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Author: ABC News

The bus carrying school children crashed in Meigs County.

October 27, 2020, 11:00 PM
• 2 min read

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At least two people have been killed in a school bus accident in Meigs County, Tennessee, according to officials.
The bus, which was carrying school children home for the day, crashed on Highway 58 in Decatur, about an hour northeast of Chattanooga.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said at least two people were killed, though it offered no specifics on whether they were students or adults.
The Tennessee Department of Education said in a statement that multiple lives were lost in the accident.
“I and the entire staff at the Tennessee Department of Education are deeply saddened to hear about the fatal bus crash in Meigs County earlier this afternoon. No words can express our sympathies for those lives that were lost,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the students, families, school staff and leaders, district staff and the entire Meigs County community affected by this tragic accident and wish healing for all those injured. The department has communicated with district leaders and staff in Meigs County and surrounding areas and is mobilizing to support this community in safety response and services.”

Meigs County Board of Education said all parents had been contacted and were either reunited with their children or taken to area hospitals.
“I’m deeply saddened to hear the news coming out of Meigs County this evening about a serious school bus crash,” Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said in a statement on Twitter. “My thoughts are with these children and their families. Until we have more information, we will hope for the best and keep them in our prayers.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

The storm is expected strengthen over the next 24 hours leading up to landfall.

October 27, 2020, 9:02 PM
• 6 min read

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Tropical Storm Zeta weakened on Tuesday after making landfall in Mexico with sustained winds of 80 mph, but forecasters said it could regain strength as it makes its way toward Louisiana later this week.
Zeta made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just north of Tulum, an ancient Mayan city located along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Monday night. As of Tuesday afternoon it was moving northwest at about 14 mph with its eye located 90 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

The National Weather Service issued hurricane warnings for parts of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, and tropical storm watches and warnings between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. Coastal cities along the northern Gulf Coast were also placed under hurricane and storm surge watches, the NWS said, noting threats of coastal flooding, heavy rain and possible tornadoes.

Winds blow palm trees from Hurricane Zeta in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Oct. 27, 2020.

Winds blow palm trees from Hurricane Zeta in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Oct. 27, 2020.

Zeta, the 27th named storm of the season, is expected strengthen over the next 24 hours leading up to landfall in the U.S. Wednesday evening. It’s expected to touch down as a Category 1 hurricane just south of New Orleans.

Meteorologist said the storm could bring strong winds, up to 8 feet of storm surge and up to 6 inches of rain in some areas. Isolated tornadoes are also possible, adding to the possibility of widespread damage and power outages in parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

Tourists walk past debris littering the street after Hurricane Zeta’s landfall in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Oct. 27, 2020.

Tourists walk past debris littering the street after Hurricane Zeta’s landfall in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Oct. 27, 2020.

Louisiana Gov. John Edwards declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm Monday night. He said he issued the order despite uncertainty surrounding the storm’s final path, and urged residents to follow the guidelines.

Zeta is expected to continue to strengthen over the next 24 hours leading up to landfall tomorrow evening. On the current forecast track, landfall looks like a Cat 1 will hit south of New Orleans, Oct. 28, 2020.

Zeta is expected to continue to strengthen over the next 24 hours leading up to landfall tomorrow evening. On the current forecast track, landfall looks like a Cat 1 will hit south of New Orleans, Oct. 28, 2020.

“While there is some uncertainty in Zeta’s track, it is likely that Louisiana will see some impacts from this storm, and the people of our state need to take it seriously. It’s easy to let your guard down late in the hurricane season, but that would be a huge mistake,” Edwards said.
He said state officials were already assisting local authorities with “critical items like pumps, generators and food and water” for first responders.

Zeta will quickly speed off to the northeast while rapidly weakening after landfall on Wednesday night. Remnants of Zeta will get swept up with another storm system and create heavy rain spreading from the Tennessee Valley into the Northeast on Thursday.

Zeta will quickly speed off to the northeast while rapidly weakening after landfall on Wednesday night. Remnants of Zeta will get swept up with another storm system and create heavy rain spreading from the Tennessee Valley into the Northeast on Thursday.

