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

Read Time: 7 Minutes

  • The U.S. reported 42,401 new cases and 1,032 additional deaths.
  • At least 37 states are reporting positive cases at colleges or universities – infecting more than 25,000 students and campus staff.
  • As the White House coronavirus task force privately warned state officials that they faced dire outbreaks over the summer, Trump and his administration publicly downplayed the threat of Covid-19, documents released Monday by the House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus show.

The subcommittee published eight weeks of internal White House coronavirus reports, which are prepared by the task force and sent privately to governors. The newly published reports begin on June 23 and the most recent report that’s published is from Aug. 9. The White House has declined to make all the reports public.

“Rather than being straight with the American people and creating a national plan to fix the problem, the President and his enablers kept these alarming reports private while publicly downplaying the threat to millions of Americans,” subcommittee Chairman James Clyburn (D-SC) said in a statement.

  • A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health said that there is no evidence that a treatment for coronavirus touted by President Trump works. 

The treatment in question, known as convalescent plasma, was issued an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA in August, a move highlighted by Trump at a White House press conference.  

  • The Trump administration said it will not join a global effort to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved, a decision that could shape the course of the pandemic and the country’s role in health diplomacy.

More than 170 countries are in talks to participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, which aims to speed vaccine development and secure doses for all countries and distribute them to the most high-risk segment of each population.

  • Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is calling on Americans to follow public health guidelines during Labor Day weekend festivities, urging people to prevent coronavirus outbreaks in the coming weeks resulting from large parties and gatherings for the holiday. He cautioned it could determine the fate of a resurgence of the virus this fall.
  • Admiral Brett Giroir said that if Americans do what they are supposed to during the Labor Day weekend, the U.S. should be in “really good shape going into the fall.”

“Labor Day is coming up and we need to stress personal responsibility,” said Giroir, who is leading the Trump administration’s Covid-19 diagnostic testing efforts. “So avoiding crowds, outdoors for family gathers are much — much better than indoors —wearing the mask and protecting the vulnerable.”

  • The CDC issued an order banning landlords from evicting tenants from properties they can no longer afford to rent due to income lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order would make it illegal to evict any individual who expects to make less than $99,000 or a joint-filing couple that expects to make less than $198,000 in 2020.

  • More than $3 billion in loans issued through the coronavirus emergency relief program for small businesses may have gone to firms that already received support or should have been excluded from the program.

The report from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis examined the Trump administration’s dissemination of more than 5.2 million PPP loans totaling $525 billion since April. It found that:

– Some 10,000 loans totaling more than $1 billion went to companies that received more than one PPP loan, a violation of the program.

– More than 600 loans totaling about $96 million were given to firms that have been excluded from doing business with the government because they’ve been “debarred or suspended” from receiving federal contracts.

– More than 350 loans totaling $195 million were awarded to businesses that have been flagged for “significant performance and integrity issues.”

– More than 11,000 loans totaling about $3 billion were given to companies that did not include complete information from applicants.

  • FEMA officials said the agency will end federal funding for cloth face masks in schools around the country because they do not apply to direct emergency protective measures.
  • Nurses across the country are still struggling to get the personal protective equipment they need to safely treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey shows. Many are still re-using PPE, even though it’s not safe to do so,
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is facing criticism from Republicans over her recent visit to a San Francisco hair salon, whose owner claimed the visit violated citywide COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting indoor service at the establishments.
  • People who regularly watch Fox News or listen to conservative talk radio are significantly less likely to wear face masks than the population at large, a new poll from the University of New Hampshire found.
  • A study from West Health and Gallup found that half of all U.S. adults are concerned that a major health event among those in their household could lead to bankruptcy.
  • The number of jobless people saying that unemployment insurance does not cover basic expenses including food, clothing, and housing nearly doubled after key benefits expired in July. According to a new poll, 50 percent of unemployed people said their benefits fell short of them covering basic expenses, up from 27 percent in July.
  • Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt blasted the “failure of leadership” in America’s coronavirus response and warned of more hardship to come, unless dramatic steps are taken to crush the virus.

“People have died unnecessarily because government was slow to react to common and simple things like mask wearing and social distancing.”

  • Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has criticized the US government’s handling of the issues of systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic, labeling them a “tragic embarrassment.”
  • Politico reported that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department is planning to offer a $250 million contract to a communications firm to help it “defeat despair and inspire hope” about the pandemic.
  • The NFL reported four new confirmed positive tests among players and six new confirmed positive test results among team personnel.
  • MLB postponed another Oakland Athletics game. The team has had four games postponed since a reported Covid-19 positive test. 
  • Foster Farms temporarily closed its main poultry processing plant in Livingston, California on Tuesday night following an outbreak that led to nearly 400 coronavirus infections and accounted for eight deaths, as health officials say the plant failed to follow its advice on coronavirus earlier in the year.
  • James Madison University reported 138 new cases among its students and employees since Monday.
  • At least 1,017 students at the University of South Carolina currently have Covid-19, according to the university’s latest update.
  • The University of Missouri has at least 424 active student Covid-19 cases. 
  • Utah State University found elevated amounts of Covid-19 in sewage samples collected from four residence halls on campus.

