Coronavirus Tidbits #228 1/15/23

Announcements:

First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I'm getting.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don't be shy about that.

Reminder, Resilience: One Family's Story... is increasingly pertinent, as some of our politicians shift rightward. All proceeds go to Holocaust education.

Available here.

News 

Covid:

US extends COVID health emergency

Health officials in the United States extended the COVID-19 public health emergency again, as the world closely watches developments there with XBB.1.5 and looks for clarity on China's evolving surge.

Cases and deaths are still rising. The 7-day average for new daily COVID-19 cases is 67,514, up 17% compared to a week ago, according to Washington Post tracking. By the same measure, deaths are up 8%, while hospitalizations are down 9%.

As schools resume after the holidays, some are ordering temporary mask mandates due to elevated levels of COVID and other respiratory viruses, ABC News reported.

More than 82% of XBB.1.5 sequences are from US

Along with BQ.1 subvariants, XBB.1.5 is one of the most immune evasive variants to date, the WHO said. So far, there is no evidence that illnesses involving the subvariant are more severe, and XBB.1.5 doesn't carry mutations that are known to increase severity.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/who-weighs-omicron-xbb15-subvariant-us-extends-covid-health-emergency

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How Are Bivalent COVID Vaccines Stacking Up Against Omicron?

...Other US studies have shown the risk of hospitalisation was reduced by at least 38% in people who received a bivalent booster compared to those who had received two or more doses of the original vaccines. In adults over 65 the additional protection was as high as 73%.

Meanwhile, recent research suggests the bivalent boosters will offer protection against emerging omicron subvariants. Serum samples from people who received the BA.5-containing bivalent boosters had better neutralising activity against all omicron subvariants (especially BA.2.75.2, BQ.1.1, and XBB) than those who received either one or two regular boosters.

https://globalbiodefense.com/2023/01/12/how-are-bivalent-covid-vaccines-stacking-up-against-omicron/

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Covid and Sperm count

@tmprowell
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmv.27971

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Covid mortality:

New study out showing COVID-19 patients at one year had a much higher all cause mortality compared to those without COVID-19, 17.8% vs 4%.

journals.plos.org/plosone/articl

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Long Covid:

A comprehensive review of #LongCovid has just been published nature.com/articles/s4157 Phenomenal work by @ahandvanish @LisaAMcCorkell @juliamv @NatureRevMicro

rdcu.be/c3m45 w/o paywall

China: 

(Reuters) -The peak of China's COVID-19 wave is expected to last two to three months. Infections are expected to surge in rural areas as hundreds of millions travel to their home towns for the Lunar New Year holidays, which officially start from Jan. 21,

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Other:

Drop in routine vaccine coverage among US kindergarten students

In a report published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers from the CDC said national coverage with state-required vaccines fell to 93% among kindergarten students during the 2021-22 school year, down from 94% in 2020-21 and 95% in 2019-20. Coverage with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), DTaP (diptheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis), polio, and varicella vaccines fell in most states.

Another report showed that the pandemic had less of an effect on vaccine coverage in younger children... "persistent and widening disparities" were observed for children living beneath the federal poverty level, uninsured children, Black and Hispanic children, and kids in rural areas.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/childhood-vaccines/another-drop-routine-vaccine-coverage-among-us-kindergarten-students

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FDA no longer needs to require animal tests before human drug trials

Science  BYMEREDITH WADMAN   10 JAN 2023

according to legislation signed by President Joe Biden in late December 2022. The change—long sought by animal welfare organizations—could signal a major shift away from animal use after more than 80 years of drug safety regulation.

In place of the 1938 stipulation that potential drugs be tested for safety and efficacy in animals, the law allows FDA to promote a drug or biologic—a larger molecule such as an antibody—to human trials after either animal or nonanimal tests. Drake’s group and the nonprofit Animal Wellness Action, among others that pushed for changes, argue that in clearing drugs for human trials the agency should rely more heavily on computer modeling, “organ chips,” and other nonanimal methods that have been developed over the past 10 to 15 years.

