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

Read Time: 7 Minutes

  • The number of confirmed U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus is substantially lower than the true tally, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
  • Under the Senate bill unveiled Wednesday, the additional $600 a week that jobless workers have been receiving during the economic crisis would be phased out in stages in each state as its unemployment rate drops below 11 percent.
  • The House on Wednesday unanimously passed an extension to the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program less than a day after the program expired. 

The Senate passed the extension on Tuesday, and the House vote sends the bill to President Trump’s desk.

  • House Majority Whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn said that his Republican colleagues on the House Select Committee must show up wearing masks for the meeting on Thursday or they won’t be allowed in.
  • President Trump said Wednesday that he believed the virus was “going to sort of just disappear,” even as cases are rapidly rising nationwide — and added that he was “all for masks,” even though he has rarely worn one himself, mocked people who do, and has questioned the benefits and even the political meaning of face coverings.

“I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Wednesday with the Fox Business Network.

  • Asked whether Americans should be required to wear masks, Mr. Trump said: “Well, I don’t know if you need mandatory because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance. You talk about social distancing. But I’m all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear one if I were in a group of people and I was close.”
  • After long resisting wearing a mask in public, President Donald Trump said Wednesday he thinks it makes him look like the Lone Ranger — and he likes it.

“I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox Business in an interview. “People have seen me wearing one.”

  • House republicans are calling for the White House to support a new policy that would require the Transportation Security Administration to check the temperatures of all airline passengers at security checkpoints.
  • The main TSA checkpoint closed at Atlanta’s airport for cleaning because of coronavirus after an employee tested positive.
  • Congress is investigating about a dozen medical laboratories and emergency rooms for potential virus test price gouging.
  • The Trump administration plans to adopt a decades-old testing strategy that will vastly increase the number of coronavirus tests performed in the United States and permit widespread tracking of the virus as it surges across the country.

The method, called pooled testing, signals a paradigm shift. Instead of carefully rationing tests to only those with symptoms, pooled testing would enable frequent surveillance of asymptomatic people. Mass identification of coronavirus infections could hasten the reopening of schools, offices and factories.

Adm. Brett Giroir, deputy secretary of health and human services, said he expected the program to be up and running by the end of the summer.

  • Adm. Brett Giroir, the coronavirus testing czar, said Wednesday that the United States’ coronavirus testing capacity is at risk of being overwhelmed in some states by a surge in new infections and increased surveillance efforts in nursing homes and jails.

“It is absolutely correct that some labs across the country are reaching or near capacity,” Giroir said. “Recent data from several states indicate rising infections and now an uptick in hospitalizations and death, even as other states and the great majority of counties are maintaining a low infection burden.”

  • The US reported more than 52,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours Wednesday, a tally by Johns Hopkins University showed, a new one-day record as infections surge around the country.
  • Pfizer announced that they have seen success in the early stages of human trials for a coronavirus vaccine. 

If the vaccine proves effective, the pharmaceutical company said they could manufacture 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and another 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

  • Myrtle Beach, SC has been linked to hundreds of coronavirus cases across several states, as it braces for a stream of July Fourth tourists this weekend.

Scores of people have flocked to  as the area reopened in mid-May, packing hotels, the beach and the boardwalk, with few wearing face masks or practicing social distancing. 

The recent uptick has prompted the governors of West Virginia and Kentucky to publicly warn residents to avoid the popular beach destination.

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he is delaying the planned resumption of indoor dining at restaurants in the city out of fear it would ignite a spike in coronavirus infections.
  • Officials in New York’s Rockland County said Wednesday they are being forced to issue subpoenas to compel people to speak to contact tracers about a coronavirus outbreak because they are not speaking voluntarily.
  • Coronavirus cases in Arizona continue to skyrocket as the state set another new record for daily cases on Wednesday with 4,878 new cases. The state also  reported 88 COVID deaths – another record. The percent positive rate of tests was 28.3%.
  • Arizona has requested 500 additional medical personnel from the federal government to assist with a surge in coronavirus cases, Vice President Pence said Wednesday.

Pence flew to Arizona to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and state health officials as coronavirus cases and positivity rates spike in the state.

  • Alabama officials will extend the state’s “safer at home” order amid reports that Tuscaloosa students have attended parties in the area despite knowing they had the novel coronavirus.

Tuscaloosa council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance requiring face masks in public spaces, set to take effect July 6 with a fine of $25 for violations.

  • Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) urged Alabamians to wear masks to stem the spread of the coronavirus in a campaign ad released Wednesday.
  • Pennsylvania’s highest court found in favor of Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday, ruling the Republican-controlled state legislature did not have the power to end his coronavirus disaster declaration for the state.
  • In Pennsylvania, the governor announced Wednesday that the state would now require people to wear masks whenever they leave home, taking effect immediately.
  • A group of four Palm Beach County residents on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging a county policy that requires people to wear masks in public to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The suit, filed in Florida state court, alleges that the county policy infringes on the plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected rights by forcing them to wear “harmful medical devices like masks” and asks the court to issue an injunction blocking its enforcement.

