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

More Than 100M US Adults at Risk for Serious Illness if Infected by Coronavirus

Medscape - April 30, 2020

More than 100 million Americans are at higher risk for serious illness if they contract COVID-19, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report. Wyatt Koma, BS, a researcher with the KFF Program on Medicare Policy, and colleagues calculate that 105.5 million people in the US are at high risk of serious illness if infected, which includes 29.2 million adults under the age of 60, because of an underlying medical condition, and 76.3 million adults at least 60 and older. One group particularly at risk is the 1.3 million people living in nursing homes in the US, the authors point out in the report released March 13. The risk by state, according to the KFF report, varies widely from 31% in Washington, DC, to 51% in West Virginia.

Coronavirus Is Hiding in Plain Sight

New York Times - April 30, 2020

Scientists tracking the spread of the coronavirus reported on Monday that, for every confirmed case, there are most likely another five to 10 people in the community with undetected infections. These often-milder cases are, on average, about half as infectious as confirmed ones, but are responsible for nearly 80 percent of new cases, according to the report, which was based on data from China. The researchers modeled the virus’s natural spread in China before the government instituted a travel ban and an aggressive testing policy. During that time, from December of last year through late January, about 6 in 7 cases went undetected. That situation is analogous to the current state of affairs in the United States and other Western countries, where tests are not widely available, the researchers said. “If we have 3,500 confirmed cases in the U.S., you might be looking at 35,000 in reality,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University and the senior author of the new report, which was posted by the journal Science. In a conference call with reporters on Monday, scientists representing more than a dozen institutions tracking the disease stressed the importance of increased testing.

The big question over coronavirus – can a person get it twice?

The Guardian - April 30, 2020

One of the most concerning issues since the emergence of the Covid-19 virus has been whether those who have had it can get it a second time – and what that means for immunity. On Monday, both Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, and Prof Chris Whitty, Boris Johnson’s chief medical adviser, sought to reassure the public. Those who have had the virus once will develop some immunity, they said – and it is rare to get an infectious disease again. When Vallance was asked on Monday if the Japanese case meant herd immunity was no longer achievable, he replied that some people do catch infectious diseases a second time, but that it is a rare occurrence. There was no evidence to suggest that it would occur with the coronavirus, he added. As coronavirus closes schools, teachers and families brace for massive experiment in online education As of Monday afternoon, 35 states, including Washington, had mandated school closures in an effort to slow the spread of the virus; at least 35.9 million children are now displaced from their classrooms, according to a tally by Education Week. As school leaders look for ways to minimize the disruption to children's learning — and try to avoid extending the school year through the summer — teachers at thousands of schools all across the country are scrambling for ways to teach children who are holed up at home. In many of the states where governors mandated school closures, the order went into effect immediately or with just a day's notice — not even enough time to learn how many students have access to technology at home.

Idris Elba says he has coronavirus

CNN - April 30, 2020

Actor Idris Elba said he has tested positive for Covid-19. Elba, 47, said he received his test results Monday morning. So far, the "Luther" star said he feels "OK" and is showing no symptoms, according a video posted to Twitter. Elba said he had been isolated since finding out last Friday that he had been exposed to someone who tested the positive.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson released from the hospital following coronavirus diagnosis

CNN - April 30, 2020

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have been released from a Queensland hospital in Australia and are now in self-quarantine at their home there, a representative for Hanks told CNN on Monday. The couple had been hospitalized in isolation after being diagnosed with novel coronavirus last week.

‘Game of Thrones’ actor says he tested positive for Covid-19

CNN - April 30, 2020

A "Game of Thrones" actor is the latest celebrity to say he's been diagnosed with the coronavirus. In a post made to Instagram on Monday, actor Kristofer Hivju, who played Tormund Giantsbane on the HBO series, said he tested positive for Covid-19. Hivju, a Norwegian actor, said he and his family are self-isolating upon the news.

How to Help Others Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Cut - April 30, 2020

Amid all of this panic and uncertainty, many are wondering what else they can do to help others, especially the most vulnerable among us. Ideas include call your grandparents, donate to food pantries, order books from independent book stores, help out at a local animal rescue, pay your nanny and write letters.

Is it spring allergies or coronavirus?

