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Experts Labor

Experts warn Labor Day could trigger COVID-19 surge across country – ABC News

Health experts are pleading with the American public to be vigilant during the upcoming Labor Day weekend to prevent a repeat of the increase in COVID-19 cases that followed the Memorial Day and the Fourth of July holidays.

“We don’t want to see a repeat of the surges we’ve seen following holiday weekends,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an interview with CNN on Thursday. “That doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in a room and not enjoy what hopefully will be a nice weekend for people, but there are certain fundamental things that you can do and still enjoy yourself.”

Large social gatherings, crowded venues, juxtaposed to the highly infectious virus, have proven to result in a widespread escalation of metrics across the country.

Memorial Day appeared to be the first domino of the summer surge, setting off an influx of cases across many states in the following weeks and months.

On May 25, Memorial Day, the national seven-day average of new cases was 21,955. Five weeks later, on June 29, the seven-day average jumped to 40,178, an 83% increase in new cases, according to an ABC analysis of data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project, and from where the below data is cited.

In the weeks following the holiday, the South saw a rise in its COVID-19 metrics and on May 25, reported an average of 7,641 new daily cases. A month later, that number had increased by 126%.

A similar pattern occurred just over a month later following the Fourth of July weekend.

Just two weeks after July 4, the U.S. hit a record high of 76,844 daily cases, and a seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases had risen by nearly 40%. By July 23, current hospitalizations hit a near-record high of 59,720 — an increase of 56.6%.

Eight weeks after Memorial Day, and three weeks after the Fourth of July, cases peaked in the South, with a seven-day average of new cases standing at 39,587, an increase of nearly 418% from May 25.

Death metrics, which tend to lag behind other COVID-19 metrics, soon increased in the weeks following the early summer holidays.

On July 4, the seven-day average of deaths stood at 500. Aug. 12, approximately five weeks after the holiday, marked the deadliest day of reported COVID-19 deaths, this summer, with 1,517 deaths reported. In August alone, there were 21 days with over 1,000 deaths reported, and 30,000 deaths were reported in total.

According to Fauci, the American public’s behavior over the Labor Day holiday is critical to dictating what the course of the virus will be this fall.

“We don’t want to see a surge under any circumstances. But particularly as we go on the other side of Labor Day and enter into the fall … we don’t want to go into that with another surge that we have to turn around again,” he said.

Such an uptick would be particularly worrisome, with winter approaching and people congregating inside, leading to potential spikes in infections.

“We’re going into fall with a lot more disease than we entered summer,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, wrote in a series of tweets on Thursday.

“Starting at a baseline of 40,000 daily cases is a bit of a disaster, and no; vaccine on Oct. 22 won’t bail us out,” he added.

At its peak in July, the U.S. reported a seven-day average of approximately 66,000 daily cases.

Although testing has increased substantially since the beginning of the summer, new cases and national testing has dropped by nearly 39% and 12.6% respectively, since the end of July. However, heading into the holiday weekend, a number of states are exhibiting concerning COVID-19 trends.

According to an ABC News analysis of data, compiled by the New York Times, the number of states reporting an increasing new case trend appears to be going up. Three weeks ago, only five states and Puerto Rico were reporting increasing new case trends. Since then, that metric has doubled, with 18 states reporting increasing new case trends.

The Midwest, in particular, continues to be a concern.

“There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci said in an interview with Bloomberg this week.

Seven-day averages of the rate of positivity have risen over the last two weeks in 11 Midwestern states.

In addition, Montana, North and South Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri have all recently reported an uptick in infections among young people between the ages of 18-25.

Missouri has also reported nine consecutive days with over 1,000 cases and the seven-day average of new cases in South Dakota has increased by 149% over the last two weeks.

It is essential for Americans to scrupulously follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks and avoid crowds. “If we’re careless about it, then we could wind up with a surge following Labor Day,” Fauci added. “It really depends on how we behave as a country.”

