Giants’ Joe Judge introduction comes through remote playbook

Nearly one year ago, Eli Manning returned to the Giants facility for the start of the offseason workout program.

“You come in, had a good offseason, worked hard, excited to be back with the team and the coaches,’’ Manning said at the time. “Going into that second year you always have an advantage, you know what the offense is a little bit, you know what the coaches like.’’

One year later, who could have fathomed that Eli Manning’s retirement would be the only aspect to the scheduled opening of the 2020 offseason workouts that made any sense?

These Giants are not back with their team and coaches. These Giants are not going into the second year of anything, not the offense and not the defense. Thus, these Giants do not know what the new coaches like.

Monday was supposed to be a big day for Joe Judge, the 38-year old novice head coach. The Giants were one of five NFL teams (the Cowboys, Panthers, Browns and Redskins are the others) with new head coaches allowed to begin their “voluntary’’ offseason programs, getting a two-week head-start on teams retaining their head coach. Nothing is business as usual amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result there will be no gathering of anyone at the Giants team facility, not Monday and not for the foreseeable future.

Still, this is a day of significance for Judge. The Giants are permitted to send the new playbooks to players, all downloaded remotely to their team-issued electronic tablets. According to a memo from the league issued to all teams late last week, clubs can send to the players not only playbooks but also video for “voluntary use” that “may include coaching or instructional voice overs or audio content, superimposed diagrams, schematics or written commentary.’’

Other than that, no coach-player interaction is permitted at this point, as the league tries to figure out new rules and regulations while dealing with social distancing, stay-at-home restrictions and the best way to maintain competitive balance during an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

The memo also stated the league is discussing “possible revisions’’ to the offseason workout programs that would permit teams to “conduct classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs on a virtual basis’’ while the team facilities remain closed.

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While not ideal, Monday’s developments are a boon for the Giants. For the first time, quarterback Daniel Jones, heading into his second season, gets to take a look at the system Jason Garrett, the new offensive coordinator, will eventually install. For the first time, players on defense get to see the new system put in by coordinator Patrick Graham, a system expected to be quite different than the one used by James Bettcher the past two years. Previously, Jones and the other players on offense could take a look at what Garrett ran with the Cowboys and defensive players could study what Graham ran last year with the Dolphins. Now, they all get to see what this new staff actually will run.

Last week, newly-signed inside linebacker Blake Martinez admitted he was “kind of in limbo’’ as he worked out at home in Tucson. He looked ahead, and forward, to what he was able to finally receive on Monday.

“I know once I’m able to get the playbook, it’ll kind of be my starting point of writing the notes down, doing the things necessary to make sure I know all the plays and checks and everything,’’ Martinez said.

The problem for Martinez and the other newcomers is they do not get to take what they see on their screens and bring it to the field.

For all the Giants, it is basically this: “Here is the material you need for the test. We cannot answer any questions right now; study on your own.’’

Teams with returning head coaches and systems in place figure to have a significant advantage this spring and summer, as remote learning cannot replace actual on-the-field lessons. Judge got the job and circled April 6 on his calendar as the first time his team assembled together. That meeting will have to wait.

“Without having the players on a daily basis, being able to work with them on a daily basis, there’s so much you’re missing on getting to really know these guys,’’ Judge said in late February at the NFL scouting combine.

For now, it is paramount to keep the players out, away from each other. Quite unexpectedly, building while apart is the greatest challenge this year confronting a first-time head coach.

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Doctors Want The Government To Give More Racial Data About Who Is Dying And Sick From The Coronavirus

A member of the medical staff outside Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn on April 4.

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Hundreds of doctors and a civil rights group are calling for the federal health department to release race and ethnicity breakdowns of COVID-19 data to identify and track potential disparities in how the coronavirus crisis is affecting different communities.

“This Administration’s alarming lack of transparency and data is preventing public health officials from understanding the full impact of this pandemic on Black communities and other communities of color,” the group, which includes the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and doctors from around the country, wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday.

“We are concerned that Black communities are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and have lower access to COVID-19 testing which may cause delayed care, an increased risk of high mortality rates, and the acceleration of the spread of the disease in our communities,” they wrote in the letter. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its sub-agencies are charged with ensuring that racial disparities do not persist in the administration of healthcare services, even in a pandemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A group of black doctors in Virginia first raised these concerns weeks ago, and have since been calling for state and federal authorities to release data on who is getting sick and dying. The group is also calling for state and municipal authorities across the country to release race and ethnicity data.

