Categories
CNN-Business

Walmart, Albertsons, Kroger and Whole Foods are adding sneeze guards to checkout lanes

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

The checkout aisles at a number of the United States’ largest grocery chains are going to look a little different.

Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons are installing acrylic glass sneeze guards in the coming weeks to help protect their employees from the spread of coronavirus as they continue to work on the front lines of a public health pandemic.

It’s part of a growing number of changes the companies are implementing as they continue to remain open, including enforcing social distancing guidelines.

Walmart

Walmart, which is America’s largest grocer, is adding the sneeze guards at its 4,700 US stores and at its 600 Sam’s Club locations within the next three weeks. It’s also adding floor decals at the checkout lines reminding people of the six-foot social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.

The company said it also found a “new solution” for sanitizing shopping carts: a new backpack-style sprayer employees use to clean the carts “quicker and more thoroughly.”

Walmart employees will also have free access to telehealth doctor appointments. The copay is normally $4 per appointment. Walmart is also giving most of its employees extended ability to use a new financial services app that lets them receive early access some of their earned wages.

The company announced last week it was shortening its store hours because of the demand for necessities during the coronavirus pandemic. It is also opening its stores one hour early on Tuesdays to seniors only, through April 28.

Albertsons

Albertsons, which owns a number of grocery store brands across the US including Safeway and Vons, said it’s installing the sneeze guards at all of its 2,200 stores within the next two weeks.

It’s also adding posters and floor decals at areas where people frequently wait including at the pharmacy, at check-out lines and the deli.

Albertsons is suspending its self-serve bars used for wings and soups, adding special shopping hours for senior citizens and implementing more frequent cleaning of its stores and shopping carts.

Kroger

Kroger is making similar changes, including installing sneeze guards and floor decals about social distancing at its 2,700 US stores in the coming weeks.

It’s also letting employees wear protective masks and gloves. The company also owns Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter and Ralphs grocery store brands.

Target

Social distancing signs and floor decals are also being added at Target. The company announced Wednesday its check-out lanes will be cleaned after each transaction, and only some aisles will be open at a given time so the closed lanes can be deep cleaned.

Target is also ceasing in-store returns and exchanges for the next three weeks to reduce the number of items its employees are touching. Return dates will be extended for those affected by the sudden policy change. Target is also suspending sales of reusable bags, so it will waive the fees usually charged in some locales for plastic and paper bags.

Whole Foods

Whole Foods stores are also installing sneeze guards to protect customers and employees. The company said it is in the process of rolling out the barriers to all locations.

The company has adjusted its hours and expanded employee benefits during the outbreak.

Categories
CNN-National & Wolrd

Michael Bloomberg Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here is a look at the life of Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

Personal

Birth date: February 14, 1942

Birth place: Boston, Massachusetts

Birth name: Michael Rubens Bloomberg

Father: William Henry Bloomberg, bookkeeper

Mother: Charlotte (Rubens) Bloomberg, office manager

Marriage: Susan Brown (1976-1993, divorced)

Children: Georgina, 1983; Emma, 1979

Education: Johns Hopkins University, B.S. in electrical engineering, 1964; Harvard Business School, M.B.A., 1966

Religion: Jewish

Other Facts

One of four New York City mayors to serve three terms.

Left the Democratic party in 2001 and won his first two mayoral terms as a Republican. His third mayoral term was won as an independent, and then he rejoined the Democratic party in 2018.

Diana Taylor has been his companion for 20 years.

As mayor of New York, Bloomberg made sweeping changes to city schools, transportation, including extending subway lines, and public health, implementing extensive regulations targeting smoking and obesity.

Since 2006, Bloomberg Philanthropies, an umbrella organization of Bloomberg’s charities which includes the nonprofit Bloomberg Family Foundation, has donated billions to political interests and causes such as education, the environment and public health.

Timeline

1966-1981 – Works as a clerk, and later partner at Salomon Brothers in New York.

1981 – Co-founds Bloomberg L.P. (formerly Innovative Market Systems) using a $10 million partnership buyout from Salomon Brothers.

