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NEWS OF THE WEIRD: Week of April 28, 2020

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LEAD STORY

Early on the morning of April 15, an unidentified driver smashed his yellow Mustang into a fence in unincorporated Marin County, California, KPIX reported. California Highway Patrol Officer Andrew Barclay later recounted what followed: The driver tried to back out of the fence, but failed to realize he was in drive and crashed through a home instead. The homeowner came out to investigate and, noting the driver’s impaired state, removed the keys from the Mustang and returned inside to call police. The driver then discovered the keys inside the homeowner’s Toyota and tried to make his getaway, Barclay said, but he shifted the car into drive and barreled through the house once more, coming to rest alongside his Mustang. When the homeowner again tried to take the keys away, the driver allegedly hit him repeatedly, causing major injuries. CHP arrested the driver for suspicion of DUI involving drugs, battery and theft of a vehicle. [KPIX, 4/15/2020]

BRIGHT IDEAS

—Many hospital workers are self-isolating to keep their families safe from COVID-19 exposure, but Corpus Christi, Texas, emergency room doctor Jason Barnes, 39, is taking a novel approach: He’s moved into his kids’ treehouse in his backyard. Barnes told the Caller Times on April 20 that he’s lived in the treehouse for about three weeks. If he needs something, he’ll shout down to the kids or call the house. “(T)he Wi-Fi reaches the treehouse, so I have my laptop and my own little command center here,” Barnes said. He uses a camping toilet with disposable bags, and he either showers at the hospital or “my oldest son will rig up a water hose. … Luckily, my fence is pretty tall.” As for when he can re-enter the house, Barnes said, “We’re always looking at the CDC and Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision, but the final determinator is the wife.” [Caller Times, 4/20/2020]

—The Washington Examiner reported on April 21 that some people appear to be spending their coronavirus stimulus checks on another kind of stimulation. The adult live model site Cams.com says it has seen a surge in traffic. “Since April 13, we’ve seen a 22% uptick in traffic to our livestreaming site, and tips to our models have increased by 40%,” said Gunner Taylor, director of strategic development for FriendFinder Networks, of which Cams.com is a part. Traffic from Washington state is up 204%, and it’s up 83% in Illinois, but it’s down in Washington, D.C., by 29%. [Washington Examiner, 4/21/2020]

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

At the Peace N Peas Farm in Indian Trail, North Carolina, owners Francie and Mark Dunlap have launched a new career for their 8-year-old mini donkey, Mambo, and their other horses. For $50, Mambo, Eddie, Zeus or other animals will make a 10-minute guest appearance to liven up your next videoconference, the Charlotte Observer reported. You can even give the four-legged interloper the on-screen name of a regular attendee: For instance, Zeus might become Paul, the guy who asks too many questions. The Dunlaps also arrange for their animals to visit classrooms or happy hours. [Charlotte Observer, 4/19/2020]

REPORTS OF MY DEATH

Cancer patient Gladys Rodriguez Duarte, 50, was rushed to a clinic in Coronel Oviedo, Paraguay, on April 11, after her blood pressure shot up, according to the Paraguay National Police. Two hours later, Dr. Heriberto Vera declared her dead and shared the news with Duarte’s family, but her daughter, Sandra, later told local media, “He assumed she was dead and … they disconnected her and passed her off to the funeral home.” The Daily Mail reported that funeral directors told investigators they were shocked to find she was breathing and moving around inside the body bag at the funeral home. Duarte was immediately transferred to another hospital for observation. [Daily Mail, 4/14/2020]

THE CONTINUING CRISIS

Geauga County (Ohio) Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand told WJW his office was called to break up a large party of Amish late on April 18 in Huntsburg Township. “When we got there, there was a barn full of people and some of them ran,” he said. One partier was arrested for disorderly conduct, two were charged with underage drinking and another was issued a summons for violating the state’s stay-at-home order, according to the sheriff. “We won’t tolerate this,” Hildenbrand said, “and we have to keep everybody safe.” Amish people are reportedly continuing to gather in large groups, and the county health commissioner has sent a letter to Amish bishops about an increase in COVID-19 cases in that community. [WJW, 4/20/2020]

NOT COVID-19

An unnamed 22-year-old Chinese woman has spent the last 14 years trying to discover the cause of her persistent cough, which started when she suffered a serious fit of coughing as a child, Oddity Central reported on April 22. Over the years, she has been misdiagnosed numerous times, but as she recently prepared for an unrelated surgery, the mystery was solved. Dr. Wang Jiyong at Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ordered CT scans that revealed a foreign object in her right lung that turned out to be a chicken bone fragment just over half an inch long. Doctors said she had probably inhaled it at 8 years old, when the coughing started. [Oddity Central, 4/22/2020]

IGNORANCE WAS BLISS

Elena Manighetti and Ryan Osborne, formerly of Manchester, England, followed their dream and have been sailing around the world on their boat since 2017. They were en route from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean, where they planned to dock on a small island in mid-March, but were surprised to discover the island’s borders were closed because of a worldwide pandemic. “In February, we’d heard there was a virus in China, but … we had figured by the time we got to the Caribbean in 25 days it would all be over,” Elena told the BBC. The couple had told friends and family they didn’t want to hear any bad news, but Elena is from the hard-hit Lombardy region of Italy and has since caught up with her family. “It’s a very macabre picture at home, there are no more coffins, no more cemetery space. … My family is thankfully safe … but people we’ve known for years have died,” Elena said. The couple was eventually able to dock in Saint Vincent, and they hope to head north before hurricane season starts in June. “We’re sandwiched between the hurricane season and the virus,” Elena said. [BBC, 4/21/2020]

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