Current Events in March 2020

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    Labeling false news stories could lead to more misinformation

    Researchers say readers wind up believing other false stories if they aren’t labeled

    As experts continue to look for ways that consumers can avoid misinformation on the internet, researchers from MIT have looked at how efforts to label false news stories have affected consumers. 

    The study revealed that when sites label certain stories as “fake news,” consumers are more likely to then take stories without those labels as fact, which isn’t always the case. 

    “Putting a warning on some content is going to make you think, to some extent, that all of the other content without the warning might have been checked and verified,” said researcher David Rand. “There’s no way the fact-checkers can keep up with the stream of misinformation, so even if the warnings do really reduce belief in the tagged stories, you still have a problem, because of the implied truth effect.” 

    How labels can help and hurt

    To understand consumers’ thought processes when confronted with potentially fake news, the researchers had over 6,700 participants involved in the study. 

    The participants were divided into three groups. All three groups received an even mix of news headlines that were true and false. One of the groups had some of their stories labeled true and some labeled false; another group only had some of their stories labeled false; and the third group had none of their stories labeled. 

    The participants had to look at the title of the articles and any of the labeling available to them to decide whether or not they’d share the story on social media. 

    The researchers learned that labels are crucial in helping consumers decide what to share, in both positive and negative ways. While articles clearly labeled false were good indicators for the participants to avoid sharing them on social media, having no labels could contribute to the spread of misinformation. 

    The study found that when no labels were used, participants shared just about 30 percent of false news stories. However, when some stories were flagged as false and others had no tags, participants were likely to buy into their validity. Seeing some stories labeled as false led the participants to believe that unlabeled stories were true, and they ultimately ended up sharing over 36 percent of the fake headlines. 

    “We robustly identify this implied-truth effect, where if false content doesn’t have a warning, people believe it more and say they would be more likely to share it,” said Rand. 

    Adding more labels

    The solution? Add even more labels. 

    The researchers found that the use of a “verified label,” meaning a story had been fact-checked and is accurate, eliminates any uncertainty. 

    This also helped cut down the number of fake headlines that were shared. When stories labeled as accurate were thrown into the mix, the participants shared less than 27 percent of the fake stories. 

    “If, in addition to putting warnings on things fact-checkers find to be false, you also put verification panels on things fact-checkers find to be true, then that solves the problem, because there’s no longer any ambiguity,” Rand said. “If you see a story without a label, you know it simply hasn’t been checked.” 

    As experts continue to look for ways that consumers can avoid misinformation on the internet, researchers from MIT have looked at how efforts to label fals...

    A newborn baby can cause relationship problems for some couples

    Researchers say growing families can often feel anxiety and jealousy as priorities change

    A new study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University explored how anxious spouses deal with jealousy when a new baby arrives. 

    According to the researchers, when partners are more anxious about the state of the relationship, introducing a baby into the mix only heightens feelings of jealousy. 

    “You might think, who could be jealous of a baby?” said researcher Anna Olsavsky. “But if you already have fears of rejection, it may be scary to see how much attention your partner showers on your new child.” 

    Easing fears

    To understand this jealousy/anxiety dynamic among partners, the researchers had 182 couples participate in the study. In the final months of pregnancy, both partners filled out questionnaires that helped the researchers gauge where they were at emotionally with their partners. They reported on feelings of anxiety about their relationship and how secure they felt in their spouses. 

    After the baby was born, the participants went through a similar process, again answering questions about the state of their relationships. This time, the researchers wanted to see how the baby had changed the relationship dynamic, if at all. 

    The study revealed that partners who initially felt anxious about their relationships were more likely to feel jealous that their newborn was receiving so much attention from their spouse. These findings were true for both anxious mothers and fathers. 

    Additionally, the researchers found that jealousy was common among all participants, as the attention given to the baby altered the level of attention that the couples were used to receiving from each other. 

    “It is not just that you aren’t receiving all the attention that you used to receive, but also that the child is receiving that extra devotion that was once given to you,” said researcher Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan. 

    Finding a solution early

    The researchers warn that relationships can only worsen if a pattern of jealousy persists over time. However, consumers can be proactive in these scenarios. 

