ZEROING IN ON NORTHEAST OUTLOOK: NOROVIRUS ACTIVITY FLARES UP 16%. COVID IN DECLINE.

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Outbreak Outlook – Northeast – March 4

Norovirus activity flares

MAR 4

BY DR. CAITLIN RIVERS (REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION)

Welcome to the Northeastern edition of Outbreak Outlook! It is only available to paid subscribers. If you wish to become a paid subscriber and access region-specific information, please click the Subscribe now button below. Thanks for reading! -Caitlin

Respiratory Diseases

ILI

Influenza-like illness activity continues trudging along across the Northeast. Last week, 4.4% of visits to the doctor were for fever and cough or sore throat, down slightly from 4.5% the week prior. We’re headed in the right direction, but this flu season is lingering too long for my taste.

Northeast Region: ILI Activity
Percent of doctors visits for ILI symptoms

Outpatient visits for ILI remained stable across the entire region and at or below the national baseline of 2.9% in VermontNew YorkPennsylvaniaNew Hampshire, and Connecticut.

Maine and New Jersey both have relatively high outpatient ILI rates (3.5% and 5.7%), and had an increase in influenza-related ED visits (up to 2.6% and 3.0%, respectively). ConnecticutMassachusetts, and New York reported no significant change in ED visits, with percentages ranging from 2.4% to 2.7%. New York City is still struggling with very high levels of activity, at 7%. Trends are improving there, but slowly

New hospital admissions for influenza remained stable or decreased across most of the region. However, Connecticut’s hospitalization rates increased by 1.5 points to 4.8 per 100,000, the second highest it has been so far this flu season, and Rhode Island and Vermont also logged slight increases.

Northeast Region: Change in ILI Activity
Percent of doctors visits for ILI symptoms

COVID-19

In better news, Covid-19 continues to recede across the Northeast. Wastewater concentrations continue to decline from their peak at the end of the year – they haven’t been this low since the beginning of November. Emergency department visits declined across the region, and hospitalizations also declined across most of the region.

Northeast Region: New COVID-19 Hospitalizations
Average rate per 100,000 population

Most of the Northeast saw moderate declines in new hospitalizations this past week. New Hampshire wins the prize for ‘most improved’ – with a decline of 19% to 4.1 new admissions per 100,000. Other states seeing decreases in new hospitalizations this week include New York (-16.4% to 5.7), New Jersey (-16.3% to 6.1), Connecticut (-13.3% to 5.7), and Pennsylvania (-12.2% to 5.3). Rhode Island (4.0 new admissions per 100,000 population), Massachusetts (5.3) and Vermont (4.2) held roughly steady.

Maine experienced a substantial increase of 25.5% to 4.8 new admissions per 100,000, but because of the state’s small population this should be taken with a grain of salt.

Northeast Region: Change in New COVID-19 Hospitalizations
Weekly new hospitalizations per 100,000

Stomach Bugs

PCR test positivity for norovirus increased a whole point to 16.2%. It’s definitely going around, in the Northeast region in particular, so be cautious out there! I put extra tips for preventing and treating norovirus in the National edition, so take a look if that sounds helpful.

Northeast Region: Norovirus Activity
Test Positivity, Percentage

Food recalls

The following foods are being recalled because they are contaminated. Please check your cupboards and throw out any of these items:

New

Previously reported:

  • A big recall of Queso Fresco and Cotija Cheese is affecting numerous consumer products: (more info)
    • Trader Joe’s Chicken Enchiladas Verde, Cilantro Salad Dressing, Elote Chopped Salad Kit, Trader Joe’s Southwest Salad (more info)
    • Cilantro Lime Crema, Everything Sauce Fiesta, Cilantro Cotija dressing, Poblano Caesar dressing, Cilantro Dressing, Street Taco Express Meal Kit sold at Trader Joes, Don Pancho and HEB (more info)
    • Rojo’s Black Bean 6 Layer Dip (more info)
    • Cheese, Yogurt, Sour cream by Rizo Brothers California Creamery (more info)
  • Robitussin Honey CF Max cough syrup products (more info)
  • If you have food allergies, you may wish to review these FDA safety alerts and USDA alerts for foods with undeclared allergens.

