China still allowing use of pangolin scales in traditional medicine | Illegal wildlife trade

The Chinese government continues to allow the use of pangolin scales for traditional medicine despite promises to crack down on a trade that has made them the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world.

A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals online sales platforms such as eBay and Taobao continue to advertise pangolin products, while major pharmaceutical companies, including the leading China Beijing Tong Ren Tang Group, offer similar items directly on their websites.

The researchers behind the Smoke and Mirrors report found 221 companies had been licensed to sell items containing pangolin scales, which appeared as an ingredient in 64 different products.

The watchdog group said this revealed major loopholes in China’s regulations that needed to be closed if the government is serious about protecting endangered wildlife.

Pangolin have almost disappeared in China because of a medically unproven belief that a broth containing the scales has medicinal qualities, including helping women who have problems lactating. Over recent decades the circle of slaughter and smuggling has steadily widened to neighbouring nations, then south-east Asia, and now Africa.

An estimated 200,000 pangolins are consumed each year in Asia, of which Chinese traditional medicine is the main driver. The latest world wildlife crime report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says 71% of pangolin scale seizures were destined for China. Vietnam is another major market.

Hopes for change were raised this summer when the Chinese government, which is due to host a global biodiversity summit, announced that pangolin scales had been removed from the official listing of approved ingredients in the traditional pharmacopoeia.

This won international kudos and, along with President Xi Jinping’s announcement of more ambitious cuts to carbon emission, prompted optimism that China was ready to take on an environmental leadership role, in contrast to the negligence of the US under Donald Trump.

But the EIA report reveals huge gaps in Chinese enforcement. The government continues to allow pharmaceutical companies to use pangolin scales from the national stockpile, which is “shrouded in secrecy and never seems to run out”. A related report earlier this year found China’s medical insurance system was still reimbursing users for traditional remedies containing pangolin, which undermined the broader goal of reducing the illegal trade.

“China has taken some half measures but not gone the full way in banning the use of pangolin scales in medicine,” said Chris Hamley, a senior pangolin campaigner at the EIA. “Given the massive illegal trade and weak regulation internally, it is very likely that pharmaceutical companies are using illegal scales. Our report found a whole bunch of those.”

He called on the National People’s Congress to close the loopholes when it reviews China’s wildlife protection law. Companies and their European investors could also make declarations not to use pangolin scales, which can be replaced by other herbal products. The international community could also use the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) to encourage nations to take tougher action

CDC says teen gave COVID-19 to 11 relatives across 4 states during a family vacation. Experts see a cautionary tale for holidays

A COVID-19 outbreak that infected 11 people across four states began with a 13-year-old girl who transmitted the virus during a three-week family vacation over the summer, according to a Centers for Disease Control report.

In Illinois — one of the states involved — a Cook County Department of Public Health spokeswoman said that the community where some of the family members live is not currently at risk from this particular outbreak, which occurred months ago.

But the case shows that kids and teens can contract and spread the virus, public health experts say. It also serves as a cautionary tale before the holiday season, a traditional time for many large family get-togethers.

“(The) outbreak highlights several important issues that are good to review before the holidays., a Cook County Department of Public Health spokeswoman said in an email.

The CDC noted that the case underscores the risk of exposure during gatherings, as well as the benefits of social distancing.

“SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can spread efficiently during gathering, especially with prolonged, close contact,” the CDC report said. “Physical distancing, face mask use and hand hygiene reduce transmission; gatherings should be avoided when physical distancing and face mask use are not possible.”

The three-week family gathering involved five households from four states, according to the CDC report, which was released earlier this month. The report in a footnote mentioned public health departments in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Illinois and Georgia; it did not give any other information about where the family gathering took place or the states where various relatives lived.

The report said the initial patient, a 13-year-old girl, was exposed to COVID-19 during a large outbreak in June. A rapid antigen test four days after her exposure came back negative, before her symptoms began. Two days later she had some nasal congestion, her only symptom. That day she traveled with her parents and two brothers to attend a large family gathering, which began the following day, according to the CDC report.

She was one of 14 relatives ranging in age from 9 to 72 who shared a five-bedroom, two-bathroom home for eight to 25 days, the report said. The relatives did not wear face masks or practice physical distancing, according to the report.

