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News you might have missed: Congressman deploys with National Guard to fight virus

Also: Conservation efforts could save the oceans in a generation, and states across the country are taking steps to help residents during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

By Dan Desai Martin - April 03, 2020
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Rep. Max Rose (D-NY)

Washington state is moving to make the marijuana industry more equitable, and Sandra the orangutan gives the internet hand-washing lessons.

Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.

Democratic congressman and Army vet deploys with National Guard to help fight coronavirus

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) announced on Monday that he will help combat the coronavirus pandemic as part of his National Guard deployment.

“Tomorrow I’m going to be activated in the National Guard, trying to do my small part to serve this city,” Rose said in a video posted on Twitter. “Anything that I am going to do over the coming weeks pales in comparison to what our cops and our first responders, our doctors, our nurses, our frontline medical staff are doing each and every day — sometimes even without the equipment they that need to do their job properly.”

Rose is an Army veteran, served in Afghanistan, and represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn in New York’s 11th Congressional District.

“We’re going to beat this virus, and we’re going to come back stronger than ever,” Rose said.

Marijuana industry becomes more equitable in Washington state

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed legislation on Tuesday to ensure those most harmed by America’s past drug war are able to take part in the now-legal marijuana industry, Marijuana Moment reported.

The new legislation creates a Marijuana Equity Task Force and will “reduce barriers to entry to the cannabis industry for individuals and communities most adversely impacted by the enforcement of cannabis-related laws,” according to the text of the new law.

It also “creates a new social equity program that provides business opportunities to people from disproportionately-harmed communities so they can benefit economically from the cannabis industry and become a cannabis retailer,” Inslee said in a statement.

Conservation efforts could save the oceans within a generation

Scientists predict that the world’s oceans could be significantly more healthy in the next 30 years if decades’ worth of damage from overfishing and pollution are repaired.

According to an April 1 scientific review in the journal Nature, “substantially rebuilding marine life within a human generation is largely achievable, if the required actions — including, notably, the mitigation of climate change — are deployed at scale.”

“We can turn the oceans around and we know it makes sense economically, for human wellbeing and, of course, for the environment,” Callum Roberts, a professor at the University of York and one of the researchers involved in the review, told the Guardian.

Kansas makes it easier to file for unemployment

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly signed two executive orders on Tuesday to make it easier for Kansas residents to file for unemployment, radio station KFDI reported.

The state government must “ensure that every roadblock is removed so we make things as seamless as possible for our businesses and those seeking unemployment benefits,” Kelly said at a press announcement. “This really is no time for bureaucratic red tape.”

The orders will mean more Kansans will qualify for unemployment, including contract and gig workers. In addition, Kansans will not have to wait a week before filing for unemployment benefits, and employers are required to notify those losing their jobs that they qualify for those benefits.

New Jersey removes restrictions on immigrant health professionals

In order to make sure more health care workers are available to treat those infected by the coronavirus, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Thursday making it easier for retired doctors and doctors licensed in other countries to practice in New Jersey.

“We need trained, experienced medical personnel to ensure proper staffing as we build out this new capacity,” Murphy said in a statement.

The order also gives nurses and physician assistants more authority to prescribe and administer prescription medication during the crisis.

The order took effect immediately.

Maine makes online job training more widely available

Last Friday, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed an executive order to make online job training programs more widely available in the state, News Center Maine, an NBC News affiliate, reported.

The order lifts restrictions on programs run by Maine community colleges, allowing free online training to be more readily available to those impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

“Maine’s Community Colleges have always played a critical role in providing training and skills to strengthen our workforce,” Mills said in a statement. The order allows the community college system the “flexibility it needs to enhance their workforce development efforts and help fill vital jobs, such as those in the health care field, as quickly as possible.”

The order went into effect on March 27.

Sandra the orangutan inspires everyone to wash their hands

A video of Sandra, an orangutan in a sanctuary in Florida, washing her hands took the internet by storm this week. The short clip shows Sandra sitting with a brush in front of a small blue tub washing her hands with soapy water.

“Wash your hands,” Rex Chapman, the former basketball player with a large social media following who posted the video, wrote on Twitter. “Be more like Sandra.”

While the tweet about Sandra says the orangutan learned the behavior from “zookeepers” during the coronavirus crisis, the video was first posted on the Facebook page of the Center for Great Apes, the Florida sanctuary where Sandra lives, in November 2019.

Sandra is providing an excellent example of the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water.


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