Melbourne Storm’s past success masks enormous 2020 achievement, says Billy Slater

Only two NRL clubs were forced to move away from home this season – the Storm, and the New Zealand Warriors, who left their families in Auckland and spent the campaign on tour.

The Warriors, who finished 10th with an 8-12 record, were praised throughout the league for their sacrifice as it allowed the season to go ahead in its full form.

Storm’s Jesse Bromwich has a laugh at training teammates on Wednesday.Credit:Getty Images

They travelled without the families as opposed to the Storm who were able to bring their families to their Sunshine Coast resort base although they couldn’t leave the resort for much of the season.

“Because the club is so successful and professional, I don’t think this group have got the recognition for what they have done this year,” Slater said.


“They are only one of two teams who had to pack their suitcase and move to a different destination to live and still perform at the elite level.

“The Warriors are the other side. If they had made the grand final you could imagine the stories and headlines that would surround that but because it’s the Melbourne Storm, it has become the normal thing that the Storm are successful.

“I think sometimes that gets lost, the enormity of what they have been able to achieve already and could possibly further achieve on Sunday night.”

The Panthers have lost just one game this season and drawn another so they will start as favourites but the Storm will have the edge in grand final experience with the likes of Cameron Smith, Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane having played in multiple grand finals.

If the Storm come out as premiers, Slater knows it will be a special achievement.

“I’m back here in Melbourne and I think to myself, wow, what an achievement it has been and what it could be come 9pm on Sunday night,” Slater said.

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Coronavirus Masks, Explained | The National Interest

Face masks reduce the spread of viruses passed on from respiratory secretions. While cloth masks are imperfect, widespread use of an imperfect mask has the potential to make a big difference in transmission of the virus.

We started reading the research on cloth masks and face coverings at the start of the pandemic, looking for ways to protect our vulnerable dialysis patients and our dialysis staff. We found a total of 25 studies, advocated for mask use and summarized our findings in a peer-reviewed publication. We also created an evidence-based, plain-language website ( to help people navigate this area.

Although mask use has been widely adopted, many people still have questions about them.

I See Spaces in the Cloth. How Can It Stop Particles?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is about 0.1 micrometer in diameter. (A micrometer (µm) is one one-thousandth of a millimeter.) The holes in woven cloth are visible to the naked eye and may be five to 200 micrometers in diameter. It is counter-intuitive that cloth can be useful in this setting — it’s been compared to putting up a chain-link fence to stop mosquitoes. However, that analogy is wrong in many ways.

According to aerosol science, whenever liquid hangs in air it is technically an aerosol, but other disciplines use the word “droplet” to mean a coarse particle five micrometers or larger, and reserve “aerosol” for fine particles smaller than five micrometers in effective diameter.

When we breathe, talk, eat, cough, sneeze or sing, we emit particles across a range of sizes, both coarse and fine, and the virus is in those particles. Even though there are gaps between the threads in cloth, the threads are usually wider than the gaps.

Also, at this microscopic level, the thread has thickness, or depth, so the gap is more a tunnel than a window. Microfilaments from broken or irregular threads project into the gap. The particle is not like a mosquito, which can redirect itself to avoid obstacles. A particle with momentum will run into a fibre, even though the air stream is diverted around it, like a ball hitting a wall — this is called impaction.

But at the microscopic level, there are two additional processes in play. Particles also fall out of the air — called sedimentation. Some particles are moving randomly and this random motion brings them into contact with fibres — called diffusion. Finally, cloth can be used in multiple layers, adding a second and third gauntlet for the particle to run before it reaches the other side.

The point is not that some particles may penetrate the cloth, but that some are blocked.

What are the Best Materials for Cloth Face Masks?

Based on our summary of 25 different studies, woven cotton, at least 100 threads per inch; flannel, either cotton or poly-cotton blend, at least 90 threads per inch; tea towel material; and heavy, good quality, cotton T-shirt material all performed well. This recommendation is based on the published data available, which doesn’t cover all possible mask materials: we didn’t find a lot of information on synthetic materials, for example, so we don’t know how they compare.

Every study that looked at layering found that it made a difference, so we recommend that masks be made of at least two layers; three or four may be even better. We found evidence for multiple layers of the same fabrics and for sandwiches of different materials. We did not find good evidence of useful levels of filtration for disposable filters, like coffee filters, so we suggest not using them.