“We understand that this data is being collected [by the federal government] and not being reported out to the public, and we believe they need to do their part in pressing state and local health departments to do the same,” Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee, said on a call with reporters.

The CDC’s COVID-19 reporting form requires information on patients’ race and ethnicity, meaning reports of COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths reported to federal authorities from state and local health departments must include that data.

“Black Americans face insurmountable barriers to testing and treatment for COVID-19,” the letter reads. “Private COVID-19 testing is costly, and government-administered testing is severely restricted. These barriers are exacerbated by the fact that racial minorities are suddenly uninsured, as they are overrepresented in recently shuttered industries, such as travel, retail, restaurant and hospitality.”

Clarke said there is “some data which suggests that this crisis is in fact having a disparate impact on African Americans,” referring to reports that have been made available by the Illinois Department of Health and a few other local jurisdictions around the country. Those reports have shown severe disparities in the numbers of black people contracting and dying of COVID-19.

The Illinois data shows that 29.4% of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state are black residents, and black people account for 41.2% of COVID-19 deaths in the state. Black people account for just 14% of the state’s population.

“I have seen in my waiting rooms, in my exam rooms, mostly black and brown patients who are essential workers and service workers who cannot afford to stay home,” Dr. Uche Blackstock, an Emergency Room doctor in Brooklyn and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, said on the press call.

She said that the data is essential because it could change how authorities deal with the public health crisis, including directing resources to the communities and parts of the country most urgently in need.

“In the past the CDC has tracked those types of data, demographic race and ethnicity data for other virulent outbreaks, and they’ve typically released that kind of data in the past, but they’re not doing so for COVID-19,” said Dariely Rodriguez, director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Economic Justice Project.

The short supply of testing in the US is one major concern for Dr. Taison Bell, an assistant professor at UVA in the infectious disease and pulmonary critical care division, who said, “early and aggressive testing allows us all to stay safe.”

“We see in states that aren’t reporting on racial demographics that there’s been a surge of patients dying of respiratory diseases … These are conditions caused by COVID-19,” Bell said, adding that pre-existing conditions that make COVID-19 more fatal, like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, are also more prevalent in black communities.

More on the coronavirus

  • Doctors And Nurses Say More People Are Dying Of COVID-19 In The US Than We KnowNidhi Prakash · March 26, 2020
  • Doctors Are Concerned That Black Communities Might Not Be Getting Access To Coronavirus TestsNidhi Prakash · March 22, 2020
  • After The Coronavirus Passes, Your World Will Not Go Back To NormalRyan Broderick · April 2, 2020

  • Nidhi Prakash is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

    Contact Nidhi Prakash at [email protected]

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

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6.30pm Man Utd news LIVE: Sancho transfer agreed, Rooney breaks coronavirus lockdown with Kyle Walker – The Sun

MANCHESTER UNITED are pressing ahead with their transfer business, with Jadon Sancho reportedly agreeing to move to Old Trafford.

But Red Devils legend Wayne Rooney has been caught breaking the coronavirus lockdown with Kyle Walker.

Follow all the latest gossip and news from Old Trafford below…

  • CHERRY PICKED

    Exclusive by Alan Nixon: Bournemouth are set to end their ‘spend, spend, spend’ policy and open the door to selling Manchester United target David Brooks.

    Owner Maxim Demin has backed the Cherries success story during their remarkable rise to the Premier League but is now planning a change of tactics.

    Winger David Brooks, 22, would have been a wanted man if he had not missed the season with a serious ankle injury.

    Manchester United and Spurs were keen and could rekindle their interest if he regains fitness.

    The Wales international featured 33 times for the Cherries in all competitions last season.

    He chipped in with a total of seven goals and five assists, with the player getting on the score sheet against the likes of Chelsea, Brighton and Fulham.

  • RUD NOT TO

    Former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud could be set to extend his stay in the Premier League despite looking for a move away in January.

    His agent Vincenzo Morabito told Calciomercato: “Giroud was an opportunity in January but now, given that the championships could also be played in June and July, he could decide to stay at Chelsea for another year.

    “However, everything is still uncertain, given the general situation which, in my opinion, may have cleared up in a few weeks, between the end of April and the beginning of May the picture could be more complete.”

  • TAKE AS RED

    Liverpool will win the 2019-20 Premier League title, according to Uefa chief Aleksander Ceferin – even if it's in the office.

