Study Finds Testing Students Every 2 Days Will Allow Universities To Open Safely

Researchers also say, ‘either they open their doors to students in September or they risk serious financial consequences’

As tensions continue to run high with regard to schools reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, a new study finds infections can be controlled on campuses if college students are tested every two days.

The study, by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Open Network (JAMA), used 5,000 hypothetical “students” to show how the virus may spread if only ten of those students were infected. They found the best case scenario for students returning was if they were tested every two days, “a frequency that far exceeds the current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Researchers found if students did not return to classrooms on campus, there could be massive financial impacts.

“The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic poses an existential threat to many U.S. residential colleges,” the JAMA researcher wrote. “Either they open their doors to students in September or they risk serious financial consequences.” But what about the consequences of having students packed together?

Instead, researchers said screening every two days using a rapid test (which has been shown to miss positive infections and give false positives) would “maintain a controllable number of COVID-19 infections” if coupled with “strict behavioral interventions,” like isolating the infected in restricted residence halls.

The study estimated screening costs would be $470 per student per semester — but didn’t consider the impact to staff and surrounding areas where campuses are located. It also said consideration must be given to those students isolated from others, especially if they find many of the students are testing false positive, but didn’t consider students living in off-campus housing, living with relatives, or interacting with the public outside of the confines of campus.

“Setting aside the logistic challenges and financial costs, administrators must anticipate the anxiety such separations may provoke among both students and their families,” the researchers wrote. “Excessive numbers of false-positive results may fuel panic and undermine confidence in the reliability of the monitoring program.” As does sending our kids back to school with no real plan for how to keep them safe.

This also doesn’t consider logistical issues, like test availability and the sheer capacity it would take to isolate students who have the virus in one central area. And if all students are being housed together, what happens to those whose test was a false positive who have now been around infected students?

But the study’s lead author, A. David Paltiel, said testing every two days would eventually weed out the false positives and that the benefits of opening schools outweigh the risks. “We believe there is a safe way for students to return to college in fall 2020,” the study said. Paltiel added: “The problem doesn’t go away simply because you don’t reopen campus. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Even if schools were able to organize and afford testing every two days, controlling an outbreak would only happen with strict adherence to hand-washing, wearing masks indoors, eliminating buffet dining, reducing class sizes, and social distancing. Even then, it’s no guarantee. Just ask Major League Baseball — comprised of adults who have been sequestered and tested daily for the virus.

“Widespread access to rapid, inexpensive testing is a key ingredient of reopening colleges safely,” JAMA said of the study. “Nevertheless, the authors’ findings should be contextualized and their limitations recognized before they are translated into policy recommendations.”

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Anti-Trump ‘Living Statues’ Pop Up Around D.C.

The group used local performers to create the statues

Living statues were installed around Washington, D.C. on Friday morning depicting Trump in some of his most, um, recent memorable moments as president. A group of artists known as the Trump Statue Initiative is responsible for the statues, using local performers and theatrical workers to show Trump in three “acts” as they refer to them on their website. The result is something you really need to see to fully appreciate.

The first act shows Trump as “The Poser,” and immortalizes him during his “darkest hour as president.” The statue shows Black Lives Matters protesters being beaten by police near Lafayette Square — which happened in June — before Trump posed for photos in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church holding up a Bible. The second act shows one of Trump’s “most cowardly moments.” This one, called “The Bunker,” shows him hiding in his bunker (which he later said he was just inspecting) while protests erupted outside The White House. The actor is seen sitting, legs crossed, holding a teddy bear.

“Donald Trump and his Teddy Barr,” project director Bryan Buckley wrote in part on Instagram.

The third act, called “Now Go Back To School,” depicts Trump sending innocent kids back to school during a pandemic. In it, Trump can be seen holding a golf club in one hand and a lollipop in the other. He is ordering a child wearing PPE equipment to return to in-person classes.

The base of the statues had “destroyer of civil rights and liberties” written in gold.

“We wanted to create these sort of defining moments of his presidency,” Buckley told the Washingtonian, “in terms of everything that was wrong.”

The Trump Statue Initiative also said it wanted to “memorialize [Trump’s] legacy in a way our President can truly relate: Realistic heroic statues,” a nod to Trump’s desire not to have confederate soldier and other statues removed, even going so far as to say, if caught, those removing or destroying those statues could face up to ten years in jail.