But pro-research groups are downplaying the law, saying it signals a slow turning of the tide—not a tsunami that will remake the drug approval process overnight.

https://www.science.org/content/article/fda-no-longer-needs-require-animal-tests-human-drug-trials

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WOAH report highlights continued use of antibiotics for animal growth

...The first of a planned annual report from the Observatory of WOAH looks at whether, and how, member states are implementing international standards for disease prevention and control, animal welfare, and veterinary public health.

With regard to antimicrobial use in animals, it shows that, of the 155 member states that submitted data for 2020 and 2021, 40 indicated using antimicrobials as growth promoters, which is deemed not to be responsible use. In addition, 21 reported using antimicrobials that have been defined by the World Health Organization as highest priority critically important antimicrobials for human medicine.

https://cidrap.umn.edu/antimicrobial-stewardship/woah-report-highlights-continued-use-antibiotics-animal-growth

Diagnostics:

Wastewater Infectious Disease Surveillance Pilot Study Established at Toronto Airport

Officials at Fusion Genomics say the company has set up a fully automated, first-of-its-kind infectious-disease surveillance facility at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The facility, which uses Fusion’s DNA sequencing-based ONETest platform, will allow detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens in wastewater effluent from airplanes and terminal facilities at Canada’s busiest airport...

https://www.genengnews.com/topics/omics/wastewater-infectious-disease-surveillance-pilot-study-established-at-toronto-airport/

Drugs and Vaccines:

Paxlovid:

@EricTopol   Jan 11
Some #SARSCoV2 mutations that confer resistance to Paxlovid have been deposited @NCBI & @GISAID science.org/doi/10.1126/sc @ScienceTM "Our findings argue for highly selective use...because extensive, unselective use is expected to rapidly lead to emergence of drug resistance."
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Bivalent vax:

Other US studies have shown the risk of hospitalization was reduced by at least 38% in people who received a bivalent booster compared to those who had received two or more doses of the original vaccines. In adults over 65 the additional protection was as high as 73%.

Meanwhile, recent research suggests the bivalent boosters will offer protection against emerging omicron subvariants. Serum samples from people who received the BA.5-containing bivalent boosters had better neutralizing activity against all omicron subvariants (especially BA.2.75.2, BQ.1.1, and XBB) than those who received either one or two regular boosters.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-01-bivalent-covid-vaccines-monthshere-theyre.html?

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Guanfacine for Long Covid?

https://t.co/VXLeKRb4dn  Being studied at Yale

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European Commission has approved Xofluza® (baloxavir marboxil)

in children aged one year and above for uncomplicated influenza and post-exposure prophylaxis of influenza.

The agency’s regulatory approval, based on the results of two Phase III studies, marks the first single-dose, oral influenza medicine approved in Europe for children.

https://www.europeanpharmaceuticalreview.com/news/178475/european-commission-approves-roche-influenza-antiviral-for-children/

Devices:

@JimRosenthal4  Jan 7 
This is a very important study done by researchers at the CDC on #corsirosenthalboxes and other DIY air cleaners. It found that they reduce aerosols by up to 73%. It is very meaningful to have this independent confirmation of effectiveness.
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Extensive, searchable MASK testing database:

https://www.armbrustusa.com/pages/mask-testing?search=

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Also, since most masks are made in China, we are going to be in trouble: See thread:

@larmbrust  
At one point we were selling $350k worth of masks every day, and had 120+ employees running on 3 shifts. Since then demand has dropped and we have cut way down.
About 50 US mask factories were started during the pandemic, but now most of them have shut down, meaning there is way less capacity for production now.
China production has shut down d/t/ their Covid epidemic.
Amazon is great at keeping 2-3 months of supply in their US warehouses, but since most masks are from China, and China is shut down, I think we are going to see a shortage again.

To be clear, I know of 6 mask factories in the US that are still producing.

@armbrust_usa is one of them but our production volume is 10% of what it was, with most of our machines on pallets behind our warehouse.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

(Mis)perception and Use of Unsterile Water in Home Medical Devices, PN View 360+ Survey, United States, August 20211

Tap water is not sterile, and its use in home medical devices can result in infections from waterborne pathogens. However, many participants in a recent survey in the US said tap water could safely be used for home medical devices. These results can inform communication materials to reduce the high consequence of infections.

