With qualifying being rained out and set by owner’s points, Martin Truex Jr. will start from the top spot for the third straight week for Monday’s STP 500 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). After two practice sessions for this race in the books, we’ve dissected the numbers and 10-lap averages to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration as you go to make roster decisions for the sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of 2018.PLAY NOW: Set your Fantasy Live lineup | How the new Fantasy Live worksMORE: Fantasy analysis for Martinsville | Driver stats | Full lineup | 10-lap averagesRJ Kraft’s revised Fantasy Live lineup following practices and the lineup being set:1: Kyle Busch2: Denny Hamlin3: Brad Keselowski4: Clint Bowyer5: Joey LoganoGarage: Jimmie JohnsonAnalysis: With the field set by owner points after rain washed out qualifying, I am going hard after stage points. That means minimum changes for me in my original lineup and it’s in the name of track position. I am swapping out AJ Allmendinger for Joey Logano. Allmendinger will start 25th, while Logano will line up third and has a solid Martinsville history. I feel pretty confident in the Team Penske driver’s ability to bag some stage points — he has the sixth-most in the series through five races.I am setting my lineup by starting position, which means Johnson to the garage. However, having a nine-time winner at “The Paperclip” is a really nice insurance policy to have tucked away to swap in. Busch, Hamlin and Keselowski were picks I was not moving away from this weekend, and Bowyer was in the top six 10-lap averages in both practice sessions to firm up my belief that he will be in the mix here.My bonus picks will include a stage win for Martin Truex Jr. and one for Kyle Busch. I am leaning toward Ford for the manufacturer winner, but still very much debating the race-winner pick.
LAS VEGAS — For the first time in 16 years Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson won’t be a part of NASCAR’s championship Playoff run. However, his three young teammates will. Chase Elliott, 23, paced the championship organization with two wins – at Talladega and Watkins Glen – this season and heads into Sunday’s playoff opener ranked seventh. The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is a perfect 4-for-4 in qualifying for the Cup playoffs. His best championship finish was fifth in 2017 – his second year at the Cup level.RELATED: Meet the full playoff field | What the 16 drivers are saying Alex Bowman, 26, driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, earned his career first Cup victory at Chicago this summer to secure his second consecutive playoff run. He’s ranked ninth heading into the Vegas opener.And the series’ youngest Cup driver, 21-year-old William Byron, brings the famed No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet back to the Playoffs. He’s ranked 13th in the playoffs’ points re-set and is already turning in a career year in top-fives (three) and top-10s (nine). He has won a team-best four pole positions too. And while it may seem like a stretch for the driver to have earned a playoff bid in only his second Cup season, Byron said that was actually the expectation.“I think for our team we at least expected to make it for a while now,’’ Byron said. “We don’t feel like we’re just sneaking into the Playoffs or anything. We locked it in a couple races ago. So I feel good about that. I think the next step is just how do we perform in the Playoffs and how do we get to the next level of our progression as a program.’’And with so much buzz surrounding the three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. – or the title talk about Team Penske’s high expectations to earn a second consecutive Cup title, Byron said he doesn’t mind making his first playoff run perhaps a little more under the radar.“It’s a little bit of an advantage to have that lack of pressure on our team,’’ Byron said. “Our goal was obviously to make the Playoffs and to accomplish that has been really good. I feel like now we can focus more on executing the first three races and try to get through that round. So yeah, I don’t think it really matters either way, but it does help that we don’t really have that pressure on us.’’
