After Trump Promised ‘Anybody’ Can Get Coronavirus Testing, Patients And Doctors Still Complain Of…

first_img“When we monitor the flu, one of the indicators is the proportion of people who test positive versus negative. That positive proportion gives a very important number in terms of tracking how the epidemic is moving,” said Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins and lead writer on a recent study estimating the incubation period of the coronavirus. After Trump Promised ‘Anybody’ Can Get Coronavirus Testing, Patients And Doctors Still Complain Of Roadblockby Shawn Boburg, Emma Brown, Derek Hawkins and Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post -March 12, 2020 at 5:24 p.m. CDT The uncertainty has left Klein feeling paralyzed. At a time when U.S. fatalities from the virus have risen, there remain limited numbers of tests and the capacity of laboratories is under strain. Amid mounting criticism, Vice President Pence declared last week that with a doctor’s orders, “any American can be tested.” Trump took that message a step further after a tour of the CDC last Friday, calling the tests “beautiful” and twice declaring anybody needing a test would get it. Limited testing in the early days of disease transmission not only increases the risk of the disease being spread by people who don’t realize they have it but also affects the ability of public health officials and hospitals to plan for a prolonged outbreak. The federal government’s handling of testing erupted as a political issue Thursday, with even members of the president’s party venting about not being able to get answers on when the nation would see more commercial tests, faster testing and more widely available tests. “The system is not really geared to what we need right now, to what you are asking for. That is a failing,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said Thursday, testifying before the House Oversight Committee. “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes.” A spokeswoman for Montefiore Health System, Laura Ruocco, said the hospital has had to prioritize patients given the limited access to testing. He spoke on the condition that his wife, an Italian living in Washington, not be identified to avoid complicating her application for a green card. Coronavirus Live Updates On Wednesday, a hospital nurse told her she didn’t meet the testing criteria: She hadn’t traveled outside the country recently and she hadn’t had any known contact with someone who tested positive. Many Americans who are sick and seeking a coronavirus test continue to be turned away, creating a vexing problem for patients and health officials as the virus spreads. The problem persists, doctors and patients across the country say, despite increased production and distribution of the tests in recent days. Administration officials have tried to reassure the public they’re rapidly expanding access to tests. Last Friday officials said they had shipped 1.1 million tests to labs across the country. States determine who is eligible for public Covid-19 testing in accordance with CDC guidelines. In the early weeks of the outbreak, as the CDC struggled to roll out tests, the agency strictly limited testing to those most likely to be infected and most in need of acute care. Even a person with a fever and a cough who had traveled to a country with widespread community transmissions — such as China, Iran or Italy — could not get tested unless they were sick enough to be hospitalized. “I realize health care is an imperfect process, but this is just kind of ridiculous,” said David Johnson, whose wife has been sick for 1½ weeks with symptoms akin to covid-19. “Our access to testing was entirely based on what the state would allow,” said Daniel Varga, chief physician executive at Hackensack Meridian Health in northern New Jersey. A spokeswoman from Westchester County declined to comment on Klein’s experience. Sick And Chasing A Test A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services called the situation “unfortunate.” On the same day, Schabel has turned away, the state instructed doctors they no longer needed government approval to order tests, Jennifer Miller said. A spokesman for the hospital did not respond to requests for comment. She tested positive for a trace amount of the H1N1 virus — a form of flu. But when the couple asked whether that meant she could not have covid-19, they said they did not get an answer. “It’s really been unbelievably infuriating,” said Remy Coeytaux, a North Carolina physician with a doctorate in epidemiology who tried to get tested for Covid-19 but was turned down by the state public health department. He had not traveled abroad, was not sick enough to be hospitalized and had no known contact with an infected person. In Indiana, an emergency-room doctor at a community hospital said she had tried to get three patients tested, two of those after the CDC liberalized its guidelines. