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Study: 82% of Missouri children have lead in their blood

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Study: 82% of Missouri children have lead in their blood

ST. LOUIS – More than four in five Missouri children under the age of 6 tested have detectable levels of lead in their blood, according to a study appearing in “The Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Researchers from Quest Diagnostics and Boston Children’s Hospital analyzed more than 1.1 million lead blood tests conducted by Quest on children living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, from Oct. 2018 to Feb. 2020. Approximately 71% of the children tested were less than 3 years old.

This is the first study to examine blood lead levels (BLLs) as low as 1.0 µg/dL, which the researchers called “detectable” BLL. An “elevated” blood lead level is typically is ≥5.0 µg/dL.

Researchers acknowledge there is no known threshold for lead-based health effects, though scientists proved by the mid-20th century that lead poisoning can cause neurological impairments in children, such as brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems.

Any lead found in the human bloodstream is an abnormality and should be considered potentially harmful.

The study shows 50.5% of the children tested had “detectable” blood lead levels and 1.9% had an “elevated” BLL. Quest Diagnostics researchers say this shows the majority of American children have been exposed to lead despite a decades-long campaign to reduce lead poisoning.

The key findings show young children at the greatest risk are those living in homes built before the 1950s and in zip codes with the highest levels of poverty. Children in areas with the highest levels of pre-1950s housing were nearly four times as likely to test for elevated blood lead levels (3.5% to 0.9%).

Twenty-four states had detectable levels of BLL above the 50.5% rate. The five states with the highest rates of detectable BLL are Nebraska (83%), Missouri (82%), Michigan (78%), Iowa (76%), and Utah (73%).

In addition, six states had elevated blood lead levels more than double the national average of 1.9%: Nebraska (6.0%), Ohio (5.2%), Pennsylvania (5.0%), Missouri (4.5%), Michigan (4.5%), and Wisconsin (4.3%).

The study identifies its size and national scope as strengths. The limitations include “reliance on testing orders, rather than population sampling; varying volumes of test results in certain states; and the inability to determine values below the threshold of detection.”

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Editorial: Americans sour on Big Government: Gallup

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Editorial: Americans sour on Big Government: Gallup

Note to Joe Biden and co. — this would  be a good time to read the room.

The word is that while they are gleefully hoisting the Big Government is Great flag, fewer Americans are saluting.

According to the latest Gallup poll, we’re favoring a more hands-off approach for government in addressing the nation’s problems after rare support for a more active role last year. Currently, 52% say the government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, while 43% want the government to do more to solve the country’s problems. Last year, a record-high 54% of U.S. adults said the government should do more to solve problems.

Which makes sense — last year, the height of the pandemic, was awful. The “expert advice” on COVID seemed to change monthly — wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, wear two masks — and as swaths of the country entered the brave new world of lockdowns, Americans encountered empty grocery shelves, hoarding and waves of job losses. No wonder we turned to the government for salvation.

Now, however, we’ve weathered the worst, employers are hiring, people are watching movies in theaters again, kids are back in school, we’ve gotten our bearings and are ready to say back off to the powers that be.

Biden was riding high one month into his presidency, ready to Build Back Better.

“Joe Biden has a very professional team behind him, he’s in excellent shape with the country at large, he’s riding the crest of the wave out to the left, and he can get big things done,” David Gergen, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and a former adviser to four U.S. presidents of both parties told the Financial Times in March. But he added, “There’s going to come a day when the pendulum will probably swing back the other way.”

And here we are.

Gallup found that all party groups are less likely now than a year ago to favor a more active government role, but independents’ opinions have changed the most. In 2020, 56% of independents wanted the government to do more to solve problems, compared with 38% now. Independents are even less inclined to want a more active government role today than they were in 2019 before the pandemic began, when 45% held that view.

Given a choice, half of Americans say they prefer fewer government services and lower taxes, while 19% want higher taxes and more services. Twenty-nine percent want taxes and services as they are now.

