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

Read Time: 6 Minutes

  • The United States reported 67,023 new coronavirus cases and 1,259 new deaths. The eleventh time in twelve days over 1,000 deaths have been reported. 
  • A forecast published by the CDC projects more than 173,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by August 22.
  • The World Health Organization reported 292,527 new Covid-19 cases, another record for daily cases reported to WHO. 
  • Researchers published harsh critiques of a study President Trump repeatedly touted on Twitter. That study by the Henry Ford Health System, claimed to show that hydroxychloroquine saved lives. The researchers dispute the validity of the study, citing multiple errors, flaws and biases in the process. 

For example, the patients in the Henry Ford study who were given hydroxychloroquine had fewer risk factors for heart disease, researchers at the University at Albany wrote.

Also, the hydroxychloroquine patients were more than twice as likely to be given steroids, a treatment known to be effective against Covid-19.

The Detroit study was not a randomized clinical trial, which helps avoid potential biases. In such trials, patients are randomly assigned to take a drug or not take it, which means the two groups should be very similar.

  • Widespread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic fueled by the internet “has resulted in difficulties in discerning truth from fiction” and is a growing problem, The Lancet wrote in an editorial. 

The disinformation is causing a “growing mistrust in science and experts” and “poor and confusing responses by political and government leaders,” the journal wrote. The problem is compounded by some people’s use of social media as their only source of information.

The publication described those spreading misinformation on Covid-19 as “highly organized political or pseudoscientific bodies that are experienced at using nefarious techniques to propagate their narratives” and warned that they’re targeting vulnerable populations.

  • In a tweet, the president once again made the false claim that the U.S. has more cases because the nation does more testing. “Somebody please tell Congressman Clyburn, who doesn’t have a clue, that the chart he put up indicating more CASES for the U.S. than Europe, is because we do MUCH MORE testing than any other country in the World. If we had no testing, or bad testing, we would show very few CASES..”

NOTE: The percentage of people testing positive, a key measure of the true spread of the virus, has spiked.

  • The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation warned there are not nearly enough Americans using masks to bend the curve on the coronavirus infection rate.
  • Analysts say the Trump administration’s new online COVID-19 data system that bypasses the old platform managed by the CDC contains errors and inconsistencies that lead to delays and misinformation.

The delays leave the exact numbers of available hospital beds, ventilators and other vital equipment for treating COVID-19 somewhat unknown.

Lisa Lee, a former chief science officer for public health surveillance at the CDC, told NPR, “If the information is not accurate, it could cost time — and lives.”

  • The U.S. government will pay $2.1 billion to Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline for COVID-19 vaccines to cover 50 million people and to underwrite the drug makers’ testing and manufacturing.
  • A report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee found that the Trump administration overpaid by as much as $500 million for ventilators and was slow to respond to an offer to accelerate shipments in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Trump administration paid the manufacturer Philips $15,000 per ventilator, more than any other American purchaser. Some purchasers buying as few as just one ventilator negotiated prices down to as low as $9,327 per ventilator.

  • Dr. Fauci today reiterated his belief that a vaccine will be developed by the end of the year. “I don’t think it’s dreaming … I believe it’s a reality.”
  • A study of a Coronavirus outbreak at an overnight camp in Georgia released on Friday raises questions about the safety of students and staff in U.S. schools, as it showed a large percentage of those between the ages of six and 17 years old being infected.

A YMCA camp in Georgia saw 260 of 597 campers and staff test positive. 

The CDC found the virus “spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission.” 

The camp required tests for all guests and staff 12 days or fewer before arriving. Masks were required for staff but not the young campers. 51% of the children 6-10 years old and 44% of children 11-17 contracted the virus.

  • House Democrats introduced a bill that would require passengers to wear masks on commercial planes and in airports in an attempt to combat the coronavirus pandemic. It also calls for a study on how the virus is transmitted in airplane cabins.
  • Microsoft’s U.S. workforce will have the option of working from home at least through January 19.
  • Blood plasma taken from coronavirus survivors and infused into hospitalized patients reduced their mortality rate by about 57%, a team of researchers reported. 
  • “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston appealed to his fans to “keep wearing the damn mask,” after revealing that he contracted Covid-19.

“I was pretty strict in adhering to the protocols and still… I contracted the virus. Yep. it sounds daunting now that over 150,000 Americans are dead because of it. I was one of the lucky ones.” 

“We can prevail – but ONLY if we follow the rules together. Be well – Stay well. BC”

Cranston also shared a video of himself at the UCLA Donation Center, where he had gone to donate plasma. Scientists say people who test positive for the virus may have antibodies in their plasma that could help other coronavirus patients.

  • MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season as soon as Monday.
  • The Miami Marlins have eighteen players and three coaches who have tested positive for Covid-19 over the last week.
  • Friday’s game between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed because members of the St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R)  signed two executive orders extending existing Covid-19 safety measures and extending the Public Health State of Emergency through Sept. 10.
  • Florida reported 8,983 cases and 257 new deaths, the fourth day in a row that the state has reported a record number of deaths.
  • The Sun Sentinel, a prominent South Florida newspaper, urged Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to issue a statewide mask mandate and take other actions to stop the spread of the coronavirus across the Sunshine State.

“Far better that you require people to wear masks in public than to continue fostering conditions that will force another shutdown,” the board wrote. “Your refusal to impose a mask order — a requirement now in effect in 32 other states — is out-of-touch with the mainstream.”

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health is asking doctors to focus testing on the most vulnerable populations as a surge of coronavirus testing has resulted in a seven-day turnaround time.
  • Arkansas reported  752 new cases and 11 new deaths.

Arkansas reported a 10% positivity rate for new coronavirus cases Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson *R) said during an afternoon news conference.

“In terms of our positivity rate, this is not good,” Hutchinson said. “We have a lot of work to do here. We’re right at the 10% level, which is CDC recommendation, but that’s too high, we want it lower.”

  • As an Indiana school district opened, one of their students who had attended part of the school day at Greenfield-Central Junior High School tested positive for Covid-19 on the first day of class, according to a letter sent to parents.
  • Illinois reported 1,941 new cases and 21 new deaths.
  • Missouri reported 1,489 new cases and 10 new deaths.
  • Oklahoma reported 747 new cases, the lowest total of daily cases in a week, and 5 new deaths. 
  • Texas reported 8,839 new cases and 295 deaths. 
  • The Salt Lake City School District will begin the school year with remote instruction. 
  • California’s health department confirmed the first Covid-19-related death of a teenager in the state on Friday.

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