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More than 100 N.J. nursing homes have had coronavirus outbreaks since summer as crisis continues

The coronavirus devastated New Jersey’s nursing homes this spring, killing thousands of residents and prompting a raft of measures to better protect the state’s most vulnerable population.

Since that time, long-term care facilities say they have stockpiled personal protective equipment. They’ve developed protocols for testing residents and staff and isolating those who are sickened. Visitors continue to be limited by state regulators, amid fears the virus will be reintroduced as families reunite with their loved ones.

Yet despite those precautions, the coronavirus continues to creep into the state’s nursing homes, assisted-living centers and other senior facilities, even among those that managed to eradicate their original outbreaks, Department of Health data shows.

Across New Jersey, at least 102 long-term care facilities saw new outbreaks this summer or fall after being declared COVID-19 free, according to a review by NJ Advance Media. Included in those were 11 facilities in which residents or staffers died in the new contagions.

That points to a somber reality as New Jersey grapples with a concerning resurgence of coronavirus in recent weeks: Even as nursing homes have had nearly seven months of experience combating the virus, many remain unable to keep it wholly at bay. Still, those outbreaks are proving less deadly and easier to contain than in March or April, when underprepared facilities were floored by a pandemic that caught them, the state and the country flat-footed, flooding New Jersey’s hospitals and morgues.

On Friday, a union that represents 8,000 nursing home workers in New Jersey expressed concerns about a second wave of the disease and the impacts it could carry.

“Nursing home operators need to be taking every precaution, including giving frontline workers access to n95 masks, gowns and surgical masks before, not after, new outbreaks emerge,” said Milly Silva, the executive vice president of

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Cragun’s Resort $20 Million Renovation Continues During Pandemic

BRAINERD, Minn., Oct. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Eric Peterson, General Manager of Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, MN, is one of the most positive people you’ll meet. Give him lemons and he’ll gladly take them and say “Thanks – Free Lemons”! Which is exactly the positive attitude Peterson and Cragun’s have taken during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

This coming winter marks the half-way point of Cragun’s $20 million-dollar resort expansion and improvement project. In late 2015, Cragun’s embarked on an aggressive plan to remodel, replace and add new amenities and lodging to ensure the resort’s continued success. When the pandemic started to slow things down in March, Peterson took the opportunity to ramp up construction in several areas of the resort. This enabled Cragun’s to keep people employed and make significant progress in the improvement plan.

“Over the years, Cragun’s guests have told us how much they appreciate our family friendly atmosphere and the true “up north” experience they receive at the resort,” said Peterson. “We put a plan together that would update Cragun’s public areas, provide more new, larger and improved cabins and upgrade the facilities in our lodge rooms while maintaining the feel our guests love. All of the improvements are designed to fit well with the features that Cragun’s guests enjoy like our mile of sandy beaches, championship golf courses, full-service marina, snowmobiling, ice skating and dining options.”

Cragun’s improvements include the following:

  • Public Areas – The Lobby and Lobby Gift Shop were updated to include improved lighting, an expanded gift selection, plus the addition of an interactive television with information on the resort. The lake level Marina received new floors, walls, displays, new bait tank and two new bathrooms. A new signage program was started to aid guests in finding their way around the resort.
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St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen in Skowhegan creatively continues to serve the community

SKOWHEGAN — The cars continue to line up and roll through, while others walk up wearing masks.

The images of this weekly labor of love look different than they did just eight months ago, but it’s Thursday night, which means a free dinner is available to all who need one thanks to the volunteers at St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen in Skowhegan.

“It’s going well. Our numbers increase every week,” said Aldea LeBlanc, coordinator of the kitchen.

St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen, located in the parish hall of Notre Dame de Lourdes Church on Water Street, offered a free, sit-down, hot meal for anyone in need every Thursday night prior to the start of the pandemic in March. The ministry is entirely volunteer run.

