US Doctors offer to give free flu shots to detained migrants, warn of epidemic
Weather Channel app uses Watson to tell you when flu season is coming
Are you the sort who grows wary around other people when flu season hits? You now have another tool in your (slightly anti-social) arsenal. The latest version of the Weather Channel app for Android and iOS now includes a Flu Insights feature that uses IBM's Watson to warn you when influenza is likely to be on the warpath. The team-up wields machine learning to provide a 15-day flu forecast as well notifications that pop up at key moments, such as the start of flu season or confirmed outbreaks. Ideally, this will keep you from going to a house party full of soon-to-be-sick virus carriers.
A group of physicians, alarmed that the Trump administration is denying flu vaccines to immigrants in custody, is urging the Department of Homeland Security to accept its offer to provide free flu shots to California detainees.
In a Nov. 5 letter, the doctors pleaded with the administration to reconsider its decision to not vaccinate detained migrants for flu despite the deaths of at least three children in CBP custody during the 2018 flu season.
The doctors, members of a recently formed group, have offered to stage a mobile flu vaccine at no cost to the government at the San Ysidro, California, Customs and Border Protection processing and detention facility.
Some migrants waiting in Mexico for U.S. court hearings caught crossing illegally
Roughly one in 10 migrants pushed back to Mexico to await U.S. court hearings under a Trump administration program have been caught crossing the border again, a top border official said on Thursday. Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said during a White House briefing that migrants returned to Mexico under a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) have a 9% recidivism rate. Many of those migrants intend to seek asylum in the United States.
“We implore you to allow our volunteer physicians to hold our requested influenza vaccine clinic,” the physicians stated in the letter.
Customs and Border Protection, part of Homeland Security, did not accept the offer. A spokesperson who did not wish to be named because of agency policy said in a statement emailed to NBC News that the agency never has administered vaccines and people aren't usually held in custody very long.
"As a law enforcement agency and due to the short term nature of CBP holding and other logistical challenges, operating a vaccine program is not feasible," the spokesperson said.
Although CBP’s guidelines recommend holding people no longer than 72 hours, the agency has been holding people far longer as arrivals of migrants seeking asylum spiked last year and this year, although they have since fallen.
DHS Sued for Answers About Its Use of DNA Testing at the Border
"DHS has deployed this privacy-invasive technology without explaining how accurate the testing is, whether families can challenge the results, or how the program may be expanded in the future," said EFF Staff Attorney Saira Hussain.The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint in federal court in San Francisco earlier this week, asking a judge to force the DHS to share information on its use of Rapid DNA testing.
"We write with urgency"
In a Nov. 5 letter to Kevin McAleenan, who was the acting director of the Department of Homeland Security and Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services secretary, said they would provide 100 doses of the influenza vaccines and four volunteer physicians to administer them. McAleenan resigned and Chad Wolf has been named new DHS acting secretary.
"This is how epidemics begin," Dr. Luz Contreras Arroyo, a member of the group and signatory to the letter, told NBC News. "It's not just migrants. Workers will come out to communities, potentially spreading that virus and it could get out of control."
"These are people as well," Arroyo added, speaking of the detained families. "They are under the care of the government, most not having committed crimes. Seeking asylum is not a crime."
The group had set a deadline of Tuesday for the administration to respond before making the request public.
U.S. Senate unanimously passes Hong Kong rights bill
The U.S. Senate, in a unanimous vote, passed legislation on Tuesday aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong amid China's crackdown on a pro-democracy protest movement in that vital financial center. © ASSOCIATED PRESS Riot police detain a protestor after he tried to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. About 100 anti-government protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university Tuesday, their choices dwindling along with their food supplies as they braced for the endgame in a police siege of the campus that entered its third day.
The doctors warned that migrants are not the only people at risk of illness.
"Flu season has already begun in many parts of the country, so we write with urgency," the doctors stated. "Many people, including those working at and living near CBP facilities, will be at an even higher risk than what is typical."
The doctors contributed money and raised more from friends and others to pay the cost of the vaccines. Physicians are volunteering their time to provide the shots, said Arroyo, a Sacramento family medicine physician and psychiatrist.
The doctors said they also have an established volunteer network of physicians licensed to operate in all states to get the necessary vaccines and work with CBP to “create a system to ensure that the majority of migrant families” held in CBP custody are vaccinated.
They hope for government funding to help pay the cost for vaccines systemwide. If not, they will try to find other funding.
"Alarming mortality rate"
The doctors said that based on an estimated 200,000 children in federal custody in the past two years, the three deaths of detained childrenare nine times higher than the expected death rate for children from flu.
Options narrow for last Hong Kong campus protesters as arrests take a toll
Options narrow for last Hong Kong campus protesters as arrests take a toll
“In our professional medical opinion, this alarming mortality rate constitutes an emergency which threatens the safety of human lives, particularly children,” says the letter signed by seven physicians.
In August, CBP announced that it would not be vaccinating migrant families in its holding centers ahead of the flu season. At the time,because of the “short-term” stays of immigrants in custody and the complexities of operating a vaccination program.
But Arroyo said the government has done wide scale vaccinations before and given out large amounts of vaccine to prevent illness from spreading and prevent epidemics. She said it is cost effective and less than the cost of hospitals and ICUs for detainees, staff and residents once they become sick.
CBP's cells and pens of chain-link fence with concrete floors and holding rooms are known to be very cold and are often called hieleras, which translates to freezer or icebox, by those held in them, which include infant children.
Health care providers have protested longer detention periods for migrants, warning that children in particular would.
Overcrowded conditions worsen risk
The doctors offering to operate the flu vaccination clinic notedby the DHS Office of Inspector General.
U.S. House to attempt quick passage of Hong Kong human rights bill
U.S. House to attempt quick passage of Hong Kong human rights billWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday will attempt to pass legislation unanimously approved by the Senate that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong amid a pro-democracy movement there, a senior House aide said.
That report found children in some CBP facilities didn’t have access to showers, didn’t always have opportunities to change clothes and that they had limited space for medical isolation. In an El Paso facility, a cell meant for 35 held 155 adult males with only one toilet and sink,.
A flu outbreak at the CBP McAllen facility affected nearly three dozen immigrants and
The Centers for Disease Control recommends all individuals above age 6 months get a flu vaccine by the end of October for the current flu season. Even the policy manual of the Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Homeland Security Department, notes the CDC requirement that immigrants be vaccinated for flu.
“As physicians, we have seen the effects of flu infections in the strongest as well as the most vulnerable, and the outcomes can be devastating,” the physicians stated.
Followon , and .
Cold weather comes, no relief in sight for Bosnia’s migrants .
BIHAC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Despite the approach of harsh weather, hundreds of refugees and migrants are still stuck in northwest Bosnia in a makeshift camp described by international organizations as dangerous and inhumane. (AP Photo/Kemal Softic) 4/20 SLIDES © Provided by The Associated Press In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, photograph migrants wait in line for a warm meal at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia.
Measles Outbreak In Arizona
The largest current outbreak of measles in the United States is happening in Arizona and health officials say that the outbreak was fueled by workers at a federal ...
Flu Virus Is New Killer In Eastern Ukraine
A flu epidemic is sweeping through the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk -- and the conflict smoldering nearby is making the situation even worse. Doctors ...