Oregon divers travel across US to help solve cold cases

Two Oregon divers have spent the past two years traveling throughout the U.S. trying to solve fatal cold cases. So far, the pair have assisted in findings answers in over two dozen cases, and more recently found the vehicle and remains of former Cornelius Mayor Ralph Brown, who went missing last year.

Shown are two divers with Adventures with Purpose. They started out by collecting trash from local rivers and lakes and now help solve cold cases.

Adventures with Purpose divers Jared Leisek, left, and Doug Bishop, right, at a dive site.

Courtesy of Doug Bishop

The two Oregonians, Jared Leisek and Doug Bishop, are the faces behind Adventures with Purpose, a YouTube channel that has amassed more than 2 million subscribers. The channel began with only Leisek, who was collecting trash and forgotten phones from the bottom of lakes and rivers.

He soon partnered with Bishop, who ran a towing company at the time, to help recover a vehicle he stumbled upon during one of his dives.

“That one vehicle soon led to us pulling out 30 vehicles locally in the city of Portland,” Bishop said.

Bishop said many cars that can be found in bodies of water have links to insurance fraud from people claiming their vehicle was stolen.

On one trip in May 2020, they pulled a vehicle out of the Willamette River in Milwaukie, Oregon, and found something unexpected.

“We’re pulling up a vehicle, what we thought was just another one of those stolen vehicles,” Bishop said. “We realized, unfortunately, there were human remains inside.”

The team immediately called the authorities.

“There’s a lot of shock,” Bishop said. “At that point, it’s a crime scene.”

The remains were later identified as Timothy Robinson, who was missing for 12 years.

Shown is divers Doug and Jared from Adventures with Purpose.

Adventures with Purpose have helped solve over two dozen cases by recovering vehicles from bodies of water.

Courtesy of Doug Bishop

Since then, Adventures with Purpose has fully shifted its focus to cold cases involving missing persons and vehicles.

Bishop said the limited resources and lack of leads from local authorities is what makes these cases go cold, and what allows the divers to look into them.

“These are cases that law enforcement and other agencies have deemed unworkable,” he said.

To find these vehicles submerged in bodies of water, the team uses sonar meant for fishing.

“We were teaching ourselves how to read sonar in a way that we didn’t know that there was no school or training for,” Bishop said. “In a weird way, we’re organically experts at reading sonar.”

The divers use a mix of down imaging, live scope and side scans to create an image of what’s on the very bottom of waterways. They look at the change of depths and what could potentially be the shape of a car.

Bishop was never a diver before joining the team, but he said he’s glad he made the switch from towing.

“The diving I do is really extreme and intense but I love it,” he said. “It’s providing answers for families all across the nation.”

To hear more from Think Out Loud’s conversation with Doug Bishop, click the “play” button at the top of the page.

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Hoyer: Recent spike in COVID cases due to Easter, spring break travel | State Journal News

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Shanghai COVID outbreak shows signs of waning as cases fall

BEIJING (AP) — The COVID-19 outbreak that has shut down most of Shanghai appears to be waning, with the number of new cases falling below 10,000 a day over the weekend.

Authorities have begun a limited easing of a citywide lockdown that has disrupted the lives of millions of residents and dealt at least a temporary blow to China’s economy. Many have been confined to their apartments for three weeks or more. They reported difficulty ordering food deliveries in the early days of the lockdown and higher prices for what they could get.

China’s largest city recorded about 7,000 cases a day on Saturday and Sunday, down from a peak of 27,605 nearly three weeks ago on April 13. Shanghai reported 32 deaths, raising the death toll to 454. Most of the victims have been elderly and many were unvaccinated.

Even as many other countries relax pandemic restrictions, the Chinese government has stuck to a “zero-COVID” approach that restricts travel, mass tests entire cities and sets up sprawling temporary facilities to try to isolate every infected person. Lockdowns start with buildings and neighborhoods but become citywide if the virus is spreading widely.

Many outside experts say it’s time for China to change course. Lockdowns helped buy critical time at the start of the pandemic but zero-COVID no longer makes sense from a public health perspective and imposes socioeconomic costs, said Richard Reithinger, the vice president for global health at RTI International in Washington, D.C.

“Continuing to enforce a zero-COVID-19 policy now, including a lockdown approach and restricting travel, is almost like pretending we have learned nothing over the past two years, now that effective treatment options and various vaccines are available,” he said.

But Chinese officials worry that a major outbreak could overwhelm the health care system and lead to more deaths, particularly among the unvaccinated elderly.

