NG Advantage LLC,by Tim McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Clean Energy Fuels Corp of California (Nasdaq: CLNE) and NG Advantage LLC of Milton, Vermont, today announced an agreement to construct a new compressed natural gas (CNG) compression facility in Pembroke, NH, just outside Concord. The facility will allow NG Advantage to expand its reach in providing CNG to manufacturing and other energy-intensive customers located away from the nation’s natural gas pipeline throughout New England and Eastern New York. Once operational, the facility will more than double the capacity of NG Advantage.Tom Evslin, co-founder of NG Advantage with his wife Mary, said that the Milton facility that opened only in March was already near capacity. He said the agreement with Clean Energy allows them to expand capacity in northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Upstate New York, but that it also provides redundancy in the system. Clean Energy is essentially a natural gas filling station, mostly for fleets. Evslin said that there is not a market for that service yet in the Concord area, so while it develops, NG will be its principal customer.”It’s a very nice synergy,” Evslin said.The capacity at the New Hampshire facility is enough to run six or seven factories, Evslin said. Instead of spending the equivalent of $30-35 million in fuel oil, those customers will not only save about 30 percent on their energy costs, but they will reduce their carbon emissions by using natural gas instead of oil.Designed, constructed and operated by Clean Energy, the facility is intended to provide a minimum of 10 million gasoline-gallons-equivalent of CNG per year. NG Advantage has committed to purchase that volume of fuel for the duration of the 10-year agreement. This potentially represents more than double the CNG fuel volume supplied by Clean Energy’s highest-volume CNG station. ‘America’s transportation sector has realized tremendous economic and environmental rewards by switching to CNG,’said Mark Riley, Clean Energy regional vice president. ‘Our partnership with NG Advantage is expected to allow our two companies to bring these same advantages to America’s manufacturers who are located beyond the reach of our nation’s natural gas network.”The new facility will enable NG Advantage’s expanded customer base to use natural gas, which reduces carbon-dioxide emissions in manufacturing applications by up to 26 percent and is currently over 30 percent cheaper than propane or oil alternatives. ‘Reducing energy costs and improving environmental impact is critical for American manufacturers to remain competitive in the global marketplace,’said Neale Lunderville, CEO of NG Advantage. ‘Clean Energy is the perfect partner for us to serve our customers beyond the pipeline with cleaner, cheaper and abundant American natural gas.’Evslin said NG will continue took look for expansion opportunities, either in building its own facilities or working in partnership with companies like Clean Energy. He said they are looking at the Albany, NY, area. What NG seeks are regions with an unmet need for natural gas. For instance, the natural gas line that runs north from Massachusetts terminates in Concord, NH, making it ideal for a CNG facility.”This is a great time to go very quickly and meet unfilled demand,” he said.As new sites are developed, customers will save even more money because NG’s trucking costs will be reduced. One of NG’s first customers was Putney Paper, more than two hours from Milton. The Pembroke facility is not substantially closer, but it does allow NG to use different facilities as customer demand requires, while it allows flexibility in service to avoid problems like highway construction.”Our focus is always on expanding the service and enhancing our customer service,” Evslin said.The groundbreaking for the New Hampshire site is expected in September, pending permit approvals, Evslin said.It will be larger than the Vermont plant — 2.5 billion cubic feet versus 1.5 billion cubic feet. The limitation is how much Vermont Gas Systems can supply to Milton. Evslin said if VGS is able to expand its pipeline to Addison County and as far as Ticonderoga, NY, the capacity of the line coming down from Canada could be increased, which would benefit NG.About Clean Energy Fuels CorpClean Energy Fuels Corp. (Nasdaq: CLNE) is the largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America. We build and operate compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling stations; manufacture CNG and LNG equipment and technologies for ourselves and other companies and develop renewable natural gas (RNG) production facilities. For more information, visit www.cleanenergyfuels.com(link is external).About NG Advantage LLCNG Advantage LLC is the leading provider of compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel to enterprise customers located beyond the nation’s natural gas pipeline through New England and Eastern New York. NG Advantage delivers CNG via tanker truck in real time to its growing base of large industrial, commercial, and institutional customers. Source: NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 6, 2013) ‘Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (Nasdaq: CLNE) and NG Advantage LLC www.ngadvantage.com(link is external).