    The researchers encourage couples to think and communicate their feelings about their relationships honestly. New parents should also seek out resources that can make their family transition easier.

    “There are a lot of programs for expectant parents, and attachment anxiety might be a good thing to assess beforehand,” Olsavsky said. “If you make people aware of their relationship habits, it may help them deal with the feelings more constructively.”

    A new study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University explored how anxious spouses deal with jealousy when a new baby arrives. According to t...

    Being overweight may increase consumers’ risk of prostate cancer

    Researchers say their findings are another motivator for adults to maintain a ‘healthy’ weight

    Consumers who are overweight tend to be at greater risk of several different health complications. Now, researchers say that prostate cancer may be chief among those health concerns. 

    A study conducted by researchers from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health suggests that higher body mass index (BMI) scores in middle age and later adulthood translate to higher risks of advanced prostate cancer, which could lead to premature death.

    “We observed positive associations of BMI, waist circumference, and height...with risk of various definitions of advanced/aggressive forms of prostate cancer and prostate cancer mortality,” the team said.

    Excess weight and prostate cancer risk

    The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing data from 15 large studies that measured body fat, height, and prostate cancer risk in over 800,000 people. 

    After examining survey responses taken throughout the participants’ lifespans, they found that a BMI above a “healthy” level of 21 to 25 between the ages of 50 and 64 resulted in the highest risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. The researchers say these findings demonstrate the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, especially when consumers are entering middle age and beyond.

    "These study results show that risk for advanced prostate cancer can be decreased by maintaining a 'healthy' weight, which is in line with guidelines by the American Cancer Society and World Cancer Research Fund. Adopting healthy eating and exercising are factors that can help maintain a healthy weight," said Dr. Jeanine Genkinger, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School. "

    “This study shows that adopting and maintaining healthy weight in middle to late adulthood can especially reduce risk of advanced prostate cancer."

    The full study has been published in the Annals of Oncology journal.

    Consumers who are overweight tend to be at greater risk of several different health complications. Now, researchers say that prostate cancer may be chief a...

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      Chrysler recalls model year 2019 Ram 1500 pickup trucks

      The vehicle could become stuck in neutral

      Chrysler is recalling 11 model year 2019 Ram 1500 pickup trucks with four-wheel drive.

      A gear within the transfer case may not have been installed correctly, possibly causing the vehicle to become stuck in neutral. If this occurs while the vehicle is being driven, there could be a sudden loss of power. Additionally, a loss of 'PARK' function may occur.

      A sudden loss of power or a loss of 'PARK' function may increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the transfer case free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin April 3, 2020.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at (800) 853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is W06.

      Chrysler is recalling 11 model year 2019 Ram 1500 pickup trucks with four-wheel drive.A gear within the transfer case may not have been installed corre...

      Coronavirus claims nine lives in the state of Washington

      Health officials say the virus may be more lethal than previously thought but less transmissible

      While predictions that coronavirus cases in the U.S. would “explode” have not yet come true, the outbreak has now claimed nine lives in the state of Washington.

      Health officials around the world have sounded the alarm over the outbreak of the virus for two reasons. It’s new, and not much is known about it. There is also currently no treatment or vaccine for it.

      About 80 percent of the people who get the virus recover quickly. For the other 20 percent, getting the virus -- codenamed COVID-19 -- has been a serious and potentially life-threatening illness.

      On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said new data suggested that the disease was more lethal than first reported. At the same time, the agency said it appeared to be far less transmissible than earlier feared.

      WHO now says the mortality rate for COVID-19 is 3.4 percent globally, higher than previous estimates of about 2 percent. But the officials say the death rate appears to be higher or lower depending on the quality of health care available to treat the illness.

      In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed more than 100 cases of the virus in 15 states. Georgia and New Hampshire were the latest states to report cases.

      A majority of the nine deaths in Washington occurred at an assisted living facility where residents had come in contact with someone from Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. Health officials have said older adults who have underlying health problems are the most vulnerable to serious consequences from the virus.

      Economic fallout

      On Wall Street traders this week began to talk less about the health effects of the virus and more about the impact it is having on global financial markets. Concern is mounting that consumer fears of being in public places will be a significant drag on travel industries and events like concerts and sporting events.

      The stock market plunged Tuesday after the Federal Reserve announced an emergency rate cut of 0.5 percent. It wasn’t clear if traders were expecting a bigger reduction or were alarmed by the Fed’s action.

      At the same time, the yield on the Treasury’s 10-year bond sank below 1 percent for the first time ever as billions of dollars flowed out of stocks and into bonds, seeking a safe haven. One effect of that will be a further reduction in mortgage rates, which were already hovering above record lows.

      The Fed’s cut in the federal funds rate will mean lower interest costs for consumers who have credit card balances and who finance new and used cars. Those interest rates are directly tied to the Fed’s key interest rate.

      While predictions that coronavirus cases in the U.S. would “explode” have not yet come true, the outbreak has now claimed nine lives in the state of Washin...

      Airlines called out for mediocre passenger experience at House committee hearing

      Discrimination and a lack of assistance top the list of issues

      At a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s hearing about airline passenger experience on Tuesday -- the first hearing on consumer protections in nearly three years -- it became abundantly clear that airlines have their work cut out for them.

      The hearing, entitled “The Airline Passenger Experience: What It Is and What It Could Be,” took its cues from the just-published Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that tracked gripes about airline companies and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

      Consumer gripes

      In a nutshell, the airline industry took a pretty good shellacking. Here’s what the Committee handed them:

      A lack of assistance

      The most frequent passenger gripe was the perceived failure of airline staff to provide assistance, seating accommodation concerns, and problems related to service animals.

      Discrimination

      Next in line were passenger grievances related to discrimination -- most commonly about racial discrimination. These types of grievances were up 20 percent in 2019. Committee Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA) made a point of singling out Spirit Airlines which made the news when seven African-Americans were kicked off one of its flights

      Most people would think that racial discrimination of airline passengers would have faded out of sight by 2020. However, in ConsumerAffairs research on discrimination as it relates to airlines and travelers, it was interesting to find that the DOT “requires” airlines to provide training on accessibility issues but only “encourages” non-discrimination training for its staff. 

      Fees

      Another concern was the number of airline fees that are assessed on almost everything. What really chapped the Committee was the continued audacity of the airlines to keep raising fees on an almost annual basis. 

      “It strikes me as odd that as carriers continue to increase their bag fees, passenger demand continues to grow,” fumed Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “Yet, airlines change their views on the law of supply and demand when it comes to increasing the passenger facility charge (PFC) -- the most effective funding tool our nation’s airports have to build and maintain their infrastructure. They argue that even a dollar increase would cause demand to plummet.”

      Packed planes 

      The airlines are enjoying a 15-year high in load factor, with average flights being 84.5 percent full. On top of that, travelers have to deal with smaller seats and less legroom, neither of which make for an enjoyable flight.

      Mishandled bags

      Despite improvements in this metric, the Committee still thinks that nearly 3 million mishandled bag reports is too high. 

      The industry is doing its best to reverse this. As ConsumerAffairs found at CES 2020, airline leaders like Delta’s Ed Bastian are investing heavily in artificial intelligence technology that can vastly improve things like tracking bags.

      Inflexibility

      U.S. carriers made $2.7 billion on reservation changes and cancellations alone in 2018. 

      “I’ve seen these fees as high as $200 each way, plus the difference in cost for the new flight; and if flying internationally, a passenger needing to switch dates might pay $750 or more,” DeFazio complained.

      DeFazio also made it known that the airline industry’s inflexibility leaves passengers little or no reasonable recourse. 

      “Most of a passenger’s rights are buried in U.S. airlines’ contracts of carriage. These treatises -- 40 pages on average -- ‘require a reading level of someone with a college graduate degree,’ according to the GAO,” he said.

      Looking forward

      At the beginning of the 116th Congress, Larsen set a forward-looking agenda in the Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights which puts enhancing the air travel experience for U.S. passengers front and center.

      That bill also has a dancing partner -- the FAA Reauthorization Act -- which includes several conditions designed to enhance the experience of airline passengers. Those include:

      • Establishing minimum seat pitch dimensions in commercial aircraft;

      • Establishing a DOT aviation consumer advocate, whose job would be helping resolve air travel grievances; and

      • Requiring carriers to improve transparency with the accommodations they offer passengers concerning the continuing issue of flight disruptions.

