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    Lawmakers call on Amazon to do more to protect workers during the coronavirus crisis

    More than a dozen lawmakers believe the company is falling short when it comes worker safety

    Lawmakers want to know exactly what Amazon is doing to ensure the safety of its warehouse workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilhan Omar asked to know more about the company’s health and safety measures at its sites.

    "No employee, especially those who work for one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, should be forced to work in unsafe conditions," the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was co-signed by a dozen other House representatives. 

    In recent years, Sanders and Omar have both raised concerns that Amazon isn’t paying or treating its workers fairly. Now, the lawmakers want to know if the e-commerce giant is doing enough to slow the spread of the coronavirus and keep its workers safe. 

    As of Sunday, workers in at least 17 of Amazon’s U.S. warehouses have tested positive for the virus, according to Reuters. Amazon said it has been cleaning the affected facilities and assured the public that infected employees have been quarantined. 

    Pushing for more information

    In the letter sent Friday, the lawmakers took aim at Amazon’s “proven record” of insufficient health and safety measures. 

    “Even prior to the dire global health crisis, these facilities have a proven record of high health and safety standard violations, and Amazon has failed to provide any substantive response or solutions to those violations,” the lawmakers wrote. “Given that the company has announced plans to hire 100,000 new warehouse workers and institute mandatory overtime, we are growing more concerned that Amazon does not possess an adequate internal pandemic preparedness and response plan.”

    Sanders and Omar requested specific information on what the company is doing to ensure that employees adhere to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, what Amazon’s emergency response plan is, and whether workers’ safety is a priority during this unprecedented time. 

    “We ask that you intensify your efforts to protect the health and safety of your warehouse workers. No employee, especially those who work for one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, should be forced to work in unsafe conditions,” the lawmakers wrote.

    Amazon responds

    Amazon officials have responded to accusations of unfair treatment of warehouse workers by calling them “simply unfounded.” 

    “Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis,” the company said. “Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is not easy as supplies are limited, but we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable.” 

    Amazon added that it’s gone to “extreme measures” to ensure the safety of its employees. Those measures include “tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances,” the company said. 

    Lawmakers want to know exactly what Amazon is doing to ensure the safety of its warehouse workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to Amazon CEO J...
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    Ingredient found in tofu could lower your risk of heart disease

    Study findings highlight the power of following a healthy diet

    Recent studies have explored the heart benefits associated with following a plant-based diet. Now, researchers from the American Heart Association have revealed the benefits in foods like tofu. 

    According to a new study, consumers who follow diets heavier in isoflavones, which are most commonly found in plant protein and tofu, could be at a lower risk of heart disease. 

    “Other human trials and animal studies of isoflavones, tofu, and cardiovascular risk markers have also indicated positive effects, so people with an elevated risk of developing heart disease should evaluate their diets,” said researcher Dr. Qi Sun. 

    “If their diet is packed with unhealthy foods, such as red meat, sugary beverages, and refined carbohydrates, they should switch to healthier alternatives. Tofu and other isoflavone-rich, plant-based foods are excellent protein sources and alternatives to animal proteins.” 

    Isoflavones and lower risk of heart disease

    To better understand how consumers can reduce their risk of heart disease by following a healthier diet, the researchers evaluated responses to the Nurses’ Health Study from 1984 through 2012. 

    The participants completed surveys about what their typical diets looked like, and the researchers reassessed their eating choices and their medical records every few years over the course of the study. Though none of the participants had heart disease at the start of the study, over 8,300 participants had developed a heart condition by the study’s end. 

    The researchers found that participants who were consuming foods higher in isoflavones had a lower risk of heart disease than those whose diets were lower in isoflavones. The findings suggest that consumers can reduce their risk for heart disease by nearly 20 percent by upping their isoflavone intake to multiple times per week. 

    Though isoflavone is most often found in tofu and plant protein, the researchers explained that diets shouldn’t consist solely of tofu. Following a well-rounded, healthy diet is important for consumers to reduce their risk of disease. 

    “Overall diet quality is still critical to consider, and tofu can be a very healthy component,” said Dr. Sun. 

    Recent studies have explored the heart benefits associated with following a plant-based diet. Now, researchers from the American Heart Association have rev...
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      Kawasaki USA Recalls MULE PRO off-highway utility vehicles

      The steering shaft can develop excessive wear and affect steering control

      Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A., of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 80,000 Kawasaki MULE PRO off-highway utility vehicles.

      The steering shaft can develop excessive wear and affect steering control resulting in a crash hazard, posing a risk of injury or death.

      The company has received 453 reports of incidents of steering problems. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves recall involves model year 2015 through 2020 MULE PRO-FX, MULE PRO-FXR, MULE PRO-FXT and model year 2016 – 2020 MULE PRO-DX and MULE PRO-DXT utility vehicles.

