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NYC Mayor Declares Public Health Emergency After Measles Outbreak

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  • New York City has declared a public health emergency following a severe measles outbreak, largely in Brooklyn.
  • Residents of the Williamsburg neighborhood will be required to be vaccinated against measles, or else they will have to pay a fine.
  • This has received some backlash, but Mayor Bill De Blasio maintains that this is both legal, and the only way to combat the issue.

Public Health Emergency in NYC

Mayor Bill De Blasio declared a public health emergency in New York City in response to the recent measles outbreak.

The measles outbreak began in the city in October, and since then there have been 285 confirmed cases of the disease. This is a very large increase, as there were only two cases of the diseases in New York City throughout all of 2017.

The outbreak is most severe in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where a vast majority of the cases have been reported. De Blasio is mandating that everyone in four zip codes in and near the area get the MMR vaccine, which according to the disease, is 97% effective. Those who do not will have to pay a $1,000 fine.

During a press conference in Williamsburg, De Blasio insisted that vaccines were the only way to stop the measles from spreading throughout the city.

“We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback in New York City. We have to stop it now,” he said. “The only way to stop this outbreak is to ensure that those who have not been vaccinated get the vaccine. It’s crucial for people to understand that the measles vaccine works. It is safe, it is effective, it is time tested.”

The Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, specifically children, have experienced the most cases of the measles. In December, the city mandated that schools, daycares, and yeshivas, which are Orthodox Jewish schools, had to turn away kids who were not vaccinated. Forty patients alone have come from one yeshiva that did not follow this order.

According to the Commissioner for New York City’s Department of Health, Dr. Oxiris Barbot,  leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community largely approve of vaccines. However, anti-vax beliefs have still spread, causing lower vaccination rates.

Dr. Barbot blames this movement for the outbreak.

“This outbreak is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods,” she said in a statement. “They have been spreading dangerous misinformation based on fake science. We stand with the majority of people in this community who have worked hard to protect their children and those at risk.”

Measles Parties on the Rise

Dr. Barbot also spoke out against “measles parties,” which are situations where parents of unvaccinated children expose their kids to someone who already has measles. This was a popular practice before vaccines were widespread, as many think that by exposing their child to the disease, they will build their immunity.

However, this has not actually been scientifically proven to be effective. In fact, this can actually just result in your child getting the measles, as the disease is highly contagious. Health officials are concerned that this fad is coming back into fashion for New Yorkers.

“We are concerned about families having measles parties,” said Dr. Barbot. “I know that parents may be afraid of getting their child vaccinated, but as a pediatrician, I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles.

The CDC’s Disease Detectives

New York City will be using “disease detectives” from the CDC to both enforce this mandate and to stop the spread of measles throughout the city.

Like their quirky name suggests, disease detectives investigate the spread of measles through various stages of questioning, and other kinds of research. On their site, the CDC describes their role by saying, “Like investigators at the scene of a crime, these disease detectives begin by looking for clues.”

They work to anwer four main questions: Who is sick?; What are their symptoms?; When did they get sick?; And where could they have been exposed to the illness? They then try to learn who else could have been exposed, and figure out if these people have been vaccinated.

Reactions to Plans

The city’s plan to prevent the spread of measles has been met with mixed opinions. Donna Lieberman, the Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, questioned whether or not this was within Mayor De Blasio’s power.

“The city’s order provides that people will be vaccinated without their consent, an extreme measure which is not provided for in the law and raises civil liberties concerns about forced medical treatment,” she said in a statement.

In addressing this public health crisis, the government is required to pursue the least restrictive means possible to balance individual autonomy with the public health risk. In this case, measures such as a quarantine or penalties for non-vaccination may be permissible, but forced vaccination is not.”

A spokeswoman for City Hall, Marcy Miranda, countered this idea and told the New York Times that they will not be physically forcing anyone to get the MMR vaccine.

“We will not be forcibly vaccinating individuals,” she said. “(Officials) will work with people to educate them about the safety and importance of vaccines and will issue necessary fines as needed.”

De Blasio also maintained his right to mandate vaccinations during his press conference, saying, “We are absolutely certain we have the power to do this.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (ABC 7) (The Hill)

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Coachella Woman Sentenced for Dumping Puppies in Trash

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  • Deborah Sue Culwell, who was arrested for tossing a bag of seven puppies into a dumpster in April, has now pled guilty to seven counts of animal cruelty and seven counts of misdemeanor animal abandonment.
  • She was sentenced to 365 days in jail, 90 of which will be served on work release, and was also ordered to complete a formal probation period of seven years.
  • During her probation, she will not be allowed to own animals.

