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Guelph, ON June 10, 2020 - Could biologic therapies be the future for treating joint disease? Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Mark Hurtig and his team are investigating novel new methods to potentially repair tissue rather than just suppressing the signs of joint disease.   Hurtig also explains the mechanism and contributing factors to fetlock chip fractures stating they can be related to the surface that the horse works on and the intensity of that work.   Dr. Hurtig explains his research into biologic therapies & gives tips to avoid lameness as horses resume training in this 15 minute video.     As a rider and veterinarian, Dr. Hurtig provides some precautions when resuming training of a horse: Return to exercise slowly and incrementally with lots of walking When introducing trotting avoid hard surfaces. Avoid complex moves at first – promote relaxation. Allow an adaptation time when working on new surfaces and cross-train on the surfaces you intend to expose your horse to   Regarding the period of time required before a horse is ready for harder work, Hurtig says, “It depends on the bio-mechanical challenge to their muscular skeletal system.”   One could spend at least three months preparation before the horse is ready for high level performance. It can also take up to a year to get ligaments and tendons ready for Olympic level sport.   Hurtig is excited about his research on Intra Articular therapies that utilize direct injection into the joint as a targeted therapy but cautions against injections used for maintenance or as a preventative measure.   Learn more about Dr. Hurtig's research   Want to learn more about lameness?   Equine Guelph has free healthcare tools: Lameness Lab and Journey through the Joints  Test your knowledge and savvy for spotting lameness!   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

Guelph, ON April, 30, 2020 - Spring is upon us and so is the prevalence of gas colic. Equine Guelph is sharing many strategies to prevent it.   First, Equine Guelph recommends that every horse owner refers to its FREE Colic Risk Rater Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool) to help them assess their management practices, such as introducing new feeds slowly to reduce their colic risk.  An excellent video discussing safe introduction to spring pasture with expert in equine nutrition, Don Kapper, has just been added to the valuable resources housed on the Colic Risk Rater web page. Horse people are generally good about making changes to their horse’s grain rations over a two-week period. It is understood that an increase in grain means an increase in starch that can cause hind gut issues like colic and diarrhea and there is also the risk of laminitis.  Pasture is not always thought of in the same way, but it should be!  Spring grasses are higher in Non-Structural Carbohydrates, (NSC’s), starch and sugars, like fructan and low in fibre, especially during rapid growth phases.   A sudden increase of fresh spring grass in a horse’s diet can change the pH in the hindgut and cause all sorts of health issues including colic.  Spring grass, low in fibre is rapidly fermented, and an overload of starch enters the cecum killing off microbes important to digestion.  Kapper says, “The first sign you will see is a loosening of the stools.”   When excessive fermentation creates a buildup of gas in the gut this is when gas colic can occur.  The stretching of the intestinal wall from the gas build up causes considerable pain.  A veterinarian should be consulted whenever colic is suspected.  Gas colic is often mild, but it can also lead to a twist in the gut that would require surgery.     To keep your horse’s digestive system healthy, the gradual introduction of new forage (including pasture) is very important.  The nutritional composition (e.g. the amount of protein, sugars and types of fibre) varies greatly between forage types, and especially between hay and newly growing spring pasture. The bacteria in a horse’s gut need time to adjust to these changes.    “If the horse is turned out 24/7, mother nature will take care of your horse’s gradual introduction to spring pasture,” says Kapper. “The grass grows slowly, and they will continue eating hay on the side.”   For the horse that is stabled, the stable manager must limit the amount of new growth the horse is exposed to in the pasture on a daily basis.  First, let the grass paddock grow to approximately six inches.   You may start with just one hour of turn out per day on the lush grass pasture before putting them back in their sacrifice paddock or dry lot where they have been all winter.  You can slowly increase that by 30 minutes to an hour every other day.    Consider turn-out very early in the morning when NSC concentrations are lower (NSC concentrations increase throughout the day with increasing sunlight).  However, if there has been frost overnight, NSC’s will accumulate in the grass.  In this instance you will want to restrict turn-out.   Kapper makes a clear distinction between the management of horses diagnosed with metabolic issues and the rest of your herd.  The metabolic horse requires a diet low in NSC’s and may be best managed on a dry lot, with hay as the only forage.  One must always work with their veterinarian when planning the best options for care of the metabolic horse.   Kapper also discusses weed control and pasture maintenance.  Horses generally avoid poisonous plants unless there is nothing else to eat.  Being diligent with pasture maintenance pays off not only in the reduction of weeds but in the ability to use your pasture to help fulfill your horses forage needs.     With a high moisture content than hay, there is great value in being able to provide pasture to your horses.  It is good for your budget and good for your horse’s overall health if introduced with caution.   CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd. is the generous sponsor of the Colic Risk Rater Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool) Mike King, of CapriCMW, is a dedicated horseman who believes in the importance of education for horse owners. He addresses why it was so important for his organization to partner with Equine Guelph on this initiative, “Given our decades of experience in insuring horses from coast to coast, we know that colic is one of the highest risk factors for death in the Canadian herd. We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education.”   Equine Guelph extends a big thank you to Don Kapper for sharing his expertise. There were so many great tips in this video. Here are the top 10:   Introduce spring grass gradually, increases of 30 minutes to an hour every other day NSC concentrations are lower early in the morning except when overnight frost occurs. Keep hay in front of your horse at all times.  Chew time=saliva= healthy pH in the gut and reduces the chance of digestive issues. As little as 4 hrs without forage can have a negative impact on gut health. Signs of not enough fibre:  loose stools, eating dirt, fences, manes & tails, trees Mow weeds as soon as you see them start to flower (in spring about every 3 weeks)  When mowing pasture set the mower 6 inches from the ground. If stools loosen during a change in forage, brewer’s yeast can provide a good culture for microbes in the horse’s gut.  Pre-biotics could also prove useful. Consult your veterinarian for diet and management advice for metabolic horses, they are very susceptible to issues when starch is even slightly elevated. Spring pasture maintenance begins with a soil test checking for an ideal pH between 6.5 & 7.  From there you will know what to add in lime and then what to add to your fertilizer.     More tips on getting the most out of your pasture and maintaining your horse’s digestive health in the 27 minute video and at The Colic Risk Rater tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool).   Equine nutritionist Don Kapper (Professional Animal Scientist) is the author of the chapter on “Applied Nutrition” for the authoritative veterinary textbook: “Equine Internal Medicine”, 2nd edition and was a member of the “Performance Electrolyte Research” team at the University of Guelph. He is also a frequent guest speaker in Equine Guelph’s online Nutrition courses and TheHorsePortal.ca online Gut Health and Colic Prevention course.   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

For some people, the federal indictments of over two dozen people in horse racing for drug adulteration and misbranding were a confirmation of long-held suspicions — that racing wasn't as clean as it should be. For Hanover Shoe Farms president and CEO Russell Williams, it was a call to action. Williams is the grandson of Hanover Shoe founder Lawrence Sheppard, who launched the Standardbred operation in Hanover, Penn., when he was a junior partner in the Hanover Shoe Company. The farm burst onto the Standardbred scene in the 1920s and emerged as one of the sport's largest commercial breeders. Hanover Shoe has been the country's top breeder by U.S. Trotting Association figures year after year. He is also the president of the U.S. Trotting Association. As such, the allegations in the indictments, of Standardbred and Thoroughbred trainers doping horses while escaping the detection of pre- and post-race testing, offended Williams deeply. “Here at Hanover Shoe farm, we sell about 230 yearlings, or that's what we're going to sell this year,” said Williams. “We try to raise them right and love them and take good care of them. To send them out into the world to be subjected to the things described in those indictments … it breaks our hearts. “We're going to show them we're not going to say goodbye to them when they leave here. We're going to put this challenge grant down and make some things happen.” To read the full report written by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click here.  

