You’re stuck at home, mail is at the ready, so why not get rolling on some home improvement projects that have long since been pushed to the backburner? After all, you finally have the time! Put this quarantine to good use!
Start by organizing. If you haven’t already Marie Kondo’d your entire house, now is a good time to start. Order new organizing bins online for new gear that comes from a safe distance. Just be sure to thank your delivery person by staying at least six feet away from them and their good deeds.
Next, you can paint! Home improvement brands are offering entire kits that come to your house, while local stores allow you to do a curbside pickup for all the necessary gear. If you own your home or have permission from the owner, paint away. Interior walls and decks make great afternoon projects. However, if you live on post, you’re better off sticking to DIY furniture remodels.
Landscaping is another great way to spend the day. Improve your home and enjoy the outdoors by planting flowers, adding rock, pulling weeds or even planting a garden. Better yet, you can spruce up your curb appeal, even when living on post.
It’s time to get your Pinterest on and start tackling your favorite projects. Everything you’ve been wanting to do, now is the time. Luckily, craft stores, too, are offering curbside pickup. Or order online and find some potential extra savings.
Finally, take a look at all the repair work you’ve been avoiding. Sure, these projects aren’t fun … that’s why you’ve avoided them in the first place. But think how accomplished you’ll feel once your home is back in working order.
What home projects have you completed during quarantine?
You’ve done the crafts, you’ve read the entire internet and you’ve finished Netflix. All there’s left to do is cry, eat and laugh. We’ll help you out with the last one. Hope you and yours are staying safe, healthy and somewhat sane.
These are your top 50 memes and tweets for the week of April 20:
1. Everything is fine
At least he’s maintaining social distancing.
2. The word of the mom
3. Conference calls
Zoom backgrounds make it better.
4. Laughter IS the best medicine
Oh Dad. So smart.
5. Happy little tree
I want peopleeeeeee.
6. Atta boy
Nothing to see here, nothing to see.
7. True transformation
I’m not proud of how hard I laughed at that one!!
8. The boombox
We’ve trained our whole life for this.
9. So loud
What are you eating, BONES?
10. M.J. knew
Now if we could just heal the world…
11. More vodka, please!
These are good life skills.
12. Reality tv
No wonder my kids like to watch other kids playing with toys on YouTube. We do the same thing with HGTV.
13. No pants
I can’t imagine having to wear shoes to a meeting again…
14. Hand washing
So many temptations to touch your face.
15. Catch me outside
How bout dat?
16. Shady pines
Might have to binge watch Golden Girls.
17. So much truth
If you having tortilla chips for breakfast means I don’t have to cook…
18. Iguana private office
Something about you getting on the phone screams, “COME TALK TO ME.”
19. SPF 15
At least you’re getting your vitamin D.
20. Dreams do come true
You bought it “for the pandemic.”
21. Pro tip
It’s like working out, but easier.
The sun is not impressed.
Every parent ever.
The sweatshirt is a nice touch. I bet her Barbie dream house is covered in crafts and regret.
25. Jax beach
26. What happens in Vegas…
Quarantine needs to stay in April 2020.
27. SO much truth
And most of them look tired.
28. Pajama shorts
Trick question. You don’t have to wear pants.
29. Good PR
Mmm ice cream.
30. Singing in the rain
31. Sick car
Taped together and barely holding on — a working title of everyone’s 2020 memoir.
32. Get it girl
No but seriously, why did I eat all my snacks?
33. Dun-dun. Dun-dun. Dun-dun.
To be fair, everyone didn’t die.
34. Lightning speed
Well played, fastest man in the world.
35. All by myself
We feel you, Ernie.
The isolation has turned to boredom.
We heard there’s a DUI checkpoint in the hallway though, so be careful.
38. Last nerves
Every. Little. Thing.
39. Grooming at home
All of our DIY haircuts and grooming.
40. Apologies, ya’ll
Lots of self-awareness happening.
It does, Kermie. It does.
42. Mind over matter
Beware my special powers.
43. Dogs know the truth
Stop judging me.
44. You can’t have both
This is why we can’t have nice days.
Deep thoughts by Dad.
46. Zoom stand in
I think people would pay for this.
47. You did it!
At least you didn’t quit.
48. Pinky promise
Just boxed wine. Not the ‘rona.
49. You know that’s right
Maybe you’ll get a “spa day” in the bathroom by yourself.
The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 110,000 with almost 1.8 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.
Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.
Russia on April 12 reported the largest daily increase of coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak, as the authorities announced restrictions on Easter church services in and around Moscow to contain the spread of the disease.
The Russian Orthodox Church, which will observe Easter this year on April 19, ordered churches to close their doors to large groups during the holy week leading up to the holiday.
Meanwhile, Russia’s coronavirus crisis task force reported 2,186 new coronavirus cases in the country, raising the total number to 15,770.
The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 24 to 130, it said.
The official tally has been doubted by critics in Russia and abroad, who suspect the number is being undercounted by health authorities.
Moscow and many other regions have been in lockdown for nearly two weeks, but Russian officials on April 11 warned of a “huge influx” of new coronavirus infections and said that hospitals in the Moscow area were quickly nearing capacity.
“We are seeing hospitals in Moscow working extremely intensely, in heroic, emergency mode,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a television interview.
Peskov described the situation in both Moscow and St. Petersburg as “quite tense because the number of sick people is growing.”
Authorities and doctors in Bulgaria are urging citizens to stay home and pray in their homes for traditional Palm Sunday and Easter services.
