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UK COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly through US: study

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UK COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly through US: study

The highly-contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom is now spreading rapidly throughout the US — doubling around every 10 days, according to a new study.

Researchers predicted the strain known as B117 could become the most prevalent in the nation by next month, according to the study, which is yet to be peer reviewed and was released Sunday on the preprint server MedRxiv.

The group led by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif, determined that the new variant arrived in the US as early as November.

By looking at genomic analyses of the virus samples, they found that the mutation had doubled in frequency about every week and a half.

In Florida, the new strain is estimated to now be responsible for around 4 percent of all cases.

By comparison, the national rate is probably between 1 and 2 percent, researchers said.

The study estimated that its transmission rate has been between 35 and 45 percent higher than other strains — prompting researchers to warn that “immediate” action is necessary in order to prevent surges similar to the ones that have forced new lockdowns in the UK.

“Our study shows that the US is on a similar trajectory as other countries where B.1.1.7 rapidly became the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant, requiring immediate and decisive action to minimize covid-19 morbidity and mortality,” the authors wrote.

“These findings show that B.1.1.7 will likely become the dominant variant in many US states by March 2021, leading to further surges of COVID-19 in the country,” they added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected at least 611 cases of the strain in 33 states, though the variant is likely far more widespread since genetic sequencing is not a standard practice.

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Former Virginia corrections employee claims she was fired for wearing tampon

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Former Virginia corrections employee claims she was fired for wearing tampon

A former employee at the Virginia Department of Corrections can move forward with a lawsuit that claims she was fired because the jail thought her tampon was contraband, a judge ruled Monday.

Joyce Flores alleged in a lawsuit that she was axed from her job as a dental hygienist in July 2019 after her colleagues mistook a tampon for contraband during a body scan at the facility, despite her repeated attempts to explain the situation.

“At no point did [Flores] bring or attempt to bring contraband into ACC. The reason provided by VDOC for the termination is pretext for sex discrimination. Plaintiff’s employment was terminated because she was a menstruating female utilizing a feminine hygiene product when she arrived to work on July 17, 2019,” the suit, filed in November, charges.

In response, the Department of Corrections asked a judge to drop the claims, arguing that Flores didn’t provide enough evidence proving gender discrimination at the time of her firing, the Virginia Mercury reported.

However, District Judge Thomas Cullen rejected the department’s request, saying, “Flores’ menstruation and use of a tampon — conditions inextricable from her sex and her child-bearing capacity — she would not have been discharged.”

In 2018, the Virginia Department of Corrections banned women from wearing tampons while visiting inmates citing concerns that its body scanning system would not be able to differentiate the female hygiene product from contraband.

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Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for COVID-19

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Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for COVID-19

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Wednesday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Republican governor was quarantining in his home with mild symptoms, his office said in a statement.

Dunleavy began to isolate himself after learning Sunday he had been in close contact with someone who had the virus. He got tested that same day and his results came back negative.

He had been feeling well until Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, he tested again, and the resulte was positive, according to Dunleavy’s office.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and the governor’s attending physician are monitoring him.

Meanwhile, Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes also tested positive for the contagious bug.

Committee hearings were canceled for Thursday, and Stutes warned her colleagues not to enter the state Capitol unless it was necessary.

With Post wires

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Woman caught on video crashing into upstate NY bakery

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Woman caught on video crashing into upstate NY bakery

An 82-year-old woman could be seen on video as she drives straight into a bakery in upstate New York on Tuesday.

Kathryn Ford went to apply the brakes but accidentally hit the gas pedal, prompting her to plow into Dolce and Biscotti in Clifton Park shortly before 5 p.m., the Albany Times Union reported citing state police.

Inside, Ford continued hitting the gas, but luckily, Tom Fron, whose wife owns the bakery, ran over to the car to turn off the ignition.

“It was a miracle,” he told the outlet. “I was at the cash register and everyone else was in a separate corners of the bakery.”

“It happened so fast. I heard a crash and she was in the middle of the bakery,” Fron added. “We are blessed. Everything that was damaged can be repaired.”

Video of the crash shows the BMW slamming through the bakery’s glass windows, and into the kitchen where several employees ran for cover.

Ford had no injuries. Only one person suffered a minor arm injury and was treated by EMS at the scene.

The bakery posted on its Facebook page that it will be temporarily closed for one to two weeks due to renovations.

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