In the closing address, Arthur Cooper, MD, director of pediatric surgical services and the regional trauma center at Columbia University in New York City, said there_s little data readily available on ambulance crashes, no epidemiology to determine what elements negatively affect ambulance transport safety and no idea of the true costs of ambulance-safety issues to EMS personnel and patients.”ž If you prefer to write a letter, AEMS makes it easy: Visitwww.advocatesforems.organd click on “Take Action” for all the tools you need. One theme that arose throughout the meeting was the lack of ambulance-safety research and data. Researchers identified only 40 papers published over the past 30 years that deal specifically with ambulance safety, although highway incidents killed 39% of the U.S. EMS personnel who_ve died in the line of duty. Levick noted that the National Transportation Safety Board initially declined to gather data specific to ground ambulance crashes but reversed that stance in October. PRO BONOSignature Rules ChangeÆ’Again!In Jan. 1, 2009Æ’exactly one year to the day after Medicare implemented new regulations for beneficiary signatures necessary to submit a claim for ambulance servicesÆ’the regulations have changed again. Although the 2008 changes were significant, the 2009 regulations don_t represent a major modification to the previous rules. What do you think? Visit”žjems.com/jems“žto let us know. William Maisel, MD, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, tested eight headphone models on 60 patients and found they interfered with four of 27 pacemakers and 10 of 33 ICDs if they were placed within an inch of the device. Neodymium, a powerful magnetic substance used in some models, could cause heart palpitations or prevent an ICD from firing.”ž Pro Bono is written by attorneysDoug WolfbergandSteve WirthPage,Wolfberg & Wirth LLC, a national EMS-industry law firm. Visit the firm_s Web site atwww.pwwemslaw.comfor more EMS law information. Eileen Frazer, executive director of the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS), said that both CAMTS and the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services would release new standards in 2009 that include safety issues for the first time.”ž But AEMS needs your help to recruit your members of Congress into the EMS Caucus. Congress is in recess until after the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, making this the ideal time to visit your representative_s local office to introduce yourself and your issuesÆ’especially to newly elected members of CongressÆ’and ask them to join the caucus. Lawmakers welcome constituent visitsÆ’especially by uniformed public safety officers. Should Medics Get Bonuses for Improving Performance?“žEMTs and paramedics employed by Winona Area Ambulance Service (WAAS), a small hospital-based agency in Minnesota, can earn up to $1,000 extra each year if they collectively meet six performance measures. In 2007, for example, full-time medics took home an extra $900 each for completing patient care reports within three hours; meeting out-of-chute time goals; performing an ECG on every patient with non-traumatic chest pain; assessing and providing appropriate relief for traumatic hip pain; and documenting the time of stroke symptom onset. (Part-timers were paid prorated amounts.) WAAS medics could have earned another $100, but they narrowly missed the target of giving aspirin to at least 98% of the patients with non-traumatic chest pain. Quick TakesNew Jersey Proposes EMS StandardsThe New Jersey EMS Council has drafted legislation that would put all EMS under state health department control, require communities to make provisions for EMS (as they must for fire and police services), establish response times and mandate at least two EMTs on every emergency ambulance. Currently, only hospital-based services may provide ALS in the state, with most BLS provided by volunteer services that have fought state control. A 2007 study mandated by the legislature recommended 55 changes. “The failure of New Jersey_s EMS system is not about to happen, it has already begun, quietly worsening each year,” said the report on the study_s findings. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, legislators promise public hearings in early 2009 before they introduce and vote on a formal bill.“ž Safety First”ž First Federal Summit addresses the need for ambulance research & data”ž More than 150 individuals and organizations participated Nov. 7 (in person or via Webinar) in the first Ambulance Transport Safety Summit sponsored by the EMS Transport Safety Subcommittee of the Transportation Research Board, one of six major divisions of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. The meeting focused on the availability of ambulance-crash data (or lack of such data) and on vehicle design and operations, human factors, ergonomics and safety standards for ambulance services. WAAS Medical Director Brett S. Whyte, MD, says WAAS began the incentive program in 2005 after other attempts to improve compliance met with little success. Now, he says that although the EMTs and paramedics no longer”žreceive a