Pursuant to the Directive for Harness Racing Horses Linked to Alleged Drug Violations issued March 17, 2020, all horses claimed, sold or otherwise transferred from a summarily suspended, indicted trainer or a trainer named in a criminal complaint in the 60 days prior to the date of the announcement of the indictment or criminal complaint, were placed on the Steward’s List. Such Commission Directive provided that hair sampling could occur once 30 days have passed since the claimed, sold or otherwise transferred horse arrived at the new trainer’s barn.  In furtherance of such Directive, the Commission has determined to commence hair testing on standardbred horses on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Until further notice, such testing shall be conducted at the following locations: Buffalo Raceway 5600 McKinley Parkway Hamburg   Monticello Raceway 204 State Route 17B Monticello   Saratoga Raceway 342 Jefferson Street Saratoga Springs   Testing will only occur on an appointment basis, secured through the Presiding Judge of the appropriate racetrack. Should qualifiers be authorized, the Commission will expand testing availability.  For horses outside the State of New York, the Commission will only accept hair sampling if performed by the State’s racing regulatory office. Such office may make arrangements for the submission of such samples through the Office of the Equine Medical Director by contacting me at scott.palmer@gaming.ny.gov. To: All New York Licensed Trainers and Veterinarians From: Scott E. Palmer Date: April 24, 2020  

Guelph, ON April, 23,2020 - Could the same biomarkers linking low vitamin D to seriously ill humans be present in horses?  Starting this spring, Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Luis Arroyo and his team will be collecting and analyzing equine blood samples measuring vitamin D and other biomarkers of inflammation and systemic disease.  They expect to find major disorders of hormonal pathways, much like in human studies looking at hypovitaminosis D as a marker of disease severity.  This knowledge could be pivotal to future studies looking into clinical intervention at the earliest stages.   Equine enterocolitis (diarrhea, colitis) is a major cause of equine deaths worldwide.  “It is a black box,” says Arroyo as he recalls a staggering statistic from a recently published paper out of California.  The paper stated that in 13 years of studying over 700 enterocolitis cases, the cause of the disease was unknown at least 65% of the time.  Colitis can result in loss of hormonal control, metabolic/ electrolyte / fluid imbalances, and organ failure.   Horses are hindgut fermenters and they depend on the microbiota in the gut to break down what they eat and produce energy.  Disturbance of this ecology will affect the health of the horse directly.  Colitis causes inflammation of the intestine and the horse can end up with diarrhea.  When this occurs and there is significant nutrient loss, they can end up becoming very sick.     Vitamin D is involved in regulation of calcium and phosphorus, bone health, controls the immune system, and reduces inflammation.  Currently, there is no information on how the blood levels of vitamin D change in sick and healthy adult horses.   “This research project is not about the pathogenesis of colitis but more on how the horse responds to this disease and how the system is coping with it,” says Arroyo.  “Much like taking a car to the mechanic and having them perform tests to see what is wrong; the research is very much in the diagnostic stage to see what is wrong in the digestive system.”   “Can we better understand what is going on in these cases and then better manage them, help them recover faster or even prevent them?” asks Arroyo.  “With this knowledge comes the possibility of modulating what is going on in the intestine.”   Arroyo stated that it is quite common to have several cases of colitis admitted to the OVC in a month.  The diligence in the research will be collecting samples from each horse, every day for at least four consecutive days.  They will analyzing at 6- 8 different metabolites.  “We want to understand the progression,” says Arroyo regarding the importance of collecting samples for at least 4 days from the same horses.   “The focus will be to follow horses with colitis but we also want to understand patterns in horses with different conditions as well as healthy horses,” says Arroyo.  The research plan includes analyzing serum samples of 40 horses, including a control group.   “We are interested in the talk between the adrenal glands and the brain and how one can stimulate or inhibit the other,” says Arroyo.  “If disorders of hormonal pathways are discovered, this knowledge will be useful for future studies.  Some of these so-called vitamins, they are actually viewed now as hormones, as they have a function more like a hormone playing important roles in multiple organs.  Hormone therapy has shown promise in treating humans.  We want to see where there are opportunities to intervene in the early stages for horses with colitis.”    Arroyo is looking forward to collaborating with expert in Equine Endocrinology from The Ohio State University, Dr. Ramiro Toribio on this exciting new research study.  New OVC faculty, Dr. Diego Gomez, will also be part of the team in this project kindly funded by Equine Guelph.   Equine Guelph

Nakhon Ratchasima, April 20 (Reuters) - Thailand began vaccinating some 4,000 horses on Monday in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly African Horse Sickness (AHS), a disease that only affects horses and other equine animals. More than 200 horses in seven provinces have died since the outbreak was first reported earlier this year, the first time the highly infectious AHS virus, transmitted by insects, has appeared in Southeast Asia. Horse owners in northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province have installed mosquito nets on stables and conduct regular temperature and health checks, while putting sick horses under quarantine. The government has also banned the import and export of horses, zebras and related animals. Veterinarians say if the disease cannot be contained by mass vaccination, it could wipe out all 11,800 horses in Thailand, where they are kept for racing and leisure riding for tourists and private owners. "Without any prevention, 10 out of 10 horses will contract the virus... nine out of 10 sick horses will die from it," Aree Laikul a veterinarian from Kasetsart University's faculty of Veterinary Medicine who is helping the vaccination drive. There have been no reported cases of AHS in humans, and it is not related to the coronavirus pandemic. AHS is endemic in the central tropical regions of Africa, from where it spreads regularly to Southern Africa and occasionally to North Africa, according to information from the World Organization for Animal Health. (Editing by Kay Johnson & Simon Cameron-Moore)   By Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat   Reprinted with permission of Reuters

Opinion piece - In late March, just days after first denying she was going to force the country into lock down a lugubrious looking Jacinda Ardern waved around the “flatten the curve” graphic and told us that if covid-19 was unchecked “our health system will be inundated and thousands of New Zealanders will die" and that consequently New Zealanders now needed to sacrifice fundamental civil liberties and their livelihoods to “save lives.”   There are two critical observations from that press conference.   First, it is now increasingly clear that Ardern misled the country with the claims that tens of thousands of deaths. In an excellent and courageous piece of research (read it here) economist Ian Harrison (who has worked for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements and specialises in risk modelling) demolished the fundamental research on which the government relied for compelling the country into lock down.   No doubt the Ardern government will first dissemble, distract and deny this fact. If that doesn’t satisfy the usually quiescent media expect to see the University of Otago Covid-19 Research Group go under the bus as the government claims it simply “relied on the advice it was given.”   Except this is either a bald-faced lie or chronically incompetent. Let’s be charitable and assume it’s the later: Ardern’s incompetence stems from that fact that no one, anywhere, in any position of authority, ever should take a decision of that magnitude without double and triple checking the facts on which you are relying. Ardern didn’t. If one-man band economist Harrison can figure this out why couldn’t the government’s army of advisors?   Nevertheless, emboldened by a public terrified by hysterical, wall to wall reporting from the legacy media, the government doubled down and so we found ourselves locked into lock down, with all its unintended consequences. Consequences which will be severe, long lasting and almost certain to do more damage than Covid-19 will or could.   Which brings us to the second point from that infamous press conference. The lock down we were told was all about “flattening the curve”, to stop our health system from being “swamped.” But then a funny thing happened: the health system (like those offshore here and here and here) didn’t end up getting overwhelmed at all.   So, like slaves chiselling a pretender pharaoh’s name from the pyramids the flatten curve graphics were quietly removed from the press conferences and in the legacy media. They were replaced with a new message – this time “elimination.”  The Prime Minister stated: "We will step down to level 3 in a way that is consistent with our goal to eliminate Covid-19 in New Zealand.”    To be fair to Ardern you could justify the change in course if it was going to work, no one should expected to pursue a strategy that is clearly flawed solely for political expediency (except of course she has before – see here)   The problem of course is that this new strategy is a), as hopelessly flawed in its empirical justifications as the original strategy, and b) worse, even if succeeds it will cripple New Zealand for years to come.   First, elimination means just that, elimination, and no one outside New Zealand is taking that possibility seriously. Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, told a New Zealand parliamentary committee April 14 that eradicating the virus is a “nirvana” scenario. The reasons the elimination strategy is extremely unlikely to be successful are surprisingly simple:   The R0 value of the corona virus is high and its spreads asymptomatically, so in short it spreads extremely easily, making containment with anything short of a lock down impossible. Upwards of 80% of those who contract the virus have no symptoms (ie never feel sick at all) which makes tracking the virus extremely difficult unless you implement mass population testing and contact tracing at a level far beyond New Zealand’s capacity (our contract tracing system has been described as a dinosaur).   The tests the government plans to rely on to identify Covid-19 are well known to generate both false negatives and false positives. It is estimated the number of unidentified cases is between 8 and 10 times the real figures, meaning New Zealand is likely to have tens of thousands of people carrying Covid19 with no symptoms.  In short it is almost inconceivable that New Zealand can eliminate Covid19 without maintaining a permanent lock down. Which begs the question: if weren’t flattening the curve and we can’t eliminate it why did we go into an economy crippling, poverty inducing, long term public health damaging lock down?   But, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that somehow New Zealand achieves the impossible and we do eliminate Covid19 – what then? What happens when the dog chasing the car actually catches the car?   The rest of the world will still have Covid19. As mentioned, no one, anywhere else in the world is even considering this strategy. New Zealand will become a de facto prison for its 4.9M “citizens.”   Large scale in-bound travel to New Zealand will be effectively eliminated, and with it the tourism sector, our largest export earner, contributing $45 billion to GDP annually. Without offshore tourism Air New Zealand will become a domestic only airline, so expect few flights to or from our fair shores (great news if you are a hard-green environmentalist, curtains for tens of thousands of employees).   With few onshore flights the opportunities for New Zealanders to travel offshore will become few and expensive – say goodbye to that holiday in Europe or 2 weeks in Fiji and look forward to 2 weeks quarantine when you return home. It’s also very difficult to grow an international business entirely through Zoom so expect the slow but steady strangulation of New Zealand’s export orientated businesses. Likewise expect prices of imports to surge and with the virtual elimination of immigration and a collapsing economy, walled off East Germany-like from the rest of the world, property prices to fall.   