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It’s Groundhog Day! And Looking Forward To Black History And Heart Health Month



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The publishing date of this week’s issue is February 2, and that’s Groundhog Day. The country’s most well-known prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, will emerge from his hole to tell us whether we’ll get six more weeks of winter or an early spring.

Whatever the groundhog does (just so long as he doesn’t put us in a time loop like the 1993 Bill Murray film), it may not matter. Turns out that little groundhog isn’t terribly good at his job. The Stormfax Almanac (stormfax.com) shows that over the 137 year career of Phil’s various incarnations (the original was in 1887), he has a lifetime accuracy of 39 percent, having called for early spring 20 times and six more weeks of winter 108 times. A 2012 to 2021 study revealed that Phil was right only 40 percent of the time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

Since 2007, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring six times, the most recent coming in 2020 (when the world, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, definitely needed some good news).

But Phil has seen his shadow in each of the last three years. We’ll have to wait until February 2 to see if he breaks that trend. Considering we’ve hardly had a winter worth calling a winter this year, even if Phil gives us bad news today, is it really all that bad? A good snowfall would almost be a little welcome this year, when we’ve really only had one or two snowstorms and then a whole lot of miserable rain, sleet, and ice. And he might be wrong anyway.

Looking ahead to the month of February, this month is Black History Month. According to our colleagues at NPR, Black History Month got its start in the Jim Crow era and was officially recognized in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebrations. It aims to honor the contributions that African Americans have made and to recognize their sacrifices.

Newtown is fortunate to offer community, academic, and social opportunities so anyone can connect with resources to enhance their knowledge of Black History — and then better apply that historical knowledge toward affecting contemporary social change.

Along with our C.H. Booth Library, our schools, and their libraries, residents are encouraged to get to know Newtown Allies For Change (NAFC). This local organization regularly hosts activities open to everyone, and speaking of them, member Nerlande Foote submitted a letter to this week’s Hive recounting six notable personages in Black History. Go check it out on page A5.

February is also American Heart Month.

Today, 120 million Americans live with some type of diagnosed heart disease, while millions of others are rolling through their daily lives undiagnosed. That lack of knowledge is likely among the reasons why cardiovascular disease claims about 700,000 lives every year — many from strokes and heart attacks.

We want to see that number reduced, especially here in Newtown. Whether you know it or not, Newtown was designated as a “Heart Safe Community” by the state chapter of the American Heart Association in October 2010.

A Heart Safe Community is a community where members of the public understand the actions required in the Chain of Survival and know where to find an automated external defibrillator (AED).

When a bystander gives CPR and uses an AED within the first few minutes, a person is significantly more likely to survive.

And since your local newspaper humbly played a role in receiving that designation, each February The Newtown Bee expands related reporting on our Health Page and elsewhere in our weekly editions.

Also as part of American Heart Month, February 2 is, in addition to being Groundhog Day, National Wear Red Day. National Wear Red Day is a day when many people wear red to show their support for the awareness of heart disease. It is a day to bring greater attention to heart disease as a leading cause of death for Americans.

So make sure to wear red today!

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