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The 6-Feet Social Distancing Rule Can Kill You – Think Cobras

The 6-Feet Social Distancing Rule Can Kill You – Think Cobras



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The 6-Feet Social Distancing Rule Can Kill You – Think Cobras; Risks in Classroom Teaching Unavoidable, But Some May Be Accepted

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 28, 2020) - Relying upon the generally accepted 6-foot social distancing rule to keep you safe from the deadly and very contagious coronavirus can easily get you killed, says professor John Banzhaf, who helped get smoking banned in most workplaces and public places by showing that even minute and invisible amounts of airborne tobacco smoke particles, far from the source, can still kill.

The 6-Feet Social Distancing Rule May Not Keep You Safe From Coronavirus

Some people, apparently including many bureaucrats deciding whether universities should return to classroom instruction this fall, seem to be relying upon - or at least publicly claiming to base their decisions on - the concept that not going within 6 feet of another person will always provide sufficient protection from infection and the death, disability, or prolonged hospitalization too often caused by COVID-19.

But we now know that this is simply not true, and concerned professors should not continue to bet their lives on a concept which apparently was developed and popularized long before we had more complete information about the virus and how easily it is spread.  In short, it makes little sense to play Russian COVID roulette in classrooms this fall, and pretend that there are no risks

Despite conventional wisdom that maintaining a separation of 6 feet is sufficient to prevent transmission of the coronavirus (e.g., from an infected student in a classroom to a professor in the front), a very careful study from an actual incident in a restaurant in China shows that one infected diner was able to and did - in a real life (not a simulated or theoretical) situation - transmit the virus to, and cause the deadly COVID-19 in, another diner some 4.5 meters [14.8 feet] away.

There are now also documented instances where one congregant infected others much more than 6 feet and several pews away in a church or other worship gathering.

Air Can Spread Virus Particles Far Beyond The Nominal 6-Foot Social Distancing Rule

As a followup to the restaurant incident, scientists at the Universities of Oregon and California (Davis) have shown that, in an enclosed area such as a restaurant or classroom, normal air circulation can spread virus particles suspended in the air far beyond the nominal 6-foot social distancing rule some bureaucrats purport to rely upon.

To help put this in context, says Banzhaf, consider this example. Experts claim that a king cobra has an attack range which can be up to 2 meters (just over 6 feet), but suggest that they rarely strike unless provoked.  Based upon this assurance from experts, would any professors willingly walk through a field of king cobras, provided they would never be closer than 7 feet from any one snake?

Even if a valiant (or foolhardy) teacher might be brave (or foolish) enough to do it once, virtually no one would even think of doing it once or twice a day for months at a time, even for hazardous pay.  Now, suggests Banzhaf, suppose there were to be a documented case where (by analogy to the actual restaurant situation above) one king cobra managed to strike out from some 14.8 feet away,

What now would any reasonable person do?:

[A] continue to walk near the potentially deadly snakes, provided only that every cobra was always at least 7 feet away, as the experts originally suggested?

[B] continue to walk near the potentially deadly snakes, but now insist upon at least a 15-foot separation from every cobra, based upon this one actual instance?

[C] be even more cautious, because even 15 feet cannot be guaranteed to always provide enough protection in the future?

Germs Can Travel Further In A Classroom Situation

Moreover, scientists at MIT have shown that germs in a sneeze can travel some 200 feet  - much further than the distance which can be maintained between students and their professors in many classroom situations.

Given all this information, faculty who are especially vulnerable to death. disability, or prolonged hospitalization from COVID-19 - because they are over 65 OR have a variety of medical conditions including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, etc. - logically should not be willing to risk their lives on the assumption that every student will always be able to effectively suppress or cover up a sudden cough or sneeze in the classroom, especially during the entire fall entire semester .

Still another study shows that a single passenger with COVID-19 on an airplane can infect more than a dozen other passengers several rows in front as well as behind him, despite the state-of-the-art HVAC systems on modern airplanes which are certainly far superior to the ventilation systems in most classrooms.

The analogy to students seated in a classroom should be clear. That same study also suggests that, since the particles can be expelled upwards, even a plexiglass shield in front of the professor - which some have actually suggested - may not guarantee complete protection from infection.

The Risks Are Seemingly Unavoidable

Thus, although the risks are seemingly unavoidable, even if a 6-foot social distancing rule can somehow be maintained without a single exception, that doesn't necessarily mean that no classroom instruction should begin in the fall.

Since the risk to mostly young and largely healthy college students is very small, they may be willing to assume it for the benefits they see from in-classroom instruction, and to avoid the kind of on-line instruction they just experienced - which some derogatorily call studying at "Zoom U."

If these students are willing to assume the risk, then colleges can, if they wish, ask the students to sign a release, similar to the releases they are accustomed to signing when they go skiing or rent an e-scooter.

In all such cases - i.e., skiing, studying in a classroom, riding a scooter, etc. - the students acknowledge that there are unavoidable risks which they are willing to assume in exchange for being able to engage in the activity.

