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Madonna Recovers from COVID-19 She Never Knew She Had

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On Thursday, US singer Madonna disclosed she has recovered from the coronavirus which forced her to pull out of a string of concerts in Paris in February and March.

The “Queen of Pop” said she had tested positive for antibodies which may mean she had COVID-19 – though at the time she said she didn’t realise she had it.

“I am not currently sick,” she told her 15 million followers on Instagram.

“When you test positive for anti-bodies it means you had the virus, which I clearly did as I was sick at the end of my tour in Paris over seven weeks ago along with many other artists in my show,” she said.

The 61-year-old star only played a single night in Paris on February 22 before calling off the next show, citing “ongoing injuries”.

She later called off two further Paris concerts – the last in her Madame X world tour – after French authorities banned large gatherings in a bid to stem the spread of the virus in early March.

“At the time we all thought we had a bad flu,” Madonna wrote in her post.

“Thank God we are all healthy and well now.”

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COVID19

COVID-19 intensifies the urgency to expand sustainable energy solutions worldwide

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by 2030, countries must safeguard the gains already attained and accelerate efforts to achieve affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

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COVID-19 intensifies the urgency to expand sustainable energy solutions worldwide

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by 2030, countries must safeguard the gains already attained and accelerate efforts to achieve affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Despite accelerated progress over the past decade, the world will fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030 unless efforts are scaled up significantly, reveals the new Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the report, significant progress had been made on various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 prior to the start of the COVID-19 crisis. This includes a notable reduction in the number of people worldwide lacking access to electricity, strong uptake of renewable energy for electricity generation, and improvements in energy efficiency. Despite these advances, global efforts remain insufficient to reach the key targets of SDG 7 by 2030.

The number of people without access to electricity declined from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 789 million in 2018, however, under policies that were either in place or planned before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, an estimated 620 million people would still lack access in 2030, 85 percent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. SDG 7 calls for universal energy access by 2030.

Other important elements of the goal also continue to be off track. Almost 3 billion people remained without access to clean cooking in 2017, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Largely stagnant progress since 2010 leads to millions of deaths each year from breathing cooking smoke. The share of renewable energy in the global energy mix is only inching up gradually, despite the rapid growth of wind and solar power in electricity generation. An acceleration of renewables across all sectors is required to move closer to reaching the SDG 7 target, with advances in heating and transport currently lagging far behind their potential. Following strong progress on global energy efficiency between 2015 and 2016, the pace has slackened. The rate of improvement needs to speed up dramatically, from 1.7 percent in 2017 to at least 3 percent in coming years.

Accelerating the pace of progress in all regions and sectors will require stronger political commitment, long-term energy planning, increased public and private financing, and adequate policy and fiscal incentives to spur faster deployment of new technologies An increased emphasis on “leaving no one behind” is required, given the large proportion of the population without access in remote, rural, poorer and vulnerable communities.

The 2020 report introduces tracking on a new indicator, 7.A.1, on international financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy. Although total flows have doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017, only 12 percent reached the least-developed countries, which are the furthest from achieving the various SDG 7 targets.

The five custodian agencies of the report were designated by the UN Statistical Commission to compile and verify country data, along with regional and global aggregates, in relation to the progress in achieving the SDG 7 goals. The report presents policymakers and development partners with global, regional and country-level data to inform decisions and identify priorities for a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 that scales up affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. This collaborative work highlights once more the importance of reliable data to inform policymaking as well as the opportunity to enhance data quality through international cooperation to further strengthen national capacities. The report has been transmitted by SDG 7 custodian agencies to the United Nations Secretary-General to inform the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s annual review.

Key highlights on SDG7 targets

Please note that the report’s findings are based on international compilations of official national-level data up to 2018 while also drawing on analysis of recent trends and policies related to SDG 7 targets.