      In summing up the day, Larsen noted that waiting three years between Congressional reviews and leaving the DOT and airlines to their own devices has to stop. 

      “Congress, the DOT, and (the) industry must work to ensure transparency, prevent unfair and inequitable practices and promote reliable and accessible air service for all Americans,” he said.

      At a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s hearing about airline passenger experience on Tuesday -- the first hearing on consumer protecti...

      New car prices rose nearly 3 percent in February

      But carmakers sold fewer expensive, tricked-out trucks last month

      The average transaction price (ATP) for new cars and trucks continued to go up in February, increasing 2.6 percent over February 2019.

      Kelley Blue Book (KBB) estimates that the ATP last month was $37,876, an increase of $975 from 12 months earlier. 

      "Many of the major manufacturers increased prices by more than 4 percent by capitalizing on the shift toward SUVs,” said Tim Fleming, an analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “However, trucks, especially full-size trucks, are exhibiting weakness."

      Motivated dealers

      Trucks are big moneymakers for automakers, but prices have risen so much that affordability may be becoming an issue. The average full-size truck buyer paid nearly $50,000 for a vehicle last month, and the price may have caused others to walk off the lot or choose a different vehicle.

      "After prices climbed 3 percent in 2018 and 4 percent in 2019, truck prices are only flat through February 2020,” Fleming said. “With the GM and Ram trucks in their second year of production and Ford about to sell-down the current F-150 for its upcoming redesign, this year may be a good time to find a deal on a new truck."

      Hyundai and Kia set the pace in price gains, but that may have been the result of buyers upgrading to more expensive trim packages and choosing pricier SUVs. Hyundai’s February ATP was up 12 percent, while prices paid for Kia models rose 9 percent.

      The redesigned Hyundai Sonata sold for 13 percent more than the previous February. Kia's largest increase came from the Niro, whose electric model with 239 miles of range helped push the model's average price up 9 percent. The Kia Telluride increased its inaugural year ATP by 6 percent.

      SUV sales helped Nissan

      Nissan was not far behind, posting a strong price increase of 4.6 percent last month. Overall, the Nissan brand was about 5 percent higher in price than 12 months earlier. Once again, consumers opting for SUVs tended to pay a higher price.

      "At a segment level, we saw strength in SUVs in February, with compact SUVs up 2.4 percent  and midsize SUVs up 3.4 percent," said Fleming. "Two models drove the compact SUV segment up – the redesigned Ford Escape -- which rose 7 percent -- and the Toyota RAV4, which brought in 5 percent more thanks to its hybrid model.”

      If February is any guide, consumers might find bargains on categories that saw their ATPs decline last month. The average price of luxury cars fell 2.8 percent, and entry-level luxury cars went for 2.4 percent less.

      The average transaction price (ATP) for new cars and trucks continued to go up in February, increasing 2.6 percent over February 2019.Kelley Blue Book...

      Plunging mortgage rates cause a spike in refinancing

      Does it now make sense to refinance your mortgage?

      The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that the number of homeowners seeking to refinance their mortgages last week surged by 26 percent, one of the largest one-week gains ever.

      The reason? Mortgage rates are plunging, and it all has to do with the fear generated by the coronavirus.

      Home loan rates are keyed to the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond. As fear swept Wall Street that the virus would derail the economy, billions of dollars flowed out of the stock market and into Treasury bonds.

      Because there was so much demand for these notes, the government could pay less interest. On Tuesday, the yield on the 10-year note fell below 1 percent for the first time ever. That makes today’s low mortgage rates even lower.

      More than a point lower than last year

      According to MBA, the average mortgage rate is now around 3.57 percent, compared to about 4.67 percent a year ago. That caused a 26 percent spike in mortgage applications compared to the previous week -- a startling increase of 224 percent more than the same week in 2019.

      "The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to its lowest level in more than seven years last week, amidst increasing concerns regarding the economic impact from the spread of the coronavirus, as well as the tremendous financial market volatility. Refinance demand jumped as a result, with conventional refinance applications increasing more than 30 percent," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. 

