2020: the year of disasters – Will a Yellowstone supervolcano eruption be the next global crisis?

What triggers a supervolcano eruption? An earthquake? No one really knows. “As a magma chamber of Yellowstone expands, it pushes the roof up and forms faults,” Gregg said in a statement. Patricia Gregg is a volcanologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “As these very large magma chambers grow, the roof above may become unstable, and it becomes easier to trigger an eruption through faulting or failure within the rock.”

The research team’s model suggests that, if a crack in the roof penetrates the magma chamber, the magma within uses the fault or crack as a vent to shoot to the surface. This could trigger a chain reaction that “unzips” the whole supervolcano, the researchers said. These findings suggest that if supervolcano eruptions are triggered by external factors, such as faults in the roofs of their magma chambers, “then we should look at seismicity, what types of faults are being developed, what is the stability of the roof and what kinds of activities are happening on the surface that could cause faulting,” Gregg said in a statement.  –Live Science

The 1959 earthquake in Yellowstone National Park gives us some idea of just how deadly the fault and volcanic system under the park really is.

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U.S. coronavirus deaths surpassed 8,000 – over 244,000 cases and growing

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As the number of deaths from coronavirus in the United States surpassed 8,000, some state leaders said they’re still missing vital tools in their battle against the coronavirus. New York state, which has been desperately searching for ventilators, will receive 140 ventilators from Oregon, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday in a news conference. “This was unsolicited, but the 140 ventilators will make a difference,” Cuomo said, adding the gesture was both “kind” and “smart.” “We’re all in the same battle here,” the governor said. “And the battle is stopping the spread of the virus.”

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Universal Masking: Asian countries like: Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea have flattened the curve by adopting a policy of universal masking – that is, basically everyone wears a mask to slow the spread of community transmissions. The policy has worked to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases. 

At least 297,575 people in the United States have become infected and 8,098 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s running case count. New York is not the only state struggling with adequate equipment and supplies. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his state doesn’t even have enough tests to get a clear idea of the scale of the outbreak. Everything about the tests are very difficult to come by, and there’s no federal plan for this, so every state is on their own,” Pritzker said. “As I’ve said, it’s the Wild West out here.”


“We’re grateful for these supplies. But to be clear, we’ve gotten just 33% of what we’ve asked for, and they’ve told us not to expect more anytime soon,” he said. “This pandemic is a war,” he said. “And we need the armor to fight it.” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the federal government must ramp up efforts for more personal protective equipment, or PPE, for health care workers, saying the state had received some but not all it had requested. “Governments at all levels, hospitals, law enforcement and others are competing against each other for a scarce amount of personal protective equipment,” Cooper said.  –CNN

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‘We could get wiped out’ – American Indians have the highest rates of diseases that make covid-19 more lethal

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LUMMI NATION, Wash. — They hastily piled all the dumbbells and treadmills in the back of a gym to make room for 23 extra hospital beds. The beds aren’t needed yet, but on a reservation where residents suffer high rates of disease that exist throughout Indian Country, the Lummi Tribal Health Clinic is bracing for the deadly coronavirus. Two thousand miles away at the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, where 11 people have tested positive for the virus as of Friday and one has died, “We’re preparing for the worst,” Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. Health workers plan to move hospital beds into a nearby university and a job training facility shuttered because of the pandemic. “This is the worse public health crisis we’ve had in a generation.”

At the Navajo Nation that crosses three western states, 270 people were infected as of Saturday with 12 fatalities, the most in Indian Country. A shelter-in-place order was imposed by President Jonathan Nez. “Some won’t listen, but we’re doing everything we can,” Nez said. “We’re doing … road blocks, handing out … booklets to share with relatives and community members. We need everyone to take this virus seriously.” Coronavirus is ravaging the United States, but experts say more than 5 million people who identify as American Indians and Alaskan Native are especially vulnerable.