University of Vermont,Vermont Business Magazine According to a new US Department of Agriculture-funded study(link is external), lack of access to affordable health insurance is one of the most significant concerns facing American farmers, an overlooked risk factor that affects their ability to run a successful enterprise.“The rising cost of healthcare and the availability of affordable health insurance have joined more traditional risk factors like access to capital, credit and land as a major source of worry for farmers,” said principal investigator Shoshanah Inwood, a rural sociologist at The University of Vermont, who conducted the study with colleagues at the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC(link is external) at the University of Chicago. “The study found that health-related costs are a cross-sector risk for agriculture, tied to farm risk management, productivity, health, retirement, the need for off-farm income and land access for young and beginning farmers,” said Alana Knudson, co-director of the NORC Walsh Center.Study results were based on a March 2017 mail survey of farmers and ranchers in 10 study states and interviews with farm families in each of the study states in 2016.Three of four farmers and ranchers (73 percent) in the survey said that having affordable health insurance was an important or very important means of reducing their business risk. And just over half (52 percent) are not confident they could pay the costs of a major illness such as a heart attack, cancer or loss of limb without going into debt. Insights from the interviews supported the survey results. “During the course of interviews with farmers, many relayed stories about their family members or neighbors who had lost their farms or dairies due to catastrophic illness or injury when they were uninsured,” Knudson said. Sixty-four percent report having pre-existing conditionsTo meet the needs of farmers, changes in current health insurance law will need to be carefully considered, the survey suggests.Two out of three farmers and ranchers (64 percent) reported having a pre-existing health condition. With an average age of 58, farmers and ranchers are also vulnerable to higher insurance premiums due to age-rating bands. And among farmers and ranchers 18 to 64 years old, one out of four (24 percent) purchased a plan in their state’s insurance marketplace.“A number of farmers in their 50s we spoke with said they had left off-farm employment in the last five years to commit to full-time farming because they and their families would not be denied health insurance in the individual market due to pre-existing conditions,” Knudson said.Health insurance costs create barriers for young and beginning farmersHealth care costs also factor into farm succession issues, potentially denying young people access to land to farm.Almost half (45 percent) of the farmers surveyed said they’re concerned they will have to sell some or all of their farm or ranch assets to address health related costs such as long-term care, nursing home or in-home health assistance.“These findings indicated that many farmers will need to sell their land, their most valuable asset, to the highest bidder when they need cash to cover health-related costs,” Inwood said, “making it more difficult for young farmers to afford land and increasing the likelihood farmland is sold for commercial development.”Lack of access to affordable health insurance could potentially drive young people away from farming, the research found. Young farmers who had taken advantage of the Medicaid expansion in their states told the researchers in interviews that it allowed them to provide health insurance for their children and have time and energy to invest in the farm or ranch rather than having to seek a full-time off-farm or ranch job with benefits.Most farm families have health insurance, over half through public sector employmentThe vast majority of farmers and ranchers (92 percent) reported that they and their families had health insurance in 2016 but that it frequently came from off-farm employment.Over half (59 percent) of farm and ranch families received benefits through public sector employers (health, education and government).“Public sector jobs, especially in rural areas often offer the highest wages and most generous benefits,” Inwood said. “Changes in public and private sector employment options or benefits affect the financial stability and social well-being of farm families with impacts reverberating through rural communities.”Nearly three quarters say USDA should represent farmer interestsGiven the pressing nature of their health insurance concerns, farmers are also seeking help from the federal government. Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of farmers said USDA should represent farmers’ needs in national health policy discussions, particularly due to unique health needs of farmers and farm workers (e.g., coverage for blood tests to examine potential pesticide exposures).The timing is right, Inwood said, as the five-year update of the U.S. Farm Bill is due in 2018. The comprehensive Farm Bill deals with agriculture and all other issues under the jurisdiction of the USDA.