The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Read Time: 7 Minutes

  • After President Trump criticized the CDC’s guidelines on reopening schools, Vice President Pence suggested the agency would release new guidance. But in a tense exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Thursday, the CDC’s director said new guidance would not be “a revision of the guidelines.”
  • Keeping schools closed in the coming academic year is a greater risk to children’s health than reopening them, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encouraged school districts to “think creatively” about how to reopen: “This doesn’t have to look like exactly like it did a year or two ago. Think creatively about how you do it, but do it. This has to happen.”
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is “very confident” Democrats and Republicans in Congress will agree on strong new coronavirus relief legislation after lawmakers return from their July break.
  • The World Health Organization released new guidelines on the transmission of the coronavirus that acknowledge reports of airborne transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, but stopped short of confirming that the virus spreads through the air.
  • In an emotional address World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros urged nations to unify in the fight against the coronavirus. “We must come together in a global conversation to take these hard-won lessons and turn them into action. My friends, make no mistake, the greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, rather, it’s the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels.” 
  • U.S. states that have driven a record surge in coronavirus cases may now be slipping backward in their economic recovery, as cell phone data shows retail visits in high case-growth locations falling below the rest of the country.
  • Trump complained on Hannity tonight that the media keeps reporting on coronavirus cases. He said, “All the time, ‘cases.’ And those cases get better. In most — most cases — in almost — I mean, literally, in most cases, they automatically cure. They automatically get better.”
  • Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, called on U.S. states experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections to “seriously look at shutting down.”

“We’ve got to tighten things up,” Fauci said.

  • Later, Fauci walked back his statement, saying instead that states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida should think about “pausing their opening process… I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down.”
  • A reporter who works at the White House has tested positive for the coronavirus, in the first known case among the White House press corps.
  • More than 1,000 employees of the TSA have tested positive for the coronavirus, about 900 of those are airport screeners. More than 640 of the employees have recovered while six have died. 
  • The surge in coronavirus cases, which as of Wednesday had set new daily-case records five times in nine days, is being driven largely by states that were among the first to ease virus restrictions as they moved to reopen their economies.

Epidemiologists had warned that reopening could lead to waves of new infections if it was done before the virus was contained, and before contact tracing was sufficiently ramped up enough to contain future outbreaks.

  • Hospitals across the South and West are being flooded with virus patients, forcing them to cancel elective surgeries and discharge patients early as they try to keep beds available.

“When hospitals and health care assistants talk about surge capacity, they’re often talking about a single event,” said John Sinnott, chief epidemiologist at Tampa General Hospital. “But what we’re having now is the equivalent of a bus accident a day, every day, and it just keeps adding.”

  • At least five states set single-day records for new cases on Thursday: Alabama with 2,200, Idaho with 527, Missouri with 950, Montana with 95, and Oregon with 371.
  • Average daily cases in New York are down 52 percent since the state began to reopen in late May.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio extended New York City’s prohibition on large public gatherings through Sept. 30, adding the West Indian American Day Parade, the Dominican Day Parade and the Feast of San Gennaro will be canceled.
  • Cases in Massachusetts are down 83 percent.
  • Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentuckians will be required to wear face coverings in many public settings, including any indoor space in which it is difficult to maintain six-foot social distancing.
  • South Carolina, one of the first states to let retail stores reopen, has seen its average daily case count rise to 1,570, up from 143 from when the state began to reopen in late April, a 999 percent increase.
  • In South Carolina, National Guard troops are being called in soon to help insert intravenous lines and check blood pressure. At the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, patients can wait as long as four hours before being seen in emergency rooms.
  • Tennessee recorded its highest single-day death toll on Thursday, with 22.
  • In Georgia, where the governor’s moves to reopen swiftly in late April were criticized as too aggressive by Mr. Trump — who had generally been pushing states to move faster to reopen — cases have risen by 245 percent.
  • Florida coronavirus death toll hit 4,000 and set a record for single day deaths with 120. More than 8,900 new cases were confirmed, bringing total positive cases to 232,718.
  • When asked about the rising numbers of cases in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “There’s no need to be panicked. There’s no need to be fearful.” 
  • Florida Gov. DeSantis: “If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, you can definitely do the schools.”

NOTE: Most people don’t spend 7 hours a day, 5 days a week in retail establishments.

  • In Florida, more than 40 intensive care units in 21 counties have hit capacity and have no beds available.
  • At Miami television station, WPLG Local 10, at least nine employees, including a news anchor, have come down with Covid-19 or tested positive, and another 150 people linked to the station were awaiting test results.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an executive order for 13 counties in the state to require face masks and put limits on businesses as coronavirus cases climb. The order bans indoor social gatherings larger than 10 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people, among other restrictions on businesses. As of Thursday, Mississippi health officials have confirmed 33,591 cases of coronavirus and 1,204 deaths.
  • In Mississippi, five of the state’s largest hospitals have already run out of I.C.U. beds for critical patients.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is threatening to impose stricter mask laws amid a spike in coronavirus cases and mounting evidence that some residents aren’t taking precautions seriously.
  • The state of Wisconsin reported 754 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its highest number of reported cases in one day since the pandemic began.
  • On Wednesday, Texas recorded 119 deaths from the virus, the most in a single day in the state. Thursday the state added another 105 deaths. Texas has recorded more than 235,000 cases and more than 2,990 deaths.
  • Nearly 9,700 people were in Texas hospitals on Thursday, the highest number since the pandemic began.
  • Dr. Diego Maselli Caceres at University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, said he had watched a sevenfold increase in Covid-19 patients needing intensive care over the past month, filling up three floors of the hospital instead of one.
  • In an effort to free up hospital bed space, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended a ban on elective procedures to new sections of the state.
  • A state judge on Thursday declined to reverse Houston’s decision to cancel the Texas Republican convention’s in-person events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Larry Weiman rejected the state GOP’s request for a temporary restraining order.

  • California, once seen as a model for how to contain the virus, has seen an alarming increase in new cases, which are up 275 percent since May 25.
  • California reported an average of 8,077 new cases a day for the past week, as of Wednesday, according to a NY Times database. The state’s positivity rate has been 7.3 percent per day, on average over the past week.
  • The top Republican in New Hampshire – where Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally on Saturday –  has already said he would skip the large gathering as a health precaution.

“I’m not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people,” Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire said.

  • One day after Harvard and MIT sued to stop the policy change from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced they intend to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration to block it from forcing out international students whose schools in the U.S. move their courses online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Big Ten will adopt a conference-only scheduling model for the 2020 college football season stemming from concerns of playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Starbucks said it would require face masks inside all U.S. locations beginning July 15. It said that in some locations not under government mandates, customers without masks would be able to place orders at drive-throughs or with curbside pickup.
  • The intensive care unit at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, one of the Italian provinces most affected by the virus, hit a milestone this week: It had no Covid-19 cases, for the first time in 137 days.
  • Since the pandemic began, aid groups warned that the virus might prove devastating for a rebel-held Syrian province packed with displaced people and hampered by battered medical facilities.

On Thursday, medics there reported the first confirmed case.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel had reopened parts of its economy too early, as virus cases in the country have continued to rise sharply.

“I take responsibility for this measure and I take responsibility for fixing it.”

  • India recorded nearly 25,000 new infections on Thursday, its highest single-day total.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

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