First Online-Only Whole Foods Launched by Amazon

If you walk up to a particular Whole Foods storefront in Brooklyn, New York, expecting to walk around and shop, think again. Amazon opened its first “permanent online-only” warehouse to meet the growing demand for grocery delivery. Whole Foods was bought by Amazon in 2017 for $13.2 billion.

This isn’t the first Amazon and Whole Foods store, however. Amazon Fresh, a traditional supermarket with “smart” technology such as an Amazon Alexa shopping assistant and high-tech grocery carts, was launched recently in California. Amazon also opened a smaller grocery store that uses checkout-free technology called Amazon Go Grocery. Several other online grocery delivery services have already been in use for quite some time, such as Amazon Fresh, a grocery delivery service, and Prime Pantry, where consumers can shop for everyday household items in single quantities.

In a recent blog post, Amazon stated, “Grocery delivery continues to be one of the fastest-growing businesses at Amazon. In fact, online grocery sales tripled year over year in the second quarter this year, indicating that more customers than ever before are turning to Amazon for grocery delivery options. Together, we’re thrilled to increase access to grocery delivery. It’s never been more important.”

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Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

The Chemistry of Contaminated Hand Sanitizers

Chances are, you have a bottle of hand sanitizer sitting in at least one area of your house, your car, and maybe even your office. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been buying and stocking up on hand sanitizer, causing a spike in the industry. Despite being sold in everyday stores for millions of consumers to purchase, numerous hand sanitizer brands make false and misleading claims. Countless hand sanitizers on the market cannot pass standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some even contain poisonous ingredients such as methanol ranging from 1 to 80 percent.

Since June, the FDA has unmasked 160 alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing toxic chemicals. The irony lies in the fact that hand sanitizers have one goal: to keep people safe. The fake, chemical-laden hand sanitizers disguised as safe can actually be deadly; several people have died after ingesting them. Other consequences of using these noxious sanitizers include hospitalizations for blindness, cardiac arrest, nervous system effects, and more.

A direct result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, shelves across the world became bare as people began to stock up on invaluable items. Shortages were – and still are – prevalent in countless countries. Hand sanitizers were no exception; simultaneously, the ingredients (ethanol, isopropanol, and glycerin) used in most (safe) hand sanitizers also became scarce. In an effort to provide sanitizers to the public, non-traditional manufacturers such as perfumeries, small businesses, and breweries began to produce the liquid gold people were desperate to find. However, without prior experience or proper knowledge, they unknowingly began to create and sell toxic hand sanitizers.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA had a small hand in the industry; now, they analyze it with a magnifying glass. The agency said in a statement, “Almost all of the hand sanitizer manufacturers [with contaminated products] are newly registered facilities.” Hand sanitizer is not controlled or standardized in many countries. Without regulations, new products can effortlessly enter the market despite manufacturers’ lack of knowledge regarding the product. The absence of regulations combined with the overwhelming need for hand sanitizers created a perfect-storm scenario.

Curious to see whether your hand sanitizer is safe or potentially deadly? Check out the FDA’s hand sanitizer guide to determine whether your product is on the list. As always, the best way to prevent the spread of disease – including COVID-19 – is to wash your hands with soap and water.

Chemical composition should never be a guessing game. At Apex Measurement Systems, we measure a broad range of chemical compounds such as raw materials, industrial minerals, and feedstocks using elemental and compositional analysis. Click here for more information about faux sanitizers. 

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Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Researchers Create 3D CT Models of Lung Segmentation in COVID-19 Patients

A Louisiana State University (LSU) radiologist joined with an evolutionary anatomist to create revolutionary 3D models of COVID-19 patients’ lungs by implementing the same techniques used for reptiles and birds. Emma R. Schachner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Cell Biology & Anatomy, and Bradley Spieler, MD, Vice Chairman of Radiology Research and Associate Professor of Radiology, Internal Medicine, Urology, & Cell Biology and Anatomy at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, created the models from CT scans of COVID-19 patients.

Three patients underwent contrast-enhanced thoracic CT when their symptoms worsened. Two tested positive for COVID-19; another was presumed a false-negative based on the symptoms they experienced combined with compelling imaging. Since false-negative tests are a known diagnostic challenge, CT can be beneficial for establishing a COVID-19 diagnosis. The lungs’ form and structure appear to correlate to disease progression, which allows for the 3D segmentations to model airflow patterns or quantify lung tissue volumetrically.