“We have a shrinking and aging farm population,” Inwood said. “The next Farm Bill is an opportunity to start thinking about how health insurance affects the trajectory of farms in the United States.”Nothing is more important to the country’s food system than the viability of the farm sector, she said.“It’s a matter of national security,” she said. For the study, a total of 1,062 farmers and ranchers were surveyed in March 2017 in Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska, Mississippi, Kentucky, Washington, Utah and California. Study states were selected in each of the four Census regions and included a mix of those that had expanded or not expanded Medicaid. The study results were also based on interviews of up to 10 families in each of the study states.The study was funded with a $500,000 grant from the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) as part of a National Institute of Food and Agriculture initiative designed to increase prosperity in rural America.Source: UVM 7.19.2017. Photo by Paul Boisvert
Ni Hao Fresh is opening in late November or early December at 6029 Metcalf Ave., Mission.The culinary force behind Bo Ling’s Chinese Restaurant is bringing poké and stir fry concepts in a fast casual setting to Mission.Shawnee Mission area businessman Edward Mitchell has partnered with the Ng family to create Ni Hao Fresh, a spinoff of the Bo Ling’s restaurant business, complete with their own recipes of fresh ingredients made from scratch. Some of the dishes will be similar to Bo Ling’s menu items, while others will be unique to Ni Hao Fresh.“We’ve discussed as a group which direction to go, and we’ve tried a lot of recipes and tweaked them,” Mitchell said. “It’s actually a really fun process to create some of these items from scratch.”The new restaurant, at 6029 Metcalf Avenue, is expected to open in late November or early December.Customers will be able to pick and choose their ingredients to build their own stir fry and poké — “deconstructed sushi bowls” — from a variety of freshly made ingredients and watch as their customized dishes are cooked in front of them. The restaurant will also have gluten-free options; all menu items will “cover the gamut” in price, Mitchell said of the restaurant, which will offer both dine-in and carry-out service.Ni Hao Fresh will serve poke bowls and stir fry. Photo by Ni Hao FreshMitchell said the inspiration behind Ni Hao Fresh came from Raymond Ng and Rebecca Clark, whose parents Richard and Theresa Ng founded Bo Ling’s Chinese Restaurant. Also involved are Rebecca’s husband, James Clark, and Raymond’s wife, Momoko.“What we’re trying to do is have the same style as poké, except we want to do an Asian fusion concept of that,” said James Clark, citing plans for unlimited toppings, a variety of proteins and “free” options for dietary restrictions.As an old friend of the family, Mitchell joined the business with years of experience working in and operating various businesses, including a family business importing seasonal decorations and other retail in the metro area. Mitchell’s Chinese heritage combined with a lifelong friendship with the Ng family just made sense for him to be a part of this new venture.“It actually got pretty boring,” Mitchell said of his other businesses, adding that his wife, a oncologist, wanted to discourage him from owning a fast food chain restaurant.James Clark said he, Rebecca, Raymond and Momoko had also been wanting to start a fast casual spinoff of Bo Ling’s for quite some time.“This is kind of a new thing for the four of us because we’ve worked for their parents for so long; we haven’t quite had the opportunity to own a restaurant,” he said. “We’re all excited to get in there, learn and see how it goes.”
Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA) announced the addition of three new value-priced, 4K 3840×2160 interactive whiteboards to the AQUOS BOARD display line.The new 70″ class (69 ½” diagonal) PN-CE701H, 75″ class (74 ½” diagonal) PN-C751H and 86″ class (85 9/16″ diagonal) PN-C861H interactive displays are integrated with most of the standard features of the rest of the AQUOS BOARD line, plus some advanced features to make lectures, presentations or lessons more creative, according to Sharp.Ultra HD 4K resolution allows instructors to grab students’ attention by capturing still and video images, as well as small text and complex graphics. Additionally, wireless connectivity eliminates the need for tangled wires or adapters. Simply touching the screen allows a portable Windows or Android device to immediately download an app that lets it send images wirelessly to the monitor. Front-facing inputs also add connectivity convenience. A built-in whiteboard and whiteboard launcher allow for instant note taking and drawing with a single tap. An overlay function allows instructors to annotate photos and videos directly on the screen to save and share.All three PN-C series AQUOS BOARD displays are now available now here.