Thus, in return for being permitted to participate, the students "assume the risk" (as lawyers put it), and agree not to hold the entity (ski slope operator, university, scooter rental company) legally liable, except in the very rare event of gross negligence.

Attending School From Home

Students who are at exceptionally high risk because of advanced age or pre-existing medical problems can be offered the opportunity to participate from home via the Internet.

Faculty are different because, as employees, they in many cases have legal rights to additional protection provided by the Americans With Disabilities Act, local anti-discrimination statutes which prohibit actions which have the effect or consequence of discriminating against employees with disabilities, and the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

So the minority of professors who are at especially high risk because of age OR medical conditions can be protected by permitting them to teach from home or from another room on campus (where they will not be exposed to infection from students, and will have access to a blackboard, better audio and video equipment, an assistant to operate the IT equipment, and more), or by providing sabbaticals, furloughs, etc., suggests Banzhaf.

Indeed, he notes that the CDC's May 21 guidelines for higher education provide that institutions of higher education should "offer options for faculty and staff at higher risk for severe illness (including older adults and people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions) that limit their exposure risk (e.g., telework and modified job responsibilities)

The post The 6-Feet Social Distancing Rule Can Kill You – Think Cobras appeared first on ValueWalk.

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Watch Yield Curve For When Stocks Begin To Price Recession Risk

Watch Yield Curve For When Stocks Begin To Price Recession Risk

Authored by Simon White, Bloomberg macro strategist,

US large-cap indices…



Watch Yield Curve For When Stocks Begin To Price Recession Risk

Authored by Simon White, Bloomberg macro strategist,

US large-cap indices are currently diverging from recessionary leading economic data. However, a decisive steepening in the yield curve leaves growth stocks and therefore the overall index facing lower prices.

Leading economic data has been signalling a recession for several months. Typically stocks closely follow the ratio between leading and coincident economic data.

As the chart below shows, equities have recently emphatically diverged from the ratio, indicating they are supremely indifferent to very high US recession risk.

What gives? Much of the recent outperformance of the S&P has been driven by a tiny number of tech stocks. The top five S&P stocks’ mean return this year is over 60% versus 0% for the average return of the remaining 498 stocks.

The belief that generative AI is imminently about to radically change the economy and that Nvidia especially is positioned to benefit from this has been behind much of this narrow leadership.

Regardless on your views whether this is overdone or not, it has re-established growth’s dominance over value. Energy had been spearheading the value trade up until around March, but since then tech –- the vessel for many of the largest growth stocks –- has been leading the S&P higher.

The yield curve’s behaviour will be key to watch for a reversion of this trend, and therefore a heightened risk of S&P 500 underperformance. Growth stocks tend to outperform value stocks when the curve flattens. This is because growth companies often have a relative advantage over typically smaller value firms by being able to borrow for longer terms. And vice-versa when the curve steepens, growth firms lose this relative advantage and tend to underperform.

The chart below shows the relationship, which was disrupted through the pandemic. Nonetheless, if it re-establishes itself then the curve beginning to durably re-steepen would be a sign growth stocks will start to underperform again, taking the index lower in the process.

Equivalently, a re-acceleration in US inflation (whose timing depends on China’s halting recovery) is more likely to put steepening pressure on the curve as the Fed has to balance economic growth more with inflation risks. Given the growth segment’s outperformance is an indication of the market’s intensely relaxed attitude to inflation, its resurgence would be a high risk for sending growth stocks lower.

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/31/2023 - 13:20

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COVID-19 lockdowns linked to less accurate recollection of event timing

Participants in a survey study made a relatively high number of errors when asked to recollect the timing of major events that took place in 2021, providing…



Participants in a survey study made a relatively high number of errors when asked to recollect the timing of major events that took place in 2021, providing new insights into how COVID-19 lockdowns impacted perception of time. Daria Pawlak and Arash Sahraie of the University of Aberdeen, UK, present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on May 31, 2023.

Credit: Arianna Sahraie Photography, CC-BY 4.0 (

Participants in a survey study made a relatively high number of errors when asked to recollect the timing of major events that took place in 2021, providing new insights into how COVID-19 lockdowns impacted perception of time. Daria Pawlak and Arash Sahraie of the University of Aberdeen, UK, present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on May 31, 2023.

Remembering when past events occurred becomes more difficult as more time passes. In addition, people’s activities and emotions can influence their perception of the passage of time. The social isolation resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns significantly impacted people’s activities and emotions, and prior research has shown that the pandemic triggered distortions in people’s perception of time.

Inspired by that earlier research and clinical reports that patients have become less able to report accurate timelines of their medical conditions, Pawlak and Sahraie set out to deepen understanding of the pandemic’s impact on time perception.

In May 2022, the researchers conducted an online survey in which they asked 277 participants to give the year in which several notable recent events occurred, such as when Brexit was finalized or when Meghan Markle joined the British royal family. Participants also completed standard evaluations for factors related to mental health, including levels of boredom, depression, and resilience.