Tap water in the United States is treated to meet safe drinking standards; however, low levels of microorganisms remain in drinking water distribution systems, wells, and premise plumbing (1,2). Although most of these microorganisms are harmless and the water is safe for drinking and cooking, it might not always be safe for other uses, such as aerosolized inhalation and ocular or nasal irrigation (24).

Microorganisms that can be found in water systems include Pseudomonas aeruginosa, nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), Legionella spp., Acanthamoeba spp., and Naegleria fowleri (1,2). In the United States, biofilm-associated pathogens such as Pseudomonas spp., NTM, and Legionella spp. are responsible for a large portion of the 120,000 hospitalizations, 7,000 deaths, and billions in direct healthcare costs annually related to waterborne diseases (5).

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/29/2/22-1205_article

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More Mammals Confirmed with Bird Flu

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed today additional highly pathogenic avian influenza (HAPI) H5N1 detections in mammals.

The updated USDA listing as of January 9, 2023, includes skunks, bears, raccoons, and another red fox.

The CDC says although bird flu (HAPI) viruses mainly infect and spread among wild migratory water birds and domestic poultry, some bird flu viruses can infect other animals as well.  While it’s unlikely people would become infected with bird flu viruses, it is possible, says the CDC.

Globally, six human influenza A H5N1 2.3.4.4b infections were reported last year, including a man working with birds in Colorado

Since April 2022, about 110 H5N1 detections in mammals were confirmed during 2022.

The USDA reported HAPI detections had affected 47 states and led to the loss of over 57.8 million birds as of January 4, 2023.

Additional HAPI (bird-flu) news is posted at PrecisionVaccinations.com/Avain.

https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/2023/01/09/more-mammals-confirmed-bird-flu

Tips, general reading for public:

Ventilate.

Mask.

Vax.

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Ventilation:

@joeyfox85   Jan 7
TLDR - The only people to weigh in on this is @O_S_P_E
Indoor Air Quality Advisory Group which recommends 6 hours. I think it's a little conservative and you can go down to 4. Here's the math. 2/12 ospe.on.ca/indoor-air-qua
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Worried about traffic stops by police? Two apps aim to help.

Free ACLU Mobile Justice app

livestream interactions with law enforcement to close contacts and their local ACLU chapter. Does NOT provide immediate legal advice but ensures videos are saved even if a phone is seized or destroyed.

https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police/mobile-justice

or

turnsignl.com , which is $60/year, but a lawyer appears promptly to help inform you of your rights and help to mediate. Services are free for the unemployed and those making less than $40,000 a year. They are adding states

Politics:

Covid:

CDC fails again:

@luckytran   Jan 8
Unbelievable. The CDC website lists some of the actions that individuals can take to prevent #LongCOVID. They include vaccination, ventilation, testing, and even hand-washing... but they leave out, you guessed it, masks! cdc.gov/coronavirus/20
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COVID was the leading cause of law enforcement deaths in 2022 for 3rd year in a row: Report
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GOP:

Kevin McCarthy has vowed to remove Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence committee and Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs.
He’s appointing George Santos, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz to prominent committees This is the MOST shameless and vile downgrade in congressional history
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@NoLieWithBTC   Jan 6
Only 1 Republican out of 222 showed up to a ceremony today with the families of police who were violently beaten by MAGA terrorists on January 6. Don’t ever let them tell you they support law enforcement again.
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@RichardRubinDC   
First CBO score of the new Congress is here. Says that the GOP IRS funding bill would reduce spending by $71.5B and reduce revenue by $185.8B. Net deficit increase of $114B. cbo.gov/system/files/2
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@hugolowell   Jan 9
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"Grassroot" organizations that aren't:

