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Half a million deaths in the US, confirming the tragic reach of viruses

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Half a million deaths in the US, confirming the tragic reach of viruses

 

The toll was mostly a number for weeks after Cindy Pollock started planting tiny flags in her yard, one for each of the more than 1,800 Idahoans killed by COVID-19. Until two women she’d never met rang her doorbell in tears, looking for a place to mourn the father and husband they had just lost.

Then Pollock knew her tribute would never begin to express the sorrow of a pandemic that has now claimed 500,000 lives in the U.S. and counting, however heartfelt.

She said, “I just wanted to hug them.” “Because that was all I was capable of doing.”

The pandemic reached a landmark Monday after a year that has darkened doorways across the U.S. that once seemed impossible, a clear affirmation of the virus’s penetration into all parts of the nation and populations of all sizes and makeup.

“Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, said, “It’s very difficult for me to imagine an American who doesn’t know someone who has died or who has a family member who has died. “We really haven’t fully understood how bad it is for all of us, how devastating it is.”

Experts warn that in the next six months, amid a huge effort to vaccinate individuals, about 90,000 more deaths are possible. Meanwhile, the tragedy of the country continues to accrue in a manner unprecedented in recent American life, said Donna Schuurman of Portland, Oregon’s Dougy Center for Mourning Children & Families.

Americans have pulled together to confront disasters and console survivors at other times of epic loss, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet the country is profoundly divided this time around. Death, extreme disease and financial distress are being dealt with by staggering numbers of families. And many are left in solitude to cope, unable to even hold funerals.

“We are all grieving in a way,” said Schuurman, who advised the families of those killed in terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and shootings at school.

In recent weeks, virus deaths have declined to an average of less than 1,900 per day from more than 4,000 recorded on some days in January.

Still, the toll registered by Johns Hopkins University, at half a million, is already larger than the population of Miami or Kansas City, Missouri. The number of Americans killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined, is approximately comparable. Every day for almost six months, it is close to 9/11.

President Joe Biden said Monday, “The people we lost were extraordinary,” urging Americans to consider the individual lives taken by the virus, rather than be numbed by the enormity of the toll.

“Just like that,” he said, “so many of them have taken their last breath in America alone.”

The toll, which accounts for 1 in 5 recorded deaths worldwide, has far surpassed early estimates, which predicted that a robust and sustained response would be marshalled by federal and state governments and individual Americans would heed warnings.

Instead, last spring, a drive to restart the economy and the reluctance of many to retain social distance and wear face masks fuelled the spread.

The numbers alone may not come close to the heartbreak being captured.

I never doubted once that he was not going to make it. … “Nancy Espinoza, whose husband, Antonio, was hospitalised with COVID-19 last month, said, “I believed so much in him and my faith.

The couple from California’s Riverside County had been together since high school. They sought parallel careers in nursing and they began a family. Then, on the 25th of January, Nancy was called to Antonio’s bedside just before the last beat of his heart. He was 36 and left a 3-year-old son behind.

 

According to a Pew Research Center study, by late last fall, 54 percent of Americans reported knowing someone who had died of COVID-19 or was hospitalised with it. The sorrow among Black Americans, Hispanics and other minorities was much more common.

Since then, deaths have almost doubled, with the scourge spreading well beyond the urban areas of the Northeast and Northwest slammed by the virus last spring and the cities of the Sun Belt struck hard last summer.

The seriousness of the danger in some areas was slow to sink in.

When a beloved professor died last spring at a community college in Petoskey, Michigan, people mourned, but many remained wary of the magnitude of the hazard, Mayor John Murphy said. That changed after a local family held a party in a barn over the summer. Out of the 50 who attended, 33 got infected. Three of them died, he said.

“I think people felt, at a distance, ‘This is not going to get me,'” Murphy said. “Over time, though, the attitude has entirely shifted from ‘Not me. That’s not our area. “I’m not old enough,” to where the real deal has been.

The most painful talks were the ones without answers for Anthony Hernandez, whose Emmerson-Bartlett Memorial Chapel in Redlands, California, was overwhelmed with the burial of COVID-19 victims, as he tried to console mothers, fathers and children who had lost loved ones.

“We had every gurney at one point, every dressing table, every embalming table with someone on it,” he said.

Pollock unveiled the memorial in her yard last fall in Boise, Idaho, to address what she saw as a widespread denial of the threat. In December, as deaths spiked, she was planting 25 to 30 new flags at a time. But those who pause or stop to pay respect or to mourn have somewhat eased her anger.