Report urges reform of the state’s mental health system Report urges reform of the state’s mental health system December 1, 2007 Senior Editor Regular News Courts and jails are ill-equipped to be mental health providers Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Florida’s system of warehousing the mentally ill behind bars is insane.That was the stark conclusion of a 170-page study report initiated by Chief Justice Fred Lewis.When 11th Circuit Judge Steve Leifman asked Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth how to reform Florida’s dysfunctional mental health system, Butterworth had some terse advice: “Just fix the damn thing.”Leifman is the special advisor to the Supreme Court on mental health issues, and chairs the Mental Health Subcommittee of the Steering Committee on Family and Children in the Court. On November 14, at a public ceremony at the Supreme Court, the subcommittee unveiled its plan to carry out Butterworth’s advice.In attendance were Gov. Charlie Crist, justices, judges, several state agency department heads including Butterworth, mental health experts, and others from around the state. What they pledged was a cooperative and collaborative effort to carry out the recommendations of Leifman’s subcommittee. That calls for nothing less than — over the next six years — revamping the state’s public mental health system to provide effective and measurable treatment for the mentally ill. It would also relieve Florida’s courts and law enforcement agencies from a task they have always said they were ill-equipped to handle — being the mental health provider of last resort for many residents who, because of a lack of effective treatment, find themselves involved over and over again in the criminal justice system, frequently for minor infractions. “It’s important to understand that there for the grace of God go I,” Crist said in pledging his administration’s support for the effort.Addressing Lewis, he added, “We want to do everything we can, chief, from the administration’s point of view to be as significant a partner as you will.” As for the others who worked on drawing up the program, “Your compassion, your heart, your desire, your labor make all the difference in the world. The willing heart that you have makes all of the difference in their [patients’] world,” Crist said. “This is a bold attempt to address an issue that for so long has not been addressed,” Lewis said. “We ought to be about cooperation, we ought to be about collaboration, and we ought to be about the business of the common good and working together.. . . “None of the substance of this report can be implemented by any single branch of state government. We need all three branches involved, and I am so proud to see how well the leadership has responded.”The effort stems from a crisis last year when courts ordered Butterworth’s predecessor to find space in treatment facilities for mentally ill inmates in county jails found incompetent to stand trial, as provided under state law. But citing a lack of funding the then-DCF chief refused, leading to a showdown and a threat by a judge to jail the secretary for contempt.At the court ceremony, Butterworth told those gathered that when Crist contacted him after the 2006 elections about becoming DCF secretary, the then governor-elect relayed that the first thing he wanted done was to find a solution to the treatment bed problem.At the same time, Lewis, concerned about problems the mentally ill were creating for the criminal justice system, began an effort to see what could be done. Leifman was appointed to his post, the subcommittee was formed, Crist pledged cooperation with the effort, and even state legislators came on board to help draw up the plans.At the November 14 event, Crist and Lewis were followed by Butterworth, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, Department of Corrections Secretary James McDonough, and Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Walt McNeil, Leifman, and others.Their message was a variation on the theme that Florida’s mental health system does little to help those with mental illnesses, particularly those who come into contact with the courts.Butterworth noted the first issue he had to deal with — finding “forensic” beds for those who have been determined to be incompetent to stand trial — is a prime example of the problems.“What we’re paying for now is 1,700 forensic beds at a cost of $250 million,” Butterworth said. “In the next few years, that cost, by adding more people into the system, will be a half a billion.”The result is there is little money left over for the 125,000 other people with severe mental health problems who are arrested and booked into Florida’s jails annually, for treatment of mentally ill inmates, or treatment of mentally ill inmates after they are released.“If we can work together, the executive branch, the judicial, and the legislative. . . on the front end, we would not have to use those useless dollars, so many dollars for such an issue that we should address early on,” Butterworth said.Agwunobi looked at the problem from a different slant. “If you have someone who is really sick in the hospital and it gets to the point you can send them home but they’re not quite totally well, if you don’t send them to a supportive community, with a well-case managed, well-supported integrated system to support them, what happens is they get readmitted to the hospital. In fact, we consider readmission rates within a certain period of time as a sign of bad quality,” he said.Yet that is exactly what Florida does.“In the mental health and the correctional system, if someone is sent out or discharged from the prison or correctional system, and they still have mental problems, what happens?” Agwunobi said. “They wind up being readmitted soon.“Because of the nature of their illness, many of these people cannot seek services when they are not given them in a direct fashion. It’s really about disease management and case management.”McNeil said 65 percent of those in the juvenile justice system have mental health issues, and Leifman added more than half of those also have substance abuse problems.Second Circuit Judge Nikki Clark, chair of the Steering Committee on Family and Children in the Court, reported that 40 percent of the children in the state’s foster care system have emotional disturbances and the third leading cause of death in Florida for those ages 15 to 24 is suicide.Studies show that at least 80 percent of girls in the delinquency system have been molested, Clark said, adding, “We don’t have the number for the boys, but we think it is high.