For example, a two-layer T-shirt mask with a sewn edge — which prevents stretching — prevented 79 per cent of mouth bacteria reaching the environment during coughing. In the same experiment, a modern disposable medical mask performed in the same range at 85 per cent.

Two studies of surgical masks from the 1960s and 1970s distinguished between coarse particles (sometimes called droplets) and fine particles (sometimes called aerosols). A four-layer cotton mask and a mask made of a sandwich of cotton and flannel both reduced mouth bacteria in particles of all sizes reaching the environment during talking by 99 per cent and mouth bacteria in fine particles by 89 per cent.

This is all good evidence that cloth face coverings can prevent respiratory secretions from reaching the environment. Every coarse or fine particle trapped in a mask is not available to hang in the air or fall to a surface and contaminate it. “My mask protects you, your mask protects me”: if many people wear face coverings we expect the probability of transmission to fall.

Can a Cloth Mask Protect the Person Wearing It?

We found four studies of inward filtration, all of which showed useful levels of filtration, all using the same widely-accepted technology that measures salt particles in the fine particle (0.02 to 1.0 micrometer) range. A study of one-layer tea-towel masks and a study of two-layer masks made of T-shirt material both showed at least 50 per cent protection for fine particles. Two cloth masks of unknown materials randomly purchased from street vendors performed just as well. For comparison, two of these studies — using exactly the same methods — examined how well modern disposable medical masks worked when tested on volunteers: they filtered around 80 per cent of fine particles.

Three researchers from the University of Pittsburgh made complex masks with eight layers of pre-shrunk high-quality cotton T-shirts fitted to their own faces: each filtered more than 90 per cent of inward aerosol-sized fine particles, offering proof-of-concept for the idea of designing better cloth masks.

An animal experiment with tuberculosis bacteria provides further insight. Tuberculosis is usually considered an “airborne” disease, that is, one with an important transmission route through aerosols or fine particles. When caring for tuberculosis patients, health-care workers wear N95 masks, a high level of respiratory protection, to protect themselves and prevent onward transmission to others. When rabbits were exposed to aerosols of tuberculosis in controlled conditions, tuberculomas (infected abscesses) were reduced by 95 per cent in rabbits that wore close-fitting three- to six-layer gauze masks compared with those that did not.

Many of the cloth masks in current use, therefore, are likely producing useful levels of filtration to the person wearing them, and we have proof-of-concept for improved cloth mask materials and design.

At What Rate of Use do Masks Become Beneficial?

Two modelling studies predict that 50 per cent adoption of a 50 per cent effective mask will have an important effect on transmission, and that if either percentage is increased, transmission is further reduced. We need to work on making cloth masks more effective, but the masks that we have on hand have the potential to change the course of the pandemic, particularly if we almost all wear them.

Mask mandates were imposed at different times in different states in the United States, creating a natural experiment. The COVID-19 daily growth rate fell by one per cent in the first five days and by two per cent at 21 days after a mask mandate was imposed. These effects are not small: they represent 16 to 19 per cent of the effects of other much more invasive measures (school closures, bans on large gatherings, shelter-in-place orders and closures of restaurants, bars and entertainment venues).

Taken together, this suggests that cloth face coverings of the type currently available have the potential to reduce transmission, and that when cloth face coverings are mandated, the growth rate decreases. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle projected on Sept. 3 that an increase in mask usage from the current 60 per cent to 95 per cent, combined with enhanced local social distancing as needed, would reduce global deaths by three-quarters of a million people before the end of 2020.

Are There Any Other Benefits to Wearing a Mask?

A new hypothesis advanced by researchers at the University of California San Francisco suggests that cloth masks don’t just reduce the probability of infectious organisms reaching a person, but also the number of infectious organisms — and that a lower number of infecting organisms leads to less severe disease.

Accumulating epidemiologic evidence from this pandemic suggests that when masks are worn, the overall severity of illness is lower. The proportion of those infected who remain asymptomatic is higher, and the probability of dying is lower. In animal experiments it is well known that the inoculum (the infecting dose) is related to disease severity. The threshold at which 50 per cent of animals in a group receiving the same dose die of infection is called the lethal-dose 50 (LD50).

Experiments on mice using the coronaviruses MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and SARS-CoV-1, which caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, showed dose-response and in MERS-CoV established LD50. In hamsters separated by surgical masks between cages from hamsters infected with SARS-CoV-2, the severity of infection was reduced compared with hamsters unprotected by masks.