“When you look at the health disparities in Indian Country – high rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma and then you combine that with the overcrowded housing situation where you have a lot of people in homes with an elder population who may be exposed or carriers – this could be like a wildfire on a reservation and get out of control in a heartbeat,” said Kevin Allis, chief executive of the National Congress of American Indians. “We could get wiped out,” Allis said. –Washington Post

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COVID-19 could cause brain damage in some patients

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Coronavirus could cause brain damage in some patients by triggering inflammation that can lead to bleeds and the killing of cells, doctors have warned. The virus appears to have resulted in neurological complications in some of those infected – including one Florida man in his 70s who temporarily lost the ability to speak. While other scans suggest a woman in her 50s from Detroit has lost big chunks of brain cells, and similar central nervous problems have been reported in Italy and China.

Henry Ford Health System neurologist Dr. Elissa Fory said incorporating patients with severe neurological disease needs to be added into “our treatment paradigm, “reports the Daily Mail. The doctor, involved in diagnosing the Detroit woman, added the complication seen in that patient was as “devastating” as severe lung disease. A CT scan of her brain was carried out which showed dark spots, indicating a fluid build-up or substantial brain cell loss.

The patient’s thalamus – crucial in sending sensory signals for processing – showed particular damage, while other scans showed brain lesions or bleeds in temporal lobes. Dr. Fory said the extensive testing proved their suspicions that the woman, an airline worker, had encephalitis – a potentially deadly brain swelling condition. The Florida patient, aged 74, had suffered seizures which affected his ability to speak – a sign of brain swelling, leading his doctors to believe he also had the condition.  –Mirror

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Coronavirus: NJ Governor orders State Police to commandeer needed medical supplies

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS New York) – Gov. Phil Murphy has given New Jersey State Police orders to take N95 masks, ventilators and other personal protective equipment that health care facilities need in their race to slow the spread of coronavirus. “While we look forward to these facilities cooperating with us and providing this equipment as needed, this order gives (police) the express authority to requisition it for distribution to our acute care hospitals and other healthcare facilities,” said Murphy in his daily COVID-19 briefing. “And needless to say, they badly need the equipment.”

The order came as New Jersey saw deaths related to COVID-19 illness jumped 182 in 24-hours to a total of 537. By Thursday, New Jersey had a total of 25,590 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state, reports CBS2’s Cory James. Newark University Hospital EKG technician Kim King-Smith is among those now gone. Her family says her smile was more infectious than the virus that took her life. “I constantly balance my response of being cold-blooded with compassion,” Murphy said. –CBS Local

U.S. government stock-piles nearly depleted: Donald Trump has admitted the US government’s emergency stockpile of protective equipment is nearly exhausted because of the extraordinary demands of the coronavirus pandemic. The shortage was first reported by the Washington Post, which said the supply of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies was running low. Trump, who has been criticized for a lack of central planning, confirmed on Wednesday: “It is, because we’re sending it directly to hospitals. We don’t want it to come to the stockpile because then we have to take it, after it arrives, and bring it to various states and hospitals.”

The president had urged states to “make a deal” and buy personal protective equipment (PPE) directly from manufacturers, he added. “We’ve asked states where they have large manufacturers of different types of equipment to use those local factories, those local plants and have it made directly, ship it right into the hospitals.” Trump continued: “We’re shipping things right in. We have, as you know, almost 10,000 ventilators which we need for flexibility. It’s sounds like a lot but it’s not.” The National Guard had been authorized to move equipment into hospitals when necessary, he added.

 Citing officials at the Department of Homeland Security, the Post reported that the depletion of the national stockpile left the White House and states competing for PPE in a “freewheeling global marketplace rife with profiteering and price-gouging.” Guardian

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Experts tell White House coronavirus can spread through talking or even just breathing

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A prestigious scientific panel told the White House Wednesday night that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes or coughs, but also just by talking, or possibly even just breathing. “While the current [coronavirus] specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing,” according to the letter, written by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of a committee with the National Academy of Sciences. Fineberg told CNN that he will wear start wearing a mask when he goes to the grocery story.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told CNN Tuesday that the idea of recommending broad use of masks in the US to prevent the spread of coronavirus is under “very active discussion” by the group. Fineberg, chair of the NAS’ Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, said his letter was sent Wednesday evening in response to a query from Kelvin Droegemeier with the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.