Churches have remained open in Bulgaria despite the coronavirus outbreak. Services at major churches are due to be broadcast live for worshippers.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said on April 11 that churches will remain open, saying many people were desperate and in low spirits. He, however, urged Bulgarians to stay home.
“A difficult decision but I am ready to bear the reproaches,” Borisov told reporters.
“The bishops told me that there are many people who are in low spirits, desperate. So I just cannot issue such an order [to close churches],” he added.
Thousands attend Easter church services in the Balkan country.
Bulgaria has been in a state of emergency since March 13. Schools and most shops are closed and there are restrictions on intercity travel and access to parks. All domestic and foreign vacation trips are banned.
The country has so far reported 669 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 28 deaths.
Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen by 117 in the past day to 4,474, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on April 12.
The country has recorded 71,686 cases of the coronavirus that causes the disease, Jahanpur added. Some 1,657 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the past 24 hours, he said.
Iran has been the country hardest hit by the pandemic in the Middle East. Many Iranian and international experts think Iran’s government, which has been criticized for a slow initial response, is intentionally reducing its tally of the pandemic.
Ten thousand graves have been dug in a new section of the Behesht Zahra cemetery south of the Iranian capital to deal with coronavirus deaths, an official with Tehran’s municipality was quoted as saying by the official government news agency IRNA on April 12.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that restrictions on travel between cities within each province in the country have been lifted.
He said restrictions on travel between provinces will be lifted on April 20.
In the past days, Tehran has reopened some “low-risk” businesses in most parts of the country with the exception of the capital, Tehran, where they will reopen from April 18, official media have reported.
Iranian authorities have called on citizens to respect health protocols and social-distancing measures as the country struggles to curb the deadly outbreak.
The government is concerned that measures to shut down businesses and halt economic activities to contain the outbreak could wreck an already sanctions-battered economy.
The United States has offered humanitarian aid to Iran, but the country’s leaders have rejected it and demanded that sanctions be lifted.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to international stakeholders for urgent debt relief for Pakistan and other developing countries to help them deal more effectively with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a video message released by the Foreign Ministry on April 12, Khan said that “highly indebted countries” lack “fiscal space” to spend both on the fight against the virus and on health and social support.
He said he appealed to world leaders, the heads of financial institutions, and the secretary-general of the United Nations to get together to announce a debt relief initiative for developing countries.
Pakistan has recorded 5,232 coronavirus cases, with 91 deaths.
The South Asian nation’s already struggling economy has been hit hard by nationwide lockdowns that have brought economic activity to a halt.
Pakistan is more than 0 billion in debt to foreign lenders and spends the largest chunk of its budget on servicing its debt.
In his Easter sermon, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, urged Armenians to display “national unity” in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Leading the Mass at an empty St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan on April 12, Garegin called on “the sons and daughters of our nation in the homeland and in the diaspora to give a helping hand to our government authorities in their efforts to overcome the difficult situation created by the pandemic.”
He also called for global solidarity to contain the spread of the virus and what he described as even greater “evils,” including “materialism,” poverty, and armed conflicts.
The Mass, broadcast live on national television, was attended by only two dozen clergymen and a smaller-than-usual choir.
After the service, Garegin blessed a small group of believers who had gathered outside Armenia’s largest cathedral.
Sunday services in all churches across Armenia have been held behind closed doors since the government on March 16 declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, which has officially infected 1,013 people in the South Caucasus country and killed 13.
The Armenian Apostolic Church has restricted church attendance on weekdays and instructed parish churches to live-stream liturgies online, when possible.
The U.S. Army‘s top enlisted soldier said Tuesday that the service plans to issue some type of non-surgical mask to troops to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
During an Army Facebook Live on Tuesday, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said that soldiers should follow the face-covering guidance the service issued Monday evening until it can provide masks for them.
“We are going to get you the masks,” he said. “In the near term, we will get you something either black or camouflage to put on.”
Grinston gave no other details, but Army officials confirmed to Military.com that the service is working on a plan to eventually issue some type of masks to soldiers and will release details in the near future.
The Army issued broad guidance regarding a Pentagon announcement Sunday that service members, family members and other personnel may make their own face coverings to wear when social distancing is not possible.
The Air Force began making their own masks in order to protect airmen in positions that make social distancing difficult.
Soldiers are authorized to wear the “neck gaiter and other cloth items, such as bandanas and scarves, as face coverings,” according to the guidance.
“To protect the facial area, the cloth item must cover the mouth and nose and extend to the chin or below as well as to the sides of the face,” Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz, an Army spokesman, told Military.com. “It must be secured or fastened to the face in a manner that allows the soldier to breathe while also preventing disease exposure or contamination.”
Soldiers should not cut up Army Combat Uniforms to use as face coverings since they are chemically treated to reduce wrinkles.
“Our uniforms are treated with chemicals for various reasons, so we do not want people using these uniforms and putting them close to their face,” Army Chief of Staff James McConville said during the Facebook Live event.
The color of the masks is up to unit leaders, Army officials said, but Grinston added that homemade masks should look as professional as possible.
“You’ve got either a … black neck gaiter, brown, some kind of scarf — that’s fine,” he said. “Use common sense. I don’t want to see any skull and crossbones on your face — maybe a brown or something that looks somewhat professional.”
Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for health care workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC guidance, Ortiz said.
