Coronavirus in Wisconsin – What You Need to Know

Tags

,

Coronavirus in WisconsinBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

Coronavirus moved across Wisconsin in mid-March with more than 30 cases of COVID-19 – and one patient has made a full recovery – but what does the CDC say, and are schools scheduled to close?

Coronavirus in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

Governor Tony Evers has ordered all public and private schools to close by Wednesday, March 18, and that order will remain in effect until at least April 6. Naturally, the schools may remain closed longer, depending on what happens next with coronavirus – an illness scientists are still scrambling to learn about.

The CDC is suggesting that all gatherings larger than 50 people should be postponed, as well. That includes business conferences, festivals and concerts, and other get-togethers. Many cities cancelled St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (including New York, which cancelled its parade for the first time in more than 250 years).

Should you stay home, though?

The CDC says in general, yes. People should stay home whenever possible and avoid going to places like stores, restaurants and other locations where people you don’t know gather. (You can monitor coronavirus cases here.)

Coronavirus Symptoms

If you’re experiencing symptoms that could be related to coronavirus, the CDC is advising you to stay at home and call your primary care doctor. Don’t go to an emergency room unless you’re having difficulty breathing or facing other complications, because you could infect others who are there for other types of treatment.

These are the most common symptoms of coronavirus:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

You need emergency medical attention if you have:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

What Do You Think?

Are you staying home to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect yourself (and others)? What do you think of the way Wisconsin is handling the pandemic, such as by closing schools? Are our officials doing things right or wrong? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Carlos Gamino

 

Check Out These 3 Milwaukee Court Cases From the 1800s

Tags

, ,

By Carlos Gamino

Wisconsin law has been through several evolutions over time – as evidenced by these interesting (and old) court cases we dug up from the Newspapers.com archives. Check out these old cases that you’d never see in a courtroom today.

Man Jailed for Failure to Pay AlimonyMan Jailed for Failure to Pay Alimony

On January 31, 1880, a local Milwaukee man, Joseph Budar, got himself into some legal hot water for failing to pay his wife alimony. The case wasn’t new, and Budar claimed he didn’t owe his wife anything because she’d cheated on him with another man. Alimony (now often called spousal maintenance or spousal support) has been around for eons; in fact, it dates back as far as the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, and it was created for the “discarded” wife’s lodging, food, clothing and other necessities.

(Interestingly, the same Joseph Budar was later arrested for violating the Temporary Wartime Prohibition Act – but we don’t know if he ended up paying his wife what the court said he owed.)

Wisconsin Horse Thief George MorrisonWisconsin Horse Thief George Morrison

A slippery horse thief who escaped jail in Neillsville and made it all the way to Lavelle, Indiana, was captured and brought back to Marshfield for trial on September 30, 1885. On top of being a “noted horse thief,” Morrison was a bigamist – he married five different women (maybe on account of his “gentlemanly” appearance). He was also suspected of murder.

Man Found Guilty of BigamyMan Found Guilty of Bigamy, but His Third Wife Missed Him

It’s nearly always been illegal to marry someone while you’re already married to someone else – but Gustave Lange married three someones at once. In 1890, he was found guilty of bigamy. As he sat in jail awaiting trial, his third wife got well into her cups and went to the jail to drop off some pants – and then seemingly became so agitated that neighbors feared for their lives.

What Do You Think of These Cases?

Do you know of any old legal cases in Wisconsin (or elsewhere) that were interesting to read about? I’d love to hear your stories, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

 

Antarctica Hits a Balmy 69 Degrees

Antarctica Hits a Balmy 69 Degrees - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

An iceberg the size of Atlanta broke off a glacier in Antarctica in February, marking the middle of a month of soaring temperatures where the mercury hit 69 degrees for the first time in recorded history. The World Meteorological Association is running double-checks to verify it as a new record, and experts say things are going to become even warmer on the world’s chilliest continent.

The Pine Island Glacier breakage is the latest in a series of calving events, which are incidents in which large chunks of ice snap off a glacier and float into the ocean as icebergs. Since 2012, Pine Island Glacier has lost about 58 billion tons of ice per year. Warming temperatures are redefining all of Antarctica – including the way it’s shaped.

The temperatures are also threatening local animal life, including penguins. Penguin thrive on krill; it’s their primary food source. But krill depends on ice, so if things heat up too much, those penguins will starve and impact the rest of the Antarctic ecosystem, as well.

