1. Home
  2. News
  3. 2020
  4. May

Current Events in May 2020

Browse Current Events by year

2020

Browse Current Events by month

Get trending consumer news and recalls

    By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

    8 robots to brighten up your home

    We’ve chosen robots that clean, dance, answer questions and play music

    Beyond doing household chores, acting as speakers or helping as virtual assistants, robots can keep us company or keep us entertained. We’ve chosen 8 home robots that are sure to liven up your home — some are purely practical, while others are kid-friendly and ridiculously cute.

    Vector robot

    The Vector robot is voice-activated and offers Alexa functionality. This little guy moves, charges himself and knows how to avoid obstacles as it travels around your house. Like Alexa, it helps with questions and performs fun acts like dance and give little fist bumps.

    • Voice-activated
    • Can navigate on his own

    Buy on Amazon

    R2-D2

    Finally, you can have R2-D2 at home! R2’s built-in speaker means you can play whatever music you like, and kids will have a great time “driving” R2 from a compatible mobile device. You can even watch the newest "Star Wars" movies with R2 and watch as it reacts to the unfolding events.

    • Built-in speaker
    • Control R2-D2’s movements

    Buy on Amazon

    Echo Plus

    The Echo Plus is an upgrade on the Alexa system we all know and love. It has better sound quality than previous generations and can control lighting, thermostats and other house controls. The Echo Plus has over 10,000 skills and is one of our favorite smart home devices.

    • Improved sound quality
    • Answers a variety of questions

    Buy on Amazon

    Sphero BOLT robot ball

    The Sphero BOLT robot ball is great to have at home if you have a child interested in STEM subjects. Kids learn how to program the bot’s matrix to make it do cool stuff like light up its LED display and navigate an obstacle course.

    • Programmable
    • Great learning opportunity

    Buy on Amazon

    Remote Control Robot Dog

    Are your kids not quite ready for a real-life dog? Try the next best thing — an obedient, potty-trained robotic puppy! It operates by remote and voice command and can imitate 10 animals. The robot dog is just 1 foot tall, making it a fantastic size for young kids.

    • Obeys voice commands
    • Dances to tunes

    Buy on Amazon

    ECHEERS Spaceman

    The ECHEERS Spaceman loves to dance! It's programmed through a compatible app, making it another excellent learning tool for kids and a fun companion for adults. If you want to laugh and feel good, try playing some upbeat tunes and watching this adorable bot dance its heart out.

    • Programmable bot
    • Bluetooth speaker

    Buy on Amazon

    Fistone RC Robot Dinosaur

    The Fistone RC Robot Dinosaur is a fantastic, kid-friendly robot for dinosaur fans. The dino dances and even goes into “fight mode,” where it shouts and wags his tail menacingly (although it won’t harm a fly). The dino also responds to touch and to remote control commands. It isn't as education-focused as other kid-friendly robots on our list, but it's still great fun.

    • Touch-sensitive
    • Dances and battles

    Buy on Amazon

    roborock E35 robot vacuum

    The roborock E35 robot vacuum is one of the higher-rated home robot vacuums while still being relatively affordable. It vacuums both hard floors and carpeted areas and has mopping capabilities. Hundreds of reviews are highly complementary, with one of the reviews rated most helpful stated it “will change your life.”

    • 2.5 hours of cleaning on one charge
    • Vacuums and mops

    Buy on Amazon

    We’ve chosen robots that clean, dance, answer questions and play music...
    Read lessRead more

    10 common ailments & easy ways to treat them

    From stubbed toes and nose bleeds, we have simple treatments

    On any average day, you probably suffer from more minor injuries than you realize! From a stubbed toe to a splinter to having something in your eye, minor injuries are usually either ignored or quickly treated and forgotten. While the ailments on our list typically hurt for just a few seconds, sometimes they require attention. Here is our list of simple over-the-counter items to keep on-hand for relief from these unpleasant experiences.

    Cut

    A cut, scrape or scratch can happen anytime, anywhere, and usually are minor enough to where we shake it off, put it out of mind and continue with our day. According to the Mayo Clinic, if the skin is broken and you find yourself bleeding, the major steps to remedy the situation are:

    • Wash your hands before addressing the cut.
    • Clean the area around the cut with soap.
    • Apply an antibiotic jelly.
    • Cover the wound with a bandage.

    Remember to change bandages once a day or if it becomes wet.

    Band-Aids

    • 120-count
    • Various sizes

    Buy on Amazon

    Antibiotic ointment

    • For adults and children 2 and up
    • Relieves pain

    Buy on Amazon

    Stubbed toe

    One of the more painful day-to-day injuries is the stubbed toe. Bare feet leave themselves exposed to injury when we accidentally walk into obstacles. According to Healthline, if the pain doesn’t subside within a few minutes:

    • Sit down.
    • Elevate the foot.
    • Use a compression bandage and ice to reduce swelling.

