U.S. appeals court lets Arkansas curb abortion surgeries during the pandemic

U.S. appeals court lets Arkansas curb abortion surgeries during ...

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday allowed Arkansas to enforce a ban on most surgical abortions a part of a state directive aimed at postponing medical procedures not deemed urgent during the coronavirus outbreak.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Missouri, lifted a federal judge’s order that had allowed the procedure to continue to be performed. The appeals court ruling does not affect abortions induced through medication in the early stage of pregnancy, which is still allowed.

The ruling comes two days after another federal appeals court allowed Texas to enforce curbs on abortions via medication as part of that state’s response to the pandemic.

Arkansas and Texas are among a handful of conservative states that have pursued limits on abortion during the crisis, saying they want to ensure that medical resources, including protective equipment, are available to help healthcare facilities cope with people with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

The 8th Circuit said that the lower court judge “usurped the functions of the state government by second-guessing the state’s policy choices in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Sex toy sales take off amid Colombia’s coronavirus quarantine

Sex toy sales take off amid Colombia's coronavirus quarantine ...

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Gerson Monje holds up his cellphone to proudly show off his online sex shop. A red banner reading “sold out!” is plastered across half of the products.

While most Colombian businesses suffer during a five-week lockdown meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus, one online industry has seen an explosion in sales in the usually conservative country: sex toys are flying off virtual shelves.

“Sales started going up on day four of the quarantine,” said Monje, who is still able to have products delivered to customers amid the national lockdown. “We’ve seen a rise of 50%.”

“People are at home and have more time on their hands. They’re with their partners or alone and need fun in their daily activities when it comes to being intimate,” Monje said.

Reuters spoke to six online sex shops in Colombia and all said they have seen a swell in sales since the quarantine began. Colombians are meant to remain at home until Apr. 27, except for outings to buy food and medicine and visits to banks, among other exceptions.

Sex toys could help people keep their spirits up during long isolation, psychologist Dr. Carolina Guzman said and might lead to an easing of sexual mores.

“Colombia has a very conservative idea around sexuality and communication surrounding it,” she said. “It’s a good time for people to allow themselves to work on their curiosity and to understand that buying and using these products is a great thing.”

Other countries have seen a similar phenomenon. Sales of sex toys in Denmark have more than doubled, while British lingerie chain Ann Summers said sex toy sales were up 27% in the last week of March.

Inside the Sex Sense sex shop in Bogota, manager Adriana Marin watched Pope Francis give a Good Friday Mass on her computer as she sprayed boxes of products with disinfectant.

Her online shop sales have taken off even though her storefront is closed and there is stiff competition. There are about 30 other sex shops in her neighborhood alone.

At the Bali Sex Store in Medellin, sales are up 140%.

Products with mobile phone applications that allow separated partners to control toys for one another are particularly popular, said Katty Gonzalez, the store’s marketing director.

“Before people didn’t have time because of so many things going on in their daily lives and I think that because of what’s happening at the moment, it’s giving them the opportunity to explore different things,” she said.

Indonesia locks up people for breaking virus quarantine rules.

SRAGEN, Indonesia – Fed up with people breaking virus quarantine rules, one Indonesian politician has decided to scare rulebreakers straight by locking them in a “haunted house.”

Sragen regency head Kusdinar Untung Yuni Sukowati says she issued the unusual edict this week to deal with an influx of people to the area after lockdowns in the capital Jakarta and other major cities.

Some newcomers, however, weren’t respecting orders that they isolate themselves for 14 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the region on Indonesia’s densely populated Java island.

So Sukowati instructed communities to repurpose abandoned houses that were feared to be haunted — tapping widespread beliefs in the supernatural, which play a key role in Indonesian folklore.

Five people have been tossed into Sragen’s spooky jails so far.

“If there’s an empty and haunted house in the village, put people in there and lock them up,” Sukowati told AFP Tuesday when asked about the rule.

Officials in Sepat village chose a long-abandoned house and outfitted it with beds placed at a distance and separated by curtains.

So far, the village has locked up 3 recently-arrived residents who are being forced to spend the remainder of their 2-week quarantine in the spooky abode.

Among them was Heri Susanto, who said his punishment hadn’t brought him face to face with any ghosts — so far.

“But whatever happens, happens,” said Susanto, who came from neighboring Sumatra island.

“I know this is for everyone’s safety. Lesson learned.”

‘Help us’: Cook County inmates post signs in windows as COVID-19 cases mount

 

Inmates at the Cook County Jail have put up signs in their windows asking for help as COVID-19 cases continue to mount.

Several signs were spotted in inmates’ windows throughout Division X, a maximum security facility.

Some signs said “help us, don’t let us die” and “save us.”

304 detainees and 174 correctional officers have tested positive for COVID-19. Two detainees have died as a result of the virus.

Staff said any detainee who is showing symptoms is immediately removed from where they’re housed and taken to receive medical attention.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office sent the following statement.

Any detainee who is symptomatic for the virus is immediately removed from the tier where he or she is housed and taken to receive medical attention by Cermak Health Services staff. The signs in the window are located in Division X, a maximum security facility, not Cermak Health Services.” 

Cook County Jail Inmate Fears For Her Life In The Midst Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

 A federal judge said there will be no mass release of inmates from the Cook County Jail, COVID-19 or not. In late March the jail had two positive cases. Now it is potentially the largest cluster of COVID-19 in the country.

There have been 289 detainees who tested positive. Two inmates died, and the virus is the suspected cause.

Also, 167 correctional staff members and jail staff members have tested positive.

The jail might be the hottest spot in the country, a veritable petri dish of despair. Now a woman who likely shouldn’t be there is speaking from the inside.

Jessica Huff is in Cook County lockup on a burglary charge. She could be out, but her case is gummed up because she has another retail theft charge out of DuPage County, so she couldn’t get out on the monitoring she was granted in Cook County.

“I have a heart condition,” she said. “I have what is called endocarditis.”

She also has asthma, making her legal tangle life or death.

She is staying in the jail’s hospital. It’s Cermak 3 East Division H.

“All of us up here are in Cermak because we have severe conditions that we cannot be in population in the jail for,” Huff said. “That they are bringing people up here with COVID and placing them in the isolation cells that we have to live on this unit with. I was just in isolation for 24 hours for COVID because my roommate had severe symptoms of it. She’s still in isolation.”

Huff said the guards do not have protective masks or rubber gloves “at all times.”

Jail officials say all guards have proper personal protective equipment and are ordered to wear it at all times.

“I’m not admitting guilt, but if I were guilty, I don’t deserve a death sentence,” Huff said. “I don’t deserve to die in here. Nobody deserves to die in here. I fear for my life.”

And worse, she said it seems like her jailers simply don’t know what to do.

“They have sheets and towels underneath the doors of these cells to try to block them from the air coming out,” Huff said.

Patient safety is the number one concern, said Cook County Health. They run the jail hospital. The sheriff’s department said all guards are under order to wear PPE at all times.

As for why Huff is still in custody, she may not be soon. The warrant in DuPage County was just canceled. Friday the sheriff’s department brought her case to the state’s attorney and public defenders’ offices. She could have her electronic monitor removed in short order.

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Chicago’s McCormick Place to be turned into a 3,000-bed hospital.

McCormick Place is being turned into a makeshift hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.

The Army Corps of Engineers said it will have 3,000 beds and that all three halls of the convention center will be used.

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Patients will be separated by the level of care they require.

The hospital is expected to be up and running by April 24.

A similar facility is opening on Monday, at a convention center in New York.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Chicago patients to be treated at McCormick Place