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‘Hug tent’ provides safe embraces at Colorado elderly home

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‘Hug tent’ provides safe embraces at Colorado elderly home

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Lynda Hartman needed a hug.

It had been at least eight months since she touched her 77-year-old husband, Len, who has dementia and has been at an assisted living center in suburban Denver for the last year.

On Wednesday, she got a small taste of what life was like before the coronavirus pandemic.

Sort of.

Thanks to a “hug tent” set up outside Juniper Village at Louisville, Hartman got to squeeze her husband — albeit while wearing plastic sleeves and separated by a 4-millimeter-thick clear plastic barrier.

“I really needed it. I really needed it,” the 75-year-old said after her brief visit. “It meant a lot to me, and it’s been a long, long time.”

Hartman, who fractured two vertebrae and could no longer take care of her husband by herself, said she thought he was a little confused but that it was important for them to embrace again.

“We’ve been trying to do it for a long time,” she said. “It felt good. I kept hitting his glasses when I hugged him, though. And he got cold.”

Although the setup wasn’t ideal, Hartman said, “At least you can do something, and it’s important.”

Since the pandemic hit, similar tents have popped up around the country and in places like Brazil and England, where some people call them “cuddle curtains.”

The assisted living facility in the Denver suburb of Louisville, which has fully vaccinated its residents and staff, partnered with nonprofit health care organization TRU Community Care to set up the tent with construction-grade plastic on a blustery but warm winter day this week.

“I think it’s just a huge weight off their shoulders, just being able to have that hug that they haven’t had in so long,” said Anna Hostetter, a spokeswoman for Juniper Village at Louisville. “When we were planning this and setting it up, and I saw pictures, I wasn’t sure if with all the plastic and everything you could really get that human contact. But I teared up on some of them. It was really special for our families.”

The hug tent will go up again Tuesday, and staff are planning to keep hosting them.

For Gregg MacDonald, holding hands with his 84-year-old mother, Chloe MacDonald, was important because they hadn’t touched since April. She likes to get updates on her grandson and granddaughter.

“Time is a precious commodity, so while we all wait to get back to more normality, in the meantime, everyone is doing what they can,” Gregg MacDonald said. “So I appreciate any efforts that they are making to allow us to have more contact with everybody.”

Amanda Meier, project coordinator for TRU Community Care, said she, her husband and some volunteers built the hug tent around a standard 8-by-8-foot popup frame and attached the construction-grade plastic with glue and Velcro. Plastic arm sleeves built into the tent are attached with embroidery hoops.

Since the beginning of November, she has helped set up four hug tents in Colorado and said the feedback has been positive.

“Lots of tears, but happy sort of tears, and a lot of shocked expressions of how in the world can we be doing something like this. It’s so weird,” Meier said.

But after the initial weirdness, the benefits are clear, she said.

“You can see sort of relief in their bodies and their faces when they finally get to have that physical contact, which is really a basic human need. And in these facilities, a lot of times they’re missing it anyway because they’re just not with their families,” Meier said. “I don’t think it’s measurable, really. You just know it when you see it and feel it when you’re there.”

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Man named Colin Pidgeon catches pigeon during Zoom meeting

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Man named Colin Pidgeon catches pigeon during Zoom meeting

This bird brain failed to fly-by-night and ended up on-screen.

A Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance meeting on Zoom turned fowl this Wednesday when a committee member, who happens to be named Colin Pidgeon, randomly caught a pigeon mid-call. 

“I have literally just caught a pigeon,” a shocked-sounding Pidgeon announces, cradling the bird after his cat delivered it to him during the meeting. The non-remote, distanced committee members immediately begin laughing. 

“Colin, this is much more interesting,” one chortled. 

“Colin Pidgeon’s caught a pigeon,” another committee member adds.

“Colin, Colin, go and put the pigeon outside,” a meeting leader says, excusing Pidgeon from the meeting. 

“The cat hasn’t killed it,” Pidgeon then announces. 

“You kept your composure the whole way through that, amazing,” praises a fellow member.

“I’ve never been interrupted by wildlife before,” Pidgeon reflects.

“The Committee wishes to confirm no pigeon or indeed Pidgeon were harmed during this incident,” the committee posted to its official Twitter account.

However, Pidgeon says he is experiencing some back pain post-incident.

“Actually, my back is a bit sore now you mention it …” he noted in a retweet.