    If the pain persists or you can’t walk, you may have broken your toe, and it’s time to see a doctor.

    Elastic bandage

    • Durable polyester
    • Individual protective wrapper

    Buy on Amazon

    Burned roof of mouth

    Not unlike a bitten tongue, a great meal can be ruined by taking a big bite of something far too hot. Both your tongue and the roof of your mouth can suffer burns that cause unpleasant after-effects. To soothe your mouth, Medical News Today suggests 7 possible home remedies, including:

    • Swish saltwater in your mouth.
    • Eat honey.
    • Use oral aloe vera applications.

    Oral aloe vera

    • No stinging or burning
    • Pain relief

    Buy on Amazon

    Nosebleed

    Nosebleeds can be caused by dry environment, external factors or trauma. In rare cases, nosebleeds can be severe. However, most of the time, they are a simple inconvenience that requires a few minutes to control. According to the Cleveland Clinic, two ways to help a nosebleed include:

    • Lean forward and plug your nose closed for at least five minutes to get the bleeding under control.
    • Apply ice to the nose and cheek area afterward to help healing.

    Ice pack

    • Medical grade plastic lining
    • Flexible and reusable

    Buy on Amazon

    Bitten tongue

    Nothing interrupts a delicious meal like accidentally biting down on your own tongue! It’s almost painful to think about, but at least the tongue can heal itself from such incidents in 3 - 4 days. According to a Healthline article, if it’s a mild tongue bite, swishing with salt water after eating helps clean and desensitize the area. The report also mentions holding ice to the affected area to reduce swelling.

    Saltwater rinse

    • Pleasant flavor
    • Fluoride-free

    Buy on Amazon

    Splinter or sliver

    When working around wood, there’s always a chance that a tiny fragment could dislodge and wind up under your skin, and though it’s small, it’s no picnic. If part of the splinter is still sticking out of the skin, it can be removed with tweezers, a needle or even duct tape, according to Medical News Today. If not, it’s best to visit a doctor.

    Tweezers

    • Stainless steel
    • Good for removing hairs and splinters

    Buy on Amazon

    Canker sore

    Experts aren’t entirely sure why canker sores form, but we all know how annoying they can be. While most heal on their own in days, others are more painful and need medication. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain mouth rinses and topical treatments may help, including the popular over-the-counter medication Anbesol.

    Anbesol

    • Helps fights toothaches and canker sores
    • Good for gum or dental pain

    Buy on Amazon

    Rug burn

    Unless you’ve fallen in a carpeted house recently, you probably haven’t experienced a rug burn — also known as friction burn — since childhood. A rug burn is when friction causes a wide range of skin to tear, usually exposing a very tender, sensitive underlayer. While painful, a rug burn can be treated like any other cut, according to Verywell Health. Washing with a gentle soap, covering with a dry dressing and then waiting for it to heal is about all that can be done!

    Absorbent wound dressing

    • Super absorbent
    • 4 by 4 inches

    Buy on Amazon

    Chapped lips

    Whether it’s excessive licking or just the weather, our lips are a sensitive area of the body that can dry out quickly. Without oil glands, the lips need some extra attention to receive the moisture they need to avoid painful cracking. A lip balm like Chapstick or Carmex can provide immediate, short-term relief, but be sure to up your water intake.

    Lip balm

    • 6 flavors
    • Organic

    Buy on Amazon

    Hangnail

    Dry, brittle skin can lead to the annoying, irritating hangnail. While most hangnails are not particularly painful, others can cause us severe discomfort and seem impossible to leave alone. According to Healthline, one solution is to wash in warm, soapy water and then apply mineral oil or petroleum jelly to the affected area. One can also attempt to clip the hangnail away carefully with a clipper.

    Clippers

    • Ergonomic design
    • Stainless steel blade

    Buy on Amazon

    From stubbed toes and nose bleeds, we have simple treatments...
    Read lessRead more

    Pharmacies preparing for increase in flu shot demand this fall and winter

    With COVID-19, health officials say we’re in for a ‘double-barreled assault’ this flu season

    Amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections this fall, pharmacy chains are bracing for a big surge in consumers seeking flu vaccinations beginning in October, Reuters reports.

    CVS said it’s working to make sure it has enough vaccine doses available to vaccinate everyone seeking a flu shot in five months’ time. Rite Aid said it ordered 40 percent more vaccine doses this year in anticipation of higher-than-usual demand for the shots. Walmart and Walgreens have also said they’re preparing to administer more flu shots than usual this flu season. 

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months of age get a flu vaccination. Most years, fewer than half of Amerians get vaccinated. This year, however, the number of consumers who said they will definitely or are likely to get a flu shot rose from 34 percent to 65 percent between January and May, according to a survey commissioned by CVS Health.

    Preventing flu cases

    While getting a flu shot won’t protect against COVID-19, the vaccination will help prevent cases of the flu from rising and overwhelming an already burdened health care system. 