David Silcott, left, chief executive of S3i, goes over an airflow particle test for Navy Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne, right, deputy commander, U.S. Transportation Command, on board a United Airlines 767 aircraft at Dulles International Airport, Va., Aug. 28, 2020. (DoD/ Stephenie Wade)
A new military-led study unveiled Thursday shows there is a low risk for passengers traveling aboard large commercial aircraft to contract an airborne virus such as COVID-19 — and it doesn’t matter where they sit on the airplane.
Researchers concluded that because of sophisticated air particle filtration and ventilation systems on board the Boeing 767-300 and 777-200 aircraft — the planes tested for the study — airborne particles within the cabin have a very short lifespan, according to defense officials with U.S. Transportation Command, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Air Mobility Command, which spearheaded the study.
“The favorable results are attributable to a combination of the airframes’ high air exchange rates, coupled with the high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration recirculation systems, and the downward airflow ventilation design which results in rapid dilution and purging of the disseminated aerosol particles,” Vice Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, deputy commander of U.S. Transportation Command, said during a virtual roundtable with reporters.
DARPA teamed up with biodefense company Zeteo Tech, scientific research company S3i and the University of Nebraska’s National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) for the trials. Industry partners included Boeing and United Airlines.; the study was funded by TRANSCOM, according to Army Lt Col Ellis Gales, spokesman for the command.
“All areas on both aircraft proved to be extremely effective in dispersing and filtering out the aerosol particles,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Pope, TRANSCOM Operations directorate liaison for the airflow particle test. “So specifically, can I tell you to sit in seat XYZ? No; they all performed very well.”
During the tests, held Aug. 24-31, analysts released two types of aerosols that had specific DNA signatures. The tagged fluorescent tracers allowed for researchers to better follow their distribution path, both in flight and on the ground.
Sensors throughout the aircraft measured over 300 iterations of aerosol releases — at rates of 2 to 4 minutes — across four cabin zones on the 777, and three zones on the 767, Mewboourne explained. The dispersions were mapped in real-time, he said.
The particles were quickly diluted, however, and only remained detectable for fewer than six minutes on average, TRANSCOM said in the report. By comparison “a typical American home takes around 90 minutes to clear these types of particles from the air,” the command said.
While the more time spent on an aircraft correlates to a potential infection rate, according to the study, even passengers on long-haul flights wouldn’t be able to pick up a sufficient viral load under the test conditions. Passengers traveling on board the 777 would need to spend at least “54 hours when sitting next to an index patient in the economy section,” and more than 100 hours in the other cabins of both the 777 and the 767 to be exposed to an infectious dose, the study said.
Mannequins representing passengers were positioned throughout the aircraft, some wearing masks and some without. David Silcott of S3i and one of the authors of the report said the dispersed mannequins were part of both breathing and cough tests.
During the simulated cough tests, masked mannequins showed a “very, very large reduction in aerosol that would come out of [them], greater than 95% for most cases,” Silcott said. “It definitely showed the benefit of wearing a mask inflight from these tests.”
Pope said it is important to consider that the study was specific to aerosols and not ballistic droplets, those that are emitted while coughing, sneezing or breathing heavily.
That said, “the mask is very important in that the larger droplets that travel ballistically through the air will be caught by your mask,” Pope said. “And if you don’t have the mask on, then you cannot reduce those numbers of ballistic particles.”
Scientists also collected samples from surfaces like armrests and video screens, considered “high-touch” zones; the tests showed that while the distribution on surfaces was minimal, flat surface areas — like armrests — are more likely than vertical surface areas like seatbacks or screens to collect deposits of particles.
There are other caveats: The scientists didn’t try to simulate passengers freely moving about the cabin, moving around to switch locations or turning toward one another to have a conversation.
“While … we’re very encouraged by the results, that’s part of the reason why we’re making the results public, and sharing them with the scientific community so that that follow-on research can be done,” Pope said.
The study next heads into a peer review before its findings can be submitted for a scientific journal. TRANSCOM is examining the results, which could spur new travel policies or proposals, Pope said.
Following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, TRANSCOM identified an immediate need to move passengers in a safe manner, including high-risk patients as well as military members and families traveling aboard the Defense Department-contracted Patriot Express flights. The two Boeing aircraft used for the aerosol simulations are the aircraft most typically used for Patriot Express flights.
The officials stressed service members should still follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and airline protocols when boarding a flight.
Military support organizations have distributed thousands of dollars in financial assistance to service members and their families impacted by COVID-19, with services available for living expenses, emergencies, education and more. The application process, eligibility requirements and availability of funds vary by organization. Below is a breakdown of information provided by officials from each organization:
AIR FORCE AID SOCIETY
The Air Force Aid Society has distributed ,414 in assistance for financial needs attributed to COVID-19.
Services available: Emergency assistance through no-interest loans and grants; need-based educational grants, merit-based scholarships; and on-base community programs.
How to apply: Our central point for seeking assistance is the local base Airman Family Readiness Center. They have all been declared mission-essential by local commanders. All of them can and do take applications online and any contact is minimized. For members not near a base, we have reciprocal with our fellow relief societies. They will render assistance and we will reimburse them (see the list below). This mutual support extends to our partners at the American Red Cross, particularly for those not near any military installation. Airmen can call the dedicated American Red Cross Military Service line and be assisted.
For airmen not near a base, the Air Force Aid Society has reciprocal agreements that allow you to receive assistance through these other agencies:
Army Emergency Relief (located at Army installations, worldwide)
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (located at Coast Guard installations, worldwide)
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (located at Navy installations, worldwide)
American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces: call 877-272-7337
Army Emergency Relief has supported 128 soldiers with 2,000 disbursed in grants and zero-interest loans related to COVID-19, as of the beginning of May, according to AER officials.