    He told Slovenian media: “I can't see a way Liverpool could be left without a title.

    “If the Premier League resumes play, Liverpool will almost certainly win the title.

    “Theoretically it's not all over, but practically Liverpool are on the verge of it.

    “If by any chance the play will not resume, we still have to find a way to declare final results, to declare champions.

    “And again I cannot see, I cannot imagine a scenario, in which the champions would not be Liverpool.

    “I understand the fans will be disappointed if it happens in an empty stadium or even in the league offices, but I believe, they will get the title one way or another.”

  • DEVIL MAY CARE

    Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah may be on his way out of the club with his contract set to expire in the summer.

    According to The Mirror, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to decide whether he wants to give the the Netherlands international a new deal.

    Fosu-Mensah last turned out for the Red Devils in May 2017.

  • AB FAB

    Bruno Fernandes has taken on Cristiano Ronaldo in the ab crunch challenge.

    The Juventus star and Fernandes' Portugal team-mate launched his Living Room Cup yesterday after he released a video showing him doing 142 crunches in just 45 seconds.

    Fernandes managed 117 crunches in his video – some 25 fewer than Ronaldo.

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Man Utd email 900 staff to confirm they won’t be furloughed despite coronavirus crisis – The Sun

MANCHESTER UNITED have emailed their 900-strong staff to confirm that none of them will be furloughed amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Red Devils informed their workers on Monday that they will continue to be paid in full despite other Premier League clubs taking the decision to put their own staff on the government's furlough scheme.

Staff who are unable to work or find themselves with a reduced workload have been asked to undertake volunteer work with the NHS or a local charity.

Meanwhile, casual workers will be paid until June 1 after the date was extended by Ed Woodward.

The United chief also assured workers they will be able to fit their schedules around their family too.

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Honor Blackman, James Bond’s Pussy Galore, dead at 94

Honor Blackman, the actress best known for her role as Pussy Galore in James Bond film “Goldfinger,” has died. She was 94.

Blackman’s family says she died of natural causes unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement to the Guardian, they called her “adored mother and grandmother” with “an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess.”

“It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Honor Blackman aged 94,” the statement read. “She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby.”

The statement continued: “As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent; with an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess, along with her unique voice and a dedicated work ethic, she achieved an unparalleled iconic status in the world of film and entertainment and with absolute commitment to her craft and total professionalism in all the endeavors she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times.”

Blackman is best known for her role as Pussy Galore in the third James Bond flick, “Goldfinger,” in 1964. She landed the role thanks to her proficiency in martial arts, which she learned playing Catherine Gale in spy show “The Avengers” from 1962 to 1964.

She also starred in “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963), “Shalako” (1968) and “The Virgin and the Gypsy” (1970). Blackman also played Laura West in 1990’s sitcom “The Upper Hand” and appeared in theatrical productions including “The Sound of Music,” “My Fair Lady” and “Cabaret.”

But her legacy as Bond girl nemesis Pussy Galore lives on — and the origin of her name in the film was recently explained for the Iconic Images Gallery, which debuted an online exhibit of photos taken by photographer Terry O’Neill on the set of James Bond films.

“Blackman became the Bond girl that broke all the rules,” O’Neill tells GQ. “Concerned over censorship, the producers considered changing her character’s name to Kitty Galore, but art triumphed over censors and the filmmakers stuck to their guns.”

GOLDFINGER, Honor Blackman, 1964THE AVENGERS, Honor Blackman, Patrick Macnee, TV Series 1961-1969GOLDFINGER, Honor Blackman, 1964.JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, from left: Niall MacGinnis as Zeus, Honor Blackman as Hera, 1963THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS, from left, Honor Blackman, James Booth, 1965

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Will Blackpink be a threat to BTS in 2020?

While it might have its critics, it can’t be denied that Korean pop music (or K-Pop) has not only made an impression on audiences in the U.S., but is stateside for the long-haul. Need proof? Look no further than the popularity of Korean boyband BTS. 

The seven-person group (comprised of members V, J-Hope, Jimin, RM, Suga, Jungkook, and Jin) has taken America by storm ever since they became “only the third group in 50 years to have three number one albums on the Billboard 200 charts in less than 12 months,” per CNN. The two other groups? The Beatles and The Monkees. Fittingly, CNN even compared BTS’ American debut to Beatlemania. 