    Together, the flu and COVID-19 could have a bigger impact on Americans than the first wave of COVID-19 infections. 

    “We’re in for a double-barreled assault this fall and winter with flu and COVID. Flu is the one you can do something about,” Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner told Reuters.

    Drive-through clinics could be used

    Since many Americans may still be wary of visiting medical facilities due to coronavirus concerns this fall, some health officials have suggested coming up with alternative ways of administering the shots in order to make sure everyone gets vaccinated. 

    Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, said pharmacies, public health clinics, and other flu shot providers may need to set up drive-up clinics for flu vaccines.

    “My goal is that every single vaccine dose that gets made gets into somebody’s arm to protect them. I don’t want any vaccines left on the shelves or in doctors’ offices,” Messonnier said in an interview.

    Amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections this fall, pharmacy chains are bracing for a big surge in consumers seeking flu vaccinations beginnin...
    Read lessRead more

    Get trending consumer news and recalls

      By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

      Coronavirus update: Holiday crowds ignore warnings, another vaccine candidate

      Colleges could be a little emptier in the fall

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 1,667,154 (1,583,561)

      Total U.S. deaths: 98,371 (95,052)

      Total global cases: 5,534,728 (5,154,152)

      Total global deaths: 347,587 (335,063)

      Health officials worry about Memorial Day crowds

      Thousands of Americans ignored health officials admonishments about crowding into tight spaces and did just that over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Many people headed to beaches and lakes and observed little to no social distancing.

      Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, told a television interviewer that she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend.

      “We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” Birx said on ABC’s “This Week.”

      Scientists have recently concluded that the coronavirus is much more likely to spread in large gatherings than small ones.

      Another vaccine is being tested

      There’s a new entry in the race to develop the first coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. 

      Novavax says it has begun a Phase 1 clinical trial of a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate and has signed up the test’s first participants. A Phase 1 trial determines whether a drug is safe for human consumption.

      Novavax says its vaccine candidate - given the name  NVX-CoV2373 -- has the objective of increasing the body’s immune responses. To do that, the vaccine will be combined with Novavax’s Matrix-M adjuvant.

      “Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global COVID‑19 pandemic,” said Stanley C. Erck, Novavax’s CEO. 

      The company expects preliminary Phase 1 results from the trial in July. It joins Moderna’s experimental vaccine, which is completing a Phase 2 trial.

      Evidence points to fewer students in college this fall

      The nation’s colleges and universities have taken a financial hit amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not only have these institutions had to shift overnight to online classes, but they’ve had to refund money to students who paid for room and board, parking, and assorted activities.

      While colleges had held the line on refunding tuition, there’s new evidence that they may see fewer tuition-paying students in the fall. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program, the gateway for federal education money, reports a significant drop in requests for funds.

      Since both parents and students have told pollsters that the economic fallout from the coronavirus has reduced their ability to pay for schools, it could suggest fewer students plan to attend school in the fall.

      Health concerns decrease, financial concerns increase

      A new survey of consumers by Deloitte shows consumers have learned to live with the coronavirus, with a declining number expressing worry about getting it. At the same time, an increasing number say they’re worried about the economic harm the virus-related shutdown is causing.

      As of the middle of May, only 48 percent of consumers said they worried about their health, down from 57 percent in early April. Sixty percent said they are concerned about the health of others, down from a high of 72 percent.

      At the same time, 27 percent of consumers said they’re worried about their ability to make upcoming payments and 43 percent are putting off major purchases, with those numbers significantly higher among millennials.

      Appeal for blood plasma

      A coalition of medical and health organizations is ramping up its appeal for blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from the coronavirus. The plasma is needed to support the rapid development of potential new therapies for patients with COVID-19. 

      Advocates say timely donations are critical. They need to recruit COVID-19 survivors within two months of their recovery to ensure that their blood plasma contains a robust enough concentration of antibodies to have a positive effect and to address the substantial seasonal increase in COVID-19 cases anticipated this fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

      "Inside COVID-19 survivors is the antibody-rich blood plasma that may help stem the tide of this pandemic,” said Diana Berrent, founder of one of the participating groups. 

      Around the nation

      • Pennsylvania: The conflict between small business owners and government officials is becoming increasingly partisan. The owners of a York diner criticized Democrats for “going too far” after state officials suspended their business license for reopening in defiance of the governor’s orders. 

      • Missouri: State health officials have expressed alarm after seeing pictures of Memorial Day partiers jammed into a pool at Lake of the Ozarks. Officials say everyone who attended the party should self-quarantine for 14 days.

      • California: The state has set out rules for places of worship to reopen their doors to congregations. The rules limit worshipers to 100 or fewer, taking everyone's temperature, limiting singing and group recitations, and not sharing prayer books or other items.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 1,667,154 (1,583,56...
      Read lessRead more

      Volkswagen ordered to compensate owners of cars with rigged diesel engines in Germany

      The judgement is expected to pave the way for the resolution of thousands of other claims

      On Monday, roughly five years after Volkswagen’s “dieselgate” scandal began unfolding, a court ordered the automaker to return money to owners of vehicles with rigged diesel engines in Germany. 