Eleven other family members contracted the virus; one was hospitalized and another went to the emergency room for treatment of respiratory symptoms, but both recovered, according to the report.

“This outbreak highlights several important issues,” the report said. “First, children and adolescents can serve as the source for COVID-19 outbreaks within families, even when their symptoms are mild. Better understanding of transmission by children and adolescents in different settings is needed to refine public health guidance.”

Six additional family members did not stay at the home but did visit on different occasions, maintaining physical distance from relatives from other households. None of those individuals developed symptoms, and four tested negative for the virus, the CDC found.

“None of the six family members

Naples thrift and consignment shops rally against pandemic setbacks

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In February, Jennifer Bouchard was considering a second location for her men and children’s consignment shop, Happily Ever After Consignment Boutique.

“I had a great response immediately,” she said of the store she had opened in October. “February was like, on and popping. It was crazy.”

Opening her own store was her dream. She worked for a spell at Twice as Nice, learning the intricacies of the business before she opened her own store.

Clothes and shoes sit on display at Happily Ever After Consignment Boutique in Naples on Wednesday, October 7, 2020.  (Photo: Alex Driehaus/Naples Daily News/USA TODAY – FLORIDA NETWORK)

“I’ll do whatever I have to do to make it work,” she said in a 2019 interview with the Daily News.

But then the pandemic hit. By the second week of March, Bouchard’s store was a “ghost town,” she said. Traffic in and out of her store slowed, then trickled, then stopped. She closed for the month of April and reopened in May, but the damage was done. The money she had saved to get through the summer months was depleted, and Bouchard doesn’t know if she can get through it again. She applied for a PPP loan and said she was denied because it was a new business and did not have a tax return at the time.

From last year: Consignment stores a popular option for bargain shoppers in Naples

And: St. Vincent de Paul to open new East Naples store after Irma

“I put every dollar that I have into this business,” she said. “Am I going to lose everything because of something that I couldn’t control?”

Bouchard isn’t alone in her plight. Fellow second-hand shops struggled when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses across the region, and business hasn’t returned to what it was prior. There’s hope for recovery — but plenty of anxiety, too.

The Society of Saint Vincent De Paul Naples is preparing their new location for business, pictured on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in East Naples. (Photo: Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK- FLORIDA)

St. Vincent de Paul operates several thrift stores between Naples and Bonita Springs. Kim Schul, executive director of the Naples District Council, and Bill Allen, director of development, said the society’s new thrift store, which opened last fall in East Naples, saw a healthy amount of business until the pandemic arrived.

They closed every store in March and reopened in May.

“It was a big setback. It’s the constant income we rely on,” Schul said.

Allen said income from the stores typically funds other programs for St. Vincent de Paul. They provide programs like Meals on Wheels and other assistance, such as food and hygiene items and utility assistance.

Further complicating the financial losses, Allen said the nonprofit is largely possible because of volunteers, and many are seniors who can not return or don’t feel safe doing so. While donors stepped up, St. Vincent de Paul had to

Kentucky governor says he had busy work day in quarantine

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s governor said Monday that he kept up a busy work schedule despite being confined to the governor’s mansion after being around someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Andy Beshear said he will follow the advice of state public health officials in determining how long he and his family remain quarantined at the mansion. His next COVID test is expected to be Tuesday and then Friday, he said. He added he tested negative last week.

“I’ve asked them (health officials) to treat me like anybody else out there,” the Democratic said. “So I’m going to follow all the rules and all the guidelines.”


Beshear said he had one of his busiest Mondays in a while, and that the biggest challenge of working in quarantine — away from his staff — was all the time he spent “staring at a screen.”

“I’m working,” he said. “I’m just having to do it like many other families are having to do — remotely with sometimes my kids bouncing in and out, or a vacuum cleaner going.”

Beshear’s wife, Britainy, and their two children also are in quarantine.

“We’re doing great,” Beshear said. “I feel great. My family feels great. We are trying to be really positive about this situation.”

In his virtual briefing, the governor reported Kentucky’s highest number of coronavirus cases on a Monday since the pandemic began. He said that offers more evidence that the outbreak continues its recent escalation in the Bluegrass State.