Culwell Pleads Guilty

A Coachella woman who made national headlines in April for tossing a bag of seven puppies into a dumpster will serve time behind bars after pleading guilty to 14 charges on Wednesday.

Deborah Sue Culwell initially pled not guilty to seven counts of animal cruelty and seven misdemeanor counts of animal abandonment when security footage of her committing the act went viral.

According to Riverside County Superior Court records obtained by Rogue Rocket, Culwell will now serve 365 days in jail, 90 of which will be on work release. Culwell was also sentenced to complete a formal probation period of seven years.

Other terms of her probation include not being allowed to own non-prescribed controlled substances, being subject to property searches and drug testing, and not being allowed to own animals during the seven-year period. 

Culwell’s Case

Culwell’s case drew in widespread attention and created national outrage earlier this year. On the day she abandoned the puppies in a dumpster, it was reportedly over 90 degrees in Coachella, California. The dogs were just three days old.

A man discovered them soon after and brought them into an air-conditioned store where others were able to call animal services. One of the puppies died a few days later. The surviving dogs were taken into foster care. 

When officers arrested Culwell, they found 38 dogs at her residence. She was forced to give up her ownership of them. They were transferred to Riverside County Animal Services and put up for adoption. RCAS said the animals were living in “crammed conditions,” appeared “nervous,” and were not “used to being handled with love.” 

See what others are saying: (Desert Sun) (BuzzFeed News) (CBS Los Angeles)

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Newark’s Water Crisis Intensifies as Reports Show City-Issued Filters Failed to Remove Lead Contamination

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  • After a report found a small number of city-issued filters failed to remove lead from Newark’s water system, the city advised all affected residents to avoid drinking from tap water.
  • Monday, the city and state began handing out water bottles, but people soon discovered the water was months past its best-by date. 
  • Many have called for Mayor Ras Baraka to resign because the city has faced elevated lead levels for years, but residents were not told the water was unsafe to drink until last year.

Asking for Federal Aid

Newark and New Jersey state officials are asking the Federal government to step in after the city began handing out bottled water earlier this week in response to growing concerns of lead contaminating its water service lines.

On Wednesday, Governor Phil Murphy visited the city and reiterated the need for federal aid, saying the state does not have enough water bottles to continue passing out for an extended period of time.

“Everybody, young and old, big and small, regardless of where you are in this state, in this community certainly in Newark in this country: clean water is a right, not a privilege, for everybody, and we believe that with great passion,” Murphy said in a press conference

Earlier in the day, Senator Cory Booker — who lives in Newark — tweeted about the need for federal aid in his hometown.

“It’s shameful that our national crisis of lead-contaminated water disproportionately hits poor black and brown communities like my own,” he wrote.

Newark’s Lead Crisis Explained

Old and corroding water service lines have propagated Newark’s lead issues for years. 

Since the 2010-2011 academic year, the Newark Board of Education has found elevated lead-water levels in schools every year. Despite attempting to fix the problem by installing new water lines, it persisted. 

In 2016, over 30 schools resorted to using bottled water after shutting off fountains, and thousands of children have been tested to see if they have increased levels of lead in their blood, with about 25 percent of Newark children under six having detectable lead levels.

In 2017, it was reported that 1 in every 10 households in Newark had twice the amount of lead the Environmental Protection Agency sets as a federal standard.

In the fall of last year, the city began handing out lead-safe PÜR filters. The city has estimated it has distributed more than 38,000 filters since October.

The increased calls for federal aid come after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an Aug. 9 statement to Mayor Ras Baraka, urging the city to begin handing out bottled water after it seemed some lead-safe filters were not adequately removing lead from water.

“We are unable at this time to assure Newark residents that their health is fully protected when drinking tap water filtered through these devices,” EPA Regional Administrator Peter Lopez said.

The next day, Baraka held a press conference and announced the city had received reports that two of three tested filters contained lead levels four times above what the EPA allows.

“A small sample of water filters provided to the City of Newark may not be removing lead to the low levels expected by city, state and federal officials,” a report released by the city on Monday said.

Also on Monday, city and state officials began handing out water bottles, advising those in affected areas to use bottled water to drink, cook, and prepare baby formula. 

Later, people began to notice the water was past its best-by date of May 30, and 50,000 more bottles had to be ordered. The state maintains the expired water was likely still safe to drink.

