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medicine

Ionis announces third investigational antisense medicine to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) enters development

CARLSBAD, Calif., Nov. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IONS) announced today that the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has licensed ION455, an investigational antisense medicine being developed as a potential treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). ION455 is the second medicine for the treatment of NASH that Ionis has partnered with AstraZeneca. The companies have also partnered on ION839 (AZD2693), which is designed to inhibit the production of patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3) protein, a major genetic determinant of NASH progression. Separately, Ionis is also developing a wholly owned NASH program. ION224 is designed to reduce the production of DGAT2, or diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2, for treating patients with NASH. ION224 is one of more than 20 medicines in the growing Ionis-owned pipeline that the company is prioritizing and preparing for commercialization.

NASH is the most severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is related to the epidemic of obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes. Unlike liver disease caused by alcohol consumption, NAFLD is the result of an accumulation of fat in the liver, which can lead to inflammation and cirrhosis, an advanced scarring of the liver that prevents the liver from functioning normally. About 20 percent of NASH patients are reported to develop cirrhosis and 30 to 40 percent of patients with NASH cirrhosis experience liver-related death.i Currently, a liver transplant is the only treatment for advanced cirrhosis and liver failure. Because of the high prevalence of NASH, it has recently become the third most common indication for liver transplantation in the U.S.

“Today, there are no FDA-approved medicines to specifically treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. However, due in large part to the progress made by our cardio-metabolic franchise, three Ionis-discovered novel medicines are now in development. These are encouraging advances that we hope will one day bring therapeutic benefit to patients who have limited treatment options,” said Brett P. Monia, Ph.D., Ionis’ chief executive officer. 

ION455 is the fourth medicine to reach development in partnership with AstraZeneca. Ionis earned $30 million from AstraZeneca for licensing ION455 and is eligible to earn up to $300 million in milestone payments plus royalties on net sales. AstraZeneca will have responsibility for further development of ION455, including regulatory filings, and commercialization.

In addition to NASH, Ionis and AstraZeneca are collaborating on potential treatments for kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Ionis’ Forward-looking Statement

This press release includes forward-looking statements regarding Ionis’ business and the therapeutic and commercial potential of ION455, ION839 (AZD2693), ION224 and Ionis’ technologies and products in development. Any statement describing Ionis’ goals, expectations, financial or other projections, intentions or beliefs is a forward-looking statement and should be considered an at-risk statement. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, including those related to the impact COVID-19 could have on our business, and including but not limited to those related to our commercial products and the medicines in our pipeline, and particularly those inherent in the process of discovering, developing and commercializing medicines that are safe and effective for

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medicine

Foundation Medicine Enters into Patent Licensing and Technology Agreement with TwinStrand Biosciences

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Foundation Medicine today announced it has entered into a non-exclusive agreement to license two foundational patent families from TwinStrand Biosciences, a next-generation DNA sequencing technology company based in Seattle.

The patented TwinStrand Duplex Sequencing™ technology is a biochemistry- and software-based platform that enables researchers and clinicians to detect faint signals of ultra-low frequency DNA mutations often obscured by technical noise.

“Advancing and improving patient care is our highest priority and we’re pleased to work with partners like TwinStrand who share this same goal,” said Cindy Perettie, Foundation Medicine’s chief executive officer. “We look forward to expanding this agreement with TwinStrand to explore additional areas for future collaboration.”

“We are delighted to partner with Foundation Medicine, a company that shares our patient-centric mission of applying innovative science to advance cancer care globally,” said Jesse Salk, MD, PhD, TwinStrand’s chief executive officer. “We are excited to help power Foundation Medicine’s commitment to delivering the highest quality data and genomic insights to physicians and their patients.”

About Foundation Medicine

Foundation Medicine is a molecular information company dedicated to a transformation in cancer care in which treatment is informed by a deep understanding of the genomic changes that contribute to each patient’s unique cancer. The company offers a full suite of comprehensive genomic profiling assays to identify the molecular alterations in a patient’s cancer and match them with relevant targeted therapies, immunotherapies and clinical trials. Foundation Medicine’s molecular information platform aims to improve day-to-day care for patients by serving the needs of clinicians, academic researchers and drug developers to help advance the science of molecular medicine in cancer. For more information, please visit www.FoundationMedicine.com or follow Foundation Medicine on Twitter (@FoundationATCG).

