‘Too many are selfish’: U.S. nears 5 million virus cases as Americans resist curbs on everyday life


Big house parties and weddings, summer camps, concerts, crowded bars and restaurants, shopping trips without masks — Americans’ resistance to curbs on everyday life is seen as a key reason the U.S. has racked up more confirmed coronavirus deaths and infections by far than any other country.

The nation has recorded more than 155,000 dead in a little more than six months and is fast approaching an almost off-the-charts 5 million COVID-19 infections.

Some Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing, calling such precautions an over-the-top response or an infringement on their liberty. Public health experts say such behavior has been compounded by confusing and inconsistent guidance from politicians and a patchwork quilt of approaches to containing the scourge by county, state and federal governments.

“The thing that’s maddening is country after country and state after state have shown us how we can contain the virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick, who is leading a pandemic initiative for the Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s not like we don’t know what works. We do.”

The number of confirmed infections in the U.S. has topped 4.7 million, with new cases running at over 60,000 a day. While that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are on the rise in 26 states, many of them in the South and West, and deaths are climbing in 35 states.

On average, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day in the U.S. over the past two weeks has gone from about 780 to 1,056, according to an Associated Press analysis.

In Massachusetts, leading physicians, including the president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, have been calling on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to consider scaling back the state’s phased reopening because of an uptick in cases.

Massachusetts health officials said they are investigating at least a half-dozen new clusters of cases connected to such events as a lifeguard party, a high school graduation party, a prom party, an unsanctioned football camp and a packed harbor cruise trip.

One recent house party on Cape Cod has led to more than a dozen new cases and prompted some restaurants to close or limit service at the height of tourist season because seasonal workers had attended the gathering.

Elsewhere around the state, a Springfield hospital is dealing with an outbreak of more than 40 cases linked to a staffer who recently returned from an out-of-state vacation and then spread the virus to colleagues while eating lunch in a break room.

Hot spots around the U.S. are cropping up in what once seemed like ideal places to ride out the outbreak: rural, less populated and with lots of outdoor space. In South Dakota, a spike erupted at a Christian youth summer camp in the Black Hills, with cases growing to 96 among 328 people who attended.

In Virginia, cases have surged so much in cites like Norfolk and Virginia Beach that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam placed limits last week on the region’s alcohol sales and gatherings of more than 50 people. Northam, the nation’s only governor who is a doctor, cited rising infections among young people and said the problem is that “too many people are selfish.”

“We all know that alcohol changes your judgment,” he said. “You just don’t care as much about social distancing after you’ve had a couple of drinks. That’s when the virus gets spread.”

Dr. Demetria Lindsay, the Virginia Department of Health’s district director for Virginia Beach and Norfolk, said there has been a pronounced spike among people ages of 20 to 29. She said factors behind the surge include gatherings of people not wearing masks or keeping a safe distance.

“Father’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, birthdays, backyard barbecues, you name it,” Lindsay said.

The wedding industry likewise is seeing no-mask receptions with crowded dance floors and no social distancing.

Wedding planner Lynne Goldberg has a December wedding scheduled for 200 guests at the home of the bride’s parents in upstate New York.

“They have emphatically shared that this pandemic is not going to get in the way of their wedding plans and that there will be no masks handed out and no signs promoting social distancing at their wedding,” she said. “The bride has said that when she shows her children her wedding video, she doesn’t want it to be a documentary of the 2020 pandemic.”


Public restroom hand dryers found to harbor Staphylococcus and fecal matter

Automatic hand dryers in men’s and women’s public restrooms can harbor and spread bacteria, including Staphylococcus and fecal matter, according to research presented during ASM Microbe, which is being held virtually this year.

To assess the contamination of public restroom hand dryers, Craig Oberg, PhD, Brady Distinguished Professor of Microbiology at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and two undergraduate students collected samples using 3M Quickswabs from three different locations in each hand dryer — the top of the dryer above the air vents, in the middle beneath the air vents on the internal part of the dryer and the bottom of the dryer.