Authorities in Beijing have closed schools, carried out mass testing of more than 20 million people and imposed targeted lockdowns of buildings and neighborhoods to try to prevent what is still a small outbreak from reaching Shanghai proportions and necessitating a citywide lockdown.

The Chinese capital reported 50 new cases, bringing the total to 400 in the 11-day-old outbreak. Restaurants and gyms have been ordered shut for the May Day national holiday that runs through Wednesday. Major tourist sites in the city, including the Forbidden City and the Beijing Zoo, will close their indoor exhibition halls starting Tuesday.

Shanghai has recorded about 400,000 cases in China’s largest outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

Reithinger said a zero-COVID policy is a blanket strategy rather than one driven by epidemiological data. Rather than citywide lockdowns, China should focus on areas where there are clusters of cases, enforce social distancing and other prevention measures and redouble its vaccination efforts, particularly among the elderly, he said.

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Covid-19 News: Kamala Harris, Global Cases and the Latest

Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

The common perception that nearly everyone in America seemed to have acquired the Omicron variant last winter may not have been far from the truth. By February 2022, nearly 60 percent of the population had been infected with the coronavirus, almost double the proportion seen in December 2021, according to data released on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“By February 2022, evidence of previous Covid-19 infections substantially increased among every age group,” Dr. Kristie Clarke, the agency researcher who led the study, said at a news briefing.

Infections rose most sharply during the Omicron surge among children and adolescents, perhaps because many people in those age groups were still unvaccinated. The increase was smallest among adults 65 or older, who have the highest rate of vaccination and may be the most likely to take precautions.

The new research suggests that three out of four children and adolescents in the United States had been infected with the coronavirus by February 2022, compared with one-third of older adults.

While some studies suggest that prior infection offers a weaker shield against the virus than vaccines do, the resulting antibodies should provide a reasonable degree of protection against severe illness, at least in the short term.

“We still do not know how long infection-induced immunity will last,” Dr. Clarke said.

The gains in population-wide immunity may explain why the new surge that is roaring through China and many countries in Europe has been muted in the United States so far.

The findings may offer some comfort to parents who have been waiting anxiously for a vaccine to be approved for the youngest children. Many of those children now seem to have acquired at least some immunity.

Even so, Dr. Clarke urged parents to immunize children who qualify as soon as regulators approve a vaccine for them, regardless of any prior infection. She noted that when children are hospitalized with the coronavirus, up to 30 percent of them may need intensive care.

Many of those children also have other medical conditions. But as many as 70 percent of cases of multisystem inflammatory disease, a rare consequence of Covid-19 infection, occur in children who were otherwise healthy.

“As a pediatrician and a parent, I would absolutely endorse that children get vaccinated, even if they have been infected,” Dr. Clarke said.

Coronavirus cases are rising again in the United States, particularly in the Northeast, but so far the rise in hospitalizations has been minimal, and deaths are still dropping.

Even among those who are hospitalized, “we’re seeing less oxygen use, less I.C.U. stays, and we haven’t, fortunately, seen any increase in deaths associated with them,” said the C.D.C.’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “We are hopeful that positive trends will continue.”

C.D.C. researchers began assessing antibody levels in people at 10 sites early in the pandemic, and have since expanded that effort to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The investigators use a test sensitive enough to identify previously infected people for at least a year or two after their exposure.

The researchers analyzed blood samples collected from September 2021 to February 2022, looking for antibodies to the virus; then they parsed the data by age, sex and geographic location. The investigators looked specifically for a type of antibody that is produced after infection, but not in people who have merely been vaccinated.

Between September 2021 and December 2021, the prevalence of antibodies in the samples steadily increased by one to two percentage points every four weeks. But it jumped sharply after December, increasing by nearly 25 points by February 2022.

The percentage of samples with antibodies rose to about 75 percent from about 45 percent among both children aged 11 years and younger, and adolescents aged 12 to 17.

By February 2022, roughly 64 percent of adults 18 to 49, about half those 50 to 64, and about one-third of older adults had been infected with the virus, according to the study.

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CDC: Avoid travel to New Zealand and Hong Kong as covid cases surge

Three destinations — including two that had kept the coronavirus at bay for most of the pandemic — moved into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest warning level for travel on Monday.

Americans should avoid traveling to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Thailand because of very high levels of covid-19, the public health agency said in an update that placed the destinations into the “Level 4” category. All three had most recently been categorized as “Level 3,” with high levels of the virus.

New Zealand and Hong Kong have both kept strict travel restrictions in place throughout the pandemic, even as other popular destinations have reopened to the world with vaccination and testing rules. But new cases in both countries are soaring, despite their largely remaining off limits to foreign travelers.