“If we don’t help them, they will become the future abusers and molesters,” she said.McDonough said 17,000 of state prison inmates, about 17 percent, have mental health problems, and that number is expected to rise to 35,000 in the next few years. He added that for women inmates, the figure is 50 percent. (Another 15,000 people with mental illness are in county jails on a typical day, and 40,000 are under correctional supervision in the community.)Leifman said studies also show that almost 100 percent of the women in jails and prisons with mental health issues were sexually abused as children, yet there is no treatment when they are released.Several speakers noted that as states turned away from institutionalizing those with severe mental illnesses, the number of mentally ill in prisons and jails began to correspondingly rise. That was largely because community mental health treatment programs that were supposed to take over for the institutions either never materialized or were underfunded.That left Florida — and the rest of the nation — where it was 200 years ago with the mentally ill warehoused in jails and prisons with little or no effective treatment.The challenge faced by Leifman and his subcommittee was to design a system to reverse more than 30 years of failure in mental health treatment, and do it at a time with the state facing exceptionally tight financial strictures.The plan calls for a new approach, using community-based treatment providers who are overseen by a state committee to ensure treatment is effective, uses modern methods, and prevents criminal recidivism.Leifman said the legislature will be asked for about $20 million in seed money. That will allow the state to transfer about 300 people in the forensic mental health system to alternative treatment, which in turn will save about $48 million the first year. That $48 million can be combined with Medicaid money under new federal guidelines that allow more flexibility in using Medicaid dollars for mental health treatment, Leifman said. Medicaid will pick up 60 percent of the costs for community treatment, versus nothing for those who are incarcerated.The Agency for Health Care Administration divides the state, for the purpose of administering its programs, into 11 districts and Leifman said the new approach will initially be tried in three of those districts. The most likely candidates, he said, are Miami-Dade and Broward counties, plus one other area of the state. If the program works, additional four districts will be added in two years, and the final four in four years with full implementation in six years.The plan is proving attractive to state legislators, Leifman said, because it is a positive alternative to just spending $250 million for more forensic treatment. Effective front-end treatment could reduce some of the staggering costs on prisons and jails when they are forced to warehouse the mentally ill.Leifman estimated the plan will help the 25,000 to 50,000 Florida residents with the most serious problems, adding it will be aimed both at those in the criminal justice system and those deemed most likely to become involved without such treatment.One political plus, Leifman and others noted, is the plan has the strong support of sheriffs and others in law enforcement who see effective treatment as a way to reduce the burden on jails.Leifman said the initial reaction from legislators has been positive. Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, served on his subcommittee. He said Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, has expressed interest in the proposal as an alternative to expensive budget increases for forensic treatment, and the proposal will be presented to a Senate committee in December.The next step is to move toward implementation, Leifman said.“We must embrace this. We must move forward,” Chief Justice Lewis said, as he adjourned the meeting. “The engine has started to move. The wheels are spinning. It’s time for it to take traction.”(The report is available on the court’s Web site: www.floridasupremecourt.org.)
Rombough earns third All-American honorsNovember 24, 2008Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintMinnesota menâÄôs cross country coach Steve Placensia said he could tell when he looked in Chris RomboughâÄôs eyes that the senior was ready to go Monday at the NCAA championship in Terre Haute, Ind. âÄúIt was a special race [for Rombough], being his last one,âÄù Placensia said. âÄúHe got after it.âÄù The 6-foot, 150-pounder became the first athlete in school history to earn All-American honors three times with a 17th-place finish in his last national competition. The senior crossed the finish line of the 10-kilometer race in a time of 29:54.4 to pace the Gophers, but couldnâÄôt bring the team into the top 10. âÄúTo me it looked like we just didnâÄôt have a lot of snap,âÄù Placensia said. Instead the Gophers finished 15th in the 31-team field and combined for 385 points. Sophomore Hassan Mead , who could surpass RomboughâÄôs All-American mark one day, finished 31st and earned his second All-American honor in as many years. Sophomore Ben Blankenship finished the day in 100th, and juniors Matt Barrett and Mike McFarland rounded out the Gophers scoring with finishes of 160 and 171, respectively. According to Placensia, the Gophers burned themselves out nine days ago at the NCAA Midwest Region championships, where the Gophers locked in an automatic bid to yesterdayâÄôs race with a second-place finish. âÄúSome guys have the ability to take a chance and sit a few guys [at the Regions],âÄù Placensia said. âÄúWe donâÄôt have the depth to do that at this time.âÄù Galen Rupp, a senior from Oregon, took the individual honors in a time of 29:03.2. Rupp and the Ducks also claimed the team title with 93 points âÄî the only team to finish under 100. Women finish in 11th A 32nd-place, All-American performance by junior Megan Duwell highlighted MondayâÄôs NCAA championship for Minnesota womenâÄôs cross country team as the Gophers finished in 11th place and extended their streak of consecutive top-12 finishes to four years. âÄúI am excited about extending that top-12 streak,âÄù Gophers coach Gary Wilson said in a statement. âÄúI donâÄôt think anyone realizes how difficult that is and what a great accomplishment for our program it is.âÄù Duwell paced Minnesota by finishing the six-kilometer course in 20:36.5 âÄî the third fastest time a Minnesota runner has ever posted at the NCAA championship and the sixth-fastest time in school history. Senior Gabriele Anderson (49th) missed All-American honors by six seconds, while junior Amy Laskowske (94th), junior Mallory Van Ness (116th) and junior Heather Dorniden (135th) rounded out the Gophers scoring. Texas Tech senior Sally Kipyego became the first woman and just the third athlete to win three NCAA cross country titles with her time of 19:28.1. âÄúItâÄôs an amazing feeling. I am absolutely happy for just being able to come here and win three in a row. ItâÄôs a blessing to me. ItâÄôs one opportunity that you just donâÄôt get every day,âÄù Kipyego said in a team release. No. 1 Washington claimed the team title with 79 points.