“This letter responds to your question concerning the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread by conversation, in addition to sneeze/cough-induced droplets,” the letter states. “Currently available research supports the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation,” it continues.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus spreads from person to person when people are within about 6 feet of each other “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

Fineberg told CNN this is true, but that research shows that aerosolized droplets produced by talking or possibly even by just breathing can also spread the virus. This letter explains that research at a hospital in China shows the virus can be suspended in the air when doctors and nurses remove protective gear, or when floors are cleaned, or when staff move around. Research by the University of Nebraska shows that genetic material from the virus was found in patients’ rooms more than 6 feet away from the patients, according to the letter. Fineberg said it’s possible that aerosolized coronavirus droplets can hang in the air and potentially infect someone who walks by later.  –CNN

British death toll surges: The number of coronavirus-related fatalities in the UK has risen by 569 in the last 24 hours, taking the total toll to 2,921.  This is the biggest jump the UK has seen to date – just. Yesterday 563 new fatalities were reported. Of 561 people who died in England, 44 had no known underlying health conditions – these patients were aged between 25 and 100. Overall, the case count in the UK now stands at 33,718, a rise of 3,846 in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Health Secretary said he was “setting the goal” of reaching 100,000 tests for coronavirus per day by the end of April. –Telegraph UK

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Earthquakes and the Yellowstone Caldera – North America is stretching

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First an earthquake in Salt Lake, then one near Reno, then near Boise, Idaho and a small shock felt through Yellowstone. The scary thoughts swarm our minds, “are we at the end? Will the Yellowstone volcano erupt? Why do we have a virus and earthquakes?” Well as hard as it sounds it’s just a normal part of living on our planet. We have faced deadly infections and earthquakes before. In 1918 people were asked to distance themselves too. The Spanish Flu spread around the world. Deadly earthquakes hit in China the United States, the Philippines, and Russia. On top of all of this, we were fighting World War I. According to an article posted by Discover magazine, what is happening now in the western United States is a constant process called continent stretching.

The west stretches about a quarter inch a year, then after so long the normal fault zones slip. When they do, we feel it as an earthquake. A few years ago, everyone was worried about the Yellowstone Caldera, or what was called on television, the Yellowstone Super Volcano. Will it erupt now? Can earthquakes cause it to erupt? ABC4 News spoke with Doctor Keith D. Koper, Professor of Geology and Geophysics, and Director of the University of Utah’s Seismographs Stations. He explained they monitor Utah and Yellowstone. He told us there is no obvious relationship with the earthquakes that hit Magna, Reno, and North of Boise. He said it is possible for a big earthquake to trigger smaller earthquakes.

Professor Koper explained the Boise earthquake could have caused a wave that triggered smaller earthquakes in Yellowstone but at this time there is no evidence that happened. According to a report two weeks ago by National Geographic, the caldera has been experiencing a type of pulsing, but new research does not indicate that the super-volcano that created the Yellowstone caldera is more likely to erupt now. The last time it happened was 640,000 years ago. Yellowstone is a complicated area, besides being volcanically active…with magma thought to be only a mile below ground at certain times. Yellowstone is also seismically active with 700 to 3000 quakes a year. Most are not felt. Three years ago we reported Yellowstone had 900 earthquakes in two weeks. Earthquakes as far away as the Boise one will not cause the magma in Yellowstone to explode.  –ABC4

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Earthchanges Diary – March 2020: Natural disasters, extreme weather, ecological events sweeping across our planet

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March 31, 2020 – 6.5 mag quake Boise, Id: An earthquake struck north of Boise Tuesday evening, with people across a large area reporting shaking. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the magnitude 6.5 temblor struck just before 6 p.m. It was centered 73 miles (118 kilometers) northeast of Meridian, near the rural mountain town of Stanley. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. More than 2 million live in the region that could feel the Idaho quake, according to the USGS, with reports of shaking coming in from as far away as Helena, Montana, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Marcus Smith, an emergency room health unit coordinator at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center, said the hospital, about 65 miles (104 kilometers) south of the epicenter, shook but the quake didn’t interfere with the treatment of any patients. The hospital in Blaine County is on the front line of Idaho’s coronavirus outbreak, in a region with the nation’s highest per-capita rates of known COVID-19 cases outside of New York City and its surrounding counties. “It felt like a wave going through the ground, so I knew right away what it was. It just felt like waves going through the ground,” he said.  –AP

