Friday, October 22, 2021

February 6, 2021 Kansas City Chiefs superfan Ty Rowton hugged strangers in the streets of Miami last year after watching his team win the Super Bowl and then joined hundreds of thousands of fans back home at a victory parade, thinking little of a mysterious virus that his buddies were beginning to talk about. The championship seems like a lifetime ago. Now the Chiefs are preparing to play in the Super Bowl again, and the virus has morphed into a once-in-a-century pandemic that has health officials on edge as fans congregate at parties and bars for the game.

The nation’s top health officials sounded the alarm this week about the Super Bowl being a potential superspreader event, and they urged people to gather with friends over Zoom, not in crowds.

 “I’m worried about Super Bowl Sunday, quite honestly. People gather they watch games together. We’ve seen outbreaks already from football parties,” said Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “So I really do think that we need to watch this and be careful.”

The Super Bowl comes as the nation sees a dramatic drop in new virus cases — a sign that the infection spike from holiday gatherings is easing. The virus has killed more than 459,000 people in the U.S., but the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases went from 180,489 as of Jan. 22 to 125,854 as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Health officials fear the game could seed new cases at exactly the wrong time. Just this week, the new coronavirus strain that spread quickly in the United Kingdom was confirmed in Kansas after turning up in several other states. Other highly contagious variants also have scientists worried. States are in a race to vaccinate before the newcomers become widespread and additional strains emerge.

After a long year of shutdowns, it remains to be seen whether Americans will heed the warnings for an event that was watched by more than 100 million people last year. The fact that it’s Tom Brady seeking his seventh Super Bowl victory against Kansas City’s star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, only adds to the intrigue surrounding the game.

Rowton, who goes to games wearing an arrowhead on his head and a cape signed by players, won’t be hugging strangers this year. But he won’t exactly be following the advice of health officials either: He plans to eat barbecue and watch the game in a friend’s basement “man cave.” He will be unmasked with about 10 other fans.

 “I have lost a lot more people to drugs this year who have relapsed, so for me it is one of those where I can’t live in fear because if I do that, I will probably relapse and start drinking again, and that will end up killing me for sure,” said Rowton, a recovering alcoholic who attended 329 straight home games before ending the streak this season.

The game will be played in front of about 22,000 fans in Tampa, many of them vaccinated health workers.

In Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor announced a temporary ordinance requiring that masks be worn outside in several popular gathering spots. The order states that violators could be fined $500 as a “last resort.”

Another ordinance requires masks at any indoor location when social distancing is not possible. That would include many bars and restaurants but not private residences.

The city has acquired 150,000 donated masks that officials will give out to anyone who needs one in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. The slogan is “need a mask, just ask.”

Castor, a former Tampa police chief who handled law enforcement for past Super Bowls in the city, said she is keenly aware that the goal is to prevent the game from becoming an event that triggers a spike in infections.

“We are hosting an event that is going to be the most-watched sporting event in the entire world,” she said. “We have got to get this right.”

As part of that effort, Castor released a joint video with Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas urging caution. Last year, an estimated 20,000 people showed up at the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City to watch the Super Bowl on a massive screen.

Lucas called for the exact opposite in the video: “I encourage everyone to celebrate in small groups instead of squeezing into a crowded bar.”

The Kansas Hospital Association enlisted the Chiefs’ play-by-play announcer to do a public service announcement urging health precautions.

Hospitals in Kansas, Missouri and several other Midwestern states were bursting in November and December with coronavirus patients, although cases have dropped recently. The situation was so dire at one point that rural patients were being flown hundreds of miles for treatment because closer hospitals were full. Health officials don’t want to see that scenario repeated.

“If you have 10 or 20 people you are meeting with, there is a very good likelihood that one or two of those people will have COVID-19,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection control for the University of Kansas Health System, which was inundated during the surge. “If you are in a small enclosed space, then three or four of those people will get it.”

Kile Chaney, a 42-year-old stonemason from Harrisonville, Missouri, said he will have no trouble following that advice. He described himself as introverted by nature and said he plans to barbecue wings and watch the game at home with his family.

“We don’t usually make too big of a deal to go out to Super Bowl parties anyway,” Chaney said, “so the COVID thing is not going to play into how we celebrate a Chiefs victory.”

SXM Radio Online

Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

“Representation Is the Bare Minimum”: Modeling’s Biggest Stars Speak Out