Hotter than the human body can handle: Pakistan city broils in world’s highest temperatures

The Telegraph

Hotter than the human body can handle: Pakistan city broils in world’s highest temperatures

Experts fear Jacobabad’s extreme heat and humidity may worsen with climate change – and that other cities may join the club

When the full midsummer heat hits Jacobabad, the city retreats inside as if sheltering from attack.

The streets are deserted and residents hunker down as best they can to weather temperatures that can top 52C (126F).

Few have any air conditioning, and blackouts mean often there is no mains electricity. The hospital fills with heatstroke cases from those whose livelihoods mean they must venture out.

“When it gets that hot, you can’t even stay on your feet,” explains one resident, Zamir Alam.

“It’s a very, very difficult time when it goes beyond 50C. People do not come out of their houses and the streets are deserted,” Abdul Baqi, a shopkeeper, adds.

Nawab Khan, who sells battery-powered fans from his market stall

Nawab Khan, who sells battery-powered fans from his market stall. CREDIT: Saiyna Bashir

This city of some 200,000 in Pakistan’s Sindh province has long been renowned for its fierce heat, but recent research has conferred an unwelcome scientific distinction.

Its mixture of heat and humidity has made it one of only two places on earth to have now officially passed, albeit briefly, a threshold hotter than the human body can withstand.

With this region of Pakistan along the Indus Valley considered one of the places most vulnerable to climate change in the world, there are fears that Jacobabad’s temperatures may increase further, or other cities may join the club.

“The Indus Valley is arguably close to being the number one spot worldwide,” says Tom Matthews, a lecturer in climate science at Loughborough University. “When you look at some of the things to worry about, from water security to extreme heat, it’s really the epicentre.”

Shama Ajay resides in an informal settlement without water and electricity in Jacobabad's unrelenting heat
Shama Ajay resides in an informal settlement without water and electricity in Jacobabad’s unrelenting heat CREDIT: Saiyna Bashir


Mr Matthews and colleagues last year analysed global weather station data and found that Jacobabad and Ras al Khaimah, north east of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, have both temporarily crossed the deadly threshold. The milestone had been surpassed decades ahead of predictions from climate change models.

The researchers examined what are called wet bulb temperatures. These are taken from a thermometer covered in a water-soaked cloth so they take into account both heat and humidity.

Wet bulb thermometer readings are significantly lower than the more familiar dry bulb readings, which do not take humidity into account. Researchers say that at a wet bulb reading of 35C, the body can no longer cool itself by sweating and such a temperature can be fatal in a few hours, even to the fittest people.

Mehboob Ali showers under a hose at a water filling point, where he fills canisters to sell in Jacobabad, one of the world's two hottest places
Mehboob Ali showers under a hose at a water filling point, where he fills canisters to sell in Jacobabad, one of the world’s two hottest places CREDIT: Saiyna Bashir


“It approximates how warm it feels to humans because we cool via sweating,” Mr Matthews says. “We rely on that exclusively. When you use that measure, the wet bulb temperature, the two regions that stand out on earth are the shores of the Gulf and the Indus Valley in Pakistan. They are truly exceptional.”

Jacobabad crossed the 35C wet bulb threshold in July 1987, then again in June 2005, June 2010 and July 2012. Each time the boundary may have been breached for only a few hours, but a three-day average maximum temperature has been recorded hovering around 34C in June 2010, June 2001 and July 2012. The dry bulb temperature is often over 50C in the summer.

Patchy death records mean it is not clear whether the crossing of the threshold resulted in a wave of fatalities. The effects of entering the danger zone are likely to be blurred, for example with cooler interiors of buildings temporarily sheltering residents from the worst. It also depends on how long the threshold is crossed.

Mr Matthews said: “Even though it’s theoretically been crossed according to the weather station measurements in that part of the world, whether or not it’s been crossed in the hyper local environment where people are living, and for long enough to really translate into widespread deadly conditions, is another question.”

Muhammad Hanif carries and sells ice on the roadside which is quite common in the summer months in Jacobabad
Muhammad Hanif carries and sells ice on the roadside – a common sight in the summer months CREDIT: Saiyna Bashir


Jacobabad and Ras al Khaimah may share fierce temperatures, but they are otherwise very different and illustrate the different challenges that places will face under climate change.