      The four wheel, off-highway utility vehicles were sold in black, green, white, red, bronze, silver, camo, and blue. They have side by side seating for three to six people and automotive style controls.

      MULE PRO is printed on the right and left front fender. The model name is printed on the right and left fender. The vehicles are available as either gas or diesel models.

      The diesel models have DIESEL printed on the right and left rear of the cargo bed. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is located on the steel frame between the right front lower A-arm mounts. 

      MODEL YEAR 

      Model Name 

      Model Code

      VIN RANGE

      2015 

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AFF/L

      JKBAFSA1XFB500031 through JKBAFSA18FB500335

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS 

      KAF820BFF/L

      JKBAFSB13FB500001 through  JKBAFSB11FB504158

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE 

      KAF820CFF/L

      JKBAFSC15FB500001 through

      JKBAFSC17FB504387 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO 

      KAF820DFF/L

      JKBAFSD17FB500001 through

      JKBAFSD17FB502198 

      2016 

      MULE PRO-FXT 

      KAF820AGF/L

      JKBAFSA1XGB500001 through 

      JKBAFSA19GB500250 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS 

      KAF820BGF/L

      JKBAFSB10GB504816 through 

      JKBAFSB13GB507371 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE 

      KAF820CGF/L

      JKBAFSC18GB504951 through 

      JKBAFSC16GB507010 

      2016 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO 

      KAF820DGF/L

      JKBAFSD19GB502611 through 

      JKBAFSD16GB503585 

      MULE PRO-FX 

      KAF820EGF/L

      JKBAFSE17GB500001 through 

      JKBAFSE16GB500541 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FGF/L 

      JKBAFSF19GB500001 through 

      JKBAFSF14GB502450 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GGF/L 

      JKBAFSG10GB500001 through

      JKBAFSG13GB501918 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS CAMO

      KAF820HGF/L 

      JKBAFSH12GB500001 through

      JKBAFSH17GB500950 

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JGF/L 

      JKBAFSJ1XGB500001 through

      JKBAFSJ1XGB501830 

      MULE PRO-DXT

      KAF1000AGF 

      JKAAFCA17GB500001 through

      JKAAFCA18GB500122 

      MULE PRO-DXT EPS

      KAF1000BGF 

      JKAAFCB10GB500002 through 

      JKAAFCB10GB500873 

      MULE PRO-DXT EPS LE

      KAF1000CGF 

      JKAAFCC10GB500001 through

      JKAAFCC11GB500492 

      MULE PRO-DX

      KAF1000DGF 

      JKAAFCD12GB500001 through 

      JKAAFCD19GB500125 

      MULE PRO-DX EPS

      KAF1000EGF 

      JKAAFCE14GB500001 through

      JKAAFCE14GB500709 

      MULE PRO-DX EPS LE

      KAF1000FGF 

      JKAAFCF18GB500002 through 

      JKAAFCF1XGB500342 

      2017 

      MULE PRO-FXT 

      KAF820AHF/L

      JKBAFSA18HB500001 through 

      JKBAFSA12HB500821 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BHF/L 

      JKBAFSB1XHB500001 through

      JKBAFSB10HB510083 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CHF/L 

      JKBAFSC11HB500001 through 

      JKBAFSC10HB509367 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DHF/L 

      JKBAFSD13HB500001 through

      JKBAFSD19HB504909 

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820EHF/L 

      JKBAFSE15HB500001 through

      JKBAFSE12HB501140 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FHF/L 

      JKBAFSF17HB500001 through 

      JKBAFSF18HB504056 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE 

      KAF820GHF/L

      JKBAFSG15HB502201 through 

      JKBAFSG1XHB502890 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS CAMO

      KAF820HHF/L 

      JKBAFSH16HB501301 through

      JKBAFSH11HB501450 

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JHF/L 

      JKBAFSJ18HB500001 through

      JKBAFSJ16HB504483 

      MULE PRO-FX RANCH EDITION

      KAF820LHF/L 

      JKBAFSL11HB500001 through

      JKBAFSL11HB500550 

      MULE PRO-DXT

      KAF1000AHF 

      JKAAFCA13HB500501 through

      JKAAFCA15HB500659 

      MULE PRO-DXT EPS

      KAF1000BHF 

      JKAAFCB17HB500001 through

      JKAAFCB13HB502277 

      MULE PRO-DXT EPS LE

      KAF1000CHF 

      JKAAFCC19HB500001 through

      JKAAFCC18HB501219 

      MULE PRO-DX

      KAF1000DHF 

      JKAAFCD15HB500401 through 

      JKAAFCD14HB500485 

      MULE PRO-DX EPS

      KAF1000EHF

      JKAAFCE12HB500001 through 

      JKAAFCE1XHB501283 

      MULE PRO-DX EPS LE

      KAF1000FHF 

      JKAAFCF14HB500001 through 

      JKAAFCF11HB500859 

      2018 

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AJF/L 

      JKBAFSA15JB501001 through 

      JKBAFSA13JB501370 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BJF/L 

      JKBAFSB15JB510201 through

      JKBAFSB12JB513038 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CJF/L 

