weeks, vaccines should be delivered to all vaccination sites identified by states, such as local pharmacies, Perna said.

The vaccine was timed to arrive Monday so health workers could receive the shots and begin giving them, Perna said.

Workers at Mount Sinai Hospital System in New York did a dry run this week to prepare for their shipment. In a clean room, pharmacists practiced making separate doses of a training vaccine and ensuring the freezer was kept at temperatures colder than in Antarctica.

“Not a lot of people have vaccinated for a large pandemic like this,” said Susan Mashni, vice president of pharmacy at Mount Sinai. “So we want to make certain that we get it right. There’s a lot of different moving pieces and parts.”

At a meeting where an expert panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccines unanimously endorsed the Pfizer shot, some said local health officials were struggling to ensure the vaccine is distributed fairly and to those most in need and to ease people’s concerns about getting the shot.

But “the funding necessary for state and local health departments to carry out this program has been put in the deep freeze,” said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, a Seattle physician representing the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the vaccine late Friday. It capped an unprecedented global race to speed vaccines through testing and review, chopping years off the normal development process.

The FDA found the vaccine highly protective with no major safety issues. U.S. regulators worked for months to emphasize the rigor and independence of their review, but President Donald Trump’s administration pressured the agency until the final announcement. A top White House official even threatened to remove FDA chief Stephen Hahn if a ruling didn’t come before Saturday.

Concerns that a shot was rushed out could undermine vaccination efforts in a country with deeply ingrained skepticism about vaccines.

“Science and data guided the FDA’s decision,” Hahn said Saturday. “We worked quickly because of the urgency of this pandemic, not because of any other external pressure.”

While the vaccine was determined to be safe, regulators in the U.K. are investigating several severe allergic reactions. The FDA’s instructions tell providers not give it to those with a known history of severe allergic reactions to any of its ingredients.

The FDA’s vaccine director, Dr. Peter Marks, said the agency will carefully track any reports of allergic reactions in the U.S.

Next week, the FDA will review a vaccine from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health that appears about as protective as Pfizer’s shot. On Friday, the Trump administration said it had purchased 100 million more doses of that vaccine on top of 100 million it previously ordered.

The announcement came after revelations that the White House opted not to lock in an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for delivery in the second quarter of 2021. The Trump administration contends the current orders plus those in the pipeline will be enough to accommodate any American who wants to be vaccinated by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

Body cam footage shows raid on former Florida Covid data scientist’s home

By Casey Tolan and Curt Devine, CNN

(CNN) — Florida state police released body camera videos Thursday afternoon showing officers waiting before they entered the home of a former state data scientist and the testy confrontation that followed when she exited — providing new context about a controversial police raid that has attracted national attention this week.

Officers were serving a search warrant Monday morning at the home of Rebekah Jones, a coronavirus data scientist who was fired from the state and has accused Florida officials of covering up the extent of the pandemic.

The state Department of Law Enforcement is investigating whether Jones illegally accessed a state messaging system to send her former colleagues a message urging them to speak out about coronavirus deaths. Jones, who has feuded with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for months, has denied sending the message.

The two videos released by the department show that Jones didn’t exit her Tallahassee home until about 23 minutes after officers first rang the doorbell, and 15 minutes after they first announced themselves as police. Jones has claimed authorities waited 13 minutes while she got dressed.

Officers are seen calling Jones’ cell phone to ask her to leave the house, while one holds a large hammer.

“Police search warrant, open the door!” officers yell several times. “Make sure the whole block hears us,” one agent tells his colleagues.

<img alt=”Raid of former Florida Covid data scientist&amp;#39;s home could affect other state employees, legal experts warn” class=”media__image” src=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/201208181837-01-jones-interview-1208-large-169.jpg”>

As Jones exits her house, one officer with his gun drawn appears to point the weapon in her direction, although it’s unclear whether anyone pointed a firearm six inches from Jones’ face, as she has claimed in interviews with CNN. Officers are seen holding her by her back and her arms as she shouts at them not to point a gun at her children.