Services available: Active-duty soldiers and their families are eligible for the full range of 30+ AER benefit categories if they were impacted by the DOD travel ban or PCS stop movement order. They can apply online here.
Additionally, in March, AER extended travel ban/stop movement benefits to non-Title 10 reserve and National Guard soldiers who had been impacted. More recently, AER also turned on new benefits for Title 10 and Title 32 soldiers who have been activated for any length of time by the president or their state’s governor to help with the COVID-19 response. The new Title 10/Title 32 benefits are active whenever the activation begins and for 30 days past the end of their activation. Any soldiers who are Title 10/Title 32 can apply for help with basic living expenses and/or personal transportation costs.
How to apply: Recognizing that face-to-face meetings to apply for assistance may be limited or not advisable, AER has arranged a new process to allow for soldiers to electronically submit requests for assistance. Soldiers can go to the AER website to determine the easiest way to get benefits. Soldiers who cannot get in touch with a local AER office for whatever reason can also submit a request 1) by contacting one of the other military aid societies and/or 2) through the American Red Cross by calling 1-877-272-7337 and selecting option 1 for financial assistance.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provided COVID-19-related relief to 502 clients with over 3,000 in interest-free loans and grants, as of this month.
Services available: The services we provide are to assist with the financial needs that arise from the current pandemic, whether that is assistance with paying bills, rent etc. We currently offer a COVID-19 Rapid Response for up to 00; no lengthy application and no need for financial counseling. We also have our traditional loan services available for greater needs
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance serves the entire Coast Guard community. To date, it has worked with 438 clients and distributed 2,034.97, according to its website.
Services available: Varying rates of assistance are available to those with lost wages, members in medically-induced quarantine, and travel fee reimbursement. Additional assistance exists for childcare and education assistance, and medical assistance. The full list can be viewed here.
The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 87,000 with over 1.4 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.
Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told cabinet ministers and regional heads to prepare to battle the coronavirus as he outlined steps being taken to counter the outbreak.
“Right now we need to get ready to fight for the life of each individual in every region,” Putin said during a video conference from his residence outside Moscow on April 8 during which he outlined measures being implemented to counter the growing outbreak in the country.
Russia has more than 8,670 officially confirmed coronavirus infections and at least 63 fatalities.
However, critics have cast doubt over the veracity of the figures, saying the actual toll could be much higher.
Among the steps publicized by Putin during his address was extra pay for medical personnel and the freeing up of 10 billion rubles (3 million) from the federal budget to be disbursed among the country’s more than 80 administrative regions.
In addition, he said that medical personnel who are in direct contact with coronavirus patients would be in line for an additional bonus.
Addressing the economy, Putin said that there was “practically no such thing as a total shutdown of business,” despite the obstacles and restrictions being faced.
“We must realize what kind of damage and destructive consequences this can bring about,” he said.
Putin also told the nation that he realized it is difficult to “remain inside four walls all the time.”
“But there is no choice,” he said. “One has to make it through self-isolation,” he told chiefs of Russia’s regions, which are mostly under strict lockdown.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide Tehran a multibillion-dollar emergency loan it had requested to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The epidemic has further damaged Iran’s economy, already battered by U.S. sanctions that were reimposed after Washington in 2018 withdrew from a landmark deal between Tehran and world powers to curb the country’s nuclear program.
Tehran, as well as several countries, the United Nations, some U.S. lawmakers, and human rights groups have urged the United States to ease the sanctions to help Iran respond more effectively to the virus.
The outbreak has officially infected more than 62,500 people and killed over 3,800 in the country. Iranian officials have been criticized for their slow initial response to the pandemic, and experts have been skeptical about the veracity of official figures released by the authorities, who keep a tight lid on the media.
“We are a member of the IMF…. There should be no discrimination in giving loans,” Rohani said in a televised cabinet meeting on April 8.
“If they do not act on their duties in this difficult situation, the world will judge them in a different way,” he added.
Last month, the Central Bank of Iran asked the IMF for billion from its Rapid Financing Initiative to help to fight the pandemic in one of the hardest-hit countries in the world.
An IMF official was quoted as saying the Washington-based lender was in dialogue with Iranian officials over the request.
Iran has not received assistance from the IMF since a “standby credit” issued between 1960 and 1962, according to the fund’s data.
U.S. President Donald Trump has offered some humanitarian assistance, but Iranian officials have rejected the offer, saying Washington should instead lift the sanctions, which Rohani on April 8 equated to “economic and medical terrorism.”
Medicines and medical equipment are technically exempt from the U.S. sanctions but purchases are frequently blocked by the unwillingness of banks to process transactions for fear of incurring large penalties in the United States.
In one of the few instances of aid, Britain, France, and Germany used a special trading mechanism for the first time on March 31 to send medical supplies to Iran in a way that does not violate the sanctions.
The three countries sent supplies via Instex, the mechanism set up more than a year ago to allow legitimate humanitarian trade with Iran.
On April 7, Iran’s parliament reconvened for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak forced it to close, and rejected an emergency bill calling for a one-month nationwide lockdown.
More than two-thirds of the legislature’s 290 members gathered in the absence of speaker Ali Larijani, who tested positive for the virus last week.