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get a response from them,” she said Tuesday, sick and self-quarantined in her home. Kelly Haight Connor, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said the state is following CDC guidance and sent Web links to state documents that seemed to offer conflicting descriptions of who would be eligible for testing. She did not respond to a request for clarification. But nationwide, as of Wednesday, the nation’s public health, academic and commercial laboratories had the ability to process only about 16,530 patients per day, according to an estimate compiled by former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and researchers at the American Enterprise Institute. That figure is growing as labs bolster efforts and are expected to reach 20,000 per day by the end of the week, according to Gottlieb. Both patients had flu-like symptoms and CT scans that showed lung problems consistent with covid-19, and both were in severe enough distress that they needed to be admitted to the hospital. Both also tested negative for a panel of 20 common respiratory viruses. A week later, still hacking and taking Tylenol to keep her temperature down, she sought a test for the coronavirus. Though her symptoms were mild, the ­64-year-old worried about her husband, a 71-year-old physician with diabetes. Varga estimated that “a handful” of patients exhibiting signs of the virus had been turned down for testing by the state because they did not meet the criteria. By Wednesday, her condition had deteriorated. She went back to the urgent-care center, and this time, she was able to get a test. It would take at least 24 hours to get a result, she was told, and still was waiting as of midday Thursday. The CDC loosened its rules, giving states and clinicians more discretion. In Washington, D.C., doctors repeatedly declined to test a woman who got sick after spending three days with a delegation visiting from her company’s home office in northern Italy. Increasing Pressure On Labs What your health plan will cover as it relates to coronavirus The gap between real-life obstacles to testing and President Trump’s sweeping assurances that “anybody that needs a test gets a test” has sown frustration, uncertainty, and anxiety among patients who have symptoms consistent with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, but have been unable to find out whether they are infected. FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharecenter_img A county public health nurse agreed and called the state health department. She handed over her cellphone to Coeytaux, and he explained his situation. “They wouldn’t test me,” he said because he didn’t meet the eligibility criteria. Since mid-January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health laboratories have tested about 11,000 specimens for the disease. The number of people who have been tested is likely far lower than that tally, however, because labs usually test at least two specimens per person, experts said. In contrast, South Korea has been running 10,000 tests per day. “I don’t want to feel like I’m giving the virus to anybody,” she said.” But neither had a history of travel or been in contact with a confirmed infected person. In the two cases after the loosened guidelines, when the doctor called the state health department to request testing, the request still was denied. At the time Coeytaux tried to get tested, there was only one confirmed case of covid-19 in the state. “It’s out there,” he said. “But we just haven’t been testing.” Schabel, 32, returned last week from a vacation to Spain and northern Africa that included a trans-Mediterranean ferry ride with passengers who were noticeably ill, she said. Over the weekend, she developed a high fever, difficulty breathing and other symptoms consistent with the virus, she said. A look inside coronavirus preparations at a major U.S. hospital In the meantime, some large research hospitals are trying to bypass the bureaucratic logjam. Investigations The number of medical professionals and patients who are denied access to tests is not tracked nationally. But in interviews, people from states as varied as Wisconsin, North Carolina, Washington, Indiana and New York said their doctors sought but were unable to get testing approval from local or state health officials. Told of the woman’s attempts, a MedStar Georgetown spokeswoman, Debbie Asrate, said Thursday that the facility “has been working closely” with the CDC and the District’s health department and following their guidelines. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) acknowledged that Trump’s recent statement about tests for anyone who wants them is “not consistent right now” with what is actually happening. “It’s difficult to predict the impact on the health-care system in the coming month because we don’t have any precision about the burden of disease around the country,” said Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We’ve got to close that gap as quickly as we can.” A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory test kit for the coronavirus. (CDC/AP)A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory test kit for the coronavirus. (CDC/AP) “It’s very infuriating for us who work in this world,” said Amy Schabel, a public health worker in Milwaukee. “The messaging out there is completely inaccurate and inconsistent with what’s happening.” Researchers at the hospital began developing an in-house test several weeks ago. The hospital planned to start using it this week. In an address from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening, Trump said his administration was responding “with great speed and professionalism.” “Testing and testing capability are expanding rapidly, day by day,” he said. “We are moving very quickly.” On Monday morning, she went to an urgent-care center in downtown Milwaukee. Her flu test came back negative, and her doctor said he wanted her to get tested for covid-19. But after more than a half-hour of trying to reach city and state health officials to get approval, she said the doctor gave up. FOOTNOTE: Andrew Ba Tran and Fenit Nirappil contributed to this report. On Wednesday, 10 days after she fell ill, she was finally able to get tested at a D.C. urgent-care clinic. She was told it would take about four days to learn the results. In the District, people can be tested by the public health laboratory when they are showing symptoms and have a known exposure to a laboratory-confirmed case of covid-19, or have traveled to one of several countries with the widespread transmission, or are living in long-term care facilities, said D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt at a news conference Wednesday. She said health-care providers can get other people tested by sending their samples to commercial labs. Coeytaux said he wanted to get tested not only to protect his own patients, but also to protect his partner, who is a registered nurse, and her patients. Experts say public health laboratories are generally not designed to do high-volume testing. Commercial and academic laboratories — which can test people who don’t meet CDC criteria — have begun processing samples only in the past few days and are still ramping up their capacity. The federal government does not have a way to count the tests that those labs are running, which means federal officials do not know how many Americans have been tested. [Have you tried to get tested for coronavirus and been turned away? Share your experience with The Post.] Coeytaux, a 56-year-old family doctor and professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., came down with a fever, shortness of breath, a dry cough and a deep ache in his lungs last Tuesday, he said. Two days later, he tested negative for flu and 15 other common respiratory viruses. He believed he was probably infected with the new coronavirus. Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access On March 2, days after the visit, his wife came down with a fever, body aches, congestion, and a cough. Since then, she has gone three times to an emergency room at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. She has been unable to persuade anyone there to test her for the virus because she had not traveled to Italy and could not confirm she had been in close contact with anyone who had tested positive, her husband said — though she later learned that an unidentified person from the home office had. “Since I watched all three cases get denied, it made me realize that they weren’t testing anyone,” said the doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she did not have permission from her employer to speak to a reporter. In early March, Marcy Klein of New Rochelle, N.Y., came down with a fever and a dry cough, just as a coronavirus cluster transformed her Westchester County town into the nation’s first containment zone. As of Thursday evening, more than 1,600 people were infected in the United States, and more than 40 had died, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. “From an epidemiological risk perspective, she absolutely should have been tested,” said Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “She was in close contact with visitors from the epicenter of the epidemic.” The constraints are squeezing outpatients who don’t meet rigid government eligibility criteria, even if their doctors want them tested, according to dozens of interviews with doctors and patients this week. It is not just positive results that matter, but negative results, too. The negatives help researchers understand whether increasing numbers of covid-19 cases are a result of an epidemic or arise simply because testing expanded. Six fact-checks of President Trump’s false claims during his 10-minute coronavirus address to the nation on March 11. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)last_img read more

