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Vol. 34 • No. 12 • 16 Pages (2 sections) • 50 cents • 713-774-5140 • • E-mail:

46 coronavirus cases identified in Houston area Harris County’s two newest cases announced Wednesday appear to be from “community spread.”


OUSTON - Wednesday March 18, 2020 - The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the greater Houston area has climbed to 46, including 1 death, according to health officials.

The first death is also believed to be the first in Texas related to COVID-19. Health officials announced Monday, March 16, that a man in his 90s died Sunday evening at Matagorda Regional Medical Center with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The man was a Matagorda County resident, but his identity wasn’t immediately known.

No Longer ‘Presumptive Positive’ Earlier this month, some cases were being reported as ‘presumptive positive’, which meant that a case had been tested and determined positive, but had not yet been confirmed by the CDC. Now, the CDC is no longer doing additional confirmation on positive cases. Case Details: Brazoria County: 2 people, Brazos County: 1 person, Fort Bend County: 12 people, Galveston County: 2 people, Harris County: 13 people, Houston: 5 people - KTRK

Avoid taking ibuprofen for COVID-19 symptoms: WHO

US leads huge economic fightback against virus, EU shuts borders by Stuart Williams


he United States and Britain led a multi-billion-dollar global fightback against economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus as the European Union shut its borders to travellers from outside for 30 days to stem the pandemic’s ferocious spread.

The sweeping measures, never before seen in peacetime, have upended society worldwide and roiled financial markets on fears of a global recession. The coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting nearly 200,000 people and killing 7,900 as governments scramble to contain it. Following criticism that they were mismanaging their crisis response, London and Washington on Tuesday announced massive economic stimulus packages. President Donald Trump said the White House was discussing a “substantial” spending bill with Congress that would include immediate cash payments

A doctor visits homeless people in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco as part of the US response to the coronavirus outbreak. (AFP / Josh Edelson).

to Americans. Officials did not give hard numbers but The Washington Post reported the amount could reach $850 billion, with a chunk destined for airlines fearing ruin.

US to close Canada border to ‘non-essential’ traffic: Trump French health minister Olivier Veran (pictured March 6, 2020) warned that the use of ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs could be “an aggravating factor” in COVID-19 infections (AFP Photo)


ENEVA, Switzerland | AFP 3/17/2020 - The World Health Organization recommended Tuesday that people suffering COVID-19 symptoms avoid taking ibuprofen, after French officials warned that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen effects of the virus.

The warning by French Health Minister Olivier Veran followed a recent study in The Lancet medical journal that hypothesised that an enzyme boosted by anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections.



Asked about the study, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva the UN health agency’s experts were “looking into this to give further guidance.” “In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That’s important,” he said. He added that if ibuprofen had been “prescribed by the healthcare professionals, then, of course, that’s up to them.” His comments came after Ve-


ASHINGTON | AFP | Wednesday 3/18/2020 - President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the closure of the US-Canada border to non-essential travelers as the coronavirus epidemic intensified in both countries -- but he said that trade would not be impacted.

The shutdown of the 8,891 kilometer (5,525 mile) international boundary -- the longest in the world between two countries -- built on Trump’s barring of visitors from most of Europe, China and other parts of the world, as ran sent a tweet cautioning that the use of ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs could be “an aggravating factor” in COVID-19 infections. “In the case of fever, take paracetamol,” he wrote.

the number of confirmed virus cases in the US surged past 6,500, with 115 deaths. “We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected,” Trump tweeted. The president later told a news conference that the border would be reopened in “say 30 days,” adding: “Hopefully at the end of 30 days we’ll be in great shape.” In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said after speaking with Trump by telephone: “Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism. “In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home,” he told a news conference. “I want to be clear, though, that essential travel will continue.”

“We’re going big,” Trump told reporters. British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak also unveiled an “unprecedented package” of government-backed loans worth 330 billion pounds ($400 billion) for businesses struggling in the sudden economic paralysis caused by mass self-quarantine. France has pledged a 45 billion euro ($50 billion) aid package. German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile confirmed the 30-day “entry ban” into the EU. European countries were already in near-total internal lockdown, with Belgium starting from Wednesday until at least April 5. The World Health Organization urged the “boldest actions” on the continent, the pandemic’s latest epicentre. In the United States, restrictions continued to build, with Maryland becoming the latest state to delay presidential election primaries and New York City considering curfews. Cases in Australia rose to 565, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government urged citizens to not travel abroad and banned gatherings of more than 100 people. Asian hotspots China and South Korea have seen new infections and deaths level out in recent weeks -- China reported

just one new domestic case for the second consecutive day on Wednesday -- but numbers are ballooning across Europe. Africa, with its fragile healthcare systems, has also recorded more than 400 cases, and Latin America has more than 1,100, with the continent’s most populated country Brazil confirming its first death on Tuesday. - ‘Invisible enemy’ Trump, who for weeks has been accused of playing down the crisis, appeared determined to take control of his messaging, declaring he would do everything to fight an “invisible enemy”. “We have to win this war,” he said at the White House, where staff and journalists now have to undergo regular temperature checks. Battered US stocks -- which Trump considers a key metric of his success ahead of the November presidential election -closed higher after the stimulus announcement. But markets dipped again in Asia on Wednesday despite that rally. Trump had acknowledged on Monday that the economy might be sliding into recession. In France, President Emmanuel Macron also likened the outbreak to war and ordered almost the entire population to stay at home for at least two weeks.


Page 2 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section A)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

OP-ED/COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS by Bradley A. Thayer and Lianchao Han


he World Health Organization (WHO) last week finally declared the coronavirus from China that rapidly spread across the world a pandemic. Now, with more than 150,000 confirmed cases globally and more than 5,700 deaths, the question is why it took so long for the WHO to perceive what many health officials and governments had identified far earlier.

We believe the organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, like China’s Xi Jinping, should be held accountable for recklessly managing this deadly pandemic. Tedros apparently turned a blind eye to what happened in Wuhan and the rest of China and, after meeting with Xi in January, has helped China to play down the severity, prevalence and scope of the COVID-19 outbreak. From the outset, Tedros has defended China despite its gross mismanagement of the highly contagious disease. As the number of cases and the death toll soared, the WHO took months to declare the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, even though it had met the criteria of transmission between people, high fatality rates and worldwide spread. When President Trump took a critical step to stop the coronavirus at U.S. borders by issuing a travel ban as early as Jan. 31, Tedros said widespread travel bans and restrictions were not needed to stop the outbreak and could “have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit.” He warned that interfering with transportation and trade could harm efforts to address the crisis, and advised other countries not to follow the U.S. lead. When he should have been focusing on global counter-pandemic efforts, Tedros instead

by Laura K. Murray


recently returned from Zambia, where I am leading a study focused on implementing strategies to build leaders and scale up treatments known to be effective for coping with the mental health effects of violence and substance use. But like everywhere in the world, coronavirus was a major topic of discussion.

China and the WHO’s chief: Hold them both accountable for pandemic

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Getty Images)

was politicizing the crisis and helping Xi to shirk his responsibility for a series of wrongdoings in addressing the outbreak. Tedros used the WHO platform to defend the Chinese government’s gross violation of human rights. For example, from its first case discovered in November to its Wuhan lockdown, and even until today, China has been dishonest about the coronavirus’s origin and prevalence. People who tried to uncover it were detained or disappeared, their online reports and posts deleted. China has misinformed and misled the world, and Tedros joined this effort by publicly praising China’s “transparency” in battling the spread of the disease. When Xi ordered Chinese health officials to speed up the development of drugs by using “integrated Chinese traditional herbal medicine and Western medicine,” the WHO’s official publication, “Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19),” made a subtle change. Chinese netizens found a discrepancy between the

Chinese and English versions of a list of measures deemed ineffective against COVID-19. The English version listed four items — smoking, wearing multiple masks, taking antibiotics, and traditional herbal remedies. The fourth item was not included in the Chinese version. (Today the English version also has deleted that item.) China recently pledged $20 million to help the WHO fight the COVID-19 outbreak, for which Tedros thanked Xi. But we note China’s connections to Tedros’s homeland of Ethiopia, now called East Africa’s “Little China” because it has become China’s bridgehead to influence Africa and a key to China’s Belt and Road initiative there. Indeed, China has invested heavily in Ethiopia. Tedros was elected to his position with the WHO in 2017, despite the fact that he was not trained as a medical doctor and had no global health management experience. A former

minister of health and minister of foreign affairs for Ethiopia, Tedros is an executive member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) political party, which came to power through a struggle in 1991 and has been listed as a perpetrator in the Global Terrorism Database. After he became the WHO’s chief, critics questioned Tedros’s attempt to appoint then-Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador. The coronavirus pandemic has shown that Tedros is not fit to lead the WHO. Because of his leadership, the world may have missed a critical window to halt the pandemic or mitigate its virulence. The world is now battling rising infections and many countries have imposed restrictions. As leader of the WHO, Tedros should be held accountable for his role in mismanaging efforts to control the spread of the virus. Bradley A. Thayer is professor of political science at the University of Texas-San Antonio and the co-author of “How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics.” Lianchao Han is vice president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, he was one of the founders of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars. He worked in the U.S. Senate for 12 years, as legislative counsel and policy director for three senators. - The Hill

Coronavirus stressing you out? Here’s how to cope

Soon after returning home, I was talking with a group of neighbors who know I work on global health issues and were eager for my take on COVID-19. As I was offering insights from infectious disease experts, one woman quietly excused herself. She said the conversation was making her anxious. I felt terrible, especially because my work is focused on the mental health impacts of traumatic events. Considerable attention today is rightly focused on the clinical course of a coronavirus infection and how it can vary from the mild to the severe. The pandemic is having something of a parallel impact on mental health: some are taking it in stride, while for others the stress the latest recommendations from is significant. Most of us will be health authorities. somewhere in the middle. 2. Anchor yourself in daily rouHere are a few suggestions for tines: Try to keep your day focused managing COVID-19 risks to our on other tasks, goals or activities. mental health that can be adopted If this is challenging, start your day alongside efforts like social dis- by writing down a list of priorities tancing to manage disease trans- for the morning, afternoon and mission. evening. Put some objective goals you can accomplish within a set 1. Limit intake of media: It’s a time frame. Sometimes even munhuman phenomenon that many of dane tasks can have a grounding us are unable to stop constantly effect that help us keep things in watching a disaster unfold — even perspective and avoid a spiral into though we may want to look away. escalating levels of anxiety. Try to limit your coronavirus check-ins to three or four a day, and 3. Do things that bring you happreferably with a direct source like piness or pleasure: Despite, rather than social media strictions on certain activities and or television news channels. Each gatherings, this is still an especially time you look, set a timer on your important time to seek out things phone for five to 10 minutes and that bring you pleasure. Play with commit to tuning out after the al- your pets or children. Cook, garlotted time. These daily check-ins, den, read (something other than especially if you stick with credible coronavirus news!) and exercise. sources, will keep you up-to-date Even binge-watching Netflix can on important developments and be a healthy habit in these chal-

lenging times. There is evidence that engaging in DOING things you like has a positive effect on your neurochemistry in ways that help ameliorate stress and anxiety.

down the anxiety and stress. These feelings are unlikely to disappear, but they should subside sufficiently so I can focus on playing a board game with my 10-year-old for 30 minutes or concentrating on a 4. Reality-test your thought pat- work-related task. terns: The thought patterns circulating through our minds are intri- Anxiety and stress are normal even cately connected to how we feel in the absence of a pandemic. And and act. Now is a good time to step clearly they are likely to intensify in back and consider what’s trending such a moment as we are now expewith our internal narratives. For ex- riencing. But there are approaches ample, what if my constant thought and behaviors that can be effective is “This is bad! What is this world in managing them and preventing coming to?” Not surprisingly, my fear from becoming incapacitating. emotions will more likely skew to significant anxiety. My behaviors It’s especially important for all also will be less productive, like of our society’s leaders — from obsessively watching TV, pacing the business, government, public and perhaps purchasing enough health and medical sectors, to parfood to last years. If I focus on ents, families and teachers — to changing the thought channel to adopt calming strategies, as that more helpful programming that they can, in turn, project calm that includes thoughts like, “There are can be of enormous benefit for many capable people working on their constituents, team members, this. We will get through this,” employees families and students. my body will respond by dialing


Page 3 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section A)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020


COMMUNITY Second Front Page


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Coronavirus: Hindus of Greater Houston initiates joint effort with Indo-American organizations to help community by Manu Shah


OUSTON - On 15th March, over 20 concerned Board of Advisors and Trustees of Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) participated in an hour long conference call to discuss ways and means to help the Indo American community weather the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation. This initiative, taken by Board Advisor Rasesh Dalal, was praised because “the community must be united in times of both celebrations and crisis.”