      JKBAFSC10JB509651 through 

      JKBAFSC10JB512209 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DJF/L 

      JKBAFSD16JB505151 through 

      JKBAFSD19JB506231 

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820EJF/L 

      JKBAFSE17JB501401 through

      JKBAFSE16JB501695 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FJF/L 

      JKBAFSF19JB504301 through

      JKBAFSF16JB505745 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GJF/L 

      JKBAFSG19JB503101 through

      JKBAFSG11JB503870 

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JJF/L 

      JKBAFSJ18JB504801 through

      JKBAFSJ18JB508072 

      MULE PRO-FXR

      KAF820KJF/L 

      JKBAFSK14JB500002 through

      JKBAFSK13JB503649 

      MULE PRO-DXT

      KAF1000AJF

      JKAAFCA10JB500901 through

      JKAAFCA15JB501185 

      MULE PRO-DXT EPS

      KAF1000BJF

      JKAAFCB17JB502501 through

      JKAAFCB11JB503644 

      MULE PRO-DX EPS

      KAF1000EJF 

      JKAAFCE19JB501507 through 

      JKAAFCE15JB502444 

      2019 

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AKF/L 

      JKBAFSA11KB501501 through

      JKBAFSA11KB501935 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BKF/L 

      JKBAFSB17KB513201 through 

      JKBAFSB17KB516146 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CKF/L 

      JKBAFSC11KB512401 through

      JKBAFSC1XKB514907 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DKF/L 

      JKBAFSD16KB506401 through

      JKBAFSD11KB507519 

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820EKF/L 

      JKBAFSE1XKB501801 through

      JKBAFSE15KB502161 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FKF/L 

      JKBAFSF13KB505901 through

      JKBAFSF13KB507521 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GKF/L 

      JKBAFSG18KB504001 through 

      JKBAFSG1XKB504758 

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JKF/L 

      JKBAFSJ12KB508201 through

      JKBAFSJ13KB512077 

      MULE PRO-FXR

      KAF820KKF/L 

      JKBAFSK13KB503801 through 

      JKBAFSK1XKB505089 

      MULE PRO-DXT

      KAF1000AKF 

      JKAAFCA11KB501301 through 

      JKAAFCA14KB501695 

      MULE PRO-DXT EPS 

      KAF1000BKF

      JKAAFCB10KB503801 through 

      JKAAFCB12KB505162 

      MULE PRO-DX EPS

      KAF1000EKF 

      JKAAFCE14KB502601 through 

      JKAAFCE1XKB503039 

      2020 

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820ALF/L 

      JKBAFSA1XLB502101 through

      JKBAFSA19LB502378 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BLF/L 

      JKBAFSB1XLB516501 through 

      JKBAFSB19LB518305 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CLF/L 

      JKBAFSC1XLB515301 through 

      JKBAFSC1XLB516657 

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DLF/L 

      JKBAFSD1XLB507701 through 

      JKBAFSD1XLB508184 

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820ELF/L 

      JKBAFSE18LB502401 through 

      JKBAFSE19LB502598 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FLF/L 

      JKBAFSF18LB507919 through

      JKBAFSF1XLB509199 

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GLF/L 

      JKBAFSG18LB505201 through 

      JKBAFSG12LB505744 

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JLF/L 

      JKBAFSJ1XLB512501 through 

      JKBAFSJ17LB514237 

      MULE PRO-FXR

      KAF820KLF/L 

      JKBAFSK13LB507901 through

      JKBAFSK18LB508784 

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820MLF/L 

      JKBAFSM12LB500001 through

      JKBAFSM16LB501023 

      MULE PRO-DXT

      KAF1000ALF 

      JKAAFCA13LB502001 through

      JKAAFCA18LB502091 

      MULE PRO-DXT EPS

      KAF1000BLF 

      JKAAFCB17LB505501 through

      JKAAFCB18LB505992 

      MULE PRO-DX EPS

      KAF1000ELF

      JKAAFCE13LB503501 through

      JKAAFCE18LB503686 

      The utility vehicles, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Kawasaki dealers nationwide from July 2014, through January 2020, for between $12,000 and $17,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled utility vehicles and contact a Kawasaki dealer to schedule a free repair. Kawasaki is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Kawasaki toll-free at (866) 802-9381 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.Kawasaki.com and click on “Recalls” a the bottom of the page for more information.

      Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A., of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 80,000 Kawasaki MULE PRO off-highway utility vehicles.The steering shaft ca...
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      Fromagerie Blackburn brand Le Napoléon – Firm Cheese recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Fromagerie Blackburn is recalling its own brand of Le Napoléon – Firm Cheese.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses are reported.