The multi-trillion dollar spending sprees on the table on Capitol Hill will usher in the biggest expansion in social welfare programs since President Lyndon Johnson’s day — the opposite of what Americans are telling pollsters that they want to see happen.

And 54% say the federal government has too much power. We don’t know whether the poll was taken before or after the administration got the bright idea to have the IRS poke around in our bank accounts if we’re making transactions over $600, just in case we’re cheating on our taxes, but if anything embodies “too much power,” this is it.

It  has been reported that many Democrats are worried about the midterm elections. But if the administration remains tone deaf to what Americans really want from government, and especially what they don’t want, 2024 is their year of greater concern.

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Shapiro: We should be booming, instead U.S. is stagnating

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Shapiro: We should be booming, instead U.S. is stagnating

This week, the Biden administration received just the latest slap in the face from cruel reality: An economic report showing just 194,000 jobs added in the month of September, short of the 500,000 jobs forecast by most economists. The unemployment rate dove to 4.8% from 5.2% — not as a result of job gains, but as a result of more and more Americans dumping out of the work force. Meanwhile, inflation continued to pick up steam, with domestic labor shortages exacerbating supply-chain bottlenecks.

How should we explain the bizarre spectacle of a nation that should be booming stagnating instead?

For the Biden team, the answers range from the completely idiotic (lack of government stimulus, after the greatest single spending binge in world history) to the merely foolish (the delta variant, the caseload from which has taken a nosedive). The actual answer, however, is simple: We have spent a year training Americans to believe that work is alternately unsafe, unavailable or unnecessary.

First, we have trained vaccinated Americans to believe that they are unsafe. According to a CBS News poll in July, just 48% of those who were unvaccinated said they were worried about infection from the delta variant, compared with 72% of fully vaccinated Americans — this despite the fact that vaccinated Americans are rarely hospitalized and nearly never die from COVID-19. Yet Biden himself continues to trot out the lie that the vaccinated are not safe from the unvaccinated: In early September, he pushed for a national workplace vaccine mandate, claiming that it was necessary in order to “protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers.” But that’s precisely what the vaccine was for. It’s no surprise, then, that so many vaccinated people are instead hesitant to go back to the office.

Second, we have barred the unvaccinated from going back to work. Biden suggested that vaccine mandates would heighten employment by making the vaccinated feel safe. But that obviously hasn’t worked. Thousands of Americans have been laid off thanks to vaccine mandates, including in crucial industries like health care and air travel.

Most importantly, we have trained Americans to believe that work is unnecessary. As jobs go unfilled, a certain contingent of politicians celebrates — they say that workers have been unchained from their jobs, and that this is a net positive. In August 2020, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told Vice, “Only in America, when the president tweets about liberation, does he mean ‘go back to work’ … I think a lot of people should just say no. We’re not going back to work.” Paying people to stay home, in this view, is merely incentivizing businesses to pay more for fewer hours, thus making life better for those who choose to work; for everyone else, the government dole.

Now, most Americans have rejected this last lesson. Most Americans want to work; most Americans are in fact working. Hence the unpopularity of the Biden administration spending plans, which most Americans feel artificially suppress economic growth and stifle opportunity.

Biden promised he wouldn’t shut down the economy or the country — he’d shut down the virus. Instead, thanks to his progressive priorities, he’s made the pandemic a problem with no logical endpoint in sight, shutting down the economy and the country in the process — all in pursuit of his transformational vision. The current labor shortage is a feature of the plan, not a bug.


Ben Shapiro is a syndicated columnist.

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Dear Abby: Hell hath no fury like a bride short a shower guest

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Dear Abby: Social skills are ‘rusty’ after pandemic lockdown

Dear Abby: My daughter “Melanie” is very close with a cousin she grew up with. This cousin is getting married in five months, and Melanie will be a bridesmaid. The shower date was announced. Then my son-in-law’s best friend from childhood announced his wedding date. The wedding is on the same date as my niece’s shower.