Spieler said, “The full effect of COVID-19 on the respiratory system remains unknown, but the 3D digital segmented models provide clinicians a new tool to evaluate the extent and distribution of the disease in one encapsulated view. This is especially useful in the case where RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 [current testing system] is negative but there is a strong clinical suspicion for COVID-19.” 

This combined technology is a novel discovery as there has never before been accurate models of the COVID-19 disease progression in the lungs. Previous models published include volume-rendered models and straight 2D screenshots of CT scans and radiographs (X-Rays). The 3D models are vastly more detailed but do require some more effort.

Schachner explained, “Previously published 3D models of lungs with COVID-19 have been crated using automated volume rendering techniques. Our method is more challenging and time-consuming, but results in a highly accurate and detailed anatomical model where the layers can be pulled apart, volumes quantified, and it can be 3D printed.”

The in-depth view rendered by this model makes it easier for the broader medical audience to understand the severity and extent of this disease.

Check out the original report for a detailed look at the 3D models of COVID-19 patients’ lungs.

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Three Ways to Host an Event During a Pandemic

No one could have predicted the impact COVID-19 would have on the world when it first started spreading in late 2019. Millions of businesses and corporations ceased operations for a period of time, some never recovering. Unfortunately, most events scheduled for the spring/summer of 2020 in the United States were cancelled due to state mandates. Event planners and individuals resorted to virtual get-togethers, which was a new idea at the time, but is now the norm. As many states open back up and allow small gatherings, event planners and hosts face an important decision. There are three options for future events; how do they take place, you ask? Look no further; we’ll explain it all here:

Live
Events can still be held in-person, using models that have worked in the past, including a few modifications. Hand sanitizer placed throughout the area is imperative to maintain cleanliness. Reducing the number of handheld items when at all possible will help curb cross-contamination. Some events recommend guests be tested for COVID-19 prior to attending, and wellness/temperature checks are performed at the door. Reducing the number of invitations to decrease overall headcount is also a popular choice. Lastly, social distancing, in addition to proper mask precautions, are proven ways to lower guests’ chances of becoming infected with the virus.

Virtual
A large number of events have gone – and stayed – virtual in 2020. Despite being entirely virtual, a great deal of planning still goes into these events. One problem with virtual events is that the technology varies greatly. For example, one person might fully understand a platform (utilities and applications) like “Zoom,” while others are more used to “FaceTime.” Moreover, these platforms are usually not significantly robust enough to handle large numbers of participants. The question of whether they will be monetized is still up for debate, as well.

Hybrid
This type of event combines live and virtual, which is a growing choice for many people. Oftentimes, a small group of “virus-free” guests get together while others (perhaps those at high-risk for infection, or guests who do not want to travel long distances) join virtually. This can be accomplished using a few modalities including webcams, phones, etc. In-person guests can communicate with the virtual guests as though they are all in one area.

Planning any type of event can be overwhelming, so let an experienced event planner help you decide what format is best for you.

Check out this article for more information, including questions to ask yourself for each format.

Event Planning DC offer precise planning and captivating event design inspired by your unique vision, exclusive style, and the things that matter to you most. We provide comprehensive event planning of all types within the DC, MD, and VA area. Call us at 301-742-6322 or email michele@eventplanningdc.com today.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Five Ways to Enhance your Pool

Pools don’t need to be completely torn out and re-designed to update their aesthetic. There are plenty of ways to change the look of a pool – even on a budget. If you are searching for ideas, read our list below for some inspiration.

Swim-up bars: These drink bars are installed on the inside of the pool. If your pool is the neighborhood or family hangout, guests will enjoy refreshing, cold drinks while relaxing in the water.

Dark pool interior: There are a few reasons dark pool trends are on the rise. First, they are a nice contrast to waterfalls, rock arrangements, and other landscape fixtures. Second, dirt and debris are not quite as noticeable compared to pools with lighter finishes. Lastly, dark pools absorb and retain sunlight, making them more heat-efficient.

Shallow areas: Some people enjoy pools by sitting on the edge and letting their feet dangle in the water. Installing a foot-deep shallow depth area will allow people to relax on beach chairs, for example, while refreshing water flows beneath them.

Smart lighting: Many people enjoy their pools in the evening, which usually requires some sort of lighting. Beyond flipping light switches, you can now control where the lights are placed, in addition to adjusting the color. Some smart lights even have apps that can be accessed from smartphones. The ambiance of your pool will surely improve with specialized lighting.

Saltwater pools: We all know pools contain chlorine, but did you know some pools are made up of saltwater? Saltwater pools require far less maintenance and aren’t as harsh on the eyes or skin as chlorine pools typically are.