During the session, deputy speaker Massud Pezeshkian criticized the Rohani administration for “not taking the outbreak seriously.”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 7 condemned the detention of journalist and workers’ rights defender Amir Chamani in the northwestern city of Tabriz after he posted tweets about the health situation in Iran’s prisons and protests by inmates.
The Paris-based media freedom watchdog quoted Chamani’s family as saying he was detained on April 2 after being summoned by the cyberpolice.
The authorities have given no reason for the arrest of Chamani, who was transferred to a detention center run by the intelligence department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to RSF.
Romania has confirmed another 344 cases of COVID-19 to reach 4,761, with 18 more fatalities that brought the toll to 215, the country’s coronavirus task force said on April 7, amid renewed calls for a sustained increase in the number of tests.
More than 700 of those infected are health-care workers.
The first fatality among medical staff was reported on April 8 — an ambulance paramedic from the northeastern city of Suceava who had reportedly kept working without being tested for days, although his health was deteriorating rapidly.
Suceava is the epicenter of the outbreak in Romania and has been under lockdown since last week.
The first coronavirus death was registered in Romania on March 22.
An additional 631 Romanians tested positive for COVID-19 abroad, most of them — 412 — in Italy, the world’s hardest-hit country. Some 37 Romanians have died so far in Italy, Britain, France, Spain, and Germany.
The country has been under a state of emergency since March 16, and President Klaus Iohannis on April 6 announced his intention to extend it by one month, while the government decided to postpone local elections that should have been held in early summer.
The Suceava paramedic’s death adds to worries about how Romania’s system is coping with the epidemic. Doctors and nurses have spoken out in recent weeks over insufficient equipment for those treating COVID-19 cases, and many medical staff have resigned over the shortages as well as mismanagement and fatigue.
Romanian platform for online activism DeClic has launched an Internet campaign urging the authorities to speed up the testing under the slogan “Mr. [Prime Minister Ludovic] Orban, don’t toy with our lives.”
Romania, a country of 19.5 million, has tested 47,207 people for coronavirus. By comparison, fellow EU member the Czech Republic has tested almost 99,000 people out of a total of 10.5 million. The Czech death toll stands at 99, less than half of Romania’s.
With reporting by RFE/RL’s Romanian Service, digi24.ro, g4.ro, Reuters, and hotnews.ro
A former top official of the independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Akhmed Zakayev, has been hospitalized in London with coronavirus symptoms.
Zakayev’s relatives told RFE/RL that the exiled former member of the Chechen separatist government was hospitalized on April 6 after he experienced difficulties breathing.
The relatives added that three days prior to his hospitalization, other family members were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever and cough, as well.
Medical officials asked Zakayev’s relatives to sign a consent paper to use artificial respiration during his treatment.
Zakayev, 60, served as culture minister, deputy prime minister, prime minister, and foreign minister in Chechnya’s separatist government.
He and his immediate family members have been residing in exile in London since 2002.
He is wanted in Russia for alleged terrorism, which he and his supporters deny.
Covid-19 has left many families physically isolated in their homes. A lot of people have a lot of questions, and parents who are furloughed, laid off, or ordered to close their small businesses are facing the specter of financial insecurity. Unfortunately, anxious parents make for anxious kids. And, despite their best efforts, the massive social disruptions caused by the coronavirus are impossible to hide from children. (School being canceled for the rest of the year is a dead giveaway.) During this time, parents need to model effective stress and anxiety management for their kids. The tricky part is finding a language to help parents and children communicate about what emotions they’re feeling. That’s where a feelings chart can help.
A feelings chart is really any tool that helps a child expand their emotional vocabulary. It helps kids reflect on their feelings and describe them with more precision. “It can be a list of feeling words or a picture chart of words and expressions – whatever the child finds easier to use,” says Ellen O’Donnell, Ph.D, pediatric psychologist at MassGeneral for Children in Boston, instructor at Harvard Medical School, and co-author of the book Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World. “It’s a fairly intuitive idea, as anyone who has sent an emoji in a text, rather than a prolonged description of their emotions, can attest to.”
Feelings are nuanced, and a lot of times sad/mad/scared/happy doesn’t cut it. A feelings chart — or wheel or whatever you feel is best — presents kids with more options for reflection. It can also help them understand that they can experience more than one emotion at a time, even feelings that seem to contradict each other.
Understanding emotions is complex stuff and young children lack the cognitive reasoning skills to name theirs properly. Having a tool like a feelings chart helps parents and children communicate better. This is always a crucial skill for families, but even more so now that with everyone feeling trapped in the house.
“Having an accurate and specific label for a feeling helps kids (and helps parents help kids) feel their feelings, validate them and accurately empathize with them,” says O’Donnell. “And it helps parents find an effective solution if and when the kids are ready for one.”
Many kids who initially felt happy to have time off from school, O’Donnell adds, are now feeling sad to miss their friends, bored without their usual activities, and maybe a bit more irritable and angry. “If we can help them accurately label these feelings we can help them come up with coping skills to practice, like FaceTiming a friend when they’re feeling sad, lonely, bored and irritated with siblings.”
Kids may not want to speak about their feelings right away, and that’s fine. Feelings charts don’t have to be printed sheets, or take place during a formal discussion. Making things too serious can sometimes be counterproductive. Parents simply being present with their children can draw out these feelings, and the feelings chart can grow out of that.
“I recently had a five-ear-old patient who independently started her own feelings chart by drawing a heart and writing some words with arrows pointing to the heart to describe how she has been feeling while home on quarantine with two medical provider parents,” says O’Donnell. “We added new feelings words to it in our session.”