“I think that’s part of what I wanted, to get people to talk,” she said, “Not just like, ‘Look at how many flags are in the yard today compared to last month,’ but trying to help people who have lost loved ones talk to others.”

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St. Louis City and County police link three homicide investigations

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St. Louis City and County police link three homicide investigations

ST. LOUIS – Detectives in St. Louis City and County believe they’ve gathered enough evidence and information to link three recent murders in the area.

The killings happened three days apart, respectively – on Sept. 13, Sept. 16, and Sept. 19.

According to county police spokeswoman Sgt. Tracy Panus, the Sept. 13 shooting occurred just after 9:30 p.m. in the 9900 block of Glen Owen Drive.

Police responded to a ShotSpotter activation at that location and found a girl, Marnay Haynes, who had been shot several times and was laying in the middle of the street. Haynes was pronounced dead at the scene. She was 16.

Haynes had been reported missing as a runaway but was not considered endangered.

On Sept. 16, city police were called to a shooting in the 3800 block of W. Florissant Avenue around 11:45 p.m. and found the body of a woman in her 30s.

Around 12:10 p.m. on Sept. 19, officers found 24-year-old Casey Ross shot to death in a vacant lot in the 1500 block of Mullanphy Street.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will hold a news conference Tuesday morning around 11 a.m. to further address the matter.

Anyone with information on the W. Florissant and Mullanphy murders can contact city homicide detectives at 314-444-5371. Those with information on the Glen Owens killing can contact county investigators at 636-529-8210.

If you have a tip in any of the aforementioned investigations and wish to remain anonymous, you can call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.

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Ask Amy: Insecure wife blames herself for insecurity

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Ask Amy: Woman should leave abusive relationship

Dear Amy: I have been with my husband for 13 years. I have always been very insecure.

It makes me paranoid when he texts other women, even if it’s just friendly.

I check his phone and see that he has deleted texts. This really bothers me, but he says he does it because it bothers me when he texts other women, even when there is nothing bad in the texts. That’s true.

I have made a very bad situation in my marriage. My husband is exasperated by my behavior. I don’t know how to help my insecurities. They are irrational. I know that but it gets in my head to check his phone.

I did stop checking for a while when I got into a good spot in my head. But recently I did it again. I feel like I am fighting a battle with myself and I don’t know how to win. Why do I get this urge? How do I stop it?

And how do I fix the damage I have done to my marriage?

— My Own Worst Enemy

Dear MOWE: You and your husband are in a loop. Marriage counseling would be a great idea for both of you.

However, you take full responsibility, and it seems to me that your husband definitely plays his part.

The common and often suggested solution when there is suspicion in a relationship is for full transparency.

You wouldn’t be triggered into your unhealthy phone-checking if your husband simply shared these conversations with you: “Sharon said the funniest thing about a movie she just saw. It’s hilarious. Check it out…”

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Giant California sequoias saved from wildfire, others may not be so lucky

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Giant California sequoias saved from wildfire, others may not be so lucky

THREE RIVERS, Calif. — Four famous giant sequoias were not harmed by a wildfire that reached the edge of Giant Forest in California’s Sequoia National Park, authorities said.

The Four Guardsmen, a group of trees that form a natural entryway on the road to the forest, were successfully protected from the KNP Complex fire by the removal of nearby vegetation and by wrapping fire-resistant material around the bases of the trees, the firefighting management team said in a statement Sunday.

The KNP Complex began as two lightning-sparked fires that eventually merged and has scorched more than 37 square miles in the heart of sequoia country on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

There was no immediate word, however, on the full extent of damage in several other sequoia groves reached by a separate blaze, the Windy Fire, in the Giant Sequoia National Monument area of Sequoia National Forest and the Tule River Indian Reservation.

The Windy Fire has burned through the Peyrone and Red Hill groves, as well as a portion of the Long Meadow Grove along the Trail of 100 Giants.

Firefighters battle the Windy Fire as it burns in the Trail of 100 Giants grove of Sequoia National Forest, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A portion of one giant sequoia along the trail was confirmed to have burned, said Thanh Nguyen, a spokesman for the fire command.

Fire crews with hoses and water-dropping helicopters were working to limit damage to the giant sequoias in the groves, where there are also other types of trees.

Sequoias have adapted to fire and can benefit if the flames are low intensity.