In other news

  • The measles outbreak in Philadelphia has ended. The cluster totaled 9 cases. Outbreaks are declared over when two maximum incubation periods have passed with no new cases, or 42 days in the case of measles.
  • Colgate University (New York) is currently investigating over 60 cases of a gastrointestinal illness consistent with norovirus, a highly contagious virus causing vomiting and diarrhea. The Madison County Public Health Department has confirmed two cases of norovirus among 15 students showing symptoms, with an additional 54 suspected cases involving both students and Hamilton residents. The outbreak is linked to various social events, including a fundraiser at the Colgate Inn and student gatherings.
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MIDWEST, MOST REGIONS SEEING HIGH ACTIVITY–NATIONAL OUTLOOK OF ILLNESS ACROSS COUNTRY. RSV NO LONGER A FACTOR.

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NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIONS AIR IN DETAIL OBJECTIONS TO ONEWHITEPLAINS COMPREHENSIVE PLAN EFFECTS ON THEIR HOMES

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WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. Recap of White Plains Council of Neighborhood Associations Meeting with Mayor Roach. March 4, 2024:

March 1st, 2024

Dear Victoria Presser, President of the White Plains Common Council,

There was a special meeting of the Council of Neighborhood Associations last Tuesday 2/27/24. The Association Presidents who support the sentiments in this letter represent about 4000 households in White Plains. It was a lengthy meeting where leaders and members of various associations posed questions, voiced concerns, and offered serious criticisms of the draft Comprehensive Plan.

The greatest area of criticism concerned zoning changes and policy proposals that would impact single-family neighborhoods in significant ways. In general, every provision in the plan that affects all neighborhoods or specific neighborhoods should engender consultation with neighborhood associations. It was not lost on the CNA that – but for Mike Dalton of the Fisher Hill Association taking the initiative and meeting with the Mayor – there would have been no representation of the neighborhood associations on the Comprehensive Plan Committee. The Implementation Committee would benefit from greater representation of neighborhood associations as prototypical grassroots stakeholders.

While both the Plan and the CNA acknowledge the need for affordable housing, there is substantial opposition to zoning changes that were put forward as potential solutions to the problem. The law provides that 8% to 12% of new apartment building units should be set aside for affordable housing. The City’s January newsletter boasts of two new 2023 apartment projects – a 73-unit building with 9 affordable units and a 303-unit apartment building. No information on affordable units was provided in the discussion of the 303-unit building. Are there 8% to 12% affordable units? It’s not clear. Perhaps that’s because the City allows developers to “buyout” affordable units (also called the “fee-in-lieu” payment in the Comprehensive Plan). Frankly, developers buying out of their obligations to provide affordable housing defeats the most useful, cost-friendly, and productive way to diversify housing in White Plains.

A second major concern for CNA members’ is the proposal for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Permitting ADUs in single-family areas permits attached, detached, and interior spaces to be rented out. Single-family homes are converted into two-family dwellings (i.e., by renting out a garage, a basement, an attic, an outbuilding, or an addition to the home). This proposal sacrifices the single-family neighborhoods that contribute so much to the character and desirability of White Plains as a place to live.

Participants in the CNA meeting had specific criticisms of six LiveWP initiatives (LiveWP 1, 6, 12, 13, 14, and 16). LiveWP

1 opens the door to ADUs. LiveWP 6 would place senior housing (including assisted living buildings) in single-family zones. Assisted living residences require plenty of parking for employees and visitors and just would not fit well in an R-1 zone.

Live WP 12 – Facilitate evaluation of rezoning residentially-zoned campus properties including Burke Rehabilitation, NY Hospital, and the Windward School campuses to more dense development.

LiveWP 13 and 14 pertain to 10-acre and 5-acre plots and override existing zoning regulations without sufficient thought about how more dense development fits into an established residential neighborhood of large lots.