Understanding your customer

first_img“As a business we describe ourselves as food travel experts; it’s our point of difference. We really want to understand how food and travel work together and get through to people who are on the move, who have different needs,” says MacDavid.SSP conducted research using cameras all around train stations, accompanied by interviews, and tracked what people said versus what they did. “It’s very clear the level of stress a consumer has when they get to a train station,” he says. “From that we worked at different ways of making the whole process simpler. Fundamentally we realised that people are set in their ways. Over a billion people use the rail network a year. So there are a lot of potential customers out there. We want them to break some of their habits.”One of the primary emphases is on a really fast transaction. Every brand has a speed of service target time, from joining the queue to leaving it. Mystery shoppers real customers recruited by Retail Eyes go to each site twice a month; if staff achieve two very good scores, then the whole team is paid 50p an hour extra for that month.”Better service equals better pay,” he says. “We’ve simplified menu boards and we’ve looked at staffing structures to make sure we have the right amount of people at the right times of day to ensure we get quick service.”last_img read more

Environmentalist analyzes threat of climate change

first_imgWei Cao | The Observer “This is by far the biggest thing humans have ever done, and by far the biggest task human beings have ever had is to stop it, and to stop it cold,” environmentalist Bill McKibben said of global warming in the 22nd annual Hesburgh Lecture on Tuesday. The lecture was sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.McKibben is considered to be one of America’s most important environmentalists and is the founder of 350.org, a planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement.When he wrote his first book on global warming,”The End of Nature,” in 1989, he had no idea the situation would become as dire as he said it is today. “The idea that we would have reached this point within barely a quarter century would have seemed preposterous, even to those scientists who most worried about climate change,” he said. “We knew that trouble was coming. We knew when you burned coal and gas and oil, you put carbon into the atmosphere. We knew the molecular structure of CO2 trapped heat that would otherwise radiate back out into space. But we didn’t know how fast and how hard it was going to pinch.” According to McKibben, 2015 broke the record for the hottest year — previously 2014 — by “more than a 10th of a degree Celsius.” “Think about how large a physical system the Earth is, and then imagine how much extra energy it takes to heat a system that large a full 10th of a degree Celsius within 12 months,” he said.McKibben’s movement has organized 20 thousand rallies around the world, holding them in every country except for North Korea. These rallies are dedicated to resisting climate change; protests have been against the Keystone Pipeline, while rallies have been in support of the fossil fuel divestment movement.350.org began with McKibben and seven undergraduate students at Middlebury College, where he is a professor.“There were seven undergraduates, there are seven continents — each one took one,” he said. “Our work was to find other people like ourselves. Everywhere, there’s someone worried about the world and they were our natural allies in this work. We didn’t really organize; it was more like throwing a potluck supper. That’s what we did. We said here’s the date, and we need everyone to do their part.” That date was November 2010 and the event was an art exhibit called 350 eARTh, where participants from around the world coordinated human sculptures that were photographed with satellites. “I had heard, always, that environmentalism was something rich white people did,” McKibben said. “It took about half an hour of watching these videos flood in to realize that was just nonsense. Most of the people leading this work around the planet were poor and black and brown and Asian and young because that’s what most of the world is made up of. They’re just as concerned as anyone else, maybe more so, because the future bears down hard when you’re in those places.”One of the pictures McKibben showed during his lecture was of Haitian children participating in his movement, holding signs that said, “Your actions affect me.” “As always with climate change, all of these things affect most the people who have done the least to cause the problem,” he said. “The perverse inverse justice of climate change is an enormous challenge, not least of all to those of us with a faith commitment that would be loving our neighbors. “There’s really nothing anyone in Haiti is going to do to fix this. They can’t use less fossil fuel, they use none now. They can’t get to the White House or any other seat of power to get people to pay attention to them.” When McKibben and 350.org were organizing a protest of the Keystone Pipeline in Washington, D.C., he said he told protesters to dress well. “I said, ‘If you want to come get arrested, will you put on a necktie or a dress?’ I wanted people to do that because I wanted the pictures from that day to send the same sort of message I’m telling you today, which is that there’s nothing radical at all about what we’re talking about. All we’re asking for is a world something like the one humans have always known,” he said. Tags: 350.org, Bill McKibben, Climate change, conservation, environment, environmentalist, Hesburgh Lecturelast_img read more

Bernie Sanders to hold Montpelier hearing on employee ownership

first_imgChristopher Mackin, President of Ownership Associates, Inc., Cambridge, Mass. Bruce Seifer, Assistant Director for Economic Development of the Community and Economic Development Office of the City of Burlington, Vt. Who:               Senate Heath, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Jeff Clark, Operations Manager of Chroma Technology Corp, Bellows Falls, Vt. What:             U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on ‘Investing in American Workers: The Benefits of Expanding Employee Ownership’ When:             11 a.m., Thursday, August 26, 2010 Where:           Vermont State House, Room 11, 115 State Street, Montpelier, Vt. Bill McIntyre, Director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. Jon Crystal, Executive Director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, Burlington, Vt. Bill Carris, Former Owner of Carris Reels, Proctor, Vt. Cindy Turcot, Chief Operating Officer of Gardeners Supply Company, Burlington, Vt. Witnesses: At 11:00 a.m. Thursday, April 26, 2010, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will preside over a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in the Vermont State House in Montpelier, Vt. on the need to expand worker-owned businesses in the United States in order to create a more productive and democratic economy. Vermont has been a national leader in the area of worker ownership and Vermont companies will be participating in this hearing to discuss their experiences.  Studies have shown economic benefits from employee ownership including a greater likelihood that a firm will keep its jobs in America as well as greater productivity and worker morale because workers share in future profits and have greater control over their work-life.  Sanders has proposed establishing state programs designed to expand employee ownership and participation in business decision making throughout the United States.  He has also proposed the establishment of the United States Employee Ownership Bank.    Mike Sessions, Senior Vice President of Pizzagalli Construction Company, South Burlington, Vt. Steve Voigt, CEO of King Arthur Flour, Norwich, Vt.last_img read more