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Experts Predict

Experts Predict What Flu Season Will Be Like During The Pandemic – HuffPost

As if we didn’t have enough public health concerns right now, cold and flu season is coming up.

We generally think of flu season as a normal part of life ― but there’s nothing normal about what’s happening this year. The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going away in the next few months, which means we’ll be dealing with COVID-19 alongside the other viruses and bacteria that appear in the chillier months.

So what happens when we have to deal with both at the same time? What can we do to prepare? Below, we spoke to experts about what they believe we’ll see when flu season hits the U.S. this fall and winter.

Let’s start with the good news: Flu rates overall might go down

Those vital health measures we’re taking to prevent COVID-19? Yeah, they really do work ― even beyond the coronavirus.

“Data from countries which would normally experience the flu season earlier (countries in the southern hemisphere) are seeing record low rates of the flu,” Kavita Patel, HuffPost’s medical contributor and a practicing internal medicine physician in Washington, D.C., wrote in an email. “More people are staying home, washing their hands and wearing masks. So it is possible we will see similarly low rates if we continue those important precautions.”

Some age groups may be more at risk for the flu because there could be lower rates of vaccination

Patel is worried that not as many people will proactively get a flu vaccine this year, so they can avoid medical centers during the pandemic. And that can put certain groups at risk.

“People might be reluctant” to go to the pharmacy or a doctor’s office, she said. “We know that people over the age of 65 as well as under the age of 2 are incredibly vulnerable to getting really sick from the flu ― including dying. … We could see an increase of cases in those categories.”

People’s anxiety will continue to increase

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a large increase in mental health problems during the pandemic. Experts predict this issue will only continue as we go into winter, especially with fewer social options and the stress of avoiding potential illness rises again.

“It is no surprise to anyone that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a mental health crisis,” Cara Pensabene, medical director at EHE Health and an internal medicine specialist, told HuffPost. As flu season approaches, “there will be increased amount of anxiety and stress amongst patients.”

Many will probably confuse flu and COVID-19 symptoms

“Many COVID-19 symptoms overlap with influenza symptoms including fever, chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, runny/stuffy nose, headache, muscle pain or aches and/or sore throat,” Pensabene said. “We will see many patients who may not otherwise seek medical advice or treatment for a common cold or the flu now turning to their healthcare providers for reassurance and help differentiating between the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19.”

If you’re in this camp, Pensabene said there’s one major differentiator between the flu and many COVID-19 cases: “One key symptom that is present with COVID-19 … is the loss of taste and smell.”

But never hesitate reaching out to your doctor when you’re sick; it doesn’t matter if it’s a cold, the flu, COVID-19 or anything else that’s making you feel unwell.

The spread could continue to affect businesses, travel and more

Over the summer, we’ve been able to get outside and generally keep our distance from others while going to restaurants, the beach and more. (Of course, being outside isn’t a complete safeguard against COVID.) In the winter, that’s obviously harder. There are fewer outdoor activities, which could lead to more people doing things indoors, which could potentially increase transmission rates, as both COVID-19 and the flu tend to spread more inside when people are in closer contact.

“Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses [that] spread from person to person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet), and mainly by droplets,” Pensabene said.

While we don’t know yet how exactly this might play out, we could see closings or more precautions required for businesses, restaurants and more. We could also see some more travel restrictions, Pensabene said.

Hospitals could get crowded again if people are too lax

By cold and flu season, we’ll have spent the majority of 2020 in a pandemic and a lot of that time indoors. This could lead to some serious fatigue. But if people don’t wear masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands or get flu shots ― basically if we get too secure and start throwing caution to the wind ― we could wind up with more severe illnesses.

“Hospitals tend to go from ‘normal’ to ‘overwhelmed’ pretty quickly,” Patel said. “That’s because of our ‘fee for service’ reimbursement system where hospitals have to try and stay pretty full (like a hotel) in order to keep the business running.”

Add carelessness, a pandemic and flu season to that and, “presto, you have a problem,” she added.