bonus for meeting a specific objective, they usually maintain the improvement because it_s become part of their regular practice. Coming Soon:Guidelines for Safely Transporting Kids“žThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a two-year project in November to develop recommendations for safely transporting children in ground ambulances. The NHTSA EMS Office and NHTSA Occupant Protection Division are jointly sponsoring the project. Maryn Consulting, an IT/human resources consulting firm, will work with national experts to create the guidelines. For more information, contact NHTSA EMS Specialist Dave Bryson at”ž[email protected] Action AlertHelp Build an EMS Caucus in CongressAmbulance services nationwide are struggling with a broad array of reimbursement and regulatory issues, and federal lawmakers can help. But members of Congress need education on EMS issues and a focused push to address EMS concerns and get more federal funding and other resources for ambulance services and EMS personnel. To gain more Congressional clout, Advocates for EMS (AEMS), an entity created in 2003 by a coalition of national organizations to educate Congress on EMS issues, has recruited several members of the U.S. House of Representatives to start a Congressional EMS Caucus. Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, Charles Boustany, R-Louisiana, and Tim Walz, D-Minnesota, have agreed to lead the new caucus. It will focus on issues that affect the day-to-day operations of EMS providers throughout the country, including improving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, getting more federal resources for EMS disaster preparedness, research, the National Emergency Medical Services Information System and addressing EMS workforce issues. Dangerous“žHeadphonesIn 2007, concerns arose about the potential for iPods to interfere with pacemakers or implantable defibrillators (ICDs). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration checked that out and recently said iPods posed no problems. ButÆ’surpriseÆ’there_s a problem with some MP3 player headphones! Turns out some headphones can create chaos with a pacemaker or an ICDÆ’even if they_re unplugged and in a shirt pocket or hanging around someone_s neck.”ž The 2008 regulations also allowed ambulance services to submit claims for emergency ambulance transport services even when they can_t obtain the signature of the patient or authorized signer. To use this “emergency exception,” the ambulance service must obtain three forms of documentation before the claim can be submitted to Medicare: a signed statement by an EMS crew member that the patient was unable to sign and no authorized signer was available or willing to sign; documentation with the date and time the patient was transported, along with the name and location of the receiving facility; and a signed statement from a representative of the receiving facility documenting receipt of the patient, or some other secondary form of verification on a facility record showing receipt of the patient from the ambulance service. Under the 2008 regulations, all claims submitted to Medicare must have the patient_s signature, but if the patient is physically or mentally incapable of signing, an authorized signer can sign on their behalf. Authorized signers include the patient_s legal guardian, a relative or other person who receives Social Security benefits on the patient_s behalf or arranges for the patient_s treatment or exercises responsibility for their affairs or a representative of an agency or institution that has furnished care, services or assistance to the patient (other than a representative of the ambulance service submitting the claim). But Whyte admits not everyone approves of the program. “Some”žmedics say we should be doing these things anyway,” he says.”ž Although the signature rules haven_t changed significantly, the important message remains the same: It_s vital that EMS personnel do everything possible to obtain a signature from the patient or other authorized signer at the time of service. Otherwise, the burdens of obtaining a qualifying signature after the fact can significantly delay an ambulance service_s cash flow. A panel on human factors and ergonomics included an ergonomist, a paramedic expert on emergency-vehicle visibility and an ambulance service director who discussed the value of driver-monitoring equipment for identifying and correcting poor driving. The panel stressed that designers of ergonomically safe ambulances must consider specific requirements for patient-compartment access and egress from rear and side doors, the loading and unloading of stretchers and how personnel access equipment during transport. For PowerPoint presentations and an audio recording of Summit proceedings, visit”žwww.objectivesafety.net.“ž Æ’Glenn Luedtke”ž CONTROVERSYShould Medics Get Bonuses for Improving Performance?