In the wealthy UAE, where electricity and air conditioning are plentiful, the threshold may have little effect on residents. In Jacobabad, where many subsist on wages of only a couple of pounds a day, residents must find other ways to adapt.

Jacobabad’s crown for unsurvivable temperatures may conjure pictures of Death Valley-like deserts, but it is an agricultural hub fed by irrigation canals. The city in Sindh’s rice belt is named after John Jacob, a long forgotten British general and colonial administrator. The region sits on the Tropic of Cancer, meaning the sun is close to overhead during the summer. The winds blow already warm and humid air off the Arabian Sea and it gets more muggy as it travels up the valley.

Stretches of the town’s bazaar are dedicated to keeping cool. Shops sell electric fans and low-tech washing machine-sized coolers that emit a refreshing mist.

Electric solutions are undermined by frequent power cuts however. In the city centre, residents often lose power for three or four hours, while in more distant areas the gaps are longer.

Nadir Ali and Ali Murad get some from respite from the heat outside the rice mill they work at in Jacobabad
Nadir Ali and Ali Murad get some from respite from the heat outside the rice mill they work at in Jacobabad CREDIT: Saiyna Bashir


The solution for some is a solar panel, though at £36 each they are expensive for many. Cheap Chinese batteries are also available. “Everyone needs electricity here. It’s not for television, it’s for keeping cool,” says one electrical goods trader called  Mohammad Iqbal.

Ice is also popular, with factories making huge blocks which are then hacked into 10p chunks at roadside stalls. When all else fails, there are hand fans and people also simply dunk buckets of water over their heads.

For those who can afford it, there is the chance to spend the summer in Quetta or Karachi, which are still fiercely hot, but offer some relief. Most stay.

“The people are used to it, they have developed a resistance,” shrugs one administration official. People also said the heat was only one of many problems they faced. Price hikes have caused economic devastation, while there is a lack of fresh drinking water and the city’s supplies are brackish.

Workers fill cannisters at a water point, ready to sell to the sweltering citizens of Jacobabad
Workers fill cannisters at a water point, ready to sell to the sweltering citizens of Jacobabad CREDIT: Saiyna Bashir


High temperatures have also recently made headlines in the US, where Portland, Oregon, hit an all-time local high of 42C (108F) on a dry bulb scale.

World Bank research in 2018 warned weather changes risk badly denting the living standards of hundreds of millions in South Asia. Scorching weather comes with increasingly short, warm and early spring seasons which have left Pakistan’s farmers struggling to deal with new weather patterns. The heat has dried out farmland and hit profits by causing fruit and vegetables to ripen earlier, meaning they are smaller.

As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns shift, difficulties with farming, irrigation, disease and labour are predicted by 2050 to badly hit people’s quality of living in parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Jacobabad’s residents said they felt the temperature in the town was getting higher, but they had few options.

“People are aware that the heat is getting up and up, but they are poor people. They can’t go anywhere, they can’t leave their places,” said Zahid Hussain, a market trader. “I myself have been thinking about shifting, but have never got around to it.”

Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security

Record-setting heat wave shows that climate change is creating hell on Earth

Editorial: Record-setting heat wave shows that climate change is creating hell on Earth

June 28, 2021 


A man hands out a bottle of water.
Carlos Ramos hands out bottles of water and sack lunches Monday as he works at a hydration station in front of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Seattle and other cities broke heat records over the weekend, with temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
(Associated Press)


The record-breaking heat wave baking the West Coast is another painful sign that climate change is here, and we have to adapt.

The Pacific Northwest has been sizzling, with conditions forecasters have described as unprecedented and life-threatening. Portland, Ore., hit 113 degrees Monday, breaking the previous all-time high of 112 degrees, set Sunday. About 100 miles to the south, in Eugene, the U.S. track and field Olympic trials were halted Sunday afternoon, and spectators were asked to evacuate the stadium, due to the extreme heat.

Seattle hit 107 degrees, also a record high. It was so hot in recent days that the city closed at least one public pool amid concerns that visitors would burn their feet on the deck. And further north, the town of Lytton in British Columbia hit 116 degrees Sunday, the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada.