      The following product, sold in the Canadian province of Quebec, is being recalled:

      BrandProductSizeUPCCodes
      Fromagerie BlackburnLe Napoléon – Firm Cheese130 g6 28504 56410 3Best Before 10JL20
      19087
      Fromagerie BlackburnLe Napoléon – Firm CheeseVariable weightStarts with 0 200015All units sold up to and including March 26, 2020

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at

      (418) 547-4153 or by email at info@fromagerieblackburn.com.

      Fromagerie Blackburn is recalling its own brand of Le Napoléon – Firm Cheese.The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.No illness...
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      5 ways to spread smiles without spreading germs

      Being quarantined doesn't have to be gloomy

      1. Christmas lights

      Christmas lights aren't just for holiday cheer anymore! People across the country are putting their lights back up to bring a little delight to their neighborhoods while responsibly practicing social distancing. Putting lights up is also a great way to get out, get some fresh air and know that you're putting a smile on someone's face! Check out these easy-to-use Christmas light gutter clips to make the process trouble-free.

      Buy on Amazon

      2. Foster a dog

      With sheltering in place, social distancing and worldwide quarantines becoming the norm, many of us are glad to have our furry friends in the house with us. There are thousands of animals that need to be loved until they find a forever home! Take advantage of this extra time to contact your local shelter and see how you can help.

      Buy on Amazon

      3. Set a goal to talk to one new person a day

      Many of us are missing things that we don't even realize. Essential interactions like socializing with a cashier or a co-worker at the watercooler is a vital part of your well-being. Why not use this time to set the goal of reaching out to one new person day? Call your aunt, send an email to your old roommate or shoot a well-wishing text to your neighbor. Setting and reaching goals is good for you mentally, and being intentional with how we connect is more important now than ever. Creating a schedule on a whiteboard calendar makes this much easier and helps you stay organized.

      Buy on Amazon

      4. Rainbow scavenger hunt

      Not the type that you see in the sky, but the type that you see in windows! Yes, you read that right. All over the country, people are creating pictures of rainbows and putting them in their windows to let their neighbors know that they are right there with them. These rainbows are a great way to keep yourself or your kids busy inside while creating a fun rainbow scavenger hunt when driving through neighborhoods.

      Buy on Amazon

      5. Support Local Businesses

      We are all feeling the economic impacts of this epidemic, especially the local business owners in our communities. If you can afford to, buy takeout or delivery from your favorite local restaurant. People also purchase gift cards to use later, and some places are even posting other ways to support employees unable to work.

      It is still essential to practice social distancing when ordering food. Be sure to wash your hands and sanitize your counters, throw out all packaging and wait for the delivery person to leave before you open the door. Having a Ring doorbell makes this step much easier!

      Buy on Amazon

      With all the doom and gloom in the world right now, it is essential to remember that joy, happiness, and hope are contagious too!...
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      How to stay social while you are social distancing

      Because social distancing is not the same thing as emotional distancing

      We get it, social distancing is hard. Luckily, in today’s world social distancing doesn’t have to mean having no contact with your loved ones. We put together five ideas to keep you connected — mostly digitally — in these challenging times.

      1. Virtual happy hours

      Many of us are missing our favorite hangout spots and people right now. However, thanks to awesome services like Zoom and Skype, you can see all of the same smiling faces right from home by using your smartphone or a computer with a webcam.

      Buy on Amazon

      2. Netflix Party

      Netflix Party is a new Chrome plugin that lets you sync up with your friends to watch the same show. The plugin has an on-screen chat so you can talk to your friends without missing a word of dialogue. With all of the streaming we’re doing these days, make sure that you have the best internet service provider for you.

      3. Virtual gaming

      Game nights are a favorite for families that are isolated together. But what if you want to play games with your friends? We have a solution to that! JackboxGames.com has a huge selection of games that are typically meant to be played with everyone in the same room. However, with so many people playing, the company came out with a handy how-to guide to social distance gaming.

      Check out our guide to find computer brands to make sure you can stay connected.

      4. Go to the movies (without leaving your car)

      If you’re lucky enough to have a drive-in theater in your city, now is the perfect time to revive the old tradition. Simply park your car next to a friend’s and watch a movie side-by-side. Don’t forget to stock up on snacks!

      5. Get outside

      Getting outside is a great way to clear your head and remind yourself that there is still a world outside your front door. Get out and take a walk around the neighborhood — sunshine, exercise and fresh air are all proven to help us feel better. You can pick up a new leash and bring your pet along as well.

      Buy on Amazon

      We get it, social distancing is hard. Luckily, in today’s world social distancing doesn’t have to mean having no contact with your loved ones....
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      U.S. passes China and now has the most coronavirus cases worldwide

      But China still has more deaths from the disease

      A spike in reported cases in the last 24 hours has vaulted the United States past China as the country with the most people contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19).

