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

Read Time: 7 Minutes

  • In the US, at least 140,255 people have died as a result of the novel coronavirus.
  • In mid-April, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx advised the Trump administration that the coronavirus pandemic would soon slow down, The New York Times revealed in a report.

Birx believed that the U.S. would see a peak in cases, followed by a slow and lasting decline. Birx’s assumption did not take into account states’ reopening prematurely.

The models she used for the assessment did not properly capture how Trump’s eagerness to quickly return to normal would undermine social distancing measures. Her optimistic take on models assessing the virus encouraged President Trump to put pressure on states to relax regulations meant to slow the spread of the virus in mid-April.

Mr. Trump’s bet that the crisis would fade away proved wrong. The approach he embraced was not just a misjudgment. Instead, it was a deliberate strategy that he would stick doggedly to as evidence mounted that, in the absence of strong leadership from the White House, the virus would continue to infect and kill large numbers of Americans.

The administration’s goal was to shift responsibility for leading the fight against the pandemic from the White House to the states. They referred to this as “state authority handoff,” and it was at the heart of what would become a catastrophic policy blunder and an attempt to escape blame for a crisis that had engulfed the country.

  • In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that the United States had “one of the lowest mortality rates in the world” from the virus.

“That’s not true, sir,” Mr. Wallace said.

“Do you have the numbers, please?” Mr. Trump said. “Because I heard we had the best mortality rate.”

The United States has the eighth-worst fatality rate among reported coronavirus cases in the world, and the death rate per 100,000 people — 42.83 — ranks it third-worst, according to data on the countries most affected by the coronavirus compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

  • Mr. Trump called Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, an “alarmist” who provided faulty information in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Mr. Trump threatened to pull federal funding from schools if they did not open soon. When Mr. Wallace pointed out that only a small portion of funding from the federal government goes to schools — and is mostly used to support disadvantaged and disabled children — the president replied, “Let the schools open.”
  • The president reiterated his earlier claim, unsupported by science, that the virus would suddenly cease one day. “It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right,” Mr. Trump said. “Because I’ve been right probably more than anybody else.”
  • As caseloads surge in many states, especially in the West and South, the debate over mask mandates continues, though evidence of their benefits has mounted substantially in recent months.

President Trump, who first wore a mask in public on July 11, said in a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace that he was a “believer” in masks, but that he would not support a nationwide mask mandate: “I leave it up to the governors.”

  • Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes for Health, called the politicization of face coverings “bizarre.” “Our best chance is for all of us to get together and do the right thing [by wearing masks].

Regarding the backlog of tests at laboratories, Dr. Collins acknowledged, “The average test delay is too long,” and the dangers associated with delays have left anxious patients waiting days — and sometimes a week or more — for their results.

“That really undercuts the value of the testing, because you do the testing to find out who’s carrying the virus, and then quickly get them isolated so they don’t spread it around. And it’s very hard to make that work when there’s a long delay built in.”

  • Dr. Collins encouraged all Americans, “If we want to see this current surge, and it’s a real surge, turn around, all Americans need to recognize it’s up to us.” 

Collins stressed wearing a mask when outside the house, social distancing, not convening in large groups, especially indoors, and hand washing will help the country’s attempts to control the virus’ spread. 

  • Deteriorating conditions in their states and the president’s seeming indifference to the problem, has led republican leaders to split with Mr. Trump over the best way to combat the spreading pandemic. 

Some, concluding that the president may never play a constructive role in addressing the crisis, have decided that they must work around him.

Some republican governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Mr. Trump in public, is seen by governors as being far more attentive to the disaster.

“The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, a Republican, said of the pandemic. His boss instead directs his requests to Mr. Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week, Mr. Carney said.

  • Researchers in South Korea have found that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can transmit Covid-19 within a household just as much as adults, according to new research published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
  • The NFL Players Association still has not agreed with the league on key safety issues, prompting some of football’s biggest names to voice their concerns on social media. “If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020,” Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “It’s that simple. Get it done.”
  • Golf legend Jack Nicklaus announced Sunday he and his wife, Barbara, tested positive for Covid-19 in March.
  • Vermont has reported no new coronavirus-related deaths since June 19. 
  • New York State saw a new low hospitalizations since March 18 as hospitalizations are down to 722.

The state reported 502 additional Covid-19 cases as of yesterday and 13 additional deaths.

  • New Jersey reported 144 new cases of Covid-19 and 11 additional deaths.
  • Pennsylvania reported 786 additional cases of Covid-19 and 8 deaths from the virus, according to a release from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDOH).

In an alert, the PDOH said, “The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds.”

  • Georgia (4,688) and North Carolina (2,522) both reported record highs for single-day coronavirus case count increases Saturday. 
  • Florida, on Sunday, reported more 12,478 additional cases and 87 deaths as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) resists implementing a statewide mask mandate.
  • There are 49 hospitals in Florida with no ICU beds available, according to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. 
  • In Miami-Dade County, ICUs are at about 127% capacity, with 398 beds for 507 patients, but the county has the ability to convert more than 1,200 beds, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. In the past two weeks, Miami-Dade has seen a 40% increase in the number of coronavirus patients being hospitalized and a roughly 64% increase in the use of ventilators, according to county data.
  • Representative Donna E. Shalala (D-FL) who was formerly the nation’s longest-serving Secretary of Health and Human Services, called on her state’s governor, Ron DeSantis (R), to issue mask and stay-at-home orders.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said on “Meet the Press” that his state was heading in the “wrong direction” and that he would not rule out a mask order. While single-day tallies for new cases in Ohio averaged around 400 a month ago,Friday set a state record with 1,679 cases.
  • Indiana recorded 927 new cases of the novel coronavirus Sunday, just below its highest daily increase since the outbreak. 
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he would not support a national mask mandate, though he issued a state ordinance on Thursday.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said that he would not issue a statewide mask order, even though cases and hospitalizations were soaring. “The number on June 27 was approximately 490 patients in hospital beds,” Reeves said. “Today that number is closer to 890.” “If I believed that [a mandatory mask order] was the best way to save lives in my state, I would have done it a long time ago.”
  • Louisiana reported 3,116 new cases Sunday, exceeding the previous single-day record of 2,728 new cases, which were reported on April 2. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, “95% of today’s newly reported cases are tied to community spread, rather than congregate settings like nursing homes.” 
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in a tweet Sunday: “COVID-19 is more rampant in Louisiana now than it has ever been. We now have a statewide epidemic, it is no longer one or two regions driving case growth.

It’s on all of us to do better and wear masks in public, practice social distancing and avoid congregating.”

  • Texas reported 7,300 new coronavirus cases and 93 deaths Sunday. The positivity rate statewide remains alarmingly high at 15.03%.
  • The Defense Department sent Navy teams to help support four medical centers in South and Southwest Texas as the virus surges there.
  • Eighty-seven doctors have signed a letter to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) urging him not to reopen schools until at least October.
  • Arizona reported 147 deaths on July 18. The positivity rate remains high at a blistering 39.04%.
  • In April, White House officials told California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) he would need to personally appeal to President Trump and thank him if he wanted aid in obtaining coronavirus test swabs, according to The New York Times.
  • Health officials in Los Angeles reported the highest number of hospitalizations in a day with 2,216 people hospitalized.

In Los Angeles, eleven people died and 2,848 new cases were reported Sunday. This is a significant drop in both of those numbers from the past week.

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said that the coronavirus was spreading in the city to the point where a new stay-at-home order would have to be issued.

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

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