Pidgeon has long embraced his last name, even before the sudden, literal manifestation of it during work: Not only does he have a doormat reading “House Pidgeon Embrace the Chaos” featuring a pigeon spread-eagle, but the brickwork on the front of his house has also been painted with the family crest.

The fowl experience that made the internet giggle comes after a lawyer’s recent viral moment when a Zoom filter turned the attorney into a cat during a virtual court hearing. 

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Man ordered to pay ex-wife $7,700 for housework

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Man ordered to pay ex-wife $7,700 for housework

She really cleaned up.

A Chinese divorce court has ordered a man to pay $7,700 to his ex-wife for domestic services she rendered during their marriage.

The groundbreaking ruling is the first case concerning a recently enacted law that may require breadwinning ex-spouses to cover the years their partner spent cooking, cleaning, raising children, nursing elder relatives or otherwise supporting the family from home.

The decision has sparked a heated debate among millions of Chinese citizens on social media over the value of housework, according to the South China Morning Post.

The couple in question, whose identities are limited to their surnames — Wang and Chen — were married for five years, two of which they spent separated before ultimately filing for divorce in 2020, according to court documents. Ms. Wang has argued that she is entitled to compensation, particularly for the two years she reared their son with no substantial input from ex-husband Mr. Chen.

Wang has also accused Chen of having an affair.

The court awarded Wang full custody of their son and ordered Chen to pay his family 2,000 yuan ($300) per month going forward and an additional bill of 50,000 yuan ($7,700) for the chores and child care duties that Wang performed during marriage.

Critics on Weibo, China’s preeminent social media site, have said the court didn’t go far enough, with one user pointing out that a year’s salary at any job would be more than twice that amount. On the other hand, others have argued that Wang “also enjoyed the fruit of her housework,” so why should Chen be responsible for compensation?

Zhong Wen, a divorce lawyer in China’s Sichuan province, told SCMP that the new law, enacted Jan. 1 of this year, sets a new precedent in the country.

“Those who do housework are devalued in a marriage, with the most obvious effect being their survival skills in society and their professional skills will probably decrease,” Zhong said.

He also said the court’s order was conservative compared to divorce norms in other cultures, adding that divorce proceedings in the UK take domestic duties of both parties into consideration, regardless of their work status, when divvying property and establishing alimony.

Globally, women take on two-and-a-half times as much unpaid caretaking and household work as men, according to studies by the United Nations.

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Florida officials crack down on spring break amid COVID pandemic

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Florida officials crack down on spring break amid COVID pandemic

Florida officials are cracking down on spring-breakers hoping to flee to the state’s beaches amid the pandemic.

New restrictions are being implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19 as vacationers touch down in popular South Florida destinations like South Beach, where fewer Miami vices like staying out past midnight and alcohol consumption, among other things, will be tolerated.

“If you’re coming here because you think it’s an anything-goes place, please turn around or go somewhere else,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told WPLG-TV this week.

Miami Beach is imposing a number of health and safety measures during its “high impact period” now through April 12. That means no alcohol, coolers, tables, tents, or live music at public beaches. Capacity limits are also currently in place at some of Miami’s more high-traffic beaches, according to the guidelines.

The Florida city is also imposing a curfew at midnight in its entertainment district, and liquor stores won’t be able to sell alcohol past 10 p.m. in Miami beach, or after 8 p.m. in the Art Deco Cultural District.

Over in Fort Lauderdale, Mayor Steve Gellar said residents and visitors can expect more law enforcement at busy areas, with social distancing and mask-wearing mandates being heavily enforced. He also stressed that the city could shut down businesses that have been hit with a number of health violations.

“I’m OK with saying we will try and focus on the offenders and not do a countywide curfew, provided that Fort Lauderdale agrees to shut down the offenders,” Gellar said, as reported by CBS4 Miami.

An average of more than 1,000 people have been dying from COVID-19 per day, data suggests, and doctors say travel puts more people at risk for contracting and spreading more contagious strains of the virus.

“The emerging strains could also be more easily dispersed by the increased travel in the spring and early summer. As people return from travel destinations, they may place people in their local communities at higher risk for contracting these resistant strains,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Fox News. 

Indeed, Glatter says travelers looking to get away for spring break should expect to proceed with caution, advising to drive instead of fly when possible, wear masks at all times, and stick to small gatherings outdoors, while maintaining a safe social distance from others.

“While people who are vaccinated are protected against severe disease and death, it’s still unclear if they can transmit the virus to others. It’s still important to wear a mask when around others who are not living in your household or in your pod. Be smart and careful,” Glatter said.

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