Chainsaws and the Chattooga

first_imgSteven Foy knows well the magical feeling of paddling down the legendary Chattooga River. A Texas transplant and veteran river guide, Foy returns to the river’s roaring rapids each year. The river’s channels–and all their twists, turns and dips–call to him as they do for so many other whitewater fans, who recognize the Chattooga as one of the best whitewater experiences in the United States.“It has … a special place in the heart of most Southeastern whitewater enthusiasts,” says Foy, who manages river operations for the Nantahala Outdoor Center.It’s no wonder the river garners such affection among whitewater aficionados. Though it starts as little more than a trickle in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, it builds into the Southeast’s premier whitewater experience, delivering breathtaking views and adrenaline-rushing rapids in an unparalleled natural setting. Perhaps most famous as the backdrop for the movie Deliverance, its rock-strewn whitewater offers Class II-IV rapids as the river winds its way through the gorge, culminating with the renowned Five Falls, where five Class IV rapids follow in quick succession.Protected in 1974 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Chattooga stretches for 57 miles before joining with the Tallulah River in Lake Tugalo, forming the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina along the way. The U.S. Forest Service manages about 70 percent of the river’s 180,000-acre watershed in the southern Appalachian Mountains, which includes portions of northeastern Georgia, western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.“Because of that wild and scenic designation and because of the large Forest Service ownership, it has really good water quality and a really intact ecosystem,” said Kevin Colburn of American Whitewater, a non-profit advocacy group based in Cullowhee, N.C. “It just really retains a lot of interesting character.”Logging projects raise concerns about water qualityBut maintaining that character isn’t an easy task. On national forest land, the Forest Service must attempt to balance the needs and desires of competing users, including environmentalists, whitewater rafters, timber companies and anglers. And on private land, the challenges are even greater–with conflicts among different user groups, private landowners, and local and state officials.Another issue: because the Chattooga is fed by many tributaries and small streams, those who want to protect the river have to worry not just about what’s happening in the river itself and nearby land, but also what’s going on upstream.Case in point: Stekoa Creek, one of the Chattooga’s largest tributaries, has been a major source of water pollution in the river for more than 40 years, and things haven’t gotten any better with the river’s wild and scenic status. The Chattooga Conservancy calls Stekoa Creek the single greatest threat to the river’s water quality, noting that the Forest Service has at times warned river users that contact with water below its confluence with the Chattooga River could put them at risk for bacterial skin infections.Local environmental groups are also worried that a large-scale logging and forest management project in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest would hamper water quality in another tributary, Warwoman Creek. After 10 years of planning, the Forest Service recently released a final project design that incorporated many elements environmentalists had been fighting for, including a one-third reduction in commercial logging, added protections for old-growth forests, the abandonment of a plan to build a mile of new road on steep slopes, plans to reduce erosion on 11 miles of existing roads, and the closure of some existing roads that have been a long-term source of sediment pollution. The final decision–announced last Halloween–is expected to reduce impacts on a rugged and remote area known as Windy Gap as well as significantly improve water quality in the Warwoman watershed.“The Forest Service did a good job of listening to the concerns of the public and responding in a way that leads to a net benefit for water quality in this area, but still allows the Forest Service to do the work they want to do,” said Patrick Hunter, a staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Asheville, N.C., who represented the environmental groups.Despite this hard-fought victory for local environmentalists, they still remain concerned about timber harvesting and water quality. Only about one-quarter of the Chattooga watershed is protected from logging, including designated roadless areas, the Ellicott Wilderness Area and its “wilderness extension” study areas, and a quarter-mile buffer on either side of the river in the 15,432-acre Chattooga Wild and Scenic River Corridor.Hunter noted that many people do not realize the amount of logging and road-building that takes place on national forest lands, thinking they are protected as public lands in the same way that national parks are. But the Forest Service has a very different mandate than the National Park Service, and that includes not just protecting forest lands but also allowing–and in many cases encouraging–timber production on them as well.Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service, said the agency’s mission was “to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run.”That has proved to be a difficult–and often controversial–calling.For their part, environmental groups are concerned about the effects of timber harvesting on the Chattooga, particularly from sediment entering the river from roads built to access timber harvesting areas and the accompanying traffic along those roads, including 18-wheel logging trucks and other big machinery. Too much sedimentation can coat river and creek bottoms, impairing insect growth and reproduction. That means not just cloudy water instead of the crystal clear river that epitomizes the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but also less food for fish and the animals (and humans) that rely on them.In the worst case, a logging project can take away not just the trees that are cut down, but also destroy the very essence of a natural area. “For a