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Rockland: Taxis Carry Measles Virus To Pharmacy, Radiology Lab

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One or more people contagious with measles traveled around New City and Spring Valley on April 4 and 5. They traveled by taxi to a health center and a radiology center and made two trips to a pharmacy.

County officials warn that anyone who visited the following locations or used the following taxis at these times may have been exposed to measles.

  • La Familia Taxi that initially traveled from Refuah Health Center, located at 728 N. Main Street, Spring Valley, NY on Thursday, April 4 from 1 pm to 1:06 pm with a risk of exposure until 3:06 pm.
  • Spring Valley Drug Pharmacy, located at 180 E. Central Avenue, Spring Valley, NY on Thursday, April 4 from 1:44 pm to 1:46 pm with risk of exposure until 3:46 pm, and on Friday, April 5 from 2:10 pm to 2:30 pm with a risk of exposure until 4:30 pm.
  • International Taxi that initially traveled to Hudson Valley Radiology, located at 18 Squadron Blvd., New City NY on Thursday, April 4 from 3:50 pm to 4:30 pm with a risk of exposure until 6:30 pm.
  • Hudson Valley Radiology, located at 18 Squadron Blvd., New City NY on Thursday, April 4 from 4:30 pm to 5:15 pm, with risk of exposure until 7:15 pm.
  • International Taxi that initially traveled from Hudson Valley Radiology, located at 18 Squadron Blvd., New City NY on Thursday, April 4 from 5:15 pm to 5:45 pm with a risk of exposure until 7:45 pm.

These times reflect the period that the infected individuals were in these areas plus a two-hour period after they left the areas, because the virus remains in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

If you were present at these locations during these times, especially if you are in any of the following high-risk groups, contact your health care provider by phone right away (call before going for care):

  • Pregnant
  • A child under 6 months of age
  • Immunocompromised or immunosuppressed (when your body can’t fight disease)
  • Have not been vaccinated against the measles
  • Were born before 1957 and are immunosuppressed

“High community vaccination rates help protect people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions. The best way to help protect yourself and the community is to remain up-to-date with your measles vaccination,” said Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Ruppert.
Measles is one of the most contagious viruses on earth; 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus become infected. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to two hours after that person is gone. You can catch measles from an infected person four days before they have a measles rash — it might just seem that they have a runny nose or red, watery eyes — and four days after the rash appears.

Free measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccines are available for residents six months and older on from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday at the WIC office at 23 Robert Pitt Drive, Suite 103 in Monsey, NY 10952. Free MMR vaccines are also available by calling:

The Rockland County Department of Health at 845-364-2497 or 845-364-2520 to schedule an appointment to get a free MMR vaccine at the Pomona health complex.

The Rockland County Department of Health Spring Valley Family Planning Clinic is also providing MMR vaccines, by appointment to Family Planning patients. Family Planning Clinic patients can call 845-364-2531 to schedule an appointment.

In addition, MMR vaccines are available at local health care providers or by calling a local federally qualified health center, such as Refuah or Hudson River Health Care. The federally qualified health centers see patients on a sliding fee scale and by appointment. They may require patients new to their centers to have a well visit first, before a vaccine can be given.

Visit www.nachc.org/about/about-our-health-centers/find-a-health-center/ to find the locations of federally qualified health centers in Rockland.

Rockland officials said:

The Health Department is actively working to contain the further spread of measles. As a result, if you are ill with a fever, rash, or conjunctivitis (red watery eyes) – help protect our community by staying home, not having visitors, and not going out in public. To further prevent the spread of illness, the Department is advising individuals who have symptoms consistent with measles to contact their health care provider, a local clinic, or a local emergency department before going for care. This will help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness.

The Health Department is asking all health care providers to immediately report all cases of suspect measles to the Rockland County Department of Health Communicable Disease Program staff by calling (845) 364-2997 during normal business hours, or (845) 364-8600 after hours/weekends. Health Care Providers can also call this number for additional information.

Residents can get more information about measles by visiting https://bit.ly/2zh4v1G and by calling the New York State Department of Health toll free Measles Information Line at (888) 364-4837.

Source: https://patch.com/new-york/nanuet/rockland-measles-virus-spread-pharmacy-radiology-lab-taxi

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GM quiet about Cruise driverless taxi fleet as deadline looms

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As the self-imposed deadline for the self-driving taxi service from General Motors Co.’s autonomous vehicle development unit looms this year, the San Francisco-based GM Cruise LLC has gone quiet.

Hype for Cruise’s potential built up in late 2017 and into 2018 as the former start-up laid the groundwork for a commercial launch of its autonomous technology. Increasingly, however, company leaders have said a launch of Cruise’s driverless taxi service would be “gated by safety,” a hedge that has been repeated since October when GM’s self-driving unit partnered with Honda Motor Co.