“žEMTs and paramedics employed by Winona Area Ambulance Service (WAAS), a small hospital-based agency in Minnesota, can earn up to $1,000 extra each year if they collectively meet six performance measures. In 2007, for example, full-time medics took home an extra $900 each for completing patient care reports within three hours; meeting out-of-chute time goals; performing an ECG on every patient with non-traumatic chest pain; assessing and providing appropriate relief for traumatic hip pain; and documenting the time of stroke symptom onset. (Part-timers were paid prorated amounts.) WAAS medics could have earned another $100, but they narrowly missed the target of giving aspirin to at least 98% of the patients with non-traumatic chest pain. What do you think? Visit”žjems.com/jems to let us know. receive a bonus for meeting a specific objective, they usually maintain the improvement because it_s become part of their regular practice. But Whyte admits not everyone approves of the program. “Some”žmedics say we should be doing these things anyway,” he says.”ž WAAS Medical Director Brett S. Whyte, MD, says WAAS began the incentive program in 2005 after other attempts to improve compliance met with little success. Now, he says that although the EMTs and paramedics no longer”ž Defibrillators”žAdd FeaturesZOLL and Masimo issued a joint announcement Nov. 13 that Masimo Rainbow SET pulse CO-oximetry would be integrated into all ZOLL E Series defibrillators, allowing the non-invasive and continuous measurement of carbon monoxide (SpCO) and methemoglobin (SpMet) in the blood. This will provide “the advanced clinical intelligence that today_s EMS and fire professionals need to accurately diagnose and treat victims of carbon monoxide poisoning,” says ZOLL CEO Richard A. Packer. Also, Physio-Control is awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance to release its new LifePak 15, which incorporates Masimo_s Rainbow technology for SpCO and SpMet monitoring. “We can_t project when that might happen,” says Physio-Control spokeswoman Ann Devine.”ž Ralph Grzebieta, PhD, an Australian road-safety research leader, advocated a “safe systems approach,” including safe vehicle design, road design and driving habits. He stressed that the side-facing seats and protruding cabinets in today_s ambulances are inherently dangerous. An ambulance manufacturer_s representative noted that the latest federal KKK standard for ambulances”ždoes”ž allow for front- or rear-facing seating instead of a squad bench.”ž Summit panelists agreed on the need to develop consensus definitions to help compile ambulance crash data and create a database as the foundation for a National Clearing House for EMS Transport Safety Resources and Research. They also agreed federal agencies should work together to provide comprehensive information and design solutions for safer ambulances, and the EMS community should develop an EMS Transport Safety Agenda for the Future. EMS Transport Safety Subcommittee ChairNadine Levick, MD, MPH, an emergency physician, academic and interdisciplinary researcher, chaired the four-hour meeting. Nineteen leaders from EMS, public-health research, government, fire service and private provider agencies participated in panel discussions.”ž Levick noted that federal KKK standards don_t require dynamic ambulance testing and federal motor vehicle standards specifically exempt ambulances. In fact, the U.S. currently has more safety standards for moving cattle than for moving patients.”ž The most significant change in the 2009 regulation is that Medicare has expanded the emergency exception to include non-emergencies as well. Again, three alternate forms of documentation are required when the patient is physically or mentally incapable of signing. “It_s smart to keep small electronics at least a few inches from implanted medical devices and not let someone wearing headphones lean against your chest if you have [an implanted device],” Maisel told the Associated Press after he presented his findings at the American Heart Association conference in November.”žJEMS
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreWith higher gas prices becoming a recurring reality, you should follow these tips to help reduce the amount of gas you use. Including advice about cruise control and what kind of gas and oil you should buy, these tips can save you money1) Don’t Drive Like You Have a Dying Man in the Car Unless you DoAggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.2) Remove Excess WeightAvoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent. Your equivalent gasoline savings would be between $0.04–$0.07 per gallon. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.3) Observe the Speed LimitThis graph shows MPG vs Speed. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.4) Avoid Idling Your Motor While ParkedIdling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines.5) Use Cruise ControlUsing cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.6) Use Overdrive GearsWhen you use overdrive gearing, your car’s engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.7) Keep Your Engine Properly TunedGet a tune-up! Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, though results vary based on the kind and quality of repair. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent.8) Keep Tires Properly InflatedYou can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 pound (per square inch) drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are also safer and prolong the life of the tires. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner’s manual. NOTE: Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall. 9) Change Your Oil and Use Recommended Grade of Motor OilYou can improve your gas mileage by 1–2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1–2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1–1.5 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.10) Plan Ahead and Combine Your ErrandsCombining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient, and it can reduce the distance you travel.11) Commute to Work at Off-Peak Rush HoursDrive your most fuel-efficient vehicle and consider telecommuting (working from home) if your employer permits it. Take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs. You can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy.12) Avoid Driving With Items on Your Roof RackAvoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent. Place items inside the trunk whenever possible.13) Use the Octane Level You Need Your owner’s manual recommends the most effective octane level for your car. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, unless your engine is knocking, using a higher octane gas than the manufacturer recommends offers no benefit and is a waste of money.14) Buy a Fuel-Efficient CarSelecting which vehicle to purchase is the most important fuel economy decision you’ll make. The difference between a car that gets 20 MPG and one that gets 30 MPG amounts to $880 per year (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $3.52). That’s $4,400 extra in fuel costs over five years.For Data Sources, visit FuelEconomy.govTire photo by alvimann via MorguefileAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore
We know what we’re gettin’ and when! The brand-new musical Gettin’ the Band Back Together has announced the release of its original cast album on CD and in digital formats on September 28. Gettin’ the Band Back Together concluded its Broadway run on September 16.Gettin’ the Band Back Together follows Mitch Papadopolous, who always dreamed of being the next Bon Jovi, but chose security over stardom and left those daydreams behind for a day job. He dusts off his guitar, gathers his old gang—the math teacher who isn’t good at math, the Irish cop who dreams about being on Broadway, the dermatologist who can’t get a date and a 16-year-old Jewish rapper who makes Vanilla Ice look cool—and sets out to win The Battle of the Bands…and maybe even win back the high school sweetheart he left behind.The Broadway cast was led by Mitchell Jarvis as Mitch Papadopolous, Marilu Henner as Sharon Papadopolous, Jay Klaitz as Bart Vickers, Paul Whitty as Michael “Sully” Sullivan, Sawyer Nunes as Ricky “Bling” Goldstein, Brandon Williams as Tygen Billows, Tamika Lawrence as Roxanne Velasco, Kelli Barrett as Dani, Garth Kravits as Ritchie, Manu Narayan as Dr. Rummesh “Robbie” Patel, Becca Kötte as Tawney and Noa Solorio as Billie. The ensemble includes Ryan Duncan, J. Elaine Marcos, Rob Marnell, Jasmin Richardson and Tad Wilson.Gettin’ the Band Back Together features a book by Ken Davenport and The Grundleshotz with additional material by Sarah Saltzberg, with an original score by Mark Allen. The show was directed by John Rando, with choreography by Chris Bailey, musical direction by Sonny Paladino and orchestrations by Doug Katsaros and Sonny Paladino. The musical began previews on July 19 and officially opened at the Belasco Theatre on August 13. View Comments
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far obligated more than $133 million to repair eligible storm-impacted roads, bridges, culverts and other elements of Vermont’s infrastructure; the Public Assistance process continues. In their ongoing partnership, FEMA and the State of Vermont announce a series of meetings to update individual applicants from local governments and some private non-profit organizations. The meetings, the first of which is scheduled to be held on Monday, August 6, are intended to update Public Assistance applicants in Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Lemoille, Orange, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties. “These meetings will serve to underscore FEMA’s commitment to working with the State of Vermont to ensure that all applicants for Public Assistance receive the maximum amount of funding for which they are eligible,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Nick Russo. The meetings are intended to provide a common understanding as to the way ahead, including changes of scope, time extensions and appeals. Applicants will be briefed on the close out process, relevant terminology and other topics related to exit interviews. “It is the intent of the state to support FEMA’s effort to ensure Public Assistance applicants are aware of the status of project worksheets and have a common understanding as to the road ahead,” said State Coordinating Officer Ross Nagy. FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.Follow FEMA online at twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema(link is external), and www.youtube.com/fema(link is external).