hiker, where you were once walking through a forest that hasn’t been disturbed, after a lot of these trees have been removed, it’s a much different experience,” Hunter said. “You can feel the impact of man much more up close after these sorts of events.”One way environmental groups and other interested parties can influence timber management near the Chattooga River is by participating in the forest plan revision process. These forest management plans, typically updated every 10-15 years, guide all aspects of the way these public lands are managed, including recreation and timber harvesting.The land and resource management plans for the Sumter and Chattahoochee-Oconee national forests were finalized in 2004 and are not yet up for revision again, but the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests are currently in the process of revising their plan, with a draft environmental impact statement expected to be released by this spring.Nicole Hayler, executive director of the nonprofit Chattooga Conservancy, said her group is hoping to see continued protections for the Ellicott Wilderness extension areas and heightened protections for Terrapin Mountain, which includes the Chattooga’s headwaters. “There’s all these incredible lichens and mosses [up there] to the point where you’re almost afraid to step on anything,” said Hayler, explaining the importance of limiting human foot traffic on Terrapin Mountain.While environmental groups have expressed concerns about timber harvesting in the Chattooga watershed, Forest Service officials emphasized that only a very small fraction of the forest is cut in any given year. In the 530,000-acre Nantahala National Forest, for example, that amounts to about 900-1,000 acres annually–or about 0.002 percent.Mike Wilkins, a district ranger with the Nantahala National Forest, said the agency generally avoids clearcutting, except in cases where large swaths of trees have been negatively impacted by storm events, and that only about half of the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests are currently open to some form of timber management. And he emphasized that all timber sales go through a lengthy, multi-year process that includes input from Forest Service experts–including botanists, archaeologists, foresters and biologists–as well as the general public.“It’s not like we just go out anywhere and start cutting timber,” Wilkins said. “We take an interdisciplinary approach to the land, and we’re letting the public know what we’re thinking about doing from the very beginning.”Forest Service officials also argue that some timber management is necessary to restore the forest to a more natural state, since past policies of fire suppression have created dense stands of white pines with little to no young oak trees or grassy openings. For example, in the Upper Warwoman project area, yellow pine-oak communities are less than half their historic range and just 1 percent of the 12,500-acre project area has young grass and tree habitat essential for deer, wild turkey and ruffled grouse. The Forest Service says five of the seven ecosystems in the project are “highly departed” from their natural state due to a lack of fire.“Those kinds of numbers really highlight the unhealthy condition of the forest as it currently is,” said Holly Krake, a spokeswoman for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. “An analogy would be, think of any small town with no young children, nobody in middle age, no high school students, no working young adults or young families–a place with everybody being the same age. That would be a pretty unhealthy place.”Krake also noted that the Forest Service uses other tools besides timber harvests to maintain native plants and wildlife in Georgia’s national forests. For example, on the Chattahoochee-Oconee national forests, forest managers treated more than 34,000 acres using prescribed fire in fiscal 2015. That falls in line with previous years, as foresters have treated an average of nearly 30,000 acres each year using prescribed burns over the past decade.“The right fire at the right place at the right time helps maintain healthy forests, communities and watersheds,” Krake wrote in an e-mail.While environmental groups also recognize the importance of fire in healthy forest ecosystems, they disagree with what the Forest Service calls restoration as well as the need for so-called restoration projects that feature timber harvesting. Hunter of the Southern Environmental Law Center noted that past fire suppression isn’t as big of an issue in the wet and humid Southeast as it has been in other national forests, particularly in the dry western states. That said, he acknowledged that many national forests are in an unnatural state currently, thanks to poor management practices in the past.The trick, he said, will be for the Forest Service to address areas that need recovery without causing more damage than what they’re trying to repair. “The sweet spot is for the Forest Service to be able to go in and do that work to improve communities without causing the bad impacts often associated with timber sales, like road building and bringing in heavy equipment and big trucks,” Hunter said. “They need to implement science-based treatments that are beneficial to the environment.”For now, it remains to be seen whether the Forest Service can achieve that goal in the Chattooga watershed. But Hunter and other environmentalists will be watching their efforts closely.Another Threat to the Deliverance RiverStekoa Creek, one of the Chattooga’s largest tributaries, has been a major source of water pollution in the river for more than 40 years, and things haven’t gotten any better with the river’s Wild and Scenic status. The primary source of pollution is raw sewage from the nearby city of Clayton’s sewage collection system, along with poor agricultural practices, failing septic tanks, and dumping. The Chattooga Conservancy calls Stekoa Creek the single greatest threat to the river’s water quality, noting that the Forest Service has at times warned river users that contact with water below its confluence with the Chattooga River could put them at risk for bacterial skin infections.[divider]related articles[/divider]last_img read more

