Daily Archives: May 7, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sean McDermott didn’t mind being put on the spot when asked whether the Buffalo Bills have a roster that’s built to win now.

“You’re beautiful, man,” McDermott said, referring to a reporter during a video conference call Thursday. “Throw the fastball high and inside. Chin music.”

And yet, he wasn’t ready to swing away in addressing the media for the first time since the Bills upgraded their roster in free agency and acquired receiver Stefon Diggs in a trade with Minnesota in March, before shoring up secondary needs in the NFL draft last weekend.

McDermott would only go so far in acknowledging the Bills’ current roster is the deepest it’s been since taking over the job three years ago.

“Listen, we’re definitely further along than where we were when I got here,” he said. “And that’s part of the goal, you want to be able to say that.”

The proof, however, is still months away given the challenges he and the rest of the NFL faces in wondering when teams will be allowed to begin practicing because of the coronavirus pandemic. And there are still games to be played.

What’s not in question, on paper at least, is the Bills finally resembling a contender based on a variety of factors for a team coming off its second playoff appearance in three years.

Buffalo’s roster features continuity, with all but four regulars returning from last season. And whatever holes there might have been, were shored up through a series of offseason additions, including defensive end Mario Addison, defensive tackle Vernon Butler, linebacker A.J. Klein and cornerback Josh Norman.

It’s enough for some to regard the Bills as the chic pick to supplant the New England Patriots atop the AFC East standings following Tom Brady’s departure.

Diggs’ acquisition alone was important because it has the potential of improving a Josh Allen-led offense that had difficulty scoring. Buffalo failed to top 21 points 11 times last season, including a 21-18 overtime wild-card playoff loss to Houston, in which the Bills squandered a 16-0 third-quarter lead.

“We need to score points, and that’s been an emphasis and a theme that we’ve talked about since the end of the season,” he said of a team which had 10 games decided by seven points or fewer.

“I would love to take a seat on the bench in the fourth quarter of one of these games and maybe eat an orange slice or drink a Gatorade instead of having my heart go a million miles an hour,” McDermott added.

Concerns still abound, with one of his biggest involving the lack of practice time to develop Buffalo’s passing game.

McDermott said the offense spends about 70% of their spring practices working on passes, with the focus turning to the running attack once players are allowed to wear pads. He also wondered how long it might take for Allen to build chemistry with Diggs.

“I am concerned about it, but I guess not worried at this point,” McDermott said, noting every team faces its share of challenges. “What you do is try to adjust and adapt, and like we said before, our theme this offseason has been: `Find a way.’”

McDermott has a track record of overcoming adversity in Buffalo.

During his first season, the Bills overcame a patchwork roster in transition — Buffalo traded three starters, receiver Sammy Watkins, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and cornerback Ronald Darby — to finish 9-7 and end a 17-year playoff drought. Last season, the Bills made the playoffs despite an offense that featured eight new starters.

Though players are working out remotely on their own, McDermott is reintroducing his annual offseason team-bonding sessions by once again having newcomers introduce themselves by sharing their backgrounds during team sessions.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Selena Gomez will put her quarantine cooking skills on display in a 10-episode series for the upcoming streaming service HBO Max.

The actress and singer, who said she’s been spending more time in the kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic, also is an executive producer for the untitled project, HBO Max said Tuesday.

“I’ve always been very vocal about my love of food. I think I’ve been asked hundreds of times in interviews if I had another career, what would I do and I’ve answered that it would be fun to be a chef,” Gomez said in a statement. “I definitely don’t have the formal training though! Like many of us while being home I find myself cooking more and experimenting in the kitchen.”

She will be joined remotely in each episode by a different master chef to cook and chat about kitchen tips. Food charities will be highlighted by the show, HBO Max said.

WarnerMedia’s new streaming service is scheduled to debut May 27, with Gomez’s series set to air this summer. A release date wasn’t announced.

A new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection.

Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients treated at Columbia University in New York, researchers reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Although the study is observational rather than a rigorous experiment, it gives valuable information for a decision that hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients have already had to make without clear evidence about the drug’s risks and benefits, some journal editors and other doctors wrote in an editorial.

“It is disappointing that several months into the pandemic, we do not yet have results” from any strict tests of the drug, they wrote. Still, the new study “suggests that this treatment is not a panacea.”

President Donald Trump repeatedly urged the use of hydroxychloroquine, which is used now for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It has potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned against its use for coronavirus infections except in formal studies.

Doctors at Columbia tracked how 565 patients who did not get the drug fared compared to 811 others who received hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, a combo Trump also has touted.