@piper4missouri   Jan 8
When you see “The Show Me Institute” know it’s Missouri Billionaire Rex Sinquefield. His goal is to drain teacher pension accounts and privatize public schools.
Others: Walton-funded “National Parents Union”
Koch funded ALEC, the organization feeding republican state legislatures conservative legislation.
Image
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@elwasson   Jan 9
CBO estimates that GOP bill to claw back IRS tax enforcement funding adds $114 billion to the deficit due to lower revenue. House votes on it tonight
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@duty2warn   Jan 9
"Jim Jordan is potentially under investigation by the DOJ. He is now about to become the chairman of the Judiciary Committee which has direct oversight of the Department of Justice; there's something incredibly wrong with that."—Tara Setmayer, GOP strategist
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@JYSexton   Jan 9
It’s a complete indictment of our system that the January 6 Committee, led by Liz Cheney, told us it was all because of Donald Trump and did almost nothing to illuminate the Right Wing benefactors and groups that orchestrated the whole thing and continue to attack democracy.
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@NoLieWithBTC   Jan 9
Marjorie Taylor Greene has been locked out of her Twitter account and her new video has been removed after Dr. Dre took legal action against her for using his music without permission:
“One might expect that, as a member of Congress, you would have a passing familiarity with the laws of our country. It's possible, though, that laws governing intellectual property are a little too arcane and insufficiently populist for you to really have spent much time on.“
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Abortion/Reproduction:
@Abortion_Finder   Jan 9
NEW ON ABORTIONFINDER.ORG!  Our search results & state-by-state guide now list profiles for providers offering the abortion pill through mail delivery! (1/4)  More at
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@RobertMaguire_   Jan 11
People in Alabama can be prosecuted for taking abortion pills, state attorney general says
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@LifeNewsHQ   Jan 12
Congressman Mike Kelly has introduced The Heartbeat Protection Act, which would ban abortions nationwide when an unborn baby's heartbeat can be detected.
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Education:

Hamline U fires teacher, claiming Islamophobia. Political correctness run amok.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/08/us/hamline-university-islam-prophet-muhammad.html?

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Guns:

Abby Zwerner, a first grade teacher in Virginia, is in critical condition after being deliberately shot by one of her 6-year-old students. A student brought bullets to school the previous week. This is the America the NRA has brought.

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@tripgabriel   Jan 7
Asked @GlennYoungkin in Virginia a day after a 6-year-old shot his teacher in Newport Beach if he supports more gun safety laws. He says he’ll work w 2023 Leg on a ‘whole package of enhanced penalties for crimes committed with guns.’
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@CarlosGSmith   
Before murdering 49 people at Pulse, the shooter used credit cards to buy $26,000 in guns, ammo and body armor in 12 days.
Card companies are now flagging similar suspicious activity to prevent mass shootings. Republicans want those companies PUNISHED. ($10,000 per violation)
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HIV:
@benjaminbutter   Jan 10
Prince Harry has donated $1.5m from his book proceeds to a charity that helps people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa. He founded the charity with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to honour Diana.
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Homelessness:
@LaceyBanis
I am still disgusted that @KPIXtv gave #CollierGwin a sit-down interview, especially when even his body language conveys zero remorse and all the entitlement (he looks like he’s having a casual convo here)—which is exactly how he stood when he was spraying the unhoused woman.
He has not been charged w assault. Instead, Gwin is also being protected by San Fran Police Dept...  Gwin's Gallery got $88,000 in forgiven taxpayer funded PPP Loans
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Immigration:
@EnviroDi   Jan 10
New @nberpubs findings: U.S. #immigrants are "#innovators who help us build new businesses, create jobs, make our companies more productive, and produce products and ideas that enrich our lives and improve our standard of living."
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LGBTQ:

@CarlosGSmith   Jan 9
Republicans promised us 'Don't Say Gay' would be limited to classroom instruction in K-3. They LIED. Even the arts are being censored under 1557. In addition to including LGBTQ Jewish characters, 'Indecent' was also about the dangers of censorship.
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@ErinInTheMorn   Jan 11
We have our first national anti-LGBTQ+ bill from the Republican house. HR216 would defund schools if they didn't get written parental consent to teach lessons that relate to gender identity, sexual orientation, transgneder people, and more.

