Nursing home residents die. Link to Ritzville wedding unclear

Ten residents of Grant County have recently died of COVID-19, including seven in long-term care centers.

Some of the deaths are under investigation for their possible connection to a large November wedding near Ritzville, Wash., that turned into a COVID superspreader event.

Some of the wedding guests worked at long-term care centers and tested positive, but a conclusive link between the wedding and the deaths has not been determined, according to a Thursday evening statement from the Grant County Health District based in Moses Lake.

“Because staff in these facilities care for entire units, direct contact with associated patients is not known,” said the health district’s statement.

The seven deaths reported in long-term care homes do not include four more deaths at the homes for which death certificate reviews are pending.

Outbreaks at the three homes where residents died recently were announced by the Grant County Health District. It previously said an outbreak at an unnamed Moses Lake long-term care home and an Ephrata long-term care home had been linked to the Ritzville wedding.

Lake Ridge Center in Moses Lake had recent deaths of four residents with the death certificate of a fifth resident being reviewed. The deaths confirmed to be caused by complications of COVID include a man in his 70s, a man in his 80s and two men in their 90s.

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Lake Ridge Center in Moses Lake had recent deaths of four residents for complications of COVID-19.

Columbia Crest Center in Moses Lake has had recent deaths tied to COVID of two residents, a man in his 80s and a man in his 70s.

McKay Healthcare and Rehab Center in Soap Lake had a recent death of a man in his 80s due to COVID, with three more deaths under review.

On Nov. 20, the health district reported there had been nine deaths from the outbreak at McKay, with just five confirmed and others under review.

At the time Lakeview had 49 residents and 12 staff who had tested positive for COVID-19 and Columbia Crest had 25 residents and 22 staff who had tested positive.

November COVID deaths

Grant County has had 54 COVID-related deaths to date, with about half of those deaths in November alone.

“Your choice to gather with those outside your household could lead to additional cases of COVID-19 and even death,” the health district said Thursday. “Please protect those you love, by staying home.”

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The Ritzville-area wedding also has been blamed for a school outbreak in Grant County, and the Benton Franklin Health District said it was responsible for at least four Tri-Cities area cases.

There could be more, but many people reached by public health contract tracers deny they had contact with anyone outside their household or will not take the call, according to the Benton Franklin Health District.

On Nov. 7, more than 300 people attended a wedding in an airplane hanger in a rural area of Eastern Washington north of the Tri-Cities between Ritzville and Moses Lake, even though at the

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Worcester officials advise residents to avoid in-person shopping, dining as new COVID cases surge to new highs

New coronavirus cases in Worcester over the last eight days eclipsed 1,000, officials said, surpassing the high-water mark from the spring which was 600.

Over an eight-day period from Thanksgiving through Thursday, Worcester saw 1,012 new COVID-19 cases, “a mind-boggling” number Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said.

On Wednesday alone, Augustus said, the city saw 278 cases, the most since April 22. Overall the city has now seen 10,127 cases since the start of the pandemic. The city reported nine more deaths since last week.

The positivity rate in the city is at 22%, Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh said.

Augustus said the positive tests are “widespread” across the city coming from households to childcare to hospitals.

“The testing number, more than 1,000 cases in the last eight days, that’s just a staggering number,” Augustus said. “And that does not really reflect the surge that we’re expecting that came from Thanksgiving travel.”

With numbers rising to new highs, Augustus still declined to implement stricter guidelines for restaurants and retail.

While a mandate wasn’t implemented, Hirsh and Augustus advised residents to avoid indoor dining and work from home when possible. The two officials recommended shopping online and ordering takeout to limit contact.

“Every trip that you take outside of your bubble at home is a risk,” Hirsh said.

Augustus believes if a mandate came, it should be implemented at the state level.

”We’re certainly talking amongst ourselves about things we can do,” Augustus said. “I do think it’s challenging for one city to shut down restaurants or shut down stores where people can go the next town over. You don’t get the benefit of that. People are just going to travel to other places and then you hurt your businesses.”

Augustus and Hirsh each shared concerns about the number of health care workers infected by the virus during the last week.

Augustus said as the city braces for a second surge of the virus, the shortages won’t come from PPE but in the form of health care staff.

Health care workers at the city’s two hospitals, Saint Vincent Hospital and UMass Memorial Health Care, reported a combined 99 new cases – an average of more than 12 per day.

“If you’re not willing [to follow the safety protocols] for yourself, if you’re not willing to do it for your family members, let me ask folks to try to do it for our health care workers,” Augustus said. “If you look at the hospitals, if you look at the nursing facilities, look at the positive numbers for health workers, they’re exhausted.”

As high as the numbers are now, the city anticipates they will continue to increase due to Thanksgiving travel.

Hirsh said the surge from Thanksgiving is expected around the middle of December with another surge after Christmas.

On Sunday, the DCU Center is expected to open as a field hospital. Gov. Charlie Baker toured the facility in Worcester on Thursday. CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care Dr. Eric Dickson

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Austin Mayor Steve Adler urged residents to stay home while vacationing

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Austin Mayor Steve Adler has confirmed to the KVUE that, after hosting his daughter’s wedding, he vacationed to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, last month with a group of people.

Both happened in early November, just as top health officials began urging families not to gather with others outside their households and the mayor himself asked people to stay home if they could in order to slow the number of coronavirus cases.

Adler told KVUE Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski that he did not violate his own order or orders by Gov. Greg Abbott and took multiple steps to ensure the safety of his guests, including rapid COVID-19 testing.

But the private actions are from a public official who has been front and center urging Austinites to take COVID-19 precautions — and he even did so while he was out of the country.