“We’re hoping with this initiative, we will inspire other street performers, other artists to follow suit, whether across the country in swing states or conventions,” Buckley told The Hill. “That we really start to show these moments in statue form that show what we’ll be living with [if Trump wins reelection].”

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Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor Over Mask Mandate

A report by the White House Task Force recommends Georgia issue a statewide mask mandate

On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has filed a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and members of Atlanta’s City Council for ordering people to wear masks. This comes one day after he blocked local officials and business owners from enforcing their own mask rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“As the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms does not have the legal authority to modify, change or ignore Governor Kemp’s executive orders,” the court document said. “What kind of message does it send when you have mandates already that people aren’t enforcing?” Kemp later tweeted. “This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times.”

 

The lawsuit also said that Kemp alone “leads the State of Georgia in its fight against the worldwide novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic,” adding that he has the power “to suspend municipal orders that are contradictory to any state law or to his executive orders.”

“I have grave concern about our young people and other people getting so reliant on the government that we lose the basis of what this country was founded on, and that’s freedom and liberty and opportunity for any one, any one,” Kemp tweeted.

Mayor Lance Bottoms responded to Kemp’s lawsuit, saying, “3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing.”

 

Today, Kemp sent another tweet urging Georgians to, in fact, wear a mask. If you’re scratching your head right now, please know you’re not alone.

“I know that many well-intentioned and well-informed Georgians want a mask mandate, and while we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I’m confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing,” Kemp said.

He also said of businesses that they are feeling the financial strain of the pandemic, saying in part, “These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth,” Kemp wrote.

But as one business owner pointed out, the longer the pandemic goes on (because people refuse to wear masks to slow the spread), the worse off they will be.

As of Thursday, there were 77,255 new cases reported, topping a previous high set two days ago, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 943 people were reported dead that day. Georgia has been named one of 18 states in the “red zone” by the White House Task Force, meaning it had more than 100 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people last week and had more than 10 percent of diagnostic tests coming back as positive. The report recommended Georgia issue a statewide mask mandate.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.

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Google Has A Fun ‘Friends’ Trick That Fans Are Loving

Sure, it’s a year old, but it doesn’t make it less fun to Google your favorite ‘Friends’ characters

If you need one more reason to ignore your kids for five minutes today for a little “you” time, might I suggest Googling your favorite Friends characters? Google came up with a little trick of sorts so that when you type Monica Geller, Rachel Green, Phoebe Buffay, Chandler Bing, Ross Geller, or Joey Tribbiani into the search field, you’ll get an icon to click on that will most definitely bring a smile to your face.

The creators of the iconic sitcom Friends gave us a total of 236 episodes over ten years to enjoy; and with streaming services like HBO Max, you can rewatch them to your heart’s content whenever you so desire. In honor of the show’s 25-year anniversary last year, Google hid these little Easter eggs next to the main character’s names; and when you click on them, a signature part of that cast member pops up.

(Yes, we know this has been around for a year; and yes, it’s worth sharing anyway.)

Google

For example, if you type in Ross Geller, a sofa icon will appear. We already know what it’s going to say (spoiler: “PIVOT!”), but what it does to your screen makes it even funnier. Phoebe Buffay’s name will play you a sweet rendition of her hit single, “Smelly Cat,” and Monica Geller’s icon will make her name squeaky-clean.

Famous for creating “The Rachel” haircut, Google placed an emoji showing her most popular ‘do. If you click on it, you can search pages featuring all of Rachel Green’s ever-changing hairstyles throughout the years.

Google

For those wanting to find Janice’s ‘Oh. My. God,’ shriek or Ben Geller saying “Monica bang” over and over, prepare for disappointment. The hidden icons only appear for the six main characters.

Google

But wait. There’s more.

Google also created a “Friends glossary” built into the search engine, so when you type in those words, a random word from the iconic series will appear and will give an explanation for each one. For instance, “fancy guest” means “one of 11 varieties of towels, along with ‘everyday use.’ Not to be confused with ‘fancy’ or ‘guest’ towels.”

Google

This isn’t the first time Google has surprised us with some good, old-fashioned fun. During quarantine, it announced its new AR dinosaurs feature, which lets you use your smartphone camera to place ten different, realistic, life-size dinosaurs from the Jurassic World franchise in your view.

There are a million ways to get our Friends on, but Google’s hidden icons give us just one more way to celebrate our favorite characters.