All of this is happening in June — the very beginning of summer. If it wasn’t already clear that climate change is fueling more extreme weather patterns, this unprecedented heat wave is another blistering example. There is surely more to come, as the heat dome responsible for the record-breaking temperatures is expected to linger in the Northwest, moving slowly toward Idaho and Montana.

Yet in a sense, the furnace-like conditions are just a replay of last year, which tied 2016 for the hottest year on record. Not coincidentally, 2020 was also the worst year on record for wildfires, with more than 10 million acres burned. And this trend is bound to continue as temperatures are driven upward by the warming effects of human activities that spew carbon and other heat-trapping compounds into the atmosphere.

The current heat wave is another visceral reminder that the world is not moving fast enough to curtail the use of fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions. To prevent the worst effects of climate change will take dramatic change on the part of the world’s industrialized nations, most especially the United States.

But, alas, it’s not enough to focus on weaning ourselves from carbon fuels. As this heat wave demonstrates, we are already feeling the effects of climate change, and we are woefully unprepared.

Just think about how higher-than-normal temperatures in the Pacific Northwest have crippled basic infrastructure. In Washington, the state patrol closed a portion of a highway after the asphalt started to crack and buckle under the heat. In some areas — unaccustomed to such weather — school buses had no air conditioning and couldn’t safely transport students to summer school.

In Portland, the city’s light rail and streetcars were taken out of service. The transit system was designed for mild weather, with temperatures typically between 40 and 70 degrees. While the transit agency has made adjustments to the system in recent years to withstand more intense heat, it cannot safely operate when the mercury goes above 110 degrees, as it did on Sunday and Monday.

Many of the country’s roads, transit systems, dams, levees and energy grids were built decades ago, designed for different temperatures and less-extreme weather fluctuations. A record-breaking heat wave in California last summer triggered rolling blackouts; heat-driven outages will be a risk this year, too. A record-breaking cold snap in Texas earlier this year also led to mass power outages. The nation’s infrastructure is not prepared to withstand the onslaught of climate change, which can push temperatures to extremes in both directions.

U.S. lawmakers are beginning to act on the seriousness of the threat. The $1.2-trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill includes funding to modernize energy, transportation and water systems. The bill also includes $47 billion specifically for projects aimed at making our infrastructure more resilient to climate change. But the compromise package has, so far, shortchanged investments in clean energy, clean transportation and large-scale climate-proofing.

The need is great, and the funding is still too little. The reality is that climate change will cost the United States, no matter how quickly it responds. We can pay now to avoid greater damage or pay later, when the nation is forced to manage more deadly heat waves, wildfires, floods and other disasters.

Op-Ed: Will Biden choose fossil fuel or Minnesota’s rivers, and a cooler planet, in the fight against Line 3?

Op-Ed: Will Biden choose fossil fuel or Minnesota’s rivers, and a cooler planet, in the fight against Line 3?

TOPSHOT - Climate activist and Indigenous community members gather on top of the bridge after taking part in a traditional water ceremony during a rally and march to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Solvay, Minnesota on June 7, 2021. - Line 3 is an oil sands pipeline which runs from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin in the United States. In 2014, a new route for the Line 3 pipeline was proposed to allow an increased volume of oil to be transported daily. While that project has been approved in Canada, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, it has sparked continued resistance from climate justice groups and Native American communities in Minnesota. While many people are concerned about potential oil spills along Line 3, some Native American communities in Minnesota have opposed the project on the basis of treaty rights and calling President Biden to revoke the permits and halt construction. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Climate activists and Indigenous community members demonstrate against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline on June 7. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)


It was mid-afternoon on June 7 when nearly three dozen sheriffs, deputies and police arrived at the Two Inlets pump station site on Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 oil pipeline, now under construction in northern Minnesota. In riot helmets, wielding long truncheons, they formed two lines and stood in unusual 90-degree heat, awaiting orders to move in against nearly 200 nonviolent protesters.

Earlier, I’d watched a Homeland Security helicopter repeatedly buzz the demonstrators, apparently attempting to dislodge them with clouds of choking dust. “Stay! Don’t let them weaponize our Mother Earth against us!” someone yelled, although many had already chained and padlocked themselves to earth-moving equipment, pipeline infrastructure and an old blue speedboat that now blocked the way into the site.

