Nation and world news briefs

©Tribune News Service

Abbott gets emergency FDA approval for antibody test that detects recent COVID-19 infections

CHICAGO — Abbott’s latest antibody test — meant to show whether a person has recently had COVID-19 — has gained emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The blood test detects a type of antibody, called IgM, that’s present after a person has been recently infected with COVID-19, Abbott said in a news release.

It’s the second antibody test made by Illinois-based Abbott to gain emergency use authorization, in which the FDA allows the use of unapproved medical products to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases when certain criteria are met.

Abbott’s first test looks for a different type of antibody called IgG that’s longer-lasting in the body after infection. That test can help show whether someone has recovered from the virus and can help with contact tracing, according to the company.

The new test is more useful when it comes to finding recent infections, which can be helpful for doctors trying to determine where a patient is in his recovery and if treatment or isolation is appropriate, Abbott said.

IgM often becomes undetectable weeks to months after a person becomes infected, whereas IgG may be detectable for months of years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new test is 99% accurate when it comes to negative results and 95% accurate for positive results 15 days after a patient experiences symptoms, Abbott said.

—Chicago Tribune


Tourist brought AR-15 rifle, handgun to Disney World over worries about Orlando protests

ORLANDO, Fla. — A South Florida man brought an AR-15 rifle and 9mm handgun with him on his Disney World vacation because he was worried about his family’s safety during the social justice protests in Central Florida last month, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

The 43-year-old Palm Beach Gardens man checked into the Polynesian Village Resort with his guns in a tennis bag on Saturday of the Labor Day holiday weekend, according to a newly released sheriff’s incident report.

The man had a concealed weapons permit and was not arrested, so the Orlando Sentinel is not identifying him. Disney stored his guns for him until the end of his trip.

The bellman handling the bag to bring to the man’s room wondered why it was so heavy, made the discovery and reported it to his manager, who then contacted the sheriff’s office, the report said.

The Sheriff’s Office questioned the man who told them “he brought the rifle with him for their safety because of the riots and civil unrest going on down south and in the Central Florida area,” the incident report said.

Protesters demonstrated regularly, including near Disney World, after a deputy fatally shot 22-year-old Salaythis Melvin outside the Florida Mall on Aug. 7. And like in many cities across the nation, Orlando has had protests in support of Black Lives Matter downtown as well as near Universal and other surrounding areas throughout the summer.

In addition to the guns, the man brought three rifle magazines with 90 total rounds and two 9mm magazines with 20 rounds total.

The sheriff’s office checked his concealed weapon permit. “We then gave (the man) back his firearms and told him we appreciated his cooperation,” the incident report said.

“No arrests were made because no laws were broken,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday when reached for comment.

—Orlando Sentinel


Texas woman kills pregnant friend, cuts fetus from womb and calls baby her own, police say

A Texas woman is accused of killing her pregnant friend and removing the victim’s unborn baby from her womb in a violent attack that also resulted in the child’s death over the weekend.

The suspect, 27-year-old Taylor Parker, was arrested in the neighboring state of Oklahoma after trying to pass the baby as her own just hours after the crime, authorities said.

The suspected killer went to a hospital in the city of Idabel and told staff she had just given birth on the side of the road, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in a news release Tuesday.

An investigation revealed that she had also told a state trooper during a traffic stop that she had just had the baby and the child wasn’t breathing, prompting the officer to call an ambulance for her, according to the release.

The baby was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The circumstances involving her friend’s murder remain under investigation, but police said she killed 21-year-old Reagan Simmons-Hancock at a home in New Boston, Texas, on Friday morning. A doctor determined that the victim, who was eight-months pregnant, had not given birth before her death, police told local news outlets.

The women’s exact relationship is also unclear, but Simmons-Hancock’s family said she considered the suspect a friend, according to an online fundraising campaign.

Parker has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping. She’s being held in an Oklahoma jail pending her extradition back to Texas.

—New York Daily News


Cuba is elected to the UN Human Rights Council despite increased government repression

The United Nations General Assembly elected Cuba on Tuesday as a member of the Human Rights Council despite protests by activists and civil society organizations that have denounced multiple human rights violations committed by the Cuban regime.

Cuba got 170 votes out of 192 valid ballots.

In its candidacy statement, Cuba promised to promote “cultural rights” and highlighted its political system’s “participatory and democratic character.” But in the past two years, the one-party government headed by Miguel Díaz-Canel has intensified repression against dissidents and members of Cuban civil society and has passed several laws to criminalize freedom of expression.

The only legally recognized party in the country is the Communist Party, and dissidents are fined, frequently arrested or imprisoned. The authorities also prevent them from leaving the country.

On Saturday, the Cuban government arbitrarily detained artists, independent journalists and activists who advocated for greater freedom of expression on the island. A video posted on social media shows government sympathizers harassing the award-winning Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, and calling her “bitch” and “mercenary.”

Experts and activists believe the election to the Human Rights Council of Cuba and other countries accused of violating their citizens’ rights, such as Russia and China, further diminishes the U.N. body’s credibility. Although the Assembly could simply not vote for these countries, the nomination system by regions and of only a single candidate per seat in practice makes these elections a mere formality. According to Human Rights Watch, the secret vote also hides the traffic of favors among nations.

Candidates need a majority of 97 votes to get elected.

—Miami Herald