The events are about four hours apart, so it isn’t possible for Melanie to go to both. She told her cousin she was sorry but she felt she needed to attend the wedding with her husband, who is in his friend’s wedding party. Melanie will attend the bachelorette party in Vegas and all the other events for her cousin.

The bride’s sister is giving my daughter a hard time, saying she “can’t believe” Melanie would miss the shower. Melanie is now afraid she’s jeopardizing her relationship with her cousins, as they have told her how upset they are. I support her decision to attend the wedding and skip the shower. There are four other bridesmaids, and another one is also unable to attend. What would you do, and how can I be helpful to my daughter without causing a bigger rift in the family?

— Wedding Drama, Drama, Drama

Dear W. D. D. D.: The pressure your daughter is receiving from her cousins is inappropriate. She isn’t obligated to attend any event she doesn’t wish to, and her reason for skipping the shower is a valid one. She should choose a gift for her cousin, have it delivered and apologize ONCE for being unable to be there in person. Continuing to provide emotional support to your daughter is the best way you can be helpful to her.

Dear Abby: Four months ago, I noticed a lady walking down the street. She was older, and I could tell by her posture she was struggling. I offered to drive her so she didn’t have to walk. It turned out she was walking from a bus stop to a transit bus to catch it for work. She works in a different county than she lives in, so the first bus doesn’t take her all the way.

Long story short, I have been driving this lady to work from the bus stop every morning, picking her up from work and taking her home, picking her up on the weekend days she works, and then transporting her to and from work. (I don’t work on the weekends.) She lives about 10 miles from me. She has not once offered to pay for gas, which doesn’t bother me, but she has recently started asking me for money.

I’ve purchased coffees for her on several occasions and driven her to stores only to find out I’m paying for the purchases. I have picked her up, and without any warning she says she needs to go to other places, too. She doesn’t have a car, doesn’t earn a lot of money, etc. I think I need to stop driving her, but I know I’ll feel guilty because she has no one to help her. How do I end this one-sided relationship?

— Miffed in Michigan

Dear Miffed: The woman you have so generously befriended appears to be a bottomless pit. You were kind to her, and she is taking advantage of your generosity. It appears you have work to do on creating boundaries. Tell her you will no longer be driving her and be clear about the reasons. If you don’t, there is no end to what she will ask you for. Trust me, once you draw the line, this woman will manage just as she managed before.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.

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Chris Sale named Red Sox’ Game 1 starter in ALCS despite recent struggles: ‘We’re very comfortable with him’

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Chris Sale named Red Sox’ Game 1 starter in ALCS despite recent struggles: ‘We’re very comfortable with him’

HOUSTON — Whatever Chris Sale found in the bullpen earlier this week must be giving Alex Cora a lot of confidence.

In something of a surprise, the Red Sox manager announced here Thursday that Sale will start Friday’s Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros. The decision carries some risk, with the lefty recording just 10 outs combined in his last two starts, but with full rest and after ironing out some things over the last week, Cora has full faith in Sale in a crucial game.

Nathan Eovaldi, who was expected to start Game 1 on regular rest, will start Saturday’s Game 2.

“It’s Chris Sale,” Cora said. “At one point he had to pitch in this series, and we’re very comfortable with him going tomorrow. I think the structure of the series and the structure of our bullpen tomorrow is going to be — we’re going to be aggressive regardless. I don’t expect him to come out in the first inning. I expect him to go out there and pitch a good game and give us a chance to win.

“You got to trust everybody in this roster. We got 26 guys that they have to do a job for us to advance to the World Series, and he is one of them. And that’s the reason he is pitching tomorrow, and then Nate will follow him.”