Court hears insurance staff counsel oral argument

first_imgCourt hears insurance staff counsel oral argument April 1, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Court hears insurance staff counsel oral argument Senior EditorAn 11th Circuit judge who ordered insurance company staff attorneys not to use law firm type names on their letterhead was acting within his scope, or exceeded his authority, by interfering by promulgating procedural and lawyer conduct rules.The Supreme Court heard those conflicting arguments March 8 during oral arguments on the case. It also heard both sides say further study could be helpful, including a Florida Bar report that went to the Board of Governors the following week.The issue arose after Judge Paul Siegel last year ordered attorneys from five insurance companies with cases pending before him not to sign court documents using language that implied they worked for an independent law firm if they were actually staff counsel for the company. He also ordered that independent medical experts hired by the defense could not say they were paid by the “law firm” but would have to say they were paid by the insurance company.The insurance companies appealed to the Supreme Court, asking it to use its “all writs” power to override Judge Siegel’s actions. The plaintiff argued Siegel acted within his authority. United Services Automobile Ass’n v. Evelyn Goodman, case nos. SC01-1700, SC01-1710, SC01-1797, SC01-1814, SC01-1886, SC01-1887, SC01-1913, SC01-1980.Miami attorney Arthur England, representing the insurance companies, said Judge Siegel’s orders amounted to a rule regulating the way law is practiced, something reserved for the Supreme Court.“The judge has first created an ethical violation. . . and he’s taken that ethical violation and said, ‘I’m not going to have any pleading in my court that doesn’t have disclosure.’ Is that a rule? Of course, it is,” England said.He, as well as briefs filed in the case, argued Siegel’s ruling could also violate state law which holds in some cases, even though an insurance company is paying any awards, the jury is not told there is insurance coverage. Requiring the lawyers to say they are on staff at the insurance company or independent medical experts to say they are paid by an insurance company could circumvent that law, England argued.Letterhead and business cards used by the insurance lawyers, while containing a firm name, also reveal that the “firm” is owned or part of the insurance company, England and the briefs said, and clients are always given full disclosure that they are being represented by insurance company staff attorneys.Miami attorney Robert Sondak, representing plaintiff Goodman, said Judge Siegel did not exceed his authority and there is no reason for the Supreme Court to alter his action.“Judge Siegel was struggling with two conflicting public policies,” he said. “One was keeping information about insurance companies from the jury, which is proper, and the other is preventing fraud in the court. Judge Siegel was wrestling with them and trying to harmonize them.”But while leaving those rulings intact, Sondak said the court could send the matter to the Rules of Judicial Administration and the Rules of Civil Procedure committees for study. He also said the issue raises unlicensed practice of law issues because of the control insurance companies can exert over their staff lawyers.England asked the court to strike Siegel’s orders, hold as a matter of law that staff attorneys and expert witnesses do not have to reveal the existence of insurance coverage and to allow the use of firm names. He said because there was full disclosure to both clients and the court about the names, there was no fraud.Alternatively, he asked the court to strike the lower court orders and await the Bar’s report.last_img read more

Minor injuries reported in car vs tractor-trailer crash in Vestal

first_imgVESTAL (WBNG) — The Vestal Police Department says one person suffered minor injuries in a car vs tractor-trailer crash Thursday morning on Vestal and Shippers Road. 12 News has a crew on the way to the scene. 12:39 P.M. UPDATE: They say the driver of the car was entrapped in their vehicle before crews could work to get them out. A dog in the vehicle was uninjured. The cause of the crash in under investigation. —– VESTAL (WBNG) — Emergency crews are responding to a two-car crash on Vestal and Shippers Road. As of 11:06 a.m, dispatchers are unable to comment if there are any reports of injuries. The police department says no tickets have been issued at this point. This is a developing story. Stay with 12 News for updates. They say an ambulance has been called to the crash.last_img read more