“Initially, the students were looking for contamination on exercise equipment, then they started looking at other common use equipment in gym areas and restrooms when they settled on hand dryers, especially since they have the potential to aerosolize into the surrounding area,” Oberg told Healio.

Results of the study showed that the bottom of dryers in both the men’s and women’s restrooms had the most contamination, with an average of about 300 organisms/5 cm2, followed by the middle section, which had roughly half as many organisms, averaging 140 organisms/5 cm2 and the top of the dryer, which contained 75 organisms/5 cm2. The researchers said there was no overall difference between the two brands of dryers tested in the study — Dyson Airblade and Mediclinics Dualflow Plus.

As far as finding safer ways to use the dryers, Oberg said the best option is to redesign them with internal ultraviolet light sources to prevent the buildup of microorganisms inside the dryer.

“We recommend that the inside of the dryer be cleaned as part of the bathroom cleaning schedule, which would mean turning off the dryer, then cleaning the hand chamber manually with disinfectant,” he said, adding that using paper towels is likely a safer option, provided that they are not already carrying some microorganisms.

“I think there is certainly the possibility of thinking your hands are clean when they may have been inoculated with micrograms while being dried,” Oberg said. “Our next study is to determine if microorganisms residing on the inside of the dryer readily transmit to the hand. I suspect that would be the case.”


Eugene Shoemaker: the only person whose ashes have been buried on any celestial body outside Earth

Eugene Shoemaker

Carolyn Shoemaker

Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker stand by the 18″ Schmidt Telescope at the Palomar Observatory. They used it to search for asteroids and comets that may come close to the earth’s orbit.

Scientist Eugene Shoemaker (C) pictured on July, 17, 1994 in Greenbelt, Maryland, with a series of images of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet impact with Jupiter. At right is his wife Carolyn and at left is David Levy.

Today, we know Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as the first men to land on the moon, 51 years ago. But, if not for a turn of events, history may have also known another name: Eugene Shoemaker.

Thirty years after that one small step for mankind, Eugene would make his own, extraordinary journey to the moon.

Chapter 1: Boy meets girl

In the summer of 1950, Carolyn Spellmann was a college student living in Chico, California. It was there where she would first meet her future husband and science partner, Eugene Shoemaker.

“He came to be my brother’s best man at his wedding,” Carolyn recalled. “He came there, and I opened the back door, and there was Gene.”

That first meeting turned into a long-distance pen pal relationship, and a year later, they were married.

Chapter 2: Reaching for the stars

It was Gene who would encourage Carolyn to step behind a telescope, sparking a lifelong passion and profession.

“Gene simply said, ‘Maybe I would like to see things through the telescope,'” Carolyn remembered. “I thought, ‘No, I’ve never stayed awake a night in my life, I don’t think so.’ But I gradually fell into the program, into the work.”

Carolyn went on to become a celebrated astronomer, and even held the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of comets discovered by an individual. “That earned me the nickname of Mrs. Comet,” said Carolyn.

While Carolyn focused her research on comets and near-Earth asteroids, her husband was interested in the things that asteroids created — craters.

“He always thought big, and so the origin of the universe was his project,” Carolyn said. “The more we found that had craters on them, the more excited he was.”

Chapter 3: Shooting for the moon

But for Eugene, the moon was always the ultimate goal.

“Gene wanted to go to the moon more than anything since he was a very young man,” Carolyn said. “Gene felt that putting a man on the moon was a step in science … He felt that we had a lot to learn about the origin of the moon, and therefore, other planets.”

So, in 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would be sending a man to the moon before the end of the decade, Eugene’s life changed forever. As a geologist dedicated to studying craters, he wanted the chance to stand on the moon, study its surface with his own two hands.

“Gene thought that he was going to the moon,” Carolyn said. “He wanted to, he worked very hard toward that end. Gene was terribly excited and worried, too, because he felt it was too soon. Too soon, he wasn’t prepared and ready, yet, he was still learning lots of things that he would need to know.”

Chapter 4: A dream deferred

But, it wasn’t his time. A failed medical test stopped his dreams in their tracks.

