Pennsylvania Prepares To Launch Virus-Tracing App Next Month

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) MGN ImageHARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania plans to launch a coronavirus exposure-notification app in early September in an effort to more quickly break chains of transmission by using the new technology to notify people who may have been exposed, officials said Monday.The state has a $1.9 million contract, using federal grant dollars, to deploy and maintain the app with software developer NearForm Ltd, the Ireland-based company whose app there has been downloaded by more than one-fourth of that country’s residents.The app is based on smartphone technology developed by Apple and Google, and will undergo a pilot project next week, using state government employees and public health students, staff and faculty, officials told The Associated Press in an interview.The app will be interoperable with the state of Delaware’s app, and it also is expected to be interoperable with those of two other states, although Pennsylvania state officials declined to name those states because they are still in discussions with the app developer. “The app is about Pennsylvanians helping Pennsylvanians, it’s about as a community being able to let each other know and track each other’s exposure so we can keep each other safe,” said Health Department spokesperson April Hutcheson.It’s use will be limited to people 18 and over.It is similar to the app rolled out by Virginia earlier this month, when it became the first U.S. state to use new pandemic technology created by Apple and Google.North Dakota and Wyoming have also launched an app using the Apple-Google technology in recent days, and a number of other states are interested in it, Google has said. Delaware will launch its NearForm-developed app next month, said Jill Fredel, a spokesperson for the state’s Health and Social Services Department.It is designed to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, and state officials say the app does not store location information, personal information or the identify of anyone who is in close enough range to possibly be exposed.It relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus.As a threshold, the app uses the Centers for Disease Control guideline of being within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, said Meghna Patel, deputy secretary for health innovation at the Department of Health.The identity of app users will be protected by encryption and anonymous identifier beacons that change frequently, the companies have said.Patel said Ireland and Germany are good examples for where apps like this have been successful. More than 25% or 30% of those countries’ populations have downloaded the app and it has issued notifications that helped break chains of transmission, Patel said.Someone who tests positive in Pennsylvania is reported to either the Department of Health or a municipal health department agency and contacted by a case investigator. That case investigator will ask the infected person if they have the app and if they are willing to use it to notify any mobile-phone users who have been in close contact with them in the past 14 days, state officials said.If they are willing to use it, they are given a six-digit code to enter to then issue a notification, state officials said. A person who receives a notification will get something like an alert to check the app, with instructions from the Department of Health on how to protect themselves and others, including information about staying at home, quarantining and seeking medical help.The identify of the person who was infected is shielded from people receiving a notification, and vice versa, they said.In addition to exposure notification, the Pennsylvania app will have a data feature that allows the user to see up-to-date information on case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths by county, as well a feature that helps the user to monitor their symptoms even if they have not tested positive, Patel said.last_img read more

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Spanish FA wins scheduling battle, ready to yield ground for season completion

first_imgThe Spanish football federation will allow matches to be played every day of the week in spite of winning a legal battle with La Liga over scheduling.This is in order to complete the season after a three-month shutdown due to the new coronavirus pandemic A commercial court on Tuesday rejected La Liga’s lawsuit against the federation.RFEF had last year ruled that league matches could only be scheduled on weekends so as to protect the interests of match-going supporters.The federation on Wednesday welcomed the judge’s decision.But it said it would not stand in the way if the league wished to schedule matches on every day of the week.The federation said this was in order to finish the current season as quickly as possible. RFEF president Luis Rubiales and La Liga chief Javier Tebas are sworn enemies.But both men last month committed to working together to overcome the crisis caused by the pandemic following a meeting with sports minister Irene Lozano at the Viana Palace.“The federation wishes to show its utmost satisfaction with the sentence passed by the judge today, which rejects La Liga’s suit and declares that matches on Fridays and Mondays require the federation’s approval,” RFEF said in a statement.“However, the federation wishes to show its goodwill and will do its part to facilitate the season being completed without any problems, upholding the spirit of harmony it committed to at the Viana Palace.“That is why it is offering La Liga the chance to hold games on Fridays and Mondays once this season restarts until it finishes, without asking for anything in return.” There are 11 rounds of matches remaining in the top-flight season.The season is set to resume on June 11 after being suspended indefinitely on March 12 due to the pandemic, although fixtures have not yet been confirmed.La Liga said it respected the sentence but disagreed with it and was planning an appeal.“La Liga’s importance to this country should be remembered, as this is an industry worth 1.37 percent of the annual GDP and generates 185,000 jobs and 4.1 billion euros (4.51 billion dollars) in tax revenue,” a league statement indicated.RelatedPosts Bale completes Tottenham return from Real Madrid Live stream Premier League, La Liga, Serie A on Showmax Pro this weekend Premier League, La Liga back on DStv, GOtv “The current predicament caused by COVID-19 and resolutions of this nature endanger an industry which is hugely important to society.”Reuters/NAN.Tags: La LigaRFEFSeason completionSpanish FAlast_img read more

