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Guard who failed fitness test sues Cook County sheriff

CHICAGO (AP) — A former jail guard has filed a federal lawsuit against the Cook County sheriff for allegedly dismissing her bid to become a courthouse deputy because she failed a fitness test.

Denise Hobbs, 59, claimed the test is discriminatory based on age, sex and race and the sheriff has required it even after an administrative judge ruled otherwise, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Hobbs twice failed the test in 2019. She said she was told to go back to work at the jail but then retired soon after.

She was among 25 people taking part in the training academy for courthouse deputies. Six were rejected, including Hobbs and three other Black women, one Black man and a white man, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the test was biased because it doesn’t correspond with a courthouse deputy’s duties and the standards were the same for all despite lower average abilities of older people and women.

Hobbs seeks unspecified damages and a court order blocking the sheriff from using the test.

The test, which was administered between 2014 and 2019, was agreed to by the union representing courthouse deputies

Matthew Walberg, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, said that the test was eliminated in 2019 “for reasons unrelated to the merits of the test.”

He said the guards who failed, including Hobbs, threatened a lawsuit and were offered courthouse jobs and Hobbs declined.

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fitness

Cook County Jail guard flunked fitness test, is suing Sheriff Tom Dart for discrimination

A former Cook County Jail guard is suing Sheriff Tom Dart for rejecting her bid to become a courthouse deputy because she flunked a fitness test.

Denise Hobbs, 59, says the test constituted age, sex and race discrimination and that the sheriff required it even though an administrative law judge had ruled otherwise.

Hobbs, who has filed suit against Dart in federal court in Chicago, is seeking unspecified damages and a court order blocking the sheriff from administering the test in the future.

Taking the test in July 2019, she failed two parts of the test: completing a 1.5-mile run in under 16 minutes and 52 seconds and doing 24 situps in a minute.

She apparently was able to pass the third part of the test: bench-pressing more than half of her body weight.

She was given a second chance two days later and was able to do the situps but again failed the running portion.

She said she was ordered to go back to work at the jail but retired a few months later.

Hobbs was among 25 people taking part in a training academy for courthouse deputies, including 15 men and 10 women between 30 and 59 years old. Eight, like Hobbs, were Black women, and three were Black men. Six people were rejected from continuing in the academy, including four Black women, one Black man and one white man.

The lawsuit says the test was biased because the standards were the same for everyone despite lower average abilities of older people and women. African Americans over 40 are less likely than whites to pass the test, according to the lawsuit, which also says the fitness exam doesn’t correlate with the duties of a courthouse deputy.

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents courthouse deputies, agreed to the fitness test, which was administered between 2014 and 2019.

“The sheriff’s office and the FOP share the desire to ensure that physically fit officers fill the deputy positions in court services,” says Matthew Walberg, a spokesman for the sheriff.

Shortly after Hobbs failed in July 2019, the fitness test was eliminated “for reasons totally unrelated to the merits of the test,” according to Walberg.

The Illinois Labor Relations Board found that the sheriff’s agreement with the FOP was invalid because the union for jail guards — the Teamsters — wasn’t part of the deal.

Walberg says Hobbs and the five other guards who failed the test threatened to sue, that the sheriff offered them courthouse jobs and that Hobbs declined and chose to retire.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Brian Rich / Sun-Times

More than 2,800 corrections officers and 660 court-services deputies work for the sheriff’s office. About 50 deputies transfer from the jail to courthouses each year, but no one is required to take a physical agility test now, according to Walberg.

The Cook County sheriff’s fitness standards.

The Cook County sheriff’s fitness standards.
U.S. District Court

Hobbs, who started work as a Cook County correctional officer in 2007, retired in September

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medicine

How Cook navigated route to historic gold in Australia combining medicine and modern pentathlon


While male pentathletes have competed at every Olympic Games since Stockholm 1912, Steph Cook became the first women’s Olympic modern pentathlon champion 88 years later, at the Sydney 2000 Games. The Great Britain star talks us through how she combined a hectic life as a doctor with going for gold – and how her fascinating sport, rooted in Olympic history, has evolved in the modern world.

Junior doctors in British hospitals are famously, perhaps notoriously, overworked. So the idea of pulling 15-hour shifts while also putting in the amount of training required to become an Olympian might seem physically impossible. Steph Cook, however, somehow managed it, and in a sport consisting of five disciplines – fencing, swimming, show jumping, shooting and running.

“It was crazy,” Cook said with a laugh, reflecting on her years before becoming the first women’s Olympic modern pentathlon champion. “I was studying medicine at Oxford, which is where I’d taken up modern pentathlon, and once I graduated I knew I needed to make a decision.

“Was I going to continue with sport or become a junior doctor? I decided I’d try to do both. I was doing up to 100 hours a week in the hospital while still training and competing. I remember coming off a night shift and flying straight to Poland for a World Cup. Somehow I kept going.”