Sewa International, which displayed an admirable level of leadership during Hurricane Harvey, emerged as the organization that would direct all aid efforts. Sewa’s leaders Nikhil Jain and Gitesh Desai spoke of their endeavors to mobilize internal and external resources. Their helpline 281-909-7392 is open 24 hours and can help callers with information and resources. Sewa has put together a team of 30 doctors who can help callers with medical advice. Senior citizens or visitors from India can connect with a doctor who can converse with them in their language. The organization is reaching out to motels/hotels to accommodate international students who have been asked to vacate their dorms. Their leaders

HGH Board members with heads of Indo-American organizations also emphasized that their services are for the greater community and not just for Indo Americans. It was unanimously agreed that a fund raising drive would be carried out and all donations would be made to Sewa International, which is trained in crisis situations, so it can mobilize more aid and help more people. Hindu Swayamsevak USA

Vice President Ramesh Bhutada kick started the fundraising by donating $5,000 dollars. He also urged the leaders to encourage their members “not to panic but as the same time not to take this crisis lightly.” Ramesh Bhutada’s company Star Pipes, among other protective measures, has banned all air travel for its employees and has also been handing out bottles of Tur-

meric (haldi) to its employees. Turmeric is well known in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Past President of the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston Swapan Dhairyawan, a CPA by profession, will share details of how affected small businesses can

avail federal aid as soon as they become available. All temple events, the leaders shared, have been cancelled/ postponed. However, the temples are open for darshan during certain timings and priests will perform the daily prayers. Arya Samaj Greater Houston has suspended the Sunday congregation, but will conduct the havan at 10:30am and pravachan at 11am to be broadcast via webinar. Pathshalas and Shakas have switched to online classes. HGH President Krishnaswamy Parthasarthy and Durga Bari Past President Partha Sarathi Chatterjee appealed to people to postpone weddings and other celebrations that are scheduled in the temple premises and stated that they would honor the payment commitments. Members of the conference call also shared additional valuable information. Dr. Hansa Medley from ISKCON revealed the city’s 24 hour helpline number – 832-393-5080. The staff can walk callers through the process of how to get tested. Those stocking up on Indian groceries can rest easy. Niranjan Patel from VPSS spoke to several Indian grocery store owners who assured him that there is plenty of stock and shipments are coming from India. There will be no

shortages of Indian groceries. Patanjali Yogpeeth USA President Shekhar Agrawal suggested practicing Pranayam such as deep breathing, kapalabhati and anulom vilom to strengthen the lungs and consume a decoction of tulsi (basil), giloy, ginger, turmeric and black pepper to boost the immune system. Community leader Vijay Pallod called for reverting to the traditional “Namaste” instead of a handshake – a form of greeting that’s been adopted by President Trump himself and many other world leaders. Of course, the still most effective way to protect against coronavirus is social distancing and frequently cleaning hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water. Host of Sanatan Hindu Radio Geetha Ravula offered to air any announcements from the temple organizations on her radio show. Even though the Indo-American community has not been directly affected by the virus as of now, they are being proactive They will continue to monitor the situation and plan on holding a conference call every Sunday or earlier if necessary. As HGH Board Advisor Dev Mahajan remarked: “It is a blessing that we are united and are there for each other.”


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Page 4 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section A)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

Family Health

Section 2


Cigna and Aetna said they are waiving consumer co-pays, cost sharing and other out-of-pocket costs.


“Prevention is key in limiting the spread of coronavirus, and with more people working remotely or limiting their exposure to crowds, it’s important to maintain healthy habits at home, “said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention. “Wash your hands often and stay home when you feel sick, but don’t disregard your physical activity and healthy eating habits. These are the foundation to maintaining and improving your health.” Here are some ideas to use at home for whole-body health:

Create an at home circuit workout. Select three or four exercises you can do at home like jumping jacks, lunges or jogging in place. Do each exercise in short bursts and repeat the circuit two to three times. Use shelf stable ingredients to cook heart-healthy meals. Canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables, frozen meat and dried grains are great shelf-stable options to have on hand for recipes. Fight stress. An unexpected




Circuits can be a great way to work out without any special equipment.


change in circumstance is stressful. Use the additional time at home as an opportunity to take action against stress. Take a few minutes each day to meditate, improve your sleep hygiene for more restful sleep and call friends and family to stay socially connected. While the overall risk of getting this virus is currently low in the United States, the American Heart Association is advising caution and preparation for people who have heart disease or who have survived a stroke, because they are among those


facing a higher risk of complications from the coronavirus. Remember the basics in your everyday activities: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue away, stay home from work if you are sick, avoid touching surfaces in public, try not to touch your face, and avoid people who seem visibly sick. For more resources for healthy living at home, visit healthy-living.

Air pollution ‘likely’ to cut COVID-19 survival: Experts by Patrick Galey


ARIS, France | AFP | Monday 3/16/2020 - Air pollution from petrol and diesel vehicles is likely to increase mortality from the novel coronavirus in cities, public health experts told AFP Monday.

The European Public Health Alliance warned that dirty air in urban areas that causes hypertension, diabetes and other respiratory illness could lead to a higher overall death toll from the virus currently sweeping the world. Emissions from petrol and diesel engines were still at “dangerous” levels that could imperil the most vulnerable during this and future pandemics, said the European Respiratory Society (EPS), which is a member of the EPHA. “Patients with chronic lung and heart conditions caused or worsened by long-term exposure to air pollution are less able to fight off lung infections and more likely to die,” EPS member Sara De Matteis said. “This is likely also the case for COVID-19,” added de Matteis, who is also an associate professor in occupational and environmental medicine at Italy’s Cagliari University. The virus has so far infected more than 168,000 people and

killed over 6,500 worldwide. Several European nations have implemented unprecedented measures to prevent the spread of the disease and allow health systems to treat patients. While there is currently no proven link between COVID-19 mortality and air pollution, one peer-reviewed study into the 2003 SARS outbreak showed that patients in regions with moderate air pollution levels were 84 percent more likely to die than those in regions with low air pollution. COVID-19 is similar to SARS and can cause respiratory failure in severe cases. Mortality data for COVID-19 is incomplete, but preliminary numbers show the majority of patients who die are elderly or have pre-existing chronic conditions such as heart or lung disease. According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution leads to around 400,000 early deaths across the continent annually, despite European Union air quality directives. One COVID-19 hotspot, northern Italy, has particularly high levels of PM10 -- microscopic particles of pollution due

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Insurance Companies will cover Testing of Coronavirus

Stay healthy at home with tips from the American Heart Association ALLAS, March 12, 2020 — With the evolving impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) in communities across the country, many Americans are facing new challenges keeping them from getting to the office, school, grocery store or gym. The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health for all, has resources to help maintain a healthy lifestyle while at home.

largely to road traffic. The number of fatalities in Italy shot up by 368 to 1,809 on Sunday -- more than half of all the cases recorded outside China. A study published last week in the journal Cardiovascular Research said that air pollution shortens lives worldwide by nearly three years on average, and leads to 8.8 million premature deaths annually. The shutdown in northern Italy has in fact led to a significant reduction in nitrous oxide and small particulate matter in the air, according to satellite data. EPHA Acting Secretary General Sascha Marschang said that governments must prioritise a reduction in polluting vehicles to avoid unnecessary deaths during future outbreaks. “Governments should have tackled chronic air pollution long ago, but have prioritised the economy over health by going soft on the auto industry,” he said. “Science tells us that epidemics like COVID-19 will occur with increasing frequency, so cleaning up the streets is a basic investment for a healthier future.”

Insurers are voluntarily covering through the Centers for Disease the diagnostic testing of the coro- Control and Prevention and is navirus, according to the Board of being offered at no cost. Testing Directors for America’s Health In- is expected to expand shortly TO BUILD YOUR CIRCUIT, CHOOSE 3-4 surance Plans (AHIP). EXERCISES FROM EACH LIST: as more commercial testing beAlternate cardio and strength exercises in short bursts of 30 comes available at a designated 3 minutes, then repeat the circuit two to three times. Health insurers seconds willand cover need- lab approved by the U.S. Food & ed testing when CARDIO orderedEXERCISES by a phy- Drug Administration. sician. They are taking action to - JUMPING JACKS ease network referral and prior President Trump today signed - JUMPING ROPE authorization requirements, and/ an $8.3 billion coronavirus fund- JOGGING OR MARCHING IN PLACE or waiving patient cost-sharing, as ing package. - STAIR-CLIMBING OR STEP-UPS per AHIP - HIGH KNEES Funding, insurer and policy AHIP said it- MOUNTAIN is also working efforts are aimed at stopping the CLIMBERS with public and private-sector partners spread of the virus. - STAR JUMPS so that out-of-pocket costs are not - BURPEES One way this is being done is a barrier to people seeking testing STRENGTHENING AND through a provision in the spendand treatment for COVID-19. STABILITY EXERCISES ing package to waive telehealth - PLANK AND SIDE PLANK The trade association is also restrictions for Medicare benefi- PUSHUPS working with state and federal ciaries. - SIT-UPS OR CRUNCHES policymakers to provide more HIP LIFT OR BRIDGE POSITION AHIP said it is encouraging the guidance -and flexibility for pre- TRICEP DIPS ON A CHAIR ventive services, benefit design use of telehealth, at-home care - LUNGES and other technology-enabled and treatment options. - SQUATS OR CHAIR POSITION options to expand access to care - WALL SITS In a separate statement, Cig- while avoiding the potential risk na said its customers will have infection. Learn more ways to addof activity to your routine at HEART.ORG/HEALTHYFORGOOD access to coronavirus testing, as So that labs and providers get prescribed by health practitioners, and the company will waive all reimbursed for testing, the Cenco-pays or cost-shares to help ters for Medicare and Medicaid fight the rapid spread of the virus. Services has developed a second Cigna will cover the medical test Healthcare Common Procedure similar to a preventive benefit for Coding System code that can be fully-insured plans, thereby waiv- used to bill for certain COVID-19 ing co-pays, coinsurance or de- diagnostic tests. The second HCPCS billing code (U0002) alductibles for customers. lows laboratories to bill for nonCVS Health also said it is pro- CDC laboratory tests for SARSviding COVID-19 diagnostic test- CoV-2/2019-nCoV. ing with no out-of-pocket costs or Last month, CMS developed cost sharing for Aetna members. Also, Aetna members will have the first HCPCS code (U0001) to access to telemedicine visits with bill for tests and track new cases no out-of-pocket costs or cost of the virus. This code is used specifically for CDC testing labosharing, ratories to test patients for SARSCurrent testing is available CoV-2.

E: rs L u ABe to L AI vat V A pri W e NOlusiv c Ex

Sudhir Mathuria HEALTHLIFE 360 713-771-2900

On February 29, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration issued a new, streamlined policy for certain laboratories to develop their own validated COVID-19 diagnostics. This second HCPCS code may be used for tests developed by these additional laboratories when submitting claims to Medicare or health insurers. The Medicare claims-processing systems will be able to accept these codes starting on April 1 for dates of service on or after February 4. The coronavirus has infected over 100,000 worldwide and several hundred people in the U.S. Source: AHIP To choose the right Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare Supplement Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan including Individual or Small Business Group Health Plan contact Sudhir Mathuria 713-771-2900

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Page 5 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section A)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020


NOTE: Receive your information from trusted, reliable sources. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) site is a good place to get the latest information at the Federal level. At the state level, the Texas Department of State Health Services is providing real-time updates as they come in. At the city level, the Houston Health Department is the best source for all COVID-19 updates in the region.

Statin-Chloroquine Combination: potential preventive drugs for COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Chandra Mittal Houston Community College System

by Chandra K. Mittal, Ph.D. As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections are rising rapidly across the world with increasing incidence of morbidity and mortality, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it as pandemic. Besides, the negative effects of the viral infections on individual’s health, there is also significant negative impact on the economic health that is being globally experienced with serious societal repercussions in the future. Ordinarily, epidemics of viral diseases are controlled and treated with vaccines against specific viral pathogens. But with COVID-19 recent emergence in China no readily available vaccine is around. Furthermore, the identification and development of a vaccine being a time consuming process, it is not a solution for the current pandemic. Per Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of Infectious Disease at National Institutes of Health, most optimistic projection for vaccine availability is about 20 months. So, the only option left for society is to explore some drug therapy to combat COVID-19 infection. Even though there are several government-approved antiviral drugs available to treat other RNA-genome containing viruses like the COVID-19, none of these have been tested or approved for patients infected with COVID-19. Besides, such testing will take about 24 months to complete which cannot be helpful in the current pandemic. In the meantime, there is urgency to control the COVID-19 pandemic and treat those virus-infected patients who face serious aliment or death. Society needs to come up with some drug intervention that it can be speedily tested on humans in relatively short span, safe for human use, and can be speedily approved by the government agencies around the world. At the moment there are two drugs, Statins (e.g. Lipitor) and Chloroquine that are worldwide available, safe, government-approved for other ailments but not COVID-19. But these have tested in experimental models and been shown to have antiviral