Access to electricity: Since 2010, more than a billion people have gained access to electricity. As a result, 90 percent of the planet’s population was connected in 2018. Yet 789 million people still live without electricity and despite accelerated progress in recent years, the SDG target of universal access by 2030 appears unlikely to be met, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupts electrification efforts. Regional disparities persist. Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia are approaching universal access but Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind, accounting for 70 percent of the global deficit. Several large access-deficit countries in the region have electrification growth rates that are not keeping up with population growth. Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have the largest deficits, with 85 million and 68 million unelectrified people, respectively. India has the third largest deficit with 64 million unelectrified people, although its rate of electrification outpaces population growth. Among the 20 countries with the largest access deficits, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Uganda showed the greatest improvement since 2010, thanks to annual electrification growth rates in excess of 3.5 percentage points, driven largely by a comprehensive approach that combined grid, mini grid and off-grid solar electrification.

Clean cooking: Almost three billion people remained without access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, residing mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the 2010 to 2018 period, progress has remained largely stagnant, with the rate of increase in access to clean cooking even decelerating since 2012 in some countries, falling behind population growth. The top 20 countries lacking access to clean cooking accounted for 82 percent of the global population without access between 2014 and 2018. This lack of clean cooking access continues to have serious gender, health, and climate consequences that affect not only the achievement of SDG target 7.1, but also the progress towards several other related SDGs. Under current and planned policies, 2.3 billion people would still be deprived of access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in 2030. The COVID‑19 pandemic is likely to swell the toll of prolonged exposure of women and children to household air pollution caused by mainly using raw coal, kerosene or traditional uses of biomass for cooking. Without prompt action, the world will fall short of the universal cooking access goal by almost 30 percent. Greater access to clean cooking was achieved largely in two regions of Asia. From 2010 to 2018, in Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia the numbers of people lacking access fell from one billion to 0.8 billion. Central Asia and Southern Asia also saw improved access to clean cooking, in these regions the number of people without access dropped from 1.11 billion to 1.0 billion.

Renewables: The share of renewables in the global energy mix reached 17.3 percent of final energy consumption in 2017, up from 17.2 percent in 2016 and 16.3 percent in 2010. Renewables consumption (+2.5 percent in 2017) is growing faster than global energy consumption (+1.8 percent in 2017), continuing a trend in evidence since 2011. Most of the growth in renewables has occurred in the electricity sector, thanks to the rapid expansion of wind and solar power that has been enabled by sustained policy support and falling costs. Meanwhile, the use of renewables in heating and transport is lagging. An acceleration of renewables across all sectors will be needed to achieve SDG target 7.2. The full impact of the COVID-19 crisis on renewables is yet to become clear. Disruption to supply chains and other areas risks delaying deployments of wind and solar PV. The growth of electricity generation from renewables appears to have slowed down as a result of the pandemic, according to the available data. But they so far appear to be holding up much better than other major fuels such as coal and natural gas.

Energy efficiency: Global primary energy intensity – an important indicator of how heavily the world’s economic activity uses energy – improved by 1.7 percent in 2017. That is better than the 1.3 percent average rate of progress between 1990 and 2010 but still well below the original target rate of 2.6 percent and a marked slowdown from the previous two years. Specific metrics on energy intensity in different sectors indicate that improvements have been fastest in the industry and passenger transport sectors, exceeding 2 percent since 2010. In the services and residential sectors, they have averaged between 1.5 percent and 2 percent. Freight transport and agriculture have lagged slightly behind. Achieving SDG target 7.3 for energy efficiency will require the overall pace of improvement to accelerate significantly to around 3 percent a year between 2017 and 2030. But preliminary estimates suggest that the rate remained well below that level in 2018 and 2019, making an even more substantial increase in the coming years necessary to reach the SDG 7 target.

International financial flows: International public financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017. These flows mask important disparities with only 12 percent of flows in 2017 reaching those most in need (least developed countries and small island developing states). To accelerate renewable energy deployment in developing countries, there is a need for enhanced international cooperation that includes stronger public and private engagement, to drive an increase of financial flows to those most in need – even more so in a post-COVID-19 world.

***

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the deep inequalities around the world in terms of access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy. Electricity has been a vital underpinning of the response to the public health emergency in many countries – but hundreds of millions of people worldwide still lack basic access to it, with the majority of them in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. “Even before today’s unprecedented crisis, the world was not on track to meet key sustainable energy goals. Now, they are likely to become even harder to achieve. This means we must redouble our efforts to bring affordable, reliable and cleaner energy to all – especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the need is greatest – in order to build more prosperous and resilient economies.”