Here’s how to protect yourself during flu season this year

Want to do your part to stay healthy and make sure this isn’t the winter from hell? Number one, get your flu shot.

It’s essential to get a flu vaccine every year, but especially this year. Getting the vaccine isn’t just about protecting yourself from illness; it also protects other people who are more susceptible and those who may not be able to medically receive the vaccine.

“Simply put, get your flu shot and tell your family and friends and neighbors to get one,” Patel said. “Pharmacies can give them. Chances are your employer might also offer them. Get them, get them, get them. And remember, the flu shot doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu, but that you might get a less severe version. And you are playing your part in helping our entire country be protected through herd immunity.”

Pensabene also stressed the importance of knowing your own personal risk when it comes to both illnesses.

“We know that either one of these respiratory viruses can be dangerous for individuals with high risk conditions, and the combination of two could be fatal,” she said. “Schedule your physical examinations and your flu shots, and while you are there, talk to your doctor about your medical conditions to understand and begin reducing your vulnerability. Whether or not you are in a high-risk category, everyone needs to take steps to protect themselves and others from catching or spreading COVID-19.”

The final thing you can do? Prepare to keep doing what you’re doing now.

“Buckle up, it could be a bumpy ride,” Patel said. “I will be wearing my mask and you should too. And wash your hands, and stay 6 feet away.”

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.

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Debate Experts

UFC Experts debate who’s next for Dustin Poirier and Mike Perry’s coach-less strategy – ESPN

It’s safe to say that a familiar face is back in UFC title contention.

In what could be a fight of the year candidate, Dustin Poirier won a brutal battle against Dan Hooker in the UFC Fight Night main event on Saturday in Las Vegas. Both fighters traded wicked shots from the opening bell, and Poirier took control of the fight in the later rounds.

The win was critical for Poirier, who was coming off a loss in September to world champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov is expected to face interim champ Justin Gaethje in a title-unification bout later this summer.

Mike Perry also had an impressive win, and apparently all he needed were his physical tools and moral support at the UFC Apex.

Perry looked sharp and in shape in defeating Mickey Gall by unanimous decision, and he won with only his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, in his corner.

ESPN’s expert panel of Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim weigh in on the wins for Poirier and Perry and more.

What’s your biggest takeaway from the main event?

Helwani: That fight was every bit as good as we thought it was going to be. That’s pretty much all that comes to mind. If you recall, earlier in the week, my bold prediction for this card was that the main event would go the distance. Well, early on, that prediction looked like it was going to be off because of the shots they were throwing and landing. However, I knew it would go 25 minutes because of how supremely tough both are. And 25 minutes it went. What a fight. What a show. What a display of toughness, heart and grit. These are the fights that make us love this sport so much. Hopefully Hooker doesn’t get too down after this one. He’ll be back. He can hang with the elite at 155. Also, the curse of Paul Felder, which is that everyone who beats him goes on to lose their next, is alive and well.

Okamoto: We need more consistent lightweight title fights. This can’t continue. Since Conor McGregor won the lightweight championship in November 2016, there have been four undisputed 155-pound title fights. Four. That’s not fair. This division is full of talented and deserving title challengers. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Justin Gaethje was as frustrated as anyone. It took Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson falling apart again for him to get an opportunity to fight for an interim belt and set himself up for a real title shot. I hate watching a fight such as Saturday’s, in which both guys leave a piece of themselves in there, and not knowing what’s next for the winner because this division never moves. The UFC has to do everything in its power to get this division running more consistently.

Raimondi: Dustin Poirier is still an elite lightweight. He’s still evolving. My favorite moment in the fight was when he had Hooker in a Khabib-esque leg ride in the fourth round. Not only is Poirier one of the best people in the sport — honored Friday with the UFC’s inaugural Forrest Griffin Community Award — but he’s also one of the toughest and most cerebral, a true ambassador for the game, and he isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Hooker is excellent. He did work in the first two rounds. But Poirier, hurt and tired, outlasted him as the fight went on. Let’s not forget that Poirier owns a win over current UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. Poirier is right there in the division, despite the loss to Nurmagomedov last year.