activity to prevent the spread of the disease. Research studies conducted with Statins or commercially available cholesterol transport inhibitor, U-18666A on cell-culture systems, animal models and Human subjects have shown that these drugs/compounds reduce the entry of viruses into the host cells protecting them against the viral cytotoxicity. These include Influenza virus [Biomedical Research International, Vol. 2014; ID 872370], [Antiviral Research. vol. 145, 96-102, (2017)]. In these studies, the protective effects of cholesterol-inhibitors on host-cells were reversed by the addition of cholesterol, indicating the requirement of cholesterol for viral infection. Converse has also been observed with cholesterol, which is reported to promote infection by viruses like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) [J. Leukocyte Biol. V. 80, 10441051 (2006)], Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) [PLoS Pathogens v. 3 No. 8, pp 1017-1022 (2007)], Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) [J. Virol. 85 (24) 13373-133383 (2011)], Hantavirus [PLoS Pathogens. V. 10 (2) (2014), and Ebola Virus [Nature v.477 (7364): 340–343 (2012)]. Coincidentally, all these viruses are single-stranded (ssRNA) viruses with good degree of nucleotide homology which may account for their common mode of host entry and high infectivity. Similarly, another drug Chloroquine, approved for malarial infection and inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, has been also studied for its antiviral effects on Human coronavirus. Results with studies in cultured cells indicate that Chloroquine is almost 1400 times more effective in inhibiting the coronavirus than killing the host cell. This indicates the high safety margin for chloroquine in neutralizing the virus. [Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 Aug; 53(8): 3416–3421]. Similar pattern of antiviral activity of hydroxychloroquine have been also recently reported in another study with Monkey kidney cells [Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Mar 9]. Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine have been also tested in Human trials for their effect on HIV-1 infection, and have been found to curtail the infectivity of the virus [Lancet Infect Dis 2003; 3: 722–27]. A study with cell-cultures and mice model also showed significant antiviral activity of chloroquine against the Zika virus infection, which was attributable to lack of viral entry into the host cells [EBioMedicine 24 (2017)189–194]. Thus, there is good body of scientific and anecdotal evidence and rationale to justify the use of Statins and Chloroquine to

evaluate the preventive and therapeutic potential of these drugs on coronavirus infection in the current pandemic situation. Besides, these drugs are less toxic to hosts than the classic approved antivirals drugs which either interfere with expression of viral genome or inhibit enzymes that are critical for the survival of the host cells. Statins and Chloroquine, on the other hand, block either the entry of the virus into the host cell or create a local intracellular environment like acidification inside the host cell, which incapacitate the virus without destroying the host cell. This limits their toxicity. In addition, Statins and Chloroquine are already approved drugs by governments worldwide for other ailments, and can be easily “repurposed” with relatively less human testing and regulatory burden. These drugs are also mass-produced, so these could be cost-effective for governments and the consumers, especially in the Less Developed Countries (LDC). There is urgent need to initiate more aggressive research on human trials for Chloroquine-Statin combination to prevent or treat COVID-19 infections in countries with high populations, including the United States, China, Italy, India, Iran, etc. Because of their different modes of actions, the combination of Statin and Chloroquine is likely to be more efficacious due to physiological synergism with high safety. At this point there are only very limited human studies underway to treat COVID-19. One patient studies have been recently initiated in China on Chloroquine-Remidesivir combination on Chinese population, but this may be of limited value for the world. Per the US Govt. website, two other studies at University of Oxford and Thailand are planned but yet to be initiated, and will be completed in about two years. In challenging times like the current COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs to come together under the aegis of the World Health Organization (WHO) and try to find quick and inexpensive solution to protect the human society at large. The potential of Statins and Chloroquine to protect against the coronavirus infection can make them the prophylactic drugs of choice. It is time for world governments to take the bold initiative and step up to the challenge. Dr. Chandra Mittal is Professor of Bio-Medical Sciences at Houston Community College System, Houston, and Co-Founder of Indo-American Association Houston. He can be reached at drckmittal@yahoo. com.

‘Test every suspected case’ of COVID-19: WHO

AFP Photo


ENEVA, Switzerland | AFP | Monday 3/16/2020 - The World Health Organization called Monday for countries to test every suspected case of COVID-19, as the rest of the world registered more cases and deaths in the pandemic than China.

“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, saying the WHO


ASHINGTON | AFP | Tuesday 3/17/2020 - The United States led a multi-billion dollar global fight-back against economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus Tuesday and Germany’s chancellor announced the shutting of EU borders to stem the pandemic’s ferocious spread.

After coming under criticism that they were mismanaging the response, both London and Washington announced massive economic stimulus packages. President Donald Trump said the White House was discussing a “substantial” spending bill with Congress that would include immediate cash payments to US citizens in a bid to pull the economy from growing fears of recession. Officials did not give hard numbers but The Washington Post reported the amount could reach $850 billion, with a chunk

destined for airlines fearing ruin. “We’re going big and that’s the way it’ll be,” Trump told reporters. British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled an “unprecedented package” of government-backed loans worth £330 billion ($400 billion) for businesses struggling in the sudden economic paralysis caused by mass self-quarantine. France also pledged a 45 billion euro ($50 billion) aid package. German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed a 30-day “entry ban” into the European Union, saying that Germany would move to “implement it immediately.” European countries were already in near total internal lockdown as the World Health Organization urged the “boldest actions” on the continent, the pandemic’s latest epicentre.

In the United States, restrictions continued to build, with Maryland becoming the latest state to delay presidential election primaries and New York City considering curfews. Australia ordered citizens not to travel abroad. The draconian measures, never before seen in peacetime, upended society worldwide and roiled financial markets on fears of a global recession. Usually joyful -- and alcohol-fueled -- Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations were canceled in Dublin, New York and Boston. The sports world has been hammered too, with the Euro 2020 the latest tournament to be postponed and major doubts over the fate of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. The outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting more than 190,000 people and killing 7,900.

faced in December, he added. He did not provide the latest numbers, but according to an AFP tally based on official sources, more than 169,710 cases have been recorded in 142 countries and territories. The death toll stood at 6,640. The worst affected countries in terms of fatalities are mainland China, with 3,213 deaths, Italy with 1,809 deaths, 853 in Iran and 297 in Spain.

Curfew as US cities shut down in coronavirus fight by Peter Hutchison


EW YORK | AFP | Monday 3/16/2020 - A US state started restricting residents’ movements Monday in a desperate bid to contain the deadly coronavirus pandemic as American cities followed their European counterparts and shut down -- closing schools, public buildings, cinemas, restaurants and bars.

As the death toll in the United States from the fast-spreading outbreak neared 70 and infections soared above 3,700, New Jersey’s governor announced he was implementing a curfew, marking a major escalation in attempts to stop the spread of the outbreak. “Effective tonight, all other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses MUST CLOSE after 8:00 PM,” Governor Phil Murphy said. “All non-essential and non-emergency travel in New Jersey is strongly discouraged between the hours of 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM. “This will remain in effect for

US leads massive economic stimulus effort against coronavirus, EU shuts borders by Sebastian Smith

recommended that countries “Test, test, test. Test every suspected case.” “In the past week, we have seen a rapid escalation of cases of COVID-19,” he said, describing the pandemic as “the defining global health crisis of our time.” More cases and deaths have now been reported in the rest of the world than in China, where the new coronavirus first sur-

Asian hotspots China and South Korea have seen new infections and deaths level out in recent weeks -- China reported just one new domestic case on Tuesday -- but numbers are ballooning across Europe. Africa, with its fragile healthcare systems, has also recorded more than 400 cases, and Latin America has more than 1,100, with the continent’s most populated country Brazil confirming its first death Tuesday. - ‘Invisible enemy’ Trump, who for weeks has been accused of playing down the crisis, appeared determined to take control of his messaging, declaring he would do everything to fight an “invisible enemy.” “We have to win this war,” he said in a White House where staff and journalists now have to undergo regular temperature checks.

the foreseeable future. We want everyone to be home –- and not out,” he added. Before the announcement, only the US territory of Puerto Rico had imposed a curfew. New Jersey’s move came as the White House denied reports that President Donald Trump was considering a nationwide curfew. “This is not true!” Trump’s Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere wrote in reply to a tweet by a CNN anchor that the plans would mean non-essential businesses having to close by a certain time each day. On Sunday, Puerto Rico imposed a 9pm to 5am curfew -along with the closure of malls, movie theaters, gyms and bars, in what was then the strongest measure yet on American soil. Across major US cities Monday, normally bustling streets, transport networks and roads were eerily quiet as employees began the working week at home and children contemplated weeks with no classes to attend. New York -- the city that usually never sleeps -- was hunkering down for an extended period of inactivity with all nightclubs, theaters, cinemas and concert venues ordered to close from Tuesday. Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Sunday that the Big Apple’s normally hectic bars and restaurants would be restricted to take-out and delivery only. He also bowed to pressure and announced the closure of New York’s schools, which educate 1.1 million students, until April 20. - Island curfew In an interview with MSNBC Monday, he called on President Donald Trump’s government to increase testing, and speed up production of ventilators, surgical masks and hand sanitizer. “Right now we need a national solution. This should be a reality where the United States is put on a war footing,” he said, calling on the military to be deployed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed, not including day-today education or business activities.

Los Angeles is also closing bars, restaurants and nightclubs for at least two weeks, while California’s Governor Gavin Newsom asked people over the age of 65 to self-isolate. The governor of Illinois, which includes the city of Chicago, announced that all bars and restaurants would close until March 30. Several major Las Vegas casinos and hotels were shuttered, and party town New Orleans issued guidelines halving the capacity of bars and clubs. Schools, museums, and sports arenas have already been shut as Americans adjust to life in the time of COVID-19. Broadway’s lights dimmed last week while the major St Patrick’s Day parades in New York and Boston due Tuesday have been scrapped. “I think the lockdown is a good idea to get ahead of the virus. I’ll guess we’ll have to make some sacrifices,” 52-year-old freelancer Laura Gerlach told AFP at a New York deli. - Airline cuts In the US, 69 people have died and more than 3,800 have been infected, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. The economic impact is already being felt. The Fed announced emergency measures to shore up confidence Sunday, including cutting the key interest rate to almost zero. But that did little to reassure investors as stocks plunged more than 10 percent in early trading Monday on fears that the coronavirus outbreak could lead to a recession. United Airlines said it would cut capacity of around 50 percent for April and May while American Airlines said it would reduce all international capacity by 75 percent. Trump has regularly downplayed the threat of coronavirus, insisting that Americans should “relax.” In Sunday’s Democratic debate, White House hopefuls Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both attacked Trump’s response to the pandemic, accusing the president of undermining his own scientists with misinformation.

Page 6 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section A)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020


BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Closing all Mandirs in USA, Canada, Europe and Australia


s concerns around the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic grow, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, following the guidance of public health agencies, has decided to close all mandirs in USA, Canada, Europe and Australia, as well as suspend all public social and religious activities, including conferences, until further notice. These steps are being taken to proactively protect the health and safety of volunteers, visitors and local communities.

Maharaj, have always stressed the importance of family values, communication within the family, and using spirituality as a means to come together and find pragmatic solutions to everyday issues. Now is the time I apply them.” The organization is working closely with local authorities in towns and cities within which their mandirs are located. It will comply with local regulations and find ways to support the local community as they have during past calamities and disasters.

Although the drastic steps are necessitated by the nature of the pandemic, BAPS will continue to provide spiritual guidance to devotees and Hindus. At a time when prayer, reflection and family activities can bring calm, solace, and peace of mind, BAPS will be using novel means to hold its weekly assemblies and instructive activities for all age groups through interactive online forums.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

Bhavisha Modi, Realtor Associate in Princeton, New Jersey, said: “I find it very reassuring that we have found a way to continue my children’s weekly religious instruction in English, as well as the Gujarati assemblies that I attend on Sunday evenings online. There are even online webcasts planned to teach spiritual lessons together as a family. I find it amazing that these platforms were created globally in less than a week. It speaks volumes on the orga-

nization’s infrastructure. It also tional times, we have to find shows that we take our spiritual other ways. We realize that our life seriously.” gurus and seers insisted that we accompany each other and To prevent large gatherings, serve each other on the spirituBAPS mandirs will be closed al journey, but this calamity has throughout USA, Canada, Eu- changed the world – for the morope and Australia, but devo- ment. That doesn’t change the tees will be given daily darshan fact that my spiritual life gives through the websites of each me the wisdom I need to apmandir. Dr. Kashyap Patel, a proach the difficulties my family cardiologist in Atlanta, Geor- and I face. My gurus, His Holigia, said: “Satsang happens in ness Pramukh Swami Maharaj social settings. But in excep- and His Holiness Mahant Swami

Dr. Viral Desai, an optometrist in Houston, Texas, said: “The situation is unfortunate, but I find that I will use this time to come closer with my family through spiritual discussions, conversations, and bonding time. We have learned a lot of important

and practical concepts through Satsang. Now that we have more family time due to less travelling, I will be able to apply those concepts for stronger bonding.” BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha will continue to assess the situation and develop its guidelines regarding mandir visits and resuming activities based on recommendations from the CDC and local government authorities. Further information about individual mandir statuses can be found at: The spiritual leader of BAPS, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, has offered prayers in India for the well-being of all those affected by the pandemic. BAPS’s response to the pandemic hopes to show that spiritual continuity is possible in midst of social distancing.


Arya Samaj closed due to Coronavirus


OUSTON_ Arya Samaj Greater Houston is actively monitoring the Corona virus situation in Houston and we are taking preventive steps to safeguard the health of our community members. Effective immediately, all planned events and weekend activities in the premises are temporarily suspended until further notice. This includes Saturday yoga classes, Sunday Satsang, DAV Sanskriti School & Arya Yuva Mandal meeting. The planned Health Fair events on March 14th & April 4th will also be re-scheduled for a later date. Webinars will continue to be available and we are also

looking at the possibility of making Achyarya jis pravachan online. This step is important in keeping the health and wellness of our members as the first priority.

A separate communication will be made by Ms. Arti Khanna, to the parents and teachers in regards to The DAV Montessori & Elementary School. We are actively monitoring the situation in the Houston area and will keep you informed as the situation changes. Please stay informed via our Facebook page, email and WhatsApp communications.

Asia Society Texas Center closing temporarily


OUSTON - In support of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, we have taken the proactive step of temporarily closing Asia Society Texas Center.