“The meals were suspended until early June when the soup kitchen resumed again,” said Nora Natale, office manager at Christ the King Parish, of which the soup kitchen is a part. “Most of the crew was more than ready to see our guests again.”

“The need is so great here,” said Fr. James Nadeau, pastor of Christ the King Parish.

The diners are currently not allowed in the parish hall due to the pandemic, but nobody involved was willing to give up this important ministry that has helped thousands of community members through the years.

Now, volunteers wear masks and practice social distancing, the meals are served in a drive-thru format in the parking lot of the church and other recipients participate through take-out service.

While the delivery methods have changed, what has not is the appeal of the meals, which have included pork chops, barbecue chicken, and many other delectable choices.

“We also provide a vegetable and fruit of some kind, as well as donated desserts and bread,” said Aldea. “The meals are served from 4:30 to

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Bobcat Fire has damaged or destroyed at least 115 homes and continues to burn with 84% containment

The Bobcat Fire has damaged or destroyed at least 115 homes and dozens other structures as it continues to burn through the Angeles National Forest after igniting nearly a month ago, officials said Saturday.

Firefighters have largely gained the upper hand on the blaze, which had burned 114,963 acres, or 179.6 square miles, and was 84% contained as of Saturday morning — up from 75% two days ago.

Aided by strong winds and insufficient firefighting resources, the Bobcat Fire advanced on the Antelope Valley foothills in mid-September, ripping a path of destruction along the way.

Completely destroyed are 87 homes and 83 other buildings. The fire has also damaged 28 more homes and another 19 structures. Many of the homes destroyed were in the Juniper Hills area.

“The number of damaged and destroyed buildings may rise as damage assessment teams continue to gather accurate data from properties spanning over 114,900+ acres,” officials said in the federal InciWeb page.

On Saturday, the fire was expected to mainly smolder in the hot areas but stay within its existing burn footprint, where crews planned to spend the day mopping up, patrolling and improving containment lines.

But at an interior island northeast of Mt. Wilson, a pocket of fire will continue to consume another 300 acres within the fire control lines in an area with steep, rugged terrain that has been difficult for firefighters to access.

“Heavy smoke may be visible during peak heat hours as this internal island of fuel burns,” fire officials said.

Crews will be patrolling the area and looking out for fire spotting and other alarming behavior in temperatures over 90 degrees and low humidities.

Firefighters struggled to contain the fast-moving fire early in the battle as flames tore through extremely dry and rugged brush, set trees ablaze and spotted

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DIY Boom Continues to Drive Demand for Home Improvement Stores

Home improvement stores are on track to permanently land in the essential services or daily needs category, which retail investors have focused on for years. This year, home improvement activity has increased dramatically, and 40% of consumers have indicated that they plan to continue home improvement projects beyond the recession, according to research from the NPD Group. The activity has driven home improvement store sales up 11% this year.

During the pandemic, home improvement stores have become the second fastest growing retail segment in both brick-and-mortar and online sales. In lawn and garden, tools, paint, kitchen and bath and hardware segments, each saw a double-digit increase in both online and in-store purchases. The average shopping trip also increased 10% compared to the average trip in 2019.

Home Depot Versus Lowe’s

Placer.ai, which also looked closely at shopping trends in the major home improvement brands, found that Lowe’s saw an early surge in sales in April, up 14.1% for the month. Home Depot on the other hand, didn’t see an increase in sales until May, when activity jumped 26%. In the same month, Lowe’s continued to outperform its competitor, seeing a 46.6% increase in sales. Lowe’s has continued to outperform Home Depot through the pandemic, although both have seen significant increased in activity and the gap narrowed. Notably, significant sales growth continued in June and July, well after home improvements’ normal peak season.

A Long Term Trend

Weekly visits have continued to show strong sales, all the way through early August, the most recent data available. According to Placer.ai, this indicates that the home improvement trend could be long term, as the NPD Group data also suggests. The activity has been driven in part by the fact that people are staying at home more, as well as by homeowners that may

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