1982 – Creates the Bloomberg terminal, a software system with a specialized keyboard used by financial professionals to trade stocks electronically and access live market data.

1990 – Co-founds Bloomberg News (formerly Bloomberg Business News).

1994 – Launches Bloomberg Television (formerly Bloomberg Information TV).

1996-2002 – Serves as chairman of the Johns Hopkins University’s board of trustees.

1997 – His memoir, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg,” is published.

November 6, 2001 – Is elected mayor of New York.

November 8, 2005 – Is elected to a second term.

November 3, 2009 – Is elected to a third term after spending more than $100 million on his reelection campaign. In October, the New York City Council voted to extend the city’s mayoral term limits from two four-year terms to three.

May 2012 – Announces a proposal to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, food carts and any other establishments that receive letter grades for food service. On June 26, 2014, New York’s Court of Appeals rules that New York City’s ban on large sugary drinks, which was previously blocked by lower courts, is illegal.

July 27, 2016 – Endorses Hillary Clinton for president at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

March 2019 – Ranks No. 9 on Forbes’ annual list of billionaires, with a net worth of $55.5 billion.

November 24, 2019 - Announces his late-entry Democratic presidential bid, unveiling a campaign squarely aimed at defeating President Donald Trump.

November 24, 2019 – Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait releases a statement addressing how the network will cover the 2020 presidential campaign and reveals that it will not investigate Bloomberg or any other Democratic candidates.

February 10, 2020 – Audio is posted online of Bloomberg from 2015, defending his use of “stop and frisk” as mayor by describing the policy as a way to reduce violence by throwing minority kids “up against the walls and frisk[ing] them.” Bloomberg later says his 2015 comments about the controversial stop and frisk policing policy do not reflect the way he thinks or the way he led as mayor of New York City.

February 18, 2020 – Qualifies for his first Democratic presidential debate, by polling four times at or above 10% nationally.

February 18, 2020 – A campaign adviser tells CNN that Bloomberg would sell his financial information and media company if he’s elected president, in an effort to be “180 degrees away from where Donald Trump is on these issues.”

February 19, 2020 – Faces criticism in first presidential debate from other Democratic candidates regarding campaign spending, his record on policing tactics as mayor of New York and misogynistic comments he allegedly made about women at his company in the 1980s and 1990s.

March 4, 2020 – Ends his presidential campaign and endorses Joe Biden.

September 3, 2020 – Bloomberg’s charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, announces he is donating $100 million to the nation’s four historically Black medical schools to help ease the student debt burden for the next generation of Black physicians.

September 25, 2020 – Bloomberg announces $40 million in TV ads supporting Biden statewide in Florida.

Categories
CNN-Health

Here’s everything you need to know about social distancing

By Scottie Andrew, CNN

You’re likely familiar with the tenets of Covid-19 prevention by now: Stay home when you can, keep 6 feet of distance from others when you’re out and wear a mask if you’re indoors or around other people.

We’ve been told to do these things for so long — around eight months now — that they feel like second nature. But it can be tempting to relax and stop following these suggestions as stringently.

Now is not the time.

Covid-19 is surging to dangerously high levels and breaking case records daily — over 11.4 million cases have been reported in the US alone, and nearly 250,000 people have died. Health experts have said winter may be the darkest period of the pandemic so far. That’s why it is essential that we must remain vigilant for our own health and for others in our communities.

To help you do that, we answered your biggest questions about social distancing.

Read more of CNN’s coronavirus Q&A here.

Public life

Where can I go?

The grocery store and doctor’s offices are thought to be low-risk locations for Covid-19 infection, as long as you wear a mask, wash your hands before and after your visit and limit your time inside.

Restaurants, bars, places of worship and other indoor venues in many states have reopened, including some at full capacity. But it’s safer to dine and gather outdoors than indoors, where there’s steady air flow and more room to spread out, said Dr. David Aronoff, director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases and professor of medicine.