Sale, after going just 2 1/3 innings in the season finale against the Nationals, followed that up with a one-inning disaster in Game 2 of the ALDS in Tampa, where he gave up a grand slam. Sale now owns a 7.27 career postseason ERA, which includes his first career playoff start at Minute Maid Park in 2017, when he was tagged for seven runs.

But Cora remains confident in Sale, especially as he continues to find his way after returning from Tommy John surgery. The manager expressed excitement Wednesday about something Sale discovered during a bullpen. The pitcher said Thursday that he’s been keying on fastball command and consistency with his changeup in those sessions.

And even though it’s looked bad recently, Sale is cherishing the opportunity and the trust rewarded by his manager.

“I don’t take that lightly,” Sale said. “There’s no hiding from it, no secret. I’ve been absolutely horrible. Probably my two worst starts of my career back-to-back leading up to this. I know what I had to do in between. I know I had a job to do, and I knew I had work to get in. Following my last start in Tampa, I got off the mound every single day because I knew I had to get something going if we were going to be successful, and I know that I’m going to be a part of that.”

Martinez likes lineup balance

When J.D. Martinez returned from an ankle sprain in Game 2 of the ALDS, he batted sixth, lower than he usually would. The decision was rooted in the designated hitter’s uncertainty in how his ankle held up.

Then, he went 4-for-5 and the Red Sox scored 14 runs. The lineup hasn’t been messed with since, and that’s just fine by Martinez. Expect the same look Friday night.

“Honestly, I think it’s better,” Martinez said. “I think being able to split righty, lefty, righty, lefty, I think it’s — especially with the team with Tampa and the team with Houston, a very analytic team, they’re going to be looking for the best matchups constantly. And I think they’re going to have to choose at some point if they want a righty to face (Alex) Verdugo or a lefty to face either me or (Xander Bogaerts). You know what I mean? They’ve got to bite the bullet somewhere. For me personally, I think it’s a better lineup for the team.”

Martinez said his ankle is doing better, but that it’s still not 100 percent.

“The swelling has gone down a lot,” he said. “Night and day from what it was. It obviously still hurts. You know, certain things, certain movements still bother it, but it’s a lot better than it was yesterday and the day before and the day before.”

Odds & ends

The Astros suffered a big blow Thursday, as ace pitcher Lance McCullers will reportedly miss the ALCS due to a forearm strain he suffered in the ALDS. Manager Dusty Baker said they’re still awaiting results of an MRI, but the Astros named Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia as their starters for Games 1 and 2.

Valdez was dominant against the Red Sox this season, giving up two runs and striking out 18 across 14 1/3 innings in two starts. …

The Red Sox were still finalizing their 26-man ALCS roster that they need to submit by 9 a.m. central on Friday. Darwinzon Hernandez, who threw a live bullpen at Fenway on Wednesday, seems to be a consideration for the roster. …

The broadcast schedule for the first three games of the series were released. Friday’s Game 1 will start at 8:07 p.m. eastern on Fox, with Saturday’s Game 2 at 4:20 p.m. eastern on Fox and FS1. The series then shifts to Fenway Park for Monday’s Game 3, which starts at 8:07 on FS1.

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Health Connector call center recovering from ‘bad stumble’

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Though poll shows support has grown, assisted suicide still divisive in Massachusetts

The Health Connector took a “bad stumble” as it transitioned to a new call center vendor this week but has since diagnosed and addressed the problem that created access hurdles for members, the agency’s director said.

“We are back. We have commenced inbound operations. Calls are coming into agents,” executive director Louis Gutierrez told the Connector board. “We have a long queue of callbacks that we intend to make.”

With the goal of improving its customer service, the Connector Board in June approved an agreement with the vendor Accenture for call center planning and design work over the summer.

Last Friday evening, the Connector began the transition and data migration from its prior call center vendor, with agents scheduled to receive incoming calls as of 8 a.m. Tuesday.