On Tuesday, New Zealand reported nearly 24,000 new cases, while Thailand reported nearly 19,000, according to the Bangkok Post. Under a new self-reporting system, Hong Kong had 43,000 new cases Tuesday, Reuters said.

Thailand relaunched its quarantine-free “Test & Go” program for fully vaccinated visitors on Feb. 1. The other destinations have made smaller steps toward reopening. In late January, authorities in Hong Kong announced a slight easing of quarantine requirements from 21 to 14 days. New Zealand has said it plans to lift all restrictions gradually by October, starting late last month with citizens, residents and some visa holders.

The CDC factors in the trajectory and number of new cases over the past 28 days to determine travel health advisories. Large destinations classified as “Level 4” have an incidence rate of more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days. More than 130 destinations have a Level 4 designation.

Also Monday, a handful of destinations dropped from the highest level to “Level 3,” which means people should be fully vaccinated before visiting. Those include Mexico, Anguilla, Fiji, the Philippines, Cape Verde and the United Arab Emirates.

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COVID-19 cases rise with spring break travel

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s spring break for many students across the country, some with travel plans, as cases of COVID-19 are starting to trend back up.

According to a national survey, more than half of Americans are planning a trip this spring. 37% are planning to travel during spring break, that’s an increase from last year. Meanwhile, the latest DPH data indicates COVID cases are steadily increasing, today at just over 1200. Compared to the same time last month at 625. 22News spoke with people who plan to travel for spring break.

“My plans are to come home and visit my family here, this year my family and I are able to go out more. Last year when I came back I took a covid test before I came, and then I pretty much stayed in the house with them and this year we can now go do stuff which is fun,” said Chloe Larouche of Northampton.

The same data also indicates that both hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing.

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U.S. COVID cases rising; holiday travel, gatherings could make things worse

As people are traveling for Easter, Passover, and spring break for the kids, heads up: COVID cases are on the rise in some areas.

“Manhattan has just passed the CDC’s threshold,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine tweeted on Monday, pointing out that if the city color-coded its COVID alert level by borough instead of city-wide, then Manhattan would now be yellow, which is medium. Green is low.

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“We’re still seeing close to 2,000 cases a day in New York City,” Levine said. “Get your booster shot. Stay up-to-date on your vaccinations. We’re way behind on that.”

Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital’s Dr. Chid Iloabachie, the associate chair of emergency medicine, said his hospital anticipates an increase in cases in the coming weeks driven by the BA.2 subvariant. However, he isn’t fearful because the BA.2 variant is more contagious but much less deadly.

“We’re optimistic that it won’t be a significant uptick,” he said. “And we’re optimistic that it won’t cause a surge in hospitalizations.”

And even if there was a hospital surge, the doctor said hospitals are much better prepared now than a year ago.

“We have numerous medications to treat COVID infections, both in the intravenous form and now, gratefully, in the oral form,” Iloabachie said.

But he warned that the pandemic is global and a mutation in another country could quickly make its way to the United States.

“Some of those mutations could potentially make it a more dangerous version,” Iloabachie said. 

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Covid Live Updates: News on Omicron, Boosters, and Cases

Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

It has long been clear that Black Americans have experienced high rates of coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death throughout the pandemic.

But those factors are now leading experts to sound the alarm about what will may come next: a prevalence of long Covid in the Black community and a lack of access to treatment.

Long Covid — with chronic symptoms like fatigue, cognitive problems and others that linger for months after an acute coronavirus infection has cleared up — has perplexed researchers, and many are working hard to find a treatment for people experiencing it. But health experts warn that crucial data is missing: Black Americans have not been sufficiently included in long-Covid trials, treatment programs and registries, according to the authors of a new report released on Tuesday.

“We expect there are going to be greater barriers to access the resources and services available for long Covid,” said one of the authors, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who is the director of Yale University’s health equity office and a former chair of President Biden’s health equity task force.

“The pandemic isn’t over, it isn’t over for anyone,” Dr. Nunez-Smith said. “But the reality is, it’s certainly not over in Black America.”

The report, called the State of Black America and Covid-19, outlines how disinvestment in health care in Black communities contributed to Black people contracting Covid at higher rates than white people. Black people were then more likely to face serious illness or death as a result.

The Black Coalition Against Covid, the Yale School of Medicine and the Morehouse School of Medicine were authors of the report, which also offers recommendations to policy leaders.