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Donald Trump Tosses MAGA Coronavirus Masks to Rally Crowd in Florida

President Donald Trump on Monday took the stage at a campaign rally in Sanford, Florida, tossing out packaged campaign-branded masks to the crowd.

“It’s great to be back,” Trump told his audience, noting this is his first in-person campaign event since testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus on October 1.

“It’s great to be back in my home state Florida to make my official return to the campaign trail,” Trump said. “I am so energized by your prayers and humbled by your support. We’ve had such incredible support and here we are!”

The president said the United States had made progress on coronavirus treatments and therapeutics.

“We are going to take whatever the hell they gave me and we’re going to distribute it around the hospitals and everyone is going to have the same damn thing,” Trump said.

The president boasted that he felt great after recovering from the virus.

“I went through it. Now they say I’m immune,” he said as the crowd cheered. “I feel so powerful, I’ll walk into that audience, I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, and everybody, I’ll give you a big wet fat kiss.”

Matt Perdie

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Victorian children return to school, calls for mandatory masks on NSW public transport

Washington: US President Donald Trump says he has fully recovered from COVID-19 and is not an infection risk for others, freeing him to return to holding big campaign rallies during the final weeks of the race for the White House.

Trump also said, without producing evidence, that he was now immune, a claim that drew a flag from Twitter for violating the social media platform’s rules about misleading information related to COVID-19.

Trump supporters at a rally in Laredo, Texas, on Saturday, October 10.Credit:Bloomberg

The comments from Trump came on Sunday, local time, a day after his physician said the President had taken a test showing he was no longer infectious. He did not say directly whether Trump had tested negative for COVID-19.

“I passed the highest test, the highest standards, and I’m in great shape,” Trump told Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures.

Trump, who is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls, is eager to get back on the campaign trail after an absence of more than a week. He plans to travel to the key battleground state of Florida on Monday, followed by rallies in Pennsylvania and Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Read the full Reuters story here.

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Email points to ban on masks in virus-stricken jail housing

An email points to an outright ban on masks in housing units in a jail dealing with a coronavirus outbreak that’s linked to a wedding and reception that made national news

The York County Jail became a coronavirus hotspot after an employee who attended an August wedding more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) away in the Katahdin region spread the virus. The number of cases associated with the jail was approaching 90 as of Friday, and the number of cases linked to the wedding and reception has topped 170 with eight deaths.

The email obtained by news outlets said inmates were not permitted to bring masks into any housing unit, a policy that likely exacerbated the outbreak. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates mask-wearing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Inmates are allowed to remove the masks from their faces when in secured holding cell(s). Inmates that test negative for COVID-19 will dispose of their mask, in intake and in front of staff,” the email said.

Attorney Tim Zerillo, who represents an inmate who caught the virus, said in recent months he has received complaints from inmates and their families.

“Those complaints were always that there were no masks at the jail and neither the detainees or the guards were wearing masks and that people were scared and I don’t think it’s just the inmates who were scared,” Zerillo told WMTW-TV.

Corrections officers reported that there was an “an informal directive not to wear masks in the housing units for fear of creating hysteria amongst the inmates,” said William Doyle, an official with the union that represents corrections officers.

After the first cases at the jail, the Maine Department of Corrections reviewed 14 other jails in the state and found that four did not require inmates to wear face masks.

Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty, whose department inspects jails, said any deficiencies are being addressed in all jails.

“When we brought to their attention the deficiencies that they have, they corrected them and are in the process of correcting them,” he said.

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Joe Biden takes shot at Trump over wearing masks with Twitter meme

When the gloves come off, the mask goes on.

Joe Biden tweeted a meme showing President Trump removing his face mask upon his arrival at the White House late Monday after his treatment for COVID-19, and puts a side-by-side video of himself putting on a mask like a superhero.

The tweet reads, “Wear a mask.”

Biden seemed to be trying to capitalize on the media’s intense criticism of Trump after his coronavirus diagnosis. Trump’s detractors say the president has been reckless since his diagnosis, ranging from his brief “visit” to supporters outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday and his early discharge.

The White House has insisted that Trump has followed the guidance of his medical staff.  Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, Trump’s personal doctor, said the president had met or exceeded standards for discharge from the hospital. Conley, said earlier Monday that the president remains contagious and would not be fully “out of the woods” for another week.


Biden touted mask-wearing as a form of patriotism last weekend, criticizing the administration for not doing more to advance the practice during the pandemic.

Trump was criticized for appearing to downplay the virus when he said, “Don’t be afraid of it.”