Beshear announced Sunday that he and his family were potentially exposed the day before by a member of his security detail who later tested positive for COVID-19. Beshear has said they received a call from a contact tracer to alert his family of the possible exposure.

The member of his security team is showing mild symptoms of the virus, the governor said.

“He’s a tank,” the governor said. “He’s going to be great. We know he’ll make a full recovery, and we’re checking on him every day.”

While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

The governor — who has a statewide mask mandate in place — has said his family and the security official who drove with them Saturday all wore facial coverings. Beshear has said his family was not in contact with anyone else following the potential exposure.

Meanwhile, the governor reported 643 new coronavirus cases statewide Monday. It continues a string of increases on recent Mondays, when case numbers are typically lower than most other days in the week because many labs are closed on Sundays. Last week, Kentucky posted 543 virus cases on Monday, compared with 456 and 406 cases the prior two Mondays, he said.

“So you can see a steady increase,” Beshear said. “That means that we’ve got to do better, because we have more contacts out there — whether it’s our kids in schools,

The Best Fitness Tech To Buy at Walmart’s Major Sale, From Apple Watches to Treadmills

Treadmills and Apple watches aren’t exactly inexpensive, which means any time they go on sale is so incredibly exciting, making the investment all the more worthwhile. Walmart is in the midst of a huge sale where you can get fitness tech and tools at a massive discount.

Walmart’s major sale on fitness items is perfect for anyone who is looking to outfit their home gym or introduce more tech into their routine. Shop the very best deals below.



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Walmart fitness

The best fitness tech to buy at Walmart

1. Apple Watch Series 3 GPS, $169



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Apple Watch Series 3 GPS, walmart fitness

Originally released in September 2017, the Apple Watch Series 3 normally sells for $199. This watch allows you to measure your workouts, track and share your daily activity, better manage everyday stress, and monitor your heart rate more effectively. You can also sync it with your favorite playlists and use it to stay in touch with friends and family. This watch is available in white and black.

Shop now: Apple Watch Series 3 GPS, $169

To learn more about wearables, watch What the Wellness Host Ella Dove try them out:

2. Zimtown Ktaxon Fitness Blue Yoga Stability Balance Trainer Ball with Resistance Bands, $55



a close up of a pot: Zimtown Ktaxon Fitness Blue Yoga Stability Balance Trainer Ball with Resistance Bands


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Zimtown Ktaxon Fitness Blue Yoga Stability Balance Trainer Ball with Resistance Bands

A stability ball can make all of your workouts harder and more effective. Add in the resistance bands and this tool is like a mini gym. Use just the ball for crunches à la Kate Hudson or stand on it while doing bicep curls or arm raises to work your arms and core at the same time.

Shop now: Zimtown Ktaxon Fitness Blue Yoga Stability Balance Trainer Ball with Resistance Bands, $55

3. Echelon Connect Sport Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike, $499



a close up of a motorcycle: Echelon Connect Sport Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike


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Echelon Connect Sport Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike


  

Originally priced at $599, this Echelon indoor cycling bike is perfect for getting your cardio in at home. The bike comes with six months of free access to the Echelon Fit App, where you’ll have access to over 1,600 cycling classes of all fitness levels and music genres. You can filter by length, music, language, instructor, and more to find the best class for you.

Shop now: Echelon Connect Sport Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike, $499

4. Apple Air Pods, $129



Apple Air Pods


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Apple Air Pods

These earbuds took over as soon as they launched, and for good reason. Having the comfort of earbuds without the hassle of a cord is a game-changer. This pair, typically sold for $159, comes with a standard charging case. The AirPods with Wireless Charging Case ($160) and the AirPods Pro ($199) are also on sale.

Shop now: Apple AirPods, $129

5. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones II, $299



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Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones II


If you prefer headphones to earbuds, this pair

Michigan Medicine begins recruitment for phase 3 of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine trial

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — The University of Michigan announced Monday that Michigan Medicine has begun recruiting for phase 3 of the Janssen COVID-19 clinical trial.