  • As Florida coronavirus cases have been surging, the governor just claimed “by and large, the virus does not like sunshine, heat, and humidity.”
  • Miami-Dade county Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday night that facial coverings are now mandatory in all public spaces, inside and out.
  • More than 8,000 new cases were announced across Texas on Wednesday, surpassing the previous daily record set on Tuesday.
  • A record-high 2946 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the last 24 hours in the state of Georgia.
  • Current hospitalizations due to coronavirus in the state of Georgia are now at their highest since this data was made available to the public.
  • More than 1,500 new cases were announced Wednesday in Tennessee, a single-day record.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that he was closing down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties in California, pulling back reopening for more than 70 percent of the population in the state. He also ordered closed indoor operations in wineries and tasting rooms, zoos, museums and card rooms. The closures, he said, would remain in place for at least three weeks.
  • More than 40 school principals in the South Bay are in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 during an in-person meeting held by the Santa Clara County California Unified School District.

A pre-symptomatic individual at the school reopening planning meeting on June 19 tested positive for the coronavirus just a few days after school administrators congregated.

  • A month after announcing a return to an in-person fall semester, the University of Southern California has reverted back to mostly online classes.

Undergraduate students will primarily take courses online come August and on-campus housing and activities will be limited

  • A wedding that took place on June 15 has been called a COVID-19 “super-spreader” after at least 80 guests tested positive for the virus following the event in Patna, India. The groom, who was displaying symptoms at the wedding, died two days later.
  • On Wednesday, as infections surged, hospitals filled and the death toll climbed, Iranian officials announced new shutdown measures in cities across 11 provinces.
  • In Israel, the Health Ministry announced that it recorded 773 cases on Tuesday — the highest daily case count since the virus first emerged in Israel.

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

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

Read Time: 9 Minutes

  • GOP South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said that residents attending the state’s Independence Day event at Mount Rushmore will have the option to not wear masks despite the renewed surge of the coronavirus pandemic across the country.

“We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we will not be social distancing.”

  • The European Union will open its borders to visitors from 15 countries as of Wednesday, but not to travelers from the United States, Brazil or Russia.
  • The United States saw a 46% increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the week ended June 28 compared to the previous seven days, with 21 states reporting positivity test rates above the level that the World Health Organization has flagged as concerning.

Nationally, 7% of diagnostic tests came back positive last week, up from 5% the prior week, according to a Reuters analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

The World Health Organization considers a positivity rate above 5% to be a cause for concern because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.

Arizona’s positivity test rate was 24% last week, Florida’s was 16%, and Nevada, South Carolina and Texas’ were all 15%, according to the analysis.

  • Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told The Journal of the American Medical Association, “We are not even beginning to be over this,” Schuchat said, saying there are a lot of worrisome factors about the surge of the outbreak over the past week or so. 

“What we hope is that we can take it seriously and slow the transmission,” Schuchat said in the interview. 

“We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” she said.

“We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging,” she added. 

Schuchat said there was a lot of “wishful thinking” around the country that the pandemic would be over by summer.

  • Officials in Wildwood have canceled one of New Jersey’s biggest July 4 fireworks shows over concerns the large crowds wouldn’t follow social distancing guidelines.
  • More than 46,000 coronavirus cases were announced across the U.S. on Tuesday, the most of any day of the pandemic.

Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas announced single-day highs.

  • Savannah, GA Mayor Van Johnson said Tuesday he’s issuing an executive order to require face masks in public.

“Savannah is experiencing thousands of visitors on our streets, in our establishments and most of them are not wearing face coverings,” Johnson said in a letter Tuesday to Gov. Brian Kemp.

  • In Alabama, more than 10,000 new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed just in the last two weeks, state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said Tuesday.

Alabama’s safer-at-home order was set to expire on July 3, but Gov. Kay Ivey said Tuesday she is extending the order to July 31.

The state is not “overwhelmed yet,” but “we are still in the thick of this virus,” Ivey warned.

She pleaded with residents to wear masks and said social distancing must apply to 4th of July celebrations.

  • Donald Trump’s campaign has reportedly cancelled plans for the president to appear at a rally in Alabama next week after local officials expressed concerns about a mass gathering in the state amid soaring coronavirus infections.
  • New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are asking travelers from 16 states with high coronavirus numbers to self-quarantine when they arrive back in the tri-state.

The states on the list are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

  • Florida has topped 150,000 cases of the coronavirus  according to the state’s Department of Health. That marks an increase of 6,012 cases in one day — and an increased positivity rate to 14%.
  • “The minute that we opened, it was like COVID didn’t exist and people just forgot and, in some cases, are still forgetting,” Miami, FL Mayor Francis Suarez told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on “Good Morning America.”

Miami, the hardest-hit city in Florida, has now made it mandatory for people to wear face masks in public at all times.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the budget for a package of online education programs that have played key roles for students and educators during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that his state is “not going back” on reopening as thousands of new COVID-19 cases continue to be reported every day. 