Meantime, the industry at large has started pulling back on some of its autonomous-vehicle optimism. A fatal accident involving one of Uber’s self-driving test vehicles spurred an industry-wide reassessment of how to best validate the complex technology required to make a car navigate public roads without the help of a driver. As investors and industry observers wait to see Cruise’s robo-taxi service in action, experts say the 2019 deadline is hardly a deal-breaker for the driverless-vehicle unit’s future.

“The real question is not whether Cruise is on track for 2019 or not — it’s whether GM has the stomach to gut this thing out to completion and do everything it’s really going to take to get there,” said Mike Ramsey, an automotive analyst for research firm Gartner Inc. “Does GM have the stomach to spend money — that they don’t have a ton of — and sacrifice areas that make money now to stick this out?”

GM is trying to prove as much. The company is executing a sweeping restructuring that includes stopping production at five North American plants and cutting 15 percent of its salaried workforce. The goal is to cut costs and redirect precious capital toward expensive autonomy, electrification and mobility efforts.

The rollout of the technology has always been guided by safety, a Cruise spokesman said, reiterating what GM and Cruise executives have said in recent months. Leaders also say the quiet period for Cruise is a result of the Silicon Valley workforce’s focus on getting the technology right.

GM is planning to spend roughly $1 billion on Cruise in 2019 after spending about $700 million last year. That includes hiring another 1,000 people over the next nine months. Cruise has also garnered some $5 billion in outside investments from Japan’s SoftBank Investment Advisers and Honda.

And executives say a change in leadership ushers in a new phase for the self-driving car unit. Former GM President Dan Ammann took over as CEO of Cruise effective Jan. 1. He replaced co-founder Kyle Vogt who moved into the role of chief technology officer. Ammann and Vogt say the shuffle allows both executives to focus on their strengths as Cruise moves toward deployment.

But Cruise’s original vision of a driverless taxi fleet of cars without steering wheels or pedals is still stuck in neutral more than a year after the company asked NHTSA permission to put the cars on public roads. It took NHTSA about 14 months to respond to the petition, advancing it to the public review stage last month.

GM’s long wait for a response is evidence that gaining the necessary federal approval is no small step, nor is it guaranteed. Federal safety regulation language revolves around human drivers and vehicles engineered to be piloted by a human driver — as opposed to artificial intelligence.

GM CEO Mary Barra has said the San Francisco team could proceed without federal approval of the steering wheel-free models by launching the service with the safety driver-piloted test vehicles already on public roads. But even if GM Cruise doesn’t start ferrying customers in one of its lidar-equipped Chevrolet Bolt EVs by the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, experts seem to think the company will be forgiven.

“If GM were to potentially recast its projected time horizon for the launch and rollout of its GM Cruise unit’s service at a later time (i.e. significantly beyond 2020),” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a recent note, “we believe the stock market would be largely understanding.”

Sam Abuelsamid of Navigant Research, which recently ranked Cruise as one of the leaders in the autonomous vehicle race, said the company’s self-imposed 2019 deadline is largely arbitrary.

“If we don’t see a driverless taxi service from Cruise by the end of this year, it will not be the end of the world,” Abuelsamid said. “In the long term it’s better to delay and do this the right way — and Uber made the case last year for what happens when you rush this technology.”

Uber suspended all testing of self-driving cars last March after one of its autonomous test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. The ride-hailing giant was rushing its autonomous vehicle development to keep up with leaders like GM’s Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo LLC.

What followed was an industry-wide reckoning with autonomous-vehicle testing practices. Many companies took their driverless test vehicles off the roads while they revamped testing practices. Uber wouldn’t resume autonomous vehicle testing for another nine months. Waymo walked back promises to take human safety drivers out of its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans. And GM appeared to quietly abandon plans to begin testing autonomous vehicles on the busy streets of New York City.

“This is normal,” Ramsey said. “None of what changed in the last year constitutes failure. This is just what happens when something that is really hard, but has a lot of promise, comes around. This is how new technologies get commercialized.”

Source: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/general-motors/2019/04/17/gm-quiet-about-cruise-driverless-taxi-fleet-as-deadline-looms/3398967002/

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Yemeni-Americans in New York City are boycotting the New York Post after a damning Ilhan Omar cover story

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Yemeni-American shop owners across New York City are denouncing the New York Post in light of a controversial cover image put forth by the publication featuring the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a stand alone quote from Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

“Here’s your something. 2,977 people dead by terrorism,” read last Thursday’s headline, appearing to suggest Omar, a Somali American congresswoman from Minnesota, was dismissive of the attack on the Twin Towers.