Child neglect lands woman behind bars for 15 years

first_imgBINGHAMTON (WBNG) — A woman has been sentenced to over a decade in prison for the death of her daughter in Broome County Court Friday morning. The Broome County District Attorney’s Office says 32-year-old Serina A. Madden will serve 15 years in prison and five years’ parole for 1st degree manslaughter of 10-year-old Belladonna Loke in the town of Colesville. The district attorney’s office says Madden neglected, malnourished, starved and refused her daughter medical care which caused her death.center_img Madden pleaded guilty in November 2019.last_img read more

HAF Consortium to Decommission Brae Bravo Platform

first_imgHeerema Marine Contractors (HMC) and AF Offshore Decom (AFOD), together known as the HAF consortium, have secured a contract from Marathon Oil Decommissioning Services for the Engineering, Preparation, Removal and Disposal (EPRD) of the Brae Bravo Platform.The scope comprises of the EPRD of the topsides, the flare jacket and bridge and the main jacket.Koos-Jan van Brouwershaven, CEO HMC said: “At the start of the tendering process the teams set themselves a clear goal: We are in it to win! It has been a true team effort along the way together with our long standing partner AF Offshore Decom to secure this contract. We are both pleased and proud that this has earned our clients trust in the HAF consortium to execute this complex EPRD project.”Bengt Hildisch, president of AFOD, added: “Thanks to all, both within Heerema and AF Offshore Decom that helped to win this important work. The award of both Dunlin Alpha and Brae Bravo in the last two weeks, cements HAF’s position as the absolute market leader in EPRD projects in the North Sea.”last_img read more

9 Pieces Of Advice Married Couples Wish They Had Known On Their Wedding Day

first_img Tweet 272 Views   no discussions LifestyleRelationships 9 Pieces Of Advice Married Couples Wish They Had Known On Their Wedding Day by: Huffintonpost – November 21, 2014 No one wants to live their life in the world of “shoulda, coulda, woulda” — especially when it comes to something as important as getting married.Luckily for all you future brides and grooms out there, a Reddit thread popped up Sunday asking those who have already tied the knot what they wish they had known on their wedding day.Here’s their advice for your Big Day and all the days after:1. Take time to appreciate your surroundings. “At some point in the evening while everyone is having dinner and talking amongst themselves, take a moment to look around at all the people who are there for the two of you, and take it all in.”2. Focus on what really matters.“I wish I had known that the most important thing about my wedding day was that I got to marry and spend the rest of my life with my best friend – so who cares if the napkins were placed on plates or tables?”3. Your wedding day is fun, but marriage is even better.“What is more fun than having sleepovers every night with your BFF? Or having spontaneous couch dates? Marriage is fun. There will be challenges, but anything worth having is worth the effort.”4. Keep the drinks to a minimum.“Whether you’re paying for the alcohol or friends start buying you drinks — don’t drink too much at your wedding. I barely remember the end of our reception and we were both too drunk to have the wild mind blowing sex that I assumed comes with your wedding night . Feeling terrible the day after and having my memories be hazy is something I would change.”5. No matter how much planning you do, something is bound to go wrong.“Something will go wrong, I guarantee it. Whether it’s an important guest that can’t make it, the wrong flowers arrive or the food is off, something won’t be perfect despite all your planning. Expect it, and happily move on when it happens. The wedding is so short, you don’t want to spend any of it unhappy or frustrated about something that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.”6. The most important person at your wedding is your future spouse.“It doesn’t matter who can and can’t show up. All that matters is you’re there with the one you love.”7. Accept that the person you marry today, may change in 20 years.“You know how you’re a vastly different person from who you were as a kid? Well, you never stop changing. This means you’re marrying a future person who will bear little resemblance to the wonderful, soft-focus target of your current infatuation.”8. It’s your day, so feel free to delegate.“The bride and groom shouldn’t have any responsibilities on their wedding day other than showing up and getting married. Any questions or problems with the setup and scheduling or anything else should go to the best man or a member of the immediate family who has been designated with that job.”9. Be aware that it goes by way too fast.“It really will go by in the blink of an eye.” Sharing is caring!center_img Share Share Sharelast_img read more