About TwinStrand Biosciences

TwinStrand Biosciences is leading the way in identifying rare genetic variants that are undetectable by standard sequencing methods. The company’s highly-sensitive and specific Duplex Sequencing™ technology delivers clearer insights to researchers and clinicians in applications ranging from residual cancer detection to genetic toxicology. This data can inform critical decisions in clinical medicine, public health and other fields of science on a faster timescale, where actions are most impactful. TwinStrand’s scientist-leaders have authored more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles using Duplex Sequencing and have developed a portfolio of more than 70 patents and patent applications. The company has partnered with pharmaceutical companies, academic centers, clinical research networks and federal regulatory agencies to bring high precision genomics to the forefront of their science. For more information visit www.TwinStrandBio.com.

Foundation Medicine® is a registered trademark of Foundation Medicine, Inc.

Source: Foundation Medicine

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medicine

Foundation Medicine Enters into Patent Licensing and Technology Agreement with TwinStrand Biosciences – Press Release

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(Business Wire)–Foundation Medicine today announced it has entered into a non-exclusive agreement to license two foundational patent families from TwinStrand Biosciences, a next-generation DNA sequencing technology company based in Seattle.

The patented TwinStrand Duplex Sequencing™ technology is a biochemistry- and software-based platform that enables researchers and clinicians to detect faint signals of ultra-low frequency DNA mutations often obscured by technical noise.

“Advancing and improving patient care is our highest priority and we’re pleased to work with partners like TwinStrand who share this same goal,” said Cindy Perettie, Foundation Medicine’s chief executive officer. “We look forward to expanding this agreement with TwinStrand to explore additional areas for future collaboration.”

“We are delighted to partner with Foundation Medicine, a company that shares our patient-centric mission of applying innovative science to advance cancer care globally,” said Jesse Salk, MD, PhD, TwinStrand’s chief executive officer. “We are excited to help power Foundation Medicine’s commitment to delivering the highest quality data and genomic insights to physicians and their patients.”

About Foundation Medicine

Foundation Medicine is a molecular information company dedicated to a transformation in cancer care in which treatment is informed by a deep understanding of the genomic changes that contribute to each patient’s unique cancer. The company offers a full suite of comprehensive genomic profiling assays to identify the molecular alterations in a patient’s cancer and match them with relevant targeted therapies, immunotherapies and clinical trials. Foundation Medicine’s molecular information platform aims to improve day-to-day care for patients by serving the needs of clinicians, academic researchers and drug developers to help advance the science of molecular medicine in cancer. For more information, please visit www.FoundationMedicine.com or follow Foundation Medicine on Twitter (@FoundationATCG).

About TwinStrand Biosciences

TwinStrand Biosciences is leading the way in identifying rare genetic variants that are undetectable by standard sequencing methods. The company’s highly-sensitive and specific Duplex Sequencing™ technology delivers clearer insights to researchers and clinicians in applications ranging from residual cancer detection to genetic toxicology. This data can inform critical decisions in clinical medicine, public health and other fields of science on a faster timescale, where actions are most impactful. TwinStrand’s scientist-leaders have authored more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles using Duplex Sequencing and have developed a portfolio of more than 70 patents and patent applications. The company has partnered with pharmaceutical companies, academic centers, clinical research networks and federal regulatory agencies to bring high precision genomics to the forefront of their science. For more information visit www.TwinStrandBio.com.

Foundation Medicine® is a registered trademark of Foundation Medicine, Inc.

Source: Foundation Medicine

Lee-Ann Murphy, 617-245-3077

[email protected]

Abigail Alderman, 781-534-3210

[email protected]

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COVID hospitalizations surge as pandemic enters alarming new phase in U.S.

Americans went to the polls Tuesday under the shadow of a resurging pandemic, with an alarming increase in cases nationwide and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 reaching record highs in a growing number of states.

While daily infections were rising in all but three states, the surge was most pronounced in the Midwest and Southwest.

Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and New Mexico all reported record high hospitalizations this week. Nebraska’s largest hospitals started limiting elective surgeries and looked to bring in nurses from other states to cope with the surge. Hospital officials in Iowa and Missouri warned bed capacity could soon be overwhelmed.

The resurgence loomed over candidates and voters, fearful of both the virus itself and the economic toll of any new shutdowns to control its spread. The debate over how far to take economically costly measures has divided a country already sharply polarized over President Donald Trump’s turbulent four years in office.

The infection rate is definitely a leading indicator for hospitalizations, and the hospitalization rate is a leading indicator of mortality.

Meanwhile, Iowa hospital officials warned their facilities and staff could be overwhelmed without serious efforts to curtail the virus spread. The state’s seven-day rolling average of positive cases reached 36.4 percent over the weekend, the third-highest in the nation behind South Dakota and Wyoming, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations reached a record 730 on Monday.

Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said Iowa is entering its third peak, one that is higher than previous ones in May and July. He said his biggest concern is that this peak comes at the beginning of the cold weather season, when the flu and other respiratory conditions typically increase hospitalizations.

“The infection rate is definitely a leading indicator for hospitalizations, and the hospitalization rate is a leading indicator of mortality,” Gunasekaran said.

Related: Pediatric cases now account for 11% of all cases in the U.S., up from 2% in April.

Health officials in Nebraska said hospitalizations have doubled in recent weeks, reaching a record 613 on Sunday.

“No doubt if this trend continues — not just at our hospitals — but every hospital in the state could be at capacity in a very short period of time,” Dr. Cary Ward, chief medical officer for CHI Health’s network of 14 hospitals across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa said during a video call with reporters.

In Missouri, leaders of several rural hospitals raised alarms about bed capacity during a conference call Monday with Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who drew renewed fire from his Democratic election challenger for his refusal to issue a statewide mask mandate. The state health department reported 1,659 hospitalizations statewide, surpassing by 10 the previous record set a day earlier. Among the five additional deaths reported Monday was a 13-year-old boy, the first child under 14 to die from the virus in Missouri.

In Colorado, officials said more residents have been hospitalized with the

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health

Covid hospitalizations surge as virus enters alarming new phase in U.S.

Americans went to the polls Tuesday under the shadow of a resurging pandemic, with an alarming increase in cases nationwide and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 reaching record highs in a growing number of states.

While daily infections were rising in all but three states, the surge was most pronounced in the Midwest and Southwest.

Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and New Mexico all reported record high hospitalizations this week. Nebraska’s largest hospitals started limiting elective surgeries and looked to bring in nurses from other states to cope with the surge. Hospital officials in Iowa and Missouri warned bed capacity could soon be overwhelmed.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

The resurgence loomed over candidates and voters, fearful of both the virus itself and the economic toll of any new shutdowns to control its spread. The debate over how far to take economically costly measures has divided a country already sharply polarized over President Donald Trump’s turbulent four years in office.

Meanwhile, Iowa hospital officials warned their facilities and staff could be overwhelmed without serious efforts to curtail the virus spread. The state’s seven-day rolling average of positive cases reached 36.4 percent over the weekend, the third-highest in the nation behind South Dakota and Wyoming, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations reached a record 730 on Monday.

Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said Iowa is entering its third peak, one that is higher than previous ones in May and July. He said his biggest concern is that this peak comes at the beginning of the cold weather season, when the flu and other respiratory conditions typically increase hospitalizations.

“The infection rate is definitely a leading indicator for hospitalizations, and the hospitalization rate is a leading indicator of mortality,” Gunasekaran said.

Health officials in Nebraska said hospitalizations have doubled in recent weeks, reaching a record 613 on Sunday.

“No doubt if this trend continues — not just at our hospitals — but every hospital in the state could be at capacity in a very short period of time,” Dr. Cary Ward, chief medical officer for CHI Health’s network of 14 hospitals across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa said during a video call with reporters.

In Missouri, leaders of several rural hospitals raised alarms about bed capacity during a conference call Monday with Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who drew renewed fire from his Democratic election challenger for his refusal to issue a statewide mask mandate. The state health department reported 1,659 hospitalizations statewide, surpassing by 10 the previous record set a day earlier. Among the five additional deaths reported Monday was a 13-year-old boy, the first child under 14 to die from the virus in Missouri.

In Colorado, officials said more residents have been hospitalized with the coronavirus than at any time since a peak in April. Flags were flying at half-staff in New Mexico, where death from COVID-19 surpassed 1,000 last week and hospitalizations reached a record 380

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health

Santa Cruz County Enters Orange Tier; Latest COVID-19 Case Count

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA — More services can now increase indoor capacity after Santa Cruz County moved into the less-restrictive orange tier Monday.

The orange tier is the second-lowest tier in the state four-tiered, color-coded risk system and indicates a “moderate” COVID-19 risk level. Santa Cruz County is seeing reduced COVID-19 transmission levels, but cases are expected to increase into the winter months, the county said in a statement. Nationally, cases have already begun to rise.

The news came hours after county officials announced plans to ramp up testing for the coronavirus and said that an outbreak at a Watsonville skilled nursing facility appears to have subsided.

