Number of COVID patients in US hospitals reaches record low


COVID-19 hospitalization numbers have plunged to their lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic, offering a much needed break to health care workers and patients alike following the omicron surge.

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has fallen more than 90% in more than two months, and some hospitals are going days without a single COVID-19 patient in the ICU for the first time since early 2020.

The freed up beds are expected to help U.S. hospitals retain exhausted staff, treat non-COVID-19 patients more quickly and cut down on inflated costs. More family members can visit loved ones. And doctors hope to see a correction to the slide in pediatric visits, yearly checkups and cancer screenings.

“We should all be smiling that the number of people sitting in the hospital right now with COVID, and people in intensive care units with COVID, are at this low point,” said University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi.

Holocaust Survivors Reunite in Florida After a Labor Camp Friendship was Broken 80 Years Ago

Sam Ron and Jack Waksal credit Red Banyan

Those who say there’s no such thing as destiny need to meet Jack Waksal and Sam Ron, victims who met during the Holocaust, and who met again 79 years later in South Florida.

Having endured slave labor shoulder to shoulder in the Pionki Labor Camp in Poland, the two were separated after Waksal escaped into the forest, and Ron was moved to a different camp that was ultimately liberated.

Neither knew the other had survived, until Waksal attended a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s South Florida Dinner last Sunday, and found his old camp comrade to be the guest speaker. Introduced by his former name of Shmuel Rakowski, Waksal felt as if he was seeing a fraternal brother.

“He jumped off the seat and came running over to my seat and says you’re my brother, I was very emotional, I’m normally not a very emotional guy,” Ron explained, according to NBC Miami.

Just teenagers at the time of their imprisonment, the two managed to both immigrate to the United States, specifically to Ohio, where they both lived for 40 years unaware of each other’s existence before eventually moving to South Florida.

A piece of Marine veteran John Rubino is keeping 8-month-old Ariany alive


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It was the life-saving transplant her family at Montefiore were waiting for, now they get to make more memories together.

“Being able to provide that relief to her family and know that she is going to be a healthy little girl and live a long healthy life – it’s quite an amazing feeling,” said Rubino.

Ariany was suffering for months from a potentially deadly and very rare disease, Biliary Atresia. It is a blockage in the tubes (ducts) that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder. Ariany needed an implant right away, so Dr. Nadia Orchinsky got her on the national donor waitlist immediately, but there was no match.

This is Rubino’s second time giving someone a second chance. The first was a kidney given to a woman named Jessica in Connecticut.

Rubino says this is his opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than himself. He is currently on the Bone Marrow Registry and is doing advocacy work with Yale-New Haven and is a living donor ambassador.

University Gives Unexpected Bonus To All Employees Saying Thanks for Their Service During Covid


The Chancellor of Vanderbilt University is recognizing all the school’s employees for their diligent work over the past two years with a surprise bonus in their paychecks.

All the eligible faculty, staff, and postdocs, will receive a $1,500 bonus in their paychecks at the end of March.

That’s around 9,000 workers, including part-time employees, who are getting the generous bonus.

In announcing the Chancellor’s Recognition Award—which coincided with the March 17 anniversary of the university’s founding 148 years ago—Chancellor Daniel Diermeier expressed gratitude for the extraordinary efforts of those at the heart of Vanderbilt’s educational mission.

“It has not been easy, especially during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Diermeier said.

“However, your dedication to our vision and goals enables our university to operate at its highest level. I am indeed grateful as we approach Vanderbilt’s 150th anniversary in a position of strength and with optimism about our path forward.”

This World War II veteran decided to become a children’s book author at age 95


Sam Baker first discovered his love of reading in the ninth grade, but it wasn’t until he turned 95 that he realized how much he enjoyed writing books, too.

Baker, now 99, lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. He served in the Marines from 1942 to 1947, and later embarked on a career with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. When his children were young, he read to them every day, and would make up his own stories about a worm named Herman. When Baker decided to start writing four years ago, his son encouraged him to turn his Herman tales into a book.

He did just that, publishing The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman the Worm in 2018. Baker was then inspired to write about the pet rat he had as a child, and penned his second book, Oscar the Mouse, in 2020. He told Fox News Digital he changed the rat to a mouse because “people accept mice over rats.” Baker is continuing Oscar’s story in a third book he expects will be published later this year.