      Germany’s federal court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), ruled that owners will be allowed to return vehicles for a partial refund of the purchase price. 

      “The verdict by the BGH draws a final line. It creates clarity on the BGH’s views on the underlying questions in the diesel proceedings for most of the 60,000 cases still pending,” Volkswagen said.

      Holding VW accountable

      In 2015, Volkwagen admitted that it manipulated the engines in its vehicles in order to perform better on emissions tests. The affected cars were banned in the U.S., and claims for compensation soon began pouring in. Affected VW vehicles weren’t banned in Europe, but VW was forced to update its engine control software. 

      Fines and vehicle refits stemming from the scandal have cost the automaker more than $33 billion. 

      The ruling is likely to serve as a template for tens of thousands of other claims against Volkwagen. Outside Germany, more than 100,000 claims for damages were still pending; 90,000 of those cases were in Britain, according to a VW spokesperson.

      In a statement sent to Euronews, VW spokesperson Nicolai Laude said the size of the one-time reimbursement to owners in Germany will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Claus Goldenstein, lawyer for plaintiff Herbert Gilbert, said the ruling “means legal certainty for millions of consumers and shows once again that even a huge corporation isn't above the law.” 

      Volkswagen said in a statement that it’s aiming to “soon bring these cases to a close in agreement with the plaintiffs.” The company said "appropriate offers" will be made to affected owners.

      On Monday, roughly five years after Volkswagen’s “dieselgate” scandal began unfolding, a court ordered the automaker to return money to owners of vehicles...
      Read lessRead more

      USDA expands online shopping options for SNAP participants

      Giving the green light to a state doesn’t mean instant access for users, though

      There’s good news for SNAP recipients to start out the week. The number of approved states allowing participants to purchase food online has increased to 36, accounting for 90 percent of the program’s users. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the remaining states will phase in over the next few weeks.

      The newest states added to the program include: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.

      USDA says options are expanding

      With the number of Americans filing for unemployment climbing sharply due to the coronavirus pandemic, states are seeing a torrent of new SNAP applications. That, in turn, has prompted consumers concerned about the safety of a physical store to take their shopping online.

      According to a study by Escalent, a human behavior and analytics firm, the number of consumers taking their grocery shopping online grew more than 400 percent in March and April of 2020 compared to 2019. 

      It’s not exactly surprising that WalMart and Amazon are the two biggest online options for SNAP participants. However, the USDA has sprinkled in a few local favorites like Wright’s Markets in Alabama and ShopRite in New York. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue promised to keep expanding the number of independents to give consumers more options during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

      “We are expanding new flexibilities and innovative programs to make sure Americans across this country have safe and nutritious food during this national emergency,” said Perdue. 

      “Enabling people to purchase foods online will go a long way in helping Americans follow CDC social distancing guidelines and help slow the spread of the coronavirus. USDA is mandated with the noble goal of feeding Americans when they need it most, and we are fulfilling that mission with new innovative programs during this national emergency.”

      Hurdles still exist for users

      In ConsumerAffairs’ research on the subject, we found that getting USDA approval doesn’t mean retailers can just snap their fingers and immediately turn on access for their shoppers. 

      “The main hurdle to implementation is the fact that SNAP users must input a PIN number corresponding to their account when they check out,” said Jeff Wells at GroceryDive. 

      “States and retailers must enable a payment program that incorporates and can securely process shoppers’ PIN numbers. Additionally, retailers must update their online ordering systems to factor out sales tax for SNAP purchases, handle manufacturer coupons and enable refunds for recipients, and implement a separate payment tender option for delivery fees, which SNAP dollars do not cover.”

      Other hurdles that Wells found include:

      • Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) issues: Just because a state is “approved,” that doesn’t mean it automatically allows a SNAP beneficiary to shop online. Wells says that each state has to update their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) systems to be able to process, track, and store online SNAP data. 

      • Becoming compliant is not an overnight thing: “Online payments under the USDA’s pilot program provide a contactless way for shoppers to buy groceries,” Wells said. “But becoming fully compliant is also complex and time-consuming, so retailers have rolled out pickup programs that allow SNAP consumers to shop online and then pay once they retrieve their order.”

      • There may be added fees: Some consumers might find added fees an insult to injury, but GroceryDive reports that state legislators are trying to find a way for retailers to waive delivery fees for SNAP consumers during the pandemic.

      Skip the online route and go to the store

      Wells, for one, thinks the best short-term route for SNAP users is going to their local grocer and waiting until the USDA and the states shake out all the problems inherent with shifting to an online model. 