“It was discovered that he had Addison’s disease, which is a failure of the adrenal glands,” Carolyn recalled.

“That meant that there was no prospect at all of his ever going to the moon.”

Carolyn said Eugene “felt like his goal had suddenly disappeared.”

“At the same time, he was not a quitter,” she added.

Eugene continued to work to bring qualified people into the astronaut training program.

“He helped train Neil Armstrong, he helped train many of the astronauts,” Carolyn said. “He took the first group, and then several other groups to Meteor Crater (in Arizona).”

Meteor Crater was used as a training ground for astronauts because it mimicked the surface of the moon, both being dotted with meteor-impact craters.

Chapter 5: Turning their attention

While Eugene tucked away his hope of going to the moon, he and Carolyn set up an observation program at Palomar Observatory in California, looking to uncover near-Earth objects. That led them to one of their greatest discoveries — Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, the comet that collided with Jupiter. It was the first time in history humans had observed a collision between two bodies in the solar system.

“He let the dream of going to the moon himself go, he was realistic about it,” Carolyn said. “At the same time, it was still on his mind. When we would do our observing program, he would be looking at the moon with that in mind, I’m sure.”

Eventually, Carolyn and Eugene would put space behind them and turn their attention to their own backyard.

“Our focus changed over the years from looking up at the moon and looking at the sky only, to considering what would happen on Earth,” Carolyn said. “Gene had a dream of seeing an asteroid hit the Earth.”

Their search for impact craters took them all over the world, with a special focus on Australia.

“The trips to Australia were rather special,” Carolyn said. “We went to Australia because it had the oldest land surface available to study.”

“We were living out of our truck … We were able to camp out under the stars, which was really special because their sky was just magnificent, and it was different from ours. It was upside down.”

Chapter 6: A fateful day

On July 18, 1997, Eugene and Carolyn were driving to meet a friend who would help them with some crater-mapping.

“We were just looking off in the distance, talking about how much fun we were having, what we were going to do,” Carolyn remembers. “Then suddenly, there appeared a Land Rover in front of us, and that was it.”

The two vehicles collided, and Eugene died.

“I had been hurt and I thought to myself, ‘Well, Gene will come around like he always does and rescue me,'” Carolyn recalls. “So I waited, and I called, and nothing happened.”

Chapter 7: Getting the call

While Carolyn was recovering in the hospital, she received a call from Carolyn Porco — an ex-student of Eugene’s who had been working on the Lunar Prospector space probe mission with NASA.

“She said, ‘I’m here in Palo Alto with some people who are working on Lunar Prospector,'” Carolyn remembers.

“They’re about to send a mission up to the moon, I wonder if you would like to put Gene’s ashes on the moon?”

I said, ‘Yes … I think that would be wonderful.'”
On January 6, 1998, the Lunar Prospector was sent off, carrying Eugene’s ashes onboard. “The whole family was there to wave Gene goodbye,” Carolyn said.

Chapter 8: A telling passage

Along with the space probe, an epigraph, laser-etched onto a piece of brass foil, was sent up with Eugene’s remains. It included a passage from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

“And, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

After the Prospector’s mission was completed, it ran out of fuel and crashed into the side of the moon, by the South Pole. The impact created its own crater, and that’s where Eugene’s ashes remain today.

“Gene spent most of his life thinking about craters, about the moon,” Carolyn said. “It was ironic that he ended his life also with the moon … but he would have been very pleased to know that happened.”


A few years prior to his death, while receiving the William Bowie Medal for his contributions to geophysics, Eugene noted that “not going to the moon and banging on it with my own hammer has been my biggest disappointment in life”

“But then, I probably wouldn’t have gone to Palomar Observatory to take some 25,000 films of the night sky with Carolyn,” he continued. “We wouldn’t have had the thrills of finding those funny things that go bump in the night.”

Carolyn misses him always. To this day, she’ll look up to the moon and imagine him there with his rocks — looking down.

To hear her say it, he still lights up every single one of her night skies.