LiveWP 16 – Study the potential to permit two-family residences, townhomes and/or medium density housing along portions of the North Street Corridor. The CNA representatives support an increase in affordable housing and urge an end to allowing developers to buyout of their legal obligations. Preserving the integrity of single-family neighborhoods is crucial, as sacrificing them would be detrimental to the long-term vitality of White Plains. Though we are concentrating at present on the highly unpopular provisions of the Comprehensive Plan, we look forward to voicing our support for many good ideas in the Plan (e.g., more art installations, a local museum, Park Ambassadors, EMS services incorporated into the fire department). Finally, the CNA would also like to partner with the City in order to help revitalize inactive neighborhood associations and inspire the creation of new associations.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Sanchez, President of the Council of Neighborhood Associations, with the support of the Presidents of the following associations:

Bob Kahn, Highlands Civic Association Kelly Roper, Prospect Park Association

John Sheehan, Gedney Farms Association

Michael A. Sanchez, Rosedale Residential Association

Robert Friscia, North Steet Association

Michael J. Matarese, Old Oak Ridge Association

Nancy Giges, Hillair Circle Civic Association

Marc Rovner, Ridgeway of White Plains Association

Francis Jones, Rocky Dell Association

Daniel Letizia, Reynal Park Association Ken Kristal, Carhart Association

cc: Mayor Thomas Roach Justin Brasch Richard Payne John M. Martin Jennifer Puja Jeremiah Frei-Pearson Eileen McClain Christopher Gomez John Callahan

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2024 ELECTIONS INFORMATION

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en Español

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As we prepare for the upcoming election season, we’re excited to equip you with all the essential information you need to exercise your right to vote. Below are the early registration dates and times, provided by the League of Women Voters, to ensure your voice is heard in shaping the future of our community.

Stay tuned for more updates and resources as we navigate this election season together!

Sincerely,

Ben Boykin
Ben Boykin
Legislator, 5th District

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Presidential Primary in NYS:
Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Early Voting: Saturday, March 23, 2024 to Saturday, March 30, 2024

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Important Voting Deadlines

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Absentee Ballot and *NEW* Early Mail Ballot Information

  • Saturday, March 23, 2024 (ten days before the election): Last day for an application for a mailed absentee ballot or a mailed early mail ballot to be received by the Board of Elections. Applications may be made via email, fax, or electronically through the New York State Absentee Ballot Application Portal or the Early Mail Ballot Application Portal. See the Westchester County Board of Elections Request a Ballot webpage and the New York State Board of Elections Request a Ballot webpage for additional details.
  • Monday, April 1, 2024 (one day before the election): Last day to apply in person at the Westchester County Board of Elections (25 Quarropas Street, White Plains, NY 10601) for an absentee ballot.
  • Tuesday, April 2, 2024: Last day to postmark a completed absentee or early mail ballot (must be received by Tuesday April 9, 2024) or to submit an absentee ballot or early mail ballot in person to the Westchester County Board of Elections or any polling site throughout Westchester County by the close of the polls.

Qualifications to vote by Early Mail Ballot

Any registered voter may apply for an early mail ballot. Making a false statement in an application for an early mail ballot, attempting to cast an illegal ballot, and helping anyone cast an illegal ballot are felonies.

Qualifications to vote by Absentee Ballot

  • Absent from your county on Election Day.
  • Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability.
  • Unable to appear because you are the primary care giver of one or more individuals who are ill or physically disabled.
  • A resident or patient of a Veterans Health Administration Hospital.
  • Detained in jail awaiting Grand Jury action or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony.

Please note the following procedural changes:

New York State voters are no longer permitted to cast a ballot on a voting machine if they have already been issued an early mail, accessible, or absentee ballot for that election. Voters who have already been issued a ballot may cast an affidavit ballot in person, to be counted only if the voter’s early mail, accessible, or absentee ballot has not been received.

If a voter requests a second early mail, accessible, or absentee ballot, any previously issued absentee ballot that is returned by the voter will be set aside. If both ballots are received before the return deadline, the ballot with the later postmark date will be accepted unless the first ballot has already been opened. If a voter submits more than one timely ballot and also casts an affidavit ballot, the last received ballot, either submitted in person during the election or by mail within the absentee return deadline, will be canvassed.

