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Covid In Los Angeles: Concern Over Early Warning Signs & New Variants Going Into Winter

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For the second week running, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has noted a plateau in the levels of Covid detected in the county’s wastewater system. While a plateau in itself is not worrying, the fact that the numbers had been going down and now have stalled is of concern to officials.

“This plateau…is likely to indicate that transmission in L.A. County is no longer decreasing,” said Ferrer. “The most recent observations at these four wastewater plants, along with the small increase we reported in a couple of the early alert metrics, highlight the need to carefully monitor the early alert signals in the weeks ahead to see if we have any additional signs that suggest changes in our transmission patterns or illness severity.

Wastewater analysis is becoming more and more important in identifying Covid outbreaks as many people now take at-home tests and do not report the outcomes. As a result, Ferrer has said she believes that the raw case numbers reported daily are an undercount.

Los Angeles County reported 1,336 new infections today, along with 11 more deaths. That’s roughly in line with the average for the past week. Another indicator of new infections has begun to rise, however.

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One week ago, the 7-day average test positivity was 4.1%. Yesterday, the county reported it at 5%. That’s a long way from the 17+% the county saw during the last surge, but a ~25% uptick in a number that is a 7-day average is worth noting. It’s also the first significant jump in the number in months.

Ferrer said numbers overseas have begin to rise, a condition which, in 2020 and 2021, presaged a rise in the U.S.

“I think we need to be prepared for some increases that are associated with that colder weather and subvariants that have some advantages,” she warned.

“The new sublineages are increasing very slowly. And they’re not yet crowding out BA.5. This is no assurance that in the weeks ahead there will not be an acceleration and proliferation of these strains because they appear to have mutation…There is hope that with increased uptake in the fall boosters — which are well-matched to what is circulating now — and the use of common sense precautions as we move into cooler weather months, we can blunt the impact of the anticipated increases in transmission that may be associated with these strains.”

Recent testing has shown a small but discernible increase in a number of new variants of the virus, most notably a variant known as BA.4.6, which represented 5% of tested samples, up from 3% a week ago. The county has also now detected three samples of BA.2.75.2, which has been spreading in parts of Asia and Europe and appears to be able to avoid current vaccinations. Samples of a variant known as BF.7 have also been detected. Health officials have long warned that as long as the COVID continues spreading, the more likely it is that mutations, or variants, will develop that could spread more quickly or cause more severe illness.

Ferrer said the county will be closely watching new variants, noting that while the increases thus far are small, they could potentially spread more as people spend more time indoors during the winter,” she said. “With more people mingling inside, “a variant that has an advantage in transmission and evades protections more easily will flourish.”

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City News Service contributed to this report.



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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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