“We stand ready to expand that assistance as needed,” Edwards said in a statement. “Everyone should be monitoring the news for information and should heed any direction they get from their local leaders.”
Forecasters said Zeta will most likely speed off to toward the Northeast and weaken quickly after landfall late Wednesday.

The storm’s remnants could get swept up with another storm system as it leaves the area, potentially bringing heavy rain in areas between the Tennessee Valley into the Northeast, meteorologists said.
ABC News’ Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.

A judge has ruled that a former Marine and another Idaho man charged with participating in a money-making conspiracy to build hard-to-trace firearms and distribute them in North Carolina will be transferred to that state

By KEITH RIDLER Associated Press

October 27, 2020, 7:04 PM
• 2 min read

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BOISE, Idaho — A former Marine and another Idaho man charged with participating in a money-making conspiracy to build hard-to-trace firearms and distribute them in North Carolina will be transferred to that state, a U.S. District Court judge said Tuesday.
Ex-Marine Jordan Duncan, 25, and Paul James Kryscuk, 35, both of Boise, each waived hearings in the case, clearing the way for the transfers. The case also involves another former Marine, 21-year-old Liam Montgomery Collins. Authorities said Collins is from Johnston, Rhode Island.

Authorities say Duncan and Collins awere previously assigned to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Court documents say the conspiracy involved Collins and Kryscuk manufacturing and selling hard-to-obtain firearms and firearm parts so purchasers of the weapons would be unknown to government authorities.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald E. Bush in Boise said he did not have a timeline for the transfers by the U.S. Marshals Service.
The U.S. Justice Department as well as court documents say Kryscuk received money from Collins for a hort-barreled rifle and a 9mm pistol with a suppressor, which is placed on the end of a gun barrel to reduce noise when the weapon is fired. The devices are highly regulated in the U.S. Authorities say Kryscuk bought supplies to make suppressors.
Authorities also say Kryscuk, using an alias, mailed weapons from Idaho to Jacksonville, North Carolina. Documents also say Kryscuk shipped the short-barreled rifle to Collins. Court documents say the rifle went to Pennsylvania.
Collins and Kryscuk are charged with conspiracy to manufacture unregistered weapons and ship them across state lines without a license. They each could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Authorities say Duncan was aware of the conspiracy and participated. He’s charged with conspiracy to manufacture firearms and ship them across state lines. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Yet another service provider is jumping into the TV streaming wars

By MAE ANDERSON AP Technology Writer

October 27, 2020, 7:07 PM
• 4 min read

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Yet another service provider is jumping into the TV streaming wars. This time it’s T-Mobile and its TVision service with live news, entertainment and sports channels, starting at $10 a month.
T-Mobile says it’s aiming to offer a simpler and and cheaper service for people dissatisfied with cable. But it’s entering a crowded field. And most similar streaming services have found it difficult to sustain low prices over time.

TVision will offer three branches of its service. TVision Live will have live news, entertainment and sports channels at three tiers priced at $40, $50 and $60, depending on how many sports channels you want. The $40 option offers around 30 channels including ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, and Fox Sports Networks.
Then there’s TVision Vibe, which is $10 a month and includes about 30 channels from AMC, Discovery and Viacom — but no sports. And TVision Channels, which lets you sign up for individual channel streaming services, starting with just three: Starz, Showtime and Epix.
A slew of new streaming services started to challenge traditional TV providers and dominant streaming services like Netflix over the past year, including Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock service. CBS recently rebranded its CBS All Access service as Paramount Plus, relaunching in 2021.
Some have already bitten the dust. Quibi, a video platform designed for people who were out and about to watch on their phones in “quick bites,” launched in April and said last week it would shutter after failing to find its audience. T-Mobile had struck a deal with Quibi to offer the service free to subscribers on unlimited wireless family plans for one year.
Services offering more traditional cable TV-like bundles include Sling TV, FuboTV, YouTube TV, and others, were initially heralded as the future of TV as cable cord-cutting ramped up. They offered popular TV networks for less than you’d pay a cable company. Signing up and canceling were easy, with no need for a cable guy to come to your house.
But customer growth has slowed and even dropped for many of these services as prices rose and they added more channels. YouTube TV, for example, launched in 2017 at $35, raised its price to $50 last year and then again to $65 in June as it added new channels and lost others. Sony’s PlayStation Vue, one of the first such services, shuttered last year citing the high cost of content and the difficulty of reaching deals with networks.
A TVision app is currently available on the App Store and Google Play for phones and tablets, as well as third-party TV platforms such as Apple TV and Google TV. T-Mobile is also introducing its own HDMI device and remote for $50, called TVision Hub, that works much like a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire stick to let you play video from a variety of streaming apps.
T-Mobile had previously launched a more traditional version of TVision in 2019, one that required broadband and a set top box to get 150-plus channels for $90 a month. But it was only offered in a handful of cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. When it launched, T-Mobile said the goal was to eventually offer the service nationwide over the Internet via apps and third party TV platforms people already use.

