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Two people hospitalized and nearly 200 affected by Seattle norovirus outbreak

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Nearly 200 people who attended a catered party at a downtown Seattle office building have become ill with norovirus, a public health official said on Monday.

Public health officials closed all the food-service locations inside the Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle, including a Starbucks location, said Dr. Meagan Kay, a medical epidemiologist for the public health department.

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Norovirus can spread by an infected person, contaminated food, water or contaminated surfaces, the CDC said.

Nearly 200 people out of roughly 600 people who attended the party catered by California-based Bon Appetit Management Co on Tuesday reported some level of sickness, Kay said. That number is likely to go up as the investigation continues into the cause of the outbreak, she said.

“The source of this illness remains unclear, and we are as eager as anyone to learn precisely how and when it began,” the catering company said. “We have worked with our food safety experts to disinfect the surfaces in our facility and have taken all other necessary steps to ensure food safety.”

Two people have been hospitalized overnight and eight people visited an emergency room for their illness, though the conditions of the patients were not known, Kay said.

Over the weekend, the building was disinfected in part to address vomiting in restrooms and to clean door knobs and other surfaces, Kay said.

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The virus causes the stomach or intestines or both to become inflamed with acute gastroenteritis which leads to stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks and acute gastroenteritis in the United States, causing some 19 million to 21 million illnesses and 570-800 deaths annually, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

A man who identified himself as Bryan said on a health department blog that he and his wife, who is eight months pregnant, had become sick. He said he had gone to the emergency room and received intravenous fluids.

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(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


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2020 Election

McEnany claims to not have ‘exact details’ on Roger Stone clemency after federal judge orders review

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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday claimed to not have "exact details" President Donald Trump's order to commute Roger Stone's sentence.

At a press briefing, McEnany was asked about a federal judge's demand to see Trump's order of clemency for Stone because there are questions about how it was crafted.

"I don't, um, have the exact details on that," McEnany insisted. "The Roger Stone clemency was a very important moment for justice. You had a completely bogus Russia witch hunt that found nothing and in order to justify the waste of taxpayers dollars."

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2020 Election

GOP donors will have second thoughts about backing another Trump after four disastrous years: conservative

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According to conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, many Republican donors are not hardcore ideologues and base their giving on specific policies that may benefit them and, with that in mind, may balk at supporting another unknown quantity like Donald Trump who has created nothing less than chaos since becoming president.

The Republican Rubin -- who has become one of the president's most ardent critics -- explained in her Washington Post column that many donors are "transactional donors" making them different from some of the president's more vocal supporters in the press and in office.

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COVID-19

In US, political divisions stymie return to lockdowns

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US mayors of Houston and Atlanta are calling for a return to stay-at-home orders to staunch an alarming spike in coronavirus cases, but are being hindered by state governors who favor less restrictive measures.

While new lockdowns have been ordered around the world in cities like Melbourne, Manila and Tangier, such actions are much harder to accomplish in the United States where de-centralized power structures can result in political turf wars.

America is by far the hardest-hit country in the world, with more than 135,000 deaths and 3.3 million cases. Over the summer, the outbreak has shifted its locus to states with predominantly Republican governors.

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