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Remember to vote!
Democracy is not a spectator sport.

VOTE 411 has all your election information to:

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  • Check your registration status
  • Find your polling place
  • See what is on your ballot
  • Print your ballot selections
  • Learn about the candidates
  • View recorded candidate forums

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Additional Resources and Links


en Español

Estimados amigos y vecinos,

A medida que nos preparamos para la próxima temporada de elecciones, nos complace proporcionarles toda la información esencial que necesitan para ejercer su derecho al voto. A continuación, se encuentran las fechas y horarios de registro anticipado, proporcionados por la Liga de Mujeres Votantes, para asegurarnos de que su voz se escuche en la formación del futuro de nuestra comunidad.

Manténganse atentos para más actualizaciones y recursos mientras navegamos juntos por esta temporada de elecciones.

Atentamente,

Ben Boykin
Ben Boykin
Legislator, 5th District

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Primaria Presidencial en el Estado de Nueva York: Martes, 2 de Abril de 2024

Votación Adelantada: Sábado, 23 de Marzo de 2024 a Sábado, 30 de Marzo de 2024

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Fecha Límite Importante para Votar

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Boleta por Correo y *NUEVA* Información sobre la Boleta por Correo Temprano

Calificaciones para votar por correo temprano 

Cualquier votante registrado puede solicitar una boleta de voto por correo temprano. Hacer una declaración falsa en una solicitud de boleta de voto por correo temprano, intentar emitir un voto ilegal y ayudar a alguien a emitir un voto ilegal son delitos graves.

Calificaciones para votar por boleta ausente 

  • Ausente de su condado el día de las elecciones.
  • Imposibilidad de presentarse en las urnas debido a una enfermedad o discapacidad temporal o permanente.
  • Imposibilidad de presentarse porque es el cuidador principal de una o más personas que están enfermas o físicamente discapacitadas.
  • Residente o paciente de un hospital de la Administración de Veteranos de Guerra.
  • Detenido en la cárcel esperando acción del Gran Jurado o confinado en prisión después de ser condenado por un delito que no sea un delito grave.

Tenga en cuenta los siguientes cambios procedimentales: 

A los votantes del estado de Nueva York ya no se les permite emitir un voto en una máquina de votación si ya se les ha entregado una boleta de voto por correo temprano, accesible o ausente para esa elección. Los votantes a quienes ya se les haya entregado una boleta pueden emitir un voto por declaración jurada en persona, que se contará solo si no se ha recibido la boleta de voto por correo temprano, accesible o ausente del votante.

Si un votante solicita una segunda boleta de voto por correo temprano, accesible o ausente, cualquier boleta de voto ausente devuelta por el votante se apartará. Si ambas boletas se reciben antes de la fecha límite de devolución, se aceptará la boleta con la fecha de matasellos más reciente a menos que la primera boleta ya se haya abierto. Si un votante presenta más de una boleta oportuna y también emite un voto por declaración jurada, se contará la boleta recibida más recientemente, ya sea presentada en persona durante la elección o por correo dentro de la fecha límite de devolución de votos ausentes.

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¡Recuerda votar!
La democracia no es un deporte de espectadores.

VOTE 411 tiene toda la información electoral para:

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  • Verificar el estado de tu registro
  • Encontrar tu lugar de votación
  • Ver qué hay en tu boleta
  • Imprimir tus selecciones de votos
  • Conocer a los candidatos
  • Ver foros grabados con candidatos

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Recursos y Enlaces Adicionales

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MAJORITY OF NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIONS, OPPOSE ADOPTION OF ONEWHITEPLAINS COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. OPENS UP NEIGHBORHOODS TO CLUSTER HOUSING THEY SAY

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Slide of Comprehensive Plan from White Plains Week program

WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. March 3, 2024:

 

Hello Mr. Bailey,

As you are aware, there is a Common Council public hearing on Monday, March 4, in White Plains, discussing the White Plains Comprehensive Plan. The proposed zoning changes in single-family districts have raised major concerns among residents, in that it is a radical departure from the current Comprehensive Plan.