Want to discuss options and look into renovating your pool? Pound Pool staff are pool renovation experts. Contact us today at 248-476-4544 or poundpool@sbcglobal.net.

Pound Pool offers free estimates and complete pool renovations. Dale Pound, owner, personally oversees each pool project to ensure the highest quality is delivered. We offer Diamond Brite, Sunstone, Hydrazzo, Marcite, Pebble finishes Bead Crete, tile choices, coping stones, etc.

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Saints QB Jameis Winston Opts for LASIK Eye Surgery

NFL Saints Quarterback Jameis Winston is the latest pro athlete to undergo LASIK eye surgery. The QB said he could read license plates and street signs following the surgery. He said, “I think precision in the vision is the biggest difference.” Previously nearsighted in addition to having astigmatism, which is a curvature in the eye or lens, Winston’s vision is now corrected.

A growing number of professional athletes are choosing to undergo LASIK eye surgery. Some famous athletes include Tiger Woods, Tiki Barber, Dwayne Wade, Carson Wentz, Lindsey Vonn, Kirk Cousins, LeBron James, Wilson Ramos, Greg Maddux, Patrick Ewing, and Chris Paul.

Vision is integral to an athlete’s performance. Without strong vision, performance on the athletic field is diminished. Quarterback football players are continually shifting their eyes by calculating depth, distance, and rapidly-moving players. The quick decisions he makes based on his vision capabilities are what could win or cost the game.

Glasses or goggles can impair and even be potentially hazardous to athletes due to their susceptibility to damage and inability to protect their eyes during rain or snowstorms. LASIK eye surgery is a perfect option for athletes and other individuals who move quickly or are frequently in the elements.

Read the full article for more information about Winston’s LASIK experience.

Rohr Eye & Laser Center offers the most advanced technology available to provide personalized and extraordinary care to our patients. Whether your goal is to maintain or improve your natural vision, we are here to help you. Call us at 877-579-0202 or visit https://www.michiganlasik.com/ to schedule an appointment today.

Michigan’s New PFAS Rules Among Strictest in Nation

PFAS, known as “Forever Chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment and human body indefinitely, saturate the water supply in Michigan. These highly toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer; liver, thyroid, and pancreas conditions; ulcerative colitis; hormone and immune system interference; high cholesterol; and a host of negative issues for pregnant women and children. PFAS are found at some level in public water serving about 1.9 million people and more than 11,000 sites. A Detroit Free Press article stated, “PFAS contamination is Michigan’s biggest environmental crisis in 40 years.”

Michigan groundwater is saturated with PFAS chemicals at levels which exceed standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seventeen rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds have “do not eat” advisories for fish; at least one county issued the same warning for deer due to PFAS. The entire country is dealing with an emerging crisis regarding PFAS contamination.

In an effort to regulate this toxic chemical, the state of Michigan issued enforceable standards to limit the amount of PFAS allowed in drinking water. These standards took effect on August 3 and are among the nation’s strictest. This article by The Detroit News explains the new regulations in-depth. Typically, the EPA develops nationwide standards based on states’ adaptations. States like Michigan, New Jersey, and New Hampshire have taken the lead and created their own standards without the EPA’s involvement.

Since PFAS are emerging toxins, many consumers are unfamiliar with the chemicals and unsure about how to protect themselves from ingesting them. Thankfully, household filters – specifically reverse osmosis and two-stage – are the most effective way to remove PFAS from drinking water. Activated carbon filters are also beneficial for PFAS filtration. Don’t have a reverse osmosis or two-stage filter? No problem! Call Reynolds Water Conditioning Co. at 800-572-9575. Reynolds Water was established in 1931 and is Michigan’s oldest water conditioning treatment company. www.reynoldswater.com

AI-based MRI Interpretation Assistants from Siemens Healthineers Cleared by FDA

Two additional Siemens Healthineers Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based software assistants in the AI-Rad Companion family have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). During Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), routine activities usually done by radiologists will now be completed by AI. 

Brain segmentations, volume, and deviations are automatically marked by the AI-Rad Companion Brain MR for Morphometry Analysis. The AI-Rad Companion Prostate MR for Biopsy Support automatically segments the prostate. This process allows radiologists to mark lesions. In turn, prostate biopsies are targeted.

Peter Shen, Vice President of Innovation and Digital Business at Siemens Healthineers North America, said, “These new AI-Rad Companion applications for MR exams in the brain and prostate regions will help physicians manage their workloads and achieve a patient-focused decision-making process to increase efficiency and improve the quality of care.”