But early Tuesday, Gutierrez said, the Connector “began experiencing trouble accepting inbound member calls,” for reasons that were then unknown, and the problems remained into Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, the Connector posted a customer service alert advising that its call center was “experiencing technical issues impacting agents’ ability to answer calls at this time” and that a tech team was “working quickly to resolve the issues.”

Gutierrez said Accenture worked with its vendor partners, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce, throughout Tuesday night and identified “a root cause and resolution” by noon Wednesday.

The stumble comes a year after the Connector was embroiled in a full-blown customer service crisis with another vendor, a situation that led the state authority to engage with Accenture on remedies.

Figures presented Thursday show more than 260,000 people are enrolled in qualified health plans through the Connector, which serves as a clearinghouse available to people in Massachusetts to shop for health insurance if they do not receive it through an employer or otherwise need coverage.

The cause of the latest issues, Gutierrez said, had not been discovered in multiple rounds of high-volume testing and was related to “very complex interactions between certain calling features, the interactive voice response system and usage volumes.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, inbound call center operations were stable and agents were receiving calls, Gutierrez said.

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Watertown field hockey coach Donahue notches 700th career win

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Watertown field hockey coach Donahue notches 700th career win

WAKEFIELD — The prerogative against Wakefield on Thursday night was no different than any other game for Hall of Fame Watertown head coach Eileen Donahue. The result was something only six other coaches have accomplished in United States field hockey history.

Despite a strong start and a stingy defensive effort from the host Warriors, Donahue’s No. 4 Raiders used three goals off corner penalties to help secure a 6-0 Middlesex League win — the 700th win of Donahue’s illustrious career. Now with a 700-34-36 record running through her 36th year of coaching, Donahue is the first in state history to reach the mark as Watertown moves to 12-0 on the season for a 20th straight win.

She’s accomplished a lot of first-evers as a coach since she took over the program before it even had a home field, but to reach the height that legendary figures like UConn’s Nancy Stevens and Emmaus High School’s Sue Butz-Stavin (Penn.) have before her as 700-plus winners is something the longtime coach takes great honor in.

“I’m very proud to be up there with other people with 700 wins … to know I’m one of seven is just crazy to think about that, and to know Watertown is a part of that is awesome,” Donahue said. “I’m very humbled, but I’m very proud from when I’ve started — to know that all the coaches that have worked with me and clearly all the players that I’ve been able to coach, and the community and the families, and especially my own family. … Thanks to all those wonderful players and coaches that I’ve had because this win is for them.”

A three-sport athlete in high school, Donahue took over the Raiders in 1986 with the lessons she learned from her father, Jack Donahue, a longtime coach as well. Through 36 years, the accolades are well-documented.

By winning 18 Div. 2 state championships, Donahue is averaging a title every other year. A string of 184 straight games unbeaten is a national record, helping her earn National Field Hockey Coaches Association Coach of the Year honors in 2013, as well as USFHC’s Top of the Circle award in 2014. She has 26 Div. 2 North titles, 31 Middlesex League titles and was inducted into the NFHCA Hall of Fame in 2020.

For Donahue, all of that is a credit to the love and support of everyone around her, and she takes great pride in being able to share this accomplishment with 36 different teams under her leadership.

“I’m humbled, proud, happy for all the people this involves,” she said. “It involves so many players that I’ve had, so many families that continually come to games — which means a lot. … To know that these players are willing to put the time in, all the players and coaches in the past that have been willing to do what it takes to do their best to be successful, that makes me feel a lot. It’s like an extended family.”

That absolutely includes the team that helped her get to 700, which had to overcome a charged effort from Wakefield in trying to prevent Donahue from reaching the mark against it.

Junior Boston University-commit Maggie Driscoll got the scoring started midway through the second quarter from the top of the circle on a corner penalty. Allie Fijux made it 2-0 before the break off an assist from Lizzie Loftus. The group caught fire in the second half despite Wakefield goalie Abby Boudreau’s 18 saves, as Molly Driscoll, Loftus, Aislin Devaney and Caroline Fleming all scored to seal the win as Watertown racked up 16 corner plays.