That being said, BTS is far from the only K-Pop mega-group to have made its mark in the hearts (and ears) of American music-lovers. Blackpink, a four-part all-female K-Pop group (made up of members Jisoo, Lisa, Rosé, and Jennie), have been long-standing darlings of the South Korean pop scene since 2016. The group managed to make its debut on the Billboard 200 in 2019 with the EP “Kill This Love” and a single of the same name, complete with an American tour and a history-making performance at one of the United States’ biggest music festivals.

Even though BTS was previously on hiatus and Blackpink took a break as well, it’s beginning to look like we have a battle of the (K-Pop) bands on our hands. If that’s the case, does this mean Blackpink will be a threat to BTS in 2020?

Unexpected hurdles and delays for Blackpink

While Forbes predicted in December 2019 that Blackpink’s comeback, which was then slated for early 2020, would lead to a huge surge in popularity and music streams stateside for the group, the projections look like they’re going to be derailed. The reason? You guessed it — the coronavirus.

As reported by Koreaboo, investor reports revealed that Blackpink’s next mini-album and subsequent tour — which their agency YG Entertainment announced in January 2020 was scheduled for a release sometime between March and April 2020 — was postponed due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea.

While at first glance it seems that COVID-19 would feasibly only effect promotional events and touring, its reach is sadly more widespread. Album production itself, and even shipment of fan merchandise, is also currently delayed with no sign of resuming anytime soon.

Another major factor? South Korea has been one of the countries hit hardest by the novel coronavirus. As of April 6, 2020, over 10,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since the first diagnosed case in the country in January 2020 (via Statista). 

When will Blackpink make their comeback?

While COVID-19 has left many of us with uncertainty as to what the near future will hold, YG Entertainment still plans on Blackpink’s comeback later this year — June 2020, to be exact, per Koreaboo. Unfortunately for fans, this will still mean over a year of waiting for the K-Pop girl group’s long-anticipated return. Their last song release was in April 2019 for their single “Kill This Love.”

As for whether 2020 will be the year Blackpink bypasses BTS in popularity if COVID-19 delays their comeback, Forbes thinks it’s unlikely. Hypothetically, if neither K-Pop group came out with any new material, their respective increases in music streams — BTS at 50 percent with two billion streams on Spotify, followed by three billion streams total on the same platform in 2019; Blackpink at a respectable 1.1 billion streams in 2019 on the same platform with a 168 percent increase from the previous year — would have continued exponentially, albeit statically. 

So what does this mean? If Forbes’ projections for this scenario had ended up being the case (more on that in a minute) — and if we’re solely judging popularity by music streams on Spotify — then BTS would have still beat out Blackpink by almost a million streams, BTS with 4.5 billion and Blackpink with 2.95 billion.

BTS makes an unexpected move

Unfortunately for Blackpink, it looks like a monkey wrench was thrown into the mix — the “monkey wrench” being a BTS follow-up to their 2019 best-selling album, Map of the Soul: Persona.

Of course, at the time Forbes came out with its predictions, the media outlet didn’t account for another anomaly — another BTS album. Unlike Blackpink, BTS was able to finish and produce their latest album, Map of the Soul: 7, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Following its debut in February 2020, Map of the Soul: 7 garnered a number one slot on the Billboard 200 charts, making it the fourth album by the band to snag the top spot. 

When it comes to pitting BTS against Blackpink, it’s a pretty hard blow for the girl group. But does this mean that Blackpink is done for when it comes to U.S. audiences? We’re not so sure. 

BTS versus Blackpink: who will come out on top?

To be fair, Spotify streams are hardly the only means of determining popularity or success when it comes to both of these K-Pop supergroups. While BTS might have the most engaged followers than any other account on Twitter (as per Axios), it doesn’t take into account that, when it comes to U.S. audiences, Blackpink is a fresher face.

Additionally, Blackpink has been forging paths that not even BTS has managed to pave. Case in point? In April 2019, the Korean pop quartet made history by being the first K-Pop group ever to perform at Coachella, which Mashable called a “milestone moment” — one that introduced the group to an entirely new population of fans.

So will Blackpink be a threat to BTS in 2020? It remains to be seen. But will they definitely pose a threat? It looks like they already have.