The Windy Fire has scorched more than 39 square miles (101 square kilometers) and was just 4% contained.

The KNP Complex forced the evacuation of Sequoia National Park last week, and on Sunday much of adjacent Kings Canyon National Park was closed. Visitors to areas that were still open were warned of hazardous air quality due to smoke.

A large area of Northern California was under a red flag warning for extreme fire danger Monday due to dry offshore winds that can raise fire danger.

The warning did not extend into Southern California, but forecasters said there would be weak Santa Ana winds and significant warming — elevating the risk of wildfires.

Historic drought tied to climate change is making wildfires harder to fight. It has killed millions of trees in California alone. Scientists say climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

More than 7,000 wildfires in California this year have damaged or destroyed more than 3,000 homes and other buildings and torched well over 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers) of land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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Warren County COVID update for Sept. 20

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Warren County finds new school COVID cases in Sept. 14 update

Posted: Updated:

Warren County

WARREN COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Warren County Health Services confirmed 15 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, as well as 30 recoveries.

As of Monday, the county was monitoring 204 active coronavirus cases, included nine hospitalized cases. That’s down by one from Sunday.

Warren County COVID update for Sept 20

One case was tied to a school district, as the new 2021-22 school year enters another week. The case was connected to someone at Queensbury Union Free School District.

Recent cases have stemmed from a combination of household and work exposures, out-of-state travel and youth sports.

“We have had a number of cases recently where people went to work or school while ill with COVID-19,” said Warren County Health Services Director Ginelle Jones. “If you have as much as a sniffle, please stay home and make arrangements for a COVID test.”

Three of Monday’s cases were among those already fully vaccinated for coronavirus. To date, 370 of Warren County’s 42,973 fully vaccinated residents have contracted the virus.

Warren County Health Services is waiting for state guidance to begin booster clinics for the general population ages 65 and older, following clinics held for the immunocompromised in recent weeks.

The county is holding vaccine clinics from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Monday at Pregis LLC in Glens Falls; 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21 and Sept. 28 at Warren County Municipal Center; and 3-4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23 at Johnsburg Central School in North Creek.

Warren County also updated its maps dividing cases and vaccinations by zip code.

1632220114 831 Warren County COVID update for Sept 20
1632220114 431 Warren County COVID update for Sept 20

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SLU director of Forensic Science weighs in on search for Gabby Petito

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SLU director of Forensic Science weighs in on search for Gabby Petito

ST. LOUIS – The FBI searched the Florida home of Brian Laundrie and his parents Monday. Authorities were heard telling the Laundries they were in a “crime scene” and escorted them out of the home temporarily while evidence was collected and taken out of their home. Laundrie’s mustang was also towed away.

“It is definitely a case that has captivated the nation,” said Erik Hall, director of SLU’s Forensic Science Program and assistant founder of Hall Forensic Consulting. “I think it’s probably her social media presence, this cross-country trip that she is documenting step-by-step all along the way, and I think that a lot of younger people can relate.”

Hall said the investigation from a forensics mindset and standpoint, ramps up as soon as a body is found. Which authorities believe they likely found Gabby Petito’s body in Wyoming Sunday. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday to begin the confirmation process.

Hall said now the determination needs to be made on how Petito died if this is, in fact, her body that was found Sunday.

“How did she die? Is this a homicide, which I think is the presumption at this point? But was it an accident? was it natural?” Hall said.

Hall said they will also be looking at DNA, performing toxicology reports and they may not have positive confirmation of the identity right away.

“Human remains were discovered consistent with the description of Gabriel “Gabby” Petito. Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100 percent that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery,” Chris Jones with the FBI said in a news conference Sunday after the remains were found.

Hall said the forensic investigation will likely focus on the human remains found.

“The body is the best piece of evidence they have, you can potentially pull DNA off of the body, is there clothing there, could the clothing be looked at for trace amounts of DNA,” he said. “They still may be combing through the area looking for evidence sort of tracing the steps of where they think the body may have come into the area.”

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Pfizer says its coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective for kids ages 5 to 11

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Pfizer says its coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective for kids ages 5 to 11

As pediatric coronavirus cases spike in the U.S. amid the surging delta variant, Pfizer on Monday announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for kids ages 5 to 11.

The vaccine trial results — the first from any COVID-19 vax in children under 12 — showed that the vax at a lower dose was “safe, well tolerated and showed robust neutralizing antibody responses,” Pfizer said in its announcement.