In all, 180 patients required breathing tubes and 232 died, and the drug did not seem to affect the odds of either.

Patients given hydroxychloroquine were generally sicker than the others, but widely accepted methods were used to take that into account and still no benefit was seen for the drug.

Its use started within two days of admission for nearly all who received it. Some critics of earlier studies have said treatment may have started too late to do any good.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, which has launched two of its own trials comparing hydroxychloroquine to placebo — the gold standard for establishing safety and effectiveness.

One study involves COVID-19 patients, and the other aims to see whether the drug can help prevent infections in health care workers exposed to the virus. Both got started in April.

BOSTON (AP) — Centenarians have always been a rare breed. Now they’re an endangered species.

The 100-plus crowd — those most venerable of human beings — is succumbing rapidly and heartbreakingly to the coronavirus pandemic. Entire limbs are being lopped off family trees, and their wisdom and lore are dying with them.

“We’ve been really upset,” said Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University who directs the New England Centenarian Study. “We’re seeing a higher rate of people passing away … cutting these incredible lives shorter.”

“For families, they’re the pride and joy, the anchor, the link to the family’s history. They’re a huge big deal,” he said. “If you have a healthy centenarian who’s cognitively intact with no signs of Alzheimer’s, to me they’re practically immortal. COVID has interfered with that formula for sure.”

Reliable estimates of the numbers of centenarians who have perished in the pandemic are elusive, primarily because most state and government health agencies tracking deaths lump them into an 85-and-older demographic. That age bracket has seen more deaths than any other, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the COVID-19 Tracking Project and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But anecdotal evidence, including newspaper and online death notices, suggests that COVID-19 is exacting a grim toll among the estimated 70,000 centenarians in the U.S. In tiny Rhode Island alone, at least eight people aged 100 or older have died, public health officials say.

Carrie Hoza of Northfield, Illinois, lost her 101-year-old grandmother, Norma Bratschi Hoza, to COVID-19 this month.

Born in 1919 to a mother who survived the deadly 1918 influenza pandemic, Bratschi Hoza married her childhood sweetheart, went to business school and helped found the family’s plumbing business. When three neighborhood boys close in age to her own three sons were orphaned, she took them in and raised them as her own.

“She lived a beautiful life, with kindness and goodness in her heart,” said Hoza, 46. “She always believed that hatred was toxic and forgiveness was the best way to live. She was an absolute gem.”

Remarkably, some centenarians have recovered from COVID-19. Against all odds, 103-year-old Ada Zanusso battled back after being hospitalized in the northern Italian town of Lessona, crediting “courage and strength, faith” for her rebound.

You don’t become a century old without some inherent toughness and genetic good fortune. An otherwise healthy 100-something, experts say, may be more likely to recover than someone who’s 60 and obese with underlying health issues.

But many of the very oldest of us are faring poorly in the pandemic. People who survived world wars, polio, the Great Depression and the Holocaust aren’t beating this.

“They’re people who are rock-solid citizens,” said Neenah Ellis, a former National Public Radio producer in Yellow Springs, Ohio, who interviewed many for her bestselling book, “If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians.”

Puede el nuevo coronavirus sobrevivir en mi celular?

Sí. Es por eso que los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades de Estados Unidos (CDC por sus siglas en inglés) recomiendan limpiar diariamente las superficies de “contacto constante”, como teléfonos, teclados y tabletas. Una prueba científica reveló que el virus puede vivir en el plástico o el acero inoxidable hasta por dos o tres días.

Para limpiar el teléfono, primero hay que apagarlo y desconectarlo de los cables. Las compañías tecnológicas señalan que se deben evitar filtraciones de cualquier tipo de líquido en el teléfono, por lo que no recomiendan el uso de una solución limpiadora ni rociar aerosol directamente.

Se puede limpiar cuidadosamente el equipo con toallas desinfectantes, como las de la marca Clorox o cualquiera que contenga 70% de alcohol. La compañía telefónica AT&T recomienda escurrir las toallas desinfectantes antes de usarlas para limpiar el teléfono. Las toallas de papel también sirven, si son rociadas con desinfectante.

Por su parte, Google sugiere limpiar el teléfono con un trozo de tela que haya sido sumergido en agua enjabonada.

The NFL has set protocols for reopening team facilities and has told the 32 teams to have them in place by May 15.