The university issued a safety alert on Sunday calling for mandatory testing and quarantine of all 287 students living in those four dorms.

  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo (D) announced her extensive coronavirus testing plan to reopen schools to in-person learning. Nearly every school district in Rhode Island will reopen on Sept. 14 to in-person learning except for the Providence and Central Falls school districts.
  • New York City’s schools will delay the start of in-person classes until Sept. 21, averting the threat of a teacher strike — and putting the nation’s largest school district on track to be the only major urban district in the country to start the fall term with kids in classrooms.
  • Maryland will allow indoor theaters and outdoor venues to reopen Friday with capacity restrictions. 
  • White House tours, which were suspended on March 12, are set to resume September 12. Face coverings will be required.
  • Gyms and museums in North Carolina can open starting Friday. 
  • South Carolina will allow limited, outdoor visitation at select long-term care facilities in the state.
  • The Florida Department of Health and the Florida Division of Emergency Management are severing all ties with Quest Diagnostics after Quest’s failure to follow Florida law and report all COVID-19 results in a timely manner.
  • More than 600 students and staff members in two Florida counties are in quarantine or isolation.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that he will lift the state’s ban on visiting nursing homes that has cut off vulnerable seniors from family since mid-March over fears of spreading the new coronavirus.
  • A White House coronavirus task force report sent to officials in the state of Iowa warned of dire new case increases across rural and urban areas and called for a mask mandate, the closure of bars, and a plan from universities as the pandemic intensifies in the Midwest.
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has extended the Covid-19 state of emergency in Oregon until November 3. 
  • San Francisco will relax restrictions on businesses under the state’s new four-tiered coronavirus reopening system. 

The classification allows hair salons, nail salons, and massage parlors to resume operations outdoors on Tuesday, according to Mayor London Breed, and outdoor gyms will be allowed to reopen as early as Sept. 9.   

Breed also announced the immediate reopening of indoor shopping malls in the city.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Forbes,  Fox News,The Hill, Independent, MSNBC, NBC News, 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: 7 Minutes

  • There were 64,534 new cases and 1,082 reported deaths reported in the United States.
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported worldwide reached 15,000,424, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The global Covid-19 death toll rose to 617,832. 

The United States leads the world in total confirmed cases, nearing 4 million.

  • The first reported COVID-19 case in the U.S. came on January 21. After 99 days, on April 28, 1 million Americans became infected. It took just 43 days after that to reach 2 million cases on June 11. 28 days later, on July 8, the US reached 3 million cases. The 4 millionth case could come just two weeks after that.

NOTE: Testing volume has increased, but not to a level that would justify the large increase in positive results.

  • During a live-streamed event, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he doesn’t think COVID-19 will ever be fully eradicated, but noted it can be controlled. “I don’t see this disappearing the way SARS 1 did,” contradicting President Trump, who reiterated his claim Tuesday evening that the virus would disappear.
  • Dr. Deborah Birx said the statistic she watches closest is the test positivity rate because it is “the most sensitive indicator” of how the coronavirus situation is unfolding at any particular time and place.

The recommended test positivity rate is 5% or below. Wednesday’s test positivity rate for the U.S. was 8.8%, an increase of 0.215 over 7 days and 0.426 over 13 days. (The numbers were misreported for July 8)  

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic saying, “I don’t think it’s been a great example for the world to see America.”
  • A federal judge denied a motion to release families in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Members of a national nurses’ union laid pairs of shoes on the lawn of the US Capitol to honor 164 colleagues who have died while treating coronavirus patients.

“We are calling on the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which will fully invoke the Defense Production Act to mass produce personal protective equipment, and will also create an emergency temporary standard to protect essential workers on the frontlines of this deadly pandemic.”

  • Dr. Robert Redfield said Americans should embrace “personal responsibility” and wear masks. “We’re not defenseless. We have powerful tools. Probably the most powerful tool that we have is a simple face mask,” Redfield said.
  • FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor acknowledged testing capacity is “stressed” in some places during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

He said there is no shortage of swabs or media for coronavirus testing, the items his agency is responsible for overseeing, but added that testing is “stressed in locations that have increased cases, increased hospitalizations.”

  • Despite shortages in coronavirus testing supplies and lags in results, the Trump administration is still sitting on billions of dollars in unused funding that Congress allocated months ago. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questions about why the money has not been used as testing continues to fall well short of the national need. 

