Federal health officials have learned of 106 more cases of salmonella linked to tainted tomatoes, putting the outbreak’s toll at 383 on Wednesday and counting.
“We do not think the outbreak is over,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of this newest influx of cases were people who got sick weeks ago but hadn’t been counted yet. Some states began doing a better job of checking for salmonella as the outbreak has dragged on, while part of the surge comes from test results that had been backlogged in jammed laboratories.
What hasn’t changed is that the earliest known victim got sick on April 10, and the latest on June 5.
But New Hampshire and Pennsylvania reported their first cases, bringing to 30 the number of states – plus Washington, D.C. – that have reported sick residents, although some may have been infected while traveling. At least 48 people have been hospitalized.
The ultimate source of the tainted tomatoes is still under investigation.
GOP cuts vendor of racist buttons
The Texas Republican Party is distancing itself from a vendor who sold campaign buttons at last weekend’s state convention that asked, “If Obama is president … will we still call it The White House?”
The state GOP party said Wednesday that it will donate the $1,500 rent it collected from the vendor, Republicanmarket.com, to Midwestern flood victims.
State GOP spokesman Hans Klingler said the party does not vet the merchandise being sold, but officials plan to discuss doing so in the future.
“This vendor need not apply to another Texas GOP state convention,” Klingler said. “We will neither tolerate nor profit from bigotry.”
The vendor, Jonathan Alcox, said he was trying to be funny and based the button on a political cartoon. He said he made 12 buttons and sold four, two of them to reporters.
“We’re into humor, not racism,” said Alcox, who described himself as an independent who may vote for Barack Obama in November. “Why would I do that purposely? I thought it was funny.”
Charges dropped in Taser shootout
Prosecutors have dropped charges against a Colorado restaurant owner after he and a security company supervisor shot each other with Tasers in a dispute over parking.
Prosecutors say the case against Harvey Epstein was weak. They also cite a weak case for the security company to have clamped a metal boot on a wheel of a van owned by one of Epstein’s employees – the incident that set off the May 17 confrontation.
Epstein, co-owner of Mamacitas restaurant, was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing and using a stun gun.
Police say Epstein and Case M. Dane, a supervisor for Colorado Security Services Inc., shot each other with Tasers.