“You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines,” he said.


Biden said during an NBC town hall Monday night that he was glad Trump seemed to be recovering well, “but there’s a lot to be concerned about — 210,000 people have died. I hope no one walks away with the message that it’s not a problem.”

Fox News’ Sam Dorman and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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Asda to crack down on shoppers without face masks

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Supermarket Asda is set to enforce rules on face coverings more strictly across its shops amid the pandemic.

Customers who do not have a covering when they enter a store will be offered a pack of disposable masks that they can pay for at the end of their trip.

“We know that safety remains a key priority for our customers,” its chief operating officer said.

Face coverings must be worn by customers in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres around the UK.

Those who fail to do so can be fined by the police – up to £100 in England (soon to rise to £200), or £60 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Asda announced on Wednesday that it will create 1,000 new “safety marshal” roles across its 639 UK stores.

Dedicated staff will remind shoppers to wear face coverings in-store and provide customers with sanitised shopping baskets on arrival.

The supermarket chain said it will also install extra hand sanitiser stations in the busiest sections of its shops.

Anthony Hemmerdinger, chief operating officer at Asda, said: “We know that safety remains a key priority for our customers and we will continue to do all we can to keep them and our colleagues safe in store, as we have since the start of the pandemic.

“These additional measures will make our stores an even safer place to shop and work during the coming months.”

Following a recent change in government guidance, face coverings are now also compulsory for shop workers in England.

Asda confirmed all of its staff across England, Wales and Scotland will now wear a covering while at work – unless they have a medical exemption.

Asda’s announcement on Wednesday followed on from the news that Morrisons has reinstated marshals on the doors of its 497 supermarkets to better monitor shopper numbers and remind those entering to wear a face covering.

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Morrisons has reinstated marshals to better monitor customer numbers

Morrisons has also created 2,420 new cleaning roles across its shops. Each one of its supermarkets will also undergo a “deep clean” every three weeks.

Jayne Wall, operations director at Morrisons said: “The hygiene within our stores has become more important than ever due to the impact of Covid-19.

“We want to make sure our customers feel as safe as possible when doing their grocery shopping with us. So we’ve made this multi-million-pound investment to introduce first-class hygiene procedures.”

‘Abuse is not part of the job’

Some industry figures have warned, however, that staff enforcing rules on face coverings may be subject to abuse from customers.

Trade union Usdaw called on shoppers to “respect retail workers and follow the necessary in-store safety measures to keep us all safe”.

General secretary Paddy Lillis said: “We are deeply worried about safety measures not being followed and the impact that has on the safety of staff.

“Usdaw members in food retail are key workers delivering an essential service and have worked extremely hard in stressful environments to ensure that the nation remains fed.

“Despite this, during the height of the first wave of the outbreak, violence and abuse toward shop staff doubled. It is clear that such behaviour is unacceptable: abuse is not part of the job.”

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At the height of the pandemic, abuse of retail staff doubled, says trade union Usdaw

Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are working hard to keep their customers and staff safe throughout this pandemic. They have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on coronavirus safety measures including perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures.

“Retailers support all necessary safety measures including the use of face coverings for all staff.”

In March, UK supermarkets were forced to take steps to prevent shoppers from panic-buying around the height of the pandemic. Many introduced limits on the number of certain items that customers could buy, such as flour, pasta or toilet roll.

Enhanced measures introduced in recent weeks have not triggered stock-piling by customers, according to several supermarkets approached by the BBC.

Asda said it still had good availability in-store and online, while Tesco – the UK’s largest grocer – is not experiencing any product shortages either.

An Iceland spokesperson said: “There are no shortages and there will be no shortages so long as people continue to shop responsibly for what they actually need.”

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Temperature checks, masks vital for flying in COVID times



Airport temperature checks are more important to Queenslanders keen to fly than waiting on a vaccine, The Courier-Mail’s Your Say 2020 sentiment survey has revealed.

Three-quarters of respondents to the survey – the biggest of its kind in Queensland – said temperature checks before and after flights would encourage them to fly again, ahead of 70.5 per cent for a COVID-19 vaccine being available.

Nearly two-thirds said making masks mandatory inside airports would also encourage them to fly.




Kate Belcher with her children Ruby, 7, and Sean, 4, and family friend Shane Mundey prepare to fly to Far North Queensland. Kate feels save travelling within Queensland.



But 31.9 per cent said nothing would make them comfortable to fly or travel any time soon.