Once completed, the pump station the protesters had seized would push heavy crude bitumen — tar sands oil, up to three times dirtier than conventional oil — from western Canada through Minnesota and Wisconsin to a terminal on Lake Superior. Burning the pipeline’s daily potential capacity of 915,000 barrels would more than double Minnesota’s annual output of greenhouse gases.

That was one reason protesters were here. “They knew about climate change in the ’80s,” said one 27-year-old woman. “We should’ve been getting off fossil fuels before I was born.”

With the Dakota Access pipeline’s permit under reconsideration and the Keystone XL pipeline canceled, Line 3 is a last gasp at keeping the filthy tar sands industry alive. The science isn’t debatable: To counter mounting climate catastrophes, and to hold global warming to the Paris accords’ limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) tar sands must stay in the ground. Anything else risks incinerating our species’ future.

About 20 miles from where the pump station protesters would ultimately be unchained and arrested, nearly 2,000 more demonstrators had another reason to stop Line 3: What the local Ojibwe, Anishinaabe and Chippewa call Misi-Ziibi.

If Enbridge has its way, Line 3, which partly reroutes and replaces a decaying older pipeline, will bore under the Mississippi River twice as it flows north and then loops south from its source, Lake Itasca. Any leaks and spills — by one count of company records, Enbridge is responsible for more than 1,000 between 1996 and 2014 — could poison the Mississippi and more: Line 3 will cross 211 other rivers and streams, and threaten scores of lakes and wetlands in Minnesota’s choicest wild rice harvesting region, granted to Indian tribes by 19th century treaties.

The first Mississippi crossing site lies just miles from a state park where countless tourists have hopped across the trickle that soon widens and deepens into America’s most famous river. Even non-Natives consider the headwaters sacrosanct. “We’re going to protect the sacred,” vowed Leech Lake band Ojibwe Nancy Beaulieu to the protesters gathered on the river’s reedy banks, “for all those not born yet.”

In Ojibwe culture, women are the water protectors; Beaulieu is one of several leading a seven-year fight against Line 3. Recently, they’ve been dealt two setbacks. First, Minnesota’s Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to Enbridge’s state permit to run Line 3 through tribal land, despite its threat to water quality and sovereign treaty rights.

Then last week, despite President Biden’s climate agenda, the Army Corps of Engineers went to court to defend its permits for Line 3, which had been rushed through in the last days of the Trump administration. With Enbridge racing to complete the pipeline before further appeals can stop them, sheriffs have begun raiding the remaining “resistance camps” where water protectors are blocking construction with their bodies.

Biden could still act. He could cancel the pipeline by executive action, as he did when he blocked the Keystone XL permits on his first day in office.

“It’s a total betrayal by the administration,” said White Earth Ojibwe leader Winona LaDuke about last week’s court filing. “The Army Corps of Engineers under Trump should not be the Army Corps under Biden.”

A few days after the June 7 protests, LaDuke took me canoeing on the meandering Shell River, which Line 3 will cross five times. We dragged the boat more than paddled, because like the far west, Minnesota is in deepening drought.

In water still clear enough to drink, I saw big freshwater mollusks that give the Shell its name, and long, flowing wild rice stalks LaDuke will harvest this fall — unless the river keeps dropping. It enrages her that Minnesota is allowing Enbridge to pump almost 5 billion gallons of groundwater as it tunnels through the state.

Her tribe now manufactures solar furnaces; they know the time to stop fossil fuels is running out. LaDuke believes the stand she and her Ojibwe water protector sisters are taking against Enbridge is among humanity’s last chances to confront an existential threat.

“We’re going to fight to the end,” she said. “But we’re the poorest damn people. It’s devastating how callous these politicians and corporations are to life.”

Whether Line 3’s CO2 ends up in our atmosphere depends on the president — “Our only hope now,” in LaDuke’s words.

Not long ago, a white neighbor told LaDuke , “We’re thinking the Indians are going to stop this pipeline.”

“The Indians could use a little help, ma’am,” she replied.