Experimental Blood Test Could Flag Alzheimer’s

New studies show that elevated levels of a form of tau called p-tau217 can accurately distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other forms of dementia, and perhaps even predict it.

by Kerry Grens

Three studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this week describe the performance of blood tests used to diagnose, and even predict, Alzheimer’s disease using circulating levels of a form of tau protein called p-tau217. The largest assessment of this approach, which included 1,402 participants, showed that circulating p-tau217 levels worked just as well at detecting Alzheimer’s as standard PET scans and tests of cerebrospinal fluid.

“This blood test very, very accurately predicts who’s got Alzheimer’s disease in their brain, including people who seem to be normal,” Michael Weiner, an Alzheimer’s disease researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study, tells The New York Times. “It’s not a cure, it’s not a treatment, but you can’t treat the disease without being able to diagnose it. And accurate, low-cost diagnosis is really exciting, so it’s a breakthrough.”

A blood test could help identify people on track to develop Alzheimer’s early on—and perhaps get them enrolled in drug trials aimed at finding an effective treatment for the disease. Scientists have pursued a number of potential circulating biomarkers, such as amyloid-β, to find those that can reliably diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or predict its development, but to date none have come to market.

High levels of tau or its phosphorylated form, p-tau, have emerged as promising biomarker candidates because they may indicate the presence of damaging structures known as neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.

The large study on one type of p-tau, p-tau217, published in JAMA July 28 to coincide with the presentation at the meeting, was a collection of three experiments using a blood test developed by Eli Lilly (some of the coauthors work for the company). In one assessment of several hundred Swedes, the test accurately distinguished patients who had Alzheimer’s from those with other forms of dementia with 89–98 percent accuracy. “That’s pretty good. We’ve never seen that” precision before, Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer, tells the Associated Press.

In another assessment of the Eli Lilly test, which included hundreds of related individuals, some of whom have a gene that causes Alzheimer’s, p-tau217 levels in the blood aligned with the genetics, even decades before cognitive impairment is likely to begin.

Another study presented at the conference found a p-tau217 blood test could accurately distinguish Alzheimer’s patients from those with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, according to a conference press release. And a third presentation of a study by Suzanne Schindler of Washington University in St. Louis and her colleagues reported that circulating p-tau217 was superior to another form that’s been studied as a potential biomarker, p-tau181, as a proxy for amyloid accumulation in the brain.

“I personally find it very reassuring that these different groups are using different types of assays and getting the same result,” Schindler tells the Times. “It looks real. It looks like 217 has tremendous promise as a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease, and it is likely to correspond with the symptoms.”

Speaking to The Guardian, Clive Ballard, who studies age-related disease at the University of Exeter Medical School and who was not involved in these projects, says, “further validation in people from more routine clinical settings are still needed, and a lot of work will be needed to achieve standardisation of the test across laboratories—so it could still be at least five years before we see an accurate blood biomarker test for dementia in the clinic.”


Neupro may reduce cognitive dysfunction among patients with Alzheimer’s disease

The dopaminergic agonist Neupro appeared to improve frontal cognitive functions and activities of daily living among patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, according to study results published in JAMA Network Open.

“Some early attempts have been carried out using dopaminergic drugs, such as L-dopa or selegiline, in samples of patients with Alzheimer’s disease at different stages of the disease, with some controversial results,” Giacomo Koch, MD, PhD, of the department of behavioral and clinical neurology at Santa Lucia Foundation Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare in Rome, and colleagues wrote. “More recently, experimental studies in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease showed that dopaminergic agonists may reduce amyloid deposition and improve memory and that the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area contributes to memory deficits. It has also been shown that in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, dopaminergic agonists improve cholinergic transmission and cortical plasticity likely by acting on the dopaminergic projections over the frontal cortex.”

This prior evidence suggested novel implications for therapies based on dopaminergic stimulation among patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, according to the investigators. Thus, they sought to determine whether dopaminergic agonist therapy would affect cognitive functions among this patient population.