      "Given the further drop in Treasury rates this week, we expect refinance activity will increase even more until fears subside and rates stabilize."

      Should you refinance your mortgage?

      But whether you should rush to refinance your mortgage depends on a couple of factors -- your current interest rate and how long you expect to live in your home before moving. That’s because there are always costs involved when you replace one loan with another. They can be high or low depending on the mortgage company.

      According to our housing experts at ConsumerAffairs, you might encounter these costs when you refinance:

      • Closing costs: Closing costs amount to 2 percent to 5 percent of the home loan and include application fees, lender fees, attorney fees, escrow deposits and fees, courier fees, homeowners’ association transfer fees, inspection fees, and title insurance.

      • Mortgage points: Sometimes called discount points, mortgage points are optional fees paid to your lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the mortgage loan.

      • Prepayment penalties: A prepayment penalty is a fee that some lenders charge when a borrower pays their mortgage loan off early, either through refinancing or overpaying each month. The average prepayment fee is 80 percent of six months of interest.

      A typical rule of thumb is that you should refinance your mortgage if you can reduce your interest rate by at least 1 percent. However, smaller savings can be justified in some cases if there are very low closing costs.

      Secondly, experts say you probably need to stay in the home for at least five years for the savings in interest to offset the cost of refinancing the mortgage.

      ConsumerAffairs has collected thousands of consumer reviews of the best mortgage companies here.

      The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that the number of homeowners seeking to refinance their mortgages last week surged by 26 percent, one of th...

      Prebiotics may help improve consumers' sleeping habits

      Researchers say the supplement could be the key to getting more restful sleep

      Recent studies have explored how consumers’ diets can help improve their sleeping habits, but researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder say that consumers struggling to sleep at night should seriously consider taking a prebiotic. 

      The dietary fiber supplement was found to promote better sleep and protect consumers against the negative side effects that commonly accompany stress. 

      “The biggest takeaway here is that this type of fiber is not just there to bulk up the stool and pass through the digestive system,” said researcher Robert Thompson. “It is feeding the bugs that live in our gut and creating a symbiotic relationship with us that has powerful effects on our brain and behavior.” 

      Improving sleep

      The researchers conducted their study on rats to determine how a change in their prebiotic intake affected their stress response and their sleeping habits. 

      The rats were divided into two groups: those given normal food and those given food supplemented with prebiotics. The researchers observed their sleeping habits on these diets and also assessed their biological responses to stress. 

      Ultimately, the team learned that the prebiotic diets affected the rats very differently than the typical diet. They found that the rats on the prebiotic diet were getting deeper, better sleep, particularly following stressful events. Moreover, the researchers noted that this group had better physiological responses to stress than the group without the prebiotics added to their food. 

      For example, the rats that didn’t get a boost of prebiotics were more likely to experience drastic changes to their body temperature after a stressful event, which didn’t happen to the group that had received the prebiotics. 

      “We know that this combination of dietary fibers helps promote stress robustness and good sleep and protects the gut microbiome from disruption,” said researcher Monika Fleshner. 

      The fight against insomnia 

      As of right now, the researchers warn consumers against taking over-the-counter prebiotic supplements, as there’s no way to know how the body will react. It’s also unclear whether eating foods high in dietary fiber will lead to better sleep. 

      However, the researchers say they will continue to explore this area of research, and they’re hopeful that a supplement will soon be on shelves that can help ease nighttime stress. 

      “Armed with this information, we might be able to develop a targeted therapeutic that boosts the molecules that buffer against stress and tamps down the ones that seem to disrupt sleep,” said Fleshner. “It’s exciting to think about.” 

      Recent studies have explored how consumers’ diets can help improve their sleeping habits, but researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder say th...

      FTC settles with pain relief marketer over false advertising

      The company falsely claimed that its device was clinically proven and cleared by the FDA

      A company tasked with selling a device used to treat chronic pain has agreed to pay $4 million to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over false claims that the device was clinically proven and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

      The company, NeuroMetrix, used its marketing to tell consumers that a device called Quell was able to treat pain throughout the body when placed below the knee, but regulators say that claim had no scientific backing whatsoever.