And all this assumes that there are no slip ups. But as Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital who advises the Australian government on Covid19 states: “the reality is this virus is everywhere, it’s all around the world. So even if you’re successful for a short period of time, how long do you do this for? Six months? Two years? Invariably, you’re going to get the virus re-introduced.” As Steven Joyce succinctly put it the “idea that we would get rid of Covid-19 is pie in the sky fantasy”   Proponents of the elimination strategy argue that “Colditz New Zealand” won’t be needed for more than 18 months and all we have to do is wait for a vaccine. However, there is no guarantee we will get a vaccine. As David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College, London, and an envoy for the World Health Organisation on Covid-19 states: “You don’t necessarily develop a vaccine that is safe and effective against every virus. Some viruses are very, very difficult when it comes to vaccine development - so for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.”   Neither will anti-body testing be anymore effective, with even the World Health Organisation warning that “there is no evidence that people who have recovered from coronavirus have immunity to the disease [and] there is no proof that such antibody tests can show if someone who has been infected with COVID-19 cannot be infected again.”   In short, there is a very, very real risk that the cavalry is not coming for New Zealand. We could be trapped here for a very long time – like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings – “we cannot get out.”   Finally, we need to consider even if an effective vaccine was developed just how high up the priority list is New Zealand really going to be? If you are handing out vaccines do you prioritise the 5M people at the bottom of the world who are at no immediate risk or other 7.5 billion who are? The US and China are already hoarding and interdicting Personal Protection Equipment – what makes us think a vaccine will be different?   In short, the government’s whole Covid-19 “strategy” from start to finish has been flawed. It was based on flawed modelling and amplified by hysterical media reporting. And now New Zealand’s plan to “eliminate” the virus looks more like a bullet wound to the stomach, the result of which will be long, painful and lonely death. If you enjoyed this article please share across on FaceBook, Twitter etc. These articles take a long time to research and your support in getting the message out there is greatly appreciated.   Both the NZ Herald and Stuff originally indicated they would publish my Covid-19 articles but then pulled the pin at the last moment, I suspect (with good reason) under political pressure. The Emperor's Robes - The Observations of Alex Davis

There was a time in the 1980s and early nineties that the name of William (Bud) Fritz was synonymous with harness racing in Ontario. The Fritz stable came as close to dominating the province’s sires stakes program as any single operation ever has. - The Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame. Enter granddaughter Monica Fritz of Walkerton, Ontario. She’s a 22-year-old student getting set to graduate from the University of Guelph with a degree in Animal Biology. She says her next step in education is ‘hopefully’ vet school. “That’s what I’m aiming for,” states Fritz. “I’m really looking forward to starting my new job with the Milton Equine Clinic, working under Dr. Marc Desjardins, in May.” Like her grandpa Bud and like her father Dale - Monica, too, has raced horses and won with them here in Ontario. “My Dad got Jamigo to the races back in 2010,” she says. “He was always a good trotter around Hanover and London, but then he got claimed away from us in the Spring of 2013. That summer we’d get North Leigh to the races and he’d win for us at Hanover, in his second lifetime start, but his career ended suddenly after just five races.” Sounds like it would be a tough blow to any seasoned veteran of the game, let alone a teenager, but Monica stayed with it. “I love the horses - I’ve been around them my whole life and I do get really attached to them, but this losing a horse to a claim or anything else - well I learned very quickly that it’s sometimes just part of the business.” Jamigo never did make it to the winner’s circle, following that particular claim, until he made it back to the Fritz barn that Fall. “I was able to get him back privately from horseman Dennis Morrissey,” she says. “We picked him up after not finding anything at the yearling sale, that year, in London and right off the bat he was racing good for us again.” Jamigo would spend the next few years racing for Team Fritz, trotting to a mark of 1:59.3 and racing plenty of Preferred action as well. In November, of 2015, Jamigo got claimed again and since then he’s been racing mainly up around Rideau and Three Rivers. “He’s in Ottawa now and I still enjoy following him and his races.” Like so many others, involved in the industry, Monica’s racing roots run deep… “Our family goes back a long ways in this business and I’ve always enjoyed being a part of it… I’m very proud to be my Dad’s biggest fan. I’ve always wanted to be there for him and we’re still close - watching old replays and stuff now and then. I just feel very lucky to be a part of this family that is so passionate about horses.” The earliest memories for Fritz, around The Raceway, involve the pacer Back To Back Jack. “My dad bought him as a yearling in London (2004) when I was six and we’ve had him ever since. He’s always been one of my best friends for sure. Everything about him is just special and he’s got that forever home with our family.” Hall of Famer Bud Fritz is on the ownership line for the good pacer Im Not Bad who’s raced in London plenty of times. “My Grandma (the late Ethel Fritz) loved him at the yearling sale (2014) and picked him out for Grandpa… He was dark and had some nice markings - a real looker! I can remember him winning his first start at The Raceway in 2017… Uncle Terry (Fritz) races him.” Reflecting on her Grandparents… “Bud has always been a man of a few words. A great all-around horseman who could do anything with any racehorse. He instilled his hard work ethic in all of us and our family has a lot of great memories of his time in racing… Grandma, no longer with us, was my best friend. I really looked up to her - raising nine children - plus she helped Grandpa lots too. She looked after all of us and was the backbone of our family for sure.”  And going forward… “I’ve been doing everything for school online and helping out at the barn with my fiancé, Jake Roberts, who works for trainer Rob Fellows. My job in Milton will be starting soon - so I’m really looking forward to that.” And what about a return to harness racing for Monica? “I’ve always known that I wanted to be in this industry, but I wanted to be something, maybe, unique to the business within our family. I’m sure I’ll be involved in one way or another.” And finally - any words of encouragement to share with your fellow horse people during this downtime from racing? “Try to stay busy - try to keep motivated and look forward to better days ahead.” SHANNON DOYLE​ TRACK ANNOUNCER

New Brunswick, NJ — In a joint project by the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University; Equine Integrated Medicine, Georgetown, Ky.; Duer Forensic Toxicology, Clearwater, Fla.; and the New York Drug Testing and Research Program, Morrisville State College; a recently published journal article shows that a sterile solution of cobalt salts (50 mg of elemental cobalt as CoCl2 in 10 ml of saline, given IV for three consecutive days) did not affect aerobic or anaerobic performance or plasma erythropoeitin concentration in race fit harness racing horses. The study was funded in part by the United States Trotting Association. “The Evaluation of Cobalt as a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) in Racehorses” study sought to determine if cobalt acts as a performance enhancing drug by altering biochemical parameters related to red blood cell production, as well as markers of aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance. The study also identified the normal distribution of plasma cobalt in a population of horses on a maintenance dietary ration without excessive cobalt supplementation. Research was conducted using 245 Standardbred horses with no supplementation of cobalt from farms in New York and New Jersey, including those at the Rutgers University Equine Science Center. The authors concluded that a threshold of 25 micrograms per liter in plasma, currently in place in many racing jurisdictions, may result in horses exceeding the threshold without excessive cobalt administration. They suggest that a threshold of 71 micrograms per liter be considered. The study also found that plasma cobalt concentrations over 300 ppb had no adverse effects on horses’ well-being or on performance. However, we caution that investigators have found that higher doses are purportedly being illicitly administered to horses with reported dangerous adverse and life-threatening effects on the horses. The present study does not address the effects of administering the much larger doses that racing officials and investigators have suggested are being misused to enhance performance. Cobalt in salt form (closeup) According to Dr. Kenneth H. McKeever, Associate Director for Research at the Equine Science Center, “The results of this study are the first to document that administration of cobalt salts at the level studied does not stimulate the production of red blood cells and does not affect markers of performance in race fit horses. Horses appear to respond in a species-specific fashion that is different from human studies that showed toxicity at plasma concentrations above 300 ppb. This study presents data rather than speculation for the decision-making process for setting thresholds.” The study has been published as an open access paper, accessible for free at this link. The Rutgers Equine Science Center

Trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis entered pleas of not guilty to federal charges of involvement in a misbranding conspiracy during an April 2 teleconference arraignment before United States District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. Navarro and Servis are among 19 defendants in United States vs. Jorge Navarro, et al., who face misbranding charges stemming from the March 9 indictments of the two trainers and 25 others in four separate cases of conspiracies to manufacture, distribute, and administer adulterated or misbranded performance-enhancing drugs that were administered to racehorses. All 19 of the defendants entered a plea of not guilty in a case presented by the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York. Navarro and Ross Cohen, a former harness racing trainer, were the only defendants who participated in the call. The rest were represented by their attorney. Navarro said little more than "not guilty" during the arraignment. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Adams said during the arraignment that the evidence collected by the government was voluminous, with much of it from wiretaps, leading to projections of a discovery period that could last for about six months. That would likely push the start of the trial into 2021. In describing the case, Adams said it was a case that has "focused on doping and the use of performance-enhancing drugs to win professional horse races in the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries. It has involved a number of different forms information-collecting that would include in-person meetings and covertly recorded meetings by confidential sources. It cites a number of wiretaps over a series of phones and in a total span of one year of time." The federal prosecutor assigned to the case added that there were search warrants for a place "where a horse under Mr. Servis' control was located, and at a bar, and what the government will describe as a small pharmacy controlled by (defendant Christopher Oakes)." He also said there were warrants and searches of several cell phones, bank records, and "the fruits of grand jury investigations." Adams said that roughly 17 of the 19 defendants had at least one cell phone seized by the government and computers were also taken for evidence. He said the investigation is still going on and there could be additional indictments pending the information gleaned from records and documents still coming into the government. Attorney Robert Baum, counsel for defendant Alexander Chan, spoke on behalf of a consortium of the defendants' attorneys, saying wire taps involved seven defendants and there are "tens of thousands" of conversations. He added that motions being contemplated will be "extremely lengthy, complex and extensive. We are talking about motions involving the wire taps, search warrants, statements, the seizure of physical evidence. There may be motions attacking the government's intent to resent scientific evidence." During the proceedings, which were conducted by teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Vyskocil ordered the government and counsel for all of the defendants to submit a revised bail agreement to her by April 6. The indictment claims Navarro "executed this scheme by using PEDs designed to evade drug tests, physically concealing containers of PEDs and drug paraphernalia from state regulators and racing officials, administering and directing others to covertly administer PEDs, and shipping certain products designed to mask the presence of PEDs through a straw purchaser." It also charged that Servis "orchestrated a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering adulterated and misbranded PEDs, including a PED called SGF-1000, to virtually all of the racehorses under his control." Navarro is a seven-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park and the leader at the 2018-19 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park, while Servis is best known for training the 2019 3-year-old champion male, Maximum Security, who won the $20 million Saudi Cup Feb. 29 and was disqualified from first to 17th for a racetrack foul in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). On the indictment, the defendants are listed in order as Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Gregory Skelton, Cohen, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., Oakes, Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley Jr., Chan, Henry Argueta, Nicholas Surick, Rebecca Linke and Christopher Marino. By Bob Ehalt Reprinted with permission of the Bloodhorse

This is a normal day in the Third, but it is not. Stallbacken is the closest to the desert, and at the gates of the controlled, strictly who is allowed to enter. As travsporten (Sweden) - now-without an audience - is counted as one work, the harness racing continues, despite the decision of the government on the meetings, with a maximum of 50 people. As the Horses come off the track after the first lap, and Örjan Kihlström, handed over the reins to an attendant, who will be running. Despite the fact that it's cold out there, so he is happy that the races can do it. " We would be terribly affected if we were to stop the run, so we should be grateful to them for as long as we can keep going. We have a huge advantage with that we are looking at large areas, and most of the people that are working with it, it's out there on the farm, and don't meet too many people. When it comes to the risk of cross-contamination is a very good one if we say so." ”the Racetrack is also unique in the way” The Routines of the kuskarna look a bit different after the coronavirusets the outbreak. No alkotester is carried out, as is customary prior to the event. The test is to be taken only if the track officials see something suspicious. In addition, there is a kuskarna were asked to change clothes in the car or on the trailer. It is usually skojas that the horse lovers would rather spend time with the horses than the people, and for once in your life, it can be seen as an advantage. "We are close to the animals, and not particularly close to other men, and on the balcony. The racetrack is also unique in the way it is because it is possible to still be running, say, the Emilia and Leo. "It is more than that of which not so much, and also from France, for example, to hear people, to ask about the horses. You don't want to take advantage of a bad thing, but if we can get a few more people to get interested in horse racing and that we can continue to run as it is the gun, if it comes to that. Emilia, Leo, says that she has noticed an increased interest from players who are not accustomed to playing in the american travsport Europe as a Whole hästnäring hang on In any of the countries in which the travsporten is the most going on right now, no races on the basis of their respective restrictions. The Norwegian travsporten have been hit hard financially by their stand and their survival depends largely on the Swedish horse racing at the moment. Andrew Garman, managing director of the Norsk Rikstoto foundation, said in an interview with the Norwegian broadcasting corporation (NRK the other day, that almost the whole of Europe, hästnäring right now, hang on, it is possible to betting on horses in Sweden. One of the tävlingskvällens coach, Kenneth Haugstad, is he, and tells her that he had a new job in a couple of months in the future, as travexpert in Norway in order to teach them about american harness racing. "There's nothing else to play right now, and people want to play. They want the thrill, so I hope to be able to keep it together here, "says Kenneth Haugstad, and stresses the importance of the sport rolling: "It's very important that we have a little bit of income. This is what we live by and we don't have the money to run on, so it will be a difficult one. When the tire hästägarna and don't want to have to have a horse in training. Since there are many people who would find it difficult. this is One of the newest additions to the Swedish established the kuskelit is, Richard N, Professor. He says, and points to a people of no stallbacke, and said: "It's just that it's almost here. There are more people inside the bus in Stockholm, sweden than there are here. The reason is, I think, that there is no reason that we shouldn't be driving. Then it's a good thing that we are running, so that people have something to look at. Also in the Channel, with 75 employees, hold itself at arm's length when they are interviewing are active in the stallbackenStor the increase in net sales in the streckspelen Tonight's the big streckspel, V86, put in the time and the course switch, between the Third and the Åbys trotting track in Mölndal, Sweden. Startbilen rolls, while a stand of oak trees, up to The lighter for the game. V75 this Saturday had a turnover of more than 113 million people – the equivalent of today last year had a turnover of sek 99 million, and the jackpot. "First and foremost, we would like to make the point very clearly that this is a situation that we wish we had never been in. The situation is really difficult and hard for everyone in the community, "says Nicklas Johansson, who is responsible for the play of the horses at the online betting company of ATG, said: "However, we are aware of the growing interest in a variety of ways. The net sales of our most popular horse games go well, and more and more customers than they normally are in the atg.make sure to check out the start lists, read the news, and in order to play. On the other hand, the decrease in our sports games, as all of the leagues and competitions that have been closed due to the pandemic. So, we are very grateful to the game of horses, can compensate for the loss. Startbilen release of one of the evening's line-up in the face of the blank läktar – the racetrack is now considered to be a arbetsplats Stjärnkusken: ”This is surreal” Erik Adielsson just won a race at the legendary trainer Stig H Johansson. He sits down on the stone wall outside of the entry and catch our breath. Solvallakusken is cautiously optimistic to the idea of trotting off. "It is clear that there is a great interest in the races. There is no doubt about it. This is great for the racetrack, but I have to say that you are humble in the situation, though. We know so many who are suffering physically, losing a job, and so on. It is a very unique situation. He also emphasised on the importance of travsporten continue to roll thanks largely to the vast open spaces of the competition area, and the interactions that the loading / unloading of the horses, basically only happens in the outdoors. "If it is possible, I think it's a good thing if we can continue to drive, in order for us as a sport, and then you notice among the friends, and then they find that it's fun to have something to adhere to. As long as we can be, it is clear that we are going to do it. "But I have a hard time to stand up and shout out with a fanfare and the shouting of a good sales it is because you dont know how it will affect the whole of society and around the world. It's just surreal. By Tagesanzeiger Reprinted with permission of the Indo and New York

Columbus, OH — According to a story on The Paulick Report, several of the defendants in a federal case focusing on drug misbranding and the doping of racehorses will be arraigned via teleconference later this week. The defendants scheduled to be arraigned include Jorge Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Gregory Skelton, Ross Cohen, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., Christopher Oakes, Jason Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley Jr., Alexander Chan, Henry Argueta, Nicholas Surick, Rebecca Linke, and Christopher Marino. The teleconference is scheduled for April 2 at 2:30 p.m. To read the full story, click here. The USTA Communications Department

Guelph, ON Mar. 30, 2020 - Equine Guelph has opened a FREE offering of their online Sickness Prevention in Horses course ($85 value - free with coupon code) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.   TheHosePortal.ca course is based on the Canadian standard for equine biosecurity.  While many are at home for the next few weeks, this is an ideal time to learn online and develop your own action plan and backup arrangements.   Maintaining health is everyone’s responsibility. Biosecurity is a word and practice not well understood by an unsettling number of public riding facilities.   How many people wipe down the chains and snaps on cross-ties with disinfectant because they understand this is one of many practices that can reduce the risk of disease spread?  This is just one of the simple take-aways from Equine Guelph’s free Biosecurity Calculator online healthcare tool.   Other agricultural industries such as poultry and dairy follow strict protocols to ensure the health of their animals.  Every person entering a facility has to log in and out.  They follow the rules of National Codes of Practice and Biosecurity.  The horse industry also has a National Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines and a National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity standard for the Equine Sector.      Those who have read and follow those guidelines may well lament over the number of facilities that immediately introduce an unknown horse into it’s herd with complete optimism that nothing will go wrong.  In this time of heightened alert, all reliable sources of education to prevent sickness are our salvation.  We all can and must take steps to safeguard health of both humans and animals.   Just what do you say to someone who comes back from their boarding barn search with the complaint, “Oh, it’s a lovely facility but they want to quarantine my horse for the first month - that will be inconvenient and I want my horse to have group turn-out.”?  The COVID-19 outbreak has made us all keenly aware of the importance of physical distancing as a crucial way to prevent the spread of disease.  Asymptomatic (no evidence of symptoms) does not equate to no health risk to others.   Our minds should instantly become more at ease when a facility has a quarantine protocol, wants to see vaccination records or even wants to see results from a strangles swab.  Horses are social, herd animals and being with their herd mates is an important component of their welfare but there is also an important balance to strike in safeguarding herd health.    If a horse enters a stable (perhaps travelling from a ‘hot spot’ – e.g. auction or yearling sale to name but two) asymptomatic upon arrival but they happen to be carrying a transmittable disease – what then?  They can pass the disease on to the entire herd.  That is inconvenient, costly and in the worst-case scenarios deadly. It is also a preventable welfare issue for the horses that suffer from the disease.   In this unprecedented time of social distancing, people are becoming acutely aware of the importance of carefully monitoring health and following quarantine protocols.   Monitoring for fever, cough and signs of sickness is daily news at the moment.   