Unsurprisingly, Donahue said the team still has a lot to work on as the final leg of the regular season approaches — something she’s said for 36 years. That strive for improvement and overcoming challenges is something she carries over from lessons she learned from her father, and is a sentiment she’d pass to the younger generation of coaches.

“You’ve got to put the time in,” she said. “You’re not going to have instant success. You have to start somewhere. My high school quote was, ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’ Every season, you have to start somewhere. If you’re starting off great, that’s great, continue that. But if you’re not, don’t give up on those people. You have to stay with them. … If you have barriers, find a way to go through those barriers.”

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Teen gets 9 years in murder of Barnard College student Tessa Majors

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Teen gets 9 years in murder of Barnard College student Tessa Majors

NEW YORK — A teenage boy was sentenced Thursday to nine years to life in prison for his role in the botched robbery that ended in the deadly stabbing of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors.

Luchiano Lewis, 16, pleaded guilty to murder and robbery on Sept. 21 for the December 2019 stabbing inside Morningside Park.

During his guilty plea, Lewis told Judge Robert Mandelbaum that he and two school friends had planned to mug someone inside the upper Manhattan park that night. When their first attempt failed, Lewis said the group targeted Majors, 18, as she was jogging down a set of steps on W. 116th St. near Morningside Drive.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance charged Lewis as an adult. Rashaun Weaver, who allegedly stabbed Majors, has pleaded not guilty and is also charged as an adult. The third boy present for Majors’ killing pleaded guilty to robbery in June 2020 and got the max for a minor —18 months behind bars.

Lewis has said he didn’t know Majors had “been stabbed let alone killed” until reading it online the day after the stabbing. During his guilty plea he said Weaver stabbed the young student.

Majors’ parents, Inman and Christy Majors, are expected to read victim impact statements at the sentencing. They have traveled from Charlottesville, Va., to attend the majority of hearings in the case.

Lewis said earlier in court Majors “just walked up the long set of stairs and was walking toward us, but she was looking down at her phone. We were walking on the right side with the rails. When she passed us on our left, I saw Rashaun whisper something to (the 13-year-old), but I couldn’t hear what he said.”

He added: “Rashaun turned around, ran up behind Tessa Majors and kicked her hard in the back. I watched her stumble. Rashaun started screaming, ‘Give me your money, run your pockets, I’m not playing.’”

The teen said Weaver, who has pleaded not guilty to murder, “tussled” on the steps with Majors for some time before Lewis became spooked by an onlooker. They all fled the scene.

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Some families of homicide victims say parole is OK after 25 years

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Some families of homicide victims say parole is OK after 25 years

Rep. Liz Miranda lost her brother to homicide outside a nightclub four years ago, yet still hopes that inmates serving life sentences for non-first degree offenses, or who were minors when they committed the act, can be eligible for parole after 25 years.

“As I’m talking about why I’m doing this work in the State House, just know that I am a survivor of homicide who’s also a legislator of the most policed, the most incarcerated corridor of the entire state,” she said in a roundtable discussion, referring to her district that stretches through Dorchester and Roxbury.

Miranda noted as she did in a hearing on the subject last week that legislation she filed would not be a “get out of jail free card,” she said, but that allowing parole review for almost all incarcerated people, especially those who were juveniles when they committed their crimes, is “the cornerstone of a just society.”

Shanita Jefferson had also experienced both sides of the issue as a young girl, first with the murder of her father when she was 4, and the sentencing of her mother to life without parole when Shanita Jefferson was a young girl.

Jefferson’s mother, Angie Jefferson, has been an “outstanding mother,” Shanita Jefferson said, and also earned an associate’s degree, became a certified cosmetologist, and a dog trainer while imprisoned. Given her mother’s troubled past, Shanita Jefferson argued, “she never got a first chance,” she said, let alone a second one in the form of parole.

