Homes

Some states raising doubts about federal tests sent to nursing homes

Several states have curtailed using coronavirus testing equipment in nursing homes that was provided by the Trump Administration after concerns were raised about the results, including false positives that risk mistakenly sending vulnerable seniors into special COVID isolation wings that could ultimately expose them to the virus.



a plastic bag: A medical center worker holds an antibody tests kit in White Plains, N.Y., April 29, 2020.


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A medical center worker holds an antibody tests kit in White Plains, N.Y., April 29, 2020.

Since July, the administration had been rushing out the machines from manufacturers Becton, Dickinson and Company and Quidel to more than 14,000 facilities around the country in an attempt to identify outbreaks faster and stem the tide of the virus, which has taken a particular toll on the elderly, especially those in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities.

“We have a real crisis around testing,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We don’t have the capacity to supply every facility with … the more reliable and accurate tests and the tests we do have are not accurate and unreliable.”

The machines process cheaper-to-produce kits known as antigen tests — which can yield results in 15 minutes. While other diagnostic tests for COVID-19 like PCR tests look for genetic material from the virus, antigen tests look for molecules on the surface of the virus, diagnosing an active coronavirus infection faster than molecular tests.

Although they are not perfect, many experts view these tests as an important component in the effort to fight COVID-19. The rapid turnaround time means they can be used in bulk to screen dozens of people in quick succession, with any potentially positive cases later confirmed with a more accurate PCR test. These are the tests, for instance, that the

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The Many Homes of the NXIVM Sex Cult

The upstate New York homes of some of the key players in NXIVM, the twisted “sex cult” chronicled in the hit HBO documentary “The Vow,” are likely to go on the market soon. Whether buyers will line up to purchase the Albany-area townhouses, where women were enslaved, brainwashed, and branded, remains to be seen.

The final episode of the nine-part documentary premiered on Sunday. The series gives viewers an inside look at NXIVM, which initially billed itself as a self-improvement group. But beyond its personal and professional development seminars, NXIVM’s charismatic leader Keith Raniere oversaw a shadier subgroup called DOS.

With the help of “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, DOS allegedly recruited female members into “slavery” ultimately answerable to Raniere’s sexual whims. Women were put on extremely low-calorie diets and branded with Raniere’s initials via a cauterizing pen designed to burn flesh. If they tried to leave, DOS would threaten to release embarrassing collateral the women had provided, such as naked photos.

Now, two homes of high-ranking NXIVM members and the group’s headquarters are to be forfeited to the federal government, as punishment for their crimes.

Raniere, who went by the title “Vanguard,” was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking last year. He now faces up to life in prison. He’s slated to be sentenced on Oct. 27.

Other high-ranking members of the group, including NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter, Lauren Salzman, pled guilty along with Mack to charges levied against them. They have yet to be sentenced. But as a result of their pleas, a U.S. District Court judge signed three preliminary forfeiture orders against the women last year. This basically means they have to surrender more than a half-million dollars, a Steinway grand piano valued at $40,000, as well as two townhouses and three commercial

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Some states raising doubts about federal tests sent to nursing homes, citing shaky reliability

Several states have curtailed using coronavirus testing equipment in nursing homes that was provided by the Trump Administration after concerns were raised about the results, including false positives that risk mistakenly sending vulnerable seniors into special COVID isolation wings that could ultimately expose them to the virus.

Since July, the administration had been rushing out the machines from manufacturers Becton, Dickinson and Company and Quidel to more than 14,000 facilities around the country in an attempt to identify outbreaks faster and stem the tide of the virus, which has taken a particular toll on the elderly, especially those in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities.

“We have a real crisis around testing,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We don’t have the capacity to supply every facility with … the more reliable and accurate tests and the tests we do have are not accurate and unreliable.”

The machines process cheaper-to-produce kits known as antigen tests — which can yield results in 15 minutes. While other diagnostic tests for COVID-19 like PCR tests look for genetic material from the virus, antigen tests look for molecules on the surface of the virus, diagnosing an active coronavirus infection faster than molecular tests.

Although they are not perfect, many experts view these tests as an important component in the effort to fight COVID-19. The rapid turnaround time means they can be used in bulk to screen dozens of people in quick succession, with any potentially positive cases later confirmed with a more accurate PCR test. These are the tests, for instance, that the White House requires everyone to take before they enter the complex.

MORE: Faster, cheaper COVID-19 tests in danger of creating blindspot in data collection

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Potential blackouts could leave California homes without power until Friday

A dangerous combination of fast winds and low humidity at the height of fire season is expected to prompt power outages for tens of thousands of Northern California homes and businesses starting Wednesday and lasting potentially into Friday.

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Strong wind storm reportedly kills one, knocks out power for thousands of Puget Sound homes

Strong wind gusts whipped through the Puget Sound area and down the coast Tuesday, snapping branches and taking down utility poles, and reportedly killing one person and wiping out power for thousands of homes.

Wind gusts ranged from 30 to 40 mph throughout most of the region, with peak gusts at 48 mph in Seattle, said meteorologist Matthew Cullen of the National Weather Service Seattle. The wind storm came from a very strong low-pressure system that moved into northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia earlier Tuesday, combined with a front that extended across the region, he said.

Friday Harbor also saw 48 mph winds, while Olympia and Quillayute hit 45 to 46 mph gusts.

“It was pretty consistent up and down the coast,” Cullen said.

The person who died during the windstorm was clearing out a driveway on the Key Peninsula when a tree fell on them, Key Peninsula Fire spokeswoman Anne Nesbit told Q13 News Tuesday. No further information was immediately available.

Puget Sound Energy had responded to more than 77,000 outages by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, caused primarily by tree branches blown into power lines, the utility service said. Seattle City Light reported more than 14,000 outages in southeast Seattle, northwest Seattle and Shoreline on Tuesday afternoon, though most had been restored by the evening.

State transportation officials also shut down several highways — including Highway 162 near Orting, Highway 121 in Tumwater and Highway 167 near Tacoma — Tuesday to clear away downed power lines and debris, the state Department of Transportation said on Twitter.

Cullen said the gusts were expected to continue to wind down as Tuesday night progressed and stay calmer on Wednesday.

Some showers are expected with a light breeze Wednesday, while Thursday should stay mostly dry with some morning clouds that are expected to

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