      “For now, the majority of consumers receiving food assistance must continue shopping for groceries in stores, where retailers have implemented numerous safeguards, from one-way aisles to plexiglass barriers at checkout,” he said.

      There’s good news for SNAP recipients to start out the week. The number of approved states allowing participants to purchase food online has increased to 3...
      Read lessRead more

      Trying to diagnose a health problem online leads to the wrong answer most of the time, study finds

      The U.S. Department of Health is working to eliminate the guesswork out of symptom-checking

      “Dear Dr. Google, I’ve got a sharp pain in my elbow. What do you think it is?”

      Have you ever searched for your symptoms when something doesn’t feel right or you’re under the weather? The truth of the matter is that Google -- or any other search engine -- doesn’t pretend to have a clue what’s going on with your health. That’s simply not the business that the search giant is in. 

      But a new study finds that when people go on a deeper dive through the internet for a DIY health diagnosis, they often get inappropriate care advice.

      The study, conducted by Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia, found that nearly 80 percent of the respondents make the worldwide web their first stop for symptom checking. 

      Woefully inaccurate

      In the study’s examination of 36 mobile- and web-based symptom checkers, some sad truths came out. The frequency of an accurate diagnosis showing up as the first result was only 36 percent of the time -- and within the top three results, just 52 percent of the time

      "While it may be tempting to use these tools to find out what may be causing your symptoms, most of the time they are unreliable at best and can be dangerous at worst," the study’s lead author and ECU Masters student Michella Hill, said in a news release.

      Even worse in Hill’s opinion is that symptom checkers might give a person a false sense of security when they should be consulting a real physician and not blindly trusting a computer-driven cornucopia of possibilities.

      "We've all been guilty of being 'cyberchondriacs' and googling at the first sign of a niggle or headache," she said. "But the reality is these websites and apps should be viewed very cautiously as they do not look at the whole picture -- they don't know your medical history or other symptoms.

      Finding a balance

      Hill isn’t completely pooh-poohing online symptom checkers. In fact, she thinks they have a place in today’s health system.

      "These sites are not a replacement for going to the doctor, but they can be useful in providing more information once you do have an official diagnosis," she said.

      "We're also seeing symptom checkers being used to good effect with the current COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the UK's National Health Service is using these tools to monitor symptoms and potential 'hotspot' locations for this disease on a national basis."

      Evidence over assumption

      The U.S. Department of Health stands shoulder-to-shoulder on virtual symptom checking. To make sure consumers can get more accurate information, it’s created its own prevention and wellness online resource.

      The Department’s MyHealthfinder is built on evidence-based health information that can point someone feeling a pain or pang in what it thinks is the best direction. It has close to 100 prevention and wellness topics ranging from obesity to mental health. It also provides recommendations for clinical preventive services, as well as questions to ask a real physician that an online search engine can’t always answer.

      “Dear Dr. Google, I’ve got a sharp pain in my elbow. What do you think it is?”Have you ever searched for your symptoms when something doesn’t feel righ...
      Read lessRead more

      Hacking group releases new jailbreak for all recent iPhone models

      It’s the first zero-day jailbreak release in years

      The hacking group behind the “unc0ver” jailbreaking tool has released a new jailbreak tool that unlocks all iPhones running iOS 11 and above, including the most recently released iOS 13.5.

      Jailbreaking is the process of hacking an iOS device to break through software restrictions put in by Apple for security purposes. The new jailbreak, which the group named “Unc0ver 5.0.0,” exploits a zero-day vulnerability in the iOS operating system that Apple had not been aware of. 

      On its website, the team said the jailbreak utilizes "native system sandbox exceptions,” so security remains intact. Programs keep running separately so they can't access unauthorized data. 

      "This jailbreak basically just adds exceptions to the existing rules," Unc0ver told WIRED. "It only enables reading new jailbreak files and parts of the file system that contain no user data."

      The jailbreak is said to be the first zero-day jailbreak release since iOS 8.

      Apple hasn’t released a statement on the discovery, but the company has a history of working quickly to deliver a patch for vulnerabilities as soon as possible following their discovery.

      The hacking group behind the “unc0ver” jailbreaking tool has released a new jailbreak tool that unlocks all iPhones running iOS 11 and above, including the...
      Read lessRead more

      9 cool chess sets, from least to most expensive

      Some are themed, some are glass or metal and some are ridiculously expensive

      Even those of us who don’t know a knight from a bishop can appreciate the beauty of a chess set. We selected eight of our favorite chess sets on Amazon and listed them from least to most expensive. Prices are subject to change — costs listed here are from May 2020.

      Glass chess set

      It’s the cheapest chess set on our list, but also one of the most unique. Especially considering the price, this is truly a beautiful and eye-catching chess set. The board has alternating transparent and frosted squares so that you can see your playing surface.