Baker felt compelled to write for kids because “reading is a foundation for all other learning,” he said. “If you don’t know how to read, you’re going to have a hard time learning.” For Baker, being an author isn’t about the fame or paychecks. “I don’t want to make money,” he told Fox News Digital. “I want children to learn to read.”

Inspiring social media post motivates North Carolina man to donate kidney to a stranger


In Chris Perez, Steve Sanders found a kidney donor — and a friend.

Sanders has a rare genetic disease that caused his kidneys to slowly start failing, and doctors told him he would either need to start dialysis or undergo a kidney transplant. Several friends and family members were tested to see if they could donate a kidney to Sanders, but no one was a match. Last July, Sanders turned to social media, posting about his his need for a donor to a wider audience.

That’s how Chris Perez, director of volunteer services at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, learned about Sanders’ story. After reading the post and finding out Sanders had two children, Perez, a father of three, felt compelled to help. “I didn’t know him but thought, let’s give this a try — I would want someone to do this for me,” Perez said in a statement.

After going through testing, Perez was found to be a match for Sanders, and the two spoke on the phone for the first time. “We hit it off right away,” Sanders said, with the men bonding over their similar educational backgrounds and fatherhood. Soon, they were regularly spending time together and with their families.

Their surgeries were in January, and both Sanders and Perez recovered well. Sanders said it “means everything to me” that a stranger donated their kidney to him, and it’s a gift for his entire family. “It’s a chance at continuing to have a normal life with my kids,” he said. “It shows Chris’ commitment to being a father and allowing me the same chance.”

North Carolina gas station lowers prices to $2.25 to give community break at the pump


Imagine buying gas for about $2 a gallon.

That’s hard to come by these days, but lucky drivers in North Carolina were able to get it for $2.25 a gallon.

Gas station owners in Burnsville said they wanted to help people during this time, so they took a loss and dropped their prices.

“I think that’s really great and kind of them to do that for people around here like us,” customer Caylie Vess said. “I think it’s really good of them.”

The cheap gas was available from just before noon to about 5 p.m., when it ran out.

US – Nearly two years into the pandemic, the crowds are (almost) back to partying like it’s 2019


Just weeks away from Pandemic Year Three, the scene on Saturday along D.C.’s U Street NW — that premier corridor for lines, liquor, and late-night traffic — may as well have been captured in 2019.

The crowds had showed up to eat fried chicken and sip on cocktails. To dance to ABBA, aptly outfitted in bell bottoms and flower-print T shirts, or jump around to punk music. They lined up outside the new gay bar, just a few weeks old, and the late-night stalwart pizzeria, nary a face mask in sight.

“It’s like, ‘This is it.’ It’s over. There’s no going back anymore,” said Guillermo Roa, the general manager at El Techo, a rooftop cocktail bar in the Shaw neighborhood.

Inside the establishment, techno beats bumping under pink and red lights, 32-year-old Justin Pope was nursing an IPA and Old Fashioned at the bar as he chatted with his younger brother, back to their bimonthly routine of sibling nights out.

“It’s a big tidal wave about to wash ashore,” Pope said. “Everybody’s been tired. Everybody’s been waiting. Our freedom is coming back.”

With coronavirus case counts in and around Washington high but trending down — and government officials changing guidance and easing requirements — many here said that life, or at least nightlife, has maybe, finally, possibly gotten “back to normal,” even if that normal turns out to be another fleeting phase in the pandemic.

Once the Epicenter, New York City Plans to Drop Vaccine Mandate and Masks in Schools


Face masks and vaccine cards, two essentials in the everyday lives of New Yorkers, are starting to get phased out in the city whose leaders are looking to return daily life to pre-pandemic habits.

On Sunday, Mayor Eric Adams announced his intention to reverse the city’s “Key2NYC” policy, which currently requires anyone 5 and older to show proof of vaccination in order to enter most public spaces, such as restaurants, bars, gyms and grocery stores. He also said he wants to end the indoor mask requirement for students and staff in schools across the city.

Those steps, some of the biggest in New York City’s move toward a return to pre-pandemic life, would start Monday, March 7.

“At the end of this week, we will evaluate the numbers and make a final announcement on Friday. If we see no unforeseen spikes and our numbers continue to show a low level of risk, New York City will remove the indoor mask mandate for public school children, effective next Monday, March 7,” the mayor said in a statement.