It seems that the City of White Plains (in response to the Governor’s unsuccessful attempt to increase housing through the Budget 2023) is taking on the task of eliminating single-family districts in White Plains through proposals such as ADUs (Affordable Detached Units) and other zoning changes, all under the pretext of addressing a housing crisis and the need for affordable housing. Meanwhile, the City accepts buyouts from developers related to the mandated percentage of affordable housing units.

The Council of Neighborhood Associations (CNA) has submitted a letter to the Common Council, Planning Board and City Staff, signed by 11 neighborhood associations in White Plains, representing 4,000 residents (see attached). Given the potential impact of these proposed zoning changes, the meeting is expected to draw a substantial crowd.

Also, please access the Gedney Association’s recent eblast to its 500 residents via the link below. In particular, these proposed zoning changes would pave the way for alterations to the Farrell Property, formerly Ridgeway Golf Club, allowing for clustering and attached housing. With just liveWP 13 and 14 alone, there are currently eight other large properties that would experience an immediate impact, not to mention the implications for every single-family home with the proposed ADUs.

https://mailchi.mp/gedneyfarms.net/urgent-proposed-zoning-changes-to-impact-gedney-farms?e=fc9eaf2d4c

Thank you and I hope that you will cover the story.

Melanie Kolby

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NOVEMBER 5: THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT FOR EVERYONE IS ON THE BALLOT IN NEW YORK–TO ADD THE ERA TO THE NEW YORK CONSTITUTION

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AAUW STATEWIDE EFFORT TO PASS THE NY STATE ERA BEGINS.

WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2024. News & Comment By John F. Bailey, March 3, 2024:

This is how the New York State ERA passed by both houses of the New York State legislature and signed by Governor Hochul, reads:

The American Association of University Women statewide zoom forum  (shown above) introduced the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the New York State Constitution, that if passed by New York voters November 5 will enshrine  anti discrimination rights for everyone. The forum emphasized the ERA originally proposed in 1922 after women were given the right to vote, and this New York State ERA amendment  passed in 2023 by the legislature and Governor Hochul, is not just for equality of women but forbids discrimination against anyone.

The ERA supporters attending the forum, signaled a new public education would begin in the spring to educate voters about this amendment to counter the male opposition to the previous ERA efforts in the 1970s when the ERA was perceived as an “equal rights for women” legislation.

The most important voting block in the state is the New York Metropolitan area of registered voters that has declined in election participation. A major effort will be made to  get this block of voters to support the amendment and outreach will be made in the entire state to  make the new ERA part of the New York State Constitution to protect all New Yorkers from discrimination of any kind.

A WPCNR Observation: With the blanket no discrimination ERA in the New York Constitution, no matter what the Supreme Court decides allowing discriminatory acts in other states, due in part to the Supreme Court consistent return to “state’s rights” theory in recent decisions, the New York Constitution ERA law would stand in view of the court’s return to the past philosophy now in vogue at the Supreme Court.

The ERA will be on the Presidential ballot November 5 and for New Yorkers it is protection for all who are discriminated against.

Should a Republican administration win the presidency, New Yorkers will have no protection against new  discriminatory practices since the New York Constitution ERA Amendment if passed in November would prohibit. This would force the Supreme Court to rule against states’ rights. That could happen, or the Supreme Court could not accept the case.

For the complete text of the bill go to this New York State “Link,”  copy and put into your browser

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S8797

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UNNAMED FIGURES: GHOSTS OUT OF TIME AT LINCOLN SQUARE WHO TELL THEIR STORY

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WPCNR ART IN TIME.Exhibition Review by John F. Bailey, March 2, 2024:

 

The name of the exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum in New York is provocative. It stuns you.:

Unnamed Figures: Black Presence and Absence in the Early American North

Evocative. Eternal. Visceral. Disbelief.