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has started posting weekly situation updates on outbreaks of Zika virus and possible complications from the disease, and it also has issued an interim case definition for the illness.Both reports were posted Feb 12, capping a busy week of new developments with the virus, including studies that strengthened the association between maternal Zika virus infection and microcephaly in babies. In other developments, Brazil updated its microcephaly investigation totals and refuted an environmental group’s claim that a larvicide used in drinking water may be causing the birth defect.WHO sets 6-month tasks, prioritiesThe WHO said in its situation update that it and partners have established a strategic response framework that sets tasks and priorities for the next 6 months, covering surveillance, community development, vector control, child and maternal health, and research and development. It added that it is finalizing an overview of urgent needs for the Zika virus response.At WHO headquarters and at its Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), incident management systems have been activated, with the two groups coordinating responses with national governments, United Nations agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.The report provides a big-picture view Zika virus activity, which according to estimates has sickened 1.5 million so far in Brazil, followed by 25,000 suspected cases in Colombia, the next worst hit country. Columbia has confirmed 1,331 cases since October. The WHO added that Cape Verde has reported more than 7,000 suspected Zika virus cases.So far, Brazil and French Polynesia are the only affected countries reporting congenital abnormality levels that are well above average, though isolated microcephaly cases—one in Hawaii and one in Slovenia—have been reported in women who visited or recently lived in Zika-hit countries. Colombia hasn’t reported any microcephaly cases, but health officials there are closely watching for any unusual increases.Five countries have reported rises in Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS): Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Suriname, and Venezuela. However, the possible association with Zika seems less clear cut. The WHO said none of the GBS cases in Colombia or El Salvador involved lab-confirmed Zika infection, and it added that the cause is unknown, especially since dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus have all been circulating at the same time in the Americas. “Investigations to determine the cause of infection are ongoing in countries with increased incidence of GBS,” the agency said.In Brazil, the outbreak’s epicenter, public health officials have visited 20 million households to look for mosquito breeding grounds, and 500,000 people are working on vector control and public health messaging activities, according to the WHO report. Brazil has no plans to cancel its hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The August timing of the event comes during winter, when mosquitoes are least active.Interim case definition to help with surveillanceThe WHO also on Feb 12 issued an interim case definition of Zika virus infection to help standardize classification and reporting.A suspected case is defined as person with a rash and/or fever with at least one of the following: arthralgia, arthritis, or conjunctivitis. The WHO defines a probable case as a suspected case with IgM antibody against Zika virus and an epidemiologic link, such as contact with a confirmed case or residence in or travel to an area with local Zika transmission.A confirmed case is defined as a person with a recent Zika infection as confirmed by detection of viral RNA or antigen in serum or other samples or detection of IgM antibody against Zika and a 90% plaque-reduction neutralization test at certain cutoffs compared with other flaviviruses, with exclusion of such viruses.Brazil updates microcephaly count, rejects larvicide suspicionMeanwhile, Brazil’s health ministry said Feb 12 that it had received reports of 296 more suspected cases of microcephaly. However, it ruled out 765 earlier suspected ones, according to an official statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.Brazilian authorities are still investigating 3,862 suspected microcephaly cases, with 462 of them now confirmed and 765 ruled out as of Feb 2. The cumulative number of suspected cases is now at 5,079.Brazil’s 462 confirmed microcephaly cases span 175 cities in 13 states, an increase from 156 cities in 9 states reported in the ministry’s report the week before.The health ministry said that despite the possible relationship with Zika virus, microcephaly can be caused by other conditions such as syphilis, toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, and herpes virus.In other developments, the health ministry on Feb 13 issued a statement countering an Argentine environmental group’s charge that the larvicide pyriproxifen, used in some drinking water supplies, is a more likely microcephaly culprit than Zika