      • $20.99
      • Frosted and clear pieces

      Buy on Amazon

      Fun, simple chess set for learning

      It’s always nice to see a chess set aimed at beginners that still has a sense of style. This chess set has classic black and white squares and couldn’t be easier for beginners, especially kids. The board is made of wood and lined with velvet. We highly recommend this one for teaching kids how to think critically and maybe even exercise some patience.

      • $34.99
      • Color-coded movement cards

      Buy on Amazon

      Wizard’s Chess

      Even people who haven’t read Harry Potter will be intrigued by this whimsical chess set. The board recreates the magical game known as Wizard’s Chess from the popular series. The pieces are plastic but have fantastic detail, so kids and adult fans alike are big fans of this one.

      • $39.90
      • Recreates Wizard’s Chess from Harry Potter

      Buy on Amazon

      Star Wars chess set

      Get ready for a galactic showdown! Embrace the light side or the dark side with this Star Wars-themed chess set. The chess set features Star Wars characters like Boba Fett, Darth Vader, R2 D2 and Han Solo. Even if you never play chess, this is a cool one to display in your home.

      • $39.99
      • Empire vs. Rebels

      Buy on Amazon

      Batman chess set

      It’s rare to see a chess set this colorful. This chess board pits the friends of Gotham City — including Batman — against the baddies, led by Joker. This chess set makes a great gift, especially for kids, who will be eager to learn how each piece works.

      • $43.95
      • Batman, Harley Quinn, Batmobile and more

      Buy on Amazon

      Metal chess set

      Most chess sets have wooden pieces or sometimes even plastic. To play with real gravitas, opt for metal pieces. The weight and clang make the chess battle seem even more serious. We like that this board has storage beneath it. It’s practical but also elevates the rest of the chessboard, adding again to the coolness factor.

      • $62.75
      • Metal pieces, wood board

      Buy on Amazon

      Greek and Roman chess set

      Here it is, the first set on our list over $100. The gold and bronze squares are pleasant to look at but don’t hinder the ease of play. The rooks — also known as castles — take on the forms of pillars in this chess set. Other pieces wear traditional Greek and Roman togas.

      • $159
      • Made in Greece

      Buy on Amazon

      Egyptian chess set

      This one’s pricey, but it sure is incredible, especially for Egyptologists. Four sphinxes “hold up” the board from four corners, and the board itself is decorated with hieroglyphs and scarab beetles. A pharaoh commands each team, and the other pieces take influence from Egyptian mythology.

      • $202.05
      • Sphinxes, scarabs and wolf-head gods

      Buy on Amazon

      Isle of Lewis chess set

      The one you’ve been waiting for — the priciest chess set on our list! This is one of the most expensive chess sets on Amazon, but also one of the most interesting. The Isle of Lewis chess board is based on a 12th-century chess set discovered in 1831 made from walrus ivory. This chess set was created using a laser recreation of the original Isle of Lewis chess game. With the set, you’ll feel like you own a piece of history.

      • $632.01
      • English pieces, Italian board

      Buy on Amazon

      These 9 cool chess sets will be a checkmate...
      Read lessRead more

      5 outdoor water activities to keep kids busy

      Don't have a pool? Create your own water fun at home

      Summer always includes time for some fun in the sun. If you're sharing space with your kids at home, outside water activity is a must. With some of our great ideas, you can create your own liquid entertainment at home so your kids will have lasting fun. But remember: Don't forget the sunscreen!

      Slip and slides

      Transform your backyard into a racecourse with a slip and slide. These slides are fun for kids of all ages as they race each other to the end. You can make them even more slippery by rubbing some soap on them!

      • 16’ x 82” wide
      • Includes 3 inflatable body boards

      Buy on Amazon

      Water sprinkler

      Who doesn't remember running through the sprinklers as a kid? Go one step further and purchase a crazy sprinkler to show your kids how fun this simple garden tool can be. Sprinklers are an excellent way for your kids to cool down and get some exercise while they jump and skip through the water.

      • 360-degree rotation
      • Up to 30-foot range

      Buy on Amazon

      Inflatable pools

      Want a pool for your yard but don't want all the hassle? Get an inflatable pool! It is an easy way to add a relaxing spot to any backyard, as you only need to blow it up, fill it with water and put it away when you're done. The kids can splish-splash, and the adults can use it to lounge in a cool place during the hot summer days.

      • 95” x 56” x 22”
      • Durable and wear-resistant

      Buy on Amazon

      Water balloons

      Water balloons are a vital ingredient in several outdoor games. You can play capture the flag, tag, balloon stomp, balloon toss or just mess around for some crazy fun! Keep the kids busy for hours coming up with your own spin on classic games.

      • 1000 water balloons
      • Biodegradable latex

      Buy on Amazon

      Backyard water park

      Can't visit the water park this year? You should build your own! You can purchase a great set online or make your own creation by drilling holes into PVC pipes and fasten them together. Attach your house to the structure, and voilà, you have a backyard water park!

      • 6 activities
      • Easy assembly

      Buy on Amazon

      Now that you have backyard water fun for the kids figured out, find some backyard games for the adults!