Just for reference, the mean annual temperature of the interior of the continent is –70.6 degrees F. Its coast is warmer – usually around 14 degrees F in the warmest parts – but a 55-degree difference is a really big deal, particularly in February.

As pieces continue to break away from the Pine Island Glacier and its cousin, the Thwaites Glacier, billions of tons of ice are at risk of falling into the ocean. NASA says that these two glaciers contain enough vulnerable ice between them to raise sea levels by 4 feet (sorry, Florida). Each year since 2016, Antarctica has gotten progressively warmer – as has the rest of the world – which means more ice is melting and breaking off massive glaciers. Methane trapped inside the ice then escapes, which can cause more harm and make the earth even warmer, scientists warn, so even despite our best efforts, it might be too late to turn things around.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about the temperatures in Antarctica and how massive icebergs are breaking off our fast-dwindling glaciers, so please feel free to share your own opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

CDC Prepares for Coronavirus to “Become a Community Virus”

CDC Prepares for Coronavirus to Become a Community Virus - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing for coronavirus to “become a community virus,” and it’s trying to prepare as best it can for widespread infection across the United States.

“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”

There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. so far – including one in Wisconsin – but currently, there’s no cure.

Redfield says his agency is working on a containment strategy to buy more time to develop vaccines and antiviral drugs to help save people. Part of that strategy is quarantining people who have confirmed cases and restricting travel between affected areas.

However, the World Health Organization is arguing against travel restrictions.

“We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ahanom Ghebreyesus.

Redfield disagrees. “I would rather be criticized for over-protecting America than under-protecting America at this stage,” he said.

But the fact remains that people can transmit coronavirus even before they know they’re infected. In that way, it’s a lot like other viruses; it can be spread by someone who’s not yet experiencing any symptoms at all. In fact, Redfield says that the cases popping up in the U.S. only presented with a small sore throat – symptoms that could be mistaken for a whole host of other viruses, including the flu.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about coronavirus – and whether we’re doing enough to prevent its spread. Please feel free to share your own opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

2019’s Weirdest (and Funniest) News Stories

2019’s Weirdest News Stories - Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know we’re big fans of strange news stories. We did a little digging in the archives and found these gems from 2019 – they’re some of the weirdest pieces we’ve ever read (and this time, we didn’t get any from FloridaMan.com, which is packed with fabulous fodder).

Trial by Combat

A Kansas man in the middle of a raging custody battle wanted to settle a series of disputes with his ex-wife in true Game of Thrones fashion. David Ostrom, the aspiring fencer, put his rapier-like wit on display when he requested that an Iowa judge allow him to sword fight his ex-wife “on the field of battle, legally.” He also asked the judge for three months to find samurai swords that were up to the task.

The judge denied the request, which could end in death, by saying, “Such ramifications likely outweigh those of property tax and custody issues.”

Border Patrol is Getting Crappy Signals and These Vultures Are to Blame

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection radio tower in Texas is sending out mixed signals since a horde of vultures has taken up residence, fowling things up for on-the-go agents. Apparently, the birds have been there for the past 6 years – and a rep from CBP said, “They will often defecate and vomit from their roost onto buildings below that house employees and equipment.” The scavengers usually feed on carrion, which isn’t always easy on the digestive tract, and one of their primary defense mechanisms is vomit.

Walmart Dressing Rooms: Enter at Your Own Risk

Pennsylvania police are frantically searching for suspects after someone released bedbugs in an Erie County Walmart’s dressing room. A manager found a pill bottle teeming with live bugs in a boys’ jacket for sale, and a hygiene contractor called out to examine the scene found several crawling around the men’s dressing room the next day. Rumor has it that the prosecutor is also itching for a conviction in the case.

What Are Your Favorite Weird News Stories From 2019?

What weird news stories stuck with you from last year? I’d love to hear all about them, so drop a link on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

 

 

Stress and Your Heart: You’re More At-Risk Than You Think

New Study Says Burnout is Bad for Your Heart - Carlos Gamino By Carlos Gamino

A new study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology says that chronic stress and exhaustion can be a key factor in arterial fibrillation, or AFib – the most common heart rhythm disorder. AFib is also the leading cause of stroke in Europe and the U.S., affecting more than 33 million people worldwide.