Wagenheim: If I’m a UFC matchmaker, I’m looking to book someone from American Top Team against a fighter from across the Pacific. That was proven once again to be a magical combination. Back in March, the promotion’s lone champion from China, strawweight Zhang Weili, was put through the fight of the year by ATT’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk. That bout got a run for its money from Poirier, who also trains in the South Florida gym, and Hooker. If Saturday’s main event had been for only a belt, it might have surpassed the glorious 115-pound tussle in my eyes. What a show of skill. What a show of will.

Who’s next for the winner of the main event?

Helwani: I need to see Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson next. It makes all the sense in the world. Poirier lost to Nurmagomedov recently, and Ferguson just lost to Gaethje. Plus, on paper, it would be phenomenal, with high stakes attached to it. Let’s go. As for what’s next for Hooker, that one is a little trickier. He’ll obviously need some time off. Maybe Kevin Lee, who is currently rehabbing an injured knee? Charles Oliveira would be fun, but he last fought (and won) in March, so the timing doesn’t work. A Drew Dober-type would be fun, but I’m not sure Hooker would take that. And you know what? I wouldn’t hate seeing Paul Felder vs. Dan Hooker 2, considering that I thought Felder narrowly won their first meeting in February.

Damn!! Let me rest bruh!!! https://t.co/RgP5aOV0Co

— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) June 28, 2020

Okamoto: For Dustin Poirier, why not Conor McGregor? Why the heck not? When I spoke to Poirier this week, he said he has a habit of living and dying with every result in his fight career, and it has put a lot of pressure on him over the years. Having said that, he also believes that way of thinking affected him negatively before the McGregor fight in 2014, when he lost via first-round knockout. McGregor has apparently been frustrated with the UFC because he wants to fight. Well, here it is. Poirier is ranked above him. This is the one. McGregor wants to prove he’s still elite? Fight Poirier.

Raimondi: Poirier is still on the outside looking in as far as the upper echelon at lightweight goes. Nurmagomedov will defend the title against interim champ Gaethje next. McGregor is still out there lurking, with the UFC wanting him to fight Nurmagomedov as soon as it’s feasible. Perhaps McGregor would be interested in a Poirier rematch. That could be a lot of fun. If not, Poirier is probably stuck with another rising contender next, someone like Hooker. Charles Oliveira comes to mind as a possibility.

Wagenheim: If life were fair, Poirier would be in position to wait for the winner of Nurmagomedov’s title defense against Gaethje. Short of that, he would get the opportunity to avenge his 2014 loss to McGregor and make a huge bank deposit afterward. But all is not fair in love and war and money-fight promotion. Considering that Poirier lost to the champ less than 10 months ago, I’m thinking he will be passed over if Nurmagomedov retains his throne. If the challenger wins the belt, maybe the storyline of Gaethje trying to avenge a 2-year-old TKO loss to Poirier will carry the day, but an immediate Khabib rematch seems more likely. Poirier might be left to fight a guy ranked above him who’s coming off a loss (Tony Ferguson) or one ranked below him who’s on a seven-fight winning streak (Charles Oliveira).

What did you think of Mike Perry’s corner experiment?

Helwani: Hard to hate on it because Perry won and looked good. I have heard from fighters who have said they don’t put a lot of emphasis on corners during fights, so I guess Perry backed that claim up tonight. But in all seriousness, I don’t think this is something that should be replicated, and it’s a little weird that a week after telling me they’d investigate the Robert DrysdaleMax Rohskopf situation, Nevada was OK with this. In any event, it worked out for Perry, and it generated attention, but I think he knows this isn’t sustainable. I suspect Perry will join another team before his next fight. Maybe it’s American Top Team, as his manager Malki Kawa suggested on Twitter, or maybe it’s elsewhere. Who knows with Mike Perry. He always keeps us guessing, and that’s why so many love him. But one thing is certain: Latory Gonzalez is undefeated as a corner woman. Put some respect on her name.