One of the officers scolds Jones for taking so long after she leaves the house.

“That was not smart what you are doing,” the officer tells Jones. “You need to calm down and get your head (inaudible) because you are making all the wrong decisions.”

“All you had to do was answer the door — there was no doubt who we were,” the officer said.

Jones replies that her lawyer had previously told her not to answer the door. She seems confused about what officers want. “What are they looking for? Are they looking for a person?” she asked at one point.

Law enforcement department Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a statement that “this video demonstrates that FDLE agents exercised extreme patience.”

“Agents afforded Ms. Jones ample time to come to the door and resolve this matter in a civil and professional manner,” Swearingen said. “As this video will demonstrate, any risk or danger to Ms. Jones or her family was the result of her actions.”

But Jones, who has said she delayed in answering the door because she was getting dressed, responded on Twitter on Thursday that the videos prove she was cooperating.

Officers “were ready to break my door down with a sledgehammer,” she wrote. “This is ‘restraint?’ Really???”

The footage released so far mostly shows interactions outside Jones’ home, although officers did enter and search the house. Jones has said that officers in the house pointed guns at her 2- and 11-year-old children and her husband, which the department has denied, and released her own video of the raid showing officers inside with guns drawn. It’s unclear whether those officers were also wearing body cameras.

In other developments, Jones has now raised more than $200,000 on a GoFundMe page that she says will be used for her legal defense and for “moving expenses so my family can get out of the Governor’s reach.”

Pennsylvania to ban alcohol sales at bars and restaurants on Thanksgiving eve in effort to stop coronavirus spread

By Anna Sturla and Leah Asmelash, CNN

CNN)In an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, Pennsylvania state officials announced Monday that residents will not be able to purchase alcohol at bars or restaurants the night before Thanksgiving.

Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced that the temporary suspension will go into effect on 5 p.m. Wednesday and remain in place until 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.
“It turns out that the biggest say for drinking is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Wolf said. “When people get together in that situation, it leads to an increase in the exchange of fluids, that leads to an increase in infection.”
On Saturday alone, there were more than 7,000 new cases of Covid-19, according to data from the state, and more than 4,000 additional new cases on Sunday. 
“Transmission of Covid-19 is reaching new heights that we have not yet encountered,” Levine said.
Levine and Wolf also announced a new stay-at-home advisory for residents starting Monday, though they clarified that it was not a shutdown order.
Indoor dining remains at 25 to 50% capacity, while retail can continue at 75% capacity, Levine said. Gyms, salons and other personal care businesses can continue to operate at 50% capacity.
Will Thanksgiving be a superspreading event? Look to Canada for answers

Beginning November 27, businesses must allow employees to work from home. Large gatherings are reduced, with prohibitions against events with more than 500 people indoors or 2,500 outdoors, according to Levine.
The suspension comes as many Americans travel for Thanksgiving, against the advice of some public health experts. More than 1 million US travelers passed through security at airports on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
At the same time, Covid-19 hospitalizations are soaring at unprecedented rates nationwide — threatening reduced care for even those who don’t have coronavirus. 
As of Monday, the US has reported more than 12 million Covid-19 cases and over 257,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/23/us/pennsylvania-covid-19-alcohol-trnd/index.html

Covid: Pizza worker’s ‘lie’ forced South Australia lockdown

– CNN

South Australia decided to enter a state-wide lockdown based on a lie told by a man with Covid-19 about his link to a pizza shop, police say.

The strict lockdown began on Wednesday after the state detected 36 infections, including its first locally acquired cases since April.

But this would have been avoided if the man had told the truth, that he worked shifts at the shop, officials said.

He said he only went there to buy a pizza.

This misinformation prompted health officials to assume the man had caught the virus during a very brief exposure and that the strain must be a highly contagious one.

“To say I am fuming is an understatement,” state Premier Steven Marshall told reporters on Friday.

Australia has relied on lockdowns, widespread testing and aggressive contact tracing to push daily infections close to zero.