The new version of TVision is available nationwide — but only for T-Mobile wireless customers — starting Nov. 1. It will be available for legacy Sprint customers Nov. 13 and next year for T-Mobile prepaid customers and non subscribers. T-Mobile acquired Sprint in a roughly $30 billion deal that closed in April after a lengthy regulatory review, creating a wireless giant that rivals AT&T and Verizon in size.

MADISON, Wis. — Democrats and Republicans in the battleground state of Wisconsin were pushing Tuesday to get 320,000 outstanding absentee ballots returned by the close of polls on Election Day after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to extend the deadline to receive and count ballots, as Democrats had wanted.“This is an all-hands-on-deck final push,” said Ben Wikler, who chairs the Wisconsin Democratic Party, which has been advocating absentee voting more aggressively than Republicans.

But the message is the same for Republicans who decided to mail in their ballots amid a surge in coronavirus cases in Wisconsin.
“If you do it absentee, do it now, do it quickly,” said Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party.
Democrats argued in a federal lawsuit that more time should be allotted for ballots to arrive by mail and be counted because of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans countered that voters had plenty of options to vote on time and that the rules shouldn’t be changed so close to the election. The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision Monday along ideological lines, affirmed an appellate court ruling that had blocked the extended count.
It’s not clear if the ruling will benefit one side or the other in Wisconsin, which President Donald Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, said Barry Burden, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor and the director of the Elections Research Project.
Trump was campaigning in Wisconsin on Tuesday and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden was scheduled to visit the state on Friday.
“The fact that Democrats are using mail voting more than Republicans are suggests that the Biden campaign would be hurt more by ballots that come in late,” Burden said.
However, since the appellate ruling nearly three weeks ago, Democrats have been working under the assumption that the deadline for returning ballots would be 8 p.m. on Election Day and have helped shatter the state record for returning absentee ballots, Burden said.
As of Tuesday, more than 1.4 million absentee ballots, including 352,000 that were cast early in person, had been returned, which is 48% of the total Wisconsin votes cast in the 2016 presidential election. About 10 times more ballots have been returned by mail than in typical presidential elections.