Our building, exhibitions, and Pondi Café will remain closed until further notice. We have also cancelled or postponed all our remaining March and April public programs and events. This difficult decision was made out of caution to protect the public’s health and safety, and we are working with our speakers and artists to reschedule select programs for future dates.

496-9901) to request a refund or to exchange their tickets for a future program. Patrons are encouraged to consider donating their tickets back to Asia Society to support our mission during this critical time. While we are currently unable to offer on-site programming, we are mobilizing our digital resources to provide online content soon. Updates will be posted on our website and Facebook. Though we are closed, we are dedicated to caring for the well-being of our friends, volunteers, staff, and city. Our organization, especially during these challenging times, affirms the importance of community.

For patrons who already purchased a ticket for an upcoming Asia Society’s commitment is March or April program, they to provide a safe place for excelcan call the Front Desk (713- lent programming, and we look forward to visitors in the future.

Missouri City , TX- Announces

restrictions for bars & restaurants; animal shelter visits by appointment only; City Centre Events Cancelled Until End of the Month


n the wake of the latest national social distancing guidelines and increasing COVID-19 cases in the region, MCTX is working closely with local, state and national officials to implement proactive measures to ensure the safety of our residents.

Earlier today, Fort Bend County announced the restriction for restaurants to only provide take out, delivery, or drive-thru services as allowed by law and the closure of area bars and clubs through Wednesday, April 1. This updated order succeeds the initial order from Monday, March 16 which did allow limited dine-in options. View order via this link: http://bit. ly/3b3sWA1 Harris County issued the same order yesterday, which went into effect 8 a.m. today, March 17 through March 31. View order via this link: To abide by these orders and to limit public gatherings to groups of 10 people or less, MCTX is implementing the following changes in operations: Ø The Animal Shelter, 1923 Scanlin Rd., will schedule visitations by appointment only for the next 30 days. For questions, please call 281.403.8707. Ø The Quail Valley Golf Course, 2880 La Quinta Dr., remains open for play. The City Centre, at the same address, is cancelling all events until the end of the month. The Bluebonnet Grille is open for carry-out only. Ø The Recreation & Tennis Center, 2701 Cypress Point Dr., closure has been extended until Monday, April 13. For questions on registered events and refunds, call 281.403.8637. Ø All City parks are still open to the public. New pavilion rentals will not be scheduled until April 13; however, existing rentals will not be cancelled.

Assemblies at home

Serving the community for 32 years, since 1987

Inviting CPAs, Accountants, Financial Advisors to reach your next clients Every day Thousands of youngsters are becoming Tax Payers. Everybody must maintain their financial accountability File Tax Returns by April 15 of each year. This year it falls on April 15, Wednesday 2020

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13,000 copies over the other 2 newspapers combined every week Special discounted rates are offered for advertising in the Special issue. Discounted rates for advertisers for the remaining 17 weeks Special rates for advertisement in the web sites. E blast to over 10,000 subscribers at a lower rate Advertorials accepted on a discounted rate For prime spaces , wrap pages, special sizes etc. available

For information, Please call 713-774-5140 Email Web:

Page 7 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section A)


FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

WHO says ‘aggressive’ action The government wants to start sending millions of Americans a needed in SEAsia to stop virus check. Here’s how to use it wisely by Lorie Konish CNBC



ome good news – in the form of money – may be coming to Americans

On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the Trump administration plans to move “immediately” to send money to Americans as the coronavirus cripples the economy. “Americans need cash now,” AndreyPopov | Getty Images Mnuchin said, indicating checks could come in the next two weeks. The announcement follows much discussion over how the government could act to help shore up American workers’ bank balances now, with so many businesses temporarily closed or operating at reduced capacities. A thousand dollars for everyone Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said this week that he wants the government to send every adult $1,000. Details on how big the checks the Trump administration hopes to deploy have not been disclosed. Of course, any plans would need a green light from Congress. “The basic idea of getting money into the economy very quickly is a good idea,” said Leonard Burman, institute fellow at the Urban Institute, a non-partisan think tank, and co-founder of the Tax Policy Center. It is also an improvement over potential payroll tax cuts, another idea that has been touted by the Trump administration and others in recent weeks. “The ideal thing would be to target the payments [at] the people who are most vulnerable, the people who lose their jobs who are working in industries that are severely affected by the coronavirus,” Burman said. “It’s hard to set up something to do that right away.” Whether and how the extra income is taxed will also depend on the terms of the program. Burman said he thinks making

that extra income subject to inOne thing to remember about a come taxes is a smart move. That universal plan to pay all Ameriway, he said, it would put a greatcans is that it is not based on fier burden on high earners to pay nancial need. more of it back. It would also increase state income tax bases that “It’s going to be too much for will be hurt in a recession. some of them and not enough for others,” Burman said. For individuals, the big question is: How can I best use this money “If you wanted to really make a wisely? difference in a bunch of families’ The answer depends on your lives right now, and you absopersonal situation. Obviously, lutely didn’t need those dollars, I don’t ignore critical expenses like would really consider passing that rent, utilities or any other essenalong to an organization that does tial bill. a lot of good for a lot of people,” Boudreaux said. Beyond that, “the majority of people should probably keep it in In the aftermath of Hurricane their checking account or savings Katrina, Boudreaux saw firsthand account temporarily,” said finanhow payments from organizacial advisor Winnie Sun, founder tions like the Federal Emergency of Sun Group Wealth Partners in Management Agency and the Red Irvine, California. Cross helped prop up the local economy. Another option is that if you have high-interest credit card, or “It was super-beneficial to be other, debt. In that case, you want able to have that just to weather to try to pay down some of those the immediate storm,” said Boubalances, Sun said. dreaux, whose own family received about $2,000 in support. Should you invest or spend? If you’re near retirement, you Having that check in hand can definitely want to keep the extra allow people to start asking themcash on hand. But if you’re in your selves what their next move will 20s or 30s, you may want to invest be and where they can find work the money toward your retirement now, he said. by putting it in a Roth individual retirement account, Sun suggest“It’s the difference between just ed. being constantly in a fear and reactive state to the ability to shift “If you went and bought XYZ and start to move forward again,” mutual fund or put it into your Boudreaux said. IRA, I’m sure that in 20 years that would turn out to be a great If you don’t need the money, you thing,” said certified financial may want to consider donating to planner Jude Boudreaux, senior a charity that’s directly involved financial planner at The Planning in relief efforts or to your local Center in New Orleans. food bank, Boudreaux suggested.

A border officer takes a woman’s temperature at a customs checkpoint in Sungai Kolok in southern Thailand on the border with Malaysia on March 15 (AFP Photo/Madaree TOHLALA)


EW DELHI | AFP | Tuesday 3/17/2020 - The World Health Organization called for “aggressive” action in Southeast Asia to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus, warning Tuesday that some countries were heading towards community transmission of the deadly disease.

Infections have soared across the region in recent weeks, forcing several countries to introduce drastic measures ranging from closing their borders to foreign arrivals and imposing nighttime curfews to closing schools and cancelling sports events. There are concerns that weaker public health care systems in many Southeast Asian countries will be unable to cope with a major outbreak. “We need to immediately scale

up all efforts to prevent the virus from infecting more people,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s regional director. “More clusters of virus transmission are being confirmed. While this is an indication of an alert and effective surveillance, it also puts the spotlight on the need for more aggressive and whole of society efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19,” she said. “We clearly need to do more, and urgently.” Malaysia has the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia with 673 cases, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Many of the country’s infections have been linked to a

global Islamic event held last month and attended by almost 20,000 people. On Monday, the prime minister announced a ban on Malaysians travelling overseas. Singh said simple measures such as washing hands and social distancing were “critical” in the fight against the virus and could “substantially reduce transmission”. Since the virus first emerged in China in December, 7,408 people have died around the world, according to an AFP tally based on official sources. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said more than 180,000 cases had been confirmed worldwide as of Tuesday.

India closes Taj Mahal to visitors over coronavirus fears

Pakistani pilgrims decry squalid coronavirus quarantine camp by Fatima Kaneez


AHORE | AFP | 3/18/2020 - Hundreds of Pakistanis who returned home from a pilgrimage to Iran are stuck in filthy coronavirus quarantine camps with limited medical care, and fear squalid conditions are helping spread the disease.

Speaking to AFP, current and former residents of Taftan camp on the border with Iran said the facility lacks running water or flushable toilets, with detainees only able to wash every few days. Government figures show half of the 241 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Pakistan are in people who went on pilgrimages to Iran -- one of the countries hardest-hit by the disease. Pakistan shares a 960-kilometre (600-mile) border with Iran, with the main crossing point at Taftan in Balochistan province. “I have been using the same mask for over seven days now,” one quarantined pilgrim at Taftan, who asked not to be named, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “If I didn’t have the virus when I first got here, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I have it now.” Iran has been scrambling to contain COVID-19 since authorities announced the first two deaths last month. Nearly 1,000 people have since died, making Iran the third-hardest-hit country after China and Italy. The Taftan border has been closed since March 16, but thousands of Pakistan Shi’ite pilgrims who were visiting religious sites in Iran have been allowed to return subject to two weeks’ quarantine. They are then also expected

Taj Mahal closed to visitors from Tuesday to combat the coronavirus pandemic. AFP File photo


EW DELHI | AFP | - India will close the iconic Taj Mahal to visitors Soldiers guard a road leading to the Taftan quarantine facility (AFP from Tuesday as part of measures Photo/Shahid ALI) to try and combat the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism ministry said on Monday. to undergo a further two weeks others just fled.

quarantine in their home towns. Taftan was built years ago specifically as a resting station for returning pilgrims, but has been overwhelmed by the crush caused by the virus. Videos circulating on social media show people sleeping on floors and in corridors of permanent structures, and packed into tents erected in a dirty courtyard. No attempt has been made to separate sick pilgrims from the healthy. - ‘Worse than animals’ Officials say about 4,600 people are currently being held in Taftan. About 1,800 others have been transferred to their home districts for a further two-week quarantine. In Sukkur in southern Sindh province, some 172 people have tested positive for coronavirus since spending time in Taftan. Witnesses said people confined there staged protests this week to demand better conditions, while

Security forces had to fire warning shots to bring things under control. Ishtiaq Hussain, a university student from Tehran, was one of those who walked out of Taftan. He was never tested for coronavirus. He said people were treated “worse than animals”, often being given “spoilt food” and left in “freezing camps with very few blankets”. Najeeb Qambrani, assistant commissioner in Taftan, said the camp’s remote location made it difficult to provide amenities. “We are providing all the possible facilities,” he said. But former Taftan confinee Naimat Ali Khaki said conditions were unacceptable. “There was no cleanliness and it was so overcrowded that we were literally walking over each other,” Khaki said. He is still waiting for results of a coronavirus test.

Most schools and entertainment facilities, including cinemas, have already been closed across India, the world’s second-most populous country with 1.3 billion people. The South Asian nation has reported 114 positive cases and two deaths from the virus. Worldwide, the number of deaths has passed 6,500 with more than 168,000 infections in 142 countries and territories. “All ticketed monuments and all other museums have been di-

rected to be closed until March 31,” Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel tweeted late Monday. The UN cultural agency UNESCO calls the white marble Taj the “jewel of Muslim art”. US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania visited the site last month during his official visit to India. India has also suspended all incoming tourists, and will bar passengers of flights from the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom from Wednesday. Travellers coming from or transiting through the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine when they

arrive in India, the government announced late Monday. Arrivals from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany are already subject to similar restrictions, while most border points with neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar have been shut. The closure of the Taj came as the central bank, after an emergency meeting, said Monday it would boost cash injections into financial markets by one trillion rupees ($13.5 billion) to address the economic impact of the pandemic. The Reserve Bank of India also announced another round of foreign-currency swap to inject $2 billion into the market to stabilise the rupee, which fell to record lows last week.

Page 8 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section A)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020


Fort Bend View

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

Section 2

Sugar Land, Katy, Stafford, Missouri City, Richmond, Rosenberg and Meadows Place Email:

Tel: 713-774-5140

Fort Bend County issues order to close bars, limit restaurant service during coronavirus emergency

Return from Spring Break postponed until further notice for Katy ISD students and staff

ort Bend County is following suit with many of the country’s largest cities as the world continues to respond to the spread of the coronavirus by issuing an order to close bars and limit restaurant service.

ATY, March 12, 2020 – Over the past few weeks, Katy ISD has been actively monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation and has remained in constant contact with health officials who have been providing guidance and recommendations. Because the safety of students, staff and families is a top priority, Katy ISD have decided to act out of an abundance of caution to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing by postponing the return from spring break by at least one week.