 “Access to reliable energy is a lifeline, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. It is essential not only for preventing and addressing the pandemic but also for accelerating the recovery and building back better by securing a more sustainable and resilient future for all,” said Riccardo Puliti, Global Director for Energy and Extractive Industries and Regional Director for Infrastructure in Africa at the World Bank. “The report provides solid data and evidence that build the case for why it is necessary to act now, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where under the status quo, 530 million people–or more than two times the population of Nigeria–will still be without electricity in 2030.”

 “Renewable energy is key to achieving SDG 7 and building resilient, equitable and sustainable economies in a post COVID-19 world. Now more than ever is the time for bold international cooperation to bridge the energy access gap and place sustainable energy at the heart of economic stimulus and recovery measures. IRENA is committed to scale up action with its global membership and partners to channel investment and guide policy intervention in pursuit of sustainable development for all humankind,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

“This report is an exemplar case of cooperation between the custodian agencies of SDG 7 to present comprehensive data and analysis, delivering a common message regarding the progress towards ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. As to the current situation, it concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic can either widen the sustainable energy access gaps or accelerate the path towards achieving SDG 7, depending mostly on priorities of national economic stimulus packages and the global response to support those most in need,” said Stefan Schweinfest, Director, United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).

“In this time of a global health crisis, protecting the health of 3 billion people without clean cooking solutions is more critical than ever. Governments, foundations, donors, and the private sector need to combine their efforts to accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable fuels and technologies to protect the health of the most vulnerable population,” said Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General, Division of Universal Health Coverage/Healthier Populations, World Health Organization (WHO).

This is the sixth edition of this report, formerly known as the Global Tracking Framework (GTF). This year’s edition was chaired by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

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A sad das as US deaths from COVID-19 surpass 100,000 milestone

The stark reality comes as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll released Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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coronavirus-death in USA reaches a millistone

New York City- The U.S. has surpassed a jarring milestone in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths.

That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, the virus has infected more than 5.6 million people worldwide and killed over 350,000. The U.S. has the most infections and deaths by far.

Early on, President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and predicted the country wouldn’t reach this death toll.

The stark reality comes as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll released Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, issued a stern warning after viewing video showing Memorial Day crowds gathered at a pool party in Missouri.

“We have a situation in which you see that type of crowding with no mask and people interacting. That’s not prudent and that’s inviting a situation that could get out of control,” he said during an interview Wednesday on CNN. “Don’t start leapfrogging some of the recommendations in the guidelines because that’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.”

After months of lockdowns in countries around the world, places have begun reopening in stages. Mediterranean beaches and Las Vegas casinos laid out plans to welcome tourists again. Churches began opening up. And humans restless at being cooped up indoors for weeks began venturing outside in droves, often without practicing safe social distancing or wearing protective coverings.

Summertime is already a time when more people head outdoors. This year, it also means the every-four-years national political conventions in the United States where the two major political parties anoint a presidential candidate.

The events generally draw thousands of delegates and others who converge for several days. Fauci said it’s too early to say whether this year’s conventions should be held as normal.

“If we have a really significant diminution in the number of new cases and hospitalizations and we’re at a level where it’s really very low, you might have some capability of gathering,” he said. “But I think we need to reserve judgment right now, because we’re a few months from there. Hopefully we will see that diminution. If we don’t, then I would have significant reservation about that.”

And other public health experts cautioned that even more death is in the offing.

“Despite the terrible losses seen and the many difficulties Americans have faced to date in this pandemic, we’re still probably only in the early stages,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. “In the U.S. we could be looking at a long pandemic summer with a slow burn of cases and deaths. There’s also reason to be concerned about a new wave of infections in the fall. So, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.”

South Korea announced a spike in new infections and considered reimposing social distancing restrictions, revealing the setbacks ahead for other nations on the road to reopening. That country reported 40 newly confirmed cases – the biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days.

All but four of the cases were in the densely populated Seoul region, where officials are scrambling to stop transmissions linked to nightclubs, karaoke rooms and a massive e-commerce warehouse. All were reopened last month when social distancing measures were relaxed.

Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.6 million people and killed over 350,000, including about 170,000 in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University of government reports, which experts say does not show the entire scope of the pandemic. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Johns Hopkins tally of deaths in the U.S. hovered just below 100,000.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump several months ago likened the coronavirus to the flu and dismissed worries that it could lead to so many deaths. The administration’s leading scientists have since warned that as many as 240,000 Americans could die in the country’s outbreak.

According to the AP-NORC poll, about half of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if scientists working to create one succeed.

The poll found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse. Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety.

“I am not an anti-vaxxer,” said Melanie Dries, 56, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. But, “to get a COVID-19 vaccine within a year or two … causes me to fear that it won’t be widely tested as to side effects.”

Among those who want a vaccine, the AP-NORC poll found protecting themselves, their family and the community are the top reasons.

“I’m definitely going to get it,” said Brandon Grimes, 35, of Austin, Texas. “As a father who takes care of his family, I think … it’s important for me to get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to better protect my family.”

Most people who get COVID-19 have mild cases and recover. However, the coronavirus has been seen attacking in far stealthier ways – from blood clots to heart and kidney damage.

Whatever the final statistics show about how often it kills, health specialists agree the new coronavirus appears deadlier than the typical flu.

Worldwide, about a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in early stages of testing or poised to begin.

Comparing how the virus has impacted different countries is tricky, given varying levels of testing and the fact that some coronavirus deaths can be missed. According to figures tracked by Johns Hopkins University, the death rate per 100,000 people is lower in the U.S. than Italy, France and Spain but higher than Germany, China, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

“The experience of other countries shows that death at that scale was preventable,” Kaiser Family Foundation’s Michaud said. “To some extent the United States suffers from having a slow start and inconsistent approach. We might have seen a different trajectory if different policies were put into place earlier and more forcefully.”

Countries with low death rates suppressed the virus “through lots of testing, contact tracing and policies to support isolation and quarantine of people at risk,” Michaud said.

The White House said the president was committed to holding a Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital even as local officials warned that the region – one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus – will not be ready to hold a major event so soon.

SeaWorld and Walt Disney World plan to reopen to undisclosed limited numbers of tourists in Orlando, Florida, in June and July after months of being shuttered. The plan calls for SeaWorld to open to the public on June 11. Disney plans a tiered reopening, with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opening on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

U.S. officials are pushing hard to reopen even as more than a dozen states are still seeing increasing new cases.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that casinos can reopen on June 4 after a 10-week shutdown, welcoming tourists to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas. Sisolak had planned to make the announcement at a news conference but scrapped the live event after he learned he was potentially exposed to the virus at a workplace visit.

Johnson reported from Washington state and Pane reported from Boise, Idaho. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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COVID-19: three more pastors die; one may have exposed hundreds to the disease at funeral in New York-Christian Post report

Bishop Timothy Titus Scott, Sr., 88, of St. James Temple Church of God in Christ in Clarksdale, Mississippi; Pastor Alvin Charles McElroy, 79, of Friendship Baptist Church in Riverhead, New York; and Father Gioacchino Basile, 60, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark

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Pastors die as a result of COVID19

At least three more pastors have lost their lives to the new coronavirus in just over a week, leaving more churches across the nation mourning in the fallout from the pandemic.

Bishop Timothy Titus Scott, Sr., 88, of St. James Temple Church of God in Christ in Clarksdale, Mississippi; Pastor Alvin Charles McElroy, 79, of Friendship Baptist Church in Riverhead, New York; and Father Gioacchino Basile, 60, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, who had been leading Saint Gabriel Church in East Elmhurst, New York City, all died as a result of the coronavirus.

Scott, who died last Friday, had been the pastor of St. James Temple Church of God in Christ in Clarksdale since 1972, according to the city of Clarkdale’s website. He also served as prelate of the Northern Mississippi Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ and prior to his death was the longest serving Jurisdictional Prelate in the Church Of God In Christ.