The pharma megagiant now plans to submit its trial results to the Food and Drug Administration “as soon as possible” in the hopes of receiving emergency use authorization to get kids vaccinated ahead of the winter.

Hundreds of millions of people 12-plus from around the world have received Pfizer’s coronavirus vax this year.

“We are eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorization, especially as we track the spread of the delta variant and the substantial threat it poses to children,” Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a statement.

“Since July, pediatric cases of COVID-19 have risen by about 240% in the U.S. — underscoring the public health need for vaccination,” he added. “These trial results provide a strong foundation for seeking authorization of our vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, and we plan to submit them to the FDA and other regulators with urgency.”

As of last week, more than 5 million U.S. children have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic.

Child cases have increased significantly since the summer, with nearly 500,000 reported cases in the past two weeks.

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When can your elementary school kid get vaccinated? Here’s what we know

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When can your elementary school kid get vaccinated? Here’s what we know

(NEXSTAR) – Fall has brought anxiety for parents and students across the country as children return to the classroom without the protections of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the option to get children as young as five fully vaccinated may not be far away.

On Monday, Pfizer said it’s prepared to seek emergency authorization for children ages 5 to 12. That’s the same clearance that allowed millions of adult Americans to opt for injections in the winter and spring.

Pfizer decided to make the move after testing a lower dose vaccine – about a third of the standard dose given to adults – on elementary school children, according to the Associated Press. After their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told the AP.

Gruber said Pfizer and German partner BioNTech aim to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly afterward with applications to European and British regulators.

So what happens now? While there is no set timeline for the emergency use authorization approval, we do know that the initial EUA for adults was submitted in November of 2020 and approved for Americans 16 and older on December 11th. Additional studies allowed the companies to request a drop in the age threshold to 12 in early April of this year. That approval was granted a month later.

“For an EUA to be issued for a vaccine, for which there is adequate manufacturing information to ensure quality and consistency, FDA must determine that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine,” the FDA says of the emergency use vetting process.

If the companies do submit within the month, a similar approval timeline could allow vaccinations for elementary school children in time for the holidays.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the lone vaccine to move past the EUA and earn full approval from the FDA. The two-shot Moderna and single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain under emergency use authorization for older age groups. Moderna is also studying its shots in elementary school-aged children.

It remains to be seen how quickly parents will rush to get their children vaccinated once the lower dose injections are approved. As of last week, 54% of eligible children between the ages of 12 and 17 had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Rare instances of heart inflamation have been reported with mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer’s, but the AP reports that the company’s lower dose study of 2,268 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids isn’t large enough to detect such extremely rare side effects.

As of September 9th, 5.3 million children had tested positive for coronavirus, according to the AAP. The Washington Post reports 20,000 child hospitalizations and 460 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Lester wins 200th, Cards down Brewers for ninth straight win

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Lester wins 200th, Cards down Brewers for ninth straight win

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jon Lester notched his 200th career win, Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 for their ninth consecutive win.

The Cardinals have won nine straight for the first time since 2004 to solidify their grip on the second NL wild card.

They entered the night three games ahead of Cincinnati and Philadelphia for the final postseason spot. The longest winning streak in franchise history is 14 games, set in 1935.

Milwaukee’s magic number over the Cardinals to clinch the division title remained at three.

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UN climate talks: Faint progress on money, none on pollution

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UN climate talks: Faint progress on money, none on pollution

Opening pocketbooks wider to fight climate change? That’s looking slightly more doable. Closing more smokestacks for the same goal? Not yet sold.

World leaders made “faint signs of progress” on the financial end of fighting climate change in a special United Nations feet-to-the-fire meeting Monday, but they didn’t commit to more crucial cuts in emissions of the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming. So after two high-level meetings in four days, frustrated leaders are still pointing to tomorrow — or next month — for key climate-change fighting promises.

“If countries were private entities, all leaders would be fired, as we are not on track. Things remain the same,” Costa Rican President Carlos Quesada said after a closed-door session of more than two dozen world leaders at the United Nations. “It is absurd.”

Leaders said they had hope for promised “good news” coming Tuesday from U.S. President Joe Biden when he speaks at the U.N. Biden is expected to talk about America helping poorer countries develop cleaner energy and cope with climate change’s worsening harms. Other leaders are hoping rich nations will finally reach a long-promised $100 billion a year package to help poorer nations switch to cleaner energy and cope with climate change’s worst impacts.