“It’s probably a logistical problem as much as anything else, but yeah, it’s a concern,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

  • The White House and a key group of Senate GOP negotiators struck a deal on Wednesday for new coronavirus testing funds.
  • The forthcoming proposal, text of which is expected to be released Thursday, will provide $16 billion in new funding for coronavirus testing
  • U.S. labs won’t be able to cope with a surge in demand for Covid-19 tests in the fall during flu season, and time lags to process the tests will likely worsen, James Davis, an executive vice president at Quest Diagnostics, told the Financial Times.
  • The U.S. government has ordered 100 million doses of Pfizer and partner BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for $1.95 billion with the option for 500 million more orders.
  • President Trump said that he would be comfortable sending his school-age son and grandchildren to school in person this fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The president suggested children do not transmit the coronavirus, though early evidence suggests children between 10 and 19 years old may transmit coronavirus just as much as adults. He attributed the recent rise in cases in part to racial justice protests, though early evidence suggests the protests did not cause a spike, and in part to migration from Mexico, though there is no evidence for this either.

  • The surge in coronavirus cases seen across the South and Southwest can be linked back to the traveling people did around Memorial Day, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said.
  • Citing safety concerns for their staff, Lowe’s will not require employees to enforce customer mask mandate.
  • United Airlines is expanding its mask requirements for passengers, requiring that its fliers wear a face covering in all 360 airports United serves, at every step from check-in to baggage claim.
  • Southwest Airlines says its planes will carry only masked passengers. 
  • The president of the Olympic organizing committee says the 2021 Games may not be possible if current coronavirus conditions continue: “Whether the Olympics can be done or not is about whether humanity can beat the coronavirus.”
  • Fans attending NFL games will be required to wear masks in stadiums this season. On June 23, the league said it would let individual teams set their own capacity limits based on orders from state and local officials.
  • Two cafeterias used by White House staff members were closed and contact tracing was conducted after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said his state’s positivity rate is lower than it was prior to reopening.

Baker reported 143 new cases of coronavirus.The seven-day average for positive tests remains at about 1.7%, he added. 

Baker praised “the work that’s continued to be done by the people of Massachusetts to do the things that we know are most successful in containing the virus and reducing the spread.”

  • Connecticut reported 127 new Covid-19 cases today and no new deaths.
  • New Jersey reported 390 new cases.
  • Baltimore City Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young (D) signed an Executive Order suspending indoor dining at restaurants and bars effective Friday. 
  • Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia, one of the largest public schools systems in the nation, has announced it will begin the school year virtually on Sept. 8.
  • Georgia’s largest school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools, announced that it will start the school year next month with full virtual instruction. 
  • Florida reported 9,785 new cases and 139 additional deaths

Included among the deaths is a  9-year-old girl from Putnam County, FL — the youngest patient to die in the state related to the coronavirus.

  • 47% of all Covid-19 deaths in Florida are linked to long-term care facilities.
  • In Florida, 53 hospitals have reached intensive care unit capacity and show zero ICU beds available.

Another 45 hospitals in the state have 10% or less ICU capacity available.

15% of all ICU beds are available across the state.

  • Broward County, FL, Mayor Dale Holness (D) said during a news conference today that ICU beds in the county are 90% filled.
  • Louisiana recorded 2,802 new cases and 60 deaths. Its highest daily death total since May 1.
  • Tulane University in New Orleans is planning for a full-campus reopening. But at least one official at Tulane — which is often ranked as one of the country’s top party schools — warned that partiers will be punished.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) extended his mask order to include all counties in the state.

All Ohio residents will be required to wear masks while in public.

  • DeWine issued a travel advisory for all individuals who come into Ohio from states with a Covid-19 positivity rate of 15% or higher. The state is recommending that those individuals self-quarantine at a hotel or at home for 14 days.
  • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced a statewide mask mandate to go into effect on Monday. 
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said that the state reported 1,598 new cases, its highest one-day total in the month of July.
  • Missouri reported a record single-day increase of 1,301 new cases.
  • Texas reported 9,879 new cases and a single day record 197 fatalities and a new record number of hospitalizations in the state, with 10,893.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that he signed an executive order that requires residents to wear face coverings in indoor businesses and indoor public settings.
  • The Kansas State Board of Education has rejected Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) executive order to delay the start of schools across the state. 
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced a new mandate for the next 30 days that “last call” for alcohol in bars will be at 10 p.m. He encouraged people, instead, to get drunk at home with a small group of friends.

    “If you want to get drunk…Have three or four people over in your home, and a small event with them, not 40 people in your home.”
  • The superintendent of Seattle Public Schools is recommending that the district start the 2020-21 school year remotely.
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said she will be rolling back a number of the state’s reopening measures in response to a growing number of coronavirus cases.
  • California has surpassed New York as the state with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States.
  • California added 12,807 coronavirus cases over the past day, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced.

The positivity rate remains steady at 7.4% over the past two weeks, but the one week rate is climbing and currently holds at 7.6%.

“Every decimal point causes some concern,” Newsom said.

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