The cover was in reference to a speech Omar delivered last month at an event for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” Omar said. “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” (CAIR was founded in 1994, and an Omar spokesperson later told the Washington Post that the freshman lawmaker misspoke and meant to refer to the fact that the organization had doubled in size after 9/11).

Omar has faced backlash in recent weeks from the media, commentators, and politicians alike. Last Friday, President Donald Trump shared a video on Twitter blasting Omar for the speech. In the days since Trump’s tweet, Omar said she has experienced an increase in death threats. As of Monday, the video remains on his Twitter page.

New York City’s Yemeni-American community says they are worried that the New York Post’s front page will encourage anti-Muslim violence and rhetoric. As of Saturday morning, ten well-known Yemeni store owners had agreed to stop selling the tabloid, while Yemeni taxi drivers passed out fliers about the boycott to other Yemeni-owned establishments across the city, according to The New York Times.

In an open letter, the Yemeni American Merchants Association said the New York Post’s front page “provoked hatred against Rep. Omar,” and lambasted its decision to publish as “cheap and sensational tabloids that undermine national unity and entice violence and hate for the sole purpose of circulation and sales.”

“This rhetoric threatens the safety and wellbeing of Rep. Omar, Muslim leaders, and the larger Muslim American community at a time when Islamophobia is at an all-time high,” the letter added.

INSIDER reached out to the News Corporation, the New York Post’s parent company, for comment. On Sunday, the Yemeni American Merchants Association announced its formal boycott at a news conference outside of the News Corporation’s building in Manhattan. People in attendance displayed signs that read “boycott hate” and “New York Post take your paper back.”

The association has issued a set of demands, including a public apology to Omar by the Post, and a request that the publication’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Lynch, step down from his position.

Yemeni-American store owners have previously turned toward political activism: after the president issued a ban on travelers in 2017 from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, thousands of Yemeni-Americans closed shop and gathered together to rally against the policy.

“It’s not the first time that the New York Post basically spreads hate and fear in their newspapers,” Ayyad Algabyali, the association’s director of advocacy, told the Guardian, adding that there is “no end date” to the boycott and “this might be for good.”

Source: https://www.thisisinsider.com/yemeni-americans-are-boycotting-the-new-york-post-after-it-slammed-ilhan-omar-2019-4

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Fire Mauls Beloved Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

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Notre-Dame cathedral, the symbol of the beauty and history of Paris, was scarred by an extensive fire on Monday evening that caused its delicate spire to collapse, bruised the Parisian skies with smoke and further disheartened a city already back on its heels after weeks of violent protests.

The spectacle of flames leaping from the cathedral’s wooden roof — its spire glowing red then turning into a virtual cinder — stunned thousands of onlookers who gathered along the banks of the Seine and packed into the plaza of the nearby Hôtel de Ville, gasping and covering their mouths in horror and wiping away tears.

“It is like losing a member of one’s own family,” said Pierre Guillaume Bonnet, a 45-year-old marketing director. “For me there are so many memories tied up in it.”

Around 500 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly five hours. By 11 p.m. Paris time, the structure had been “saved and preserved as a whole,” the fire chief, Jean-Claude Gallet, said. The two magnificent towers soaring above the skyline had been spared, he said, but two-thirds of the roof was destroyed.

“The worst has been avoided even though the battle is not completely won,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a brief and solemn speech at Notre-Dame on Monday night, vowing that the cathedral would be rebuilt.
“This is the place where we have lived all of our great moments, the epicenter of our lives,” he said. “It is the cathedral of all the French.”

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, officials said. But it appeared to have begun in the interior network of wooden beams, many dating back to the Middle Ages and nicknamed “the forest,” said the cathedral’s rector, Msgr. Patrick Chauvet.

No one was killed, officials said, but a firefighter was seriously injured.

The fire broke out about 6:30 p.m., upending Mr. Macron’s plans to deliver an important policy speech about trying to heal the country from months of “Yellow Vest” demonstrations that had already defaced major landmarks in the capital and disfigured some of its wealthiest streets.
The tragedy seemed to underscore the challenges heaped before his administration, which has struggled to reconcile the formidable weight of France’s ideals and storied past with the necessity for change to meet the demands of the 21st century.

A jewel of medieval Gothic architecture built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre-Dame is a landmark not only for Paris, where it squats firmly yet gracefully at its very center, but for all the world. The cathedral is visited by about 30,000 people a day and around 13 million people a year.

For centuries France’s kings and queens were married there. Napoleon was crowned emperor in Notre-Dame in 1804, and the joyous thanksgiving ceremony after the Liberation of Paris in 1944 took place there, led by Charles de Gaulle.
World leaders congregated at the cathedral in a memorial service for Mr. de Gaulle in 1970, and then again for President François Mitterrand in 1996.