During a Facebook video message posted Nov. 9, Adler said, “We need to stay home if you can…We need to keep the numbers down. Now is not the time to relax.”

The mayor confirmed that when the video was recorded, he was in Mexico on vacation with eight people, including immediate and extended family, after flying from Austin on a private jet.

Two days earlier, Adler hosted a wedding and reception at Hotel Saint Cecilia, a South Congress Avenue hotel, for his daughter with 20 guests.

At the time, Austin was under Stage 3 guidelines, which suggest no gatherings of more than 10 people.

The mayor said he consulted with Austin’s top health authority, Dr. Mark Escott.

Adler said he held the event outdoors.

Guests had to maintain social distancing, he said, and the bride and groom gave out masks.

Attendees had to get a COVID-19 test prior to attending, he said.

Several wedding attendees flew to Austin from across the U.S., including a Seattle-based wedding photographer.

“It’s not perfect,” Adler said in an interview this week. “Obviously there are infections that could happen. But what we did was stay compliant with the rules.”

The next day, eight of those wedding attendees, including Adler and both immediate and extended family members, departed for their trip to Cabo.

The day after they left, Escott issued a public warning: “If you are going to go out to a restaurant, go out with your family, the people who live in your household, not the family or friends who don’t live in your household. And start to decrease those travels outside of your home that are not necessary.”

At the time, the rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 was below 4%, and although cases were rising, they spiked after Adler’s trip.

Under state guidelines, which supersede any local guidelines, “wedding receptions held outdoors are strongly recommended and are not subject to an occupancy limit.”

The week after Adler returned, on Nov. 19, the city raised the

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Torrington resident’s business cooks up colorful hand-dyed designs with retro style

TORRINGTON — Margaret Gumbs was considering what to do with her time when she retired — some day.

Already a quilter and having studied interior design, she took the advice of her husband, Rodney, and turned a hobby into a new line of at-home work.

The Torrington resident, who works as a nurse, placed what she calls Maggie McFly Designs, on the website Etsy. She offers hand-dyed cotton yarn, hand-dyed cotton fabric, organic cotton “onesies” for infants, hand-dyed table décor, and ice-dyed clothing. She plans to broaden the scope of her offerings even more as her business gains traction.

“I began just by making a tie dye shirt for my husband, and also made one for my son. They loved them and encouraged me to continue and offer them for sale,” said Gumbs, who spends four days a week immersed in her new cottage industry.

Meanwhile, her husband, Rodney Gumbs calls himself the CEO of shipping, handling and delivery of the items to customers via mail or other means.

Gumbs creates what is known as tie-dye fabric and clothing, wildly colorful patterns on cotton that became all the rage back in the 1960s and 1970s when flower power, and love and peace signs permeated society. The unique clothing designs faded with subsequent generations but never really went away. Tie dye has has become popular again in recent years among young people and some elders, who want to relive their days of rebellion and counter-culture living, at least in the way they dress.

In “ice tie-dying,” the T-shirt, or whatever fabric one is using, is completely wet, then wrung out. The material being dyed is scrunched up and placed on a rack over the top of another container or dish. The more “scrunching”, the more chances of white peeking through. Said Gumbs, “The dye comes in a very fine powder form. When you apply it you need to wear a respirator mask so you don’t breathe it in.”

The container holding the item being dyed must be large enough to contain liquids from the shirt. Gumbs then generously covers the fabric with ice. Crushed ice insures coverage of all of the edges without the risk of larger ice cubes sliding off right away. This step could be substituted with snow. The ice covered items must be left alone for six to eight hours or longer. The longer it sits, the more intense the colors get. The items must be rinsed until the water runs clear. Then, the item is allowed to dry.

The process of traditional tie-dye typically consists of folding, twisting, pleating, or crumpling fabric or a garment and binding with string or rubber bands, followed by application of dye(s). The manipulations of the fabric prior to the application of dye are called resists, as they partially or completely prevent the applied dye from coloring the fabric.

The ice tie-dye designs that Gumbs creates are free-flowing and almost replicate the works of avant-garde painters. The colors are vibrant with no

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Miami to distribute $250 gift cards to feed hungry residents

The city of Miami will be giving out $250 gift cards next month to residents who can’t afford groceries, as more Americans struggle to put food on the table due to widespread unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The rise in Americans’ food insecurity



Marking the latest local effort to combat a surge in hunger amid the pandemic, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tweeted on Tuesday that Publix gift cards would be handed out December 1. To get a gift card, families must present proof of residence in Miami and a signed application saying they’ve suffered financial hardships due to COVID-19. The gift cards will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

The number of families struggling to buy food has grown since the start of the pandemic, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis data show. Rising hunger has hit families with children and women of color particularly hard.

All told, more than 50 million Americans will face hunger this year, according to Feeding America projections. That translates to 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 4 children. Families in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi have seen the sharpest rise in hunger, the nonprofit organization said. 

Gift cards in Miami are just one way cities are trying to feed needy residents. Denver gave grants of up to $50,000 to its local nonprofits and food pantries while Seattle passed out $800 grocery store vouchers to 6,250 families. 

Rising unemployment has put food banks in high demand as families flock to their facilities for meals. The North Texas Food Bank told CBS News that volunteers are serving 10 million meals a month.

“History tells us that we can expect to see this elevated need for at least the next two years,” the food bank’s chief external affairs officer Erica Yeager said.

Hungry families existed long before the health crisis struck, but the pandemic has pushed more people into food insecurity, Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot said in a statement. 

Anti-hunger advocates say the key to reducing hunger is boosting the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. Congress has taken steps to do so in March, when the Families First Coronavirus Response Act added funding to the food stamp program. Lawmakers later extended the boost until September 2021. 

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