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Carl Reiner’s Final Performance Was Recreating ‘Princess Bride’ Scene With His Son

The scene was filmed just days before Carl Reiner passed away

The world lost beloved comedic actor Carl Reiner at the end of June. What no one knew was we’d get to see one final performance just days before his death as a part of the fan-film version of The Princess Bride, the iconic film directed by his son, Rob Reiner

In the clip, the father-son duo acted out the scene when the grandfather (played by Peter Falk) reads the final chapter to his grandson (played by Fred Savage) about the most romantic kiss shared by Princess Buttercup and Wesley. Reiner sits and reads the final words, and Rob, tucked in bed, asks if he’ll come back tomorrow. Carl answers with a tip of his hat, “As you wish.”

Please grab four boxes of Kleenex before you watch.

Filmmaker Jason Reitman had been working on the secret project since March, enlisting some seriously famous performers to shoot a homemade, fan-filmed version of the cult classic, all on their phones. It was released on Quibi with each chapter featuring a different cast every day for two weeks. This version of The Princess Bride was a charity project for the World Central Kitchen charity, founded by José Andrés, which has been helping thousands of restaurants stay open feeding millions of meals to those in need.

 

Rob Reiner talked to Vanity Fair on June 25, the day before the project was revealed, about the scene with his dad.

“I don’t know if you know this, but in the last one, my father’s going to play the grandfather and I’m going to play the grandson,” Rob said. “He’s doing good. I just talked to him a few minutes ago. For a guy who’s 98, he’s doing all right.”

Carl died four days later.

Rob made the announcement on Twitter, writing, “Last night, my dad passed away. As I write this, my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”

People around the world sent messages remembering the beloved star. Co-star and friend Mel Brooks summed Reiner up best, saying, “I loved him. When we were doing The 2000 Year Old Man together there was no better straight man in the world. So whether he wrote or performed or he was just your best friend — nobody could do it better. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Reitman said of the final scene: “It dawned on me: It was his final performance on not only a perfect career, but a perfect life. It felt like one more chance to see Carl Reiner. It was actually a scene about the love of a grandfather and a grandson. It’s a scene about storytelling. You can’t help but imagine Carl reading stories to Rob when he was a kid, and that this is what it looked like and what it felt like.”

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Internal CDC Report Warned Fully Reopening Schools Remained ‘Highest Risk’ For Spread

The report was shelved and a new, less stringent plan was released by the CDC

Internal documents from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned K-12 school and university reopenings would be the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus, according to a New York Times report. The report was issued the same week Trump and his administration pushed for schools to reopen.

The Times released the CDC’s 69-page document marked “For Internal Use Only” and found “noticeable gaps” in all of the K-12 reopening plans it reviewed.

“While many jurisdictions and districts mention symptom screening, very few include information as to the response or course of action they would take if student/faculty/staff are found to have symptoms, nor have they clearly identified which symptoms they will include in their screening,” the report stated in a “talking points” section. “In addition, few plans include information regarding school closure in the event of positive tests in the school community.”

The report, which has yet to be officially released by the CDC, was meant for federal public health officials that are being sent to hot spots around the country to help local public health officials make informed decisions about reopenings during the pandemic.

In recent weeks, Trump has downplayed CDC guidelines around reopening schools. “I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,” he tweeted. “While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”

Trump also threatened to cut federal funding if schools do not have in-person classes. “The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families,” he wrote. “May cut off funding if not open!”

During a press briefing a few hours later, Vice President Mike Pence said the CDC would be issuing new guidelines on school reopenings, presumably less stringent.

“What it tells us is left to its own devices, the CDC can do a pretty good job in compiling a comprehensive document that shows the complexity of what institutions are facing,” said Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president of the American Council on Education. “The good news is, this is very thoughtful and complete. The bad news is, it’s never been released.”

It is unclear whether the President viewed the CDC document, according to the Times.

The number of daily infections in the U.S. surpassed 60,000 for a third consecutive day on Saturday, after reaching a new record of more than 66,000 cases the day before. The U.S. has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, nearly 3.29 million, and 137,000 deaths.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.

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Tom Hanks Celebrates His 64th Birthday With Epic Slow-Mo Pool Dive

We could honestly watch this video of Tom Hanks all day

National treasure and all-around great guy Tom Hanks celebrated his birthday in style yesterday. The actor turned 64 and made quite the splash letting the world know.