Mass Animal Deaths

March 26, 2020 – Israel: Adi Moskowitz took to Facebook to post what he called “lots of dead bats” he discovered near the Gan Leumi Park in Ramat Gan on Saturday. The ‘dead bat plague’ was also corroborated several miles away by a resident in the Pardes Katz neighborhood of Bnei Brak who caught the lifeless creature on video. Many of the bats are young and show no signs of trauma. “The phenomenon is extremely rare” explains Nora Lifshitz, founder of the Israeli Bat Society in an exclusive interview with Breaking Israel News.

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The only explanation Lifshitz can offer is that it was the result of the cold weather of the weekend storm. However; she did admit that it was just a theory and that it’s a phenomenon she’s never heard of before. Others are blaming recently installed 5-G technology. This recent occurrence is a small example of a much larger phenomenon that is prophesied to appear as part of the all-encompassing experience at the end-of-days.  –Breaking Israel News

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March 25, 2020 – Blood Red River? A forklift accident Tuesday caused around 400 liters of red ink to spill into Etobicoke Creek in Mississauga, the Region of Peel says. A spokesperson said an employee at a company on Drew Road was operating a forklift when the arms went through two drums of printing ink, which spilled out of the facility and into a catch basin leading to the creek. The region added charges will not be laid as it was an accident, but the company is responsible for clean-up costs, which have not yet been determined. –The Star

March 29, 2020 – Jonesboro, Ark: A major storm moving through the central U.S. brought at least 17 reported tornadoes to parts of the central U.S., eight in Iowa, three in Arkansas, one in Missouri, four in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. In Jonesboro, Arkansas, a violent tornado did damage in the town with six reported injuries. In total there have been at least 190 reports of severe weather in the last 24 hours from the Midwest to the South to the Ohio Valley. The same powerful storm system was responsible for a 90-mph wind gust in Henderson County, Kentucky. The U.S. averages around 80 tornadoes during March with the greatest chances across the southern Gulf Coast.  –ABC News

March 18, 2020 – Salt Lake City, Utah: At approximately 7:09 AM MDT on the morning of March 18, 2020, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, with an epicenter 6 km north-northeast of Magna, Utah. It was the state’s strongest earthquake since the 1992 St. George earthquake, the first major earthquake to occur within the Salt Lake Valley since the city was built, and the only major earthquake to occur near Salt Lake City since 1962, when a 5.0 earthquake struck about 80 miles north-northeast near Richmond.

March 22, 2020 – Croatia: The Croatian capital Zagreb experienced its strongest earthquake in 140 years Sunday March 22, 2020, when a 5.3-magnitude tremor was felt in the city and across the Western Balkans. Buildings were damaged, fires broke out, and multiple people were injured, including a teenager who is reportedly in critical condition, Al Jazeera reports. While the challenge of an earthquake on its own is difficult enough, Zagreb is also dealing — like the rest of the world — with the coronavirus pandemic, which left its citizens in a state of confusion and highlighted the fact that the outbreak doesn’t prevent other crises from arising and could indeed exacerbate seemingly unrelated problems. Initially, Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Božinović told people to remain on the streets out of concern for any aftershocks.

As lock-downs are enforced around across the globe, the world’s most densely-populated cities have become virtual ghost towns. Consequently, as humans disappear, animals are migrating into some of these empty cities in record numbers.

March 30, 2020 – Xichang China: Eighteen firefighters and one forestry guide have died while fighting a huge forest fire in south-western China. State television footage showed flames shooting into the sky from the mountains above the city of Xichang in Sichuan province, turning the sky orange. … Authorities deployed 700 firefighters to the scene.

Super massive swarms of desert locusts have swept across parts of Africa and the Middle East and consumed everything in their path – East Africa is now facing threats of famine.

March 23, 2020 – Iran: Floods from seasonal rains killed 11 people in Iran and left hundreds of people homeless. Video captured by on-lookers show houses and cars being swept away in the deluge.

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