In a recent  article run by the Toronto Star regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Amy Greer, Canada research chair in population disease modelling at the University of Guelph  was quoted “It’s possible that Ontario will never experience the level of community transmission that the model estimates — just as it’s also possible that the province is on the cusp of a wider outbreak.  From a public health perspective, that’s always the challenge,” said Greer,  “If we do a really good job, people say, ‘Well you were overreacting, because nothing happened.’”   Well-run equestrian facilities and well informed horse owners closely monitor horses that have recently traveled.  Temperatures are taken daily along with a thorough horse health check.  Feed buckets, water buckets, tack, stall-cleaning equipment are not shared.  Hoses are never allowed to touch down into the buckets when they are refilled.  New arrivals may be able to see but not touch other horses.  Ideally, a separate quarantine barn is utilized.   For existing residents, such as horses returning home from being on the show circuit (higher risk location) best practices are to turn them out together but separate from the herd that does not travel.     Dr. Scott Weese, infection control expert at the University of Guelph has been very busy with his Worms and Germs blog as of late, providing advice for the FAQ’s coming in from animal owners. Weese was recently interviewed by TVO What we know — and don’t know — about how COVID-19 affects animals.  Weese is also featured in many resources in Equine Guelph’s biosecurity resources.   Maintaining health is the responsibility of everyone.   Arm yourself with scientifically proven information.  Ensure you have a written plan in case you get sick or injured to ensure ongoing care for your horses.   Stay safe everyone during this COVID-19 pandemic.  When it is all over may we all emerge strong, informed and vigilant in biosecurity best practices.    Equine Guelph’s Resources for Equine Health & Biosecurity: Equine Guelph’s Biosecurity Calculator - free online healthcare tool Equine Guelph’s Sickness Prevention online short course - Special FREE offering! Equine Guelph’s Health & Disease 12-week online course   Equine Guelph HEALTHflash Alert – COVID-19 - Caring for your horse during a pandemic    COVID-19 resources helpful for horse owners and caretakers     Notes to Editor: Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions - Equine Guelph   Photos:  (images available upon request)    Photo Caption: Have you created an action plan to care for your animals?   Web Link(s):  Story web link: https://thehorseportal.ca/2020/03/protect-your-herd-equine-guelph-announces-a-free-offering-of-online-sickness-prevention-course/   Other web links:   FREE offering of Equine Guelph's Online Sickness Prevention in Horses course https://thehorseportal.ca/course/sickness-prevention-in-horses-s20/   National Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines https://equineguelph.ca/pdf/tools/codeofpractice/equine_code_of_practice%20(1).pdf   National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity Standard for the Equine Sector  https://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/tools/CFIA_ACIA-7979460-v1-Equine-Standard-English-PDF-Final.pdf    Toronto Star article: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/03/10/social-distancing-could-go-a-long-way-toward-slowing-down-covid-19-researchers-say.html?fbclid=IwAR29CXayus3I2LUofg6A7Xg-Z8520SicukLH-0moAC8KM5RmG9J87W__UQ4   Worms and germs blog by infection control expert, Dr. Scott Weese https://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/   TVO story with Dr. Weese: https://www.tvo.org/article/what-we-know-and-dont-know-about-how-covid-19-affects-animals   Equine Guelph HEALTHflash Alert – COVID-19 - Caring for your horse during a pandemic   https://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=666   COVID-19 resources helpful for horse owners and caretakers https://thehorseportal.ca/covid-19-updates-resources/   Equine Guelph’s Biosecurity Calculator https://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/biosecurity.php   Equine Guelph’s Sickness Prevention online short course https://thehorseportal.ca/course/equine-biosecurity-standard/   Equine Guelph’s Health & Disease 12-week online course https://courses.opened.uoguelph.ca/search/publicCourseSearchDetails.do?method=load&courseId=17916       Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph Guelph, ON  N1G 2W1 519.824.4120 ext. 54756 jbellamy@uoguelph.ca  

Columbus, OH - To assist harness racing horsemen during the current circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Trotting Association has created a resource center of valuable information for industry participants. Contents COVID-19 Information and Facts President’s COVID-19 Guidelines Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) – Coronavirus Resource Page United Horse Coalition – Coronavirus Resource Page Federal Government Information Internal Revenue Service Small Business Administration (SBA) – Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EID Loans) Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – Keep America Connected – Phone and Internet Service State Government Information (alphabetical by state) Horsemen’s Association Information (alphabetical by state)   COVID-19 Information and Facts Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) –   https://www.cdc.gov/ President’s COVID-19 Guidelines – www.coronavirus.gov Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) – Coronavirus Resource Page The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) published a Coronavirus resource page on its website featuring items to help horse owners navigate this disease pandemic.  http://equinediseasecc.org/coronavirus-resources United Horse Coalition – Coronavirus Resource Page The UHC website has a dedicated tab for COVID-19 information including: COVID-19 Info for Humans and Horses; Safety Net Programs for Owners; Biosecurity and Disinfecting Protocols; Financial Relief Options; and Planning for Horse Care. In addition, there is a State Specific Resources Page that includes: 1) Unemployment Information and 2) State Specific COVID-19 Information for each individual state. https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#toggle-id-56 https://www.npr.org/2020/03/26/821457551/whats-inside-the-senate-s-2-trillion-coronavirus-aid-package   Federal Government Information National Public Radio’s (NPR) summary of federal legislation (media) – https://www.npr.org/2020/03/26/821457551/whats-inside-the-senate-s-2-trillion-coronavirus-aid-package Text of Senate Bill – S3548 – https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3548/text (hundreds of pages)   Summary of the 3 Phases of COVID-19 Legislation (Prepared by USTA Lobbyists – The Ingram Group) Congressional leaders reached a deal to pass a nearly $2 trillion “stimulus” package. This legislation represents “Phase 3” of the legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, is an outline all three pieces of legislation starting with the most recent, being Phase 3. Many of these provisions may be of interest to you or your individual affiliate members which are small businesses. There is already talk of a “Phase 4” bill but it is likely several weeks away. It is highly recommended that you should check with your accounting professional for tax provisions. The “Phase 3”- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) Phase 3, the CARES Act, will inject approximately $2T into the economy, providing tax rebates, expanded unemployment benefits, and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at providing direct relief for individuals, families, and businesses. Title 1: Small business interruption loans Provides 8 weeks of 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payrolls, the portion of the loan used to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. To qualify businesses must employee 500 people or fewer or meet the applicable Small Business Administration (SBA) size standard for the industry. Also, most self-employed individuals and nonprofits qualify. The loan is capped at the lower of 250% of the employer’s average monthly payroll or $10 million. The link is https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance. Authorizes $25 million for SBA to provide grants to associations representing resource partners to establish an online platform that consolidates resources across multiple Federal agencies and a training program to educate small business counselors on those resources to ensure counselors are directing small businesses appropriately. Expands eligibility for entities suffering economic harm due to COVID-19 to access SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), while also giving SBA more flexibility to process and disperse small dollar loans. The bill would allow businesses that apply for an EIDL expedited access to capital through an Emergency Grant—an advance of $10,000 within three days to maintain payroll, provide paid sick leave, and to service other debt obligations. Title 2: Unemployment Insurance Provisions: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a Fact Sheet for employers as well as a model notice employers may use to notify employees about these laws. The DOL is expected to issue regulations in April 2020. Individual Provisions:    Recovery Checks: $1,200 to individual Americans making less than $75,000 annually, and $2,400 for eligible married couples making less than $150,000 combined, with an additional $500 for every child. The amount would be reduced by $5 for every $100 that a person earns over $75,000, so Americans earning more than $99,000 will get nothing. Income levels, marital status, and number of children would be based on 2019 tax returns, if filed, or their 2018 return as an alternative.      Special rules for use of retirement funds: Allows the withdrawal of $100,000 from retirement accounts to pay for coronavirus-related purposes without the 10% early withdrawal penalty.    Tax Filing Deadline Delay/ Extension: The April 15 deadline for filing federal income tax returns and making payments is extended to July 15, 2020.    Charitable contributions: Corporations may deduct up to 25% of taxable income for charitable contributions in 2020, and there is no cap on individuals.    Student Loans: President Trump has suspended federally-held student loan payments for 60 days with no penalty. Employers can provide student loan repayment benefits to employees on a tax-free basis, up to $5,250. Business Provisions: Employee retention credit for employers: Employers subject to closure or partially suspended operations can qualify for a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid   to employees from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020. To qualify, a business must have been partially or fully suspended due to a local COVID-19 shut-down order or have had gross receipts decline by more than 50% from the same quarter last year. The credit is capped at $10,000 per employee, including health benefits. For employers with fewer than 100 employees, all employees count toward the credit, but for employers with more than 100 employees, only those not working because of the COVID-19 crisis count. Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes: Payroll taxes may be deferred with half due by December 31, 2021 and the other half due by December 31, 2022. Modifications for net operating losses (NOLs): NOLs for the last three years can be carried back five years on amended prior years’ tax returns. Pass-through entities may also take advantage of this provision. Modification of limitation on business interest: Changes the amount businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns from 30% to 50% for 2019 and 2020. Qualified improvement property: Allows businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, to immediately write off the cost of improving a facility instead of having to depreciate it over the 39-year life of the building. “Phase 2”- H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Among its many provisions, this $104 billion bill guarantees free coronavirus testing, provides emergency paid leave, and strengthens food security initiatives across a broad range of additional investments, including ensuring that children who depend on free and reduced-priced meals have access to food during school and childcare closures. H.R. 6201 also provides businesses with tax credits for qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees.   