Still, there were 320,000 outstanding ballots as of Tuesday, which amounts to 18% of the nearly 1.7 million absentee ballots requested. In the April presidential primary election, 9% of all requested absentee ballots were not returned. In that election, 1.7% of all ballots returned were rejected due to missing signatures or other deficiencies that were not fixed in time by the voters.
The ruling setting the 8 p.m. Election Day deadline for returning ballots means there will “definitely” be some that aren’t counted, Burden said. In Wisconsin’s April primary, some 80,000 ballots arrived after Election Day.
That, along with uncertainties about the timeliness of mail delivery, has both Republicans and Democrats urging their voters to get their ballots in immediately.
“The rules haven’t changed,” Wikler said. “What changes is that there is now a certainty that ballots need to arrive by the time polls close. There is now a wave of public attention on that fact.”
The Democratic effort to get ballots returned on time includes calling, texting, having people contact their friends, “running digital ads on every conceivable platform,” tracking down outstanding absentee ballots, TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, planes pulling banners, chalking on campuses and billboards, Wikler said.
Republicans, who opposed extending the counting deadline, were also urging voters to return ballots, or follow through on their plans to vote in person.
“We continue to monitor who has outstanding ballots and we will push them hard this last week though text messages, robocalls,” Hitt said.
Some of the 320,000 outstanding ballots could have been sent to people who requested them in the spring but have now decided to vote in person, Hitt said.
“I suspect there will be quite a bit of that, especially on the conservative side,” he said.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission said that Tuesday was the practical deadline for voters to return their absentee ballots by mail, which would allow one week for it to be delivered. Voters have until Thursday to request a ballot by mail, but that does not likely leave them enough time to receive it on time.
Voters have numerous options for returning the ballots, other than by mail, including at secure drop boxes, their municipal clerk’s office or dropping it off at their polling place on Election Day unless it is a city, like Milwaukee, where ballots are counted at a central location.
The Supreme Court’s ruling also means that poll workers can’t come from outside the county where they live. The Wisconsin Elections Commission has been operating on the assumption that poll workers must come from the county where they live, said spokesman Reid Magney. He noted that there are other jobs at the polls which do not require county residency, including greeting voters, managing lines and sanitizing surfaces and voting equipment.
Hitt and Wikler said they were not concerned about a shortage of poll workers. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has promised to call out the Wisconsin National Guard to fill any vacancies, as was done during two previous elections this year.
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AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020/
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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbauerAP

Elections officials in Iowa are worried about the state’s rising number of coronavirus cases, saying that any illnesses or absences among key workers and volunteers could hinder their services through Election Day

By RYAN J. FOLEY and DAVID PITT Associated Press

October 27, 2020, 6:48 PM
• 4 min read

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Elections officials in Iowa are worried about the state’s rising number of coronavirus cases, saying that any illnesses or absences among key workers and volunteers could hinder their services through Election Day.
A week before the election, Iowa is reporting a new high 7-day average of about 1,300 daily infections, record numbers of hospitalizations and a surge in deaths.

The state is a battleground in the presidential race, with Vice President Mike Pence and Joe Biden both expected to visit this week. It’s also home to one of the nation’s most important Senate races between Joni Ernst and Theresa Greenfield.
County elections commissioners who have small full-time staffs and rely on experienced poll workers for help said they are hoping the virus does not sideline any of them. They have already replaced some volunteers, who opted out rather than risk working long shifts and interacting with voters who could be carrying the virus.
Any unexpected absences or last-minute substitutes could lead to delays and long lines, particularly because social distance will be required for those waiting, officials warn. Some early voting sites in other states temporarily closed after poll workers tested positive.
Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz said she’s asked her employees and polling place workers to self-quarantine until Tuesday to avoid the possibility of catching the virus.
“I asked them to take that call upon themselves and to think about if they get sick what that means to our community on Tuesday,” said Moritz, the chairwoman of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors. “My concern is that if they get taken out, who fills that position? We’re already struggling as it is.”
She said lines at polling places would likely be outdoors because voters will not be able to cram into hallways like they might have in the past. The early forecast for Tuesday appears to look promising: sunny and in the high 50s.
In the Republican stronghold of Sioux County, at least one employee in the elections office has tested positive for coronavirus, county officials said. Sioux County Auditor Ryan Dokter declined to release the total number of positive cases among his staff of six full-time workers, saying it would be a health privacy violation.
“One could easily determine the positive case(s) by simply coming to the office and see what employees are or are not present,” he wrote in an email.