DeSantis told reporters that the state will not follow Texas’ move to pause reopening. 

“We’re not going back, closing things,” he said. “I don’t think that that’s really what’s driving it. People going to a business is not what’s driving it. I think when you see the younger folks — I think a lot of it is more just social interactions, so that’s natural.”

  • The woman seen in a viral video intentionally coughing into the face of a Jacksonville cancer patient has been identified by police as Debra Hunter, 52, of Fernandina Beachand, FL and has been charged with battery.
  • Texas breaks record with nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases in one day.
  • Leaders of Texas’ most populous counties have been imploring Gov. Greg Abbott to allow them to issue stay-at-home orders amid the rapidly spreading outbreak.
  • Local union officials have asked General Motors to close its plant in Arlington, Texas, to protect workers until the surge in virus cases in the state subsidies.
  • Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that he will not listen to the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci after the health expert warned Congress that the rate of new infections could more than double if current outbreaks in the South and West are not contained
  • California breaks daily record with over 8,000 new coronavirus cases.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned during a press conference today that additional statewide coronavirus restrictions could be coming ahead of the holiday.

Newsom said. “If you’re not gonna stay home and you’re not gonna wear masks in public, we have to enforce.”

  • Current hospitalizations due to the coronavirus in the state of Georgia have risen by 223 in the last 48 hours which is an increase of 18.04%. Current hospitalizations are at 1459 which is the highest since May 1st.
  • Savannah became the first major city in Georgia to require the use of masks, setting up a potential showdown with Gov. Brian Kemp over whether local officials can take more sweeping steps than the state to contain the coronavirus.

Mayor Van Johnson’s emergency order requires people to don masks when in many public places starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Violators will be offered a face covering before they are cited, Johnson said, and fined $500 if they disregard the requirement.

  • Tennessee reported more than 3,000 new #COVIDー19 cases in the past 3 days.

Hospitalizations are also at an all-time high with an average of 47 patients each day admitted.

  • Massachusetts reports zero new coronavirus deaths for the first time in months.
  • Hospitals in Arizona are reaching capacity amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

A FEMA memo states that both Flagstaff Medical Center and Little Colorado Medical Center have had zero “medical-surge availability” since June 24. Patients are being directed to hospitals in Yavapai and Maricopa counties.

  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is ordering bars across the state to close their doors amid a surge in coronavirus cases among the state’s younger population: “There is not a way that we have found for them to be a reasonably safe part of people’s lives during the month of July.”
  • Joe Biden repeated his call for all Americans to wear masks during COVID-19 pandemic: “Wear a mask. It’s not just about you. It’s about your family… it’s about keeping other people safe.” “We absolutely need a clear message from the very top of our federal government that everyone needs to wear a mask in public. Period.”
  • Donald Trump Jr. said that masks should be worn during the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, FL.
  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams implored young Americans in particular, to wear masks as lawmakers and public health officials increasingly seek to break down partisan barriers about the use of face coverings.

“Wear a face covering when you go out in public. It is not an inconvenience. It is not a suppression of your freedom. It actually Is a vehicle to achieve our goals,” Adams said.

  • Testifying before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge, it puts the entire country at risk.” “We’re now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around and so I’m very concerned.”

Fauci also warned, “What we saw were a lot of people who maybe felt that because they think they are invulnerable, and we know many young people are not because they’re getting serious disease, that therefore they’re getting infected has nothing at all to do with anyone else, when in fact it does.”

  • Airbus says it may be 2025 before air travel rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic. To survive the thin years ahead, the European aircraft manufacturer is eliminating 15,000 jobs.
  • The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed “substantial disappointment” with a decision by American Airlines to start booking its flights to their capacity. “We don’t think it’s the right message, as you have pointed out.”
  • The Minor League Baseball season has been canceled.
  • The United States is at risk of losing its COVID-19 testing capacity.

The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. Demand for tests is outpacing supply.

Any plan to contain the virus depends on fast and accurate testing, which can identify newly infectious people before they set off new outbreaks. Without it, the U.S. is in the dark.

  • Tuesday evening the president Tweeted: “As I watch the Pandemic spread its ugly face all across the world, including the tremendous damage it has done to the USA, I become more and more angry at China. People can see it, and I can feel it!”
  • The Senate cleared legislation to extend the deadline for businesses to apply for coronavirus aid under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which will expire at the end of Tuesday.

There’s approximately $130 billion in unspent money under the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • The Economist reported that when mass protests against police brutality broke out earlier this month, public-health experts worried they would lead to a surge in infections. Anthony Fauci called the protests “the perfect set-up” for the spread of the virus.

But the available evidence suggests that this month’s Black Lives Matter protests have not contributed to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Researchers from Bentley University, the University of Colorado, and San Diego State University used mobile-phone data and COVID-19 case data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to determine whether the protests were associated with less social-distancing behaviour and more covid-19 cases. They found that the protests had no significant effect one way or the other on the incidence of covid-19.

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