On Monday evening, as the last rush of tourists were trying to get in for the day, the doors of Notre-Dame were abruptly shut without explanation, witnesses said. Within moments, tiny bits of white smoke started rising from the spire — which, at 295 feet, was the highest part of the cathedral.

Billowing out, the smoke started turning gray, then black, making it clear that a fire was growing inside the cathedral, which is currently covered in scaffolding. Soon, orange flames began punching out of the spire, quickly increasing in intensity.
The French police rushed in and started blowing whistles, telling everyone to move back, witnesses said. By then, the flames were towering, spilling out of multiple parts of the cathedral.

Tourists and residents alike came to a standstill, pulling out their phones to call their loved ones. Older Parisians began to cry, lamenting how their national treasure was quickly being lost.

Thousands stood on the banks of the Seine river and watched in shock as the fire tore through the cathedral’s wooden roof and brought down the spire. Video filmed by onlookers and shared on social media showed smoke and flames billowing from the top of the cathedral.

Jean-Louis Martin, 56, a native of Dijon in eastern France who works at the university in Geneva, gasped as the flames leapt up. “It hurts me,” he said. “There are no words. It’s just horrible.”

The crowd gasped and cried in horror when the spire fell. “Paris is beheaded,” said Pierre-Eric Trimovillas, 32.

Vincent Dunn, a fire consultant and former New York City fire chief, said that fire hose streams could not reach the top of such a cathedral, and that reaching the top on foot was often an arduous climb over winding steps.
“These cathedrals and houses of worship are built to burn,” he said. “If they weren’t houses of worship, they’d be condemned.”

The city’s prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation.

Monsignor Chauvet said firefighters were able to save some of the cathedral’s artworks but did not say how much was damaged inside the building. A linen fabric associated with Saint Louis, the Holy Crown of thorns and the cathedral’s treasury were saved.

Mr. Gallet, the fire chief, said firefighters were still rescuing artworks in the building, hours after the fire had started. The main risk, he said, was the smoke within the cathedral, and the fall of materials, including melting lead.

The cathedral had been undergoing extensive renovation work. Last week, 16 copper statues representing the Twelve Apostles and four evangelists were lifted with a crane so that the spire could be renovated.

The cathedral had been in dire need of a thorough and expensive restoration, André Finot, the cathedral spokesman, told The New York Times in 2017.

Broken gargoyles and fallen balustrades had been replaced by plastic pipes and wooden planks. Flying buttresses had been darkened by pollution and eroded by rainwater. Pinnacles had been propped up by beams and held together with straps. In some places, limestone crumbled at a finger’s touch.

Glenn Corbett, an associate professor of fire science at John Jay College in New York, said construction work and renovations had long been a dangerous combination.

“There’s a history of churches and synagogues and other houses of worship falling victim to construction fires,” he said, adding that one of the reasons for the peril was the proximity of open flames on torches, sparks from welders and other hazards on scaffolding to other flammable materials.

In recent years, the Friends of Notre-Dame, a foundation based in the United States, estimated that the structure needed nearly $40 million for urgent repairs. The French state, which owns the cathedral, already devotes up to 2 million euros a year in upkeep, or about $2.4 million.
The fire came during Holy Week, six days before Easter Sunday. For Roman Catholics, the cathedral has been a spiritual pilgrimage site for generations. France has a deep Catholic history, and nearly two-thirds of its population is Catholic, even though fewer and fewer attend Mass.

“It’s apocalyptic,” said Eleanor Batreau, 45, who organizes pilgrimages to Lourdes and sometimes works at Notre-Dame. “It reminds me of Dresden burning. I’m a Catholic, and Notre-Dame is a symbol of Mary.”

The risk of the fire is not just to the cathedral itself, but also to the gargoyles that cover its walls and to the stained glass, particularly its “rose” windows.

The largest of its bells, which dates to 1681, managed to survive the French Revolution and has been rung at some of the most important events in French history, including both World Wars.

Bernard Fonquernie, the architect in charge of the cathedral’s restoration in the 1980s and 1990s, said that he believed much of the building, its furnishings and its stained glass could be saved. “The stone vaulting acted like a firewall and it kept the worst heat away,” he said.

Yet the fire is likely to be just the latest, if most dramatic, insult to a landmark that has endured decades of neglect and damage, some at the hands of French revolutionaries, through its more than 850-year history.

Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, “Notre-Dame of Paris,” noted even then that “one cannot but regret, cannot but feel indignant at the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted on the venerable pile, both by the action of time and the hand of man.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/world/europe/notre-dame-fire.html

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