We always can use more humor. Even during a pandemic. At least that was my justification for a “thought” I shared with the world on social media last week. A Michigan woman posted on Twitter that she was writing a condolence card when her 5-year-old son interrupted and wanted to know what she was doing. “I’m writing a note to say how sorry I am that my friend’s mom died,” the woman replied.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Public officials rattle off COVID-19 statistics at daily news conferences: the number of new cases; numbers of negative tests; the number of deaths. As of Friday, April 3, 2020, a total of 11 Iowans had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Senior photo of Vicki Snarzyk, courtesy Judy Fletcher
Vicki Snarzyk was one of those. “She was a beautiful soul who always put others first,” Judy Fletcher said of her 61-year-old sister, who died April 1 in Cedar Rapids. Fletcher, 54, of Denver, Colorado, wants everyone to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously, to understand the devastating implications and realize how easily it can hit home.
ByJackson Schulte/IowaWatch and The Scarlet & Black |
GRINNELL, Iowa – Some Grinnell College seniors have chosen to finish their undergraduate days by staying in town, even though the college sent most of their peers home for the rest of the school year and canceled the spring graduation ceremony because of COVID-19. They’re staying in town for a variety of reasons but mainly to continue living in homes for which they’re contractually obligated to pay rent and to make their final months as seniors feel meaningful. “My
rent here is paid, it’s sort of a sunk cost,” Pete Zelles, 22, a senior from
St. Paul, Minnesota, said. “I realized that the majority of my friends are
staying because they’re in the same position.
Grinnell College acted ahead of other colleges and universities in the state when moving students off campus and canceling spring graduation. Now, students are figuring out how to handle that when they return to classes – virtually – from spring break.
Cannabis cultivation in the United States this year will consume 1.8 million megawatt-hours of electricity, about as much as the nation’s 15,000 Starbucks stores. And next year it’ll be even more, according to a report from analytics firm New Frontier Data estimating just how much power it takes to produce the nation’s cannabis crop. Yet even as they’ve welcomed it into the regulatory fold, states legalizing cannabis so far have done little to limit or even track the huge amounts of energy needed to grow it indoors. Among the 11 states to permit recreational use of cannabis, only Massachusetts and now Illinois, which did so this week, have included energy-efficiency standards for indoor cultivation, a practice that requires nearly nonstop use of lights and various heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
One other state, Oregon, requires simply that growers estimate and then report back on their energy use. Even this small step will help regulators there and in other states to better manage an industry whose electricity demand has long been kept as hidden as its product, says report co-author Derek Smith of Resource Innovation Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes resource conservation in the cannabis industry.
BySarah Whites-Koditschek/Wisconsin Public Radio |
It is mid-March, and two researchers trudge on snowshoes through feet of snow on a wooded trail, dragging a small plastic sled full of equipment. Scientist Carl Watras’ snowshoes are rigged with rubber from bicycle tires to bind the webbed contraptions to his feet. His research assistant, Jeff Rubsam, runs ahead to guide the sled down a steep, snowy slope towards a frozen lake. Watras descends, planting one long leg slowly after another. Watras has been making this trek for 32 years.
A rural water supply main doesn’t run by Jamie and Bradley Stephens’ southwest Iowa home in Mills County. “If it did, I would hook into it in a heartbeat,” said Jamie Stephens, as she battled in late May to get safe drinking water from a well overtopped for a week this spring by Missouri River floodwaters. Contamination of private well water in southwest Iowa from human and natural causes is a problem even in dry times. But in this year of prolonged flooding, well owners have heightened concerns and are keeping county health officials busy testing water for contaminants such as coliform and E. coli bacteria, nitrates and arsenic. More well owners are availing themselves of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources program that pays for private well testing.
BySophia Schillinger and Sabine Martin /IowaWatch and the Cedar Falls Tiger Hi-Line |
Guidelines for what’s safe to eat when it comes to the fish we catch vary in each state. Also, despite fish sampling by the states, knowing where to fish is hard because fish from only a few waterways where people fish are tested each year, an IowaWatch/CedarFalls Tiger Hi-Line/Science in the Media investigation showed.
On a summer morning near Dayton, Ohio, a temporary worker began his first day with a commercial roofing company around 6:30 a.m.
Mark Rainey, 60, was assigned to a crew to rip off and dispose of an old bank-building roof. Within hours, as the heat index reached 85 degrees, his co-workers noticed the new guy was “walking clumsily,” then became ill and collapsed, according to documents from the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Rushed to the hospital on Aug. 1, 2012, Rainey was diagnosed with heat stroke and a core body temperature of 105.4 degrees; he died three weeks later. For the next 6 ½ years, the circumstances surrounding Rainey’s death became a vigorously fought battle between his employer and OSHA, highlighting the lack of a clear standard on heat protection for outdoor workers.
Since the early 1980s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has conducted a grim census, tracking reports of deaths from crashes of all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. Now the body count has risen above 15,250, according to the agency’s latest annual report, with more than one in five of the deaths suffered by children under 16. The annual death count, which has sometimes exceeded 800, has mostly ranged from 550 to 650 in recent years. That seems like progress, but may actually be the result of riders switching to another type of off-road vehicle, called an ROV, that isn’t included in the ATV fatality reports. “The problem has not been solved,” said Rachel Weintraub, general counsel of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).