Paid Sick Leave Emergency paid leave requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to give 14 days off (two weeks) at the employee’s regular pay if employee gets COVID-19, is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine related to COVID-19, or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine to due COVID-19 concerns. The amount of paid sick leave per employee is limited to $511 per day and $5,110 total. The Act also requires employers to provide employees with 14 days off at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay to care for someone in quarantine or care for a child whose school is closed because of coronavirus precautions. Paid Family Leave Employees qualify for paid family leave if they are unable to work due to a need to care for a child whose school or place of care has closed because of a “public health emergency.” The first ten days of family leave may be unpaid, but after the first ten days, employers must provide employees with no less than two-thirds of an individual’s average monthly earnings for at least 30 days with 12 weeks of job-protected leave. Exemptions and Tax Credits There are exemptions for employers of 50 or fewer. Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of qualified sick leave wages paid each calendar quarter to cover the costs. H.R. 6201 also provides for refundable tax credits against the self-employment tax. “Phase 1”- H.R.6074, the Coronavirus Supplemental This first bill provided the initial $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.  H.R. 6074 was signed by POTUS and became law on March 6, 2020. A title-by-title summary is available here, and bill text here. —————————————————————————————————————————————- Internal Revenue Service – Treasury, IRS and Labor announced a plan to implement Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses to swiftly recover the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave . https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USIRS/bulletins/2826044?reqfrom=share U.S. Small Business Administration – Economic Injury Disaster Loans – https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Account/Register1 The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has made Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EID Loan) available for qualifying businesses that have suffered economic injury as a result of the epidemic.  Funds from an EID loan may be used by small businesses to pay fixed debts , payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The terms of an EID loan are determined by the SBA on a case-by-case basis. FCC – Keep America Connected – Phone and Internet Services Keep Americans Connected Pledge – https://www.fcc.gov/keep-americans-connected In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC has announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity. So far, more than 550 companies and associations have signed the pledge to Keep Americans Connected.  See the list on their website. The pledge: Not to terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic’ Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances pandemic; Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.   State Government Information (alphabetical by state) State – Small Business Information and Websites: Delaware – https://business.delaware.gov/coronavirus/ Indiana – https://www.nfib.com/indiana/ Florida – https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/florida-offers-loans-to-small-business-to-offset-coronavirus-impacts/2210126/ (media).  www.FloridaDisaster.BIZ – Application period ends May 8. Maryland – https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2020/03/19/coronavirus-small-business-financial-help-latest/ (media) with link to federal SBA website. Minnesota – https://www.twincities.com/2020/03/23/coronavirus-immediate-relief-available-for-small-businesses-in-minnesota/ New Jersey – https://www.njeda.com/about/Public-Information/Coronavirus-Information New York – https://esd.ny.gov/small-business-loan-resources Ohio – https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/resources-for-economic-support Pennsylvania – https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/   Rent Eviction and Utility Shutoff Information by State and Municipalities A detailed list of state and municipal, as well as federal, information on moratoriums on rent evictions and utility shutoffs. https://evictionlab.org/covid-eviction-policies/   Horsemen’s Association Information (alphabetical by state) California – California Harness Horsemen’s Association   Delaware – Delaware SOA – www.dsoaonline.com The Delaware Standardbred Owners Association, who serves Delaware horsemen and women, will utilize their website (link above), Facebook page (Delaware Standardbred Owners Association) and weekly television/internet show “Post Time” with host Heather Vitale to communicate with members.  Post Time airs on WBOC-TV on Sunday mornings at 11:30 a.m. EST.  Show archives can be found on PostTimeShow YouTube channel.   Florida – Florida SBOA Iowa – Iowa Harness Horse Association   Illinois – Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association   Indiana – Indiana Standardbred Association   Kentucky – Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Association   Maine – Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association   Massachusetts – SOA of Massachusetts   Michigan – Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association   New Jersey – SBOA of New Jersey SBOA of NJ – Employee Acquisition Assistance If you are in a position where you are shorthanded and need help during this critical time, the SBOANJ would like to help you. Please contact us at info@sboanj.com or call 732-462-2357 to let us know what type of employees you are in search of. We will gladly post positions needed on our website with any contact information you would like to give and help you get the word out.   New York –        HHA of Central New York          Saratoga Harness Horsemen’s Association   SOA of New York   Western New York HHA —————————————————————————————————————————————- Ohio – Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association OHHA Update – 3/27/20 OHHA Specific Relief: O.H.H.H.I.T. Health Plan Credits: The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance  (O.H.H.H.I.T.) Trustees as administrators of the Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance Trust would like to announce financial relief for all Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance Plan Participants. As-of the date of the first Order cancelling racing (March 20, 2020), each Self-Pay Plan Participant will automatically receive a credit for two months of health insurance plan premiums at their existing coverage level.  For example, if a horseman has paid their April premium costs for family coverage, they will receive a credit for their May and June family coverage premiums.  If the April family coverage premium has not been paid, the credit will apply to family coverage for their April and May premium costs.  There is no need to do anything to receive the credit.  It will automatically be applied to all self-pay coverage classes.  Note that if there are changes in coverage to a higher level of coverage (i.e., single to family coverage) during the credit time-period, the credit for the lower level of coverage will apply and the difference between the higher and lower premium cost will have to be paid. In addition, during this time, existing Breeding Farm Employees and Racetrack Grooms that are employed and active in the Plan, will continue to receive their premium costs covered.  Separation for or from any covered employer will be handled as-per the Plan’s rules.  The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association will provide updates regarding financial relief initiatives as they take place via www.ohha.com and social media outlets.  For immediate updates, please subscribe to the OHHA Emergency and Informational Text Blast system by texting “OHHA” to 1-888-808-1507. Government Updates: Ohio General Assembly Update • The next Senate session is scheduled for March 25 at 1:30 PM • The House has scheduled sessions for March 24, 25, 26, 31 and April 1 and 2 all at 1:00 PM • Legislation is not expected to go through the usual committee process, but rather it will be handled procedurally through the Rules committee. • UPDATE 3.25.20 the Ohio Senate and House voted to pass HB 197 with an emergency amendment to address coronavirus concerns. The summary of the amendment can be found at, https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-status?id=GA133-HB-197 As Passed Ohio H.B. 197 Overview COVID-19 Relief: 1. K-12 Education · Testing & Accountability – The bill eliminates state-mandated K-12 student assessments for the 2019-20 school year. It eliminates Ohio’s school district and school building report cards for the 2019-20 school year, prohibits ODE from assigning letter grades to buildings or districts, prohibits rankings based on report card data and creates “safe harbor” for schools and districts to ensure data from the 2019-20 school year will have no effect in determining sanctions or penalties. The proposal directs ODE to seek a waiver from federal testing requirements. · Jon Peterson Special Needs/Autism Scholarships – Allows for services to be provided to students by electronic delivery method or telehealth. This change is necessary for services to continue while schools are closed. · EdChoice Scholarship – The bill freezes the 2019-20 performance-based EdChoice building eligibility list at 517 buildings for the 2020-21 school year. The language allows siblings of current voucher students to participate. Under continuing law, the EdChoice application portal will open for 60 days beginning April 1, 2020, to process income-based EdChoice vouchers, renewals of existing performance-based vouchers, and new students attending the 517 buildings already on the list. The bill expressly prohibits expansion of the building list to 1,227 buildings. · Student Meals – For school districts that are providing meals to students who are home while schools are closed, this language gives the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture the authority to provide an exemption from “food processing” requirements so those entities can focus on providing food to children that depend on these services. · Distance Learning – For the 2019-20 school year, permits districts and schools to make up through distance learning any number of days or hours necessary due to COVID-19-related closures. They may amend an existing plan or adopt one to make up those days or hours. Current law limits make up through distance learning to not more than three days. · Teacher Evaluations and Licenses – For current teachers, the bill provides flexibility for teacher evaluations that were due to be completed during the 2019- 20 school year and removes the value-added component from the evaluation. For new teachers unable to take the final licensure test due to testing center closures, the bill provides them with a provisional teaching license for the 2020-21 school year if they have graduated from college, and have successfully completed student teaching and a background check. 2.  2020 Primary Election – The primary election in-person voting was cancelled due to the public health crisis. Ohioans that were eligible to vote on March 17, 2020, will be able to cast their ballot by mail on or before April 28, 2020. Those Ohioans that cast their ballot early will have their vote count. The Ohio Secretary of State will mail all voters a postcard informing them on how they will be able to request their ballot by mail from their local county Board of Elections. The board will send them their ballot and a postage paid return envelope. 3. Tax Year 2019 & 2020 Changes · Ohio’s tax filing deadline will be the same as the federal filing deadline, July 15 · The legislation incorporates into Ohio law recent changes to the Internal Revenue Code or other federal law taking effect after March 30, 2018. The language also assures continued compliance with the streamlined sales tax compact in respect to sales of prescription incontinence products for Medicaid recipients. · Other changes include Work From Home-related issues. As more of the workforce begins to Work from Home, questions have arisen regarding which municipal corporations may tax an employee’s income. This addresses concerns of businesses regarding the “20-day rule” in municipal income tax by not requiring employers to withhold for employees’ home municipalities for the duration of an employee working remotely, but rather to continue to withhold for the employee’s traditional workplace. Also, without this change, once an employee has worked in a municipality for more than 20 days, that municipality may start taxing part of the employer’s own income. 4. Rainy Day Fund – Permits the DeWine administration, prior to the end of the fiscal year (June 30), to seek State Controlling Board approval to transfer funds from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund to the state’s General Revenue Fund, if necessary, in order to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Approval for this transfer would be needed from at least two Controlling Board members from the House and two from the Senate in order for the request to be approved. Currently, there is $2.7 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. 