• U.S.
    Variety

    Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO and Paramount Take a Stand in Support of Black Lives Matter Movement Amid George Floyd Protests

    In an unusual move, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Starz and other major Hollywood players are using their corporate social media accounts to take a stand and support the Black Lives Matter movement amid the ongoing nationwide protests decrying the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers. Meanwhile, CEO of ViacomCBS-owned Paramount Jim […]

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  • U.S.
    The Daily Beast

    Florida’s Seen a ‘Statistically Significant’ Uptick in Pneumonia Deaths. The CDC Says It’s Likely COVID.

    Since the beginning of this year, Florida has experienced an uptick in the number of pneumonia and influenza deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease and Control. Experts and Trump administration officials responsible for keeping tabs on mortality rates across the country believe that many of those individuals had likely contracted and died from COVID-19.According to the data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, since the beginning of the year there has been a total of 1,519 deaths in Florida where pneumonia and influenza were listed as the underlying cause. By comparison, in the same time period last year, Florida recorded 1,207 such deaths. The CDC has historically counted pneumonia and influenza deaths together. CDC officials told The Daily Beast that most of the deaths included in that category are pneumonia. Bob Anderson, the chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch in CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told The Daily Beast that the increase of deaths in Florida where pneumonia and influenza were the underlying cause was “statistically significant” and that those mortalities were “probably COVID cases that weren’t reported as such.” The coronavirus can cause lung complications such as pneumonia.The increase has sparked a conspiracy theory on the left, that Florida is deliberately trying to undercount coronavirus fatalities by labeling them as something else. There’s no evidence to suggest any such underhand efforts, or that the state is unique across the country. But officials, including Anderson, do believe that a portion of the pneumonia and influenza deaths in Florida involved patients who were infected with, but never tested for, COVID-19. In such scenarios, though the virus likely contributed to the death, it may not have been recorded as the cause of death by the physician, coroner or medical examiner. “We’re definitely experiencing an underreporting issue nationwide,” Anderson said, pointing to the CDC’s study of “excess deaths” during the coronavirus. “[In Florida] most likely what we’re seeing are folks dying without having been tested and the best evidence that the doctors or whoever is filling out the death certificate had pointed to the person dying of pneumonia.”Anderson added that the numbers currently reflected on the CDC’s website for pneumonia and influenza deaths for 2020 are lower than reality because the death certificate reporting system lags by several weeks, especially in states that do not have digitized systems to process the papers. ‘F*cking Dangerous’: Dems in Pennsylvania Lose It After GOP Kept Virus Diagnosis a SecretThough other states are experiencing a similar phenomenon, there has been notable scrutiny placed on Florida, due to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) handling of the coronavirus response and his decision to move to quickly reopen the state. DeSantis allowed some Florida beaches to reopen in the middle of April, even as the number of coronavirus cases and related deaths continued to rise across the state. The governor has since criticized members of the press for rushing to warn that Florida would experience a spike in COVID-19 cases, and calling his actions cavalier. Conservative and Trump supportive commentators have pointed to the absence of a notable uptick as evidence that fears of a hasty reopening were overblown. DeSantis’ office did not return a request for comment. But the actual story, like much related to the pandemic, appears to be more complicated. And it underscores how much of the public’s understanding of, and opinions about, the pandemic are affected by bureaucratic decisions and accounting formulas related to categorizing fatalities. As The Daily Beast previously reported, President Trump and members of his coronavirus task force have pressed the CDC to change how the agency works with states to count coronavirus-related deaths, arguing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being attributed to the disease. The administration has also moved to allow nursing homes the ability to only report coronavirus deaths that occurred after May 6—well after facilities across the country experienced a massive uptick in coronavirus-related deaths. States, as well, have different methods of collecting relevant data and calculating COVID-19 death counts and that, in turn, has sowed speculation about political motivations. On that front, few governors have been as closely watched as DeSantis. Part of that is because of his close