Okamoto: You know what? I am 100 percent good with it. I think it was a brilliant move, actually.

Now, I’ll add to that: I don’t think it’s the smartest thing moving forward. At the end of the day, is it a good idea for a UFC fighter to go into a high-caliber matchup with no one in his corner who can offer advice, recognize injury or provide expertise? Of course not. But I think most of us would agree that Perry looked … different … all week. Maybe he needed to do this one time — prove a point, do it for himself, whatever the case was — so that he could go out on his own and get a win this weekend.

If he moves forward with this peculiar strategy, again, I don’t think it’s a good idea, but the truth is Perry is probably never going to win a championship. He’s an entertainer. To borrow his words, “He knows how to fight.” If, from a mental standpoint, he feels most confident going in there with his girlfriend, that isn’t something I would ever advise someone to do, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world, either.

Thanks Perry, now my wife thinks she’s walking out with me next fight 😅

— Ricky Simón (@RickySimonUFC) June 28, 2020

Raimondi: It worked, mostly because Mike Perry is flat-out better than Mickey Gall. Perry’s strength and athleticism were just too much for Gall, and that had nothing to do with who was in Perry’s corner. The biggest takeaway for me was that Perry was in great shape, and he was polished. Yes, his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, was in his corner, but it was clear that Perry took his conditioning and training seriously.

Overall, though, one inexperienced person in a fighter’s corner is a bad precedent. It’s something the commission should take a look at if it happens again. It was funny tonight because Perry is such an over-the-top character. But it’s also a health and safety issue. A corner person is a state-licensed position. It should be taken seriously by the commission, with those licenses going to experienced people who are there to take care of their fighter. MMA isn’t a game; it’s a brutal, dangerous sport.

Wagenheim: Perry fought a more disciplined fight than I’d ever seen from him. Maybe coaching complicates things for the guy, gets him out of his instinctual rhythm. Then again, maybe what we saw was something of a mirage, a deceptive byproduct of an experienced veteran of high-level opposition being in the Octagon with an opponent who had fewer than half as many pro fights. Would Perry have been able to get by without coaches in his corner if he were competing against someone the caliber of Donald Cerrone or Paul Felder, to cite two names on his résumé? Who knows? Let’s chalk this up to Mike Perry being Mike Perry.

Which prospect made the biggest statement?

Helwani: I know Tanner Boser is now 18-6-1 following his vicious, first-round knockout of Philipe Lins on Saturday, but he’s only 28, and that was just his third UFC fight, so I’ll go with the native of Bonnyville, Alberta. In my eyes, he’s still a prospect. How much fun is Boser? The hair, the teeth, the Western Canadian accent … it’s a wonderful package. He’s now 2-1 inside the Octagon, with his lone loss to uber-prospect Ciryl Gane, so I think he’s a name to keep an eye on at heavyweight. Now, if we want to talk about who has the highest ceiling of the bunch, I’ll go with 20-year-old Kay Hansen. In case you missed it, Hansen, who is the youngest woman in the promotion and the second youngest overall (behind Chase Hooper) was signed just six days ago. She’s a big-time prospect and will be a player at 115 for years to come. It was a great win for her Saturday against former Invicta atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey. That armbar submission was a beaut.

Okamoto: I have to go with Kay Hansen, and it isn’t particularly close for me. Although I wouldn’t say her victory over Jinh Yu Frey was one of the most memorable of the card — there were plenty of other finishes on Saturday that stood out more — a 20-year-old, making her UFC debut, against an opponent with much more experience against better opposition? This result says a lot. Khama Worthy, Tanner Boser, Youssef Zalal, all of them had big wins on the undercard, but there’s something impressive about seeing a 20-year-old win in the Octagon. Not to mention, Hansen’s best skill (at least right now) — her wrestling — should continue to serve her well as she progresses through this division and grows into her body.