virus, according to statements translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary.The charges led one of Brazil’s southern states, Rio Grande Do Sul, to temporarily suspend use of the larvicide in drinking water. However, Brazil’s health ministry quickly posted a clarification on the use of pyriproxifen, noting that the product had been cleared by the WHO’s pesticide evaluation process and had also been certified by Brazilian safety officials.It added that there is no scientific basis for a link between the use of pyriproxifen and microcephaly and that some cities that haven’t used it have also reported microcephaly cases.NAS workshop to air Zika priorities tomorrowThe National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are hosting a public workshop tomorrow to discuss research priorities, given the emergence of Zika virus in the United States. The meeting was requested by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR).According to the meeting announcement, stakeholders will discuss steps to reduce the likelihood of local Zika virus transmission in the United States, identify knowledge gaps, pin down the most important research questions, such as the link between Zika virus and microcephaly, and assess communication needs regarding the risks and mitigation strategies.The meeting will take place at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, DC, starting at 8:30 am Eastern time, but it will also be Web-streamed live.A document summing up the presentations will be prepared at the end of the session, but no consensus findings or recommendations.See also:Feb 12 WHO Zika virus situation reportFeb 12 WHO Zika infection interim case definitionsFeb 12 Avian Flu Diary postFeb 13 Avian Flu Diary post on larvicide controversyNAS Zika workshop meeting background
U.S. Senator John McCain has filed an amendment to repeal the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as The Jones Act.The Jones Act requires that all goods shipped between waterborne ports of the United States be carried by vessels built in the United States and owned and operated by Americans.”I have long advocated for a full repeal of The Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers,” said Senator McCain. McCain cited the Congressional Research Service which found that the price of moving crude from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast United States on a Jones Tanker is three times higher than if a foreign-flagged tanker is used.Senator McCain’s latest stab at The Jones Act was strongly opposed by the American Maritime Partnership (AMP), saying that McCain’s amendment would eliminate the U.S. shipbuilding and outsource jobs.”The McCain amendment would gut the nation’s shipbuilding capacity, outsource our U.S. Naval shipbuilding to foreign builders, and cost hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs across this country,” said AMP Chairman Tom Allegretti. ‘‘The shipbuilding requirement, which Senator McCain seeks to eliminate, is in place to ensure that the United States maintains the industrial capacity to build its own ships, so as to protect and defend the American homeland.”
As part of the project, Tradelossa transported a 275-tonne boiler which had the dimensions 17 m x 8.5 m x 10 m.Watch a video of this transport here (password: boiler2013). www.tradelossa.com
No one likely escaped the flames that tore through a boat packed with scuba divers, with all 34 people sleeping below deck presumed dead during a Labor Day weekend expedition off the Southern California coast, authorities said Tuesday as they called off the search for survivors.Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said no one has been found alive after the fire engulfed the dive boat early Monday. Flames blocked an escape hatch and a stairwell leading to the sleeping area crowded with passengers on a recreational scuba diving trip.Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig told reporters that the victims’ relatives “will rely on us to do everything in our power to find out happened aboard that vessel in the last moments of these family members’ lives. That’s our commitment.”Only five crew members sleeping on the top deck were able to escape by jumping off and taking a small boat to safety.The fire that engulfed the Conception killed all 33 passengers and one crew member who was below deck, the sheriff said. Investigators have not yet determined how the fire erupted.The bodies of 20 victims have been recovered, and divers have seen between four and six others in the sunken wreckage, the sheriff said. Authorities are trying to stabilize the boat that sank in about 60 feet (18 meters) of water so divers can recover those remains.Most need to be identified by DNA analysis and officials are collecting samples from family members, Brown said.One passenger, marine biologist and veteran diver Kristy Finstad, 41, was identified in a Facebook post by her brother, Brett Harmeling of Houston.