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Follow the rainbow

You’ll have to look down instead of up to catch the latest mural in downtown Greensboro. Artist Gina Franco has been creating a “Rainbow Alley” mural on the pavement of an alley off Washington Street. The work was commissioned by Downtown Greensboro Inc.

Find more photos at greensboro.com.

An interesting article in today's newspaper

N.C. complaint: National NAACP launches disciplinary process over alleged sexual harassment. Page A4

Moses Cone Hospital confirms first death linked to vaping

GREENSBORO — Moses Cone Hospital had its first death linked to vaping on Wednesday, a health system spokesman confirmed, and it may be the first such death in the state.

Spokesman Doug Allred said he could not provide additional details about the death. “We have had eight cases of vaping-relating illness since August” including this one, he said.

North Carolina health officials said the patient was a Virginia resident, so they’re working with the Virginia Department of Health to determine if the death meets the criteria for lung injury associated with electronic-cigarette use, or vaping, as spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“(T)he Virginia DOH will determine if this case meets the CDC’s vaping investigation case classification,” SarahLewis Peel, spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said in an email.

Lorrie Andrew-Spear, a spokeswoman for the Virginia health department, said in an email that the report is still under investigation.

As of Thursday, 40 cases had been reported in North Carolina, Peel said. The number of reported cases has been increasing each week, as more cases are being reported and/or more individuals have sought medical care, Peel said. As of Thursday afternoon, there were no reports of North Carolina residents dying from the illness, she said.

Just last week, officials at Cone Health confirmed its doctors had treated at least six patients with the severe lung illness. One of those patients was put on life support.

In nearly all of those cases, patients told their physicians they had used THC — the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s mind-altering effects — in the vaping devices, said Dr. Murali Ramaswamy, the director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Program for LeBauer Health Care at Cone Health, in a recent interview.

As of Tuesday, 805 cases of lung illness — including 12 deaths — associated with the use of e-cigarette products had been reported to the CDC from 46 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the CDC’s website.

In all reported cases, patients had a history of using e-cigarettes or vaping.

Based on initial data from certain states, the CDC reported most patients have a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.

Since no product or device has been identified as the cause, state health officials are encouraging people to avoid vaping products and e-cigarettes altogether. They contain heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled into the lungs, officials said.

Symptoms of the illness are similar to pneumonia caused by bacterial or viral infections. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, cough and nausea or vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care promptly and report any use of vaping devices within the past three months, health officials advised.

The popularity of vaping among teenagers has health officials especially concerned. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 27.5% of high school students and more than 5 million youth were e-cigarette users. From 2017 to 2019, e-cigarette use increased by 135% for high schoolers, the study found.

Small group shows up for town hall on how Guilford program helps people reenter society after jail, prison

HIGH POINT — A handful of people showed up at the Macedonia Family Resource Center on Thursday evening to hear how Guilford County is helping people much of society would rather forget.

People who have been convicted of crimes, served their time, and are now coming back into the community. Without support, those tasked with helping them reenter society successfully say they’re likely to commit more crimes and end up back in prison.

“We say we want to give them a second chance, but that’s not often the case,” said KJ Adams, a Guilford County Reentry case manager. “Give them the tools they need and they won’t be out there robbing people.”

Now in its second year, Guilford County Reentry — with a staff of three and a budget of $129,000 — is assisting 300 people coming out of jails and prisons try to turn their lives around. Last year, more than 19,000 men and women were released from jails in High Point and Greensboro, officials said.

Reentry case managers help former inmates find transportation, housing and jobs, get mental health and substance abuse counseling, reconnect with family and get medication.

Something as simple as identification can make a big difference for someone just coming out of jail. It helps them get jobs, housing and services that will support their success, said the Rev. Edward “Chap” Williams, director of the Reentry Council.

Williams said many of those incarcerated suffer mental health issues and aren’t equipped to get back on their feet without support.

“A lot of our jails have taken the place of our hospitals,” Williams said.

Tammy Leach, a High Point resident with three adult children, was impressed with the presentation.

“I think it’s going to work,” Leach said. “I think it’s going to make them want to change their life.”

Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers scanned the small crowd in the room.

“All week long, all I’ve heard about is the shootings and the gangbangers,” he said. “It’s interesting to see how many empty seats I have here.”

Addressing his audience, Rogers said: “I want you to travel and tell the world, ‘Don’t complain, if you’re not going to come with action.’ ”