In a memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell and obtained Wednesday night by The Associated Press, several phases of the protocols were laid out. The first phase to deal with the coronavirus pandemic would involve a limited number of non-player personnel, initially 50% of the non-player employees (up to a total of 75) on any single day, being approved to be at the facility. But state or local regulations could require a lower number.

The individual clubs would decide which employees could return to the facility and when once facilities reopen. No players would be permitted in the facility except to continue therapy and rehabilitation for injuries that was underway when facilities were ordered closed in late March by Goodell.

“While these protocols have been carefully developed and reflect best practices,” Goodell wrote, “they can also be adapted and supplemented to ensure compliance with any state and local public health requirements.”

Goodell noted that the league is actively working on the next phase of reopening, which will involve both more staffers, and players. He said the players’ union is also being consulted on these steps. Those protocols are not yet fully developed.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s medical director, will speak with each team physician and the infection control officer to discuss implementation and medical aspects of the protocols.

The step-by-step requirements are:

–Local and state government officials must consent to reopening.

–The team must implement all operational guidelines set by the league to minimize the risk of virus transmission among employees.

–Each club must acquire adequate amounts of needed supplies as prescribed by the league.

–An Infection Response Team with a written plan for newly diagnosed coronavirus cases. –An Infection Control Officer to oversee all aspects of the implementation of the listed guidelines.

–Each employee who returns to work at the club facility must receive COVID-19 safety and hygiene training prior to using the facility, and agree to report health information to the ICO.

—The response team must consist of a local physician with expertise in common infectious disease principles; the team physician can fill that role. Also on the response team will be the infection control officer, the team’s head athletic trainer; the team physician, if he or she is not serving as the local physician; the human resources director; the team’s chief of security; its mental health clinician or someone with equivalent clinical expertise; and a member of the club’s operations staff such as the facility manager.

The league also is establishing workplace protocols that require face coverings unless a person is in a closed office. The orders also stress minimum contact, sufficient distancing, the gradual and phased return to in-person work, and continued “telework” and remote meetings to reduce the number of people at the facility. That includes adjusted hours and even shifts across all employees.

Business travel is discouraged unless essential. Visitors and service providers on site will be limited and there will be no direct contact with fans — no retail activity or in- person ticket sales.

Employees, including players, of course, will be encouraged to take their temperature routinely at home before heading to the team facility and to remain at home if their temperature is elevated. There will be daily screenings for all employees reporting to work, as well as visitors, contractors, and service providers who enter the club facility.

“We will continue to work in a deliberate and thoughtful way to plan for the 2020 season, including with (Thursday night’s) schedule release,” Goodell said, “and we will be prepared to address any contingencies as they arise.”

Madonna aclaró este miércoles que padeció COVID-19 a principios de marzo, durante el final de su gira en París y que por ello tiene anticuerpos detectados por los test del coronavirus, una noticia por la que varios medios especularon con que la cantante estaba enferma.

La artista explicó esta circunstancia en una publicación de Instagram en la que también informó que acaba de donar 1 millón de dólares a un fondo de ayuda internacional para desarrollar una vacuna y tratamientos contra la enfermedad.

HOUSTON (AP) — Más personas morirán a causa del coronavirus en los centros de detención de inmigrantes en Estados Unidos a menos que el gobierno del presidente Donald Trump mejore rápidamente las condiciones de las instalaciones y libere a más detenidos, advirtieron abogados y defensores de migrantes el jueves, luego de que se confirmara el primer deceso por COVID-19 de un detenido.

Una querella enviada al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional incluye las experiencias de 17 personas que afirman que se les negó su liberación a pesar de que en algunos casos sufren de padecimientos que aumentan el riesgo en caso de contagio. Entre ellas se encuentran un hombre en remisión tras padecer cierto tipo de cáncer conocido como linfoma folicular y una mujer con prediabetes.

Carlos Ernesto Escobar, un salvadoreño de 57 años, falleció el miércoles en el Centro de Detención Otay Mesa en San Diego, donde se encuentran 132 de los 705 migrantes detenidos por el Servicio de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas de Estados Unidos (ICE por sus siglas en inglés) que han dado positivo a COVID-19, la enfermedad causada por el coronavirus.

El ICE indicó que ha realizado pruebas de diagnóstico a 1.460 detenidos y mantiene a poco menos de 30.000 personas en detención.

De acuerdo con un representante de su familia, Escobar era diabético y fue conectado a un respirador después de contraer el virus en el centro de detención.

El ICE señaló que ha liberado a más de 900 personas consideradas de alto riesgo. En un comunicado, la agencia detalló que ha escalonado los periodos para comer y de recreación a fin de respetar las normas de distanciamiento social y aislar tanto a quienes tuvieron contacto con alguien con la enfermedad como a los detenidos que apenas llegaron a las instalaciones.