With every painting by unknown and known black artists of America’s first two centuries, every sculpture, every photograph and painted landscapes of young growing America the roles of northern slaves are witnessed in heartbreaking, somber testimony in the works  of those black artists  who lived, painted, photographed, sculpted as slaves and freedmen and women in the American North.

As you wonder through the dark halls that evoke a dignified mausoleum dedicated to artists lost, their talents exploited by northern slaveowners in the 1700s and 1800s leading up to and beyond the Civil War.

The ambitious curation of this exhibition is on view through March 24 at 2 Lincoln Square on 66th Street, West of Central Park. It is a visit to the past you will never forget.

I  have not been so jarred by an exhibition since I saw the slave hut on Andrew Jackson’s estate in Nashville, a slave quarters that housed 19 slaves in ramshackle structure the size of a studio apartment.

Unnamed Figures brings back to life the long dead slaves who endured the cruelty of slavery in the “abolitionist” north to tell the truth through their art that has lived on to tell their stories.

This exhibit  opened my eyes about slavery in the northeast. the paintings,sculptures and photographs haunt you at every step, putting a real face on real slaves and freemen and women in the 19th century. it was never taught to me in the history classes of  high school, how widespread slavery was in the north as well as the south.

This exhibition will make you linger, think, feel deeply or ever so slightly the wrongs, the diminution of black talent.

Other than the hard unpaid brutal living and working for nothing, I was shocked by the slave owners’ shameful  exploitation of  slaves who were artists in spare time, artists many of home photographed and painted portraits of their owners  and the owners’ friends and the owners pocketed the fees the artists’ works.

 

In the elegant somber texts explaining paintings, portraits and photographs, you learn how paintings of blacks promoted in the north the inferiority of blacks who are shown looking up to their master owners in portraits.

George Washington and Family with Slave in background by an artist who was a slave.

Many of those paintings for fees that slave owners kept are on display here. as a writer myself i can feel that injustice. All pride in the work is diminished when you are not paid for it and your owner keeps your fee.

The exhibition offers a new window onto black representation in a region that is often overlooked in narratives of early African American history.

 

Through 125 remarkable works including paintings, needlework, and photographs, this exhibition invites visitors to focus on figures who appear in—or are omitted from—early american images and will challenge conventional narratives that have minimized early black histories in the north, revealing the complexities and contradictions of the region’s history between the late 1600s and early 1800s.

Unnamed figures…  

If you are black. this is a must-see exhibition and your pride  will be uplifted.

If you are white, it will open your eyes, touch your heart,  sadden and cleanse your soul.

Unamed Figures is art performing its mission profoundly and effectively, eternally.

I recommend it!

 

 

 

 

 

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK TONIGHT 7:30 EST–THE MARCH 1 REPORT FIOS CH45 COUNTYWIDE, IN WHITE PLAINS CH76 OPTIMUM AND www.wpcommunitymedia.org

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THE HOUSING NUMBERS FOR JANUARY IN WESTCHESTER

CDC SAYS ADULTS OVER 65 NEED A SPRING COVID SHOT. WHY AND WHY NOT

MARTIN GINSBURG’S CITY SQUARE RENOVATION SHOWS THE NEW WAY

TO CREATE OFFICE SPACE–LEASES 9 NEW TENANTS IN CITY SQUARE

JANET LANGSAM, ARTSWESTCHESTER LEADER  FOR 30 YEARS TO RETIRE

WHITE PLAINS POLICE AGREE ON NEW 2 YEAR CONTRACT

FINAL ONEWHITEPLAINS COMPREHENSIVE PLAN HEARING MONDAY AT 7:30 PM

MASTER PLAN FOR THE AGING SUGGESTIONS SOUGHT FROM AGING-UPS MARCH 7

WITH JOHN BAILEY AND THE NEWS

EVERY WEEK ON THE WHITE PLAINS WEEK 

FOR 23 YEARS

 

 

 

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CDC URGES SPRING COVID VACCINE SHOT FOR OLDER ADULTS. GET VACCINATED. REASONS WHY PEOPLE ARE NOT GETTING VACCINATED. PEOPLE.

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FLORIDA GIVES MEASLES ROOM TO SPREAD

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Si quiere leer la versión en español, pulse aquí.