Various brain segments contain grey matter (nerve cells), white matter (nerve cell connections), and cerebrospinal fluid. The AI-Rad Companion Brain MR for Morphometry Analysis supports brain volumetry, which involves measuring the aforementioned segments. This process facilitates a comparison between normal volumes; any irregularities could be signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, or dementia. Brain segmentation and comparison were typically performed manually or semi-manually before the new AI. Now, up to 30 brain segments can be read and then fed into a report where deviations from the norm are automatically marked. 

Similarly, the AI-Rad Companion Prostate MR for Biopsy Support automatically segments and marks the prostate’s outer contour in seconds. Again, this process was typically done manually or semi-manually and could take several minutes. Radiologists can now read the report, mark suspect areas, and forward the results to urologists. The targeted, AI-supported biopsies can be precursors to cancer or other diseases. 

Both software assistants are DICOM-compliant and can be used with many different MRI scanner brands, making integration effortless. 

Check out this article for more information.

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Choosing Materials for a Bathroom Remodel

Remodeling a bathroom can be exciting yet overwhelming due to the vast amount of available options. Having an overall plan or scheme is ideal; make sure to include a list of goals, priorities, and, most importantly, a budget. It’s all in the details – try to have a crystal-clear vision of what you want the aesthetic to be. Hardware, color scheme, patterns, textures, etc. are some ideas to explore.

How do you sift through hundreds of options to solidify your choice? Specialty design showrooms are a great place to start. They display finished plumbing, flooring, cabinets, lighting, and more. After you narrow down your ideal design, remember to factor in your budget. It’s also a good idea to have a backup or second option if your first choice is unavailable.

Here are some basic suggestions to help you get started:

Flooring
Choose an easy-to-clean, non-porous surface such as tile, ceramic, hardwood, etc.

Countertops
Any tough, durable, solid surface including granite, quartz, marble, and the like will stand the test of time.

Storage
Look for tall and spacious cabinets and sleek shelves to add a functional yet appealing touch.

Lighting
Set the mood with accent lighting, illuminated mirrors, and achieve specific color temperatures with specialty light bulbs.

After you choose the aesthetic of your new bathroom, you can start shopping for materials. Check out the complete article for a more in-depth look at fixtures, countertops, cabinets, flooring, and more.

You have the perfect bathroom planned – now you need the perfect bathroom remodeling contractor. Contact JFC Remodeling for your next bathroom renovation project at 810-923-1123. https://www.jfcremodeling.com/

Electrical Grid Cyberattack Simulations Debated by Officials

According to testimony at a Senate committee hearing on August 5, the federal government should have the authority to simulate cyberattacks on the electric grid to lessen the nation’s vulnerability. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “The threat of cyberattacks by foreign adversaries and other sophisticated entities is real, and it’s growing.”

Citing 2019’s Worldwide Threat Assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Murkowski explained those findings stating that China, Russia, and other foreign adversaries are stepping up cyber operations to target the United States’ military and critical infrastructure, including the nation’s electric grid. The Energy Department claimed that a Russian government-backed hacking group infiltrated a U.S. energy entity’s network in January 2020.

The energy sector’s vulnerabilities are of particular concern to national security since electricity and fuels are used to power transportation, water facilities, hospitals, communications, and more. The gap between physical, operational technology, and information technology systems is narrowing, creating even more concern. Grid operators incorporate new management systems, utility companies install millions of “smart meters” and other internet-enabled devices on the grid. Advancements in technology lead to improved operations and real-time feedback, however, malicious hackers can target these systems to gain access and compromise larger systems.

Murkowski said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique opportunity for cybercriminals to attack our networks, including critical energy infrastructure. We all know the stakes here. A successful hack could shut down power, impacting hospitals, banks, gas pumps, military installations, and cell phone service. The consequences would be widespread and devastating, and only more so if we are in the midst of a global pandemic.”

Red-teaming is a simulation using hackers to test various organizations’ cybersecurity and threat response. The result provides an outside perspective and has been performed in the past. In July, the Office of Energy Infrastructure Security (OEIS) joined with the National Guard and conducted Cyber Yankee, a red-team-simulated cyber-attack on a utility system throughout the New England states. This exercise was beneficial for professionals to thwart potential incoming threats by creating defensive and recovery plans.

Check out this article by the National Conference of State Legislatures for more information about the nation’s energy infrastructure and the growing cyberthreat.

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