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#EDITORIAL: More Profound Action Needed on Climate Change

first_imgNASSAU, Bahamas – The intensity of Hurricane Dorian, the Category 5 Hurricane that devastated regions in the Bahamas, has refocused attention on the negative effects of climate change.Increasingly, in recent years, problems related to climate change, or global warming, caused by human activity, has increased in intensity. As the world utilizes more modern mode of transportation and manufacturing processes it has been emitting more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, which heat the natural climate system by trapping infrared light.Consensus in scientific researchPersistent scientific research has led to the consensus that the world’s climate is changing.In 2014 the United States National Research Council stated, “There’s a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing, and these changes are in large part caused by human activities. While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.”However, despite the preponderance of scientific evidence, the aggressive climate change debate contuse, particularly in the US and China, two countries which emit vast amounts of greenhouse gases.Those who tend to discredit the scientific evidence of climate change argue that changes in the earth’s climate including much warmer summers, and colder winters with more snow, is the result of natural phenomenon, and nothing to do with human activity.Political Divide in the USIn the US, the subject of climate change is divided along political party lines with Democrats pushing for “Green” laws to protect the country from negative effects of greenhouse gases. While the   Republicans regard climate change as a hoax. During Republican Rick Scott’s tenure as Florida’s governor, the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ were discouraged in administrative communication.One of the earlier acts of the Trump administration was to pull the US from the Paris Accord on Climate Change that the nation became party to under President Barack Obama.  Recently, the federal government began rolling back several environmental regulations previously installed to control the emission of greenhouse gases. And, notably, as member countries of the UN met on Monday to discuss climate change the US president dropped in for just 15 minutes.This political posturing in the face of credible scientific evidence is drastically unfortunate because the negatives of climate change cost and damages lives, and seriously threatens the existence of the planet world as it is accustomed to.Negative Effect of Greenhouse GasesThe effect of greenhouses gases have been melting some of the world strongest ice glaciers, including glaciers in Alaska; warmed the oceans giving more fuel to hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Maria and Dorian which wreaked death and devastation over the last three years; created unusually long droughts in the Caribbean and several other countries; and is causing sea levels to rise and encroach populated coastlines like what is actually occurring along Florida’s coast.Consistent scientific research indicates the Florida coast is in serious jeopardy of being submerged by rising seas in the not too distant future.It’s ironic that despite people experiencing stronger hurricanes, flooded streets caused by rising seas along coastlines, longer droughts, more ferocious forest fires, heavier snowfall, and suffocating summers, some adults have little or no idea what’s the cause or the long- term effect of these changes on their lives, and that of their children.Youth stanceFortunately, the youth is taking a stance. Last weekend, some 4-million protestors, mainly young people, across the globe participated in mass climate change protests. The passionate nature of the protests signals the youth are becoming more aware and clearly anxious about their future on a planet that’s increasingly warming, and angry at their leaders for their delay in effectively coping with the crisis.This youth anger was also displayed at the UN on Monday when a Swedish teenager in addressing the Climate Change Summit chastised world leaders for their inaction. “How dare you?’ she chided.Using the internet, it’s evident young people effectively organized across continents for climate change protests.  Although their demands to end man-made greenhouse gases are similar to their older environmentalists, their movement, judging from the widespread protests, seems to be resonating more effectively.The youth passion is understandable as they are apparently acutely aware they are the generation that’s poised to inherit the legacy of the negatives of climate change.Hopefully, last weekend’s protest won’t be just a one-time occurrence, but the youth will persist in a movement similar to the successful youth movements against the Viet Nam war, and for civil rights, in America, and against apartheid globally.Political leaders globally, including the Caribbean, seem to be increasing dialogue on climate change. But action, not talk, is needed to implement real preventative policies. A persistent youth movement could realize the action needed.last_img read more

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