Una coalición de grupos que incluye a la organización American Immigration Council y la Asociación Estadounidense de Abogados de Inmigración presentó la querella el jueves, en la que se subrayan las persistentes acusaciones de que a los detenidos no se les ha proporcionado equipo de protección, suministros de limpieza ni se les da el espacio adecuado para mantener un distanciamiento social.

Katie Shepherd, una abogada de American Immigration Council, dijo que la muerte de Escobar era evitable y culpó al ICE por “una pérdida sin sentido de la vida humana”. Shepherd exhortó al ICE a acelerar la liberación de personas en sus centros y ofrecer más equipo de protección personal a los detenidos.

“Sabíamos que esto iba a ocurrir. Sólo era cuestión de cuándo”, afirmó Shepherd. “Pero temo sobre cuántas muertes más habrá”.

Personas detenidas en Otay Mesa han reportado que se les han negado cubrebocas a menos que firmen una exención que evita que responsabilicen a CoreCivic, la compañía que opera el centro de detención privado, en caso de que contraigan el virus dentro de las instalaciones. Una vocera de CoreCivic negó que se estén reteniendo los cubrebocas, pero sostuvo que el formato original para requerir la firma ha sido retirado.

Un hombre detenido en otras instalaciones de CoreCivic, el centro de detención de Houston, describió en la querella que se le entregó un documento similar de exención, el cual firmó “para evitarse problemas con los agentes”.

El hombre también alegó que los custodios no les brindan jabón suficiente para ducharse, ni les han entregado guantes de uso diario cuando los detenidos limpian sus celdas. Dos detenidos en las instalaciones de Houston han confirmado que en el lugar hay casos de personas con COVID-19.

La versión del hombre no pudo ser verificada de manera independiente. La portavoz de CoreCivic, Amanda Gilchrist, rechazó que a los detenidos no se les esté brindando jabón y agregó que los custodios repartieron una botella de 60 ml. (dos onzas) a cada persona y dieron botellas adicionales de forma gratuita.

En la mayoría de la gente, el nuevo coronavirus provoca síntomas leves o moderados que desaparecen en dos a tres semanas. En algunas personas, sobre todos los adultos mayores y las que padecen trastornos de salud subyacentes, puede provocar enfermedades más graves, como la neumonía, e incluso la muerte.

SANTIAGO, 7 may (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines y LATAM concretaron el acuerdo para realizar operaciones conjuntas en las Américas, informó el jueves la aerolínea chilena, en momentos en que el mercado ha sido fuertemente golpeado por la pandemia de coronavirus.

Las operaciones conjuntas habían sido anunciadas en septiembre pasado, cuando Delta agitó al mercado al informar un plan para comprar una participación del 20% en LATAM por 1.900 millones de dólares, creando una nueva alianza que sacudió los antiguos lazos de la chilena con American Airlines.

En un documento enviado al regulador en Santiago, LATAM Airlines dijo que firmó el pacto con Delta “con el objeto de implementar la alianza estratégica en las rutas entre los Estados Unidos de América y Canadá y los países de Sudamérica con acuerdos de cielos abiertos”.

LATAM, el mayor grupo aéreo de América Latina, que redujo drásticamente sus operaciones a raíz de la crisis sanitaria, dijo que la intención de ambas compañías es implementar la alianza estratégica simultáneamente en los países en que no se requiera autorización regulatoria o en los que ya se haya obtenido.

Para Chile, dijo que se solicitarán los permisos en las próximas semanas.

Reporte de Natalia Ramos, Editado por Manuel Farías

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Cheered on by President Donald Trump, the Justice Department on Thursday said it is dropping the criminal case against his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, abandoning a prosecution that became a rallying cry for the president and his supporters in attacking the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.

    The action was a stunning reversal for one of the signature cases brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. It comes even though prosecutors for the past three years have maintained that Flynn lied to the FBI in a January 2017 interview about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

    Flynn himself admitted as much, pleading guilty before later asking to withdraw the plea, and he became a key cooperator for Mueller as the special counsel investigated ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 political campaign.

    Thursday’s action was swiftly embraced by Trump, who has relentlessly tweeted about the “outrageous” case and last week pronounced Flynn “exonerated,” and it is likely to energize supporters of the president who have taken up the retired Army lieutenant general as a cause.