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ACM 'Our Country': 5 Must-See Performances

With the 55th ACM Awards postponed until September, the Academy of Country Music, along with CBS and Dick Clark Productions, filled the original Sunday-night awards-show time slot with two hours of at-home musical performance. Luke Combs, Little Big Town, and Kane Brown with John Legend all sent in prerecorded footage of them singing inspiring songs. It was an outside-the-box concert experience, but it worked. Here are five standout performances.

Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone”
There was something oddly familiar about witnessing Carrie Underwood on her couch in her comfies, a glass of red within arm’s reach. She knew it too. “This song actually seems to be striking a chord more than ever with a lot of you these days,” she said, teeing up the instantly appropriate “Drinking Alone.” Without the production of her stage show behind here, she seized the opportunity to show off both her charisma and that voice.

Miranda Lambert, “Bluebird”
If ever there were a pitch-perfect country song for this moment, it’s Miranda Lambert’s “Bluebird.” The lovely number from her 2019 album Wildcard dares to find hope even if “the whole wide world stops singing, and all the stars go dark.” Seated on the porch of her farm in Tennessee, Lambert gave an abbreviated acoustic rendition of the song and reiterated its message of singing in spite of the darkness surrounding us. “I want to remind everybody to lean into your music, lean into your guitars, your pianos, your voices, and let that that heal you,” she said, before nailing those perfectly heartbreaking melodies.

Shania Twain, “Honey I’m Home/Man! I Feel Like a Woman”
Injecting the special with a little dose of campy fun, Shania Twain gave the most over-the-top performance of the evening without breaking a sweat. Seated in her barn in Las Vegas, the singer was joined for a medley of “Honey I’m Home” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” by her sleeping dog and one curious horse who seemed to be bent on chewing all the scenery. If this were a weekly TV series, we’d dress in our fringed finery and watch it.

Lady Antebellum, “What I’m Leaving For”
With a little musical preproduction from group studio wiz Dave Haywood, Lady Antebellum offered a gorgeous rendition of “What I’m Leaving For,” a song that Hillary Scott dedicated to the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers currently making great sacrifices to treat COVID-19 patients. It was also one of the show’s most disarming performances, thanks to the kids of Charles Kelley and Haywood, who each made cameos. Another slice of welcome normalcy in times that are anything but.

Eric Church, “Never Break Heart”
“The important thing to remember is to not fear, to be brave, and to endure. That’s what this song is about,” said Church, introducing the new “Never Break Heart.” With echoes of both “Monsters” and “Some of It,” the track is Church at his most inspiring, offering words of advice to never let this cruel world shake your faith or break your heart.

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Data scientist explains how Google searches could help in coronavirus fight

An economist and expert on big data penned an op-ed in the New York Times Sunday that said Google search terms may help health officials determine the next coronavirus hot spot.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a data scientist, wrote that searches for “I can’t smell” increased in states like Louisiana and New York last week, two of the hardest-hit states in the US.

It is widely known that the loss of taste and smell is a key indicator of a coronavirus infection.

Stephens-Davidowitz pointed out that Ecuadorians are “making more searches related to the loss of smell than any other country in the world.”

“Searches for “no puedo oler” (“I can’t smell”) are some 10 times higher per Google search in Ecuador than they are in Spain, even though Ecuador officially reports more than ten times fewer COVID-19 cases per capita than Spain does,” he wrote.

He wrote that he downloaded “state-level Google search data in the previous week for dozens of symptoms” that he obtained from medicinenet.com and found that the three most common complaints were the loss of smell, fever and chills. But he also noticed that the fourth most common search was eye pain.

He wrote that “my eyes hurt” were high searches in Spain last February and states that were hit hard by the virus. He pointed out that there have been reports that coronavirus patients complained of eye trouble.

The coronavirus has infected 1.2 million people across the world and killed about 70,000. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus so health officials have insisted that the public exercises “social distancing.”

There are many elements about the virus that remains vexing, like why it is fatal in some cases and asymptomatic in others. The potential that a Google search could give governments early knowledge about where the virus may hit next could be valuable in exercising early quarantines.

Stephens-Davidowitz admitted that just because “my eyes hurt” increased in these states, it is not proof, but he wrote, “search data offers suggestive evidence that eye pain can be a symptom of the disease. However, it might only affect a small fraction of Covid-19 patients.”

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H.E.R. Launches 'Girls With Guitars' Instagram Live Series

H.E.R. has announced that she’ll be launching her own Instagram Live series, Girls With Guitars, kicking off Monday night at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The show featuring the two-time Grammy Award winner will run weekly and highlight live performances, including originals from H.E.R.’s catalogue as well as covers and fan requests. H.E.R. will also bring on other women guitarists for performances and conversations about their craft. Fans can follow H.E.R.’s Instagram page to find out who will be invited onto Girls With Guitars each week.

