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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Thousands in Oklahoma City are without power after an autumn ice storm… The Justice Department launches probe of New Jersey veterans’ homes… New study says a flu shot could reduce the risk of catching Covid-19.
Pennsylvania is mobilizing the state’s National Guard and Philadelphia will enforce a citywide curfew in an effort to quell the looting and violence that has broken out in the city this week amid demonstrations over a fatal police shooting. The Philadelphia Police Department said 172 people have been arrested and 53 officers have been injured since violence broke out Monday, including a female officer who was struck by a vehicle.
The protests stem from police officers’ fatal shooting of Walter Wallace in West Philadelphia on Monday afternoon. Wallace’s family had called 911 to request medical help because of his mental state. When police officers arrived, they encountered Wallace, 27, who walked toward them carrying a knife and ignored orders to put the weapon down. His family has said he had a mental illness and had been taking lithium, a mood stabilizer. Wallace’s mother was at the scene of the shooting, following him and pleading with him to respond to her. A video of the shooting quickly spread on social media. While the video briefly swung away from the interaction, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wallace “appeared to be multiple feet from them (police) when they fired numerous shots.”
City officials announced a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will be in place Wednesday and Thursday. Looting in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood on Tuesday night was described by police as having “rapidly gone downhill” and a “total loss.” At least 11 people, including two teenagers, were shot Tuesday night in the area targeted by looters. The Pennsylvania National Guard is also being mobilized to help protect local property and supplement the local police. [KYW-TV, WCAU-TV, USA Today]
ICE STORM | An early autumn ice storm downed trees across the Oklahoma City area Tuesday, leaving more than 226,000 people without power. Among the trees damaged in the storm was the “Survivor Tree” at the Oklahoma City National Memorial which withstood the 1995 bomb blast that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killed 168 people. “We lost a pretty good branch,” memorial director Kari Watkins said. “But the tree is still pretty good.” The local power company warned that customers could be without power for several days as they work to repair downed lines. [Oklahoman]
FLU SHOT | Doctors and medical experts have already warned people to get flu shots this year to help reduce the burden on healthcare systems as the coronavirus pandemic is expected to worsen over the winter. Now a new study indicates getting a flu shot might also reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 as the vaccine may trigger the body to produce broad infection-fighting molecules that combat the virus. A study from Mihai Netea, an infectious disease immunologist at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, reviewed hospital databases to determine whether employees who got flu shots in the 2019-2020 season later contracted Covid-19. The study found that hospital employees who received flu shots were 39% less likely to test positive for the virus as of June 1. [Scientific American]
NURSING HOME DEATHS | The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil-rights investigation into New Jersey veterans homes after news reports indicated that two homes had undercounted the number of Covid-19-related deaths. In a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy, DOJ attorneys wrote that recent news reports indicated deaths at “two long-term care facilities operated by the state, have been understated” and that the DOJ’s own review “gives us cause for concern that the quality of medical care at these nursing homes has been deficient.” The Wall Street Journal previously reported that more than 100 people died at the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home, in Edison, New Jersey in April while the home reported just 62 deaths. The state’s health department found that a second state veterans home in Paramus also undercounted probable deaths. The governor’s office has suggested that the investigation is politically motivated because it was announced a week before the presidential election, with a spokesman saying the timing “speaks volumes about the nature of the review.” [Wall Street Journal, NJ.com]
DEATH THREATS | A day after President Trump lashed out at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a campaign rally in Lansing, the Democrat governor said the comments are leading to more death threats. "Every time he sets his sights on me, I get more death threats,” Whitmer told CBS News. “The violent rhetoric has an uptick. And there's no question that it's had an impact.” The rally crowd began to chant “lock her up” after the president blasted Whitmer for imposing stay-at-home orders earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. [CBS News]
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.