      China still has more deaths from the pandemic with nearly 3,300. The U.S. has reported 1,300.

      China, where the virus originated, has seen its case numbers level off in the last two weeks at around 82,000. By Friday morning, U.S. cases had reached 86,000, and doctors warn that those numbers will rise before the illnesses peak.

      But an analysis of the data shows the rapid increase in cases is far from evenly distributed. New York City and surrounding areas remain the hardest-hit region of the country, with serious cases now threatening to overwhelm hospitals.

      New Orleans has an unusually large number of cases of the virus. Health officials have attributed that to two factors -- huge crowds gathering for Mardi Gras late last month as the virus was spreading undetected and an uneven start to testing.

      ‘This is coming for you’

      Major population centers in California are also seeing significant increases in reported cases. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an online statement to his constituents Thursday and also had a warning for people in the rest of the state.

      "No matter where you are, this is coming to you," Garcetti said. "Everybody is the new 'whatever the worst city is' right now. Take all the measures you can now to make sure people are home."

      Twenty-one of the nation’s 1,300 deaths from the virus have occurred in Los Angeles.

      While states like New York, California, Washington, and Florida have seen the largest number of cases, many other states have avoided serious spikes in the outbreak so far. But health officials in those states have stressed that residents must observe strict social distancing precautions to keep those numbers low.

      A spike in reported cases in the last 24 hours has vaulted the United States past China as the country with the most people contracting the coronavirus (CO...
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      Apple releases COVID-19 app and website to keep consumers informed

      The site and app include a screening tool and other resources to help consumers protect their health

      Apple has just released a new COVID-19 app and website based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

      In an announcement, the company said its new site and app each contain a screening tool and set of resources to “help people stay informed and take the proper steps to protect their health during the spread of COVID-19.” 

      If a user’s symptoms appear to warrant medical attention, the site will encourage the individual to contact their health care provider or emergency services and/or self-isolate at home to avoid infecting others. Alternatively, the software may say that the user doesn’t need to be tested. 

      Apple made a point of noting that its screening tool does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities.

      Helping people stay informed 

      Among other resources, Apple has included tips on social distancing, hand washing and disinfecting surfaces, FAQs about the virus, and how to properly monitor symptoms if they arise. 

      Apple said it created the website and app in partnership with the CDC, the Coronavirus Task Force, and FEMA to “make it easy for people across the country US to get trusted information and guidance at a time when the US healthcare system is feeling the heavy burden of COVID-19.” 

      To assuage user’s data privacy concerns, Apple said it’s “not collecting your answers from the screening tool.” 

      “To help improve the site, Apple collects some information about how you use it,” the company said. “The information collected will not personally identify you.”

      The app is only available in the U.S. for the time being, but the website is available worldwide. 

      Apple has just released a new COVID-19 app and website based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In an an...
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      Regulators encourage lenders to give loans to responsible consumers and small businesses during COVID-19 outbreak

      Borrowers in more difficult situations should also be given some latitude

      In the middle of all the yin and yang surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, good financial news continues to roll in for consumers. 

      On Thursday, five federal financial regulatory agencies came together to motivate banks, credit unions, and savings associations to give small-dollar loans to credit-worthy consumers and small businesses in response to COVID-19.

      “Responsible small-dollar loans can play an important role in meeting customers' credit needs because of temporary cash-flow imbalances, unexpected expenses, or income disruptions during periods of economic stress or disaster recoveries,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said in a joint statement.

      What types of loans will be available?

      The group left open the range of loan possibilities to lending institutions, but it suggested open-end lines of credit, closed-end installment loans, or appropriately structured single payment loans. That freedom of choice, however, was couched with a firm word of warning for the lenders.

      “Loans should be offered in a manner that provides fair treatment of consumers, complies with applicable laws and regulations, and is consistent with safe and sound practices,” the regulators said.

      Hope for borrowers in more difficult positions

      The financial havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic has created differs from person-to-person and business-to-business. The fact is that some were prepared with enough cushion to wait the situation out and some weren’t.

      Borrowers who took on a hit they had no backup plan for might have a difficult time repaying a loan in a structured way. But the regulators want them to know that they’re not being left out in the rain. The group encouraged banks, savings associations, and credit unions to entertain workout strategies that can help borrowers repay the principal of the loan while tempering the need to re-borrow.

      In the middle of all the yin and yang surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, good financial news continues to roll in for consumers. On Thursday, five fede...
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      Ford, Fiat Chrysler plan to reopen North American plants in April

      The factories were shut down in the interest of protecting worker safety

      A week after closing their North American assembly facilities due to coronavirus concerns, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have each announced that they plan to resume production in April. 

      The automakers previously announced that they would be halting operations at major assembly plants in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. On Thursday, Ford said it plans to restart production at five “key” plants as early as April 6. 