H.E.R. is the latest artist to launch a livestream series in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Because musicians are unable to tour during this time, livestreaming has become a viable avenue for artists looking to put their music out into the world and connect with fans during this time of social distancing. Other celebrities, including Miley Cyrus and Charli XCX, have incorporated talk show-style conversations into their livestreams, interviewing guests like Demi Lovato, Orville Peck and Rina Sawayama.

H.E.R. took home two Grammys in 2019 and was nominated for five more at this year’s ceremony, including Record of the Year for “Hard Place” and Album of the Year for I Used to Know H.E.R.

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Social media giants are urged to deal with 5G conspiracy theorists

Government to meet with social media giants to tackle ‘crazed conspiracy theory’ that 5G causes coronavirus following a spate of arson attacks on mobile masts

  • The government will meet with Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and others over 5G
  • They want to ensure the companies do as much as possible to stop the theories
  • Some of the conspiracy theories being spread are branded ‘dangerous to health’
  • A government spokesperson the ideas were just a ‘crazed conspiracy theory’ 

Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies are being urged by the government to deal with a spate of conspiracy theories linking 5G to coronavirus. 

Ministers will meet with the companies after mobile masts in Birmingham, Merseyside and Belfast were set on fire following theories being posted online.

Mobile companies described the fears 5G caused coronavirus as ‘baseless’, with the government describing the theories as harmful to public health. 

A spokesman for the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said that the idea of 5G masts being responsible for coronavirus is a ‘crazed conspiracy theory’. 


Government officials will meet with the companies after mobile masts in Birmingham, Merseyside and Belfast were set on fire

There is no scientific evidence that 5G technology poses any threat to human health and it was confirmed as safe by the radiation watchdog last month. 

As well as mast burning, engineers have been facing physical and verbal threats from those who believe the ‘baseless’ theories being spread on social media. 

One of the prominent fears being spread by people, including some celebrities, includes the idea that radiation from 5G masts lowers people’s immune system. 

Culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, will meet with Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Twitter ‘to hammer the message home’ that the claims are ‘utter rubbish’.

A spokesperson for the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC they had several reports of criminal damage to phone masts and abuse of telecom engineers ‘inspired by crackpot conspiracy theories’. 

‘Those responsible for criminal acts will face the full force of the law. We must also see social media companies acting responsibly and taking much swifter action to stop nonsense spreading on their platforms which encourages such acts.’ 

WHAT DO 5G CONSPIRACY THEORISTS BELIEVE? 

One theory claims that the coronavirus originated in Wuhan because the city had been rolling out 5G.

It suggests it has been spread to other cities that are also using 5G.

Other theories suggest that the radiation emitted by 5G masts lowers the immune system of people nearby.

One version of this theory suggests the radiation sucks the oxygen out of the atmosphere and disrupts the regular functioning of the human body. 

Scientists have described the claims as baseless and a biological ‘impossibility’.  

Mobile UK, the trade body which represents network providers, said key workers had been abused and infrastructure threatened as a result of the claims. 

National medical director of NHS England Professor Steve Powis said: ‘I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency.’

Last week, West Midlands Fire Service said eight firefighters attended an incident involving a 70ft tower on a telecommunications site in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham, although the cause of the fire was not determined.

Fire crews were called to a blaze at a phone mast in Aintree, Merseyside, on Friday night but a spokeswoman for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said there were ‘no signs of foul play’ so an investigation into its cause was not launched.

The mast had been featured in a video shared on social media the previous weekend by someone who claimed to be measuring radiation from it. 

Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said the theories spreading from various social media groups and profiles were ‘just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well.’

Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said: ‘Conspiracy theorists are a public health danger who once read a Facebook page.

‘Here, we also see similar groups of people keen to show their ignorance on a topic where they have no helpful expertise, nor any inclination to post useful public health messages.’

The world health organisation has branded the spread of disinformation about COVID-19 on social media platforms as an ‘infodemic’.

On 5G generally the World Health Organisation said: ”A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. 

‘To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.’ 

Professor Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said the internet connections from the 5G networks are one of the most important tools in the effort to co-ordinate the response to coronavirus.  