• How Melbourne’s lockdown crushed a second wave

“We are absolutely livid with the actions of this individual and we will be looking very carefully at what consequences there [are] going to be,” Mr Marshall added.

But that would not include police action against the man because there was “no penalty associated with telling lies”, said South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.

“We were operating on a premise that this person had simply gone to a pizza shop, [with] very short exposure and walked away having contracted the virus,” he added.

“We now know they are a very close contact of another person who has been confirmed as being positive with Covid. It has changed the dynamic substantially.

“Had this person been truthful to the contact-tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown.”

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said he was “livid”

State officials said they would lift the lockdown on Saturday – three days earlier than planned – after recording only three new cases on Friday.

Police did not identify the man, but said he worked at the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide.

Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that he worked with a security guard who contracted the virus at a quarantine hotel at the centre of the outbreak, which prompted South Australia to go on high alert on Monday.

When asked by reporters if the shop may need extra security because of public anger, Mr Stevens said: “There are all sorts of things we are considering at this point.”

The state’s outbreak follows neighbouring Victoria’s success in crushing a second wave of coronavirus which caused about 800 deaths.

Victoria has recorded 21 consecutive days of no cases or deaths after its capital, Melbourne, emerged from a strict four-month lockdown.

Australia has recorded about 900 deaths and 28,000 infections in total.

‘Burbing’ around Melbourne’s tough lockdown

The vaccine could get emergency approval in the first two weeks of December, officials believe.

Pfizer: COVID-19 shot 95% effective, seeking clearance soon

By LINDA A. JOHNSON and FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press

Pfizer said Wednesday that new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective, is safe and also protects older people most at risk of dying — the last data needed to seek emergency use of limited shot supplies as the catastrophic outbreak worsens across the globe.

The announcement from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, just a week after they revealed the first promising preliminary results, comes as the team is preparing within days to formally ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of the vaccine. 

They also have begun “rolling submissions” for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the U.K. and Canada and soon will add this new data.

Pfizer and BioNTech had initially estimated the vaccine was more than 90% effective after 94 infections had been counted in a study that included 44,000 people. With the new announcement, the company now has accumulated 170 infections in the study — and said only eight of them occurred in volunteers who got the actual vaccine rather than a dummy shot. One of those eight developed severe disease, the company said. 

“This is an extraordinarily strong protection,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO and co-founder, told The Associated Press.

The companies have not yet released detailed data on its study, and results have not been analyzed by independent experts. Also still to be determined are important questions such as how long protection lasts and whether people might need boosters.

But all eyes are on the progress of potential vaccines as the grim infection rate jumps in the U.S. and abroad as winter weather forces people indoors, in the close quarters that fuels viral spread. 

Pfizer and BioNTech said the vaccine was more than 94% effective in adults over age 65, though it is not clear exactly how that was determined with only eight infections in the vaccinated group to analyze and no breakdown provided of those people’s ages. 

Sahin said there were enough older adults enrolled in the study and among the placebo recipients who became infected that he is confident “this vaccine appears to work in the higher-risk population.”

Earlier this week Moderna, Inc. announced that its experimental vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective after an interim analysis of its late-stage study.

Similar results from two vaccines both made with a brand-new technology — using a snippet of the genetic code of the coronavirus to train the body to recognize if the real virus comes along — likely will add to experts’ reassurance about the novel approach. 

While initial supplies will be scarce and rationed, as the supply grows Sahin said the companies have a responsibility to help ensure access for lower income countries as well.

Pfizer and BioNTech also say now have the required data on the vaccine’s safety needed to seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

The companies didn’t disclose safety details but said no serious vaccine side effects have been reported, with the most common problem being fatigue after the second vaccine dose, affecting about 4% of participants. 

The study has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries. The trial will continue to collect safety and effectiveness data on volunteers for two more years. 

Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

U.S. officials have said they hope to have about 20 million vaccine doses each from Moderna and Pfizer available for distribution in late December. The first shots are expected to be offered to vulnerable groups like medical and nursing home workers, and people with serious health conditions.

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AP medical writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report. 

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.