    But it will also add to Democratic complaints that Attorney General William Barr is excessively loyal to the president, and could be a distraction for a Justice Department that for months has sought to focus on crimes arising from the coronavirus.

    Shortly before the filing was submitted, Brandon Van Grack, a Mueller team member and veteran prosecutor on the case, withdrew from the prosecution, a possible sign of disagreement with the decision.

    After the Flynn announcement, Trump declared that his former aide had been “an innocent man” all along. He accused Obama administration officials of targeting Flynn and said, “I hope that a big price is going to be paid.” At one point he went further, saying of the effort investigating Flynn: “It’s treason. It’s treason.”

    In court documents filed Thursday, the Justice Department said that after reviewing newly disclosed information and other materials, it agreed with Flynn’s lawyers that his interview with the FBI should never have taken place because his contacts with the Russian ambassador were “entirely appropriate.” The Flynn interview, the department said, was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

    The U.S. attorney reviewing the Flynn case, Jeff Jensen, formally recommended dropping it to Barr last week, the course of action vehemently and publicly recommended by Trump, who appointed Barr to head the Justice Department.

    Barr has increasingly challenged the federal Trump-Russia investigation, saying in a television interview last month that it was started “without any basis.” In February, he overruled a decision by prosecutors in the case of Roger Stone, a longtime Trump friend and adviser, in favor of a more lenient recommended sentence.

    Jensen said in a statement that he “briefed Attorney General Barr on my findings, advised him on these conclusions, and he agreed.”

    The department’s action comes amid an internal review into the handling of the case and an aggressive effort by Flynn’s lawyers to challenge the basis for the prosecution. The lawyers cited newly disclosed FBI emails and notes last week to allege that Flynn was improperly trapped into lying when agents interviewed him at the White House days after Trump’s inauguration.

    None of the documents appeared to undercut the central allegation that Flynn had misled the FBI.

    Thursday’s filing was the latest dramatic development in a years-old case full of twists and turns. In recent months, Flynn’s attorneys have leveled a series of allegations about the FBI’s actions and asked to withdraw his guilty plea. A judge has rejected most of the claims and not ruled on others, including the bid to revoke the plea.

    Earlier this year, Barr appointed Jensen, the top federal prosecutor in St. Louis to investigate the handling of Flynn’s case.

    As part of that process, the Justice Department gave Flynn’s attorneys internal FBI correspondence, including one handwritten note from a senior FBI official that mapped out internal deliberations about the purpose of the Flynn interview: “What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” the official wrote.

    Other documents show the FBI had been prepared weeks before its interview to drop its investigation into whether he was acting at the direction of Russia. Later that month, though, as the White House insisted that Flynn had never discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, FBI officials grew more concerned by Flynn’s conversations with the diplomat and kept the investigation open to question him about that. Two agents visited him at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017.

    But Thursday’s filing, signed by District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Tim Shea, says the FBI had no basis to continue investigating Flynn after failing to find he had done anything illegal. It says there was nothing on his Russia calls “to indicate an inappropriate relationship between Mr. Flynn and a foreign power.” The department also contends Flynn’s answers during the interview were equivocal and indirect, rather than false, and weren’t relevant to the underlying investigation into whether the Trump campaign and Russia were illegally coordinating.

    The memo also cites what it describes as internal uncertainty within the FBI over whether Flynn had lied, noting that the agents who interviewed him reported that he had a “very sure demeanor” and that-then FBI Director James Comey had said it was a “close” call.

    Democratic members of Congress lambasted Thursday’s action, as did former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who said in a statement the FBI was obligated to interview Flynn “to better understand why he was talking to Russian officials.” Flynn’s lies, McCabe said, “added to our concerns about his relationship with the Russian government.”

    Flynn pleaded guilty, among the first of the president’s aides to admit guilt in Mueller’s investigation. He acknowledged that he lied about his conversations with Kislyak, in which he encouraged Russia not to escalate tensions with the U.S. over sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for election interference.

    He provided such extensive cooperation that prosecutors said he was entitled to a sentence of probation instead of prison.

    However, his sentencing hearing was abruptly cut short after Flynn, facing a stern rebuke from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, asked to be able to continue cooperating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.

    His then-attorneys pointedly noted in their sentencing memo that the FBI had not warned him that it was against the law to lie when they interviewed him.

    He later hired new attorneys, including conservative commentator Sidney Powell, who have taken a far more confrontational stance to the government. The lawyers accused prosecutors of withholding documents and evidence they said was favorable to the case and have repeatedly noted that one of the two agents who interviewed Flynn was fired for having sent derogatory text messages about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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