When Shanita Jefferson’s father’s murderer was sentenced, “my family was told that this sentence would serve as closure and justice,” she said. “Thirty-one years later, that was not true at all. The sentence took away our opportunity to see change and forgiveness.”

A mother who lost her son in a juvenile murder case made a similar argument. Janet Connors, whose son was murdered by four young men, said society had failed all five of them.

“Even if each of the four young men involved in Joel’s killing had gotten 100 years, 400 years of incarceration would not bring my son back to me, not bring that sweet guy back,” she said.

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As opioid crisis worsens, Ed Markey pitches 2 bills to help inmates get treatment

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As opioid crisis worsens, Ed Markey pitches 2 bills to help inmates get treatment

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is proposing two pieces of legislation that he says would help inmates who are suffering from drug abuse while they’re behind bars and when they’re released back into society.

Citing a record high number of drug overdose deaths in 2020, Markey on Thursday said he’s reintroducing a bill to ensure people in the justice system have access to opioid-use disorder treatment.

Another bill would let people in custody awaiting trial to keep their federal health benefits.

“We need to do better. We can do better,” Markey said outside Billerica’s Middlesex Jail and House of Correction.

While the majority of attention has been on the coronavirus pandemic during the last 19 months, it’s critical that people don’t forget about the opioid epidemic, the senator said.

“The opioid crisis did not go away during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact it got worse, much worse than it had been before the pandemic,” Markey said.

Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. reached an all-time high last year as about 93,000 Americans died, a major jump from 72,000 deaths in 2019.

The surge in fatalities was driven by opioids as about 69,000 opioid-related overdose deaths were recorded in 2020, a spike from about 20,000 in 2019.

“The numbers are absolutely staggering,” Markey said.

The need for opioid-use disorder treatment is especially important for those behind bars, he said, noting that about 85% of inmates either have a substance-use disorder or committed a crime related to substance use.

When these inmates leave jail and return to society, they’re more likely to start using drugs again and then find themselves back in jail.

“We see a vicious cycle,” Markey said, adding, “The front doors of our jails and prisons should not be revolving doors where individuals are released and because we know they still are in recovery, just do a U-turn and come right back.”

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Moderna or Pfizer booster might be best for J&J recipients, new study finds

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Moderna or Pfizer booster might be best for J&J recipients, new study finds

A Moderna or Pfizer coronavirus booster shot might work best for people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a new study shows.

The National Institutes of Health preliminary report released Wednesday, which has not yet been peer reviewed, says mixing and matching vaccines could offer better immune protection.

The authors wrote, “The use of heterologous booster vaccines, if similarly tolerable and immunogenic, could also simplify the logistics of administering booster vaccines.”

The study of 458 adults across ten different cities compared the safety and immune response of participants who were boosted with the same type of shot they had been given originally with those who received a different type of shot as a booster.

Out of the group of volunteers, 154 had initially received a Moderna shot, 150 got Johnson & Johnson and 154 had received a Pfizer vaccine.

The study used a total of nine different combinations of primary shots and booster shots.

Data showed that using different boosters produced a comparable or higher antibody response than using the same one.

People who got the J&J vaccine as a first shot showed a stronger immune response when boosted with Pfizer or Moderna, according to the research.

The issue of mixing vaccines, and whether it is safe and effective, has been largely unknown, but a Food and Drug Administration panel is set to discuss the topic tomorrow as it will also decide whether to recommend authorization for a J&J booster.

The new findings could complicate the decision for the panel.

Johnson & Johnson has said its booster, given 56 days after the first shot, provided 100% protection against severe coronavirus and 94% protection against symptomatic coronavirus in the U.S.

When the booster was given two months after the first shot, antibody levels rose four to six times higher. When a booster was given six months after the first shot, antibodies increased ninefold after one week and twelvefold after four weeks.

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