relationship with the president. Part of that is because of decisions he has made. Earlier this month the DeSantis administration fired Rebekah Jones, the data manager for the Florida Department of Health who worked on the state’s coronavirus online dashboard. In a statement posted to her website, Jones said she was removed from her position because she pushed back when officials in the health department asked her to “manipulate and delete data in late April as work for the state’s reopening plan started to take off.” The DeSantis administration has since said Jones was fired for insubordination.FL Gov. Overrides County Officials to Allow Church During Coronavirus LockdownWith Florida already under a national microscope, news of the state’s pneumonia fatalities circulated on social media this week as liberals accused DeSantis and members of his administration of manipulating data and deliberately downplaying the number of coronavirus deaths. Howard Dean, the former Democrat governor from Vermont, commented on Florida’s statistics Thursday, going so far as to accuse Florida of “cooking the books on COVID-19 deaths.” Andy Slavitt, the former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said while Florida appears to have the coronavirus under control, it was experiencing an “unprecedented ‘pneumonia’ crisis.”But Anderson said it is unlikely that a physician with a patient who tested positive for the coronavirus would have marked anything other than COVID-19 as the underlying cause on the death certificate. If individuals die, for example, in their homes or in nursing facilities without having been tested, a medical examiner or coroner could hypothetically mark the individual as having died of pneumonia. That scenario would have likely played out in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak when testing was difficult to access and when physicians were still learning how the coronavirus presented itself, Anderson said. According to a report by the Miami Herald, officials inside the DeSantis administration kept the Florida public in the dark in February for about two weeks as they scrambled to come up with a plan on how to respond to the state’s outbreak. A similar phenomenon took place in Flint after a switch in water supply exposed thousands of people to lead poisoning and caused one of the largest outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in U.S. history. Last year, a team of reporters at PBS Frontline found that there may have been about 70 more deaths from Legionnaires’ during the outbreak than the 12 that were officially recorded. But because the government was not forthcoming about the crisis, doctors were not alerted to it and therefore did not know to look or test for the disease. Many people who died of Legionnaires’ disease were originally reported as having died from other causes, such as pneumonia. Donald Trump Is Gaslighting Andrew Cuomo and Sucking Up to Ron DeSantisCurrently, health officials and statisticians are researching how many of the states’ “excess deaths” over the last several months should be attributed to the coronavirus. One study by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene published earlier this month said that there were thousands of “excess deaths” in the city from March 11 to May 2. About 18,879 of those deaths were explicitly tied to the coronavirus. But the study said there were also an additional 5,200 deaths that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19-associated cases, but could have been tied to the virus in some other way. At the CDC, officials found 1,500 individuals who were mistakenly overlooked in the first few weeks the agency was calculating the coronavirus death count, and Anderson’s team is now going back and correcting those calculations to produce a more accurate death toll.The CDC relies largely on the state department of health systems and a reporting system that is more than 100 years old to calculate the annual death toll in the U.S.. When an individual dies, a doctor, coroner or medical examiner records on the death certificate a sequence of events that contributed to that person’s demise and what ultimately caused it. The certificate then goes to the state’s registrar, or sometimes a funeral director, who examines the certificate and determines whether to send it back to the physician, coroner or medical examiner for more information. Once the state registrar is satisfied with the certificate, he or she sends it on to the state’s department of health. Then, the state sends portions of data from the death certificate onto the CDC. Anderson’s team is charged with using that death certificate data, along with data from a national digital coding system, to tabulate causes of death per state each year. The emergence of the coronavirus strained the reporting system in a way that has led to a significant national undercounting, Anderson said, adding that the death-certificate count usually lags anywhere from two to eight weeks. “We’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Anderson said. “We’re still learning new things about this virus every day. The reporting will only get better.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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  • Politics
    Motley Fool