      “With the opioid crisis, consumers are searching for drug-free pain relief,” said Daniel Kaufman, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Devices claiming pain relief without scientific support harm consumers and undermine the market for non-drug products. The FTC will act on empty promises of pain relief.”

      In settling the FTC’s complaint, the defendants have agreed to stop making deceptive claims about any of their products. They will also have to pay an additional $4.5 million to cover future foreign licensing payments. 

      A company tasked with selling a device used to treat chronic pain has agreed to pay $4 million to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over false claims that...

      Johnson & Johnson pays $1.7 million over pelvic mesh class action

      A court determined that the company hid the risks associated with pelvic mesh implants

      The bad news keeps coming for Johnson & Johnson.

      While facing mounting legal challenges over the alleged presence of asbestos in its talc-based powder products, the company is now being forced to pay over $1.7 million to three women in Australia over its pelvic mesh implant products.

      This isn’t the first time that the company has faced scrutiny over these products. Much like this case, a lawsuit previously filed in the U.S. had accused Johnson & Johnson of not informing patients about the risks associated with having the pelvic mesh implanted. The suit claimed that women suffered from permanent disability and chronic pain after surgery. 

      In the Australian case, over 1,350 women are part of a class that may also receive compensation based on the ruling passed down for these first three women. 

      “Today is a significant step forward, but there is still a way to go until all Australian women affected by these products receive compensation,” a representative of the class said in a statement.

      Johnson & Johnson will now have four weeks to decide if it will appeal the verdict.

      The bad news keeps coming for Johnson & Johnson.While facing mounting legal challenges over the alleged presence of asbestos in its talc-based powder p...

      Nutrition Excellence Canada recalls Nuts' N More brand Peanut Spread

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria.

      Nutrition Excellence Canada is recalling Nuts' N More brand Peanut Spread (Nature).

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following product, which was sold throughout Canada, is being recalled:

      MarkProductFormatCUPCodes
      Nuts' N More"  Peanut Spread  " (Nature)454 g6 09 132 00 242 7LOT PB91
      EXP 04/04/2021

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard or return it to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at (866) 202-1313

      Nutrition Excellence Canada is recalling Nuts' N More brand Peanut Spread (Nature). The product may be contaminated with Listeria. No illnesses have ...

      Uber and Lyft release guidance for drivers on avoiding coronavirus

      Keeping your car clean and washing your hands are a must

      The coronavirus outbreak is rapidly escalating in many areas of the world, and many companies are advising workers to prepare to work from home to avoid infection. While that might be helpful to office and on-site workers, not all professionals have the same luxury. 

      Drivers for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, for example, may not be able to stop working until the outbreak is more firmly under control. With that in mind, both companies have released guidance to help prevent the disease from spreading. 

      In both cases, the companies recommend that any driver who feels ill should stay at home and isolate themselves so that they don’t pass on their illness. But for those who are still healthy and can operate a vehicle, there are certain precautions that should be taken.

      Sanitizing your vehicle and yourself

      Uber recommends that drivers clean and disinfect their vehicles to kill off any germs that may have been left behind by a passenger. The company says that special attention should be paid to surfaces that passengers frequently come into contact with; this can include door handles, dashboards, and seat adjustment controls.

      Drivers are also reminded to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer whenever possible. Avoiding contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands is critical to avoiding infection. 

      Lyft says any driver who develops a fever or other respiratory symptoms should contact a healthcare professional immediately to get themselves checked out, especially if they live in an area in which cases of coronavirus have already been reported. 

      While Uber and Lyft maintain that drivers cannot actively discriminate against any riders, the former notes that drivers who “feel uncomfortable picking up a passenger for safety reasons...can choose not to accept or cancel the trip.” 

      For more information about the developing coronavirus outbreak, consumers can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here.

      The coronavirus outbreak is rapidly escalating in many areas of the world, and many companies are advising workers to prepare to work from home to avoid in...

      Wendy’s declares war on McDonald’s in fast-food breakfast showdown

      But McDonald’s is firing back, which may be good for consumers

      After its burgers, McDonald’s may be best known for its breakfast, which it started serving all day a few years ago.