Can I order takeout?

Yes. There’s no evidence that the virus can live in food, so whatever you eat should be safe. Just wash your hands before you eat it.

It’s also a good way to support your local businesses — ordering takeout helps restaurants and delivery drivers who have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The pandemic also brought us contactless delivery — Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center, suggests paying and tipping online and asking the delivery person to leave your food outside the door to avoid interaction.

Should I use public transportation?

If you can avoid it, you should. Packing into a crowded subway car or bus with poor airflow can heighten your risk of infection.

If you need to use public transportation to get to work, wear a mask, carry disinfecting wipes to clean seats and poles and wash your hands as soon as your commute is over.

If I still need to work, how can I keep myself safe?

Practice as much social distancing as your work allows. Wash your hands constantly and wear a face mask.

Travel

Can I still travel?

If you decide the risk is worth it. Traveling certainly puts you at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19, and if you’re asymptomatic, you could spread Covid-19 to other passengers.

But if you’re traveling, whether by plane, train or bus, you should wear a mask on the vehicle and in transportation hubs, like airports or bus terminals, the CDC advises.

It’s not safe to travel if you’ve been potentially exposed to another person with Covid-19.

You can also cut down on your cumulative risk if you choose to travel — don’t also dine indoors or attend a crowded event if you’re choosing to fly by plane, said said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and visiting professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health.

And stay distant from others when you’re waiting at the gate, picking up your luggage or standing in the taxi line.

What should I do after I travel?

The CDC says you should quarantine for 14 days after you arrive at your destination.

During this time, you should take your temperature twice a day and monitor yourself for a fever. You should also avoid contact with others — so don’t go into work or school — and stay off public transportation.

Some states allow travelers to “test out” of the quarantine — but this varies by region. It’s best to check with the local authorities to see what precautions they have in place to stop the spread.

Health

Should I wear a face mask in public?

Absolutely.

Many states mandate their use indoors.

While face masks weren’t initially recommended — partly out of fears that wearers would feel a false sense of security by wearing them — they’ve since been proven effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Multiple studies have found that wearing masks, coupled with social distancing, is the best way to prevent Covid-19.

You should wear a face mask when you’re indoors and anywhere in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, according to CDC guidelines. This includes places like grocery stores, schools or crowded sidewalks. Health officials still suggest you wear a cloth face mask instead of an N95 respirator.

You do not need to wear a mask if you’re outside and can keep ample distance from other people, Wen, the emergency room physician, said.

What’s the right way to wear a mask?

A mask should cover your mouth and nose and fit snugly around your face. (Learn more about the right and wrong ways to wear a mask here.)

Masks are thought to prevent the wearer from breathing out droplets that contain the virus and, as more recent evidence shows, protect the wearer from other people’s droplets if they’re not wearing a mask.

Can I go to the doctor or dentist?

You can, but some health experts think you should stay home unless you have an urgent appointment or are seeking help due to Covid-19 symptoms.

But it’s important not to put off health concerns if you have them, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. Your existing health issues could worsen during the pandemic if you don’t seek care for them.

If you do have a critical appointment, ask your provider about telehealth appointments that don’t require you to come into an office.

And if you think you’re experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, call a physician before showing up at an office so you don’t put yourself and others at a higher risk of infection.

Family & Friends

Who can I see right now?

Right now, the safest people to hang out with are the people you already live with. People who live outside of your home could expose you to Covid-19, or vice versa.

If you want to see friends or family, meet with them outdoors in a location where you can keep your distance from them. Wear masks throughout your meeting, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. It’s also not safe to hug or kiss people outside of your home during the pandemic.

Exercise extra caution when it comes to older family members — adults over 60 are at a higher risk of serious infection from Covid-19, and you could unwittingly infect them, even if you don’t feel unwell.

Keep in touch with them over the phone or with video calls. If they live nearby, offer to help them with groceries or medications they may need while home, and visit through a window or glass door.

Is it safe to continue to send my child to school?