    A Second Stimulus Bill Has Reached the Senate: Here Are 3 Reasons It Won't Pass

    In a nine-week stretch, more than 39 million Americans have filed for initial unemployment benefits, with the official unemployment rate expected to make a run at the all-time record high of 25% set during the Great Depression. With the understanding that shutting down nonessential businesses would lead to catastrophic economic damage, lawmakers passed and the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on March 27. The CARES Act is the most expensive piece of relief legislation to ever be passed on Capitol Hill.

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  • Business
    Bloomberg

    Every Single Worker Has Covid at One U.S. Farm on Eve of Harvest

    (Bloomberg) -- One farm in Tennessee distributed Covid-19 tests to all of its workers after an employee came down with the virus. It turned out that every single one of its roughly 200 employees had been infected.In New Jersey, more than 50 workers had the virus at a farm in Gloucester County, adding to nearly 60 who fell ill in neighboring Salem County. Washington state’s Yakima County, an agricultural area that produces apples, cherries, pears and most of the nation’s hops, has the highest per capita infection rate of any county on the West Coast.The outbreaks underscore the latest pandemic threat to food supply: Farm workers are getting sick and spreading the illness just as the U.S. heads into the peak of the summer produce season. In all likelihood, the cases will keep climbing as more than half a million seasonal employees crowd onto buses to move among farms across the country and get housed together in cramped bunkhouse-style dormitories.The early outbreaks are already starting to draw comparisons to the infections that plunged the U.S. meat industry into crisis over the past few months. Analysts and experts are warning that thousands of farm workers are vulnerable to contracting the disease.Aside from the most immediate concern -- the grave danger that farmhands face -- the outbreaks could also create labor shortages at the worst possible time. Produce crops such as berries have a short life span, with only a couple of weeks during which they can be harvested. If a farm doesn’t have enough workers to collect crops in that window, they’re done for the season and the fruit will rot. A spike in virus cases among workers may mean shortages of some fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, along with higher prices.“We’re watching very, very nervously -- the agricultural harvest season is only starting now,” said Michael Dale, executive director of the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project in Portland, Oregon, and a lawyer who has represented farm workers for 40 years. “I don’t think we’re ready. I don’t think we’re prepared.”Unlike grain crops that rely on machinery, America’s fruits and vegetables are mostly picked and packed by hand, in long shifts out in the open -- a typically undesirable job in major economies. So the position typically goes to immigrants, who make up about three quarters of U.S. farm workers.A workforce of seasonal migrants travels across the nation, following harvest patterns. Most come from Mexico and Latin America through key entry points like southern California, and go further by bus, often for hours, sometimes for days.There are as many as 2.7 million hired farm workers in the U.S., including migrant, seasonal, year-round and guest-program workers, according to the Migrant Clinicians Network. While many migrants have their permanent residence in the U.S., moving from location to location during the warmer months, others enter through the federal H2A visa program. Still, roughly half of hired crop farmworkers lack legal immigration status, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.These are some of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S., subjected to tough working conditions for little pay and meager benefits. Most don’t have access to adequate health care. Many don’t speak English.Without them, it would be nearly impossible to keep America’s produce aisles filled. And yet, there’s no one collecting national numbers on how many are falling sick.“There is woefully inadequate surveillance of what’s happening with Covid-19 and farm workers,” said Erik Nicholson, a national vice president for the United Farm Workers. “There is no central reporting, which is crazy because these are essential businesses.”At Henderson Farms in Evensville, Tennessee, where all the workers caught the virus, the employees are now all in isolation at the farm, where they live and work.“We take our responsibility to protect the essential workers feeding the nation through the pandemic seriously,” Henderson Farms Co. said in a statement. “In addition to continuing our policy of providing free healthcare, we have implemented additional measures to support workers directly impacted by Covid-19, including those in isolation as per the latest public health guidelines. We are working closely with public health officials in Rhea County, Tennessee, to ensure we can continue to deliver our high standard of care as we support our workers and our community through these unprecedented times.”One migrant worker from Mexico said seven employees at the Georgia produce farm where he works had fallen ill with the virus. The sick were asked to quarantine in a dormitory unpaid, but others who share the sleeping quarters, full of bunk beds about 3 feet (1 meter) apart, were still going into the fields, he said. He said he was afraid of getting infected, which would mean he wouldn’t be able to send money back to his family.Critical MonthsMay and June mark the start of a critical few months when migrant workers head to fields in North America and Europe to plant and gather crops. Travel restrictions amid the pandemic are already creating a labor squeeze. In Russia, the government is calling on convicts and students to fill in the labor gap on berry and vegetable farms. In the U.K., Prince Charles took to Twitter to encourage residents to PickForBritain. Farmers in western Europe usually rely on seasonal workers from eastern Europe or northern Africa.In Canada, migrant workers often come from Jamaica, Guatemala and Mexico. They’re typically housed on farms, with two or four people sharing a room, depending on if there are bunk-beds, said Colin Chapdelaine, president of BC Hot House, a greenhouse farming company that grow tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in Surrey, British Columbia.All the houses are audited and approved by regulators with guidelines for how much kitchen and bathroom space to provide, but “Covid has kind of turned that on its head,” he said.