Getty Images

Combining saving lives with creeping up the world rankings, Cook was clearly a multi-tasker of the highest calibre. No wonder the Olympic sport conceived to find the best all-round athletes appealed to her.

“Growing up, I’d done a bit of riding and was a good runner, and at university I thought I’d give pentathlon a go,” she said. “I really just wanted to get back on a horse again, but I also fancied the idea of trying some new sports. I had never shot or fenced before, and my swimming was ropey. I couldn’t even do tumble turns.

“Initially it was just fun. In 1994, when I started, the women’s sport wasn’t even at the Olympics. But I watched the men with interest at Atlanta 1996, and there was a campaign to get the women’s sport included.

“I got selected for the 1997 European Championships, but it clashed with my final medical exams and I couldn’t go. When the UK lottery funding came in, and the Olympics started to look more likely, I was offered a research position by a doctor in Oxford. It meant I could still study but also fit in more training. And then we got the National Training Centre in Bath. From November 1999, I trained full time.”

Steph Cook Getty Images

Having been in the sport for only six years, Steph was still under the radar in terms of becoming a potential medallist. But the unique nature of her sport gave her a chance. “Riding and running were my strengths, but they reckon it takes 10 years to get to international level in fencing,” she said. “I

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health

Antibody drug tested in Cook County may be helpful to some COVID-19 patients, results show

A new antibody-based drug shows promise in treating outpatients who have mild to severe COVID-19, according to initial results of research conducted in part at Cook County Health and Northwestern University.

Patients given the drug were hospitalized or visited the emergency room less often than those given a placebo, Cook County Health officials said. The patients receiving the drug also showed improvement within two to six days, a shorter disease course that is not only good for patients but also may reduce the amount of time a person is infectious, helping protect other people.

The drug, manufactured by Eli Lilly and AbCellera Biologics Inc., was tested on 452 outpatients at 24 medical institutions across the country, including Cook County’s vast public health system and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Most of the 14 patients who took part at Cook County Health were Latino or Black, populations that have been hit especially hard by the disease.

The results of the continuing study, which is being run by Eli Lilly, were published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The drug, administered through a one-time infusion, includes the replicated antibodies of one of the first patients in the United States to survive COVID-19. It’s classified as a monoclonal antibody treatment, the same type of medication given to President Donald Trump after he was diagnosed with the disease and which he described as “a cure.”

The drug in the Eli Lilly trial was formulated using a single antibody. The drug Trump received was made by Regeneron and involves two antibodies.

Dr. Gregory Huhn, an infectious disease expert who led the arm of the Eli Lilly research conducted at Cook County Health, made it clear that the drug is a treatment, not a cure.

“Our hope has been that the antibody drug will reduce COVID symptoms quickly after diagnosis and help to eradicate the virus more quickly,” Huhn said. “While a vaccine is still necessary, this drug therapy has the potential to prevent bad clinical outcomes and complications of COVID-19.”

Scientists have surmised that monoclonal antibodies would be more effective earlier in the course of the disease, and that so far appears to be the case. Another recently released study found the Eli Lilly drug had no benefit for patients sick enough to be hospitalized — results that brought the research to a halt. Most of those patients also were treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir.

“There’s a more compelling argument to administer antibodies early on, before our own bodies generate their own immune response,” Huhn said.

The results released Wednesday found that 1.6% of outpatients given the Eli Lilly drug needed to be hospitalized or visit an emergency room, compared with 6.3% of patients who received a placebo. The drug worked by reducing the amount of virus in people’s bodies, the study determined.

The study’s findings also indicate better outcomes among high-risk patients — defined as patients 65 or older or morbidly obese patients who were at least

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health

RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. Announces Appointment of Dr. James Cook and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin as Research Fellows

Dr. James Cook

“As the original designer of the GABAkines licensed by RespireRx, I am very excited to be working on the research team being assembled by RespireRx to realize their therapeutic potential,” said Dr. Cook
“As the original designer of the GABAkines licensed by RespireRx, I am very excited to be working on the research team being assembled by RespireRx to realize their therapeutic potential,” said Dr. Cook
“As the original designer of the GABAkines licensed by RespireRx, I am very excited to be working on the research team being assembled by RespireRx to realize their therapeutic potential,” said Dr. Cook