      Don't have a pool? Create your own water fun at home...
      Read lessRead more

      Hydroxychloroquine does not reduce the death rate for COVID-19 patients, study finds

      Researchers found a number of side effects linked with the popular malaria drug

      A new study conducted by researchers from Brigham Women’s Hospital found that giving COVID-19 patients hydroxychloroquine didn’t improve their health outcomes. 

      Recent studies have found that the popular malaria drug can come with some adverse side effects, particularly for those with preexisting conditions. This most recent report also revealed that the treatment option isn’t helping the death rate. 

      “No matter which way you examine the data, use of the drug regimens did not help,” said researcher Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra. “If anything, patients have a higher likelihood of death. We also saw a quadrupling in the rate of significant ventricular arrhythmias in patients with COVID-19 who had been treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine regimens.” 

      Understanding the risks

      The researchers analyzed data from the Surgical Outcomes Collaborative, which gave them information on nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients around the world. 

      Of that group, nearly 15,000 patients were given either hydroxychloroquine -- or medications with similar ingredients -- to treat their COVID-19 symptoms. The researchers then evaluated how the drug fared in terms of the death rate and the number of patients discharged from the hospital. 

      The study revealed that these drugs weren’t effective in reducing the COVID-19 death rate; in fact, they actually posed a risk to some patients. 

      Not only was the death rate higher for patients who took some kind of hydroxychloroquine regimen, but the drugs also increased the risk for a ventricular arrhythmia. For patients not taking these types of drugs, the risk for a ventricular arrhythmia was 0.3 percent; that risk jumped as high as eight percent for those taking hydroxychloroquine. 

      Similarly, the death rate for those on a hydroxychloroquine regimen was over 11 percent, while that figure was just over nine percent for those on a different treatment plan. 

      The researchers explained that these types of drugs have a history of causing heart complications in patients, and it’s important that both consumers and medical professionals are aware of the risks. 

      “These findings suggest that these drug regimens should not be used outside of the realm of clinical trials and urgent confirmation from randomized clinical trials is needed,” the researchers wrote. 

      A new study conducted by researchers from Brigham Women’s Hospital found that giving COVID-19 patients hydroxychloroquine didn’t improve their health outco...
      Read lessRead more

      Fauci says COVID-19 vaccine could be available by the end of the year

      Barring unforeseen setbacks, Fauci says it’s ‘conceivable’ that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by December

      Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, said Friday that it is “conceivable” that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by December. 

      “Back in January of this year when we started the phase 1 trial, I said it would likely be between a year and 18 months before we would have a vaccine. I think that schedule is still intact,” he said in an interview with NPR on Friday. 

      He added that drug development can sometimes face “unanticipated setbacks.” Therefore, no one can say with absolute certainty when a vaccine will become available.

      “I think it is conceivable, if we don’t run into things that are, as they say, unanticipated setbacks, that we could have a vaccine that we could be beginning to deploy at the end of this calendar year, December 2020, or into January, 2021,” Fauci said. 

      Researchers are working as quickly as they can to develop a vaccine, but Fauci said it’s critical that scientists don’t work with such speed that they compromise safety or care. 

      “When you’re dealing with vaccines there could be so many things that get in the way like it might not be entirely effective,” Fauci told NPR. “And you wouldn’t want to deploy a vaccine that’s not effective and certainly not one that’s not safe.”

      Optimism about potential vaccine 

      More than 100 coronavirus vaccines are in the works, and at least eight are being tested on humans. U.S. biotech company Moderna just published some data from its phase one human trial on one potential vaccine. 

      Fauci cautioned that the data was only “partial data,” but scientists said phase 1 testing -- which was led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -- showed that all 45 people who received the experimental vaccine produced antibodies in their blood that are believed to help prevent COVID-19 infection. 

      Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna, expressed optimism about the vaccine candidate. 

      “When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a pre-clinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, these data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials,” Zaks said.

      Moderna’s CEO said the Phase 2 study will be a “crucial step forward as we continue to advance the clinical development of mRNA-1273, our vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.” 

      Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, said Friday that it is “conceivable” that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by Decemb...
      Read lessRead more

      Coronavirus update: Growing optimism about a vaccine, Biden would make a vaccine free

      Trump orders flags at half-staff this weekend

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 1,583,561 (1,555,537)

      Total U.S. deaths: 95,052 (93,606)

      Total global cases: 5,154,152 (5,034,458)

      Total global deaths: 335,063 (329,186)

      Fauci sounding hopeful about a vaccine

      Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus (COVID-19) task force, is still hopeful that there could be a vaccine available by the end of the year. In an interview with NPR, Fauci -- who heads the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) -- said the schedule appears to still be intact.

      “I think it is conceivable, if we don’t run into things that are, as they say, unanticipated setbacks, that we could have a vaccine that we could be beginning to deploy at the end of this calendar year, December 2020, or into January, 2021,” he said.

