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Daily coronavirus briefing: Fire department warns about leaving hand sanitizer in hot cars


McAllen Holiday Parade, presented by H-E-B Newly Reimagined for 2020

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People in cars wait to buy hand sanitizer produced by J. Rieger and Co., a Kansas City, Mo. distillery, Friday, March 20, 2020. People waited as long as two hours to buy the sanitizer, made from overproof gin, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Texas Border Business

Weather and its potential impact on how COVID-19 behaves has remained a consistent focus since the outbreak erupted. 

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – May 22, 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic altered life as humans knew it in 2020, and as much of the world starts to examine how and when to resume daily activities, it’s clear that there are many challenges to overcome before normal daily life can resume in full.

The outbreak, which originated in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, officially became a pandemic in March. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, has infected millions worldwide and killed hundreds of thousands, but more than 1 million have recovered from the ferocious disease. Health experts are conducting a frantic race to develop a vaccine while also performing vital research into the behavior of the virus, what factors may inhibit its spread and other possible symptoms it may cause.

The contagion triggered much of the world to shelter indoors and practice social distancing. Severe damage has been done to the global economy, which has caused experts to issue bleak economic predictions that harken back to the days of the Great Depression. With much of life on pause over the past several months, government officials around the world are facing the difficult choice of reopening economies while the threat of a second wave lingers for later in 2020.

Here are the latest updates, listed in eastern time, and the most important things you need to know about coronavirus.

May 22, 11:55 a.m.

Two brothers in France have made the most of their time in quarantine. According to the BBC, the two 10-year-old boys found a high-priced surprise in their home in the town of Vendôme, located southwest of Paris. The brothers had been looking to build a makeshift hut in their garden using branches, leaves and bedsheets. When the boys grabbed the sheets from a spare bedroom in the house, two gold bars weighing about 2.2 pounds a piece fell out. The gold bars are said to be worth about $43,000 (40,000 euros), the BBC said. The gold had been purchased by their grandmother in 1967, according to the report.

May 22, 11:39 a.m.

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Leaving hand sanitizer in a hot car could cause a fire this summer, the Western Lakes Fire District in Wisconsin said on Facebook this week. Now with summer heat starting to ramp up in parts of the country, people are wondering how much of a risk it may actually be. In a report by the Kansas City Star, public health officials and firefighters have both agreed the benefit of using hand sanitizer to prevent spread outweighs the risk of a fireOut of 9.2 million gallons of hand sanitizer used in a 2007 study, only seven involved non-severe fire incidents. A study by The Poynter Institute found that a car had to reach 572 degrees Fahrenheit for hand sanitizer to catch fire, while a study by The Arizona State University showed that cars parked in triple-digit heat top out at temperatures around 160 degrees Farhenheit within one hour. Despite the risk being very low, it should still be noted that hand sanitizer is easy to ignite because it contains ethyl alcohol. Leaving hand sanitizer in your car can still be a bad idea for other reasons, because leaving it in the heat can cause it to lose its efficacy once the active ingredients start to evaporate.

May 22, 11 a.m.

The winner of this week’s NASCAR race was elated after taking the checkered flag, and fans were able to see his smile even when he was wearing a face mask. After winning Wednesday night’s race at Darlington Raceway, Denny Hamlin sported a mask that looked exactly like his own face. “Why wouldn’t you want this mug on a trophy again?” Hamlin joked with a reporter while pointing at his mask. NASCAR drivers and their teams are required to wear masks when they are not in their cars and are screened upon arriving at the track. No fans are allowed to attend the upcoming races either due to COVID-19. The action continues on Sunday evening with a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway where a shower or thunderstorm could cause some temporary disruptions during the 600-mile race, the longest of the season. 

May 22, 9:54 a.m.

Hospitalization rates in New York have dropped to their lowest levels in months, a sign that the state is winning the fight against the coronavirus. “We got through it. We got over the mountain,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday. On Wednesday, 246 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19, the lowest number of new hospitalizations since records began on March 20, Reuters said. However, officials are still being cautious to avoid a spike in cases. “You don’t reopen until you can reopen safely. Because the last thing we want is to go back to where we were on the other side of the mountain,” Cuomo said. Seven of the 10 regions across New York have begun to relax stay-at-home orders, but New York City, Long Island and Mid-Hudson are still working to reduce the number of cases to begin reopening.

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