Monday March 30, 2020
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The Polar Vortex Disrupts The Life Of Daily Citizens

The agency said severe snowstorms may be more likely in a warmer climate because of the increased moisture in the atmosphere.

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USA, Cold
Commuters brave the wind and snow in frigid weather in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

Millions of Americans are experiencing temperatures so cold that a burst of wind could cause frostbite within minutes — conditions that have caused the suspension of regional train service, work and school schedules, and even production of television and stage shows.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday some 25 million people will face temperatures that cause near-instant frostbite in New England (the northeastern United States) and the Midwest — states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan.

In Chicago, Amtrak canceled train service, and even federal mail delivery was suspended in many areas to protect the mail carriers, whose motto declares they deliver mail in almost any weather condition.

In some cities, bus service has been suspended because the cold can cause mechanical difficulties.

 

USA, Cold
A car passes an elementary school closed due to cold weather in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

 

The governors of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency.

With the wind chill, it was minus 32 degrees Celsius (minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit) in North Dakota on Tuesday and minus 52 degrees in parts of Minnesota. The high temperature in Minneapolis on Wednesday is forecast to be minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit).

In the city of Chicago, renowned for its tough winters, the temperature Thursday is expected to dip near the record low of negative 32.8 degrees Celsius.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling the weather “life-threatening.” Transit buses with nurses on board will be dispatched across the city to serve as emergency warming shelters for the homeless.

Churches throughout Detroit are also keeping their doors open for anyone who has no home and needs a place to keep warm.

At least four weather-related deaths have been reported.

The cold air will stretch from the Midwest to the East Coast and as far south as parts of Florida.

USA, Cold
Ice is seen on the side of the Great Falls National Historic Park as a couple takes in the sights during a frigid winter day in Paterson, N.J., Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

Meteorologists blame the weather on a breakup of the polar vortex — cold temperatures above the North Pole are being pushed south across North America because of a blast of desert heat from North Africa.

Global warming

Reacting to the weather, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday “What the hell is going on with Global Waming? (sic) Please come back fast. We need you!”

It is unclear if the president was joking.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is devoted to climate science and information, tweeted, “Winter storms do not prove global warming is not happening.”

The agency said severe snowstorms may be more likely in a warmer climate because of the increased moisture in the atmosphere.

Also Read: Extreme Weather Due To Polar Vortex Across The U.S. Causes Misery

NOAA denies any connection between the president’s comment and its social media posting.

“We routinely put this story out at these times,” the agency said in a statement. “Our scientists weren’t responding to a tweet.” (VOA)

Next Story

American Biotech Company Works with Chinese Officials to Test Drug Against Coronavirus

Trials to Test Ebola Drug's Potential to Prevent, Treat Coronavirus

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Coronavirus
An American biotech company says it is working with Chinese authorities to determine the efficiency of a drug that can fight coronavirus. Pixabay

By Natalie Liu

An American biotech company says it is working with Chinese authorities to determine whether the antiviral drug remdesivir may provide an effective treatment for victims of the fast-spreading coronavirus known as COVID-19. The Chinese researchers hope to have the answer by May 1.

Officials of Gilead Sciences, which invented remdesivir as a treatment for Ebola and another disease, told VOA the company has initiated two clinical trials among infected patients “to determine the safety and efficacy of remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.”

The trials have been warmly welcomed in China, where the nation’s official news agency celebrated the launch with a front page article. Anxious Chinese citizens have noted that the four syllables of remdesivir resemble the phrase as renmin-de-xi-wang, or people’s hope.

Coronavirus
A medical worker holds a thermometer to check a passenger’s temperature at a checkpoint as the country is hit by an outbreak of the coronavirus in Susong County, Anhui province, China. VOA

There are also more scientific reasons to be hopeful, including the case of an American coronavirus patient who experienced a speedy recovery in January, just 24 hours after being given remdesivir. Before the drug was administered, his symptoms had shown signs of worsening.

The first trial began enrolling patients on February 6, said a written statement from Gilead, which says it has provided China with “enough doses of remdesivir to treat up to 500 trial participants.” A Shanghai-based media outlet reported having seen a customs clearance form showing that 2,843 boxes of remdesivir arrived in Beijing on February 4.

The next day, a conference dedicated to the official launch of clinical trials took place at the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, led by Dr. Bin Cao and his colleague Dr. Chen Wang, both top scientists practicing at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing. Jinyintan Hospital has been treating some of the most critical COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began.

Gilead confirmed the trials are “being coordinated by the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing.” A filing registered with the U.S. National Library of Medicine lists the Beijing-based Capital Medical University as the trial’s main sponsor and Cao, a specialist in pulmonary critical care at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, as the “responsible party.”

Research shows promise

In a scientific paper based on animal studies and published last week, scientists found remdesivir to be effective both for the prevention and treatment of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV,) which is known to bear resemblances to COVID-19.

“Remdesivir prevented disease when administered before infection and improved the condition of macaques [monkeys] when given after the animals already were infected,” said scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana.

Coronavirus
A medical worker calls his colleague inside an isolated ward at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, in Hubei province, China. VOA

Dr. Emmie de Wit, Chief of the Molecular Pathogenesis Unit in the Laboratory of Virology at the Montana facility, told VOA that she and her colleagues conducted their studies and submitted their results for review “well before the world knew of the outbreak in Wuhan.” De Wit said she and her colleagues learned about the coronavirus outbreak on Dec. 31.

Wuhan trials

In the Wuhan study, participants are divided into two groups — those “who have developed more severe clinical manifestations” such as requiring oxygen, and those who do not require oxygen.

“Patients will receive 10 days of intravenously administered remdesivir. The primary endpoint of both studies involves clinical improvement 28 days after treatment,” according to Gilead. Cao reported that 200 mg of remdesivir would be given to a group of patients on day one, followed by 100 mg once-daily “maintenance doses” for nine additional days.

Also Read- Russia Allows Chinese Nationals with Business Visas Despite Entry Ban

Patients in a control group were to be given placebos. To ensure objectivity, the identities of the patients receiving the placebos are masked from the participants, care providers, researchers and outcome assessors.

The researchers say they aim to complete the trials by April 3 and evaluate the results by May 1. (VOA)