      There are a number of vaccine candidates in development. One being developed by Moderna and NIAID is currently in a clinical trial to determine its effectiveness.

      Biden promises free vaccine

      Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he will make sure any vaccine against COVID-19 is available to everyone at no charge if he is elected as president.

      Interviewed on CNBC this morning, Biden also said any economic recovery from the virus-caused disruption is a long way off. He criticized the 2017 tax cut and said he would push for its repeal if he gained the White House.

      Trump orders flags at half-staff

      President Trump today ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff through the Memorial Day weekend to honor those who have died from the coronavirus. The U.S. death toll may reach 100,000 by the middle of next week. It currently sits at just over 95,000.

      "I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the Coronavirus," Trump said today on Twitter.

      Flags will be lowered from Friday through sundown on Sunday. Trump said flags will be lowered again on Monday -- Memorial Day -- to honor military personnel who died in uniform.

      570 cases at poultry processing plant

      Tyson Foods has announced that 570 employees at its chicken processing facility in Wilkes County, N.C., tested positive for the coronavirus. That’s roughly 25 percent of the plant’s workforce.

      The company said the 570 employees tested positive for COVID-19, but the majority of those workers did not display any symptoms of the virus.

      The outbreak underscores the difficulties that meat processing plants have had in keeping their workforce healthy. The Tyson plant is getting back to full operations after large sections were closed for deep cleaning. Many employees have been off the job because of quarantines.

      Florida appears ready to reopen theme parks

      Officials in Florida are reviewing plans to reopen theme parks in the state that were closed as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Legoland in Winter Park and Universal may be the first two parks to get the green light. Both are awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ review of their plans

      Under the plans, employees and guests will get temperature checks on arrival, and anyone with a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit won't be admitted. Universal is already using that system at its shopping and restaurant complex, which recently reopened.

      "Our guests have been very supportive of the process," said Universal’s John Sprouls. "We're not hearing a lot of complaints about that or the masks.” 

      Around the nation

      • Ohio: State officials said today that Ohio’s unemployment rate nearly tripled in April, rising to nearly 17 percent. The economic shutdown caused by the virus cost the state an estimated 823,700 jobs last month.

      • New Jersey: The political tensions over the continuing economic shutdown have reached a new level in New Jersey. The state Republican Committee has sued Gov. Phil Murphy, alleging his shutdown order is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

      • Iowa: The state’s one-day death toll hit a new high of 20 on Thursday. Gov. Kim Reynolds says that’s not a reason to push back her plans to reopen the state. Restaurants and stores were allowed to open last week. Starting today, movie theaters and museums can reopen.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 1,583,561 (1,555,53...
      Read lessRead more

      Delta, JetBlue criticized by lawmakers for cutting employee hours after receiving coronavirus relief

      A group of senators are calling on the airlines to reverse their decisions

      Delta Air Lines and JetBlue have each decided to reduce employee hours in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers say the action represents a violation of the goal of the Payroll Support Program established under the CARES Act. 

      Delta received more than $5 billion in federal support through the program, and JetBlue received $935 million. Despite receiving the money, the airlines still decided to scale back employee hours.

      This week, more than a dozen U.S. senators sent letters to the CEO of each airline pushing for an immediate end to the “potentially illegal” action. 

      “Your decision to cut employee hours is inconsistent with congressional intent and is a blatant and potentially illegal effort to skirt your requirements to keep workers on payroll, and you should reverse this policy immediately,” the senators wrote.

      Money doled out as part of the program was supposed to be used to keep front line workers -- including flight attendants, pilots, and mechanics -- employed during the pandemic. Before accepting the funds, airlines had to agree to certain conditions; one condition was that they must keep workers on the payroll through September 30. 

      Violates the intent of the law

      The senators noted in their letter to Delta that the airline “was reportedly the first airline to cut hours for employees after receiving assistance from the CARES Act.” In a letter to JetBlue, the senators pointed out that the airline has slashed hours for mechanics, passenger service agents, and ramp workers after receiving government support.

      JetBlue said in a statement that its offer of voluntary time off and unpaid leave programs complied with the CARES Act requirements and was necessary since the payroll assistance only covers two-thirds of costs. The airline also said that due to the drop in air travel due to COVID-19 fears, “there are quite literally no hours for our crew members to work in many places.” 

      Delta also argued that its action was compliant with the CARES Act and that reducing work hours would ultimately protect jobs. 

      But the senators said in the letter that reductions in hours goes against the “clear intent” of the law. The senators said Delta and JetBlue should not accept any more government money unless they are “prepared to protect your workers’ jobs, pay and benefits as intended by Congress in the CARES Act.”

      “Your federal financial assistance is conditioned on keeping your promises to workers,” the letters said.

      Delta Air Lines and JetBlue have each decided to reduce employee hours in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers say the action represents a...
      Read lessRead more