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Twitter/Elon Musk

@RiegerReport   Jan 10
"Twitter suspended the account Tuesday that the D.C.-area’s largest transit system uses to inform bus riders of delays, scheduling changes and other information without explanation to the transit agency."
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Alabama:
see Abortion
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Arkansas:
@DarrigoMelanie   
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders banning the term “Latinx” must be a huge relief for the people of Arkansas, whose state ranks 49th in healthcare, 43rd in infrastructure and 41st in education.
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Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Introduces Executive Order Combatting CRT On First Day In Office
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California:
Rep Eric Swalwell receives repeated death threats after Kevin McCarthy targets him
Florida/DeSantis
@BugdenSteven   Jan 10
#DeSantisDestroysFlorida Florida paid $35,000 for each migrant in Martha's Vineyard flights. The state has paid nearly $112,000 to law firms (so far) to represent DeSantis This is on top of the nearly $1.6 million paid to aviation firm
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@Cathy2NotToday   
“Since assuming office in 2019, DeSantis has accepted $3.3 mil in campaign donations from about 250 people he selected for leadership roles — a 75% increase in # of donors appointed compared to fmr Scott’s first term in office, and over 10x the amount of money
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Missouri:
@NoLieWithBTC   Jan 12
Missouri Republicans are pushing to ban women lawmakers from wearing attire that exposes their arms. This is after they already passed a new rule requiring women lawmakers to cover their dress with a “second layer.” msn.com/en-us/news/pol
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Tennessee:
@TheTNHoller   

350,000 Tennesseans losing Medicaid coverage may come as good news to

@RepMarkGreen, who led the fight against Medicaid expansion and says government programs keep suffering Tennesseans from “a saving knowledge of God” (he has government insurance)
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Brazil:

@ruthbenghiat  Jan 8
There is a strong US-Brazil Fascist coup conspirator network, w/Bannon advising Bolsonaro (whose hard core supporters formed a military-style encampment to prepare next moves) & E Bolsonaro in DC on Jan 5...
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@kyledcheney   Jan 8
One thing we learned from Jan. 6 committee release of WH visitor logs (besides SSN debacle): Family members of Jair Bolsonaro were visiting the White House as guests of Ivanka Trump the week of Jan. 6
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Trump aides Bannon, Miller advising the Bolsonaros on next steps
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@davenewworld_2   Jan 8
The Omaha Police Department was organizing an arms trade with the far-right extremists 88 Tactical, who have been training Bolsonaro supporters for years.
Afghanistan:
@AshwiniSahaya   Jan 8
Taliban issued a new ruling in Balkh province, Afghanistan, stating that women are not allowed to visit male doctors !! And, no education to women as well, so no female doctors either !! #Afghanistan #Taliban twitter.com/i/spaces/1rmGP

Feel good du jour:

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Rare disease
@owasow  Jan 7
“It seemed absolutely crazy. The idea that an Iowa housewife, equipped with the cutting-edge medical tool known as Google Images, would make a medical discovery about a pro athlete who sees doctors and athletic trainers as part of her job?”

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@Goodable   Jan 9
When he was 9-years old, Ronald McNair was told he couldn't sign out books from a segregated library. He went on to become a Karate champion, earned a PhD in physics from MIT, and became an astronaut with NASA. Today the library is named after him.
@BalineseWannabe
Part 1: I drive through his hometown often. Beside the library is a small plaza focused on a large panel monument that tells Ronald McNair's story, plus a small museum. The main business street is named after him as well. Near the elementary school is...
a city park. Near the flagpole is a cement slab with an impression of the soles of McNair's dress shoes, so local kids can stand in his footsteps while aspiring to reach their dreams. It's a cute rural town w/a respected annual festival now.
Ron McNair was also an HBCU alum, graduating from NC A&T with a B.S. in Physics before earning a Ph.D. in Physics from M. I.T.  He died on the Challenger.

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A stranger gave a boy with autism a $15,000 piano after hearing him play - Jude Kofie

https://www.cbsnews.com/colorado/news/grand-piano-aurora-boy-colorado-lesson-jude-kofie-autism/

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Comic relief:

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Perspective/Poem

Bits of beauty:

 


 

 

 

 

 

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