Monday night, health officials issued a set of guidelines for the public to follow through April 1, or until otherwise noted, but less than a day later, the county issued the new order to enforce the public gathering restrictions. The order, which was issued by Fort Bend County Judge KP George, Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Director and Local Health Authority Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson Minter and other county officials, goes into effect at midnight Tuesday and will expire on March 31 at midnight unless terminated or modified. The order says: Restaurants with or without drive-in or drive-through services and microbreweries, micro-distilleries, or wineries may only provide take out, delivery, or drive-through services as allowed by law Bars, nightclubs, lounges, taverns, arcades and private clubs shall close What they said: KP George: “Minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is something that government officials cannot do alone. Enacting this order will protect our frontline emergency and medical personnel and those at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. From The White House to our regional partners, we agree that this situation requires all of us, including the young and healthy, to follow and make sacrifices if our community is going to remain healthy and intact. We must listen to the science, data, and medical experts to ensure we do all that we can to flatten the curve and spread of COVID-19.” Minter: “We need to protect our parents, grandparents, and those who have chronic medical conditions. It will take the entire community to slow the spread of

Fort Bend County Judge KP George (Photo: Facebook)

COVID-19. Science shows that proactive measures like this help flatten the curve and slow spread of COVID-19, especially when there is evidence of community spread in our region.” Fort Bend County Hotlines: General Public Line: 281-6337795 Physician and Community Partner Line: 281-344-6118 Coronavirus symptoms The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild. But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk. The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed. • Human coronaviruses are usually spread through... • The air by coughing or sneezing • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands • Touching an object or sur-

• • • • • • • •

• • • •

face with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands. Help stop the spread of coronavirus Stay home when you are sick. Eat and sleep separately from your family members Use different utensils and dishes Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash. Lower your risk Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.


practices and competitions are postponed beginning Friday March 13, 2020 and throughout the closure. Katy ISD will keep our community informed on whether the temporary closure will need to extend beyond March 22. Currently, the District is reviewing and considering options for resuming instruction via online virtual learning should the District need to extend the closure. Information will be shared about this soon.

The temporary closure will allow the District, state and local Likewise, all campus events, health officials to better evaluate field trips, student trips and UIL the extent of COVID-19 spread

within our community and ensure that those needing to self-quarantine can do so prior to returning to school. Information concerning COVID-19 and the impact in the Greater Houston area is rapidly evolving. As such, Katy ISD will continue to provide updated information to our students, staff and families throughout the week. Katy ISD knows parents may also be concerned about instruction, attendance and exemptions during the extended break. Information about these items will be available on the Katy ISD Health Update web page within the coming week.

Fort Bend ISD to suspend normal operations through April 10


ORT BEND ISD, March 16, 2020 - Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles E. Dupre has announced that Fort Bend ISD will extend the suspension of normal district operations through Friday, April 10 in an effort to support the nation’s need to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Houston area continues to see an increasing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and health officials report that this number is expected to continue to increase as more test-

ing is made available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined the need for all communities to implement a social distancing protocol, and they have provided guidance about the considerations related to closing schools. The President has just publicly shared that the community should not gather in groups larger than 10 people. “The District will remain flexible as leaders plan for long-term delivery of instruction and continues to navigate

the many details of this unprecedented situation. “Please continue to monitor your email and visit the District’s website and social media channels for more information on plans to deliver instruction and information on our feeding program. The health of Fort Bend ISD’s students, staff and community is the District’s top priority and District leaders are working to ensure the community has the most current information available.”

‘Just show up, no questions asked’: School districts give out free food to students


n Fort Bend County, FBISD “Tomorrow, I may check in the “I want them to get it under is distributing meals to any neighborhood and see if there control as soon as possible,” said student 18 and under no mat- are any other kids that need a one parent. ter where they’re enrolled and all ride,” said Dean. Houston ISD, in conjunction special needs students of any age.

“It’s good,” Dulles High deaf education student Tristan Dean told us. He and his grandmother, Sandra Dean, came by one of 11 district-wide distribution sites.

Districts are discussing what might happen if closures are extended beyond the end of this month. Which is something many hope doesn’t happen.

with the Houston Food Bank, is also distributing free meals during what will become an extended Spring Break. The line stretched down the block outside Milby High School Monday morning.

Page 10 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section B)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020



Disney closes US and Paris theme parks, delays ‘Mulan’ over virus by Andrew Marszal


OS ANGELES | AFP | 3/12/2020 - Disney will close its giant theme parks in Florida, California and Paris and pull the releases of major blockbusters including “Mulan” over the coronavirus, it announced Thursday.

The resorts are among the largest theme parks in the world, each drawing tens of thousands of visitors each day. They will remain shut at least until the end of March. “In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure,” a Disney spokesperson said. The closure of Disneyland in Anaheim from Saturday was announced first, after California officials called for large gatherings to be canceled across the state to slow the spread of the pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom said Disney had “made the right call in the interest of public health

In this picture taken on March 12, 2020, Bollywood actress Disha Patani poses during the success party of her Hindi film ‘Malang’ in Mumbai. Sujit Jaiswal / AFP

A still from the film“Mulan”

and agreed to shut down their Hours later the company said Hotels on those sites will remain California parks.” Walt Disney World in Florida open for now. “Expect more announcements and Disneyland Paris would shut The flagship Magic Kingdom from close of business Sunday. theme park at Disney World like this shortly,” he added. drew more than 20 million visitors in 2018 -- the highest number in the world. Disney’s cruise line will stop new departures from Saturday until the end of March. The US theatrical release of Disney’s upcoming “Mulan” was also pulled, along with two other Mouse House titles, “The New Mutants” and “Antlers.” All three films were postponed indefinitely as Disney determines new release dates, with potential theater slots later this year being considered. “Mulan,” a live-action remake of the 1998 animation based on the tale of a legendary Chinese warrior, had already had its red-carpet premiere in Los Angeles on Monday, and was set to hit US theaters in two weeks. - Events canceled Harvey Weinstein was brought from the notorious Rikers Island jail into the Manhattan criminal court in a wheelchair (AFP Photo/Johannes The Disney moves follow a Eisele). string of high-profile postponements and cancellations in Calpower for his predicament. The sentencing completed a ifornia including the Coachella desert music festival, the Beverly “I was the first example and dramatic fall from grace for the Hills Film Festival, and the Wontitan-turned-pariah, who lost now there are thousands of men derCon pop culture gathering. being accused. I’m worried much of his $150 million fortune fighting allegations that Universal Studios Hollywood, about this country,” he added. surfaced in October 2017. another major theme park in Los Nearly 90 women, includ- Angeles, also announced it will ing Angelina Jolie and Salma temporarily close beginning SatHayek, have come forward al- urday, until at least March 28.

Harvey Weinstein jailed for 23 years by Thomas Urbain


EW YORK | AFP | Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault Wednesday, capping a sensational downfall for the once-powerful producer in a landmark case for the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein, who turns 68 next week, faces spending the rest of his life behind bars after New York Justice James Burke rebuffed his pleas for the minimum five-year sentence. The judge, issuing a heavy term close to the maximum 29 years allowed, was unmoved by a rambling statement Weinstein made to the court in which he failed to express any remorse for his actions or apologize to victims. “I’m totally confused,” Weinstein said, before blaming the #MeToo global reckoning against men abusing positions of

Aussies chide Tom Hanks over his quarantine Vegemite diet ‘Game of Thrones’ actor tests positive for coronavirus

Disha Patani, cast celebrate success of Hindi film ‘Malang’


UMBAI The “Malang,” team celebrated the film’s success followed by a grand party March 12. Disha Patani and Aditya Roy Kapur who are in lead roles in the film were joined by stars Anil Kapoor who is also in a lead role.

Directed by Mohit Suri, the

film is a love story which begins with Advait (Aditya Roy Kapur) who visits Goa where he meets Sara, a free-spirited girl who lives life unshackled. Opposites attract and all goes well until life turns upside down. Years later, Advait is on a killing spree with cops Aghase and Michael in his way.

Anil Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur in Malang (Image: Instagram)

British actor Idris Elba tests positive for coronavirus

Actor Idris Elba arrives for the world premiere of the movie “Cats” in Manhattan, New York. REUTERS

US actor Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson arrive for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (AFP/Robyn Beck)


OLD COAST, Australia | AFP | 3/15/2020 - Quarantined US actor Tom Hanks has prompted a wave of gentle ribbing from his Australian hosts concerned about his fervid use of their beloved Vegemite spread.

Aussies was immediate. “WHERE WERE THESE HELPERS WHEN TOO MUCH VEGEMITE WAS BEING SPREAD ON THAT TOAST??????,” tweeted Melbourne comedian Kirsty Webeck.

Hanks has been in hospital iso“Okay you need to scrape lation with his wife Rita Wilson since they tested positive for around 60% of that vegemite off, otherwise it’s gonna be nasty and coronavirus last week. hurt your mouth friend,” warned On Sunday he posted a pho- Amy Thunig. to showing two pieces of toast “Cripes, we’ve given him corosmothered in Vegemite, a salty navirus *and* Vegemite,” added and pungent paste made from Greg Jericho, a Canberra-based yeast extract. journalist. “Thanks to the Helpers. Let’s Hanks and Wilson, both 63, take care of ourselves and each were isolated in hospital on the other,” Hanks wrote in the social Gold Coast south of Brisbane media post alongside a photo of a last week. crushed Vegemite tube, a kangaroo doll and the thickly slathered Hanks was in Australia for toast, with a large bite missing filming of a biopic about Elvis from one piece. Presley in which he was due to The response from bemused portray the singer’s longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker.


EW YORK | AFP | 3/16/2020 - British actor Idris Elba is the latest celebrity to test positive for coroSLO, Norway | AFP | pitals,” he said. navirus, tweeting in a video Mon3/17/2020 - The ‘Game day that he had no symptoms yet A number of other Hollywood of Thrones’ actor Krisbut was quarantining. celebrities have tested positive tofer Hivju, who played the role of for the virus, including US actor “It sucks,” the 47-year-old Tormund, has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is doing Tom Hanks, who was released said in a clip, saying he got testwell, the Norwegian said in an In- from an Australian hospital on ed Friday because he realized Tuesday after being held in iso- he’d had exposure from somestagram post. Kristofer Hivju of ‘Game of Thrones’ says he has coronavirus.


lation since last week. one who also tested positive. The 41-year-old known for his On Monday, Norway said fiery red hair and beard said he “Listen, I’m doing okay,” Elba and his family were in self-isola- 1,308 cases had been detected said, before telling fans “this is and three people have died in the tion at home. serious.” Scandinavian country. “We are in good health -- I only have mild symptoms of a cold,” he wrote in a message accompanied by a photograph of him with his smiling wife, Gry Molvaer Hivju. The actor, whose major breakthrough came with the hit series, took the opportunity to remind his followers of good habits to practice in coronavirus times: wash hands, keep a social distance of 1.5 metres, and respect quarantaine rules, among other things. “Together we can fight this virus and avert a crisis at our hos-

“Now’s the time to really think about social distancing, washing your hands,” he continued. “There are people out there who aren’t showing symptoms and that can easily spread it. “Transparency is probably the best thing for this right now.” Elba encouraged anyone who felt ill to hunker down and get a test if possible, while also voicing solidarity with others who have the virus that’s left at least 175,530 people infected, with 7,007 deaths worldwide.

Page 11 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section B)


New breed of US survivalists prepped for collapse

To Postpone or Cancel? Brides around the world are weighing their options amid the Coronavirus

by Sébastien Duval


ATHIAS, West Virginia | AFP | Tuesday 3/16/2020 - The narrow, worn track in West Virginia, close to the foothills of the Appalachians, leads to a camp set back in the woods, where a group of US survivalists began preparing for the collapse of civilization long before the arrival of the new coronavirus that has brought so much of the world to a halt.

Boxes full of family-size tins of food, bags of freeze-dried victuals that can last up to 25 years, rice, flour... the survivalists did not wait for the wave of panic-buying that has emptied shelves across the country: their provisions were already neatly stacked up in a bunker made of reinforced concrete and dug a meter (yard) into the ground. Ever-ready, they even have ample supplies of two of the most sought-after commodities in the jittery country: toilet paper and face masks. “It’s worth a lot of money now!” joked Steve Rene, presenting the 100-acre (40 hectares) site that he manages as though it were a holiday camp. Which it kind of is. The Fortitude Ranch’s motto embraces both End Times and more normal times: “Prepare for the Worst... Enjoy the Present!” Members have up to two weeks each year to revel in this rural retreat, enjoying nature, hiking or trout fishing in the appropriately named Lost River. Friendly and clear-headed, Rene, the manager of the West Virginia site -- there is another branch in Colorado -- tries from the outset to sweep away the cliches surrounding survivalists, also known as “preppers” for their constant Doomsday preparations. “It’s not a bunch of crazy people with this idea that tomorrow the world ends,” he said.

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

by Elise Taylor


rittany Kraft is supposed to get married on May 15 in Tuscany, Italy. But as COVID-19 upends life everywhere, especially in Italy, it’s a date that’s seeming, with every passing day, more of an improbability. “All that matters is that we get married, however that happens. These things are materialistic,” Kraft says, noting a sincere Photo: Nicholas Kamm concern for the health of her family, friends, and those across the globe.

- Collapse, uprising “We’re not militaristic. We have no ties with militias, anything like that,” he insisted, although his past military service -– he served in Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf in 1991 -– is evident from the impeccably ironed brown shirt he wears. Nevertheless, there are lookout posts in all four corners of the property, and there is a high-caliber rifle, capable of stopping an armored vehicle, in the ranch’s living room to convince wouldbe new recruits of just how seriously the members take this enterprise. “Desperate people do desperate things,” said the manager, standing among the bare early spring trees. More than foreign invaders, the survivalists view their main threat as fellow Americans rushing out to steal their provisions if public order collapses as a result of a nuclear or biological weapons strike, an economic implosion, a political uprising, a pandemic or a mix of any of the above. “Obviously that’s not very likely, but the possibility exists,” said Rene. “If you’re not prepared in some way, you have just nowhere to go, nothing to do. Everybody

scrambles and lots of things get out of hand.” A committee of five people, including Rene, would decide in an emergency whether to declare a “catastrophe scenario,” in which case all the members would be invited to retire to the barricaded camp, after which entry would only be permitted upon production of a secret password. In the case of an epidemic, the temperature of each new arrival would be monitored with a no-contact thermometer before they can enter to enjoy free access to a self-sustaining ecosystem that includes wells, solar panels, radio equipment, greenhouses, locally sourced chickens, goats and cows and a ditch where possible contaminated bodies can be incinerated. - ‘Life insurance’ The creator of the Fortitude Ranch franchise, Drew Miller, is a former military intelligence expert and Harvard graduate who hopes to establish a dozen such retreats across the United States. As opposed to the “luxury bunkers” that the super-rich are building themselves, the entrepreneur is aiming clearly at the middle-class market. People pay at least $1,000 per year, per person, for the basic package: a berth in a bunker dormitory.