Brendan Wren, professor of microbial pathogenesis, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said a connection between the phone masts and the virus would be ‘both a physical and biological impossibility’.

Mobile networks including Three, O2, EE and Vodafone were forced to debunk the various theories circulating about 5G, especially those linking it to COVID-19.

They said it was concerning the pandemic was being used to further untruths.

Facebook deleted a Facebook group full of conspiracy theorists claiming 5G being emitted from masts was sparking coronavirus.

The company said it breached its policies because it had the potential to cause real world harm from the content being shared.

There were multiple videos claiming to show 5G towers on fire on the page and it encouraged others to do the same thing. 

Facebook deleted a Facebook group full of conspiracy theorists claiming 5G being emitted from masts was sparking coronavirus

Mobile UK said it was ‘concerning that certain groups are using the Covid-19 pandemic to spread false rumours and theories about the safety of 5G technologies’.

‘More worryingly some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretence of claims about 5G,’ a statement said. 

The group said it was ‘not acceptable’ as it impacts on the industry and its ability to maintain the resilience and capacity of the network to support people working from home during the pandemic lockdown.

‘Research into the safety of radio signals including 5G, conducted over more than 50 years, has led to the establishment of human exposure standards including safety factors that protect against all established health risks.’

Radiation watchdog ICNIRP published new guidelines for the use of the frequencies 5G uses and found there were ‘no risks of cancer or other illness’ after a 7 year study.

They have introduced new guidelines for device manufacturers that limit the use of the highest- 6Ghz – parts of the radio spectrum that could be used for 5G but aren’t implemented by any carriers in the UK or USA.

The number of theories about the impact of 5G on the human body has been rising, with some groups claiming it can cause male infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

The most recent trend among conspiracy theorists has been to link it to COVID-19.

Mobile UK said it was ‘concerning that certain groups are using the Covid-19 pandemic to spread false rumours and theories about the safety of 5G technologies’

A spokeswoman for the GSMA – the body responsible for the telecom industry in the UK – said the guidelines prove existing technology is safe.

‘Importantly, the health risk assessment is unchanged. The review found no established health risks to anyone, including children, using mobile phones or living near base stations,’ she said. 

All major telecom companies in the UK have now launched 5G networks, with more than 100 locations connected to the next generation service.

Other health theories blamed on the roll out of 5G include headaches and the spread of coronavirus. 

Testing by UK communications regulator Ofcom of existing 5G masts found that they were using a ‘small fraction’ of allowable emissions with the highest reading at just 1.5 per cent of the maximum level.

Public Health England said: ‘The overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health.’ 

Fact-checking site FullFact, the UK’s leading and independent fact-checking charity, said this week: ‘There is no evidence that 5G WiFi networks are linked to the new coronavirus.’ 

Director general of industry organisation GSMA, Mats Granryd, said: ‘The telecoms industry is working around the clock to keep vital health, education and emergency services online, businesses running, and friends and families connected.

‘It is deplorable that critical communications infrastructure is being attacked based on outright mistruths. We urge everyone to trust health authorities and rest assured communications technology is safe. There is no link between 5G and Covid-19.’ 

Ofcom has warned broadcasters not to spread the baseless theories as they ‘have the potential to undermine people’s trust in the advice of mainstream sources of information’ during a health crisis. 

WHAT IS 5G AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

The evolution of the G system started in 1980 with the invention of the mobile phone which allowed for analogue data to be transmitted via phone calls.   

Digital came into play in 1991 with 2G and SMS and MMS capabilities were launched. 

Since then, the capabilities and carrying capacity for the mobile network has increased massively. 

More data can be transferred from one point to another via the mobile network quicker than ever.

5G is expected to be 100 times faster than the currently used 4G. 

Whilst the jump from 3G to 4G was most beneficial for mobile browsing and working, the step to 5G will be so fast they become almost real-time. 

That means mobile operations will be just as fast as office-based internet connections.

Potential uses for 5g include: 

  • Simultaneous translation of several languages in a party conference call 
  • Self-driving cars can stream movies, music and navigation information from the cloud
  • A full length 8GB film can be downloaded in six seconds. 

5G is expected to be so quick and efficient it is possible it could start the end of wired connections.  

By the end of 2020, industry estimates claim 50 billion devices will be connected to 5G.

The evolution of from 1G to 5G. The predicted speed of 5G is more than 1Gbps – 1,000 times greater than the existing speed of 4G and could be implemented in laptops of the future 

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