School safety during the pandemic isn’t well-studied, but recent research has shown that children don’t get as sick as adults do if they’re infected with Covid-19. Children are thought to be carriers for the virus, though, and if community spread is high in your area, virtual classes may be safer than in-person schooling.

Can I take my kids to daycare?

If it’s your best option for childcare, then yes. But before you do, call the daycare center or meet with staff to ensure they’re implementing social distancing measures and making health conscious choices.

If you work with a regular babysitter or nanny, use caution. They should be keeping themselves healthy on their own — avoiding indoor gatherings and wearing a mask in public — but they may be putting themselves at risk while commuting to work. Have a talk with them to be sure everyone’s on the same page.

Do I need to distance myself from my child?

Probably not, unless either of you are showing symptoms of sickness, said Danielle Ompad, an associate professor at New York University’s School of Global Public Health.

Under most circumstances, if you and your child are living in the same home, you don’t need to keep six feet of distance. But if possible, limit excessive physical contact.

If they’re younger, that certainly gets more difficult to pull off.

How long will we have to keep social distancing and wearing masks?

It’s hard to say, but probably well into 2021.

While Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccines have both released promising results, they’ll be given to high-risk people like health care workers and older adults first before the general public can access them.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that a vaccine won’t eliminate the need for wearing masks and social distancing, so we will likely need to continue to do both even after a vaccine becomes widely available.

Hang in there — if everyone makes these responsible choices we’ll get through the pandemic together.

This story has been updated to reflect the latest guidance from government health officials

CNN’s Holly Yan contributed to this report.

Categories
CNN-National & Wolrd

Millions of wild animals are killed or injured unintentionally each year in the US. Here’s how you can help

By Amy Chillag, CNN

Just a couple of months after Neal Matthews and his wife moved to their home on a small lake in Tucker, Georgia, an injured goose showed up in their backyard.

“The goose was ensnarled in fishing line. Its leg literally had a big knot around it and it was having trouble walking,” Matthews said.

The couple spent days trying to catch it without success — watching as its walking got worse. That’s when they found out about AWARE Wildlife Center, a nonprofit hospital for injured and orphaned native Georgia wildlife just outside Atlanta.

Matthews got advice on how to capture the goose using a net gun they loaned him. Back home, he pushed a button and the net shot out — covering the goose so it couldn’t fly away.

“My wife and I put a towel over it. We carefully untangled the net and put it in a box, closed the lid and drove it to AWARE.”

The staff operated on the goose and Matthews brought it home the same day.

“When we saw it fly back to its flock and we knew that we helped it carry on its life — it was just a moment of gratitude that we were able to do something.”

That was 15 years ago and since then, Matthews said, they’ve rescued “probably three or four geese, a duck, several turtles and the occasional possum or two — bringing them to AWARE for help.

Do these little things to prevent animal injuries

Millions of wild animals are killed or injured every year in the US due to human causes — from traffic, to habitat destruction, to poisonings.

Many animals are killed by vehicles alone every year, according to the US Department of Transportation, including slow-moving animals like turtles who try to cross a road to reach mating or nesting sites on the other side.

It’s the most common cause of injury for animals coming under the care of AWARE.

But there’s something you can do about it.

“People throw food waste out the window. Whether it’s a fast food wrapper or biodegradable food, it brings small animals to the side of the road and then larger animals come to try to get the smaller animals and they get hit,” said Scott Lange, AWARE’s executive director.

“The number one thing you can do to help wild animals during your day is don’t throw food waste out of your car.”

They also see a lot of water birds end up like the goose tangled in the fishing line.

Without help, birds eventually starve to death because they are unable to swim, fly and feed.

“It’s very important that we pick up our fishing line or use biodegradable (line),” said Marjan Ghadrdan, director of animal care at AWARE.

Rat poison and pesticides are another huge problem for the entire wildlife food chain, said Lange.

Lange urges people not to use pesticides on their lawn or leave out rat poison.

“We have had hawks and owls and all sorts of other animals come in that have been poisoned because they eat a rat that has been poisoned.”