      Now, rival Wendy’s has moved into the breakfast space and is serving notice that it intends to carve out a big slice of McDonald’s breakfast market share. Wendy’s has launched its breakfast menu while taking a shot at its competitors, especially the one with the golden arches.

      "To date, some others in the category have let breakfast consumers down by offering breakfast sandwiches with frozen, folded eggs and pre-cooked bacon. Today, all that changes," said Carl Loredo, chief marketing officer of The Wendy's Company. "We are known for our high-quality food and breakfast is no different.”

      Wendy’s new breakfast menu includes the Breakfast Baconator, described as a combination of an egg, six strips of bacon, one square breakfast sausage patty, and two slices of cheese with a Swiss cheese sauce between two buns.

      It’s also offering a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit and a Frosty-ccino, a cold brew coffee with either chocolate or vanilla Frosty as a creamer.

      McDonald’s strikes back

      On Monday, the day Wendy’s started serving breakfast, McDonald’s announced that customers using the McDonald’s app to order would get a free Egg McMuffin that day, stressing that its breakfast sandwich has been around for a while.

      “We’ve been making the Egg McMuffin since 1971… so it’s pretty much perfect, McDonald’s said ahead of Wendy’s launch. ”The butter, cheese, and fresh cracked egg on an English muffin? It’s the stuff of legends now. But back in 1971, it was a novelty and fans have loved it ever since.”

      Not to be left out, Dunkin' announced this week that it is rolling out Free Donut Fridays. The promotion will offer members of Dunkin's DD Perks Rewards Program a free donut with the purchase of any beverage every Friday in March.

      McDonald’s depends heavily on its breakfast menu. The fast-food chain boosted profits in 2017 after it made select breakfast items available all day.

      In addition to serving up breakfast this week, Wendy’s, known for its snarky Twitter feed, continued to take shots at McDonald’s on social media platforms. It posted a photograph of a tombstone with the inscription “Egg McMuffin 1972-2020. It captioned the picture with the words “Here lies mediocrity.”

      With so much at stake for both companies in the breakfast space, it’s likely that this feud is just getting started. Any time rivals fight for customers, it’s usually good for consumers.

      After its burgers, McDonald’s may be best known for its breakfast, which it started serving all day a few years ago.Now, rival Wendy’s has moved into t...

      Many young athletes consume more calories post-game than they burn during the game, study finds

      Those extra calories can add up over time and lead to poor health outcomes

      Parents of young children often try to get them involved in youth sports as a way to stay healthy and get exercise, but many of the snacks that are given out after a game is over can negate the health benefits.

      Researchers from Brigham Young University say that the calories in some post-game treats like sugary drinks and sweet snacks can eclipse the calorie-burn that most children experience during a competition. The team found that the amount of sugar consumed after a game can often exceed daily recommended guidelines.

      "Kids are getting inundated with snack culture all the time -- celebrations at school, at birthday parties and youth sports games," said senior study author Lori Spruance. "We don't need to load children up with sugar after a game too."

      Sugary snacks add calories

      To come to their conclusions, the researchers studied third and fourth graders who participated in nearly 200 youth soccer, flag football, baseball, and softball games. They found that parents brought post-game snacks around 80 percent of the time, and 90 percent of those snacks were sugar-sweetened.

      On average, the researchers calculated that these young athletes burned 170 calories per game, but that was eclipsed by an average 213 consumed calories from snacks and drinks after the game was over. While that might not sound like much per game, those numbers can add up if kids participate in multiple contests per week over a season.

      "So many kids are at games just to get their treat afterwards, which really isn't helping to develop healthy habits long term. The reward should be, 'I got to have fun, I got to run around with my friend or score a goal,'" Spruance said.

      "Little changes can make a big difference in promoting healthy body weights in our children," added study co-author Jay Maddock. "So when your children are playing sports, we recommend making the healthy choice and choosing water, fruits and vegetables and a healthy protein source too, like nuts."

      The full study has been published in the Journal of Health Behavior.

      Parents of young children often try to get them involved in youth sports as a way to stay healthy and get exercise, but many of the snacks that are given o...