TODAY - April 30, 2020

“The symptoms of spring allergies — nasal congestion, dry cough — are similar to the symptoms of mild COVID-19, so it’s difficult to know which you have, and, of course, people are a little extra concerned these days,” said Dr. Rachel Miller, chief of the division of clinical immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “When you have an allergy, itchiness is a hallmark sign,” Bassett said. “If it’s a virus you may have sudden loss of appetite, headache, fever, sore throat, colored mucus, body aches and pains. Also, if you take an antihistamine you won’t get much relief.” Also, a sore throat might be a good indicator that your symptoms aren't caused by allergies, Bassett said. "Sore throats are associated with colds and viral infections," he said. "Allergies, not likely." (Lauren and I have a COVID-19 or allergies graphic with design)

Some grocery stores are offering ‘elderly hours’ to help protect older shoppers

CNN - April 30, 2020

As supermarkets frantically work to restock shelves and calm panicked shoppers, some stores are taking steps to protect older and vulnerable customers who may be at the greatest risk from the novel coronavirus. Most large US grocery chains are offering customers online pickup and delivery services to help limit shoppers' contact with other people. Many are also closing earlier to give employees more time to restock shelves and to clean and disinfect stores. Jersey City, New Jersey, announced on Monday that it is working with grocery stores there to provide special access to vulnerable customers -- including pregnant women. And the mayor of Lorain, Ohio, said that several stores in his city would be making special arrangements for seniors, CNN affiliate WJW reported.

This student created a network of ‘shopping angels’ to help the elderly get groceries during the coronavirus pandemic

CNN - April 30, 2020

Jayde Powell is a "shopping angel," and she and her growing army of volunteers are providing free grocery delivery to the sick and elderly. Powell is an honor student at the University of Nevada, Reno. She got the idea to organize a few volunteers to help out during the pandemic when her mother mentioned calling elderly neighbors to see whether they needed anything. She started "Shopping Angels" by enlisting about 20 members of her medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon. As need grew, she reached out to other classmates and turned to social media to recruit more. Since March 13, the 20-year-old has been diligently connecting volunteers across the country with people in need through email, phone and Facebook. Some clients give their angel a shopping list, budget and money to cover the purchase. Other clients purchase their groceries online, and a shopping angel does the pickup.

False coronavirus rumors surge in ‘hidden viral’ text messages

NBC News - April 30, 2020

The various false text messages forwarded to many Americans on Sunday and Monday all started a little differently before making the same debunked claim: Martial law is coming. Martial law is not coming. U.S. politicians sought Monday to remove any doubt and publicly debunked the rumors. But the messages proved hard to stop or even trace, because they were shared in texts, often forwarded by people who meant well. With social media networks like Facebook and Twitter cracking down on the spread of dangerous misinformation in the face of the pandemic, misleading information and false claims have moved to what experts are calling a literal "game of telephone" in text-messaging apps. Some users, even those who have no intention of spreading wrong information, are forwarding along viral rumors and urban legends to push vital information that is frequently untrue.

Man runs toilet paper exchange on California street corner

The San Diego Union Tribune - April 30, 2020

Disturbed by empty store shelves and reports of hoarding during the coronavirus crisis, a man stood on a Southern California street corner and held up a homemade cardboard sign with a simple request: “Share your toilet paper.” Jonny Blue told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Saturday that the response to his impromptu toilet paper exchange in Encinitas was immediate and positive. Drivers honked horns in support and stopped to drop off rolls of toilet paper. Just as quickly, Blue would hand rolls to those in need.

Kentucky Derby being postponed due to coronavirus, reports say

CBS News - April 30, 2020

The Kentucky Derby is being postponed from May to September because of growing concern about the coronavirus pandemic, according to numerous sources. CBS Louisville affiliate WLKY-TV cites multiple sources as saying Churchill Downs will put off the Derby from May 2 to September 5, marking the first time in 75 years that it won't be run on the first Saturday in May. A formal announcement was to be made Tuesday.

As the Coronavirus Spreads, a Question: ‘Will Mortgage Rates Stay Low?’

New York Times - April 30, 2020

“Will mortgage rates remain low?” Probably, for the time being. It’s a question many homeowners, and potential home buyers, are asking. But with uncertainty rampant, thanks to turbulent financial markets and the spreading coronavirus, it’s hard to say for sure just how long they’ll stay rock bottom. Last week, for instance, the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage ticked up slightly to 3.36 percent from a record low — despite financial indicators that suggested it would fall.

Virus fears fuel spike in sales of guns and ammunition

AP - April 30, 2020

Just as grocery stores have been stripped bare by Americans panicked by coronavirus, guns and ammunition have started flying off the shelves. Retailers say the buying frenzy is being fueled by consumers who are worried that people are becoming so desperate and unpredictable, they need to ensure they can protect themselves. Sales spiked in a matter of days, industry experts say. Some of the purchases are made by people buying their first firearm. Others are existing gun owners adding to their collection or stocking up on ammunition after seeing grocery stores depleted, schools closed and big events canceled, including the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting. Also potentially driving the sales are concerns that elected officials may try to restrict access to firearms.

Red Cross encourages donations even though blood drives canceled due to coronavirus

Good Morning America - April 30, 2020

The American Red Cross is asking healthy individuals across the country to consider donating blood as concerns over the coronavirus pandemic intensify. After a string of blood drive cancelations in the last few days and demand expected to surge in the coming weeks, the organization says it is in desperate need for new blood.