Keep your cats indoors. They eat rats and mice and are voracious hunters of birds, squirrels and chipmunks. “As much as we love them, they are hurting the wildlife,” said Ghadrdan.

Some estimates show domestic cats in North America kill from 10 to 30 billion wildlife animals per year.

Limit your use of plastics. AWARE often gets wildlife stuck in packaging, from six-pack plastic that keeps cans together to potato chip bags.

“Animals put their heads in the bags and they can’t get them off and suffocate,” said Ghadrdan. “I always cut my potato chip bags so they’re not like a little pocket and they can’t get their heads inside.

AWARE Wildlife Center’s mission

“I think we leave a huge footprint as humans,” said Ghadrdan. “I want to do the best I can to try to make a little bit of change.”

AWARE has about 100 volunteers and a small staff that took care of some 1,300 animals last year.

“We take all species here. We have hawks, owls, songbirds, snakes, turtles, possums, foxes, coyotes, armadillos, flying squirrels, chipmunks, you name it. We take everything,” said Lange.

They perform surgery, feed and medicate them, give them physical therapy or swim time to get their strength back. Ultimately, they try to get them ready for release back into the wild.

And then there are the “unreleasables” whose injuries have left them unable to survive in the wild anymore — from hawks with broken off beaks to foxes with fractures that healed wrong so they can’t hunt.

Those animals become permanent residents of the center and beloved educational ambassadors to the public.

“Getting to look at these animals face-to-face — see their eyes with your eyes — it has a real impact on people and understanding how vulnerable they are and how they need to be protected.”

What to do if you find an injured animal

If you encounter a a wild animal that is injured or you think needs help, contact a local wildlife rescue organization. To find a licensed rehabber in your area, you can go to the nonprofit Animal Help Now. They will give you guidance on whether to leave the animal alone or safely bring them in for care.

You can also reach out to your local Humane Society or veterinarian who can inform you of local wildlife rehabbers.

AWARE, like many wildlife rehabbers, gets no government funding, relying only on donations from the public.

You can’t save them all

Neal Matthews doesn’t expect everyone to go to the lengths he does to save wildlife.

“You don’t have to be the one that runs out and captures the goose that’s caught in the fishing line. But perhaps if you take just a second to pick up that fishing line that was left behind — just by doing that — you’ve helped.”

He says he feels a lot of responsibility for animals because we are encroaching on their space.

“We’re taking their homes to build our homes and they’re running out of places to go.”

Categories
CNN-National & Wolrd

When Maine’s seals are in trouble, she gets the call

By Laura Klairmont, CNN

Growing up in coastal Maine, Lynda Doughty spent a lot of time out on the ocean, where she regularly encountered seals, turtles and whales.

She developed a passion for the marine wildlife living along the coast and knew from an early age that she wanted to dedicate her life to protecting them.

“I just remember being so amazed (by them) and wondering what’s happening in their life,” Doughty said.

She also became aware that their livelihood was jeopardized by pollution, habitat destruction and other human-related activity.

For harbor seals — one of the most common marine mammals along the East Coast — threats include entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris, illegal feeding and harassment.

“I knew that I wanted to do something to help these animals,” Doughty said.

She became a marine biologist and worked for several years with organizations that provided emergency response and rehabilitation for sick and injured marine mammals. But as nonprofits and state agencies lost funding or closed their doors, Doughty decided to step in and fill the gap.

Since 2011, her nonprofit, Marine Mammals of Maine, has provided response efforts, assistance and medical care for more than 3,000 marine animals.

When Covid-19 struck, Doughty said they couldn’t afford to slow down — the animals still needed their help.

“We were so nervous of what the pandemic might bring and how we would stay afloat as a nonprofit in uncertain times,” Doughty said. “Our team stood strong and we were able to be deemed essential in order to keep our doors open to continue to help and care for animals.”

In March 2020, just as the US began its response to the pandemic, the organization moved into a new, larger facility that allowed them to expand their long-term care capacity to eight seals at any given time.

