Former Hollywood producer and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for Coronavirus while in prison.  He is now in isolation, according to Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.

Weinstein was found guilty of rape and sexual assault last month and sentenced to 23 years in prison.  His lawyers have vowed to appeal against his conviction. Weinstein is being held at Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo in upstate New York. Two prisoners at the facility tested positive for the virus on Sunday, an officer who did not wish to give his name told Reuters news agency.

Mr Powers told Reuters that several members of staff had been quarantined. He expressed concern for corrections officers who he claims lack proper protective equipment.  A lawyer for Weinstein said his legal team had not been informed of the Coronavirus diagnosis.

Imran Ansari said: "Given Mr Weinstein's state of health, we are of course concerned, if this is the case, and we are vigilantly monitoring the situation."

Before arriving at Wende, Weinstein had spent time at Rikers Island, a prison in New York City and a hospital where he was treated for heart problems and chest pains. Weinstein was found guilty of committing a first-degree criminal sexual act against production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006 and of the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013. New York jurors acquitted him of the most serious charges, of predatory sexual assault, which could have seen him given an even longer jail term. Dozens of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape, against Weinstein since October 201
7. –BBCi


An artist who fled the Nazis during World War Two and made Wales his home, has died. Karel Lek was a child when his Jewish family left Belgium after Hitler invaded in 1940. Mr Lek, who was 90 and lived on Anglesey, had described finding "freedom" in Wales, with the scenery inspiring his work.

His work is contained in many public and private collections, including the National Library of Wales. During an interview with BBC Wales in 2007, he said after experiencing prejudices at school in Belgium, he found freedom in his new home.  Mr Lek's art focused on the scenes he observed around north Wales, frequently sketching couples together and jazz musicians at work. He was educated at Friars Grammar School in Bangor and Liverpool College of Art, before joining the Royal Cambrian Society in 1955 and being made an MBE in 2005. He gave examples of this as busking in a local hospital every week to raise funds.  Jasmine Donahaye, writer and researcher in Welsh Jewish culture, said. Following his death, the National Library of Wales posted a photo of his 1970 painting Parys Mountain that it has in its collection.  It tweeted: "We're saddened to hear of the passing of the artist, Karel Lek, who came to Wales as a refugee and made this country his home." –BBCi



The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United today called on California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials to sharply escalate steps to get immediately personal protective equipment to nurses and other health care workers.

“While the Governor has taken some important steps, including the statewide stay-at-home order, and reopening three closed hospitals, we need to do far more, especially in producing proper personal protective equipment,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of CNA and NNU.

“We hear from scores of nurses every day, across the U.S., and many of them in California. They still do not have access to proper protective masks, such as N95 respirators, and full head-to-toe protective clothing,” said Castillo.

“They fear for their safety, for their patients’ safety, for their family’s safety, and for their co-workers’ safety. If they are not protected and safe, more people will die, and the virus will continue to spread in greater numbers.”

To make matters worse, the California Department of Public Health, which has been underfunding public health budgets for a decade, yesterday informed California hospitals that it is waiving the state's current strong requirements on hospital safety.

This waiver will allow hospitals to sharply lower practices on a wide variety of standards, including personal protective equipment (PPEs) and even safe nurse staffing for patients (nursing ratios).

On PPEs, CDPH cites the much lower, non-mandatory, guidelines suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is allowing hospitals to use vastly inferior materials, such as bandanas, that provide almost no effective protection when patients are highly contagious.

“At a time when nurses are already being told to use makeshift, inferior coverings, see N95 respirators locked up, and even being disciplined when they bring in their own N95s, this is the worst message we can send to hospital employers,” Castillo noted.

“When nurses see that neither public officials, nor their hospitals, are putting much value on their safety, that is a prescription for even further disaster,” warns Castillo, “that will have tragic consequences and do nothing to stop an escalating disaster.”

California should be moving in exactly the opposite direction, said Castillo.

While President Trump has refused to use his authority under the just re-enacted 1950 Defense Production Act to order domestic manufacturers to mass produce personal protective equipment, as well as ventilators and other critical hospital supplies, states should take the steps they can, said Castillo.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will use state funding to pay businesses to mass produce protective equipment for health care workers. “Gov. Newsom should do that as well,” Castillo said.

NNU has surveyed more than 8,200 nurses from all U.S. states and territories. As of March 16, Just 55 percent report have access to N95 respirators, and only 27 percent have access to the highest standard, powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs).

Only 24 percent say their employer has sufficient PPEs on stock to protect staff when the inevitable surge of COVID-19 patients occurs.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest and fastest growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and more than 150,000 RNs nationwide.

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REHOVOT, Israel – A method for monitoring, identifying, and predicting where the coronavirus will spread has attracted considerable international interest. It was initiated and developed by scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science, in collaboration with researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Clalit Health Services and in coordination with Israel’s Ministry of Health. Other governments have now begun to implement the method, which is based on questionnaires for the general public and analysis of the data obtained from them. The questionnaires track the development of virus-induced symptoms, and the analysis relies on Big Data algorithms and artificial intelligence. Viral spread occurs in clusters of infection; thus, early identification of clusters may facilitate various actions aimed at slowing down the spread of the virus.
A method of predicting the coronavirus spread – pioneered and developed by Weizmann Institute scientists – may enable authorities to focus efforts on areas where an outbreak is anticipated and relieve measures taken in others. Several countries, including the United States, are adopting the new method

A pilot project, launched in Israel about one week ago by the Institute’s Profs. Eran Segal and Benjamin Geiger, along with Professor Yuval Dor from the Hebrew University, has received remarkable public response, with some 60,000 Israelis filling out the questionnaires to date. Preliminary data analysis led the scientists to detect a significant increase in symptoms reported by the public in areas where verified patients are known to have visited. This accurate, neighborhood-level mapping may enable the health authorities to concentrate on areas where an outbreak and spread of the virus is predicted – while allowing them to ease measures in areas where an outbreak is not expected.

Together with Professor Ran Balicer of the Clalit Research Institute and other researchers, the scientists have continued developing the method, and recently published an article on the MedRxiv site about it, calling on other countries to implement the technique. Numerous countries, including the U.S., India, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Britain, have started adopting the questionnaire method.

The scientists are currently working to establish a global forum, led by Professor Segal and researchers from the U.S., with the goal of sharing data and insights and building prediction and comparison tools together. It should be noted that the questionnaire does not diagnose coronavirus infection. In addition, the questionnaire is anonymous and all data will be used only for the purpose of monitoring the spread of the virus. The scientists are taking all possible means to maintain respondents’ privacy and information security.Professor Benjamin Geiger’s research is supported by the de Picciotto Cancer Cell Observatory in Memory of Wolfgang and Ruth Lesser, which he heads; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; David and Molly Bloom, Canada; and the European Research Council.

Professor Eran Segal’s research is supported by the Crown Human Genome Center, which he heads; the Larson Charitable Foundation New Scientist Fund; the Else Kroener Fresenius Foundation; the Adelis Foundation; Judith Benattar; Aliza Moussaieff; the Fannie Sherr Fund; the Estate of Zvia Zeroni; and the European Research Council. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions.


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         27 Adar-4 Nisan, 5780                                          March 23-29, 2020 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES -- 632nd Web Ed.