The Oscar-winning actor filmed himself in slow-mo diving into a pool. He captioned the video, “This Greyhound is 64!! Hanx,” a nod to his World War II movie about the Battle of the Atlantic, Greyhound, which drops on Apple TV today.

View this post on Instagram

This Greyhound is 64!! Hanx.

A post shared by Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) on

His wife, Rita Wilson, also wished the birthday boy a happy birthday on Instagram, sharing an adorable picture of her husband and writing, “Happy Birthday, @tomhanks We love you so much. You are our anchor. Every day with you is a blessing.”

The actress also shared lyrics from the Beatles hit, “When I’m Sixty Four,” writing, “Give me your answer, fill in a form Mine for evermore, Will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I’m sixty-four,” and quickly replied to her own question with a “YES!”

In recent months, the pair have been vocal about their battle with coronavirus and reminding people that we all must individually do our part to stop the spread. Wilson and Hanks tested positive for the virus when they were in Australia. They recovered and came back to their home in Los Angeles where they are continuing to self-isolate.

“Let’s not confuse the fact, it’s killing people,” Hanks told Hoda Kotb on the Today Show. “You can say, ‘Well, traffic accidents kill a lot of people too.’ But traffic accidents happen because a lot of drivers aren’t doing their part,” he said. “I don’t know how common sense has somehow been put in question in regards to this.”

He also compared what we are facing today with World War II, saying in part, “There was a sensibility that permeated all of society [in the war], which was ‘Do your part. We’re all in this together.’ And doing your part meant there was a tiny amount of stuff you could do to aid the ongoing status of an effort that had no sign of its conclusion.”

Hanks also opened up to The Guardian, saying that he and Wilson had vastly different experiences with COVID. “My wife lost her sense of taste and smell, she had severe nausea, she had a much higher fever than I did,” Hanks elaborated. “I just had crippling body aches, I was very fatigued all the time and I couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than about 12 minutes. That last bit is kinda like my natural state anyway.”

Happy birthday to the man, the myth, the legend. Here’s to 64 more.

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Speech Pathologist Creates Books To Help Kids With Autism Understand COVID

Her stories talk about masks, school, bus rides and more

Teaching children about the pandemic and all of the changes happening in their world hasn’t been easy. One speech/language pathologist who started Autism Little Learners to help teach children with autism created some incredible stories to help them navigate the uncertainty they may be feeling.

Tara Tuchel has specialized in autism for the past 20 years and created Autism Little Learners as a resource for families and educators. When the pandemic started, a friend of hers asked her to write a story for her daughter to help explain what is happening and she took that and created more stories as interest grew. All you do is print them out and share them. You can also buy licenses to share with other parents or teachers.

Autism Little Learners

“As the Coronavirus pandemic started, I had a friend who asked if I could write a social story for her daughter, who was having a hard time suddenly having to stay home,” Tuchel tells Scary Mommy. “She missed going to her favorite stores and restaurants. So, I wrote her a story about Coronavirus and staying home.”

Tuchel said it helped her friend’s daughter a lot so she put that story out for free on her social media platforms. She said the demand for more spurred her to create several more stories about what was happening in the world. “I wrote stories about COVID and staying 6 feet apart. Then, about distance learning and how-to video chat,” she said. “Then, it moved to seeing people wearing masks followed by wearing a mask. Then, a story about not going back to school.”

Autism Little Learners

“The new topics just kept coming and I was getting requests for stories on these new topics,” Tuchel shares. “So, I relied a lot on what parents and teachers were asking for. The stories spread around the globe and started being translated into many, many different languages. This really made me realize that the entire world was in this together and facing the same challenges.”

Autism Little Learners

Tuchel has a bunch of awesome tools on her site including stories and flashcards on toilet training, screaming, fire drills, and school safety as well as speech and language resources for parents and teachers to help children with autism. She also has a tab dedicated to COVID-19 so her resources are easily downloadable for sharing.

She also received requests for a story about speech/language pathologists wearing masks during speech therapy sessions, so she created special ones just for her fellow speech/language pathologists! “I’ve also added stories for OT’s, PT’s, Psychologists and Therapists in general,” she said on her website.

Autism Little Learners

What a wonderful way to help kids learn and feel better about what’s happening in their world.