5. Local Governments · Open Meetings – Grants members of a public body permissive authority to hold, attend and take public actions in public meetings by video conference, teleconference and any other available electronic means, provided certain requirements are met. The public body would be required to provide public access to a meeting held in this manner and ensure the public can observe and hear the discussions and deliberations. The public body would still have to provide proper meeting notice and have a quorum. Under the proposal, a “public body” has the same meaning as defined in ORC 121.22 and includes counties, townships, municipalities at the local level, as well as boards, commissions and other state- level entities. · Clean Water – Access to clean water in homes is critical when dealing with the COVID-19 emergency. This language would provide the Director of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency authority to direct public water systems to not disconnect, and to restore service to homes that have had their water shut off for nonpayment. Many of the utilities have voluntarily taken this step, and the PUCO has ordered public utilities to do so. · Auditor of State – Requested by the Auditor of State, this language allows the Auditor of State to waive certain criteria on a case-by-case basis to conduct an agreed-upon procedure audit of eligible subdivisions. · Access to County Offices – The bill generally requires the offices of a county recorder, county auditor and the title office of a clerk of court of common pleas, and a county map office, to remain open to land professionals and automobile, watercraft, all-terrain and mobile home dealers for property searches and title processing. · Local Vacancies – Provides a county central committee of political party additional forty-five days to fill vacancy from the date the vacancy was required to be filled during the period of the emergency declared by Executive Order 2020- 01D, issued March 9, 2020. Federal Information • Final CARES Act $2 Trillion Relief Coronavirus package  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6819239-FINAL-FINAL-CARES-ACT.html on3-25-20 by a 96-0 vote.  House vote Hospitals and Healthcare • $150 billion for the healthcare system • Includes funding for hospitals, treatment, and the Strategic National Stockpile to raise supplies of ventilators, masks, and other needed equipment • $100 billion will go to hospitals and the health system • $1 billion will go to the Indian Health Service Stimulus Checks • $250 billion for one direct payment to individuals and families • Payments are expected to go out within 3 weeks • Those earning $75,000 or less will receive a $1,200 check • Married couples earning $150,000 or less will receive a check for $2,400 • Additional $500 check per child aged 16 or under • Payment scales down for individuals earning above $75,000 • No payment for individuals making over $99,000 and couples with no children earning $198,000 Business Loans • Existing Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: Provides $17 billion for the SBA to cover the next six months of loan payments due on existing SBA 7(a) loans, Certified Development Company loans, and microloans. • SBA Disaster Loans: Provides $10 billion for the SBA to provide economic injury disaster loans to small businesses until December 31, 2020. While casinos and any gaming or racing business that derives more than a third of their annual gross income from gambling and racing are not normally eligible for such loans, the OHHA is working to clarify the applicability of the CARES Act to horsemen. • SBA Interruption Loans: Provides $349 billion for the SBA to provide “interruption loans” to small businesses, self-employed individuals, 501(c)(3) organizations, and veterans organizations, provided they have less than 500 employees or they meet SBA small business size standards (whichever is greater), with broadened eligibility for some franchises and businesses that provide food and accommodation services. • SBA Express Loans: Temporarily increases the maximum loan amount for an SBA Express loan from $350,000 to $1 million. • $150 billion for state and local governments to respond to coronavirus.  Stops President Trump, top government officials, and members of Congress and their families from getting loans or investments from the Treasury stimulus programs. • Treasury stimulus programs include a special loan facility to enable banks and other lenders to extend low interest loans to eligible mid-sized US Businesses, states, tribes, and local governments suffering from the impact.  Interest expenses on the loans is tax deductible. • Businesses that eliminate more than 10% of their workforce are not eligible for aid under the Bill until September 2020. Employers must retain or rehire at least 90% of workers and restore compensation and benefits. • $454 billion to provide loans to distressed companies, loan guarantees, and other Federal Reserve Lending programs to support businesses.  Gaming businesses are eligible or relief under this program as long as they are not receiving other economic relief • $50 billion of that will go to passenger airlines • Trump administration agreed to an oversight board and inspector general position to review how the money is spent • Republicans failed in attempt to cap unemployment at 100% of a workers wages that they received while previously employed Tourism Grants for Economic Revitalization •  Community Development Block Grants: Provides $5 billion in grants to states and local governments to mitigate economic disruptions in impacted industries, including making direct grants to tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19. •  Economic Development Agency Grants: Provides $1.5 billion to state and local governments for economic injuries to impacted industries, including grants to support economic revitalization of tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19. • Student Loans • All student loans, borrowed within the last 10 years and held by the federal government, will undergo an automatic payment suspension until September 30, 2020 • Individuals can choose to keep paying • Interest will not accrue during this period • Wage garnishment due to lack of payment will be suspended • Payment count will still continue to go up by one each month Tax Provisions / IRS  Temporary Universal charitable tax deduction. A temporary universal charitable tax deduction for donations of up to $300 to both itemizers and nonitemizers. (Lankford language to increase the cap was not agreed to. • Temporary suspension of charitable contribution limits. The charitable tax deduction claimed by a taxpayer each tax year is generally limited to no more than 50% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI), unless a taxpayer gives only cash, in which case the limit increases to 60% of AGI. The bill will temporarily suspend these limitations on the charitable tax deduction per taxpayer in 2020. • Carryback of net operating losses.  Carryback losses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 to offset 100 percent of taxable income in the last five years, generating funds for gaming businesses. • Deferral of Social Security Taxes: Gaming employers may defer their share of Social Security tax payments on employee wages otherwise due for the remainder of 2020. This allows half to be paid by December 31, 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022. • Increase on Business Interest Deduction: For 2019 and 2020 tax years, gaming businesses can deduct interest expense up to 50 percent of their adjusted taxable income (EBITDA: earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), up from 30 percent of such income previously. • Qualified Improvement Property Fix: Gaming businesses will be able to immediately write-off building improvement • Refundable Credits for Prior Year Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT): Accelerates the ability for corporations to recover AMT credits, allowing a refund claim now to obtain additional cash flow. Extending Benefits: Provides enhancements to existing state unemployment insurance programs, including: • Allowing furloughed workers to receive unemployment insurance benefits • Waiving the seven-day waiting period for regular unemployment insurance • Extending the duration of unemployment insurance benefits • Promoting short-time compensation benefits for workers forced to cut hours • The U.S. and Canada have decided to suspend all non-essential travel during the two countries during the pandemic, while ensuring that trade between the countries is not disrupted.  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/18/canada-us-plan-to-close-border-to-non-essential-travel-135373 Columbus Information Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Columbus is suspending all in person bill payment and permitting services for the Department of Public Utilities, Building and Zoning Services, Recreation and Parks, and Department of Public Service at the 111 Front Street Coleman Government Center and Jerry Hammond Building at 1111 East Broad Street until further notice. Department of Public Utilities payment options: • Use drop boxes at 111 Front Street or in front of the Public Utilities Complex along Twin Rivers Drive (910 Dublin Road) • On line portal:   https://schedulepayment.com/Columbus • Payment by phone or billing questions can be directed to the Customer Service Center 7 am – 3 pm:  614-645-8276 • Western Union locations in Kroger stores:  https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/pay-bills.html Additional information can be found via the resources below: • Daily press conferences at 2:00 PM: http://www.ohiochannel.org/live/governor-mike-dewine • Dept. of Health coronavirus updates: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/ • Secretary of State’s updates on voting/press releases: https://www.ohiosos.gov/coronafacts/ • Request Absentee Ballots:  https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/absentee-ballot/#gref • Mental Health coronavirus-related resources: https://mha.ohio.gov/Health-Professionals/About-Mental-Health-and-Addiction-Treatment/Emergency-Preparedness/Coronavirus • Ohio Department of Education Information for School and Districts: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Student-Supports/Coronavirus • Workforce Development: https://workforce.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/workforce/ • Child Care Information for Providers: http://jfs.ohio.gov/cdc/CoronavirusAndChildcare/ • Ohio Department of Insurance Bulletins: https://insurance.ohio.gov/wps/portal/ gov/odi/about-us/bulletins/ • Supplemental guidance on screening for employees and employers: https://associationdatabase.com/aws/OLA/asset_manager/get_file/433958?ver=1. • City of Columbus Coronavirus Resources: https://www.columbus.gov/covid19resources/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery • Health Policy Institute of Ohio Coronavirus Guide: https://www.healthpolicyohio.org/coronavirus-covid-19-in-ohio/ • Phone: For any questions you have about COVID-19, please call 1 (833) 4- ASK-ODH from the hours of 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. • If you want to volunteer to help-mail:  together@governor.ohio.gov with your name, contact information, and how you can help. • THE FOLLOWING ORDERS HAVE BEEN ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONA VIRUS, EITHER BY GOVERNOR DEWINE, OR BY THE OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: • Executive and Public Health Orders: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/ gov/covid-19/home/public-health-orders/public-health-orders • 03/19/20 Executive Order 2020-05D Telehealth • 03/17/20 Executive Order 2020-04D Temporary Pandemic Child Care • 03/17/20 Executive Order 2020-03D Unemployment • 03/14/20 Executive Order 2020-02D Emergency Amendment Rule • 03/14/20 Executive Order 2020-01D Declaring a State of Emergency • 03/25/20 Director’s Order to Close Facilities Providing Child Care Services • 03/22/20 Director’s Order to Stay at Home • 03/21/20 Order to Certain Entertainment Venues • 03/21/20 Order to Prohibit Adult Day Support or Vocational Habilitation Services in a Congregate Setting • 03/21/20 Order to Close Facilities Providing Older Adult Day Care Services and Senior Centers • 03/20/20 Order to Cease Business Operation at Hair Salons, Day Spas, Nail Salons, (More) • 03/17/20 Order non-essential surgery • 03/17/20 Order to Close Polling locations • 03/17/20 Order to Limit and/or Prohibit Mass Gatherings in the State of Ohio (Amended) • 03/17/20 ODH Director’s