When another New England-based marine animal rescue program they coordinated with temporarily suspended its long-term animal care amid the pandemic, Doughty’s work became more vital than ever.

“We couldn’t bring any animals to them and there was a lack of rehabilitation spots for animals. So, we were really needed and there was more pressure for our center to stay open,” Doughty said.

The group operates a 24-hour hotline, responding to calls about distressed or deceased marine mammals and sea turtles.

“We are the only organization that’s permitted to respond to marine mammal strandings within 2,500 miles of coastline,” Doughty said, adding that most animals they respond to are seals.

The group has federal authorization to provide temporary care for critically ill and injured seals. If Doughty and her team determine that a seal is not likely to survive in the wild without intervention, it’s transported to their center and nursed back to health.

Staff work closely with veterinarians, who determine the proper treatment for the seals in their care. Most seals require a minimum three months of intensive care before they can be released.

“Any seal that we rescue, the ultimate goal is for that animal to be released back into the wild,” Doughty said.

The nonprofit also responds to calls about deceased seals, whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles. Some are collected to perform a necropsy (an autopsy for animals). The data gathered allows Doughty and her team to further monitor trends in diseases, human impact on marine mammal health, and much more.

The group’s educational outreach efforts further promote marine conservation and stewardship among youth, locals and tourists.

“I feel this intense responsibility to help these animals,” Doughty said. “And really, this is what I was put on this Earth to do.”

CNN’s Laura Klairmont spoke with Doughty about her work. Below is an edited version of their conversation.

CNN: What are some unique characteristics of seals that piqued your interest?

Lynda Doughty: What I love about seals is they really look similar to dogs. They are also really charismatic. They’re funny with their behaviors. They’re really curious, and there’s so much diversity to their populations. They can have all different personalities.

There’s so much unknown about their habitat usage; these animals spend most of their life in the water. Their benefit to the ecosystem is they’re a top predator species and we need that kind of balancing.

CNN: How have humans negatively affected the health and habitat of seals and other marine mammals?

Doughty: There are physical impacts — animals that have been hit by a boat, injured from a propeller wound, entangled in marine debris, or ingested marine pollutants such as plastics. Some other important human impacts that we see is the harassing of marine animals. Being a constant disturbance around areas where marine mammals are can impact their natural behavior and how they conduct their everyday business.

With the increase in human activity on beaches, these animals don’t get time to rest and regain their energy. Or animals are trying to haul out (of the water), but people are trying to push or coax them back in because they think that they need to be wet or in water all the time. Another issue is people trying to get selfies with marine mammals. Taking selfies with seals can actually cause a lot of stress and harm for that animal.

CNN: A lot of your work involves providing long-term care for abandoned seal pups. How can human interaction lead to seal pup abandonment?

Doughty: In the springtime here, there are harbor seal pups that are born along the coast. Once the pup is born, they stay with their mom for about four weeks. Mom usually goes off to forage for food and then come back again. It happens at a time when there’s more people on our shores in general. These animals are getting more and more people coming up to them. What’s concerning is when that could separate a seal pup from its mother.

If she sees the increase in human activity where her seal pup may be, that can increase the chances of a pup abandonment. If there’s people that are around that pup or pick up and move that pup, too many people trying to get a picture of them, the mom may not come back; she kind of saves herself before she saves her pup. And once the abandonment occurs, that seal pup is not going to survive.

CNN: Why are the educational and research components of your work so important?

Doughty: A lot of our education outreach is really explaining to people about marine mammals in general and what they should and should not do if they encounter these animals. We’re trying to reduce impacts, where the animals are not being surrounded by people all the time. The goal is providing them the information, so they know how best to respect marine mammals.

Marine mammals are really sentinels to our ecosystem, and what’s going on in the ocean and our waters impacts us. So, learning from them really helps us understand more about what’s going on in our world.

Want to get involved? Check out the Marine Mammals of Maine website and see how to help.

To donate to Marine Mammals of Maine via GoFundMe, click here