Journalist Alan Weisman is the author of the bestseller “The World Without Us” and “Countdown,” winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for science and technology. His next book explores our best hopes for surviving the coming decades

Eating This Type of Diet Can Reduce Chronic Pain and Inflammation—and You Don’t Have to Give Up Pasta or Wine

Eating This Type of Diet Can Reduce Chronic Pain and Inflammation—and You Don’t Have to Give Up Pasta or Wine

Getty Images / Anut21ng

Chronic inflammation has been linked to a whole host of health issues, including many of the leading causes of death in the U.S. (heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, to name a few). So it’s no wonder scientists are constantly searching for the best anti-inflammatory foods and lifestyle habits—and anything related to the topic that might help us keep this internal inflammation at bay.

(By the way, not all inflammation is bad; short-term, site-specific inflammation is how we heal from cuts, bruises, burns and beyond. It’s the longer-lasting inflammation that happens near our organs that can do a number on our longevity and overall well-being.)

One of the most recent discoveries related to inflammation—and pain-related conditions: A traditional Western high-fat diet can increase the chances that an individual might suffer from chronic pain and inflammation.

Unlike our genes, this is something each of us can control. And changes in diet (start here with our anti-inflammatory meal plan!) “may significantly reduce or even reverse pain from conditions causing either inflammatory pain—such as arthritis, trauma or surgery—or neuropathic pain, such as diabetes,” the team of study authors from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio explain to UT Health San Antonio Newsroom.

Chronic pain is a major cause of disability. Lower-fat and lower-sugar diets are often recommended to manage diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular diseases, but the role of dietary fats in relation to chronic pain has yet to be researched extensively.

Related: The #1 Food to Eat to Lower Inflammation

For this study, the team tracked mice and humans to examine the role of polyunsaturated fatty acids in pain conditions. In both cases, a typical Western diet—one that’s high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in particular—was a significant risk factor for both inflammation and chronic pain. (ICYMI, we do need some omega-6s, but most Americans’ ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is skewed too 6-strong.)

“Omega-6 fats, mainly found in foods with vegetable oils, have their benefits. But Western diets associated with obesity are characterized by much-higher levels of those acids in foods from corn chips to onion rings, than healthy omega-3 fats, which are found in fish and sources like flaxseed and walnuts,” the research team says in the UT Health San Antonio Newsroom recap.

In the standard American diet, many of the omega-6 fats consumed are by way of fast food, processed snacks and processed meats. Leaning into more omega-3 fats can drastically reduce chronic pain symptoms and chronic inflammation, the authors say. This should move the needle much more than cutting out carbs or alcohol; experts we speak to give both the thumbs up, in moderation, as part of an overall anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

Taking your omega-3 index is a great place to start so you know where your current levels stand. If you fall into this common Western diet pattern, stock up on these omega-3-rich foods and sample your way through our 38 best anti-inflammatory recipes. An easy way to make sure you’re getting plenty of omega-3s and other anti-inflammatory foods is to follow a Mediterranean-style diet. (On this healthy delicious eating plan, you don’t even have to give up pasta or wine. In fact, they’re encouraged in moderation!). Check out our Mediterranean diet meal plan for beginners to get started.

House Democrats propose government-run credit reporting system

House Democrats propose government-run credit reporting system

Marissa Gamache, Reporter          June 29, 2021


House lawmakers on Tuesday called for sweeping reforms to the credit reporting industry — with some Democrats going so far as proposing a nationally run system, saying the three major bureaus are failing Americans.

Three pieces of legislation were put forth for discussion, including the National Credit Reporting Agency Act that “would establish the Public Credit Registry (PCR) within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, creating a public option for consumers who choose to utilize it.”

Read more: Here’s how to correct a mistake on your credit report

“This is a system that fails people with perfect credit that may be victims of identity theft,” Chairwoman Maxine Waters said at the Financial Services Committee hearing. “This is a system that fails people who get caught in a debt trap because of predatory lending, and this is a system that fails people who don’t have the means to dispute errors that reporting agencies make.”

Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., at a House Financial Services Committee meeting. (Photo:Getty)
Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., at a House Financial Services Committee meeting. (Photo:Getty)


The three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian — compile and store financial data about a person’s debt obligations submitted by creditors into a credit report. That report can be used to determine if that person qualifies for a loan and at what terms. Landlords, employers, utilities, cell phone companies, and insurers also can use this information.

While ranking Republican committee member Patrick McHenry agreed that major reforms to the current “oligarchy” are needed, he doesn’t support a nationally run system.

“We should be promoting competition to create better opportunities for consumers,” McHenry said, “not allowing a single government entity to run the credit reporting process for all Americans.”