The focus on climate change this week comes at the end of another summer of disasters related to extreme weather, including devastating wildfires in the western United States, deadly flooding in the U.S., China and Europe, a drumbeat of killer tropical cyclones worldwide and unprecedented heat waves everywhere.

After what was supposed to be the big push to get more commitments before huge climate negotiations in six weeks to ratchet up the 2015 Paris agreement, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said an end-of-October meeting of top economies “will be absolutely essential to guarantee the success” of climate talks. The G-20 meeting is one day before the start of U.N..-sponsored climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland.

“We need decisive action now to avert climate catastrophe. And for that we need solidarity,” Guterres said Monday after the private leaders’ meeting.

In the meeting, vulnerable countries such as the Marshall Islands and the Maldives that are “staring down the barrel” of climate change were “pleading with the developed world to step up to the plate” to provide needed money for them to cope with warming’s impacts, said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the meeting with Guterres.

The meeting was “very frank and outspoken — not polite,” said Jochen Flasbarth, Germany’s deputy environment minister.

Instead of 35 to 40 leaders attending as expected, only 21 heads of state participated. The top leaders of the four largest carbon polluting countries — China, the United States, India and Russia — all sent emissaries.

Guterres said he has three goals out of the Glasgow negotiations: emission reductions of about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030; $100 billion in annual financial help from rich to poor countries; and half of that money going to help poor nations adapt to warming’s worst impacts.

The rich nations made “faint signs of progress” on the money end, Johnson said. “Let us see what the president of the United States has to say tomorrow.”

American representatives at the meeting told other leaders that “good news was imminent” on the U.S. share of the $100 billion a year, said a senior U.N. official who briefed reporters, on condition of anonymity, about what went on in the closed-door session. Special U.S. climate envoy John Kerry represented the United States at the meeting instead of Biden, according to the United Nations.

But there was “not as much progress,” in getting countries to commit to deeper cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases, the U.N. official said.

The official said several countries that have not updated emissions-cutting goals said they were in the process of doing that, offering some hope. He wouldn’t say which countries those are, but both the No. 1 and No. 3 carbon polluters, China and India, fall in that category.

“Unless we collectively change course, there is a high risk of failure” at huge climate negotiations in six weeks, Guterres said in a news conference after the session. The upcoming climate negotiations in Scotland this fall are designed to be the next step after the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Guterres told CNN that Kerry’s negotiation efforts “have largely failed” because of China’s reluctance to cooperate with the United States. Earlier, in a weekend interview with The Associated Press, he characterized himself as “not desperate, but I’m tremendously worried.”

“We all agree that ‘something must be done’,” Johnson told the leaders, according to a statement released by his office. “Yet I confess, I’m increasingly frustrated that ‘something’ to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough. It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences.”

Johnson said the leaders should “rid the world of coal-fired power and internal combustion engines” and stop deforestation, while rich nations need to live up to their commitment to spend $100 billion a year to help poorer nations deal with climate change.

“It is the developing world that is bearing the brunt of catastrophic climate change,” Johnson said Monday. “We’re the guys that created the problem. … I understand the feelings of injustice in the developing world and the passionate appeals we just heard from Costa Rica, the Maldives and other countries.”

If all the planned coal power plants are built, Gutteres said, “the Paris targets would go up in smoke.”

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Boston dilapidated staircase near MBTA station where BU professor fell to his death has been removed

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Boston dilapidated staircase near MBTA station where BU professor fell to his death has been removed

The decrepit staircase near the Dorchester MBTA station where a Boston University professor plunged to his death on Sept. 11 has now been removed.

The rusted-out stairs near the JFK/UMass stop had been closed for nearly two years, but Milton’s David Jones, 40, somehow accessed them while out on a run and fell through the staircase.

In the wake of the BU professor’s death on Sept. 11, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation first further secured the site. Then, a weekend later, crews removed the dilapidated staircase.

“MassDOT demolished the staircase over the weekend after checking with investigatory authorities,” the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said in a statement Monday evening.

In January 2020 — about 20 months ago — the “structure was fenced in, a cement barricade was installed, and a sign was installed by the MBTA stating that the stairs would be closed,” MassDOT said last week.

The state Department of Transportation added last week, “MassDOT mobilized an emergency contract to further secure the site overnight last night.”

Massachusetts State Police have not specified how Jones was able to access the stairs.

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