In the current phase 2, monocentric, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in Italy and funded by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, Koch and colleagues enrolled 94 patients (mean age, 73.9 years) with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease between September 2017 and December 2018. The intervention comprised use of a Neupro (rotigotine, UCB) 2 mg transdermal patch for 1 week, followed by a 4 mg patch for 23 weeks among 47 patients or a placebo transdermal patch for 24 weeks among 47 patients. Change from baseline on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale served as the primary end point. Secondary end points included changes in Frontal Assessment Battery, Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living and Neuropsychiatric Inventory scores. The researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with electroencephalography to evaluate prefrontal cortex activity.

A total of 78 patients completed the study. Results showed rotigotine compared with placebo had no significant effect on the primary end point, with an estimated mean change in Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale score of 2.92 (95% CI, 2.51-3.33) among the rotigotine group and 2.66 (95% CI, 2.31-3.01) among the placebo group. The researchers reported significant estimated mean changes for the secondary outcomes between groups for Alzheimer Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living score, which was 3.32 (95% CI, 4.02 to 2.62) among the rotigotine group and 7.24 (95% CI, 7.84 to 6.64) among the placebo group. Frontal Assessment Battery score was 0.48 (95% CI, 0.31-0.65) among the rotigotine group and 0.66 (95% CI, 0.80 to 0.52) among the placebo group. Koch and colleagues observed no longitudinal change in Neuropsychiatric Inventory scores for either group. Neurophysiological analysis of electroencephalography results revealed increased prefrontal cortical activity among the rotigotine group but not the placebo group. Patients in the rotigotine group were more likely to experience adverse events than the placebo group, and 11 patients dropped out compared with five, respectively.

“This study provides novel evidence that drugs acting on the dopaminergic system may be helpful to improve cognitive functions related to the frontal lobe activity,” Koch told Healio Psychiatry. “We hope that this research will expand Alzheimer’s disease therapy to drugs acting on different neurotransmission systems, such as the dopaminergic one, in addition to the cholinergic drugs.”


Scientists Awaken Deep Sea Bacteria After 100 Million Years

The microbes had survived on trace amounts of oxygen, and were able to feed and multiply once revived in the lab.

These bacteria, glowing green in this microscopy image, were revived from deep sea sediment more than 100 million years old.

by Amanda Heidt

Microbes extracted from deep sea sediments that settled during the age of the dinosaurs have been revived in the lab after eons spent in a dormant state. Despite needing oxygen to survive, the bacteria were able to make due with only trace amounts and almost no food for more than 100 million years. Once reanimated, most of the microbes were able to feed and multiply with seemingly no ill effects attributed to their long period of rest.

“The most exciting part of this study is that it basically shows that there is no limit to life in the old sediments of Earth’s oceans,” Steven D’Hondt, an oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island and a coauthor of the study, tells Reuters. “Maintaining full physiological capability for 100 million years in starving isolation is an impressive feat.”The endeavor, described Tuesday (July 28) in Nature Communications, shows just how little is known about the physiological limits of life on Earth, the authors report.

Researchers have long looked to the Earth’s most extreme corners to study the limits of life, including the deep sea, and lead author Yuki Morono, a geomicrobiologist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, wanted to know just how high a tolerance bacteria have for conditions that would prove fatal for other organisms.

Morono collected sediment cores during a research cruise in 2010 aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a floating lab that operates 24 hours a day during scientific voyages. The team targeted the South Pacific Gyre off the east coast of Australia, often called an ocean desert because it lacks the nutrients needed to support even most plankton. As a result, very little organic matter falls to the seafloor more than three miles below.

Across the length of the roughly 250-foot cores, the team collected samples of clay spanning a deposition period between 13 million years ago and almost 102 million years ago. With the samples in the lab, they added nutrients such as nitrogen and carbon—food to jump start any life inside. For up to 557 days after, Morono would extract small chunks of sediment and dissolve them in water, searching for living cells. While a sample of sediment taken from a more oxygen-rich layer of the sea floor might contain more than 100,000 cells per cubic centimetre of mud, Science reports, these deep sea samples might initially only have 1,000 cells in that same volume.