Things are not normal now, and normal is probably not going to be the same as it was. In the meantime, while families are staying at home and cut off from their routines and their regular support network, they will need to be able to communicate and solve problems that they perhaps were able to avoid before, when work, school, or activities offered respite. But once normal returns – whatever that will look like – reflection and communication are skills kids and parents will use for the rest of their lives.
We brought you the best COVID-19 memes on the internet… and just when we thought we couldn’t make any more memes, or laugh at them for that matter, we realized the absurdity of trying to homeschool and work and exist and teach and cook and Zoom and do it all for the foreseeable future.
May the odds be ever in your favor, homeschooling parents. We’re sending you all our virtual vibes. And drink of choice.
1. I dunno
Fake it ’til you make it, bud.
2. All the options
Sometimes there are no good options.
3. Scribble scrabble
Wear masks. But maybe not outside at recess. But maybe at recess. But not if you’re eating at your desk. But what if you’re eating at recess?
4. Hold your breath
You’ll probably only lose your voice though if the kids stay home.
5. Poor Billy Madison
Nah, just put on Hamilton.
6. Screen time
To be fair, Netflix has some great educational programs. I mean how else would you teach business practices other than letting your kids watch Narcos?
7. Schedules are important
7:00: Kids console crying parents.
No really, everything is fine!
9. 90s kids
To be fair, Zack Morris practically babysat us.
Hilarious but DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
At least this kid has on pants.
12. Wishes for fishes
Pour all your money into the fountains, people.
Make sure your kids have a red stapler…
We’ll never forget 2020. As much as we’d like to.
Be careful what you make fun of!
There’s that growth mindset…
Nothing to see here.
Where’s Jenny when you need her?
Homeschooling parents: Really putting the “win” in wine.
It’s been a long five months. No judgement here, Marge.
21. Tiger King
We wanted to love it. We really did.
But to be fair… who does?
Well at least your kids will learn something about science as they watch you age…
Whether you’re sending your kids back in person in full PPE or prepping for virtual learning, we’re wishing all of your kids (and all of our teachers!) a great school year… and fast internet, well-lit makeshift classrooms and lots of patience. Here’s to you, parents and educators!
Rare criticism by an Iranian Health Ministry official of China’s controversial COVID-19 figures has angered hard-liners in Tehran, some of whom asked if he was speaking on behalf of the country’s archrival, the United States.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said at a press briefing on April 5 that China’s statistics about the number of deaths and infections from the coronavirus are “a bitter joke.”
He added that, if Beijing said it got the coronavirus epidemic under control within two months of its outbreak, “one should really wonder [if it is true].”
The comments did not go down well with Chinese officials or hard-liners in Iran who reminded Jahanpur that China has stood with Iran at a time of severe crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak and crushing economic sanctions applied by Washington.
Many questions have been raised in the Western media recently about China’s official coronavirus figures amid suggestions that the real numbers are likely much higher.
Officials wait outside a Beijing metro station to monitor for anyone infected with the coronavirus.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China’s ruling Communist Party on April 3 of being involved in a “disinformation campaign” regarding the virus that is being used to “deflect from what has really taken place.”
But similar criticism from an Iranian official whose country enjoys strong relations with China led to raised eyebrows and has provoked crunching criticism.
“At a time when China has been Iran’s major helper in the fight against the coronavirus and has provided the country with several strategic products while bypassing the [U.S.] sanctions, Jahanpur suddenly becomes the spokesperson of [U.S. President Donald Trump] and [Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin] Netanyahu,” the editor of the hard-line Mashreghnews.ir, Hassan Soleimani, said on Twitter on April 5.
Others, including Hossein Dalirian, a former editor with Tasnim news, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), went as far as calling for Jahanpur’s dismissal from the ministry.
China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, also joined the chorus, telling Jahanpur he should follow press briefings by China’s Health Ministry “carefully” in order to draw his conclusions.
Amid the mounting criticism and in what appeared to be damage control, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi tweeted in support of China, saying the country has led the way in suppressing the coronavirus while also “generously” helping other countries.
“The Chinese bravery, dedication, and professionalism in COVID-19 containment deserves acknowledgement,” Musavi tweeted on April 5, adding that Iran has been grateful to China in these trying times with the hashtag #Strongertogether.
Musavi’s tweet was retweeted by Chang, who said “Rumors cannot destroy our friendship.”
The Gvt. ppl. of #China lead the way in suppressing #coronavirus generously aiding countries across . The Chinese bravery, dedication professionalism in COVID19 containment deserve acknowledgment. has always been thankful to in these trying times. #StrongerTogether
For his part, Jahanpur attempted to calm the waters by publicly praising China for supporting his country during the outbreak.
“The support of China for the Iranian nation in [these] difficult days is unforgettable,” he said on Twitter on April 6.
He also said the Iranian government and the nation are grateful and will not forget the countries that stood with them during the pandemic.
Jahanpur’s tweet was welcomed by Ambassador Chang, who retweeted it while writing in Persian: “Friends should help each other, we fight together.”
Citing current and former intelligence officials, The New York Times reported last week that the CIA has told the White House since February that China has understated the number of its infections.
China has claimed that it has been open and transparent about the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, which emerged in December in Wuhan, where the virus has officially claimed the lives of 2,563 people and a nationwide total of 3,331 as of April 6. Beijing also claims some 81,708 total infections.
Radio Free Asia issued a report on March 27 suggesting tens of thousands of more people had died in Wuhan from the coronavirus than the official total given by Beijing.
