Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the

CDC changes, then retracts, its take on coronavirus spread

AP - September 22, 2020

The top U.S. public health agency stirred confusion by posting — and then taking down — an apparent change in its position on how easily the coronavirus can spread from person to person on small droplets in the air. The CDC has said that the virus spreads primarily through small airborne droplets, like those that fly through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Most CDC guidance about social distancing is built around that idea, saying that 6 feet is a safe buffer between people who are not wearing masks. In interviews, CDC officials have also acknowledged growing evidence that the virus can sometimes spread on even smaller, aerosolized particles or droplets that spread over a wider area. That’s one reason public health experts urge people to wear masks, which can stop or reduce contact with both larger droplets and aerosolized particles.

Soaring wealth during pandemic highlights rising inequality

AP - September 22, 2020

Americans’ household wealth rebounded last quarter to a record high as the stock market quickly recovered from a pandemic-induced plunge in March. Yet the gains flowed mainly to the most affluent households even as tens of millions of people endured job losses and shrunken incomes. The Federal Reserve said Monday that American households’ net worth jumped nearly 7% in the April-June quarter to $119 trillion.

Trick-or-treating, costume masks and Halloween parties discouraged by CDC this year

CNN - September 22, 2020

The US CDC has issued its first guidance for the holidays, including Halloween, amid the raging coronavirus pandemic in a new posting on its website Monday night. Door-to-door trick-or-treating and costume masks and parties are discouraged this year due to the pandemic, the CDC said. "Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses," the agency said in its posting. "There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween."

‘I miss mommy’: Families shattered by COVID forge new paths

AP - September 22, 2020

With eight in 10 American virus victims age 65 and older, it’s easy to view the young as having been spared its wrath. But among the dead are an untold number of parents who’ve left behind children that constitute another kind of victim. … No authoritative count of parents of minors lost to the coronavirus has been tallied, but it appears certain to run into the thousands in the U.S. Some children are now landing in the homes of grandparents like Anadelia Diaz, whose 29-year-old daughter, a single mother of three, died of COVID-19.

Europe adopts tougher virus restrictions as infections surge

AP - September 22, 2020

As the U.S. closed in on 200,000 coronavirus deaths Monday, the crisis deteriorated across Europe, with Britain working to draw up new restrictions, Spain clamping down again in Madrid and the Czech Republic replacing its health minister with an epidemiologist because of a surge of infections. … British Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that cases are doubling every seven days and could lead to a rise in deaths in the coming weeks.

California’s Deadliest Spring in 20 Years Suggests COVID Undercount

Kaiser Health - September 22, 2020

About 125,000 Californians died from March through July, up by 14,200, or 13%, from the average for the same five months during the prior three years, according to a review of data from the state Department of Public Health. By the end of July, California had logged about 9,200 deaths officially attributed to COVID-19 in county death records. That left about 5,000 “excess” deaths for those months — meaning deaths above the norm not attributed to COVID-19. Deaths tend to increase from year to year as the population grows, but typically not by that much.

Life Expectancy Could Decline Worldwide Due to COVID-19

HealthDay - September 22, 2020

Using a computer model, the researchers concluded that infection rates of only 2% could cause a drop in life expectancy in countries where average life expectancy is high (about 80 years). At higher infection rates, the decline would be greater, especially in Europe and North America, according to the study published online Sept. 17 in the journal PLOS One.

The country’s ‘divisive state’ is hurting Covid-19 response, Fauci says

CNN - September 22, 2020

"We are in such a divisive state in society that it tends to get politicized," the country's leading infectious disease expert said Monday night on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah." "It's almost the one side versus the other," Fauci said.… "People take sides, like wearing a mask or not is a political statement and that's really unfortunate, totally unfortunate because this is a purely public health issue. It should not be one against the other," Fauci said.

At Least 8.7 Million Americans At Risk Of Losing $1,200 Stimulus Checks

Forbes - September 22, 2020

At least 8.7 million or more Americans could be at risk of losing out on $1,200 coronavirus stimulus checks due to incomplete IRS and Treasury Department records, according to a Monday report from Congress’ auditing arm, which examined the unprecedented $2.6 trillion lawmakers passed in emergency support as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Rural Hospitals Teeter On Financial Cliff As COVID-19 Medicare Loans Come Due

NPR - September 22, 2020

David Usher, chief financial officer for a 12-bed rural hospital in western Kansas, is sitting on $1.7 million he's scared to spend. The money lent from the federal government is meant to help hospitals and other health care providers weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet some hospital administrators have called it a payday loan program that is now brutally due for repayment at a time when the institutions still need help.

NFL levies more than $1 million in fines against 3 teams and their coaches who didn’t wear masks during games

CNN - September 22, 2020

Three NFL teams are being fined $250,000 each because their coaches were not wearing face coverings during games on Sunday, a league source told CNN Monday. The teams facing sanctions are the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers. The three head coaches of those teams -- Seattle's Pete Carroll, Denver's Vic Fangio and San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan -- were each fined $100,000, the source said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87

NPR - September 21, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.

CDC Reverses Guidelines on Testing Asymptomatic People for Coronavirus

NBC New York - September 21, 2020

U.S. health officials on Friday dropped a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and said anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should get tested. The CDC essentially returned to its previous testing guidance, getting rid of language posted last month that said people didn’t need to get tested if they didn't feel sick. That change had set off a rash of criticism from health experts who couldn't fathom why the nation's top public health agency would say such a thing amid the pandemic.

Updated CDC guidance acknowledges coronavirus can spread through the air

CNN - September 21, 2020

The US CDC updated guidance on its website to say coronavirus can commonly spread "through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols," which are produced even when a person breathes. "Airborne viruses, including COVID-19, are among the most contagious and easily spread," the site now says. Previously, the CDC page said that Covid-19 was thought to spread mainly between people in close contact -- about 6 feet -- and "through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks."

Most of the US is headed in the wrong direction again with Covid-19 cases as deaths near 200,000

CNN - September 21, 2020

Despite making progress after a difficult summer, most of the US is heading in the wrong direction again as the nation closes in on 200,000 Covid-19 deaths. In 31 states, the number of new Covid-19 cases has increased by at least 10% this past week compared to the previous week, according to data Sunday from Johns Hopkins University. Only four states -- Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and Michigan -- have had decreases of more than 10%. Fifteen states are holding steady...

Europe scrambles to contain rise in coronavirus cases

AP - September 21, 2020

Political pressure grew Monday in Europe for governments to tackle the rising number of coronavirus case without resorting to a spring-style lockdown that would hit the continent’s struggling economies. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met Monday with the president of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, to coordinate a stronger response to the outbreaks as the country struggles to contain a second wave of the virus.