The United States capitol building in Washington DC on a summer day. (Photo: Getty)
The United States capitol building in Washington DC on a summer day. (Photo: Getty)


The committee also heard testimony on how credit scores — which are calculated from the information found in credit reports — may disadvantage certain groups.

“Although credit scores never formally take race into account, they draw on data about personal borrowing and payment history that is shaped by generations of discriminatory public policies and corporate practices that limit access to wealth for Black and Latinx families,” Amy Traub, associate director of policy and research at Demos, testified at the hearing.

Read more: 6 ways to boost your credit score in 2021

In a 2020 survey of 5,000 people by Credit Sesame, 54% of Black Americans and 41% of Hispanic Americans reported having a credit score below 640, while 37% of white Americans and 18% of Asian Americans reported the same.

The committee hearing comes after the Supreme Court ruling last week on a case involving TransUnion and credit reporting errors.

Credit report with glasses, and pen
(Photo: Getty Creative)


In TransUnion vs. Sergio Ramirez, 8,185 individuals claimed that TransUnion failed to use proper measures to ensure their credit files were accurate. The court ruled in favor of 1,853 of the claimants whose inaccurate information was passed on to third parties, but denied the remaining claimants because they did demonstrate “concrete harm” and lacked standing to sue, according to court records.

Credit report errors are not uncommon, according to a recent study by Consumer Reports. One in 3 individuals who volunteered to check their credit report found at least one error, with 1 in 9 discovering inaccurate account information.

On Tuesday, Rep. Waters called for more accountability and alternatives to be offered.

“I encourage my colleagues to join me in reevaluating how we determine creditworthiness,” she said, “and learning how we can harness new technologies to build a fairer and equitable credit system.”

Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.

Marissa is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay. 

‘Bringing back mask mandate is a good idea’: doctor on Delta variant

‘Bringing back mask mandate is a good idea’: doctor on Delta variant

Seana Smith, Anchor                                         June 29, 2021


The World Health Organization’s decision to encourage those who are fully vaccinated to wear masks as a result of the highly transmissible Delta variant is “a good idea,” according to University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix’s Dr. Shad Marvasti.

“We don’t want to wait until after the fact and get caught with this thing already ahead of us when we know that masks work,” Marvasti told Yahoo Finance Live. “To put this in context, the Alpha variant, which originated out of the UK, was about 50% more infectious and transmissible. The Delta variant is 60% more infectious than that.”

The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, has now spread to more than 80 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials warn it will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. in a matter of weeks as infections attributable to the highly contagious variant spread rapidly nationwide. COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant currently account for about one-fifth of new coronavirus infections in the U.S., according to the CDC.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 29: Members of the public are seen wearing face masks in the CBD during Lockdown on June 29, 2021 in Perth, Australia. Lockdown restrictions have come into effect across the Perth and Peel regions for the next four days, following the confirmation of new community COVID-19 cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. From midnight, residents in the Perth and Peel regions are only permitted to leave their homes for essential reasons, including purchasing essential goods, receiving medical care, or caring for the vulnerable. People may leave home to get vaccinated or to exercise within a 5-kilometre radius of their home. Weddings are restricted to five people, funerals to 10 people while gyms, beauty and hair salons, casinos and nightclubs must close. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/Getty Images)


“The CDC needs to act quickly, without waiting, to follow the WHO guidelines and ask everyone to put the masks back on so we can stay open, protect folks, and keep the economy going,” Marvasti said. “We’re already seeing preliminary numbers out of Israel where fully vaccinated people are getting sick.”

Preliminary findings by Israeli health officials found that about half of adults infected by the Delta variant in the country were fully vaccinated, the Wall Street Journal reported, and as it stands now, the Delta variant is likely causing about 90% of new infections in Israel.

Outbreaks of infections largely driven by the Delta variant have prompted governments from around the world to reimpose coronavirus-related restrictions. South Africa is imposing at least two weeks of lockdowns while about 10 million Australians are also under lockdown. Here in the U.S., Los Angeles County officials are urging all residents to wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

“We have gotten into this false sense of security thinking it’s okay to take off masks,” warned Marvasti. “The best thing to do is to start putting the masks back on to prevent another surge from happening, and if you’re unvaccinated, now is the time to get vaccinated before this Delta variant comes for you.”