Some Iranian officials believe the country’s coronavirus outbreak, by far the worst in the Middle East, began because of Tehran’s ties to China, which has been buying a limited amount of Iranian oil despite strict U.S. sanctions and penalties.
Iranian officials think the virus reached Qom, Iran’s epicenter of the outbreak, through Chinese workers and students residing in the city who had recently traveled to China. Flights conducted to and from China by Iran’s Mahan Air — even after coronavirus cases were registered — have been also blamed for exacerbating the epidemic.
Since the outbreak in Qom in February, Chinese officials have sent Iran regular shipments of relief materials — including masks, test kits, and other equipment — to help the country battle against the coronavirus.
According to official figures released on April 6, COVID-19 in Iran has killed 3,739 people and infected 60,500.
Much like the case of China, many people inside and outside of Iran have questioned Tehran’s official figures on the pandemic.
An ongoing investigation by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that studies figures released by officials from Iran’s 31 provinces puts the total number of deaths in Iran at 6,872 people as of April 5, with some 94,956 infections.
Country leaders, some of them from authoritarian regimes, are being accused of using the coronavirus pandemic to consolidate power and crack down on dissenters.
In March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency that shut down the courts — including his own corruption trial — and allowed Shin Bet security forces to start tracking quarantine violators using their cellphones.
Later in the month, Hungary’s parliament voted to cancel elections, suspend its own legislative power, and grant Prime Minister Viktor Orbán the right to rule by decree indefinitely, all under the premise of fighting COVID-19. It also introduced five-year jail sentences for anyone spreading “fake news” about the virus.
Last week, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev authorized a rapid and strict military draft that the Defense Ministry said would ensure “the effective and complete protection of the health of our people.” Recruits are being charged with disinfecting spaces and patrolling streets during the lockdown.
Emin Abbasov, a human rights attorney in Azerbaijan, said emergency measures can threaten civil liberties anywhere. But the risk is greatest in countries with dictatorships and weak democracies.
“The restrictive measures imposed on civil liberties take place outside the accountability of those who exercise them — without effective parliamentary control and an independent judiciary,” Abbasov told Business Insider.
In many places, the situation is exacerbated by the absence of a free press.
“In the absence of such guarantees, people do not have the opportunity to assess the necessity, adequacy, and appropriateness of measures taken in the event of a pandemic,” Abbasov said.
Azerbaijan’s leader threatens to root out the country’s ‘enemies’
In his 16-year tenure as president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev has faced numerous accusations of corruption, including vote-rigging, human rights abuses, and involvement in a massive billion bribery scheme to whitewash the country’s image abroad. As COVID-19 spread in March, Aliyev warned the pandemic might require him to purge the nation of “enemies.”
“Where do these provocations come from? From the very fifth column, from the enemies who are among us,” he said during a March 19 speech to mark Nowruz, the Persian New Year. “The elements calling themselves opposition, the traitors who receive money from abroad. Their main goal is to destroy Azerbaijan.”
Aliyev added that he was considering a state of emergency and that, during the crisis, “the rules of completely new relationships will apply.”
“The Azerbaijani government has a longstanding pattern of pursuing trumped-up charges against government critics in order to silence them,” HRW’s Giorgi Gogia said in a statement. “The case against Yagublu falls squarely in that pattern.”
“President Aliyev clearly said that the new reality of the coronavirus does not tolerate the existence of an opposition,” Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova told Business Insider.
Ismayilova said others are being summoned to the police and threatened with arrest for writing social media posts about the coronavirus.
In El Salvador, swift action spurs accusations of a ‘political emergency’
A full week before El Salvador reported its first novel coronavirus infection, the National Congress approved President Nayib Bukele’s request for emergency powers — including closing schools and limiting free speech, assembly, and travel — to contain the disease. He implemented a nationwide lockdown on March 21, the same day the country reported its first COVID-19 patient.
“Looking at the measures that the president has taken, I think this is more of a political emergency than a public health emergency,” Mariana Moisa, an anthropologist in San Salvador and member of the Uncomfortable Feminist Collective, told Business Insider.
“At this moment when there’s a public health problem, they are putting more emphasis on the militarization of society than they are investing in the healthcare system. There’s no guarantee that our rights will be respected.”
Bukele promised a 0 stipend to day laborers struggling during the lockdown, but after aid centers became too crowded, he closed them and told citizens to go online or call a toll-free number. On March 30, police in San Salvador used pepper spray to disperse thousands of street vendors and others gathering to demand financial help.
In a televised address on Monday, Bukele warned that security forces would be cracking down further on quarantine violators: “The restrictions are the same, but we are going to be much tougher in enforcing them.”
Those who defy the order could have their cars confiscated or be taken to “containment centers” for 30 days, he said, according to Reuters. Bukele added that the lockdown was being extended for 15 days, and he outlined a plan to track virus carriers.
A 14-year-old is among those arrested in Cambodia for talking about the pandemic
Cambodia reported 109 confirmed coronavirus cases on March 31, the same day its parliament submitted state-of-emergency legislation that would allow Prime Minister Hun Sen to order unfettered surveillance of telecommunications and censorship of media reports on COVID-19.
But civil rights activists worry that the measure, expected to pass on Friday, will grant Hun Sen far-reaching authority with little accountability.
“Instead of introducing a hasty and problematic law, the government should focus on enacting measures within their current powers in order to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cambodian Center for Human Rights director Chak Sopeaph said.