      In a statement, United Auto Workers (UAW) union president Rory Gamble said that UAW “continues to review with great caution and concern decisions being made about restarting workplaces, especially at advanced dates.” 

      The group said Ford originally planned to reopen plants on March 30, but it will now push the opening to April “due to numerous stay-at-home orders from government officials.” When plants resume operations, Ford said it will have “additional safety measures to protect returning workers” from contracting COVID-19. After manufacturing sites shut down last week, Ford said it would begin thoroughly cleaning its facilities. 

      Fiat Chrysler said it’s North American facilities “are intended to remain closed until April 14.” The date at which they reopen will be “dependent upon the various state stay in place orders and the readiness of each facility to return to production.”

      Worker protections

      The news comes the same week President Trump announced that he’d like to see the nation "opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” despite persistent concern among health officials about the sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. 

      The UAW confirmed this week that three Fiat Chrysler plant workers have now died from COVID-19.

      “The UAW maintains that strict CDC guidelines need to be adhered to at all worksites, and that prior to reopening, sufficient data and protections are in place to ensure the safety of our members, their families and the public,” Gamble said. “The only guideline in a boardroom should be management asking themselves, ‘Would I send my family — my own son or daughter — into that plant and be 100% certain they are safe?'” 

      A week after closing their North American assembly facilities due to coronavirus concerns, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have each announced that they plan to res...
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      Here’s how much you can expect from the coronavirus aid bill

      The amount will depend on your income level

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to gather enough House members to form a quorum so the chamber can vote today on the $2 trillion coronavirus (COVID-19) aid package and send it to the White House.

      The Senate passed the measure early Thursday on a unanimous 96-0 vote. It contains provisions to help both businesses and individuals.

      Of particular interest to consumers may be the section making direct cash payments to Americans. Individuals may receive up to $1,200. Couples would receive $2,400 and $500 for each dependent child.

      However, income restrictions apply. The amount of the direct payment begins to fall for adjusted gross incomes over $75,000. To determine how much you would receive under the measure, the Washington Post has published a payment calculator.

      The payments will be made through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to gather enough House members to form a quorum so the chamber can vote today on the $2 trillion coronavirus (COVID-19...
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      Average gas price falls below $2 a gallon in 29 states

      Gas prices continue their coronavirus plunge

      With Americans told to stay inside and work from home, there have been fewer cars at the gas pump. As a result, prices are in an accelerating freefall.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.05 a gallon, 12 cents less than a week ago and 62 cents cheaper than a year ago. The average price of premium gas is $2.70 a gallon, down 11 cents from last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $2.63 a gallon, sixt cents less than last week.

      “Typically gas prices start to trend more expensive at the beginning of spring, especially as motorists get out to enjoy the warmer weather and travel for spring break. That is not the case this year,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. 

      “With Americans urged to stay at home and practice social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus, we are seeing less traffic on the roadways which will ultimately drive down demand, increase gasoline supply and push pump prices less expensive for the foreseeable future.”

      Prices drop in competitive states

      At the beginning of the week AAA reported that 29 states had average gas prices under $2 a gallon. Some of the biggest price declines have come in states that sometimes have high prices at the pump. Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin this week have some of the nation’s lowest prices.

      Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, says these states often lead gas price declines.

      “What’s behind it is that these states see a high level of competition versus others and fall the fastest, but also on the flip, they usually rise amongst the fastest as well,” he told ConsumerAffairs. 

      The states with the most expensive regular gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.41)

      • California ($3.12)

      • Washington ($2.83

      • Oregon ($2.75) 

      • Alaska ($2.63)

      • Nevada ($2.69)

      • Arizona ($2.52)

      • Idaho ($2.40)

      • Utah ($2.39)

      • New York ($2.36) 

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Oklahoma ($1.65)

      • Wisconsin ($1.70)

      • Ohio ($1.71)

      • Kentucky ($1.76)

      • Indiana ($1.77)

      • Michigan ($1.77)

      • Mississippi ($1.78)

      • Texas ($1.80)

      • Missouri ($1.81)

      • South Carolina ($1.81)

      With Americans told to stay inside and work from home, there have been fewer cars at the gas pump. As a result, prices are in an accelerating freefall....
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      McDonald’s temporarily removes all-day breakfast from menus

      The change is one of several the company has made to limit the spread of the coronavirus

      In an effort to streamline operations in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, McDonald’s is temporarily doing away with its all-day breakfast menu. 

      The restaurant chain said its breakfast menu will be disappearing from menus over the next few weeks, but it will be brought back “as soon as possible.” 

      “To simplify operations in our kitchens and for our crew, and ensure the best possible experience for our customers, we are working with our franchisees and local restaurants to focus on serving our most popular choices and will begin temporarily removing some items from the menu over the next few weeks,” Bill Garrett, the senior vice president of McDonald’s U.S. operations, said in a statement.