“Please pray for my sister Kristy!! She was leading a dive trip on this boat,” Harmeling wrote.The sheriff says the majority of the victims appear to have been from Northern California, including Santa Cruz, San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area.The boat had departed Santa Barbara Harbor on Saturday and the fire broke out about 3 a.m. Monday while it was anchored off Santa Cruz Island, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Los Angeles. The crew appeared to quickly call for help.“The call was garbled, it was not that clear, but we were able to get some information out of it to send vessels,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said.Capt. Paul Amaral of the vessel assistance company TowBoatUS also launched a fast boat from Ventura Harbor, but it was some 30 miles (48 kilometers) away. By the time it got there around 5 a.m., a Coast Guard helicopter and a fireboat were on scene.Amaral said he first searched the water and shoreline, then turned back to the Conception, which was adrift. He attached a line and pulled it into deeper water so the fireboats could reach it.“We launched that boat knowing that the vessel was on fire, lots of people aboard,” he told The Associated Press.The five crew members, meanwhile, went on a dinghy to a private fishing boat, The Grape Escape, that was anchored near the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. Two had minor injuries.That boat’s owners, Bob and Shirley Hansen, told The New York Times they were asleep when they heard pounding on the side of their 60-foot (18-meter) vessel about 3:30 a.m. and discovered the frightened crew members.“When we looked out, the other boat was totally engulfed in flames, from stem to stern,” Hansen said. “I could see the fire coming through holes on the side of the boat. There were these explosions every few beats. You can’t prepare yourself for that. It was horrendous.”Hansen said two of the crew members went back toward the Conception looking for survivors but found no one.The 75-foot (23-meter) Conception was on a three-day excursion to the chain of rugged, wind-swept isles that form Channel Islands National Park in the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles. The fire broke out as the boat sat anchored in Platt’s Harbor off Santa Cruz Island.The Conception, based in Santa Barbara Harbor on the mainland, was owned by Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics, founded in 1974. A memorial outside Truth Aquatics in the Santa Barbara Harbor grew Monday night as mourners came to pay their respects.Dave Reid, who runs an underwater camera manufacturing business with his wife, Terry Schuller, and has traveled on the Conception and two other boats in Truth Aquatics’ fleet, said he considered all three among the best and safest.“When you see the boats they are always immaculate,” he said. “I wouldn’t hesitate at all to go on one again. Of all the boat companies, that would be one of the ones I wouldn’t think this would happen to.”His wife said Truth Aquatics crews have always been meticulous in going over safety instructions at the beginning of every trip she’s been on.“They tell you where the life jackets are, how to put them on … the exits, where the fire extinguishers are, on every single trip,” said Schuller. “They are the best, the absolute best.”Both said the sleeping area is comfortable but tight, however, with bunk beds stacked next to one another on the lowest deck. Coming up to the top deck to get off requires navigating a narrow stairway with only one exit.If the fire was fast-moving, Reid said, it’s very likely divers couldn’t escape and the crew couldn’t get to them.Coast Guard records show all safety violations from the last five years were quickly addressed by the boat’s owners. Some violations were related to fire safety. A 2016 inspection resulted in owners replacing the heat detector in the galley and one in 2014 cited a leaky fire hose.The Conception was chartered by Worldwide Diving Adventures, which says on its website that it has been taking divers on such expeditions since the 1970s.Andy Taylor, owner of Blue Water Hunter Dive Shop in Santa Barbara, said he discussed dive conditions with several people Friday as they were buying some last-minute things before boarding the Conception. Taylor said he often sends divers to Truth Aquatics for trips and he has friends who have crewed on the Conception.He said he was on the phone all day Monday as friends checked to make sure he had not been on the boat.“Right now it’s a big question of who was on there and who wasn’t,” he said. “I’m scared to see the list of names, honestly.”___Associated Press writers John Antczak, John Rogers, Frank Baker and Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles, Stephanie Mullen in San Francisco, Michael R. Blood in Oxnard, California, and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this story. Recommended Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. 2 Florida firefighters help fight fires out west, say more help needed SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) Officials: 34 presumed dead after fire on Calif. scuba diving boat Author: STEFANIE DAZIO/APWriter:WINK News SHARE Seeping under doors, bad air from West’s fires won’t ease up Published: September 3, 2019 4:22 PM EDT Updated: September 3, 2019 4:23 PM EDT