In the first three months of the pandemic, the average weekly case rate per 100,000 Black Americans was 36.2, compared with 12.5 for white Americans, the authors write. The Black hospitalization rate was 12.6 per 100,000 people, compared with 4 per 100,000 for white people, and the death rate was also higher: 3.6 per 100,000 compared with 1.8 per 100,000.

“The severity of Covid-19 among Black Americans was the predictable result of structural and societal realities, not differences in genetic predisposition,” the report says.

Black Americans were overrepresented in essential-worker positions, which increased the risk of exposure to the virus, the authors write. And they were also more likely than white Americans to live in multigenerational homes or crowded spaces, be incarcerated, or live in densely populated areas.

Many Black Americans who contracted the coronavirus experienced serious illness because of pre-existing conditions like obesity, hypertension and chronic kidney disease, which themselves were often the result of “differential access to high-quality care and health promoting resources,” the report says.

The authorization of the first coronavirus vaccines was seen by many experts as a light at the end of the tunnel, but new disparities emerged, driven by both vaccine hesitancy and limited access to the shots.

Though the gap in vaccinations has since narrowed — 80 percent of Black Americans were fully vaccinated as of January, compared with 83 percent of white Americans, the report says — disparities persist.

“We understand that there remains unfinished work yet to do to save and protect our communities from the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote Dr. Reed Tuckson, who in April 2020 co-founded the Black Coalition Against Covid.

And when it comes to unfinished work, long Covid is top of mind.

“So much of even getting a long Covid diagnosis is tied to having had a positive test right at the beginning,” said Dr. Nunez-Smith, adding that early on in the pandemic, many Black Americans “weren’t able to secure a test and in some cases, were denied testing.”

She emphasized the importance of investing adequate resources into studying long Covid. “Like everything else, without intentionality, we’re not going to get to equity there,” she said.


March 29, 2022

An earlier version of this item described incorrectly the average rate of weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths from Covid among Black Americans in the first three months of the pandemic. They were rates per 100,000 people, not percentages. An earlier version also included outdated figures provided by the Black Coalition Against Covid that the organization revised after publication.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: Cases, Vaccines, Travel and Variant News

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Babies and children younger than age 5 were hospitalized with coronavirus at much higher rates during the latest U.S. surge, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was dominant, compared with earlier periods in the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations of these children were about five times higher during the Omicron surge, between Dec. 19 and Feb. 19, than during the period when the Delta variant was dominant, between June 27 and Dec. 18.

Rates of admission to intensive care also rose dramatically among young children, reaching a peak on Jan. 8 of this year.

Children of color younger than age 5 wound up in hospitals at disproportionate rates. Only one-third of the children were white, while 28 percent were Hispanic and 23 percent were Black. Hispanic people represent just 18 percent of the population, and Black Americans make up 13 percent.

(Six percent of these hospitalizations were among Asian or other Pacific Islander children, about the same as their representation in the population.)

Experts say children of color are infected at higher rates because they are more likely to have parents who work in public-facing jobs, and more likely to live in poverty and in multigenerational households.

Though hospitalization rates for young children are still relatively low, compared to the rates among older Americans, the virus poses special risks to the youngest children and especially to babies.

Infants six months old and younger were the most vulnerable, representing nearly half of the hospitalizations among young children during the Omicron period. They were hospitalized at rates about six times as high at the peak of the Omicron surge, compared with the peak of the Delta wave. Two infants died, the C.D.C. found.

“People should know there are risks to children under 1 that are pretty serious, especially during surges, and they might want to take extra precautions to reduce exposure,” said Julia Raifman, an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University School of Public Health, who was not involved in the research.

More than 1,000 children younger than age 18 have died of Covid since the pandemic started, including 350 children under 5. But experts also worry about the long-term effects, as well as multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious condition.

The C.D.C. study found that most of the children and babies who were hospitalized — about two-thirds — were healthy and did not have underlying medical conditions, as has been the case throughout the pandemic.

No Covid vaccines are currently authorized in the United States for children younger than 5, and the regulatory process has been fraught with delays and setbacks. Public health experts strongly recommend that anyone who comes into regular contact with young children get vaccinated.

“To help protect children too young to be vaccinated, everyone ages five and older, including pregnant women, family members and caregivers, should stay up to date with Covid-19 vaccines,” Dr. Kristin J. Marks, the study’s first author and an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC, said in an email.

The study, published on March 15, examined hospitalizations of children in counties in 14 states whose catchment areas represent about 10 percent of the U.S. population.

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India logs 1,549 new cases & 31 deaths in the last 24 hours

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