      Garrett added that McDonald’s will “regularly evaluate” the situation to determine when to bring back all-day breakfast. In the meantime, the fast food provider is still offering take-out, Mobile Order & Pay, Drive Thru, and “McDelivery” at most of its restaurants. Some locations may have limited hours while the outbreak is ongoing.

      Like other brick-and-mortar establishments, McDonald’s has had to implement a few changes to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, the company announced that it would be closing all seating and play areas at its U.S. locations. 

      "To align with increasing regulations throughout the country…McDonald’s USA company-owned restaurants will close seating areas, including the use of self-service beverage bars and kiosks," the company said in a statement on March 16.

      In an effort to streamline operations in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, McDonald’s is temporarily doing away with its all-day breakfast menu. The...
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      Balancing mindfulness and future planning can help consumers stay positive

      It can also help shake off daily stressors

      Experts have found several benefits associated with positivity, including longer life and disease prevention

      Now, researchers from North Carolina State University have discovered ways for consumers to be more positive in their daily lives. According to their study, finding a balance between planning for future stressors and staying present in the moment can help consumers keep a brighter disposition. 

      “It’s well established that daily stressors can make us more likely to have a negative affect, or bad moods,” said researcher Shevaun Neupert. “Our work here sheds additional light on which variables influence how we respond to daily stress.” 

      Letting go of daily stressors

      The researchers had over 220 participants involved in the study; half of the group was between the ages of 18 and 36, while the other half of the group was between the ages of 60 and 90. 

      At the start of the study, the participants completed surveys that allowed the researchers to assess their baseline level of positivity. The questions had them report on how they typically handle stressful situations and how likely they are to be proactive at handling such stressors. 

      Then, for eight days, the researchers had the participants record their moods, things that were stressful, and the aspects of their days where they took the time to be mindful. 

      The participants who planned for future stressors, took steps to cope ahead of time, and had high levels of mindfulness were better equipped to handle daily stressors than those with lower levels of mindfulness and fewer future plans. This was true of participants of all ages. 

      “Basically, we found that proactive planning and mindfulness account for about a quarter of the variance in how stressors influenced negative affect,” said Neupert. 

      Incorporating more mindfulness exercises, including meditating or art, can be a great way for consumers to stay in the present moment and let go of worries about what’s to come. 

      “Interventions targeting daily fluctuations in mindfulness may be especially helpful for those who are high in proactive coping and may be more inclined to think ahead to the future at the expense of remaining in the present,” Neupert said. 

      Experts have found several benefits associated with positivity, including longer life and disease prevention. Now, researchers from North Carolina Stat...
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      Kawasaki USA recalls off-highway utility vehicles

      Debris can ignite on the vehicle’s exhaust manifold

      Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A., of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 72,000 Kawasaki MULE PRO off-highway utility vehicles

      Debris can ignite on the vehicle’s exhaust manifold.

      Additionally, frozen water can block the breather hose allowing oil to leak, posing a fire hazard.

      The firm has received 165 reports of oil leakage and 84 reports of vehicles catching fire, resulting in three injuries, including one report of a burn to the user’s foot, one report of a burn to the user’s arm, hand and buttocks and one incident of smoke inhalation.

      Kawasaki is aware of more than $131,000 in property damage claims -- excluding the cost of damage to vehicles.

      This recall involves model year 2015 through 2020 MULE PRO-FX, MULE PRO-FXR and MULE PRO-FXT off-highway utility vehicles.

      The recalled vehicles were sold in black, blue, bronze, camo, green, red, silver and white, and have four wheels, side-by-side seating for three to six people and automotive style controls.

      Mule Pro is printed on the right and left front fender. Kawasaki is printed on the cargo box. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is located on the steel frame between the right front lower A-arm mounts.

      The following vehicles are included in the recall: 