The trial, known as the ENSEMBLE study, will evaluate a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 as part of a double-blind phase 3 clinical trial.

U-M is one of several sites across the world supporting the trial, which hopes to enroll up to 60,000 people worldwide.

“Michigan Medicine is committed to supporting the continued study of the investigational Janssen vaccine and other vaccine candidates. These trials are crucial to moving us toward an effective vaccine,” says Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., Dean, U-M Medical School, Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs and CEO, Michigan Medicine.

This is the second trial being done on COVID-19 vaccines at U-M. They are also doing an AstraZeneca trial.

Enrollment is open for both trials now, and you can apply to be part of it by visiting uofmhealth.org/covid19-vaccine

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Nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich plan to strike Tuesday in protest over contract talks

Nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich are set to strike Tuesday and Wednesday to protest what they say is the company’s refusal to negotiate a contract.

The hospital and Backus Federation of Nurses, part of AFT Connecticut that represents more than 400 nurses have been in contract talks since June. The two sides differ on compensation, improved distribution of personal protective equipment and recruiting and keeping new nurses, according to the union.

A spokeswoman for parent company Hartford HealthCare did not immediately respond to questions about staffing at Backus Hospital during the walkout. Donna Handley, president of the hospital, said earlier this month Backus will remain open during a strike and will work to reach an agreement.

Union President Sherri Dayton said recent negotiations led to progress on improved protective gear policies, expanded access for breastfeeding by new mothers and accountability for safe patient limits.

But the company has not yielded on calls by the union to improve recruitment and retention of nurses, the union said.

The union has organized a rally Tuesday at the hospital and will be joined by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and other labor leaders and elected officials.

Nurses at the not-for-profit hospital are seeking higher pay and more staff to relieve nurses who often work hours after the end of their shifts, the union said. They also say they are forced to reuse personal protective equipment kept in paper bags until it’s compromised or soiled and are demanding Hartford Healthcare keep a three-month supply of N95 masks.

Hartford HealthCare insists personal protective equipment is always available to patients and staff.

Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected]

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©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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Hours before Trump campaigns in Florida, Fauci cautions against holding rallies, saying it is ‘asking for trouble.’

Hours before President Trump was set to return to the campaign trail in Florida on Monday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, warned that holding large rallies was “asking for trouble” with cases of the coronavirus surging in many states.

Dr. Fauci, in an interview with CNN, said that Americans needed to be more cautious in the fall and winter months, and warned that rising rates of infections in a number of states suggested Americans should be “doubling down” on precautions rather than casting them aside.

“We know that that is asking for trouble when you do that,” Dr. Fauci said of Mr. Trump’s decision to begin a full schedule of campaign rallies. “We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves. It happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome.”

He noted that many states were now seeing increases in positive tests. “It’s going in the wrong direction right now,” he said.

He said that people should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing — and avoid large gatherings — to prevent new outbreaks. “That’s just a recipe of a real problem if we don’t get things under control before we get into that seasonal challenge,” he said.

Dr. Fauci’s comments came one day after he objected to a new Trump campaign television ad that portrayed him as praising the president’s response to the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci reiterated on Monday that the ad had taken his past remarks out of context, and called his inclusion in it “very disappointing.” He said he had been speaking more broadly about the collaborative efforts of the federal government and was “not a political person.” Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether the ad should be taken down, something the Trump campaign says it has no intention of doing, Dr. Fauci said, “I think so.”

In an interview with The Times on Monday, Dr. Fauci said that he had been unsuccessful so far in having the ad removed.

“I wouldn’t know who to contact in the campaign to tell them to pull it down,” he said. “I spoke to someone who I know well in the White House to figure it out for me and tell me how to get it down. I haven’t heard back from them yet.”

Dr. Fauci said that he did not want to be pulled into the fray of the campaign.

“I never in my five decades ever directly or indirectly supported a political candidate and I’m not going to start now,” he said. “I do not want to be involved in it.”

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Virus can strike twice, be worse the second time

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When people ask how to protect themselves against the spread of COVID-19, one of the first suggestions from doctors is washing your hands. Here are the do’s and don’ts.

