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September 28
1987 - Slender-horned spineflower listed in Federal Register as endangered species [story] Slender-horned spineflower


WASHINGTON — Shortages of lifesaving equipment are plaguing U.S. hospitals and health care facilities grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, but economic relief took priority when President Donald Trump announced Friday that the Department of Education will temporarily waive interest on all federally held student loans.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has instructed federal lenders to waive interest fees on student loans for 60 days.

“If we need more, we’ll extend that,” Trump said Friday during what has become a daily briefing of the White House coronavirus task force.

The president said borrowers should also contact their lenders directly for more information. It is not clear whether the interest waiver on student loans will end any new interest that would accrue. A representative from the department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Trump additionally touted the Education Department’s ending of standardized-testing requirements for students from elementary school to high school through the remainder of the school year.

According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Covid-19 tracker, the confirmed case rate in the United States surpassed 14,000 on Friday, with more than 200 people dead. Worldwide, the death toll has exceeded 10,000 while roughly 247,000 cases have been confirmed by Johns Hopkins.

Having lagged on reporting these numbers for over a week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports lower case rates with just over 10,000 cases recorded and the death count frozen at 150. The CDC also stops reporting at 4 p.m. ET, and culls statistics Monday through Friday only.

Testing availability across the U.S. is still strained, though the capability is slowly increasing. In New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a now-regular morning briefing on the coronavirus that capacity shot up considerably over just 24 hours. The governor had predicted Thursday that New York would be able to test only 6,000 people yet capacity hit 10,000 on Friday morning.

On the nation’s broader testing capability, Dr. Anthony Fauci, virologist and director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke plainly at the White House briefing.

“We’re not there yet because otherwise people would never be calling up and saying they can’t get a test,” he said.

Striking a rosier tone just a moment later, fellow task force member Vice President Mike Pence said Friday he “can’t emphasize enough the incredible progress” that has been made on testing.

On recommendation by Fauci and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, not every American should be tested for COVID-19. If very sick and concerned that you might have it, Fauci said, consult your physician first and determine the next steps.

For now, Fauci said, people should act is if they already have the virus, whether they do or not, and use commonsense recommendations like self-isolating, staying at home and washing hands to stop the spread.

“I don’t see how testing everyone in the country will help,” Fauci said. “Testing is important, but let’s not conflate testing with what you can do to protect against the virus.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday the department has been in contact with public and private labs, as well as health care providers across the U.S., indicating they are in the midst of scaling up on test kits and related supplies.

But the secretary has also said he has heard repeatedly from public and private laboratories and state officials that supply shortages are curtailing their response and testing efforts. He dismissed their general alarm on Friday.

student loans interest Financial data and calculator. | Photo: Dave Dugmore/WMC 2.0.

“Usually lab people do not understand there are alternative supplies they can use,” Azar said before mentioning a recent call he received from a governor panicked about the lack of swabs available in his state.

Azar said the government has ordered 200,000 swabs to be dispersed to companies on the “open market,” but the problem is that state and local officials aren’t heeding federal advice.

“They aren’t listening or checking with us about all the freedom, all the capacities out there,” Azar said. “So sometimes there’s a lab that doesn’t understand how much flexibility they have.”

Eric Blank, senior director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, told the Associated Press on Friday that there is an “acute, serious” shortage of supplies across the globe and across the board.

Blank also told the AP that, with government labs in the U.S. competing for supplies with larger commercial labs both domestically and internationally, if supplies aren’t shored up, they may have to shut down testing within a matter of days.

At a video conference with Trump and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on Thursday, similar concerns over competition were aired when Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham both expressed concern that they will not be able to outbid the federal government for protective equipment.

As to lifesaving equipment like ventilators, Pence said Friday “tens of thousands” were put on order with major companies, though neither he nor President Trump would get into specifics about who was producing them or exactly how soon they would be available.

Manufacturing giant 3M said in a statement Friday that it doubled its global output of N95 masks over the last two months. 3M CEO Mike Roman said that in a typical year, the company produces 1.1 billion masks. Production to confront the pandemic was ramped up to 100 million masks per month since the outbreak began in January.

Trump has underlined repeatedly that it is up to states to develop solutions for supply shortages. In that vein, New York Governor Cuomo got creative Friday when he announced the state would begin offering financial incentives to businesses to make supplies like masks, bibs, uniforms and gloves.

As supplies for medical professionals on the frontlines dwindle, there is still considerable murkiness over whether Trump has officially invoked the Defense Production Act, legislation that allows the federal government to increase supply production during times of great crisis.

“We invoked it the day before, we signed it the evening of the day before and invoked it yesterday,” Trump said. “We have a lot of people working very hard to do ventilators and various other things.”

But during Friday’s briefing, Trump stirred more confusion in suggesting that invoking the act may not be necessary yet, saying that the government has been “besieged in a beautiful way” by companies eager to strike up contracts.

The White House did not return multiple requests for comment. According to a White House readout of a call between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Trump, Schumer urged the president early this morning to immediately invoke the law to get ventilators and other important equipment to those who need it.

Trump said he would and then, according to the readout, “yelled to someone in his office to do it now.”

While states like California and New York issue strict restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19, Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced Friday that nonessential travel over the U.S.-Mexico border will be stopped.