Order Closure of the Polling Locations • 03/16/20 Director’s Journal Entry on Updated COVID-19 Reporting Requirements • 03/15/20 Health Director Order Limit Food, Alcohol Sales to Carry Out Delivery Only • 03/15/20 Health Director Order Limit Access Jails and Detention Facilities • 03/14/20 Order the Closure of All K-12 School in the State of Ohio • 03/14/20 Health Screening for Admission to State Operated Psychiatric Hospitals or to DYS Facilities • 03/14/20 Order to Limit and/or Prohibit Mass Gatherings in the State of Ohio • 03/17/20 Order to Limit Access to Ohio’s Nursing Homes and Similar Facilities (Amended) • 03/14/20 Order to Limit Access to Ohio’s Nursing Homes and Similar Facilities Resources for Businesses and Workers: ENHANCED UNEMPLOYMENT AID FOR OHIOANS: • The Governor will issue an executive order, which will grant the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) with the authority to accept and grant requests for unemployment compensation suspending the normal 1-week waiting period. • This order will also give relief to applicants who are not offered paid leave through their job, as well as those who have been quarantined by a medical professional, their employer, or whose employers must temporarily close. Those who apply for unemployment under these circumstances will be exempt from the requirement that they be actively seeking work. Learn more at Unemployment.Ohio.gov or JFS.Ohio.gov/Coronavirus. ONE-TIME LIQUOR BUYBACK: • The Ohio Department of Commerce will immediately begin offering a one-time liquor buyback option to support bars and restaurants. This will especially aid those establishments that have stocked up on high-proof liquor ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday for which they now have no use, due to their closure to in-house patrons. • Bars and restaurants wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should return their unopened, high- proof liquor products (obtained within the past 30 days) to the agency where they purchased the product. This opportunity is also extended to those with temporary (F2) permits for events scheduled between March 12 and April 6, 2020. If a business has questions about this program, they should reach out directly to the Liquor Enterprise Service Center (LESC) at 1(877)812-0013 or by emailing OhioLiquorInfo@Com.Ohio.gov. SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES & NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS: • The Ohio Development Services Agency submitted an application to qualify Ohio for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Ohio’s request for small businesses to receive economic disaster relief loans has been approved.  This program provides low-interest loans up to $2 million in order to help businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue during the state of emergency. • Non-profit organizations in Ohio will also be eligible for low-interest loans through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. • To complete the state’s application, businesses impacted by the current public health crisis should immediately send their contact information to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.gov. Additional information on the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program is available at SBA.gov/Disaster. BUREAU OF WORKERS COMPENSATION: · The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is announcing that insurance premium installment payments due for March, April and May for the current policy year may be deferred until June 1, 2020. At that time the matter will be reconsidered. Additionally, BWC will not cancel coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid because of COVID-19. For more information, attached is a FAQ sheet or you can visit www.BWC.Ohio.Gov Pennsylvania        Meadows Standardbred Owners Association Meadows Standardbred Owners Association Update –   03/27/2020 PA General Assembly: • The Senate session is scheduled for April 6, 7 and 8 at 11:00 AM • The House has scheduled session for April 6 at 1:00 PM Federal Information: • Senate passed coronavirus package and if passed in the House on Friday, March 27, Treasury is proposing emergency funds to be direct deposited by April 6 or checks to be received within 3 weeks: $1,200 Individual (income under $100,000) $2,400 Couples $   500 per child under age 17 (Minimum payments of $600 for those with no federal tax liability, and aid would be phased down at adjusted gross income thresholds)   https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/25/whats-in-stimulus-package-coronavirus-149282 • Canada-U.S. border to closed to nonessential travel on Friday night https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/19/canada-us-border-closing-coronavirus-137433 Additional Information: • PA Dep’t. of Health coronavirus updates: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx • Phone: for any questions you have about coronavirus: call 1-877-724-3258 • LIVE daily briefings from the PA Department of Health:  www.governor.pa.gov/live/ or watch on Facebook •  Governor Wolf is expected to sign a measure postponing the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 2. For Businesses and Workers: • Governor Wolf: Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to Small Businesses facing losses related to Coronavirus  https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-economic-injury-disaster-loans-available-to-small-businesses-and-non-profits-facing-losses-related-to-covid-19/ • Unemployment Compensation for Pennsylvanians –   www.uc.pa.gov/pages/covid19.aspx          Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association – Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association Update – (03-26-20) Pennsylvania COVID-19 Resources Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Dedicated Website: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx PA COVID-19 Daily Report:   https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/COVID-19%20Situation%20Reports/20200324nCoVSituationReportExt.pdf PA COVID-19 Daily Press Conference Stream (3:00 p.m. EST):   https://pacast.com/live/doh or https://www.governor.pa.gov/live/ PA Case Map:   https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/#CasesinPennsylvania PA Stay At Home Order:   https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/?fbclid=iwar22jtpidu7weyoljqvlamjvtxygc76bnouq3mdkpfbjs5nvc6ff2pufnjg#StayatHomeOrder PA Information for Travelers:   https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx PA COVID-19 FAQs:   https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/FAQs.aspx Questions about COVID-19 in Pennsylvania? 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) PA Department of Labor & Industry:   https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx PA Department of Revenue:   https://www.revenue.pa.gov/Pages/AlertDetails.aspx PENNDOT:   https://www.penndot.gov/pages/coronavirus.aspx PA Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs:   https://www.ddap.pa.gov/Get%20Help%20Now/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx PA Department of Community and Economic Development:   https://dced.pa.gov/resources/ PA Department of Banking and Securities:   https://www.dobs.pa.gov/Businesses/COVID-19%20Information%20and%20Guidance/Pages/default.aspx CDC COVID-19 Testing Guidelines & Symptom Self-Checker:   https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html PHHA Partner Tracks The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Updates:   https://mohegansunpocono.com/updates.html Harrah’s Philadelphia Updates:    https://www.caesars.com/corporate/coronavirus-guest-information Luzerne County (Pocono):   https://www.luzernecounty.org/1263/Luzerne-County-COVID-19-Response Delaware County (Harrah’s):   https://www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/coronavirus.html PHHA Health Coverage Information – 3/24/20 The PHHA has transitioned to working remotely but are still available for assistance by calling the PHHA office at 610.874.5200.  Moving forward, the PHHA will not be billing any of its members for their April health premium. If a member has paid ahead, those monies will remain on their account as a credit. Additionally, the PHHA is encouraging all members to take advantage of MDLIVE, a free service through Independence Blue Cross in which a doctor can be accessed remotely.  https://www.mdlive.com/   Virginia – Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association   Wisconsin – Wisconsin Harness Horsemen’s Association Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Perhaps the biggest scandal in all of U.S. sports to come out in the past year is the federal indictment of dozens of thoroughbred and harness racing insiders alleged to have been involved in doping leading racehorses. And while the initial indictments came on March 9, other indictments trickled out even as the COVID-19 disaster overtook virtually the entire news cycle. But the stunning allegations are no less stunning because of the timing. The main indictment had as its stars Monmouth Park thoroughbred big names Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis — but later ones placed Yonkers Raceway and its harness racing leading lights in its target. The Yonkers horse racing community already was reeling from the deaths of three trainers from COVID-19, including the first fatality of a New Jersey resident. Rene Allard, who at $5.8 million in purse winnings was third in the industry in North America last year, has been charged in a conspiracy involving longtime veterinarian Louis Grasso, who was indicted on Feb. 26 for allegedly misbranding drugs in interstate commerce. Last fall, according to the indictment, Grasso and another alleged co-conspirator, Ross Cohen, discussed the fact that a number of Allard’s horses had died. The disturbing conversation Cohen, according to the indictment, asked Grasso, “What’s going on with the Allard death camp?” Grasso then said “two or maybe three” horses have died from “amino acids” that caused “high fever, kidneys shut down.” “One of them just died on the table, they just cut him open and poof it died,” Grasso is alleged to have said. Cohen: “Holy f-ck f-ck did they do an autopsy.” Grasso: “Their heart rate was like triple they were breathing real heavy their membranes were going f-cking purple.” Allard — second in earnings at Yonkers so far this year — also is alleged to have sent a text message to Grasso in October 2019 that read: “I will need 3 bottles of red Acid [an anti-inflammatory drug] to go to canada Thursday.” Per the indictment, a barn raid on March 9 in Middletown, N.Y. — where Allard stabled a number of horses — led to the discovery of multiple syringes and numerous bottles of mislabeled drugs. Other harness racing figures indicted Also named is Donato Poliseno, owner of a veterinary supply business in Delaware who is alleged to have purchased and distributed PEDs from Grasso. Trainers Thomas Guido III and Conor Flynn are alleged to have obtained the PEDs from Grasso as well. Richard Banca, the leading trainer at Yonkers Raceway so far this year, was named in a separate indictment on similar charges and employed Flynn. Banca owns the Middletown, N.Y. facility that was raided, according to his indictment. “Flynn has stated, in substance and in part, that Flynn administers horses owned, trained, or otherwise under Banca’ s control, with PEDs at Banca’s direction,” the indictment alleges. Banca first rose up to the top ranks at Yonkers in 2015, producing 174 winners — more than double his previous best — and another 200 in 2016. Allard and Banca were the two trainers involved in a controversy at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 2017, when each — already banned at that track by owner Jeff Gural — turned over the reins of horses that were then allowed to race. Among the PEDs involved aside from “red acid”: Erythropoietin, better known by brand name Epogen and nicknamed “epo” in the industry and designed to improve endurance A variety of “pain shots” or “joint blocks” designed to deaden a horse’s nerves, which can result in leg fractures that require a racehorse to be euthanized Bronchodilators, or “Bronk,” designed to increase a horse’s oxygen intake The latest indictments, if proven, echo the callousness for the welfare of racehorses demonstrated in the Navarro and Servis indictments. In February 2019, Servis is alleged to have warned Navarro via text about a racing official. Navarro then allegedly told another conspirator, “He would have caught our asses f-cking pumping and pumping and fuming every f-cking horse that runs today.” By John Brennan John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record. Reprinted with permission of The njonlinegambling.com

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