Almost half – 48.4 per cent – of respondents were unsatisfied with the government and health authority leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, 40.1 per cent were happy with it and 11.5 per cent described themselves as neither.

Gold Coast residents were far less satisfied, with almost 60 per cent unhappy.

Far North Queensland and Gold Coast residents also reported more cuts to hours and jobs losses since the pandemic, but across the state 74.2 per cent of respondents said it had made no difference to their employment.

But across the board, all regions recorded a negative impact on family life, felt most again on the Gold Coast then Far North and North Queensland.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive officer Daniel Gschwind said the community needed to develop ways to live safely with COVID but keep moving.

“We will have to face the reality that some infections will be around possibly for quite a long time and it’ll have to be managed in a safe way,” Mr Gschwind said.

“The economic cost hasn’t really hit us yet. We have had, thankfully, so much government support, state and federal, and as we are weaned off that support, I think there’s a realisation that we really do have to get back to business somehow, sooner rather than later.”




In response to dissatisfaction with government leadership during the pandemic, a State Government spokesman said: “Queensland’s acknowledged success in dealing with the

pandemic means being able to go about our daily lives without the lockdowns and restrictions in other places.

“We have followed the health advice allowing us to start implementing our economic recovery plan getting the economy to rebound, not the virus.”

A Brisbane Airport spokeswoman said airlines and airports had done a lot of work to develop COVID-safe rules to help people travel again.

“It is reassuring to see the vast majority of those surveyed are willing to fly again in the next 12 months,” she said.

“In the longer term, waiting for a vaccine can’t be the only plan to reopen our international borders because no-one really knows how long that could take.

“There are many exciting developments in new technologies and protocols being developed around the world, including rapid testing of passengers prior to departure.”









Originally published as More important than a vaccine when it comes to flying again

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Steph Claire Smith’s bikini photo sparks bizarre backlash over masks

Melbourne model and fitness entrepreneur Steph Claire Smith has hit back at the “ridiculous” criticism she‘s received after posted a photo of her wearing a mask at the beach.

Steph, who is co-founder of online fitness program Keep It Cleaner, shared a picture on Instagram from her local beach.

In the caption Steph wrote that she was “incredibly grateful” for the fact she lived close enough to visit the sea.

“Just getting to sit on the beach for an hour without having to ‘exercise’ as an excuse to be there was heavenly,” she wrote.

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

But Steph‘s post soon received dozens of comments from people who criticised her decision to wear a mask – despite it being mandatory in Victoria and proven to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Don’t understand the mask out in the open fresh air??” one person wrote, while another added: ”Seriously wearing a mask in open air at the beach?”

“Take off the mask! Just because the government makes something law doesn’t make it right,” another commented read.

“It’s clearly not about health when you have to wear a mask even when outside/not in a crowded place.”

But Steph‘s other followers defended her decision to wear a mask and slammed the “ridiculous” comments from people who claimed it wasn’t needed.

“It was a cracking weekend here in Melbourne and the beach was probably pretty packed with other people enjoying some vitamin D … just because she’s alone in the picture doesn’t mean she was alone on an entire beach,” one follower argued.

Steph also addressed the controversy over her picture on her Instagram story, writing that she had “just wanted a photo at the beach” and was ”not going to argue” about the points raised in the comments.

“To all the people questioning me wearing a mask or thinking it’s ridiculous — here in Melbourne we have to wear one anytime we’re outside of the house,” she said.

Steph said she was “absolutely not getting paid to wear a mask and promote it”, as some had accused her of doing.

“I just wanted a photo at the beach … and didn‘t want to bend the rules or promote breaking the law by not wearing a mask,” she wrote.

Melbourne took the first step towards moving out of its harsh lockdown on September 13, with residents now allowed to leave their home for two hours a day for exercise or socialising outdoors with one other person or your household.

The city curfew has also been reduced by one hour to 9pm to 5am.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is facing increased pressure to accelerate the state‘s plan out of lockdown after falling numbers, with just 11 new coronavirus cases recorded on Monday.

Melbourne is not expected to be freed from harsh lockdown measures until October 26, according to the State Government’s strict COVID-19 recovery road map.

Mr Andrews hinted at the possibility of relaxing that date at Sunday’s press conference.

“We will always be guided by those three things: the evidence and the science, the data and what is deemed safe,” the Premier said.

“We are on schedule. We may even be a bit ahead of schedule, but we’ve got to keep going.”

– With NCA NewsWire

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