“Bishop T. T. Scott is an icon of fatherly leadership, humble servitude, and unwavering faith,” Bishop Robert G. Rudolph, Jr., adjutant general in the Church Of God In Christ, Inc., wrote in a statement on Scotts passing.

Both Scott and his wife tested positive for the virus after attending a funeral on March 7, WREG-TV reported. One of the attendees at the funeral from New Orleans had tested positive for the virus.

Prior to his diagnosis, Scott may have also unknowingly exposed about 300 people to the virus at a funeral held at his church on March 14, WREG-TV said. Due to restrictions on gatherings due to the ongoing pandemic, COGIC said they will wait until after the restrictions have been lifted to celebrate Scott’s life.

Pastors die as a result of COVID19
Pastors die as a result of COVID19

“During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic resulting in local and state restrictions on public gatherings to achieve social distancing, the Terry family will hold a private memorial service for this valiant soldier of the Gospel. When the restrictions are lifted, a date will be set for a Jurisdictional Memorial Service that will appropriately recognize the godly life and notable achievements of Bishop Timothy Titus Scott, Sr,” Rudolph wrote. “During this time of uncertainty, we request the continued prayers as well as acts of emotional and spiritual support for the family. It is with great honor that the National Adjutancy will assist the Scott family and the Northern Mississippi Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction during this most difficult time.”

Friendship Baptist Church member Bonnie Cannon told the Riverhead News-Review that Pastor McElroy, who died at the Peconic Bay Medical Center on March 26 after contracting the coronavirus, was a leader who practiced what he preached.

“He’d pour into you things that would help you live from week to week. How to have peace and joy even if you’re in a circumstance others would see as a bad situation. He wasn’t just preaching it, he lived it,” she said.

His wife, the Rev. Maryanne McElroy, remembered her husband as a man who loved his community.

“He was well-grounded,” she recalled. “He was very community minded. Most people just think a pastor shows up to preach on Sunday. It’s much more than that.”

Father Basile, whose death was announced by church officials on Saturday, is the second priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn to die from the coronavirus in a week, the New York Post reported. A week earlier, Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, 49, who served at St. Brigid’s Church in Wyckoff Heights, died from the virus.

“Father Gioacchino Basile, a native of Calabria, Italy who died today, was small in stature, but mighty in energy for the Lord. Unfortunately, Father’s underlying health conditions made it difficult for him to fight the virus. In addition to English and Italian, Father spoke Spanish fluently and ministered well to all of the people of his parish and the faithful of the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens,” said the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn.

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COVID-19: WHO halts trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.

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WHO

The World Health Organization announced on Monday that it’s suspending a trial of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, saying fears of the drug’s potential danger is causing it to “err on the side of caution.”

The medication, best known for use against malaria and autoimmune disorders, has been touted as a possible answer to COVID-19 by President Donald Trump.

But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said evidence has shown harmful side effects of hydroxychloroquine, including heart problems.

Tedros cited the British journal The Lancet which published findings on Friday, showing that hydroxychloroquine does not help COVID-19 patients and might even increase deaths.

“The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board. The other arms of the trial are continuing,” Tedros told an online briefing from Geneva.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said the organization’s own investigators and regulators in individual nations have raised enough red flags about hydroxychloroquine to prompt this halt.

“So the steering committee met over the weekend and decided that in the light of this uncertainty, that we should be proactive, err on the side of caution, and suspend enrollment, temporarily, into the hydroxychloroquine arm,” she said.

WHO will take at least another week, perhaps two, to gather more data on hydroxychloroquine, Swaminathan said.

“We want to use hydroxychloroquine if it is safe, if it reduces mortality, reduces the length of hospitalization, without increasing the adverse events,” she added. “So this is a temporary measure.”

Tedros told patients taking the medication for its well-established uses outside of COVID-19 that they shouldn’t worry.

“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” he said. “I wish to reiterate that this drug is accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases and malaria.”

When Trump began touting hydroxychloroquine in March, it caused a brief run on the drug, leaving some patients using it for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases unable to get their medication.

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A sad das as US deaths from COVID-19 surpass 100,000 milestone

A sad das as US deaths from COVID-19 surpass 100,000 milestone

The stark reality comes as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll released Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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