The measles outbreak at a Florida elementary school has grown to 8 cases and counting.

We have measles outbreaks all the time (although the rate is increasing due to vaccine hesitancy), but this one came with a new controversy. The Florida State Health Department released a letter with a surprising new recommendation that contradicts standard of practice guidelines for measles outbreaks in two big ways:

  1. Isolation. It stated that unvaccinated kids who were exposed to measles could continue to attend school. This is unprecedented. Those with no prior immunity need to isolate for 21 days.
  2. Vaccination. It failed to recommend kids without immunity get vaccinated. Many parents don’t know that unvaccinated kids can still get protection from a vaccine within 72 hours of exposure. (Also, the standard of care is that if they get vaccinated within 72 hours, they can return to school as long as they don’t develop symptoms.)

Failure to isolate for measles is a major problem

The purpose of requiring unvaccinated children to stay home after measles exposure is to reduce, or rather stop, transmission.

Failure to do so significantly increases the chances of a prolonged outbreak. 

We don’t require isolation for most viruses. If kids don’t get a flu shot, they don’t need to skip school if they were exposed to influenza. But measles is different:

  1. Measles is one of the most contagious viruses known on Earth. The R0—or the number of people an infected person can infect—is much higher than other viruses. Viruses spread exponentially, so in a population that doesn’t have immunity, just a few cases can become many very quickly. This means it takes a huge effort to contain it.

    Data visualization by Kristen Panthagani

  2. Measles is (largely) eliminated (although the U.S. status may change soon). In other words, it’s not spreading at a low level in other parts of the community. We want to keep it that way.
  3. Measles has a long incubation period. It takes 5-21 days from exposure for symptoms to develop. So even if a child, especially an unvaccinated one, doesn’t have symptoms, they may be contagious and spread it to others, including in the community.

The FL letter tries to justify the decision to let exposed kids without immunity go to school by arguing that the vaccination rates in Florida are high. It’s true that 90% of FL kindergartners are vaccinated, which is high. But not high enough—because measles is so contagious, the threshold for herd immunity against measles is 95%. This means there are pockets in the school, other schools, and a community that measles could burn through.

Keeping kids home from school is hard, but sometimes it is very necessary

Missing school is not something health officials recommend lightly.

But recommendations are always grounded in tradeoffs: disease severity, the potential for transmission, disruption to parents, childcare, productivity, economy, days of in-person schooling lost.

We have all experienced quarantine and know what a disruption it is to our lives. It is only recommended when truly necessary.

As a parent, the most disappointing part of this letter is the lack of information on actions parents can take.

For example, if they don’t want their child to miss school, they can get vaccinated, even after exposure. It will help reduce the severity of symptoms if infected, too. However, the window is short. Leaving this information out so parents don’t know is another level of deception.

Many have forgotten measles, but it is no joke

We have the privilege of forgetting measles because vaccines have largely wiped it out. But unfortunately, that privilege means many have forgotten just how bad it is:

  • It is extremely contagious. Among unvaccinated, 9 out of 10 people exposed will get infected.
  • It can make kids very sick. For people without immunity, 1 in 5 will be hospitalized, 1 in 20 will develop pneumonia (the most common way measles kills young kids), 1 in 1000 will develop encephalitis (infection of the brain, sometimes causing permanent brain damage), and 1-3 in 1000 will die.
  • It can cause “immune amnesia,” where the immune system loses its ability to fight other viruses that people were previously immune to.

Data visualization by Kristen Panthagani, data sources herehere, and here

Bottom line

Measles is not a new virus. We have been studying it for more than a century. There are reasons we have standards of practice, and it’s a slippery slope to think otherwise. Measles is no joke, and containing it should not be up for debate.

We hope parents and the community are paying attention. It takes a team approach to stop infectious diseases. This can mean strengthening immunization requirements or asking for bills requiring transparency about which schools have lower vaccination rates so parents can make informed decisions. The scary question is: What happens when community responsibility breaks down? We hope this is not the road we are headed down.

Love, KP and YLE 

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