So if you’re feeling burned out, experts say it’s time to step back and calm down.

“We’ve known that stress can cause other types of heart disease, but this is the first study to really link exhaustion to potentially increasing your risk for a cardiac arrhythmia,” said study author Dr. Parveen Garg, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. “We’re drawing a link between exhaustion and atrial fibrillation which really hasn’t been described before.”

As many as 80 percent of American workers say they feel stress on the job, and more than half say they need help managing it.

The 25-year study followed almost 12,000 people who didn’t have AFib, and only people who scored highest in “vital exhaustion” were more likely to develop the condition. (Vital exhaustion is a medical term for irritability, extreme fatigue and a feeling of demoralization.)

“Vital exhaustion is associated with increased inflammation and increased activation of the body’s physiologic stress response,” Garg said. “When these two things are chronically activated that can have serious and damaging effects on the heart tissue, which could then eventually lead to the development of this arrhythmia.”

Vital exhaustion is a serious issue – and its key symptoms are feeling constantly overwhelmed, emotionally and mentally drained, demoralized and exceptionally tired, even after a full night of sleep. You might experience mental blocks, a lack of motivation, stress eating (or loss of appetite) and insomnia.

Experts suggest that you can help ease your own mental fatigue by:

  • Staying organized
  • Being realistic about the things you need to accomplish
  • Doing repetitive tasks in bulk
  • Rethink how you’re expending energy
  • Don’t ruminate or over-worry

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this study, why Americans are so over-stressed and burned out, or anything else. Please feel free to share on my Facebook page or on Twitter!

Carlos Gamino

 

Google Storing and Analyzing Health Records

Google Storing and Analyzing Health Records - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Google and Ascension – a healthcare company operating 150 hospitals across 20 states and the District of Columbia – have partnered to store and analyze healthcare records for millions of people. The two companies say it’s a push to improve medical services, but critics say that Google, which also bought Fitbit, is ready to aggregate and analyze millions of data points that it has no business seeing.

Although Google Cloud executive Tariq Shaukat insists that the deal – dubbed Project Nightingale – is perfectly legal, not everyone agrees. Part of the controversy surrounds the fact that the data isn’t anonymized. Google and Ascension can see exactly which records belong to which patients. That means every ailment, every prescription and every doctor’s visit you’ve ever made will be available to Google if you’ve been at an Ascension hospital facility.

“All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations (including HIPAA) regarding patient data, and come [sic] with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage,” Shaukat wrote.

This deal with Ascension, in conjunction with Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, has critics railing. The Fitbit acquisition is another matter; some experts believe that Google will use Fitbit data to sell products to users.

Google and Fitbit both claim that Fitbit health data won’t be mined for Google ads, but the company’s track record suggests otherwise. In 2012 and 2013, Google paid almost $40 million to settle charges that it lied to users about how it would track online behavior after it purchased the DoubleClick ad platform. Sure, that’s a slap on the wrist for a huge company like Google – and it likely doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things – but their track record does matter.

“These promises about what they’re going to do with data in the context of merger approvals deserve absolutely no weight,” said Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute, which fights against monopolies all over the United States. “Especially when you’re talking about a company that has persistently violated the privacy laws, been repeatedly fined – a persistent recidivist when it comes to privacy violations.”

In fact, this year alone, Google has been fined over $170 million because its subsidiary, YouTube, has illegally tracked underage users.

With Google’s Project Nightingale, there’s no way for a patient to opt out of his or her records being shared with Google. Because Google and Ascension have the monopoly on these records and the tech they’re using to analyze them, patients have no choice.

“There’s no agency from the patient to say, ‘No, I don’t accept this,’” said Hubbard. “If they are a monopoly provider and they’re not giving them any options, patients can’t say, ‘I’m going to go to another healthcare provider.’” That may also be true for your Fitbit data, which Google is likely to combine with your health records.

What Do You Think?

Now that large companies are buying up access to data – even the most private health data – is there any hope of consumer privacy left? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Most Americans Don’t Understand Their Own Dementia Risks

What's Your Dementia Risk - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If you’re like most people, you know there’s a chance that you’ll eventually suffer from dementia – but do you know what the risk factors are that could increase your chances of getting it? According to a new study published in JAMA Neurology, you probably don’t.