Dokter added that “there will be no change to our current operations.” He did not answer directly when asked whether infected staff had contact with the public or whether other staff had to be quarantined as a result of potential exposure.
Instead, he noted his office has installed barriers between staff and voters, has been sanitizing voting booths and areas where the public has frequent contact and its employees have been wearing masks.
The public has not been informed of any issues in Sioux County, a small but key source of Republican votes. In 2016, Donald Trump carried 81% of votes cast in the county — earning 12,485 more votes than Hillary Clinton.
Like much of northwest Iowa, the county has seen a surge of coronavirus cases since September. The county’s two-week positivity rate is 18%, among the highest in the state, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
This year’s focus on absentee voting — and a smaller number of polling places that will be open statewide — should partly alleviate the Election Day concerns.
More than 783,000 voters had returned absentee ballots or voted early in person as of Tuesday, nearly half the 2016 total turnout. Tens of thousands more ballots are expected to arrive by mail or be dropped off in coming days, and auditors offices will also remain open for early voting this week.
Voters cannot be required to wear masks at polling places, Iowa Secretary of State spokesman Kevin Hall said. The state office is equipping counties with masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and social distancing markers for workers and voters at every site, he added.
Mitchell County Auditor Lowell Tesch said he’s had a few poll workers cancel but also noted additional volunteers signed up to help if needed.
“We just hope that a week from now we don’t have something where a lot of people say they can’t work,” he said.
—— Pitt reported from Des Moines.

Mask wearing and frequent cleaning in planes help keep the virus from spreading.

October 27, 2020, 6:38 PM
• 4 min read

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The risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard a plane is “reduced to very low levels,” Harvard researchers concluded. The onboard ventilation systems coupled with measures such as masks, frequent cabin cleaning, and distancing during boarding and deplaning help keep the virus from spreading.
“This layered approach reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out,” the report stated.

The Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI), comprised of faculty and scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published its Phase One report Tuesday, analyzing “gate-to-gate travel” onboard planes. It has not been peer-reviewed.
The initiative is sponsored by major U.S. airline lobbying group Airlines for America, along with other aircraft and equipment manufacturers, airline and airport operators. But the APHI insists its findings and recommendations are the “independent conclusions” of the Harvard researchers.

In this July 22, 2020, file photo, an airport employee performs an aircraft disinfecting demonstration during a media preview at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va.

In this July 22, 2020, file photo, an airport employee performs an aircraft disinfecting demonstration during a media preview at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va.

There have only been 13 peer-reviewed studies surrounding COVID-19 transmission on aircrafts.
“While investigation of the virus and its transmission is ongoing,” researchers said, “the research to date indicates a relatively very low risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 while flying.”

Three studies published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases found likely cases of COVID-19 transmission onboard international flights, but they occurred before airlines implemented mandatory mask requirements.

Passengers wearing protective face masks sit on a plane at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, June 20, 2020.

Passengers wearing protective face masks sit on a plane at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, June 20, 2020.

The virus’ long incubation period combined with the lack of contact tracing limits the amount of data researchers can analyze surrounding transmission on planes.
“Until there has been widespread vaccination, there remains the risk of infection in all walks of public life,” the report said. “As with any activity during this pandemic, the choice to fly is a personal one and depends on a traveler’s health assessment, individual risk tolerance and the potential consequences of becoming infected.”
The APHI plans to release its Phase Two report in two months, which looks at “curb-to-curb” travel and analyzes risks associated with one’s time spent at the airport.
ABC News’ Dr. Leah Croll contributed to this report.

A U.S.-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan appears to have collapsed.

A Black woman injured in a police shooting in suburban Chicago says she begged officers to help her boyfriend, who was also shot and eventually died

By DON BABWIN, ED WHITE and TERESA CRAWFORD

October 27, 2020, 5:16 PM
• 4 min read

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. — A Black woman who was shot by police last week in suburban Chicago said Tuesday that officers did nothing more than cover her boyfriend with a blanket after he was shot and left him on the ground to die.
Tafara Williams, 20, spoked to reporters during a Zoom call from her hospital bed as she described the Oct. 20 shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette.

“They allowed him to die,” Williams said. “They wanted us to bleed out on the ground.”
In detailing what happened for the first time, Williams said she was simply sitting in her car in front of her home with Stinnette smoking a cigarette because she did not want to smoke near her child. She said a white officer pulled up and started to question her, telling Stinnette, who is Black, that she knew him from when he was in jail.
She said after she and Stinnette both raised their hands to show the officer that they were unarmed, she pulled away slowly. She said the officer did not follow her but that a short time later another officer was “waiting for us.”
“There was a crash, I lost control, the officer was shooting at us,” she said, crying. “I was screaming, ‘I don’t have a gun,’ (but) he kept shooting… I kept asking him why he was shooting.”
“My blood was gushing out,” she said. “… They would not give us an ambulance until we got out of the car.”
She said that she could hear Stinnette breathing and begged the police to take him to the hospital first because he had recently had surgery, but her pleas were ignored.
Three days ago, Williams told protesters in a telephone call from her hospital bed that she would continue to fight for justice on Stinnette’s behalf. “He didn’t deserve it, and they waited for him to die,” she said Saturday on a call that a crowd of protesters heard after her mother put a megaphone to her cellphone.
“I won’t sleep until Marcellis gets justice…” she said. “And my son don’t have a father no more, but I’m fighting for him, and I’m in this hospital and I’m trying to be strong.”

The press briefing organized by her attorney, Benjamin Crump, comes exactly one week after the shooting. Police have said the vehicle driven by Williams, with Stinnette in the passenger’s seat, fled a traffic stop conducted by a white officer. They said that a short time later, another officer, who is Hispanic, approached the vehicle, he opened fire out of fear for his own safety when the vehicle moved in reverse toward him. No weapon was found in the vehicle.
On Friday, the police department fired the officer who shot Williams and Stinnette. Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said last week that dashcam and bodycam videos of the shooting would be made public after relatives of the shooting victims have watched it.
The video is particularly important because the version of events given by police appears to contradict the version that Williams’ mother, Clifftina Johnson, gave after she visited her daughter in the hospital. Johnson has said that her daughter told her that she and Stinnette did nothing to provoke the officer before he opened fire.
Cunningham has urged the community to remain calm and to “respect” the process. Protests since the incident have been peaceful, and Waukegan has avoided the kind of looting and violence that occurred in nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a white police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back seven times in August. Blake survived, but his family has said that he is paralyzed from the waist down.
Crump on Tuesday praised Cunningham for his openness and willingness to make sure the truth of what happens comes out.
———
Babwin reported from Chicago; White reported from Detroit.
A Black woman injured in a police shooting in suburban Chicago said Tuesday that she begged officers to help her boyfriend, who was also shot and eventually died.
“They took me away and allowed him to die. They wanted us to bleed out on the ground,” Tafara Williams, 20, told reporters from her hospital bed.
Williams and Marcellis Stinnette, a Black man, were shot last week while in a car in Waukegan, north of Chicago. The officer who shot Stinnette was fired.
“An officer dragged me away from Marcellis. I begged them to take him first. They ignored me,” Williams said. “They laid Marcellis on the ground and covered him with a blanket while he was still breathing. I know he was still alive and they took that away from me.”

New recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force aim to offset what experts call an alarming trend in American health: a rising number of young people are getting diagnosed with, and dying from, colorectal cancer.The Task Force announced Tuesday morning their proposal to lower the suggested age for when to start colorectal screenings, moving it up five years, from 50, to 45 years old. The move may indicate a growing call for awareness and accelerate action amongst an age group that may not know they’re at risk.

“The prognosis is so much better if you catch it at an earlier stage,” Dr. Kimmie Ng, the director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told ABC News. “These new guidelines are hugely significant. They support and validate the alarming epidemiologic trends we’ve been seeing: This cancer is rising at about a rate of 2% per year, in people under the age of 50, since the 1990s.”

Colorectal cancer impacts the gastrointestinal system’s final segment. While lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., colorectal cancer comes second, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and yet, it remains one of the most treatable, even curable cancers, when caught in its early stages.
“Way too young” were the words resounding across the globe late this summer, when news broke that actor Chadwick Boseman, at just 43 years old, had died of colon cancer. Boseman had kept his long, difficult battle mostly private, but the shock of his loss was compounded by a common misconception: that the disease only strikes older people.
Even though overall incidence and mortality rates for colorectal cancer have decreased over the past few decades, colorectal cancer deaths among younger adults continue to climb. It’s a concerning trend, experts told ABC News, pointing out the importance of testing and early intervention.

In 2018, the American Cancer Society updated their guidelines, recommending that those at average risk of colorectal cancer begin regular screening at age 45. Experts hope the Task Force’s update shines a light on the importance of the issue.
For years prior, screening was not generally recommended for the below-50 crowd. This led to potentially vulnerable, or even sick adults putting off testing thinking their symptoms did not rise to the level of firm diagnosis. Because of this lack of awareness, pernicious, possibly cancerous growths remained undetected for too long, experts say, and now, young patients are suffering from more advanced, harder to treat cancers.

“Cancer is simply not on their radar,” Ng said, speaking more specifically about colon cancer. “They’re otherwise young and healthy. So we need to emphasize that yes, this can happen in young people.”
Nearly 25% of screening-eligible Americans have never been screened for colon cancer, and yet, it is expected to cause over 53,000 American deaths this year alone. Of the roughly 148,000 individuals who will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020, about 18,000 of those cases will be young people, according to the American Cancer Society. And although most commonly diagnosed in older adults, about one in every 10 new cases occur in people under 50, according to data collected from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries.
And the trend seems to have no end in sight, as the rate of new colorectal cancer cases in young patients is expected to double by 2030.
The diagnosis strikes younger patients at a different stage in their lives, catching them unaware. Dr. Nancy You, a colorectal surgical oncologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, said she’s been “in the trenches” with younger patients, and that tension between life and unexpected sickness.
“The emotions are high when these younger patients walk in the door,” You told ABC. “It catches them completely off guard. They’re finishing school, trying to make a career, building relationships, families, and then this.”
“So, if we’re able to move the needle at all, lowering the stage they’re diagnosed, or when the tumor is smaller, hopefully, that’s a window of intervention such that we never get to invasive cancer.”
The new USPSTF guidelines are not yet final: For the next four weeks, the public will have the chance to peer review for feedback on the recommendation to the Task Force.
“We really approach this in an open way,” Dr. Michael Barry, USPSTF member and director of Informed Medical Decisions in the Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We really try to be transparent and take different perspectives into account, before we make a final recommendation. This is an opportunity for clarification.”
With the adoption of this recommendation, more patients in an expanded age bracket will have access to screenings without having to worry about the out-of-pocket cost. Insurance coverage is “directly tied to this Task Force’s recommendations,” Ng said.
So, why has the median age for colorectal cancer shifted lower? “That is really the million dollar question we’re working to understand,” Ng said. One’s diet and one’s lifestyle choices are both suspected to have an impact, but Ng said, the “vast majority” of the younger patients she and her colleagues see live active, healthy lifestyles and have no family history.
There’s another issue, one intertwined with the socioeconomic disparity linked to nutrition and quality of life: Rates of colorectal cancer are higher in Black people, according to the Task Force and experts on the matter.
“We see these well-known disparities in the incidence of colon cancer and mortality from colorectal cancer by race,” Ng said, “Black people are much more likely to get this disease — and at a younger age — than white people, and more likely to die of colorectal cancer than white people. These new guidelines hopefully will contribute to helping to mitigate some of that.”

Colon cancer screening methods run the gamut from clinical visits to at-home collection. Experts agree, the “best” test is the one that optimizes screening and understanding.
“The best test is the one that the patient will do,” Barry said.
Ng also said that while a colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard,” it just isn’t for everybody. And not everybody will do it, as we’ve seen, because compliance rates with colorectal cancer screening across the U.S. are currently only about 60%.
Screening for colon cancer earlier won’t have a specific downside: The risk of bleeding, or tears in the intestinal lining, that occur with colonoscopy occur more frequently in older patients, experts say. But the current guidelines — even the new ones — won’t sweep worries or undiagnosed cases off the table.
“For a lot of people diagnosed under the age of 45, like Boseman, these new guidelines still won’t help those younger patients,” Ng said. “And so, research really has to continue, into who exactly we should target and why this is happening.”