USA TODAY

An otherwise healthy 25-year-old Nevada man is the first American confirmed to have caught COVID-19 twice, with the second infection worse than the first.

He has recovered, but his case raises questions about how long people are protected after being infected with the coronavirus that causes the disease, and potentially how protective a vaccine might be.

“It’s a yellow caution light,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, who was not involved in the research.

Respiratory infections like COVID-19 don’t provide lifelong immunity like a measles infection. So, Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said he’s not at all surprised people could get infected twice with the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. 

It’s too soon to know whether the man from Washoe County, Nevada, who had no known health problems other than his double infection, was highly unusual or if many people could easily get infected more than once with SARS-CoV-2, Schaffner said.

“There’s hardly an infectious disease doctor in the country who hasn’t encountered a patient who thinks they’ve had a second infection,” he said. “Whether that’s true or not, we don’t know. There are lots of respiratory infections out there.”

How rare is he?

There have been at least 22 documented cases of reinfection worldwide since the start of the pandemic, but it’s unclear how many cases there have actually been, and how common it may be among people who don’t even know they’re infected.

“It could be a one in a million event, we don’t know,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, who wrote a commentary with the study.

With millions of people infected, it’s hard to know if case studies like the new one represent very rare events or the tip of an iceberg, she said. “It’s possible that the vast majority of people are completely protected from reinfection, but we’re not measuring them, because they’re not coming to the hospital.” 

Also, many people don’t know they are infected the first time, so it’s hard to say whether they’re getting re-infected.

In one of the recent cases, a Hong Kong man only knew he was re-infected because it was caught during a routine screening when he returned from outside the country, months after he had cleared an infection and tested negative. 

One reason there may not be more documented cases of reinfection: It’s tough to prove, said Mark Pandori, a pathologist at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and senior author on the new study. 

His team coordinated early in the pandemic with members of the Washoe County Health District to look for repeat infections. They had the benefit of sequencing equipment on campus, as well as

California rules now allow for 3 households to socialize

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is easing its coronavirus restrictions to allow up to three households to socialize outdoors, an expansion of rules aimed at people tempted to have even larger gatherings around Halloween, Thanksgiving and end-of-year holidays, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

Three households can gather so long as they wear masks and follow other safety precautions designed to stem the spread of the virus, under the new guidelines from the California Department of Public Health. State health officials previously discouraged gatherings outside of a single household.

The goal is not to encourage larger gatherings, Newsom said, but to recognize the increasing pressure for get-togethers and provide ways for people to act appropriately. There’s no limit on the number of people within any three households, though state officials say smaller is better.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said the guidelines are meant to recognize that many close friends and relatives have been apart a long time and want to be together.


All such gatherings should be outdoors, although it’s OK for guests to use indoor restrooms as long as they are frequently sanitized.

While much of the country and European nations are seeing a resurgence, coronavirus indicators in California are near their record lows. Hospitalizations are at their lowest level since early April and those in intensive care at their second-lowest level since officials began keeping track in late March. The rate of positive tests has been hovering at 2.6% for two weeks.

California has recorded about 850,00 positive tests and has seen more than 16,500 deaths. The number of weekly cases has flattened after a precipitous drop from peak levels during the summer. Average daily deaths have been falling and were at 60 for the most recent seven days.

Newsom said officials want to keep the numbers low.

“We are entering into the holidays, but also we’re entering into part of the year where things cool down and people are more likely to congregate back indoors in settings that put their physical proximity and likelihood of transmission and transmitting disease at higher risk,” he said.

Even the less restrictive guidelines advise that it’s best to stick to the same three households over time.

“Participating in multiple gatherings with different households or groups is strongly discouraged,” the department said in the guidance released late Friday.

People can gather under awnings, roofs or shade structures so long as at least three sides are open to outdoor breezes. Gatherings should be two hours or less to reduce the risk of transmission.

Guests who aren’t from the same household must socially distance and food should not be shared. Masks should be worn except when people are eating or drinking. Singing, chanting and shouting “are strongly discouraged” because those activities increase the release of respiratory droplets and fine aerosols. Hand sanitizer or a place to wash hands must be available.

People who are sick or medically vulnerable should not attend. Those who come down with coronavirus-like symptoms within