Yet, of course, she’s disappointed, she says: “I remember one day I looked at [my fiancé] Andrew and I was like, ‘This is silly at the end of the day.’ And he just looked at me and he said, ‘It’s okay to be upset.’ I started bawling. You don’t want to be a bridezilla, and there are worse things in the world. But it’s actually the amount of work that you put into it, the imagination that you have, and, you know, actually getting married.” Brides and grooms around the world are echoing the same sentiments: a worry for those everywhere, and understanding that their wedding, in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, is not all that big in the grand scheme of things. But considering they have spent the past months or years committing their time, money, and energy to an occasion that was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, it still, to put it bluntly, sucks. Canada-based bride Shirin Mirsaeidi’s place cards and menus had already arrived at her house for the wedding she planned to have on March 28 in Mexico. But, less than two weeks before the wedding, she was forced to cancel. “We didn’t feel right putting people in danger and then contributing to the problem,” she says of her decision. “There was a chance that our friends that were coming would get quarantined from their kids when they returned. It’s hard to keep perspective, but compared to what everyone else is dealing with, postponing a wedding is not that crazy.” And it’s not just the couples that are feeling upended. “Obviously, no one wants to change their wedding date, but this is something no one can control. We’re trying to be as flexible as

Brides and grooms around the world are echoing the same sentiments: a worry for those everywhere, and understanding that their wedding, in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Wikipedia)

possible and asking our partners to be flexible as possible. But it’s tough,” Luis Otoya, of Matthew Robbins Designs, said on Thursday, March 12, less than 24 hours after President Trump announced a European travel ban. He, and all event planners, are dealing with constant breaking news—borders closing, vendors temporarily shuttering, government bans on party sizes—and what that means for their upcoming events. But even those with weddings further out in 2020 feel stuck in limbo. Elaine Purcell, a New York City bride, is supposed to have a September wedding in Puglia, Italy. As the country continues to battle with its public health crisis, she’s unsure how to move forward. “Everyone’s in a holding pattern,” she says of her vendors and venue. “We completely understand everything is out of their hands.” Still, due to the faraway locale, her family and friends will soon need to book their travel. “I’m sure they want answers from me. That’s where my anxiety is at.” Kathryn Arce, a founder of wedding consulting firm Engaging Concepts, recently held an industry conference in Dubai. The new coronavirus was, understandably, all anyone could talk about right now. “Things are usually affecting one group or another,” she says. “But this is someone that is affecting everybody.” She and her cofounder, Rebecca Grinnals, are especially

concerned about the economic impact. “The wedding industry is largely made up of boutique, small-, or medium-size businesses,” Grinnals says, most of which will be simply forgoing work while gatherings are off the table. Do they have any advice for brides- and grooms-to-be planning a wedding right now? One: Make sure you have an experienced team. “Having a planner who is well connected is going to be very helpful to help you navigate any of those changes along the way,” says Arce. Two: Get event and venue insurance, and make sure it covers this type of specific cancellation. (You need to ask, “Will this include risks involved in the coronavirus?” Michael Giusti, a senior writer for, tells Vogue. “Also be on the lookout for clauses like ‘disinclination to travel.’ What that’s saying is if someone simply doesn’t want to travel, that’s not going to be covered.”) Grinnals does have some words of hope: “People are not going to not get married. The weddings may look different. They may be at a different time. They may be in a different location. They may be a different size or scale. But they’re not going to not get married.” Whether some relatives call in via Zoom or couples spend the day with only a handful of their nearest and dearest, innovative solutions are sure to abound eventually. -Vogue


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Page 12 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section B)

Young Life

Section 2


FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

Tel: 713-774-5140

Children less sick from COVID-19, but still spread the virus

Degrees of anxiety: As college classrooms empty, students fear for educations, jobs

by Amélie Bottollier-Depois / Marlowe Hood

Texas universities are moving online, but how do you learn circuit welding or vocal ensemble by videoconference? What happens when campus jobs dry up? And will anyone get to walk the stage come graduation day?


ARIS, France | AFP | Saturday 3/13/2020 - For reasons unknown, children rarely have severe symptoms when infected by COVID-19 and may even be a bit less likely to get the disease in the first place, experts told AFP.

But that doesn’t mean infants, toddlers and teens are not carriers for the new coronavirus, which jumped from animals to humans in central China at the end of last year. As of Friday, there were over 140,000 confirmed cases in 124 countries, with more than 5,000 deaths. Experts estimate that the true number of infections -- many with mild or no symptoms -- is far higher. “We know children get infected with the virus, but they don’t appear to get very sick or die,” said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “What we don’t know is how much these asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic kids transmit,” he told AFP. “This is key to understanding their role in the epidemic.” In a study from mid-February of 44,000 confirmed cases in and around the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began, the 10-to-19 age bracket made up one percent of infections and a single death. Patients under 10 comprised less than one percent, with no deaths reported. “We are still trying to wrap our heads around the deficit of cases among those under 20,” said Cecile Viboud, an epidemiologist at the US National Institute of Health’s Fogarty International Centre. There are several theories as to why kids, especially young ones, are less prone to serious symptoms. “Children see so many illnesses in the first years of life that their immune systems are tuned up and respond nicely to novel infection,” commented Sharon

by Shannon Najmabadi


lasses are moving online. Students are moving out. Graduation ceremonies may be canceled.

A new study looking at ten children in China with COVID-19 has provided more evidence that the disease is mild in children. What does an infectious diseases pediatrician think about the new work? (Getty Images)

Nachman, head of paediatric infectious disease at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in New York state. Whatever the reason, how easily children transmit the disease despite their relative imperviousness to illness “is directly relevant to the idea of closing schools,” according to Viboud. - ‘Flattening the curve’ On Thursday French President Emmanuel Macron said all schools in France -- from kindergarten to college -- would shut their doors as of Monday, until further notice. So far, 29 countries -- including Ireland, China, Italy, Poland and Japan -- have suspended classes nationwide, affecting nearly 400 million kids, according to UNESCO. Another 20 nations having taken partial measures. Some argue that locking children out of the classroom is not worth the social disruption caused, and that keeping kids at home may further expose older people to the disease. “It might make the epidemic or the ability to manage the consequences worse,” suggested Keith Neal, an emeritus professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham. It could, for example, result in a reduction in the number of healthcare workers to care for

the sick, and “an increase in grandparents delivering childcare -- an age group at much greater risk,” he told AFP. Thomas House, a statistician at the University of Manchester, said there are pros and cons. “It helps to contain the spread of infection, but it creates a wider problem in society, like missing out on an education,” he said. But most experts come down in favour of shuttering schools in order to slow the disease’s progress and distribute the number of critical cases over a longer time period in order to avoid overwhelming critical care units in hospitals, as happened in Wuhan and Italy. Doctors in both places described war-like triage in which they incubated a patient on the last available respirator knowing that one or more others in equal need was likely to die. For Nachman, pulling children out of school is “a very reasonable measure.” “We assume that all children will get infection,” she said in an interview. “But if they pass it to their parents and household contacts, it will be over a longer period of time.” “Instead of getting a hundred people sick tomorrow, we’ll get ten sick for the next ten days, which means less people coming into the hospital all at once.”

The importance of youth lobbying Opinion by Riya Sharma


efore the Legislature adjourned Thursday, I was in Olympia for Youth Climate Lobby Day. Throughout the Washington-style hailstorm, we stood on the steps of the Capitol Building, rallying for justice and change before splitting into our meetings for the day. Hours of waiting and ushering from one office to another taught me the deeply vested power in youth influence.

We have the inspiration and motivation that many of our legislators lack. Lobbying allows us to affect social change on several levels of jurisdiction. We have a constitutional right to be heard — and yes, there are voices that

are always institutionally more powerful than others, but that’s what I believe stops most of us from trying. And rightfully so. I would be crazy to think that my 15-minute meeting with an adult climate-change denier sitting in elected office actually changed any part of his thinking. Do I think he will vote differently because a 16-year-old cried in front of his desk about low carbon-fuel standards? No. But it matters. Lobbying is not a waste of time, and let me tell you why. However, citizen lobbying forces have notably different, and often more influential, weight and power. Young people are central to these local law-

makers’ strategies, whether they choose to recognize it or not. A push for people-powered politics encourages youth and citizen involvement in the government. In turn, we franchise and invest in our democracy, allowing us to build stronger communities. So yes, the people who sit in office sometimes seem like they breathe a different, more elite, air. Their all-knowing, powerful signatures, hidden behind floors of staffers, may seem like a demeaning faraway world. But do not let yourself forget that they work for you. We are their bosses, and we have absolutely every right to be heard. - Seattle Times

The changes wrought by the novel coronavirus for students at Texas colleges and universities won’t be fully known for months. But the outbreak has already thrown students into a state of anxious uncertainty as they grapple with a college experience now confined to laptops or rapidly emptying campuses. Students are wondering what will happen to their jobs, whether they will get refunds for campus accoutrements they’ll no longer use, and what remote classes will look like in equipment-heavy fields like art and chemistry. “I’ve been trying to keep myself calm and just worry about things that I can control,” said Hira Ali, a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso, who is concerned remote classes will leave her ill prepared for graduate school. “We’ll see what happens, and we’ll try and figure it out from there.” Ali is glad classes moved online; she’s worried about infecting her grandmother, with whom she lives. But she’s disappointed a conference she spent all semester planning has been canceled, and said she’ll miss in-person interactions with professors she wanted to ask for letters of rec-

ommendation. Most of all, Ali hopes the virus won’t rob her of the chance to walk in UTEP’s commencement — a dream her mother held before she died. “It’s really heartbreaking,” Ali said. The university has not changed its plans for commencement yet, UTEP spokesperson Victor Arreola said, and “is offering extensive training for faculty to transition their courses to distance or hybrid format. Students can be assured that the education they receive at UTEP will continue to be of the highest quality.” UTEP is one of dozens of colleges that announced last week they would extend spring break and move courses online in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic now forcing entire European cities into partial lockdowns. At some universities, students are leaving, dormitories are shuttering and professors are quickly cobbling together virtual classes. “It’s very weird to think that Thursday when I was on campus to go to class … could very well be the last time I am on campus as a student,” said Jake Salinas, a senior at St. Edward’s University in Austin, which has moved classes online until April 4 at least. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster Friday, and cities across the state have canceled events and restricted large gatherings. As of Monday

afternoon there were at least 69 cases in Texas, 3,927 in the United States and at least two confirmed at Texas colleges — a staff member at Rice University and a student at the University of Texas at Arlington. (The Texas figure is based on data from the state and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are likely more unconfirmed cases, given that there are examples of community spread and limited testing capacity.) Many campuses say they’re sanitizing aggressively, and they have restricted travel and canceled events, including sports games. Similar measures are rippling across the country as universities try to mitigate the risks posed by the large group settings and close living quarters that are foundational to many college experiences. Campuses on the west and east coasts were earlier to react. Texas universities have taken a more moderate approach. Rice and Trinity universities both asked students to move out within two weeks, and they are offering refunds for campus housing and letting people with nowhere to go petition to stay. Most campuses, though, are moving classes online — be it for a week, a month or the entire semester — and keeping their dormitories and dining halls open. - The Texas Tribune

Page 13 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section B)

Section 2



Trump says US economy ‘may be’ heading to recession


ASHINGTON - President Trump on Monday said the U.S. economy could be slowing into a recession as businesses across the country shutter to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It may be,” Trump said during a Monday press conference, adding he was focused more on the virus than the economy. “I think there’s a tremendous pent-up demand both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump continued. “Once this goes away, once it goes through and we’re done with it, I think you’re going to see a tremendous surge.” Even so, Trump acknowledged that the virus could continue to spread through August and hinder economic activity through the summer. “I don’t, number one, determine reces-

sion,” Trump said. “I just say this: We have an invisible enemy. We have a problem that, a month ago, nobody ever thought about.”

The steadily rising number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the pandemic’s economic impact have crashed U.S. stocks, sent shockwaves through financial markets and Trump’s comments come as raised the risk of recession to a state and local officials close or near certainty. restrict business at restaurants, bars and retail stores across the Millions of Americans emcountry to help mitigate the toll ployed in the dining and hosof the pandemic. The sudden pitality, retail, travel, and entershutdown of much of the con- tainment industries are likely sumer economy is likely to cause to lose their jobs or face severe a surge in unemployment and a reductions in hours, economists decline in consumer spending, say, while other workers may be according to economists, likely forced to stay at home to care causing a recession. for sick loved ones or children whose schools have closed. Stocks plummeted even further after a Monday morning As the economy craters, Trump plunge following Trump’s com- and lawmakers are under growments, with the Dow Jones In- ing pressure to pass a massive dustrial Average closing rough- economic rescue plan that would ly 3,000 points down, a 12.9 support workers and businesses percent drop. The S&P 500 fell facing financial peril due to the 11.9 percent, and the Nasdaq pandemic. composite sunk 12.3 percent.