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Thousands Petition To Rename Columbus, OH ‘Flavortown’ To Honor Guy Fieri

So far, almost 50,000 people have signed the petition to rename Columbus, OH “Flavortown” in honor of Guy Fieri

The Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus, Ohio, is on its way out, and for some residents, the statue isn’t enough. They want a new name for the city, and why not pay homage to Columbus-born Guy Fieri by renaming it “Flavortown.”

Fieri has branded himself the “mayor of Flavortown,” in his Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and his fans think this is the perfect moniker for Columbus. According to an online Change.org petition, over 47,000 people agree (and counting).

The petition’s creator, Tyler Woodbridge, said the purpose of the proposed name change takes care of two things. “For one, it honors Central Ohio’s proud heritage as a culinary crossroads and one of the nation’s largest test markets for the food industry,” the 31-year-old wrote. “Secondly, cheflebrity Guy Fieri was born in Columbus, so naming the city in honor of him (he’s such a good dude, really) would be superior to its current nomenclature.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and other city officials haven’t yet responded to the petition but I, as a native-born Ohioan, would wholeheartedly support this decision. Why not bring a little levity to renaming the city? You can’t watch Guy Fieri and not smile. The dude is passionate about food, chunky silver rings, all things “off the hook,” and “riding the bus to Flavortown.” It’s an easy change to get behind.

The petition comes days after Columbus State Community College dismantled the statue of Columbus and Columbus statues in other states are also being removed because the colonization that brought him to America was full of violence and murder against Indigenous people. David Harrison, the college’s president, described the move as a “symbolic gesture” to “continue and accelerate the fight against systemic racism.” A second statue of Columbus, located at City Hall, is also expected to be removed.

Fieri, 52, was born in Columbus, Ohio, but grew up mostly in Ferndale, California. In 2017, he brought the cast of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to Columbus’ Riverside Methodist Hospital where he was born to surprise the staff.

Last year, Fieri received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he’s filmed more than 600 episodes of his popular Food Network shows (of which I’ve seen 590).

Woodbridge, who now resides in Tennessee, said on the Change.org page that he’s, “not up to date on my Columbus town charter, so whether it takes a council vote or a petition or a town referendum – let’s get the ball rolling for a more flavorful tomorrow.”

Let’s make it happen, people.

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7-Year-Old Stages Adorable ‘Mini Prom’ After His Babysitter’s Dance Was Canceled

This is the most adorable socially distanced prom ever

As seniors deal with missed milestones like proms, sports, and graduations, one very thoughtful seven-year-old decided to surprise his babysitter with her very own “mini prom” after her dance was canceled.

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Chapman attended Sanderson High School in North Carolina and was understandably upset when her senior prom was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, she’s the nanny to a a sweet boy who threw her an adorable prom of his own.

Curtis Rogers wanted to cheer Rachel up, so with the help of his mom, he hosted the teen for dinner, dancing, and quite possibly the cutest pictures you’ve ever seen.

“Rachel has been a nanny for Curtis for over a year. When he realized her senior prom was cancelled, he wanted to throw one for her,” Rachel’s mom Becky Chapman shared on her Facebook page. “Complete with her favorite foods, flowers, and dancing, Curtis (and his mom) pulled off the best socially distant prom ever.”

Becky tells Scary Mommy she was happy to share some good news given all that is happening in the world. “He is a sweet kid. So thoughtful,” she said, while adding that her daughted has cared for the boy for over a year.

Curtis looked sharp in his checked three-piece suit and a bow tie that matched Rachel’s dress. He also made sure the pair remained six-feet apart by using a pool noodle to maintain proper social distancing, making him the most thoughtful prom date in the history of all prom dates.

Becky Chapman

Curtis clearly planned everything down to the last detail. Flowers sat on the table, along with sparkling cider, their favorite tunes, and he made sure she was comfortable during the dancing part of the evening by throwing off their shoes in lieu of bare feet in the grass. He even surprised her with a mini “promposal” two days before the big event. This sounds like a perfect prom to me.

“I decided that we should just do this now because the coronavirus has people down in the dumps,” Curtis told WBNS 10 TV. He even managed to get her favorites for dinner — Chick-fil-A and smoothies. “I know we had everything she loves,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what happens to you. It matters what happens to the people you love,” the boy said.

Despite the fact that Rachel didn’t get to experience her first choice for prom, her mom says the fact that Curtis’ act of kindness is going viral means a lot. We’re glad so many people are responding to it,” Becky told Scary Mommy. “[It’s] nice to spread some joy.”

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