‘Two Americas’ may emerge as Delta variant spreads and vaccination rates drop

‘Two Americas’ may emerge as Delta variant spreads and vaccination rates drop


<span>Photograph: Anita Beattie/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Anita Beattie/AFP/Getty Images


With Covid vaccination penetration in the US likely to fall short of Joe Biden’s 70% by Fourth of July target, pandemic analysts are warning that vaccine incentives are losing traction and that “two Americas” may emerge as the aggressive Delta variant becomes the dominant US strain.

Efforts to boost vaccination rates have come through a variety of incentives, from free hamburgers to free beer, college scholarships and even million-dollar lottery prizes. But of the efforts to entice people to get their shots some have lost their initial impact, or failed to land effectively at all.

“It’s just not working,” Irwin Redlener at the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University, told Politico. “People aren’t buying it. The incentives don’t seem to be working – whether it’s a doughnut, a car or a million dollars.”

In Ohio, a program offering five adults the chance to win $1m boosted vaccination rates 40% for over a week. A month later, the rate had dropped to below what it had been before the incentive was introduced, Politico found.

Oregon followed Ohio’s cash-prize lead but saw a less dramatic uptick. Preliminary data from a similar lottery in North Carolina, launched last week, suggests the incentive is also not boosting vaccination rates there.

Public officials are sounding alarms that the window between improving vaccination penetration and the threat from the more severe Delta variant, which accounts for about 10% of US cases, is beginning to close. The Delta variant appears to be much more contagious than the original strain of Covid-19 and has wreaked havoc in countries like India and the United Kingdom.

“I certainly don’t see things getting any better if we don’t increase our vaccination rate,” Scott Allen of the county health unit in Webster, Missouri, told Politico. The state has seen daily infections and hospitalizations to nearly double over the last two weeks.

Overall, new US Covid cases have plateaued to a daily average of around 15,000 for after falling off as the nation’s vaccination program ramped up. But the number of first-dose vaccinations has dropped to 360,000 from 2m in mid-April. A quarter of those are newly eligible 12- to 15-year-olds.

Separately, pandemic researchers are warning that a picture of “two Americas” is emerging – the vaccinated and unvaccinated – that in many ways might reflect red state and blue state political divides.

Only 52% of Republicans said they were partially or fully vaccinated, and 29% said they have no intention of getting a vaccine, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll. 77% of Democrats said they were already vaccinated, with just 5% responding that were resisting the vaccine.

“I call it two Covid nations,” Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told BuzzFeed News.

Bette Korber, a computational biologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said she expected variant Delta to become the most common variant in the US within weeks. “It’s really moving quickly,” Korber told Buzzfeed.

On Friday, Joe Biden issued a plea to Americans who have not yet received a vaccine to do so as soon as possible.

“Even while we’re making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat,” Biden said in remarks from the White House, saying that the Delta variant leaves unvaccinated people “even more vulnerable than they were a month ago”.

“We’re heading into, God willing, the summer of joy, the summer of freedom,” Biden said. “On July 4, we are going to celebrate our independence from the virus as we celebrate our independence of our nation. We want everyone to be able to do that.”

We’d be fools not to ask if condo collapse is linked to Miami-Dade’s shoddy construction in the ’80s | Editorial

We’d be fools not to ask if condo collapse is linked to Miami-Dade’s shoddy construction in the ’80s | Editorial

South Florida’s long and sordid history of shoddy building practices is hard to ignore in the wake of the Surfside building’s partial collapse.

We don’t know yet what caused the horrific failure on Thursday at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside.

We are not suggesting that any corners were cut during construction, or that insufficient inspections or overdue maintenance played roles. It’s possible that climate change, nearby construction of another high-rise or reported “major structural damage” caused by improper pool-deck drainage affected the integrity of the building.

We are holding our elected officials accountable for a thorough, honest and urgent investigation into the causes of this still-unfolding tragedy to determine what caused it.

But we do know a lot about the way construction was done in South Florida in 1981, when this condo was erected.

Condominium construction was red-hot then, fueled in part by what would turn out to be a disastrous deregulation of the nation’s savings and loans associations. We know that building codes for single-family homes during that era were weak, and enforcement was lax, something that became terribly apparent when Hurricane Andrew roared through southern Miami-Dade County.