Over time, the microbes began to multiply, a finding Morono initially attributed to “some mistake or a failure in the experiment,” he tells The Guardian. They ruled out contamination from other sources of seawater in the lab, ultimately confirming that what they were seeing was real. In many samples, as many as 99 percent of the microbes were revived. After 68 days, the total number of cells had increased by four orders of magnitude, up to 1 million cells per cubic centimetre.

A genetic analysis showed that the microbes were fairly diverse, representing 10 major groups of bacteria, some of which are widespread throughout other parts of the ocean. Kenneth Nealson, an environmental microbiologist retired from the University of Southern California who was not involved in the study, tells Science this finding “suggests that learning to survive under conditions of extreme energy limitation is a widespread ability,” a useful trick for microbes when food is scarce.

The relatively slow accumulation of sediments in the South Pacific Gyre ended up being key to the cells’ survival, The Guardian reports. When sediment builds up quickly, the pressure pushes out any oxygen that might otherwise linger between the grains to keep aerobic microbes alive. The authors report that if sediment accumulates at a rate of no more than three to six feet every 1 million years, it can remain oxygenated enough to support bacteria.

Some researchers are now pointing to what these findings might mean for the search for life on other planets, as they broaden what environments can be considered amenable to life. Speaking to Science, Andreas Teske, a microbiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who was also not involved with the new study, says that even if a planet’s surface looks barren, “it may be holding out in the subsurface.”


Higher BMI in early adulthood linked to increased dementia risk, new study suggests

Risk is 1.8 times higher for overweight women and 2.5 times higher for men

by Ella Pickover

People who are overweight in early adult life may be more prone to dementia in later life, a study suggests.

Those aged 20 to 49 who have a high body mass index have a higher risk of dementia later on, the authors said.

Researchers from Columbia University in the US studied data on more than 5,000 adults.

Compared with women who had a normal BMI, those who were overweight had a 1.8 times higher risk of dementia later on in life.

Obese women had a 2.5 times higher risk.

For men, dementia risk was 2.5 times higher among those who were obese in early adulthood, according to the findings presented to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

An association was found between being overweight or obese in mid-life – classed in the study as people aged 50 to 69 – among men but not women.

Both men and women have a higher chance of dementia if they are obese in later life, the researchers found.

Commenting on the study, Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study links a higher BMI in early adulthood with an increased risk of dementia later in life and underlines the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to help support a healthy brain.”

But more studies are needed to examine the link in more detail, she said, adding: “We know that diseases that cause dementia get under way in the brain many years before symptoms start to show. Studies looking at our lifestyle in early adulthood are important to help us build a picture of the factors that could impact our brain health as we age.”

Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at Alzheimer’s Society, added: “A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an important step towards reducing the risk of dementia later in life.

“Previous research we’ve supported, such as the 2017 Lancet commission, has shown that obesity in mid-life may increase dementia risk, so it’s interesting to see a study that shows this may also be the case in younger people too. But this can’t tell us if high BMI is a direct cause of dementia, there could be other factors at play.

“The number of people living with dementia is set to rise to one million by 2025 so it’s becoming increasingly urgent that we find ways to prevent people developing the condition in the first place.

“We can all take steps towards a healthy lifestyle, whether it’s by watching our diets or making the most of the sunny days and getting outside for a walk – it’s never too late, or early, to make a change.

“Research funding also plays a vital role here, hit badly by the current pandemic – so it’s critical that the government commits to their pledge to double life-saving research funding for the chronically under-funded field of dementia.”


Friends honor nearly 30 year old promise and split $22 million jackpot

A western Wisconsin man will share his millions in lottery winnings with a longtime friend because of a promise they made to each other nearly three decades ago.

Friends Tom Cook and Joseph Feeney shook hands in 1992 and promised that if either one of them ever won the Powerball jackpot, they would split the money.

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That promise came to fruition last month when Cook bought the winning ticket for a $22 million jackpot at Synergy Coop in Menomonie.

When Cook called to give his friend the good news, Feeney couldn’t quite believe it.