Dr. Jeffrey Witkin

“It is an honor to be afforded this singular opportunity to join such a capable and driven team in further progressing the expanding portfolio of highly promising neuromodulator compounds. The broad-ranging efficacy of our GABAkine candidate, KRM-II-81, in preclinical models and in human epileptic tissue, already provides compelling evidence to substantiate this compound as a next-generation antiepileptic drug. I am enthusiastically looking forward to becoming an integral part of RespireRx’ bright future,” said Dr. Witkin.
“It is an honor to be afforded this singular opportunity to join such a capable and driven team in further progressing the expanding portfolio of highly promising neuromodulator compounds. The broad-ranging efficacy of our GABAkine candidate, KRM-II-81, in preclinical models and in human epileptic tissue, already provides compelling evidence to substantiate this compound as a next-generation antiepileptic drug. I am enthusiastically looking forward to becoming an integral part of RespireRx’ bright future,” said Dr. Witkin.
“It is an honor to be afforded this singular opportunity to join such a capable and driven team in further progressing the expanding portfolio of highly promising neuromodulator compounds. The broad-ranging efficacy of our GABAkine candidate, KRM-II-81, in preclinical models and in human epileptic tissue, already provides compelling evidence to substantiate this compound as a next-generation antiepileptic drug. I am enthusiastically looking forward to becoming an integral part of RespireRx’ bright future,” said Dr. Witkin.

Glen Rock, N.J., Oct. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OTCQB: RSPI) (“RespireRx” or the “Company”), a leader in the discovery and development of innovative and revolutionary treatments to combat diseases caused by disruption of neuronal signaling, is pleased to announce the appointment on October 16, 2020, of Dr. James Cook and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin as Research Fellows.

Tim Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer said, ‘‘We are thrilled to formally welcome Dr. Cook and Dr. Witkin to the RespireRx team. In their capacities as Research Fellows, they will immediately assume roles as integral core members of our research team, reporting to Dr. Arnold Lippa, and participate as members of our Scientific Advisory Board. Their intrinsic depth of knowledge, collective academic and industry achievements in the field of neuroscience is unrivaled. Their expertise in the development of novel and innovative glutamate and GABA-A receptor neuromodulators, across a broad scope of patient -critical disorders will prove extremely valuable as we continue to grow the business; in parallel, we are actively expanding our portfolio of products, broadening our technical and regulatory asset base and in turn strengthening our already longstanding collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation ‘UWMRF’.’

Dr. James Cook is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he co-leads a group of scientists who have synthesized and tested a broad series of novel drugs that display GABA-A receptor subtype selectivity and pharmacological specificity. He is a leading expert in GABA-A receptor drug targeting with more than 40 years’ experience in organic and medicinal chemistry and more than 500 scientific publications and 60 patents.

Dr. Jeffrey Witkin, is

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health

Coronavirus Positivity Hits 7.8 Percent In Suburban Cook County

COOK COUNTY, IL — Suburban Cook County’s coronavirus positivity rate reached its highest level since June, with its average number of new daily hospitalizations with coronavirus symptoms at the highest point since public health officials began publishing data earlier this year.

In the third week of October, positivity rates continued rising across all but one of the state’s 11 COVID-19 resurgence mitigation regions. As of Friday, four of the regions are subject to state-ordered mitigation measures restricting indoor dining and other activities, including DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties.

In the Cook County suburbs, Region 10, the positivity rate reached 7.3 percent Tuesday, the most recent day where the seven-day rolling average is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The region had seen eight days of increases in the previous 10.

If a region’s positivity rate reaches a threshold of 8 percent and remains there for three days, state public health officials order the imposition of additional mitigation measures.

The average number of new daily hospitalizations suburban Cook County continued to rise. The rounded, rolling seven-day average of admissions to hospitals with “COVID-like illnesses,” or CLI, rose to 42 people a day compared to 23 a month earlier and up by 35 percent in the past week.

Meanwhile, the number of counties considered to be at a warning level for COVID-19, meaning two or more county-level risk indicators show an increasing risk of the virus’ spread, has also set a new record.

Half Illinois counties are now at the “orange” warning level: Adams, Bond, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, Edwards, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Gallatin, Greene, Hamilton, Henderson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lee, Macon, Macoupin, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Rock Island, Saline, Shelby, Stephenson, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Wayne, Whiteside, Will, Williamson and Winnebago.

(Illinois Department of Public Health)
(Illinois Department of Public Health)

Public health officials said some businesses continue to disregard social distancing and face covering requirements, noting in a statement that “mayors, local law enforcement, state’s attorneys, and other community leaders can be influential in ensuring citizens and businesses follow best practices.”

On Friday, the state public health agency reported and 3,874 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 31 deaths.

As of Thursday night, there were 2,498 people in Illinois reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19, up by 482 from a week earlier and 38 percent more people than were hospitalized with the virus two weeks ago.

Of those currently in the state’s hospitals, there were 511 patients in intensive care units, 111 more people in the ICU than a week earlier. There were 197 COVID-19 patients on ventilators, 46 more than a week earlier.

Less than 83,000 tests were reported in the previous 24 hours. The statewide preliminary seven-day average positivity rate, as a percentage of total tests, is 5.6 percent for the week ending Thursday, up by 0.5 percentage points from a week earlier.

Illinois Coronavirus Update Oct. 23: More Than Half Of

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