CDC: Flu vaccine uptake increased in recent yearsThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today published a broad look at flu vaccine coverage patterns over five recent seasons—based on an analysis of eight different surveillance tools—that showed significant gains in both kids and adults. Coverage levels for all age and risk groups, however, are well below the Healthy People (HP) 2020 goal of 70% for children and adults and 90% for healthcare providers.According to the report, the tools the CDC uses to gauge flu vaccine uptake range from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which is designed to track progress on HP 2020 goals, to Internet panel surveys. The analysis, in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), includes data from the 2007-08 to 2011-12 seasons.For children, coverage rose significantly over the five seasons, from 31.1% in 2007-08 to 56.7% in 2011-12 as measured by NHISFor adults, flu vaccine coverage remained low but increased slightly, from 33.0% in 2007-08 to 38.3% in 2011-12 as measured by NHIS. Among adults, seniors had the highest vaccination levels—69.4% in 2011-12 according to NHIS data.Coverage declined by age in kids but rose by age in adults. Coverage varied by state for both adults and children.The investigators found that uptake in health providers is increasing but, at 62% in 2011-12, is still well below targets. Likewise, vaccination in pregnant women is on the rise, but only about half receive the flu shot.The authors say that the results point to a need for more strategies to improve flu vaccine coverage, such as expanding the use of standing orders and increasing awareness in public health officials of the strengths and limitations of various methods used to gauge uptake.Oct 25 MMWR report Study: Uncommon H5N1 mutations may transmit in mammalsA study assessing H5N1 avian flu mutations as the virus spreads in ferrets found that mutations that were present in as few as 5.9% of the viruses infecting one ferret could be transmitted to another, according to data published this week in Nature Communications.US and Japanese researchers, including Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin, used data from transmission studies already conducted by Kawaoka in 2011 on engineered H5N1 strains. Publication of that controversial work was originally halted but later allowed by US biosecurity experts.The team used deep sequencing to identify genetic mutations that happened as the virus replicated in and transmitted between ferrets. They found that during transmission natural selection acts strongly on hemagglutinin (HA), the protein the virus uses to attach to host cells.They found that within-host genetic diversity in HA increases during replication but is dramatically reduced upon transmission via respiratory droplets—to only one or two distinct HA segments, a small portion of the viral genome.However, the discovery that mutations present in only 5.9% of the viruses infecting one ferret could be transmitted to another suggests that even rare mutations could be transmitted if they have an evolutionary advantage, according to a Science Daily story on the study.”Fully avian viruses may act differently in nature,” said lead author Thomas Friedrich, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin. “But the data suggest to us that it wouldn’t take many viruses from a chicken to infect a person, if the right mutations were there—even if they were a tiny minority of the overall virus population.”Oct 23 Nature Comm abstract Oct 23 Science Daily story H7N2 strikes another farm in New South WalesAn H7N2 strain of avian flu has killed 620 chickens on a farm in New South Wales, Australia, that houses 55,000 layer hens near where an outbreak occurred last week, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).The farm listed in today’s report was under surveillance because of the previous H7N2 outbreak, which the OIE confirmed on Oct 16. It houses caged layer hens 45 to 84 weeks old. Authorities will cull the remainder of the flock and disinfect the property to prevent further disease spread, the report said.Last week’s outbreak killed 18,000 of 435,000 chickens on a separate farm, and the remaining birds were subsequently culled, the OIE said.Oct 25 OIE report Oct 16 CIDRAP News Scan on previous outbreak
As the Ebola outbreak winds down in West Africa, with no cases reported again last week, researchers today reported new findings about complications in survivors and about clinical trial findings for one of the candidate vaccines, ChAd3.Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in its weekly update that no new cases have been reported from the outbreak region, keeping Guinea on track for being declared free of the disease on Dec 28 and Liberia on course for its anticipated Ebola-free date of Jan 14. Sierra Leone reached the end of Ebola transmission on Nov 7.In its overview, the WHO said outbreak totals are at 28,601 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases, along with 11,300 deaths.Large survivor study included detailed work-upsIn the largest study of survivors so far, a Canadian-led research team reported on 227 individuals who were treated at a specialized clinic in Sierra Leone’s Port Loko district, which was one of the hot spots during the outbreak. The group published its findings yesterday in Lancet Infectious Diseases.The clinic has provided care for 603 of Port Loko’s 661 Ebola survivors. The investigators looked at clinical and lab records from consecutive patients assessed at the clinic between Mar 7 and Apr 24. The team noted that their study is the largest so far to examine the after-effects of the disease.Each patient received a clinical evaluation that included visual acuity and slit-lamp examination. Those who had eye problems also underwent dilated fundoscopic assessment.They found that the most common conditions were joint pain (76%), new vision problems (60%), eye inflammation (18%), and hearing problems (24%). The median time between discharge from an Ebola treatment center to seeking care at the survivor clinic was 122 days.Higher Ebola viral load during acute illness was independently associated with uveitis. The researchers said the findings were similar to those of other studies but provide a more detailed look at the eye problems, which clinicians suspect are related to persistent virus in immune-protected areas or perhaps some other immune-mediated mechanism.They also said urgent eye-care services are needed for survivors and should be part of efforts to strengthen the healthcare system in West Africa in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. Researchers observed that there are only two ophthalmologists and eight mid-level ophthalmological providers in Sierra Leone’s National Eye Health Program.In a related commentary in the same issue, Luke Hunt, MBChB, and Victoria Knott, PhD, both with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, wrote that the findings yield useful information for clinicians and service providers and support early specialized treatment for survivors.They said the findings focus attention on uncertainties about the etiology of post-Ebola uveitis, which is seen in almost a fifth of patients. More research on the mechanisms is needed to guide clinical care, the two wrote.Vaccine trial showed antibody response 6 months outThe vaccine study describes findings from a phase 1/2a clinical trial conducted in Switzerland between October 2014 and June 2015. Volunteers were divided into two groups: those who might be deployed to outbreak areas (18 subjects) and those not deployed (102 volunteers).The potentially deployed group received a single intramuscular dose of either high-dose (5 x 1010 viral particles) or low-dose (2.5 x 1010 viral particles) vaccine, whereas the other group received one of the vaccine doses or a placebo.ChAd3, which uses a modified chimpanzee adenovirus vector to deliver the Ebola virus glycoprotein, was developed by the National Institutes of Health and Glaxo Smith Kline. It is one of two Ebola candidate vaccines furthest along in clinical trials in West Africa’s outbreak region. The other, VSV-EBOV, has already shown high effectiveness and is being used in ring-vaccination strategies in all three of the outbreak countries.The trial is similar to an earlier study on the vaccine but looked at outcomes further out—at 6 months.The researchers found antibody response rates of 96% in both dosage groups, with antibodies still significantly present at 6 months. However, cell-mediated immunity was lower, ranging between 57% to 69% depending on cell type. The vaccine was safe and well tolerated, though mild to moderate systemic events were reported.The authors concluded that safety and immunity profiles for the two dose levels weren’t much different, which they said should pave the way for phase 2 and phase 3 efficacy trials in West Africa.In a related commentary, Darryl Falzarano, PhD, with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization–International Vaccine Centre, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, wrote that a range of vaccine options are useful for managing the Ebola threat. He said ring vaccination plays an important role but may not be as efficient as vaccinating specific populations, such as healthcare workers, before an outbreak.Falzarono said the ChAd3 adds another tool for controlling future outbreaks, but he questioned whether decisions on strategies and interventions will be made only after another outbreak starts.”The next time we face an Ebola outbreak (at least of the Zaire species) there should be something more to offer than isolation, contact tracing, and safe burials, which nevertheless will remain crucial components of outbreak response,” he wrote.See also:Dec 22 Lancet Infect Dis Ebola survivors study abstractDec 22 Lancet Infect Dis commentary extractDec 22 Lancet Infect Dis Ebola vaccine study abstractDec 22 Lancet Infect Dis commentary extractDec 23 WHO Ebola situation update