“He called me, and I said, ‘are you jerking my bobber?’” said Feeney, an avid fisherman.

Cook retired after hitting the jackpot while Feeney was already retired. Neither has any extravagant plans for the winnings but are looking forward to enjoying more family time.

“We can pursue what we feel comfortable with. I can’t think of a better way to retire,” Cook said. The pair said they’re looking forward to some traveling.

The men chose the cash option of about $16.7 million, leaving each with nearly $5.7 million after taxes are paid.

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in about 292 million.


Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) and Harrington Discovery Institute Partnership Helps Move Promising Alzheimer’s Research from Bench toward Bedside

Research by 2015 ADDF-Harrington Scholar Jerri Rook, Ph.D. of Vanderbilt University leads to licensing agreement to develop drugs that improve memory.

A recently announced licensing agreement between drug maker Acadia Pharmaceuticals and Vanderbilt University represents a major milestone for the ADDF-Harrington Scholar Award Program, which provided funding and pharmaceutical expertise to support the research in the early phases. Acadia and Vanderbilt will collaborate to develop and commercialize novel drug candidates targeting synaptic receptors in the brain, long thought to play a key role in Alzheimer’s disease.

“This type of licensing agreement is precisely the goal of the ADDF-Harrington partnership,” said Dr. Andrew A. Pieper, Harrington Discovery Institute Director of Neurotherapeutic Discovery. “We bridge the gap between academia, where many great medical ideas are born, and industry, where these ideas can be guided through the costly and complex process of transforming them into new medicines for patients.”

Vanderbilt University principal investigator Jerri Rook, Ph.D. and her Vanderbilt University Medical Center physician collaborator Dr. Paul Newhouse received the 2015 ADDF-Harrington Scholar Award. The award provided funding and expertise in formulation and interpretation of safety pharmacology and toxicology data from experienced drug development professionals.

The compounds covered by the agreement work by activating muscarinic M1 receptors in the brain in a unique way that increases their responsiveness to a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in regulating memory and cognition.

“We are excited about the commercial support for the important work of Dr. Rook and her colleagues that we hope will lead to an effective and safe treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Howard Fillit, ADDF Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer.

As explained by Dr. Rook, researchers have long theorized that this mechanism could effectively treat memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders, but intolerable side effects have barred their use—at least so far. “Our focus has been on discovering and developing compounds that have the desired treatment benefits without the unwanted side effects. We have now optimized this in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and are very much looking forward to seeing how they perform in human studies,” said Dr. Rook. The lead compound has entered Phase I clinical trials with support from the ADDF.

About the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF)

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is the only public charity solely focused on funding the development of drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, employing a venture philanthropy model to support research in academia and the biotech industry. Through the generosity of its donors, the ADDF has awarded more than $150 million to fund over 626 Alzheimer’s drug discovery programs and clinical trials in 19 countries. To learn more, please visit: https://www.alzdiscovery.org/.

About the Harrington Discovery Institute

The Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio—part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development—aims to advance medicine and society by enabling the most inventive scientists to turn their discoveries into medicines that improve human health. The Institute was created in 2012 with a $50 million founding gift from the Harrington family and instantiates the commitment they share with University Hospitals to a Vision for a “Better World.”

SOURCE Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation


A perspective on Covid

“Chickenpox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don’t think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you’re older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don’t just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it’s been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they’re going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you’re going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don’t just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it’s been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.

Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.

So far the symptoms may include:

Acute respiratory distress
Lung damage (potentially permanent)
Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
Sore throat
Difficulty breathing
Mental confusion
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
Swollen eyes
Blood clots
Liver damage
Kidney damage
COVID toes

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.

Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity: How dare you?

How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as “getting it over with”, when no one knows who will be the lucky “mild symptoms” case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30-year-olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died.

How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don’t yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:

Frequent hand-washing
Physical distancing
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
Mask wearing
Covering your cough or sneeze
Avoiding touching your face
Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren’t immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

I reject the notion that it’s “just a virus” and we’ll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.”