As expected, participants’ recollection of events that occurred further in the past was less accurate. However, their perception of the timing of events that occurred in 2021—one year prior to the survey—was just an inaccurate as for events that occurred three to four years earlier. In other words, many participants had difficulty recalling the timing of events coinciding with COVID-19 lockdowns.

Additionally, participants who made more errors in event timing were also more likely to show greater levels of depression, anxiety, and physical mental demands during the pandemic, but had less resilience. Boredom was not significantly associated with timeline accuracy.

These findings are similar to those previously reported for prison inmates. The authors suggest that accurate recollection of event timing requires “anchoring” life events, such as birthday celebrations and vacations, which were lacking during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The authors add: “Our paper reports on altered timescapes during the pandemic. In a landscape, if features are not clearly discernible, it is harder to place objects/yourself in relation to other features. Restrictions imposed during the pandemic have impoverished our timescape, affecting the perception of event timelines. We can recall that events happened, we just don’t remember when.


In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE:

Citation: Pawlak DA, Sahraie A (2023) Lost time: Perception of events timeline affected by the COVID pandemic. PLoS ONE 18(5): e0278250.

Author Countries: UK

Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work.

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Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform

Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare…



Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare sector. Specifically, they sought to automate the routine messages and calls that often lead to administrative burnout, like calls about scheduling, prescription refills and searching through physician directories.

Several years after graduating, Krush and Cohen productized their ideas with Hyro, which uses AI to facilitate text and voice conversations across the web, call centers and apps between healthcare organizations and their clients. Hyro today announced that it raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Liberty Mutual, Macquarie Capital and Black Opal, bringing the startup’s total raised to $35 million.

Krush says that the new cash will be put toward expanding Hyro’s go-to-market teams and R&D.

“When we searched for a domain that would benefit from transforming these technologies most, we discovered and validated that healthcare, with staffing shortages and antiquated processes, had the greatest need and pain points, and have continued to focus on this particular vertical,” Krush told TechCrunch in an email interview.

To Krush’s point, the healthcare industry faces a major staffing shortfall, exacerbated by the logistical complications that arose during the pandemic. In a recent interview with Keona Health, Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), said that MGMA’s heard that 88% of medical practices have had difficulties recruiting front-of-office staff over the last year. By another estimates, the healthcare field has lost 20% of its workforce.

Hyro doesn’t attempt to replace staffers. But it does inject automation into the equation. The platform is essentially a drop-in replacement for traditional IVR systems, handling calls and texts automatically using conversational AI.

Hyro can answer common questions and handle tasks like booking or rescheduling an appointment, providing engagement and conversion metrics on the backend as it does so.

Plenty of platforms do — or at least claim to. See RedRoute, a voice-based conversational AI startup that delivers an “Alexa-like” customer service experience over the phone. Elsewhere, there’s Omilia, which provides a conversational solution that works on all platforms (e.g. phone, web chat, social networks, SMS and more) and integrates with existing customer support systems.

But Krush claims that Hyro is differentiated. For one, he says, it offers an AI-powered search feature that scrapes up-to-date information from a customer’s website — ostensibly preventing wrong answers to questions (a notorious problem with text-generating AI). Hyro also boasts “smart routing,” which enables it to “intelligently” decide whether to complete a task automatically, send a link to self-serve via SMS or route a request to the right department.

A bot created using Hyro’s development tools. Image Credits: Hyro

“Our AI assistants have been used by tens of millions of patients, automating conversations on various channels,” Krush said. “Hyro creates a feedback loop by identifying missing knowledge gaps, basically mimicking the operations of a call center agent. It also shows within a conversation exactly how the AI assistant deduced the correct response to a patient or customer query, meaning that if incorrect answers were given, an enterprise can understand exactly which piece of content or dataset is labeled incorrectly and fix accordingly.”

Of course, no technology’s perfect, and Hyro’s likely isn’t an exception to the rule. But the startup’s sales pitch was enough to win over dozens of healthcare networks, providers and hospitals as clients, including Weill Cornell Medicine. Annual recurring revenue has doubled since Hyro went to market in 2019, Krush claims.

Hyro’s future plans entail expanding to industries adjacent to healthcare, including real estate and the public sector, as well as rounding out the platform with more customization options, business optimization recommendations and “variety” in the AI skills that Hyro supports.

“The pandemic expedited digital transformation for healthcare and made the problems we’re solving very clear and obvious (e.g. the spike in calls surrounding information, access to testing, etc.),” Krush said. “We were one of the first to offer a COVID-19 virtual assistant that deployed in under 48 hours based on trusted information from the health system and trusted resources such as the CDC and World Health Organization …. Hyro is well funded, with good growth and momentum, and we’ve always managed a responsible budget, so we’re actually looking to expand and gather more market share while competitors are slowing down.”

Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

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