US Fed announces credit facility to help businesses, households


ASHINGTON | AFP | Tuesday 3/17/2020 - The US Federal Reserve on Tuesday unveiled a new credit facility to help households and business stay afloat as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to undermine the world’s largest economy.

The program, authorized by the US Treasury, is aimed at commercial paper, which finances things like auto loans and home mortgages, a market that “has been under considerable strain in recent days as businesses and households face greater uncertainty in light of the coronavirus outbreak.” “By ensuring the smooth functioning of this market, particularly in times of strain, the Federal Reserve is providing credit that will support families, businesses, and jobs across the economy,” the Fed said in a statement. That in turn “will enhance the ability of businesses to maintain employment and investment as the nation deals with the coronavirus outbreak.” It is the latest in a series of

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Oil prices extend losses on price war, virus fallout


INGAPORE | AFP | Monday 3/16/2020 - Oil prices extended the gloom on Monday after a Saudi-Russian price war and an equities meltdown sparked by the coronavirus pandemic saw their biggest weekly losses in more than a decade.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) briefly fell below $30 a barrel, or 5.5 percent, in morning Asian trade before regaining its footing. It was trading at $31.13 a barrel at around 0530 GMT, down nearly two percent from Friday’s close. The Brent global benchmark was down 3.28 percent at $32.74 a barrel. Last week’s price war began after Saudi Arabia and other members of an informal alliance of major crude producers led by the OPEC oil cartel pushed for an output cut to combat the impact of the virus outbreak. But alliance partner and nonOPEC member Russia, the world’s second-biggest oil producer, refused -- prompting Riyadh to drive through massive price cuts and pledge to boost production. The COVID-19 outbreak added to downward pressure as it throttled global equities, with

Last week’s price war began after Saudi Arabia and other members of the OPEC oil cartel pushed for an output cut to combat the impact of the virus outbreak. (AFP Photo/Frederic J. Brown)

growing concerns over a potential worldwide recession and escalating travel restrictions prompting a crash in demand forecasts. Prices made a feeble rally late last week after US President Donald Trump announced $50 billion in Federal spending to stem the damage from the coronavirus and plans to buy “large quantities of crude oil” to top up strategic reserves. But both benchmarks still fell by around 25 percent in the biggest weekly drop since the global financial crisis in 2008, and

more losses are expected. “Rallies will likely continue to fade so long as the market continues to weigh the double-whammy of the COVID-19... and the massive jump in supply,” said Stephen Innes, global chief markets strategist at AxiCorp. “The rare combination of severe shocks to both supply and demand has caused the crude market to collapse as producers... steel themselves for an unexpected glut of oil in coming weeks,” added Sukrit Vijayakar of Trifecta Consultants.

EU-UK trade talks confirmed cancelled this week


ONDON | AFP | Tuesday 3/17/2020 - The British government confirmed Tuesday it would not resume post-Brexit trade talks with AFP file photo the EU as planned on Wednesday because of the coronavirus outbreak.

moves the Fed has taken over the past two weeks to ensure the financial system has enough cash on hand to keep the economy from freezing up, including slashing the benchmark lending rate to zero, injecting $1 trillion into financial markets this week and $1.5 trillion last week. Treasury will provide $10 billion as a backstop, allowing the Fed to purchase commercial pa-

per from US firms or US subsidiaries of foreign companies over the coming year. “By eliminating much of the risk that eligible issuers will not be able to repay investors by rolling over their maturing commercial paper obligations, this facility should encourage investors to once again engage in term lending in the commercial paper market,” the Fed said.

Global airlines slash flights as US carriers seek $50bn bailout by Roland Jackson / John IAG, owner of British AirBiers ways and Spanish carrier Iberia, EW YORK | AFP | Mon- announced it would slash flight day 3/16/2020 - Major capacity by 75 percent during world airlines on Mon- April and May owing to the day announced further deep cuts COVID-19 outbreak, while Gerto service as the worsening coro- many’s Lufthansa said it would navirus crisis ravages demand, trim seating capacity on longaccentuating talk of government haul flights by up to 90 percent, support with US carriers formal- affecting mainly routes to Afrily releasing a plea for a bailout of ca, the Middle East and South America. some $50 billion. Britain’s Virgin Atlantic addCiting an “unprecedented” drop in demand that is “getting ed that it has decided to park 75 worse by the day” and “much percent of its total fleet, and in worse than 9/11,” the trade group April this will rise as high as 85 Airlines for America unveiled a percent. wish list including grants, loans Virgin has reportedly called and tax relief. upon the UK government to in“This is a today problem, not ject emergency support totaling a tomorrow problem. It requires 7.5 billion pounds ($9.2 billion, urgent action,” said A4A Presi- 8.3 billion euros) to help keep dent and Chief Executive Nich- Britain’s aviation industry flying. olas Calio. - ‘Deteriorating at pace’ Trump administration officials have highlighted airlines as a Shares of European carriers major worry point and signaled and most US airlines experibroad support for a federal plan enced another bruising session to fortify the industry. as the economic toll of the coroThe group said the industry navirus becomes clearer. was on track to suffer a drop of “Last week saw a rapid ac$23 billion in liquidity at the end celeration of the impact of of 2020 under an “optimistic” COVID-19 on global aviation scenario and a drop of $53 bil- and tourism,” Virgin Atlantic lion under a “pessimistic” sce- warned in a statement. nario. “The situation is deteriorating “As of the morning of March at pace and the airline has seen 16, the pessimistic scenario is several days of negative booklooking most likely,” the group ings, driven by a huge volume said. of cancelations as customers Earlier, European carriers an- choose to stay at home.” nounced additional cutbacks in British no-frills carrier EasyJet service due to the crisis.


FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

warned it may have to ground “the majority” of its fleet, urging governments across Europe to help their airlines maintain access to liquidity. The airline’s CEO Johan Lundgren said “European aviation faces a precarious future,” and called for government backing if the industry is to survive. Irish budget carrier Ryanair meanwhile did not rule out a full grounding as it unveiled stinging flight cutbacks. IAG said it was taking measures including cuts to non-essential spending, a freeze on recruitment and reducing work hours. A management shake-up had also been put on hold, noting that Willie Walsh would remain as IAG’s chief executive. Walsh had been due to step down on March 26, to be replaced by Iberia CEO Luis Gallego. Air France will meanwhile slash flight capacity by 7090 percent over the next two months, while Austrian Airlines will suspend all flights from Thursday, and Finnair is cutting 90 percent of capacity until the situation improves. The German government on Monday said it is planning to shield companies from going under because of the pandemic, by suspending legal obligations for firms facing acute liquidity problems to file for bankruptcy.

Officials had been discussing plans for videoconferences after this week’s face-to-face talks in London, the second round of formal negotiations, were cancelled. “In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow in

the way we did in the previous round,” a government statement said. “We expect to share a draft free trade agreement alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future still, as planned. “Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and we remain in regular contact with the European Commission to consider alternative ways to continue discussions,” it added. This includes video conferencing and exploring flexibility in the structure for the coming

weeks, the statement said. Britain left the European Union on January 31 but both sides agreed a standstill transition until the end of 2020 to allow them to agree a new partnership. Brussels has already warned that the timetable is too tight and delays from coronavirus have sparked calls in London for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for more time for the talks. However, the government statement said Tuesday: “The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.”

Page 14 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section B)

Last Americans take planes home from UK and Ireland


ATWICK AIRPORT, United Kingdom | AFP | Monday 3/16/2020 -The last Americans scrambling to get home from the UK and Ireland headed out of airports on Monday before a US travel ban over the coronavirus crisis comes into force.

Washington announced at the weekend it would extend a European travel ban to the UK and Ireland, effective midnight Monday EST (0400 GMT Tuesday). In eerie scenes, travellers to the US boarded planes at the normally crowded, but now virtually empty, Gatwick and Dublin airports. Small numbers of passengers could be seen checking flight information boards before passing through departure gates. “It’s kind of a relief to be honest,” one American passenger, Ryan Wuest told AFP. “At first it didn’t seem to be

a problem to get home but the news kept on coming through.” He added: “It feels good to be going home.” European officials initially reacted angrily to President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The original 30-day US ban on travel from the 26 countries in Europe’s Schengen border-free zone took effect on Saturday, but at first notably excluded Britain and Ireland. That changed over the weekend. Flights that take off from the UK and Ireland before 11:59 pm on Monday (0359 GMT Tuesday) will be allowed entry into the United States. In addition to US citizens and permanent residents, their spouses and non-American parents and siblings of children under 21 who are citizens will be allowed to enter despite the ban.


FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

Europe locks down over virus fears, tragedies by Sebastian Smith with AFP worldwide passed 7,000. More bureaus than 175,530 cases have been ASHINGTON | AFP recorded in 145 countries. | Monday 3/16/2020 With the virus spreading rap- France was ordered idly in Europe, France joined into lockdown Monday as Eu- Italy and Spain in imposing rope closed its borders in the restrictions rarely seen outside latest drastic attempt to combat wartime -- while dozens of the coronavirus pandemic, as countries have closed borders, President Donald Trump said the ordered curfews and banned United States was readying for a most public events. month-long fight ahead. Spain and Russia sealed off Hours earlier, the leaders of their borders Monday while the G7 industrial powerhouses Germany severely restricted had pledged to join forces to crossings. halt the economic freefall in the Across the Atlantic, where wake of the virus outbreak, callsimilar extreme measures are ing it “a human tragedy.” multiplying, Trump said he was In a somber 20-minute ad- asking Americans to restrict dress in which he described gatherings to groups of fewer the crisis as a “war,” President than 10 people -- as New York Emmanuel Macron ordered the and the capital Washington French to stay at home for 15 stood largely deserted. days starting midday Tuesday, The US leader, who has strugbanning all non-essential trips or social contacts and warning gled to convince he is taking the violations would be “punished.” full measure of the crisis, told Americans to be prepared for Macron said the European a months-long struggle against Union’s external borders would the pandemic. close for 30 days starting Tues“If we do a really good job... day, as the number of deaths people are talking about July,


Milan’s Vittorio Emanuele II galleria shopping mall stands empty on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Miguel Medina / AFP - Getty Images)

August,” he told reporters at a now-daily briefing of the White House task force on the pandemic, saying he might ask the military to help build temporary hospitals to tackle rising numbers of sick. He also acknowledged the United States “may be” heading

into a recession due to the virus. Leaders of the world’s richest countries held an emergency videoconference to coordinate their response as COVID-19 races across borders, crippling economies and threatening mass casualties.


Week of March 20, 2020 HOROSCOPE.COM

21 March to 20 April This is a very dynamic week in another sense because feisty Mars, your personal planet, aligns with jovial Jupiter. This could give you the courage to kick-start a project or make a career move that has been on your mind for some time.

21 April to 20 May Looking for love? With inquisitive Mercury in the dreamy sign of Pisces, you may be drawn to those who have a creative or spiritual approach to life, finding their company and inspiration to be a healing balm. A new phase in your career or professional life begins on Saturday.

21 May to 20 June Are you ready to enjoy life? The illuminating sun moves into Aries and your social sector on Thursday, and its presence here can encourage you to take stock and consider how you might improve things. Doing so could prove rewarding.

21 June to 22 July If you’re ready to take your finances and business to the next level, prudent Saturn’s move into this sector could find you becoming more serious about it and even coming up with a structured plan. Finally, don’t let anyone tell you what to do over the weekend.

23 July to 22 August If you’re ready for fresh adventures, the sun’s move into your sector of travel and new experiences for a four-week stay can bring you opportunities to explore in any way you choose. You might decide to go on a vacation, take a longer trip, study, or explore new interests. The world is your oyster.

23 August to 22 Sept On Monday, thoughtful Mercury moves into Pisces and your relationship sector for the second time as it gets back on track after its retrograde phase. Whatever misunderstandings may have occurred can now be resolved. Be your social best this week.

23 September to 22 Oct Relationships will be more of a priority this week as the sun moves into dynamic Aries. Its presence here could encourage you to clear up any issues that may be preventing you from getting along with someone.

23 October to 21 Nov Talkative Mercury moves into your leisure and creativity zone on Monday, making this a good time to take up a new interest or learn a new skill. And if it involves coordination and dexterity, so much the better. Get going now and you can make progress in no time.

22 November to 21 Dec The sun’s move into Aries and your leisure zone for around four weeks could coincide with a time of fun and enjoyment. You may be drawn to activities that can help you channel excess energy. Romance is also well starred this week

22 December to 20 Jan As the focus on your sign continues, you could be drawn to activities that help you expand your reach. Dynamic Mars aligns with generous Jupiter for much of this week, so it could pay you to move out of your comfort zone and explore new options.

21 January to 19 Feb As the radiant sun lights up your communication sector this week, you may be more inclined to connect with those you haven’t seen in a while. Whether it’s friends, siblings, or neighbors, giving them a call and making time to chat can keep things on a positive note.

20 February to 20 Mar The urge to express yourself could grow stronger as chatty Mercury moves back into your sign. This inquisitive planet can see you eager to connect with those on your wavelength and reach out and make new friends. Saturn could usher in a time of deep reflection.