Residents waiting for water faced heat and long lines. Some said they were turned away if they weren’t from a specific area.

At the same time, Baraka has continually encouraged people to run their water for activities like showering or washing dishes. Currently, the city is attempting a corrosion-control treatment meant to re-coat old pipes.

Baraka has said residents should flush their water for 3-5 minutes before using it but has said the process will take some time. 

Because the water crisis affects mostly low-income and African American households, many are drawing comparisons to Flint, though Baraka has denied those associations and called them false comparisons.

Calls for Baraka to Resign

Despite the efforts taken by the city, some are saying Baraka should resign because until last fall, the city denied having a dangerous amount of lead in the water system. 

“It’s wrong,” one resident told ABC. “Something should be done about this. This has been going on for a while, and they’ve been covering it up and nobody didn’t do nothing about it.” 

After being sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Newark released a June 2018 statement saying “the City’s water is not contaminated with lead.”

“The lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council is based on the premise that Newark residents are exposed to dangerous levels of lead in the City’s drinking water,” the statement reads. “That charge is absolutely and outrageously false. The truth is that the water supplied by the city is pure, safe and fully complies with federal and state regulations. The NRDC has seriously mischaracterized the facts.

Many residents have spoken up about similar claims, saying the city lied to them.

“‘Your water’s fine, everything’s fine,’” Evette Jordan said she was told in an interview with CBS This Morning.

“That’s what you heard from the city?” reporter Anna Werner asked her.

“Yes, through several robocalls, through press conferences from our mayor,” Jordan said.

Though Newark admitted to the problems with lead in schools in the June statement, it argued it wasn’t to blame because the lead “stems from privately owned lead service lines,” not city mains.

See what others are saying: (WABC) (Star-Ledger) (New York Times)

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Ben Shapiro Slammed for Comments About Working Two Jobs

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  • Ben Shapiro recently made a comment about people who work two jobs to make ends meet saying, “you probably shouldn’t have taken the job that’s not paying you enough. That’d be a you problem.”
  • People were upset with his remarks and argued that he comes from a privileged background.
  • He tried to clarify his statement later, adding that he has worked “multiple jobs” throughout his career and understands why someone would need two.
  • Some were still unhappy with his comments, while others said they agreed with Shapiro.

Ben Shapiro’s Remarks go Viral

Conservative radio host Ben Shapiro responded to online backlash he received after saying that having to work two jobs to make ends meet is a “you problem.” 

On Wednesday, a clip of Shapiro making these comments on his show went viral. 

“If you had to work more than one job to have a roof over your head or food on the table, you probably shouldn’t have taken the job that’s not paying you enough,” he said. “That’d be a you problem.” 

Shapiro said he was referencing comments Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) made during a Democratic presidential debate. 

“People in America are working,” she said. “They’re working two and three jobs. So when we talk about jobs let’s be really clear. In our America, no one should have to work more than one job to have a roof over their head to food on the table.”

In the clip, Shapiro goes on to say that very few Americans are actually working multiple jobs, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is true. The BSL says that just under five percent of Americans work two jobs. However, some reports claim the number could be higher because sample groups may not reach enough people, and because someone working two jobs is less likely to participate in a survey. 

Comments Recieve Backlash

Still, Shapiro’s comments received a lot of backlash online. Many said they came from a place of privilege and pointed out the host’s financially comfortable upbringing. 

“Ben Shapiro is the child of a television studio executive and film composer and grew up in Hollywood as a private school dilettante who got his high school education for a tuition comparable to most Ivy League universities,” one user pointed out. 

It’s not a you problem it’s a systematic problem,” another said. 

Some also told their own stories about why people in their families have had to take multiple jobs. 

Shapiro Clarifies Statement

Shapiro later responded to the backlash on Twitter by posting a thread to clarify his comments.

“The point I am making, of course, is that you cannot dictate that a job pay you what you wish it paid you,” he said. 

However, he later added, “The answer to the problem of taking a job that you feel underpays you is to (a) not take the job, as I suggest here, or (b) not live beyond your means.”

He also said that he himself had worked multiple jobs for most of his career. 

“I understand why someone would need two jobs,” he later said after his thread.

Reactions to Shapiro’s Follow-Up

“You’ve had multiple gigs,” someone said. “That’s entirely different.” 

Others, however, defended Shapiro. 

“What he says is true,” one user wrote. “Just because you dont like it doesnt change it.”

See what others are saying: (Fox Business) (HuffPost) (The Hill)

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