Coronavirus survey

Coronavirus survey in Minnesota cancelled after workers faced harassment, racism – NBC News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pulled federal coronavirus surveyors out of Minnesota this week after they experienced verbal abuse, intimidation and racism, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The CDC had been working with the Minnesota Department of Health since Sept. 14 to conduct a voluntary door-to-door survey across 180 neighborhoods to better understand how the virus was spreading, particularly among people with no known symptoms.

The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) survey teams were also offering free testing for the virus and for antibodies.

But some Minnesota residents greeted the public health workers with racial and ethnic slurs, Dan Huff, an assistant health commissioner in the state, told NBC News in a statement.

Huff recalled a specific incident on Sept. 15 in Eitzen, a town of 250 people along the Iowa border, when one survey team “was surrounded by three men who refused to accept their identification as public health workers. One of the men was armed, and the workers felt that the intention of the men was to intimidate them. Racial epithets were used by the men.”

“There was never a gun or any weapon present and no threats or aggressive behavior occurred during the interaction between the city members and the Covid-19 team,” Eitzen Mayor Jeffrey Adamson told KARE, NBC’s affiliate in Minneapolis, adding that the one of the three men involved in the encounter with the public health workers was a city official.

“This situation was handled professionally, courteously, and unbiased with no racial slurs, threats or inappropriate comments made,” said Adamson. “The City of Eitzen in no way supports racism or violence.”

Houston County Sheriff Mark Inglett told KARE he is not investigating the incident as no complaints were filed.

But Minnesota health officials said the incident in Eitzen was not an isolated one.

According to Huff, there were several other instances in which residents yelled at the public health workers and threatened to call the police. Other incidents included team members’ being followed and videotaped. Most incidents occurred in central and southern Minnesota — in rural areas where there has been more resentment over coronavirus restrictions, The Associated Press reported.

“Many of the individual incidents could perhaps have been considered misunderstandings, but over the past week, a pattern emerged where the CASPER teams that included people of color were reporting more incidents than teams that did not include people of color,” said Huff.

Stephanie Yendell, who supervised Minnesota’s role in the survey, said one of their Latina team members had “been called a particular epithet more times in the last week than in her entire life,” the AP reported.

Following the “series of troubling incidents across Minnesota” and “the impact the incidents had on team members”, the CDC decided to demobilize their field staff and halt the CASPER survey, said Huff.

The CDC did not respond to NBC News’ email requesting comment.

Before the CDC pulled out its workers, the agency had collected test samples from about 400 residents statewide. The tests will be processed and analyzed, but they won’t be enough to provide a complete picture of coronavirus transmission in Minnesota, the AP reported.

“We hope this episode gives us all a chance to take a pause and consider how we treat each other during this stressful time. The enemy is the virus, not each other,” said Huff, adding, “Minnesota Department of Health stands against racism in its many forms.”

Minnesota has reported about 2,000 coronavirus deaths and at least 95,659 confirmed cases since March.

Image: Nicole AcevedoNicole Acevedo

Nicole Acevedo is a reporter for NBC News Digital. She reports, writes and produces stories for NBC Latino and

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Satellite survey

Satellite survey shows California’s sinking coastal hotspots –

Satellite survey shows California's sinking coastal hotspots
Coastal elevation in California. Coastal zones, which are defined to be those with elevations less than 10 m, are shown in red. Segments of the coast with elevations higher than 10 m are colored by a yellow gradient. Credit: USGS NED.

A majority of the world population lives on low lying lands near the sea, some of which are predicted to submerge by the end of the 21st century due to rising sea levels.

The most relevant quantity for assessing the impacts of sea-level change on these communities is the relative sea-level rise—the elevation change between the Earth’s surface height and sea surface height. For an observer standing on the coastland, relative sea-level rise is the net change in the sea level, which also includes the rise and fall of the land beneath observer’s feet.

Now, using precise measurements from state-of-the-art satellite-based interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) that can detect the land surface rise and fall with millimeter accuracy, an Arizona State University research team has, for the first time, tracked the entire California coast’s vertical land motion.

They’ve identified local hotspots of the sinking coast, in the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Francisco, with a combined population of 4 to 8 million people exposed to rapid land subsidence, who will be at a higher flooding risk during the decades ahead of projected sea-level rise.

“We have ushered in a new era of coastal mapping at greater than 1,000 fold higher detail and resolution than ever before,” said Manoochehr Shirzaei, who is the principal investigator of the NASA-funded project. “The unprecedented detail and submillimeter accuracy resolved in our vertical land motion dataset can transform the understanding of natural and anthropogenic changes in relative sea-level and associated hazards.”

The results were published in this week’s issue of Science Advances.

The research team included graduate student and lead author Em Blackwell, and faculty Manoochehr Shirzaei, Chandrakanta Ojha and Susanna Werth, all from the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration (Werth has a dual appointment in the School of Geography and Urban Planning).

Em Blackwell had a keen interest in geology, and as Blackwell began graduate school, the applications of InSAR drew them to pursue this project. InSAR uses radar to measure the change in distance between the satellite and ground surface, producing highly accurate deformation maps of the Earth’s surface at 10s m resolution over 100s km spatial extent.

Land subsidence can occur due to natural and anthropogenic processes or a combination of them. The natural processes comprise tectonics, glacial isostatic adjustment, sediment loading, and soil compaction. The anthropogenic causes include groundwater extraction and oil and gas production.

As of 2005, approximately 40 million people were exposed to a 1 in 100-year coastal flooding hazard, and by 2070 this number will grow more than threefold. The value of property exposed to flooding will increase to about 9% of the projected global Gross Domestic Product, with the U.S., Japan, and the Netherlands being the countries with the most exposure. These exposure estimates often rely only on projections of global average sea level rise and do not account for vertical land motion.

The study measured the entire 1350-kilometer long coast of California from 2007-2018, compiling 1000s of satellite images over time, used for making a vertical land motion map with 35-million-pixel at ~80 m resolution, comprising a wide range of coastal uplift and subsidence rates. Coastal communities’ policymakers and the general public can freely download the data (link in supplemental data).

The four majorly affected in these areas included San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

“The vast majority of the San Francisco Bay perimeter is undergoing subsidence with rates reaching 5.9 mm/year,” said Blackwell. “Notably, the San Francisco International Airport is subsiding with rates faster than 2.0 mm/year. The Monterey Bay Area, including the city of Santa Cruz, is rapidly sinking without any zones of uplift. Rates of subsidence for this area reach 8.7 mm/year. The Los Angeles area shows subsidence along small coastal zones, but most of the subsidence is occurring inland.”

Areas of land uplift included north of the San Francisco Bay Area (3 to 5 mm/year) and Central California (same rate).

Going forward in the decades ahead, the coastal population is expected to grow to over 1 billion people by 2050, due to coastward migration. The future flood risk that these communities will face is mainly controlled by the rate of relative sea-level rise, namely, the combination of rise and vertical land motion. It is vital to include land subsidence into regional projections that are used to identify areas of potential flooding for the urbanized coast.

Beyond the study, the ASU research team is hopeful that others in the scientific community can build on their results to measure and identify coastal hazards more broadly in the U.S. and around the world.

More information:
“Tracking California’s sinking coast from space: Implications for relative sea-level rise” Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4551

Satellite survey shows California’s sinking coastal hotspots (2020, July 31)
retrieved 31 July 2020

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