5 Things You Need to Know Today in Worcester — Thursday, Feb. 13

by | Feb 13, 2020 | News, COVID-19

In today’s daily 5 Things You Need to Know feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com explores five important items and stories that Worcester and Central Massachusetts residents should keep a close eye on.

These five things can cover a whole range of subjects and issues that we feel are pertinent to understanding what’s going on in the city and the cities and towns surrounding Worcester.

In today’s edition — Thursday, Feb. 13 —  a WPI professor has come up with a coronavirus road map, opioid deaths are down in the state, Clark’s continuing its “bodies” symposium, the Attorney General’s office has sued JUUL, and Worcester Center for Crafts offers you a pasta dinner. 

WPI Researcher Shares 3D Roadmap of Coronavirus with Scientists Worldwide

A Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) bioinformatics researcher has created and unveiled a structural 3D roadmap of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a major development that potentially holds the key to understanding the spread and treatment of the deadly virus.

Using a recently published viral genome of the Wuhan coronavirus made available on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, Dmitry Korkin and a team of graduate students used molecular modeling to reconstruct the 3D structure of major viral proteins and their interactions with human proteins.

“We’re confident that our data and visual models could provide the guidance for experimental scientists worldwide who are working feverishly to solve this pandemic,” said Korkin, associate professor of computer science at WPI and director of the university’s bioinformatics and computational biology program.


Clark University’s Higgins School of Humanities Continues Public Symposium on Bodies

In Spring 2020, Clark University’s Higgins School of Humanities will launch the second half of its symposium on bodies. This semester’s programming explores art (dance, photography, film), unexpected pairings (arithmetic and abortifacients, musical criticism and disgust), and fresh ways of thinking how bodies signify (plastic surgery, linguistic embodiment).

Admission is free and open to the public. The following is a list of the events surrounding the symposium, with the details found here. All are held on campus. 

Ongoing Exhibit: “In the Flesh” by Elli Crocker, Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons: Mind/body duality. The human place in the natural world. “In the Flesh” will be on display in the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons through May 18. 

Higgins Faculty Series Lecture: Declarations of Disgust: Reflections on an Ideological Dimension of Music Criticism, ca. 1900, Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 4:30 p.m., Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons. Classical music criticism was a remarkably vibrant genre of journalism at the end of the 19th century. In this talk, Benjamin Korstvedt, professor of music at Clark University, considers how the language of criticism engaged with the turbulent cultural politics of German-speaking Europe at that time. 

Artist Talk, Screening and Reception: With Dad, Thursday, Feb. 27, at 4:30 p.m.,

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons: In his recently released photographic journal, With Dad, Clark University’s Stephen DiRado chronicles his father Gene’s decline into Alzheimer’s through a series of images captured over twenty-plus years. Join for an artist talk by Stephen DiRado and a screening of Soren Sorensen’s forthcoming short film. Refreshments will be offered.

Go here for several more events.


A Penne For Your Thoughts: Eat Pasta to Benefit Worcester Center for Crafts 

Join Worcester Center for Crafts on Saturday, March 7, for a night to remember be filled with food, ceramic wonders and fun​: ​a pasta benefit dinner catered by Ciao Bella, a handmade ​​plate of your choice to take home and a lively auction​— all to raise money for the Center. 

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at Worcester Center for Crafts. Reservations are required, and tickets are $45 per person for adults, 10 for children under 12. VIP tickets are available for $65 per person. Go here for your tickets. 

Attorney General Sues JUUL for Youth Vaping Epidemic

Attorney General Maura Healey announced on Wednesday that her office sued JUUL Labs Inc. for creating a youth vaping epidemic by intentionally marketing and selling its e-cigarettes to young people. 

In a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Wednesday against JUUL Labs Inc. and its predecessor entity Pax Labs Inc. (together, “JUUL”), the AG’s Office alleges that the company illegally advertised and sold nicotine products to underage youth and created an epidemic of nicotine addiction among young people. The lawsuit demands that JUUL pay for the costs associated with combating this public health crisis affecting young people across Massachusetts.

“JUUL is responsible for the millions of young people nationwide who are addicted to e-cigarettes, reversing decades of progress in combatting underage tobacco and nicotine use,” said AG Healey. “Our lawsuit sheds new light on the company’s intent to target young people, and we are going to make them pay for the public health crisis they caused in Massachusetts.”


Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths Down in Massachusetts

The rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts fell an estimated 5 percent from its peak in 2016, despite the growing presence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl as a driver of opioid-related overdose deaths, according to preliminary data in the latest quarterly opioid surveillance report released on Wednesday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

In 2019, the opioid-related overdose death rate was 29 per 100,000 people, compared to 30.5 per 100,000 people in 2016. Preliminary data shows that in 2019, there were 2,023 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths, while for the same period in 2016 there were 2,097 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths.

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