The following reopenings are now allowed in Santa Cruz County, with safety restrictions:

  • Restaurants (half-capacity indoors)

  • Worship houses (half-capacity indoors)

  • Gyms and fitness centers (25 percent capacity or 100 people indoors; whichever is fewer)

  • Movie theaters (half-capacity indoors)

  • Museums (half-capacity indoors)

  • Retail (full capacity indoors)

  • Bars, breweries and distilleries (outdoor operations only)

  • Wineries (25 percent capacity or 100 people indoors; whichever is fewer)

  • Amusement parks (outdoors only and 25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is fewer)

  • Family entertainment Centers (25 percent capacity)

  • Non-essential Offices (indoors with modifications)

  • Live-audience sports (outdoors, regional visitors only; 20 percent capacity)

Residents are asked to continue wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, staying home when sick and avoiding large group gatherings.

County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said during a Tuesday morning press conference that an outbreak at Watsonville Post Acute Center — one of seven skilled nursing facilities in the county — appears to have stabilized. No patients are currently infected and there have been no recent new infections, she said.

There were 74 residents of the center when the outbreak first began in mid-September, and 50 residents and 21 staff tested positive for COVID-19, she said. Fifteen deaths have been linked to the outbreak.

Newel said the center has followed all precautions and remained in consultation with county and state officials. The center is not accepting new patients.

“It’s a tragedy, but its probably unavoidable that this happened,” she said.

Mimi Hall, county Health Services Agency Director, announced plans to expand testing capacity in Santa Cruz County. Widespread testing is key to staying in a lesser tier, she said.

The county is seeking to add a testing site in Mid- to North County that can provide 165 tests per day, she said. Officials have also put in a request to the state health department officials to provide resources that would allow the county to double testing capacity at a Watsonville site and provide 330 tests there per day, for four days.

The University of California, Santa Cruz lab has expanded its efforts to regularly test on-campus students and staff, Hall said. The university continues to serve as a backup lab for the county and health system partners.

Newel urged residents to seek COVID-19 testing as soon as they start noticing associated symptoms and get a flu shot. People are more susceptible to COVID-19

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medicine

Contakt World Enters 3-Year Strategic Collaboration with Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine

Partnership to Improve Health Equity, Reduce Health Disparities, and Improve Community Health Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

OCEANSIDE, CA / ACCESSWIRE / October 22, 2020 / Contakt LLC, subsidiary of Contakt World Technologies Corp. (“Contakt World”), a technology company modernizing the contact tracing process, today announced a strategic partnership with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine to provide COVID-19 resources and the Contakt World Platform for digital contact tracing to support communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Over three years, Contakt will assist SHLI and local, state, and national health agency partners to identify, monitor and support marginalized populations who are at heightened risk of exposure and complications from coronavirus. The program is expected to reach all fifty United States and territories, as well as tribal nations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SHLI is a leading academic institute within Morehouse School of Medicine that prioritizes research, training, and leadership development programs to eliminate inequities that prevent individuals from achieving optimal health. SHLI is leading several national projects to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable and underserved communities, including the the National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Health Equity Tracker project with Google.org, CDC Foundation, and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD). Both projects aim to understand the root cause of the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 and other co-morbidities in minority communities and provide accessible health solutions. As part of the 3-year initial term between Contakt World and SHLI – Contakt World intends to obtain United States entitlements to use the Google-Apple Exposure Notification System (“GAEN”), while adding functionality across an array of tools for consumers, health agencies, and businesses to improve health agency reach to marginalized populations who may not have access to the latest smartphones using GAEN.

“We are honored to partner with SHLI on this project to improve the overall health of all communities and provide the right tools and resources to communities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Justin Beck, Chief Executive Officer of Contakt World. “Any system designed for truly scaled digital contact tracing must be deliberately accessible and reach people where they are. We look forward to working with SHLI to ensure that no person is denied critical health information due to digital divides, language barriers or other limitations of trust or technology.”

Contakt World will enable any community working with SHLI with technologies to support their efforts to serve high risk areas. The Contakt World Platform will initially be available through the SHLI collaboration in Albany, GA., South Florida, New Orleans, LA., Moore County, TX., Alaska, Navajo Nation with plans to expand to all 50 states and territories within the next three years or earlier by request.

“COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated health inequities that have existed long before the pandemic started earlier this year,” said Daniel E. Dawes, Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine and author of The Political

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health

Alberta breaks single-day record for cases as Premier Jason Kenney enters isolation

FILE - This June 9, 2015 file photo shows then-Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney in Warsaw, Poland. He is now the premier of Alberta. Alberta is investing $1.1 billion in the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, a project that Kenney says is crucial for the province's economy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
FILE – This June 9, 2015 file photo shows then-Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney in Warsaw, Poland. He is now the premier of Alberta. Alberta is investing $1.1 billion in the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, a project that Kenney says is crucial for the province’s economy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Alberta premier isolating after cabinet minister tests positive

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating after municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard tested positive for COVID-19. The premier is not known to have any COVID-19 symptoms at this point.

Transport minister Ric McIver and multiple MLAs are also considered close contacts to this case.

This comes as the province reports a significant increase in daily cases, hitting 406 on Wednesday, breaking the single-day record in Alberta. There are now 3,372 active cases in the province, with the majority of cases in the Edmonton zone.

Three more deaths were reported in the province, two in Edmonton and one in Calgary.

Ontario premier defends bill that would provide liability protection for long-term care homes

At a press conference on Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was pushed to answer questions about a new bill that was introduced Tuesday, which would provide liability protection to some workers, businesses and non-profits against COVID-19-related lawsuits.

When asked about long-term care homes, and families of residents in these facilities being able to hold these institutions accountable for their actions (particularly after the number of deaths due to COVID-19 infections), Ford reinforced that the bill would not prevent individuals from suing long-term care homes for “gross negligence.”

“This does not protect the long-term care homes, 100 per cent by any means,” the premier said, adding that he specifically asked about that fact yesterday.

A statement from Donna Duncan, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, released Tuesday, supports the proposed legislation.

“Long-term care homes care for more than 79,000 residents across Ontario and they deserve quality healthcare and safe accommodations,” the statement reads. “Liability protection is a necessary measure to stabilize and renew Ontario’s entire long-term care sector.”

“Without it, many insurance companies will cease coverage, as they have already begun to do, putting homes across the province at risk and jeopardizing their expansion and renewal.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed the bill and its impact on families of seniors in long-term care, who are victims of poor care and management.

“Today, the Ford government tabled a bill obviously designed to shield itself and for-profit long-term care corporations from accountability,” Horwath’s statement reads. “More than 1,900 people have died in long-term care during this pandemic, shattering thousands of families.”

“Doug Ford didn’t protect them — but is now protecting the very companies that let them die in horrible conditions. I’m appalled at this move to deny families the justice, accountability

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dentist

Local dentist, activist Dr. Elenora Woods enters 2021 Chattanooga mayoral race

Dentist and activist Dr. Elenora Woods entered the 2021 race for mayor of Chattanooga Monday, promising opportunity, criminal justice reform and comprehensive homeless services if elected.

Woods, a single mother of three raised in the housing developments of the Westside of Chattanooga, said her rise to a successful career as a dentist and community activist have primed her for the role.

“I was born a little project girl on the Westside. And you know my favorite saying is, ‘it’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going and how you get there,’ right? So one of the things that we’re going to continue to do is to make sure that we have opportunities for those who just need a hand up.

“I’m worried about your job and your community. I’m worried about the small business people that are struggling every day because they can’t pay this or can’t pay that. They’re taking from here, putting it over there,” she said. “The small business person runs this city, and that’s who I’m going to advocate for because I’m a small businesswoman myself and I understand what you go through every single day.”

Woods says she’s answering the call of community members who asked her to run with a promise of fighting to provide assistance for those in need.

“I’m sick and tired of seeing the statistics in education where Black and brown children are at the bottom of the list all the time. I’m sick and tired of that. I’m sick and tired of seeing homeless people on the streets of the city of Chattanooga, and everybody’s just walking over them like it’s OK. I’m sick and tired of all of the discrimination that goes on in our communities,” she added, also mentioning discrimination against women and poor communities.

To address these inequities, Woods said she will establish a veterans service office, invest in early childhood development, create a trade school and similar opportunities in the city and will invest in diverse and low-income neighborhoods to ensure equity in the city budget.

Woods said she would also “reorganize” the police department, up to potentially replacing the current police chief, and would incentivize the recruitment of Black officers.

Woods, who has led peaceful racial justice protests and served as president of Chattanooga’s NAACP chapter, said she would not defund the police but would seek a charter amendment to ban chokeholds.

“What we’re going to do is reorganize the police department and get rid of bad cops. And if that means a police chief, then we may start a new search, then so be it. So be it,” she said. “But we need police officers, we need them to protect you if something happens in your house. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?”

Asked about her ouster from the NAACP last year, Woods said she was limited on what she could say on the advice of her attorney.

“But like I said, it’s a wonderful organization. It’s the oldest and largest civil rights

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