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Amid coronavirus news, many need to step away | News, Sports, Jobs

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NEW YORK (AP) — Heidi Van Roekel makes instructional art videos for YouTube when coronavirus news overwhelms her. Bill Webb takes his boat out. Stacy Mitchell searches her TV for something — anything — to make her laugh.

Paradoxically, Kevin Reed, a software designer from Kenmore, Washington, has binged “The Walking Dead” after turning off the news.

He’d rather watch fake, flesh-eating zombies than a real-life pandemic.

It’s no surprise that news outlets are in demand with a story that directly affects so many people, whether they’ve gotten sick, lost jobs or are locked down at home. A Pew Research Center survey taken the third week of April found that 88 percent of Americans said they were following coronavirus news either very or fairly closely.

Yet that takes a toll. Pew also found that 71 percent of Americans said that they need to take breaks from the news. To watch something else. To do something else. To breathe a little.

“A week and a half ago I just had to throttle it down,” said Webb, a writer and consultant who lives in Sarasota, Florida. “I think you get overwhelmed by it. You’re sitting in your house and there’s nothing you can do about things.”

Mitchell, a consultant in human resources from Dayton, Ohio, said she watches the “Today” show in the morning, the network evening news and tries to catch her state’s governor, Mike DeWine, at least at the beginning of his regular briefings.

But she hit a wall.

“It was just COVID-19 overload,” Mitchell said. “I was very anxious. I had a full-blown anxiety attack and I decided that I was not going to watch more of that stuff.”

Science supports them. Roxane Cohen Silver, Dana Rose Garfin and E. Alison Holman, researchers at the University of California at Irvine who have been studying the affect of prolonged media exposure to bad news following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, wrote an article for Health Psychology magazine in February — before coronavirus was even on the radar for many Americans — warning of this effect.

People who watch too much can have nightmares, feelings of anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, Silver said. In the long run, they’re more likely to report cardiovascular disorders.

Some people who consumed a heavy diet of news about the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 were actually more stressed out than people on the scene, the researchers found.

“The news is distressing,” Silver said. “There are not many uplifting stories. It’s the repetitive bad news that is so draining.”

The pandemic story is particularly difficult because it’s not a single event that fades with time. There’s no telling how long it will go on.

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Labor Day Festival canceled | News, Sports, Jobs

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ISHPEMING — Add the Labor Day Festival, put on by the Upper Peninsula Regional Labor Federation, as another event canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which would have been the 31st consecutive festival, was scheduled to take place on Sept. 7 at Lake Bancroft Park in Ishpeming.

UPRLF President Mike Thibault confirmed the cancellation was related to the pandemic.

“We made a decision pretty early on that it was a year that we’d have to skip because we do get a couple thousand people there and there’s no social distancing,” Thibault said. “I mean, it’d be pretty hard to do.”

He acknowledged it was a hard decision.

“It’s a day that we recognize working families and share the day with working families and employees across the U.P.,” Thibault said.

The Labor Day Festival, he noted, typically entails a parade through Ishpeming, a picnic lunch and guest speakers from various affiliated labor unions. With 2020 being an election year, the event likely would have included elected officials and people running for office.

The UPRLF is the parent organization to the Central Labor Councils in the U.P. Community labor councils in the U.P. provide the grassroots network of the labor movement’s efforts to ensure that economic, education, health care and other policies benefit working families, according to its website at www.uplabor.com.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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US Allows H-1B Visa Holders To Return For Same Jobs They Did Before Ban

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US Allows H-1B Visa Holders To Return For Same Jobs They Did Before Ban

Trump administration has relaxed some rules for H-1B visas.

Washington:

The Trump administration has relaxed some rules for H-1B visas allowing visa holders to enter the US if they return to the same jobs they had before the visa ban.

The US Department of State advisory said dependents, or spouses and children, would also be allowed to travel with the visa holders.

“Travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification,” the state department advisory said.

The US has also allowed travel by technical specialists, senior-level managers and other workers who hold H-1B visas, saying it is necessary to facilitate the “immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States”.

President Donald Trump had signed a proclamation on June 22 banning the entry of certain non-immigrants with H-1B and L1 visas until the end of the year to protect the US labour market following record unemployment rates because of the Covid19 pandemic.

The US tech industry, including Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, had backed a lawsuit against the move.

America has also allowed the travel of visa holders working as public health or healthcare professionals, or researchers as the country battles the raging pandemic.

“Travel supported by a request from a US government agency or entity to meet critical US foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations. This would include individuals, identified by the Department of Defense or another US government agency, performing research, providing IT support/services, or engaging other similar projects essential to a US government agency,” the advisory stated.

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County seeks grant for gravemarkers in township cemeteries | News, Sports, Jobs

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News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Alpena County Veteran Affairs Director George Stevens shows what new gravemarkers and flags would look like if they are installed at cemeteries in county townships. The Veterans Affairs Office applied for a grant to purchase gravemarkers and flags for area veterans’ graves.

ALPENA — The Alpena County Veteran Affairs office is working to place gravemarkers and American flags at the graves of veterans around the county.

The office applied for a $7,600 grant from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for the project, county Veterans Service Officer Dan Perge said. The office also has $2,000 leftover from a prior project that it plans to contribute to the memorials in township cemeteries without their own veteran grave program.

“They will be used as a way to honor the veterans in the township cemeteries, and we should find out if we got the grant this week, I hope,” Perge said.

Alpena already honors veterans at the city-owned cemetery with gravemarkers and flags, but most townships have few memorials outside of what family or friends plant or place near the graves, Perge said.

If the office wins the grant, Perge will begin working with township officials to get an accurate count of how many veterans’ graves need markers.

“We haven’t quite got to that point, but we will be working with the townships to determine what we need to do and go over logistics like who will place them,” Perge said. “Right now, we’re just getting things going.”.

Veteran Affairs Director George Stevens said township graves contain the bodies of soldiers dating back to the Civil War and every war after, buried in cemeteries large and small around the county.

He said people enjoy walking through cemeteries and admiring the gravestones, learning about those who died. Adding the gravemarkers will add to that experience, Stevens said.

Tammy Bates, trustee in Green Township, where there are two cemeteries, Greely Cemetery and Spratt Cemetery, said the township is always looking for ways to improve its parks, cemeteries, and facilities, but it’s hard to do so with so little wiggle room in the budget.

“People take pride in their cemeteries, and this will help to make it look better, while honoring the veterans appropriately,” Bates said. “Right now, we have identified 63 veterans that we know of. We may inject some more help from people, because there could be some that we haven’t identified. We want to include everybody, if possible.”

Stevens said people always show up in large numbers for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when there are special parades and ceremonies at Little Flander’s Field.

He said the Avenue of Flags set up along Washington Avenue by the Alpena Kiwanis Club and Alpena Booster Club is another example of how the community supports military heroes.

“Sometimes, you can drive or walk by Evergreen Cemetery and there are American flags as far as you can see, and it is just great,” he said. “The people in the area have always had a deep respect and appreciation for veterans, so we’ll see where this goes. We’ll know more about the grant soon.”

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