      Model Year

      Model Name

      Model Code

      VIN Range

      2015

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AFF/L

      JKBAFSA1XFB500031 through
      JKBAFSA18FB500335

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BFF/L

      JKBAFSB13FB500001 through
      JKBAFSB11FB504158

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CFF/L

      JKBAFSC17FB500002 through
      JKBAFSC17FB504387

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DFF/L

      JKBAFSD17FB500001 through
      JKBAFSD17FB502198

      2016

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AGF/L

      JKBAFSA1XGB500001 through
      JKBAFSA19GB500250

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BGF/L

      JKBAFSB10GB504816 through
      JKBAFSB13GB507371

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CGF/L

      JKBAFSC18GB504951 through
      JKBAFSC16GB507010

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DGF/L

      JKBAFSD19GB502611 through
      JKBAFSD16GB503585

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820EGF/L

      JKBAFSE17GB500001 through
      JKBAFSE16GB500541

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FGF/L

      JKBAFSF19GB500001 through
      JKBAFSF14GB502450

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GGF/L

      JKBAFSG10GB500001 through
      JKBAFSG13GB501918

      MULE PRO-FX EPS CAMO

      KAF820HGF/L

      JKBAFSH12GB500001 through
      JKBAFSH17GB500950

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JGF/L

      JKBAFSJ1XGB500001 through
      JKBAFSJ1XGB501830

      2017

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AHF/L

      JKBAFSA18HB500001 through
      JKBAFSA12HB500821

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BHF/L

      JKBAFSB1XHB500001 through
      JKBAFSB10HB510083

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CHF/L

      JKBAFSC11HB500001 through
      JKBAFSC10HB509367

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DHF/L

      JKBAFSD13HB500001 through
      JKBAFSD19HB504909

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820EHF/L

      JKBAFSE15HB500001 through
      JKBAFSE12HB501140

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FHF/L

      JKBAFSF17HB500001 through
      JKBAFSF18HB504056

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GHF/L

      JKBAFSG15HB502201 through
      JKBAFSG1XHB502890

      MULE PRO-FX EPS CAMO

      KAF820HHF/L

      JKBAFSH16HB501301 through
      JKBAFSH11HB501450

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JHF/L

      JKBAFSJ18HB500001 through
      JKBAFSJ16HB504483

      MULE PRO-FX RANCH EDITION

      KAF820LHF/L

      JKBAFSL11HB500001 rough
      JKBAFSL11HB500550

      2018

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AJF/L

      JKBAFSA15JB501001 through
      JKBAFSA13JB501370

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BJF/L

      JKBAFSB15JB510201 through
      JKBAFSB12JB513038

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CJF/L

      JKBAFSC10JB509651 through
      JKBAFSC10JB512209

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DJF/L

      JKBAFSD16JB505151 through
      JKBAFSD19JB506231

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820EJF/L

      JKBAFSE17JB501401 through
      JKBAFSE16JB501695

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FJF/L

      JKBAFSF19JB504301 through
      JKBAFSF16JB505745

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GJF/L

      JKBAFSG19JB503101 through
      JKBAFSG11JB503870

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JJF/L

      JKBAFSJ18JB504801 through
      JKBAFSJ18JB508072

      MULE PRO-FXR

      KAF820KJF/L

      JKBAFSK12JB500001 through
      JKBAFSK13JB503649

      2019

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820AKF/L

      JKBAFSA11KB501501 through
      JKBAFSA11KB501935

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BKF/L

      JKBAFSB17KB513201 through
      JKBAFSB17KB516146

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CKF/L

      JKBAFSC11KB512401 through
      JKBAFSC1XKB514907

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DKF/L

      JKBAFSD16KB506401 through
      JKBAFSD11KB507519

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820EKF/L

      JKBAFSE1XKB501801 through
      JKBAFSE15KB502161

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FKF/L

      JKBAFSF13KB505901 through
      JKBAFSF13KB507521

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GKF/L

      JKBAFSG18KB504001 through
      JKBAFSG1XKB504758

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JKF/L

      JKBAFSJ12KB508201 through
      JKBAFSJ13KB512077

      MULE PRO-FXR

      KAF820KKF/L

      JKBAFSK13KB503801 through
      JKBAFSK1XKB505089

      2020

      MULE PRO-FXT

      KAF820ALF/L

      JKBAFSA1XLB502101 through
      JKBAFSA19LB502378

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS

      KAF820BLF/L

      JKBAFSB1XLB516501 through
      JKBAFSB19LB518305

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS LE

      KAF820CLF/L

      JKBAFSC1XLB515301 through
      JKBAFSC1XLB516657

      MULE PRO-FXT EPS CAMO

      KAF820DLF/L

      JKBAFSD1XLB507701 through
      JKBAFSD1XLB508184

      MULE PRO-FX

      KAF820ELF/L

      JKBAFSE18LB502401 through
      JKBAFSE19LB502598

      MULE PRO-FX EPS

      KAF820FLF/L

      JKBAFSF18LB507919 through
      JKBAFSF1XLB509199

      MULE PRO-FX EPS LE

      KAF820GLF/L

      JKBAFSG18LB505201 through
      JKBAFSG12LB505744

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820JLF/L

      JKBAFSJ1XLB512501 through
      JKBAFSJ17LB514237

      MULE PRO-FXR

      KAF820KLF/L

      JKBAFSK13LB507901 through
      JKBAFSK18LB508784

      MULE PRO-FXT RANCH EDITION

      KAF820MLF/L

      JKBAFSM12LB500001 through
      JKBAFSM16LB501023

      The vehicles, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Kawasaki dealers nationwide from July 2014, through December 2019, for between $12,000 and $18,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled utility vehicles and contact a Kawasaki dealer to schedule a free repair. Kawasaki is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Kawasaki toll-free at (866) 802-9381 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.Kawasaki.com and click on “Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A., of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 72,000 Kawasaki MULE PRO off-highway utility vehiclesDebris can ignite on t...
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