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s Your Dementia Risk? You May Be Surprised

Almost half of all American adults believe they’re likely to eventually develop dementia – and the results of a study conducted by Dr. Donovan Maust, a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Michigan, suggest that most people don’t understand the connections between physical and brain health.

In the study, a majority of people who rated their own health as “Fair” or “Poor” also believed that their chances of getting dementia later in life were low – and many who said they were in “Excellent” health believed that their chances of getting dementia were high.

Many study participants said they tried at least one of four unscientifically proven memory-protecting methods, such as taking supplements and doing crossword puzzles. While there’s evidence that mental stimulation can help, it does take more than crossword puzzles – like chess, reading about unfamiliar topics and taking higher education classes at an advanced age – there’s absolutely no scientific evidence that supplements can stave off the disease.

However, research has shown that regular exercise, a healthy diet and limited alcohol intake (as well as a non-smoking lifestyle) do help make dementia less likely.

“We really haven’t done a good job of getting the word out that there really are things you can do to lower your risk,” said Maust.

But the fact remains that one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There aren’t any medications or treatments to effectively prevent it, although European research strongly suggests that it boils down to lifestyle.

What Do You Think?

Do you think you’re at risk for dementia? Why do you feel that way? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

The 9-Year-Old Who’s Graduating College

 

Laurent Simons - Carlos Gamino

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Child prodigy Laurent Simons is earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Eindhoven University of Technology in Belgium – and apparently, it’s a tough curriculum, even for students of an average graduation age.

Laurent is a fast learner, according to professors at his school; he’s been described by staff as “simply extraordinary.” He’s rocketing through the program faster than others do, and he’s on track to conclude his studies by December. He plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medical degree, according to his father.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, the university’s education director for electrical engineering. “Not only is he hyper-intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.” Other educators have said “he is like a sponge” and said that he has no problem absorbing new information quickly.

Laurent’s parents are trying to keep him balanced, though.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said his father, Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.” And as for Laurent? He loves playing with his dog, Sammy, and playing on his phone. His main mission, though, is to develop artificial organs.

He’s an official child prodigy – in fact, he’s the textbook definition of the term. A child prodigy is a person under the age of 10 who can produce a meaningful output in any domain that’s equal to the level of an adult expert. Laurent is in good company, too. Other child prodigies included Mozart, Stevie Wonder and Blaise Pascal.

What Do You Think?

Have you been following Laurent’s story? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Weird News for November 2019

Narwhal the Unicorn Puppy - Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re a regular reader of this blog – and I hope you are – you’ll know that every now and then I like to cover weird news stories. This month has been filled with them, but two of the best I’ve heard are about a trio of cows who swam five miles after a hurricane and a puppy with a tail (yes, a tail) growing from its head.

The Olympic-Grade Swimming Cows

Three cows who were swept off Cedar Island on the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Dorian somehow swam more than 5 miles, surviving under harsh conditions, and ended up roaming the Cape Lookout National Seashore Park on the state’s Outer Banks. The cows, who were presumed dead with dozens of other animals (including 28 wild horses), showed up and started grazing. Park staff noticed the first cow about a month after the storm had passed – and then, within the past two weeks, the other two revealed themselves.

The National Park Service is currently trying to figure out how to get the cows home, and one option is to sedate them and put them on a boat back to the island.

Narwhal the Unicorn Puppy

A sweet, weeks-old puppy was found abandoned in Missouri in early November. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon – but although conditions were well below freezing and the poor pooch had the early stages of frostbite on one paw, he’s now doing exceptionally well.

And he has a tail on his forehead (hence the name Narwhal the Little Magical Furry Unicorn, but Narwhal the Unicorn Puppy for short).

After doctors examined him, they determined that the tail on his head really is a tail – but it doesn’t wag and it’s not connected to anything. He also has a tail on the other end; this one is just extra. Vets say there’s no medical reason to remove it because it doesn’t appear to bother him.

Narwhal was found with another dog – dubbed Poppa Smurf – who’s a Daschund Terrier mix. Rescuers believe Poppa Smurf may be Narwhal’s father, but they haven’t done any tests to find out. The rescue organization who has him has received dozens of adoption applications, but he’s not quite ready to go to his forever home just yet.

What Do You Think?

Do you have a weird news story to share? I’d love to hear it, so please share on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino