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Up First briefing: Florida evacuations; summer COVID wave; how to beat jet lag

Members of the Tampa, Fla., Parks and Recreation Department help residents with sandbags on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. Residents along Florida's gulf coast are making preparations for the effects of Tropical Storm Idalia.
Chris O'Meara
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AP
Members of the Tampa, Fla., Parks and Recreation Department help residents with sandbags on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. Residents along Florida's gulf coast are making preparations for the effects of Tropical Storm Idalia.

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Florida's Gulf Coast residents are evacuating as the state prepares for Idalia. The storm grew to a Category 1 hurricane this morning and will intensify before landfall.

  • Though the storm is tracking north of Tampa, NPR's Greg Allen says the city is still concerned about storm surge because the Tampa Bay area is low and prone to flooding. On Up First today, he reports President Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis have spoken. The White House is approving the state's request for a federal disaster declaration.
  • Some gas stations in Florida have been asked to stop selling gas because of fuel contamination. Diesel was placed in regular gas tanks, which could cause cars and generators that use the gas to stop working.
  • The U.S. is seeing a summer wave of new COVID cases. I'm recovering after getting it for the first time last week Though most people aren't getting severely sick, hospitalizations are up, and schools are encouraging students to wear masks again.

  • NPR's Maria Godoy spoke to a doctor who says most hospitalizations are among older people. She says the CDC is concerned about a new variant detected in the U.S. and a handful of other countries. The BA.2.86 variant is "quite different" from currently circulating strains. The question now is whether it will cause a significant surge as Omicron did.
  • When will boosters be available? How long does it take for the vaccine to work? NPR answers your top COVID questions.
  • A 20-year-old man in Uganda has become the first person to be charged with "aggravated homosexuality, an offense punishable by death under the country's anti-LGBTQ+ law.

  • Uganda hasn't executed anyone in decades. NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu reports that a conviction would "put that recent precedent to the test." The World Bank said it would not consider new loans to Uganda, and the U.S. restricted travel for some Ugandan officials over the country's anti-LGBTQ+ law. But Akinwotu says the international pressure "inadvertently reinforces this common conspiracy" that gay culture is foreign.
  • The Navy, Army and Marine Corps are without top leaders after Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville put an indefinite hold on Senate confirmations. The Pentagon says 301 nominations for admirals and generals are in limbo. The number could swell to 650. Sen. Tuberville wants the military to change its policy of reimbursing servicemembers for travel to get reproductive care, including abortions.

    Picture show

    / Malaka Gharib/NPR
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    Malaka Gharib/NPR

    NPR's Malaika Gharib spent summers in the mid-'90s in Egypt, where her dad lived. Air conditioners weren't standard then, so she'd have to find ways to cope with the heat. Gharib's comic describes how residents used to stay cool — and why it's longer enough today.

    Life advice

    mikkelwilliam / Getty Images
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    Getty Images

    It's not too late for one last summer trip — especially with the long weekend coming up for Labor Day. Don't let jet lag ruin your next vacation. NPR's globetrotting international desk journalists give their best tips for preventing jet lag.

  • Start adjusting to the new time zone a few days before your trip.
  • Try to sleep on the plane, but avoid prescription sedatives. 
  • Once you land, try coupling daylight exposure early in the day with a melatonin tablet at night.
  • Take a nap if you're tired, but don't nap longer than 20 minutes.
  • 3 things to know before you go

    Scientists have engineered an albino squid that offers a window on the inner workings of the brain.
    / Caroline Albertin/MBL Cephalopod Program/Caroline Albertin/MBL Cephalopod Program
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    Caroline Albertin/MBL Cephalopod Program/Caroline Albertin/MBL Cephalopod Program
    Scientists have engineered an albino squid that offers a window on the inner workings of the brain.

    Scientists have genetically altered some hummingbird bobtail squid to be almost transparent. The squids will give researchers a new way to study the animal's biology.

    Voting is open for the U.K.'s Tree of the Year Contest. One winner will be crowned among 13 iconic trees. The winning tree will represent the U.K. in Europe's Tree of the Year contest.

    More than 100 athletes who participated in California's Tough Mudder obstacle course race have become sick with a possible bacteria infection. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, muscle pain and a distinct rash that includes boils. (via KQED)

    This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

    Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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