We know that, even though entire neighborhoods were flattened, the homes that stood up the best to the Category 5 storm’s winds turned out to be the ones where developers spent more money to build stronger homes.

And we know that the hardening of the building code, triggered by Andrew’s damage, was long overdue and likely has saved lives in the decades since.

So when we look the images of the destruction in Surfside, we’d be fools not to wonder whether slipshod construction and look-the-other-way enforcement of that era played a part. Could faulty construction have allowed salt water and sea spray to penetrate the concrete enough to doom the building? If that happened, who should have noticed? What should have been done?

Residents of condos across Florida and beyond are watching developments here with anxiety about their own safety. The ramifications of what happened in Surfside likely are to be enormous.

Now, even as search teams continue to recover the bodies of victims — and pray for signs of life in the horrific, pancaked wreckage — authorities and journalists have been looking for any warning signs. The most significant, so far, seems to be an engineer’s report in 2018 that raised some red flags, saying concrete slabs on the garage entrance and under the pool deck had deteriorated, and that lack of proper drainage had caused “major structural damage.”

The report didn’t indicate a threat of imminent disaster, and a month later, Surfside’s chief building official told residents the condominium was “in very good shape,” according to minutes from a November 2018 board meeting obtained by the Miami Herald. Additionally, the building had begun its scheduled 40-year review and roof repairs had started.

Mass tragedies like this one often lead to serious changes in regulations, like those after Hurricane Andrew. If we learn that this condominium collapse could have been prevented with new and better building codes, more frequent inspections or tougher requirements for condo maintenance or construction, this disaster must serve as yet another turning point in building safety in Florida.

That will cost money, a lot of it. Retrofitting old buildings and constructing new ones to higher standards costs more. But if — as we learned post-Andrew — cost-cutting is what led to this disaster, we’ll have no choice. We’ll need to pay up, and just be grateful that we’re around to pay the bill.

Pool contractor photographed damage in Florida building 36 hours before collapse

Pool contractor photographed damage in Florida building 36 hours before collapse

A pool contractor photographed damage to the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, 36 hours before half of it collapsed.

The man, who asked not to be named in a Monday report published by the Miami Herald, visited the building to put a bid together for cosmetic changes to the pool and updates to its equipment.

A large portion of the 40-year-old building collapsed on Thursday. Eleven people are confirmed dead, and 150 are unaccounted for after the partial collapse, local officials said Monday evening.

The contractor said he observed “standing water all over” the underground parking garage.

“He thought it was waterproofing issues,” the contractor said of a building staff member who showed him around. “I thought to myself, ‘That’s not normal.'”

South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look through rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla., Monday, June 28, 2021. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

The man said the deepest puddle of standing water he observed was located around parking space 78, which, according to the Florida outlet, is directly under the portion of the pool deck where engineer Frank Morabito said there was a “major error” in the spot’s original design in 2018. He noted the flaw was allowing water intrusion that was causing significant damage to the concrete slabs laid below.

The contractor said he did not photograph the water because he was there to observe the pool itself, not what was underneath it.

In the pool equipment room, located in the garage but away from space 78, the contractor snapped a photo of exposed and corroding rebar.

“I wonder if this was going on in other parts of the building and caused this collapse,” the contractor said.

“You can see extensive corrosion of the rebars at the bottom of the beam. That is very serious,” said Mohammad Ehsani, an engineer and concrete restoration expert. “If the condition of the beam in the pool guy’s photo is something that was also happening under the building, that is a really major concern.”

Ehsani warned it was possible not all of the beams in the building were similarly damaged, noting the harsh chemicals the pool equipment room could have been exposed to. But he said if the damage was more widespread, it “absolutely” could have contributed to the building’s collapse.

“In these buildings that are asymmetrical like this one, there is a possibility that if you have one part of the building that collapses, the building does some turning and twisting,” he added. “In this case, it is possible that a failure any place in this building could cause distortion to the frame of the building and could cause a collapse in any of the areas, not just adjacent [to the failure].”

Maxwell Marcucci, a representative for the Champlain Towers South condo association, declined to comment on what the pool contractor noticed when reached for the report.

More jobless workers sue their states for ending unemployment benefits early