“Now is a time for action, considered measures, and precautions — not a time for pushing a vague law through parliament that does not include any protections for human rights.”
Since the start of the year, at least 17 people have been arrested in the country for sharing information about COVID-19, Al Jazeera reported, including members of the defunct opposition group Cambodia National Rescue Party.
Most were released after signing pledges to not “spread fake news,” but those still in pretrial detention face charges of incitement, conspiracy, and spreading false information.
Police also arrested a 14-year-old girl who posted on social media that she was worried about rumors of a coronavirus outbreak at her school.
“The Cambodian government is misusing the COVID-19 outbreak to lock up opposition activists and others expressing concern about the virus and the government’s response,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Uganda is using the coronavirus to fuel homophobia, activists warn
On April 1, police raided a shelter for LGBT people in the town of Kyengera, detaining 20 people for failing to follow social distancing. But Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said those charges were only added later.
“A search was conducted in the shelter in order to find evidence of ‘homosexuality,'” Mugisha told Business Insider. “The mayor personally beat up at least two of those arrested as he questioned them about their homosexuality.”
President Yoweri Museveni closed schools, churches, and mosques before any COVID-19 cases were reported in Uganda. He also banned public rallies, elections, political gatherings, and weddings for 32 days, and instituted a broad travel ban.
“You have seen how airports were clogged with people. That crowding is the perfect ground for new infections,” he said in a March 18 address. “Let us, therefore, move early to avoid the stampede.”
Movie theaters, nightclubs, and bars were all shuttered for a month. “These are very dangerous gathering points with the virus around,” Museveni added. “Drunkards sit close to one another. They speak with saliva coming out of their mouth. They are a danger to themselves.”
Are you kids bouncing off the walls? Are you fighting needlessly with your spouse? For most American families (and families around the world) the answer to these questions is an obvious “yes.” But are your kids also swearing like sailors?
Over at The New Yorker, one Rumaan Alam has suggested that not only are we all freaking out and figuring out what to do with our kids, but we’re also swearing around our kids more, and thus, they too, are becoming even more foul-mouthed than we thought possible. In other words, the biggest side-effect of COVID-19 is that our kids are hearing us swear way more than they normally do, and thus, will probably start swearing more, too. Granted, this is mostly anecdotal, but when Alam mentions that one of his friends said: “I think the problem in our house is that I am using more bad language out of my own weakness and frustration” and that their kids are “emboldened” to use bad language as a result, many of us can relate.
Personally, I have never said, “f—” or “f—ing” in front of my three-year-old. That is, until about two weeks ago. I’m not even sure why, or if it was justified in any kind of way that makes sense. It was just one of those moments where I blurted out, “I don’t know what to f—ing do!” It wasn’t even directed at anyone. It was like I was a malfunctioning robot, my basic programming was receiving contradictory information, and smoke was starting to come out of my circuits.
Right now, I’m lucky. My daughter has not started saying “f—” because I said it. But, as we continue to shelter-in-place, I have no doubt that at some point, my little one will become a master of colorful metaphors well before she can spell.
Spooky season is here, but it feels a bit different this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many places to cancel time-honored Halloween traditions, such as haunted houses and trick-or-treating this year, in following CDC safety guidelines. This means that families will have to come up with creative (and safe!) approaches to celebrating the beloved holiday this year.
Now here’s the good news: we’ve already thought of some fun ways for you and your family to celebrate!Here are some cute crafts and fun ideas that will make you forget that you can’t trick-or-treat this year:
Boo! your neighbors
If you want to spread some spooky fun around your neighborhood, consider putting together some Boo bags with your family!
Some items you can include in your “Boo” bags are:
The best part about this you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to spread some Halloween love in your neighborhood. You can find all of the items you to make my “Boo” bags and bucket at the dollar store or the Dollar Spot at your local Target.
Make some scary treats
Making desserts is a fun way to spend time together and get in the Halloween spirit. Try to come up with ways to make your favorite desserts a little more spooky – or, you can be like me and search Pinterest for ideas. My kids and I made these spooky monster cookies together and we had a blast doing it. You can make this activity even more fun by seeing who can make the spookiest monster cookie! Be sure to save a few and add them to your boo bags, too!
Flashlight scavenger hunt
No trick-or-treating? No problem! Let your kids get dressed up while you hide candy all over the house (or in your backyard!), turn out the lights, give your kids a flashlight, and let them hunt for their Halloween treats! They’ll have so much fun, they won’t even miss going door-to-door, and you can still collect your “parent tax” after.
Have a scary movie marathon in costume
After the scavenger hunt, get the family together on the couch to wind down and watch your favorite (family-friendly!) scary movies. They can eat some of the candy they found and the treats they made with you as movie snacks. Who knows, this may become your new family Halloween tradition. Win-win!
Make some spooky crafts together
Crafting is an essential part of every holiday – at least, in my house. My kids love any excuse to make something that they can proudly display and say, “I made that!” If you have little ones, you can do something as simple as purchase a small canvas and some paint from the dollar store and make something cute (and spooky!) with their hands and/or feet, or you can bust out the watercolors, the glue, some salt, and construction paper and let them make these awesome watercolor spiderweb crafts. Your family can also carve, and even paint, some pumpkins together. The possibilities are endless, and you can participate in the fun, too!
Not being able to trick-or-treat doesn’t have to mean that Halloween is ruined. Take this opportunity to create new traditions and memories with your family and close friends. Who knows, this could be the best Halloween season yet!