ACROSS 1. Happen again 6. Promotions 9. Field mouse 13. UV absorber 14. Seek a seat 15. Eagle’s nest 16. Jury ____ 17. Mad King George’s number 18. Bad-tempered one 19. *Two or more people on the road 21. *Fines can do that? 23. Scot’s woolen cap 24. Give an impression 25. Last month 28. Willy Wonka mastermind 30. Lay down to rest again 35. Container weight 37. Damaging precipitation 39. One born to Japanese immigrants 40. Windows alternative 41. Clown act 43. London subway 44. What Motion Picture Association of America does 46. Lentil soup 47. Pulitzer winner Bellow 48. Little Women to Aunt March 50. Victorian and Elizabethan ones, e.g. 52. Dropped drug 53. Type of dam 55. Post Malone’s genre 57. *Traffic separator 60. *Kind of lane 64. Tiger’s and lioness’ offspring 65. J. Edgar Hoover’s org. 67. Capital of Vietnam 68. Between wash and dry 69. 1985 Kurosawa movie 70. Village V.I.P. 71. Brewer’s kiln 72. Play part 73. Young salmon

Down 1. Campus drilling grp. 2. Poet Pound 3. Coconut fiber 4. Not fitting 5. Add a new magazine 6. Seed cover 7. *Punishable driver offense, acr. 8. Like a hurtful remark 9. Action word 10. Like face-to-face exam 11. Don’t cross it? 12. Comic cry 15. Keenness in a certain field 20. D-Day beach 22. Old-fashioned over 24. Move like a serpent 25. *Go back the way you came 26. Hawaiian veranda 27. Banal or commonplace 29. *”Raised ____, “ or “Don’t Walk” 31. Small fragments 32. Bar order, with the 33. Puzzle with pictures and letters 34. *Up-side-down triangle sign 36. Biz bigwig 38. Yarn spinner 42. “The Nutcracker” protagonist 45. Crafting with stitches 49. One of Sinbad’s seven 51. Miss America’s accessory, pl. 54. Prefix for below 56. Church song 57. Actress Sorvino 58. Shining armor 59. Negative contraction 60. Pub order 61. ____-China 62. Christmas season 63. Horizontal wall beam 64. *Keep your hands at ten and ____ 66. *Measurement of alcohol in body, acr.


Page 15 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section B)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020



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Men break in to apartment storage room, steal equipment HOUSTON - March 18, 2020 Crime Stoppers and the Houston Police Department’s Burglary and Theft Division need the public’s assistance identifying the suspects responsible for a Burglary of a Building. On Sunday, December 1, 2019, at approximately 3:10 a.m., three unknown suspects burglarized an apartment complex storage room located in the 1500 block of Gessner Road in Houston, Texas. Video sur-

veillance captured the suspects inside the storage room. During the incident, one of the suspects was not wearing a mask. The suspects stole various tools, which included an air compressor and a welding machine. The suspects arrived and fled in a dark gray four-door car (possibly a Toyota Avalon).

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Please forward your resume for review to: P. O. Box 36770, Houston, TX 77236-6770.

The language in this press release is intentional and could Crime Stoppers may pay up to have legal implications. Please $5,000 for information leading do not change the copy of the to the identification, charging paragraph above. and/or arrest of the suspect(s) HPD 1584566-19 in this case. Information may


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Page 16 • VOICE OF ASIA (Section B)

FRIDAY, March 20, 2020

Home&Real Estate ‘Houses are selling like hotcakes in Houston’: loan officer

A plywood box turns a 20th-Century Duplex into a multigenerational home by Mandi Keighran


hen young couple Leïla and Xavier decided to buy a house in Montreal, they envisioned a multigenerational home that could house Leïla’s mother as well as their own planned family. They purchased a duplex in the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie neighborhood with two identical apartments (one over the other), and engaged architect Catherine Milanese of MOA Architecture to bring their dream to life.

by Scott Crowder


OUSTON, May, 11, 2020 Although mortgage rates are historically low, nationwide, there’s a shortage of houses for sale. But in Houston, it’s a great time to buy.

Laith Daik with Texas Loan Star says it’s true there are fewer homes for sale. “Inventory levels are certainly down; January was probably one of the best months that we’ve seen in years. Where January is typically a slower month we had a mild winter coupled with lower rates and that got people out in the purchase market looking to buy.”

But Daik says with rates so low, it’d be worth it to win a bidding war for a house, if need be. He says this is the time to buy -- even if you have to win a bidding war. “With rates as low as they are, take advantage of these low rates while they’re out there. You’re locking in rates that may never come back in a lifetime; so it’s just a great time to go out and buy a house here in Houston.” Daik says the mild winter and low interest rates led to a 15% increase in sales in January. - KTRH 740A

MOA Architecture inserts a wood box into a Montreal duplex to make room for three generations of a growing family.

Faced with this challenge, Milanese drastically reconfigured the floor plan and inserted a Nordic-inspired, plywood-clad mezzanine into the roof space of the second-floor apartment. Leïla’s mother wanted to live on the ground floor apartment because the exterior staircase to the second floor—a classic feature of Montreal homes—can be dangerous in winter when icy. So, the couple decided to extend the second-story apartment to make it comfortable to live in with children in the near future. The new mezzanine level, which has access to a rooftop garden, provides On the main floor of the second-story apartment, rustic oak flooring is paired with fir office space for the couple today, and it cladding, which unfolds into the staircase and walls of the “wood box” that contains will become the master bedroom when the mezzanine level. (Photos: Mandi Keighran) their planned-for children move into the

Affordability Vs. Safety: Houston debates new housing projects in areas with environmental risk “We’re making a conscious decision to put that there. And I just believe that it isn’t safe for the particular community to live in that particular area.” by Jen Rice


ouston’s lack of zoning has been under scrutiny lately, with a string of environmental safety issues surfacing across the city. In January, an explosion at an industrial facility killed three people and seriously damaged hundreds of homes. Residents in Kashmere Gardens are concerned about possible contamination from a nearby railyard after a state investigation found higher than average cancer rates in the neighborhood. And twice last month, communities stopped new concrete batch plants from being built near their homes.

Tension spilled over this week as Houston City Council members decided whether to support a new affordable housing development in an area that could put residents at risk. On Wednesday, the council voted to recommend a slate of 21 projects for millions of dollars in state housing tax credits, after a heated public debate about whether they should consider environmental risk when making that list. - Air quality risk One of the projects on their list, Lockwood South Apartments, is located across the street from a Southern Crushed Concrete facility, a fact that made some local officials uncomfortable. “We’re making a conscious decision to put that there,” At Large 4 City Council member Letitia Plummer said. “And I just believe that it isn’t safe for the particular community to live in that particular area.” That’s after Air Alliance Houston government relations director Leticia Ablaza spoke at City Council’s public comment session to warn council members about the project’s environmental risk. Ablaza referenced a state law that requires a quarter-mile distance between homes and new concrete-crushing businesses because the air quality can be unsafe. “Studies have also found a close link between exposure to fine particulates and premature death from heart and lung disease, including lung cancer,” Ablaza said. Along with Plummer, District B City Council member Jerry Davis also expressed reluctance to support the project. “We’re fighting this environmental injustice in these communities,” Davis said. “And for you to put one in the community when you already know they’re crushing concrete, in the words

of former Council member [Larry] Green, I think that’s egregious.” In recent weeks, local officials have pushed back on similar businesses that release particulate matter into the air. After preventing a company from building a concrete batch plant in Acres Homes, where Mayor Sylvester Turner lives, Turner released a statement saying, “This is a great victory for residents who did not want to live with unhealthy air emissions, specifically particulate matter, heavy trucks and noise in their neighborhood.” Without the ability to create zoning regulations, Turner said the City is continuing to advocate for policy solutions at the state level to help prevent air quality risk for cities without land use regulations. - Critical need for affordable housing But Turner supports the Lockwood project, and said that keeping new affordable housing development out of the neighborhood would be like “drawing a red line around them.” The city is struggling to address Houston’s inadequate affordable housing stock, a problem that worsened after housing units were destroyed in Hurricane Harvey. A 2019 report from the Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium found a growing gap between the supply and demand of affordable housing in Harris County, where half of the renting households spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing. Lockwood South Apartments is part of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s master plan to redesign parts of East Houston. That plan includes hike and bike trails, a $40 million renovation of Tony Marron Park, and the 18-acre housing community. In a statement, the organization said the project will comply with all local, state and federal requirements. District H Council member Karla Cisneros, who represents the neighborhood where the project would be built, said residents want affordable housing, even if there’s an air quality risk. Ultimately, all but three members of the City Council followed Cisneros’ lead. Many of them had thanked Air Alliance Houston for the information about the air quality risk, but then voted in favor of the project. “This is one of the communities that is gentrifying rapidly,” Cisneros said. “The people already live there. They don’t want to leave.” - NPR News

The mezzanine has rooftop access through large, south-oriented glazed doors. A steel awning offers shade to the mezzanine level during summer months, and the inside face is clad with plywood to visually extend the interior space outward.

two downstairs bedrooms. “The house had not been renovated for a long time, and it desperately needed work on both levels,” says Milanese. “We also had to completely rethink how the spaces were arranged, as the original layout blocked direct sunlight and access to the shared yard.” MOA Architecture placed two bedrooms on the street side, which has a northern orientation, and created a central hub for the bathroom and laundry room. The living spaces are grouped together toward the rear of the apartment, where they benefit from the southern exposure and appealing views over the leafy backyard. In order to comply with city bylaws, the 300-square-foot mezzanine had to be inserted into the existing roof space. “This led to the initial project concept: a built-in timber box within the existing dwelling,” says Milanese. “The roof was cut in its center, and a new box was inserted in the open space.” The floors, walls, and ceiling of the mezzanine are all clad in clear-coated fir plywood panels. “Wood was used throughout the project for both structure and cladding,” says Milanese. “It is used as a graphic, poetic, and emblematic material, and it’s a natural reference

to Quebec’s Nordic culture.” The mezzanine boasts large windows, which frame a view over neighboring rooftops and trees, and a rooftop garden is accessed through large glazed doors. Natural light floods the interior through

The kitchen countertops are black quartz, offering a strong visual contrast to the plywood. “Leïla and Xavier enjoy having friends over to sit at the kitchen island, which is the center of the space,” says architect Catherine Milanese.

Real Estate Briefs


ouston-based Moto Properties raised nearly $5.5 million to acquire a 100,000-square-foot medical office park in Huntsville. Adjacent to Huntsville Memorial Hospital, the medical office park represents the company’s largest acquisition to date. Moto Properties Principal Dave Anderson said the deal is expected to create cash flow for investors on day one and will ultimately provide an internal rate of return in the double digits.

Houston-based Dosch Marshall Real Estate represented Dallas-based Trammell Crow Residential in the purchase of two parcels of land totaling 14.43 acres for the development

this south-facing glazing in summer months, and sunlight is reflected from snow into the interior during the winter. A dramatic steel awning frames the glazing to protect the interior from excessive heat in the summer. The main floor of the apartment is an L-shaped space, and the kitchen at its center features statement black quartz countertops that contrast with the lightness of the timber. The upper cabinets are crafted from the same fir plywood as the mezzanine level is clad in, and the lower cabinets are finished with black lacquer to create visual separation between the oak flooring and the fir plywood ceiling. A plywood-clad stair leads to the mezzanine, with an open black steel frame banister that allows a visual connection between the living space and the stairwell. “The banister had to be very open and light, so as not to visually reduce the living room space,” says Milanese. “The whimsical design is the result of code-complying elements, and the desire to make the staircase as safe as possible for children. The resulting diagonal black steel elements bring a strong graphic effect to a very light structure.” The project, excluding taxes and fees, cost CA$320,000 to build—CA$ 100,000 for the ground floor renovation, and CA$220,000 for the second level and mezzanine. “The budget was met, which is a rare feat in renovation projects,” says Milanese. “The clients love their new home because it matches their personalities and lifestyle. I think that is a crucial quality in any residence.” - Dwell

of approximately 350 units of Class A garden-style apartments off Spring Cypress Road in north Houston. Trammell Crow Residential paid an undisclosed amount for the property. SES Properties sold a 49,100-squarefoot property at 10000 West Airport Blvd. in Houston to Classic Chevrolet Sugar Land. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. NAI Partners’ Chris Caudill and Griff Bandy in Houston represented the seller. Tiffany Sebastian with Re/Max Vintage represented Classic Chevrolet Sugar Land. Houston-based commercial real

estate consulting firm Satya sold a 5.39-acre plot to Houston-based NH Briarwest. The buyer plans to develop about 120 apartments on the property. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The property is located at the northwest corner of Westheimer Road and Briarwest Boulevard. No brokers were involved in the transaction. Houston-based CBS Rentals paid an undisclosed amount to purchase a 10,462-square-foot office building at 831 Crossbridge Drive in Spring. Houston-based Finial Group represented the buyer, while Jerrod McQuain with the Houston office of Chicago-based JLL represented the seller. - Jeff Jeffrey/HBJ

Profile for VoiceOf Asia

VOA E paper 03-20-20  

Voice of Asia Newspaper is based in Houston since 1987. We reach South Asian and Asian American families in Houston and surrounding cities i...

VOA E paper 03-20-20  

Voice of Asia Newspaper is based in Houston since 1987. We reach South Asian and Asian American families in Houston and surrounding cities i...