Murder Rate Soared Nearly 30% In 2020 Amid Stress Of Covid-19 Pandemic

There were an additional 4,901 homicides last year compared with 2019, the largest leap since national records started in 1960, The New York Times says. And CBS notes that a whopping 77% of the homicides were committed with a gun, the highest percentage ever reported.

CBS News:
Murder Rate Climbed 29% In 2020 Amid Gun Stockpiling And Pandemic Pressures 

Murders rose nearly 30% nationwide last year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Report data released Monday, which revealed the greatest percentage of  homicides involving guns on record, amid the pandemic’s onset. Homicides and manslaughter jumped 29.4% from 2019 to 2020, the largest year-to-year spike since the federal government began tracking violent crime in the 1960s. Though well below the peak of U.S. killings in the 1980s and early 1990s, 4,901 additional killings were carried out in 2020, compared to 2019. (Sganga, 9/27)

The New York Times:
Murders Spiked In 2020 In Cities Across The United States 

There is no simple explanation for the steep rise. A number of key factors are driving the violence, including the economic and social toll taken by the pandemic and a sharp increase in gun purchases. “It is a perfect storm,” said Chief Harold Medina of the Albuquerque Police Department. He cited Covid-19, the fallout from social justice protests and other contributors. “There is not just one factor that we can point at to say why we are where we are,” he said. (MacFarquhar, 9/27)

In other public health news —

More Than 27,000 Pounds Of DiGiorno Pizza Recalled After Packaging Mix-Up

A packaging mix-up and undeclared allergens have led to the recall of a batch of more than 27,000 pounds of DiGiorno pepperoni pizzas by owner Nestlé USA. Nestlé USA recalled a batch of 26-ounce boxes labeled DiGiorno Crispy Pan Crust Pepperoni Pizzas because instead they contained Three Meat Crispy Pan Crust Pizzas, which have soy protein in them. The protein is in the sausage crumbles and beef toppings, and can be dangerous to people with soy allergies. (Dutton, 9/28)

The Washington Post:
130 Georgetown University Students And Employees Sickened With Gastrointestinal Illness 

More than one hundred students, faculty and staff on Georgetown University’s campus have reported nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps — all symptoms that could be consistent with norovirus, officials said Monday. University leaders first reported the gastrointestinal illness Sept. 21, after about 12 students on the main campus in Northwest Washington reported severe stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. Days later, that number grew to 90 and “fewer than 15” people had been transported to emergency rooms, officials said. As of Monday, 130 students and employees had reported some combination of symptoms. (Lumpkin, 9/27)

Free Health Insurance For Jobless Workers Is Ending. What To Do Now

The federal government’s six-month health insurance subsidy for jobless workers through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, will end this week. If your coverage has come from this support, you’ll need to get new health insurance as soon as possible, experts say. The American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed in March, included a provision that offered unemployed people free health insurance coverage through COBRA from April 1 to Sept. 30. (Nova, 9/27)

Augusta Chronicle:
As Pandemic Recedes, Flu Season Stokes Fears Of ‘Twindemic’ In Georgia

With the onset of autumn and COVID-19 waning across Georgia and South Carolina, some now turn their thoughts to flu. Hospitals that are now seeing levels finally go down are hoping it bottoms out before it collides with what is likely to be a reinvigorated flu season, causing what some call a ‘twindemic.” Vaccination could also help stave off both diseases, health leaders said. University Hospital has seen a slow decrease of COVID-19 inpatients from 141 to 112 this week, Doctors Hospital of Augusta has dropped from 80 the week before to 52 on Friday, and AU Health bounced around just under 110 all week to reach 110 on Friday. (Corwin, 9/27)

The ‘Burn Scars’ Of Wildfires Threaten The West’s Drinking Water

Colorado saw its worst fire season last year, with the three largest fires in state history and more than 600,000 acres burned. But some of the effects didn’t appear until this July, when heavy rain pushed sediment from damaged forests down mountainsides, causing mudslides that shut down sections of Interstate 70 for almost two weeks. Immense quantities of sediment choked the rivers that supply most of the state’s water. In western Colorado’s Glenwood Springs, the water became so murky that the town twice had to shut off the valves that pump water from nearby rivers to avoid overwhelming its filtration system. City managers sent alerts to the town’s 10,000 residents, telling them to minimize water use until the sediment moved downstream. (Reardon, 9/28)

Wildfire Smoke Is Here To Stay. Here’s How To Clean The Air Inside Your Home. 

The fierce wildfires that broke out across much of the western United States this summer, spreading smoke across hundreds of miles, continue to pose a serious health hazard to millions. More are expected this fall. That’s a major health concern because microscopic particles in wildfire smoke, carried by the wind, can penetrate deep into your lungs and travel into your bloodstream. One study linked wildfire smoke exposure to a twofold increase in the rate of asthma and a 40% rise in strokes and heart attacks. Other research tied smoke to hospital admissions, ER visits and premature deaths. (Wolfson, 9/28)

Also —

The Wall Street Journal:
John Hinckley Jr., Who Shot President Reagan, Granted Unconditional Release 

A federal judge on Monday has said John Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, can be released from court-appointed restrictions next year. Mr. Hinckley spent 34 years at St. Elizabeths Hospital before being allowed to live with his mother in Williamsburg, Va., under certain conditions. His mother died this year. Some of the restrictions include limits on travel, the need to find volunteer or paid work, check-ins and psychiatric visits. … Mr. Hinckley’s lawyer, Barry Levine, said his client’s mental health has been stable and his diagnosis has been in complete remission for more than three decades. Mr. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 and was sent to a psychiatric facility. (Ansari, 9/27)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021