“It’s a precarious situation if something happens and it flows through a greenhouse and you can’t pick your crop,” Chapdelaine said. “We’re taking huge precautions to make sure everyone comes in suited and masked up. You have to do all the right things and still hope for the best.”In the U.S., migrant farm workers primarily come from Mexico and Latin America.President Donald Trump has sought to maintain the flow of foreign workers to U.S. farms during the pandemic, waiving interview requirements for some guest workers when consular offices shut down and exempting them from a temporary immigration ban. But so far, the administration hasn’t created rules to protect the workers. Democratic Representative Jimmy Panetta of California and 71 other members of Congress urged in a letter last week that the next coronavirus relief package include funding dedicated to combating spread of the virus among farm workers.Even before infections started to creep up, there weren’t enough workers, causing harvest issues in parts of the U.S. Some prices started to move up. A 2-pound package of strawberries is fetching about 17% more than it was last year, and a pint of cherry tomatoes is 52% higher, USDA data as of May 22 show.So far, though, the price impact has been limited. As restaurants shuttered during virus lockdowns, many farmers lost a key source of produce demand, creating some supply gluts.Now, stay-at-home restrictions are easing in all 50 states, and some restaurants are opening back up. Meanwhile, labor shortages could get worse as illness among farm workers deepens.“The cost will go up, and there will be a little bit less available,” said Kevin Kenny, chief operating officer of Decernis, an expert in global food safety and supply chains. “You really will see some supply issues coming.”Perishable crops that require more hands on labor to pick are the most at-risk of disruptions, including olives and oranges, Kenny said.In Florida, oranges are “literally dying on the vines” as not enough migrants can get into the country to pick the crops and things like processed juice will probably cost more in the coming months, he said.When the virus spread among America’s meat workers, plants were forced to shutter as infections rates topped 50% in some facilities. Prices surged, with wholesale beef and pork more than doubling, and grocers including Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. rationed customer purchases. Even Wendy’s Co. dropped burgers from some menus. After an executive order from Trump, plants have reopened, but worker absenteeism is restraining output. Hog and cattle slaughter rates are still down more than 10% from last year.The produce industry could see similar problems because workers face some of the same issues. They sometimes work shoulder to shoulder. They are transported to and from job sites in crowded buses or vans. They often come from low-income families and can’t afford to call in sick or are afraid of losing their jobs, so they end up showing up to work even if they have symptoms.“A lot of people are concerned that the summer for farm workers will be like the spring for meat packers,” said David Seligman, director of Towards Justice, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization based in Denver.There’s “a lot of worker fear because of the asymmetry of power in this industry,” Seligman said. “We’re hearing anecdotal reports. Gathering information about farm workers is very hard because of how scared and how isolated they are.”There are some key differences between the two industries. For one, farm workers spend most of their time outside, and some research has shown that the virus is less likely to be spread outdoors. Meanwhile, meat workers are piled into cold, damp factories where infectious diseases are particularly hard to control.In other ways, farm workers are more exposed. Living conditions can be even more cramped, with close-together bunks and communal cooking and bathroom facilities that make physical distancing extremely difficult.Plus, the workers move around so much, meaning increased chances of exposure for themselves and more chances that sick individuals can spread the illness to other communities.In Oregon, a farm worker often may move a half dozen times during the summer, working for new growers and housed in new labor camps as they shift from harvesting cherries to strawberries to blueberries to pears, said Dale of the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project.Nely Rodriguez is a former farm worker who is now an organizer with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Immokalee, Florida, a major tomato growing area. She said that some farms are taking steps to protect migrants, such as having buses make more trips so workers won’t be as cramped and requiring them to wear masks, as well as providing more hand-washing stations and sanitizer.Lisa Lochridge, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, also pointed to increased measures to protect workers and said some employers even set aside separate housing to be used for a quarantine area if necessary. Cory Lunde, of the Western Growers Association, said farm owners are staggering start times, disinfecting buses and increasing distances between workers, both in the field and in packing facilities and offices.But protection measures can be spotty, said Rodriguez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. There aren’t yet any farm specific Covid-19 safety protocols from the federal government.Developing GuidanceThe USDA is “diligently working” with the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration “to develop guidance that will assist farmworkers and employers during this time,” the agency said in an emailed statement.“Additionally, considering the seasonal and migratory nature of the workforce, we are working to identify housing resources that may be available to help control any spread of Covid-19,” the USDA said.Harvests take place at different times across the country, depending on the weather and the crop. That means when gathering finishes in an early state like Florida, workers will travel into areas such as Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and New Jersey, said Rodriguez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. They’ll often make the journey on old school buses rented by employers, sitting for 7 or 8 hours at a time with 45 people crammed in.“If there is a bunch of farm workers here that are sick, they can essentially spread this virus to other rural communities,” Rodriguez said.Many farm workers come from indigenous communities in southern Mexico and don’t speak English or Spanish as their first language, so they don’t have adequate information on the pandemic in a language they can understand, said Bruce Goldstein, president of Farmworker Justice, a national advocacy group.They typically don’t have easy access to coronavirus tests, and many are undocumented so they are concerned about reporting illnesses, he said.“They’re marginalized in Mexico. They’re similarly marginalized here,” Goldstein said. “People like that are incredibly vulnerable to Covid-19.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • U.S.
    FOX News Videos

    Ken Starr on 3rd degree murder charges against ex-police officer in death of George Floyd

    Judge Ken Starr reacts to the George Floyd case and protests on ‘CAVUTO Live.’

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  • U.S.
    Deadline

    Louisville TV Reporter Shot By Police During Live Broadcast Covering Street Protests

    A reporter for an NBC affiliate station in Louisville, KY was fired upon by police Friday night during a live broadcast covering street protests in that city. Kaitlin Rust, a journalist at WAVE 3, was live on the air when a man wearing a mask and vest that said "police" began firing at her and […]

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