Raimondi: Kay Hansen. It wasn’t just that she beat former Invicta FC atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey with a slick armbar in the third round of her UFC debut. It was that Hansen was able to battle adversity to do it. She clearly had a game plan of getting the smaller Frey down and imposing her will on the ground. Frey had none of that for most of the first two rounds, and she was making Hansen pay for her aggression, popping her with hard left hands. Hansen, to her credit, stuck to her strategy, finally got Frey down in the third and finished the bout that was tied heading into the final round. Hansen is just 20 years old, the second-youngest fighter in the UFC. There is immense potential there.

Wagenheim: It’s tough to go against Kay Hansen, who at 20 years old took out a far more experienced fighter who has been a champion in another fight organization. But I was most impressed by Khama Worthy, who scored his second straight eye-opening UFC win. Last summer he was a humongous underdog when he won his UFC debut. Was that just a matter of his having the night of his life? No, it was not. This time, he took on Luis Pena, who came in with six fights in the UFC, including wins over some seriously legitimate opponents. After a good start by Worthy, Pena put on a dominant display of wrestling in the second round. But Worthy persevered, and when the fight went back to the canvas in Round 3, he was ready. Worthy sunk in a modified guillotine choke to squeeze the air out of any lingering doubts.

Which fighter had the best finish?

With less than a week’s notice, @juicyj_erosa pushed the pace for three rounds and sunk in this D’arce choke to finish it off at #UFCVegas4 pic.twitter.com/kIdxwdzB9q

— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 28, 2020

Helwani: There were so many good ones to choose from tonight, as this was a fun card with great finishes. In the end, I’ll go with Julian Erosa‘s D’Arce choke. First of all, the fact that he took this fight on four or so days’ notice and was a +400 underdog against the previously undefeated Sean Woodson is impressive in its own right. However, that D’Arce was as slick as can be and came at the end of a phenomenal fight. I love stories such as Erosa’s: Former “The Ultimate Fighter” alum, released in 2016 after going 1-1, gets a second chance on Contender Series two years later, wins that fight, gets signed again, goes 0-3 in the UFC, gets cut, wins a fight on the regional scene and then capitalizes on this opportunity after a visa issue precluded Canadian Kyle Nelson from competing Saturday. Way to persevere, Julian.

Okamoto: Julian Erosa. Four days’ notice against arguably the most promising prospect on the card in Sean Woodson. Was it the “highlight reel” KO we usually think about when it comes to best finish? No. Not at all, actually. But taking everything into consideration — fighting on four days’ notice, the biggest betting underdog on the card, losing the first round, the fact that he has been cut from the UFC before — it’s incredibly impressive. Erosa knew after that first round against Woodson that he had to bite down, eat shots and make the fight ugly, and that is way easier said than done. Not only did he have the intelligence to acknowledge that, but he also had the courage and heart to do it. It’s difficult to not feel happy for him.

Raimondi: I won’t soon forget Tanner Boser, sporting an absolutely glorious mullet, starching former PFL heavyweight champion Philipe Lins with a punching combination for a knockout win. Boser, from Alberta, Canada, is unassuming. Maybe he caught Lins by surprise. Boser let loose with a fast combination and clanged multiple punches off Lins’ head. Lins was out when he hit the ground, spurring referee Herb Dean to dive in and hit a near-judo throw to get Boser off an unconscious Lins. It was a memorable knockout for a fight — and a fighter — many people didn’t have circled coming into this event.

Wagenheim: The second- or third-best finish on this night would have been in the running for top honors on many fight nights. At one point, there were five straight finishes, each a thing of beauty. But I have to go with Julian Erosa’s third-round D’Arce choke, which handed prospect Sean Woodson his first career defeat. Erosa, who twice has been cut by the UFC, came in on four days’ notice and was the biggest underdog on the card. He looked the part in the first round, absorbing a steady diet of straight left hands. But he ate them all and kept coming for more, and when he finally got Woodson on the canvas, he did not waste the opportunity, efficiently and stunningly eliciting a tapout.

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