“We want to make sure cargo continues, trade continues, healthcare workers continue and are able to traverse that border,” Wolf said. “But tourism, some recreational activities need to stop during the crisis.”

Designs for a broader national lockdown are still unclear, though the White House has indicated such restrictions will largely be left to states to determine. Trump approved Friday of Cuomo’s decision to order 100% stoppage to all nonessential work.

The decision to close the border was reached mutually by the U.S., Mexico and Canada, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.

Pompeo also raised travel advisories for Americans, recommending that U.S. citizens should avoid international travel and if already abroad, make arrangements to return home immediately unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an extended period of time.

— By Brandi Buchman, CNS

* * * * *

Always check with trusted sources such as those below for the latest accurate information about novel coronavirus COVID-19:

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

World Health Organization

City of Santa Clarita

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital

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SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Monday, Sep 28, 2020
Monday, Sep 28, 2020
‘Martindale’ Brush Fire in Bouquet Canyon, Visible from SCV, Threatens Strctures
Smoke from a brush fire dubbed the Martindale Fire in Bouquet Canyon near the Bouquet Reservoir was visible from areas in the Santa Clarita Valley shortly after the blaze broke out Monday afternoon, quickly burning 200 acres and threatening structures.
Monday, Sep 28, 2020
World Marks Grim Milestone: 1 Million COVID-19 Deaths
The global COVID-19 death toll surpassed 1 million Monday afternoon, a grim milestone in a pandemic that caught much of the world unprepared for a health crisis and left economies reeling, convulsed politics and fundamentally altered the world.
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Smoke from a brush fire dubbed the Martindale Fire in Bouquet Canyon near the Bouquet Reservoir was visible from areas in the Santa Clarita Valley shortly after the blaze broke out Monday afternoon, quickly burning 200 acres and threatening structures.
‘Martindale’ Brush Fire in Bouquet Canyon, Visible from SCV, Threatens Strctures
The global COVID-19 death toll surpassed 1 million Monday afternoon, a grim milestone in a pandemic that caught much of the world unprepared for a health crisis and left economies reeling, convulsed politics and fundamentally altered the world.
World Marks Grim Milestone: 1 Million COVID-19 Deaths
SCV Water invites the community to a virtual ribbon-cutting on Monday, Oct. 5 at 10 a.m., celebrating the completion of a new water treatment plant.
Oct. 5: SCV Water Treatment Plant Virtual Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Newhall resident Daniel Bradley, a Vietnam veteran and Gold Star son, had the chance to fly to Washington, D.C., to attend a reception at the White House Sunday to honor Gold Star families and their loved ones who’ve died in service.
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The city of Santa Clarita’s Film Office reports a busy slate of production activity in the Santa Clarita Valley this week, September 28-October 4.
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The Los Angeles County Health Officer has extended the current extreme heat warning for the Santa Clarita Valley through Saturday evening.
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The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce on Monday announced the launch of a forum for small business owners -- the Small Business Roundtable.
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Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, advocating for the thousands of constituents still in the queue waiting for their unemployment benefits, is urging Governor Gavin Newsom to rethink a two-week pause on new EDD claims.
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William S. Hart Union High School District officials announced Sunday Santa Clarita Valley public junior highs and high schools will not reopen in October, pushing the potential timeline for partial reopening to Nov. 13.
Hart District Won’t Reopen Schools in October
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a series of bills into law Saturday, strengthening protections for LGBTQ+ Californians.
Newsom Signs Bills Strengthening LGBTQ+ Protections
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1987 - Slender-horned spineflower listed in Federal Register as endangered species [story] Slender-horned spineflower
2014 - Towsley Canyon Loop Trail named for naturalist Don Mullally [story]
Don Mullally
1876 - California oil industry born as CSO No. 4 in Pico Canyon becomes state's first commercially productive oil well [story]
Pico No. 4
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Friday 34 new deaths and 1,401 new cases of COVID-19, with 6,048 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley, while Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital reported its 24th COVID-related death to date.
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Air quality in the Santa Clarita Valley will be unhealthy for sensitive groups/individuals Saturday, Sept. 26, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) forecast.
Air Quality Advisory Issued for SCV
With temperatures in parts of Los Angeles County expected to rise into the triple digits, various public facilities located throughout the County, including Stevenson Ranch Library, will serve as Emergency Cooling Centers.
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The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission will hold a virtual study session via Zoom, Thursday, Oct 1, at 4:00 p.m.
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Foster youth in Santa Clarita have a new, dedicated place to study and receive homework help and tutoring. The local Fostering Youth Independence (FYI) organization has created The Study Place in response to the transition to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
FYI Debuts New ‘Study Place’ for Local Foster Youth to Support Online Learning
As part of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s Education to End Hate initiative, California school districts and charter schools have begun applying for mini-grants now available to support educator training in the areas of anti-racism and bias.
Thurmond Announces Mini Grants Available to Provide Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Educator Training
A crash involving multiple motorcycles Friday afternoon prompted a SigAlert on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 in the Stevenson Ranch area, according to first responders.
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With the 2020 SCV Walk to End Alzheimer’s quickly approaching on Saturday, October 3, the planning committee and the California Southland Chapter Alzheimer’s Association would like to update everyone regarding the Walk Day events.
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