CARDONE Industries has named Michael Cardone III as the executive chairman of its board of directors. The company also announced the addition of two new board members: Dena Moore and Bill Strahan.AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisementCardone III is an owner of CARDONE Industries and serves on the company’s board. He also has served in executive leadership roles with CARDONE, including as president, since 1998. As executive chairman, he will focus on CARDONE’s long-term growth strategies, including acquisition activity and the company’s footprint and real estate holdings. He also will be responsible for managing the board of directors and its processes.Michael Cardone Jr., CARDONE founding owner and board member,r said, “I am so proud to see my son take the role of executive chairman. As a third-generation family owner, Michael is well-attuned to our rapidly changing industry and understands what our company needs to do to be successful. I am confident in his leadership of our board of directors.”“Our company is positioning itself well for growth in the years ahead,” said Michael Cardone III. “I couldn’t be more excited to take on this role right now. I look forward to leading our board and tapping into the vast amounts of experience and wisdom they have to offer. I am also very happy to welcome Dena Moore and Bill Strahan as new members of our board, and I look forward to their new perspectives and guidance.”AdvertisementMoore spent 20 years as a senior merger and acquisition investment banker and as chief operating officer for Harris Williams & Co., now a subsidiary of PNC Financial Services Group. Today, as the founder of DFM Advisory LLC, she works primarily with entrepreneurs to provide strategic and operational consulting services.Strahan is executive vice president of human resources for Comcast Cable.Cardone III also serves on the board of MERA – The Remanufacturing Association, and he will continue to be a key participant and advocate in issues and initiatives critical to the industry.Outgoing Executive Chairman and former CARDONE CEO Terry McCormack, who will remain as a board member and adviser, noted, “This is an exciting time for CARDONE. The family leadership is committed to this company’s long-term success, and our board has added a wealth of independent knowledge that will help forge the path ahead.”
Long Island is on track to reopen next week, as long as the number of COVID-19 deaths continue to drop and the number of contact tracers come online as expected, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at his daily briefing on Friday morning.Contact tracing is underway in seven regions around the state, but Long Island and the mid-Hudson area remain closed, in part because the regions do not have enough tracers to track down those who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said earlier this week the county had 230 tracers, and needed about 400. Both Suffolk and Nassau counties have been working with the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health to hire and train people as contact tracers.• RELATED: Suffolk County Exec Says ‘We Are Ready’ If enough tracers are online by next week, Long Island can begin the first phase in reopening the economy, which means construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade can resume, along with limited curbside retail. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing is also part of the first phase of reopening.In anticipation of the start of Phase 1, Cuomo also announced construction staging — setting up of equipment and materials at work sites — is now permitted on Long Island and in the mid-Hudson region.State Loans AvailableNew York is beginning its own program to help small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords struggling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. New York Forward Loan Fund, a new economic recovery program, has over $100 million to offer. It will target businesses with 20 or fewer employees — 90 percent of all small businesses — and less than $3 million in gross revenues.Economists are projecting that more than 100,000 small businesses have shut permanently since the pandemic began. Minority-owned businesses are especially at risk, the governor said.Landlords who have lost rental income are also eligible. Nonprofits must provide direct services and have an annual operating budget of less than $3 million annually.The U.S. Small Business Administration loans are part of the $2 trillion federal stimulus bill, known as the CARES — Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security — Act, passed in late March, as well as an additional $484 billion aid package passed late last month.Only those who did not receive a loan from the SBA Paycheck Protection Program or SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan are eligible for the state program.More information can be found at esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans. Pre-applications will be available starting May 26 at noon. Businesses in industries that have already reopened by then will be given priority.More Testing Sites The governor also announced that the state is launching a new pilot program with 52 independent pharmacies to conduct COVID-19 testing, bringing the total number of testing sites up to 750. Pharmacies can conduct 7000 tests per week.Cuomo urged anyone with even the slightest of symptoms, or those who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, to get a test.“We have state-run sites where we have more capacity than we are performing tests,” he email@example.com Share