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Insiders are buzzing that Northern Virginia could soon be awarded Amazon’s HQ2 as Jeff Bezos makes high-profile visit to Washington, DC (AMZN)

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  • The Washington, DC, area is buzzing with speculation that Northern Virginia could soon land Amazon HQ2.
  • Two sources said as much to Business Insider.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is amid a high-profile trip to Washington, DC.

The Washington, DC, area is buzzing with speculation that Amazon could soon select Northern Virginia as the location for its highly sought-after second headquarters, two sources told Business Insider.

Amazon has sought to tamp down on the speculation as the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos makes a high-profile visit to the region. Ahead of a major event on Thursday night where Bezos will be interviewed by Carlyle Group co-founder and co-CEO David Rubenstein at the DC Economic Club, Amazon told The Washington Post on Tuesday that no announcement would be forthcoming on Bezos’s visit to the city. Reached by Business Insider on Thursday, an Amazon spokesperson said they had nothing to add on top of what was reported in The Post.

One person who spoke with Business Insider, a lobbyist, said that Thursday night event was a likely time for the announcement to be made. Speculation has run for months about what, if anything, Bezos will say about HQ2 during the event.

The Post reported that roughly 1,550 people registered to attend Bezos’s discussion. That’s more than double what the club typically attracts for similar events, The Post noted. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, and Democratic Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser are all expected to attend, The Post reported.

(Have any information on Amazon’s plans for HQ2? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected])


David Rubenstein.play

David Rubenstein.

(Bloomberg, screenshot)

The event’s top sponsorship, the Washington Housing Initiative, was paid for by JBG Smith, a local developer and key backer of a plan to bring HQ2 to Crystal City in Northern Virginia. The second person who spoke with Business Insider, a senior staffer to a Virginia politician, said Amazon was zeroing in on Crystal City.

JBG Smith declined comment to Business Insider.

Meanwhile, a source close to Rubenstein told Business Insider they were unaware of any plans for Bezos to make the announcement during the interview. Business Insider reached out to multiple local developers, county officials, and would-be stakeholders in a Northern Virginia-based HQ2. All either declined to comment, did not respond, or said they had not heard of such an imminent announcement.

Joseph Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said the Thursday night event was one targeted for a while by observers as one where some HQ2 action could take place. Parilla, who said he had no knowledge of any imminent announcement, added that the Northern Virginia bid has long been viewed as the frontrunner.

Although Amazon said no announcement would be made on Bezos’s trip this week, four people close to the company’s board of directors told The Post that board members are making the trek to Washington, DC. The Post reported that it was unclear whether any formal meeting of the board is being held. The Post reported that Amazon booked the Renwick Gallery for a 40-person dinner on Tuesday night, a museum spokesman told the outlet, declining to offer any additional details.

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Northern Virginia already considered the top contender

There are already plenty of signs pointing to the Northern Virginia bid as the one that will ultimately prove victorious. Oddsmakers have given Northern Virginia the best chances of pulling in HQ2, and GeekWire found last week that Virginia had the highest average number of open Amazon job postings from May through July of any of the HQ2 finalists.

Amazon told Busines Insider it remains committed to announcing the winner before the end of 2018.

In March, Business Insider reported on mounting evidence that HQ2 would ultimately be awarded to Northern Virginia and be built on a 26-acre plot of largely undeveloped land near Dulles International Airport.

Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson wrote that the company was quietly expanding its presence near that site on the border of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties.

Less than three miles from that site is a new headquarters for Amazon Web Services, while the company plans to build a 600,000 square-foot data-center campus on a 44-acre plot of land within a 10-minute drive of the possible HQ2 location.

In addition to its location next to the airport, an under-construction Metro station will provide direct access to Washington, DC, and its suburbs.

The site is also at the center of Data Center Alley, what is also known as the “bull’s-eye of America’s internet” where much of the world’s internet traffic travels through.

Additionally, a site adjacent to the proposed HQ2 location is being developed into a 5.5 million-square-foot mixed-use project called The Hub. That project is expected to house office and retail space, residential units, and hotel rooms. The project’s developers were involved in the Northern Virginia HQ2 bid.

Olivia Oran contributed reporting



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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